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IN THE NEWS - Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up September 13-19, 2020



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO September 20, 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 Wrap-up - Week Ending September 19, 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.

* Ford announced an even deeper commitment to American manufacturing, celebrating the production start of the all-new F-150 at the storied Ford Rouge Center and confirming construction of the new Rouge Electric Vehicle Center where it will build the all-electric F-150 by mid-2022. The new manufacturing center at the Dearborn-based Rouge Center, once complete, will add 300 jobs and is part of a $700 million investment in building the all-new F-150 lineup, including the first-ever F-150 PowerBoost hybrid. Ford says the all-electric F-150 will be a work truck and not aimed at the leisure truck buyer.

* AutoPacific announced the 2020 Vehicle Satisfaction Award (VSA) winners according to the results of its annual New Vehicle Satisfaction Survey of over 73,000 new car and light truck owners. This year’s winners are spread across 12 manufacturers and 17 brands. Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands, leads with nine wins, followed by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with six wins, Nissan Motor Company with three wins and Mercedes-Benz and Ford Motor Company each with two wins. The remaining manufacturers, Volkswagen, BMW, General Motors, Honda Motor Company, Subaru, Tesla, Inc. and Toyota Motor Corporation receive one win each.

* Nissan has unveiled the Z Proto, signalling the company's intent to launch a new generation of the legendary Z sports car. Shown at an event beamed around the world from the Nissan Pavilion in Yokohama, Japan, the prototype features new design inside and out, as well as an upgraded powertrain with a manual transmission. In Franklin, just south of Nashville, hundreds of Z owners and enthusiasts watched the Z Proto's Yokohama debut on big screens from their vehicles in a socially distanced event– part of a weeklong schedule of activities during the 33rd annual International Z Convention (ZCON). First hinted at in a brand teaser video, "Nissan A-Z," shown in May, the Nissan Z Proto pays full respect to 50 years of Z heritage. At the same time, it's a thoroughly modern sports car.

* The GMC HUMMER EV will be revealed to the world on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The supertruck’s industry-leading Crab Mode feature is enabled by the GMC HUMMER EV’s four-wheel steering capability, allowing it to move in a diagonal direction – functionality that is tailor-made for off-roading customers. Customer reservations for the GMC HUMMER EV will be available through GMC.com2 on Oct. 20. Details about how to watch this revolutionary debut will be shared closer to the reveal.

* Volkswagen of America, Inc. will unveil the all-new electric ID.4 SUV virtually on September 23, 2020 at 11am EDT at VW also announced a new subcompact crossover that will be called Taos. A reveal is set for Oct. 13. The new Taos will go on sale next year and slot below the Tiguan in both size and price.

* We had our first drive experience behind the wheel of the all-new 2021 GMC Yukon. In-person product introductions have been replaced with video and audio walkarounds and a test vehicle to drive for 24 hours. It works just fine and there's no airplane commute to some distant location. Efficiency at its best and reduced carbon footprint by the car maker and me too. A full review is coming this week.

* Volkswagen is in talks to sell its Bugatti super luxury brand to electric supercar maker Rimac, according to Germany's Manager Magazin, which is the go-to launching pad for Germany AG's trial balloons. Bugatti is part of a stable of luxury brands assembled by the architect of the modern Volkswagen Group, Ferdinand Piech, who died last year. Neither Rimac nor VW is talking. But Volkswagen has a big electrification strategy to fund.

* Reuters reports the European Commission is weighing a plan to require automakers to cut CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, instead of the current target of a 37.5% reduction. German automakers aren't waiting for the formal release of the proposal to start blasting it. German automakers have been complaining that the existing mandate for a 37.5% emissions cut is unworkable and could cost thousands of jobs in the sector. The vehicle emissions proposal is part of a larger plan the European Commission is expected to roll out to accelerate climate action.

* Daimler and U.S. authorities are expected to announce that they've agreed to settle an investigation of whether the German company cheated on U.S. and California diesel emissions tests. The settlement is expected to cost Daimler as much as $1.5 billion. If so, this would be one of largest civil penalties ever under the Clean Air Act. About 250,000 vehicles would be covered. Settlements with their owners account for about $700 million of the package, sources said. The details are different, but Daimler is in trouble for the same underlying reason as Volkswagen. Authorities charge the company rigged diesel vehicles to recognize when they were running through a government emissions test, and perform as required to comply. But out on the open road, the vehicle computers optimized for power, or mileage, and let emissions exceed legal limits. Daimler will survive the hit, as has VW and as will Fiat Chrysler - which is next in line to complete settlements with the feds and California. But the "Dieselgate" scandals have dimmed the future for diesel technology in light vehicles other than large pickup trucks.

* The NY Times reports that Volkswagen completed the corporate equivalent of probation after a court-appointed monitor said that the carmaker had fulfilled the conditions of a 2017 plea bargain stemming from its use of illegal software to evade emissions regulations. The final report by Larry Thompson, a former United States prosecutor appointed to enforce Volkswagen’s promise to reform its corporate culture, noted that the German automaker had adopted measures like making it easier for employees to report wrongdoing. It is a major milestone for the company as it tries to recover from one of the biggest scandals in automotive history, one that has cost it well over $30 billion and severely damaged its reputation.

* The National Safety Council estimates the U.S. saw a 20% jump in motor vehicle death rates in the first six months of 2020, despite quarantines. The rate increase comes in spite of a 17% drop in the number of miles driven between January and June. The total number of deaths is up 1% from six-month figures in 2019. The 20% increase in the death rate is the highest jump NSC has calculated for a six-month period since 1999.

* Authorities in Arizona charged the backup driver who was behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber vehicle with negligent homicide in the death of a woman struck by the vehicle in a 2018 incident. Police have said Elaine Herzberg's death was entirely avoidable.

* The Geneva auto show may be back in 2021. Automakers are being offered an all-inclusive package that covers the cost of their stands and accommodations for guests for the smaller, three-day event, according to documents seen by Automotive News Europe.

* Performance Racing Industry (PRI) announced that the 2020 PRI Trade Show will not be taking place as scheduled in December. The announcement comes after months of working closely with the Visit Indy team, the Indiana Convention Center staff, and other Indianapolis officials to develop a plan for a safe and productive PRI Trade Show. Despite health and safety guidelines that would have been in place, mounting uncertainty related to the Coronavirus resulted in an environment that would not be conducive to a productive trade show

* This weekend, history will be made at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For the first time, an all-female team will compete in the LMP2 class, which is open exclusively to privately owned teams. It represents the culmination of the work of the Women in Motorsport Commission run by Michèle Mouton, its president, and Richard Mille, president of the Endurance Commission of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the sport’s governing body. Tatiana Calderón of Colombia, Sophia Flörsch of Germany and Beitske Visser of the Netherlands will drive an Oreca 07-Gibson for the Richard Mille Racing Team run by Signatech, a French auto racing company. Signatech won last year’s LMP2 category.

Stay safe. Be Well.