Nutson's Auto News Factoids - Week Of January 27-Feb 2, 2014


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Auto Central Louisville, KY February 2, 2014 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 1,489,340 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 January 27 - Feb 2, 2014

* Our team from The Auto Channel brought you a first test drive with the brand new Mini this week. The third generation made its official debut on public roads (in Puerto Rico no less) and we were among the first to drive the new Mini Cooper and the Cooper S. The TACH team also brought you a first drive in the 2014 Toyota Highlander. Mother nature was on our side as we got to drive the '14 Highlander in Charleston, SC before the ice storm hit and brought all driving to a halt.

* The merged Fiat and Chrysler announced a new group name and logo. They will be Fiat Chrysler Automobiles with a logo consisting of a stylized FCA. What remains to be announced is the location of the FCA headquarters. It's been reported that the large glass Pentastar will be removed from the building that was the Chrysler Headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hill.

* Last week we said that VW was in third place for overall sales around the world in 2013. Well this week VW says they are in second place ahead of GM, with Toyota still in first. However, VW includes heavy-duty trucks in their count, which still keeps GM in second place in light-duty vehicle sales.

* Nissan and Renault are finally combining their R&D functions after partnering up in 1999 when auto exec super star Carlos Ghosn took over both. We see speculation this week that the R&D move means we may see Renault products in the U.S. again. Our last experience with those French cars in the 1980s was not good, but in all fairness most cars were rather poorly designed and built in those days.

* We all knew GM's new boss Mary Barra had her work cut out for her. She's spending considerable effort trying to reassure the German GM unit, Adam Opel AG, that they will get new products and plenty of support from the home company. She was at Opel's HQ in Ruesselsheim this week to make that point and dispel the speculation that GM wants to get rid of Opel.

* The Detroit Auto Show wrapped up last week with near-record attendance. In spite of treacherously cold weather more than 800,000 people attended the show. Next weekend the Chicago Show opens to the press and the public, with similar weather expectations. Chicago usually draws much greater attendance but draws a fraction of the press attention with a fraction of the news made in Detroit. Look for reports from TAC.

* We learned this week that BMW will offer a diesel version of their big 7-Series sedan, called the 740d, this spring. The engine will use a variable-vane turbocharger, make 413 pound-feet of torque and have BMW's xDrive all-wheel drive system moving the oil burner to a 0-to-60 time of 6.1 seconds.

* BMW may make some more news next week as the bobsled they designed for the US team contends for Olympic Gold. Talk about the "Ultimate Driving Machine," BMW hired race car driver Michael Scully to do the actual design. So far, so good as the sled easily won five of seven preliminary races to qualify for the games.

* Greenercars.org, a part of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, has published its 2014 Greenest Vehicles list. The 2-seat Smart ForTwo Electric Drive battery car is the most environmentally friendly vehicle in the US and tops the list. In second place is the Toyota Prius C, followed by the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle. Chrysler’s Ram 2500 is at the bottom as the “Meanest”. Look at www.greenercars.org.

* Honda bragged this week about becoming the first net exporter of cars from the US market in 2013 through its US unit American Honda. They exported 108,705 cars while importing just 88,537 from Japan. Accord, as you may guess, was the leading export. In this world of global car companies and international brands build cars in the US, the term "imported car" has become old-school. Those classified newspaper ads need new section titles!

* A new focus! During the President's State of the Union address this week he put a focus on compressed natural gas (CNG). So now we have a reduced focus from Washington on only EVs to a more broad approach to various alternative fueled vehicles. Yes, there is not only one silver bullet. One of the ways Congress can help accelerate the development of natural gas fueling infrastructure is by reinstating the natural gas fuel and infrastructure tax credits that recently expired.

* Toyota Motor Corp. told North American dealers to stop selling several models equipped with seat heaters made since August 2012 after being alerted by South Korean safety officials that material in the part did not meet fire retardation standards also used in the United States. The affected vehicles are certain 2013 and 2014 Camry sedan, Camry hybrid, Avalon sedan, Avalon hybrid, Corolla subcompact, Sienna minivan and Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks equipped with seat heaters that were sold since August 2012, when the fabric supplier was changed, a Toyota spokesman said. This stop-sell affects only 13% of Toyotas in U.S, showrooms and Toyota considers the issue inconsequential. Although heated seats are standard on the Avalon, only about 6% of Camrys have heated seats.

* One of the most spectacular collections of historic sports cars in the world goes on the block next week at RM's inaugural Paris auction - the Harburg Collection includes an Aston Martin DB2, a Jaguar D-Type, a '55 Ferrarit 750 Monza Spider, a '64 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, a Lola T70 Mk 11b by Sbarro and more. Better get out your check book and head for Paris.

* The Rolex 24 At Daytona, the inaugural race in the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship, finished with Chevrolet Corvettes running in the Daytona Prototype class sweeping the top four positions. A new Porsche 911 RSR won the GT Le Mans class. First in the PC class was an Oreca FLM09. The GTD class was won by a Ferrari 458 Italia. A serious two-car crash early in the race brought out the red flag with both drivers being hospitalized.

* It's been broken and they are trying to fix it. NASCAR is guaranteeing that the Sprint Cup Series season championship will come down to the final race of the year. NASCAR announced that the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be winner-take-all. The top four drivers in the points standings heading into the season finale will be eligible for the title and the highest-finishing driver will win the championship. The Chase playoff format will still consist of the final 10 races of the 36-race season. However, the Chase field will be expanded from 12 to 16 drivers in 2014. With the expansion of the Chase field, NASCAR will eliminate drivers every three races. After the first three races, the Chase will be whittled down to 12 drivers, eliminating the four lowest-scoring drivers. After the next three, the Chase will be down to eight drivers, and after the ninth race of the Chase, four drivers will be left. Those are the four drivers eligible to win the championship. Well, let's see how this works. Bu that last race will be two races in one, in my opinion...four drivers against each other and 39 drivers going around in a circle to collect money and keep out of the way of the four.

* Doctors are beginning to wake Michael Schumacher from the medically induced coma. Reports are Schumi has "blinked" and is "responding to simple instructions," according to a published report in France. Those are the latest unofficial developments to emerge from the Grenoble, France hospital, after the seven-time Formula One champion's manager confirmed reports doctors are attempting to ease Schumacher out of his month-long coma.

* As the week comes to a close we along with millions of viewers watch the Super Bowl and the myriad of advertising from more than thirty marketers. On the auto front there is Audi, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen vying for our attention. Noteworthy is WeatherTech the American made auto floor mat and cargo liner maker also advertising.

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