Auto News Digest, Week Ending September 8, 2018; Edited By Larry Nutson
AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - September 9, 2018; Each 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.
TV viewers, you can now enjoy The Auto Channel TV Network On Amazon TV, Google TV, BOOKU, SCHMOOKU; HULU, ROKU, TUKU and "Free and Clear" Over the air on WHDT in Boston and South Florida as well as local cable systems.
The Auto Channel Automotive News Digest Week Ending September 9, 2018
Executive Editor Larry Nutson
* Fewer choices for Americans. Ford is canceling plans to import a new crossover model from a plant in China after Trumpâ€™s tariffs undermined the business case for bringing the vehicle to the U.S. market. The additional 25 percent levy undermined the profitability of the Focus Active that Ford planned to start shipping into the U.S. about a year from now. The company decided it wasnâ€™t worth investing more money in a vehicle that would have had fewer than 50,000 unit sales a year in the U.S.
* Buckle up for your own safety. In 2017 safety belt use rates in the U.S. ranged from 67.6% in New Hampshire to 97.1% in Georgia. Twenty-three states and DC achieved use rates of 90% or higher. And, if you are riding in the rear seat, buckle up.
* August new car and light truck sales numbers are in showing the business down a bit. The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales (SAARS) came in at 16.69 million - lowest in a year. Many analysts have predicted a slowdown for the second half of calendar 2018. Trucks continue to sell at a strong pace but sedan sales continue a steady decline in popularity. FCA, Ford, Honda and Nissan enjoyed increases in sales, but GM experienced a 13% slump according to reporting by Bloomberg. GM officially reports their numbers only quarterly. Passenger car sales dropped below 30 percent of the market for the first month ever, according to Cox Automotive. The average new-vehicle transaction price went even higher, to an estimated $35,541, up nearly 2 percent year-over-year according to our teamÂ
* Mercedes-Benz Vans has opened its new Sprinter plant for the North American market. After considering the high market potential for the new Sprinter in North America, the decision to build a new production facility in time for the launch of the new Sprinter model in the USA was announced in March 2015. The facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, is now up and running following a two year construction period. The total investment adds up to approx. 500 million dollars with more than 900 people working at the expanded North Charleston site, that number is set to grow up to 1,300 by the end of 2020. According to estimations, suppliers will create an additional 600 new jobs in and around North Charleston.
* The prestigious Bulgari Award, honoring leaders in the preservation and appreciation of automotive heritage, was presented to the founder and chairman of the Amelia Island Concours dâ€™Elegance, Bill Warner, this week at the LeMay-Americaâ€™s Car Museum in Tacoma WA, where the trophy resides. Warner's career has included racing, photography and journalism and emersion in the collector community. The Amelia Island Concours has won international awards for car events and is considered the second most prestigious in the U.S. The honor was presented by Mr. Bulgari himself.
* When will we have flying car? - a question weâ€™ve heard for years. Well, weâ€™ve had them for most of those years, just none that were practical. We learned this week that the Switchblade, a high-tech, high-performance flying car being developed by Samson Sky of Meadow Vista, CA, has booked its 800th pre-order. With projected cost of around $120,000 it was first shown at the famous Oshkosh, WI air show recently. Powered by a 170 hp Suzuki 4-cylinder aircraft engine attached to a â€œpusherâ€??? prop behind the 2-place cockpit, they say it will cruise at 160 Â mph with a 345-mile range. Maybe this will be the one.
* Ford issued a recall this week for around 2 million F-150 pickups because of a seat belt issue. It seems the seatbelt pretensioner (that works like an airbag) can generate smoke and sparks when deployed making for a fire risk. Ford says it knows of no injuries or accidents related to the problem and just 17 incident of smoke and sparks in the U.S. and Canada. Affected vehicles are 2015 to 2018 F-150s with Regular and SuperCrew cabs.
* According to a just-released study by Autolist.com, it seems that 65% of respondents believe emissions and fuel economy have an impact on global warming, but only 35% take that into consideration when buying a vehicle. Another recent survey from Autolist showed only 29% of respondents support the Trump administrationâ€™s roll-back of Obama era fuel economy standards for new vehicles.Â
* We donâ€™t often report on deceased actors, but weâ€™ll make an exception in this case to morn the passing of Burt Reynolds at the age of 82. At his peak in the 1980s and 90s, he was the number one box office draw and often starred in films associated with cars and car themes. Best known are "Smokey and the Bandit," "Cannonball Run" and â€œHooper," all featuring fast cars (usually with Reynolds at the wheel), fast action and anti-establishment themes. He later played â€œStoker Ace,â€??? a volatile NASCAR driver in conflict with his sponsor.Â
* Goodbye manual transmission. It's not dead yet, but. Audi confirmed that it will no longer offer any manual-transmission vehicles in the U.S. beginning with the 2019 model year. The final Audi models offered with a stick-shift variant were the 2018 A4 sedan and A5 coupe, according to Audi.