Nutson's Auto News Digest Week Ending October 26, 2019
Democrats Promise, "If We Win Will Eliminate Internal Combustion Power From America"...Stoopid Stoopid Stoopid; GM Strike Finished; NHTSA Says Traffic Deaths Down; Aggressive Driver Rankings; Tesla Vs. Porsche; Autobahn Getting Greened-Up; Downtown Chicago Rides Getting Greened Up; Apple Autonomous Reality; Hyundai Autonomous Reality; Big Subaru Recall (With Love Of Course); Roger Penske Awarded; NASCAR Championship
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending October 26, 2019; Important and Interesting automotive news and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* From Bloomberg we read that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said if Democrats win control of the chamber next year, he would put an ambitious plan on the floor to remove gas-powered vehicles from American roads by 2040. (Why?) Schumer’s $454 billion plan echoes “cash-for-clunkers,” a short-term vehicle scrappage incentive Congress enacted roughly a decade ago to give a boost to plummeting auto sales during the financial crisis and clean up the U.S. fleet. Consumers would be given a “substantial” cash voucher to trade in older gasoline-powered cars for U.S.-assembled electric, hybrid or hydrogen fuel cell autos, with additional rebates for lower income families. That part of the plan would cost $392 billion and would replace 25% of the U.S. gas-vehicle fleet with clean vehicles after 10 years, Schumer’s office said. The plan also includes $45 billion in funding for states and cities to improve charging infrastructure, and another $17 billion to help ensure clean vehicles are made in America.
* The longest nationwide strike against GM in nearly 50 years ended, when a majority of UAW members ratified a new four-year deal with GM. The week-long vote ends a 40-day strike that cost members thousands of dollars each, GM as much as $2 billion in lost profits and the automaker's shareholders more than 5% in the value of their stock. Members ratified the contract 57% to 43%, pushed by large totals at the automaker's "Big Three" truck and SUV plants in Flint, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Arlington, Texas. GM lost 300,000 units of production and probably can only make up about 25% of that. Up next: Ford.
* A new NHTSA report says traffic deaths are down by 2.4%. A total of 36,560 people died on U.S. roads in 2018. The drop is attributed to the ADAS technology in new vehicles that can help prevent a crash. The 2019 trend continues down. On the other hand, pedestrian deaths are up 3.4% and deaths on bicycles and other pedaled vehicles is up 6.3%. Motorcycle deaths declined 4.7%. Most pedestrian deaths and half the bicycles deaths occurred after dark.
* A new study by GasBuddy analyzed user data from drivers in the top 30 U.S. metropolitan areas by population to determine the frequency of aggressive driving. The study assessed aggressiveness by reviewing data on speed, hard braking, and swift acceleration. The top ten worst are: Los Angeles Philadelphia, Sacramento, Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego, Orlando, Detroit, Austin, Texas and Las Vegas.
*Tesla's effort to upstage Porsche by setting a record lap time on Germany's storied Nuerburgring Nordschleife track is ruffling German feathers. The community of racing aficionados that pays attention to these things is whispering that Tesla is not playing by the rules, using a one-of-a-kind, modified Model S to set a record against a stock Porsche Taycan. Track officials say they want to clamp down on gamesmanship to assure the integrity of speed records set at the track. Elon Musk tweeted that he intends to sell a Model S with the so-called "Plaid" package used at the Ring.
* Much of the German Autobahn has speed limits for safety due to traffic density. However many rural sections still have no speed limit. Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, has voted against a bill proposed by the Greens that would have introduced a speed limit of 130 kilometers per hour (80 miles per hour) on all sections of Germany's highways. Germany is the only country in Europe with no official speed limit on highways. Neighboring countries Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and the Czech Republic all have a 130 kilometers per hour limit (80 miles per hour). In Belgium and Switzerland, a 120 kph limit is in place.
* Getting around Chicago could soon become more expensive for solo passengers using ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced plans to enact a series of “congestion fee” hikes, aimed at encouraging eco-efficient carpooling The increases would target those who use ride-hailing services downtown during peak traffic hours, and those who prefer a personal ride, as opposed to selecting the “shared” option, citywide. The steepest increase would hit users riding solo in a special “downtown zone” covering the central Loop and surrounding areas, who’d pay $3 in fees on every ride – more than triple the current 72-cent rate. Duh! Try a taxi. No extra fee on solo rides.
* From a report by our friends at The Detroit Bureau we read: No Fully Autonomous Vehicles “In My Lifetime,” Predicts Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak. A keynote speaker at an automotive technology conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, “Woz,” as he’s widely known, noted he was a long-time proponent of AI and self-driving vehicles, but “A couple years ago I gave up on that thinking.” He now believes it is unlikely that vehicles capable of operating entirely without a human back-up driver won’t be ready for production “in my lifetime.” The Apple founder and legendary computer technician also predicted that artificial intelligence won’t go nearly as far as many experts have been predicting, with the ability to not only out-think humans but also relate to them on an emotional level.
* Hyundai, in collaboration with Pony.ai and Via, unveiled BotRide, a shared, on-demand, autonomous vehicle service operating on public roads. Starting on November 4, a fleet of self-driving Hyundai KONA Electric SUVs will provide a free ride-sharing service to the local community of Irvine, California.
* Subaru is recalling over 400,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix problems with engine computers and debris that can fall into motors. The first recall covers 466,000 Imprezas from 2017 through 2019, and 2018 and 2019 Crosstreks. Subaru says the engine computer can keep powering the ignition coil after motors are shut off. That could cause a short circuit and blown fuse. The second recall covers 205,000 Imprezas from 2017 through 2019 and 2018 Crosstreks. The aluminum positive crankcase ventilation valves can fall apart. Debris can enter the engine and cause power loss.
* Roger Penske, racing icon, businessman and automotive retail leader, joined a dozen other individuals who President Trump has bestowed with the nation's top civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
* NASCAR playoffs now number eight driver in contention after last Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway. They are: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliot, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney. Two Chevrolets, one each from Hendrick and Chip Ganassi, three Fords, two from Penske and one from Stewart-Hass, and three Toyotas from Joe Gibbs Racing make up the field.