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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Summary June 5-11, 2017: Most Valuable Brands; Most Satisfying; Most American Made; Most Diesels Sold; A Most Talented Auto Designer Passes


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, June 11, 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 11, 2017

* According to the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands study released by market researcher Kantar Millward Brown, Toyota is the world's most valuable car brand. BMW and Mercedes-Benz follow right behind, trailed by Ford, Honda and Nissan.

* AutoPacific announced its 21st annual Vehicle Satisfaction Awards(VSAs), identifying the most satisfying vehicles in the market. The 2017 Genesis G90 has been named the top vehicle overall—across all categories. No other vehicle has ever scored higher than the Genesis G90 in AutoPacific’s survey. Lincoln is the most satisfying premium brand, regaining leadership from Tesla and nosing out domestic luxury competitor Cadillac. The newcomer Genesis brand from Hyundai ranks third - close behind Lincoln and Cadillac. GMC is the top ranked popular brand, retaking the lead from 2016’s top popular brand, Kia. Overall for 2017, Nissan receives the most wins with 5, followed by Kia with 3. Porsche, Honda and Fordeach have 2 wins. Genesis, Volvo, Mini, Jeep, Dodge, Chrysler, GMC, Lexus, and Lincoln each take home 1 win.

* The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's latest report from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle says the average fuel economy (window-sticker value) of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in May was 25.3 mpg—unchanged from April and the same as a year ago. The value for May is up 5.2 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring), but down 0.2 mpg from the peak of 25.5 mpg reached in August 2014.

* The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index (EDI)—an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver—was 0.85 in March 2017, unchanged from the value for February 2017 (the lower the value the better). This value indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 15% lower emissions in March 2017 than in October 2007, but 7% higher emissions than the record low reached in November 2013.

* Dieselgate be damned. The U.S. added more than 280,00 new clean diesel passenger vehicles across the country last year, with Texas, California and Florida having the highest numbers of diesel vehicles, according to a Diesel Technology Forum analysis of the latest Vehicles in Operation (VIO) data compiled by IHS Automotive. Three Northeastern states had the highest percentage of new diesel car and SUV registrations in 2016 led by Vermont (+35%), Maine (+29%) and New Hampshire (+12%).

* According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau the highest per capita rate of car thefts in the U.S. is in Albuquerque, New Mexico where over 10,000 thefts occurred in calendar 2016 in this city of less than 900,000 souls. Why so many in Albuquerque? No one seems to know but it was number two on the list last year with Modesto, California taking top honors. Los Angeles sees the most car thefts in total numbers and the lowest rate by far is on the island of Maui where only one theft occurred last year in Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina.

* Want to know what it's like to not have to buy gasoline? This summer, Nissan, maker of the all-electric Leaf, is giving away free fuel at select gas stations in five cities throughout the Northeast to encourage consumers to "Kick Gas" for good and join a growing movement of all-electric vehicle ownership. The gas station takeover will reach five states throughout the Northeast this summer, including: Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. You can follow Nissan and #KickGas on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

* At a shareholder’s meeting this week Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced the soon-to-launch mainstream Model 3 electric sedan will come with only two choices to make for buyers - paint color and wheel size - no trim level or other options from which to choose. Analysts have worried about the company’s ability to bring out the new Model 3 in significant numbers without serious problems and these limits, they expect, will ease those worries. Over 300,000 potential buyers have put down deposits for the car.

* We’ve been reporting Toyota’s claim that the most “American made” vehicle on the U.S. market is the Georgetown, KY-built Camry. We learned this week that a comprehensive, academic study of the matter using many data points has been conducted by Associate Professor Frank DuBois of the Kogod School of Business at American University showing top honors go instead to the trio of GM crossovers Buick Enclave/GMC Acadia/Chevy Traverse followed by Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Corvette. Camry came in 9th in the survey. The most recent American Made Index concluded that the Toyota Camry is the most American-made vehicle.'s criteria include total sales of the vehicle.

* Hyundai is recalling almost 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix hood latch and parking brake warning light problems. The hood latch recall affects 437,000 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport SUVs from 2013 to 2017. The parking brake recall affects 161,000 Genesis and Sonata models from 2015 and 2016.

* One of the oldest motorcycle road races in the world continues to be one of the deadliest as three riders lost their lives this week. The Isle of Man TT race turns over 37 miles of public roads with 264 turns into a very fast race course where almost every years sees fatalities. Irish rider, 33-year-old Alan Bonner was the latest to look death in the face and loose his life this week. Our friends at TheDrive call the competition an anachronism and there have been efforts over the years to end this epic race where 254 have died over the years. But it continues with enthusiasm from the racing community and the Isle residents.

* Speculation that Mercedes might pull out of Formula 1 racing by 2018 are being vigorously shot down by Toto Wolff, F1 team boss for Mercedes. The speculation came from former team owner, now broadcaster covering the racing series, Eddie Jordan. Wolff reports that solid contracts are in place through the 2020 season with contract talks going on beyond that time. Jordan said he got that impression from talking with Dieter Zetsche, Daimler chairman, at Monoco.

* Over a career that spanned seven decades, Tom Tjaarda designed, or at least influenced the design of, over 84 vehicles. Trained in architecture, his artistic touch wasn’t limited to automobiles. Other projects by Tjaarda ranged from monorail trains to buildings and furniture. Having worked for Ghia, Pininfarina and Giugiaro, his best-recognized designs in North America would include the Fiat 124 Pininfarina Spider, the De Tomaso Pantera, the Ford Maverick, the Ford Fiesta, the Rayton-Fissore Magnum 4×4 (sold here as the LaForza), and the Shelby Series II. Last week, Tjaarda died at the age of 82.