Nutson's Auto News Digest July 14-20, 2019
Unveiled 2020 Corvette; Buh-Bye CAFE; Ford Transmission Fiasco; California (Beach Driving) Dream'n; Autonomous Highspeed Vehicles Delayed (Maybe Forever); JD Power Brand Loyalty; Brazilian Not So Super Cars; Automotive Hall Of Fame Inductees; Formula-e Charged Up; e-Off Road; RIP Don Sommer, Bruce Crower
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending July 20, 2019; Important automotive news and back stories in expert created easy to digest nuggets.
* 2020 Corvette Unveiled: With the theme “Corvette moon shot” featuring two former NASA astronauts, the long awaited 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, the C8 mid-engine Corvette, was unveiled this week in a World War II-era blimp hangar in Tustin, California. With 495-HP and an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission the new Corvette will be priced to start at under $60,000, GM says. With the Z-51 performance package track version the Corvette will sprint from stop to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. There also will be a convertible version in the future as well as more powerful Z06 and ZR1 versions plus right-hand drive for Europe. We also might expect a hybrid and perhaps a pure electric version. But, a manual transmission will not be offered.
* The Trump administration did the auto industry a favor, suspending an Obama administration rule that doubled fines for selling too many gas guzzlers, and failing to achieve fuel efficiency/greenhouse gas emissions targets. The industry reckoned the Obama rules would have cost manufacturers $1 billion. Environmental groups pushed for the tougher fines.
* A Detroit Free Press investigation revealed that Ford Motor Co. knowingly launched two low-priced, fuel-efficient cars with defective DPS6 dual-clutch transmissions and continued selling the troubled Focus and Fiesta despite thousands of complaints and an avalanche of repairs. The cars, many of which randomly lose power on freeways and have unexpectedly bolted into intersections, were put on sale in 2010-11. At least 1.5 million remain on the road.
* Hemmings reports that after weeks of pushback from California-based legislators and from the state’s parks department, the members of the California Coastal Commission withdrew their plan to curtail off-highway vehicle use at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area but promised that they would revisit the issue next year. In an 8-2 vote, the commission voted against taking action on the commission’s own staff report, released last month, which recommended a number of restrictions on off-highway vehicle (OHV) use at the SVRA formerly known as Pismo Beach.
* This from Automotive News: The first fully autonomous vehicles able to handle all conditions on public roads -- and potentially replacing private car ownership, will probably not appear until after 2030, said Continental AG's head of self-driving car projects, Andree Hohm. Early forecasts that driverless mobility would first appear on highways have shifted, he said, with the realization of the difficulties of trying to bring a vehicle traveling at high speeds to a safe stop in case of a malfunction. Hohm said the consensus feeling at Continental is that low-speed, urban settings will be ground zero for autonomous driving.
* Ford teased us with a video suggesting another pickup is coming. The thinking was it might be a Jeep Gladiator fighter based on the new, yet-to-be-seen, Bronco. However....what Ford unveiled wasn't an actual truck but instead a pickup emoji as part of World Emoji Day
* Another survey! J.D. Power today announced the results of the inaugural J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, with Lexus (luxury) and Subaru (mass market) ranking highest in their respective segments. Customer loyalty is based on the percentage of vehicle owners who choose the same brand when trading in or purchasing their next vehicle.
* Brazilian police shut down a clandestine factory that was producing fake Ferraris and sham Lamborghinis. With a complaint by the Italian companies, a father and son who owned the workshop in the southern state of Santa Catarina have been arrested on industrial property charges. Police said the cars were being offered on social media for $45,000 to $60,000 – a small fraction of the price of the real thing. This story via the Detroit News.
* Four new members were inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame. Janet Guthrie, the first woman to race in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500; Sergio Marchionne, the late Fiat Chrysler CEO; manufacturing wizard Dick Dauch; and, dealer F&I pioneer Patrick Ryan. The AHoF also celebrated the 80th anniversary of its founding.
* Racer Jean-Eric Vergne became the first double-champion in the Formula E electric racing series. He finished seventh in last Sunday's race in Brooklyn, NY, but that was good enough for the series win. Of note, a big change in this season 5 is the bigger battery that allows cars to go the entire distance of the race, instead of a mid-race battery change. Batteries had been 28 kilowatt-hours (kWh), but now for 2018-19 are 54 kWh. Accompanying each race there is a also a showroom stock sedan race using nearly identical Jaguar i-Pace electric cars — little modified from what Jaguar dealers sell to the public. Speculation has it that we'll see Porsche and Mercedes vehicles racing here next year.
* Also note that a new Extreme E off-road racing series is in the works. Races will be held around the world using purpose-built battery powered SUVs with the inaugural race still abut two years away.
* We learned of the passing of Don Sommer, one of the Founding Fathers of the Concours d'Elegance of America (formerly Meadowbrook Concours). Don was a leading voice in the classic car hobby, top maker of vintage replacement parts, and an active member of the Concours Board of Directors up to the time of his passing.
* Bruce Crower of Crower Racing Cams & Equipment Co., located in San Diego, CA has passed away. In 1955, he opened Crower Racing and began manufacturing race products. Crower is also a member of the SEMA Hall of Fame Class of 2019 and will be inducted next Friday at the SEMA Installation & Gala in Anaheim, CA. In 1993, he was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.