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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News January 7-13, 2013 Just In Case You Were Dozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY January 13, 2013 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 17 years 1,3695,439 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 January 7-13, 2013

* The Consumer Electronics Show happened this week in Las Vegas has gotten more and more car company participation. Seven of the 10 largest manufacturers have exhibits namely, GM, Ford Motor, Chrysler Group LLC, Audi, Hyundai, Kia, and Subaru. Toyota is looking at cars with autonomous features that act like "co-pilots" especially for tasks like parking, instead of being fully self-driving. And, since the CES doesn't conflict with any big auto show, auto journos are in attendance in notable numbers.

* The North American International (Detroit) Auto Show kicks off this weekend with one of the most anticipated reveals in recent years: the new, seventh-generation (C7) Corvette. A select bunch of us will see it Sunday evening…and it will be web streamed too…at a big social event at an art community near downtown Detroit, then Monday it will be shown to the domestic and international media at a formal press conference on the floor of NAIAS. We've seen enough unofficial pictures and details to get our juices flowing. Can't wait for the real thing.

* Nissan has not been present at a number of auto shows in recent years including the NAIAS in Detroit. Well, they are coming back big-time. Rumor has it that Nissan will release a new show fragrance the brand hopes will become its trademark smell. Hello, Brad Pitt!

* A double-A week is also coming up; Auctions in Arizona that is. This week begins the most important time of the year for the classic and collector car communities as well. Anchored by the famous Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, no fewer than six major auctions will bring the guys with deep pockets and big egos to the greater Phoenix area looking for the thrill and gratification of winning bids on very special automobiles. About 250,000 folks will attend with vehicles expected to sell from $20,000 and up, some well into 7-figures.

* With total auto sales in the U.S. just coming off two consecutive years of double-digit gains most pundits are predicting another good year for calendar 2013. No one, though, expects sales to increase as much as they have these past years as the industry was coming back from some of the worst years in history.

* Trying to keep up with competitors like BMW with their small X1 crossover, GM announced they are working hard on a new small CUV that will slot beneath the SRX. Though we don't know upon what platform it will be based, we know we'll soon see a new CUV from sister division Buick based on an Opel platform.

* Tragedy struck at the grueling Dakar Rally this week as two British Race2Recovery crew members perished when their support vehicle crashed in southern Peru on Wednesday. The endurance, high-speed rally, formerly the Paris-Dakar with routes through North Africa has been run in South American for the past few years because of political unrest and security issues along the traditional routes.

* Just what we need, more noise. The NHTSA is proposing minimum sound standards for hybrid and electric vehicles to make pedestrians more aware of them as they approach. Due to the lack of engine noise, they are very quiet. The proposal would require that the vehicles be detectable in a wide range of street noises whenever traveling under 18 mph. Now we just need to do something for those pedestrians wearing ear buds who can't even hear the sirens of emergency vehicles.

* The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) Eco-Driving Index indicated the average fuel economy of new vehicles purchased in 2012 rose to a record 23.8 mpg, up 1.3 mpg or 6% from 2011 and up 2.9 mpg from 2008.

* We were really bummed this week to learn that Hasbro, the big, powerful toy company, is planning to eliminate the little sports car token for the Monopoly board game. They're letting go of some of the other classic tokens as well - but who really cares about those. We just don't want to see the race car go to a cold corner of a museum somewhere. Call your congressman or a Hasbro exec and tell them, "don't do it, please!"

* Bloomberg news service reports that the Obama administration's goal of buying only alternative-technology vehicles may be falling a bit short. Using economic stimulus funds, the GSA bought 8,139 alternative fuel vehicles in 2009, and 6,467 in 2010. In 2011 the number dropped to 2,645 due to a reduction in economic stimulus funds. Furthermore, the GSA purchases centered almost entirely on Japanese- and Korean-brand vehicles. Approximately 54% of the 1,801 alternative-fuel vehicles the U.S. government purchased last year were produced by Hyundai, Toyota, Mitsubishi, or Honda. About 300 alternate fuel vehicles were GM or Ford brands. Come on GM and Ford, get with it.

* NASCAR's "Gen-6" car is about to hit the track. Testing at Daytona International Speedway took place this week with the new Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota Sprint Cup Series race cars, now similar to what you can buy in the showroom, getting some practical on-track application. There's no Dodge because they decided to depart the sport. Let's see if NASCAR management's realization that brand recognition is very important to the sport helps revive race-fan interest. The 55th running of the Daytona 500 is February 24.

* This will be my final Nutson's Nuggets coming from Chicago. I'm moving east and will be The Auto Channel's New York Bureau.