Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids September 9-15, 2013


Auto Central Louisville, KY September 15, 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 September 9-15, 2013

* Press preview events for the huge Frankfurt Motor Show wrapped up this week and one of the hits appears to be the Lexus LF-NX, a flashily, bold concept offering a hint at what that luxury brand may do to enter the compact CUV market. Sculpted, bulging fenders and deeply carved shapes wrap around the car but the characteristic new Lexus spindle grille, though exaggerated, left no question as to the brand. Lexus had seven concept cars at the show but this is the one everyone gathered around.

* Other highlights at Frankfurt include a plethora of electric and hybrid powered cars including the plug-in electric BMW i8 super car, VW's e-Golf and Range Rover's diesel-electric hybrid. Though the European market is still in a deep funk it was hard to tell that from the range of future-oriented products, as well as production vehicles, on display.

* Also from the Frankfurt Auto Show, named their 10 Best New Cars from the show with the Porsche 918 Spyder being first. My favorite is the Audi Sport Quattro Concept. Look for our full reports on the Frankfurt show right here on The Auto Channel.

* Two new convertibles shown at Frankfurt will be making there way to the U.S. market. Haartz Corporation will supply the convertible topping material for the second generation Audi A3 Cabriolet that will come to the U.S. in late 2014. Also supplied by Haartz, an updated version of the Opel Cascada Convertible was shown at Frankfurt and will most likely appear in the U.S. as a Buick in the not too distant future.

* The new JD Power Automotive Internet User Study finds that overall, 79 percent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet to research their new vehicle purchase during the shopping process. Almost all automotive internet users "AIUs" (98%) visit manufacturer sites during their shopping process, followed by dealer sites (83%); third-party sites (80%); and social media sites (7%)...only 7%. The study also noted that 54% of Gen Y buyers are open to buying any brand.

* We reported that August was a robust month for passenger vehicle sales in the United States. Well, clean diesel and hybrid cars were no exception, with diesels showing a 41.8 percent increase compared to August 2012 and hybrids experiencing a 38.1 percent increase, according to data compiled by Hybrid and Baum and Associates.

* Three new Audi TDI clean diesel models far exceeded their federally published fuel economy test ratings in completing the “Truth in 48” cross-country efficiency drive that covered more than 2,850 miles between Southern California and New York. Eight drivers completed the ‘Truth in 48’ coast-to-coast challenge in 46 hours, 9 minutes, demonstrating clean diesel capabilities. Audi A6 TDI achieved 43.561 mpg, or 50% better than EPA combined fuel economy rating; Audi A7 TDI achieved 42.653 mpg, or 47% more than EPA combined rating. The Q5 TDI was used as a support vehicle and it achieved 38.623 mpg, or 43% better than the EPA combined rating. The average speed for the drive was around 62mph. All three vehicles were heavily loaded with four occupants for driver swaps, luggage, supplies, and spare tires.

* Those of us who believe diesel is an underused powertrain option in the U.S. market were disappointed to learn this week that the introduction of the SkyActiv-D Mazda6 has been delayed six months as the company completes "testing and certification." We are now expecting it around the second quarter of 2014 instead of this fall. Mazda will be the first Asian automaker to offer a diesel-powered sedan in the U.S. market and a successful racing program is based around that engine.

* A University of Michigan study said that the average fuel economy on the window stickers of cars and trucks sold last month was 24.9 miles per gallon. That was nearly five miles per gallon better than the 20.1 m.p.g. recorded in October 2007, when the university’s Transportation Research Institute began tracking the data. Automakers have agreed to a fleetwide CAFE mandate of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, and 54.5 m.p.g. by 2025. That 35.5 miles per gallon under the CAFE formula was equivalent to about 27 m.p.g. listed on a window sticker.

* GM's light truck fleet experienced a substantial redesign and updating over the past couple of years and now the SUV derivatives of those highly profitable vehicles get updated. GM took the cover off its redesigned full-size SUVs for the media this week. At a reveal in New York City I saw the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, simultaneously a reveal in Los Angeles uncovered the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL. The 2015s go in production in the first quarter of 2104. Check here on The Auto Channel for our coverage of the new Chevys.

* RM Auctions of Ontario featured the Lotus Esprit submarine car from the 1977 James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me." A New York construction worker found it in a container he bought at auction for $100 in 1989. No one knows how it came to be in that container. Though expected to sell at over a million dollars it actually brought $864,000.

* Fort Wayne, Indiana, home of the GM assembly plant making most of the Chevy and GMC pickups, is the scene this weekend of a "homecoming" event put on to support the launch of the new trucks. Around 300 truck lovers from as far away as Texas are in town for a day of fun, food and camaraderie culminating in a parade through town. We'll see a mixture of old trucks and new ones at the Fort Wayne Coliseum.

* NASCAR levied the biggest penalty in its history and changed the contenders in its playoff field two days after it was set. Gone from the Chase for the Sprint Cup is Michael Waltrip Racing driver Martin Truex Jr., who had made the championship playoff field. This after teammates Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers apparently followed team orders and are believed to have changed the outcome of last Saturday night's Richmond race. Ryan Newman, who admittedly had a bad pit stop but had his playoff hopes seemingly thwarted by MWR's foul play, was put back into the Chase. But Jeff Gordon, also affected, remained out of the Chase, but then late in the week NASCAR put him in as the 13th driver. Well, at least the yellow caution wasn't thrown for debris on the track as usually happens.

* Cal Worthington, a car dealer whose off-the-wall commercials, first broadcast in the 1950s, bombarded California television viewers for more than half a century and made him a pop culture legend, died at his ranch in Orland, Calif. He was 92.

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