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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News April 22-28, 2013 Just In-Case You Were Snoozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY April 28, 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 1,381,987 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 14-21, 2013

* We've been waiting in great anticipation for GM to announce pricing on the fabulous new Corvette Stingray introduced at the Detroit auto show and due in dealer showrooms later this summer. The base price for the coupe will be a mere $51,995 including the $995 destination charge. The convertible will be $56,995. Prices are $1,400 more than their counterparts in the 2013 Corvette lineup. Expect "dealer markups" due to limited supply and all those folks who want to be first in their town to own one. But rest assured, Corvette will remain the most high-performance sports car for the money you can buy.

* Sales reports out this week show that the new Tesla S easily surpassed the more mainstream Chevy Volt in sales of rechargeable sedans in spite of a nearly $20,000 price advantage for the Volt. Tesla also announced it plans to post a profit for the first quarter of 2013 for the first time in its 10-year history. Some analysts consider this an anomaly and predict the Volt will have the advantage in the longer term because of its range-extending powertrain.

* Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, also announced this week they will be offering a valet service program that involves the dealer picking up the car for service so the customer will not have to go to the dealership and a loaner program so the customer will not be without a car while service or repairs are being performed. They initially plan to build 100 loaner cars and Musk said,"if somebody likes the service car better . . . they can just keep it."

* Toyota remains the best selling car maker in the world besting GM for the fifth straight quarter as the waning value of the yen gives the Japanese company a slight edge. Toyota and its subsidiaries sold 2.43 million units in the first quarter of 2013 to GM's 2.27 units. The competition will continue to be intense as GM plans the introduction of many new models and the yen is expected to continue its decline.

* Just when we thought all technologies had been explored we get word that Volvo has successfully tested an experimental system for storing kinetic energy during deceleration then feeding it back into the vehicle during acceleration using a small flywheel system attached to the rear axle. While braking it can spin up to 60,000 rpm then give that energy back when the car starts up. It may be possible to turn the gasoline engine off about half the time under certain stop-and-go driving environments.

* The new Chevy Spark pure electric car has earned an EPA rating of 119 MPGe (miles-per-gallon equivalent) making it the highest mileage car in the US. It will go on sale in California this summer as GM and other major OEMs try to comply with strict California rules about selling a certain number of "zero-emissions" vehicles. The Spark electric boasts a 0-to-60 mph time of less than 8 seconds and an approximate 80-mile-per-charge range. Price is not available yet. Spark EV will be the first vehicle on the market to offer as an available option the recently approved SAE combo charger for DC Fast Charging. The capability, available shortly after launch, will enable the Spark EV to recharge up to 80 percent of its capacity in approximately 20 minutes.

* Bankruptcy is in the winds for Fisker. The Energy Department is seeking repayment of the 2009 loan it made and has seized $21 million from the troubled automaker. This just weeks after the company laid off three-fourths of its workers amid continuing financial and production problems. Fisker had received $192 million in federal loans before a series of problems led U.S. officials to freeze the loan in 2011. Fisker, maker of the $100,000-plus Karma hybrid sports car, has not built a vehicle since last summer and has failed to secure a buyer as its cash reserves have dwindled.

* The House Oversight and Government Reform's panel on Economic Growth, Job Creation, and Regulatory Affairs has planned a hearing for this week entitled "Green Energy Oversight: Examining the Department of Energy's Bad Bet on Fisker Automotive." Sounds like a thriller.

* Shanghai auto show in the numbers: 10,000 journalists, 800,000 attendees, 2000 exhibitors, and 1300 vehicles. All for the largest auto market in the world. Some forecasts have the Chinese market reaching 35 million by 2022.

* lists Lima, Ohio as eighth among the top 10 U.S. cities with the most environmentally conscious car shoppers. Less surprising is the fact that San Francisco tops the chart, while eight of the 10 communities are out West. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.; Monterey-Salinas, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Eureka, Calif.; Washington D.C.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Lima, Ohio; Medford-Klamath Falls, Ore.; and Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Calif.

* The 550-mile long Pennsylvania Turnpike is installing EV charging stations in its 17 service plazas. Four of the plazas will get the charging stations this year. No price has been set yet for motorists to use the service. So let's see, suppose you had an EV with a 100 mile driving range. How much time would it take to drive the 550 miles including the time to stop and charge?

* Detroit Electric, the rejuvenated automaker aiming to build a line of limited electric sports cars, has teamed with China-based Geely Automobile Group to develop electric vehicles and related motors and drivetrains for the Chinese market. The partnership will allow Detroit Electric to have manufacturing locations on three continents: at a to-be-determined site in Wayne County; in the Netherlands in Europe; and in China. It hopes to sell a lineup of electric cars, starting with a $135,000 sports car and later a more affordable sedan and hatchback.

* The government is asking automakers to put stronger limits on drivers’ interaction with in-car touch screens in an effort to curb distracted driving. U.S. traffic safety regulators unveiled guidelines Tuesday that would restrict the amount of time it takes to perform both simple and complex functions on a car’s entertainment and navigation systems. Regulators also want to ban manual text entry and display of websites, social media, books and other text distractions while the car is moving.