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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - October 26-Nov 1, 2015: Tokyo, Great New Diesels For Europe (Not USA), 2016 Camaro Cometh, Of Course Recalls


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, November 1, 2015; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Bureau Chief along with fellow senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, give you TACH's "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 1,951,213 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 Digest - November 1, 2015;

* Center stage at the Tokyo Motor Show press previews are cars that don't pollute, drive themselves and entertain passengers with on-line social media and movies. Why? Not unlike the U.S., Japan's younger generation is not interested in owning or driving cars and car companies are trying to woo them back.

* One of the most talked about unveilings at this week’s big Tokyo Motor Show was the striking Mazda RX-VISION concept sports car. While no promises of production were forthcoming the dramatic new RX will have a new version of the quirky rotary engine that Mazda alone has championed over past generations. While the quick-revving rotary engine featuring a curved triangular rotor has always had issues around durability, emissions and fuel economy, Mazda thinks it has mitigated these shortcomings.

* Nissan presented its vision of the near future of both EV and autonomous driving technologies at the Tokyo Motor show with their EDS Concept. Showing dramatic design way beyond the stodgy look of the current Leaf EV, the EDS Concept incorporates artificial intelligence to support autonomous operation with the zero-emissions powertrain. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said these technologies "will revolutionise the relationship between car and driver, and future mobility.” The EDS Concept has twice the battery pack and range of the Leaf.

* Next week’s news will be dominated by reveals at the annual SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show in Las Vegas. The SEMA Show is billed as the largest trade show in the world and takes over the town. In addition to aftermarket companies the OEMs always have a huge presence there as well. Toyota, for example, will show 14 custom vehicles from off-roaders to race cars to concepts and heritage vehicles.

* Volkswagen AG lost the lead in global auto sales to Toyota Motor Corp. after claiming the No. 1 spot three months ago, as the German carmaker braces for consumer blowback from a widening emissions-cheating scandal. Toyota said it sold 7.49 million vehicles this year through September, topping the 7.43 million that Volkswagen reported earlier this month. Deliveries declined 1.5 percent for both Toyota and Volkswagen. GM is third globally.

* Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports that European new-car registrations for September show no slow down for VW. VW is benefiting from the broad sales recovery in Europe. Audi and Skoda brands continue to rise, since consumers in Europe don't connect them with the Volkswagen brand.

* In the wake of the diesel scandal, VW reaffirmed plans for expansion of their only U.S. manufacturing facility. The Chattanooga, TN assembly plant will soon add a newly developed midsize SUV for the U.S. market to begin production near the end of 2016 adding 2,000 jobs at the plant and costing around $600 million. VW’s U.S. boss Michael Horn said the U.S. is one of the company’s most important markets and that they will work toward regaining trust in the VW brand.

* A white paper from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute authored by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle examines whether self-driving vehicles should be subjected to a licensing test as people are, and if so, whether the licensing process should be analogous to the current graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems for novice young drivers. For self-driving vehicles, in contrast to novice human drivers, experience under one set of conditions that requires certain hardware or software capabilities does not improve performance under a different set of conditions that requires different hardware or software capabilities. A self driving vehicle either has the hardware and software to deal with a particular situation, or it does not. If it does not, experience in other situations will not be of benefit.

* And also, UoM's TRI conducted a preliminary analysis of the cumulative on-road safety record of self driving vehicles for three of the ten companies that are currently approved for such vehicle testing in California (Google, Delphi, and Audi). The analysis compared the safety record of these vehicles with the safety record of all conventional vehicles in the U.S. for 2013 (adjusted for underreporting of crashes that do not involve a fatality). Although the distance accumulated by self-driving vehicles is still relatively low (about 1.2 million miles, compared with about 3 trillion annual miles in the U.S. by conventional vehicles), the current best estimate is that self-driving vehicles have a higher crash rate per million miles traveled than conventional vehicles, and similar patterns were evident for injuries per million miles traveled and for injuries per crash.

* Two all-new downsized turbo gas engines will power the next generation Civic in Europe, Honda announced this week. The 1.0- and 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines were designed and developed in Japan and feature super-efficient turbos with “low moment of inertia,” direct injection and variable valve motion to minimise friction. The 10th generation Civic in Europe will be available in 2017. The new engines are part of Honda’s “Earth Dreams Technology,” a moniker first used on the 2.0-liter VTEC turbo powering the current Civic Type R. The 10th generation Civic in the U.S. began production this week in the Greensburg, IN plant and will be at dealers in November.

* The first regular production models of the new 2016 Chevy Camaro began coming off the production line at the Lansing, MI Grand River Assembly plant this week and will be available at dealerships by mid November. The new Camaro starts at $26,695 and tops out at $37,295 for the 1SS model. Six powertrain options are offered including a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder. Convertibles will be built beginning early next year. This is the first U.S.-built Camaro in many years as production was moved to Lansing from Canada where it will be built along side Cadillac’s CTS and ATS

* GM warns to leave your car parked outside. Don't put it in a garage. Why? It's recall number three for GM and 1.4 million cars that can leak oil and catch fire, in some instances damaging garages and homes. The recall is needed because repairs from the first two recalls didn’t work. The latest recall includes 3.8-L V6 models of: the 1997-2004 Pontiac Grand Prix and Buick Regal; the 2000-2004 Chevrolet Impala; the 1998 and 1999 Chevrolet Lumina and Oldsmobile Intrigue; and the 1998-2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

* The National Transportation Safety Board said the U.S. system for tire registration is ineffective and called for mandatory tire registration, saying that at least 500 crash deaths a year are linked to tire problems. Between 2009-2013, 3.2 million tires were recalled – but just 44 percent were replaced. And in a typical tire recall, just 20 percent are fixed.

* Ford is recalling 129,000 2009-10 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX SUVs in states that use road salt for rust problems under the reinforcement brackets where the fuel tank is mounted to the vehicle. That's 22 states, DC, and 7 Canada provinces who are rust makers.