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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Nuggets March 12-18, 2018; Ford Sneak; Lincoln Look; Brand Loyalty; Subaru Sans Manual?; UAW Corruption; Trade Stories; Big Time Ford Recalls


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - March 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 Auto News Nuggets March 12-18, 2018

* Ford gave us peek under the tent this week when it invited a cadre of media to a "Ford Uncovered" briefing at its Product Development Center in Dearborn, MI. Ford said it will revamp three-quarters of its models in the next two years. Its SUV lineup will be revamped adding hybrid gas-electric powertrains plus two new off-road SUVs and two new trucks. The F-150 will get a hybrid powertrain and by 2020 there will be an all-electric SUV with a 300 mile driving range. And for the drivers out there, the Mustang Shelby GT 500 is coming soon.

* The Lincoln Motor Company will debut a production preview of the all-new Lincoln Aviator at the New York Auto Show later this month. It's the first of two new SUVs with four more all-new Lincoln SUVs on the way along with electrification of its lineup globally. This all said by Jim Farley at "Ford Uncovered."

* J.D. Power’s annual survey of customer satisfaction with dealers is out with a couple surprises. Infiniti edged out Lexus as the top luxury brand and Buick remained best in the mass-market category. GM brands took three of the top four spots as Mini and Chevrolet tied for second and GMC took fourth. Fiat and Mazda were at the bottom. The industry overall did better, making this its third yearly gain in a row. J.D. Power VP, Chris Sutton, attributed the industry gain to dealers being better about fixing things the first time.

* According to the 2018 Edmunds Trade-In Loyalty Report, Toyota, Subaru, and Honda customers have exhibited the most brand loyalty. The report examined more than 13.9 million vehicle transactions between 2007 and 2017, examining the percentages of vehicles traded in to purchase a new vehicle. Lease returns were excluded from the study.

* Buick is removing its brand name from its 2019 model-year vehicle line, starting with the refreshed Envision crossover this spring. The brand instead is counting on the recognition power of the tri-shield logo, which will still be displayed on the front grille and on the back of vehicles, dropping the Buick name from its usual spot near the left taillight. Buick conducted research on recognition of the logo at the start of 2017, and found 73 percent of those surveyed were able to connect it with the Buick brand.

* Writing for Forbes, Sam Abuelsamid reported that "during an address to the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, General Motors' vice president of global propulsion systems called for premium gasoline to become the new baseline going forward to enable more efficient engines. This is hardly a new idea, but it comes as a bit of a surprise right now as GM wages a battle on two fronts with announced plans for 20 new zero-emissions vehicles in the next five years while also consulting with the Trump administration on changes to fuel economy standards." GM is moving forward with electrification plans but also suggests that this is the right time to make a move toward making 95 RON gasoline the new minimum standard as it generally is in Europe.

* Subaru says that its EyeSight automatic emergency braking suite of safety gear might spell the end of manual transmissions for its car lineup. Speaking with Auto Express at the Geneva auto show last week, Subaru U.K. Managing Director Chris Graham said, "My gut tells me it will be EyeSight with Lineartronic (Subaru's term for its continuously variable transmissions) ongoing and long term. In the U.S., Subaru has pared its stick-shifted fleet back to its smaller cars—the Forester, Crosstrek, and Impreza, as well as its BRZ sports coupe and WRX performance sedan. Subaru's EyeSight system can apply the brakes automatically if it detects an impending collision. The system isn't designed to work with manual transmissions since those require the driver to press the clutch pedal to prevent the vehicle from stalling.

* AUTOMOBILE revealed its 2018 All-Stars over the weekend during the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Eight were chosen out of 26 contenders that featured all-new, heavily revised or significant variants of vehicles available during 2017. The 2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Stars are Ford GT, Honda Accord Sport 2.0T, Honda Civic Type R, Lexus LC 500, McLaren 720S, Mercedes-AMG GT R, Porsche 911 Carrera GTS and Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design.

* Want a Corvette for the weekend ? How about Airbnb for cars? Bloomberg reports that General Motors is planning something similar through its Maven car-sharing platform. The news service, citing unnamed sources, said GM will launch a pilot project this summer. "GM vehicle owners will be able to put their cars on Maven’s platform for other drivers to rent and share the revenue with the automaker," according to the Bloomberg report.

* President Trump this week, talking to a room full of donors, described a test he said the Japanese use to keep U.S.-made cars out of the country - a "bowling ball test" where they drop a bowling ball on the hood of a car and if it dents, it’s rejected. Later at the same event, the president acknowledged he just made up “facts” about trade deficits with Canada at a meeting with prime minister Justin Trudeau last month. Maybe the bowling ball thing is made up, too. You decide.

* Another UAW official has been charged in the corruption scandal surrounding a scheme to siphon money from a training program. Detroiter, Keith Mickens, former senior official in the FCA unit is the fifth person charged along with two from FCA and two from the UAW. Spokesman for the UAW, Brian Rothenberg said they are “deeply disappointed in the illegal misconduct” and claimed the problem did not affect the UAW/FCA contract negotiations.

* Ford is recalling nearly 1.4 million midsize cars in North America because the steering wheel can detach from the steering column and drivers could lose control. The recall covers certain Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ cars from the 2014 through 2018 model years. Ford says steering wheel bolts can loosen over time. Only two accidents with one injury are known to be the result of this defect.

* Fiat Chrysler is recalling more than 300,000 Ram 1500 pickups from the 2009 through 2012 model years worldwide because the fuel tanks can sag. The recall mainly affects trucks in cold-weather U.S. states and Canada where salt used to clear snow from roads can erode a support bracket. In the U.S. the trucks are in 20 states and Washington, D.C. No injuries, crashes or leaks have been linked to the problem. This is the second Ram recall in a month along with the earlier concern about a pin in the shift mechanism that could allow the truck to roll away.

* Lowe's, the long-time sponsor of NASCAR champ Jimmy Johnson, will end its deal after this season and leave NASCAR. Johnson made his Cup Series debut in 2001 with Lowe's and never had any other primary sponsor. This is another of many sponsor deals that have come to an end in recent years. The one-time pattern of having the same primary sponsor for the entire season started to change a number of years ago.

* The first major Concours d’Elegance of the season at Amelia Island took place last weekend but had to be moved from its Sunday date to Saturday to avoid a storm baring down on the area just north of Jacksonville, FL. The storm dissipated but the show's move did not diminish it in any way. In addition to dozens and dozens of awards and honors heaped upon owners over about 20 classes, the top, most prestigious, awards went to a 1929 Duesenberg Convertible as Best in Show Concours d'Elegance and a 1963 Ferrari 250/275P (a Sebring race winner) won Best of Show de Sport.