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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (Sept 10 - Sept 16) Automotive Factoids - In Case You Were Not Paying Attention


Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel's Chicago Bureau Chief, gives you last weeks automotive news highlights you may have missed, or you can catch up on the past 15 years of automotive news HERE in our news archive.

• All the big new product news this week comes from the Frankfurt Auto Show and it all has been covered in detail on The Auto Channel. Look for details of the Volkswagen UP urban car, Audi A2 electric concept, the all new 911, the Ford Focus ST, the Maserati Kubang sport ute based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, BMW's i series of city cars, the new Mercedes B-class, a redesigned Opel that GM hints will come to the US perhaps as a Chevy or Buick, the design studies Ford EVOS, Kia GT and Volvo YOU and the new Mazda CX-5 compact ute.
TACH's exclusive PRESS PASS COVERAGE of the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show

• Chrysler Group LLC's Ram truck brand will begin selling a small panel van built by a Fiat joint venture in Turkey in 2013.

Plans to market this van were first disclosed in 2009 as part of the Fiat deal. A memorandum of understanding has been signed to supply 190,000 Doblo vans over 7 years. The Ram van will compete in North America against the Ford Transit Connect, also built in Turkey.

• The battle to be the best selling luxury brand in the world is among the Germans. BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are duking it out with Audi set to take the number 2 spot from Mercedes with BMW retaining the lead. The only other player is Lexus with the likes of Cadillac, Lincoln, Volvo and Jaguar trailing behind.
Cadillac's fabulous Ciel concept could make GM a contender

• Honda is recalling almost 347,000 Pilot sport utility vehicles worldwide for a potential problem with the front seat belts. Honda said the recall, which affects vehicles built in Lincoln, Ala., for model years 2009 through 2011,

• Saab got a lifeline extended in terms of $96 million in bridge financing from a Chinese investor. Saab is moving forward to get court protection. However, bankruptcy is still in the wind.

• Subaru has announced two major recalls, affecting 195,080 model year 2010 and 2011 Subaru Legacy and Outback models and 295,123 Subaru Forester, Impreza and Saab 9-2X models built between 2002 and 2008.

• Volvo Car Corp.'s CEO Stefan Jacoby told media representatives at the Frankfurt International Motor Show today that his company may build a North American assembly plant. "One weakness of Volvo cars is the exposure to the U.S. dollar, so we are investigating increasing our sourcing in North America. The utmost solution would be to have a North American industrial footprint. We haven't made up our mind."

• Toyota Motor Corp. announced that it has regained 100% production at its assembly operations in North America for the first time since Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

• Another gullwing from Mercedes-Benz was introduced at the Geneva Motor Show this week. This one, called F125 (the name celebrating the 125th anniversary of the invention of the automobile) is a plug-in hydrogen fuel cell hybrid. It may not be as impractical as it seems as the German government has committed to establishing more than 1,000 hydrogen stations.

• We'll have to wait at least a year more for the promised new Alfa Romeo models to come to the US. Apparently the result of both the European debt crisis and Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne's persnickety review of the cars' styling. An SUV based on a Jeep platform was in the queue as well, but will also be postponed.

• The announcement came this week that the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, one of the most prestigious classic and collector car shows in the country will feature perhaps the most significant Ferrari model ever - the GTO. Built from 1962 to 1964 it dominated the international GT racing classes for most of its run. It was also one of the first automobiles ever to bring more than $1 million at auction when that was an unheard of sum.

• If you should have an aging parent who is independant and still drives we were reminded this week about the usefulness of OnStar FMV. This is the first out-of-the-box application of OnStar's "blue button" automotive safety and security service. OnStar FMV technology is packaged in the rear view mirror and can be purchased at Best Buy and can be installed in over 90 million older vehicles. A great tool to give you peace of mind and for an aging parent to use if help is needed.