Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest March 14-20, 2016
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, March 13, 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 1,973,660 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 Past Week's Automotive News Highlights In Easy To Digest Chunks
* The week's big news came from the National Highway Traffic Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announcing a deal with nearly all major automakers to equip most cars and light trucks with autonomous braking systems by 2022. These safety systems, available today on some cars, will automatically apply the vehicle's brakes with up to full force in order to prevent or mitigate a rear-end crash, say these safety agencies, and can prevent 40% of such incidents. Well-known safety advocate Joan Claybrook criticises the deal saying it will be unenforceable since it is being done outside the federal rule making process. Automakers making the commitment are Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car USA.
* Toyota will juggle nomenclature at next week’s New York International Auto Show. The Scion brand goes away but some products remain being rolled into the corporate product structure. The RWD little sport coupe co-designed with Subaru, formerly known as Scion FR-S, gets a modest refresh and becomes the Toyota 86 to honor the company’s racing history. The Scion iM becomes the Toyota Corolla iM and the Scion iA becomes Toyota Yaris iA.
* The New York Auto Show will be the scene of Alfa Romeo’s reveal of the full line of Giulia sedans headed for the North American market. We’ve already seen the 505-horsepower Quadrifoglio but we’ll also see in New York the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder making an impressive 276 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This rear-wheel drive sedan gets an 8-speed automatic and is said to be good for a 5.5-second 0 to 60 mph time. The other powertrain is a 3.8-liter V6 that will do 0 to 60 in 3.8 seconds.
* The American Horsepower Wars are on-going. Chevrolet unveiled the 2017 Camaro ZL1 with a new supercharged 6.2L V-8 engine estimated at 640 hp, and either a six-speed manual transmission with active rev matching or an all-new 10-speed automatic. Chevy hasn't released performance data, but just use your imagination. The Camaro ZL1 goes on sale late this year.
* Customer satisfaction with dealer service related to an automotive recall declines for the first time in six years, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study. The drop in satisfaction this year, which comes on the heels of a record number of recalls, stems from customers feeling that dealers do not give the same level of attention to recall work as they do to non-recall maintenance and repairs. Audi ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands. MINI ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among mass market brands.
* Chicago area folks who are looking to earn money driving for the ride-share service Lyft but who don't have a suitable car now can rent one from GM. The pilot program, which starts this month and is called Express Drive, will offer GM vehicles to Lyft drivers for $99 a week for up to eight weeks. The $99 will be waived to Lyft drivers in Chicago who log 65 or more rides per week. Lyft and Maven, GM's new car-sharing venture, will share the cost of insurance and maintenance. Low-mileage Chevrolet Equinox crossovers equipped with OnStar are being pulled from rental fleet programs for use in Chicago. Additional cities will be added to the program.
* New research from Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book offers an in-depth look at Generation Z…currently age from birth to 17 and about 23% of the population, delivering some surprising insights about how this new cohort differs greatly from the often-discussed Millennial generation that comes before it. The research says 92 percent of Gen Z own or plan to own a vehicle, and 97 percent have or plan to get a license. Compared to Gen Y, they are less materialistic, less "green", want more safety and want self-driving features for their safety aspect. And, interestingly, only one-quarter want to buy a vehicle on-line.
* The Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, a non-profit media association representing independent automotive journalists from 10 states including Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico named the 2016 Volvo XC90 crossover of the year, 2016 Toyota Tacoma pickup of the year and 2016 Honda Civic Sedan car of the year.
Commute Time Report
* A new report from INRIX, Inc says Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Houston, New York and Seattle rank as most congested cities in U.S., where commuters spent a total of 8 billion hours stuck in traffic in 2015. The U.S. accounts for 50 percent of the top 10 metros with the worst traffic congestion across the U.S. and Europe; only London has worse traffic than top-ranked U.S. cities.
VW Diesel Talks On-Going
* It’s not a done deal yet but we learned this week that Volkswagen is in talks with U.S. officials to fund two “remediation funds” as partial atonement for cheating on diesel emissions. The funds will promote clean transportation projects around the country and zero-emissions vehicles in California. VW will still have to pay for recalls of affected vehicles. Other details of settlement and punishment will be addressed at a March 24th hearing in U.S. District Court.
* Diesels are alive and well according to Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, commenting to automotive writers at the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) this week in New York City. Schaeffer said that new federal fuel efficiency standards requiring higher vehicle mileage will be a significant boost for clean diesel vehicles, which have about 30 percent better fuel efficiency than gasoline vehicles. Schaeffer also noted that new diesel technology has helped diesel pickup trucks break the 30 mpg highway mark that will be key to reaching the new federal efficiency standards.
Jon Lowelll Passes
* The automotive journalist community lost another icon this week with the passing of Jon Lowell who worked for Newsweek among other major publications. Lowell is one of the founders of the Detroit-based Automotive Press Association and was known for “wit, wisdom, warm heart and a substantial body of work.” according to his colleague and competitor Ken Zino.
Gas Prices Up This Week
* If you haven't noticed gas prices are going up, having climbed 12 to 20 cents in a week. Refineries are shutting down for semi-annual maintenance, crimping supply, and then they will start producing the more-expensive summer blend of gasoline.
New Monopoly Piece - Ford Mustang
* Ford Mustang is Mr. Monopoly’s new ride in the new edition of Monopoly Empire. 2015’s best-selling sports car in the U.S. has made thousands of appearances on the silver screen and in numerous songs, and now it’s a playable piece in the iconic board game. Mustang fans can rev their engines and advance to go as they take laps around the board and build their empire of well-known brands, including Ford. The new version of the Monopoly Empire game is available now.