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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest July 10-16, 2017: New Accord Hello; VW Touareg Buh-Bye; Ford Woodward Dream Cruise; Haartz Tops; EV's Up and Down; Most Stolen; Recalls Of Course


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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, July 16, 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: July 16, 2017

* Tesla built its first Model 3 sedan. Elon Musk tweeted pictures of the car, which will cost $35,000 and can travel 215 miles on a single electric charge. For those who qualify, a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles would lower the cost to $27,500. In spite of this news, Tesla stock shares fell roughly 14 percent after Musk tweeted that deliveries of the company’s other two models — the Model S sedan and Model X SUV — were low. Musk also said the company would make 20,000 Model 3s in December, below previous estimates of making 10,000 per week by December.

* We’re reporting good news/bad news for Honda this week. On the good news side, the company just revealed the newest iteration of what has become the hottest selling mid-size sedan in the U.S., the new Accord. Early impressions and reviews indicate it could remain in that honorable status. On the bad news side Honda announced the recall of 1.2 million Accords from years 2013 to 2016 the result of batteries that could catch fire. Only four incidents of fires have occurred with no fatalities resulting. The problem is confined to regions where road salt causes corrosion around the sensors on the negative battery terminal.

* With flagging sales - just over 1,600 for the first half of this year - VW has decided to pull the plug on their Touareg large SUV. They will not build a 2018 version, though they don’t say it is gone for good. While they are quite different in overall character, the new VW Atlas is a large 3-row CUV serving essentially the same audience. Touareg has been sold in the U.S. since 2004 when it sold nearly 28,000 units. Intense competition in the premium large SUV category is partly to blame as is Volkswagon’s diesel emissions cheating Scandal. Touareg had a V10 diesel as one of its powertrain options.

* The University of Michigan (UoM) Transportation Research Institute's latest report from Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle says the UoM Eco-Driving Index (EDI)—an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gases generated by an individual U.S. driver—improved to 0.84 in April 2017, down from 0.85 in March 2017 (the lower the value, the better). The EDI indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 16% lower emissions in April 2017 than in October 2007, but 6% higher emissions than the record low reached in November 2013.

* J.D. Power has released their 2017 Power Circle rankings and convertibles are claiming many five-star awards. Power Circle ratings are determined using J.D. Power Initial Quality Surveys and scored on a five-star system, with those vehicles being awarded five stars among the best available on the market. The Haartz Corporation supplies the material for each of the five-star winning convertibles. The 2017 Ford Mustang and MINI Cooper both share a Twillfast RPC top. The 2017 Porsche 911 boasts a Haartz Sonnenland A5 3M Singed roof that comes in multiple colors.

* Exemplifying how difficult it is to start a car company from scratch, electric car start-up Faraday Future just canceled plans to build a $1 billion assembly plant near Las Vegas that was expected to result in about 4,500 new jobs. The company has struggled to stay afloat as it was challenged in court by vendors last fall who claimed they had not been paid. Much of the company’s financial support was from a Chinese tech billionaire. Faraday Future executives say they are only temporarily dissuaded from building their exotic, long-range electric car, the FF91 revealed at the Consumer Electronics Show just last year. The Gardena, California-based company said in a statement that it will now look for an existing facility to produce its electric vehicles in California or Nevada.

* More bad news for Takata. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced this week that Takata Corporation will recall an additional 2.7-million airbag inflators in the U.S. These include those manufacture red between 2005 and 2012 and installed in Nissan, Mazda and Ford products. The inflators are a new type previously thought to be safe. Takata has already recalled around 68 million airbags that are blamed, or at least linked to, 18 deaths around the world, the result of shards of metal becoming shrapnel when the airbag goes off. Takata is in bankruptcy and in negations to be purchased by another Key Safety Systems.

* Ford is issuing a safety recall for approximately 6,000 Ford Edge, Fusion and Lincoln MKZ 2.0-liter gas engine-equipped vehicles with 6F35 transmissions that may have torque converters with inadequately welded studs. The vehicles affected are all from the 2017 model year.

* The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) released its annual Hot Wheels report which identifies the 10 most stolen vehicles in the United States. Honda Accords and Civics dominate this annual list, however they are older, pre-"smart key" production models. Since the introduction of smart keys and other anti-theft technology, Honda thefts have fallen precipitously. Rounding out the top five are the full-size 2006 Ford pickup, the 2004 Chevy pickup and the 2016 Toyota Camry.

* Early deliveries of the exotic new Ford GT include the serial number 15 car just delivered to racing legend, NASCAR team owner and all around performance car entrepreneur, Jack Roush of Livonia, Michigan. Over 7,000 enthusiasts are waiting for their cars while only about 500 will be made in the first run. Ford made it clear early in the process that the privilege of buying a Ford GT would be strictly overseen to favor those with a connection to the company and a degree of visibility that would enhance the company’s image. Jack Roush easily fits those criteria.

* The annual, mid-August Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit has become the largest one-day automotive event in the world as every conceivable genre of special cars, trucks and other things vehicular cruise about 8 to 10 miles of this urban main drag commemorating the days in the 1950s and 1960s when the Friday and Saturday night cruising was the routine for youngsters with muscle cars . Chevy has been the main corporate “presenting” sponsor for the last six years until they dropped it this year, according to Chevy to focus more on the younger millennial and its Bolt EV, both of which didn't quite fit the Cruise demographic. Guess who picked it up . . . Ford. August 19th is the 23rd modern Dream Cruise, with supporting events going on though out the preceding week.

* Subaru Rally Team USA driver Travis Pastrana has smashed the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb record, winning the event at the wheel of his specially-prepared Subaru WRX STI rally car. Pastrana sped to the 6,288 foot summit of the sinuous 7.6 mile Mt. Washington Auto Road in an amazing 5 minutes 44.72 seconds, over 24 seconds faster than the previous record of 6 minutes 9.09 seconds set by his teammate David Higgins in 2014. The Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb, first run in 1904, is one of America’s oldest motorsports events.