Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - Week Ending January 11, 2020
Takata Recall; Ghosn's Nigeru; Big Truck Smog Regs; Wall Street Values Tesla More Than GM and Ford Combined; CES Auto Show; Autonomous Vehicles; Car Maker Web Sites; Car Star Movie American Graffiti Museum To Open In Modesto; VW Investors Sue Daimler; Bullet Mustang Sold; Varsha Fighting Cancer; Salty 300 MPH Club member Jack Costella has died at age 84, Go Fast In Peace.
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending JANUARY 11, 2010; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* Takata Recalled 10 Million Air Bag Inflators Installed In US Cars
* The Wall Street Journal reports that Carlos Ghosn's was indeed hidden by a private exfiltration team inside a large road case meant for audio equipment. Ghosn walked away from the Tokyo residence where he was supposed to be under house arrest after a private security company hired by Nissan stopped monitoring him. Ghosn met two individuals at a hotel and then took a bullet train from Tokyo to Osaka, according to security camera images that captured the former Renault-Nissan chief moving through the Osaka train station.
* Further, Reuters said that that Carlos Ghosn, speaking publicly for the first since his dramatic escape from Japanese justice, told reporters in Beirut he had been treated “brutally” by Tokyo prosecutors and was the victim of a conspiracy to oust him from the helm of automaker Nissan. The one-time titan of the car industry told a packed news conference he would not have faced a fair trial in Japan and would have been tied up in appeals there for five years. “The charges against me are baseless,” Ghosn added, repeating his allegation that Nissan and Japanese authorities colluded to oust him following a downturn in Nissan’s fortunes and in revenge for French government interference in the carmaker’s alliance with Renault. Ghosn’s news conference marks the latest twist in a 14-month saga that has shaken the global auto industry, jeopardised the Renault-Nissan alliance of which Ghosn was the mastermind and increased scrutiny of Japan’s judicial system.
* The Trump administration is expected to launch the process for imposing stricter limits on smog-causing emissions from heavy trucks. If the rules are adopted it would the first time since 2000 that federal standards for NOx emissions from big trucks have been raised. California is moving forward with efforts to tighten big truck NOx standards, but wants a national standard. Under Trump, the EPA and California have clashed over regulation of carbon dioxide, but have been more closely aligned on attacking pollutants that form smog.
* Joe White for Reuters reports Tesla said it delivered a record 112,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter, and exceeded the low end of its full year delivery target by handing over 367,500 vehicles. That good news sent Tesla shares into hyperdrive. At Friday's $443.01 close, Tesla is now worth $79.9 billion, far more than either General Motors or Ford. Some of the fourth quarter demand was driven by customers scrambling to get vehicles delivered before Jan. 1, when U.S. subsidies for Tesla vehicles went to zero.
* The annual CES (formerly electric appliance) show was held this week. With no more January Detroit auto show, CES has become the venue for auto and consumer tech companies to tout vehicle tech and transport messages for the new year. Byton, the Chinese EV maker, said it will sell its M-Byte SUV in China first, then move to the U.S. Uber and Hyundai are partnering to develop and eventually produce a line of air taxis for its new Uber Elevate ride-sharing service. Toyota said it plans to build an all-new city near Japan’s Mount Fuji that will serve as a “living laboratory” to explore clean energy, alternative transportation and other “smart city” concepts. Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Honda showed off fancy wheels, but the vehicles most grounded in reality came from lesser known names like Fisker, Byton, and Sony. The Trump administration sent a big contingent of top officials to the annual CES technology show, including President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and the Cabinet secretaries for Commerce, Transportation and Energy delivering a variety of messages.
* Alex Hitzinger, CEO of Volkswagen Autonomy, says Level 4 autonomy (operating under certain limited conditions) may be as good as it gets. Level 5 (able to drive under every possible condition) might be approaching the impossible. Maybe it will never happen. The expectation is that Level 4 autonomous vehicles will be used in commercial applications such as highway cruising.
* The J.D. Power 2020 Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study—Winter is a semiannual study that measures the usefulness of automotive manufacturer websites during the process of shopping for a new vehicle by examining four key measures: information/content; appearance; navigation; and speed. This year’s study finds that overall satisfaction averages 834 (on a 1,000-point scale) for the luxury segment, while the mass market segment averages 826. Land Rover (864) ranked highest in the luxury manufacturer brand segment and Mitsubishi (848) is the highest-ranked mass market brand. For more information about the Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study,SM visit https://www.jdpower.com/business/resource/us-manufacturer-website-evaluation-study
* MTA New York City Transit deployed the first of its new all-electric articulated bus fleet on one of the city’s busiest crosstown routes – the 14th Street busway – as part of the agency’s plan to enhance and modernize the bus fleet with zero-emissions technology that will deliver environmental benefits for all New Yorkers. The all-electric articulated bus represents the first of approximately 500 electric buses that will be purchased as part of the historic 2020-2024 Capital Plan and will serve all five boroughs. New York City Transit also released new data showing the growing popularity and success of the M14 Select Bus Service and the 14th Street busway.
* According to the Modesto Bee, the town of Modesto, California–where the film American Graffiti was set (it was actually filmed in San Rafael and Petaluma because they had changed less in the interim decade)–may receive an American Graffiti-inspired museum, thanks to the efforts of some community members. Backers of the plan are quick to emphasize that there’s no official tie-in with the film, rights to which are owned by Universal. Modesto has celebrated its connection to American Graffiti for many years, including with an annual Graffiti Classic Car Parade and an American Graffiti Festival, both put on by the North Modesto Kiwanis Club. The museum is seen as a natural extension of those events and a way both to draw visitors to Modesto year round and to educate locals about a significant era in Modesto’s history.
* A group of German investors sued Daimler, accusing the auto and truck maker of cheating on diesel emissions and thus causing them to pay up to $1 billion more than was justified for the company's shares. The company said it will defend itself, but such litigation highlights the overriding reality: Diesel is dead in Europe.
* From the Detroit News we read: Gas stations around the U.S. are rushing to upgrade fuel pumps to accept credit and debit cards with chips after Visa and Mastercard rejected a request to delay a looming deadline to complete the work. Beginning in October, station operators that haven’t modernized their pumps will face liability for any card fraud that happens at their businesses. The industry is “massively under-prepared,” said Joshua Smith, chief executive officer of Gas Pos, which sells point-of-sale systems. Most retailers began to upgrade payment systems in 2015 but for fuel retailers, the deadline was pushed back five years as the industry faced costs of more than $3.9 billion to do the work.
* The 1968 Ford Mustang GT "Bullitt" sold for a hammer price of $3.74 million at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee Florida, becoming the most expensive Mustang ever sold. It's the hero car driven by Steve McQueen in the 1968 Warner Bros film, "Bullitt" and featured in the majority of scenes from the legendary car chase through San Francisco. https://www.mecum.com/lots/FL0120-397388/1968-ford-mustang-gt-bullitt/
* Motor racing broadcaster Bob Varsha starts the new year with a daunting fight to wage after being diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of prostate cancer that will require intensive chemotherapy over the coming months. With an immediate need to step away from racing and focus on defeating cancer, the veteran of ESPN, NBC, SPEED, and Fox Sports has been unable to work and is not expected to be in a position to travel or resume his career until June, at the earliest.
* Bonneville 300 MPH Club member Jack Costella has died at age 84. For 50 years, Jack Costella returned to the salt at Bonneville in what amounted to a decades-long science experiment, probing the limits of aerodynamics and accepted wisdom's among the go-fast crowd. After more than 130 records – including several in excess of 300 mph – his part of the great speed experiment has come to an end with his death at the age of 84.