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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News April 1-7, 2013 Just In-Case You Were Snoozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY April 7, 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 1,378,425 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 April 1-7, 2013

* April 1 brought some questionable news. Honda unveiled the first-ever mobile barbering tool for busy, cost-conscious families. The HondaHAIR will be available as a Honda Genuine Accessory that attaches to the 2014 Odyssey Touring Elite's HondaVAC to provide an efficient way to cut hair. Also, Subaru of America has confirmed that it will launch an AWD Twin-Turbo Convertible two-seater Diesel Hybrid BRZ for sale in 2015. And…a formal announcement will be made April 7 at the NASCAR STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but Edmunds has learned exclusively that Tesla, the electric car manufacturer, will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015.

* Auto industry sales for March rose 3% to 1.45 million vehicles, and the industry's annual sales rate was 15.3 million. Of the major makes, Honda led with a 7% sales increase. GM and Ford were up 6%, and Chrysler up 5%; Toyota, 1%; Nissan, 1%, and Volkswagen, 6%. Hyundai fell 2%. But take note that Subaru was up 13% and BMW up 11%., provider of comprehensive industry numbers raised its forecast this week predicting light vehicle sale for 2013 to be 15.5 million, a level not seen since 2007 and one million more than 2012.

* GM announced this week it will invest $331.8 million in four North American plants to produce more fuel-efficient engines and transmissions. These investments will support increased production of a small Ecotec engine, a new V6, an eight-speed transmission and retooling for an existing six-speed transmission.

* In the very early days of automobiles electric vehicles accounted for nearly half of everything produced. One of the premier names in the early 1900s was Detroit Electric. Well, the name is back and we got a peek at the fast and sexy electric sports car to built in Detroit. Based on the British Lotus Elise they plan to build a limited run of 999 Detroit Electric SP:01's with a 155-mph top speed and 190-mile range selling for $135,000. After that initial run they plan to build a whole range of electric cars.

* In more electric car news - Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors, has pledged to buy back any Tesla Model S sedan that does not hold its value at least as well as a comparable Mercedes sedan. Tesla also hooked up with USBank and Wells Fargo Bank to offer creative financing allowing a lease payment of $500/month on the Tesla S. Tesla Motors says it turned a profit for the first quarter of 2013, delivering more than 4,750 all-electric Model S sedans and beating its own forecasts. Tesla also revealed it was eliminating the lowest-cost variant of the Model S, the 40-kWh edition that had been slated to cost $52,400, or $10,000 less than the 60 kWh model. Tesla says only 4 percent of its customers had placed reservations for the 40 kWh car, which had an advertised range of 160 miles.

* Late in the week Fisker Automotive announced it was laying off 75% of its employees. Fisker has had various problems and funding issues. Its co-founder and executive chairman Henrik Fisker resigned a few weeks ago. Bankruptcy is in the wind. The end may be near and a new collector car may be born.

* In spite of dismal sales of electric and hybrid vehicles more versions come out regularly. This week we learned that Porsche will offer a plug-in hybrid Panamera. This second generation Panamera will include two long wheelbase versions as well.

* GM announced this week that the new GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado pickups due out this summer will have as their base powertrain one that will beat Fords six-cylinder EcoBoost's fuel mileage by a solid one-mpg. They also announced that the new Silverado will see no price increase and the Sierra will go up only a few hundred dollars.

* Reports have it that Chevrolet and GMC will introduce new midsize pickups within two years, replacing the compact Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon that were discontinued last year.

* Hyundai and Kia are recalling almost 1.9 million vehicles to fix problems with air bags and brake light switches. The switch recall covers almost 1.7 million vehicles — most of the automakers' model lineups from the 2007 through 2011 model years. In addition, Hyundai Motor Co. is recalling about 194,000 Elantra compacts from 2011 to 2013 to fix an air bag problem.

* Ford will issue a voluntary recall of some 2013 Ford Explorers and 2012 models of the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS because of concerns that leaks in the fuel tank pose a fire risk. About 3,037 cars and utility vehicles are affected.

* The NHTSA is investigating complaints of rust on the rear suspension frames of Hyundai Sonatas. The matter covers about 393,000 sedans from the 2006-08 model years.

* Subaru is recalling at least 215,000 of the 2005-2009 Outback wagon and Legacy sedan models because of corrosion of the brake lines. This is a regional recall for vehicles sold or registered in states that heavily salt their roads in winter.

* The Ford Fusion Energi midsize sedan will pace the fields at Michigan International Speedway for the Quicken Loans 400 on June 16 and the Pure Michigan 400 on Aug. 18, making it the first time a plug-in hybrid car has led a NASCAR Sprint Cup race to the green flag.

* Federal safety regulators are considering new vehicle safety ratings that would help older people and families choose the safest vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is planning to update its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) and is mulling a "silver" rating that would assess the safety of the vehicle for older occupants, and a "family" rating for how well it protects rear-seat passengers, including children.

* Roger Penske is giving AJ Allmendinger a second chance after firing the driver last summer for failing a random NASCAR drug test. Allmendinger is making his IndyCar debut Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park. Then AJ will race in Long Beach without a sponsor to give him more seat time before the Indianapolis 500.