Nutson's Automotive News Summary May 29-June 4, 2017 - Happy Hatchbacks, New Colectables, New Car Museum, Racing Tri-fecta, Harley Recall
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, June 4, 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: June 4, 2017
* We enjoyed a trifecta of auto racing over Memorial Day weekend. Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500, when he held off the three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mile-per-hour wheel-rubbing duel to the finish of the 101st running of the race. Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 400, for his first NASCAR cup victory, when Jimmy Johnson ran out of gas. In Monaco, the famed Grand Prix F1 race was won by Sebastian Vettel driving a Ferrari. Mercedes best finish was fourth.
* Mark Phelan, reporting for the Detroit Free Press, says hatchbacks are staging a comeback. "While cars sales plummet and buyers switch to SUVs, the underappreciated hatchback body style is enjoying a minor renaissance as a rush of new models go on sale. In 2017, compact and subcompact car sales are down 25%. But hatchbacks in those classes have risen 16%."
* U.S. light-vehicle sales slipped 0.5 percent in May--in spite of higher discounts and strong SUV/truck demand. The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales fell to 16.7 million, down from 17.2 million in May 2016, on weaker fleet volume. Ford, Nissan and Honda were up; General Motors, Toyota, FCA and Hyundai-Kia were down. Oh, and Ford outsold GM.
* President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement enlisted much response from the automotive community. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla, and Disney’s Bob Iger, immediately resigned from the president’s economic council and BMW Group issued a formal statement condemning the action. The statement also promised “the BMW Group will continue to work at an international level - including with U.S. stakeholders - to facilitate the reduction of greenhouse gasses and address global warming." The U.S. automakers responded with statements and almost certainly will ignore President Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris climate agreement. To do otherwise is bad for business.
* To follow up the story of Ford CEO Mark Field’s ouster last week Automotive News reports Fields tried to fire Joe Hinrichs, president of the Americas, just prior to his own demise speculating that Fields hoped to redirect the board of directors’ attention from his own failings. The broad shakeup at Ford included getting rid of longtime communications VP Ray Day and naming former Steelcase furniture CEO Jim Hackett to run Ford. Not only was Hinrichs kept on but he scored a retention bonus of $5 million in company stock.
* Hagerty Insurance, the dominate player in the classic and collector car and boat insurance market, is out with a list of five “Pop Culture Ions from the 1980s.” Noting that these cars promise to be popular among Gen-Xers who will reach peak earning power. Other collector are likely to go for these as well. The list includes: third generation Pontiac Trans Am, DeLorean DMC-12, Ferrari 308 GTS, Mercedes SL 350/450/380/560 and Toyota Hilux Pickup. Commonality is that these were featured on TV shows of the era.
* New York is the latest state to allow autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. Audi was approved this week to begin testing a Level 3 (by SAE definition, capable of automated driving at posted highway speed when specific conditions are met) later this month with two engineers on board to assure safety. Governor Como has invited other companies to apply for similar permits. Beginning in Albany, the state capitol, test vehicles will be allowed only on specified routes.
* The also-ran electric car manufacturer Faraday Furture, is trying to chase Tesla into that narrow market segment. The Chinese-backed upstart has promised to begin manufacturing about 10,000 cars/year in a factory near Las Vegas beginning in 2019 of the high-tech cars they’ve designed. AutoWeek reports Faraday has recently cut its planned model lineup from seven to two vehicles and now is seeking an extra $1 billion in funding. Analysts got a first look at a working prototype of the FF91 earlier this year claimed to have over 1,000 horsepower and a range of nearly 400 miles while costing around $300,000.
* America’s newest car museum opened this week in Newport, RI in a repurposed Raytheon missile factory. The museum’s eclectic collection was assembled by Gunther and Maggie Buerman and features mostly post-WWII vehicles and furniture. Mopars, Shelby Fords, world cars, cars with fins and Corvettes are featured in the collection along with furniture designers Arne Jacobsen and Charles and Ray Eames. The main museum will also have six driving simulators in its 50,000 square-feet of space while other areas of the building will be used for other car storage.
* Harley-Davidson is recalling about 57,000 motorcycles worldwide because an oil line can come loose, spewing oil into the path of the rear tire. The recall covers certain 2017 Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Police Electra Glide, Police Road King, Road King, Road King Special, Street Glide, Street Glide Special, Road Glide and Road Glide Special motorcycles built from July 2, 2016, through May 9, 2017.