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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News February 10-16, 2013 Just In Case You Were Snoozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY February 17, 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 1,372,128 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 February 10-16 2013

* You may recall we reported last week that Heinrich Fisker spoke to the Economic Club of Chicago during the Chicago Auto Show acknowledging his fledgling hybrid car company is in some financial difficulty and in need of an investor or two. Bloomberg is reporting this week that he may be entertaining a bid from China's Dongfeng for $350 million that would give them controlling interest in the company. Whadaya bet he turns them down. Note that Fisker still owes the U.S. Energy Department about $200 million from a loan program.

* Also, speaking of the business end of cars, Warren Buffett has just bought 10 million shares of GM. Does he know something we don't? He now holds 25 million shares of what some still think of as a struggling auto maker.

* Chrysler is the recall king this week. A potential problem involving rear axles on some Ram 1500, Dakota pickups, Aspen and Durango SUVs could cause loss of control of the vehicle. Check with your dealer to see if yours is part of the problem. Also, an airbag triggering problem is behind a recall of 2003 and 2004 Vipers, an expansion of a previous air bag recall on other Chrysler vehicles.

* BMW is recalling more than 30,000 X5 SUVs from the 2007-2010 model years to fix an oil leak that can knock out the power-assisted braking.

* J.D. Power released results of their annual Vehicle Dependability Study this week showing Lexus still on top. Overall, the industry had the best year since this study began in 1989. This year's average was 126 problems per 100 vehicles. Lexus' score was just 71 problems per 100 vehicles. Domestic brands taken all together are only 10 clicks worse than the foreign car average and making progress. Along with Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln, and Toyota owners reported the fewest problems, while Jeep, Mitsubishi, Dodge and Land Rover owners had the most.

* Ram announced this week they will build their first ever diesel-powered standard size pickup. The Ram 1500 will be available with their 3.0-liter EcoDiesel mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission for the 2014 model year. Ram also has the distinction of being the most improved brand in the J.D. Power study referenced above.

* President Obama, in his State of the Union speech last week, says he wants to establish an "Energy Security Trust" by diverting some of the oil and gas extraction fees the Federal government gets from production on publicly owned lands, to research clean energy alternative and "shift our cars and trucks off oil for good." But…keep reading.

* Americans can expect to pay about $2,600 more on average for a new vehicle in 2025 if automakers achieve the federally mandated fleet average of 54.5 m.p.g., an Environmental Protection Agency engineer said. Gasoline will remain most Americans' fuel of choice because the industry can squeeze more efficiency out of conventional engines through technologies such as turbochargers, direct-injection and eight-speed or continually variable transmissions.

* More than one-third of shoppers ages 18 to 35 -- so-called millennials -- use mobile devices to research vehicles they are interested in buying, vs. 19 percent of consumers in other age groups, a study by eBay Inc. found. Meanwhile, AutoTrader found that only 32 percent of dealer Web visitors are interested in shopping for a vehicle.

* The US Treasury Department projects that the auto industry bailout cost was reduced by $4 billion, or 16 percent, to $20.3 billion from a previously projected $24.3 billion. Treasury Department said the overall cost of its 2008 financial-rescue effort was reduced to $55.48 billion from $59.68 billion, as it has recouped a majority of the costs of programs that unlocked tight credit markets.

* Fiat-Chrysler group took the wraps off of an all-new Alfa Romeo that will become the first Alfa to re-enter the U.S. market later this year. The Alfa Romeo 4C supercar is a two-seat, mid-engine coupe powered by a four-cylinder, all-aluminum turbocharged engine coupled to a twin-clutch automatic transmission. The 1750cc engine is equipped with direct fuel injection, dual continuous variable valve timing and a new scavenging control system that is said to eliminate virtually all turbo lag. Engine horsepower ratings and performance figures haven't been disclosed. Price is expected to be around $60,000.

* General Motors Co. unveiled its 2014 Chevrolet SS production car…the first rear-drive performance sedan since 1999…at the Daytona International Speedway. Coming to showrooms later this year, the SS is the basis for the NASCAR race track version. The SS is built on GM's global rear-wheel-drive architecture that also is the base for the Chevy Camaro, Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle and the Holden brand's VF Commodore. Featuring the LS3 Chevy V-8 engine of 6.2-liter making 415 horsepower and 415 foot-pounds of torque mated to a six-speed transmission with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, the SS will do zero to 60 mph in five seconds.