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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest April 24-30, 2017; First Drive Nissan Rogue Sport; GM Risks; Daimler Risks; Buh Bye Dale Jr.; Waymo AZ; Toyota Recall


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, April 30, 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: April 30, 2017

* This week we drove the all-new 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport compact SUV around the environs of Nashville and Nissan USA's Franklin, Tennessee headquarters. Aiming for sales mostly to millennials, it'a coming to market on May 11. The Rogue Sport is priced to start at $21,240. Watch for a full drive report around that time.

* Less than two months before its U.S. launch, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R has claimed the title of world’s fastest production front-wheel-drive (FWD) production car, setting a new benchmark lap time at Germany’s legendary Nürburgring. On April 3, 2017, a Civic Type R lapped the 12.9-mile Nordschleife (north loop) in a record 7 minutes 43.80 seconds. This new benchmark time represents an improvement of nearly 7 seconds compared to the previous-generation (European market) Type R, and over 3 seconds faster than the previous FWD record.

* GM could be exposed to billions of dollars in additional claims related to its defective ignition switches after the U.S. Supreme Court turned away an appeal from the company seeking to block hundreds of lawsuits from proceeding. The justices left in place a lower court ruling that said the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy did not shield it from liability in cases involving death and injuries, or for economic loss because the value of the cars plunged.

* Daimler AG revealed in its quarterly report this week a risk of being cited and fined for emissions equipment violations regarding its U.S. diesel vehicles. Citing a broadened definition by U.S. regulators of what can be considered “an undisclosed auxiliary emissions-control devise” they claim is common in most diesel vehicles, the company expects it may be investigated along with some Jeep and Ram vehicles with similar devices. Daimler has been under investigation by German authorities as well over emissions data reporting and false advertising.

* Despite record sales of 10.3 million cars in 2016 VW may still need to sell of some of its assets to cover losses over the diesel emissions crisis. Rumors continue that Ducati Motorcycles, and truck brands Scania and MAN Diesel and Turbo may be offered for sale in the near future. Costs of the scandal in the U.S. are approaching $30 billion. Ducati earns around 100 million euro per year for the company so could bring a sale price of around $1.5 according to estimates by Reuters.

* The California Mille, a 1000 mile road rally for sports and classic cars run in Northern California for the past 27 years saw its first fatality as a driver from Hawaii in a 1939 SS Jaguar 100 went off the Highway 128 near Mendocino and struck a tree. His passenger survived but is but suffered major injuries and is in a local hospital. The driver was not wearing a seatbelt and the passenger was. The California Mille was created by the late Martin Swig, a car dealer and collector and continues to be organized by his sons.

* The luxury sport wagon seems to be a new trend with entries from Jaguar and Buick slated for sale in the U.S. in the near future. AutoWeek reports seeing the Jaguar XF “Sportbrake,” sharing most underpinning with the XF, in production trim indicating it will become available in the States. They expect Jaguar will offer three power trains and rear- or all-wheel drive. The Buick Regal Sportback was first shown at the New York Auto Show in April and gets a four-cylinder turbo good for 250 horsepower.

* Dale Earnhardt Jr announced this week his retirement from full-time NASCAR racing at the end of the season. Voted most popular driver 14 times Earnhardt missed 18 races in 2016 and two in 2012 the result of concussions. Earnhardt said he feels healthy and able to put forth a solid effort though the season but has been thinking about retiring for some time. He plans to compete in two NASCAR Xfinity Series races next yard and continue to run that team.

* If you live in Phoenix and want to be on the ground floor of autonomous car development you can apply to Google’s Waymo to beta test their self-driving Chrylser Pacifica car-ride service. Waymo is recruiting a diverse group of people to experience this service. They have already been testing the service with a small group of folks for the past few months. Waymo CEO John Krafcik says he wants these recruits to use the service for all their transportation needs.

* for Earth Day 2017 the editors at Kelley Blue Book, named their top picks of eco-friendly new cars available under $40,000. The top EV is the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV, the top hybrid is the 2017 Toyota Prius and the top plug-in hybrid is the 2017 Toyota Prius Prime. For the full list see:

* Toyota is recalling about 250,000 Tacoma pick-ups from the 2016 and 2017 model years because oil leaking from the rear differential can result in wheel lock-up leading to a possible loss of vehicle control.