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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Digest - December 21-27, 2015; Foogle?, Titan, Recalls, FIA Sans Nissan, Diesel PU


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, December 27, 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 1,959,659 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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* Rumors abounded this week about a partnership between Ford and Google to develop Autonomous Vehicles. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas may be the venue for the announcement since Ford CEO Mark Fields is scheduled to be keynote speaker at CES. The show has increasingly become focused on automobile electronics. We’ve heard for some time now that “Ford is not just a car maker, but it is a mobility company.”

* In Ford's recently made-available fourth edition micro-trend report for 2016, Looking Further with Ford, their data says 76-percent of American's intend to keep a new car for at least ten years when they do buy. Ford reports that the proportion of worldwide city dwellers is projected to rise to near 70-percent by 2050 up from 54-percent in 2007. The percentage of adults who say they could see themselves buying a self-driving car in the future ranges from a high of 84% in India to a low of 30% in the U.K. In the U.S. it's 40%. AND, the first humans expected to live to age 150 are already alive, according to experts on aging and longevity.

* U.S. average gasoline prices dropped below $2 per gallon for the first time since March 25, 2009, during the depths of the great recession, according to AAA’s survey of gasoline prices nationwide. The national average price of gas has dropped to $1.998 per gallon. Prices range from a low average of $1.77 of to a high of $2.72 in California. In some stains gasoline os under $1.60. Inflation adjusted gasoline prices have not been this low since the 1970s.

* The bad news on low gasoline prices is that American companies who are in the oil exploration business are losing their shirt. Many have shut down and gone bankrupt. Some state economies that rely on oil production like Alaska are impacted and income taxes are now being considered for the first time in decades. The Middle East oil cartel "owns" oil pricing and they don't want the American companies making money. It's politics.

* Oh, by the way, car makers say that due to federally imposed standards for better fuel economy they will need to make more engines with high-compression that will correspondingly require premium fuel(but not if they use E 85), In ten years the number of cars that will need premium fuel will double or even triple. Take note that U.S. shale oil sourced by fracking has a lower base octane most suitable for low-octane regular grade gasoline production.

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added one to the number of deaths attributed to defective airbag inflators made by Takata. The count in now 8 in the U.S. and 9 worldwide. This new death happened near Pittsburgh in July in a recalled 2001 Honda Accord. NHTSA also announced that more cars, perhaps a few hundred thousand in all from Mazda, Honda and Subaru, will be added to the recall list. NHTSA stats show only about 1/4 of all recalled vehicles have been repaired.

* The UAW filed a formal complaint with the National Labor Relations Board this week claiming that VW failed to negotiate in good faith a new contract with skilled tradesmen at the Chattanooga, TN assembly plant. The union was able to organize only the skilled trades unit of the plant after Tennessee politicians threatened reprisals against VW if unions achieved a foothold there. VW has also asked the NLRB to undo the representation vote by the skilled trades unit.

* Nissan announced pricing for the ground-breaking new Titan XD, 5/8 ton pickup this week. That truck is meant to slot between basic 1500-style trucks from the Detroit-Three truck makers and their heavy-duty 2500 models. Prices range from the XD S Crew Cab rear-wheel drive version that starts at $41,485 up to the top-of-the-line Platinum Reserve 4X4 at $61,715. The pickup will be available in a variety of cab configurations and frame sizes while three engine options will be offered including a 5.0-liter Cummins turbo diesel.

* On December 30 be sure to watch Jerry Seinfeld and President Obama on the season premier of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" as they circle the White House South Lawn in a '63 Corvette Sting Ray split window coupe. You can see it at

* The National Corvette Museum has maintained a Hall of Fame since 1998 to honor individuals who have been influential in Corvette history. Selected individuals are honored in the categories of Racing, GM/Chevrolet and Enthusiast. This year’s honorees are professional race driver Bob Bondurant, former GM executive Ralph Kramer and recreational racer Donna Mae Mims. These three Corvette boosters will be inducted during the 19th Annual Corvette Hall of Fame Ceremony on Friday, September 2, 2016 during the NCM’s 22nd Anniversary Celebration that runs September 1-3, 2016.

* Nissan announced that it will withdraw its LMP1 entry from the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. Nissan entered LMP1 in the 2015 season with an innovative new, and bold concept, with the ambition to compete at the front of the field. The Nissan radical GT-R LM NISMO – a front-engined, front-wheel drive LMP1 viability had been questioned by many from the start.

* Ferrari is recalling up to 185 California T models because of the risk of fire from a fuel leak in a low-pressure fuel line that may not connect properly to the fuel pump’s feed pipe. The model year 2016 vehicles were manufactured from Sept. 8 to Nov. 11.

* Mitsubishi is recalling roughly 25,000 Mirage sedans from model years 2014 and 2015 on concerns that certain wires could corrode and cause issues to the vehicle’s air bag systems. The vehicles affected were manufactured from August 2013 to September 2015 and were sold in states on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

* Ford is recalling about 313,000 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis large cars in North America because the headlights can go dark and cause a crash. The recall covers cars from the 2003 to 2005 model years. Former police cars now used as taxis are in the dark.

* Three antique cars leave the LeMay Museum, more properly known as America’s Car Museum, in Tacoma, Washington for a 2,400-mile, mid-winter drive to Detroit this weekend to promote both the museum and the North American International Auto Show. Called “A Drive Home” it involves nearly ten days on the road with a ’57 Chevy Nomad, a ’61 Chrysler 300G and a ’66 Mustang. Watch for daily reports here on The Auto Channel.

* We all know about air bags for cars. How about an air bag for a World Cup downhill ski racer? Matthias Mayer of Austria crashed in a ski race and it was the first time ever a safety air bag was inflated during a race. When Mayer crashed an air bag vest under his race suit inflated and softened his landing.

* As 2015 comes to a close we with you a safe and happy new year. We'll see you again in 2016.