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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest Feb 5-11 2018; Superbowl TV Spots; New Volkswagen Model; Chicago Auto Show; New Ford Diesel; FCA Dieselgate; Mercedes To Skip 2019 NAIAS; Tesla Tardy; $Million Bike; CCOTY; Waymo Caves in to Uber; Recalls Of Course


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO, February 11, 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 - Feb 5-11 2018:

* We hope your 2018 Super Bowl LII pick was the winner. Pre-game social media conversations reminded us of the AMC Eagle and the Jeep Patriot. Football fans saw no commercials from GM or FoMoCo. We did see tv-spots from Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Jeep and RAM. The 2018 Super Bowl spots were generally either silly or sincere—and all of them played it safe.

* If you were tailgating last weekend for Super Bowl LII you might like to know that tailgate theft is on the decline. The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports that 1,788 tailgate thefts occurred in 2017. That's 89 fewer than in 2016 and 6 percent less overall since 2014. The top five states for thefts are quite naturally the states with the most pickups...Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

* The largest auto show in the U.S., the Chicago Auto Show, had media previews this week. We saw vehicle introductions from Fiat, Ford, Hyundai, MOPAR, Nissan, Polaris/Slingshot, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. Plus keynote addresses from Subaru's Thomas Doll and Volkswagen's Hinrich Woebcken. Every automaker is on display, including seven who did not exhibit at the recent NAIAS in Detroit. With more than one million sq. ft. of exhibit space, nearly 1,000 of the latest cars, trucks and SUVs, three indoor test tracks and a wide variety of interactive exhibits there was plenty to see.

* Nearly 2,500 journalists assembled at McCormick Place for previews of the Chicago Auto Show. While less important news is made there than the other major shows - Detroit, Los Angeles and New York - it remains the largest consumer show, so manufacturers like to present some fresh product there. More than a dozen vehicles made their global or North American debuts. Volkswagen introduced the Arteon sedan replacement for the CC, Hyundai revealed their first serious race car, and special 50th anniversary editions were presented for all Subaru models. See all that and more here on The Auto Channel.

* Volkswagen’s U.S. CEO, Hinrich Woebcken, told a Chicago Auto Show audience this week that the diesel emissions scandal might have been a good thing, pushing the German automaker into concentrating on vehicles more attuned to the U.S. market. Rather than relying on small and midsize sedans, many with efficient diesel power, they’ve been putting more eggs into the larger crossover basket. He said they will launch two more utility vehicles by 2020.

* While many other manufacturers are moving away from diesel engines, Ford announced this week at the Chicago Auto Show media preview they will be offering a new 1.5-liter “EcoBlue" diesel powertrain good for at least 30 mpg in the updated Transit Connect small cargo van. The Transit Connect, first offered in 2010, has dominated the segment with a 45-percent share. Standard powertrain will be a 2-liter gasoline engine with 8-speed automatic

* Reuters and Bloomberg report the U.S. Justice Department is willing to settle the alleged diesel emissions-cheating case against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in exchange for substantial penalties and if the company recalls 104,000 vehicles to fix the issue, according to two media outlets. The federal government sued FCA in May, claiming the company installed software known as defeat devices on Ram pickups and Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs in order to fool emissions tests.

* The chances of Mercedes-Benz being part of next year's North American International (Detroit) Auto Show are “slim,” according to a senior Mercedes exec, as reported in Automotive News this week. "We have to look at whether a trade show like Detroit fits . . . our needs,” he is quoted as saying. Mercedes has been part of the show at least from the 1950s when they were the only foreign automaker there. Over the past few years many luxury brands have opted out of the Detroit show with some joining a more limited private event called “The Gallery.”

* Mitsubishi is recalling about 640,000 cars and SUVs worldwide because the accessory drive belt can come loose and cause engines to stall. The recall covers Outlander SUVs from 2008 through 2012, Outlander Sport SUVs from 2011 through 2012, Lancer cars from 2009 through 2012 and Lancer Sportbacks from 2010 through 2012.

* Mitsubishi is also recalling nearly 227,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix glass sunroofs that can fly off and parking brakes that may not work. The first recall covers nearly 57,000 Outlanders from 2007 to 2010, Lancers from 2008 to 2010, Lancer Evolution from 2009 and 2010, and 2010 Lancer Sportbacks. Sunroof glass can detach and become a hazard. The second recall covers over 170,000 Outlanders from 2014 to 2016 and 2013 to 2016 Outlander Sports.

* Toyota is recalling approximately 49,000 vehicles in the U.S. due to an electrical problem that may prevent the vehicle’s airbag from inflating during a crash. The recall covers certain Toyota Prius and Lexus RX and NX SUVs produced between May 2015 to March 2016.

* Harley-Davidson is recalling nearly 175,000 motorcycles because the brakes might fail. The U.S. recall covers more than 30 models from the 2008 through 2011 model years.

* The nearly $1 million sale of a rare Vincent Black Lightning has set a new record for the highest price ever paid for a single motorcycle at a public auction. Going under the gavel at $929,000 at a Bonhams auction held at the Rio Hotel and Casino, the unrestored Vincent bested the previous sales record set in 2015 when a 1915 Cyclone, once owned by the actor-rider Steve McQueen, went for $775,000.

* Six vehicles edged closer today to the ultimate goal of being named 2018 Canadian Car of the Year and Utility Vehicle of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). The three car finalists are the Honda Accord (Best Large Car in Canada), Mazda 3 (Best Small Car in Canada), and Volvo S90/V90 (Best Large Premium Car in Canada). The three utility vehicles finalists are the Chrysler Pacifica (Best Minivan in Canada), Mazda CX-5 (Best Small Utility Vehicle in Canada), and Mazda CX-9 (Best Large Utility Vehicle in Canada. The winners will be announced at the Canadian International AutoShow on Feb. 15.

* Ford introduced the first-ever Ranger Raptor, Ford’s new off-road, performance pick-up truck, for the Asia-Pacific market. The new mid-size Ranger will launch on the U.S. in the first quarter of 2019. We'll probably hear more about a Ranger Raptor for the U.S. as we get closer to 2019.

* A major dustup between ride-share companies Waymo and Uber was settled this week outside of court as the case was headed into its fifth day before a judge. Uber paid $245 million in stock to Waymo in a dispute about whether the former stole trade secrets. Uber’s reputation has taken repeated hits over the past year over a variety of missteps so they are anxious to get this overwith. The dispute began when Waymo hired recently fired Uber car boss, Anthony Levandowski, who took over 14,000 files with him.

* Tesla continues its struggle to ramp up production of the new mainstream Model 3 electric sedan as they begin satisfying hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic customers on the waiting list. The latest problem seems to be a German-sourced automated system for module production of the batteries for the Nevada "Gigafactory.” Investors and potential customers seem to be sticking with the company in spite of these delays and Tesla’s major financial losses this past year.

* NHRA Top Fuel star Leah Pritchett will also drive a Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak in the full SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown schedule this season. Pritchett will drive the Don Schumacher Racing (DSR)-prepped, supercharged Mopar Dodge Challenger Drag Pak starting at the NHRA Gatornationals in March. New DSR employee and NHRA Stock Eliminator World Champion Kevin Helms will be the crew chief for Pritchett’s Factory Stock Showdown team.