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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News May 20-26, 2013 Just In-Case You Were Snoozing



Auto Central Louisville, KY May 26, 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 1,383,987 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 May 20-26, 2013

* It's Memorial Day weekend and that means Indy 500. This will be the 97th running of this classic American race and leading the pack will be San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh in a new Corvette Stingray pace car. Harbaugh is a staunch racing fan and is part owner of the Panther Racing team fielding two Chevy-powered cars driven by J.R. Hildebrand and Townsend Bell. Harbaugh is quoted as saying it is "an iconic car leading an iconic race."

* Two groups of suitors are vying for ownership of the nearly bankrupt Fisker plug-in electric car maker, some Chinese investors headed by Henrik Fisker himself who opted out of the company over disagreements with management, and automotive industry icon Bob Lutz who hopes to get the company for pennies on the dollar. Lutz is well into a project that involves installing Corvette drivetrains in the Fisker Karmas.

* Getting this week's "Who Really Cares" prize are Chrysler and Tesla, both of whom claim to be the first to repay their U.S. government loans. Chrysler, as we all know, was bailed out during the Great Recession while being split up and resold, then paid off the "loan" portion of the bailout way early. Tesla received a loan of nearly a half billion dollars from the DOT for Advanced Technology Manufacturing and paid it off last week. Tesla's founder and CEO, Elon Musk, claimed his company was "the only American car company to have fully repaid the government." BS, says Chrysler.

* Journalists had a preview of the new Chevy Cruze Diesel this week and most came away quite impressed with its form and function. This is GM's first diesel passenger car in the U.S. since dismal examples built in the 1980s. Price premium over the gas Cruze is around 4 grand but the trim level is enhanced as well. If it does well in the market we may see that powertrain in other GM cars.

* This week's recall notice involves Nissan product that have a potential steering wheel problem. It effects only the Cube mini CUV and the Micra sold in the UK and Japan from 2002 to 2006. The problem could result in steering loss but no accidents or injuries have been reported.

* Cadillac also announced a recall this week involving more than 27,000 SRX crossovers that may have loose wheel nuts.

* Chevy announced pricing for the new Spark EV which will go on sale next month at only a few dealers in California and Oregon. The base price willb e $27,495 but the $7,500 federal tax credit applies bring the price just under 20 grand. Some state and local credits may apply as well. A three-year lease with $999 down will cost just $199/month.

* Ford Motor Co. announced that it will permanently close its assembly and engine manufacturing operations in Australia in the face of rising manufacturing costs, a sales slump, and most likely the strength of the Australian dollar. It'll cost 1,200 jobs. Some speculated if Ford will abandon this market but most likely it will import vehicles from Asian factories where labor and trading costs are much lower.

* Enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend and not only the Indy 500, but the Grand Prix of Monaco, and NASCAR's longest race the Coca Cola 600. School is over, the pool is open, and the BBQ grill is hot. It's also time to remember and honor our nation's fallen soldiers for giving their lives so we may all enjoy and appreciate the things we do on a daily basis.

Larry Nutson