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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Wrap-up - July 12-18, 2020


This Happened Last Week:"Ford Bronco Alive, Jeep Fights Back; RAV4 Hybrid, 14 States Push ETrucks; Hyundai EV Sales; New Nissan Ariya Plugged In; Testa Descriptions Verboten in Germany; Lexus Owners Loyalest; STELLANTIS IS New Name; New Corvette Buyers Get Scale Model To Fondle Over; Honda America Discontinues Models; Dieselgate Perp News; Racing Superstars Back New Circuit Ala IROC; Happy 90th Isky; 240Z Father Yoshihiko Matsuo Passes, Yasuraka ni nemuru (RIP);


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO July 19, 2020; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, Chicago Car Guy and Executive Producer, with able assistance 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 July 18, 2020; Important, Concise or pithy automotive news, opinion and back stories in expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.

* Ford's new Bronco lineup of vehicles finally made their debut. Based on the Ranger pickup platform there's both a 2-door Bronco ($29,995 base price) and a longer wheelbase 4-door Bronco ($34,695 base price). Based on the Escape/Corsair platform there's a 4-door Bronco Sport (pricing starts at $28,155). So, a Bronco for the off-roaders, a Bronco for the outdoors type (both chasing after Jeep Wrangler) and a Bronco for urban cowboys (competing with Jeep Compass). Bronco Sport on sale this year; bigger Broncos in 2021. Yeeha!

* With all the attention on the Ford Bronco, Jeep is stealing some thunder with a new concept from this iconic brand, the new Wrangler Rubicon 392 Concept powered by a 6.4-liter V-8 engine, delivering 450 horsepower, 450 lb.-ft. of torque and a 0-60 mph time in less than 5 seconds.

* The Toyota RAV4 hybrid outsold the regular RAV4 for the first time in June, which helps make the case that hybrids tuned for added power and torque are attractive to light-truck buyers. For that matter, cars will be the same way with higher performance from hybrids. Also note, some new models from Toyota will only be hybrid powered.

* A group of 15 U.S. states will join forces to promote electric trucks, moving toward an eventual ban of diesel commercial trucks by 2050. California is leading the push to cut exhaust emissions from trucks and buses, which are responsible for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

* Hyundai Motor Group head Euisun Chung said he wants the South Korean automaker to sell 1 million electric vehicles a year by 2025. Chung's made his comments on the same day South Korea's President Moon Jae-in called for a $95 billion plan to boost the country's economy, powered by ambitious clean technology investments.

* Nissan introduced the all-new Nissan Ariya, an electric crossover SUV that lets customers travel up to approximately 300 miles per charge (preliminary Nissan estimate for long-range 2WD model) while enjoying greater driving excitement, confidence, comfort, and connectivity. The 100% electric Nissan Ariya debuted during a digital event in Yokohama. The all-new Nissan Ariya is scheduled to go on sale in Japan in mid-2021, followed by the U.S. and Canada later in the year. U.S. pricing will start around $40,000.

* Massachusetts joined California in challenging Uber and Lyft's practice of classifying drivers as "contractors," avoiding taxes, health care costs and other obligations that would come from treating them as employees. The ride hailing platforms have said they will fight the litigation, and would rather work with lawmakers to revise the laws governing contract vs. full-time employment.

* A German court barred Tesla from making misleading claims about Autopilot and suggesting that it was an automated driving system. The ruling prompted an aggrieved Tweet from Elon Musk. But the same day came news of another Autopilot related crash, this one involving a Tesla that plowed into an unoccupied police car in Arizona. Police said the driver was operating on Autopilot and is now being investigated for driving under the influence.

* According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Brand Loyalty Study, Lexus ranks highest among luxury brands for the second consecutive year with a 48% loyalty rate. Mercedes-Benz ranks second (47.8%), followed by BMW (45.1%), Porsche (44.9%) and Audi (43.4%). Subaru ranks highest among mass market brands and highest overall in the automotive industry for a second consecutive year with a loyalty rate of 60.5%. Toyota ranks second (60.3%), followed by Honda (58.7%), RAM (57.3%) and Ford (54.3%).

* Joe White for Reuters writes: PeugeotCitroenFiatJeepRamChryslerDodgeAlfaMaserati Automobiles SA - we all knew THAT wasn't going to be the new name for the merged automakers currently known as Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. In a major step as they move toward the completion of their 50:50 merger as defined in the Combination Agreement announced on December 18, 2019, Peugeot S.A. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. announced that the corporate name of the new group will be STELLANTIS. STELLANTIS is rooted in the Latin verb “stello” meaning “to brighten with stars.” The STELLANTIS name will be used exclusively at the Group level, as a Corporate brand.

* The Detroit Bureau reports the buyers of the long-awaited 2020 C8 Corvette not only got the first-ever mid-engine version of the brand’s halo vehicle, they get a second Corvette! The “second” ’Vette is approximately a 1:18 scale model commemorating their purchase of the newest generation sports car. The 10-inch by 5.5-inch models come in a special box and are mounted on a wooden base. They come in the same color as the vehicle purchased and have a plaque with their car’s vehicle identification number on it.

* Honda has discontinued the Fit, Civic coupe and Accord manual. Honda is committed to its core car models but says it can no longer make an economic case, amid falling demand across the market, for the Fit subcompact, Civic coupe and six-speed manual version of the Accord sedan. They are transitioning to the next-gen Civic which will be focused on Sedan, Hatch, Si and Type R.

* A former Volkswagen executive sentenced to seven years jail time for his role in the automaker’s emissions cheating scandal is leaving federal prison more than two years early and will be transferred to his native Germany. A federal magistrate in Detroit signed paperwork approving the extradition of Oliver Schmidt, 51. Schmidt filed a request two years ago to finish his sentence in Germany. The extradition transfers custody of an auto executive serving the longest sentence issued in arguably the largest and most expensive conspiracy in the global auto industry’s history. Schmidt's transfer also comes as Germany is expected to send to the U.S. another high-ranking auto executive, Audi engineering manager Axel Eiser, who was captured last month in Croatia. Eiser is facing federal charges in Detroit related to the scandal.

* Car shows are returning. Calling it “the nation’s first big car event of the year,” Carlisle Events reports that more than 2,200 vehicles were present for the annual Chrysler Nationals car show July 10-12 at the Pennsylvania fairground layout. Carlisle Events next event is the Ford Nationals, scheduled for July 31 to August 2.

* Remember the old IROC Series, where the best drivers from various disciplines raced one another in equally prepared cars? It ran for 30 seasons before Tony Stewart won its final championship and the series quietly went away. Now Stewart and fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham have teamed with a group of heavyweights to bring an all-star circuit back in 2021. The Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) plans a six-race, short-track series to air in prime time on CBS in a Saturday night summer spectacular. SRX envisions fields of 12 drivers competing on famed short tracks across the country in cars prepared by Evernham, the architect of Jeff Gordon's early career and a noted car designer.

* HAPPY "99th" BIRTHDAY TO 'ISKY'! Ed 'Isky' Iskenderian was born on July 10, 1921, and discovered a love of cool Model Ts and Model As before he was even a teenager. Growing up in early Los Angeles of the 1930s, the term 'Hot Rod' hadn't even been coined -- yet he was there as one of the absolute "originals" of the international Hot Rod movement. We're blessed to have a humble and brilliant icon of car culture and horsepower with us across a century of celebration of the "zest for zoom".

* The Datsun 240Z was the total package. Quick, balanced, attractive, and affordable, it changed the American sports car market when it launched here in 1970. Much of that credit is due to the designer, Yoshihiko Matsuo, who passed on July 11th in Japan. He was 86 years old. From 1970-'73, Nissan sold 148,115 240Zs in the United States, against a global production of 168,584. The basic proportions would continue on as the model evolved into the 260Z and 280Z.

Stay safe. Be Well.