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Get Car Smart! Nutson's Automotive News Nuggets Week Ending October 12, 2019



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - October 13, 2019; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Executive Producer and Chicago Car Guy with help from senior editor Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, compile The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, condensed into easy to digest news Nuggets.

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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending October 12, 2019; Important and Interesting automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.

* The UAW strike against GM is nearing one month long. Dissatisfied with the pace of negotiations GM President Mary Barra and two of her lieutenants met with UAW President Gary Jones and the top union officials. The UAW upped the pay to striking workers from $250 to $275 per week. The strike will result in the delay in new Corvette production by three weeks and in large SUV production by about a month. Overall, the strike has a direct and indirect impact on the earnings of 322,000 workers

* Many estimates of the cost of the UAW strike focus on how much the work stoppage is costing GM, but few have estimated the broader costs of the strike to the U.S. economy or individual states. The Center for Automotive Research’s (CAR’s) estimates put the cost of the UAW-GM strike to the company at roughly USD 450 million a week and the strike pay costs to the UAW strike fund at as much as USD 12 million a week. CAR’s results show that overall weekly worker compensation is USD 857 million lower for each week that the strike lasts. That lower compensation is associated with a USD 108 million reduction in tax payments to support government social insurance programs (unemployment insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and workers’ compensation insurance) and a USD 114 million reduction in personal income taxes paid to state and federal treasuries, such as Michigan, Indiana and Texas.

* The movement to 48V electrical systems is in full swing. Introduced three years ago with just a handful of applications, automakers are rolling out 48V technology in a big way, concludes a new Wards Intelligence report, “Power Shift: 48V Takes Hold.” Of the 48V hybrid sales forecast globally for 2019, Europe accounts for 33%. That penetration will rise to 47% in 2024, according to the report. The industry will sell an estimated 1.2 million 48V mild hybrids globally in 2019, the report reveals, and that volume will grow rapidly, reaching a forecast 9.3 million in 2024 and rising to 17.3 million in 2028. With U.S. emissions and fuel-economy regulations in limbo, 48V hybrid volume in North America will trail, forecast at below 1 million vehicles in 2024, compared with less than 200,000 units projected for 2019. The region is expected to reach sales of 1.2 million 48V mild hybrids in 2028.

* Joe White for Reuters writes, if a Tesla operating under remote control hits someone, or dings another car, who's responsible? Legal and insurance experts said the owner, or remote operator, of the Tesla. Probably! The cars are controlled by a human using a smartphone app. But insurance industry experts said Tesla will likely get dragged in to litigation if accidents become frequent. U.S. safety regulators are looking in to the operation of Smart Summon, a new Tesla valet feature that allows a driver to operate a vehicle remotely from up to 200 feet away to enable retrieval of a car from a parking space.

* Also from Reuters. What is ADAS? Reilly Brennan, transport tech venture capitalist, puts it on the table: Nobody knows, and the confusing terms thrown at consumers - "Autopilot," "Adaptive Cruise Control," and the like are not helping. "Language drives expectations, which establishes our relationship with technology. In using terms like Autopilot (Tesla), ProPILOT (Nissan), and Pilot Assist (Volvo), research shows that 40% of survey respondents believe those systems “drive themselves.” In order for a new wave of vehicle technologies to show their real safety benefits, we must begin by calling them by their right name. Or at least not calling them by the wrong one."

* EV reality. High winds were forecast in parts of California this week. California’s Pacific Gas & Electric revealed it was planning to cut electric power to more than 800,000 customers due to dry and windy conditions in the Golden State. They were hoping to prevent a repeat of last year when electrical lines sparked wildfires contributing the massive Paradise wildfire. No electricity is a big problem if you own an EV that needs charging. Tesla got proactive after the alert from the utility, issuing an in-car alert warning owners to charge their vehicles fully ahead of the outage.

* Many car owners would consider giving up car ownership in the future in favor of autonomous mobility solutions, such as self-driving buses or taxis, according to a new report from Accenture. The report “Mobility Services: The Customer Perspective,” looks at the key challenges for car manufacturers now and in the future in relation to the rise in mobility services. Despite the fact that 96% of car owners said they think they will own a car in the future, nearly half (48%) said they would consider giving up car ownership if autonomous mobility solutions were available. Perhaps somewhat surprising, owners of premium-brand cars were more likely than owners of non-premium brands to say they’d be willing to give up car ownership for autonomous mobility solutions. Among owners of premium-brand cars, those in China were twice as likely than those in the U.S. to say they’d consider giving up car ownership (78% vs. 39%), with those in Europe falling in between (55%).

* Boeing said it was working with Porsche to develop a concept electric flying vehicle capable of transporting people in urban settings. Boeing is already competing with arch-rival Airbus and other companies to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing. Porsche has been aiming to build flying cars that can be used as taxis and for ride-sharing purposes. Regulations that apply to air space will be a big hurdle with FAA and TSA concerns.

* Toyota unveiled the forthcoming version of its Mirai fuel cell car, which is transforming from an odd looking companion to the Toyota Prius hybrid to a larger car riding on the same architecture as a Lexus LS coupe. In other words, a Tesla fighter. "We want to make a car people really want to buy," a Toyota executive said. The new Mirai's other mission is to counter Tesla CEO Elon Musk's campaign against fuel cell technology.

* The Ford GT racing program has come to an end. Ford had a singular goal when it resurrected the GT race program in 2016: win at Le Mans to honor the 50th anniversary of the company's legendary victory there over Ferrari in 1966. It did that — and won 18 other races to boot — over the course of a four-year campaign that ended last week at Petit Le Mans in Atlanta. Ford will continue to make road versions of the GT through the 2022 model year, or until production of the allotted 1,350 cars is complete. On the racing side, Ford will continue to compete in NASCAR and other series.

* Meanwhile at Chevrolet, the all-new Corvette C8.R race car debuted at Road Atlanta. It marks an onslaught on international racing with Chevrolet's first-ever mid-engine production sports car. Sporting a large wing, lightened chassis and a different V-8 than the production car, the C8.R will debut at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January, just as production cars begin arriving in showrooms.

* Photos surfaced this week of NASCAR's new next-gen body configuration for 2021. Manufacturers will be allowed to have a say in the final design of how their branded car looks. Speculation is that NASCAR is looking a using hybrid technology under the hood sometime in the future.