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Nutson's Automotive News Digest; Week Ending September 15, 2018


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - September 16, 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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The Auto Channel Automotive News Digest Week Ending September 15, 2018
Executive Editor Larry Nutson

* The NACTOY jury has announced the semifinalists for the 2019 North American Car, Utility, and Truck of the Year Awards. This year there are 14 semifinalists (rather than the usual 12) in the car category because there was a tie in voting. With only three candidates on the eligibility list for the 2019 North American Truck of The Year, no juror voting was needed, and all three truck models advance to become semifinalists. Three finalists in each category will be announced at AutoMobility LA/LA Auto Show on November 28. The 2019 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the Year winners will be announced at Automobili-D/North American International Auto Show, Monday, January 14, 2019. See this link for the semifinalists:

* The venerable VW Beetle will go away again next year according to a statement by VW Group of America CEO, Hinrich Woebcken who added they have “no immediate plan to replace it” as the German automaker adjusts to customers who prefer light trucks to cars. The current Beetle, third generation made only in Mexico, is the small car with big personality. U.S. Beetle sales barely exceeded 15,000 units in 2017.

* GM is recalling 1.2 million full-size pickups and SUVs as a result of an electrical problem in the power steering system. It seems the system could fail momentarily because of a drop in voltage during low-speed maneuvers. The recall affects vehicles made in 2015 world wide. GM says it knows of 30 accidents resulting in two injuries and no deaths because of the defect. Dealers already have the software package to fix the problem.

* In addition to the other tragic losses from Typhoon Jebi that hit southern Japan recently - the worst in 25 years - was the destruction of 51 Ferrari's that were inundated with 3 feet of salt water as they were stored in a dealership on Rokko Island near Kobe. It is unlikely any of these cars can be salvaged, according to experts. The loss is estimated by the dealer at around $9 million. Salt water is much more damaging to automobiles than fresh water because of extreme corrosion.

* The auto racing community lost an icon this week with the passing of Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans racing series and owner of the famous Road Atlanta race course. He made a fortune with the first transdermal patch focused on smoking cecation and used that fortune for a variety of projects. In addition to auto racing projects with his son, Dan Panoz, he established one of the nation’s premier wineries, one of the first in Georgia, and a renowned golf resort. Panoz died at his home in Georgia Tuesday at the age of 83 from pancreatic cancer.

* As Hurricane Florence hits the Carolina coast hard the major automotive businesses in the area have hunkered down. Mercedes and Volvo assembly plants ceased production as the storm approached, as did the four AutoNation stores in the region and nearly all dealers in the two Carolinas, in anticipation of major flooding. The M-B plant in North Charleston, SC and Volvo plant, also near Charleston, are both new. The long-standing, huge BMW plant in Spartanburg, SC was not idled but had to deal with the logistics of getting cars being shipped from SC ports out of the way of the storm.

* We had a first-drive in the all-new 2019 Cadillac XT4 small crossover SUV this week. Priced to start at $35,790 and powered by a turbocharged 2.0-L four-cylinder engine, the XT4 has the potential to be Cadillac's bigger seller. Check back for full report.

* Geely Holding Group’s planned initial public offering of Volvo stock has been put on hold as they cited trade tensions and a downturn in automotive stocks, according to reporting by Reuters. While they said the delay is indefinite, they did not rule it out for the future. The plan was to value the Swedish carmaker at between $16 billion and $20 billion. Auto stocks generally, as gaged by the Stoxx 600 Auto Parts Index is down about 15% since the beginning of the year.

* Jaguar has established a new track record for the fastest four-door production sedan at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with its XE SV Project 8. Professional racing driver Randy Pobst piloted the 592hp sedan around the 2.238 mi. road course in 1min 37.54sec, besting the previous record held by the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V by almost a second.