Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - A Recap Of Key Automotive News Week Ending January 25, 2020
GM Reveals Cruise(Not Cruze)Driverless Minibus; Tesla Unintended Acceleration?; Fiat Chrysler EV To Go Chinese; MPG Numbers In Play; Ford Double-Clutch Suit Settled; Toyota and Honda Airbag Recall; Ghosn Party Problems; New Corvette 'Detroited" Left Up on Cement Blocks; DC Green Auto Show; Arizona Car Auction's Raise Donations And Sales Revenue; GM Racing Technology Facility Y'all
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending JANUARY 25, 2010; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* Cruise (Not Cruze), the Multi-Billion Dollar self-driving subsidiary of GM, revealed its first driverless autonomous vehicle. And it's not a car. It has no steering wheel, no gas pedal, no brake pedal, no windshield wipers, no rearview mirrors and yes, no driver. The Cruise Origin is a box on wheels powered by battery and seats six with no trunk. Cruise says the electric shuttle vehicle will be deployed as part of a ride-hailing and sharing service, but declined to say when that might be. The vehicle will operate in limited geo-fenced areas under limited weather conditions. So yes, this is what driverless vehicles will be. GM will build the Cruise Origin at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant starting in 2021.
* Tesla vehicles are being looked at by the NHTSA. The Federal agency has 127 complaints of unintended acceleration that are being evaluated. They involve 110 crashes and 52 injuries. All three models of the approximate 500,000 vehicles sold by Tesla are involved.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV confirmed it is in talks with the top assembler of iPhones to produce electric and connected vehicles in China and possibly for export. The proposed "equal joint venture" with Foxconn Technology Group would mark a major step for the company to increase its efforts in battery-powered vehicles in China, the world's largest EV market.
* The White House is reversing course on federal fuel economy standards and now proposing for mileage to rise 1.5% annually through 2029. The first plan was to freeze standards at 2020 levels. Strong opposition from environmentalists and safety experts along with little backing from the auto industry brought about the reversal. For comparison, the CAFE standards set by the Obama administration targeted a 5% annual mileage increase. Some still say the new proposal is inadequate.
* Ford has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit with nearly 2 million owners and former owners of Focus and Fiesta vehicles with bad dual-clutch transmissions known as the DPS6. A lawyer who helped broker the deal on behalf of consumers reportedly said the Ford payout could exceed $100 million. Ford will make a guaranteed commitment of $30 million in cash reimbursement to consumers who have a record of multiple failed transmission repairs within five years of buying their cars or 60,000 miles. An easier process for former owners and people who leased the cars to get compensated and a simplified buyback program for defective vehicles will be established.
* Toyota is recalling 3.4 million vehicles worldwide because air bags may not inflate in a crash due to a possible malfunction of the air bag control computer. The recall covers certain 2011-2019 Corollas, the 2011-2013 Matrix, the 2012 through 2018 Avalon, and the 2013 to 2018 Avalon Hybrid in the U.S.
* Honda is recalling about 2.7 million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada with Takata air bag inflators. This is different than previous Takata air bag recalls but still involves air bags that could blow apart. The recall covers Honda and Acura vehicles from the 1996 to 2003 model years. Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler have also issued recalls for this issue.
* Fugitive Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has a new headache. French prosecutors said they will ask a judge to take up whether a Marie Antoinette themed party Ghosn threw for his wife at Versailles used resources that belonged to Renault.
* While parked on the street in Detroit, a new Chevrolet C8 Corvette had its wheels and tires stolen. The car was parked in a neighborhood called West Village and was left sitting on two cement blocks with its tail end sitting on the ground. It was a GM-owned test car, as the C8 isn't on sale yet at Chevy dealerships.
* Electrified vehicles took center stage at Green Car Journal's Green Car Awards at the Washington Auto Show, with Karma's stunning Revero GT earning the magazine's coveted 2020 Luxury Green Car of the Year title. BMW Wireless Charging was honored as the year's top enabling 'green' technology as the 2020 Green Car Technology of the Year. The awards were presented during the show's Policy Day in Washington DC.
* Last week was Scottsdale collector car auction week. Barrett-Jackson raised $7.625 million for charities from nine vehicles during the 49th Annual Scottsdale Auction. Two global carmakers sold the rights to a pair of first production vehicles, including the world’s first mid-engine Corvette, the 2020 Chevrolet Stingray VIN 001 that sold for $3 million and was introduced by Barrett-Jackson’s special guest Mary Berra, CEO of General Motors. The first production 2021 Lexus LC 500 Convertible Inspiration Series VIN 100001 sold for $2 million.
* Our friends at ClassicCars.com report: There was much trepidation going into this year’s Arizona Auction Week 2020 following the bummer results from the Monterey collector car sales in August, when gross figures were down by nearly a third, and after a disappointing 2019 in general. But the numbers are in (mostly) and the overall results for Arizona’s collector car extravaganza and its unprecedented 8 auctions has risen to $252 million, beating last year’s cumulative total of $251.2 million. The increase from the previous unofficial total of $244.1 million came as 5 of the 8 auction houses released their official results, which often rise with post-block sales and other adjustments.
* Win on Sunday, sell on Monday. General Motors will open a new technical center focused on performance and racing in the Charlotte region, a major racing hub in the United States. The facility will expand GM’s performance and racing capabilities, with a focus on transferring knowledge and resources from the racing programs to core vehicle engineering. The goal for the Charlotte Technical Center is to eventually house future technology and engineering development capabilities. The 75,000-square-foot facility will be located in Concord, North Carolina, off of Interstate-85 and less than 10 miles from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The new technical center will provide an opportunity to recruit potential GM employees from the growing pool of technical talent in the Charlotte area. It is expected to open by mid-2020.