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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Digest - December 14-20, 2015; VW Fix, Noisy Ferrari's, Mazda Leads MPG, Tesla Sells Emission Credits, Purdy Driving Home to NAIAS, Rain Man Buick, Jeep Recall


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, December 20, 2015; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Car Guy 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 wish to know more just click on the link that will take you to the full story as published here on The Auto Channel.

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 1,958,999 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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* The historic "Paris Agreement" first ever global pact to fight climate change calls for the world to cut and then eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2100. That means for the transportation industry they will have to stop emitting greenhouse gases from burning oil, that is, gasoline and diesel fuel in all vehicles.

* Bloomberg News reports that Volkswagen AG received regulatory approval for technical plans to fix 8.5 million diesel engines in Europe equipped with software that cheats on emissions tests, enabling the company to start resolving a scandal that has hurt sales since September. The recall program, scheduled to start early next year, applies to 1.2-liter, 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter engines, and the German clearance extends across the European Union’s 28 national markets, the Wolfsburg-based carmaker said in a statement. The 1.2-liter and 2.0-liter engines need only a software upgrade, while the 1.6-liter engine will also require installation of a piece of mesh to regulate air flow. A fix for cars in the U.S. is still being reviewed by the agencies.

* Volkswagen in the U.S. announced that it has retained attorney Kenneth R. Feinberg, managing partner of The Law Offices of Kenneth R. Feinberg, PC, to design and administer an independent claims resolution program to address claims related to the 2.0L and 3.0L TDI vehicles affected by the emissions compliance issue.

* Pininfarina is a styling company best known for its stunning designs of famous car brands -- including Ferrari, GM, Peugeot and the Alfa Romeo. Started 85 years ago by founder Battista 'Pinin' Farina, the company is the Italian symbol for jaw-dropping car designs. It has designed almost 1,000 cars across brands over the years. Tech Mahindra Limited, a leading provider of IT, Networks and Engineering solutions and BPO services, and Mahindra & Mahindra, part of the global $ 16.9 billion Mahindra Group, have jointly entered into an agreement with Pincar S.r.l., to purchase a controlling stake in Pininfarina S.p.A., an iconic Italian brand in automotive and industrial design.

* As a variety of manufacturers put millions of dollars into the development of autonomous, self-driving cars they have now hit a big bump in the road. Much of the development is being done in California and the DMV unveiled precedent-setting draft rules that would slow the public's access to self-driving cars of the future until regulators are confident the technology is safe. That cautious approach requires that the cars have a steering wheel, and a licensed driver must be ready to take over if the machine fails. Initially, autonomous car drivers may even need a special license. That effectively eliminates robotic taxis and related uses. Companies doing the research say the state is putting limits on the technologies and limited their rollout. The rules may change before they are finalized later in 2016.

* The Environmental Protection Agency said that fuel economy rose in 2014 for all new cars and trucks to a record average of 24.3 miles per gallon. That's up 0.2 mpg from 24.1 mpg the year before. Mazda had the highest adjusted fuel economy for model-year 2014 of 29.4 mpg. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV had the lowest adjusted fuel economy of 20.8 mpg for the 2014 model year.

* Tesla makes money not from its cars but from selling greenhouse gas emissions credits. FCA, which lags the automobile industry in fuel efficiency, purchased U.S. greenhouse gas emissions credits from rival automakers Tesla as well as Toyota and Honda. Tesla sold all of its 2013 and 2014 greenhouse gas emissions credits to Fiat Chrysler. Tesla earned $216.3 million in all regulatory credit sales in 2014 and $194.4 million in 2013.

* The residents of Ferrari's hometown of Maranello, Italy have gotten tired of the roar of engines. It seems a number of test-drive businesses have been set-up in the city to allow visitors to drive any one of 37 different Ferrari cars. The howl of engines is waking residents from their afternoon naps and the risk of speeding cars is a safety issue. The city of Maranello has imposed hours of operation restrictions on the businesses.

* The world’s oldest Jeep, which is actually a Ford, was officially added to the National Historic Vehicle Register. The Ford Pygmy GP-001 is one of three prototypes made by automakers for the U.S. Army at the start of World War II.

* Hagerty, the insurer and vehicle valuation tracking company based in Traverse City, Michigan, said in its annual collector car market recap that there was a record $1.45 billion in sales at North American classic car auctions in 2015. There was a 21 percent increase in the average sales price to $79,100, mostly driven by the high end of the market. The average median price of $26,400 increased 4 percent.

* The “Rain Man” a 1949 Buick Roadmaster convertible will be featured at the 21st Annual Amelia Island Concours on March 16th. One of the most recognizable of movie cars this old Buick in soft yellow was restored by Wayne Carini for the movie’s director Barry Levinson. The movie’s premise involved Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman playing brothers on a cross country drive. The car was essentially another star of the film. Concours founder and chairman Bill Warner made the announcement this week praising the car’s forward-looking design as well as its Hollywood credentials.

* The always-quotable Bernie Ecclestone, big boss at Formula One racing, said this week that “Formula One is crap." He was complaining that the rule-making procedure is not able to keep up with the need to adapt to technological changes in the race cars’ power trains and other rules. He cited many instances where a driver and car qualified for a race up front then gets pushed back by changes to engines or transmissions. Ecclestone also announced that there will be no German Grand Prix in 2017 due to waning F1 popularity in that country.

* In other racing news, we learned this week that the internationally popular Red Bull Air Races will come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 1 & 2, 2016. There are eight races in the series with two in the U.S. The Red Bull Las Vegas race continues and this Indy venue replaces the former Texas race. Planes will fly around inflatable pylons at about 60 feet off the ground. These racing planes are the aeronautical equivalent of sports car racing - that is, small, manoeuvrable vehicles with very powerful engines. 

* We learned some of the details of the project called “A Drive Home” mounted by The LeMay - America’s Car Museum and the North American International (Detroit) Auto Show. Three antique cars from the LeMay - 1957 Chevy Nomad, 1961 Chrysler 300G and a 1966 Mustang - will be driven from the museum in Tacoma, WA across most of the U.S. to the Auto Show in Detroit in time for the opening of the show in early January. LeMay director David Madeira insists “these cars are meant to be driven.” Our own Detroit editor for The Auto Channel, Steve Purdy, will be driving three legs of the journey from Boise, ID to Denver. Watch for frequent post here on TAC.

* FCA is recalling nearly 56,000 Jeep Cherokee SUVs worldwide to fix a water leak that can cause an electrical short in the power tailgates. The recall covers Cherokees from the 2015 and 2016 model years.