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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Summary April 8-15, 2018; Pacific Trade Treaty; Cost Of Car Ownership; VW Changes; Volvo EV; Tesla; Mullin Automotive Museum: Monster Sponsors Nascar; Automobili Pinifarina; Global Ford Focus


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - April 15, 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 April 9-15, 2018

* President Trump seems to be rethinking his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership after a meeting with midwest farmers who constitute a substantial element of his political base, and who would be hit hard by regional trade limitations. Trump dumped the U.S. participation in the TPC as one of his first big trade moves after taking office, and that laid the groundwork for his threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement which could seriously hurt the auto industry.

* INRIX Research in a new study reports that the average U.S. driver faced a total driving cost of $10,288 in 2017, made up of direct (maintenance, fuel, insurance, and parking and toll fees) and indirect/hidden (wasted time and carbon, parking fines and overpayments) costs. Interestingly, traffic- and parking-related costs made up nearly half (45 percent) of the total cost of ownership in the U.S. In 2017, the total cost of driving in NYC was nearly two times the national average at $18,926 per driver, mostly due to the cost of parking. New Yorkers parked more often (10 times/week), paid more frequently (60 percent) and paid the most (average off-street rate of $28 for two hours).

* Volkswagen Group, the world's largest automaker by sales volume, has appointed a new CEO to replace the executive who helped steer the company out of its diesel emissions scandal and into a new era of investment in electric cars. CEO Matthias Mueller will relinquish his post and will be succeeded by Herbert Diess, who had been serving as CEO of the VW brand and has gained a reputation for cost-cutting at the sprawling company. The elevation of Diess to the top job was widely expected after he helped reinvent the VW brand as a more profitable enterprise, though Mueller had been expected to serve for a longer period.

* Volvo is now fully in the electric truck market with the introduction of its new FL Electric truck, now on the road in Volvo’s home town of Gothenburg, Sweden. The 16-ton stubby box truck is designed primarily for use in cities as a delivery vehicle. It has about a 186-mile driving range. Cities, particularly in Europe, are on the path to eliminate diesel-powered vehicles of all kinds so we expect to see more electrics. Volvo has been in the electric bus market since 2010.

* The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the March fatal crash of a Tesla Model X into a barrier while using the car's Autopilot system. The automaker is being criticized for blaming the driver before the investigation is complete. Tesla said the driver did not have his hands on the steering wheel after the car issued several warnings to do so. The initial investigation indicates the car’s automatic braking system did not engage before hitting the wall. Preliminary information indicates the car may have tried to follow erroneous pavement markings.

* In other Tesla News: despite high profile crashes, the questionable firing of 1,000 factory workers and ongoing production problems for the company’s first mass-market, mainstream Model 3 sedan, company boss, Elon Musk, is promising a profit in the second half of 2018. The promise seems to have eased investor fears as company stock rebounded significantly from a slump of close to 30% from its 52-week high.

* Gas prices will take their typical summer-bump up, but this year more than usual. Expectations are for a 33 cents per gallon rise. The national average will be $2.74, up from $2.41 last summer. High gas prices are due to high crude oil prices which are rising due to production cuts by OPEC nations.

* A new “sustainable luxury car brand” was announced this week in Rome called Automobili Pinifarina. The company has been formed by Mahindra & Mahindra, an Indian company best known for a broad range of utility vehicles that is part of a $19-billion industrial conglomerate. They promise to launch their first vehicle, an electric hypercar, in 2020 combining Pininfarina's legendary Italian auto design expertise with Mahindra’s EV expertise. Pininfarina's car could carry a $2.5 million price tag with production numbers limited to double-digit volumes.

* Ford has unveiled an entirely new global-platform 2019 Focus. At press events in Europe and China Ford showed details of what the the car will look like in the U.S. when it arrives in late 2019. On sale first in Europe and China, the Focus for North America will be manufactured in China and imported to the U.S., a first for Ford.

* Watch out! If you're being a slowpoke in the left lane in Virginia, you may be fined. Thousands of people have been cited since Virginia implemented a law setting penalties for driving too slowly in the left lane of a highway. The law established a $100 fine for driving too slowly in the left lane, failing to stay to the right unless passing and other related violations.

* The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California will present some of the most unusual and beautiful classic cars in the world in an exhibit opening April 14th featuring French Coachbuilders. The cars on display will be the winners of some of the most prestigious Concours d’Elegance in the world, like a Bugatti Atlantic, Talbot-Lago, Voisin Aerodyne and Delahaye Type 165 Cabrolet. The museum is open only irregularly so check the website for opportunities to see this rare exhibit:

* Monster Energy will be the title sponsor of NASCAR's Cup Series for 2019 but will not be back in 2020. The Monster contract is estimated to be worth $20 million annually. NASCAR is re-evaluating how it sells sponsorships.

* Tony Stewart and the parents of Kevin Ward Jr. agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family against the former NASCAR champion for his role in the death of their son on a New York dirt track in August 2014.