Nutson's Automotive News Digest Oct 23-29, 2017; Autonomous Regs; Waymo On Ice; Toyota Ole; Tesla Trouble; SEMA; VW Diesel Update; Last Of The Z's?; Recalls Of Course; RIP Gas Ronda;
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, October 29, 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 - October 23-29, 2017
* We may be headed for new regulations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that will allow public-road testing of self-driving vehicles without steering wheels, brake pedals and other conventional controls. NHTSA issued a request this week for input from the industry to identify “regulatory barriers” to autonomous vehicle R&D. Current rules dating back to the 1960s require all vehicles to have certain equipment that is not needed on a fully automated vehicle.
* Waymo CEO John Krafcik said they will begin testing self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans in winter conditions this season in Michigan. Krafcik spent 14 years in Michigan as a Ford engineer before leading Hyundai during its surge in the U.S. market. Waymo, Google’s self-driving spinoff, is a recognized leader in the field and mastering conditions where sensor inputs are ambiguous, perhaps because of snow and ice on the roads, will be important in keeping ahead of the pack.
* We feel compelled to help dispel false statements made by many in the news media about self-driving cars.. There are NO self driving cars offered for sale today. It will be many years before their will be. Read this article from Navigate Research auto expert Sam Abuelsamid: https://www.navigantresearch.com/blog/there-are-no-self-driving-cars-for-sale-yet
* Toyota confirmed this week a smaller investment than originally planned in their new Guanajuato, Mexico plant that was slated to assemble both the Corolla and the new Tacoma midsize pickup. Originally expected to be a $1 billion investment it will now be more like $700 million as the Corolla sedan will now go to a U.S. plant. Toyota officials insist the new plan is not related to President Trump’s threats to punish manufacturers building vehicles out of the U.S. and importing them.
* A lack of clarity in Brexit negotiations is blamed for slumping auto production and sales in the United Kingdom, according to a story in Automotive News Europe this week. Auto plants in the UK are dependent on suppliers throughout the European Union making for a complex and challenging relationship that remains in flux. Consumer confidence in the UK is suffering as well and analysts are expecting at least a 4% decline in car sales this year.
* Things are not going so well for Elon Musk and Tesla’s SolarCity facility where the firing of employees has begun as a result of recent performance reviews. The United Auto Workers is filing another series of complaints with the National Labor Relations Board in California claiming the company canned employees who were supporting a union there, some with positive performance reviews. Tesla says it will vigorously fight the charges. The new Tesla Model 3 is still months behind its ambitious roll-out schedule.
* U.S. and California regulators have approved a fix for about 38,000 Volkswagen Group 3.0-liter diesel crossovers with potential excess emissions, a decision that could save the automaker more than $1 billion. The approval means the automaker will avoid having to buy back luxury 2013-16 model-year diesel Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg and 2013-2015 Audi Q7 crossovers. Under a settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer in May, VW would have been forced to offer to buy back the vehicles if it had not won government approval for a fix.
* It’s time for the annual SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show in Las Vegas where tens of thousands of exhibitors show off aftermarket and OEM automotive stuff. Chevrolet is using SEMA as a venue to reveal its two new Camaro option packages: a Hot Wheels 50th Anniversary Edition and a COPO Drag Pack package. The first toy Hot Wheels car, they say, was a Camaro made 50 years ago. The COPO is a thoroughly drag race-ready “Stock Eliminator” class car good for 160 mph trap times.
* At the 45th Tokyo Motor Show new vehicles, especially tech-laden electric vehicles took center stage. Mazda introduced its Vision and Kai concepts, the latter may just be the new Mazda3. The Honda Sports EV concept, a follow-up to the gorgeous Honda Urban EV concept it showed in Frankfurt, takes the retro-futuristic motif to a whole new level. The low, wide, ’70s-inspired sheetmetal hides a battery pack and an electric motor, and hints at being rear-wheel drive.
* The Nissan 370Z might be the final Z car. Speaking to Australian publication Drive at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, Philippe Klein, chief planning officer for Nissan, offered no commitment to the sports car. He’s the third Nissan executive to suggest the Z’s days are numbered—or at least that the sports car isn’t much of a priority for the brand.
* Ford is recalling over 73,000 full-sized vans in North America to fix a wiring problem that could cause fires and other electrical issues. The recall covers Ford Transit vans from 2015 through 2017 that have a trailer tow computer module.
* Drag racing legend and one of Ford’s factory Thunderbolt racers and an early driver of altered-wheelbase “Funny Cars,” Gas Ronda died at his Palm Desert home on Wednesday, October 25, age 91. In 1993, he was presented with an NHRA Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2016 was inducted to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
* Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona watch, which had a pre-auction estimated value of $1 million, sold for a stunning $17,752,500 at Phillips’ inaugural New York Watch Auction. The price was a world record for a wristwatch at auction, Phillips said, which noted that the bidding on the Newman Daytona lasted for 12 minutes in a salesroom with more than 700 people in attendance. The Rolex Cosmograph “Paul Newman” Daytona is “the watch that inspired the legendary nickname for the most prestigious versions of Rolex’s Daytona,” according to Phillips.