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In Case You Missed It - Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - October 24-30, 2016: VW Finis, PU Headlights PU, Tesla, Ford and Awards


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, October 30, 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 are a car and driving fan like we all are here at The Auto Channel, you can easily "catch up" or put these stories in context by searching the past 25 year's 1,998,389 automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news, video, audio, rants and raves accessible from The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive.

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Enjoy and thanks for the positive feedback and ratings. See You Next Week, LN.

Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - October 24-30, 2016

* VW owners now finally know. Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco gave final approval to an agreement calling for Volkswagen to spend $10 billion to buy back or fix those 400,000 vehicles whose 4-cylinder diesel engines were equipped with the cheating emission system software. Dealers will begin buying back cars next month and most owners are expected to take the deal. There is no approved fix yet for those who want to keep their cars and some may not be fixable. Settlements on the 3.0 liter diesels from Audi, Porsche and VW have not been determined.(LEARN MORE: Volkswagen Diesel Suit News Archive

* And...the newest entry in the 3-row crossover segment was revealed in Santa Monica this week as VW showed the new “Atlas” to assembled media. The largest VW ever assembled in North America, they say, it will be built in the Chattanooga, TN assembly plant along with the Passat mid-size sedan. Two engines will be available, a four-cylinder turbo or a V-6, both mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Sorry, no diesels this time. Pricing was not revealed but it is expected to be competitive with other products in that space and as highly equipped with advanced electronics as the competitors.

* Consumer Reports just released this year’s listing of the Most Reliable Brands. On top is Lexus followed by Toyota. Buick surprised the auto world ranking third. It's the first time in three decades that a Detroit-based brand make the top 10 list. After the top three of Lexus, Toyota and Buick, come Audi, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai, Infiniti, BMW and Honda, according to CR.

* And...Consumer Reports revealed the results of its annual Initial Quality Study at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit noting that overall quality of automobiles saw the greatest yearly increase since 2009 at 6%. CR’s “Initial quality” number is a measure of problems experienced in the first 90 days per 100 vehicles for each brand and model. Over the eight problem areas measured 21 of the 33 brands improved for 2016. Moving from second place to first this year is Korean brand Kia. Porsche was second whileChrysler and Jeep are named most improved.

* The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles presented Dan Gurney with its Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award at the institution’s 22nd-annual gala. Over the past six decades, Dan Gurney has earned remarkable success as a driver, team owner and constructor, but his ideas and designs have also helped to shape modern racing, making it safer and more competitive.

* And...the International Historic Motoring Awards has selected the Petersen Automotive Museum, the Mullin Automotive Museum, and the LeMay America’s Car Museum as finalists for the Museum of the Year category, up against each other as well as the Porsche Museum, the Lamborghini Museum, and the British Motor Museum. Other American IHMA nominations include the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance for Motoring Event of the Year, Lime Rock Historic Festival and the Monterey Historics for Motorsport Event of the Year, RM’s work on a Stutz DV-32 Convertible Victoria and RK Motors’s work on Ford GT40 chassis P/1046 for Restoration of the Year, and The Great Race for Rally or Tour of the Year.

* A new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's authored by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle focuses on heavy-duty fleet fuel economy and related fuel-saving technologies and policies. The survey yielded completed responses from 96 heavy-duty fleet managers, operating a combined total of just over 114,500 truck-tractors and approximately 350,000 trailers, and hauling a total of 9 billion tons of freight across 1.8 billion miles annually. A main finding is that the median heavy-duty fleet fuel economy reported in this study was 6.5 mpg (all use diesel fuel), with the typical fleet hauling 2.1 million tons of cargo 10 million miles annually. Aluminum wheels, speed limiters, low-rolling resistance dual tires and trailer weight-saving are the most common fuel-saving technologies.

* Green Car Journal and the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show have announced 10 finalists for the prestigious 2017 Green Truck of the Year and Commercial Green Car of the Year awards, which will be presented in San Antonio on November 10. Finalists for 2017 Green Truck of the Year include the Chevrolet Colorado, Ford F-250 Super Duty, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, and RAM 1500. Vying for 2017 Commercial Green Car of the Year are the Ford F-250 Super Duty, Ford Transit Connect, Mercedes-Benz Metris, Nissan Titan XD, and RAM ProMaster City.

* The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell sedan, launching later this year, received an EPA driving range rating of 366 miles and fuel economy rating of 68 miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent combined, giving it the best range rating of any electric vehicle without a combustion engine, including fuel cell and all-electric vehicles, in the United States. Refueling is in the 3 to 5 minute range which is way faster than any EV and a lot quicker than a gasoline vehicle.

* Beer run. Otto, the autonomous-truck company owned by Uber, completed its first self-driving shipment last week, transporting more than 50,000 cans of Budweiser over the 120 miles from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, Colo., the company said in a statement. The trip was a partnership between Otto and Anheuser-Busch. There was no one behind the wheel while the truck was on the highway. A professional driver assisted the truck on the entrance and exit ramps, monitoring the rest of the trip from a sleeper berth in the back. Zzzz.

* Hummm! Red Bull Global Rallycross announced the creation of an all-electric vehicle series for the 2018 season. Electric vehicles will be added to Red Bull GRC race weekends as a distinct, standalone series, joining the Supercar and GRC Lites classes in the series’ race program. Red Bull GRC, in conjunction with USAC (United States Auto Club), will serve as the governing body for the new series

* Seven of 11 large and small pickup models tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earned “poor” ratings in headlight tests conducted by the group, which represents the insurance industry. The institute said the 2017 Honda Ridgeline with top-of-the-line LED projector lights was the only large pickup that earned a “good” rating on headlight performance. Only one other large pickup tested — the 2016-17 GMC Sierra — earned an “acceptable” headlight rating, while two others — the 2017 Nissan Titan and 2016 Ram 1500 — earned a “marginal” grade. The remaining three large pickups tested — 2016-17 Chevrolet Silverado, 2016-17 Ford F-150 and 2016-17 Toyota Tundra — earned “poor” headlight grades. All four mid-size pickups that were tested by the organization, which included the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado, 2016 GMC Canyon, 2016 Nissan Frontier and 2016-17 Toyota Tacoma, also each earned “poor’ headlight ratings.

* We’ve not heard much from industry veteran, popular pundit, always-quatoble Bob Lutz lately, but he appeared on CNBC this week dissing Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk. “Tesla supporter are like members of a religious cult,” quoth Maximum Bob. Comparing Tesla to Apple and its dependance on Steve Jobs personal power, Lutz say he does not see “anything about Tesla that gives me any confidence that that business can survive.” While Lutz has been responsible for many outside-the-box automobiles he has been harshly critical of the relevance of electric cars.

* Tesla posted quarterly financial results this week showing it made $22 million in net income, only the second time it has posted net income. This follows 13 quarters of losses. Much of Tesla’s revenues for this quarter, according to analysts was the result of selling more pollution credits ($139 million) than in recent quarters. Quarterly revenue was up substantially over Q3 last year at $2.3 billion. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said plans for the new mainstream Model 3 are on track for next year with 373,000 preorders.

* Ford executive chairman Bill Ford, grandson of the company's founder, is quoted in Automotive News this week saying the “future of cars is in Detroit, not Silicon Valley.” As self-driving cars and other advanced technology is rapidly changing our automobiles, and as social and demographic changes threaten the conventional private car ownership model, some tech companies have toyed with the idea of producing their own cars. Most have now conceded that automakers ought to make the cars even if much of the technology comes from outside the industry. Ford insists they can do just as good a job within the industry.

* Lastly, Mercedes-Benz is getting into the luxury pickup business with a new premium pickup truck, the X-Class. The company revealed a concept version of the mid-size pickup truck at an event in Stockholm, saying the five-seat ride will hit showrooms in late 2017. But, it's not coming to the U.S., at least for now. The key markets will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. The X-Class rides on the same platform as the 2016 Nissan Navara pickup and will be manufactured in a production cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance.