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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's Automotive Factoids - In Case You Weren't Paying Attention


Published July 31, 2011

Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel Chicago Bureau Chief will give you some automotive news you may have missed.

* General Motors has confirmed that it will offer a Diesel engine version of the Chevy Cruze in 2013. Fuel economy ratings are expected to be in the mid-40 mpg range on the highway. Good news for those folks who drive a lot of miles each year. Fears of the old GM diesel should be put aside, since GM Europe offers Diesel engines in that market that perform very well. No word on pricing, but the key financial consideration for a buyer is ROI. MORE

* Scion will be introducing its miniature size iQ that is expected to give the struggling brand a big boost. Scion has the highest percentage of Gen-Y buyers. The iQ is 2 feet shorter than the Fiat 500 and is the world's smallest 4-seater, and being positioned as a 3+1 seater. Another great urban/city car for Gen-Y and possibly retiring baby-boomers. MORE

* Negotiations between the UAW and the Detroit-3 car makers for a new labor contract kicks off this week. Although having no immediate car-buyer effect, in the long term it will interesting to see the outcome. Hopefully the D-3 companies will be able to continue on the upswing with increased stability and growth and to offer vehicles that Americans want to buy. MORE

* For enthusiasts of classic and collector cars, the Celebration of the Automobile will return to Indianapolis Raceway next year on May 10 - 13, 2012 with the theme Manufacturers of the Indianapolis 500. This rolling concours was first held this year for the 100th anniversary of Indianpolis Motor Speedway and now returns. MORE

* The Nissan Leaf has been awarded the U.S. government's highest safety rating. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the car a 5-star overall safety rating, making it the first fully-electric vehicle to earn such a rating, according to Nissan. The Leaf has also been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. MORE

* Taxi riders in New York City will soon get to travel about in the Ford Transit Connect taxi, recently approved by the NY Taxi and Limousine Commission. With the Ford Crown Victoria going out of production, Ford's new Transit Connect will fill the bill. Easier ingress and egress and stopping closer to the curb because of the sliding instead of hinged passenger door should make taxi riding a little more comfortable. The Transit Connect taxi is already in use in Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia. MORE

* On Tuesday of this week the White House proposed to lower the fleetwide fuel economy average for 2025 from 56.2mpg to 54.5mpg, and gave the car companies one day to agree. Car companies had been pushing for a standard in the area of 40mpg. And on the very next day, reports were that the Detroit-3, Honda, Hyundai and Nissan would agree. Car fuel economy averages would grow 55 per year from 2017 to 2025. Truck averages would grow 3.5% from 2017 to 2021, and then 5%. MORE

* And, just 24 hours after pulling a series of radio ads designed to alarm the public about upcoming fuel economy rules, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers resumed airing the radio spots on Friday morning. Go figure! MORE

* We got our first peek at Hyundai's latest offering this week, the fresh and stylish new Azera. Slotted just above Sonata in size, some thought it might go away, but John Krafcik, US Hyundai boss, said we'll see it revealed at this November's L.A. Auto Show.

* Ford lost it J.D. Power top rating because of problems customers are having managing the My Ford Touch and Sync systems. We're familiar with a glitch connecting the new 4G iPhone but other intricacies are confusing early adopters and technophobes alike. MORE

* Going to Europe? Need a fun rental? Hertz and Lotus announced this week that the new Evora will be available at select Hertz locations in Germany, Spain and the UK. MORE

* Americans will have to wait at least an additional year before we see the return of the Alfa Romeo brand here in the US. Brand owner Fiat SpA had originally scheduled the launch for 2012 when they intended to bring to these shores a compact crossover and midsize sedan. MORE

* James Bond is rolling over in his grave. The spy who drove classic Bentleys might have to switch to an SUV. The company, owned by Volkswagen AG, thinks there are customers for a luxury SUV costing upwards of 120,000 Euros. MORE