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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Digest - January 18-24, 2016 : VW Lying; 47 cent Gas; Recall Record;Citroen Returning?; NASCAR HofF


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, January 24, 2016; 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 and driving fan 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 1,966,005 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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* President Obama visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week for the first time since becoming president. His visit was to celebrate the success of the auto industry, according to pre-visit publicity, and to see the vehicles and technology firsthand. Only two other presidents have visited the show in it’s 100+ year history - Bill Clinton and Dwight Eisenhower. Accompanying him on the show floor tour were show chairman Paul Sabatini, a car dealer, and UAW president Dennis Williams.

* As major auto makers continue to redefine themselves as “mobility” or “transportation” companies in order to encompass the rapidly changing vehicle landscape, GM announced this week consolidation and expansion of its car-sharing programs assigning its own brand - Maven. Customers will be able to use a smartphone app to get a Chevrolet vehicle for as little as $6/hour. The first iteration of the new project will be 21 vehicles in Ann Arbor, MI. GM also announced further investments of $500 million in Lyft, an Uber-like service, and the purchase of another ride sharing company called Sidecar Technologies. Additional city-based programs will launch in major U.S. metropolitan areas later this year. Not wasting any time, during this week a Chicago program was in the news.

* Green Car Journal has announced the winners of its 2016 Green Car Awards during the Washington Auto Show's Public Policy Day in Washington DC. Distinguished as 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year is Volvo's new XC90 T8. The Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid tops the field as 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year and Honda's HR-V earns Green Car Journal's 2016 Green SUV of the Year.

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a 10th fatality attributed to a faulty Takata airbag, significantly expanding vehicles that will be affected by recalls. The newly identified death was the result of a 2006 Ford Ranger pickup that crashed. Now NHTSA will be looking at Ford, VW, Audi, Honda, Daimler, Mazda, Saab and BMW. Owners can go to www.SaferCar.gov or to the NHTSA Website to see if their vehicle is affected.

* Litigation began with a surprise this week on the first of a series of trials related to GM’s faulty ignition switches. The first case, called by plaintiff attorneys, was dismissed when it was determined that the plaintiff and his wife lied about his physical condition and relevant financial issues. The plaintiff, Robert Scheuer, and his wife, Lisa, will be charged with forgery and tampering with documents. It will be up to GM to select the next case to be heard.

* Reuters reported this week that the software cheating on VW’s diesel emissions was an “open secret in the company department striving to make its engines meet environmental standards.” The issue apparently came to light when a whistleblower who was part of the process revealed what was going on to an outside department manager. That manager did not take any action. The company still claims that only a few people knew of the cheating software

* Saint-Gobain Sekurit and Corning Inc. have established a joint venture to develop, manufacture and sell lightweight automotive glazing. Corning Gorilla Glass (that's what's on your smart phone) and Sekurit automotive glass offers advantages to reduce vehicle weight that will help to improve fuel consumption, environmental impact and handling. Saint-Gobain is the world leader in the habit and construction market.

* Would you believe 47 cents a gallon for gasoline. A gas price war in a northern Michigan location briefly sent prices to a back-to-the-'60s low, according to GasBuddy and area TV stations. Lucky motorists in Houghton Lake, Michigan were able to fuel up with the ultra-low-price regular gas on Sunday. Prices fluctuated, but at one point dropped to 77 cents a gallon. Later, they briefly hit a low of 47 cents a gallon. The cost is well below the $1.89-a-gallon national price.

* A University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's report from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle details recent decreases in the proportion of persons with a driver's license across all age groups. The report documents that fewer and fewer have a license. For example, the percentage of 20- to 24-year-olds was at 76.7% in 2014. Similar declines are occurring with older drivers.

* According to an article published by SAE International, CitroŽn may return to the U.S market. The possible move into the North American market would be a PSA Group decision. Peugeot ended its North America sales in 1991 and CitroŽn officially in 1974. Linda Jackson, the U.K. born CEO of the thoroughly French OEM, described North America as a “difficult” market for reasons that include distribution. But depending on just what it designs and builds over the next five years, CitroŽn could establish a significant niche presence in the US.

* 2015 was a big year for auto recalls. NHTSA says over 51 million vehicles were recalled; the 2014 number was just under 51 million. There were almost 900 separate recalls, up from 803 in 2014.

* As we know any connection with a celebrity will spike the price of a classic, collector or vintage car. Here is an opportunity to spend some big money. Jerry Seinfeld is culling his collection by sending three of his special Porsches to the upcoming Gooding & Company, Amelia Island auction - a blue 1955 550 Spyder , a green 1958 356A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster and a yellow 1974 911 Carrera 3.0 IROC RSR. All three are expected to sell in the millions of dollar range.

* Ford Explorer fans should be on the lookout for more than a UFO sighting when the acclaimed pop culture phenomenon “The X-Files” returns to television Sunday. A Ford Explorer Platinum will carry FBI Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) throughout the highly anticipated six-episode series. Along with the appearance of Explorer, an Escape, Mustang and black Taurus will be featured throughout the season as well.

* The iconic Rally Monte Carlo opened the FIA World Rally Championship this week. The “Monte” is renowned for its tricky mixture of conditions. The constant changes from sheer ice to asphalt – sometimes dry, sometimes wet – kept the drivers and co-drivers on their toes at all times. Entries from VW, CitroŽn, Ford and Hyundai are among the top.

* Motorsports was also impacted by Winter Storm Jonas. Pushed back by one day, the NASCAR Hall of Fame inducted its Class of 2016 Saturday afternoon in Uptown Charlotte. Four legendary drivers and one titan of a track owner and promoter are the latest additions. O. Bruton Smith, executive chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., entered the Hall with "Iceman" Terry Labonte, six-time NASCAR Modified champion Jerry Cook, 1970 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bobby Isaac and flamboyant Curtis Turner, who was instrumental in raising the profile of stock car racing during NASCAR’s early days.

* And lastly, in the late 1950s, Maria Teresa de Filippis became the first woman to compete in Formula 1 grand prix racing. We mourn her passing at age 89.