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Nutson's Automotive News Summary May 22-28, 2017 - Ford Fires Fields, BMW Recall; GM And FCA Dieselgate?; Less Driving In U.S.; MAMA Preview; RIP Nicky Haley


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, May 28, 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.

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 2,015,543 pages of 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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Nutson's Nuggets: May 28, 2017

* The big auto industry shake-up this week is the ouster/retirement of CEO Mark Fields who is being replaced by James Hackett, Ford board member and former CEO of Steelcase. Since Fields took over from Alan Mullally 3 years ago stock price has dropped 40-percent and company profits have been below expectations. Recently Shareholder questioned the company's financial and strategic performance at the annual meeting. That was followed by the company's decision to trim its global salaried workforce by 1,400.

* INRIX Research surveyed 5,054 drivers in five countries (U.S., U.K, Germany, France and Italy) to understand their experiences and perceptions of connected and autonomous vehicles. 1.4 times as many Americans trust tech companies to secure their connected car data than automakers. The trend was reversed in the four other countries with 1.5 times as many trusting automakers. In the U.S., Baby Boomers tend to believe connected cars and autonomous vehicles will be less safe than cars on the road today, while Gen Xs and Millennials expect them to be safer.

* It's Memorial Day weekend and the start of the summer driving season. But, surprisingly, Americans are driving less and economists are scratching their heads. FHA reports distance driven is down this quarter from the last quarter. And, retail sales at gas stations are down 4.8 percent. Is the first quarter weakness temporary or indicative of a trend.

* Diesels continue to be in the news and under scrutiny. The Justice Department filed suit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles alleging that some of its Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokees cheat on emission tests using software based features. About 104,000 vehicles from 2014 to 2016 model years using the 3.0-L diesel are in question. In this case the government is not asserting that the emissions were out of compliance, rather that FCA did not disclose emissions management software.

* GM was accused by owners of putting defeat devices in its trucks to beat emissions tests again using software to bypass rules. Owners of more than 705,000 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra heavy duty trucks from 2011 to 2016 equipped with the Duramax diesel trucks filed the lawsuit. GM said, "The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations."

* BMW is recalling more than 45,000 older 7-Series cars in the U.S. because the doors can open unexpectedly while they’re being driven. The recall covers certain 745i, 745Li, 750i, 750Li, 760i, 760Li and B7 Alpina cars from the 2005 through 2008 model years that have the comfort access and soft door close options.

* Scott Dixon driving for Chip Ganassi Racing set an Indy 500 qualifying pole speed of 232.595-mph, the fastest since 1996. It's the third pole for Dixon for this the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500, which will start shortly after Noon ET today, Sunday, May 28.

* We're sad to report that former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden died as the result of injuries he suffered after being struck by a car while riding a bicycle in Italy on May 17. He was only 35 years old. Hayden, from Owensboro, Ky., was struck by a car while training on his bicycle between Tavoleto and Riccione, south of the resort town of Rimini. Known as the Kentucky Kid, Hayden won the 2006 MotoGP world championship with three victories that season. He competed in MotoGP from 2003-’15. Hayden began racing in the World Superbike Championship in 2016, joining the Red Bull Honda World Superbike team.

* Ongoing worker complaints at Tesla’s Freemont, California factory, mostly regarding harsh working environments, resulted this week in replacement of the company’s VP of human resources, Arnnon Geshuri, with Gaby Toledano formerly an executive at video game company Electronic Arts. Recent efforts at unionizing the assembly plant by the United Auto Workers continue and Tesla CEO Elon Musk claims the complaints are exaggerated because of the unionization efforts.

* The prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance , a classic and collector car show presented on the famous golf course of that name overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is making a one-time change in date to accommodate the United States Amateur Golf Championship. The Concours will be held this year on the fourth Sunday in August instead of the traditional third Sunday. That means, our friends at AutoWeek remind us, that serious enthusiasts will, at least this one year, be able to do both the Woodward Dream Cruise and Pebble Beach. The Concours goes back to its traditional date next year.

* You might want to think twice about outrunning the cops in New Braunfels, Texas. The police department there picked up a modified, 1,005-hp, Corvette Z06 during a meth raid and made it into a cop car. Actually, the Z06 Vette in full cop livery will probably not be used for pursuits, rather it will be part of their community outreach programs. The department said they plan to eventually put it up for auction with proceeds going to their training fund. No word on whether the ultimate buyer will have to take the cop stickers and light bars off.

* Here at The Auto Channel, Thom Cannell, Steve Purdy and I participated in the 2017 Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally. Along with about 90 other auto writers we had about 110 different vehicles available to drive over the course of two days at the famed Road America race track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Driving on the local roads, on the race track, over off-road trails and in an autocross competition gave us lots of opportunity. Read some of the news from this event on the web at this link.