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Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - Week of November 13-19, 2017; Tesla; Flying Cars; Fastest Corvette; Hyundai SUV's; VWEV's; Danica Retires; Recalls Of Course; RIP Jay Amestoy


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, November 19, 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 13-19, 2017

* University of Michigan quantitative economics researchers say U.S. gross domestic product will increase by 2.2% during 2017, up from 1.5% in 2016. The annual forecast just released this week also says, "The Trump administration has yet to leave a lasting mark on the fiscal landscape.” The forecast agrees generally with most industry analysts that the rate of light vehicle sales will be slightly down from 17.5 million last year to 17.1 million with sales being mostly flat over the next few years.

* Tesla revealed two significant future products this week - a second generation of the Roadster the company started with and a fully electric semi tractor. The four-seat Roadster comes with three electric motors, 200 kWh of battery storage and a claim of 0 to 60 mph time of just 1.9 seconds, making it the fastest production car ever. The new Roadster is expected to cost around $200,00 and you can get in line for delivery sometime in 2020 at just 20% down .

* Tesla’s sleek electric semi comes with a claimed 0-60 time of five seconds (without load, we assume) and range of 500 miles pulling an 80,000-pound load. The unusual design relies on vastly improved aerodynamics and four electric drive motors, one at each set of drive wheels, from the Model 3 sedan. It needs no transmission so the driver, or robot driver, will not need to shift gears, and regenerative braking will minimize brake wear. It will also use Tesla’s self-driving technology and, they say, be substantially more cost efficient than a diesel truck.

* Volkswagen this week announced a $40 billion investment plan focused on electric and autonomous vehicles in order to beat rivals GM and Toyota to the next stage of mobility. Part of the plan is to offer electrified variants of every model sold by all its car brands and that will include 50 all-electric vehicles by 2025. The company has given up on diesel technology where they led for many years. Only about $1.7 billion of the investment will go to development of electrified, autonomous and driverless trucks.

* BYD (Build Your Dream) is a Chinese automaker expanding rapidly. After establishing an electric bus manufacturing facility in California the company is now getting ready to open a new factory in Canada to manufacture electric trucks focused on delivery businesses and municipalities. The company commented that it is now much easier to do business in Canada than in the U.S. The initial startup of the factory will only involve 40 jobs assembling the trucks.

* In other Chinese automaker news this week, we learned from our friends at AutoWeek that Chinese automaker Geely (owner of Volvo and Lotus) is buying Terrafugia Transition, a U.S.-based company making a flying car. The company appears to be nearly ready to sell a propeller-driven small plane with folding wings that can be driven on the street but requires a runway for landing and takeoff. A vertical take-off version may not be very far in the future.

* Hyundai announced at a press briefing this week it would introduce 8 all-new or substantially redesigned crossovers in the next two years in order to keep up with the competition. Product planning boss, Mike O’Brian, noted that U.S. light vehicle market growth is dominated by crossovers of all sizes. Hyundai and Kia have been unable to keep up with demand for their most popular models but they “are working on that." Hyundai product plans also include offering diesel and hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains.

* A new report from IHS Markit says that by 2040 ride-sharing will cause new vehicle sales in the U.S., Europe, China and India to drop from 80 million to 54 million. EVs will make up more than 30% of new car sales and cars powered by gasoline or diesel will still make up about 62 percent of new car sales in 2040.

* Introduced at the Dubai International Motor Show, Chevrolet says it is retaking the supercar crown with the introduction of the 2019 Corvette ZR1. With an exclusive LT5 supercharged engine rated at an SAE-certified 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque the ZR1 has a top track speed over 210 mph and goes on sale next spring.

* We drove the all-new 2018 Kia Stinger 4-door fastback sport sedan this week. Priced starting at $31,900 with a 255-HP turbo four and $38,350 with a 365-HP V6 the Stinger has outstanding driving creds and will give many a European sport sedan a run for the money. Check back for our full drive report.

* Winter tire use is gradually rising, but driver education about safety benefits remains essential to wintertime accident prevention. The Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC) reports that 66 percent of Canadian motorists ride on winter tires. The superior traction, braking and steering capabilities of winter tires are the result of advanced tire technology, particularly in tread design and rubber compounds. Drivers in the northern regions of the U.S. should heed the example of their neighbors to the north.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has begun shipping the first 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demons to dealers, the company said. The limited-production, 6.2-liter Hemi V8 engine delivers 840 horsepower. Dodge is touting the mega-muscle car as the industry’s first street-legal production drag car. The NHRA has certified it as the world’s fastest quarter-mile production vehicle. We're not sure how many will actually see a drag strip as most Demon orders are heavily optioned. Only about 10 percent are stripped down and light weight.

* Toyota announced that it is conducting separate safety recalls in the U.S. of approximately 28,600 Model Year 2018 C-HR vehicles and approximately 39,900 Model Year 2012 - 2015 Prius Plug-In Hybrid vehicles. The C-HR vehicles have the possibility that the electronic parking brake (EPB) may not operate properly. The hybrid system on the involved Prius Plug-In Hybrid vehicles contains an Electric Vehicle (EV) fuse which may malfunction if the vehicle is repeatedly operated in EV mode under high-load driving conditions, such as during a long hill climb.

* GM is recalling nearly 49,000 trucks worldwide to fix a fuel tank problem that increases the risk of a fire. The recall covers Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 3500 trucks from 2011 through 2015 with two fuel tanks.

* The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia – a collection of 65 rare and significant racing sports cars – has been selected as 2017 "Museum of the Year" by the Octane Awards (formerly known as the International Historic Motoring Awards) for an unprecedented second time. The museum previously won the inaugural award in 2011, and also has been awarded the organization's "Car of the Year," and "Book of the Year."

* After a couple name changes and one leadership change over the last dozen years, the Lake Bluff Concours of Southwest Michigan will go on hiatus as its organizers search for a new director and venue. The Studebaker Museum’s concours is slated to take place over the same weekend in August that the Lake Bluff Concours took place. Any future Southwest Michigan concours events will likely take place over the second weekend in September.

* Two Toyota drivers and two Ford drivers will do battle for the 2017 NASCAR Championship at Homestead today. Martin Truex, Jr and Kyle Busch in Toyotas and Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick in Fords make up the championship field.

* Sixteen-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champion John Force added two more titles to his team’s repertoire at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, with teammate Robert Hight winning the Funny Car championship and daughter Brittany Force the Top Fuel crown as JFR earned its first double championships in team history. Bo Butner claimed his first Pro Stock crown and Eddie Kraweic is the Pro Stock Motorcycle champ.

* NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, 35, announced she is retiring from full-time racing. Patrick's final race as a full-time driver will be at Homestead. She will make two driving appearances in 2018 in the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 and then expects to be totally done.

* Pope Francis was gifted a new $200,000 Lamborghini Huracan painted in a bright white with very-papal yellow-gold accents. The Vatican will auction off the Lambo at Sotheby's with proceeds going to three charities.

* In what RM Sotheby’s says is a record auction price paid for a modern-era Formula One racing car, the Ferrari F2001 driven to victory by Michael Schumacher at Monaco sold Thursday at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in New York for $7,504,000. A portion of that amount will be donated by the car’s former owner to Michael Schumacher’s Keep Fighting Foundation, founded by the Schumacher family after the retired racer’s skiing accident in 2010.

* Long-time auto PR Exec Jay Amestoy has died after battling a long illness. Most recently Jay was the head of Mazda PR for two decades having retired in 2012. He was also the head of VW Brand PR during the seventies and eighties.