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Automotive News Digest Week Ending February 24, 2019 - Compiled By Executive Producer Larry Nutson


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - February 24, 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.

LEARN MORE: Links to millions of the past 25 year's automotive news, articles, reviews and archived stories residing in The Auto Channel Automotive News Library.

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* As the largest consumer auto show in the country we pay attention to what happens at the just-completed 2019 Chicago Auto Show. Attendees vote on their “Best of Show” picks in a number of categories. Results are: Best All-New Production Vehicle - 2020 Jeep Gladiator; Best Concept - Lexus LC Convertible; Best Green Vehicle - 2019 Audi e-tron; Best Exhibit - Jeep; and Vehicle most wanted in the voter’s driveway - 2019 Bugatti Chiron.

* Consumer Reports annual buying recommendations, based on a comprehensive list of factors, are out for their magazine’s 2019 auto issue showing some changes in rankings. Tesla’s Model 3 lost out on the recommendations. Jumping to the top of the list as a brand Subaru earned “recommended” status with seven of its eight models. Hyundai’s luxury brand, Genesis, led the list last year but dropped to second place. At the bottom of the list, as usual, is Fiat.

* Consumer Reports 10 Top Picks of 2019 for Best Cars of the Year are: Subaru Ascent, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Audi A4, Hyundai Kona, Toyota Yaris, Toyota Avalon Hybrid, BMW X5, Toyota Prius, Subaru Forester and Ford F-150.

* Four of 11 small SUVs got top marks from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in a new study evaluating their pedestrian crash avoidance systems. Five others got advanced ratings Superior ratings went to: 2018-19 Honda CR-V, 2019 Subaru Forrester, 2019 Toyota RAV4 and 2019 Volvo XC40. Rated Advanced were: 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, 2018-19 Hyundai Kona, 2019 Kia Sportage, 2018-19 Mazda CX-5 and 2019 Nissan Rogue. Automatic emergency braking, not necessarily with specific pedestrian-detection features, has been growing as a vehicle feature, and most automakers have committed to installing low-speed emergency braking systems by 2022.

* Going back to 1970 California has had the authority to determine its own automobile mileage and emissions standards, an authority granted by the Federal government to allow the state to deal with debilitating smog, particularly in Los Angeles. Other states have adopted California standards. The Trump administration has been trying to work with California and its allies to reduce the standards, but talks broke off this week risking the issue going to court.

* At the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) in Toronto, the Kia Stinger has been named 2019 Canadian Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). It was named Best Large Car earlier this year.

* Declines in the European car market along with Brexit are causing job reductions in Europe. Honda is the latest having announced it will close its factory in the UK in 2021 eliminating 3,500 jobs. Previously Nissan said it would build the next generation X-Trail SUV in Japan and Ford made production and job cuts. GM pulled out of Europe in 2017.

* Reuters reports that the U.S. auto industry urged President Donald Trump's administration not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs, after the U.S. Commerce Department sent a confidential report to the White House with its recommendations for how to proceed. The industry has warned that possible tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially devastate the U.S economy by slashing jobs. Trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its "Section 232" national security report shrouded in secrecy.

* Also from Reuters, Brexit is a major concern for Formula One world champions Mercedes who fear the 'mother of all messes' could cause massive damage to Britain's motorsport industry while also helping rivals Ferrari, team boss Toto Wolff said on Monday. Mercedes, champions for the past five seasons, have their Formula One factory and high performance engine operations based at Brackley and Brixworth near the British Grand Prix circuit Silverstone. Seven of the 10 teams, including former champions Williams, Renault, Red Bull and McLaren also have factories in Britain with only Ferrari, Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso and Alfa Romeo based elsewhere in Europe.

* We’re wondering if the initial flush of excitement is waning for the mainstream Tesla Model 3 that launched with hundreds of thousands of hand-raisers putting down deposits to get one. In an e-mail to employees the company is offering to lease a Model 3 to boost demand, a plan they have hinted at for some time. Details on lease terms and when they may be available were not announced.

* After years of carefully guarding details of its self-driving vehicle development, Apple this week voluntarily submitted details of its testing program, approach to safety and other formerly proprietary information to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The next day NHTSA deputy administrator, Heidi King, acknowledged and praised Apple and the other eleven companies that provided these reports.

* Ford is issuing a recall for select 2019 Ford Fusion Energi vehicles that do not meet the enhanced level of high voltage access protection required by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 305. This condition could allow contact with an uncovered high voltage fuse through a small gap behind the access panel. Contact with high voltage sources potentially increase the risk of injury. This action affects approximately 2,100 vehicles in the United States that were built from Oct. 1 to Dec. 14, 2018 at the Hermosillo Assembly Plant.

* Nissan is recalling 86,265 Murano midsize crossovers in the U.S. from the 2009 model year to fix a faulty part in the antilock brake system. Another 5,924 units are being recalled in Canada

* Though the Bonneville salt flats are underwater at the moment - part of the natural ecological cycle that partially restores the surface each year - a group of racing community activists led by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) are pursuing a plan for a $50 million restoration of the flats. They are asking the state of Utah to put in $5 million to seed a request to the Federal government for the rest. The Bonneville salt flats are one of the most famous racing venues in the world.

* Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving announced that it is accepting investment and purchase inquiries as it nears the completion of its restructuring program following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Officials with the School, which has remained in continuous operation since the filing in October, will accept offers from investors and purchasers through February 28, 2019.

* NASCAR's first and biggest race was won be Denny Hamlin who edged his JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones to reach the checkered flag in the 61st Daytona 500. Three multicar wrecks in the final 25 miles scrambled the order and ended the hopes of more than half of the 40-car field. JGR became the second team in history to sweep the race with a 1-2-3 win. The race the the entire season have been dedicated to J.D. Gibbs, the elder son of Joe Gibbs who died last month from a neurological disease. It was Hamlin's second Daytona 500 win, putting him in a class with only twelve other drivers who have multiple wins in this race.

* For a first in the 61-year history of the Daytona 500, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup became the first truck to ever pace The Great American Race. Two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was behind the wheel. Power came from a production 420 hp 6.2L V-8 engine and paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission with no performance modifications necessary to pace the field of NASCAR drivers.