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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Summary April 16-22, 2018; Cadillac Under New Management; Higher Octane Regular; Earth Day 2018; Hotcakes Selling Like Mustangs; Maybach SUV In China; Kia Tech; Toyota Tech; VW Navistar?; Electric Vehicle News; F-150 Diesel; Tesla; Fasssttt Porsche; Alfa Recall


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - April 22, 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 16-22, 2018

* It's Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution! Today marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

* Ford sold 125,809 Mustang coupes and convertibles in 146 countries last year. Mustang was the top-selling sports coupe worldwide in 2017 with more than one-third of its sales going to export markets, according to Ford analysis of IHS Markit global light vehicle registration data; this marks three straight years for Mustang as best-selling sports coupe. And, Mustang has enjoyed 10 percent sales growth with women buyers over the last five years.

* Targeting Bentley and Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz is planning to preview a new Maybach GLS SUV at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show. Citing Chinese design influences, M-B is recognizing a large and growing market for these large, ultra-luxury vehicles in that market. Mercedes-Maybach already sells the big, S-Class-based sedan in China that was just face-lifted. Economists have noted that China’s ultra-wealthy class is growing rapidly.

* Owners of certain Kia vehicles can now control a number of vehicle functions —such as start and stop the engine and heat or cool their cars, depending on model and model year—using simple voice commands from the comfort of their home. Called UVO Skill, the system also allows owners to lock doors, sound the horn and flash the lights, and start and stop charging their plug-in or electric vehicle whenever they choose. All that’s needed is a device with Amazon Alexa like Echo or Echo Dot and one of the following Kia vehicles with compatible UVO hardware: Niro PHEV, Soul EV5, Optima PHEV and K900.

* Toyota laid out plans to start putting short-range communications chips in U.S. vehicles in the next three years, staking out its position in a battle to make cars safer by getting them to “talk” with one another. The third-best selling automaker in America will put the chips in Toyota and Lexus models in the U.S. starting in 2021. The technology will enable cars to send data on their location and speed to surrounding vehicles and roadside infrastructure to curb crashes. By making the plan public, Toyota is escalating a campaign to get the rest of the auto industry – and regulators – to embrace the technology. It’s also headed for a clash with phone companies that would rather see carmakers embrace 5G cellular networks to accomplish the same task, and with tech giants and cable providers that are angling for access to the same airwaves.

* In support of the planned availability of the new Mission E electric vehicle, Porsche Cars North America plans to have 500 fast chargers across the U.S. by 2020. The company is reported to be considering electric versions of other vehicles like Macan, Panamera and Cayenne as well. While most owners are expected to charge their vehicles at home Porsche, and other manufacturers, are recognizing the need to address range anxiety for those who want to take longer trips the 300-mile range will not accommodate.

* Volkswagen's Electrify America business unit will install electric vehicle charging stations at more than 100 Walmart store locations in 34 states by mid-2019 as part of Electrify's plans to bolster charging infrastructure across the country.

* Volkswagen AG’s commercial-vehicles unit is considering a full takeover of Navistar International Corp., one of America’s largest truck makers. VW currently owns about 17 percent of Navistar and is considering to increase its stake or to make a complete takeover. The German company seeks scale to compete with global leaders Daimler and Volvo AB.

* China intends to allow full foreign ownership of automakers in five years, ending restrictions that helped to fuel its trade dispute with President Trump as it promotes electric car development. The change would scrap rules that require global automakers to work through state-owned partners, an arrangement that forces them to share technology with potential competitors. It was unclear whether that might mollify Trump, who has threatened tariff hikes on $150 billion of Chinese goods in response to complaints Beijing pressures foreign companies to hand over technology.

* GM and other automakers testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s environmental subcommittee this week that raising the octane level of “regular” 87-octane gasoline to 91-octane (95 RON) is the cheapest way to increase fuel economy and minimize emissions, in spite of the increased cost. Industry spokespeople agreed that for less than a 3% increase in fuel cost, fuel economy would increase by about 3%. One of the ways to increase octane is to add more ethanol. It's all about dollars per mile.

* Nissan, Ford and Fiat sales in Europe declined steeply in March as industrywide registrations fell by 5 percent. This due to sales drops in three of the region's five biggest markets, Germany, the UK and Italy.

* GM’s Cadillac brand president, Johan De Nysschen, was summarily replaced this week by Steve Carlisle, former GM global product boss most recently in charge of GM Canada. De Nysschen had served stints at Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand and Audi before joining GM and presiding over the controversial move of Cadillac headquarters to Manhattan. The leadership change comes less than four months after Cadillac chief marketing guy, Uwe Ellinghaus, left abruptly “for personal reasons.” No details were available about why the move was so abrupt. Speculators wonder how soon Cadillac will return to Detroit.

* In a move apparently focused on enhancing its tech resources and Silicon Valley connections, GM has nominated eBay CEO, Devin Wenig, to the GM Board of Directors. The election will be held at GM’s Annual Meeting on June 12th, 2018. If elected Wenig will be the 10th non-employee director on a board of 11. At the same time the company announced the establishment of a new $16.5 billion revolving credit arrangement.

* Ford is launching a nonemergency medical transport business called GoRide that will shuttle patients to medical appointments at more than 200 Beaumont Health facilities across southeast Michigan. The multiyear contract builds on a pilot project that ran in 2017. GoRide will have professionally trained drivers, on-demand wheelchair service and properly outfitted Ford Transit vans. Patients will be able to book transport service up to 30 days in advance.

* Tesla Model 3 production is ramping up again after a brief temporary shutdown resulting from “automation issues.” Model 3 production has been plagued from the beginning by a variety of problems with suppliers, quality and production stumbles. Tesla boss, Elon Musk, admitted part of the problem was that they over-automated the production line. In order to catch up with promises to hundreds of thousands of customers still wanting cars Musk promised to run the Model 3 production line 24/7 by adding a third shift at the Fremont, CA plant.

* Earlier this year, Ford announced plans to introduce a diesel version of the redesigned F-150. Ford promised that the new 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel would make 250 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, and that towing and fuel economy ratings would both be best-in-class. The EPA has now officially rated the F-150 Power Stroke Diesel at 22 city mpg and 30 highway mpg, giving it a combined rating of 25 mpg. That puts it ahead of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel’s 20/27/23 mpg rating and makes it the first full-size truck to earn a highway rating of 30 mpg.

* The Energy Information Administration had originally forecast that drivers in the United States would pay an average of $2.74 per gallon this summer for regular gasoline — but we’re already there. According to AAA, gas prices nationwide late this week averaged $2.74 — an increase of three cents in just three days. Two primary crude-oil benchmark prices both hovered around $70 a barrel, highs last seen in late 2014.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is issuing recalls for certain 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio SUVs, in part because the rear liftgate could open unintentionally at very low speeds. Two separate recalls, which could affect up to 12,595 vehicles, involve water leaks that will be remedied with the installation of sealant.

* The Porsche 911 GT3 RS set another benchmark for street-legal sports cars at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit in Germany: Porsche works race driver Kévin Estre set a lap time in 6:56.4 minutes with the 520-hp GT3 RS. The Frenchman’s lap time was 24 seconds faster than the best time achieved with the previous GT3 RS model.

* Speaking of cars, The Cars were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.