Nutson's Nuggets Automotive News Factoids Dec 2 - Dec 8, 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY December 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 1,484,567 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 December 2-8, 2013

* Biggest news of the week has to be the international reveal of the new, sixth-generation 2015 Ford Mustang. Simultaneous events around the world were marred by more leaks than the men's room at Octoberfest. Fords embargo didn't hold. Journalists appear to have unusually mixed opinions of the thoroughly redesigned sporty car. Some think it is a perfect blend of retro-cool and modernity. Others grouse about it not being bold and brash enough. See it for yourself right here on The Auto Channel.

* The Mustang reveal was orchestrated from six cities on four continents to reflect Ford's intention of dramatically expanding sales around the world. Skeptics referenced above believe the design was deliberately softened to give it broader appeal. We were at the New York City 2015 Ford Mustang reveal and saw the convertible front and center as well as the coupe…yes the convertible was there in the flesh while some media outlets insisted it would be revealed later next year. And, we like them both. We here are firmly in the camp that like the new design. It has the classic profile and design details that distinctly reflect Mustangs heritage while gaining a bit of width, sitting a lot lower and adding a swoopy sleekness that reflects modern trends. You can read our in-person impressions from the New York show right here on The Auto Channel.

* Auto Industry sales climbed 9% up from a weak previous two months, and surprising many analysts, to close out November at 1.24 million vehicles. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16.3 million vehicles sold is the highest since February 2007. Big gains from Mitsubishi up 70%, Jaguar/Land Rover up 37% and Subaru up 30%. Chrysler was up 16% (the Ron Burgundy effect), GM up 14%, and Ford up 7%. Toyota/Lexus/Scion is up 10%. Nissan/Infiniti is up 11%. Hyundai/Kia up 7%. Mercedes/Smart up 14%, BMW/MINI is flat, as is Honda/Acura (keep singing Michael Bolton). Mazda was down 4%. VW/Audi still lags being down 8% (needs the new Golf and also a subcompact).

* Saab is back. Saab cars are being built in Trollhattan, Sweden for the first time since the automaker's 2011 bankruptcy. They're building the same gasoline-powered 9-3 Aero sedans that were built back in 2011. Once the automaker gets its supply chain back up and running new cars will be developed and built. Saab is now owned by a Chinese investor backed new company called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). They hope to manufacture electric cars based on Saab designs for sale in China and elsewhere.

* Motor Trend Magazine announced its annual 2014 Truck of the Year honors this week. And, the winner is . . . Ram 1500 for the second year in a row. Tough competition from the freshly redesigned GMC and Chevy pickups and a lesser challenge from the new Toyota Tundra could not crowd out the Ram. It appears the main reason Ram took the honors this year is the introduction of the first-in-class diesel offering. The new V6 EcoDiesel achieved 28 mpg while making 420 pound-feet of torque. We'll bet the others will be offering diesels soon. There were some vans in contention too, namely the Ford Transit Connect, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Nissan NV200, and Ram ProMaster vans.

* Full production of the new 2014 Toyota Highlander crossover began in Princeton, Indiana this week after an investment of $430 million in the plant's infrastructure and the addition of 600 jobs. Highlander will now be exported for the first time to markets like Russia and Australia. The plant also makes the large Sequoia SUV and the Sienna minivan.

* In spite of slightly lower gas prices over the past months the average new-vehicle mileage has gone up over the past month 0.1 mpg to 24.8 according to researchers at the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. Conventional wisdom and historical evidence suggests that when fuel costs go down people tend to buy less fuel-efficient vehicles. One month's numbers do not a trend make, of course.

* GM has been selling Chevrolet products in Europe, essentially competing with Opel, for many years. Europeans seemed to have had at least some taste for classically American cars though that taste is waning. GM announced this week they would be pulling Chevy out of the European market. When pressed by our compatriots at The Detroit Bureau they confirmed the Corvette will remain and be sold through existing European Cadillac dealers.

* High production costs and unfavorable currency exchange rates will likely result in the elimination of the Australian auto industry. GM will end Holden production there in 2016 and Ford will be building no cars there by 2016. Analysts believe Toyota will follow suit. Last year barely more than 200,000 units were made in Australia despite heavy government subsidies.

* Ford Motor Co announced the global recall of 7,329 Lincoln MKZ hybrid vehicles of the model years 2013 and 2014. The recall is being made to reprogram the powertrain control module. The existing module is unable to meet the U.S. regulatory requirement, which mandates that the brake should be depressed before the car can be shifted out of parking.

* Also, McLaren Automotive will recall 327 MP4 12-C Spider and Coupe models from 2012-14 in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas because humidity could cause the windshield wiper motors to fail. And, BMW will recall around 2,500 of its 2012 K 1600 GT and GTL motorcycles because of a stalling problem caused by engine-control software. Lastly, Mercedes-Benz will recall about 130 of its 2013 SL550, SL63 AMG and SL65 AMG models because the front passenger air bag may not work properly.

* Chyrsler Group LLC Ram Commercial Truck division announced that it will offer an all-new small van for the North American market. Joining the larger Ram ProMaster as an additional van offering, the 2015 Ram ProMaster City will compete with small commercial and passenger vans. Based on the successful Fiat Doblo, a two-time International Van of the Year winner with more than 1.3 million units sold, the Ram ProMaster City will encompass familiar Ram Truck styling cues and offer features and powertrains preferred by North American commercial customers.

* For the second time the anticipated Formula One race to be held in New Jersey has been delayed and removed from the 2014 schedule. The 3.2 mile street circuit along the Hudson River with the Manhattan skyline in the background will sit idle a bit longer. Bernie Ecclestone has been trying to get a Formula One race in New York City for decades and he said he will keep trying.

* The tragic news of the death of Paul Walker the actor best known for his role in the “Fast and the Furious” movies about street racing served as a grim reminder of the dangers the can exist with high performance cars on the street. Mr. Walker died in Valencia, Calif. when the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in crashed in a single-car accident and burst into flames. He was 40.

Drive smart. Stay legal. Be safe.

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