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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up - Week Ending September 5, 2020



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO September 6, 2020; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The 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 September 5, 2020; The past week's important, relevant, semi-secret, or snappy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.

* Cox Automotive reports the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales in August came in at a relatively strong 15.2 million, up from July’s 14.6 million rate. Pure sales volume in August was actually lower than July. Many automakers are reporting quarterly. Those that still report monthly all show reduced sales compared to a year ago, which is in line with expectations.

* The U.S. average regular gasoline retail price as of the Monday before Labor Day weekend is $2.22 per gallon (gal) this year, the lowest level for this time of year since 2004, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) weekly gasoline price series. U.S. gasoline prices are relatively low because of continued low demand for gasoline since mid-March, when travel demand fell because of efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus.

* Mayflies also known as fishflies are spotting up GM's new Chevrolet Tahoes and GMC Yukons, as reported by Automotive News. GM blames the insects for stubborn black residue on more than 2,600 Chevrolet Tahoes and GMC Yukons that were built in Arlington, Texas, and waiting to be shipped to dealerships. The SUVs were being stored near a lake in Arlington, where fishflies are common.

* A U.S. appeals court overturned the Trump administration's July 2019 rule that sought to suspend a regulation that more than doubled penalties for automakers failing to meet fuel efficiency requirements. Automakers had protested the hike adopted in 2016 by the Obama administration, saying it could increase industry compliance costs by $1 billion annually. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a 3-0 decision said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not make a timely decision to reconsider the penalties.

* Infiniti with its QX80 is making its bold debut in the Rebelle Rally international women's navigational off-road competition. Also new to the event and driving for INFINITI, the Wander Women (Team 142), Nicole Wakelin (driver) of New Hampshire and Alice Chase (navigator) of Texas will pilot the powerful QX80 on the 2000+ kilometer challenge. The 10-day competition will take place from October 8 – 17, 2020 and will be followed on INFINITI social channels.

* A recent AutoPacific survey designed to better understand consumer demand for a built-in dash camera uncovered that possible insurance liability protection is the top reason consumers want this feature. 85% of respondents who indicated that they want a built-in dash camera in their next vehicle said “It could provide insurance liability protection” when asked why they want one. Consumers also want the ability to record dangerous driving by others (70%) and to record important interactions outside of their vehicle (65%). The survey of 930 current vehicle owners was fielded by AutoPacific August 18-25, 2020.

* Automotive News reports the L.A. auto show will move to May, creating a spring blitz of big auto events. The postponement is the result of the pandemic, sources said. The New York, L.A. and Detroit shows are now set to be held in quick succession. New dates for the L.A. show are May 21 to 31, 2021.

* Daimler AG unveiled the new version of its Mercedes-Benz S-Class luxury sedan in an online event. The company's most important model, the new S-class will sell for over $100,000 in the U.S. and offer Level 3 driver assistance technology.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles shared via facebook live a concept version of the all-new three-row Jeep Wagoneer as a plug-in hybrid. It comes ahead of the production model's debut later this year that will resurrect the nameplate last produced nearly 30 years ago. Wagoneer pricing should start around $60,000 and could top $100,000 for the Grand Wagoneer. Jeep also introduced its new Wrangler 4xe with its plug-in hybrid powertrain that is capable of up to 25 miles of nearly silent, zero-emission, electric-only propulsion.

* Reuters reports General Motors and Honda have a tentative deal to collaborate on a wide range of vehicles and technologies for the North American market, starting with four core vehicle segments (think crossovers and midsize pickups.) GM and Honda have been slowly and steadily building ties on electric vehicles and batteries, autonomous driving and fuel cell development. Perhaps we'll see a new Malibu based on the Accord platform.

* Hyundai and Kia are recalling 600,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada to fix a brake fluid leak that could cause an engine fire. Kia Optima sedans from 2013 through 2015, Kia Sorento SUVs from 2014 and 2015, and Hyundai Santa Fe SUVs from 2013 to 2015 are included in the recall.

* Did you ever wonder about the people who do the test driving for the automakers? Well, SAE has just announced they have produced the first-ever global driving skills certification standard. The new SAE J3300 standard is aimed at profession drivers but also available to the public. It will serve as a foundation to certify fundamental driving skill levels and can be used by pro drivers seeking professional activity.

* Racer reports the Italian Grand Prix will be the final race in Formula 1 for the Williams family, with Sir Frank and Claire leaving their roles following the team’s ownership change. Sir Frank Williams has remained team principal throughout personal health challenges, while his daughter Claire dealt with the day-to-day running as deputy team principal, continuing the Williams family ownership and operation of the team since 1977. After 43 years and 739 races, the Williams family will leave F1 after this weekend’s race at Monza following the takeover by U.S.-based investment firm Dorilton Capital last month.

* At the NHRA U.S. Ford is showcasing the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 where the car will first run in public this weekend. Ford NHRA Funny Car Driver Bob Tasca III will pilot the prototype in showcase runs against two-time Funny Car champion and FOX broadcaster Tony Pedregon, who will drive one of Ford’s internal combustion engine Mustang Cobra Jets, proven winners in the NHRA sportsman ranks. The all-electric Ford Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 prototype has blazed through a quarter-mile in 8.27 seconds at 168 miles per hour and reached 1,502 peak wheel horsepower in recent private development testing.

* Want to be a drag racer? Order reservations for the new 2021 Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak officially open on Sept. 9, 2020, and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Powered by a supercharged 354-cubic-inch HEMI V-8 engine which is based on the same power plant that won the 2018 NHRA Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) and NMCA Factory Supercar championships, the turn-key drag racer is priced at $143,485.

* The NASCAR Cup Series' 16-driver playoff field is set for the 2020 postseason. The four-round postseason consists of eliminations after the Round of 16 (Darlington, Richmond, Bristol), the Round of 12 (Las Vegas, Talladega, Charlotte Roval) and the Round of 8 (Kansas, Texas, Martinsville). The Championship 4 will compete for the title at Phoenix.

* Clint Vahsholtz was the Overall Winner of the 2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and King of the Mountain! With a time of 9:35.490, Vahsholtz managed to beat his personal record by a slim .257 seconds to add to his victorious run!

Stay safe. Be Well.