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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - November 9-15, 2015: Of Course Recalls: Of Course VW; New Chevy Caddy GMC,Buick, More EV Stuff and AVG.MPG Down


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, November 15, 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.

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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - November 15, 2015;

* Cadillac unveiled its all-new 2017 XT5 crossover on the eve of the Dubai auto show. Production of the XT5, which replaces the SRX, will begin in spring 2016 in the U.S. and China. Cadillac plans to show the XT5 again next week at the Los Angeles auto show. We ask: Does the Dubai auto show now need to be added to the list of global shows that are a "must attend" for the automotive media?

* EuroCarBody Award 2015 goes to the Carbon Core Body of the New BMW 7 Series. Unique composite material made of CFRP, aluminium and steel developed as part of BMW EfficientLightweight for the new generation of the luxury sedan receives the world's leading award for innovations in body construction with a new record score.

* Kelley Blue Book said that the redesigned 2016 Honda Civic is its overall Best Buy of 2016 award winner. The Civic, priced starting at less than $20,000, was the overall winner and also took honors for tops of any small car because of its new looks, above segment interior, new powertrain and technology.

* Mazda was awarded 2016 Best Car Brand by U.S. News & World Report. Mazda is the first recipient of the 2016 Best Card Brand award. This new award is part of the newly introduced 2016 Best Vehicle Brands award series which joins the website's annual Best Cars for the Money and Best Cars for Families awards. The new awards are limited to four categories: 2016 Best Car Brand, 2016 Best SUV Brand, 2016 Best Truck Brand and 2016 Best Luxury Brand.

* The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's latest report from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle says the average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in October was 25.0 mpg—down 0.2 mpg from September. This decline likely reflects the decreased price of gasoline in October, and the consequent increased sales of pickup trucks and SUVs. Fuel economy is down 0.8 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but still up 4.9 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of our monitoring).

* To buy back some good will, VW is offering a $500 Visa debit card, which can be spent on anything, and a $500 dealership credit to owners of 482,000 diesel cars caught in the emissions scandal. VW TDI owners will also get three years of free roadside assistance. Audi owners will get the same. VW's U.S. boss Michael Horn calls this a “first step toward regaining our customers’ trust.” Owners must go to the VW website: and enter vehicle ID to see if the car qualifies.

* Germany says it will retest all VW products sold in that country to see if actual CO2 levels exceed limits, not just the diesel products VW has already admitted to cheating on. The company recently revealed that several 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter diesels as well as one gasoline engine powering VW, Skoda, SEAT and Audi cars could be out of compliance. The continuing revelations about the automakers’ troubles are beginning to cause concern for the overall health of the German economy that is heavily dependent on auto manufacturing.

* GM said its new 2016 GMC Canyon and 2016 Chevrolet Colorado diesel pickups will be EPA test rated a top-of-the segment 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for two-wheel drive versions of the pickups. The 31 mpg figure is tops for any U.S. truck. Closest competitors now are the Ram EcoDiesel at 29 mpg and F-150 with 2.7-liter V6 at 26 mpg. Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier are not in that hunt.

* Automotive News reported this week that Chinese electric car maker Karma Automotive, formerly Fisker, just inked a deal with BMW to share parts and technology. BMW will provide battery and drive systems and participate in platform development for new products. The new Chinese company is working toward reproducing the Fisker Karma, a gasoline/electric plug-in hybrid luxury car. Their next car is expected to be a full electric.

* The Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang has been named 2016 Road & Track Performance Car of the Year by a runaway vote – beating out seven of the world’s best new sports cars in a competition that evaluated the vehicles on both road and track.

* A new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists says that over their entire lifetimes—from manufacturing to driving to disposal—battery electric cars produce half the global warming emissions, on average, of comparably-sized gasoline cars. A car running on electricity produces pollution equivalent to a theoretical car getting 87 mpg. Go to to compare emissions by ZIP code, since electricity-generation sources vary around the country.

* Toyota will recall 31,000 Avalons and Lexus ES models in the U.S. due to a defect that could cause the automatic-braking system to activate during normal driving conditions. The recall covers 2013 through 2015 Avalon, Avalon Hybrid and Lexus models ES300h and ES350 sedans.

* Kia is recalling more than 256,000 Soul compact SUVs from the 2014 through 2016 model years in the U.S. because the steering could fail.

* A police officer in Mountain View, CA pulled over a Google self-driving car for going too slow. The car was traveling at 24mph on a 35mph road and there was a long line of traffic tied up behind it. The human in the car immediately took over the driving when the motorcycle police officer drive up along side. The "driver" was lectured for impeding the flow of traffic. Conflicting stories say no ticket was issued and others say the human got a ticket. Google's autonomous cars can go no faster than 25 mph.

* The UAW/GM labor deal went into a second round this week after the skilled trades unit voted it down after approval by the majority of workers. The four-year deal is still up for renewal but both parties agreed to extend the current contract until November 30th to address issues important to the skilled trades workers. Neither party would elaborate on what those issues are. Both skilled trades and production workers must approve the agreement separately. Ford also is working on getting a new contract ratified by its labor force.

* The Wall Street Journal reports that Buick will bring a Chinese-made small crossover to the U.S. market in 2016, making GM the second company to import a vehicle from China. The Envision is currently being sold in China. Details are sketchy. GM now sells more vehicles in China than in the U.S. and that has been the case with Buick for some years now. The first Chinese-made car to come to the U.S. earlier this year was Volvo’s Inscription a long-wheelbase S60 sedan.

* Two land-speed record 50th anniversaries were celebrated this week. At the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, on Nov. 12, 1965, the Summers brothers in their Goldenrod set a record of 409.277 MPH for a wheel-driven, naturally aspirated-engine vehicle. And, three days later on November 15, 1965 28-year-old Californian Craig Breedlove set a new land-speed record—600.601 miles per hour—in his car, the Spirit of America, which cost $250,000 and was powered by a surplus engine from a Navy jet.