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Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - Week of November 6-12, 2017:: Gasoline Prices Rising; Koenigsegg Agera RS Fastest; Ford Looks Into Future; October US Sales International Brands Winout; RIP Bob Kinser


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, November 12, 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 - Nov 6-12, 2017

* Unusually high demand and emerging strife in Saudi Arabia are driving up gasoline prices. Demand in the U.S. is at the highest level since 2006 while the Saudi Arabian prince destined to take over the throne has dozens of his relatives detained in a stated crackdown on corruption. Analysts predict the resulting rise in crude oil prices will result in higher gas prices in coming months, particularly in the midwest.

* Ford’s new CEO Jim Hackett pontificated this week at a CEO Summit in Detroit on the future of automobiles as we know them. He said there will always be cars, but there will be “no dumb cars in the future.” Hackett is advocating for his company and others to put more resources and effort into autonomous, connected and electric mobility. Ford was one of the first automakers to declare it would no longer be just a car company. Rather, they intend to be a mobility company.

* Google's self-driving car company Waymo is taking its human back-up driver out from behind the wheel and moving them to the back seat. This testing is going on in the Phoenix area and Waymo hopes to expand it to other cities. Phoenix is being used because of the ideal weather conditions with little rain and no snow, two conditions that are problematic for self-driving cars, at least so far. Soon "volunteer passengers" will be on-board in the Phoenix tests. Experts say this is the first test of this kind on public roads at normal speeds.

* Meanwhile, confirming that autonomous vehicles are not immune from crashes a fully driverless shuttle vehicle had an unfortunate crash with a delivery truck in Las Vegas during its first outing. It appeared to be entirely the truck’s fault. The shuttle was filled with media and dignitaries who watched helplessly as the truck’s trailer slowly backed into it. Of course, being fully autonomous the passengers had no way of intervening to mitigate the crash. Observers noted that if there had been a driver on board it might have backed up to avoid the accident. I guess it was a learning experience! The shuttle can hold up to 12 passengers and can hit a top speed of 25 mph, but is only expected to ride around at about 15 mph. It doesn't have a steering wheel or any pedals, but an attendant rides onboard to oversee operations via a computer monitor.

* One of the special interest deductions currently part of the tax code likely to go away with the Republicans’ new tax plan is the subsidy for motorists purchasing electric vehicles. Environmentalists and utility companies are partnering to save the credits while automakers are taking a more hands-off approach on this controversial issue preferring not to spend too much political capitol on a credit that supports such a small part of the market. The House bill eliminated the subsidy but the Senate version is expected to keep it.

* A new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute's authored by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle took a look at well-to-wheels greenhouse-gas emissions for electric cars around the world. By looking at the fuel sources used to make electricity and converting it to an MPG equivalent they concluded that electric cars (BEVs) always have lower total carbon emissions. In the U.S. a gasoline-powered car would have to exceed 55.4 mpg EPA combined rating to be cleaner than a BEV.

* The United Auto Workers can’t catch a break. After losing representation votes at VW’s Chattanooga assembly plant a few years ago and at Nissan’s Canton, MS plant, the union this week came up short in efforts to organize the Fuyao Glass Industry Group plant in Moraine, OH, a Chinese-owned tier-one glass supplier for multiple OEMs. The union and multiple automakers are also under investigation for alleged misuse of funds related to UAW training centers.

* PSA (French automaker Peugeot Citroen) bought GM’s European brands Vauxhall and Opel in an effort to increase their market share. In a statement this week Opel/Vauxhall CEO Michael Lohscheller revealed plans for these two brands to be profitable by 2020 and to have all its products electrified by 2024. Lohscheller also talked about modernizing all the factories that came with the deal warning that employees would be asked to make sacrifices to support the plan.

* Toyota provided an update regarding its investigation into the impact of Kobe Steel’s announcements about data falsification. Toyota confirmed that, after reviewing the potential impacts related to specified additional Kobe materials, the quality and performance of its vehicles satisfy their internal standards. The investigation into the potential impact of additional materials continues, and Toyota has stated the need for additional time to complete its investigations because some of the other materials were purchased via numerous suppliers and used for various vehicle components.

* 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 October was 25.2 mpg—down 0.1 mpg from September. The value for October is up 5.1 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring), but down 0.3 mpg from the peak of 25.5 mpg reached in August 2014.

* For October, international automotive brands led in the U.S. market capturing 55.3 percent of overall sales. Domestic automakers had a 44.7 percent share. Among the international brands, Asian brands captured 45.6 percent of the market and European brands captured 9.6 percent of the U.S. market.

* NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth isn't looking for a ride for 2018 and has said he is taking some time off. Kenseth told NBC Sports that without any competitive opportunities available, it made sense for him to step away from the sport after 18 consecutive seasons. And, Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa, 36, will retire at the end of this season.

* Sprint car racing legend Bob Kinser and patriarch of the famed Kinser family has died at age 86. Bob Kinser was inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1999 and was reported to have won 29 track and series championships and more than 400 features during racing career that spanned more than 40 years. His career began at Bloomington Speedway, racing jalopies. He eventually moved on to race modifieds, supermodifieds and sprint cars throughout the Midwest. Bob’s sons Steve and Randy and grandson, Kraig, all became successful sprint car drivers and Steve has joined his father in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

* The Koenigsegg Agera RS is the new fastest street-legal production car in the world after managing to post an average speed of 277.9 mph (444.6 kph) during the two runs that had to be done in opposite directions as per Guinness' requirements. Behind the wheel during the record-breaking attempt that took place in Pahrump, Nevada was Koenigsegg’s factory driver, Niklas Lilja. Racelogic was in charge of recording the data and verifying the all-important numbers.