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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Digest January 1-7, 2018; Drive Home Rally; China's Cadillac; Subaru Sales Big Time; Pump 'em Up NJ; CES; Dakar; Irwindale Alive; Tatsuro Toyoda


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, January 7, 2018; 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 - January 1-7, 2018;

* The Drive Home III annual winter classic-car road rally put on by America’s Automotive Trust and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit hit the road this week. For the third installment of this trek to Detroit there are now seven vehicles in the mix. The classic car drive got started in Dania Beach, Florida making its way north while skirting the nasty weather through the outer vortices of Winter Storm Grayson--the bomb cyclone. Here from The Auto Channel, your's truly Larry Nutson will be driving in DH III from Spartanburg SC, to Nashville where Steve Purdy will take over the driving joy. More info here:

* Auto sales for 2017 ended with tough going in December and dropped 5 percent. For the year sales are down 1.8 percent to 17.25 million. Sales of SUVs, minivans and pickups remain strong with Ford selling nearly 900,000 F-150 pickups in 2017. For December, Ford, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Hyundai, Genesis, and BMW were up. GM, FCA, Toyota, Nissan, Kia, Mazda, Jaguar Land Rover and VW were down. Experts expect 2018 to be a bit lower in total sales.

* 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 December was 25.0 mpg—down 0.2 mpg from the revised value for November. This drop likely reflects the increased proportion of light trucks versus passenger cars in the sales mix. The value for December is up 4.9 mpg since October 2007 (the first month of their monitoring), but down 0.5 mpg from the peak of 25.5 mpg reached in August 2014. The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in 2017 was 25.2 mpg, unchanged from 2016.

* GM has been selling more vehicles out of the U.S. than in for a number of years now. In 2017 Cadillac sold more vehicles in china than in the U.S. for the first time. The is a somewhat unexpected milestone for the Cadillac brand which dominated luxury in the U.S. since 1902. Sales in China were up 51% to 175,489 vehicles while in the U.S. they sold 156,440.

* Ford invited us this week to get a peak at the restyled Ford Edge and the all-new 2019 Ford Ranger mid-size pickup. You'll have to wait a bit longer for details that will come late next week.

* Subaru has grown from a niche brand to a big player in the U.S. with nearly 648,000 sales in 2017. The new Subaru Ascent 3-row SUV which can seat up to eight is well equipped for the U.S. It has 19 cup holders, averaging 2.7 beverage holders per occupant on the 7-seat model. There will be no more "hold my drink" requests.

* On Jan. 1, New Jersey became the last state in the nation where drivers are NOT allowed to pump their own gasoline around the clock. That is when Oregon, the only other holdover from the full-service era of the 1970s, loosened its restrictions. Its new law allows residents of most counties with fewer than 40,000 people to fuel up their cars themselves. That leaves Jersey, only Jersey, with its dense tangle of highways and byways, its turnpike rest stops named for state luminaries and its status as the home of the first drive-in theater, as the sole state where it is illegal everywhere to fill your own tank 24 hours a day.

* A report from Navigate Research shows global sales of plug-in and full-electric vehicles passed 1 million units in 2017. The research firm also predicts growth in this part of the market will exceed 38% though 2020, partly due to the lower cost of batteries. Other factors in this analysis include coming commercialization of solid-state batteries and the regulatory environments in China and Europe. China will have sales quotas for electric cars in 2019.

* The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is joining other manufacturers in setting up its own mobility technology fund. The $200 million fund will support research and development around a variety of projects like robots-taxi development, autonomous car research and other technologies expected to revolutionize mobility in the next few decades. Details will be revealed by company executives at next week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

* Another revelation scheduled for the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show is Henrik Fisker’s latest project, a new full-electric car with a claimed 400-mile range called Emotion. Fisker is one of the most lauded designers in the world with a recently failed luxury car project under his belt with the Karma, a car now in production by another company. The Emotion, they claim, will have a 143 kWh lithium-ion battery pack claimed to be able to charge to 125 miles of range in just 9 minutes. They also have plans to use a new solid-state battery in future products.

* In other electric car news, Tesla continues to struggle to get the new Model 3 mainstream electric compact sedan into customers hands as quickly as originally promised, with Wall Street investors “getting restless,” according to a story in Automotive News this week. With 1,550 Model 3 sedans delivered in Q4 they are a long way from the 5,000 units planned for Q1 2018. Production has been limited by supplier issues and delays in the assembly process. The company reported deliveries of over 100,000 Model S luxury sedans and Model X crossovers for 2017, a 33% increase from 2016.

* The 40th running of the Dakar Rally started on January 6. Fourteen days with 14 stages, the nearly 6,000 mile off-road enduro takes racers through the Peruvian dunes from Lima, Peru to Cordoba, Argentina. It's the 10th event in South America. Formerly it was held in North Africa, but moved due to the political dangers.

* Lexus announced that veteran sports car racer Scott Pruett will continue as a brand ambassador for the luxury automaker following his retirement from racing later this month. The 57-year-old Hall of Famer announced his plans to compete in his final race – the Rolex 24 at Daytona - later this month on Jan. 27-28. The five-time Rolex 24 winner will be a co-driver in the 3GT Racing No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 in the grueling 24-hour event at famed Daytona International Speedway to end his impressive racing career.

* The Irwindale Event Center, the home of Irwindale Speedway and Irwindale Drag Strip, will remain open and in full operation under a new multi-year agreement with a group of motorsports enthusiasts led by Tim Huddleston and Justice Brothers and the property owners. In July of 2017, Team 211 Entertainment, the operators of the 63-acre motorsports and entertainment facility, were informed that their lease would not be renewed and, that January 31, 2018 would be 211's last day of operation at Irwindale. A change in the property owners plans led to this new lease-on-life.

* 安らかに眠る Former TMC President Tatsuro Toyoda