Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Nuggets May 7-13, 2018: Teen Tire Tread; Oil Up; Walkers Wonked; F-150 Slow Production; BuhBye Cadillac ATS; Tesla Troubles; RR SUV; Detroit Auto Show Defections; NASCAR FSBO?
AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - May 13 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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* A newly released survey of U.S. teens conducted by Michelin North America in seven major U.S. cities reveals that 42 percent are driving with unsafe tire tread, and 40 percent are driving with improper tire pressure. In a new phase of Beyond the Driving Test, a program to include consistent information about tire safety in new driver training materials, Michelin aims to reach 1 million teen drivers with its #StreetTreadContest. To help further tell the story of the campaign, youth culture brand Vans partnered with Michelin to design limited-edition versions of Vans Classic Sk8-Hi and Old Skool shoes.
* Benchmark prices for American crude oil closed above $70 a barrel for the first time since 2014 as traders factored in the United States withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement. Investors fear that the withdrawal will lead to new sanctions on Iran, the worldâ€™s fifth-largest producer of crude oil last year, further curtailing a global supply that is already relatively tight.
* Pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. have skyrocketed 46% since 2009, creating an emerging public health crisis as researchers grasp to understand the reasons. The increases far outpace growth in overall traffic deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A new study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows an 81% increase in single-vehicle pedestrian fatalities involving SUVs between 2009 and 2016, based on federal records. Big, tall SUVs have a flatter front end that are not very friendly to pedestrians.
* GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra issued a call for one national fuel economy standard as 10 automaker CEOs met with President Donald Trump. In discussion are issues involving the administration's efforts to back away from higher fuel mileage standards. In the actual meeting President Trump directed his administration to negotiate with California over a proposed rollback of fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards, a move that could avert a damaging court battle with the potential to push the auto industry into chaos.
* A need to retune. Report say Uber has determined that the likely cause of a fatal collision involving one of its prototype self-driving cars in Arizona in March was a problem with the software that decides how the car should react to objects it detects. The carâ€™s sensors detected the pedestrian, who was crossing the street with a bicycle, but Uberâ€™s software decided it didnâ€™t need to react right away. Thatâ€™s a result of how the software was tuned. Like other autonomous vehicle systems, Uberâ€™s software has the ability to ignore â€œfalse positives,â€??? or objects in its path that wouldnâ€™t actually be a problem for the vehicle, such as a plastic bag floating over a road.
* A fire knocked out production at one of Ford's suppliers. The shortage of parts stopped production of Ford's best-selling and most profitable vehicle, the F-150 pickup truck. Ford said production of F-150 and Super Duty pickups at multiple U.S. factories will be halted this week because of a fire at a supplier plant near Lansing that produces parts for the trucks. Ford idled F-150 production at its plant in Kansas City until May 14, temporarily laying off 3,600 workers. It was also to suspend production at its Dearborn Truck Plant on Wednesday night through at least the end of the week, affecting about 4,000 workers. General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Mercedes-Benz also said output has been disrupted.
* Two Florida teenagers were killed and a third injured in Tesla Model S crash last week. The National Transportation Safety Board opened an investigation alongside one already in process regarding a California crash in March. The Florida incident reportedly involves the Model S being driven in manual mode when it spun into a wall and caught fire. Excessive speed may have been a factor, investigators say. A four-person team will focus on the emergency response to the post-crash fire in the battery. Tesla continues to struggle to meet production goals for their mainstream Model 3.
* More bad news for our friends at the Detroit auto show emerged this week as Audi announced it will skip the 2019 show. They will join the ranks of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover, MINI, Volvo, Porsche, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Bentley and Aston Martin. Analysts have attributed the waning in importance of traditional motor shows to the rapidly changing landscape of automobile marketing options. Last week we reported that the Detroit Auto Show is considering changing the time of year it is held. CES, formerly Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, usually just a week before the Detroit show, continues to siphon off a great deal of media attention as automakers rethink their strategies.
* And, another sedan bites the dust. General Motors announced this week it would discontinue the ATS compact sport sedan, created to challenge the German competitors directly, after just six years of production. Built in the refurbished Grand River Assembly plant in Lansing, MI, The ATS will go away as Cadillac rethinks the mid-size CTS and full-size XTS with the intention of a two-sedan offering. Promising a new vehicle every six months through 2021, Cadillac has shown the new XT4 small crossover that's coming this fall. The new XT6 big, three-row crossover is yet to be seen.
* Dominating many of our news feeds this week was a headline touting the new Rolls-Royce Cullinan, unveiled in London and called the â€œpriciest SUVâ€??? ever produced, starting at around $340,000. The Culling, named after the worldâ€™s largest flawless diamond, is built around the same architecture as the Phantom and powered by the same 6.75-liter, twin-turbo, BMW V-12. Rolls-Royce marketing speak asserts, â€œIt will be perfectly at home taking kids to school as it is arriving at an opera house . . .â€???
* Not being content with disrupting the taxi business, Uber is rapidly pursuing the air-taxi field as well. Theyâ€™re hosting a competition to determine the first cities to launch UberAIR, a service that will offer inter-and intra-city rides. Dallas and Los Angeles are already on the list. Uber had earlier said Dubai may also be a launch city. The vision is for a fleet of electric, jet-powered vehicles with attributes of a helicopter, drone and fixed-wing craft, that can land either vertically or horizontally, to shuttle people around.
* In the world of NASCAR, word is that the majority-owner France family are discussing a potential sale. The France family has owned NASCAR since its inception in 1948 and supposedly has a real interest in selling.