Nutson's Weekly Auto News Review - Week Ending June 22, 2019 - Get Auto News Smart
This Weeks Don't Miss Auto News: 2019 Quality Study; Traffic Death Scoreboard; Nissan V Renault; China EV Investments Plunge; American Drivers Don't Give A Crap About Maintenance; CAFE Uncertainty; Gas Price Uncertainty; Mustang 750 Horsepower; Harley Builds More Overseas; Bond James Bond; Toyota Hybrid Enduring; Penske Presidential Honor; RIP Auto Scribe Davey G Johnson
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending June 23, 2019; Vehicle news and back stories in easy to digest nuggets.
* New-vehicle quality in 2019 stayed flat compared with 2018, marking the first year without improvement since 2014, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Initial Quality Study (IQS). More brands worsened than improved over the past 12 months. The three highest-ranking brands—Genesis, Kia and Hyundai—are all from Korean manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group, and the gap between these three brands and all others has widened considerably. Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Dodge and Buick all perform better than the industry average. In contrast to the success of the Korean automakers and the leading domestic and Japanese brands, all 10 European marques are below average. But, the Porsche 911 has the best score of any model for the second consecutive year. At the bottom of the list were Jaguar, Land Rover and Mitsubishi. Infotainment remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle owners. As advanced driver assistance systems become more widespread and increasingly complex, more owners are indicating problems.
* U.S. pedestrian and bicyclist deaths rose in 2018 while overall traffic deaths fell 1% in 2018 to 36,750, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said in a preliminary report. The auto safety agency said it did not know the cause of the overall decline. The agency has been investigating the role of distracted drivers in overall U.S. traffic death figures but has found challenges in getting an accurate picture of all distracted crashes because of the unwillingness of individuals to acknowledge they were distracted.
* The dethroning of Carlos Ghosn from the helms of Nissan and Renault has the two companies at each others throats with disagreements over the distribution of power within the partnerships. Renault has a 43% stake in Nissan that includes voting rights on the board but Nissan has 15% of Renault without voting rights. Automotive News reported that the companies have reached an agreement at least on the board seats.
* Joe White writing for Reuters says, investors are taking a more skeptical view of the hundreds of would-be Tesla fighters emerging in China. Funding for the Chinese electric vehicle sector has fallen so far this year to just 13% of the levels of a year ago. Dreams of a huge market, driven by Chinese government mandates and subsidies, have given way to a reality of red ink, policy uncertainty and a sector with far more entrants than near term demand will support. Falling prices for shares of Tesla and Chinese startup Nio have not helped.
* A new survey commissioned by Jiffy Lube and conducted by OnePoll in advance of summer road trip season, examined the issues Americans commonly experience in their vehicle and how quickly we deal with them. One in seven motorists admits to driving around with a potentially serious issue in their vehicle. The average car currently has three things that don’t function as they should. Of those who’ve had their “check engine” light come on, 29 percent admit to ignoring it for a month or more before actually bringing their car to the shop.
* A contentious, 5-hour joint hearing of the Energy and Commerce subcommittees in the U.S. House of Representatives ended without any certainty for automakers who warn that they can’t prepare for conditions they can’t predict. The Trump Administration is rolling back Obama-era auto emissions standards to 2020 levels and trying to prevent California from making their own rules. The auto companies mostly don’t care which way it goes, they just want certainty.
* A strike by UAW members at automotive tier-one supplier Faurecia’s Saline, Michigan production plant lasted only 9 hours before the company and union reached a tentative agreement. The strike was called over pay, plant conditions, and work loads. The plant has around 1,900 UAW-represented workers and supplies Ford, Chrysler and Tesla with interior components. Workers are expected to return to work pending a vote on the deal later this week.
* Gasoline prices have been climbing but were expected to start to level out and decline. However, a large explosion and fire in a Philadelphia refinery late this week has caused gas price futures to rally. Light sweet cude oil prices jumped 8.8% for the week, the largest one-week percentage gain since December 2016. Stay tuned!
* The American Horsepower War saw a new offense from Ford. The all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will produce 760 horsepower and 625 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful street-legal Ford ever – with the most power- and torque-dense supercharged production V8 engine in the world. Zero to 60 is in 3 seconds and Ford says it'll do the quarter in sub-11 seconds.
* On July 4 at England’s Goodwood Festival of Speed Ford will unveil an “ultra-high-performance” version of the Ford GT production car alongside the Mustang Shelby GT500. Ford is teasing the new GT with a single photograph of the latest evolution of the $700,000-plus limited production halo car Ford. All GTs are hand-built by Multimatic in Canada.
* Harley Davidson has taken flak from President Trump for cutting jobs in the U.S. building more bikes in other countries to dodge retaliatory tariffs. Harley's response: Build more bikes outside the United States. In the latest move, Harley said it will assemble its smallest displacement motorcycle ever at a Chinese plant. The venture is a collaboration with a Chinese partner that is controlled by Geely, the Chinese automaker that owns Volvo.
* We reported last week that RM Sotheby’s will auction a special Aston Martin DB5/2008/R, one of only four Goldfinger-spec cars built for the movie. RM's pre-sale estimate came in at $4 - $6 million. Now, the folks at Hagerty say, . . . no, no, no, look for more like $11 million. The DB5 has all the Bond-style hardware designed to foil the villains. Two others were used in filming while this and the one other did media tours. The RM Sotheby's Monterey Auction is part of the week of festivities around the Pebble Beach Concours in mid-August.
* This year's 24 Hours of Le Mans was the final race of the FIA World Endurance Championship super season. Many eyes were focused on the pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids, which finished first (No. 8) and second (No. 7) overall as expected. The team repeated its 1-2 finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a year ago.
* The auto racing community is abuzz with the news that Roger Penske will be presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, considered the country’s highest civilian honor. Penske teams have won the Indianapolis 500 a record 18 times and won over 530 races all told. Those numbers, his civic contributions and success in a variety of business were cited as well. A date for the presentation has not been set. Penske was also honored at this year’s Amelia Island Concours. Penske will become the second person involved in auto racing to receive the medal after Richard Petty in 1992.
* We're saddened to report the death of automotive journalist and colleague Davey G. Johnson, age 43. Johnson, a Car and Driver contributing editor, went missing while on a multi-day motorcycle test ride from Los Angles to Las Vegas and then to northern California. After a 10-day search his body was recovered in Mokelumne River with the cause of death said to be accidental drowning.