Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (January 16-21, 2012) In Case You Were


Auto Central Louisville KY January 22, 2012; 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 899,342 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive...Have fun see ya next week LN.

* With press days at the North American International (Detroit) Auto Show behind us we're getting hints of what we'll find introduced at next month's Chicago Auto Show. First up is the New Beetle TDI with Cabrio not far behind. This will be the only diesel convertible in the US.

* Fiat may get a boost with a new wagon version of its iconic 500 subcompact. The Italian automaker will introduce a five-door model related to its subcompact 500 at the Geneva, Switzerland motor show in March. The new model will be sold in the U.S. starting next year. As a reminder, the performance Abarth version of the 500 is due in spring.

* BMW is recalling 89,000 Mini Cooper cars from the 2007 - 2011 model years due to circuit boards that can overheat and potentially cause fires.

* Kia is recalling certain Optima and Rondo models for driver's side air bag possible damaged electric circuits.

* According to market intelligence firm Polk, the average age of cars and light trucks currently in operation in the U.S. has increased to 10.8 years and currently stands at a record high. Polk's study shows that average vehicle age has been increasing rapidly over the past five years. Passenger cars showed a modest increase in age since 2010 from 11 years to to 11.1 years at the end of 2011, and pickups and SUVs increased from 10.1 years in age to 10.4 years over the same period. Yes, the economy is forcing folks to keep vehicles longer but they are also made very much better and, quite simply, lasting longer. Polk also reported that there are, in total, fewer cars and trucks on the road

* As the final day of Preseason Thunder wrapped, there was certainly no shortage of information NASCAR and the teams gathered during this three-day test as speeds continued to stand close to the 200-mph mark. Teams continued to collaborate with NASCAR throughout the day, in particular with the afternoon pack drafting session, to work towards the goal of reducing the ease of the tandem draft and making it an exception instead of the norm.

* Expectations are that the outstanding all-new 2013 Ford Fusion, shown at the Detroit auto show, will appear in full NASCAR make-up the end of this month. Is NASCAR's cookie-cutter Car-of-Tomorrow short lived?

* If you are a US auto industry history buff, a new, $8-million automotive exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan will open on January 29. The exhibit includes 130 historically significant cars and trucks, including 21 that haven't been on display for at least 25 years and nearly a dozen others on loan to the museum.

* The National Academy of Sciences National Research Council confirmed the February 2011 findings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that no electronic defects contributed to incidents of unintended acceleration in hundreds of Toyota vehicles.

* The everlasting Saab story did not end with the recent bankruptcy filing in Sweden. The Detroit Bureau reports this week that a Turkish private equity firm, Brightwell Holdings, is preparing an offer the buy the brand and is saying it will relaunch production. And Autobeat Daily reports that the Chinese Zhejaing Yongman Lotus Automobile Ltd. is planning a new offer to buy Saab as well.

* General Motors said it is once again the world's largest automaker with global sales of 9.03 million vehicles in 2011. That's 11% higher than Volkswagen, which reported 2011 global sales of 8.16 million. But, it seems GM included sales by affiliates and VW did not. So we'll see once the math is sorted out. Toyota, the symbolic title holder from 2008 through 2010, has not yet reported its final 2011 sales. However, estimates from Toyota says it sold 7.9 million vehicles globally last year.

* And as the week came to a close, the government closed its investigation of post-crash fires in Chevrolet Volt batteries after further testing proved the changes General Motors has implemented better protect the batteries. GM announced in early January that it would retrofit 14,735 Volts already built and make permanent changes on the Volt assembly line at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

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