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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (April 1- April 7 ) Automotive News In Case You Were Sleeping


Auto Central Louisville KY April 8, 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 a nugget of the past week's automotive news you may have missed.

If you are a car nut like we all are, you can easily "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 16 years 1,342,854 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive, Happy Easter and Happy Passover, see ya next week L.N.

Automotive News: April 1-7, 2012

* We always love the automotive headlines that appear on April 1st. How about a future 4-door Ford Mustang courtesy of Road & Track or from MINI itself, the Cooper Yachtsman with its amphibious capability? And then there is the Minibago motor home, a MINI-based camper courtesy of Consumer Guide Automotive. And from NASCAR and Google Racing bringing autonomous (driverless) vehicle technology to NASCAR race cars.

* March sales accelerated to a 5-year high. Older vehicles…the average age of vehicles on the road is near 11 years…are being replaced and customers are looking for more fuel-efficient cars. Of total GM sales, 42% had four cylinder engines. Total sales were up 13% over last year at an annual selling rate of 14.4 million. Chrysler Group was up 34% (Fiat up a whopping 642%…this should quiet some media sceptics, and Chrysler up 70%), Ford up 5%, GM up 12%(Chevy and GMC up, Buick and Cadillac down), Toyota up 15% (Camry sales were 105,405 units in the first quarter. At that pace Camry sales could approach the pre-crash peak of well over 400,000), Hyundai up 13%, Subaru up 20%, Kia up 30%. VW brand sales were up 35% and Toyota Prius sales jumped 54%. And...the Ford F-series truck continues as the top selling vehicle for the month.

* The New York International Auto Show opens to the public this week after a couple days of press conferences. Nissan may have stolen the top billing at this week's New York Auto Show with the unveiling of its NYC Taxi and also the new premium-ride Altima. Other news comes from a sleek new Chevy Impala, glass-roofed Lincoln MKZ, Lexus ES350, BMW X1 compact crossover, Hyundai Sante Fe in two sizes and the sexy 640HP SRT Viper.

* And not to be overlooked, an outstanding Toyota Avalon…trying to lure young folks to a car with an older demographic, an Infiniti LE concept EV, a new Acura RLX, a new Ram truck and a Mercedes-Benz GL. Lastly, the Fisker Atlantic that may be produced on the other side of the Atlantic and who knows when. Looks like the NYAS is challenging the Detroit show for "big-news intros". Lots of important cars were introduced there this year. Check out full coverage here on

* The NHTSA has opened two investigations of reports of engine fires. The 2011 Chevy Cruze and the 2010 Jeep Wrangler are being investigated.

* Ford's new Fusion is the first non-hybrid midsize sedan available with Auto Start-Stop. The fuel-saving technology will be offered in the U.S. for only $295. With Fusion's 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, Ford Auto Start-Stop will help drivers save as much as $1,100 over five years at today's fuel prices versus midsize competitors. Auto Start-Stop improves fuel efficiency by about 3.5 percent overall; predominantly city drivers can save up to 10 percent.

* Chevrolet has, at long last, gotten the face of current product into NHRA Pro Stock with the new Camaro of Greg Stanfield that ran at Las Vegas last weekend. Word is that most GM teams will replace their Pontiac GXPs and Chevy Cobalts during the season.

* Scion's new little sports coupe called FR-S, co-designed with Subaru, will test its mettle at the famed German Nurburgring race course where two FR-Ss will compete in the 24-hour race in May. Gazoo Racing, Toyotas tuning and racing division, will campaign the racers with wild wings on their tails at the insistence of Akia Toyoda, president of Toyota, who is reportedly convinced that the Nurburgring is the best place to establish the competitive credentials of the car.

* The Volkswagen up! was named 2012 World Car of the Year this week. The up! surpassed 33 other nominees in being judged by 66 of the top automotive journalists from around the globe. The up! is not sold in the U.S., at least for now.

* The Mercedes-Benz S250 CDI BlueEfficiency came out on top of the field of 22 hybirds and electric vehicles to be named the 2012 Green Car of the Year. That's Clean diesel!

* The creator of the Porsche 911, Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, son of Ferry Porsche and grandson of Ferdinand Porsche died this week in Salzburg, Austria, aged 76. * Drag racing fans lost a legend this week with the passing of 81-year-old Bill 'Grumpy' Jenkins, master builder of Chevy racing engines and a pioneer of the sport. Jenkins is credited with popularizing the NHRA Pro Stock racing classes. He was also famous for his gruff demeanor and big cigar.