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The Auto Channel News Digest, Week of May 28-June 3, 2018: US Auto Sales Keep on Truckin'; Tesla 3 OK Now; Imported Car Tariffs?; FCA Electrifies; Waymo Chrysler's Biggest "Up"; CAFE Kaput; Softbank's Initial Investment To Make GM いちばん (ICHIBAN); Challenger SRT Demon Finis; Kia, GMC Recalls; Danica Crashes In Final Race

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Automotive News Digest

AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - June 3, 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 The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, in easy to "catch up" with 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 Auto Channel News Highlights May 28-June 3, 2018

* Automotive News says U.S. new-vehicle sales jumped 4.7 percent in May behind robust light-truck demand. The SAAR for May totaled 16.91 million. Strong Jeep sales at FCA, smaller gains at Ford, Honda, Hyundai-Kia and the VW brand helped lead the way. GM no longer reports monthly sales but analysts say they were up. Sales this year are ahead of forecasts, at least so far. Researcher Kelley Blue Book said average new vehicle transaction prices hit $35,635 in May, up 3.4 percent from a year ago, driven by strong demand for trucks and SUVs.

* Following up on our report last week, Consumer Reports now recommends the Tesla Model 3, after their testers found a recent over-the-air update improved the car's braking distance by nearly 20 feet. The software update came a week after Consumer Reports published test results that showed stopping distances for the Model 3 that were significantly longer than any other contemporary car. That braking performance, along with issues with the Model 3's controls and ride comfort, initially prevented the car from getting a CR Recommendation. Last week, after CR's road test was published, Tesla CEO Elon Musk vowed that the automaker would get a fix out within days. The Model 3 still has problems, said CR, but is good enough to be “recommended.”

* In another controversial action by President Trump, now he wants to impose 25-percent tariffs on imported steel and 10-percent tariffs on imported aluminum coming from the EU, Mexico and Canada. A lot of this is about NAFTA renegotiations, but we can expect retaliatory tariffs that will result in Americans paying more for goods they want.

* In other presidential news, a German business magazine reports President Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron he wants to see no more Mercedes-Benz automobiles driving down New York’s Fifth Avenue. Mr. Trump, just a week earlier, asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to determine whether automotive imports threaten the national security. If that answer is yes, then the president does not need Congress to impose automobile tariffs.

* Sergio Marchionne and his team laid out a five-year product plan for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles at its Capital Markets Day 2018-2022 Business Plan conference for financial analysts and institutional investors in Milan on Friday. He promised that FCA will embrace electrification, as have most of his competitors already, saying it is the only way the company can meet ever-stricter emissions standards in most world markets, particularly China. FCA will use a modular system with five different motors fitted in a variety of ways making 12 different electrified drivetrains beginning in 2021. Core brands will be Jeep, Ram, Alfa, Maserati and Fiat. All passenger car diesel engines will be phased out by 2021. FCA will offer level 2+ and Level 3 autonomous vehicles by 2021. Chrysler and Dodge brands will continue in the U.S. but will not be in the global market.

* Good news for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles this week came in the form of an order from Google’s Waymo driverless ride-hailing fleet for 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans to allow Waymo to take the first steps in a national expansion of their service. The two companies will also begin discussions that may lead to FCA using Waymo technology in a future vehicle on sale to the public. FCA shares were up 4.6% on the news. SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley On Its Way To Disrupt The Auto Industry and The Historic Need For Traditional Car Companies

* A new study published in Risk Analysis examined the question "How safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles (SDVs)?" The results showed that the public will not accept this new technology unless it is shown to be safer, approximately four to five times as safe as human-driven vehicles (HDVs). Despite the conveniences SDVs would bring to individuals, such as the ability to watch a movie, read a book, sleep or surf the internet, the public will be much less likely to accept, or even tolerate, SDVs if they have the same risk level as human driving.

* The U.S. Department of Transportation has come up with several proposals to mitigate the Obama-era fuel economy standards known as CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) currently set and 54.5 mpg by 2025. The Trump administration has considered those standards too strict. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has prepared three proposals for the president to choose from: leaving CAFE at 54.5 (equating to real-world 36 mpg), an option equating to a real-world average of 30 mpg or another option of even lower numbers. The president will choose.

* A Tokyo-based technology investment company called SoftBank Vision Fund just bought a 19.6% stake in General Motors' autonomous vehicle business called GM Cruise for $2.25 billion. GM president, Dan Ammann, told investors this week that the deal gives GM a connection to other SoftBank holdings and will enhance the company’s ability to commercialize autonomous vehicles and ride hailing services.SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley On Its Way To Disrupt The Auto Industry and The Historic Need For Traditional Car Companies

* The last 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon rolled off the line this week at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Brampton Assembly Plant in Ontario. The 840-horsepower beast was part of a limited run. The company intended to cap production at 3,300 Demons. The final 2018 Demon, which is heading to an upfit center for a Viper Red paint job and other Demon-appropriate final touches, will be auctioned as a pair with the last 2017 Dodge Viper June 20-23 at the Barrett-Jackson Northeast Auction in Uncasville, Conn., to raise funds for United Way, the company said in a news release.

* Kia is recalling 106,428 model year 2015-2018 Sedona minivans because their sliding doors may not automatically reverse if they close on a human limb.

* General Motors is recalling 88,129 model year 2018 GMC Terrain sport-utility vehicles because their air bags may not deploy in a crash.

* Amidst the trifecta of motorsports over the Memorial Day weekend, Danica Patrick's racing career came to a close. With a Turn 2 spin at about 220 mph in lap 67 of the Indy 500 "Danicamania" ended 13 years after its start. The 36-year old racer will now focus on the other non-racing endeavors in her life.