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



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO December 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 Wrap-up - Week Ending December 5, 2020; Below are 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.

* Bill Ford has been named Automotive News’ Industry Leader of the Year. Helping coordinate the Detroit 3's coronavirus response might be Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford's greatest accomplishment in a turbulent year that's seen him appoint a new CEO, launch a slew of key products, break from the Trump administration and oversee the automaker's implementation of a global effort to manufacture medical equipment.

* November new vehicle sales are down compared to a year ago mainly because there were fewer selling days this November. The SAAR for the month is at 15.88 million. J.D. Power estimates that, without adjusting for the limited number of selling days, sales slipped by nearly 15 percent – but once the change is taken into account, the difference could be as little as 3.5 percent.

* Joe White for Reuters reports Ford is trying to heal the rift within the U.S. auto industry over emissions policy, the better to present a united front to the incoming Biden administration. Ford's Americas president Kumar Galhotra sent a letter to rivals urging them to join Ford in backing a regulatory framework put forward by California, which differs from the Obama greenhouse emissions standards that the Trump administration sought to roll back, but is more demanding than the rules Trump proposed. General Motors, Toyota and Fiat Chrysler had sided with Trump's legal effort to strip California of its unique regulatory powers and its EV mandate. After Trump's election loss, GM pulled its support of Trump's plan. But that does not mean GM and Ford are on the same page.

* Meanwhile: We read in the Detroit Free Press that a California newspaper is slamming General Motors in a searing editorial urging consumers to give pause before buying a new vehicle from the automaker. It stems from GM's move one week ago when it did an about-face and said it will no longer back President Donald Trump's effort to stop California from setting its own emissions rules. In an editorial in Sunday's Sacramento Bee titled, "GM sided with Trump against California. Please remember this when buying a new car," GM is portrayed as a Benedict Arnold — the American military officer who defected to the British side during the Revolutionary War.

* The 2021 MotorTrend Truck of the Year is the 2021 Ram 1500 TRX with its 702-hp supercharged V-8. Other candidates were: Ford F-Series Super Duty, Jeep Gladiator, Nissan Frontier, and Nissan Titan/XD.

* Consumer Guide Automotive announced the recipients of its 2021 Best Buy Awards. A Consumer Guide Best Buy represents the finest balance of attributes and value in its class. For 2021, nearly 50 Best Buys have been awarded in 21 classes, providing clear, easy choices for consumers. Read all the details at this link:

* Adaptive cruise control is coming to motorcycles next spring. In October, Ducati (owned by Audi) announced that its 2021 V4 S model would come with adaptive cruise control. A week later, BMW announced that the feature would be available on its coming R1250RT.

* In the news and as reported by Reuters: Ever been passed by a diesel pickup truck spewing soot and wondered, is that legal? Maybe not. The EPA has a new report, covered by the New York Times, that estimates owners of some 550,000 diesel pickup trucks have used aftermarket software or hardware over the past decade to tamper with or outright bypass factory emissions controls. The environmental impact is equivalent to the pollution from an extra 9 million trucks. The EPA report estimates some 15% of diesel pickups have had their emissions systems hacked by owners seeking better fuel economy and performance, or a way to dodge the cost of properly maintaining tailpipe scrubbing systems. Euphemistically named diesel "tuning" packages can be purchased online, and how-to videos are an easy search away on Youtube.

* GM has pivoted and now will not take a stake in electric vehicle maker Nikola. GM also ended technical support for an electric hydrogen-powered pickup planned by Nikola called the Badger, ending that project. Nikola has taken deposits on the pickup which it will now refund. There is an agreement for GM to supply Nikola with its fuel cell system.

* Bentley takes wing - How crazy is the Brexit mess? This crazy: Bentley, Volkswagen's ultra-luxury British brand, has hired a fleet of Antonov air freighters to get parts across the English Channel ahead of the Brexit deadline and the possible disruption of the U.K.-Continental Europe supply chains.

* Automotive News reports that Ford is delaying the new Bronco until summer, citing virus-related supplier issues. The automaker also said the Sasquatch package with manual transmission has been pushed back to the 2022 model year.

* Hyundai is recalling 129,000 U.S. vehicles for engine issue. The recall covers some 2015-2016 Veloster, 2012 Santa Fe, 2011-2013 Sonata Hybrid, and 2016 Sonata Hybrid vehicles because connecting rod bearings inside the engine may wear prematurely.

* Kia is recalling 295,000 U.S. vehicles for fire risks. Kia said the recall covers some 2012-2013 model year Sorento, 2012-2015 Forte and Forte Koup, 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid, 2014-2015 Soul, and 2012 Sportage vehicles because an engine compartment fire of an undetermined cause can occur while driving.

* The journal writes, theToyZone recently took on the project of finding which vintage Lego sets have the highest price tags and appreciation value. The first sets in the LEGO Technic range were simple cars and tractors. To no surprise, car sets are among the highest valued. For example, the LEGO Duplo PreSchool Racer that debuted in 1977 for $1.10 is worth $160.69 – a 1450.18 percent rise in value. Read more on this here:

* The 69th annual Detroit Autorama, originally scheduled for March 5–7, 2021, has been postponed until April 30–May 2 at Detroit’s TCF Center. The Michigan Hot Rod Association has not released an official announcement, but information was shared on its Facebook page. Championship Auto Shows Incorporated (CASI) updated the Autorama website with the new date. No explanation for the change was given, but we can assume that the postponement was due to uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

* Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced a multi-year agreement with the nation’s largest veterans service organization, The American Legion, as a sponsor of the No. 48 Honda in the NTT INDYCAR Series represented by a combination of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson (street and road courses) and former Indianapolis 500 Winner and Series Champion Tony Kanaan (ovals).

* Reports are that 2021 will be Audi's last year competing in Formula E. Audi says there is limited further technical development in Formula E. In 2022 it will enter the Dakar Rally with a hybrid race car. Audi also is preparing “intensively for the entry into the new LMDh sports car category with its highlight races, the 24 Hours of Daytona and Le Mans,” says Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH.

* Meanwhile: Volkswagen is terminating its motorsport activities and reassigning employees to work on its growing line of electric vehicles. The motorsport unit, employing 169 people, will be folded into the parent company in the coming months, VW said. The division is already working on a prototype electric race car called the IDR which set records at Pikes Peak and will now help develop the brand's growing range of electric models.

* Romain Grosjean escaped a horrific crash at F1 Bahrain Grand Prix with burns on the back of his hands. FIA officials say safety measures in the sport for the most part did their job in Bahrain last Sunday. Grosjean crashed in Turn 3 on the first lap and escaped the fireball in less than 30 seconds. The car split in half when it went through a guard barrier, and Grosjean escaped with the driver cockpit virtually in tact. The "survival cell" cockpit with its overall design including the relatively new halo worked as intended.

Stay safe. Be Well.