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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest Jan 22-28, 2018: Collector Auction Results; FCA Ford Sales Showdown; Self-Driving Happenings; Driving Peaked? Rolex 24; Ford Buying Tech Companies


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, January 28, 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 22-28, 2018;

* The annual classic and collector car auctions in Scottsdale wrapped up last week posting sales slightly down from last year. Seven major companies present sales here with totals of around $247.8 million, according to Hagerty Insurance who keeps close track of both auction and individual sales. According to a story in AutoWeek, the strength of the market is now in the mid- to low-end rather than the high-priced exotics and classics. Top selling individual car was a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Special Coupe that went for just over $8 million.

* Two of the most iconic American performance cars, a current generation Ford GT and the recently unveiled 2019 Mustang BULLITT, raised a total of $2.85 million for charity during the 47th Annual Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction. A 2017 Ford GT that was donated by businessman Ron Pratte to the Evernham Family-Racing for a Reason Foundation, sold for $2.5 million to benefit Autism Society of North Carolina. Ford and the McQueen estate donated VIN 001 of the limited-edition Mustang BULLITT, with 100 percent of the $300,000 hammer price benefiting Boys Republic.

* Automakers will share center stage with other major advertisers as they present a new round of ads during the Super Bowl on February 4th. Kia will feature racing legend Emerson Fittapaldi pitching the Kia Stinger sport sedan. The company released a teaser for the ad while keeping secret other celebs in the commercial. Also, Lexus will taut the new LS 500 with a spot based on Marvel's new superhero film Black Panther that features the F-Sport version of the LS 500.

* FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told a group of analysts this week he expects that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may outperform Ford this year. FCA has struggled to make money for years barely avoiding a bankruptcy during the Great Recession of 2009/2010. A substantially improved position in the North American market is also expected to result in profit-sharing checks of $5,500 for FCA’s UAW-represented workers. Marchionne is preparing to retire after putting the company on a firm financial footing.

* Ford announced this week the acquisition of two technology companies and the reorganization of this “mobility” business to increase the pace of innovation. The company is acquiring software developer TransLoc and Autonomic, a Silicon Valley architecture and transportation solutions company. Ford announced some years ago that it would no longer be a car company, rather it would be a “mobility” company. This reorganization fits into that philosophy.

* Ride-share company Lyft has released an “economic impact” report for 2017, and it makes some bold claims. Most notably, Lyft says that nearly 250,000 of its customers gave up owning a car because of ride-share availability. Fifty percent of Lyft users say they have used their car less as a result of the service, while fully one quarter of users agree with the statement that personal ownership of vehicles isn’t very important.

* It has worked in such cities as London, Stockholm and Singapore. As proposed for New York City by Governor Cuomo’s panel, "Fix NYC," car drivers would be charged $11.52 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street during weekday business hours. That figure is equivalent to existing E-ZPass round-trip fees on tolled East River crossings. Trucks would pay $25.34. Taxis and app-based services like Uber and Lyft (causes of many traffic headaches) would have per-ride surcharges of $2 to $5.

* A brand new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle examines "Has motorization in the U.S. peaked? Part 10: Vehicle ownership and distance driven, 1984 to 2016." The main findings are: (1) The vehicle-ownership rates per person and per household both reached their maxima in 2006. The two rates for 2016 are down, on average, 3.3% from their maxima, although they have rebounded, on average, 2.6% from the post-maximum minima reached in 2012 and 2013. (2) The distance-driven rates per person and per household both reached their maxima in 2004. The two rates for 2016 are down, on average, 6.2% from their maxima, although they have rebounded, on average, 3.9% from the post-maximum minima reached in 2013.

* American drivers are more willing to embrace self-driving vehicles, according to a new study from AAA. The annual survey reveals that 63 percent of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, a significant decrease from 78 percent in early 2017. Millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car. Conversely, (Editorial comment: and perhaps the most telling) the concept of sharing the road with a fully self-driving vehicle is still something that drivers are leery of. In AAA's survey, only 13 percent of U.S. drivers report that they would feel safer sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle while nearly half (46 percent) would actually feel less safe.

* A Tesla Model S driving in semi-autonomous mode has been in another accident when it crashed into the back of a fire truck in California. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board immediately dispatched investigators to see if Tesla’s “Autopilot” system was to blame. While crashes using this semi-autonomous mode are rare they get intense scrutiny. Tesla has been accused of overstating the capabilities of the Autopilot system.

* A California motorcyclist has filed a lawsuit against General Motors, accusing one of the manufacturer’s robot-operated vehicles of “negligent driving.” The suit is one of the first involving an autonomous vehicle. The motorcyclist claims he was traveling down a San Francisco street at about 15 mph last month when a Cruise AV aborted a lane change and swerved back into his lane. The car struck him, “knocking him to the ground,” and injuring him. A police report at the scene blamed the motorcyclist. A backup driver was behind the wheel.

* The 2018 motorsports season kicked off this weekend with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Fernando Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion is moonlighting in the Rolex 24. Hello Castroneves is making his first Rolex 24 start since 2009, the last time team owner Roger Penske fielded a car in the race. Next up will be the NASCAR Daytona 500 on Feb 18 and the first IndyCar race is in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 11.