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Nutson's Auto News Review - Week Ending May 11, 2019


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - May 12, 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 summaries.

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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Digest - Vehicle news and back stories in easy to digest nuggets.

* German prosecutors have imposed a fine of 535 million euros ($598.99 million) on Porsche for neglecting supervisory obligations linked to diesel emissions cheating, they said in a statement. Prosecutors in the southern city of Stuttgart said that the company's development department had neglected its legal obligations, which ultimately led to the sale of diesel cars in Europe as well as other regions that did not comply with emissions rules. Porsche, a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, has not appealed, they said. Porsche confirmed the fine and said that prosecutors' proceedings against the company had now come to an end.

* From Reuters, General Motors gave President Donald Trump the opportunity to take credit for a tentative deal that could save some jobs at a car plant in Lordstown, Ohio GM has targeted for closure. Trump has been criticizing GM CEO Mary Barra for months, demanding that she reopen the plant - which is located in a region of Ohio that the President wants to win in 2020. GM told Trump it is talking with an investor group that wants to buy the Lordstown facility - a sprawling complex next to I-80 near Youngstown, Ohio - and convert it to production of electric trucks for Workhorse. GM also announced plans to invest $700 million in three other Ohio plants, and create 450 new jobs. Trump ran ahead of GM's announcement with a celebratory tweet. GM has good reasons to avoid conflict with Trump, among them its desire to avoid sweeping tariffs on imported cars and auto parts.

* Dyson, the vacuum cleaner maker, is working on an electric car who's plans were revealed this week. Patents awarded to the company describe a long wheelbase, reclining seats in the interior and an aerodynamic design. Details also revealed include larger wheels and a low center of gravity. Actually, this is all quite normal car design. Dyson has said it will build the car in Singapore with introduction in 2021.

* Illinois is proposing to double the gas tax to 44 cents, increase driver license and registration fees and charge EV owners $1,000 to register their vehicle, up from the present $17.50. The roads need fixing and the money needs to come from those who use them. Meanwhile, Washington state, hoping to put 50,000 clean-fuel vehicles on roads by 2020, is reinstating tax breaks for electric and alternative-power vehicles and plans other incentives to spur demand.

* From we learn that the historic Ford versus Ferrari rivalry comes to a theater near you later this year, Disney announced, with the film Ford vs Ferrari released in theaters across the United States this November. The film, which has been in progress since the beginning of this decade, will focus on the famed Ford and Ferrari motorsports battle at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was at this famous endurance race that Ford famously shocked the world with a 1-2-3 finish for the GT40, beating Ferrari at its own game.

* From the Detroit News we read that more than 10,000 people paid 1,000 euros ($1,120) each to be the first to own a limited-edition version of Volkswagen AG’s ID.3 electric hatchback. The company’s IT systems were at times overloaded by the number of requests during the first day of reservations, Volkswagen said, with orders far exceeding expectations. Still, when Tesla started taking $1,000 deposits for the Model 3, more than 115,000 requests were made within the first 24 hours. Customers who ordered one of Volkswagen’s 30,000 special edition cars will also get a year’s worth of free charging at stations connected to the company’s WeCharge app. Deliveries will start in the middle of next year.

* Gasoline prices at the pump have climbed nearly 70 cents on average since New Year’s Day, but drivers will soon see relief from the high prices in most parts of the country by Memorial Day, fuel price tracker GasBuddy said. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline stood at $2.877, down 2.7 cents from last week’s average, according to GasBuddy. Prices have climbed by 67 cents a gallon since New Year’s Day — the biggest increase from Jan. 1 to May 9 since the 92 cents a gallon climb in 2011, and the second-largest such climb in the last decade.

* This year's 2019 Tire Rack One Lap of America Presented by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine kicked off on May 4 in South Bend, Indiana, and Dodge//SRT is defending the Dodge Durango SRT's 2018 One Lap truck/SUV class title, upping its game with a new Durango SRT Pursuit concept called "Speed Trap." This purpose-built concept packs 797 horsepower from the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI high-output V-8 that also powers the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Dodge//SRT tapped the in-house group of performance gurus at SRT Engineering for some proven high-performance SRT production parts in a bid to repeat as class champions. Returning drivers SRT vehicle dynamics performance engineer David Carr and automotive photojournalist and contributor David Hakim are racing a one-off, specially-modified Durango SRT Pursuit concept, nicknamed "Speed Trap," in this year's One Lap.

* GM is recalling over 368,000 pickups and other trucks worldwide after 19 reports of fires caused by engine block heater cords. The recall covers certain 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 4500, 5500 and 6500 trucks, as well as the 2017 through 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 and 3500 and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500. All have GM's 6.6-Liter diesel engines and an optional engine block heater.

* Uber went public this week. It was one of the worst performing IPOs. The New York Times summarized it quite well: "The ride-hailing giant’s first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange began with a drop from its initial public offering price of $45, and its stock closed down 7.6 percent. By the end of Friday, Uber’s market capitalization, accounting for stock options and restricted stock, stood at $76.5 billion — barely above the $76 billion that private investors pegged it at in August."

* NASCAR continues to tweak its Cup Series rule package. Drivers are complaining that it's nearly impossible to pass due to aerodynamics. The original intent of the new rules was better side-by-side racing. Cars out in front in clean air are running just fine. This week NASCAR announced that it would be adding aero ducts to the three remaining tracks where 500 horsepower engines will run.