Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids November 11-17, 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY November 17, 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 1,481,896 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

* The completely redesigned 2014 Mazda6 mid-size sedan was named "Car of the Year" by Popular Mechanics magazine. Popular Mechanics named the new Chevrolet Corvette Stingray as its Performance Car of the Year, the Nissan Versa Note as its Value Car, the new Ram Heavy Duty as its Hauler, and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class as its Technical Innovation of the Year.

* Perhaps with the desire to get ahead of all the press that will come out of the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, we got a look at the all-new 2015 Lincoln MKC small premium utility at an unveiling in New York City. Lincoln MKC will introduce the all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 275 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque. With a starting price of $33,995, the MKC will be aimed at a growing set of small luxury utility vehicle buyers.

* Kia confirmed plans to bring to the U.S. market an all-electric Soul in calendar 2014. The Soul EV will be designed for a range of about 120 miles and be powerful enough for a 0-to-60 time of around 12 seconds. It will be based on the recently redesigned Soul and be a "head-turner" with styling derived from the Trackster concept of a few years ago. The "Kia Soul EV" will be Kia's first all-electric, zero-emissions vehicle marketed outside of Korea. .

* Honda will reveal at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show their second-generation, hydrogen-powered FCEV. Hyundai, Toyota and others have been working on development of hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric cars which offer substantial advantages over battery electric. Infrastructure is the limiting factor but the Los Angeles area already has a half dozen fueling stations on line and another couple dozen planned for the near future.

* We learned this week that it will not be long before you can get an armored version of the new S-Class Mercedes sedan - produced by Mercedes-Benz itself - able to stop ballistics up to a rocket-propelled grenade. Pricing is not immediately available.

* Another significant introduction at next week's LA Auto Show will be the all new Colorado mid-size pickup from Chevrolet. The Colorado went away some years ago and many thought this segment of the light truck market too small to justify investment in new products. Time will tell. The rest of GM's truck lineup is freshly redesigned so we're looking forward to reviewing the new one.

* Lots of news came from entrepreneur Elon Musk this week including the promise there would be no recall of his Tesla S electric car after three battery fires and a NHTSA investigation in recent months. The electric automaker might be working on a plug-in pickup truck. This is according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk at a Business Insider event in New York. According to Musk, the vehicle would be of a similar formula to the top-selling Ford F-150, but it's at least five years away. Some industry pundits think the reason for talking now about a truck is to distract from the recent news about fires in the model S.

* Niche automaker Subaru has been assembling Toyota Camrys in its Lafayette, Indiana factory for more than five years but that is about to end as Toyota decided not to renew the deal. Toyota, by the way, is the largest shareholder in Suabru's parent company Fuji Heavy Industries. That gives Subaru an opportunity to increase their production to around 300,000 units by late 2016 and leave room for the added production of the compact Subaru Impreza at that facility as well.

* It's said that motorsports technology eventually finds its way into production cars. If you've seen Nissan's radical LeMans Deltawing race car then you will not be surprised by the new Nissan BladeGlider that will be unveiled at the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show. The BladeGlider is an EV driven by lithium-ion batteries and two in-wheel electric motors. Nissan says it hints at a soon to be seen production version.

* Motor Trend magazine is to be applauded, in my opinion, for their initiative described in the just-out January 2014 issue to measure fuel economy by measuring CO2 (carbon dioxide) in a vehicle's exhaust; the same way EPA does it to determine window sticker mpg ratings. Take a look at Frank Marcus' Technologue and the accompanying article Real MPG, Real Numbers: MPG 101.

* Harley-Davidson has recognized the re-urbanization of America and revealed an all-new platform to inspire the next generation of global riders. The Harley-Davidson Street 750 and Street 500 motorcycles €“ the first all-new platform from Harley-Davidson in 13 years €“ are built for urban environments with all-new liquid-cooled Revolution X powertrains, nimble agility and the sound and look that lets everyone know they are genuine Harley-Davidson. These leaner machines will be rolling in to Harley stores in 2014.

* Lars Menge, general manager for product strategy at Volkswagen Group of America was the guest speaker at the recent International Motor Press Association (IMPA) monthly meeting in NYC. No breaking news was leaked, but considering Lars background in the light commercial vehicle division of Volkswagen in Germany it might be interpreted that light trucks are in VW's future in the U.S. In their goal to sell 800,000 vehicles per year an A-0 class subcompact sure is needed (will we get the Polo?) and a possible return of the niche Scirocco on the new

Golf-7 platform may be in the future.

* The 2013 Dodge Mopar '13 Dart special-edition is the subject of a recall for a problem with its side-impact air bags. An outside company modified this model's unique front seats, and the side-impact restraint installation process was not consistently followed, which could lead to a reduction in air bag function.

* A study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the University of Glasgow found that in the United States, less than half of vehicles have a regular off-street parking spot at a place owned by the driver, where an electric vehicle charger could be installed. Public charging stations installed in parking garages, where drivers plug in and pay for the electricity charge 49 cents a kilowatt-hour,roughly four times what people pay for electricity in their homes, often making the electric car more expensive per mile than the gasoline-powered car it replaced. An EV would have to go about 600 miles a month for the driver to break even, difficult in a car that cannot make long trips.

* One of the greatest champions in the Indianapolis 500 and one of the legendary names in Indy car racing will race no more.

Dario Franchitti announced that his racing career is over. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time IndyCar Series champion will be unable to continue his racing career because of injuries suffered in a horrific last-lap crash in the second race of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston on Oct. 6.

* Hyundai was named the Top Automotive Brand In Strategic Vision's Total Value Awards. Strategic Vision's Total Value Index (TVI) examines the quality of the buyer's complete ownership experience and adds the customer's assessment of economic consequences from two perspectives: (1) Immediate - or what is influential today, and (2) Expected - what they believe the costs that emerge over time will be.

* GM is recalling 2013 and 2104 Chevrolet Malibu sedans. Approximately 15,000 Malibu sedans from model year 2013 are being recalled to check for faulty wiring harnesses that could cause a fire. About 44,406 Malibu sedans from model year 2014 are being recalled to check an issue that could cause the cars' defrosters to malfunction.

* The Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of ethanol that is required to be mixed with gasoline, the first time it has taken steps to slow down the drive to replace fossil fuels with renewable forms of energy. The EPA said that a big part of the problem was that automobile fuel systems and service stations were not set up to absorb more than about 10 percent ethanol. Most cars on the road, according to the automakers, and most fuel pumps, according to service station groups, are limited to the current mixture, called E 10, and there has been little demand by consumers for more. Even folks driving flex-fuel vehicles that can run on high levels of ethanol aren't making use of that choice.

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