Automotive News Digest; Week Ending October 6, 2018 Edited By Larry Nutson
AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - October 7, 2018; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Senior Editor and Chicago Car Guy along with fellow senior editor 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. See Also all listings of the past 25 year's millions of (Indexed By Bing) 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 Weekly Digest - Week Ending October 6, 2018
Executive Editor Larry Nutson
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outsold Ford Motor Co. in September — the first time Detroit's No. 3 automaker has done so since January 2007. Powered by its Jeep and Ram brands, FCA posted a 15-percent increase in U.S. sales last month with 199,819 deliveries, edging Ford's 197,404 deliveries. FCA has beaten Ford in retail sales five out of nine months this year. GM which no longer reports monthly sales, saw deliveries slide 11.1 percent during the third quarter, with every brand posting decreases for the quarter. GM's sales are down 1.2 percent through the first nine months of the year. Toyota, Honda and Nissan were down. Subaru is up. Overall, U.S. light-vehicle deliveries last month fell 5.5 percent. The SAAR came in at 17.54 million, far exceeding forecasts. According to Cox Automotive, average transaction prices have elevated 2 percent to $35,742 in September.
* At the last minute Canada agreed to join the NAFTA trade deal the U.S. reached with Mexico back in August. The new treaty is expected to be signed by all three countries in the next 60 days. However U.S. Congressional approval could lead to a battle especially if Democrats regain control of the House of Representatives. Most provisions go into effect in 2020 and it has a new name: the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The new trade deal with Canada & Mexico allows each country to export up to 2.6 million autos (light trucks are exempt) annually and be exempt of auto tariffs. Starting in 2020, to qualify for zero tariffs, a car or truck must have 75 percent of its components manufactured in Canada, Mexico or the United States, a substantial boost from the current 62.5 percent requirement. Also, cars and trucks should have at least 30 percent of the work on the vehicle done by workers earning $16 an hour.
* Big brother is listening. In a three-month test, GM used in-car Wi-Fi to track the habits of some of its drivers in hopes of seeing whether there is a relationship between what drivers listen to on the radio and what they buy. About 90,000 drivers in Los Angeles and Chicago agreed to participate in a "proof of concept" late last year. The data collected could possibly lead to more targeted radio advertising.
* We saw more partnering in the autonomous, or self-driving, space this week as Honda announced plans to invest $2.5 billion, taking a 5.7% stake, in GM’s “Cruise” self-driving vehicle business. Japan’s SoftBank Group bought into the GM unit to the tune of billions of dollars. Honda is also negotiating with Google’s Waymo self-driving vehicle company to integrate Waymo technology into Honda vehicles. Honda has been considerably behind competitors in the development of the technology. Autonomous vehicle development has shifted from developing the technology to figuring out how to make it safer and more affordable. Other partnerships exist such as Toyota with Uber and BMW with Fiat Chrysler.
* Louisiana is the first state to release their Volkswagen settlement fund dollars, and Louisiana's Lafayette Parish Schools has become the first recipient. Given the choice between replacing aging diesel school buses with newer diesel models or with buses fueled by propane, this district chose to utilize funding from the state’s Environmental Mitigation Trust to purchase ten new Blue Bird Vision Propane school buses. Since the VW settlement funding was approved, officials and districts alike have been determining where the dollars should go. Louisiana’s $18 million dollars are solely dedicated to the replacement of older diesel school buses over the next three years.
* Aston Martin is joining the ranks of listed automakers with an IPO that values the British company at more than $5 billion. History was made as Aston Martin Lagonda became the only car company listed on the London Stock Exchange. The favorite carmaker of fictional British secret service agent James Bond priced its shares at £19.00 ($24.70), giving it a valuation of £4.3 billion ($5.6 billion).
* Toyota announced the intended recall of nearly 2 1/2 million gas-electric hybrid vehicles in their home market, North America and Europe. The problem is within the “fail-safe” system of the hybrid power supply that, if it malfunctions, could cause stalling. According to Toyota, they know of no crashes resulting from the problem, at least in Japan. The recall affects Prius and Auris models made between October of 2008 ad November of 2014.'
* Subaru is recalling 27,000 Legacy and Outback models for faulty electronic parking brake. Certain 2010-14 models equipped with a manual transmission are affected.
* We learned this week that Cadillac outperformed Tesla in tests by Consumer Reports of semi-autonomous driving systems. Cadillac’s “Super Cruise” and Tesla’s “Autopilot” along with similar systems from Nissan, Geely and Volvo were evaluated by the respected CR teams using a comprehensive list of performance criteria including driver interactions. CR noted differences in the systems and cautioned that none of these systems were “intended to be self-driving features.”
* In electric car news this week: Tesla seems finally in full production mode on the much-delayed Model 3 small sedan; sales are waning on GM’s full-electric Chevy Bolt; and Audi expects to be at capacity producing its new e-tron electric SUV in its Belgium plant before the end of the year. All are dependent on lithium-ion battery cells, most of which are made in China, Korea and Japan. Tesla’s mega battery plant in Nevada continues to ramp up and European carmakers are trying to seed battery plants in their region.
* Toyota Motor Corporation and Softbank Corporation, Japan’s premier tech company, will partner on a joint venture - a new “mobility” company. To be known as Monet Technologies Corporation, the new entity will combine autonomous driving, ride-hailing and on-demand shopping delivery using Toyota’s new e-Palette vehicle. The new venture will begin in Japan with less than $20 million in funding but is expected to grow rapidly as it is rolled-out internationally.
* According to reporting by the New York Times, Tesla founder, CEO and Board chairman Elon Musk, threatened to quit the company if the Board insisted on entering into a settlement agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over Musk’s impulsive statements about taking the company private, a move that, according to the SEC, caused unnecessary disruption in the market. Tesla did reach a $20 million settlement with Musk’s “grudging approval” that also has him stepping down as chairman but remaining as CEO.
* Ford is in talks with Volkswagen about a broad alliance that could help turn around its ailing operations in Europe and South America. It is also discussing ways to expand cooperation with Mahindra, the Indian automaker. This according to the New York Times. The cooperation could involve helping Volkswagen produce small pickups like the Ford Ranger and sharing the cost of developing electric vehicles and other technologies to meet more stringent emissions regulations in Europe. This wouldn't be the first Ford-VW partnership. There was the Autolatina j-v from the late 1980s.
* NASCAR changed things up at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend. The track has been reconfigured into the "roval", a 17-turn, 2.28-mile hybrid road course-oval that has a 35-foot elevation change. Ryan Blaney took home the win in the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course, emerging in the final corner after the leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmy Johnson wrecked just before the finish line Sunday.
* Also from NASCAR is word that in 2019 two primary rules packages will be used and races at Daytona and Talladega will be without restrictor plates for the first time since 1987. The rules packages will be track-specific and designed to slow the cars to create more passing. A tapered spacer will replace the restrictor plate.
* The Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, the world's first school for race car drivers and those who wanted to be like them, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Arizona. Court filings explain that the organization owes between $1 million and $10 million to a number of creditors, claimed to be between 50 and 99 in total. Bondurant claims that operations will continue despite the voluntary petition.
* Coming up this week is the 50th anniversary of the movie Bullitt. Sceening of the film are taking place around the country with specials content from Ford and the McQueen family.