Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's Automotive News and Opinion July 28-Aug 3, 2014
Auto Central Louisville, KY August 3, 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.
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Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of July 28-Aug 3, 2014, 2014.
* Your TACh team was busy this week taking in and driving the all-new 2015 Lexus NX luxury compact SUV in Nashville, Tennessee and also the all-new 2015 Ford Transit full-size cargo and passenger vans in northern New Jersey. Check back for complete write-ups here on TAC.
* The Mini Cooper Countryman is the only small car to earn a good rating among the latest group of 12 cars subjected to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) small overlap front crash test. Two electric models and a hybrid also are in the mix, with varied results. The electric-powered Chevrolet Volt (with a gasoline engine "range extender") earns an acceptable rating, while its battery-electric rival, the Nissan Leaf, earns a poor rating. The Ford C-Max Hybrid, a small four-door wagon, earns an acceptable rating. Another small four-door wagon, the gasoline-powered Mazda 5, is rated poor. More at www.iihs.org
* Goodbye July. Auto sales closed out strong with the industry up 9 percent at 1.435 million units. Many automakers achieved double-digit increases including Chrysler, Subaru, Nissan, Toyota and Ford. Transaction prices were down slightly as incentive spending rose. GM gained 9% overall but only 4% for retail auto and light truck sales. The rest was commercial vehicles. The National Automobile Dealers Association is now predicting 16.4 million vehicles sold in 2014 and even more in 2015.
* In spite of a reputation or perhaps perception of exceptional quality Hyundai has issued three recalls in a week. First it was nearly 900,000 Sonatas, then 420,000 more Sonatas and finally 225,000 Santa Fe crossovers. The Santa Fe recall is just in northern states where salted roads could cause excessive rust on springs. Sonata recalls involve leaking brake fluid, transmission shift cables and brake problems. None of these issues have resulted in any injuries.
* Chrysler Group is recalling 29,500 Fiat 500L cars from the 2014-15 model years to replace knee airbags that may not deploy in the correct position if the driver is not wearing a seatbelt.
* Gen Y now is generating a larger share of U.S. new vehicle sales than older Gen Xers, according to a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates. But both groups still lag well behind Baby Boomers who continue to be the largest group of car buyers in the U.S. Based on Power’s PIN network, which tracks dealer sales trends, those born between 1977 and 1994 have collectively accounted for 26% of U.S. new vehicle retail sales this year.
* This year’s BASF Coatings Color Collection 2014/2015 report, “Under the Radar,” predicts a new level of normality is coming as North America bounces back from the recession and society embraces the unpretentious beauty of the “flyover states.” The top emerging colors identified for North America are light blue, rusty orange, light green, dark silver and sparkling brown.
* It's contagious; now motorcycles. Harley-Davidson is recalling more than 3,300 FXDL Dyna Low Rider bikes because engine vibration can turn the ignition switches from “on” to “accessory.” The recall covers motorcycles from the 2014 ½ model year. If the motorcycles have been modified to rev higher than 5,600 RPMs, an engine mount bracket can vibrate excessively, causing the problem.
* You may have thought the Chrysler-Fiat merger was a done deal long ago but just this week Fiat shareholders approved the deal. It has been five years since the Italians, under the leadership of the Canadian, Sergio Marchioni, took effective control of Chrysler and saved it from a certain death. The new company is called Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA and a new corporate headquarters will be in Britain.
* In the next step toward making electric cars more mainstream Tesla and Panasonic announced this week they have inked a deal to partner on the largest lithium-ion battery plant in the world. The $5 billion factory will employ around 6,500 workers but its location is yet to be determined.
* Move over Ford F-150, the next vehicle to make extensive use of aluminum will be Jaguar’s new small XE sport sedan. Due out in September the XE will be 75% aluminum, much of it coming from recycled material and it will be built in a new plant in Britain’s West Midlands.
* The annual Management Briefing Seminars put on by the Center for Automotive Research begin this week in Michigan’s beautiful north country. The Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City will again host this important conference that looks at the auto industry in depth while exploring issues and trends that will effect the business. Your TAC team will be there producing regular reports highlighting the people and discussions there. Stay tuned.
* Last weekend’s Concours d’Elegance of America at St, John’s was preceded by the traditional RM Auction. The Auction got off to a slow start with some lower than expected sales and some cars being withdrawn because bids did not get to a proper level, but overall the auction did well. Total sales were $7.4 million with the top seller being a 1911 Mercedes 38/70HP Seven-Passenger Touring which brought nearly a half million dollars.