Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News December 10-16, 2012 Just In Case You Were Dozing
Auto Central Louisville, KY December 16, 2012 Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel's Chicago Bureau Chief, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau give you easy to digest nuggets of the past week's automotive news you may have missed.
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Automotive News December 16, 2012
* Finalists were announced this week at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association for the prestigious North American Car and Truck of the Year honors. NACToY is judged not by any particular publication or media outlet but by an independent panel of 49 U.S. and Canadian journalists. Finalists for Car of the Year are: Ford Fusion, Cadillac ATS and Honda Accord. Truck/Utility finalists are: Ford C-Max, Mazda CX-5 and Ram 1500. This year, to reflect the growing numbers of crossover vehicles in the North American market, jurors voted to change the name of North American Truck of the Year to North American Truck/Utility of the Year. The winners will be announced at the beginning of press days for the North American International Auto Show in mid-January. After considering dozens of vehicles this year, the jurors finally narrowed the field to the 11 cars and 10 trucks on which they voted to determine the finalists.
* Another award for the Fusion comes from Kelley Blue Book. Fusion was named 2013 Best Redesigned Vehicle.
* Autoweek editors announced the Porsche Boxster S and Mercedes-Benz GL as the car and truck winners at the 2013 Best of the Best awards presentation.
* Journalists got their first comprehensive look at the new 2014 GM pickups - Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra - this week in Detroit. Three new engines will improve fuel efficiency using direct injection, cylinder deactivation and other technologies. Exterior styling is evolutionary and not a departure from existing design but interiors are dramatically improved. Light trucks are a huge contributor to GM profitability and the most important product introduction this year. Fuel economy and pricing was not yet announced. The last redesign was in 2006. GM pickup sales have been down in spite of increases in the market going to Ford and Ram.
* British luxury car maker Jaguar, owned by Tata Automotive of India, announced this week that they are canceling plans to build up to 250 units of a new hybrid-powered super car that would cost around a million British pounds. A most unusual propulsion system would be comprised of two micro turbine electric generators feeding the battery pack which in turn would feed four in-wheel electric motors.
* Bad news for electric car enthusiasts this week: Coda, the California company that assembles a small, blandly-styled electric car from Chinese components, announced a cut of 15% of their staff. Citing slower than expected acceptance of electric cars Coda officials still express optimism about the longer term future of electrics.
* Battery-maker A123 Systems Inc. of Waltham. Mass., maker of batteries for the automotive, defense and other industries was acquired by Chinese auto parts manufacturer Wanxiang America Corp. for $256.6 million in a U.S. bankruptcy auction held in Chicago. Wanxiang bid against Johnson Controls, Inc., Siemens AG and NEC Corp. in the bidding. Wanxiang will acquire most of A123 Systems business, including its advanced battery unit but will not acquire certain U.S. government business that is considered proprietary. That business was acquired by Navitas Systems for $2.25 million. But late news has this bankruptcy sale being challenged by both the U.S. Government and JCI. So we'll have to wait and see how it actually ends up.
* All the buzz and uproar in Michigan this week was the opposition to the passing of "right to work" legislation. But, this is a giant step toward encouraging business investment since it will abate union membership requirements as a condition of employment. The legislation is expected to open the state for new investment, much of it expected to be related to the automotive capital of world. "We're going to see some major investments in Michigan over the next two to three years," said Neil DeKoker, the head of Troy-based trade group the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, which represents auto component makers. Supporters of right-to-work said it tempers industry fears of dealing with the United Auto Workers union and makes Michigan more competitive against neighboring industrial states such as Ohio, which does not have such a law.
* Honda will recall 318,000 Odyssey minivans and 259,000 Pilot crossovers from model years 2003-2004, and 230,000 Acura MDX crossovers from model years 2003-2006 that could roll away after the ignition key has been removed. The automaker said a part in the ignition interlock could become damaged or worn, enabling the key to be removed even if the vehicle's transmission lever has not been shifted into park. The 871,000 vehicle recall also includes 64,000 Honda vehicles outside the United States.
* Ford is taking issue with EPA mileage tests in follow-up to Consumer Reports who say they were unable to get the claimed 47-mpg with Ford's newest hybrids - C-Max and Fusion. CR says their "real-world" tests show them at 37 and 39-mpg respectively. Ford said that the EPA test may require modifications to more accurately reflect a hybrid's fuel economy.
* We don't often see new car buyer incentives so targeted as the offer from the Chrysler Group for Volkswagen drivers to get $1000 off on a new Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or Fiat. The VW drivers can own or lease their current car and don't even have to trade it in to gt the deal.
* Formula One driver Fernando Alonso was voted driver of the year by the Formula One team principals in a poll conducted by Britain's Autosport magazine. Alonso won this honor over this year's Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel.