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Nutson's Nuggets: Here Is Last Week's (October 1-7 2012) Automotive News In Case You Were Dozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY October 7, 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 1,353,476 automotive stories, articles, reviews, rants and raves by just searching for the subject you are interested in The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive. Hey South Florida TV viewers, I know you are enjoying watching The Auto Channel's TACH-TV on channel 44 WHDT-TV Palm Beach (Cable 17 and 438, channel 9 Miami and channel 32 Fort Meyers-Naples, and thanks for the positive feedback...I am back home after covering the Paris Motor Show OOO LaLa. See you next week, LN

Automotive News October 1-7 2012

* Another month came to a close and auto industry sales continued to climb. September was up 13% with 1.19 million units sold…mostly fuel efficient cars amid flat pickup truck sales. The seasonal rate was at 14.9 million units, the best since February 2008. Asians continue to recover from the earthquake and tsunami with Toyota up 41.5% and Honda up 30.9%. Chrysler led the Detroit Three at 11.5% with lots of Dodge Dart and Fiat 500 sales. GM was up 1.5% and Ford basically flat, down 0.2% due to poor pickup sales for both. VW was up 32.4%, Hyundai up 15.3% and Nissan down 1.1%.

* We reported back a bit ago that the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union was entering into negotiations with the Detroit Three car companies. Terms have been separately reached between all three and the union, the last having been ratified over the weekend. Neither side got exactly what they wanted. The CAW agreed on a two-tier wage system that has new employees earning less than veterans. Cost-of-living increases are gone, although union workers did receive lump sum payments and signing bonuses. Canada has become one of the most expensive places in the world to build a car today and this doesn't bode well for future industry growth in Canada.

* Honda is recalling about 625,000 Accord and Acura TL models from 2007 and 2008 model years. This is an expansion of an earlier recall involving just Acura models, and now adds Accords with V6 engines. A fire hazard potential exists due to a leaking power steering hose.

* Pedal-power! In Italy, as the European economic crisis grows deeper, new-car sales have fallen below bicycle sales for the first time since World War II. In Paris, I recently observed a marked increase in the use of scooters, and the Parisian public bicycle-sharing plan lets annual members use a bike for free for 30 minutes which has folks pedaling from bike-rack to bike-rack as quickly as possible.

* The third generation of the VW Beetle convertible will debut at November's Los Angeles Auto Show. It will have a power top that folds out-of-sight and pop-up roll bars along with more masculine styling and a 2-liter turbo power train.

* After a less than stellar year driving for Mercedes, legendary race driver Michael Schumacher announced his retirement this week just after Mercedes announced they would replace him with Lewis Hamilton for next year. It is not clear whether this is real retirement or if he will come back next season under a different banner.

* The handwringing has begun as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed a 9% increase in highway deaths for the first half of 2012. No analysis accompanied the numbers but NHTSA spokeswoman Linda Tran said they will be watching it closely. We will likely see renewed efforts to ban cellphone use, texting and other distracting activities while driving.

* Fisker's CEO, Tony Posawatz, spoke to the Detroit Automotive Press Association this week confirming plans for their new, more mainstream, extended range electric sedan to be called the Fisker Atlantic. He said the target is to sell it for just about half the price of the exotic Fisker Karma now being sold for just over $100,000. After some battery fires and and a panning from Consumer Reports they have much work to do.

* More gears are coming as GM and Ford jointly work on 9- and 10-speed automatic transmissions. The project began early this year and the transmissions could be in production by 2015. There may even be a manufacturing partnership in the works.

* Nissan is facing a class action law suit filed by a group of owners unhappy with the actual driving range they're getting on their Leaf electric cars. At issue is Nissan's claim of 100-mile range but that presumes a full battery charge, which is not recommended.

Larry NutsonSenior Editor, Chicago Bureau, The Auto Channel Treasurer, Midwest Automotive Media Association Director, Individual Communicators Network (ICN)