Weekly Auto News Wrap-up +VIDEO Week Ending June 15, 2019 - Compiled By Executive Producer Larry Nutson
This Week's Auto News:UAW Nein; FCA Partners With Aurora; Car Wars Strategy; China New Car Sales 暴跌; First Vietnamese Car Company Delivers; Woodhouse Designing For Nissan; Explorer Recall; E-Tron Recall; 1965 Aston Martin DB5 If You Ask How Much..You Can't Afford It; Classic Cars Go Sailing; VW EV's; RIP Jaguar's Norman Dewis; RIP Racer Rod Hall
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending June 15, 2019; Vehicle news and back stories in easy to digest nuggets.
* Hourly workers at Volkswagen’s 8-year-old Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant have again rejected a unionization bid by the UAW, affirming a similar vote in 2014. A VW spokesman said that 93% of eligible workers voted resulting in a slim margin for no representation - 51.8% to 48.2%. The UAW cried foul claiming the company indulged in a campaign of “fear and intimidation.” The results, which must be certified by the National Labor Relations Board, mark yet another union setback to organize employees at a foreign-owned assembly plant across the South.
* FCA US, is forming a partnership with autonomous vehicle start-up Aurora which already has linked up with retail giant Amazon. The announcement comes just days after the automaker’s parent company broke off talks with Groupe Renault, a proposed “merger-of-equals” with which it hoped to gain access to the self-driving technology being developed by the French automaker’s Japanese alliance partner Nissan. Fiat Chrysler has long dragged its feet on developing the self-driving vehicles that many industry observers expect to become commonplace over the next couple decades. The FCA announcement makes reference to self-driving commercial vehicles...take note, commercial vehicles.
* The annual Car Wars study by Bank of America Merrill Lynch offered its assessment of the overall auto industry and predictions of what is to come to an attentive audience of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit this week. This is one of the major studies to which the industry looks when planning strategies. John Murphy, BoA senior auto analyst, said they predict a relative stable market for the next few years with a significant downturn in 2022 followed by a sharp recovery.
* From Joe White writing for Reuters we hear that auto sales did a record-setting dive in China. Demand for new vehicles plunged 16.4% in May from a year earlier, the worst year-over-year drop on record, China's auto trade association said. An official of the manufacturers association blamed not just the economic impact of the trade war with the U.S., but uncertainty created by local government efforts to speed up implementation of tougher clean air standards. A government stimulus kicked in this month . Automakers are still hoping for a second half recovery in the world's largest auto market.
* The first Vietnamese car company will begin delivery of vehicles to customers next week as that country makes a bid to establish a manufacturing sector for its economy. While the $17,000 hatchback is assembled in a Haiphong factory the car is based on components from PSA and BMW with design by Pininfarina and engineering by Magna Steyr. With at least two other vehicles planned they want to compete with Ford, Toyota and others in their home market.
* With an impressive portfolio of designs to his credit, including the lauded new Lincoln Aviator, David Woodhouse was lured away from Lincoln to lead design at Nissan. He is credited with a variety of concept vehicles from Ford, Lincoln, Cadillac and Land Rover. Woodhouse begins his Nissan chapter on July 1 and will lead all Nissan and Infiniti design in North America as well as running the company’s Global Design Management Committee.
* Prices at the pump across the U.S. are set for a decline next week thanks to lower crude oil prices and the start of driving season according to data from GasBuddy. Average gas prices could hit $2.59 a gallon within a week. However, watch what's going on with Iran.
* Ford is recalling more than 1.2 million Ford Explorer SUVs that could be at risk of losing steering control. The automaker said that 2011-17 model-year Explorers built from May 17, 2010, through Jan. 26, 2017, will be recalled after the company discovered a defect that could cause a fractured rear suspension leading to the loss of steering control. That, in turn, raises the risk of a crash. The Explorer recall will cost the automaker about $180 million, according to a regulatory filing.
* Audi of America is voluntarily recalling its new e-tron battery electric vehicle, which went on sale in April in the U.S., to replace a wiring grommet in some vehicles that protects the vehicle's battery pack from moisture. A grommet!
* Get out your checkbooks and make your reservations for a mid-August visit to Monterey if you want to compete to be the new owner of one of the two 1965 Aston Martin DB5 sports cars that were built for the promotion of the James Bond movie “Thunderball.” The Snow Shadow Gray car is fully equipped with Bond movie gadgets and will be a featured car at the RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction where they will wrap an event around the car called “An Evening with Aston Martin.”
* Hagerty reported this week that 30,000 classic and collector cars from the U.S. were sold abroad in 2018, most to Europe but with significant numbers going to Australia and New Zealand. Most popular are American muscle cars, Corvettes, pony cars and big coupes and sedans from the 1950s and 1960s. The story notes that a significant number of collector cars are moving the other way across the oceans as well, but those are primarily the very high-end collectibles.
* Volkswagen, of dieselgate fame, has become committed to electric vehicles. Romain Dumans and Vollkswagen Motorsports drove VW's all-electric ID.R race car around the Nurburgring 12.94 mile test track in 6:05.336 minutes at an average speed of 127.36 mph. The ID.R weighs 1,100 kg and has 500 kW of power...that's 670 hp in a 2,400 lb car. Dumas' time was 40 seconds quicker than the previous EV record.
* Norman Dewis, the legendary Jaguar test engineer and competition driver who had so much to do with the premier British marque’s success through the decades, died at the age of 98. Dewis performed high-speed testing and competition driving. In 1953, he set a production-car speed record on a closed Belgian highway in a modified Jaguar XK120, reaching the official speed of 172.4 mph. Considered to be “Britain’s greatest test driver,” he was honored by Queen Elizabeth II with the Order of the British Empire “for services to the motor industry.” Despite his advanced years, Dewis was active until recently as a globe-trotting ambassador for Jaguar, appearing at numerous auto shows, concours and important automotive events.
* And this from AutoWeek, Rod Hall, the desert racing great who used skill, patience, fearlessness and wit to win more races than anyone in the history of the sport, has died at 81. Hall competed in a remarkable 50 consecutive Baja 1000s, winning overall in 1969 and winning his class 25 times. His final Baja 1000 was in 2017, which he ran just shy of his 80th birthday. In the late '70s and early '80s, driving a 4WD Dodge for Bill Stroppe, Hall and co-driver Jim Fricker strung together 37 consecutive SCORE and HDRA race wins, according to the Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame, a record unbroken to this day and one that will likely remain so.