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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest October 9-15, 2017: Ferrari SUV; Hyundai Sales Changes; Porsche Passport; GM Detroit Production Wind-down; Ford Explorer Fix; RECALLS: BMW; Tesla, FCA


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, October 15, 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 9-15, 2017

* FCA Chairman Sergio Marchionne confirmed speculation that Ferrari NV will make its first sport utility vehicle. The Maranello, Italy-based company is plans to add a roomy four-seat utility vehicle. It will take about 30 months to decide on production, which will be limited to preserve exclusivity.

* Green Car Journal announced its five finalists for the magazine's prestigious 2018 Green Car of the Year award. The 2018 models include the Honda Accord, Honda Clarity, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Camry. The announcement of the winner will take place at AutoMobility LA in the Los Angeles Convention Center on Thursday, November 30.

* Porsche Cars North America, Inc. introduced Porsche Passport, a new sports car and SUV subscription program, which provides members flexible access to Porsche vehicles via a mobile app. This month-to-month subscription program offers frequent vehicle exchanges, unrestricted mileage, and on-demand access for up to 22 different Porsche models. Fees are $2,000 or $3,000 per month.

* Hyundai will let you return your new car if you don't like it. A new plan will try to streamline and improve the customer experience with its dealers through its new “Shopper Assurance” program. The new program features transparent pricing, flexible test drives, streamlined purchasing as well as the three-day money-back guarantee.

* Labor relations for GM got rather tense this week at Ingersoll, Ontario assembly plant where the popular Chevy Equinox is made. A month-long strike dragged on and at one point the company threatened to move all Equinox production to Mexico. We learned late Friday a tentative agreement was reached between GM and the Unifor union after some stern encouragement from the Ontario government. Details were not released and a ratification vote happens Monday.

* GM announced this week a wind-down and temporary shutdown of its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly facility because of lagging sales of the four vehicles made there - Chevy Volt and Impala, Cadillac CT6 and Buick Lacrosse. The wind-down begins next week with shut down beginning November 13th. Shut down is likely to last through the end of the year. GM, like its competitors, is taking a hard look at its product lineup as SUV, CUV and light truck sales expand and sedan sales contract.

* In North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Mexico and Canada the automobile business became the focus. The U.S. is proposing that any vehicle made within the NAFTA sphere must be at least 50% NAFTA content to enjoy tariff-free treatment, and that all vehicles show 85% domestic content overall. Canada and Mexico contend this would be too much of a disruption to a fragile complex of suppliers.

* Ford announced Friday an offer for free exhaust system repairs on 1.4 million Explorer SUVs. You may recall the news a few months ago about a cop who passed out at the wheel and crashed resulting from carbon monoxide exposure. Ford suggested the problem has to do with the extra equipment police have installed on the vehicles. Ford admitted no defect in the vehicle citing a study of civilian Explorers that did not have the problem. The fix, which covers the model years 2011-2017, involves reprogramming the vehicles’ air conditioners, replacing lift-gate drain valves and inspecting the sealing of the rear of the vehicle in an effort to reduce “the potential for exhaust to enter the vehicle.”

* Electric carmaker Tesla is recalling 11,000 Model X sport utility vehicles worldwide due to a faulty locking mechanism in their rear seats that raises the risk of the seats falling forward in a crash. The affected Model X vehicles were manufactured between October 28, 2016 and August 16, 2017.

* Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 470,000 vehicles worldwide to fix a problem with headrests that can malfunction in rear collisions. The recall covers certain 2012 Jeep Liberty SUVs and 2012 and 2013 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger midsize sedans.

* BMW is recalling more than 85,000 X3 SUVs from 2006 through 2010 model years in the U.S. because a mat that detects front-seat passengers can fail, that would result in the air bag possibly not inflating in a crash.

* If you happen to be on the left-coast and see a big-rig driving around the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that seems oddly quiet and quick, do not be alarmed! It’s just the future. The possible future of heavy-duty trucking recently hit the streets in the form of Toyota Motor North America, Inc.’s “Project Portal” – a hydrogen fuel cell system designed for heavy-duty truck use. The zero-emission class 8 truck proof of concept has completed more than 4,000 successful development miles, while progressively pulling drayage rated cargo weight, and emitting nothing but water vapor.

* Aerospace entrepreneur Richard Branson is buying into Hyperloop One, one of a number of companies working on the high-speed transportation system first conceptualized by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Branson just this week purchased a substantial stake (the amount is unspecified, though the company is now named Virgin Hyperloop One) in the high-tech start-up that proposes to move passengers at up to 670 miles-per-hour through a tube with a partial vacuum.

* Ever wonder what a modern despot rides in? Well, Vladimir Putin will soon be riding in a new state limousine that our friends at AutoWeek just discovered. The old fleet of ZiL 155 limos are getting a bit long in the tooth, so this new Porsche-powered, Rolls-Royce look-alike seen testing in Scandinavia will soon begin replacing the fleet. The limo with 600-horsepower, 650 lb-ft of torque, twin turbo 4.4-liter V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission is called Project Cortege. Don’t look for it to be available outside Russia.

* NHRA funny car driver Alexis DeJoria has announced her forthcoming retirement from the sport of NHRA drag racing at the end of the 2017 season. The 40-year old driver of the Tequila Patron funny car has had a successful career which began in the sportsman/index ranks and graduated up the ladder to the nitro funny car category where she has won five national events including the US Nationals.