Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest
March 28-April 3,
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, April 3, 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 1,977,333 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
March 27- April 3, 2016
* March U.S. sales figures are in and the light vehicle market remains strong. However the pace has slowed to 16.57 million, down from a 17.5 million adjusted annual sales rate. Adding to the optimism in the business is the strength of transaction prices that went up solidly. While GM and Toyota posted modest gains Nissan set all-time records while Ford, FCA and Honda made strong increases. Low fuel prices and a decent economy favored high-end SUV and truck models where profit margins are greatest. VW sales were weak as expected but Audi sales rose considerably.(see March 2016 Sales Scoreboard
* The analysts at Kelley Blue Book www.kbb.com, the vehicle valuation and information source, report the estimated average transaction price (ATP) for light vehicles in the United States was $33,666 in March 2016. New-car prices have increased by $645 (up 2 percent) from March 2015, while remaining flat from last month. To afford the growing monthly payments, more consumers are financing these vehicles for 72 and 84 months, which will likely delay the purchase cycle for their next vehicle.
* In its bid to appeal to the masses, Tesla unveiled its Model 3 sedan in Los Angeles. With a base price of $35,000 the EV is expected to be available in late 2017. Tesla took preorders and according to reports over 115,000 customers had lined up around the world at Tesla stores to put down a refundable $1000 deposit. Able to accelerate to 60mph in under 6 seconds and with a 215 mile range on its battery power the car is critical to Tesla's success. A concern is that Tesla has a pattern of building fully loaded models first, therefore sometimes doubling the actual price from what is advertised. Some speculate, based on Tesla's passed new vehicle launches, that the 2017 availability could slip to 2018, or longer.
* British vacuum maker Dyson appears to be building an electric car at its headquarters in Wiltshire, according to a report in the Guardian. The news follows Dyson’s acquisition of battery startup Sakti3 late last year for $90 million. While Sakti3’s first batteries will likely land in Dyson’s cordless vacuums, Sakti3’s batteries can also be used to power electric cars.
* GM is recalling about 3,200 of its 2016 Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan in the U.S. and Canada to replace side-impact air bag assemblies. Of note is that GM employees discovered the problem during routine testing. The way it should be and not discovered through issues with customer cars.
* Bridgestone Corporation announced over a year ago that it had developed a new technology for estimating tire wear and tread depth. This innovative technology is based on the Contact Area Information Sensing (CAIS*1) concept. We recently heard mention of this again by Bridgestone at the NY Auto Show. We expect to be hearing new information about this soon.
* Volkswagen is recalling nearly 5,600 electric e-Golf cars in the U.S. to address a battery problem that can cause stalling, the company said today. VW said the recall covers all electric vehicles it has sold in the U.S. since it launched it in November 2014. The German automaker is recalling its 2015-2016 e-Golf electric vehicle because software in the "high-voltage battery management system may inadvertently classify a brief internal electrical current surge/peak as a critical battery condition," which could cause the car to shut down. MORE
* Not unexpected, the FTC sued VW charging the company made false claims in promoting its "Clean Diesel" vehicles. VW pulled the ads last year after it admitted it cheated on emission controls. The FTC is asking the court to order VW to compensate owners of over a half million vehicles made between 2008 and 2015. VW has admitted cheating on emissions testing on 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesels in both VW and Audi vehicles. The company acknowledged the complaint and said its priority is to “find a solution” to this mess and earn back the trust of our customers.MORE;
* Enlightening! In the first-ever IIHS New Car Headlight Ratings we find that most need improvement. The Toyota Prius v is the only midsize car out of 31 evaluated to earn a good rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's first-ever headlight ratings. The best available headlights on 11 cars earn an acceptable rating, while nine only reach a marginal rating. Ten of the vehicles can't be purchased with anything other than poor-rated headlights. MORE.
* The second in a series of lawsuits brought against GM as a result of faulty ignition switches in millions of small cars went the company’s way. A jury determined that the ignition switch did not contribute to the accident in question. The first case was decided in favor of GM as well though not by a jury. This first series of a half dozen cases are considered “bellwether” as they will begin to set president and influence later cases
* Rumours flew this week about the possibility or likelihood that we’ll have a U.S. Grand Prix Formula 1 race in Las Vegas. Formual One boss Bernie Ecclestone confirmed the talks are underway but denied its a done deal. Las Vegas was the venue for Grand Prix race in 1981 and 1982.
* Chevrolet needed space for their racing trophies and other memorabilia so they opened a display and promotional space attached to the Global Powertrain Engineering Center in Pontiac, MI. The 111,420 square-foot space augments that already in use at the facility to build racing engines for NASCAR, NHRA, IndyCar, IMSA and other racing series. The brand, by the way, is named after famous racing driver of the early days, Louis Chevrolet.MORE
* Dale Earnhardt Jr. pledged that upon his death he would donate his brain for studies and research on concussions. Dale Jr. has experienced a couple in his racing career.