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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest Sept 4-10, 2017: For Sale VW Fixed Diesels; EV's, EV's, New Leaf; IIHS PIck-up Tests; Autonomous; Emissions Rising


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, September 10, 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 10, 2017

* Volkswagen plans to resell to its 652 U.S. dealers the diesel vehicles it bought back under recalls stemming from the company's diesel emissions scandal. VW has repurchased about 67 percent of the estimated illegal 485,000 turbodiesel vehicles it sold in the U.S. between 2009 and 2014. Newer VW diesels that were recalled have had their fixes approved by regulators and have returned to dealership lots. VW fixed and returned for sale about 8,000 of an estimated newer 70,000 Passats.

* 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 August was 25.3 mpg—down 0.1 mpg from July. The value for August is up 5.2 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring), but still 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—worsened to 0.83 in June 2017, up from 0.82 in May 2017 (the lower the value, the better). The EDI indicates that the average new-vehicle driver produced 17% lower emissions in June 2017 than in October 2007, but 5% higher emissions than the record low reached in November 2013. The EDI takes into account both vehicle fuel economy and distance driven.

* The Miami International Auto Show has postponed its opening due to the threat of Hurricane Irma. The best case scenario in which the storm turns away from South Florida, the show would hope to reopen on Sept. 13 and run through its scheduled end on Sept. 17. The opening date will depend on Irma’s course.

* In IIHS tests of eight midsize pickups the Toyota Tacoma double cab, Tacoma access cab, Chevrolet Colorado crew cab and GMC Canyon crew cab earned "good" ratings. The Colorado and Canyon extended cab both earned "acceptable" ratings, while the Nissan Frontier king cab and crew cab earned "marginal" ratings. IIHS said it tested two body styles of each pickup because results can differ between cab designs. Although four of the eight pickups earned "good" ratings, none of the vehicles qualify for either of IIHS's Top Safety Pick awards because they have poorly rated headlights and don't have an automatic emergency braking system.

* The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that gives federal regulators final say over performance standards for self-driving vehicles and could allow for as many as 100,000 such vehicles a year to be exempted from safety standards while the technology is developing. The legislation requires the U.S. DoT to develop rules within a year regarding self-driving cars sharing roads with traditional vehicles and identify other aspects of autonomous vehicles that may require performance standards to be set, such as sensors, software and the interaction between passengers and the car. Now the bill goes to the Senate.

* The House legislation also includes a separate provision that calls for the NHTSA to develop a rule within two years requiring new vehicles to be equipped with an alarm alerting drivers to check rear seats after a vehicle stops. It’s a change that would help reduce the number of deaths to children or animals left in vehicles inadvertently.

* Nissan debuted the Leaf 2.0 this week. Priced at just $29,990 – $690 below the outgoing Leaf – the all-new, 2018 Leaf promises a 40 percent bump in range to 150 miles and has a more mainstream design. EV sales remain under 1 percent of the U.S. market. The Leaf has been the best seller up to now and aims to capitalize on increasing government mandates for zero-emission cars. Chris Reed, Nissan’s VP of component engineering, said they are working on increasing that range to 200 miles expecting to roll out that extra performance in about a year. Reed predicted a doubling in global Leaf sales with this new version.

* The fastest growing automotive segment in Europe is electrics, according to a story in Automotive News Europe this week. The segment grew by 56% to 73,000 units. Introduction of the new Hyundai Ioniq contributed to that increase along with the popular BMW i3. The Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe were not far behind. In spite of this current flush of enthusiasm for electrics the whole battery-powered car segment still accounts for less the 1% of total market share.

* BMW Group announced in Munich this week it will offer 25 electrified vehicles with at least 12 being powered exclusively by electrons by 2025. Some of the electrics they revealed will have ranges over 400 miles. BMW intends to show a new electric vehicle slotted between the i3 and i8, a sporty sedan that will be for sale in 2021. BMW CEO Harald Krueger said they will even electrify vehicles from Rolls-Royce and the ‘M’ brands.

* The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity joined in a lawsuit against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration charging NHTSA with unlawfully delaying a rule that would increase penalties for carmakers that violate fuel economy standards. NRDC attorney Irene Gutierrez, representing the plaintiffs, said “. . . we have an administration that is doing the automakers’ bidding," and “the NRDC will step in to protect public health and uphold the law.”

* Lyft, second largest ride sharing company in the U.S., is preparing to launch an autonomous vehicle pilot program in San Francisco in partnership with technology firm based in Silicon Valley. During this experimental phase the cars will not be fully autonomous since a driver will be in the car ready to take over if necessary. Uber launched a similar program last fall that met with many problems. Customers for these Lyft rides will opt in for the project and ride free.