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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids October 7-13, 2013

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Auto Central Louisville, KY October 13, 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 1,477,864 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 October 7-13, 2013

* Here on The Auto Channel we published a first and exclusive drive review of the all-new BMW i3, an electric vehicle, from our Senior European Editor Henny Hemmes. BMW picked The Netherlands for the first media driving event of these production-level i3s for several reasons: the country offers generous tax incentives for electric vehicles and has installed about five thousand charging stations nationwide. The BMW i3 is expected in U.S. showrooms in the second quarter of 2014 priced at $41,350.

* General Motors took the wraps off the redesigned Cadillac Escalade in a New York City preview. Among the invited guests to see the new king-of-bling was Donald Trump. The 2015 Escalade, which goes into production next spring, is now in its fourth generation.  GM’s new 420HP 6.2-liter, 8-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission is the standard powertrain. It is still a full-frame, truck-based huge SUV that represents substantial profits for both the manufacturer and dealers. Cadillac's boss also revealed they are considering a large uni-body crossover to compliment the Escalade line.Â

* In more Cadillac news, GM announced the price of the Cadillac ELR electric coupe at $75,995. It's Caddy's version of the Chevy Volt, at more than twice the price. Scheduled to go on sale in January, it will be the most expensive car GM offers in the U.S. and puts it in direct competition with the lowest-priced Tesla Model S. Green-thinkers and exclusivity-seekers will be the buyers.

* Electric vehicles have instant torque. With this in mind, Dutch students built a 320 lb. electric car featuring four electric motors. Called the DUT13, and built out of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the car set a new record for the fastest accelerating electric vehicle in the world, powering to 100 kmh (62 mph) in a scant 2.15 seconds. That's quicker than the Bugatti Veyron.

* Crain's reports that General Motors plans to go national by year end with a program that allows online shoppers to buy vehicles from start to delivery from dealership websites. GM has been piloting its Shop-Click-Drive program since last year. About 100 dealers in eight states are participating. Gen-Y car shoppers should like this, as will many others who dread, sadly, the car buying process.

* Hyundai was in some recent news when a report from Korea said that they made an "unprecedented decision" to eliminate the 12-volt cigarette lighter jack and replace it with only a USB port. Hyundai here in the U.S. has confirmed that the 12-volt jacks as currently equipped in their vehicles will continue to be equipped.

* New York City's plan to create a uniform taxi fleet was struck down by a State Supreme Court judge, only weeks before Nissan Motor Co Ltd was due to start supplying new taxis under an exclusive contract. The "Taxi of Tomorrow" initiative, which was to go into effect October 28, would have required every new taxi to be a Nissan NV200. Nissan was given a contract worth an estimated $1 billion in 2011 after a competition. The argument is about whether the city and the Commission has the authority to specify such exclusivity. The NV200 taxi is still being produced and many taxi companies have already purchased this much improved livery vehicle.

* Ford is developing a self-parking car that will park without a driver behind the wheel, even in straight-in parking. The new Fully Assisted Parking Aid is being tested on a track in Belgium. Ford's current Active Park Assist takes control of the steering wheel only, while the driver must apply gas and brakes, when pulling into parallel parking spaces only. So...Ford is looking for ways to make car driving more friendly in crowded cities where all the Gen-Y folks are living and not buying cars. I think they are on the right track to attract younger buyers.

* Honeywell International Inc., the largest turbocharger manufacturer, forecasts that the devices will be installed on nearly 40% of vehicles sold globally in 2018. That amounts to more than 32 million vehicles. Nearly one-third of those vehicles, about 10 million, will be sold in China. In comparison, turbocharged vehicles in North America are expected to grow to 6.5 million.Â

* Toyota has reduced MSRP on the 2014 Prius Plug-in Hybrid by over $2,000, making the starting MSRP $29,990 (excluding DPH). This price repositioning on the base Prius Plug-in Hybrid is not accompanied by any reduction in vehicle content. Pricing for the 2014 Prius Plug-in Advanced model has also been adjusted to make the model more accessible to consumers with a $4,620 reduction in MSRP to $34,905 (excluding DPH).  The price reduction is to boost sales and meet the California zero-emission mandate. Toyota and other automakers have come to realize that most consumers are indeed looking at their return-on-investment and finding that higher priced hybrids and EVs don't really save them any money in the long run.

* Motor Trend's Sport Utility Vehicle of the Year is the 2014 Subaru Forester. The redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester has better efficiency, added power, and increased cargo volume, without a significant increase in overall size. The new Forester provides a comfortable ride with a roomy interior. Its off-road capability is plenty for the majority of sport/utility buyers. It offers a lot of value for the money. And it accomplishes all this while still being fun to drive. Subaru is the only manufacturer to be a three time winner of this award. This year's other contenders were: Acura MDX, Buick Encore, BMW X1, Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Land Rover Range Rover, Mini Cooper S Paceman, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Toyota RAV4.

* General Motors is recalling nearly 22,000 units of the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups because the seats may move in a rear-end crash. The recall affects 21,721 Silverados and Sierra Series 1500 vehicles: 18,972 in the United States, 2,575 in Canada, 103 in Mexico and 71 exports. And, by the way, GM is quietly also raising prices on these trucks, now up $2100 since their introduction this summer.

* Ford Racing's new EcoBoost Daytona Prototype set a new speed record at Daytona International Speedway recording a lap of 222.971 mph. The old record was set back in 1987 by Bill Elliott in a NASCAR cup car during qualifying for the Daytona 500, at 210.364 mph. The EcoBoost Daytona Prototype will compete in next year's inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the merged series that brings American Le Mans and Grand Am together.Â

* Former Formula One test driver Maria de Villota, age 33, was found dead in a hotel room in Seville. Spanish Police said it appeared she died of natural causes. De Villota was discovered in the Hotel Sevilla Congresos in the morning. De Villota was seriously injured last year in a crash during testing for the Marussia F1 team in England, losing her right eye and sustaining serious head injuries that kept her hospitalized for a month. Late news confirmed autopsy results showed the cause of death to be related to the injuries she sustained. Maria had driven in the world touring car championship in 2006 and 2007, as well as the Superleague open-wheel series. De Villota, a Madrid native, was the daughter of Emilio de Villota, who competed in F1 from 1976-82.

* Toyota was vindicated and cleared by a California jury in an unintended acceleration case. It's being called a "bellwether" case since legal experts believe the case could influence other juries as to whether Toyota should be held responsible for unintended acceleration as part of a larger group of lawsuits filed in state courts await trial.  The case involved the August 2009 death of a 66-year old woman whose 2006 Camry was alleged to have accelerated on its own despite her efforts to stop the car.   The jury found instead that the other car/driver was entirely at fault causing the victim to mash on the accelerator pedal instead of the brake. The woman died in a crash when a now 90-year old woman drove through a stop sign and hit the younger woman's Toyota, forcing her to crash into a pole.Â

* One of the most dramatic racing crashes of the season marred the Izod IndyCar Series race at Houston's Shell & Pennzoil Grand Prix race last weekend. Three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti collided on the last lap at 140mph with Takuma Sato's car when he slid as his passing attempt went bad. Video shows the car nearly disintegrating as it clubs the fence. Franchetti went to the hospital with a broken ankle, concussion and a spinal fracture that is not expected to require surgery. Thirteen spectators were injured as well.

* Citing continued pent-up demand in the market Edmunds this week projected new car sales for calendar 2014 to reach 16.4 million units, that's the highest since 2006 but still well short of record sales. Used car availability is tight and prices are high. Those factors along with the calculation that the average age of cars and light trucks on the road now are at 11.4 years help new car sales.