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Automotive News Digest; Week Ending October 27, 2018 Edited By Larry Nutson


AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - October 28, 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.

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The Auto Channel Automotive News In Digest Format - Week Ending October 27, 2018
Executive Editor Larry Nutson

*According to Consumer Reports’ (CR) latest Annual Auto Reliability Survey, things are not good, based on data from its members about their experiences with more than half a million vehicles. Every U.S. automaker landed in the bottom-half of CR’s latest reliability rankings, which covers 29 brands this year - two more than 2017. Ford ranks the highest at 18, down three spots from the previous year. Right below Ford on the list is Buick, which was in the top 10 last year. Cadillac is the worst-rated domestic manufacturer and ranks near the very bottom at 28. Asian brands, led by Lexus, Toyota, and Mazda continue to be the best for new car reliability. Seven of the top 10 brands in this year’s reliability rankings are from Japan and South Korea, including Subaru, Kia, Infiniti, and Hyundai. Three European brands, Audi, BMW, and Mini, round out the top 10. Porsche, Volkswagen, and Mercedes-Benz finished mid-pack. Volvo finished last overall.

* Collisions are up by about six percent in states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, according to new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Data Loss Institute. There are now 30 states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with Oklahoma the most recent. Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use.

* Ford celebrated the rebirth of the Ford Ranger giving journalists an early peek at, and ride in, the much-anticipated mid-size pickup this week at the Wayne, MI plant where Ranger’s full producing is just beginning. Customers can order them now and Ford expects customer deliveries to begin in January. Only one powertrain is offered, a 2.3-liter turbo four-cylinder EcoBoost making 300 pound-feet of torque. The Ranger has been made and sold in other parts of the world for a few years. A new version of the Bronco will come about a year later.

* A new Intel study finds consumers look forward to a self-driving car future even while harboring fears and uncertainty now. The survey of U.S. consumers found that only 21 percent of Americans would swap their cars for self-driving cars today, even though 63 percent expect such vehicles to be the norm in 50 years. Intel’s 2017 Passenger Economy report found that self-driving vehicles have the potential to save 585,000 lives from 2035 to 2045. But Intel’s new study found consumers conflicted about this promise. Nearly half of consumers surveyed (43 percent) said they don’t feel safe around autonomous vehicles (AV) – with women more fearful than men.

* BMW says it is expanding a recall to cover 1.6 million vehicles worldwide due to possible fluid leaks that could result in a fire. In some diesel vehicles coolant could leak from the exhaust gas recirculation module, part of the emissions reduction system. The leaks could combine with soot at high temperatures and lead to a fire. Vehicles made between 2010 and 2017 are affected with 54,700 vehicles in the U.S and Canada.

* Nearly 1.3 million Ford Focus compact sedans are facing a recall related to engine stalling resulting from the possible deformation of the plastic fuel tank. It seems a surge valve in the fuel system is the culprit. The defect may occur is 2002-18 Focus with the 2.0-liter GDI and GTDI engines. Neither Ford nor NHTSA noted any accidents or injuries related to the problem. Your Ford dealer can tell you if your car is affected.

* Tesla reported a $312 million profit for the third quarter, as the result of a surge in production and sales of its Model 3 sedan. Its third-quarter earnings were helped by cost-cutting, deferring spending on future models, and rushing to sell as many cars as possible. Model 3 currently sells for $46,000 to $64,000 before federal and state tax incentives. Tesla produced more than 53,000 Model 3 cars from July to September, nearly twice as many as in the previous three months.

* Experian Automotive shared EV market data this week showing Tesla solidly leading in market share for electric vehicles. The total share of the light vehicle market held by EVs is just below 1%. Tesla’s mainstream, compact Model 3 that struggled to get into nearly full production now has an impressive 37.5% share of that followed by the Model S at 16.1% and Model X in third place at 12.7%. Chevy Bolt had 12.1% and Nissan Leaf was fifth at 9.6%.

* Well, this doesn't suck. Or, does it? British vacuum maker Dyson's upcoming new electric car will be built in Singapore, and not in the UK. The facility, which will begin construction later this year, will start producing cars by 2021.

* The Trump administration is trying to end California’s ability to set its own fuel efficiency rules for vehicles and its mandate for electric cars, citing savings in “societal costs” and mitigating highway deaths. Auto industry officials and even some EPA staff question these arguments. GM is proposing a nation-wide rule at least on the sale of electric vehicles to begin in 2021 that is essentially based on California’s zero emissions sales mandate. GM’s executive VP Mark Reuss said, “We know that the industry can do better . . .”

* And to that point, General Motors says it will ask the federal government for a requirement that a percentage of auto companies’ sales be zero-emissions vehicles. Mark Reuss, GM’s executive vice president of product development, said the company will propose a national requirement to ensure that zero-emission cars compose 25 percent of automaker fleets by 2030. The company has promised to introduce 20 new all-electric vehicles globally by 2023. If you give this some thought, it looks like GM wants the government to prescribe what it sells, and not sell what vehicles buyers want.

* In addition to replacing their China boss this week Ford is stepping up talks with VW aimed at helping out with sales in Europe and South America. The company is struggling in all those markets.The talks with VW are about sharing development costs and both companies made it clear that the collaboration “isn’t being limited in any way.” Ford is also negotiating with Mahindra & Mahindra on developing products for the Indian market. Ford’s positive Q3 profits contributed to a surge in share prices.

* NASCAR moved into its final eight, third round of playoffs. Of note, there are five Fords, one Chevrolet and two Toyota's. All four Stewart-Hass Racing Fords made it. One one Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is in.

* We are saddened to report that IndyCar driver Robert Wickens, who was severely injured in a serious crash at Pocono Raceway on August 19, has confirmed that he is paralyzed from the waist down. There had been hope that Wickens could return to racing but the reality is he is in a serious battle to regain the use of his legs.