Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Recap July 13-19, 2015: New Tucson; NAIAS Caravan; More Recalls; Porsche World; Fisker Rises
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
AUTO CENTRAL-Chicago - July 19, 2015: Every Sunday, along with senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, I give you our "take" on this past week's automotive news in easy to digest nuggets.
If you are a car nut like we all are here at The Auto Channel, you can easily wish to "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 20 year's 1,909,222 automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news, video, audio, rants and raves just search The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive.
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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Review - July 13-19, 2015
* We were hosted by Hyundai at the media introduction program for the all-new 2016 Tucson compact SUV. The Tucson is extensively updated and much improved over the outgoing model and will be in dealers later this month. Refinements and new class-leading features and equipment make it a very viable entry in the popular crossover market. Prices start at $22,700 and four trim levels are offered. Read our full review of the new Tucson with driving impression in the next weeks here on TACh.
* China is the world's biggest auto industry market, but things have slowed. June sales fell 3.4 percent, the third month of decline. A total of 10 million units have been sold in the first half of the year. China is GM's biggest market and it's also big for Volkswagen. For example, experts say about 20 percent of GM's 2015 corporate profits come from China. That number will most likely will slide down.
* For those of you who revere the Porsche marque a new restaurant is now open at the brand’s $100 million Experience Center near Atlanta. Called “Restaurant 356” the upscale eatery will have a varied cuisine and require reservations. To work up an appetite you might want to start with a few hot laps on the 1.6-mile track - before cocktails, of course. Seats in the restaurant are designed to reflect the rolled leather buckets from the actual 356 sports car of the 1950s.
* The body of five-time Formula One champion, Argentinian Juan Manuel Fangio, is scheduled to be exhumed to determine paternity of 77-year-old Oscar Espinosa Fangio. The racing champion was never married and was not known to have fathered any children. The elder Fangio died in 1995 at the age of 84 and is considered one of the best racing drivers of all time.
* The Auto Shows of North America, an industry trade group, released a study this week supporting their long-time contention that national and regional new car shows have a major effect on dealership traffic and sales. New car auto shows have been part of the automotive marketing landscape for well over 100 years. The study was done by Foresight Research and and it revealed that 57% of auto show attendees are in the market for a new vehicle within the upcoming 12 months and more than half of those report the show influenced their decision.
* We learned this week the last car Steve McQueen ordered before his untimely death at age 50 - a 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera - will cross the auction block at the upcoming Mecum Auction in Monterey, CA the week of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Proceeds will be donated to the Boys Republic, a reform school he attended in his youth. McQueen was a consummate car and motorcycle enthusiast and racer who always favored the fastest of a breed.
* Autonomous cars have been big news for some time now but this week’s Audi run at Sonoma Raceway in California caught our eye. A 560-hp Audi RS7 lapped the 12-turn, 2.5-mile track in just over 2 minutes - without a driver. Another driver-less Audi RS7 lapped the Hockenheimring course in Europe recently reaching nearly 150 mph.
* We thought the beautiful Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid sports car was dead, but The Detroit Bureau reported this week that the now-Chinese-owned Fisker Automotive and Technology Group will be re-launch the car to be built in Southern California. Renowned designer Heinrik Fisker created and launched the car some years ago competing with Tesla. Fisker could not sustain the project even with government grants and went into bankruptcy.
* In Detroit, the Drive Home Rally is being planned for the Thursday before the 2016 North American International Auto Show opens to the media. It's being staged by the Detroit Auto Dealers Association along with LeMay: America's Car Museum in Tacoma, Wash., which owns three iconic Detroit cars that will trek cross-country to take part in the festivities. Those cars – a 1957 Chevy Nomad, a 1961 Chrysler 300 and a 1964 Mustang -- are part of the collection owned by the late Harold May. They will leave the museum in early January and travel cross-country, stopping in towns to tout the Detroit show. Local and national celebrities will be invited to drive the cars.
* GM has finished processing 4,342 claims for faulty ignition switches. They are responsible for at least 124 deaths and 266 injuries. Of the total, 80 percent — or 3,499 — were deemed ineligible and 453 were deficient. Twenty-four of the 453 deficient claims allege that the switches caused a death. The rest claim injuries. The final number may rise based on supporting documentation of the deficient claims. Victims' families are being offered compensation of at least $1 million each.
* GM is recalling about 47,000 Chevrolet Caprices, from the 2011 through 2013 model years and Pontiac G8s from model years 2008 and 2009 to fix seat belts. Most Caprices were sold as police vehicles.
* A new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle says that the level of concern about riding in a completely self-driving vehicle remains high. Report respondents said overwhelmingly they want to be able to manually control a completely self-driving vehicle when desired.
* Toyota is recalling about 625,000 hybrid cars globally to fix a software glitch that could, in limited cases, shut down the hybrid system while the car is being driven. Models affected are certain Prius v minivans, called Prius alpha and Prius+ in some markets, among other models, produced between May 2010 and November 2014.
*There's another new study on car colors. According to the automotive researchers at iSeeCars.com, in 2014 women preferred gold, silver and beige. Men preferred orange, brown and yellow. Black, white and silver are still the top picks overall. Red has slipped a bit in the rankings.