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Nutson Automotive News Wrap-up Week Ending May 18, 2019


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - May 19, 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.

* Reuters reports that Chinese consumers stayed away from car dealerships in April, sending vehicle sales down more than 14 percent in the world's largest market. This is the tenth straight month of year-over-year declines. Marketers of electrified vehicles and Toyota bucked the tide, posting strong gains as many legacy brands took hits.

* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau report that the city of Amsterdam is preparing to ban all diesel and gas cars and motorbikes by 2030 in an effort to curb air pollution in the picturesque Dutch city, according to reports from the Netherlands. Despite its bicycle culture — bike sharing was first pioneered in Amsterdam in 1960s, the Netherlands has air pollution levels that exceed the European Union’s safety rules, mostly because of traffic in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The plan will be implemented in stages, according to the Guardian. But could begin with a ban on diesel cars that are more than 15 years old. The old diesel-powered vehicles will be banned from the area within the A10, the ring road surrounding Amsterdam.

* The U.S. government is withdrawing a proposal to require all passenger vehicles to have safety systems to prevent unintended acceleration. The government said the rule isn’t needed because the auto industry has installed systems voluntarily. Opposed by the industry, the rule was proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2012 after a series of unintended acceleration problems with Toyota vehicles. The agency says all 2018 passenger vehicles have systems that override the throttle if a driver presses the gas and brakes at the same time, and it doesn’t expect any automakers to remove the brake-throttle override system in the future.

* Again from Reuters, Einride, a Swedish autonomous truck startup, is testing its futuristic T-Pod driverless truck on a stretch of road in its home country, in collaboration with European logistics company DB Schenker. Einride has designs to make it in the United States, and is raising money and broadcasting for a manufacturing partner. The formula Einride is offering: One centrally located operator can direct 10 robot trucks. PS - Nine truck drivers out of a job.

* The Detroit Bureau carried a story that says ride-hailing services don’t cut traffic, They add to it. Early in their growth, ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft, were seen as potential replacements for new vehicles; however, a new study suggests they only add to the number of vehicles on the road. According to the new study, traffic delays in San Francisco – the test city in the study – during weekdays jumped 62% from 2010 to 2016, which is after transportation network companies, i.e. ride-hailing companies, began to offer services in the city. Without the influx of companies like Uber, Lyft and others, traffic would have grown by 22% during this period, according to the study. Average vehicle speeds in San Francisco fell more than 4 mph to about 22 mph from 2010 to 2016. And if there were no ride hailing companies many users would have simply taken mass transit or walked.

* The Trump administration will delay planed tariffs on automobiles from Europe and Asia for six months in order to mitigate animosity from other trading partners while they ramp up the trade war with China. U.S. automakers have yet to comment on the plan. It had been the administration’s contention that imported cars and parts represent a threat to national security. They seem to be rethinking that assertion. Companies and governments from Europe to Asia are warning President Donald Trump that tariffs on car imports would hurt the U.S. economy,

* Tesla is issuing a software update for the Model S and Model X in response to a vehicle fire in Hong Kong where a Model S suddenly caught fine in a parking lot. In 2018 there were 40 vehicle fires reported for electric and electrified vehicles raising concerns over safety. The update will change the charge and thermal management settings, though a Tesla spokesperson indicated that ICE-powered vehicles were 10 times more likely to catch fire than electrics.

* The revered-by-few Smart, the tiny city car from Mercedes-Benz, will end production of internal combustion engine cars after building a final run of 21 special edition versions. Smart will soon be the first brand to go full electric. The number 21 represents the number of years Smart has been in production. While the Smart is common in Europe they gave up on the U.S. market some time ago. It was originally conceived by M-B and the Swatch watch company to ply the market with urban dwellers.

* Polestar, Volvo’s performance car brand confirmed this week that CATL and LG Chem will supply lithium-ion batteries for their upcoming line of performance electric cars in a deal worth billions of dollars. Both CATL of China and LG Chem of South Korea are considered leading manufacturers of this battery technology. The deal will cover the next 10 years. Volvo is part of the Chinese automaker Geely Group.

* The Mercedes Formula One team has dominated the season so far, finishing one-two five races in a row. The team boss doesn't want to talk about the possibility of an undefeated season, any more than an American baseball coach would boast of a no-hitter that's only in the fourth inning.