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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News February 17-24, 2013 Just In Case You Were Snoozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY February 24, 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 17-24 2013

* It's a new motorsports season and the ladies are making news on the race tracks. Danica Patrick became the first woman to qualify on the pole for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, and it's for the famous Daytona 500. Patrick turned a lap at 196.434 miles per hour in her No. 10 Chevrolet SS at Daytona International Speedway to take the pole for Sunday's season-opening race. Seven of the top ten starters are Chevy SS versions of the new Gen-6 race car.

* And, after grabbing her third No. 1 qualifier of her career, Courtney Force wrapped up last weekend with her second career win and first at the season-opening 53nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway. She defeated Ron Capps in the final round of eliminations and ran the quickest pass of the weekend a 4.025 second run.

* Lastly, Dodge is one-two-three in Pro Stock after the opening event of the 2013 National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The title win came after three Dodge entries battled their way to the final elimination rounds at the Winternationals. Vincent Nobile posted the first victory of the season after a final round face-off against fellow HEMI-powered teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Pro Stock, to put the pair 1-2 in the Pro Stock standings. The Dodge Avenger of V. Gaines is close behind in third spot on the basis of a strong qualifying performance that saw him equal his best start as no. 2 qualifier, and a second round win against Allen Johnson. Johnson's Pro1 isn't too far behind sitting fifth in the standing, putting all four full-time Mopars in the top-5 in points heading into qualifying at Phoenix.

* Optimism for the U.S. auto industry continues as LMC Automotive, J.D. Power's forecasting partner, predicted this week 15.3 million light vehicle sales for 2013 in spite of higher fuel costs and the uncertainty of government budget cuts. Citing the overall health of the industry Power's senior vice president of global automotive practice says, "Average transaction prices are up, incentives are stable, leasing is at a healthy level and newly designed models continue to make an impact on the marketplace."

* Just as after Hurricane Katrina, used car buyers are being cautioned to beware of vehicles that may have been damaged in Super Storm Sandy. Officials estimate that around a quarter million cars were damaged during the storm and although some suffered only minor damage like broken windows or dents, others were submerged in water causing much more extensive damage. A VIN check would be wise.

* Next week's important Geneva Motor Show will feature a production version of Volkswagen's XL1 plug-in hybrid, a sleek two-seat coupe with covered rear wheels, exaggerated aerodynamic body and a claimed 270- mpg-e. They plan about 1,000 units annually to be hand-built in the former Karmann plant in Osnabruck, Germany. With a curb weight of just 1,753 pounds it uses carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels and an aluminum substructure.

* Dan Gurney returns to the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance to join fellow racers Brian Redman, David Hobbs, John Horseman, Lee Holman and Alan Grant to celebrate the Ford GT40's racing history. The Amelia Island show, running from March 8th to 10th, is the first major classic and collector car show of the season and features more racing cars and race elements than any other show.

* Estonia is the first country to have a nationwide fast charging system for electric cars. With financing from the government's sale of CO2 emissions credits, the 165 chargers are spread throughout the country. So far they have just 619 full electric cars, the vast majority of which are government vehicles. They hope to double the number of electrics in the hands of the public this year.

* The US Postal Service is releasing a limited edition of five classic muscle car stamps that debuted at Daytona International Speedway. The five vehicles featured on the stamps are: 1966 Pontiac GTO, 1967 Shelby GT-500, 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona, 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, and 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS. The limited edition stamps are forever stamps and are part of the "America on the Move" series.

* BMW announced another recall of about 570,000 vehicles in the United States and Canada because of a faulty battery cable connector that can fail and cause an engine to stall. The recall includes certain 3-series coupes, sedans, convertibles and wagons from 2007 through 2011, as well as 1-series coupes and convertibles from model years 2008 through 2012 and Z4 roadsters from 2009 though 2011.

* Chrysler will not build a Maserati SUV called the Levante in Detroit, partly because the Jeep Grand Cherokee's robust sales are keeping workers at the Jefferson North assembly plant busy. Fiat, which owns most of Chrysler and all of Maserati, wants to make the Levante at its Mirafiori plant in Turin in order to keep more Italian workers employed, according to a report in Automotive News.

* Mercedes-Benz U.S.A. President Steve Canon told the International Motor Press Association this week that his brand outsold BMW last year by at least 5,600 units according to registration data compiled by R.L Polk. “We beat BMW flat out (in 2012),�?? Canon tells the auto writers. Canon’s surprising announcement comes a month after 2012 U.S. sales results were released by auto makers in early January where it had been reported that BMW sold 281,460 units compared with Mercedes’ 274,055. Blame it on fuzzy math, or (more accurately) the difference between cars "sold" and new cars registered.

* Chrysler Group LLC is recalling nearly 2,000 new 2013 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Avenger mid-size sedans to find 16 vehicles with damaged fuel tank control valves. The cars were built over a five-day period last fall and the fuel tank supplier had shipped some damaged items.

* And in the latest scoop on the web, photos of several 2014 Jeep Cherokees taken during pre-production at Chrysler's Toledo North assembly plant were unveiled Friday morning on the site After showing up on the enthusiast website, Chrysler Group revealed photographs and the name of its replacement for the Jeep Liberty on Friday. A reveal including the name is planned for the New York auto show next month.

Larry NutsonSenior Editor, New York Bureau, The Auto Channe