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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest November 27 - December 3, 2017: LA Auto Show; NAFTA; Driverless Drama; Clarity; Alfa; Best Brands ; RIP Jim Nabors The Indy 500 Will Not Be The Same


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, December 3, 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 - November 27 - December 3, 2017

* The first major U.S. auto show of the season got underway this week with press previews. The annual AutoMobility - Los Angeles Auto Show included highlights like: reveal of Lexus’ first three-row version of the popular RX crossover; announcement of a new model naming strategy for Lincoln, eschewing the hard-to-decipher lettering system in favor of actual names; news of BMW’s plan to begin offering electrified versions of all vehicles rather than continuing specific “i” lines of cars; and introduction of a new convertible version of the raucous Corvette ZR1. Plus, the all-new Jeep Wrangler came out for the Mojave Desert off-roaders. Look for all the LA Auto Show details here at The Auto Channel. It's noteworthy that in California - the state that is forcing an all-electric future, we saw a bunch of new BIG SUVs.

* Detroit automakers told Vice President Mike Pence to back away from proposed changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. They say proposed changes would add thousands to the cost of a car in the United States. Pence with GM CEO Mary Barra, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and Ford Executive Vice President and President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs in Washington. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn also attended.

* A driverless Chevrolet Bolt prototype with some media on board in San Francisco had trouble figuring out what to do to get around double parked cars. It came upon a taco truck serving customers and just stopped and didn't move because it couldn't figure out what to do. The engineer on board had to take over. Need we say more. Driverless cars will not mix well with regular traffic is a crowded city. But, don't worry. When large cites like New York or Chicago ban or restrict privately owned cars, we'll have self-driving cars to get us around.

* Buyer’s remorse? GM sold its European brand Opel to French automaker PSA Group earlier this year for a reported 1.3 billion euros but PSA now wants about half that money back accusing GM of misleading them about the extent of CO2 emissions challenges that could result in massive fines by not meeting European Union limits set to become more strict in 2020. It seems GM’s compliance plan apparently assumed an unrealistic level of electric car sales. The sale agreement stipulates that compensation will be made if either party is misled.

* Look for Alfa Romeo to return to Formula One racing next year after a 30-year hiatus as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, owner of the brand, looks for ways to reestablish the brand’s international image. Alfa inked a multi-year deal with the Sauber F1 team who will manage the team and provide Ferrari engines. Alfa Romeo contested Formula 1 from 1950 to 1988 winning the world championships in 1950 and 1951 with iconic drivers Nino Farina and Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel. The official name will be Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team and the single-seaters will sport the distinctive colors and logo of Alfa Romeo.

* Another big news item for Alfa Romeo was the announcement this week of Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award going to the Giulia sport sedan, beating out finalists Honda Accord and Tesla Model 3. The rear-wheel drive Giulia comes in a range of models from the basic $38,000 version to the 505 horsepower, $72,000 Quadrafoglio. Motor Trend also named the new Ford F-150 Truck of the Year and a redesigned Honda CR-V as SUV of the Year.

* Honda's breakthrough Clarity sedan has been named Green Car Journal's 2018 Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show's AutoMobility LA. This future-thinking model bested a field of five extraordinary finalists that also included the Honda Accord, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan LEAF and Toyota Camry.

* Finalists were announced this week for the prestigious North American Vehicle of the Year, an award program juried by independent team of auto journalists. These awards are presented at the opening of press preview days at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit in mid-January. Finalists are: Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Kia Stinger for Car of the Year; Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Honda Odyssey and Volvo XC60 for Utility Vehicle of the Year; and Chevy Colorado ZR2, Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator for Truck of the Year. Note that vehicles were selected based on segment leadership, innovation, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value. The three finalists in each category are judged by these factors and not against each other.

* Ford opened its first vehicle testing facility in China. Located in Nanjing, China, where Ford already runs a research and engineering center, it's the automaker’s first in the world’s largest auto market. The 160-acre proving ground Nanjing Test Center and accompanying MakeSpace creative hub represent $100 million of the company’s roughly $200 million investment in Nanjing. In 2016 Ford sold a record 1.27 million vehicles in China.

* U.S. News & World Report unveiled the Best Vehicle Brand awards. Mazda is the Best Car Brand. Honda is the Best SUV Brand. Ford is the Best Truck Brand. Porsche is the Best Luxury Brand.

* The UK-based Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders hosted its annual dinner in London this week where the organization’s president, Tony Walker expressed distress over the risks to the auto industry of Britain’s exit from the European Union. Ford of Europe’s boss, Steven Armstrong said it would be “disastrous” if a trade deal is not done before the exit and threatened to "rethink” its planned investments there. Brexit negations have been slower and more divisive than expected.

* The 592-HP Jaguar XE SV Project 8 is now the world’s fastest four-door sedan of production-intent specification following a record lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) division built the production-intent prototype Jaguar XE SV Project 8. Achieving a time of 7 minutes, 21.23 seconds around the famed “Green Hell,” the new record is 11 seconds quicker than the previous time set by a sedan of production-intent specification around the 12.9-mile circuit.

* Jaguar Racing announced its first Jaguar I-PACE eTROPHY race team for its new global electric racing series. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, led by Bobby Rahal - three-time IndyCar Champion & Indy 500 winner – joins the grid in the world’s 1st production-based E, race series Jaguar. Races will be held in conjunction with the FIA Formula E Championship, the world’s first fully-electric international single-seater street racing series.

* We're sad to report that NASCAR Hall of Famer, legendary car owner and crew chief Bud Moore has died. He was 92 years old. Moore, a Spartanburg, S.C., native who won the NASCAR premier series title in 1957 as crew chief for Buck Baker and car owner titles in 1962-63 with Joe Weatherly, had been the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He was inducted in 2011.

RIP Jim Nabors Iconic Indy 500 Participant