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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Nuggets, February 19-25, 2018; Rear Crash Ratings, Consumer Report Quality Report; MB-Geely; Hey Waymo; Diesel Dilemma; Daytona #3 Wins Again; Toyota Tundra Recall


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - February 25 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 19-25 2018:

* Consumer Reports' just released 2018 ranking of auto brands is based on a number of factors including crash tests, Consumer Reports' own testing and analysis of vehicles, and a survey of more than a half million Consumer Reports subscribers. It's the first year that Hyundai's luxury brand Genesis was included and it came out on top, bumping Audi to second followed by BMW, Lexus and Porsche. At the bottom of the list are Fiat, Jeep, Land Rover, Alfa Romeo and Mitsubishi. Within individual segments Toyota dominated.

* IIHS tested six new vehicles for rear-crash prevention and the BMW 5-series and Subaru Outback got top rankings in preventing such mishaps. The institute, which represents the insurance industry, gave the cars “superior” ratings in rear crash-prevention when equipped with rear automatic-braking, parking sensors and rear cross-traffic alert. The Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60, Jeep Cherokee and Toyota Prius received “advanced” ratings in the IIHS rear crash-prevention test that takes into account how the vehicles perform in a series of car-to-car and car-to-pole tests with different approach angles.

* The first U.S. commercial ride-hailing service without human drivers has been approved. Waymo, a unit of Alphabet Inc., got a permit in late January from the Arizona Department of Transportation to operate as a Transportation Network Company. The designation lets Waymo’s fleet of driverless Chrysler Pacifica minivans pick up and drop off paying riders in Arizona through a smartphone app or website.

* Diesel engines continue to be in the news. Porsche has said it will no longer offer diesel powered vehicles instead favoring battery-electric powertrains. And Mercedes is in the news being investigated for the possible use of a defeat device in its diesel vehicles. Mercedes no longer offers diesel engined vehicles in the U.S.

* A German court this week delayed making a decision on whether diesel cars can be banned from major cities, a decision that could affect the resale price of millions of vehicles in that country. Judge Andreas Korbmacher promised a decision next week. The issue is being closely watched as sales of diesel cars has been falling for a variety of reasons. Hardware is available to improve emissions by up to 70%, reports one safety group, but that can be very expensive.

* Audi is introducing a vehicle-integrated toll payment system on some models so that car owners don’t have to stick an additional device onto their windshields to pay for road tolls. The Integrated Toll Module (ITM) is a toll transponder built into the vehicle’s rearview mirror. The technology is compatible with existing tolling agencies nationwide, which can be linked with a driver’s new or current account, according to Audi.

* It looks like the federal government will begin phasing out tax credits for Tesla buyers sometime this year. The federal credit only applies to the first 200,000 eligible vehicles from a manufacturer. Tesla will reach that cap as the new main-stream Model 3 begins to be delivered to customers in substantial numbers. Once a manufacturer reaches that cap the tax credit gets reduced to $3,750 for six months, then $1,850 the following six months. Will the waning tax credit affect Model 3 sales? Stay tuned.

* Making news in the financial community this week was the chairman and primary owner of Chinese automaker Geely, Li Shufu, buying into Daimler AG in a big way. With a holding of 9.69% of Daimler stock, he now becomes the largest single stockholder. Conflicting reports have that purchase representing a strategic investment to facilitate Geely access to electric car technology, or as simply an individual investment, depending on whom you ask.

* Veteran Ford exec, Raj Nair, suddenly left the company this week because of “inappropriate behavior.” Nair left the post of president of North America. Nair and several other execs had gotten big retention bonuses just a year ago as Mark Fields was about to be replaced. No word on what the behavior was, but in filings with the SEC it appears he is loosing out on millions in bonuses. Nair was immediately replaced by Kumar Galhotra who is coming from Lincoln

* Toyota is recalling about 8,800 Tundra pickups from the 2017 model year and another 65,000 Tundra and Sequoia SUVs from the 2018 model year. The 2017 pickups are being recalled to fix a possibly loose second-row seat that could increase the risk of injury in a crash. A separate recall involves some 65,000 Tundra and Sequoia 2018 model year vehicles for a possible defect that could shut down stability control and other systems.

* In the 60th running of the Daytona 500 the No. 3 Chevrolet, driven 20 years ago by Dale Earnhardt for the win, was back in victory lane. Austin Dillon put the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet in the lead on the final lap to take the checkered flag. Dillon drove the car number made famous by Dale Earnhardt Sr. 17 years to the day that Earnhardt was killed in a crash on the final lap of the race.

* This 60th Daytona 500 was the most diverse ever. Second place finisher Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr., behind the wheel of his Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Chevrolet, made history as the first black driver to race in NASCAR's top level race since Wendell Scott broke down racial barriers in 1969. Danica Patrick ran her last and final NASCAR race and Daniel Suarez of Mexico made his first Daytona 500 start.

* The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History will mark 2018 as the Year of the Tractor with two new displays on the past, present and future of agriculture. "Precision Farming" opened on January 19 within the museum's "American Enterprise" exhibition.

* As we learned at the recent collectable car auctions in Arizona, seven of them altogether, pickups are just about the hottest collectables in the market. In the past year, reports Hagerty Insurance, keeper of all these numbers, some of these trucks have appreciated between 25 and 33%. Some of the hottest models are the Chevy Cameo, Dodge Power Wagon and more rare Internationals of the 1950s. These trucks needn’t be restored or original to be appreciated by collectors.