The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (April 30-May 6 ) Automotive NewsI In Case You Were Sleeping


Auto Central Louisville KY May 6, 2012; Each week Larry Nutson, The Auto Channel's Chicago Bureau Chief, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau give you easy to digest nuggets 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 1,343,769 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive, What a Kentucky Derby! See you next week....LN

Automotive News April 30-May 6, 2012

* April came to a close with auto sales easing and rising just 2.3% to 1.2 million. The annual selling rate of 14.4 million remained unchanged from March. There are some ups and some downs. Chrysler is +20.4%, GM -8.2%, and Ford -5.1%. VW a whopping +27.3%, Toyota fully recovered at +11.6%, Kia +1.0%, Hyundai +0.8%, Honda -2.2% and Nissan -0.3%.

* The average fuel economy of new cars and trucks purchased in April declined slightly from March as consumers bought more trucks and SUVs, according to But motorists didn't exactly return to the gas-guzzling days of last decade. In April, the fuel economy average of new vehicles purchased was 23.3mpg compared with 23.4mpg in March.

* First quarter financials for the Detroit Three automakers are out and reveal that North America is accounting for most profits, exactly the opposite of the situation just a few years ago. Leading the slow economic recovery the auto industry combined showed about $4.5 billion in profits for just the first quarter of the year.

* The first Ford dealers have been officially certified to sell the company's first all-electric car -- the 2012 Ford Focus Electric -- America's most fuel-efficient five-seater with an EPA rating of 110 MPGe city that is capable of being recharged in nearly half the time as Nissan Leaf. The 67 dealers are in California, New York and New Jersey -- markets that account for a large percentage of electrified vehicle sales and will begin seeing the Focus Electric later this spring. By the end of the year, Focus Electric will be available nationwide.

* We had an opportunity to do some hypermiling courtesy of Kia. A group of auto writers drove the Kia Rio and Kia Optima Hybrid from Miami to Key West. Each have EPA highway fuel economy ratings of 40mpg. The best overall trip mileage achieved in the Rio was 51mpg and the best mileage in the Optima Hybrid was 48.7 mpg. The team with our TheAutoChannel driver reached 45mpg average for the trip in the Optima Hybrid.

* The failure to use turn signals is responsible for as many as 2 million accidents annually. According to research by the Society of Automotive Engineers, drivers either neglect to use their signals when changing lanes – or fail to turn the signals off – 48% of the time. And when making a turn the failure rate is around 25%. The new study suggests an alternative that it dubs the “Smart Turn Signal." Such a system would automatically shut off a turn signal, likely by timing out after a set delay or by detecting when a vehicle has finished changing lanes – much as today’s cars automatically cancel the signals after making a turn at an intersection. For scofflaws who simply don’t use their signals, the system would work much like a seatbelt reminder. It would be able to sense if drivers routinely ignore their turn signals and start to flash what the study calls a “friendly” reminder.

* Kia’s all-new luxury flagship sedan went on sale in Korea this week, powering the brand into an entirely new segment of the global automotive market. The striking new rear-wheel drive sedan will be launched in a number of key overseas markets starting in the fourth quarter of 2012. Kia’s first modern rear-wheel drive vehicle using its own platform combines stylish design with luxurious comfort, engaging driving dynamics and advanced high-tech features. Known as the ‘K9’ in Korea, the new flagship sedan will have a different name in overseas markets – to be revealed closer to its on sale date. We expect this new sedan in the U.S. in Spring 2013.

* BMW is recalling 2009 to 2012 model year crossovers with diesel engines because of an emission control issue. Effected are the X5 and X6 crossovers with xDrive system and the 3-Series diesels.

* AAA's annual "Your Driving Costs" survey is out and reveals that the average cost of operating a midsize sedan costs almost $9,000 per year, up substantially from last years. As you might guess, fuel prices lead the change but costs for tires, insurance and maintenance rose as well. Mitigating this number is depreciation, which is not as high as recent years.

* An editorial in Green Car Journal this week points out that electric vehicle sales are waning considerably with plug-in and other hybrids taking up just a small amount of slack. In spite of fuel costs remaining high, the fact that they've gone down incrementally has some advocates worried that we're loosing our interest in alternatively powered vehicles. More plug-in electrics are scheduled to come to market this year, but sales may be dismal.

* Believe it or not, a natural gas powered Honda Civic is the pace car at the Revolution Park NASCAR track in Monroe. LA this weekend. The Atmos Energy prepared car with Greg Martin at the wheel will pace the Whelen All American Series race.

* And, someone is finally after those lap dogs hanging out driver's windows. A Rhode Island legislator has introduced a bill that would make Rhode Island the first state to ban lap dogs from the driver's seat.