Nutson's Nuggets: Automotive News and Opinion Week of July 14-20, 2014


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Auto Central Louisville, KY July 20, 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 1,699,213 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 in Boston and on your local cable systems, along with South Florida auto fans who can continue to watch The Auto Channel TV Network on WHDT-TV Chanel 9 in West Palm Beach as well as cable channel's 17 and 438, channel 9 Miami and channel 32 Fort Meyers-Naples, enjoy and thanks for the positive feedback....See you next week, LN

Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of July 14-20, 2014

* The first news of the week was VW's announcement that their new mid-size SUV will be built in the VW Chattanooga Plant starting in late 2016. This will add about 2000 jobs at the plant. We mentioned last week that the UAW was setting up a new local with "voluntary membership and no dues" at that plant. Tennessee is a right to work state.

* Volkswagen issued a stop-sale order and recall of 2015 GTI and Golf models in the U.S. and Canada to fix a problem with the vehicle’s steering system Volkswagen is replacing the links on 705 vehicles on U.S. dealer lots, and an additional 108 cars in Canada. VW will recall 2,001 cars in the U.S. and 446 in Canada to correct the issue.

* An interesting bit of insider news is that GM's Cadillac has confirmed it has hired Infiniti’s CEO Johan de Nysschen as the new president of Cadillac. He was with Infiniti in Hong Kong and previous to that running Audi in the US. Cadillac is looking for help to better its success in the luxury field.

* The future is here. Hyundai’s first hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, a Tucson small CUV, went on sale in California this week. Many, if not most, futurists think that fuel-cell vehicles will be the ‘end game’ of personal transportation when infrastructure and economies of scale evolve. Honda and Toyota are expected to have their own fuel-cell vehicles yet this summer. The Los Angeles area has about a half dozen fueling stations now with that many more nearly ready and the State of California has committed to 100 stations by the end of the decade.

* Keith Crain will be inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame this week as one of the most recognized movers and shakers in the automobile business and the realm of automobile enthusiasm, Crain is editor-in-chief and columnist for Automotive News, Automotive News Europe, Crain’s Detroit Business and other publications as well as serving as chairman of the board at Crain Communications, Inc. Other inductees include: Ferdinand Piech of VW, J.David Power III of J.D. Power and Associates, auto designer Alex Tremulis, Jim Lentz of Toyota, veteran journalist and author Ken Gross and Frank Venegan, Jr of the Ideal Group. Details at: www.thedrivingspirit.org.

* Coming up this weekend the Detroit area will see a variety of events surrounding one of the three most prestigious car shows in the country - the Concours d’Elegance at St, John’s, formerly the Meadow Brook Concours. The event changed venues in 2011 and continues to present the finest and most unusual cars you’ll never see anywhere else. The actual show is Sunday at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth and you can find a list of associated events and all the details at: www.concoursusa.org

* Performance tuner, Steve Saleen, most notable for squeezing extra power out of, and adding dramatic looks to, a variety of Mustangs over the years is turning his attention to the Tesla Model S. The Tesla already does 0 to 60 mph in a blistering 4 seconds but Saleen thinks he can do better. Stay tuned - he promises to have it ready later this year.

*Our friends at The Detroit Bureau reported a surge in diesel car sales for the first six months of 2014. While hybrids and electric car sales have slumped more than 10%, diesel sales are up fully 25% year-over-year led by VW Jetta and Passat as well as Chevy’s Cruze. The new RAM 1500 diesel is not part of these numbers since trucks are not included in the evaluation. Like hybrids, diesels come at a substantial premium price over conventionally-powered cars adding as much a 5 grand to the sticker.

* Smart, a sub-brand of Mercedes-Benz, finally announced the introduction of a 4-door version of their Euro-syle city car. One was under development but dropped about the time the brand was first coming to the U.S. The current “fortwo” two-seater gets some upgrades as the “forfour” four-seater is introduced. It will launch in Europe in November but no word yet when we will see it here.

* Ford announced this week more details on the lower and wider new 50th anniversary Mustang due at dealers very soon. The 5.0-liter gets a boost in horsepower to 435 with 400 pound-feet of torque, the 3.7-liter V6 gets 300 horses and a new Ecoboost twin-scroll turbo 4-cylnder will be available and is rated at 310 horsepower. Big news is a new independent rear suspension and a significantly new platform.

* A study from the University of Michigan released this week shows traffic deaths down again. According to the U of M’s Transportation Research Institute the number of fatalities are down 22.7% from 2005 to 2012. The study breaks the numbers down by states with North Dakota and Vermont being the only states not seeing a decline. The best 11 states all saw a decline of over 30% led by Washington D.C., Nevada, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Missouri.

* To help guide parents toward safer choices, IIHS has compiled its first-ever list of recommended used vehicles for teens. IIHS is known for its ratings of new vehicles, but for many families, a 2014 TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ isn't in the budget. In a national phone survey conducted for IIHS of parents of teen drivers, 83 percent of those who bought a vehicle for their teenagers said they bought it used. With that reality in mind, the Institute has compiled a list of affordable used vehicles that meet important safety criteria for teen drivers. There are two tiers of recommended vehicles with options at various price points, ranging from less than $5,000 to nearly $20,000, so parents can buy the most safety for their money, whatever their budget. The full list is at www.iihs.org.

* Chrysler announced that the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat fitted with Chrysler’s 6.2-liter supercharged V8 pushing our 707HP will only cost you $59,900.

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