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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News January 27 - Feb 2, 2013 Just In Case You Were Dozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY February 3, 2013 Each week Larry Nutson, Senior Editor, New York Bureau of The Auto Channel, 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 year's 1,369,129 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 27 - Feb 2, 2013

* Auto sales got off to a better than expected start according to just-in sales figures for January with the industry showing a solid 14% gain. The Detroit 3 all posted strong performances over year-ago numbers with Cadillac leading the way at a 47% gain. Part of that could be the result of softer than the overall market performance in January of 2012. All in all, analysts remain optimistic for a strong 2013.

* Bucking the positive sales trends for January it seems plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle sales dropped substantially. Cars like the Chevy Volt, plug-in Prius and Nissan Leaf dropped an average of nearly 50% from December figures. GM officials suggest that part of that drop may be attributed to higher than normal sales in December by customers looking to get the tax deduction for 2012.

* Ford is so anxious to get new Lincoln MKZ sedan to customers that they are bringing some from the Hermosillo, Mexico assembly plant to Flat Rock, Michigan for final inspection. The Mexico plant can't handle that many inspections fast enough. Dealers have been chomping at the bit to get the new car into showrooms and expected them a month ago. Adds during the Super Bowl this weekend are expected to spur sales.

* In racing news it was revealed this week that Viper will return to Le Mans racing. Viper's most prestigious motor sports wins were at Le Mans in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Chrysler will team with Riley Technologies of Moorsville, N.C. to design and construct the new SRT Viper GTS-R race cars for the June 24 Hours of Le Mans.

* One of the most famous racing circuits in the world, the German Nurburgring, filed for bankruptcy last year but this week we heard that Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone inked a deal to put on a Grand Prix race there this July 7th. We don't know yet whether it will be called the German Grand Prix or European Grand Prix.

- Saying "I have had a good run," and ". . . you should go out while they're still applauding," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced he is leaving his cabinet position. He has presided over some major changes in transportation policy, much of which has been controversial, for example pushing states to ban cell phone use while driving. President Obama has not named a possible replacement and LaHood said he would stay on until his successor is confirmed.

* Japanese car maker Toyota Motor Corp. is again Number One in the world. Toyota sold a record 9.75 million vehicles globally last year. General Motors Co. sold 9.29 million vehicles over the same period. GM had been the top-selling automaker for more than seven decades before losing the title to Toyota in 2008. GM retook the sales crown in 2011, when Toyota's production was hurt by the quake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Number 3 goes to Germany's Volkswagen AG, who sold 9.1 million vehicles.

* Daimler AG, Renault-Nissan and Ford Motor Co. signed an agreement to jointly develop a common fuel cell system. The goal is to accelerate the commercial availability of zero-emission technology while at the same time cut development costs for each company. Daimler and Renault-Nissan had inked an agreement last year. Each company will invest equally in the venture with the goal to maximize design commonality, leverage volume and derive efficiencies through economies of scale. The three want an affordable, mass market FCEV by 2017. Each been working individually on fuel cell propulsion for vehicles over ten years, but thus far the economies of scale needed to make these vehicles practical and affordable have eluded automakers. The collaboration announced this morning will focus on developing a fuel cell stack and fuel cell system that can be used by each of the partners in the launch of highly-differentiated and separately branded FCEVs that produce zero emissions.

* Toyota announced a pair of a recalls involving more than 1 million vehicles in the U.S. In the first, about 752,000 Corolla sedans and Corolla Matrix small crossovers from the 2003 and 2004 models years will be recalled for a faulty airbag control module. In the other, an entirely separate recall, about 270,000 Lexus IS sedans from the 2006 to 2012 model years will be recalled to check for a loose nut on the front wipers.

* has released its 2012 report showing the top car brands as rated by women. Each year, Women‐ tracks thousands of consumer reviews with regards to women’s purchasing and browsing experiences at new car dealerships. Mercedes dealers received the highest WSI® ranking among women buyers with an almost perfect 4.90 score in the purchase category. Lexus followed second, with the rest of the top five going to Chrysler's brands…Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep.

* Mazda's highly-efficient SkyACTIV technology has been named Green Car Journal's 2013 Green Car Technology Award winner at the Washington Auto Show (WAS). The inaugural Green Car Technology Award winner was announced at a press conference held in the Washington Auto Show's Advanced Technology Superhighway (ATS) exhibit area during the show's second Policy Day.

* And, North American auto journalists had their first drives in Mazda's all-new Mazda6 and the CX-5 with its new 2.5L engine. Watch for reviews on The Auto Channel this coming week.

* Consumer Reports said Toyota Motor Corp. held the top place as the best overall brand in its annual Car-Brand Perception Survey, followed by Ford Motor Co. Third-place Honda jumped 26 points to 114 points to close within 4 points of Ford, followed by General Motors Co.'s Chevrolet brand, Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand and Volvo. The top six brands overall finished in the same rank order as in 2012.