In Case You Missed It - Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - Jan 23-29, 2017; Trump Meets Big Three, Wal-Mart A Birddog, F-1, NASCAR, Green, Auction i
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, January 29, 2017; 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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Nutson's Nuggets: January 29, 2017
* The CEOs of Ford, GM and FCA, Mark Fields - Mary Barra and Sergio Marchionne respectively - met with the new President Trump this week in Washington DC to hear first hand the “America first” message and talk about bringing manufacturing jobs back to the states. President Trump promised to lower taxes for the companies as well as roll back environmental and other regulations to help them be more competitive. Trump had been critical of auto companies building cars in Mexico, and of the NAFTA structure that made that attractive.
* Trump wants more plants and more production in the U.S. in exchange for some reduced regulations. We'll see. Trump is in office for four years. Production plants live for 40 or 50 years and you can't keep moving production based on a political wish. Economics still favor the lower cost of wages and fewer trade barriers of Mexico. The non-domestic automakers, who sell more vehicles in the U.S. than the domestics, are awaiting their turn to meet.
* Following the lead of retailers like Costco, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, will soon be selling cars - sort of. Through its partner, CarSaver, certain Wal-Mart stores will have a space where customers will can pre-select a car and financing plan then be referred to a dealer where the deal will be consummated. The project has been piloted in a Stuart, FL Wal-Mart store for about a year. CarSaver and AutoNation have announced the next stage of the program in Dallas, Phoenix and Oklahoma City to begin April 1st.
* Three winners of Green Car Journal's prestigious Green Car Awards have been announced at the Washington Auto Show in Washington DC. Named 2017 Connected Green Car of the Year is the Mercedes-Benz C350e, with the 2017 Green SUV of the Year awarded to the BMW X5 xDrive40e and the 2017 Luxury Green Car of the Year to Acura's new NSX.
* With plenty of auto industry awards given out this time of year we tend to pay little attention but this one caught our eye. Audi’s adaptive cruise control earned Autoblog’s Technology of the Year Award. Certainly, there is nothing new about adaptive cruise control systems but this one takes a big step forward. It will automatically alter your speed when the speed limit changes (not necessarily a good thing), change your speed for curves on a winding road and with a destination set it will even slow the car to make tighter corners. The system moves us ever closer to autonomous driving.
* Paris officials are experimenting with a self-driving shuttle linking two train stations in the French capital. Two electric-power EZ10 minibuses, which can carry up to six seated passengers, were put into service and will be tested until early April between the Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris. The GPS-guided vehicle is free and will be running seven days a week.Conceived by the French company Easymile, the EZ10 will also be tested between two main green spaces in southern Paris later this year. The company said fleets of the small shuttle are already operating in several countries across the world including the United States. With a commercial speed of 15 kph (9 mph), the shuttle has been designed for public transportation to cover short distances.
* We reported a number of weeks ago that Craig Breedlove was suing Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry for $395,000 to cover the cost of repairs for damage done to his 526mph record-setting Spirit of America jet car while on display. Breedlove and the museum have now come to terms and settled the suit out of court. The current land sped record is held by England a Breedlove hopes to build a new car to be driven by his son to bring the record back to the U.S.
* Motorsports for 2017 has begun. Ford and Ferrari took pole positions in this week’s qualifying for the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. After a good season in 2016 the new Ford GT race cars from Ganassi Racing snagged first, second, third and sixth in the 11-car field. Fourth position went to the Ferrari 488 GTE driven by Toni Vilander. That is the only Ferrari in the GT LeMans Class. Fifth position is held by Patrick Pilet’s Porsche. Other competing cars include the Corvette C7R and BMW M6 GTLM.
* NASCAR is changing its format for the upcoming season. Every race will now be cut into three stages with points awarded at the end of each. The top 10 drivers at the end of Stage 1 and Stage 2 will be awarded points. the final Stage 3 portion of the race will be for the win. NASCAR wants every lap to count and for more people to be in the stands. The 10-race final playoff of the season will no longer be called "The Chase." The Daytona 500 is February 26 kicking off the new season.
* There's change at Formula One. For the past four decades, the leader of Formula One racing was Bernie Ecclestone. After Liberty Media acquired the Formula One series recently, Chase Carey, a longtime executive with Fox and DirecTV, was named to replace Ecclestone and to try to overhaul the organization. Carey wants to increase the interest in the series here in the U. S. With only one U.S. race now in Austin, Texas he said, he plans to bring another to a destination American city, like New York, Los Angeles, Miami or Las Vegas.
* A bill that would require school buses to have seat belts is being considered by lawmakers in Washington, one of at least 17 states where school seat belt measures are on the legislative agenda this year. The Washington Senate Transportation Committee held a public hearing Tuesday for a bill that would mandate that all school buses purchased after the bill takes effect have a safety belt for each rider.
* Michigan became the next state in line to raise speed limits this week as Governor Snyder signed a series of bills that require transportation officials to raise limits on up to 600 miles of limited access highways to 75 mph and many trunkline roads to 65 mph. Local jurisdictions will also be required to set speed limits based on engineering principals rather than arbitrary political judgements. The bills were shepherded by the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Chapter of the National Motorists Association.
* Collector car sales at the multiple Arizona auctions last week came in with an impressive total of $259.8 million but the average sale price was down from $115,729 in 2016 to $89,601 this year. With seven auctions in and around Scottsdale the third week in January we always look for any indication of trends developing. Hagerty, the largest U.S. purveyor of classic and collector car insurance, keeps close track and shares their assessments. It seems the high-end cars continue to sell well as do those at the low end. Mid-level collectables - $250 to $1 million - continue to be the market's soft spot. Top sale this year was a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight that went for $7.37 million. The top ten sellers were all European. For more details check out the Hagerty Web site.