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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Nuggets March 5-11, 2018; Geneva, Amelia Island, Flying Car; 2019 Volvo XC40; Tariffs; Ford and Hyundai Recalls; Japanese Fuel Cell Goals; Toyota and Mazda Venture


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - March 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 Auto News Nuggets March 5-March 11, 2018

* International brands finished February with 55.4 percent of the market, down from the 57.4 percent share they held in January, but up slightly from 53.9 percent in February 2017. Asian brands occupied the highest share of the U.S. auto market with 46.1 percent, down from 47.6 percent in January, but up from the 45.5 percent share they held in January 2017. European brands occupied 9.3 percent of the market. Domestic brands finished the month with 44.6 percent of the market.

* The 88th edition of the Geneva International Motor Show is underway with media previews this week. The show features a total of 110 World and European car premieres presented by 180 exhibitors. Considered one of the “Top 5” of the world’s car shows, the Swiss edition has the privilege to present the collection of new models that will arrive on the market during the year, plus a large selection of concept cars and design studies that provide clues to the near and long term evolution of the industry. High-end brands such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McLaren and Zenvo will debut their new super cars. A raft of electric SUVs, hybrid sports cars and hot hatches are debuting. Highlights include: BMW’s M8 Gran Coupe Concept, a high-performance large coupe destined for production in some form; Hyundai’s Le Fil Rouge Concept, a coupe-like sedan hinting at a new design language for the brand; Toyota’s new Supra race car that analysts believe will mean a Supra for regular customers as well; and, the stunning Polestar 1 plug-in electric coupe, Volvo's first offering for their new premium performance brand.

* Volkswagen introduced the I.D. Vizzion concept at the Geneva auto show, the fully electric all-wheel drive hatchback sedan which is more than just a concept. It will be VW’s EV production flagship vehicle that will come to market by 2022. The 400-mile-plus range Vizzion stand atop VW’s new I.D. EV brand that includes the I.D. Crozz SUV, throwback Buzz Microbus and compact vehicle concepts.

* A production version of the world's first 'real' flying car has been unveiled at a motor show in Geneva. The £440,000 ($600,000) Personal Air and Land Vehicle (Pal-V) Liberty can hit 112mph (180kph) on the roads and in the sky, according to Dutch firm Pal-V International. The twin-engine craft, which looks like a hybrid between a motorbike and a helicopter, was displayed by the company ahead of the shipping of its initial batch of pre-orders in 2019.

* The Volvo XC40 was named European Car of the Year. The award is given to the 'best' car of the year, regardless of segment or market category. Chosen by a jury of 60 journalists from 23 countries across Europe, the 'ECOTY' is one of the most influential car awards in the world. First Drive 2019 Volvo XC40 Steve Purdy Review

* President Trump imposed substantial tariffs this week on steel and aluminum imports, flying in the face of Republican’s traditional values. Typically, they believe in free trade. In response to push-back from the auto industry, Republican economists and many others, Trump agreed to impose the tariffs selectively, exempting Canada and Mexico while NAFTA talks continue and indicating he will exempt others for varying reasons. Tesla’s Elon Musk came out strongly in favor of the tariffs. Trump signed a proclamation making it official despite warnings the action could spark a global trade war and increase prices of U.S.-made goods, including automobiles. The tariff threatens to derail the export of vehicles made in the U.S. and thus American jobs might be lost.

* Mazda Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation have established their new joint-venture company “Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc.” (MTMUS) that will produce vehicles in Huntsville, Alabama starting in 2021. The new plant will have the capacity to produce 150,000 units of Mazda’s crossover model that will be newly introduced to the North American market and 150,000 units of the Toyota Corolla.

* The Japanese auto industry and government have set an ambitious goal of having 800,000 fuel cell electric vehicles on the road by 2030 according to a presentation by a lead researcher at the Japan’s Next Generation Vehicles Research Council. Japan is already developing a network of hydrogen fueling stations to support this goal. One approach they will use to produce the hydrogen will be to extract it from water using photo voltaic cells. They are also exploring the use of hydrogen to power generators for electricity.

* GM CEO, Mary Barra, told a gathering of industry leaders this week in Washington, DC that her company will increase production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV small electric sedan to keep up with increased world-wide demand for EVs. While she did not specify by how much Bolt EV production will increase, she said the Lake Orion, Michigan assembly plant where the car is produced alongside the subcompact Sonic can easily ramp up production as it is only running one shift/day presently. Barra also pushed for an extension of the U.S. Federal tax credit that will run out for GM's new buyers this year when they reach the 200,000 cap.

* We drove the redesigned new 2019 Ram 1500 half-ton pickup this week around the highways and desert roads and trails in Scottsdale, Arizona. Watch for our full review later this week.

* Hot Wheels and Matchbox are celebrating anniversaries this year: Hot Wheels just turned 50 years old and Matchbox cars are 65. According to a story in the Detroit Free Press, it turns out some of them would have been a better investment than most collectible real cars. The most valuable is a Hot Wheels never even sold because design problems derailed it. A pink 1969 rear-loading VW Microbus Beach Bomb would fetch $100,000 to $150,000 from collectors.

* Ford is recalling about 2,100 newer Taurus sedans with a key-activated ignition, not push-button start, because the key could be removed from the ignition when the gear shift is not in the park position. Affected vehicles include 2017-18 Ford Taurus sedans with a physical key and non-push button start built at the Chicago Assembly Plant from July 21, 2017 to Feb. 13, 2018, Ford said.

* Hyundai issued a recall this week on 155,000 Sonata sedans from model year 2011 over an airbag issue. It seems that because a possible short circuit in the control system the airbag may not deploy. This recall is unrelated to the ongoing Takata airbag problems. Information on a fix, or on injuries involved, was not provided. On a larger note, total recalls in the auto industry are at the lowest level since about 2013.

* Mother nature is playing with the Amelia Island Concours. For the second year in a row, with thunderstorms forecast for today, Sunday, the 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance moved forward to Saturday in nearly the exact same scenario as last year’s weather-related switch. The celebrated event at the Golf Club of Amelia Island at the Ritz Carlton in Florida is being held with all its planned features intact. Saturday’s already scheduled Cars and Coffee car show was still held, now moved to a different fairway.

* We learned of an unusual crash at the season opener for the Verizon IndyCar Series in St. Petersburg, Florida. It seems a port-a-potty pumper truck backed into Chip Ganassi Racing’s hospitality motor home with enough force that the pumper-truck driver suffered injuries to his ribs and a laceration to his face. Ganassi said only minor damage resulted to the motor home. The IndyCar series starts this weekend with Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.