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Nutson Automotive News Wrap-up Week Ending Febuary 1, 2020



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - February 2, 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.

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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending February 1, 2020; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.

* Volkswagen has kept its lead as the world's largest automaker over Toyota. Toyota said it sold 10.74 million vehicles in 2019 compared to VW's 10.97 million. Both automakers had sales increase compared to 2018. GM had held this title for more than seven decades until 2008 when Toyota claimed the top mark.

* Monthly sales reports are falling even further by the wayside in the car industry as Volkswagen and Audi join the movement to quarterly reporting. GM started the trend in early 2018 and were joined by Ford and FCA. Just last week Porsche jumped on board. Plenty of carmakers are still reporting monthly for now, but the future of car sales doesn't look great worldwide as we reach a concept dubbed "peak car," which is exactly what it sounds like — a compelling reason to consider reporting sales less often.

* Reuters reports the CEO of Bosch said world auto production may have hit its peak and be on a long downward trend. The German mega supplier is planning to cut staff and reviewing its business after profits fell 44% in 2019 from a year before. Global auto production will fall 2.6% in 2020 to about 89 million vehicles, the third straight year of decline, Bosch said. The shift to electric vehicles threatens jobs in a big way, Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner warned. Ten workers are required to make a diesel injection system - a technology rapidly going out of style. Three workers can make a gasoline system, Denner said. But only one is needed to produce an electric motor.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles wants a judge to throw out a racketeering lawsuit General Motors filed against the Italian-American automaker last year. In a motion to dismiss the suit filed in federal court in Detroit, FCA pushes back against GM's claims that FCA purposefully cost GM billions of dollars by allegedly corrupting the bargaining process. The original lawsuit was noteworthy in part because it showcased a potentially high stakes corporate fight between two global automakers in an unusually public way.

* General Motors’ vision of an all-electric future is coming into clearer focus and gaining momentum with a $2.2 billion investment at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant to produce a variety of all-electric trucks and SUVs. GM’s first all-electric truck will be a pickup with production scheduled to begin in late 2021. This will be followed soon after by the Cruise Origin, a shared, electric, self-driving vehicle unveiled by Cruise in San Francisco last week. Detroit-Hamtramck will be GM’s first fully-dedicated electric vehicle assembly plant.

* The first gas station in the U.S. that has been completely transitioned from a petroleum station to exclusively charging EVs opened in Takoma Park, Maryland. RS Automotives, the local gas station, has been around since 1958, made the switch. Depeswar Doley, owner of the station, was unhappy with the way oil and gasoline companies structure contracts and decided to go to 100% EV charging. There are more than 20,700 registered electric vehicles in Maryland, and the area also has an electric taxi service in need of more charging infrastructure.

* An AlixPartners survey shows muted willingness to pay more for autonomous vehicles and significant interest in giving up vehicle ownership for robotaxi ride-hailing. AlixPartners’ Global Autonomous Vehicle Report, which is based on a survey of more than 6,500 consumers across China, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, says consumers are willing to spend just an 8% to 24% premium for ‘hands-off-the-wheel’ autonomy over current levels (lane-keeping assistance, automatic braking, etc.); 44% to 84% say they’d consider giving up ownership for ride-hailing in robotaxis. At least 60 traditional automotive players and new entrants worldwide are gearing up to spend tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars on the development of autonomous vehicles, the survey reveals that these players are likely over-estimating customers’ willingness to pay a big premium for higher-level AVs over today’s technologies.

* Trump has signed the USMCA. The new NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada revises Mexico’s labor laws and encourages more auto production in North America. NAFTA required automakers to produce 62.5 percent of a vehicle’s content in North America to qualify for zero tariffs. The new agreement raises that threshold, over time, to 75 percent. The pact also requires 70 percent of a vehicle’s steel and aluminum to originate in North America. For the first time, the new agreement also mandates that 40 to 45 percent of the parts for any tariff-free vehicle must come from a so-called high-wage factory. Those factories must pay a minimum of $16 an hour in average salaries for production workers. That’s about triple the average wage in a Mexican factory right now. Although, this $16 provision is NOT indexed to inflation.

* The Lincoln Motor Company announced that it is working together with Rivian to develop an all-new electric vehicle previously announced as part of Ford Motor Company’s original investment in Rivian. The high-end electric SUV will be built in Rivian's Normal, IL plant but we don't yet know when it will go in to production or what it will be called. One thing is for sure, we are definitely going down "electric avenue" this decade.

* Frankfurt, which has been synonymous with one of the world's biggest auto shows, the IAA, for more than 70 years, has been eliminated from the race to host the next event in 2021, organizers said. The next IAA International Motor Show -- which alongside similar events in Geneva and Detroit is traditionally one of the most important dates for world's car industry -- is to be held in Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, the VDA auto federation said in a statement. Our hunch: Berlin.

* Brumos Collection museum has opened in Jacksonville, Florida. Brumos was among the most famous of all Porsche dealerships, known not only for its sales of Porsche cars on Florida’s northeast coast but for the success on the race track of its vehicles, which were driven by the likes of Peter Gregg and Hurley Haywood. In 2015, the dealership was sold to the Field Automotive Group and was rebranded as Porsche Jacksonville. Now, former Brumos dealer principal Dan Davis brought the Brumos name back as he opened the Brumos Collection, a 35,000-square-foot “interactive museum dedicated to the technology, innovation and historical significance behind some of the world’s finest automobiles.” The facility houses more than three dozen racing and collector vehicles, including the 1970 Porsche 917K driven by Steve McQueen in the movie Le Mans.

* For the third time in four years, Wayne Taylor Racing won the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Its No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R — piloted by Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, Kamui Kobayashi and Scott Dixon — finished first overall and in the Daytona Prototype International class after 24 hours of non-stop racing. Other class winner are: Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2): No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA with Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey (ninth overall); Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM): No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE with John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Chaz Mostert and Chaz Mostert (13th overall); Grand Touring Daytona (GTD): No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis, Andrea Caldarelli and Madison Snow (18th overall).

* John Andretti, whose diverse resume included victories in NASCAR, IndyCar and the Rolex 24, died after a lengthy battle with cancer, Andretti Autosport announced. He was 56. Andretti was a versatile driver who competed and won in the NASCAR Cup Series and the CART IndyCar Series. He was the first driver to attempt the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 doubleheader in 1994, finishing 10th at Indy for A.J. Foyt Racing and 36th at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Billy Hagan. He also was among the winning sports car team in the overall title at the 1989 Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. In the NHRA, he raced a Top Fuel dragster in 1993 and reached the semifinals of a national event at Atlanta. Andretti is survived by his wife, Nancy, and children Jarrett, Olivia and Amelia.