Nutson's Nuggets: Automotive News and Opinion Week of June 30-July 6, 2014


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Auto Central Louisville, KY July 6, 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 their "take" as easy to digest nuggets of the past week's automotive news.

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 1,692,107 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 Boston TV viewers, You can now enjoy The Auto Channel TV Network "Free and Clear" on WHDT Channel 3 and your cable system, South Florida auto fans can continue to watch The Auto Channel's TACH-TV on channel 344 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

Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of June 30-July 6, 2014

* Total U.S. auto sales rose 1.2% in June to 1.4 million. But, when the selling rate is adjusted to a daily basis, sales rose 9% for the month. That translates into an annual selling rate of 17 million — the highest rate since July 2006, according to Autodata. Chrysler, Nissan and Toyota carried the gain. Jeep is up a huge 28%, Audi up 23% and Mazda up 17%.

* Average fuel economy over the entire field of new vehicles based on the EPA window stickers was down 0.1 mpg to 25.5 mpg, but fuel economy has improved 5.4 mpg from the first measurement in 2007. The University of Michigan Eco-Driving Index (EDI), an index that estimates the average monthly emissions of greenhouse gasses generated by each U.S. driver, remained at 0.80 which represents a 20% improvement from 2007.

* The safety crisis continues at GM with an expansion to now recall an additional 8.4 million vehicles worldwide, bringing its total figures for the year above 28 million cars — more than the 22 million recalled last year by ALL of the automakers combined. About 8.2 million of the newly recalled cars have ignition defects that lead to inadvertent key rotation, and are models of the Cadillac CTS and SRX, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Monte Carlo and Impala, as well as the Oldsmobile Intrigue and Alero, and Pontiac Grand Am and Grand Prix. The model years range from 1997 to 2014.

* GM’s victim compensation fund boss, Kenneth Feinberg, announced this week criteria for payouts. Feinberg said there will be no cap on the amount of money available to the fund and compensation will go to “those injured or killed due to crashes caused by the faulty ignition switches in General Motors vehicles.” Feinberg went on to say, “Any contributing negligence of the driver, intoxications, speeding, texting, will be irrelevant . . .” and that, “this is about GM and ignition switches, not anything about the driver." GM will offer at least $1 Million for each ignition switch death. The $1 Million is a stating point in the payout formula. The plan is very broad and inclusive and the company will not invoke its protection from liabilities involving incidents before its July 10, 2009, bankruptcy restructuring agreement.

* Subaru led the recall list this week initiating action on 660,000 Outback crossovers, Legacy and Impreza cars. Only those from northern states are effected where salty roads could cause rusting brake lines to loose fluid. This recall contributes to a total of over 40 million vehicles recalled so far this year.

* Chrysler is expanding an earlier recall to include 2008 and 2009 model year Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan models to fix ignition switches that can slip out of position. An additional 695,957 minivans have ignition switches that may slip out of the “run” position into the “accessory” position, shutting off the engine and air bags.

* This fall, 25 years of storied MX-5 Miata history will turn the page to unveil the beginning of its fourth chapter as the next-generation roadster will be rumor no more during simultaneous global events in Japan, Spain and the United States. Officially confirmed as a 2016 model, the all-new MX-5 coyly made an initial debut at this year's New York International Auto Show in the form of an exposed SKYACTIV-CHASSIS. MX-5 historians eagerly scribbled notes, snapped photos and speculated on what the final product would be. On September 3, 2014 speculation will shift into revelation during an exclusive event to be held in Monterey, Calif.

* We’ve been paying close attention to driverless cars, autonomous vehicles that is, and were surprised this week when Daimler Trucks showed its big rig entry into the self-driving vehicle field. They call it Future Truck 2025 and uses Daimlers proprietary Highway Pilot system to allow the truck to drive itself with a full load at highway speeds. Wolfgang Bernard who is head of busses and trucks for the company says, “Autonomous driving will revolutionize road freight transport and create major benefits for everyone.”

* We love it when auto show concept cars turn into reality. VW announced this week it is about to happen with the Beetle Dune we saw at he Detroit show this past January. Paying homage to the days long ago when enthusiasts converted VW Beetles into dune buggies using fiberglass bodies and other modifications the new Beetle Dune will have more ground clearance, wider track, locking differential and plenty of cosmetic enhancements.

* "The most powerful muscle car ever,” is the way Dodge describes the 2015 Challenger SRT with a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi “Hellcat” engine with a claimed 707 horsepower and an 8-speed automatic transmission. The car comes with two key fobs, one red and one black. The red one gives full access to all that power but the black one will limit power to just 500 horses. We suppose that’s for owners who let their teenagers use the car. After all, how much trouble can you get into with just 500 horsepower?

* Cars.com announced their American-Made Index. Now in its ninth year, the index rates cars based on two key pieces of information that can be found on the window stickers of every new car: final assembly point and the vehicle’s domestic-parts content. The labels show the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts. The top ten are: 1) Ford F-150, Dearborn, MI and Claycomo, MO; 2) Toyota Camry, Georgetown, KY, and Lafayette, IN; 3) Honda Odyssey, Lincoln, AL; 4) Toyota Sienna, Princeton, IN; 5) Toyota Tundra, San Antonio; 6) Toyota Avalon, Georgetown, KY; 7) Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Bowling Green, KY; 8) Honda Ridgeline, Lincoln, AL; 9) Honda Crosstour, East Liberty, OH; 10) Dodge SRT Viper, Detroit, MI.

* As an editorial comment to the American-made index, noteworthy is that there are three so-called domestic makes and seven so-called foreign makes on the list. Is it time we just eliminate this terminology and call all vehicles as "international" makes?

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