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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest , August 28 - Sept 3, 2017: Harvey and Cars; GM Sales Against The Trend; ET (Electric Truck); Tesla Troubles; Recalls Of Course


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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, September 3, 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.

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Nutson's Nuggets: September 3, 2017

* Hurricane Harvey has without doubt devastated many Americans. It's estimated that between 300,000 and 500,000 personal vehicles will need to be scrapped. To put that in perspective, in the Houston market there have been only 325,000 new vehicle sales in the last 12 months, according to Cox Automotive. More than 300,000 new vehicles in dealer's lots are additionally affected.

* We also await word on the impact Harvey will have on the collector car world. The numbers are unknown but nearly five years ago, when Hurricane Sandy slammed New York and New England, an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 classic and specialty vehicles were lost. Harvey’s toll could be comparable.

* Harvey will cause gas prices to rise. Expect the national average to rise 5 to 15 cents per gallon in the next weeks. Areas around the Gulf of Mexico could see 20 to 35 cent increases. Fourteen oil refineries are impacted by Harvey and are fully or partially shut down. The present national average is $2.38 per gallon. The White House announced late this week that 1 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve will be released to help mitigate the shortage in the middle term, but because it must still be refined it will not help in the short term. Severe shortages have begun in Texas but not in other parts of the country.

* August sales figures are in and GM made a good showing thanks to substantial increases at Chevrolet and GMC along with strong fleet sales. Company sales were up 7.5% in spite of the last few days of the month being affected by Hurricane Harvey. This was the company’s best showing since last December’s 10% gain. GM’s chief economist, Mustafa Mohatarem, expressed optimism that “retail sales will be strong for the foreseeable future.”

* U.S. auto industry sales overall slumped slightly as analysts are now predicting a 16.13 million SAAR (seasonally adjusted annual rate), down slightly from earlier projections. Overall sales for August were down 1.8% partly the result of hurricane issues. GM and Toyota posted the strongest gains while Ford sales slumped 2.1% posting just one monthly gain so far in 2017. Most observers agree damage done by the hurricane will take many months to assess.

* With the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt coming up we’re beginning to see teasers of exotic cars to be shown there. One of the most exotic is from Mercedes AMG called Project ONE, a two-seater featuring a “fully-fledged” Formula 1 hybrid powertrain making over 1000 horsepower and capable over 200 mph. We’ve only seen shadowy images in profile of this super car.

* Ford and Domino's Pizza are using autonomous, driverless cars to test out the delivery of pizza in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The two companies want to learn about customer reaction when a vehicle shows up with no driver and you have to go outside yourself to get the pizza. Customers will get a text message to say the pizza is here and then use a digital code to open an access door to the pizza being kept warm. There's no tipping required however I thought a main reason for ordering delivery was so one didn't need to go outside.

* Approximately 1,200 model-year 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat sports coupes and Charger SRT Hellcat sports sedans are being recalled. The engine oil cooler hoses may fail, resulting in a rapid loss of engine oil. If oil sprays onto the windshield or contacts a hot surface, it could impair the driver's visibility and increase the risk of a crash or fire.

* Volkswagen is recalling almost 281,000 CC and Passat sedans and wagons in the U.S. because the fuel pumps can fail and cause the cars to suddenly stall. The recall covers the CC from the 2009 through 2016 model years, as well as the Passat sedan and wagon from 2006 through 2010. All have four-cylinder gasoline engines.

* Cummins, a leading maker of diesel truck engines, just revealed an all-electric tractor-trailer prototype called Aeos, named after a mythical horse. The class 7 truck gets a 140 kWh battery pack and has a gross vehicle weight rating of 75,000 pounds. While this configuration is expected to be good for a 100-mile range it could accommodate enough batteries for a 300-mile range. Tesla is also developing an electric truck but has yet to share many details.

* The National Labor Relations Board filed charges against Tesla this week accusing the electric car manufacturer with undermining the United Auto Workers attempts to organize Tesla workers. More specifically, the company is charged with acts of intimidation and harassment against workers and union organizers. Workers have been required to sign overly broad confidentiality agreements that restrict what they could say about working conditions.

* Subaru factory rally driver Travis Pastrana with co-driver Robbie Durant has claimed the 2017 American Rally Association (ARA) Driver’s Championship overall title after an intense, season-long battle with teammate David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew. Pastrana and Higgins traded wins over the inaugural six-round ARA championship leading into the final event. In order for Pastrana to claim the title, he needed to win the Ojibwe Forests Rally, and should Higgins finish in 2nd place at the rally, Pastrana needed to also win more overall rally stage wins than Higgins. He did.