Nutson's Mega-Sized Auto News Tweets February 22-28, 2016
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, February 28, 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 mega-tweet sized 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 put them in context with the past 20 year's 1,970,443 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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Automotive News February 22-28, 2016
* The Chicago Auto Show concluded a successful nine-day run this past weekend. Highlights included more than 20 vehicles that made their global debut, a dazzling array of concept cars, participation from every volume manufacturer and three indoor test tracks. Consumers also have a voice at the Chicago Auto Show. In the 11th annual Best of Show balloting, attendees selected the following winners in five categories: Best All-New Production: Lexus LC 500, Best Concept Vehicle: Buick Avista, Best Green Vehicle: Chevrolet Volt, Best Exhibit: Chevrolet, and Vehicle I'd most like to have in my driveway: Ford GT. #CAS16
* Ford unveiled a freshened version of its Kuga at the Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. Ford CEO Mark Fields said the automaker plans to triple its engineering investment in driver assist and semi autonomous vehicle technology over the next five years. In our news summary just last week we mentioned that more and more automakers are shunning traditional auto shows to launch new products.
* Consumer Reports’ 2016 Top Picks list, Car Brand Report Cards and more from the Annual Auto Issue were released at a press conference before the Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) in Washington, D.C. Consumer Reports’ 2016 Top Picks By Category are: MIDSIZE CAR: Toyota Camry, SUBCOMPACT CAR: Honda Fit, COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza, LUXURY SUV: Lexus RX, SPORTS CAR <$40K: Mazda MX-5 MIATA, SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester, MIDSIZE SUV: Kia Sorento, MINIVAN: Toyota Sienna, PICKUP TRUCK: Ford F-150 and LARGE CAR: Chevrolet Impala.
* Don't judge a book by its cover. We agree a vehicle should please its owner from the outside but the inside is where we spend all our time. Autotrader.com has named 10 Must-Experience Interiors for Under $40,000. They are: 2016 Acura RDX, 2017 Buick LaCrosse, 2016 Chevrolet Camaro, 2017 Ford Fusion, 2016 Jaguar XE, 2016 Kia Optima, 2016 Lexus NX, 2016 Lincoln MKC, 2016 Nissan Murano and 2016 Toyota Prius.
* Problems with technology continue to affect vehicle reliability according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS). The number of problems with audio, communication, entertainment and navigation has increased and now accounts for 20% of all customer-reported problems. Lexus ranks highest in vehicle dependability among all nameplates for a fifth consecutive year, with a score of 95 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). Porsche (97 PP100) follows Lexus in the rankings, moving up from fifth in 2015. Following Porsche in the rankings are Buick (106 PP100), Toyota (113 PP100) and GMC (120 PP100).
* Japan Today reports that China’s auto sales rose nearly 8% year-on-year in January ahead of national holidays, an industry group said, picking up pace in a traditionally strong period for car purchases. China is the world's largest car market. GM sold more than 420,000 vehicles, up 7.3% year-on-year, according to the company. Ford said sales surged 36% to a record 130,832 last month, helped by purchases of SUVs.
* Automotive News reports that U.S. authorities have asked Volkswagen to build electric vehicles in the United States as a way of making up for its rigging of emission tests, the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported. The paper said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was asking VW to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink…meaning, who will buy these VWEVs.
* VW may appear to be dragging its feet in coming up with a fix for the nearly 600,000 diesel cars in the U.S. After six months of back and forth, a federal judge in California gave VW just one month to come up with answers for a technical fix and how they will settle with owners.
* NACS On line reported that although uncertainty followed on the heels of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal as to how it would impact overall vehicle sales, the verdict appears to be out. The Wall Street Journal, citing data from WardsAuto.com, is reporting that there were 222 diesel-powered cars sold in the U.S. in January, a sharp decline from the 4,448 sold in the same period a year ago, and down about a third of the 631 sold in December 2015. Diesel car sales for 2015 peaked in May, when 9,300 units were sold. However, WardsAuto.com reported strong demand for diesel in light trucks throughout the Volkswagen scandal, “reflecting a wider migration among buyers to heavier vehicles,” notes the Journal. But in January 2016, automakers sold almost 22,000 diesel light-trucks, a 16% decline compared with January 2015.
* We've heard a lot recently about exploding air bags made by Takata. A team of rocket scientists hired by a coalition of ten automakers have determined that multiple factors — including moisture and high humidity — can cause some Takata air bags to inflate with too much force and hurl shrapnel at drivers and passengers. Globally about 50 million air bags have been recalled and there could be another 50 million that need to be. To go along with this news, a report published by the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation shows Takata, after a review of company documents, tried to minimize the defect and lied about test data.
* Ford issued two separate safety recalls for about 55,000 total vehicles in North America. The largest recall was for 51,500 2015-2016 Ford Transit wagons for a potential issue with rear seat belt buckles. Ford issued a separate recall for approximately 3,700 2016 Ford F-150 trucks equipped with multi-contour seats.
* A few weeks ago we mentioned the uproar over proposed regulations from EPA that would affect the conversion of street cars to race cars. The EPA has reversed a decades-long exemption to federal emissions laws that allowed racers to modify production cars for track use. This matter is still brewing. “The EPA is making up rules as they go along. Nobody believes they have the authority to regulate race cars,” says Congressman Doug LaMalfa, R-California. “Congress will do whatever it takes to make this right — including legislation.”
* In the NASCAR opener, it was 0.01 seconds and the closest finish ever in the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin beat Martin Truex, Jr to win the Great American Race, both driving Toyotas. It was the first win for Toyota in the 500 and the first victory for Joe Gibbs Racing since 1993. Rookie pole-sitter Chase Elliott finished 37th after an early spin and crash. Toyota took 4 of the top 5 spots.
* The 2016 NASCAR season is just underway and we're already talking about 2017. The news being that Stewart-Haas Racing announced it would switch to Ford next season. SHR may doing more things on their own, like build chassis, while getting engines from Ford supplier Roush Yates Engines. SHR won the 2011 Sprint Cup title with Tony Stewart and the 2014 title with Kevin Harvick in Chevrolet cars. Its four-car stable will include Harvick, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer in 2017.
* Nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017 are team owner Jack Roush, drivers Ricky Rudd and Ron Hornaday, engine builder Waddell Wilson and broadcaster Ken Squier. Voting for the five-member class will be on May 25.