Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids Week Of October 29-Nov 3, 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY November 3, 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 1,480,123 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 October 28-Nov 3, 2013

* October closed out with auto sales up 11%, but sales last October were poor due to Hurricane Sandy. A recovery from the 16-day government shutdown in the early part of the month and with "cheap" fuel prices buyers were active in every segment. More telling is the annual selling rate at 15.2 million units that's down now for two months straight. GM was up 16%, Ford up 11%, Chrysler Group up 11%. Of the Asians, Subaru continues to rock at +32%, Nissan +14%, Toyota +9%, and Mazda +6%. VW is sliding more and down 18%, BMW +3%, Mercedes-Benz +22%, Jaguar/Land Rover a huge +52%. Hyundai up 7% and Kia down 6%.

* As we reported earlier his week here on The Auto Channel, Consumer Reports 2013 Annual Auto Reliability rankings are out and three Japanese brands, Lexus, Toyota, and Acura captured the top three spots in the survey. Audi, which has shown steady improvement in vehicle reliability during recent years, moved up four places this year to finish fourth overall;the top European manufacturer in the survey. Mazda slipped from fourth to fifth. Volvo jumped 13 places to seventh. GMC emerged as the top domestic brand, finishing ninth; three places higher than last year. But the dominance of Japanese models is falling. In some what of a shocker, Consumer Reports pulled its recommendation on the popular flagship Camry sedan due to poor crash test results. The Honda Accord V6 and the Nissan Altima no longer have Consumer Reports "Recommended" rating. The 2014 Subaru Forester was the highest-scoring vehicle over all in predicted reliability. Worst-rated was the Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid. The Dodge Dart 2-liter was the top domestic model. For full results see: www.consumerreports.org.

* The new Ford Fiesta equipped with the award-winning 3-cylinder 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine will be America's most fuel-efficient non-hybrid, gasoline-powered car with a certified 45 mpg rating on the highway. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has certified the 2014 EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta, arriving at dealers later this year, at 45 mpg highway, 32mpg city and 37mpg combined. This engine is already being sold in Europe for the last two years.

* The annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas comes up this week. It's the largest automotive aftermarket exhibition in the world and manufacturers from everywhere want to show something special to the huge audience. Chevrolet, for example is showing more than a half dozen concept vehicles based on existing products including three Sonics, an RS high-performance, an "all-activity version and a "personalized version. Malibu, Impala and Cruze Diesel all get concepts of their own.

* With a sibling relationship at the heart of their businesses Hyundai and Kia share most of their platforms and offer somewhat similar products - witness Sonata and Optima, or Azera and the new Cadenza. Now we've seen pictures of the Kia K900 flagship sedan that will share a market segment with the large, luxurious, high-tech Equus. Expected to begin at around 70 grand with V6 engine it will also be available with a V8. We see it up close at the upcoming LA Auto Show.

* In the midst of the flap over whether the City of New York properly granted the right to Nissan to be the exclusive purveyor of taxis in the city the first Nissan NV200T taxi went into service this week picking up its first fare at JFK Airport. Well over a half million people ride in taxis every day in The Big Apple.

* Those who have resisted buying GM products because of the government bailout of the company are closer to being able to return. The government has been slowly selling off its stake in the automaker which started at over 60% after the managed bankruptcy. With some divestiture last week the government now owns only about 7.3%. It appears that the total government outlay to save GM will be around $9.7 billion, much less, most economists believe, than the cost would have been if GM had gone belly up for good.¬

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the semi-annual report of highway deaths this week marking a substantial decrease to 1.06 deaths per hundred million miles driven. That's down from 1.10 during the first half of 2012. A steady downward trend over many years was interrupted by a modest increase last year causing some wringing of hands in official circles. That appears to have been an anomaly as the trend returns to a lowering of the number.

* Mitsubishi is recalling about 10,000 Lancer Evolutions from the 2008-13 model years because the clutch master cylinder could fail, preventing the driver from shifting in or out of gear.

* Audi will recall about 3,600 S6s and S7s from the 2013-14 model years because of possible fuel leaks. Audi says that"manufacturing tolerance issues" could allow a fuel line to be damaged.

* Ford will recall about 23,000 of its 2012-13 C-Max and Focus electric vehicles equipped with push-button start. It will add an audible ;key-in-the-ignition" chime when the door was opened.

* Honda announced a recall of 344,000 of its 2007-8 Odyssey minivans because a malfunctioning computer could cause "heavy and unexpected braking without the driver pressing on the brake pedal and without illumination of the brake lamps," the automaker told the NHTSA.

* BMW is recalling about 176,000 of its four-cylinder, gasoline-powered vehicles from the 2012-14 model years because of potential problems with the power brakes. The recall covers 3-series sedans and sport wagons, 5-series sedans, X1 SUVs and X4 roadsters.

* Honda is recalling about 21,000 all-terrain vehicles due to concern that the steering shaft can break off suddenly and cause a crash. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall Tuesday. The recall covers eight 2012 and 2013 FourTrax models made in the U.S. by American Honda Motor Co. and sold from May 2011 through September 2013.

* In Motorsports, Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull Infiniti driver, clinched his fourth consecutive Formula One championship with a victory in the Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit near New Delhi. Vettel now joins Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win four titles in a row. Vettel is 26 years old and the youngest to achieve this feat.

* And in NHRA drag racing, John Force at age 64 won another Funny Car Championship, his 16th. He beat his daughter Courtney in the final round and the win came from a quicker reaction time. Dad ran a 4.06 seconds elapsed time, which was a little more than two-hundredths of a second quicker. But daughter Courtney's top speed was a superior 319-plus miles per hour to her father's 310. Note, age 64 with a quicker reaction time than a twenty year old..use it or lose it.

* In NASCAR, Darrell Wallace Jr. became the second black driver ever to win a NASCAR national series event. The win was at Martinsville Raceway in a truck series race. Wallace, 20, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, beat Brendan Gaughan and Jeb Burton to the line to claim his first victory in nearly two years of trying. But he was the first to be allowed to celebrate in the victory lane. Wendell Scott, a pioneer black racer from stock car racing's earliest days, won a race at Jacksonville, Fla., in 1963. In a sign of the times, another driver was declared the winner of that race and was allowed to celebrate in the victory circle.

* We've previously reported here on The Auto Channel and now again GM says they want to make it easier to buy a car online. "We want people to start buying cars over the Internet,"? CEO Dan Akerson said on conference call focused on the company's third-quarter earnings. He called it "a potential half-step away from our traditional channels" Akerson was quick to add that it"doesn't mean we're going to bypass our dealers. "Reports say that about 1,000 customers have bought vehicles after using the Shop-Click-Drive system, but fewer than 10 used the application to make the purchase without ever visiting a dealership. Some words of advice: Don't buy without a test drive.

* According to The Detroit News, GM is asking each of its 4,300 dealers to establish a customer Connection Center, similar to the Apple store‚€™s Genius Bar, where customers can learn more about in-vehicle technology and infotainment systems.¬ The voluntary move for all Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers comes ahead of next year‚€™s roll out of embedded 4G LTE mobile Internet access in most 2015 GM vehicles it sells in the U.S. and Canada. We agree this is a good move that many will need to follow. The day of the 15 minute sales person briefing on your new car just doesn't cut it with all the sophisticated technology in new vehicles today.

* The National Automotive History Collection at the Detroit Public Library, one of the largest repositories of automobile history in the world is taking nominations for Collectable Car of the Year. Criteria is that it must be a car or small truck, not a six-digit exotic, built in North American and essentially new and available in the U.S. in calendar 2013.¬

* One final note, Daylight Savings Time ended today and we set the clocks back, so get out your car's owner's manual‚€¶the most under read book in the world‚€¶ to figure out how to reset the clock.

Larry Nutson

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