Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's Automotive News and Opinion Aug 18-24 2014
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel
Auto Central Louisville, KY August 24, 2014; Every Sunday, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau give you our "take" on this past week's automotive news as easy to digest nuggets.
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Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of Aug 18-24, 2014.
* Automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc. announced the 2014 Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA). AutoPacific's IVAs are designed to recognize vehicles that best meet their owner's expectations and desires, helping consumers make informed vehicle purchase decisions with "owners talking" feedback. For the second year in a row, the top luxury brand is Porsche. The top popular brand is GMC, also the top popular brand in AutoPacific's 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards. Ford Motor Company and General Motors both had the most wins at 5 apiece, followed by a diverse brand breakdown, including Honda and Volkswagen, each with 3 wins, MINI and BMW with 2 wins, and 1 win each for Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota (Lexus), and Fiat-Chrysler (Jeep). This year's winner's list also contains 6 completely redesigned vehicles: Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Acura RLX, BMW 3-Series GT and X5, Chevrolet Impala, and Fusion HEV-PHEV.
* A new NHTSA website--safecar.gov--now allows consumers to enter the VIN and find out if a specific car, truck or motorcycle has been repaired. This is a free search tool to find out if a vehicle you a thinking of purchasing has a safety problem that has not been addressed. Seems to me this would also work with a rental car to find out if the car you rented is up to snuff.
* GM introduced this week a new feature for the Corvette that will help protect the sports car from unscrupulous valets - a “Valet Mode” integrated onto the car’s “Settings” menu. The driver can set the mode using a self-generated code which triggers video and other recording devises to catch any abuse of the car by another driver. This is another use of the car’s Performance Data Recorder but also disables the infotainment system and locks the glove box and storage compartment behind the center stack.
* More news from GM revealed details of the new 8-speed automatic transmission that will soon be available in the Corvette. Actuated automatically or with paddle shifters the new transmission will lower 0-to-60 time by 0.1 second while achieving 29-mpg on the highway. They also revealed pricing for the 2015 Z06 - 79 grand for the coupe and 84 grand for the convertible.
* We saw this week photos of the first right-hand-drive Mustang, a handmade prototype that will be used for testing. With the redesign of the iconic Mustang for 2015 Ford is intending to sell it in 25 markets around the world including the UK, Australia and South Africa. First sales of the right-hand-drive cars are expected early next year. All Mustangs will be built in the Flat Rock, MI assembly plant.
* Jon Shirley’s 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe won Best of Show at last weekend’s prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the first win for the Italian marque in the show’s 64 years. Best in Show honors have always gone to pre-WWII luxury and exotic cars. This special Ferrari was once owned by Italian film maker Roberto Rosellini who was married to Ingred Bergman. Shirley has owned the car since 1995 and has driven it in many long rallies.
* Another Ferrari, a 1962 250 GTO, set an all-time auction record at the Bonhams' Quail Lodge (Pebble Beach) Auction selling for an astounding $38.115 million. Five other Ferraris brought more than $1 million all at the Bonhams' Auction. Enzo would be amazed. Total sales from the four major action houses - Bonhams’, Gooding & Co., Mecum’s and RM Auctions, reached another record level of $399 million, a 27% increase over last year.
* RM Auctions flagship sale in Monterey saw 20 cars sell for over $1 million, more than half were Ferraris. The highest seller went for $26.4 million (including the 10% buyer’s premium.) RM’s total sales reached $143.4 million.
* Nassau County, New York county executive, Edward Mangano, this week dismissed $2.4 million in speed camera tickets issued over the past month. Apparently, the speed cameras erroneously issued thousands of tickets in school zones when school was not in session. Both speed and red light cameras have come under increased scrutiny in recent years as camera company executives have been accused of bribing local officials.
* Your next commuter car could have two seats, three wheels and get 84 miles to the gallon. Elio Motors wants to revolutionize American roads with the car, which is the same length as a Honda Fit but half the weight. With a starting price of $6,800, it is also less than half the cost. Elio plans to start making the cars next fall at a former General Motors plant in Shreveport, La. Already, more than 27,000 people have reserved one. Elio hopes to make 250,000 cars a year by 2016. Because it has three wheels — two in front and one in the rear — the Elio is actually classified as a motorcycle by the U.S. government.
* And in its recall-induced quest to strip customers' key chains of any dangling tchotchkes that could help jostle or bump the ignition out of position, GM has raised the alarm about something many dealerships have been giving customers for decades: promotional key tags. "GM is requesting that dealers no longer place rigid items, such as leather or plastic tags, on vehicle key rings," the automaker wrote in an "urgent" notice that it said applies to all vehicles.
* Chrysler has adopted the just finalized SAE towing standard for all Ram pickups. Ram's official move to adopt the SAE J2807 towing standard for validating all three (1500, 2500, and 3500) of its pickup weight classes raises the competitive bar for the industry's other pickup players.
* Ford is recalling more than 160,000 vehicles in North America for two safety issues. The largest recall involves 159,395 Focus ST and Escape vehicles from the 2013 and 2014 model years. Ford says their engines could hesitate or stall because of a wiring problem. Ford also is recalling 616 Focus and C-Max cars made earlier this month because their steering gears don’t have the proper number of ball bearings.
* Climate change is causing everyone to adjust. Bonneville Speed Week was cancelled by the SCTA this year due to torrential rains that flooded the "dry"lake bed of the famed salt flats.