Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - August 14-20, 2017; FSBO-FCA?; Ford Looks At Future; GT40 Godfather Lunn Dies; Honda Recall; FCA Joins Autonomous Group
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, August 20, 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 easyeasily "catch up" or put these stories in context by searching the past 25 year's millions of (Indexed By Google) pages of automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news, video, audio, rants and raves accessible from The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive to digest mega-tweet sized nuggets. When you wish to "learn more" just click on the article subject link which will take you to the full story as published here on The Auto Channel.
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Nutson's Nuggets: August 20, 2017
* This third weekend in August always brings conflicting events for the auto enthusiast. The Pebble Beach Concours on California's Monterey Peninsula is renowned to be the world's premier celebration of the automobile and brings our the very best in collector cars. And, the Woodward Dream Cruise in the Detroit, Michigan suburbs is America's largest annual celebration of car culture and history. We hope you get to visit both of these events at some point in time.
* Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, set some minds at ease this week predicting that we’ll not see a dominance of robotic, autonomous vehicles anytime soon. Speaking at a San Francisco future mobility event, Hackett said technology will slowly augment our driving experience helping with things like parking, some safety issues but he insists that it would be a mistake to think of the robotic car as perfect and the driver fallible. After a thorough review of the company’s future product strategy one of Hackett’s priorities will be not to put all eggs in one basket, including that of fully autonomous vehicles.
* More rumors circulated this week about possible buyers for Fiat Chrysler. Automotive News reported early in the week that “a well-known Chinese automaker” was preparing to make an offer. Later in the week the three most likely companies that fit that description - Guangzhou Automobile Group, Dongfeng Motor Group and Geely Automobile Holdings - all denied any such plan. Fiat Chrysler has a market value of nearly $20 billion. FCA’s stock price took a big jump on the news of Chinese suitors.
* Reporting for the Detroit Free Press, Mark Phelan writes that "Millennials are getting into car collecting, and they’re changing the hobby and the idea of what vehicles are worth owning and preserving. This year, for the first time, millennials are responsible for more collectible car activity than the pre-baby boom generation, according to Hagerty Insurance, the largest insurer of collectible cars and wooden boats. Contrary to popular belief, millennials drive and enjoy cars, Hagerty Insurance CEO McKee Hagerty says, but the vehicles that fire their imagination are more likely to be pickups, SUVs and performance cars from late 1960s to early '90s than the 1950s sedans, hot rods and early muscle cars previous generations." gravitated to.
* The Center for Auto Safety has appointed an official with a track record in federal government consumer protection agencies as its new executive director, the advocacy group said. Jason Levine, who spent about six years at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission during the administration of former President Barack Obama, succeeds Clarence Ditlow, who died in November last year.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced it will develop a platform for a self-driving vehicle with BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye. Up to now, FCA's highest profile involvement in self-driving vehicles has been to provide Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans to Waymo, Google’s self-driving unit. The group plans to deploy 40 autonomous test vehicles on the road by the end of this year and expects to use the data from a test fleet of 100 vehicles announced by Mobileye. The group's goal is to bring fully automated vehicles into production by 2021.
* Roy Lunn, revered as the godfather of the mid-1960s Ford GT40 sports cars that fulfilled Henry Ford II’s vow to beat Enzo Ferrari at his own game, has died after suffering a massive stroke at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. Lunn was 92. Lunn had the unenviable assignment of fulfilling Ford's goal of trouncing Ferrari’s exotic sports cars at Le Mans in the world’s most glamorous endurance race. Lunn was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2016 for overseeing development of the GT40, which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four consecutive years —1966-69.
* The huge Frankfurt Motor Show opens soon but anticipation has been marred by the announcement that nine brands will not be participating - Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Nissan, Infiniti, Mitsubisi and Volvo. Many followers of the industry were surprised by the FCA brands opting out since they have solid models to feature and promote. Volvo was not a surprise since they had previously announced they would not be participating in future auto shows generally. These decisions reflect a trend in automobile marketing away from the big motor shows in favor of smaller, more focused events. Auto shows are hugely expensive and it is becoming very difficult to justify the expense against sales gains.
* The Frankfurt Motor Show will be the scene of a major reveal and announcement from Chinese automaker Chery. They will show their new SUV known as M31T as prelude, they say, to entering the highly competitive markets of Western Europe and North America as part of their global strategy. The upscale small SUV will be powered by a direct injected 1.6-liter turbo or a 1.5-liter TCI hybrid. Both power trains meet the upcoming Euro 6 emissions standards.
* Federal prosecutors are recommending a three-year prison sentence and a $20,000 fine for the former leader of Volkswagen's diesel competence program who pleaded guilty to a criminal charge in September for his role in the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal. James Robert Liang entered a guilty plea to a grand jury indictment of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, to commit wire fraud and to violate the Clean Air Act. The maximum penalty for the charges was a five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors cited Liang’s cooperation with the Volkswagen investigation after his indictment as the reason for their recommended leniency.
* Mazda is recalling nearly 80,000 cars and SUVs, some for a second time, to replace dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The recall covers front passenger inflators on certain 2007 through 2009 and 2012 CX-7, CX-9 and Mazda 6 vehicles.
* Ford Motor Company agreed this week to settle complaints of racial and sexual harassment for $10.1 million. The investigation by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission involved two Chicago area plants where employees claimed sexual and racial harassment. The EEOC determined, among other findings, that the company retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment. The settlement included promises for regular employee training without actually admitting guilt.
* President Trump disbanded his two economic councils this week, one of which included auto industry executives. The move was triggered by resignations from the councils by members objecting to the president’s handling of the previous weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia where white supremacists clashed with protesters resulting in one death. GM CEO Mary Barra was reluctant to quit the panel citing pending moves by the administration to ease regulations on fuel economy and act on other issues important to the industry.