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Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - Week Ending January 4, 2020



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - January 5, 2020; 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.

LEARN MORE: Links to full versions of today's news nuggets along with the past 25 year's automotive news, articles, reviews and archived stories residing in The Auto Channel Automotive News Library can be found by just copying and then inserting the main headline into the News Library Search Box.

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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending JANUARY 4, 2010; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.


* The surprise of the new year is Carlos Ghosn, the highly respected CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance suddenly turning up in Beirut, Lebanon. Ghosn was out on bail in Japan awaiting trial for charges that were never really made clear. He had surrendered all his passports and was continuously under surveillance. Details regarding Ghosn's journey from Japan are starting to emerge and involve two private air flights, one from Osaka to Istanbul and then one to Lebanon. Many friends in the automotive industry are celebrating Ghosn's "escape" as a New Year's good omen.

* U.S. cars sales slowed in 2019, as expected. Reports are still coming in but the industry's multiyear boom is easing. Final numbers will probably top 17 million reflecting a 1% to 2% decline. The strong economy, cheap gas and new SUVs have helped auto makers and stimulated buyers. GM sales fell 2.3%, FCA is down 1%, Ford is estimated at 3% down, Toyota is down 2%, Honda is down 10%. A further drop in 2020 sales are expected with forecasts between 16.5 and 16.8 million.

* The pickup war escalated when General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reported fourth-quarter and year-end sales and, for the first time, the Ram pickup has outsold the Chevrolet Silverado for the year — by 10.1%.

* The Detroit Free Press named the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Ranger and Kia Telluride as Free Press car, truck and SUV of the year. Free Press auto critic Mark Phelan is a juror for the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards. The Corvette, Ranger and Telluride got his votes for those honors, too. The NACTOY winners will be announced Jan. 13 at TCF Center in Detroit.

* Perhaps VW has a solution to charge many EVs parked in condo or apartment garages. Volkswagen has unveiled a new concept for a charging butler robot that can charge electric vehicles in a parking garage using mobile battery packs. The German automaker says that “mobile robots will charge electric vehicles completely autonomously in the future." The robot brings the charger to the car as compared to the car finding the charging station.

* And in the ongoing VW dieselgate affair, a German consumer group who sued VW is entering into settlement negotiations. The case was brought on behalf of 400,000 diesel owners who are seeking compensation for cars affected by the automakers diesel emission scandal.

* We all should be aware of our personal carbon footprint. Corporations should too, Well, all that online ordering with Amazon has led them to have an enormous carbon footprint. All the planes, trucks and vans that use fossil fuel to move packages are drawing the ire of Amazon employees themselves. Last year more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO Jeff Bezos demanding that Amazon cut its carbon emissions. Amazon itself released a report on its carbon footprint and it rivals the emissions of a small country. We all should think twice about online ordering.

* From Reuters, the age of the electric car has arrived in Norway. Led by Tesla, electric cars made up 42% of vehicle sales in Norway last year - a far, far greater share than any other country. With generous subsidies funded by offshore oil, Norway has become a laboratory for the electric car future, showing that with the right mix of public subsidies, infrastructure investment and culture electric vehicles can capture a substantial share of the consumer market from internal combustion technology. Tesla has dominated the Norwegian market, but rivals are determined to do better in 2020. Volkswagen is chief among them. VW predicted by 2025 100% of new vehicles sold in Norway could be electric.

* Mercedes-Benz is recalling roughly 750,000 cars because the vehicles’ sunroofs could potentially detach and fly off, causing road hazards. The cars include in the recall are the C-Class, E-Class, CLK-Class and the CLS-Class, made between 2001 and 2011.

* Steve McQueen's Mustang from the famed Bullitt car chase is heading to auction. The owner, Sean Kiernan, figures the price could approach $5 million, or at least far more than the $3,500 his father paid in 1974. Mecum will auction the '68 Ford Mustang on Jan 10. You can watch it on NBCSN. Mecum thinks it will bring at least $3 million. Hagerty says closer $4 million. (Late News: The car sold for $3.4 Million)

* Syd Mead, car designer turned artist known for looking far into the future, and the visionary behind such movies as Blade Runner, Aliens and Tron, died December 30. He was 86. Mead was a graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and worked for two years in Ford’s advanced design studio. He left to do illustrations and in 1970 started his own design company in Detroit.

* Remembering those who passed on in 2019. As we begin a new year, we take time to remember some of those in the car community who left us in 2019. Thanks to for this look back.

* It's the first weekend of the new year and it's motorsports time. The Roar Before the Rolex 24 kicks off the racing season at DAYTONA as the three-day test serves as the final dress rehearsal before the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA. A highlight of this weekend is the IMSA Prototype Challenge.