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Nutson's Nuggets: In Case You Were Sleeping - Last Week's (December 19-25) Automotive News


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Auto Central Louisville KY, December 25, 2011; Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel's Chicago Bureau Chief, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Detroit Bureau give you the past week's automotive news highlights you may have missed. If you are a car nut like we all are here you can easily "catch up" on not only this past weeks automotive news but the past 16 years 876,342 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive...Merry Christmas, get smart, have fun see ya next week LN.

* Saab's nine-month struggle for survival appears to have come to an end. A Swedish court approved the bankruptcy petition and began liquidation this week. No word yet on whether dealers will be compensated. An outside administrator will begin winding down the Saab North America unit. Might be some bargains out there for left-over Saabs. But, we don't know what will happen with warranty service, since warranty coverage was suspended. However, General Motors, Saab's former owner, said it would honor warranties on all models sold when it owned the Swedish automaker.

* With the North American International Auto Show in Detroit coming up in a couple of weeks we're getting a rush of hints about what will be shown there - everything from a sporty version of the new Chevy Sonic to a sexy Lexus 2+2 sport coupe. Looks like the show is gaining strength back after some dismal years. Many of the exotics and high line cars will be in their own show off-site at the MGM Grand Casino nearby. Notable absences altogether from Detroit this year will be Jaguar and Land Rover. They will be emphasizing the New Delhi show instead.

* GM's new global product development boss, Mary Barra, spoke to the Automotive Press Association last week in Detroit fielding questions about product strategies, Volt battery concerns and what it's like sloshing around in the shoes of her predecessor, the larger-than-life Bob Lutz. Answering a question from this reporter it is obvious that she is not a car nut like Lutz, but she sees the importance the product part of the car business over the bean counting. Looks like she has a foot in both worlds.

* Lexus finally announced pricing this week for the new GS series they introduced to the press a few weeks ago in Las Vegas. Base price for the all-new, and mighty cool, GS 350 will be $46,900 which amazingly represents no increase over the last GS 350. You can read our review here on TheAutoChannel.com, but to put it in a nutshell - the new GS series models are chasing the German competitors out the door.

* The National Transportation Safety Board stuck their bureaucratic necks out last week strongly recommending that all mobile phones be banned in cars. That drew a rash of criticism, most notably Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who made it clear he would not support the ban. Can you imagine the enforcement nightmare that would be?

* Google Zietgeist and General Sentiment announced the results of a study regarding automotive internet buzz. "While Audi ranked below BMW on both the Google and General Sentiment lists, the "progressive luxury" automaker was the most positively discussed auto brand in 2011. Jeep received the most negative press bringing up the rear with a Sentiment score of only +47 and a ninth place discussion total. Ford held strong with the second highest level of discussion, and it tied for fourth place for Sentiment."

* The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) is considered a general measure of the health of the auto industry. Edmunds this week adjusted their projection upward for calendar 2012 to 13.4 million units. They caution, however, that "we may have some sales speed bumps to deal with next year."

* TheAutoChannel.com's Detroit editor, together with film maker Mark Ducker, have put together an automobile fine art show in the lobby of the Chase Tower in downtown Detroit featuring an even dozen of the best automobile artists in the country. Free and open to the public from January 6th to January 29th it will run concurrently with the North American International Auto Show. So, any of you who are attending NAIAS might want to check it out - only five blocks from the auto show site. A free opening reception is planned for Saturday, January 7th from 6 to 9 PM. Details at: www.detroitknowscars.com.

* Nissan is recalling nearly 34,000 Sentra compact cars because of a battery cable problem that could cause the engines to stall.Nissan also is recalling more than 28,000 Juke small crossover SUVs from the 2011 model year. A turbocharger bracket problem can cause engine stalling.

* There may be a Chevy Cruze station wagon in your future. Road & Track magazine has posted spy photos of the Cruze wagon being testyed in northern Europe.

* The 2012 Cadillac CTS sedan and wagon and SRX crossover have received a five-star crash test rating from U.S. safety regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Other 2012 GM models that have received the rating include the Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and the Chevrolet Cruze, Volt and Traverse.

* Next Autoworks, the San Diego based startup that planned to produce cars in a former GM facility in Monroe, LA, is cutting staff and consolidating after failing to secure a $320 million government loan from the Department of Energy. Political and credit-risk concerns are supposed reasons for the denial of the funding. The Solyndra solar panel bankruptcy is indeed a big deal!

* Nissan will reveal the Nissan Pathfinder Concept on January 9 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Most likely a very close representaion of what will come to market next fall. The Pathfinder has been around for 25 years and has a strong following of loyal owners.

* Although still a year away from production, Tesla has announced the price of its Model S Sedan at $57,400, after the $7500 federal tax credit. The full MSRP is $64,900 for the 5-passenger sedan that has a 160 mile range with its 40kw-hr battery.

* General Motors is recalling almost 20,000 Cadillac SRX crossover vehicles, mostly in China and the United States, due to potential transmission defects. GM's Chinese joint venture, Shanghai GM, is recalling 9,862 of the compact luxury SUVs in that country, while GM is recalling 8,789 in the United States.

* California is launching the “Check Your Number�?? campaign that urges drivers to hold off changing their oil so often. Why? It’s a common misconception that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, which wastes millions of gallons of oil every year. About 50 percent of California drivers change their oil at the 3,000 mile mark. The truth is, with all the improvements in oils, friction proofing and car engines, you should be changing your oil at about every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. BMW is up to 15,000 miles. California officials say that by waiting longer between oil changes, the state will be able to save about 10 million gallons of oil a year.

* And in the world of motorsports, the 2012 IndyCar series 15-race schedule has no stops in Chicago or Milwaukee, and of course Las Vegas. A new stop is in Detroit after a 4-year hiatus. In NASCAR, Kurt Busch landed a job driving the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. It's just about two months until the Daytona 500.