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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News - June 27-July 3, 2016: Recalls, VW Settlement; Lincoln Picks-Up; American Made


AUTO CENTRAL Chicago, July 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.

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The Past Week's Automotive News Highlights In Easy To Digest Chunks
June 27-July 3, 2016

* The driver of a Tesla Model S sedan was killed in a collision while the car was in the semi-autonomous Autopilot mode. NHTSA is investigating. Reports say the Tesla failed to apply brakes when a tractor-trailer turned in front of it. Tesla said that the white trailer against the bright sky combined with the high ride-height of the trailer left the truck undetected by the Tesla. The driver apparently didn't see it either or was not paying attention. Tesla officials note that this is the first known death in 130 million miles of Autopilot use and, they say, it is ultimately the responsibility of the driver to control the car. We expect government regulators to now step-up regulatory efforts on semi- and fully-autonomous cars.

* We're half way through 2016 and U.S. new car and truck sales are up 1.5 percent compared with the first six months of 2015 to more than 8.6 million. June had a 2.5 percent increase of 1.5 million sold according to Autodata Corp. Hot-selling pickups, sport utility vehicles and crossovers account for about 58 percent of sales, up 4 percentage points from the first half of 2015. Passenger car sales are down 7.5 percent through June. However, all is not rosy. The annual sales pace has dropped, as excepted, to the lowest in 13 months and this downtrend is forecasted to continue.

* Automotive News reports that a newly released report from AlixPartners forecasts U.S. light-vehicle sales of 17.5 million in 2017 -- down slightly from this year�s 17.8 million forecast. The New York City-based consulting firm expects U.S. sales to bottom out at 15.2 million vehicles in 2019, followed by a gradual upturn to 16.8 million in 2022.

* Lincoln Motor Co. said it will become the first luxury automaker to add a standard pickup and delivery service on all of its nameplates. When a customer�s vehicle needs dealer service, Lincoln Service Valet will pick up the vehicle at an agreed location, provide a loaner car, and take it in for service. Once the work is done, Lincoln will wash the car and return it to the customer wherever they want. The standard pickup and delivery service will launch this fall with Lincoln�s flagship Continental sedan.

* Don't be so fast to call shotgun! Drivers of vehicles with good small overlap front ratings from the Insurance Institute from Highway Safety can expect to be protected well in a frontal crash involving the left corner of the vehicle. The Institute conducted 40 mph passenger-side small overlap tests on seven small SUVs with good driver-side small overlap ratings. Only one of the vehicles, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, performed at a level corresponding to a good rating, and the others ran the gamut from poor to acceptable. The results have prompted IIHS to consider instituting a passenger-side rating as part of its TOP SAFETY PICK criteria.

* But the owners's manual says� A bill in the California legislature would require all oil change shops to recommend to consumers that the date or mileage of their next oil change should follow the interval or mileage specified in the vehicle manufacturer�s published maintenance schedule, with certain exceptions. Not surprisingly, there are big objections from the independent oil change shops who want more frequent oil changes.

* The Toyota Camry topped the American-Made Index for the second consecutive year, while the No. 2 Honda Accord and No. 5 Honda Pilot returned to the index for the first time since 2012. It's the sixth time for the Camry which remains the best selling car in the U.S. To make the list, U.S. sourced parts must be over 75%, among other qualifiers. This years list has eight vehicles: 1) Toyota Camry, 2) Honda Accord, 3) Toyota Sienna, 4) Honda Odyssey, 5) Honda Pilot, and GM�s three full-size crossovers (Traverse, Acadia and Enclave) from the Delta Township plant near Lansing, MI took sixth through eighth places.

* Details of a settlement reached between VW, the U.S. government and the State of California were released this week regarding the diesel cheating scandal that has plagued the auto company for the past year. VW installed cheating software to make popular 2.0-liter diesel engines pass emissions tests while spewing up to 10 times the NOx emissions permitted by law. The $14.7 billion settlement includes buybacks, lease cancelations, generous payouts and other benefits for owners of approximately 499,000 2.0L TDI vehicles that were produced for sale in the United States. Approximately 460,000 Volkswagen and 15,000 Audi TDI vehicles are currently in use. There is also a $4.7 billion �Mitigation� fund that will seek to compensate for the damage done to the environment and promote green technologies.

* Get your "volts" on Route 66! Missouri has decided to test solar paving technology on America�s most famous road, Route 66. The state�s transportation department will use tough, electricity-generating panels developed by Solar Roadways. The department hopes that the Historic Route 66 Welcome Center at Conway will get the country�s first solar roadway panels on a public right of way. It was not revealed how large an area would be paved with the panels.

* Toyota is recalling Prius hybrid, Prius plug-in and the Lexus CT200h produced between October 2008 and April 2012 for defective air bags produced by Autoliv. This is not part of the massive recalls of Takata air bags. A total of 1.43 million vehicles are involved globally� 743,000 vehicles in Japan, 495,000 in North America and 141,000 vehicles in Europe, as well as 9,000 vehicles in China and 46,000 vehicles in other regions. A small crack in some inflators in the air bags in the driver and passenger sides may expand, causing the air bags to partially inflate.

* Some 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles are now said to be unsafe to drive. There's an urgent plea to owners from NHTSA and a warning that Takata airbags in more than 300,000 older Honda and Acura vehicles were at an unacceptably high risk�as high as 50%, of exploding, and needed to be replaced immediately.

* Dodge Vipers certainly do go fast, both literally and figuratively. After first going on sale Friday, June 24, 206 special-edition 2017 Dodge Vipers designed with exclusive content to celebrate the 25th anniversary and final year of Viper production are totally sold out.

* A fresh rumor emerged this week, reported by AutoWeek, regarding the possibility of an upcoming mid-engine Corvette. Such rumors have preceded just about every redesign of the quintessential American performance sports car now celebrating its 63rd year in production. These newest rumors are based on spy photos from the GM Proving Grounds in Milford, MI showing what appears to be mid-engine shaped car cruising the test track along with a C7 Corvette and a Cadillac sedan plus an announcement from the company that a big investment is planned for the Bowling Green, KY assembly plant where Corvette is built.

* Certainly the most viewed video this week by serious car people was the wild roll-over crash featuring Jay Leno in the famous �Hemi Under Glass� drag race car with 80-year-old stuntman Bob Riggle at the wheel. The race car is famous for pulling wheelies down the quarter mile. In this parking lot demonstration it rolled multiple times while making a turn at speed. Cameras caught the entire incident from both inside and outside the car as it was being filmed for Leno�s TV show. No one was hurt and the car suffered primarily cosmetic damage.

* Here's wishing you a safe and happy July 4th Independence Day!

* Bumper sticker of the week: "VW TDI--Doing it dirty since 2009"