In Case You Missed It - Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - December 19-25, 2016; Happy Holidays; VW TDI, Fiat Recalls, GM Over Stocked, EPA Says No, Drive To NAIAS In The Snow
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, December 25, 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.
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Happy Holidays, enjoy and thanks for the positive feedback and ratings. See You Next Week, LN.
Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - December 25, 2016
* A final deal was reached between VW and U.S. regulators this week to buy back or repair 83,000 VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles with 3.0-liter diesel engines. The agreement is expected to result in the recall and repair of 75% of these vehicles when the modifications, which are not available yet, are approved by the EPA. VW will spend about $1 billion to fix or buy back the more than 80,000 3-liter diesel vehicles. All owners will get some kind of compensation for their trouble in the matter but details of that part of the plan were not released.
* Automotive News reports that Volkswagen AG has agreed to spend up to C$2.1 billion ($1.6 billion) to buy back or fix 105,000 polluting 2.0-L diesels and compensate owners in Canada. Volkswagen also agreed to pay a C$15 million civil administrative monetary penalty in connection with the Canadian settlement.
* The Detroit Free Press reports that a federal judge warned Volkswagen owners not to strip parts out of their diesel vehicles before attempting to sell them back to the automaker through the company's emissions settlement. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer's warning came after reports on the automotive blog Jalopnik of a Cincinnati man who "completely stripped" his 2010 VW Golf diesel car before attempting to qualify for the buyback. The man ripped out the "doors, seats, hood, bumpers, hatch and a big portion of the interior" before trying to turn in his vehicle, according to Jalopnik. VW rejected his attempt to qualify for the buyback, which would have been worth anywhere from $14,897 to $15,557 for the typical 2010 VW Golf diesel.
* GM has more than 874,000 cars, trucks and crossovers in its inventory at the end of November — the most it has had in its U.S. stock in eight years. Production is being cut at five plants that produce Chevrolet and Cadillac cars to reduce the inventory glut. Watch for the deals. Corvettes too.
* U.S. gasoline prices have jumped 6 cents in the last two weeks. The average price is now $2.26 a gallon. The price increase is mostly the result from the major oil producing countries agreeing to reduce output. The current price is 20 cents higher than a year ago. Expect more increases. Diesel is $2.48 a gallon.
* The iconic Ford Mustang has added yet another award to its trophy case – Women’s Performance Car of the Year 2016. Up against a staggering 294 competitors, Mustang emerged as the top performance car in the Women’s World Car of the Year awards. The awards are determined by 17 judges across 14 countries – the only vehicle honors in the world granted by a panel made up entirely of women. Mustang’s closest contender was the critically acclaimed Ford Focus RS, with just one point separating the two.
* California 1, Uber 0. Uber resisted getting permits for its San Francisco-based test fleet of 16 self-driving Volvos saying they had a person at the controls and therefore were not fully-autonomous. California disagreed; Uber ignored them. This all came down shortly after one of Uber’s Volvo XC90 test cars was caught on video running a red light. Apparently that Volvo was under human control at the time. The California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked all the vehicle registrations because they were not marked as test cars. Uber pulled the fleet from the roads and reports are Uber will take the cars to Arizona.
* The U.S. EPA has rejected a petition from a pair of auto lobbying groups, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers, that called for the agency to drop efforts to finalize stringent new gas mileage rules before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. Those rules would require automakers to produce car and truck fleets averaging more than 50 miles per gallon by 2025. Under the EPA’s proposal, the gas mileage rules for the 2022-25 model years would be finalized after a comment period that is scheduled to end on Dec. 30. Those rules originally were subject to review in 2018.
* As a comment to the above, the technology exists to meet the rules but the fleet average fuel economy depends very much on the mix of vehicles the general public buys and leases. We might expect significant marketing efforts and incentives to purchase fuel efficient cars and perhaps even big price increases to deter folks from buying less efficient SUVs and trucks. Stay tuned.
* Mitsubishi is recalling more than 50,000 Outlander Sport SUVs because the rear hatch lift gate can suddenly fall on people. The recall covers certain SUVs from the 2011, 2012 and 2016 model years.
* Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 50,000 small SUVs worldwide because the engines could stall while being driven. The recall covers 2016 Dodge Journey, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot vehicles all with 2-liter or 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines.
* More bad news for Fiat Chrysler this week as an NHTSA investigation begins regarding electronic rotary gear shifters used in many of its vehicles. It seems that they can roll away when owners think they are in “Park.” FCA’s other electric shifter, a ZF unit, came under scrutiny last year for being “unintuitive” requiring drivers to double check its position when stopped. NHTSA has received 25 reports of rotary shifter-equipped cars rolling away when in park. A recall may be in the future but this is just an investigation so far.
* The NHTSA will be looking into claims that Smart ForTwo engines can catch fire. The inquiry is based on just eight complaints regarding 2008 and 2009 ForTwos and no injuries have been identified. Owners said the “Check Engine” lights came on in their cars and that the cars were “rapidly engulfed” in flames. This inquiry does not rise to the level of a “full investigation,” a Mercedes-Benz spokesman said.
* We reported last week on the LeMay Museum/Detroit auto show project where three vintage cars with Detroit roots - a ’57 Chevy Nomad, a ’61 Chysler 300G and a ’66 Mustang - will make a second epic dead-of-winter drive to arrive at the auto show in January. In addition to these three cars the museum will also be trailering their recently restored 1917 Crane-Simplex Model 5 that once belonged to John D. Rockefeller for display at stops along the route.
* An Uber driver in Florida shot and killed a would-be robber this week though Uber rules disallow drivers from carrying guns. The robber was not a passenger. Rather, another vehicle cut the Uber car off and a gunman exited the passenger’s side of that vehicle with two guns, pointing them at the driver. The Uber driver has a Florida permit for carrying a weapon and shot the bad guy four times. Neither the Uber driver nor his passenger were hurt.
* NASCAR's top series will be called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series beginning next year. Monster Energy is the series new title sponsor after the Sprint deal ended.
* With that, we at The Auto Channel wish you the happiest of holidays and please check back for more on New Years Day 2017.