Nutson's Automotive News Digest, December 11-17, 2017; Ford Plant Filp-Flops, EV Tax Subsidies Remain, Autonomous Concerns, Diesel Rebate Bye-bye, London Auto Show Rises From Ashes, Opel New Owners, Recalls Of Course
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, December 17, 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 - December 11-17, 2017
* In a turn of events, Volkswagen's CEO said that the German government should consider phasing out the subsidies that encourage Europeans to buy diesel cars. This from the company largely responsible for diesel’s popularity in Europe. Until last year, more than half of all cars sold in Europe were diesels, which were marketed as being not only economical but also environmentally friendly.
* Reuters reported this week that Ford plans to move production of the Fusion midsize sedan to China by the end of the decade when the car is due for a full redesign for the 2021 model year. Currently built in Mexico the Fusion represents a segment of the automobile market rapidly waning in favor of more space-efficient small and midsize crossovers. There is a question a to whether Fusion will continue to be offered in the U.S. market said the Reuters story. Ford issued a statement denying the plan, but offering no more details.
* Another development at Ford is the planned move of their autonomous vehicle and electric car business strategy groups (about 200 people) away from the company complex in Dearborn to a rapidly gentrifying area of downtown Detroit known as Corktown. Ford began renovations of an historic, 45,000 square-foot building called “The Factory,” by locals. Ford hopes to lure hip young engineers and programmers to the area as well, as they locate these functions in an urban area likely to support early adoption of these technologies.
* With Congress ready to vote on tax reform next week, we learned that the at-risk $7,500 EV tax credit survives, barring any last-minute changes. With automakers pouring vast R&D resources into development of electrified and full-electric cars and trying to sell them to the public before demand exists, the subsidies are crucial to being able to sell electrics. The subsidies will still begin to go away on specific brands after the maker has made 200,000 units. No automaker has reached that cap yet but Tesla and Chevrolet are getting there.
* GM sold its financially struggling German Opel brand to French automaker PSA earlier this year and now Opel has just inked a new deal with its workers providing for shorter working hours and earlier retirement options. The agreement covers around 37,000 employees with slightly more than half in Germany. The companies will immediately begin integrating purchasing activities and sharing architectures among vehicles.
* Tesla got the largest order yet for their planned battery-electric semi trucks. Putting down a $2 million deposit Pepsi, one of the largest truck users in the U.S. said it is already working on appropriate routes of the electric trucks. Tesla unveiled the new truck recently claiming a 500-mile range towing an 800,000-pound load and 30-minute recharging time. Other early buyers of the electric semi are Walmart, J.B. Hunt, Anheuser-Busch and Sysco. Tesla continues to struggle to meet production goals for its mainstream Model 3 small sedan while beginning to build electric trucks.
* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau report that the German automaker Audi has scrubbed plans to sell off Ducati, its Italian motorcycle brand, a move initially triggered by its need to cut costs in the wake of parent company Volkswagen’s diesel emissions crisis. Audi acquired the widely respected motorcycle brand in 2012 through another Italian subsidiary, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., the high-performance supercar manufacturer.
* A story in the New York Times listed five things that give self-driving cars headaches. They are: unpredictable humans, not "seeing" the lines in the road, detours and rerouted roads, dark patches on the road surface such as puddles or potholes and, making tough decisions. You can read more here: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/06/automobiles/autonomous-cars-problems.html?smid=tw-share
* After an 81-year break, a London motor show is being revived with the launch of Grand Auto. Brand Events, the company behind the globally successful Top Gear Live event, says Grand Auto will be the ultimate celebration of motoring, showcasing more than 250 of the world’s most desirable cars from the world’s greatest marques. The event at the Olympia exhibition center in Kensington will run July 5-8, 2018.
* Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than a half-million compact cars in the U.S. because the brake lights may not go out when the pedal is released. The recall covers more than 390,000 Hyundai Elantra vehicles from the 2013 and 2014. Also included are over 134,000 Kia Forte cars from 2012 through 2014.
* The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, one of the most prestigious classic and collector car shows in the world, and the first of the season being presented in early March, announced its featured racing marque - Martini Racing. The Amelia Island show is known for its emphasis on racing cars and people as well as other classics. Show founder, Bill Warner, a former motorsports journalist, said the Martini emblem is “one of the most recognizable motorsport logos of all time.”
* Our friends at AutoWeek report that reigning Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch will remain at Stewart-Haas Racing. The team exercised an opt-out on its contract with the 2004 champion over sponsorship concerns back in August but reached a one-year agreement over the past few days. In a statement released on his social media channels, Busch confirmed that Monster Energy would remain a primary sponsor.