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Nutson's Auto News Nuggets - A Recap Of Key Automotive News Week Ending February 15, 2020


Key Automotive News: Vantas Is Coming; Used Car Dependability Improves; Electric Mobility; IIHS Safety Awards; Buyers Shun Manuals; NYC Lawbreaker Crackdown; China Car Factories Affected; Illinois Self Service Gas To Be Verboten; Nikola Is Coming; Tesla, Ford, Hyundai and Honda Recalls; SF Going Carless; Ford Vs. Ferrari Oscars; China Grand Prix Cancelled; Daytona 500 Today


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - February 16, 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 February 15, 2020; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.

* A new automotive operation in North America has been formed by HAAH Automotive Holdings to distribute, sell and service vehicles under the brand name VANTAS. All vehicles sold in the U.S. and Canada will be assembled in American plants bringing new jobs to America. HAAH has a technical cooperation agreement with Chery Automobile, one of the top ten automakers in China and the leading auto exporter to over 80 countries. Chery manufactures and sells a full line of SUVs, passenger cars and electric vehicles under several separate brands, including the Exeed brand.

* According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, overall vehicle dependability improved 1.5% from 2019. Despite the increased adoption of complex vehicle technology, dependability continues to improve. Crossovers and SUVs still have slightly more problems than cars. The Lexus ES is the highest-ranked model. The Nissan LEAF is the first all-electric model to receive a segment-level award, for compact car. Genesis ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among all brands, followed by Lexus, Buick, Porsche and Toyota.

* A US Automotive Study 2020 conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners, a global strategy and marketing consulting firm, revealed that buyers are interested in electro mobility (or eMobility) but aren’t willing to pay up for it. The study found that there is a substantial interest in eMobility amongst US automobile consumers – 41 percent of participants indicated they would consider a hybrid vehicle for their next purchase. However, this number drops considerably when it comes to consumers who would consider electric vehicles (EVs) for their next purchase to only 17 percent of respondents. Note: It is forecasted that price parity between an EV and a gasoline engine vehicle will occur in the 2023-2025 timeframe as battery costs drop.

* Sixty-four cars and SUVs qualify for an award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety under new criteria that prioritize the protection of pedestrians in addition to vehicle occupants. To qualify for a 2020 Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, vehicles must have good ratings in each of the Institute’s six crashworthiness evaluations. More info here:

* The numbers are small but significant: in the third quarter of 2019, J.D. Power data shows, more Americans bought electric vehicles than chose a manual transmission for their car. About 1.9 percent of car buyers chose EVs, but 1.1 percent chose manual transmissions in new vehicles. The current marketplace does still have choice: there are 40 manual-transmission cars available, compared with 16 electric vehicles.

* The NY Times reports: A test for reckless drivers in New York City is being considered in a struggle to tame its streets. After years of decline, traffic deaths spiked last year. Now, the city is planning to take an aggressive step aimed at thousands of the most dangerous drivers — requiring people who rack up multiple speeding or red-light camera violations to take a driving-safety course or risk the seizure of their vehicles. The program would make New York the first city in the country to use traffic camera violations to try to change the behavior of reckless drivers through education and the threat of impoundment, instead of relying on fines.

* From Reuters we read that China's coronavirus epidemic is spreading, and so are auto factory shutdowns related to the disruption the illness and fear of it are causing in the world's largest auto market. Nissan said it had to shut an assembly plant in Japan because it could not get parts from China. Hyundai-Kia, however, said it expects to re-start South Korean assembly plants this week as Chinese suppliers slowly begin to get back to work. Within China, more automakers are delaying the start of production to the later days of this week - GM targeted Feb. 15 - or in VW's case early next week, from original targets of Feb. 10. Tesla's Shanghai assembly plant planned to resume production this week, with help from the Shanghai government.

* An Illinois lawmaker has proposed a law that would forbid motorists from pumping their own gas. It would create the Gas Station Attendant Act, which would provide that no gas could be pumped by anyone except an attendant employed by a gas station. If approved, the law would take effect on Jan. 1 of next year. Elsewhere in the country, the state of New Jersey has a law that forbids residents from pumping their own gas. Oregon only allows motorists to pump their own gas in rural counties with populations of less than 40,000.

* Nikola Corp. – the battery- and hydrogen-powered truck company that has positioned itself as a rival to Tesla – announced plans to make an electric pickup. The Nikola Badger will have a battery-only range of 300 miles or a range of 600 miles on a battery plus a hydrogen fuel tank. Production will begin in the third quarter of 2021. No price has been announced.

* San Francisco has banned most cars from Market Street. This follows the same approach as NYC on 14th Street. A few weeks ago, there was a dramatic shift when San Francisco banned private cars on the busiest section of Market Street. Suddenly most automobiles were gone — Ubers, Lyfts, and tourists in rental cars banished. Historic streetcars and electric trolley buses glided along. Cyclists and electric scooter-riding commuters celebrated their new freedom. It's all about moving people and not about moving vehicles.

* Hyundai is recalling nearly 430,000 U.S. vehicles over possible short circuit. The recall covers 2006-11 Hyundai Elantra and 2007-11 Hyundai Elantra Touring vehicles.

* Honda is recalling 241,000 Odyssey minivans in the U.S. to fix a wiring problem that could cause a fire. The recall covers EX-L, Touring and Elite minivans from the 2018 through 2020 model years.

* Tesla is recalling 15,000 Model X crossovers for a power steering issue. NHTSA said aluminum bolts that attach the electric power steering gear assist motor to the gear housing may corrode and break causing a reduction or complete loss of power steering assist in some 2016 Tesla Model X crossovers.

* Ford is recalling more than 200,000 vehicles over an issue that may increase crash risk. The recall covers 2013-18 Ford Flex, Ford Taurus Police Interceptor, Ford Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKT vehicles. It affects 211,207 vehicles in the U.S.

* "Ford v Ferrari" won two Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Editing. The film, which starred Matt Damon and Christian Bale, was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture.

* The 2020 Chinese Grand Prix, which had been scheduled for April 17-19, has been postponed as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese Grand Prix Promoter, Juss Sports Group, officially requested the postponement after ongoing discussions with the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of People's Republic of China (CAMF) and Shanghai Administration of Sports. The viability of potential alternative dates for the Grand Prix later in the year will be considered.

* NASCAR's Super Bowl, the 62nd annual Daytona 500, is this weekend. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is on the pole driving the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet. Stenhouse grabbed the top spot in the 40-driver field with a lap of 46.253 seconds at 194.582 mph around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. The starting lineup includes 19 Chevrolets, 16 Fords and 5 Toyotas.