Nutson's Auto News Factoids - December 16-22 2013


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Auto Central Louisville, KY December 22, 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 1,485,987 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 16-22, 2013

* We may see the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 soon. When Ford revealed the all-new 2015 Mustang earlier this month many auto journos, especially those who choose to live outside major metros, complained that Ford should have waited for the big crowd of writers at the NAIAS in Detroit. However, Ford’s recent low-key pre-Detroit press briefing was consistent with its decision to debut the 2015 Mustang earlier this month before the auto show. That decision gave the iconic pony car its own spotlight outside the NAIAS circus – but it also cleared the way for the F-150 to launch in Detroit without competing against its muscle car sibling.

* Kia Motors America will reveal a new concept car at the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Conceived at the automaker’s U.S. design studio in Irvine, CA, this stunning, (Kia's words) 2+2 sports car is intended to turn heads while delivering superb driving enjoyment on both road and track.

* With a full redesign and even more content than the current model, details of the new 2015 C-Class Mercedes were revealed this week. It will be larger and lighter with more content and a vast array of electronic and safety gadgetry. U.S. customers will get two powertrain options, a 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder or a 3.0-liter tubo V6, both with seven-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. The C300 and C400 will be available next fall. Pricing has not been announced.

* Lincoln announced pricing this week for the 2015 MKC small luxury crossover. It will compete with the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX but will have the lowest base MSRP of them all at $33,995. For about a grand more you can have the new 2.3-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost engine that will provide 275 horsepower. It should be in showrooms next summer.

* Will there be a Continental in Lincoln's future? Lincoln product development chief Scott Tobin addressed the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) in New York and revealed that the storied name Continental is still in the brand's future product think. Will there be a halo car or a flagship car or perhaps something to satisfy the active lifestyle retiring baby boomers who are downsizing and re-urbanizing but not willing to give up any luxury and comfort? We'll have to stay tuned.

* Ford announced that the all-new 2015 Mustang has been named the "Official Car" of the 2014 International CES. Ford will announce new technology at the show on January 7. CES was formerly called the Consumer Electronics Show.

* The 2014 Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle received the 2014 AutoGuide.com Utility Vehicle of the Year Award.

* Mustang lovers with deep pockets will want to get registered to bid at the upcoming Barrett Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ in a few weeks. It was announced this week that the first 2015 Mustang will be sold there to the highest bidder - and we expect that bid to be mighty high - to raise funds to support juvenile diabetes research. The 5.0-liter Mustang GT will be sold January 18th.

* The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced its "2014 Top Safety Picks" this week adding a new category of "Top Safety Pick +" . The new category is for vehicles that pass the other tests plus have a system that warns of impending front collisions and can apply brakes when the driver does not. The criteria has gotten much more stringent this year resulting in the number of Picks being down 70%. Only 39 vehicles earned the Top Safety Pick and 20 of those received the "Plus" designation. Honda was a standout among the automakers with six Top Safety Pick+ awards, including its Accord and Civic sedans, Odyssey minivan and Acura RLX and MDX luxury cars. Four Subaru models earned top honors, while Volvo and Mazda each had three winners.

* After last week's report that GM will no longer be making cars in Australia the company wanted to be sure that was not interpreted as a death knell for the Holden brand. GM will continue to build Holden products for the Aussie market, just not within that country.

* The EPA noted in their most recent Light Duty Fuel Economy Trends report that Mazda Motor Corporation is the most fuel-efficient auto manufacturer in the US. With the highest fleet-wide adjusted fuel economy performance of 27.1 MPG, and the lowest CO2 emissions of 328, Mazda led the chart for model year 2012.

* The Energy Department is predicting gasoline-powered vehicles will continue to dominate the market through 2040. They said in a report that it also predicts a big rise in the fuel economy of the nation’s cars and trucks. It predicts the fuel efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks will rise from 21.5 mpg in 2012 to 37.2 mpg by 2040. Overall energy consumption by the nation’s transportation sector is expected to fall by about 4 percent. The agency predicts that in 2040, 78 percent of all cars and trucks will run on gasoline, down from 82 percent last year. It predicts a big upswing in micro-hybrids and other advanced fuel technologies to 42 percent of all vehicles by 2040. Predictions are that full hybrids will account for 5 percent of vehicles in 2040 — up from 3 percent today. Diesel vehicles will double to 4 percent from the current 2 percent. It predicts just 1 percent of total sales will be plug-in hybrids and 1 percent full electric vehicles in 2040. The agency also predicts that when adjusted for inflation, the price of gasoline will rise to $3.90 by 2040, compared to a prior forecast of $4.40; it estimates diesel fuel will rise to $4.73 by 2040, down from $5.03 in its previous forecast.

* BMW announced a vehicle recall because an electronic sensing mat in the front passenger seat may fail, disabling the front air bag. Models covered by the recall are some 2006 325i, 325xi, 330i and 330xi sedans and 325xi sport wagons, 2007 328i, 328xi, 335i and 335xi sedans and 328i and 328xi sport wagons, 2006-7 525i, 525xi, 530i, 530xi and 550i sedans and 530xi sport wagons, 2006 760i sedans, 2006-7 750i, 750Li, and 760Li sedans and 2006 X5 sport utility vehicles.

* Infiniti will recall its 2014 Q50 sedans in the United States because the new direct adaptive steering system may fail in cold weather. Only 23 cars re affected.

* Michelin North America Inc. is recalling 1.3 million tires after receiving reports of tread separation that could lead to a crash. The tires are used on commercial light trucks, full-sized heavy duty vans, small RVs and some large pickup trucks. Some 2010 – 2013 Ford E-Series vans used these tires.

* Just when we thought the rotary engine was dead for good with Mazda's dumping of the niche RX8 we learned that engineers at the Japanese car maker are developing a 0.33-liter rotary engine to act as range extender for a prototype Mazda2 electric car. The system was revealed at a press conference in Japan this week focused on future power trains. Mazda currently produces for Japan an electric version of the Mazda2 with a 200-mile range, but this range-extended version would double that.

* On the subject of electric vehicles, the wheels of progress do turn slowly. It took all of the last decade to bring electrification into the automobile and, in general auto industry thinking, it will take all of this decade to get a charging infrastructure in place to support EVs. In this regard an SAE task force committee made up of OEMs, Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) suppliers, industry experts and government representatives after three years of discussions just agreed on two key factors to enable the ongoing development of WPT, namely the frequency that will be used around the globe and the power-classes of light-duty vehicles. Stay tuned but don't hold your breath.

* EPA's fuel sipper Top 10 list for 2014 is out. With little surprise the first six highest mpg-rated cars are all-electric, measured in MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). Ranked 7th is the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid rated at 62mpg combined. Tied in 8th spot are the 2014 Ford Fusion Energi and the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrids at a 58 mpg combined rating.

* Volkswagen Group of America reported that it has sold 100,000 TDIŽ Clean Diesel vehicles from the Volkswagen and Audi brands this year. This is the first time it has reached this milestone in a calendar year. Volkswagen and Audi currently offer 12 different TDI Clean Diesel powered models in the United States. Ever since 1977, when Volkswagen first offered a diesel in the Rabbit, the company has sold more than one million cars and SUVs powered by these engines in this market.

* We usually connect the air bag with automobiles. Here's an interesting application. An air bag is being tested to be worn by a skier to improve safety and protect from injury. The air bag inflates to protect the spine and neck in a crash. Testing is being done to try and determine the point in a skier's fall when a racer can no longer regain control which will then activate the air bag.

* With that we wish you safe holiday travels and a Merry Christmas!

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