Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids September 2-8 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY September 8, 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 1,474,563 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 August 26-September 8, 2013

* Talk about hot August nights; it was hot August U.S. car sales with a jump of 17% to an annual rate of 16.1 million. The Japanese makers led the heat wave with Toyota/Lexus/Scion up 23%, Nissan/Infiniti up 22%, Honda/Acura up 27%, Mazda up 26%, and Subaru continuing its big climb up 45%. For the U.S. makers, GM is up 15%, and Ford Motor and Chrysler Group each up 12%. Hyundai is up 8% and Kia up 4%. The BMW brand is up 46%, Jaguar up 60% and Land Rover up 33%. Audi is up 22% while VW is down 2%. Mercedes-Benz is up 15%. Of August's 1.5 million vehicles, many of them were leased and there were lots of pickups, compacts, and hybrids and EVs in the mix.

* Honda is back in the high mileage mid-size sedan hunt with the 2014 Accord Hybrid that just earned an EPA city rating of 50 mpg. The last time they had a hybrid was 2007 and that only rated at 24 mpg city. This one uses two electric motors and lithium ion batteries where the old one was one motor and nickel metal hydride batteries. The new Accord Hybrids combined rating is 47 mpg, the same as Fusion Hybrid and 9 clicks better than the Camry Hybrid. No word on pricing yet.

* Competition remains stiff in the mid-size sedan market segment, biggest segment in the industry. Bob Carter, Toyota's U.S. sales boss, told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit this week that he is "passionate" about sustaining Camry's spot on the top of that heap. Camry has led that category for the past 11 years. While Toyota has not had to offer much incentive money in the past to sell these cars they are now offering an average of $2,560. Carter explains they are just now doing what others have done for years.

* Ford began production of the popular Fusion mid-size sedan in the Flat Rock, MI plant this week. Previously the car had been built exclusively at the Hermosillo, Mexico factory. Demand is surging for the Fusion and the Flat Rock plant adds 100,000 units to the annual capacity for the car.

* The coupe version of the unorthodox DeltaWing race car finished its testing in time to compete in the American Le Mans Series at Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas. With its narrow front track it looks much different than previous cars of its class. It is expected to compete in all three of the final ALS races of the season. The DeltaWing is produced by Don Panoz's Elan Motorsports Technologies.

* Last weekend's classic and collector cars auctions at the Auction America venue in Auburn, Indiana set records for sales and attendance. Sales totaled more than $28 million with an 80% sold rate. The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival surrounds the auction event drawing more than 70,000 old car lovers to the Auburn Auction Park and events around the town. Leading sales was a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Coupe that sold for over $1.5 million.

* We reported last week on the delay with Detroit Electric building cars in Michigan. Well, the bad news just keeps getting worse for Detroit Electric. After holding back production not once, but twice on its SP:01, now the automaker says that production of the electric sportscar is moving overseas to Holland. Initially determined to save Detroit, the automaker now plans to shift nearly all jobs and production overseas, as reported by the Detroit News. After not being able to secure its original manufacturing location of choice in Wayne County, Michigan, Detroit Electric has decided on the move in order to begin production sooner than later.

* The U.S. Department of Energy is the keeper of the $25 billion Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program that funded successes like Tesla, Ford, and Nissan and failures like Fisker. Due to criticism the program came to a full stop before the last election but now is ready to accelerate again. The program, which was created in 2008 by President George W. Bush’s administration, still has about 60 percent of its funding remaining, and has made no loans since 2011.

* If you want to race in the United Sports Car Racing series in 2014 , the name of the new sports car racing series coming from the merger of Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series, Porsche has created a very special 911 GT that will participate in the GT Daytona Class. It's the 911 GT America, to be sold exclusively in North America, and only costs $269,000. Based on the 911 GT3 Cup racer, it has some changes that includes an all-new race braking system, a modified front spoiler and rear wing that will comply with the new USCR specifications. The 911 GT America will be powered by a 470-hp a 4.0-liter flat-six engine and will have a six-speed sequential transmission. Electronic throttle and pneumatic paddle shift system are also part of the package.

* The long anticipated Maserati SUV was at one point intended to be produced in the U.S., presumably on a Jeep chassis. Fiat now is saying said that production of the Maserati would begin at the Mirafiori plant in Turin in 2014 with introduction of the SUV as a 2015 model.

* Toyota is recalling about about 141,000 hybrids sold in the U.S and a total of 370,000 hybrids and other vehicles due to two safety issues. The Lexus RX400h produced between 2006 and 2008 and the Toyota Highlander Hybrid sold between the 2006 and 2010 model-years are affected.

* Ford is recalling 370,000 cars due to potential corrosion to their steering shaft that may result in a loss of steering. Models affected are 2005 to 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Cars. The recall involves vehicles sold in 22 states.

* A new study by the online service Bankrate.com found that Georgia is the most costly state in the country for car owners, followed by California. Oregon and Alaska are the cheapest. The high costs comes from taxes and fees charged on vehicles. So, it's not just the price of gas or how much you drive.

* AM General announced it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to purchase the DOE's secured loan to The Vehicle Production Group (VPG). VPG is the Michigan-based company that originally developed and manufactured the MV-1, the only American-built vehicle specifically designed from the ground up to meet or exceed the needs of wheelchair passengers and the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Previously, AM General acted solely as the vehicle assembler for VPG. Following this transaction, AM General will own and operate the MV-1 business. The agreement creates a path to revitalize VPG and form a new company called "Mobility Ventures LLC", which will acquire the assets of VPG. Production, sales and product development of the MV-1 is expected to resume in approximately 45 days. The MV-1 also is used in taxi fleets in some cities, Chicago for example, operating on CNG.

* Formula One will be returning to Mexico and the Circuit Hermanos Rodriguez next November for the first time since 1992. Austin, Texas still has a slot on the calendar, but the much-in-the-news Grand Prix of America in New Jersey seems to be dropped completely.

* Press days at the Frankfurt auto show happen next week and we've seen previews of some great concept and production cars to be introduced there: a striking Lexus small crossover called LF-NX, a four-seat, wide-open concept from Smart called FourJoy, a Concept Coupe from Volvo showing dramatically fresh styling language for that Chinese-owned brand, a CUV concept from Indian-owned Jaguar and great stuff from just about all the manufacturers. A personal favorite is the 30th anniversary marker Audi Sport Quattro concept. The car market in Europe is still struggling but you wouldn't know it from the pre-Frankfut info we've seen. Hot topics at the 2013 IAA are probably battery-powered cars and autonomous vehicles…cars that can drive themselves, that is. Auto sales in Europe are down about 20% and, not unlike the U.S., cars are not as hip as some other products in the minds of young people. Watch for our reports here on TheAutoChannel.com.

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