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Nutson's Automotive News Digest December 25-31, 2017: Private Streets, Alfa CUV On Steroids, Tesla PU, Mid Engine Vette, CR Top Brands, Cars Of The Year, Navigator Updated, Recalls Of Course, RIP Kenichi Yamamoto And 2017 - Happy 2018


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, December 31, 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 25-31, 2017

* The NY Times reports that navigation apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps are turning quiet residential neighborhoods into traffic nightmares. To combat the increased non-local traffic some communities are baring outsider non-residents from driving on certain streets. Permits are being issued to residents and fines of up to $200 are being given to trespassers.

* We learned this week of Alfa Romeo’s plan to introduce a new, larger SUV (or, more accurately, ‘crossover') on the heels of Stelvio, their first SUV. The Stelvio has achieved a good measure of success in its segment of the market. The new vehicle, as yet unnamed, will also be the brand’s first electrified powertrain featuring a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Only Audi, currently offers that kind of powertrain, but analysts agree that will soon be a large part of the hybrid market.

* It seems Elon Musk and Tesla are in the news every week. This time it is Musk’s promise that Tesla will build a pickup as part of its product strategy. He said he’s “had core design/engineering elements in his mind for 5 years,” and is “dying to build it.” The pickup will come after the upcoming Model Y, an electric crossover SUV that’s due for release in about two years. Earlier this year he predicted it would be a reality in 18 to 24 months. Tesla continues struggling to meet production goals for the Model 3 small sedan. He said the pickup would probably be slightly bigger than a Ford F-150 (which is really big).

* Some enthusiast are still holding out hope that Chevrolet will introduce the new mid-engine Corvette at the upcoming North American International (Detroit) Auto Show, but the company is downplaying that possibility. The Web was buzzing again this week with hints about the next generation C8 Corvette engine and a photograph of what appears to be the mid-engine sports car testing in the snow. The new engine for the C8 is predicted to be a DOHC, twin-turbo V8 called LT7.

* Consumer Reports published its list of the top car brands ranked by owner satisfaction after three year of ownership. The top 10 are: Tesla, Porsche, Genesis, Chrysler, Audi, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, Honda and Lincoln.

* The Detroit Free Press named the 2018 Honda Accord its Car of the Year, the Volvo XC60 its SUV winner and the Lincoln Navigator its Truck winner. And, the NACTOY winners are......

* And, the Detroit News named the all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler its Vehicle of the Year.

* The luxurious and pricey new Lincoln Navigator got a substantial redesign recently bringing it up to date with the competition. We learned this week it will be hawked by traditional Lincoln pitch man, Matthew McConaughey. Actor McConaughey’s earlier commercials for Lincoln caused some controversy but that just increased attention for the brand. Two new commercials for the Navigator featuring McConaughey will begin airing on Twitter and Youtube then TV during the college basketball playoffs.

* Harley-Davidson is placing a renewed emphasis on teaching people to ride as part of its efforts to attract more customers.The company’s decision to expand the number of dealerships with a Harley “Riding Academy” comes as the industry grapples with years of declining sales and an aging customer base.The program launched in 2000 with about 50 locations and now 245 dealerships in the United States offer the three- or four-day course.

* Aston Martin is recalling 3,493 DB9, DBS, Rapide, Virage and Vanquish vehicles from the 2009 to 2016 model years because of problems with the powertrain that can cause the transmission park pawl to not engage. Aston Martin is also recalling 1,953 DB9 and DBS vehicles due to a battery cables that might pose an increased risk of fire if damaged.

* FCA is recalling 1.8 million Ram light- and heavy-duty pickups from the 2009 to 2017 model year because the vehicles may inadvertently shift out of park. (Holy Sh-t!)

* Litigation over allegedly defective ignitions switches on millions of GM compact cars continues out of the spotlight as the company attempts to resolve 1,723 remaining lawsuits. Over 1,700 have already been settled. A federal District Court judge in Manhattan just ruled that two of the “bellwether” cases expected to explain how some of the airbags deployed can not use expert testimony to corroborate the theory calling the testimony “unreliable.” Plaintiffs’ attorneys have not yet commented .

* Auto industry forecasting firm, AutoForecast Solutions, this week said GM is considering the demise of the Chevy Volt, the industry’s first mainstream plug-in hybrid, at the end of its current lifecycle around 2022. When it came to market in 2010 Volt reflected the best in forward-looking, electrification technology for automobiles at that time. With battery prices coming down drastically and advances in fuel-cells and other automobile electrification, this complex powertrain makes less sense. GM says it will introduce 20 all-electric battery and fuel-cell vehicles by 2023.

* Kenichi Yamamoto, the engineer credited as the father of Mazda’s rotary engine program, has died at the age of 95. From a factory worker at Toyo Kogyo, to project management of a small engine for a three-wheel truck branded Mazda, to the Cosmo Sport in 1967 that became the first production vehicle in the world with twin-rotor power, Yamamto rose to head of R&D and then to president of Mazda in 1985. Under his leadership, Mazda also recorded its greatest motorsport triumph, the LeMans victory in 1991.

* This is our final 2017 Weekly Automotive News Digest. Hope to see you back here in 2018. Have a Happy and Safe New Year!