Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest April 23-29, 2018; Ford Cars Buh Bye; FCA, GM In The Money; Really Clean Diesel?; Chinese Induced EV Frenzy Continues; Tesla's Bones; Free Harley; Automotive Hall Of Fame; NASCAR; Audi Recalls
AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - April 29, 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 23-29, 2018
* Say goodbye to cars from Ford. Ford announced plans this week to begin phasing out most of its lineup of cars in North America in favor of more popular SUVs, trucks and crossovers. They plan to keep only the Mustang and an all-new Focus Active crossover coming out next year. By 2020 almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Declining consumer demand and product profitability are the main reasons why. The company is also exploring new “white space” vehicle silhouettes that combine the best attributes of cars and utilities, such as higher ride height, space and versatility. We wonder how much this revised product lineup is also related to an increase in ride sharing and the forecasted drop in vehicle ownership.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss, Sergio Marchionne, told a press audience this week that his company has posted record profits of 1 billion euros for the first quarter of 2018, primarily the result of strong sales in North and South America and the completion of the rollout of three new vehicles. That number even includes the paying off of 1.3 billion euros in debt. The results were threatened by a troubled rollout of the new Ram pickup resulting in an extended build of the old model.
* Over at GM, CEO Mary Barra reported a first quarter that beat Wall Street expectations, posting $1.05 billion in net earnings, a 60% drop the same period a year ago. She attributed the drop to lower production in North America because of the transition to an updated line of pickups. She promised to “deliver another strong year in 2018.” First quarter earnings were affected by a $900 million loss, the result of restructuring Korean operations.
* Auto China 2018, the biggest global auto show of the year, opened this week. China’s ambition to become a leader in electric cars and to roll out models that appeal to price-conscious but demanding Chinese drivers is a focus of the show. Beijing recently decided to allow full foreign ownership of Chinese automakers in a move to make the industry more flexible as it promotes electrics. SEE ALSO Electric Vehicles, Solution Or Diversion Or Just A Modern Chinese Tulip Scam
* As cities throughout Europe threaten to ban internal combustion engines, particularly diesels, Bosch announced this week the development of an exhaust system that will cut emissions well below the already-in-place 2020 standards. Bosch is the leading supplier of diesel technology to the world’s automakers and has been heavily scrutinized during recent scandals. The new technology has to do with thermal management and is said to reduce emissions to 1/10th of the legal limit.
* VW's dieselgate is far from over. Prosecutors arrested the head of engine development at Porsche, a unit of Volkswagen, and are investigation two other individuals from Porsche. Additionally, VW's independent monitor, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, has criticized the automaker's internal response to its emissions scandal. The German carmaker acknowledged that a progress report found that it had failed to hold executives accountable for wrongdoing that led to the huge emissions fraud, and that it was not making a serious enough attempt to remake its culture.
* Automotive News reports that "Federal and state officials, once eager advocates of self-driving cars, now are pumping the brakes and demanding greater accountability and information that autos and tech companies may not be willing to provide. After two high-profile fatalities related to self-driving cars, issues such as system malfunction, the limits of human attention span, and broader legal questions have come to the forefront of public conversation. And lawmakers suddenly are realizing how little they know about the technology. Legislation to create a national framework governing autonomous vehicles, the AV START Act in the U.S. Senate, has been stalled since late last year because of concerns from safety advocates."
* Amazon is teaming up with General Motors and Volvo to start in-car package delivery for more than 7 million vehicle owners, potentially foiling so-called "porch pirates," those thieves who target home package deliveries. If you're an Amazon Prime member with an active GM OnStar or Volvo On Call account, the service — currently available to 37 U.S. cities and surrounding areas — is no extra charge. Amazon Key In-Car Delivery requires a 2015 model year or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac or newer Volvo. Customers download an Amazon Key App and link their Amazon and connected car service accounts, according to a news release.
* Target and Walmart will add hundreds of EV charging stations to their stores. Target, which started piloting charging stations in 2012, currently has them at 18 locations in 5 states (Minnesota, California, Hawaii, North Carolina and Texas), including at its headquarters in downtown Minneapolis and Brooklyn Park. It will add them to 100 locations, amounting to 600-plus parking spaces, in more than 20 states over the next two years. Walmart said that it plans to more than double the number of electric vehicle charging stations at its stores by adding several hundred charging stalls with an aim of having more than 1,000 of them in the coming years. Electrify America, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is one of Walmart’s partners.
* New York City will ban cars from Central Park starting in June. Cars will no longer be allowed to drive on the streets in the park below 72nd St., where motorists are currently allowed to drive during certain hours of the day. Automobiles had already been banned from the park above 72nd St. The ban won’t apply to the cross-town streets used by drivers to get across the city. Next up, congestion pricing for vehicles to enter lower Manhattan during certain times of the day.
* GM is teaming up with a Detroit guitar company that makes its instruments with reclaimed wood from city buildings. Chevrolet and Wallace Detroit Guitars are working to release a limited-edition line of guitars made of long grain maple from GM's truck plant in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The tie-up marks the centennial of Chevy Trucks. Sing it now: "Like a Rock."
* Detroit auto journalists (Including Martha Hindes and Steve Purdy) were treated to an under-the-skin look at the new Tesla Model 3 mainstream sedan this week by Munro and Associates near Detroit, a company that specializes in reverse engineering of automobiles, airplanes and a variety of other products. Sandy Munro, the company’s lead engineer, said their analysis, still in early stages, appears to show mixed results with some of the most advanced electronics and electric power systems, but exhibiting dismal quality in fit, finish and body construction.
* Harley-Davidson is offering free motorcycles for those who join its summer internship program. Eight college students or recent graduates will have the enviable task of being paid to ride a Harley and share their adventures on social media. And the best part? They’ll keep their bikes at the end of the 12-week internship. The Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker says it will teach the interns how to ride, compensate them for their work and travels, and let them keep their motorcycles. Harley-Davidson says it’s looking for those that have the ability to create content on the fly, are creative and have the talent to take great photos and fun videos. Applicants must be 18 years or older and looking to pursue a career in social media.
* Audi is recalling about 1.2 million cars and SUVs worldwide (about 340,000 in the U.S.) because the electric coolant pumps can overheat and possibly cause a fire. The recall covers the 2013 to 2016 A4, the 2013 to 2017 A5, the 2012 to 2015 A6, and the Q5 SUV from 2013 to 2017. All have 2-Liter turbocharged engines.
* The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan is a repository of some of the most in-depth automotive history anywhere. The AHF will induct five new members into its ranks at its 2018 Induction & Awards Gala Ceremony. They are: Michael (Mike) Jackson, Chairman, CEO and President of AutoNation; Ray and Tom (1937-2014) Magliozzi, co-hosts of the NPR weekly radio show Car Talk; Frank Stronach, founder of Magna International; and Kiichiro Toyoda, the Japanese entrepreneur whose decision to expand his father’s company, Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, into automobile manufacturing and created what would become Toyota Motor Corporation.
* Volkswagen motorsport unveiled its fully-electric supercar—the I.D. R Pikes Peak—in Alès, France. The supercar will compete in the Pikes Peak International Hill climb in Colorado Springs, CO, on June 24, seeking to beat the existing electric car record of 8:57.118 minutes in the annual “Race to the Clouds.” I.D. R Pikes Peak weighs less than 2,500 lbs and produces 680 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque, giving it a 0-60 time of 2.25 seconds—faster than even Formula 1 and Formula E cars. The Race to the Clouds involves a 4,720 vertical-foot climb, 156 corners, and just one single attempt. It is not unheard of for finish-line temperatures at the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak to be below freezing at the end of June.
* Matt Kenseth is returning to the NASCAR Cup Series to drive Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 car in select races this season. Kenseth will share the No. 6 Ford for the remainder of the 2018 season with Trevor Bayne, who has driven the car on a full-time basis since 2015 but will now move to part-time status rounding out the races Kenseth does not compete in. Kenseth won the 2003 Cup Series and two Daytona 500s during his 12-year stint with Roush Fenway.