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In Case You Missed It - Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - December 5-11, 2016; Trump's Oil-Man EPA Chief; FCA: CES YES NAIAS NO; Toyota Lexus NAIAS YES; 450 HP 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor; VW Diesel Cheating (of Course)


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, December 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 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 2,001,899 automotive pages of 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 - December 11, 2016

* President-elect Donald Trump will pick an ardent opponent of President Barack Obama's measures to stem climate change to head the Environmental Protection Agency, according to media reports. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has enraged environmental activists, but he fits with the Republican president-elect's promise to cut the agency back and eliminate regulation that he says is stifling oil and gas drilling.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has chosen not to introduce any new products at the upcoming North American International (Detroit) Auto Show, instead doing a reveal at the ever-more-important Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas the week before. We don’t know exactly what product will be revealed (rumors suggest an all-electric Pacifica minivan) but this will be the first time since 2010 they plan no major product news in Detroit. Automakers have been increasingly finding CES an important venue for product news.

* In other big news for the Detroit auto show - Toyota and Lexus confirmed hints this week that they will reveal two important products there - the next generation of the popular Camry mid-size sedan and the big Lexus LS flagship luxury sedan. Both promise to surprise the market with over-the-top dramatic style and design. Camry and LS are among the most important products for the various brands, the former a bread-and-butter entry and the latter an image car.

* Audi is launching Traffic Light Information Vehicle-to-Infrastructure technology in the U.S. The first of its kind, Traffic Light Information, an Audi connect PRIME feature, is available on select 2017 Audi A4, Q7 & Allroad models, and enables the car to communicate with the infrastructure in select cities and metropolitan areas across the U.S. The car receives real-time signal information from the advanced traffic management system that monitors traffic lights via the on-board 4G LTE data connection. Las Vegas will be the first city to integrate this technology.

* With the civil law issues of the VW diesel cheating scandal mostly resolved the criminal probe continues. The U.S. Department of Justice is looking at individuals involved in creating, approving or having knowledge of the ‘defeat devices’ involved in the affected cars. Bloomberg reports dozens of VW executive securing criminal defense attorneys in preparation for the next step in the procedure. One VW software engineer has already admitted involvement.

* The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released their list of 38 models that earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating that now includes headlight performance in the evaluation criteria. Another 44 models get the Top Safety Pick (without the +) rating that does not include the headlight evaluation. Winners span the entire automotive spectrum from small inexpensive cars to big pricey ones. An interesting note is the 2017 Honda Ridgeline is the first and only pickup truck to earn the highest possible safety rating of TOP SAFETY PICK+ from the IIHS. See the complete list here:

* Tesla is voluntarily recalling about 7,000 adapters for electric-vehicle charging after two reports of overheating that resulted in melted plastic on the plugs. The rarely used item is sold through the company’s online store. The recall is for the NEMA 14-30 adapters, which are used to charge Tesla vehicles via clothes-dryer appliance outlets in U.S. homes.

* Our friends at AutoWeek report that Dodge wants to get back into NASCAR. Sergio Marchionne the CEO of FCA -- the parent company of Dodge -- confirmed the news at Daytona International Speedway as part of the Ferrari Challenge World Finals. FCA owns Ferrari, and Marchionne is CEO of that brand. When asked if he wanted to see Dodge back in NASCAR, he didn't hesitate to answer. "Yes I'd love to," he said. "I talked to Jim France (executive vice-president of NASCAR) about this just last night." Dodge officially left NASCAR in 2012. Penske Racing was the last team campaigning Dodge before when it moved to Ford in 2012.

* In Formula 1 news, the German Grand Prix is being dropped from the calendar in 2017 and the French Grand Prix is said to be returning in 2018.

* The 500th and last LaFerrari produced sold for $7 million at a special RM Sotheby’s charity auction in Florida to raise money for the reconstruction of central Italy, after that region was devastated this year by a series of earthquakes. RM Sotheby’s staged the sale in partnership with Ferrari and as part of the Ferrari Finale Mondiali weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The sales price was a record for a 21st century automobile sold at auction, RM Sotheby’s noted.

* We reported last week Nico Rosberg’s surprise announcement of his retirement from Formula 1 racing and the Mercedes team shortly after winning the championship. His boss, former champion Niki Lauda, was caught by surprise as well and is not taking it graciously. Rosberg had signed a two-year contract last August. Now, says Lauda, they’re left with filling a “giant hole” in the program making for “the worst possible situation."

* The next Cars movie from Pixar Animation Studios will be previewed at a press conference prior to the Detroit Auto show. Cars 3 will open in theaters next summer and the much-anticipated film is expected to celebrate the automobile and auto racing as have its progenitor films. Director Brain Fee is quoted as saying the film “is a love letter to racing and its roots . . . “ The story’s hero Lightening McQueen finds himself challenged and nearly run out of the sport by more modern race cars.

* I was privileged to drive the all-new 450 HP 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor at high speed in the sands across the Mojave Desert and at low speed trail rock crawling. Ford touts the new Raptor as the toughest, smartest, most capable Raptor ever. It's the only purpose-built, high performance off-road truck on the market. Watch for our full-story here soon.