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Nutson's Auto News Weekly Roundup - A Digest Of Key Automotive News Week Ending April 25, 2020


Wuhan Virus Drives Worldwide Car Sales Batso; Oil Cheaper Than Water, RAM Recall; Hyundai Recall, Subaru Recall, Car Makers Schedule Production; Digital Auto Sales Bright Spot, Barrett-Jackson Digital Only Auction, Drive-in Resurgence?, In Car Shows Rolling Along, Formula-E, Pebble Beach Concours Cancelled, C.A.R. Goes Digital, Buh-Bye GM's Maven (We Hardly Knew Ya), Ford Builds 8 sec. Electric Mustang Cobra Jet


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - April 26, 2020; Every Sunday Executive Producer Larry Nutson 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 April 25, 2020; Important or pithy automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.

* Automotive forecasting firm ALG, a subsidiary of online car-shopping service TrueCar, now thinks that U.S. auto sales will fall at least 23% in 2020 -- and that's the best-case scenario. Depending on whether government restrictions on movement are lifted nationwide in May, and how effective the U.S. government's stimulus and relief packages are sales can range anywhere from 13.1 million to 11.2 million. A likely scenario is sales somewhere around 12.6 million as a result of restrictions lifted in May with a slow economic recovery.

* LMC Automotive forecast a 20% drop in global vehicle production for 2020. Forecasters at IHS see a 22% decline in global vehicle demand this year, with sales dropping to about 70.3 million vehicles. J.D. Power forecasts the 2020 full-year outlook for total sales is now 12.6 to 14.5 million.

* As reported by the New York Times, something bizarre happened in the markets on Monday: The price of a barrel of oil went negative. Oil prices tumbled as the economic crisis set off by the coronavirus pandemic continued to destroy demand for energy, and as concerns grew that storage tanks in the United States were near capacity and unable to hold all the unused crude. A benchmark for oil that will be delivered next month went negative, meaning it was essentially deemed worthless. Oil that is scheduled to be delivered in June, more reflective of the market’s view on what the value of crude is right now, also fell, sliding 16 percent to about $21 a barrel.

* The Detroit Three automakers want to restart production lines in early May. They are bargaining with leaders of the United Auto Workers union over the conditions for bringing workers back to U.S. auto factories. The UAW says its too soon to start up in early May. A key issue is whether workers who feel ill can stay home without suffering financial or other penalties. Outside of the "D", Toyota plans to start on May 4 and Honda on May 8. Of note, VW restarted production of its new EV in Zwickau Germany but at a line rate of 1/3 the usual.

* Volkswagen has settled with most of the 260,000 German consumers who sued over diesel emissions cheating, agreeing to pay 620 million euros. The deal marks a further step in the automaker's efforts to make amends after it admitted to using illegal software to cheat U.S. diesel engine tests.

* India’s third-largest motorbike manufacturer TVS Motor has sealed a $20 million deal to buy British brand Norton Motorcycles as part of a distressed sale. The all-cash transaction will see the Indian firm take control of the 122-year-old Leicestershire brand for 16 million pounds ($19.98 million) through one of its overseas subsidiaries. It marks the latest swoop by an Asian company on an iconic British brand, after Jaguar Land Rover became part of Tata Motors.

* South Koreans are returning to work and crowding shopping malls, parks, golf courses and some restaurants as South Korea relaxes social distancing rules amid a continued downward trend in coronavirus cases. Parks, mountains and golf courses brimmed with visitors over the weekend, while shopping malls and restaurants were slowly returning to normal.

* Cabin fever. Cars needing exercise. Let’s go for a drive! Unable to hold car shows, groups of enthusiasts have developed an alternative: driving car shows. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut most activity down, enthusiasts have turned the show into a “socially distanced” parade. Cars follow social distancing guidelines, following six feet apart.

* Another one bites the dust! General Motors said it is shutting down its Maven car-sharing unit, after suspending operations because of the novel coronavirus. The automaker said it would transfer Maven assets and resources to its Global Innovation group. GM suspended Maven services in March as the coronavirus triggered increasingly stringent government restrictions on mobility, and ultimately elected to shutter the business. Other auto companies, including Ford, have since killed or scaled back profitless mobility efforts.

* Earth Day turned 50 this week and you don't have to imagine no pollution. Amid all the human suffering and death from the COVID-19 pandemic, "an unplanned grand experiment is changing Earth," The Associated Press reports. "As people across the globe stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily," sometimes with dramatic effect.

* With too much oil, low gasoline prices, reduced demand for gasoline, recession economics, consumers unwilling to fork out money for a new car, forecasts of severe downtown in 2020 new vehicle sales, further estimates that it will take well into 2021 for auto industry sales to recover, and future product plans going more and more electric, we wonder if those automakers who put all there eggs in the electrified vehicle basket will have to revisit they decision and delay some new products. To wit, consumer confidence in future mobility technologies lags far behind automakers’ plans to bring self-driving and battery-electric vehicles to the marketplace, according to the J.D. Power 2020 Q1 Mobility Confidence Index Study fueled by SurveyMonkey Audience.

* Hyundai is recalling "smaht pahk" equipped vehicles. The Remote Smart Parking Assist software may fail to prevent vehicle movement upon detection of a system malfunction, increasing the risk of a crash. Approximately 11,900 model-year 2020 Hyundai Nexo SUVs and Sonata sedans are affected. For now, don't hit the clikah!

* Subaru is recalling just over 200,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because fuel pumps can fail and cause engines to stall. The recall covers certain 2019 Impreza, Outback, Legacy, and Ascent vehicles.

* The GM ignition switch settlement with vehicle owners won preliminary court approval. A federal judge gave preliminary approval to a $120 million settlement deal that would end litigation brought against the company by owners of GM vehicles equipped with faulty ignition switches. The accord would resolve the last major piece of litigation over GM ignition switches linked to vehicle stalls and air bags that failed to deploy, as well as 124 deaths.

* Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auctions will bring the Barrett Jackson experience to enthusiasts worldwide with its premiere online only auction beginning on May 8, 2020. Featuring approximately 75 premium, hand-selected collector vehicles and more than 250 pieces of authentic automobilia, the Barrett-Jackson Online Only May 2020 Auction will be run on the industry’s most trusted online auction platform, Proxibid.

* The 70th Pebble Beach Concours scheduled for August 16 has been cancelled due to concerns over Covid-19. The world-renowned concours that serves as the centerpiece for Monterey Car Week every August will be back for 2021 to celebrate its seventh decade, concours officials said.

* From Hagerty we read: A nostalgic staple of 1950s–60s America might provide a valuable escape from the current stay-at-home situation if U.S. officials allow it. Drive-in theaters, once a common form of entertainment here and abroad—mostly in rural areas—are already experiencing a resurgence in some areas of Europe and Asia as people look for safe distractions from the COVID-19 pandemic. There are an estimated 320 drive-ins in the U.S., but The Hollywood Reporter says only 25 are currently open.

* It won’t hurt your eardrums and doesn’t use a drop of fuel, but it’s projected to crush the quarter-mile in the low-8-second range at more than 170 mph. For the first time ever, Ford Performance introduced a one-off Mustang Cobra Jet factory drag racer with all-electric propulsion. The battery-powered Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype is purpose-built and projected to deliver over 1,400 horsepower and over 1,100 ft.-lbs. of instant torque to demonstrate the capabilities of an electric powertrain. Ford Performance is planning a world debut later this year at a drag racing event.

* NASCAR may be getting back on track. The governor of North Carolina said that NASCAR teams can work in their race shops as long as they maintain social distancing guidelines. Race cars need to be built and prepped before they can get back on the track. NASCAR wants to run the Coca Cola 600 on May 24 without spectators. Florida and Texas already have said races can take place without fans. Up to now only four races of the 36 race schedule have been run.

Stay safe. Be Well.