Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids September 30-October 6, 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY October 6, 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 1,476,110 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 30-October 6, 2013

* The cooler September weather also cooled auto sales for the month. The drop was larger than expected, but the numbers look worse than they actually were since the 3-day Labor Day weekend got counted into August. The industry was down about 4% from last September, selling 1.14 million vehicles. We still look to sell about 15.5 million vehicles this year which is up from 2012. Those who did manage increases are: Ford +6%, Chrysler +1%, Mercedes +6%, Subaru +15%, and BMW +8%. GM was down 11%, Toyota -4%, Honda -10%, Kia -21%, Hyundai -8%, Nissan -6%, VW -7%, and Mazda -7%.

* The so-called short list of nominees in the North American Car and Truck of the Year has been released, and here it is. For cars it's: BMW 4-Series, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet Impala, Infiniti Q50, Jaguar F-Type, Kia Cadenza, Lexus IS, Mazda3, Mazda6, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Toyota Corolla. And the trucks (SUVs) are: Acura MDX, BMW X5, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota Tundra. I know my choices, now you pick yours.

* At the media launch of the all-new 2014 Soul, Kia Motors America (KMA) announced plans to offer an all-electric version of the company’s iconic Soul urban passenger vehicle in select markets in 2014. Already one of KMA’s best-selling vehicles, an all-electric variant is a natural extension of the Soul’s urban-friendly place in the brand’s lineup of award-winning vehicles. More details about the Soul EV’s powertrain, range/MPGe, packaging and go-to-market strategy will be announced at an upcoming major U.S. auto show…a good guess is L.A. in November.

* A long anticipated and much hyped auction drew thousands to Lambrecht Chevrolet in Pierce, Nebraska to see and bid on the collection of Ray Lambrecht and his wife, Mildred. Unlike most dealers, Ray Lambrecht stashed many of his unsold cars in a warehouse, at his farm and other spots around town if they didn't sell in the first year. With around 500 vehicles for sale, a sky-blue, 1958 Chevy Cameo pickup driven 1.3 miles secured the largest bid at $140,000. Another bidder spent $97,500 on a red and white 1963 Impala with 11.4 miles on its odometer. In total, all 503 vehicles sold for slightly more than $3.0M, including buyer’s premium. Who would have imagined the most famous collector car auction of the year being in Nebraska and not at Pebble Beach or in Arizona.

* Not wanting to satiate the market too quickly GM announced this week they will not add a second shift at the Bowling Green, KY plant that makes the wildly anticipated new Corvette Stingray. Production will not exceed 160 units per day and that will keep supplies so tight that you'll probably not see a Corvette for sale on a dealer's lot until sometime next spring. Until then they will all be pre-sold.

* For entirely different reasons Chrysler announce a cut in production of the SRT Viper, that company's super car. This new generation of the iconic Viper has not been selling as well as expected so production of the hand-built car is being reduced by about a third to just six cars per day.

* The first new 2014 Mustang sold for $200,000 at the Barrett-Jackson Auction in Las Vegas this week. Proceeds went to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The next generation Mustang is not even in pre-production yet but Ford decided this would pump up interest. This is a very special 5.0-liter car with T4 racing transmission and a full compliment of other racing equipment.

* On the business side of the news this week, Chrysler-Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne told reporters the plan to buy the part of the company still owned by the U.S. and Canadian Unions - about 41% - is not likely to happen this year. Chrysler floated a plan for an initial public offering for the stock to help set a price because the parties have not been able to negotiate a price both agree to be fair. Once the company is consolidated we could see more product integration.

* The federal government shutdown has effected the auto industry in a variety of ways including NHTSA's pausing nearly all its projects like the promulgation of new safety regulations, crash testing, safety investigations and research. Certainly their activities are not considered essential. Don't look for any new recalls until they have a budget. EPA's approval of mpg ratings needed for inclusion on the Monroney label has also slowed.

* Many of our colleagues traveled to Minneapolis this week for the ongoing roll-out of Toyota's bread-and-butter compact Corolla - a car certainly due for an update and redesign. Corolla is the Asian company's top seller around the world. Performance remains a bit tepid but exterior styling is fully updated and interior design and quality is vastly improved. The Auto Channel already has a number of reviews of the 2014 Corolla from our wide-range of expert auto scribes. Look for more.

* A number of years back NASCAR driver Tony Stewart expressed that in the races for the final Chase for the Sprint Cup each was really two races in one. That is, the twelve finalists in the field in one race and the rest of the field in a race to just stay out of their way and collect some money. Well it sure looked that way in last Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway where the top 10 finishers consisted of only drivers who are in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

* The just released report from Interbrand naming the Best Global Brands has Apple in the No. 1 spot, bumping Coca-Cola. Toyota is in the No. 10 spot and is the top global auto brand. A notable addition to the list is Chevrolet, at 89, and the first General Motors brand to rank among the Best Global Brands.

* Several media outlets report that Stephan Winkelmann, CEO at Lamborghini, recently commented that the famous Italian supercar maker has decided to go ahead by giving the Urus SUV a production reality. The Lamborghini Urus SUV made its first public debut at the Auto China 2012 last year.

* Mazda is recalling 161,400 Mazda6 cars from 2009-2013 due to doors that may open suddenly or fail to close.

* 2006-2010 Infiniti M35s and M45s are being recalled because of an electrical problem. About 98,300 cars are affected by an Engine Control Module that may go into fail-safe mode due to a faulty sensor.

* BMW will recall about 176,000 cars from 2012 to 2014 model years due to a potential problem that could cause the vehicles’ power brakes to fail. Models affected are 3-series, 5-series, X1, X3 and Z4.

* Chrysler Group LLC said it will recall an estimated 132,000 sport utility vehicles globally, mostly in the United States, to address potential software problems that could lead to a blackout of instrument panel lighting. Affected are 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees that had warning-light illumination and instrument-panel blackouts.

* General Motors Co. said it is recalling 1,658 Chevrolet Sonics from the 2013-2014 model years for potentially faulty fuel tank strap welds that could lead to a fire.

* Expect more than just EVs coming in our future if you consider two developments in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Daimler AG announced that it has joined a coalition of five oil and industrial gas companies committed to investing some 350 million euros ($500 million) to develop an infrastructure for hydrogen filling stations for fuel cell electric vehicles in Germany. Also, General Motors announced that it has established a new cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development & Engineering Center in Warren, Mich. TARDEC is already working on fuel-cell military vehicles through programs in the U.S. Department of Defense DARPA unit and working together, the two will attempt to advance the technology for both military and consumer applications.

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