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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Wrap-up February 12-18, 2018: Mercedes A Detroit Drop-out; Rolls SUV: Car Buyers Stay In Love; Global Car Sales Gain; Made In USA, BMW X Models Go Worldwide; Ford To Cut Out RS Production - Huh?; Ford Ranger Recall; RAM Recall; Ford GT Flip A No-no


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - February 18, 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 12-18 2018:

* Reports say that Mercedes-Benz confirmed it will have no formal presence at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in 2019, striking a blow to the event as more manufacturers save major vehicle introductions for tech conferences or their own special showcases. Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Porsche, Maserati and Aston-Martin did not have a presence at NAIAS this year. A rising issue is that Detroit’s international prestige could be at stake.

* Rolls-Royce Motor Cars confirmed that its new high-sided SUV motor car will be called Cullinan. Inspired by the epic processes, over many millennia, which went into the creation of the Cullinan Diamond, the name embodies the new motor car’s promise. The Cullinan Diamond was extracted from a mine deep in South Africa’s Magaliesberg Mountains in 1905, and at 3,106 carats, remains the largest diamond ever discovered.

* Lexus is courting celebrity status for its LC sports car and LS big sedan with their largest product placement deal in the company’s history. Both Lexus models are featured in lengthy chase and shoot-em-up scenes in the new Disney/Marvel blockbuster, Black Panther, expected to set box office records this week. Both cars get destroyed at the end of the chase, but not before performing some impressive stunts and showing off their brash designs.

* Consumers who buy new vehicles tend to still be happy with them after three years of ownership, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). Overall vehicle dependability improved 9% over 2017—the first time the industry score has improved since 2013. VDS measures the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles—covering 177 specific problems grouped into eight major vehicle categories—during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old vehicles (the 2018 study examines 2015 model-year vehicles). The overall industry average improves in this year’s study to 142 PP100, down from 156 PP100 in 2017. In the top ten, Lexus is at the top followed by Porsche, Buick, Infiniti, Kia, Chevrolet, Hyundai, BMW, Toyota and Lincoln.

* While U.S. auto production goes into it’s second year of modest decline (according to predictions by most analysts) global auto sales are expected to hit a new record in 2018 at 97.3 million, according to LMC Automotive, a respected forecasting firm. LMC expects increases in all regions other than the U.S. to result in a 2.1% gain with biggest increases in South America, Central and Eastern Europe.

* Speaking of trade. BMW Manufacturing exported 272,346 BMW X models from the Spartanburg, SC plant during 2017. Nearly 87 percent of these Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes were exported through the Port of Charleston with an export value of approximately $8.76 billion, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. This confirms that the South Carolina factory is the leading U.S. automotive exporter by value. The Spartanburg plant exported more than 70 percent of its total production volume of 371,284 units.

* Ford said it will end production of the popular Focus RS hot hatch on April 6 after a limited run of 50 "Heritage Edition" cars to be sold in the U.K. Ford announced last year that the Focus RS would go out of production in 2018 but did not provide a timeframe. The Focus RS is built in Saarlouis, Germany, for global markets. It brought the car to the U.S. in the spring of 2016 as part of an expansion of its Ford Performance portfolio.

* Four years to the day after it was among eight historic Chevrolet Corvettes swallowed by a sinkhole that opened beneath the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum, a Tuxedo Black 1962 Corvette was unveiled after its restoration. A year ago, the final sinkhole Corvette, still in its damaged condition, was removed from the Skydome display so its restoration could begin in the museum’s AutoZone-sponsored maintenance and preservation workshop.

* The Ann Arbor-based University of Michigan released a study this week evaluating the efficiency of self-driving vehicles. The study concluded: the extra aerodynamic and technological challenges are more than compensated for by the logistical, safety and other advantages - to the tune of up to 9% lower in lifetime energy use. The research resulting in the study was primarily funded by The Ford Motor Company.

* Ford is suing a former owner of a new Ford GT for reselling it too quickly, or “flipping” it, as it is called. John Cena, former professional wrestler, now actor, filed a motion to dismiss the suit claiming the language preventing such a sale was not in the contract. Ford wants damages of $75,000, to buy the car back at the price Cena paid, and they want to capture any profits he made off the car. Cena had earlier expressed willingness to make a settlement with Ford but is now digging in his heels. We think the lawyers took over.

* The total number of highway deaths went down for 2017 after two years of increase according to the National Safety Council. This past year’s number is just over 40,000 representing a rate of 1.25 deaths per 100 million miles driven. The highest number ever was in 1972 when cars and roadways were exponentially worse than they are now. Since that time the trend has been steadily down in both raw numbers and the rate of fatalities, with only a handful of years experiencing increases

* Ford is expanding a warning to another 33,000 owners of older 2006 Rangers in North America not to drive them until they get repairs because of a potentially defective Takata airbag inflator; Mazda is issuing a similar expansion for about 1,900 2006 B-series pickups.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced a recall of about a quarter million Ram pickups to repair a transmission fault that could allow the truck to roll away when parked. The faulty part is a pin in the linkage that can become dislodged when shifted into park.

* The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hit Daytona International Speedway this week for the highly anticipated Speedweeks to kick off the 2018 season for all three national series. Today, is the 60th running of the Daytona 500. Alex Bowman, age 24 and Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s successor in the No. 88 car, won the pole for the 500 and will lead the 40 racers at the start.