Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News March 18-24, 2013 Just In-Case You Were Snoozing


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Auto Central Louisville, KY March 24, 2013 Each week Larry Nutson, Senior Editor, New York Bureau of The Auto Channel, 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.

If you are a car nut like we all are, you can easily "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 17 year's 1,377,218 automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive. Hey South Florida TV viewers, I know you are enjoying watching The Auto Channel's TACH-TV on channel 44 WHDT-TV Palm Beach (Cable 17 and 438, channel 9 Miami and channel 32 Fort Meyers-Naples, and thanks for the positive feedback....See you next week, LN

Automotive News March 18-24, 2013

* The New York Auto Show starts next week with media previews. From pre-event information we've seen this week it sounds like there will be plenty of announcements to peak the interest of enthusiasts. Chrysler will show the newest Imported from Detroit-themed special edition car, a Chrysler 200 in Carhartt livery. Carhartt is the work clothing manufacturer based in Detroit that has become trendy in recent years. Check back later this week here at The Auto Channel for Press Pass Coverage of the New York Auto Show.

* When you're thinking of a 4X4 sports car we'll bet you're not thinking of this one. Europe's popular 4X4 magazine Auto Bild Allrad readers voted the Bentley Continental GT the All-Wheel Sports Car of the Year. In addition to all-wheel drive the Bentley features a W12 engine. The all-wheel drive system is standard on Continental models.

* The most prestigious Concours d'Elegance in the country announced it featured marque this week. The Pebble Beach show will honor Aston Martin acknowledging that storied brand's centennial anniversary. This beautiful mid-August show overlooks the Pacific Ocean from the famous Pebble Beach golf course on the Monterey Peninsula.

* A study by respected firm McKinsey and Co. released this week points out the struggle electric cars will continue to have among real-world buyers. Approximately a third of EV owners in Japan will not buy another. Citing range and cost issues it appears these formerly enthusiastic owners, most of whom received government subsidies, are rethinking that purchase. Furthermore, electric vehicles are still a decade from becoming mainstream here in the U.S., experts said at the Megatrends auto conference in Dearborn. The Troy, Michigan-based firm does not see electric vehicles hitting 1% of the market until 2018.

* Considering the struggles of electric cars to make inroads to the mainstream market, we were surprised to hear this week that a new Detroit Electric, the name of a company that made electric cars in Detroit in the early 1900s, will introduce a new two-seat EV at the Shanghai Motor Show in April. A preview of the car is scheduled for Detroit on April 3. To be built in Wayne County, Michigan using a Lotus Elise sports car platform it will be priced at $135,000. They expect to build 888 cars this year beginning in August, slightly more than half of which will be sold in the U.S. with a capacity of 2,500 cars/year thereafter.

* Lincoln has been struggling to get the new MKZ to dealers because of quality issues. Until this week they were sending cars built in the Mexico plant to a Michigan factory for further quality inspections. Problems were partly blamed on parts shortages that have now been solved. Dealers should be fully stocked by the end of March.

* Comerica Bank's Auto Affordability Index revealed this week that it took 23.6 weeks of the median family income to buy and finance the average new vehicle in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2012, slightly up from the third quarter. This minuscule increase is due to both an increase of $900 in the price of the average new vehicle and slightly higher interest rates.

* Chrysler Group issued a rare recall for 2013 Dodge Challengers equipped with V-6 engines, and took the even more unusual step of telling owners not to drive them. The recall affects only 4,459 Challengers because of a wire harness that can overheat and lead to fires.

* Toyota is recalling about 310,000 of its FJ Cruiser SUVs due to a seatbelt problem. According to Toyota, the problem involves seatbelts that could fail because of excess wear.

* General Motors is recalling about 28,000 2013 Cadillac SRX and Buick LaCrosse vehicles to reprogram software that could allow the vehicles' automatic transmission to slip from manual to automatic mode unexpectedly.

* Louisiana is No. 1 -- but not in a desirable way. It has the highest average car insurance rates in the nation, followed by Michigan and Georgia, according to Insure.com's annual state-by-state comparison of insurance premiums. Maine and Iowa held the bottom two spots on the list last year and have been in the bottom 10 since 2010.

* Just what we need; more noise. Major automakers say the Obama administration's "quiet cars" rule to help blind pedestrians avoid electric vehicles and other nearly silent vehicles would result in warning sounds that are too loud. Two trade groups representing Detroit's automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and other major Asian and European automakers raised serious concerns about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's proposed rules mandating minimum sound levels to warn the visually impaired as well as bicyclists. I wonder if the next is warning sounds on bicycles to warn ALL pedestrians?

* More on Fisker. Last week we reported that founder and Chairman Henrik Fisker resigned from the company, citing a disagreement with company management. Now potential Chinese investors Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Dongfeng Motor Corp. have backed out of negotiations to acquire Fisker. The company, known for its high-performance plug-in electric Karma that sold for about $100,000, hasn't built a vehicle since the middle of 2012.The Obama administration has demanded that Fisker produce its next vehicle at the Delaware plant , not in Finland or anywhere else, if it is to receive any part of the remaining $337 million loan commitment.

* Many brands had motorsports success last weekend. Lotus won the Formula 1 race in Melbourne, Australia; a Chevy SS won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Bristol,TN; Audi finished one-two in the 12 hours of Sebring endurance race and a Corvette won the GT class in the same race; Yamaha won the Daytona 200 motorcycle classic; and, Dodge won ProStock at the NHRA race in Gainseville,FL.

* Automotive News reports they found a yet-unannounced price of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. It's $71,860. That figure was buried in the rules for the Race To Win A Corvette contest, listed as the approximate value of the car that is part of the grand-prize package. Now at $70K that's probably not a base car, but a Corvette Stingray with a big option package.

* Gas prices are predicted to hit a $4 per gallon national average by May. But, the U.S. has less demand for gasoline and more output of oil. By 2020 the U.S. is forecasted to overtake Saudi Arabia as the world's largest crude oil producer. Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline demand has fallen to its lowest level since 2001. The U.S. is still the biggest consumer of oil, but China is the world's biggest importer of oil. U.S refiners sell gasoline and diesel to the highest bidder around the world and in 2011 we were a net exporter for the first time in 60 years.

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