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Automotive News Digest Week Ending February 16, 2019 - Compiled By Executive Producer Larry Nutson


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - February 17, 2019; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Executive Producer 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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* A new report from Navigant Research gives projections on the size of regional markets for consumer and commercial vehicles with Level 4 highly automated (HAV) driving capability. Waymo and General Motors are preparing for the commercial launch of geofenced automated mobility services. Deployments are likely to be limited to select cities in the early 2020s before expanding more rapidly later in the decade. Annual volumes of HAV deployments are expected to reach about 2.6 million in 2024, growing to 34 million in 2035.

* Automotive News reports that two of the world's largest automakers used the Chicago Auto Show last week to offer a defense of auto shows in general. High-ranking executives from Volkswagen Group and Toyota Motor Corp. upheld the value of global auto shows as proven ways to market vehicles. They said larger shows — especially those with venues big enough to house experiential marketing displays such as ride-and-drives — will play an important role in their marketing efforts for the foreseeable future.

* The 2019 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study annual survey is out and Lexus was the most dependable brand for the eighth-straight year. Porsche and Toyota tied for second, followed by Chevrolet and Buick. The worst performers were Fiat, Land Rover, Volvo, Dodge and a tie between Ram and Acura, the survey said.

* A new report from the Center for Automotive Research claims the potential economic harm from upcoming U.S. tariffs on imported cars would “dwarf that of any other trade policy implemented by the Trump administration so far,” according to reporting by Automotive News. The report predicts the loss of 366,900 jobs, including substantial dealer jobs, an increase in car prices of $2,700 and substantial increase in repair costs.

* The raw number of U.S. traffic deaths declined by 1% for 2018 coming in at just over 40,000, that’s the third decline in three years, though the declines are small. The National Safety Council, keeper of the numbers, suggests that the increase in the number of vehicles with active safety systems represent promise of improvement over upcoming years, but ever larger numbers of distractions from infotainment systems and smart phones increase distractions. The death rate continues to be about 1 death per hundred-million miles driven.

* Rivian Automotive, a start-up electric vehicle company headquartered in suburban Detroit, announced Friday two substantial investments, one from Amazon to the tune of $700 million and another from a Saudi auto distributor that has been a supporter of the company. Rivian acquired the idled Mitsubishi plant in Normal, IL and plans to begin selling an electric pickup in 2020 followed with an electric SUV. GM is reportedly in talks with Rivian as well.

* Leaders of Nissan and Renault met this week to reaffirm their alliance in the wake of former chairman Carlos Ghosn’s ouster and the disruption that has resulted. New Renault chairman, Jean-Dominique Senard, traveled to Japan to sort out the relationship. Nissan CEO, Hiroto Saikawa and Mitsubishi CEO Osamu Masuko joined Senard in reaffirming the alliance but gave no hint if a full merger is in the offing.

* GM announced ARĪV as the name of its new eBike brand, which includes two innovative, integrated and connected eBikes: the Meld, a compact eBike, and the Merge, a folding eBike. The name ARĪV was selected as part of a global crowdsourcing campaign announced in November 2018. ARĪV eBikes are launching first in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, due to the popularity of lithium-ion battery-powered eBikes in those markets. Preorders are available via In Belgium and the Netherlands, the ARĪV Meld is 2.800 € and the ARĪV Merge is 3.400 €. In Germany, the ARĪV Meld is 2.750 € and the ARĪV Merge is 3.350 €. ARĪV eBikes are scheduled to begin shipping to customers in Q2 of 2019.

* Moia, VW’s “mobility” business, is planning to begin a ride-sharing service using 6-passenger electric vans with a 300 km range this April in Hamburg, Germany. The company has been experimenting with the service informally in Hamburg for the past couple months and in Hanover, Germany for over six months. They expect to begin service with 100 vans expanding to 500 in the first year. Algorithms will calculate routing to best transport multiple travelers at a time.

* Potential Brexit outcomes continue to affect the auto business in the U.K. Ford told prime minister Theresa May this week it is speeding up plans to move production out of Britain because of the uncertainty of a “no-deal” exit of Britain from the European Union, seriously disrupting business across the border. Ford has two engine plants there. In related news, Nissan scrapped a plan to build a new SUV in Britain for the same reason.

* Joe White reporting for Reuters says, Tesla laid off more than half the workers in its U.S. vehicle delivery operations last month, a clue that U.S. demand for the Model 3 is taking a pause as customers digest the halving of the federal EV tax credit. Another factor: Elon Musk has promised to cut costs and drop the price of future Model 3s closer to his original target base sticker price of $35,000. For now, Tesla is concentrating on shipping vehicles to Europe and to China to beat the possible reimposition of tariffs.

* On average, Americans lost about 97 hours a year due to congestion, costing them nearly $87 billion in 2018, an average of $1,348 per driver. Boston topped the list as most congested city in America with drivers there losing more than 164 hours in traffic. This from INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, an in-depth congestion and mobility study that provides data evaluation of urban travel, traffic health and vibrancy. Following Boston, the most congested U.S. cities are Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York and Los Angles.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles revealed that it paid a $77 million civil penalty to the U.S. government in 2018 for missing Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, targets in 2016, Bloomberg reports. The $77 million fine was the largest imposed on a single automaker in at least five years, Bloomberg notes, citing NHTSA data. FCA was also the only automaker to pay a fine for the 2016 model year.

* The largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history just got bigger. Subaru, Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, Daimler Vans, Mercedes and Ferrari are recalling about 1.7 million vehicles to replace potentially deadly air bag inflators made by Takata Corp. of Japan. About 10 million inflators are being recalled in the U.S. this year, with as many as 70 million to be recalled by the time the whole mess ends late next year.

* Ford is recalling 1.48 million F-150 pickup trucks because of a transmission issue. Select 2011–13 model year pickups with six-speed automatic transmissions could suddenly downshift without warning potentially leading to s skid condition.

* Honda is recalling 197,000 Ridgeline pickup trucks to replace the fuel pumps and pump covers. Honda says 2017-2019 Ridgeline fuel pump fuel feed ports can be affected by detergents used in car washes.

* As written by our friends at "As a student in post-war England in the mid-1950s, John Haynes couldn’t afford the sports car he desired, so he procured an Austin Seven, removed the body, tuned the suspension, and turned it into a modified and racy Special. With several of his schoolboy friends interested in his project, Haynes kept notes, added illustrations, and produced 10 copies of what became his first such automotive workbook. He gave three of the copies to his friends and took a small advertisement in a British car magazine offering his other copies for sale. John H. Haynes is the founder of the Haynes Manual, Haynes Publishing Group and the Haynes International Motor Museum. He was 80 years old and died after a brief illness."

* The season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals got rained out last Sunday forcing a Monday final. Robert Hight (Funny Car), Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) all opened the season with wins.

* As we publish this week's news the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ premier event, the 2019 Daytona 500 gets underway. Hendrick Motorsport's driver William Byron is on the pole with his No. 24 Chevrolet. The 21-year old Byron has been paired by Hendricks with crew chief Chad Knaus, who had been Jimmy Johnson's chief for 17 years. Hendrick's teammate Alex Bowman is on the outside, and then, interestingly, the next six spots are all Fords. It seems that the Fords were really fast in the two 60-lap races that set the rest of the field.

* NASCAR is again in a state of change. New this year in its top series, the Monster Energy Cup, we have Camaro. Mustang and Supra models being run. This Daytona 500 is the last restrictor plate race. Following this race a new rules package goes into effect. NASCAR is also working on its Gen-7 car set for 2021 debut. The Gen-7 will also bring about a change to race locations, distances and the types of courses, with more road courses and short tracks.

Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau Chief The Auto Channel t: @1ChicagoCarGuy f: Chicago Car Guy i: chicago_car_guy

Larry Nutson is on the Board of Directors of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, serving as the Treasurer, and a contributing writer to and C