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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's (May 7 -12, 2012) Automotive NewsI In Case You Were Sleeping


Auto Central Louisville KY May 12, 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 1,344,867 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive, 2 Weeks to MAMA Spring Drive! See you next week....LN

Automotive News Nuggets May 7-12 2012

* One of the most iconic personalities in the racing and automobile enthusiast worlds died Thursday night at Baylor Hospital in his native Texas - Carroll Shelby, age 89. Though the cause of death was not immediately released he had been suffering for the past few months with pneumonia. In addition to creating the Cobra to challenge the dominant European racing brands he was the oldest living heart transplant recipient. Watch for a plethora of obits and tributes here and on just about every enthusiast publication in weeks to come.

* Through crises like bankruptcy, natural disasters, unintended acceleration woes, brand consolidation and more, GM and Toyota continue to vie for the title of largest automaker. This quarter it is Toyota whose global vehicle sales are up 18% to 2.16 million according to Bloomberg. Volkswagen is not far behind.

* Toyota announced it is bringing hybrid production to both the U.S. and China. Until now all hybrids have been produced in Japan but with expansion of Prius models and optimism for hybrids generally, Toyota is putting more eggs in the hybrid basket.

* Not long ago Porsche loyalists thought anything other than the sports car was not a real Porsche. Since that time the historic brand has gotten into crossovers and even a four-door sedan, the Panamera. According to credible reports from Europe Porsche will produce a smaller sedan to compete with the Mercedes-Benz E class.

* Could Buick be contemplating a new version of the classic Rivera? The Detroit Bureau reported this week that GM has filed for trademark protection for the name implying they may have a plan in the wings. We hope so. They showed a sleek coupe concept in China just about the time of the impending bankruptcy that could be what they have in mind.

* On the classic car scene, we learned this week that the rare and beautiful Horch 853A Sport Cabriolet that won Best in Show at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance last year will go on the auction block this year at RM Auction's Monterey sale in mid-August. Get out your checkbook and make sure it's backed with a multi-million guarantee or credit. This one will not go cheaply.

* U.S. highway death tolls continue to fall, as they have steadily since statistics began to be kept in the 1940s. The total number of fatalities dropped 1.7% to about 32,300, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which equates to a death rate of 1.09 per hundred million miles driven. That number is down from 1.11 last year.

* Toyota's all electric RAV4 will go on sale this summer in California with a base price of $49,800. That's more than double the price of the regular version. Toyota has low expectations for the battery-powered RAV4 expecting to sell only 2600 over the next three years. The California-only sales are driven by the Golden State's new regulation that will require automakers to produce zero emission cars in the state. It will have a 100 mile driving range.

* German carmaker BMW is teaming up with Real Goods Solar to offer BMW ActiveE drivers a discount on solar panels to charge their electric cars. Real Goods Solar, based in Louisville, Colo., will install the solar panels at the homes of ActiveE drivers at a 35 percent discount in several states on the East and West coasts, BMW said. The deal is part of BMW's strategy to offer "a holistic approach to sustainability that goes well beyond the automobile itself," BMW said. The Munich-based automaker has leased 450 Mini electric cars in the U.S. and is now leasing 700 ActiveE models, which share the same drive components and battery technology as the BMW i3 coming to the market next year.

* A California Superior Court Judge has reversed the high-profile verdict in a small claims case filed by a woman who claimed her Honda Civic Hybrid delivered significantly worse than the maker’s advertising claimed it would. Superior Court Judge Dudley W. Gray II, who wrote that, “Federal regulations control the fuel economy ratings posted on vehicles and advertising claims related to those fuel economy ratings.”

* A new government study says 5% of vehicles involved in crashes experienced tire problems. The study warned that underinflated tires are at significantly higher risk of causing a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says a study of crash data from 2005-2007 found that vehicles with tires underinflated by 25 percent or more were three times as likely to be involved in a crash linked to tire problems. Passenger cars accounted for 66 percent of the tire-related crashes.