Auto News Digest; Week Ending December 1, 2018; Executive Producer Larry Nutson
AUTO CENTRAL, CHICAGO - December 2, 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 December 2, 2018;
Executive Producer Larry Nutson
* The Los Angeles Auto Show, the first major U.S. auto show of the season, held its media previews this week. America’s love affair with SUVs and pickups was front and center with the new Jeep Gladiator midsize pickup, 3-row Lincoln Aviator SUV, and the new Honda Passport midsize SUV making their debuts. And all-new versions of the iconic Porsche 911 sports car, the Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, as well as the Kia Soul, plus the new BMW X7 and Hyundai Palisade three-row SUV broke cover.
* One of the bigger news-makers at the LA Show came from Detroit-based start-up Rivian. The all-electric, battery powered R1T pickup and the R1S sport-utility vehicle were unveiled. Both models are planned for 2020 production and have a 400-mile driving range. Both vehicles will hit 60 mph in 3 seconds and tow 11,000 pounds, all coming from four electric motors--one for each wheel producing about 800 horsepower in total. Wow!
* MOTORTREND announced its 2019 "of the Year" winners. Car of the Year is Genesis G70, Truck of the Year is Ram 1500, SUV of the Year is Jeep Wrangler and Person of the Year is Sergio Marchionne, the late Chairman and CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ferrari.
* Finalists for the 2019 North American Car, Utility and Truck of the year were announced at the LA auto show. Car finalists are: Genesis G70, Honda Insight and Volvo S60/V60. Utility finalists are: Acura RDX, Hyundai Kona / Kona EV and Jaguar I-Pace. Truck finalists are: Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra and Ram 1500. Some of the finalists were predictable, but there were a couple surprises and noteworthy is that two are all-electric. Also of note, of the 14 semifinalists for Car of the Year, 9 are from Asian automakers. Only one, the Buick Regal, comes from a U.S. maker and its built in Germany. A team of 60 independent automotive journalists will make the final decision that will be announced in January at the beginning of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
* Also at the LA auto show, the 2019 Honda Insight was named the Green Car of the Year. The Jaguar I-Pace was named the Luxury Green Car of the Year, and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the SUV Green Car of the Year.
* The board of Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors, which is allied with Renault and Nissan, voted unanimously to dismiss Carlos Ghosn as its chairman following his arrest last week. Prosecutors arrested Ghosn on Nov. 19 on suspicion he under-reported his income by $44 million over five years. Ghosn remains behind bars, now for an additional 10 days beyond the first 10, while there are some rumblings that Nissan is directly involved in his detention.
* GM stirred up a hornets nest with the announcement of five plant closures in the U.S. and Canada scheduled for next year. The plan is to close 3 assembly plants and two other plants, cut 15% of the company’s salaried workers and abandon six car lines in an effort to get ahead of changing consumer preferences and to invest in trends like self-driving cars. GM CEO Mary Barra said the cuts would make GM “lean and agile.” Politicians from both parties wasted no time in slamming the plan, while GM’s stock price rose. News reports have it that about 2,250 salary workers have raised their hand for the recent buyout offer. The automaker will no longer make the Volt hybrid and the Cruze compact sedan for sale in North America beginning in March; the Chevrolet Impala full-size car will be discontinued in the fourth quarter of 2019. The company is also likely to end sales of the Cadillac XTS, Cadillac CT6 and Buick LaCrosse.
* While auto journalists focus on the LA Auto Show, German auto bosses will be meeting with President Trump at the White House. Tentatively set for Tuesday, we expect the president, who has threatened tariffs on EU-produced cars, will use the meeting as an opportunity to let the Germans know he’s not happy with their business practices and the imbalance in trade. The German executives have already reminded the administration that they cannot speak or negotiate for the E.U.
* Google's self-driving car affiliate Waymo said it hired Deborah Hersman, former head of the NTSB, to the new position of chief safety officer and Amee Chande as its first chief commercial officer. Waymo plans to begin driverless ride-hailing service in Phoenix by the end of this year.
* GM is moving its No. 2 executive, company President Dan Ammann, to be CEO of its self-driving unit, GM Cruise, as it aggressively pushes to bring their self-driving cars to market next year. Car makers must move into the Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) business to leverage the financial opportunity to offset flattening new vehicle sales. Many analysts, according to reporting by Automotive News, speculate that GM may be interested in spinning of the Cruise business unit or issuing its own stock.
* Ford is teasing the return of the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 with the statement that it will be revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Ford said the supercharged V8 will deliver over 650-HP. Rumors have it that there may not be a manual transmission, but a dual-clutch automatic instead. We'll have to wait and see.
* The U.S., Canada and Mexico signed a new trade deal agreeing to replace the quarter-century-old NAFTA pact. The vast majority of the pact still needs to be ratified by lawmakers in the three countries but the signing enacts a handful of immediate protections, such as from auto tariffs. The deal now heads to ratification. Uncertainties remain, as the original 1994 pact stays in effect, and tariffs on steel and aluminum continue to be a major irritant.
* Our friends at Arizona Driver Magazine first reported that Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving announced that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona has approved the appointment of Timothy H. Shaffer of Clotho Corporate Recovery, LLC as its Chief Restructuring Officer, an important step in the School’s ongoing efforts to reorganize and position itself for sustained success. The School is open and continues to hold driver-training courses during its reorganization, which was commenced when the School filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 on October 2, 2018.
* Hod rodder and customizing legend Sam Foose has died at age 84. His son Chip may be better known, but it isn’t likely one will find someone better-respected in the Southern California hot-rodding community than Sam Foose. An artist with a pencil, shaping hammer, or airbrush… Sam died of cancer, surrounded by family, on November 28.