Nutson's Automotive News Nuggets Week Ending March 16, 2019:
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - March 17, 2019; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Executive Producer and Chicago Car Guy along with 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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Automotive News Nuggets Week Ending March 16, 2019
* The first major Concours d’Elegance (See Complete (1:47:56) Amelia Island Concours Event Video)of the season happened at Amelia Island, Florida last Sunday - the 24th show put on by Bill Warner and his able team. In addition to the dozens of class winners, they award two Best of Show honors: Best in Show Concours d’Elegance went to a rare Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn-Kurier from the Keller Collection of California. The Concours d’Sport Award went to a red (of course) 1957 Ferrari 335 S owned by Cavallino Investments of Cortland, Ohio. The annual Amelia Island Concours featured approximately 300 cars.
* Arizona Governor Doug Ducey failed to keep roads safe with his free-wheeling autonomous vehicle rules, says a $10 million claim against the state by the family of the woman killed by an Uber self-driving car last March. The claim was filed on September 18, 2018, but released this week to Phoenix New Times under public records law. The claim says the state has "failed to make roadways safe, allowing autonomous vehicles to operate on public roadways in an unsafe manner."
* Three in four Americans remain afraid of fully self-driving vehicles. A year after a number of high-profile automated vehicle incidents, AAA's annual automated vehicle survey found that 71 percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles - indicating that overall sentiment has not yet returned to what it was prior to last year's incidents (63 percent). About half (53 percent) are comfortable with low-speed, short distance forms of transportation like people movers found at airports or theme parks while 44 percent are comfortable with fully self-driving vehicles for delivery of food or packages. AAA's recent survey revealed that regular interaction with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) components like lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking significantly improves consumer comfort level.
* Last week we reported that Tesla said it would close most of its stores. Tesla has now flip-flopped and said that it had decided to keep “significantly more stores open” than previously announced. The electric-car maker also said it would raise most of its vehicle prices about 3 percent worldwide. Tesla is facing financial pressures however its landlords didn't take well to the idea of cancelling lease agreements.
* The Trump administration's proposed budget intends to eliminate the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicles. Some Congress members want to extend the credit and of course automakers need it to help foster EV sales. Presently, the EV credit phases out for each automaker when they reach 200,000 sales, as has happened for Tesla and GM. It will be an interesting battle.
* We found lots of interest in the upcoming mid-engine C8 Corvette this week on our favorite automotive news websites. The C8 was expected to be introduced at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January but technical issues with its electronics had the engineers nixing that plan. Now, the conventional wisdom seems to be it will be introduced at the National Corvette Museums birthday bash in August with delivery to dealers beginning in December. Let’s all hold our breath some more.
* More on the technical side of the new Corvette, via Hagerty, we hear of issues with the high-horsepower version experiencing deformation and flexing of the aluminum spaceframe chassis, so much so that the glass engine cover fractures. Additionally, there are rumblings going around that the GM lawyers have gotten involved with their concern that the Corvette may be too powerful and should be dialed back.
* Toyota upped its plans for U.S. capital investment by $3 billion over the next five years. In 2017 the company projected a $10 billion investment. That is now $13 billion. Investments include 600 new jobs at its existing manufacturing plants. Hybrid versions of the RAV4 and Lexus ES will be added to the Kentucky plant’s portfolio and production will increase and most of its other plants. Toyota NA boss Jim Lentz said this represents the company’s dedication to build where they sell.
* Believe it or not, GM's first autonomous car was just inducted into the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, according to reporting by our colleague Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press. The car is a Chevy Bolt electric small sedan, built at the Orion Township assembly plant and modified for autonomous driving, called the GM Cruise Automation 01. GM’s Mark Reuss claims they will have autonomous vehicles in commercial service this year. We'll see!
* Tesla unveiled this week its new Model Y compact crossover built from the same platform as the Model 3. They expect customer deliveries to begin in the fall of 2020 with the 300-mile-range version priced at $47,000, then follow that with a lesser version in the spring of 2021 good for 230 miles, priced at $39,000. The Model Y will have a third seat option. The model Y will compete with similar vehicles from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar. Tesla's model range now includes four models, namely, S-3-X-Y.
* It ain't over yet. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint in San Francisco this week accusing Volkswagen and VW’s former CEO Martin Winterkorn of perpetrating a “massive fraud” on U.S. investors, to the tune of $13 billion in bonds and securities, when he knew that a half million diesel vehicles were way out of compliance with emissions requirements. The suit seeks to bar Winterkorn from being an officer for any U.S. company and demands civil penalties and interest. Winterkorn resigned from the company early in the scandal and remains in Germany.
* David Shepardson writing for Reuters reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will recall 862,520 gasoline-powered vehicles in the United States that do not meet U.S. emissions standards. The recall was prompted by in-use emissions investigations conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and testing conducted by Fiat Chrysler as required by EPA regulations. The recall includes 2011-2016 Dodge Journey, 2011-2014 Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger and 2011-2012 Dodge Caliber vehicles.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is also recalling an estimated 47,771 2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans in the U.S. to fix a potential glitch with steering-system joints that could cause drivers to lose control.
* Inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame include three-time champ Tony Stewart, "Alabama Gang's" Neil Bennett, Xfinity champ Sam Ard, Daytona 500 winner Marvin Panch, short-track racer Jim Paschal and mechanic Red Vogt.
* We're saddened to report the sudden death of FIA's Formula One race director Charlie Whiting at age 66 from a pulmonary embolism while in Melbourne for the season-opening Australian Gran Prix. Whiting held a key role in the running of Formula One race weekends, overseeing the FIA's operation of all on-track sessions