Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - Featuring "Don't Miss" Car and Truck News Made April 7-13, 2019
New Corvette; NY Auto Show; CAFE California Vs Our President; Who Needs A Green Fleet? FCA Buys 100 Million Euro Emission Credits From Tesla; Gas Prices Climb; Higher Speed Killing; Self-Driving Over Promised; EV Tax Credit Shorting Out; Jeep Gladiator Moabing; F-150 Recall Redux; Chinese EV's; GM Negotiating For Electric Pickup Maker Rivian; Porsche Collection Poof!
AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - April 14, 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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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - Featuring "Don't Miss" Car and Truck News Made March 31-April 6, 2019
* Finally! GM pulled the trigger and announced through social media that the new next-gen and first-ever mid-engine C8 Corvette will make its debut on July 18, 2019. The C8 made its first public appearance as GM CEO Mary Barra and Corvette chief engineer Tadge Juechter cruised about NYC's Manhattan mid-town in a leopard-print camouflaged version of the sports car. At last the world will see the long rumored mid-engine car come into being. Few details are known for sure but well-informed speculation has it powered by an upgraded 6.2-liter aluminum V8 with direct injection mated to an 8-speed dual clutch transmission (there will be no manual) and priced to start at $60 to $70 grand. Stay tuned!
* Some auto industry pundits have speculated that the C7 Corvette might continue in production. However, Barrett Jackson and GM announced they will auction the final production seventh generation Chevrolet Corvette this summer, with the proceeds benefiting the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
* The New York Auto Show starts next week with press preview days - the final major motor show in the U.S. season, N.Y. often sees major product introductions. A preview news release from the organizers of the show features a number of vehicles we’ve not heard of, like: the Karlmann King, a $2.4 million Italian SUV with exaggerated angular design; a new American full-electric super car from Mullen Technologies called Qiantu K50; and a single seat British supercar from Briggs Automotive that boasts a 0-60 time of 2.7 seconds.
* Reuters reports that the state of California filed a lawsuit seeking to force two federal agencies to provide data they used to justify rolling back landmark Obama-era vehicle emission standards, accusing the Trump administration of "willfully withholding" information. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request seeking data and analysis backing their proposal to freeze federal vehicle emission standards at 2020 levels through 2026.
* Tesla has been making money not just by selling cars. It can sell emissions credits to legacy automakers that need them. In the latest deal, FCA has agreed to pay Tesla hundreds of millions of euros in return for Tesla allowing its electric vehicles to be counted in a "purchase pool" with Fiat Chrysler's vehicles when EU regulators do their reckoning of whether FCA has complied with carbon dioxide limits. Fiat Chrysler indicated in a statement that buying access to Tesla's zero emissions credit was a lower cost approach than developing a fully compliant vehicle fleet on its own.
* U.S. gasoline prices have been climbing for the last seven weeks. At the beginning of April the national average was $2.69 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. Seven days late it jumped another 6 cents. Expect $3.00 per gallon before any decline comes along.
* Rising speed limits over the past 25 years have cost nearly 37,000 lives, including more than 1,900 in 2017 alone, a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. The research, an update of a 2016 analysis, calls attention to the trade-off between a few minutes of saved travel time and the increased risk of fatalities. Maximum speed limits are set by the states, and they have been rising since the mid-1990s. Today, 41 states have maximum speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Six states have 80 mph limits, and drivers in Texas can legally drive 85 mph on some roads. And now add the drive "ten over" factor.
* Reuters reports that Uber's top self-driving vehicle researcher said it will be a long time before autonomous vehicles are common on the world's highways. Raquel Urtasun, head of Uber's advanced technology group, is one of the most prominent AV industry figures to caution that the self-driving car revolution may be more of a careful evolution. The more cautious tone marks a change from three years ago, when Uber embraced aggressive tactics to turbocharge its autonomous vehicle development.
* And there's this. Ford is rolling back its timeline for when autonomous cars will become ubiquitous. At the Detroit Economic Club, CEO Jim Hackett tempered expectations for the company’s 2021 autonomous vehicle rollout, according to Bloomberg. “We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” he said, adding that “its applications will be narrow, what we call geo-fenced, because the problem is so complex.” He still thinks that self-driving cars will arrive eventually, and that they will change the world.
* The Jeep Gladiator will reign supreme at this year’s Easter Jeep Safari as the Jeep and Mopar brands have once again joined forces to create six new, custom-built concept vehicles for the annual event that takes place in Moab, Utah, April 13-21. For the 53rd year, thousands of off-road enthusiasts will head to Moab for the annual Jeep event to participate in a week of technical off-roading on some of the most challenging and scenic terrain in the country.
* President Donald Trump said he wants to kill the electric vehicle tax credits. However, a bipartisan group of lawmakers will introduce a bill, the Driving America Forward Act, that will expand the electric vehicle tax credit by 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer. This would be an immediate boost to Tesla and General Motors, which have already each used 200,000 the $7,500 top credits. Their vehicles are now only eligible for a $3,750 credit, and that will drop by half by the end of the year.
* The second time around! Ford is recalling 327,000 F-Series pickup trucks in North America for a second time to fix problems with engine block heater cables that can cause fires. Previously the company recalled 874,000 trucks because water and contaminants can get into the cables and cause corrosion. That can cause electrical shorts and fires. The recall covers F-150s from 2015 through 2019, as well as Super Duty trucks from 2017 through 2019.
* A vast Porsche sports car collection described as “one of the best in the country” was located at a Durham, North Carolina warehouse that exploded. One person was killed and 17 injured. It is not clear how many of collector Bob Ingram’s sports cars were in the building at the time. Aerial footage revealed multiple damaged cars through a large hole in the roof of the building.
* Rivian Automotive, a Detroit-based, Amazon-backed developer of electric pickups and SUVs, has been in equity-stake talks with GM that are now at an impasse, according to reporting by Bloomberg. A Rivian partnership with GM would be valuable in getting products to market and a EV platform resource for GM. Rivian revealed their vehicles at the LA Auto Show last November to strong reviews. The company bought the old Mitsubishi factory in Normal, IL where they w ill manufacture their vehicles.
* A proposed class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of consumers with the U.S. District Court in Virginia claiming Volkswagen fraudulently misrepresented a batch of pre-production vehicles as 'Certified Pre-Owned’ and that they did not meet U.S. regulations. The suit also claims the company misrepresented pre-production, heavily-used press vehicles as “CARFAX 1-Owner vehicles.” The vehicles in question were titled in Michigan with only 10 miles on the odometer.
* Leading Chinese automaker Geely launched its new premium electric brand called Geometry this week. Geely has major investments in Volvo and Daimler. They promise more than 10 new models in multiple segments by 2025 mostly for sale within their domestic market, though some will be available abroad. Geely also inked a deal last month to build the next generation Smart electric car in China.
* A settlement has been reached with Dollar and Thrifty rental car companies (both owned by Hertz) and the State of Florida that will allow disgruntled customers to get a $75 refund of toll road and red light camera fees resulting from the ‘PlatePass’ system that was not properly explained to customers. The National Motorists Association assisted in the investigation providing more than 700 complaints just from its own members. Information is available from the Florida Attorney General’s Office.