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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest May 16-22, 2016


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

AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, May 22, 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 1,978,107 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
May 16-22, 2016

* GM told Chevy, GMC and Buick dealers this week to stop selling Traverse, Acadia and Enclave large crossovers due to mis-stated fuel economy numbers. The stop-sale order covers 60,000 vehicle both FWD and AWD models. These three-row crossovers built in the Delta Assembly Plant near Lansing, MI has been one of GM’s strongest sellers. As soon as new window stickers are printed and attached to vehicles sales can resume. GM said that it would offer cash payments or extended warranties to 135,000 owners of the large sport utility vehicles with window stickers overstating likely gas mileage.

* How would you react to a big 18-wheeler rolling down the highway with no driver? We've all been reading about self-driving cars but a few former Google engineers have started Otto, their own start-up company target at trucks. Otto is aiming to equip trucks with software, sensors, lasers and cameras so they eventually will be able to navigate the more than 220,000 miles of U.S. highways on their own, while a human driver naps in the back of the cab or handles other tasks.

* Maven, GM's car-sharing service, is expanding to Boston and Washington, D.C., this summer, and is adding new options in Chicago, where it began service in March. In Chicago, Maven has pricing starting at $8 an hour, including insurance and fuel. When Maven City members reserve their choice of available Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick vehicles, they have the unique option of having the vehicle delivered to them. Service has been available in Ann Arbor, Michigan where it has about 35 vehicles in 20 locations.

* The experts at Kelley Blue Book have named their annual list of the 10 Coolest Cars Under $18,000. They are: 1)Mazda3, 2)Honda Civic, 3)Jeep Renegade, 4)Volkswagen Golf, 5)Kia Soul, 6)Hyundai Veloster, 7)Fiat 500, 8)Honda Fit, 9)Ford Fiesta and 10)Chevrolet Sonic.

* Perhaps the most sexy plug-in hybrid on the market, Cadillac’s Volt-based ELR, went out of production in February without its absence being noticed by most of us, even in the journalist community. Originally priced at about $80,000, fully twice the price of the more conventionally styled Volt, dealers were unable to sell them even with drastically discounts. Volt recently experienced a full redesign and GM determined it was not worth bringing ELR to a new generation. Will this be a collectible because of its rarity? Stay tuned. Cadillac will soon launch a new Plug-In Hybrid edition of the remarkable new CT6 sedan.

* A second accusation emerged this week regarding Tesla’s self-driving components when a California motorist, Arianna Simpson, charging that the Autopilot feature on her Tesla Model S failed to work causing an accident. This follows a recent Utah incident where the Tesla S’s “Summon” feature “went rogue” according to it’s owner. Tesla insists both incidents were the result of driver error. In this case Ms. Simpson, they say, disengaged the Autopilot function just prior to the accident.

* Just a month after Mitsubishi acknowledged cheating on mileage figures we heard this week that Suzuki did the same. Suzuki admitted using the wrong testing methodology when submitting its figures, though they asserted it was the result of mistakes rather than manipulation or intent to cheat. When vehicles were retested using the proper methods the same results were achieved. The government has asked the company for more records.

* Dodge is again sponsoring TEN: The Enthusiast Network to expand “Roadkill Nights Powered by Dodge,” the popular drag racing event and pop-up car festival. Following a launch during the Woodward Cruise Week near Detroit last year, even more muscle is being put behind Roadkill Nights, expanding to two cities in 2016. Stops this year include the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., June 18, and the Woodward Cruise Week in Pontiac, Mich., Aug. 19. Screaming fast eighth-mile times will be rewarded, as TEN will give cash prizes to drivers of Dodge cars who finish in first, second, third and fourth place at each event.

* FCA is recalling more than 506,000 Wranglers to inspect the clock spring, which is a part in the steering wheel that aids the airbag deployment. In the U.S., the recall includes 392,464 Wranglers from the 2007-10 model years and 7,435 from the 2011-16 model years with right-hand drive for special duty. FCA estimates 35,412 of the recalled Wranglers are in Canada, 8,529 are in Mexico and 62,580 are elsewhere.

* FCA is also recalling more than 80,000 Fiat 500s worldwide from the 2012-16 model years with manual transmissions to fix a glitch with the clutch release system.

* The classic and collector car market rating index produced by Hagerty Insurance shows a minuscule increase this month after steady, slow declines over the past year. Up a mere 0.03 points the index represents growth in the market. Hagerty CEO, McKeel Hagerty, said the scale represents both auction and private sales with performance and luxury cars of the 1980s showing the most activity. The index considers 15 data points in 8 categories and is a respected indication of the market’s condition.

* History was made in Formula 1 with Max Verstappen's win at the age of 18 in the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. It was Max's first race for Red Bull. Mercedes sweep of the series was ended when Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton collided with each other on the first lap to end their day. Oh to be a fly on the wall when the two of them met with Mercedes team management.

* Ever-quotable Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says some of that high-end racing community are “plotting” against him in an effort to remove him from running the show. Sketchy reports show that a variety of stake holders (Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari and others) have let it be known they favor his replacement with a three-pronged leadership team. The 85-year-old Ecclestone vows it is more likely they will be ’struck by lightning" than replace him.