Automotive News Digest; Week Ending January 19, 2019 - Compiled By Executive Producer Larry Nutson
AUTO CENTRAL DETROIT and CHICAGO - January 20, 2019: 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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* We took in the media previews at the last and final winter Detroit Auto Show, the North American International Auto Show, that is. The show moves to June in 2020. Big trucks and fast cars dominated what little there was new, with concepts from Infiniti and Nissan striking our eye. The RAM 3500 heavy duty with 1,000 ft-lb of torque and the 2020 Shelby Mustang GT 500 with over 700-HP roll out the big numbers.
* The 2019 NACTOY winners--North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year, were announced at NAIAS. Genesis G70 is the car winner, RAM 1500 is the truck winner and Hyundai Kona/Kona EV is the Utility winner.
* Honors for design excellence in production and concept vehicles making their debut at NAIAS at the 13th annual EyesOn Design Awards. The 2019 EyesOn Design Award winners are: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – Best Production Vehicle, Infiniti QX Inspiration concept – Best Concept Vehicle, Infiniti QX Inspiration concept – Innovative Use of Color, Graphics or Materials, Infiniti QX Inspiration concept – Best Interior and Lexus LC Convertible concept – Best Exterior Lighting.
* Ford and Volkswagen confirmed the two automakers will work together to develop and produce medium-size pickup trucks and small commercial vans. They also said they will cooperate on electric and autonomous vehicles. The companies said they intend to have the medium-size pickup trucks available in global markets as early as 2022, with commercial vans coming later. As of now none of the products are for the U.S. This could change.
* The Automotive Hall of Fame announced its class of inductees for 2019 this week. They included: pioneering racer Janet Guthrie; former FCA chairman, the late Sergio Marchionne; founder of American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc. Richard E. “Dick” Dauch; and insurance and finance innovator Patrick Ryan. Founded in 1939 the AHoF has inducted more than 275 men and women who have been innovators in the auto industry. The induction ceremony will take place on July 18, 2019 in Detroit.
* Chevrolet has pulled a TV ad that claimed the brand was "more reliable" than Honda, Toyota and Ford. The data used to support the ad was in question and the three truck makers challenged Chevrolet.
* Reuters reports a federal grand jury in Detroit indicted four managers at Volkswagen AG’s luxury Audi unit as part of the U.S. government’s investigation into the German automaker’s diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to court documents. In total, 13 people have been charged in the United States, including the four Audi managers. The four are charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiring to evade U.S. emissions standards in diesel vehicles sold in the United States with 3.0-liter engines.
* Carlos Ghosn remains in custody in Japan as prosecutors continue to add charges of improper financial dealings. The latest charge is for improperly receiving $9 million in compensation from a joint venture between Nissan and Mitsubishi. Officials from both companies expressed surprise and outrage at this newest revelation. Ghosn is credited with saving Nissan more than 20 years ago and had become a hero in the auto business community. He has already been charged for under-reporting in income for eight years and other financial misdeeds. Ghosn was denied bail by Japanese authorities and will continue to remain in jail. He can be held until March 10 and prosecutors can request a one month extension. Ghosn could be in jail for months before any thing substantial happens with the charges against him.
* Writing for Reuters, Joe White says, "Someone call Sammy Hagar and tell him to get 'I Can’t Drive 55' recut in German." To fight climate change, the German government is proposing to put a 130 km/hr (80 mph) speed limit on the nation’s legendary no limits autobahns, raise fuel taxes and institute electric vehicle quotas. The proposals have not been adopted. Political trouble seems certain.
* In order to reduce costs Tesla is planning to cut 7% of its work force while simultaneously increasing production of the Model 3, a move likely to be affect more than 3,000 jobs. In and e-mail to employees CEO Elon Musk said “There isn’t any other way.” He noted that they will be making many manufacturing engineering improvements to do that. Tesla cut prices on all models earlier this month because of the loss of the $7,500 federal tax credit on its electric vehicles.
* Colorado plans to join 10 other states in encouraging non-polluting vehicles by developing ZEV (zero-emission vehicle) rules requiring automakers to sell target numbers of these vehicles. Colorado’s new governor, Jared Polis, is calling for the creation of an interagency task force to support EV vehicle use across the state. The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association is not on board saying Coloradans already have plenty of clean vehicle choices.
* Hyundai and Kia are recalling about 168,000 vehicles to fix a fuel pipe problem that can cause engine fires. The recall covers some 2011 through 2014 Kia Optima cars, 2012 through 2014 Sorrento SUVs, and 2011 through 2013 Sportage SUVs, all with 2-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines. Also covered are many 2011 to 2014 Hyundai Sonata cars and 2013 and 2014 Santa Fe Sport SUVs.
* The epic Dakar Rally finished this past week in Lima, Peru. Considered the worlds toughest rally-race, the Dakar Rally moved from Africa to South America over a decade ago because of security issues. The motorcycle category was won by Australian Toby Price in his Red Bull KTM 1-2-3. In the car class, Nasser Al-Attiyah from Qatar led the field in his Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux. The Truck class win went to Eduard Nikolaev from Russia in his KAMAZ, his third consecutive win. And, in the Quad class Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso won.
* NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood, a pioneering driver and co-founder of stock-car racing’s longest-running team, has died. He was 93. Wood’s passing was announced by Wood Brothers Racing. Until his death, Wood was the oldest living member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, inducted into its third class in 2012. Glen and his brother, Leonard, built a legendary racing operation that still competes in what is now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Wood Brothers Racing organization has 99 victories in more than 1,500 starts in NASCAR’s top division, fielding cars for an illustrious list of legendary drivers.
* A final thought on the NAIAS moving its date to June. It will be interesting to observe all the automotive media wearing shorts to press conferences. And, now many more auto scribes will be able to attend Arizona Auction Week.