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Nutson's Nuggets - June 17-23, 2013 Automotive News Factoids Just In Case You Were Snoozing


Auto Central Louisville, KY June 23, 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 1,409,088 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 June 17-23, 2013

* Dominating the news this week was the clash between Chrysler and the U.S. government over a "recommended" recall on 2.7 million Jeep Libertys and Grand Cherokees. Fiat-Chrysler boss, Sergio Marchionne, a no-nonsense guy known for his independence, initially said they would not be complying with the recall. After a face-to-face meeting between Marchione, U.S. D.O.T. secretary Ray LaHood and NHTSA chief David Stickland they arrived at a compromise under which Chrysler agreed to "inspect" all the effected vehicles and repair the ones that need it. Some pundits say the court of public opinion won out over the hard facts in fighting NHTSA. But note this win for Chrysler, the recall now involves a much lower number of vehicles and no new parts need to be developed.

* Ford got its 1000th win in NASCAR since first competing in 1948 with the win by Greg Biffle in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Quicken Loans 400 at MIS last weekend.

* GM is recalling nearly 200,000 mid-size SUVs because the master power door and window module in the driver's door can short out and catch fire. Vehicles affected include 2006-07 Chevrolet Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Saab 9-7x and Isuzu Ascender.

* Tesla Motors will recall 1,228 of its 2013 Model S electric cars manufactured between May 10 and June 8 due to a defect in the mounting bracket of the rear seat. This is the first recall for the Model S, blemishing a clean public record for the electric sedan that received a rare, near-perfect score from influential Consumer Reports magazine. The U.S. automaker twice recalled its first model, the two-door Roadster sports car.

* Additionally, Tesla Motors unveiled a system to swap spent battery packs in its electric cars in about 90 seconds, a service Chief Executive Elon Musk said will help overcome fears about their driving range. The automaker will roll out the battery-swapping stations later this year, beginning along the heavily-traveled route between Los Angeles and San Francisco and then in the Washington-to-Boston corridor. But the swap, able to be done in less time than it takes to fuel a gasoline car, is not free and said to cost $60.

* But, Analysts for the National Automobile Dealers Association have noted a steep drop in the value of used plug-in electric vehicles. Trade-in prices are expected to decline nearly 30% this year—the highest depreciation of any vehicle segment in the American automotive market, according to a new report from the NADA Used CarGuide, which tracks the prices of used vehicle.

* J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey results are out this week with the big winner being G.M. The survey rates cars by the number of complaints within the first 90 days of ownership. G.M. led eight categories with Camaro, Impala, Encore, Tahoe, Escalade, Avalanche, Sierra and Silverado. Some critics opined that G.M. has always been good at getting vehicle quality right as the model gets near the end of its cycle. The large pickups and SUVs are all being redesigned this year and next. Noteworthy from the survey is that nearly two-thirds of problems owners experience with their new vehicle are design-related and few can be fixed. The top five brands were Porsche, GMC, Lexus, Infiniti and Chevrolet.

* Other news from G.M. revealed performance numbers for the new Corvette Stingray we'll be soon seeing in dealer showrooms. The optional Z51 performance package-equipped Stingray achieves a 0-to-60 time of just 3.8 seconds and a quarter mile time of 12 seconds, running the traps at 119mph. That makes it the fastest production Corvette ever. The Corvette also hit 1.03 g in cornering and brakes from 60 to 0 in just 107 feet.

* A ruling by the U.S. Department of Transportation on the required installation of rear cameras on U.S. vehicles has been postponed again, this the fifth time. The latest delay in the regulations is an extension of 18 months for automakers to install the cameras, which would extend the mandate to 2017 at the earliest. The original legislation for rear visibility rules was set by Congress in 2007 and NHTSA made its original proposal in December 2010, mandating rear cameras for the 2014 model year.

* Hyundai Motorsport, a unit of Hyundai Motors, opened a new racing headquarters in Germany. Located at the heart of racing heaven at Alzenau, Germany, the company said it plans to develop cars there for a return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2014.

* Intermittent rain complicated the start of the Le Mans 24-Hour race this weekend and a one-car crash in the early stages resulted in the death of Danish driver Allan Simonson. No word yet on what caused the crash. Simonson, age 34, was a respected and prolific racer driving a factory Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

* Looking ahead at Le Mans, Nissan revealed plans for what they are calling "the world's fastest electric racing car that will reach speeds of more than 300km/h" slated for future Le Mans races. Using technology similar to the Nissan Leaf they will be testing and developing different elements of the drivetrain to compete in the 2014 race.

* The former Mercedes-Benz works racing driver Eugen Böhringer has died. He passed away in the early morning hours of 19 June 2013 in Stuttgart, at the age of 91. Born on 22 January 1922 in the Rotenberg area of Stuttgart, he would go on to deliver a series of outstanding successes as a rally driver for Mercedes-Benz. A particular highlight of his career was winning the title of European Rally Champion in 1962.