Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids July 29-August 4, 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY August 4, 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 1,470,115 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 July 29-August 4, 2013

* Goodbye July, but you were a great auto sales month. The industry was up 14% overall with an annual selling rate of 15.7 million. Big sales are at two ends of the market: small cars and big pickups. Subaru continues to rocket with sales up 43%. Jag/Land Rover up 31%, Mazda up 29%, Honda/Acura up 21%, Daimler up 19%, Toyota/Lexus/Scion up 17%, GM up 16%, Nissan, Chrysler Group, Ford, and BMW Group each up 11%, Hyundai/Kia up 5%, and VW Group up 2%. Noteworthy is that 30% of VW brand sales are diesel engine.

* The European automobile business is still struggling as optimists see signs the market may be bottoming out. Germany, France and Spain posted 2 percent gains.

* Ford Motor Co. is recalling 33,021 C-Max hybrid cars because they may not adequately protect occupants’ heads in a crash. Vehicles involved were made between Jan. 19, 2012, and June 25, 2013 and don’t have panoramic roofs. C-Max hybrids with panoramic glass roofs aren’t involved in the recall.

* Ford Motor Co. plans to scale back its involvement in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series beginning in 2015. In essence, Ford will end its sponsorship of teams competing in the series at the end of the 2014 campaign. “Ford is not getting out of drag racing. We are fully committed to continue our support of grassroots sportsman drag racing with our Mustang Cobra Jet, parts support and contingency programs. Enthusiasts and production-based racing is at the heart of what we do." The announcement primarily affects the NHRA Funny Car efforts of John Force Racing, Tasca Racing and Tim Wilkerson Racing.

* BMW introduced the i3, its first electric vehicle, and it wants alleviate the so-called "range anxiety" that many EV buyers have. BMW AG will become the first auto manufacturer to offer its EV customers a back-up vehicle for several weeks a year in order to allay fears of running out of juice. BMW is planning to offer customers of its i3 EV the use of a BMW X5 SUV for long trips or as a back-up vehicle. The program won't be free and BMW hasn't announced the cost of the option, but the company is doing everything it can to eliminate that key concern EV owners have about being stuck somewhere without power or a charging station.

* The North American Car and Truck of the Year jurors have released their long list of early contenders for the 2014 top spots. There are 30 cars and 18 Trucks/Utility Vehicles. The jurors in December will narrow the list to five each for cars and for trucks/utilities. A winner from each category will be announced during the North American International Auto Show in January.

* The agreement between Toyota and Ford to build rear-wheel-drive hybrid systems for light trucks and SUVs is history. The agreement was announced in 2011. The two companies will continue to collaborate in other areas.

* Toyota began production this week of two important North American-made products, the redesigned compact Corolla and the reengineered Tundra pickup. Corolla, made in Mississippi and also Canada, is the best-selling nameplate around the world and the second best seller in the U.S. The Tundra pickup, made in Texas, does not challenge the big three American pickup brands but keeps Toyota in that very profitable market.

* General Motors inked a deal this week to purchase an important piece of their history, an old building known as "Factory 1" in Flint, MI. It began life as a textile factory but was bought in the 1880s by the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. In 1908 William Durant founded GM from this and another building across the street that GM also bought. The plan is to establish a museum honoring those early days of the company.

* Ford began this week a series of on-line videos to celebrate 50 years of the popular sporty car, the Mustang, covering the stories behind its development and the people who made, sold and bought it. Few cars have the classically American heritage of the Mustang. See the first installments at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLh_g4AJrndncJto0t1Tu4TiFKY5rXJsZS.

* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau reported this week substantial rumors that race car and super car builder McLaren and their Formula One client Honda may be working on a plan for a partnership on a new high-performance car. Few details are available but in spite of the official line that their only collaboration is Formula One racing it takes only a little reading between the lines to see hints of other projects. Remember, you heard it second here.

* We've been following the news surrounding this country's newest major auto museum, the LeMay Museum in Tacoma, Washington and see this week an announcement of three important Corvette concept cars that will be there for only three days, August 9, 10 and 11 as part of a special Corvette exhibit that goes through the end of the year. On display will be the 1959 Stingray Racer, 1961 Mako Shark and the 1969 Manta Ray. The following week the cars will be at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

* A British university is delaying the release of an academic paper on how the antitheft systems of millions of Volkswagen vehicles are at risk of being hacked after the German carmaker took legal action against it. The paper — which a group of academics had planned to publish next month — revealed three ways to bypass a brand of computer chip used by several auto manufacturers to fight vehicle theft. Often referred to as immobilizers, such chips use a secret algorithm to ensure that a car can only be started with the right key. Millions of Volkswagen vehicles were issued with the chip, including high-end cars such as Porsches, Audis, Bentleys, and Lamborghinis.

* Nissan is recalling nearly 13,000 Versa Note subcompact hatchbacks because bolts holding the rear seat back latches may not be strong enough. The company says the recall affects cars from the 2014 model year that were built in Mexico before July 5 and distributed mainly in North America.

* Lotus is recalling 80 of its 2011 Evora S models because of a possible oil leak. An oil cooling hose could fail causing oil to leak onto the rear wheels.

* Ford paid a penalty of $17.35 million to settle government allegations that the company was slow to recall nearly a half-million 2001 to 2004 Ford Escape compact SUVs last year. The Escapes, equipped with 3-liter V6 engines, were recalled to fix sticking gas pedals.

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