Fiat Chrysler and French automaker Peugeot's Groupe PSA have agreed to merge; Ford and UAW Agree To Settle; Car Makers Agree To Support Trump Over California; California Adjusts Rich Man EV Rebates; Tokyo モビリティ Show Showing; Autonomous Less; But Not In Detroit; Scooter Litter; AM Motorcycle; TRUMP: America First For Cars and Parts; Pedestrians Be Afraid Be Very Afraid; RAM Recall; GM Recall; F1 Changes, RIP MSHFA's Ron Watson
Nutson's Automotive News Nuggets - Week Ending November 2, 2019
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending November 2, 2019; Important and Interesting automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and French automaker Peugeot's Groupe PSA have agreed to merge, creating a global automaker seeking to compete in an industry evolving toward autonomy and electrification. The combination of FCA, Detroit's No. 3 automaker, and PSA, Europe's second-largest car manufacturer, would create the world’s No. 4 automaker, delivering economies of scale to rival European juggernaut Volkswagen AG and shaking up the greater global auto industry. Combined annual sales of 8.7 million vehicles would rank the combined company ahead of General Motors Co.’s 8.4 million vehicles sold last year.
* Ford and the United Auto Workers have reached a proposed tentative agreement less than a week after UAW members ratified an agreement with GM. The deal with Ford ensured more than $6 billion in product investment in Ford's U.S. facilities, according to the UAW. Ford's relations with the UAW differ greatly from those between the union GM. Ford doesn't have as large of a manufacturing presence in Mexico as GM. And Ford isn't burdened with the same excess-capacity issues as GM.
* GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and other auto giants said they were intervening on the side of the Trump administration in an escalating battle with California over fuel economy standards for automobiles. Their decision pits them squarely against some of their peers, including Honda and Ford, who this year reached a deal to follow California’s stricter rules. The automakers that are siding with the Trump administration, led by the industry group Global Automakers, say that the federal government, not California, has the ultimate authority to set fuel economy standards for passenger cars and trucks. Former California Governor Jerry Brown, during testimony before the House, took a shot at GM for not fighting efforts to combat climate change. This one will almost certainly go to the Supreme Court unless there is an unexpected compromise, or a Democrat win in 2020.
* The California Air Resources Board stripped car buyers of the ability to claim state rebates on the most expensive electrified cars and has slashed the list of plug-in hybrids eligible for incentives by 50 percent. The moves come with the agency’s approval earlier this month of $533 million in clean transportation program spending. In an effort to stretch available funding and quell complaints that too much rebate money goes to buyers of $100,000 Teslas and other luxury electric vehicles, regulators changed what’s eligible for the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The alterations include reducing rebate amounts and limiting eligible vehicles to those $60,000 or less. It also raised the all-electric range for eligible plug-in hybrids to 35 miles from the present 20-mile minimum.
* The Tokyo Motor Show once was an extravaganza of new high performance sports cars, futuristic environmentally-friendly models and small, zany concepts inspired by Japan’s origami and anime cartoon culture. Today the show is all about electrification and autonomous driving. Every manufacturer’s stand featured some form of electric or plug-in hybrid concept, many with autonomous driving technology. The ‘in-word’ C.A.S.E. (Connected, Autonomous, Sharing, Electrification) appeared multiple times around the show. A hint of where the Japanese industry is going, along with U.S. and European auto makers, can be expressed by what Toyota is calling itself these days. Gone is the phrase “car company,” it's now a “モビリティ company.”
* However! Joe White for Reuters writes, big automakers are scaling back expectations for fully self-driving cars, and focusing on more limited forms of driving automation. That was one message from the Tokyo Motor Show, where a top Toyota executive said the company would launch a Lexus with automated highway cruising technology, and in the next breath said perfecting fully automated driving is a "time-consuming endeavor." The chill descending over the automated driving field isn't a total freeze. Hyundai said it will launch a test of self-driving vehicles in Southern California with partners Via and Pony.ai, using the name BotRide. Separately, Volkswagen said it will set up a new business unit for its automated driving operations, Volkswagen Autonomy GmbH.
* Scooter sharing company Lime is employing teams of workers in Paris to pull discarded scooters out of the Seine - and they're busy. One team pulled 15 scooters out of the river in three hours. Sounds funny? Paris authorities don't think so. The city's mayor complains that the share-a-scooter business has become "anarchic." Policy makers in other cities are getting fed up with scooter litter.
* The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) announced the lead companies and their partners that were selected by the state of Michigan to provide unique and innovative transportation options during the 2020 June show. The five downtown Detroit circulator experiences will run during preview week and public days of the 2020 NAIAS providing visitors with an opportunity for their first experience in an automated vehicle. An additional route serving as a shuttle between Detroit Metropolitan Airport and downtown Detroit will also be announced at a future date.
* Senators Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) reintroduced the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” before the U.S. Senate. If passed into law, the bill would cement the legality of street-to-strip conversions involving removing cars’ EPA-mandated emissions controls. Wait! What? Well, emission-exempt race conversions were never illegal, but the EPA considered the issue for a second and freaked a bunch of people out. SEMA is working on this to make sure motorsports can continue undisturbed.
* Two iconic British brands, Aston Martin and Brough Superior, have teamed up to launch a limited-edition motorcycle, which will be unveiled November 5 at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan, Italy. The luxury automaker and the motorcycle manufacturer joined forces to produce a two-wheeler that will combine the attributes of both companies, according to a news release, and will be the first motorcycle branded as an Aston Martin.
* Government controlled auto makers? The Trump administration wants to dictate how and where global auto companies make cars and parts to secure duty-free treatment under the new NAFTA — in its most direct intervention yet to manage trade and production. The issue is being discussed between Trump administration officials, congressional staff and domestic and foreign automakers in the context of the legislation that lawmakers will vote on for the trade deal to take effect. The White House wants specific language that would allow it to unilaterally administer the production rules for companies.
* Many vehicles now offer "pedestrian protection" systems as part of a suite of crash avoidance technology. But these systems are not created equal, a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found. The simplest way to explain it: More expensive systems work better. At night, it gets worse. AAA tested a Chevrolet Malibu, Honda Accord, Tesla Model 3 and a Toyota Camry and found none of them could see an adult pedestrian in the dark.
* Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 160,000 diesel-powered Ram pickups mainly in the U.S. and Canada because they can leak coolant and possibly catch fire. The recall covers Ram 1500 models from the 2014 through 2019 model years.
* GM is recalling about 638,000 SUVs and pickups for a defective sensor that could cause braking problems. The recall covers 2015-2020 Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs. It also applies to 2014-2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups equipped with a 5.3-liter engine, a 3.08-ratio rear axle and four-wheel drive, GM said.
* Formula 1 unveiled new rules for 2021 and beyond with a goal of making the series more competitive with closer racing and budget caps to close the financial gap between teams competing for titles and those at the back of the grid. Teams will be allowed to spend $175 million (currently teams spend $200 million and more) per season to cover on-track performance. F1 will continue to use its hybrid engine but the cars will be slightly heavier and slower. The season could also be expanded up to 25 races. The current season has 21.
* Ron Watson, founder president of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA), died at the age of 72, leaving a legacy of remarkable accomplishments in creating the MSHFA, then molding it into a respected organization that honors all forms of motorsports. Watson, a native of Bloomington, Indiana, was a resident of Ormond Beach, Florida, along with his wife, Donna. They moved to Florida in 2016 when the MSHFA relocated from its longtime home in Detroit to Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The MSHFA is housed in the speedway’s Ticket and Tours Building where it greets more than 100,000 guests annually.