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Nutsons Nuggets - Automotive News November 12-18 2012 In Case You Were Dozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY November 18, 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 1,357,987 automotive news, 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.... See you next week, LN

Automotive News November 12-18 2012

* Electric vehicles (EVs) will remain a very small part of the U.S. market unless automakers can lower prices and demonstrate the economic benefits to consumers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Electric Vehicle Ownership Experience Study. Compared with sales prices for a similar gasoline-powered vehicle, the study finds that owners of all-electric vehicles (AEV) pay a premium of $10,000, on average, for their vehicle, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owners pay a $16,000 premium, on average. Based on annual fuel savings, it would take an average of 6.5 years for AEV owners to recoup the $10,000 premium they paid at the point of purchase, while the payoff point for PHEV ownership is 11 years.

* And with that…all over the news this week was the announcement of an unexpected pick for Motor Trend's high-visibility Car of the Year Award - the new Tesla Model S electric sedan. Some of their picks from the past have been less than stellar in the marketplace (thinking of Renault and AMC products that failed miserably) but they're usually behind a vehicle that is significant in some way.

* Fiat will introduce a new electric version of the cute and popular 500 at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show in a few weeks. Called Fiat 500e, the little electron burner is a bit of a surprise considering Marchionne's well-known lack of enthusiasm for electric cars.

* Also while you're still plugged in…GM's new global product boss, Mary Barra told a group of media folks this week in San Francisco that the automaker expects to produce a half-million "electrified" vehicles by 2017. Despite slow sales of the plug-in electric Volt she touted the advantages of electrification while suggesting they would stay away from other full-hybrids in favor of GM's mild-hybrid they call eAssist. Chevy will unveil the Spark EV at the LA Auto Show.

* Women have passed men on the nation's roads. More women than men now have driver's licenses, a reversal of a longtime gender gap behind the wheel that transportation researchers say is likely to have safety and economic implications. If current trends continue, the gap will only widen. The share of teens and young adults of both sexes with driver's licenses is declining, but the decline is greater for young men, according to a study by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute. No doubt the auto industry will be paying attention since "macho" is no longer in the forefront.

* Sergio Marchionne, Fiat and Chrysler boss, was in Detroit this week to announce the addition of 1,250 new jobs as the smallest of the Detroit Three continues to streak back from near oblivion just a few short years ago by adding a third shift at its truck assembly plant in Warren and bringing back the currently- mothballed Mack Engine plant to build more new Pentastar engines.

* The continuing viability of Mitsubishi in the U.S. market came under some question a few weeks ago when Suzuki pulled out. Many pundits speculated that Mitsu has such a small share of the market they may be next. That speculation my be allayed by the introduction at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show of two fresh models they claim will be "exciting" and "eye-catching," - two versions of a new Outlander small CUV.

* The Gibbs Quadski, the world's first high-speed amphibious vehicle we reported on a few weeks ago, began production in suburban Detroit this week. This cross between a quad-runner and a jet ski is a precursor to the Aquada amphibious automobile the company intends to produce if they can ever surmount regulatory hurdles. Both feature a unique mechanical system the allows the wheels to tuck up into the wheel wells for water use but still have geometry on land that allows competent speed there as well.

* NASCAR seems to always offer some notable attention-grab. Jeff Gordon was fined $100,000 for intentionally waiting on the track and then wrecking Clint Boyer. Brad Keselowski is lined up to possibly win the Spring Cup championship, as we speak. He would be the first driver from Michigan to do so and also, by the way, he was fined for having his mobile phone in his race car and tweeting during a red flag period last week. And, the Nationwide Series has added a race at the 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio road course.

* Toyota Motor Corp. will recall 2.77 million vehicles worldwide to fix a water pump problem and steering defect. The electric water pump recall covers five models globally for a tally of 630,000 vehicles. The steering recall affects 10 models worldwide totaling 2.76 million vehicles. Included are 670,000 model year 2004 to 2009 Prius hybrids in the United States.

* GM is recalling 2012 model year Buick Verano, Chevrolet Cruze and Chevrolet Sonic vehicles due to driver-side air bags that might not deploy and is recalling 2013 Cadillac XTS sedans for rear-seat head restraints that might not lock in position.

* Chrysler announced a recall of nearly a million Jeeps SUVs from 2002 to 2004 to address and problem that may cause airbags to deploy erroneously.

* The Thanksgiving Holiday comes up this next week and we wish all of our readers a Happy Thanksgiving. Please be careful out there on our nations highways as you along with the other 39.1 million Thanksgiving automobile travelers are going over the mountain and through the woods to grandmother's house. BTW, the total forecast for travelers is 43.6 million with 1.3 million on bus, train or boat and 3.1 million in the air.