Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News May 5-11, 2013 Just In-Case You Were Snoozing


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Auto Central Louisville, KY May 12, 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 1,382,807 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 May 5-11, 2013

* Bicycles are big in Detroit. Yes, bicycles. A number of new firms have been set up in metro Detroit in recent years because people outside the U.S. are seeking products made in the Motor City. Detroit Bikes and Detroit Bicycle Co. are two of the newer companies. Soon, the "Woodward Bike Cruise".

* Bosch will begin selling a new residential electric-vehicle charging station for less than $450 which is considerably less than most systems today. They're taking orders now for delivery as soon as June. The lower price was achieved primarily by shortening the cable.

* A 508-horsepower Subaru with 500 pound-feet or torque set records for the WRX model at the 13-mile Nurbergring track last week. It took just under 8 minutes for the best lap.

* After posting its first operating profit for the first quarter of 2013, Tesla received good news this week as Consumer Reports magazine, a source used by many folks shopping for new cars, gave its highest rating to the plug-in electric Model S, in fact, it tied for the best score ever given by the magazine at 99 out of 100 points. They called it the best car they've tested since 2007…that was the Lexus LS 460L. Since it is such a new car without reliability data they declined to recommend it to readers. But good things come at a cost and the price of its model tested was $89,650.

* A new three-wheeled, two-seat car might be in the offing soon if Elio Motors is all they claim to be. We saw photos this week of the prototype 800-pound, $6,800 car they say will get 84 mpg on the highway and 49 in the city as well as earn a five-star crash rating from NHTSA and do zero-to-60mph in 9.6 seconds. They will build it in an old GM factory in Louisiana and already have 13,000 orders. It is expected to go on sale sometime in 2014.

* General Motors has a recall on 38,197 sedans equipped with its hybrid eAssist powertrain because a defective battery control module could potentially lead to a vehicle fire. The recall covers Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu Eco sedans from the 2012-13 model years.

* BMW is recalling 45,000 3 Series sedans in the U.S. and Canada from the 2002 and 2003 model years because the air bags may not inflate properly. The air bags will be replaced. The affected vehicles have air bags made by Takata who also supplied the air bags in the 3.3 million vehicle recall that includes vehicles from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, GM and others.

* VPG, developer of the wheelchair-accessible MV-1 and whose vehicles operate on compressed natural gas, is the latest government-backed firm to stumble. Production has stopped and a large portion of their employees have been let go. In April, the Energy Department seized nearly $5 million in reserve funds set aside for VPG. A sale of the company is possible and production could then continue.

* In a further move to separate from the competition and to improve vehicle ownership experience, Kia Motors America announced a complimentary scheduled maintenance program available for the all-new 2014 Cadenza premium sedan. The program covers the first five factory-scheduled service appointments and is applicable for 36 months or 37,500 miles.

* Enzo Ferrari made it clear many times over that he really had no desire to build and sell road cars to the public but it was the only way he could finance his racing program and keep it under his tight control. Ferrari Chairman Luca Montezemolo recently expressed concern that the company was building too many road cars and that it would cut back on production to ensure the exclusivity of the prancing horse. Ferrari sales increased 4% in the first quarter of this year to about 1,800 units but they will slow its sales for the rest of the year to keep the total below 7,000. For comparison, rival Maserati sells nearly 50,000 units.

* The NHTSA is investigating complaints that the low-beam headlights can go dark without warning on some Chevrolet Corvettes. The probe covers more than 103,000 Corvettes from the 2005 through 2007 model years.

* After declining steadily for years the highway death rate went up this past year from 1.10 deaths per hundred million miles traveled to 1.16 dphmm. Analysts speculate it may be due to declining use of helmets by motorcyclists.

* The Birminham, Michigan police have been using Camaros to bust speeders plying the infamous Woodward Avenue but now they are not alone. Dubai becomes the first country in the Middle East to use a Camaro in law enforcement. Police Chief Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina says " . . . it is the ideal car for the Dubai Police as we look to upgrade our vehicles to meet the Emirate's world renowned standards in safety and security."

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