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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News April 29-May 5, 2013 Just In-Case You Were Snoozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY May 5, 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 1,382,876 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 29-May 5, 2013

*April was a big month for truck sales, which bode well for the D-3 auto makers. Ford's F-series sales jumped 24%. Overall the auto industry was up 8.5%, but pickups moved up a huge 27%. Ford is up 18%, with GM and Chrysler up 11% each. Nissan also did well, up 23%, while Honda jumped 7% and Toyota was down 1%. The SAAR slipped to 14.9 million, the first time below 15 million this year.

* GM confirmed just this week that the new C7 (seventh generation) Corvette Stingray will pace the classic Indianapolis 500 race. This makes an even dozen times a Corvette has paced the race and the 17th consecutive time a GM vehicle has had that honor.

* We've been watching carefully the struggles of electric car maker Fisker expecting bankruptcy any time but another California-based electric car builder, California-based CODA, filed for bankruptcy this week instead. Having sold only a handful of cars last month they've pulled the plug and are seeking to sell assets including proprietary battery storage and management systems that have promise. The Los Angeles-based company’s Coda Automotive unit listed assets of as much as $50 million and debt of as much as $100 million in the Chapter 11 filing in Wilmington, Delaware.

* In more GM news, the company agreed this week to buy the Durant-Dort Carriage Company building in Flint, Michigan that GM president Mark Reuss says is "the birthplace of GM." The 25,000 square-foot factory is 133 years old and may become the new home of the GM Heritage Center, now housed in a plain, modern building in an industrial park in suburban Detroit. Billy Durant started General Motors when he bought the Buick Motor Company with profits from the carriage works.

* Nissan performance fans will be happy to know that the Nismo sub-brand will encompass the already fast and cool 370Z this summer. In addition to dramatic cosmetic enhancements the 370Z Nismo will be "race-inspired, but ready for the street" with a variety of handling upgrades as well. The standard 370Z already comes with an impressive 350-horsepower V6.

* Who ever heard of a million-dollar Toyota. We have now. At the RM Auction's Don Davis Collection sale last week a 1967 Toyota GT brought $1.2 million. This rare and classically designed rear-wheel drive sports car is often compared visually with the sexy E-Type Jaguar of the 1960s, but it only made 150 horsepower from a 2.0-liter, inline six-cylinder Yamaha engine.

* Nissan Motor Co. is recalling 123,308 Altima sedans because their spare tires may be over- or underinflated. Altimas from the 2013 model year that were made between March 21 and March 26 are affected.

* Subaru is recalling just over 10,000 of its 2014 Forester wagons because the floor mats can interfere with the clutch, brake or gas pedals. The recall affects Foresters made from January 2013 through March. The company says the floor mats can curl when exposed to heat.

* J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study reports fewer customers are shopping auto insurance. However, nearly one-half of those who do shop switch insurers. Insurance shoppers are very cost-sensitive, and their satisfaction is less influenced by how they purchase their policy ”from a local agent, or a call center or online” placing more importance on price in their purchase experience when selecting a new insurer. If those who shop switch because of price, seems to me if more people shopped then more people would be paying less. I recently shopped and switched for that very reason.

* The NHTSA is upgrading an investigation into steering assembly failures on 195,000 Ford Crown Victoria police cars (read: former police cars now used as taxis). NHTSA is upgrading an investigation it started in September to what is called an engineering analysis for the 2005-08 Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptors. Might be best to take the bus.

* And in the sports car world, NHTSA opened a preliminary investigation into 10,000 2001-07 Porsche 911 models with the GT1 engine for a coolant hose fitting may fail and cause rapid coolant loss. Also preliminary probe has been launched into 2,500 2005-06 Dodge Vipers after two complaints alleging failure of the rear suspension knuckle, resulting in loss of control and crash.

* Road deaths in the U.S. rose 5.3% last year to 34,080, the first year-over-year increase in traffic fatalities since 2005, according to preliminary estimates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The jump had been widely expected as more people are taking to the roadways as the economy improves. Preliminary data from the Federal Highway Administration show that vehicle miles traveled in 2012 increased by 9.1 billion miles — a 0.3% rise.

* After a series of loan defaults, bankruptcies and sales of companies involved as manufacturers of or suppliers to the electric vehicle market, the U.S. Energy Department is no longer throwing money at anyone who has an idea. According to The Detroit News, the Energy Department began scratching its head as far back as 2010 after advancing low-interest loans to companies that included Bright Automotive, A123, Think Global, Enerdel, Dow Kokam and Next Autoworks. Indeed, there were numerous complaints from companies that had applied for those loans and waited so long to receive them that they just gave up. Both General Motors and Chrysler Group are included on that list. Since the recent defaults, including A123, Tesla and Fisker, obtaining federal low-interest loans for green technology has become much more difficult. In fact, according to The Detroit News, the only new loan that has been approved by the Energy Department since January 2010 was a $50 million loan to Vehicle Production Group, a manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vehicles powered by natural gas.