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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Recap - W/O Sept 14-20, 2015 - Frankfurt Features, MB PU, VW in HW, UAW, EU OK, Toyota Recall


By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

AUTO CENTRAL - CHICAGO - September 20, 2015; Every Sunday, along with fellow 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 1,930,137 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 - September 14-20, 2015

* This is a big week in the automobile business as the important Frankfurt Motor Show, which marks the start of the new auto show season, began with previews for the press. The buzz is all about connectivity rather than horsepower and torque as has been in previous years. Porsche brought a beautiful concept called “Mission E”, an electric sports car to challenge Tesla. The 800-volt motor makes 600 horsepower and nearly infinite torque which they say will be good for a neck-injuring 0-to-60 time of 3.5 seconds, a range of 500 kilometers and can be charged to 80% in just 15 minutes with a 400-volt quick-charging station. The holographic displays inside recognize gestures to control functions.

* In other news from Frankfurt amidst the talk of self-driving cars, EVs and the linking of cars with data networks: Porsche showed the new 911; Bentley presented the Bentayga (video), fastest and most expensive SUV yet; VW brought a new Golf GTI “Clubsport” to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Golf model; Hyundai revealed its new sport division to be called “N”; Jeep teased the press with 3 custom concepts; and, Jaguar Land Rover showed a variety of cars and trucks that will be in the new Bond movie “SPECTRE.” Frankfurt is the year’s most important motor show in Europe and you can find lots of details here on TAC.

* We learned a bit more about the rumored Mercedes-Benz pickup truck this week. It will be based on Nissan’s Navara NP300 one-ton pickup built in Spain and sold in a number of markets around the world. Drawings with a distinctively M-B look showed up during this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show where M-B boss Dieter Zetsche promised it would reflect the “safety, comfort, powertrains and values” of the brand. Both Nissan and Renault have versions of the pickup but the M-B will go considerably upscale from those according the Volker Mornhinweg, head of M-B vans.

* GM reached an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office this week on a settlement of the ignition switch recall fiasco that has already cost the company well over a billion dollars. GM will now pay $900 million in financial penalties and agree to further cooperation and establishment of an internal monitor to "assess discrete areas relating to safety issues and recalls.” In return the government will hold off on any criminal prosecutions for three years and, if requirements are met, they will seek dismissal of the charges. The settlement left many cold especially the victims families.

* Scandal Allert: VW is facing serious scrutiny over accusations they employed a “defeat device” for 4-cylinder diesel engines for U.S. vehicles that could detect when the car was being tested for emissions and make the engine controls operate differently than in normal driving. The EPA issued a Notice of Violation and close to a half-million cars may need to be recalled to defeat the defeater. VW says they are cooperating with the investigation.

* John Krafcik, former Ford executive and CEO of Hyundai Motor America, one of the most admired and respected top executives in the business, was named CEO of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project this week. After leaving Hyundai Krafcik headed TrueCar, a California-based car purchasing service. Google’s autonomous cars have logged more than a million miles around the Mountain View, California headquarters and Austin, Texas. Updated versions of the cars are being engineered and built near Detroit.

* UAW contract negotiations have been going on with the three Detroit-based car companies. FCA the smallest and weakest of the three was chosen as the lead pattern bargain company and a new agreement was reached this week. Typically the strongest company is chosen to get the best deal. The thinking is to get a deal with FCA that the other two can accept but then bargain for more from the stronger two companies.

* August was a good month in Europe too with new-car sales rising 11 percent, the second-largest gain this year. SUVs also are hot in Europe with big sales by Renault, Citroen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Registrations jumped to 781,676 vehicles last month from 701,251 a year earlier, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA). Eight-month sales increased 8.6 percent to 9.38 million autos.

* Reader’s Digest announced the results of the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brand Survey, which makes its debut in the United States in the October issue. More than 4,500 Americans across the nation took part in the online survey, which awarded the “Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brand” title to winners in 40 product categories, including hair color, vitamin supplement, laundry detergent, coffee retailer, cold cereal, pet food, bottled water, body lotion/moisturizer and more. In the automobile category (car/SUV) the most trusted domestic is Ford and non-domestic (import) is Toyota, and for automotive insurance it's State Farm.

* Toyota is recalling about 423,000 RAV SUVs for windshield wiper issues. The recall covers 421,000 2009-2012 RAV4 and 2,500 2012-2014 RAV4 EV SUVs in the United States.