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Nutson's Automotive News Digest Oct 2-8, 2017; GMEV; FordEV; Big 3 Still BIG For USA; High Test Highest Price; Jeep Recall; RIP Robert Yates


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, October 8, 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 "catch up" news nuggets. For More search the past 25 year's millions of (Indexed By Google) pages of automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news residing in The Auto Channel Automotive News Library.

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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Nuggets - Oct 2-8, 2017

* GM is planning for a future in which none of its cars or trucks are powered by gasoline or diesel engines. However, when that point will arrive in the future is unsure at this point. GM announced it will introduce at least 20 new all-electric, zero-emission vehicles by 2023. That includes two new vehicles in the next 18 months that are based on the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt. Mark Reuss, GM vice president of global product development, purchasing and supply chain said that traditional internal combustion engines are safe for now but the automaker plans for its entire line-up to be zero-emission at some point. This comes as automakers including Jaguar, Volvo and Volkswagen have said they will electrify their lineups within the next decade.

* GM also announced plans to restructure its business outside the U.S. and China while putting more resources into electrification of the product line. The Asia/Pacific operations, excluding China, and Latin American lost money in recent years and will be reorganized into one administrative unit with headquarters in Detroit.

* Ford’s new CEO, Jim Hackett, made big news this week announcing a plan to redirect a third of the company’s internal combustion engine budgets to hybrid and electric powertrains while cutting overall costs by $14 billion. Hackett also revealed the company’s plan to move $7 billion in product development resources from cars to light trucks and concentrate on internet connectivity in all vehicles.

* Ford's electric vehicle team, internally called Team Edison, is responsible for developing new battery electric vehicles in addition to Ford's $4.5 billion program to introduce 13 new vehicles over the next five years. The plan includes hybrid versions of the F-150 pickup, Mustang, Police Responder and an autonomous vehicle, along with a battery-electric small SUV.

* A study released this week by the American Automotive Policy Council reveals that Ford, General Motors and the U.S. units of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, sometimes called the Detroit Three, account for 3% of U.S. GDP and constitute the largest manufacturing sector in the U.S. economy. Two out of three assembly plants are operated by the Detroit Three and they produce more vehicles and buy more parts, and do more of their R&D in the U.S. than all the transplants combined.

* New vehicle sales for September got a big boost from the effects of hurricane Harvey, making it the best month of the year so far for U.S. auto sales. GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Volkswagen had big gains. The result was 6.3 percent higher over a year ago with the month totaling 1.52 million new vehicle sales. The SAAR of 18.58 million for the month well exceeded many analyst's projections.

* The AIADA reported that International brands occupied 55.7 percent of the U.S. auto market in September. Asian brands took 46.5 percent and European took 9.2 percent. Domestic brands logged 44.3 percent.

* Australia has been steadily loosing its auto manufacturing sector over the last couple decades and this week the last cars came of the last assembly line at the Toyota plant in Melbourne. After being a significant player in the international auto business Australia decided to quit supporting the industry with incentives and favorable government policies. The loss of of the auto industry is expected to cost Australia about 200,000 jobs.

* 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 September was 25.3 mpg—unchanged from August. The value for September 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 average fuel economy for model year 2017 vehicles (sold October 2016 through September 2017) was 25.2 mpg, up slightly from 25.1 mpg for each of the preceding three model years.

* U.S. sales of premium gasoline has risen to a 14-year high recently, fueled by late-model vehicles requiring higher-octane gasoline, Bloomberg reports. The sale of luxury cars, which usually are designed for premium fuel, has increased more than 8% between 2006 and 2016, according to Edmunds. Smaller engines needed to meet federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) need higher-octane fuel. With federal fuel-efficiency standards tightening, some analysts are predicting that soon 30% of U.S. vehicles will need the more costly premium fuel.

* AAA says the infotainment tech that automakers are offering in new vehicles is making drivers take their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel for dangerously long periods of time. The study is the latest by University of Utah professor David Strayer, who has been examining the impact of infotainment systems on safety for AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety since 2013. Past studies also identified problems, but Strayer said the “explosion of technology” has made things worse.

* A bill to allow substantially more testing of autonomous and self-driving vehicles on public roads has been reported out of a U.S. Senate committee and is expected to be brought to a vote on the floor soon. If approved the bill would go to conference with a similar bill passed by the House. The likely outcome would be the abrogation of a plethora of state and local regulations so that automakers could put as many as 100,000 vehicles/year on public roads for research, development and testing.

* The final resolution of the Toyota unintended acceleration case dismissed the criminal charges against the corporation after three years of monitoring and a$1.2 billion settlement, at the time the largest financial penalty ever imposed on a car company. The Justice Department recommended the dismissal of charges after Toyota admitted misleading customers and the government and formally apologizing. Civil cases are still pending in California.

* Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 710,000 Jeep and Dodge SUVs in North America because an improperly installed brake shield could let water leak in and limit braking ability. The recall covers 2011 to 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos.

* In motorsports news, three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves is stepping down from full-time IndyCar Series racing. Penske is moving Castroneves to a new sports car program, however he will still drive for Penske in the Indianapolis 500 in May.

* And sadly, Robert Yates, a pioneer NASCAR team owner and engine builder, has died from liver cancer. He was 74. Yates together with Dale Jarret won the 1999 NASCAR Cup title. He was voted into the Hall of Fame and will be inducted next year.