Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest
Week Of April 11-17 2016
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, April 17, 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 1,978,449 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
April 11-17, 2016
* Engineers, safety advocates and even automakers have a safety message for federal regulators eager to get self-driving cars on the road: slow down. There's a host of situations that self-driving cars still can't handle, such as: Poorly marked pavement, including parking lots and driveways, could foil the technology, which relies on clear lane markings. Bad weather can interfere with vehicle sensors. Self-driving cars can't take directions from a policeman. Inconsistent traffic-control devices such as horizontal versus lateral traffic lights.
* The best glimpse of the future could be seen at the Society of Automotive Engineers International’s annual World Congress at Cobo Center in Detroit this week. More than 10,000 attendees from around the world talked about everything from cyber security to artificial intelligence to alternate energy at the Congress, which combines elements of a think tank, trade show, job fair and academic conference.
* Headlights enable you see to see where to drive. But, a Ford Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicle with no headlights on navigated along lonely desert roads, performing a task that would be perilous for a human driver. Driving in pitch black at Ford Arizona Proving Ground marks the next step on the company’s journey to delivering fully autonomous vehicles. It’s an important development, in that it shows that even without cameras, which rely on light, Ford’s LiDAR – working with the car’s virtual driver software – is robust enough to steer flawlessly around winding roads. While it’s ideal to have all three modes of sensors – radar, cameras and LiDAR – the latter can function independently on roads without stoplights. Ford says the company is dedicated to achieving fully autonomous driving capability, which, as defined by SAE International Level 4, does not require the driver to intervene and take control of the vehicle. MORE
* Ford began taking applications this week for the new Ford GT super car for the first two years of production expected to be around 500 vehicles. Applicants will need to be approved to get on the list. Customers will be able to configure their cars with an on-line system that allows much customisation and a Concierge Service will assist with the entire purchase experience. Prices begin at 400 grand. This first round of application will close on May 12th. Place your order at FordGT.com.MORE
* Luxury automakers won a majority of the spots on the 2016 Wards 10 Best Interiors list for the first time ever, signifying the brisk pace of product development in the premium segment and illustrating the popularity of aspirational vehicles in the strong U.S. market. This year’s winners are: Audi TTS ($58,500 as tested), BMW 7-Series ($129,245), Cadillac XT5 ($63,845), Chevrolet Camaro ($46,095), Chrysler Pacifica ($48,455), Honda Civic ($27,335), Lexus RX ($52,968), Mercedes-Benz GLC ($54,360), Nissan Maxima ($38,750) and Volvo XC90 ($84,005).
* Results of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “small-overlap” crash testing for full-size pickups came out this week with only the aluminium bodied Ford F-150 earning a top “Good" grade. This type of crash test is relatively new and measures performance when one of the front corners hits a stationary object at 40 mph. GM and Toyota pickups get an “Acceptable” rating and Ram got the bottom “Poor” rating. IIHS's top results for Ford noticeably quieted those who were critical of the decision to build the truck body from aluminum. MORE +VIDEO:
* After announcing plans to establish a $1+ billion third tech center in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area last week, Toyota announced this week they will be putting test cars on public roads in the area as part of the Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s real-world connected car testing activities. Ann Arbor is one of a handful of metropolitan areas with experimental infrastructure to support this kind of testing.
* News emerged this week confirming that Volkswagen’s New Beetle, now in its second generation, will go away in 2018. VW brought this car out in 1998 as an homage to the original beetle, though the new version has little in common with the original other than an overall shape. It proved quite popular in the beginning and filled a niche for a compact car with personality. With seriously slowing sales and a trend more toward small crossovers VW will pull the plug on the Beetle although the company has not confirmed the news to journalists.
* Even Jaguar and Land Rover are exploring the car-sharing and other on-demand transportation services. The auto industry is awash in speculation about how the car business will evolve over the next couple decades including questions about the future of individual car ownership. Jaguar Land Rover’s new InMotion app is being developed to enable research and testing around “on-demand transportation services,” according to their press release.
* Hyundai is recalling 173,000 Sonata midsize cars in the U.S. because the power steering can fail, making them harder to steer and increasing the risk of a crash. The recall covers Sonatas from the 2011 model year.
* The new Tesla X electric crossover has been in customers’ hands only a few months and recently experienced a recall of all vehicles to fix a seat problem. Now the company has already replaced the battery and readjusted calibrations to achieve more range and a lower top speed. The 70 kWh battery is replaced by a 75 kWh unit and top speed is now 130 mph, down from 140. Price also goes up about $3,000 to a new starting price of $84,200.
* BMW is recalling certain model year 2016 740Li, 750Li, and 750Lxi vehicles manufactured July 1, 2015, to December 11, 2015. The affected vehicles have an air bag control module that may randomly reset due to an electrical short circuit as a result of residual metallic particles from the manufacturing process. A stop sale order was issued for cars in dealer inventory.
* GM is recalling more than 1 million Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups around the world because the seat belts may not hold the driver in a crash. It affects 2014 and 2015 model year pickups.
* The Haartz Corporation, a leading supplier of automotive soft-trim material for vehicle interiors, announced a strategic alliance for the Chinese automotive market by entering a joint venture with the Minth Group. The new company, to be known as Haartz-Minth (Ningbo) Automotive Ltd., will focus on manufacturing automotive interior surface materials utilizing Haartz technology and know-how. The business will be located near Ningbo, China. MORE