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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (January 9-14, 2012) In Case You Were Sleeping


Auto Central Louisville KY January 15, 2012; Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel's Chicago Bureau Chief, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Detroit Bureau give you the past week's automotive news highlights you may have missed. If you are a car nut like we all are here you can easily "catch up" on not only this past weeks automotive news but the past 16 years 898,125 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive...Have fun see ya next week LN.

* In Detroit, the North American International Auto Show media previews took place early in the week amidst mild 40 outside temperatures rather than the typical single-digits. The Auto Channel brings your Press Pass Coverage of all the auto show press conferences and news, just like having media credentials and being there on the show floor.

* In first news Monday morning, the 2012 Hyundai Elantra and the 2012 Range Rover Evoque were named North American Car and Truck of the Year by a panel of auto journalists.

* On Sunday eve, Cadillac unveiled its new ATS sedan aimed at the likes of BMW 3-series and Audi A4. The ATS will have a turbo 4-cylinder, a V6 and eventually a diesel. Ford unveiled the redesigned 2013 midsize Fusion and Dodge showed the new Alfa-based 2013 Dart compact sedan. Mercedes-Benz took the wraps off the all new 2013 Mercedes SL which is extensively aluminum. Two other new 2-seater drop tops included the Mini roadster and the Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Nissan showed a Pathfinder concept which is expected to closely represent the production version. Chevy revealed the Sonic RS and two concepts, the Tru140S and the Code130R, aimed to appeal to Millennials…Chevy just needs to convince the youngsters to get drivers licenses. VW's E-Bugster concept is intended to help VW dominate the world as the biggest seller and hopefully also a maker of the best.

* The North American International Auto Show media days wrapped up Tuesday with the annual Designer Awards presented by the Eyes On Design show team - a panel of the world's most prestigious designers. Two awards are presented - one for a production vehicle and one for a concept. Finalists in the production category were: Cadillac ATS, Ford Fusion and BMW 3-Series. Finalist in the concept category were: Chevy Tru 140S, Lexus LF-LC and Lincoln MK-Z. Their choice of best design for a production vehicle went to the new Ford Fusion. Best concept car was the Lexus LF-LC.

* In another award, the new Ford Fusion was named Best In Show by AutoWeek., which bodes well for its sales success.

* BMW announced they will invest $900 million to expand the Spartanburg, SC plant again to produce the new X4 model. They currently build the X6, X3 and X5 crossovers. The new investment will bring production capacity to 350,000 vehicles/year.

* Chevrolet announced this week that the 2013 Corvette will be the last of the sixth generation car and will be available as a special 60th Anniversary convertible with a 427 engine. This 60th Anniversary edition will be shown at next week's Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ.

* Tata Technologies, the contract engineering firm existing within the Tata Motors family, revealed a concept for a $20,000 full electric car at the North American International Auto Show this week. The "eMo" is meant to demonstrate their capability to develop an entire vehicle. With few details offered there are no plans for production. Tata motors produces the Nano, least expensive car in the world, as well as Jaguar and Land Rover.

* Never one to sit still for long Bob Lutz showed up at the North American International Auto Show this week touting the virtues of an extended range electric system for GM light-duty trucks. Start-up company VIA Motors recruited Lutz as advisor and spokesman. VIA is replacing transmissions of these vehicles with a large electric motor and adding a 24.4 kW battery to accommodate a 40-mile electric range but keeps the 4.3-liter V6 as range extender.

* In addition to revealing the production version of the new Cadillac ATS, a BMW 3-Series competitor, the brands VP of sales, Kurt McNeil, confirmed that they are considering an SUV version to compete with the popular BMW X3.

* As part of efforts to redefine and reenergize the brand Lincoln wants to become more "exclusive." Having culled the ranks of dealers substantially already they announced at the MK-Z Concept reveal at the NIAIS this week that they will only compete in the top 130 markets in the country. It might be a bit harder in the future to get those new Lincolns.

* In 2013, Chrysler Group will offer a diesel version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the North America market for the first time since 2008. No plans yet for a diesel in the New Dodge Dart or other Chrysler Group vehicles.

* Ford is recalling about 450,000 minivans and SUVs for powertrain and braking system flaws. * The Chevy Volt hasn't quite caught on as thought by many. Although GM has plans and could produce as many as 60,000 Volts in 2012, GM will adjust production at the Hamtramck plant in Detroit to meet demand. Of the planned 60,000, about 75% or 45,000 are for the U.S. and the rest for Europe, built as the Opel Ampera, and China. GM has said they still don't have a clear sense of how much demand there is for battery-electric vehicles.

* In 2011 Americans bought higher fuel efficiency by a half-mile more per gallon. The aggregate fleet of new cars and trucks averaged 22.2 m.p.g. for 2011, compared with 21.7 m.p.g. in 2010.The improvement saved $722 million at the gas pump, where consumers bought 214 million fewer gallons of gas than a year earlier, according to's annual survey.

* Meanwhile, the Daytona 500 is not that far off and at Daytona Speedway NASCAR pre-season Thunder is going on now with testing of the new radiatior, cooling and spoiler packages intended to cut back on or eliminate tandem drafting. Driver to driver radio communication will no longer be allowed also to cut back on tandem drafting. Oh, by the way, cars are running laps as fast as 206mph. Also at Daytona, prep is underway for the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 with the new Corvette Daytona Prototype clocking very fast circuit times.