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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - September 5-11, 2016; Buh Bye Dart and VW Diesels In US; Recalls Ford Mazda


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AUTO CENTRAL - Chicago, September 11, 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 Dodge Dart is being dropped. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV confirmed its product plans for the 2017 model year will not include the Dart, making the 2016 model year the last. In July FCA announced plans to end production of the car in September but did not say that 2016 would be the final model year for the Dart.

* California’s state legislature approved additional funding for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The deal includes $133 million for the clean energy vehicle program, which is currently out of money and has a waiting list. The new guidelines states that an annual income cap of $300,000 on joint filers and $150,000 on single filers will go into effect on November 1. Previous caps were $500,000 joint and $250,000 single. Rebates per vehicle range from $900 for electric motorcycle to $5,000 for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Plug-in vehicle rebates are in the middle of the pack.

* Volkswagen AG will buy a 16.6 percent stake in Navistar International Corp. for $256 million as part of a strategic alliance with the struggling U.S. truckmaker to enter the North American market. Gaining traction in the U.S. heavy-truck market, dominated by Daimler AG, Volvo AB and Paccar Inc., is key to VW's plan to forge a global commercial-vehicle operation with higher profit margins than rivals. Navistar also makes buses and often says that almost half of North American children who take a bus to school are riding in one of their buses.

* The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's latest report from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle says the average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in August was 25.3 mpg—down 0.1 mpg from the value for July. This decline likely reflects the decreased price of gasoline in August, and the consequent increased sales of light trucks. Fuel economy is down 0.5 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but still up 5.2 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring).

* Mazda is recalling more than 759,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada because the rear hatch can fall on people and injure them. The recall covers certain 2010 through 2013 Mazda 3s, 2012 through 2015 Mazda 5s, certain 2013 to 2016 CX-5 and 2016 CX-3 SUVs.

* Ford is recalling an additional 1.5 million cars in the U.S. and Mexico that have doors that can swing open while the vehicles are in motion. This is an expansion of a regional recall to being nationwide. The recall expansion affects certain 2013-15 Ford C-Max and Ford Escape, 2012-15 Ford Focus, 2015 Ford Mustang and Lincoln MKC and 2014-16 Ford Transit Connect models.

* The 2017 Karma Revero was revealed this week at an event in Southern California. Based on the stunning design of Hienrick Fisker who was unable to sustain the company he built around the car beginning in 2011, the rear-wheel drive, extended range electric Revero is built in California and costs around $130,000. Powered by two electric motors providing 403 horsepower it is capable of a 0 to 60 time of 5.4 seconds. A four-cylinder, range extending, GM-sourced gasoline engine refills the batteries for trips beyond the 50-mile range. Orders are being taken now.

* It looks like the sale of Formula 1 by current owner Delta Topco to Liberty Media, an American company owned by John Malone, is a done deal. Liberty Media will buy an 18.7% stake initially and the rest of the shares in 2017. AutoWeek reports the deal will be worth about $8 billion, but must be approved by FIA. Bernie Ecclestone, Formula 1’s colorful manager, has not committed to remaining under the new ownership but says he has been asked..

* Another death has occurred in a Tesla S, this time in The Netherlands. It is unknown whether the Autopilot system was engaged at the time. The car left the road at a high rate of speed and hit a tree. Firefighters found it difficult to extinguish a piece of the battery that broke away from the car and it took extra time to extricate the driver because of fears of the emergency personnel getting electrocuted.

* In news from Cadillac, the company just announced it will include a two-day “driving experience” at the Spring Mountain Motor Resort near Las Vegas with every 2017 V-Series car purchased. The experience is to be overseen by V-Series engineers whose job is to assure that owners get the most out of their cars. The experience includes just about everything except air fare.

* Volkswagen may be done with diesels in the U.S. according to a statement this week by VW’s North American president. Heinrich Woebcken said, “The push for diesel for the brand is done. We don’t foresee that the strength of diesel will come back for this market.” He left open the possibility for VW divisions, Audi and Porsche, to pursue diesel products in the future.

* GM said it will recall nearly 4.3 million vehicles worldwide for a software defect that can, in rare instances, prevent air bags from deploying during a crash, an issue that has been linked to one death and three injuries. The recall covers newer trucks, cars and SUVs from the 2014-2017 model years.