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Nutson's Nuggets - Keeping You Informed About Automotive News Nov 4-10, 2013


Auto Central Louisville, KY November 10, 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 1,481,0123 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 28-Nov 3, 2013

* There was some wringing of hands in Washington and Detroit last week as the government's General Accounting Office released an in-depth report on the state of health of General Motors. The government recently reduced its stake in the world's second largest automaker to just 7.3%, down from the 60.8% after the bankruptcy. The concern is about GM's continuing loss of market share in spite of what most consider excellent products and solid financial health.

* In the 65th running of Motor Trend's Car of the Year award the coveted Golden Calipers went to the 2014 Cadillac CTS. There were twenty-two contenders. The all-new C-7 Corvette Stingray finished in the number two slot and the all-new Mazda3 came in third.

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened an investigation this week in response to a third Tesla electric car fire in six weeks. Reported information indicates it may have been caused by road debris that punctured the battery along the under carriage, the same cause attributed to the last fire. According to Edmunds, though, the Tesla S is the most popular car in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country. Edmunds has also commented as to how low the Tesla rides. At highway speeds the suspension drops the ride height from 6 inches to about 5.2 inches for improved aerodynamics. Will we see a new battery integrity federal safety standard get developed?

* For those few (very few, we'll bet) who rue the loss of Renault cars in the U.S. more than three decades ago there is hope on the horizon. A report in Automotive News this week revealed that Mitsubishi will soon be selling a Renault-based mid-sized car here, the result of a partnership between Mitsu and Renault-Nissan. The partnership is expected to result in the development of a variety of vehicles including a small electric.

* We don't often report on executive changes in the auto industry but we'll make an exception this time and pass along news that Ford's veteran design chief J Mays is retiring effective January 1st. Coming from stints at Audi, BMW and VW, Mays came to Ford in 1997 becoming design VP in 2003. His influence can be seen in most Ford products since that time including the sexy Jaguar XF of 2008. He will be succeeded by Moray Callum, design director for Ford's North America unit.

* Volkswagen will introduce the concept for a new diesel-electric plug-in hybrid version of the Up minicar at Tokyo Motor Show later this month. The four-seat Twin-Up features an 800cc two-cylinder diesel engine with an 8-speed, dual-clutch transmission along with an electric motor and battery pack that can power the car exclusively for about 50 miles. VW claims 214 mpg. Time will tell if they can bring it to market.

* Automotive News reports that Daimler has petitioned the EPA and requested consideration for "off cycle" credits, which were added to the EPA's fuel economy program to recognize features that do not show up on the agency's standard fuel economy test cycle. Many features can qualify, including grille shutters that open and close to improve aerodynamics. Daimler is looking for credit for other technologies such as stop-start system, high efficiency headlights that use less energy, infrared glazing and ventilated seats that reduce the need for air conditioning and more. Other vehicle makers are watching with interest.

* Experian Automotive announced that the number of cars and light trucks on the road reached 247.9 million in Q2 2013. According to the latest Vehicles in Operation (VIO) market analysis, increased new vehicle sales and lower scrappage rates pushed VIO to the highest point on record since Q3 2008. The average age of vehicles on the road was 10.9 years in Q2 2013, almost a full year older than was recorded in Q2 2009. Full-sized pickup trucks were the top vehicle segment on the road in Q2 2013 at 14.9 percent of total VIO; they were followed by standard midrange cars (11.9 percent) and small-economy cars (9.1 percent). By region, the Midwest and South regions followed a similar trend, as full-sized pickup trucks were the top new vehicle segment in each region at 14.1 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively. Small-economy cars (12.7 percent) topped the list in the West, while entry-level crossover utility vehicles (14 percent) were the top segment in the Northeast region.

* Consumers predict higher fuel prices over the coming years and are willing to pay more for fuel economy that meets their expectations and minimizes overall operating costs. These are some of the findings in the most recent Powertrain Acceptance and Consumer Engagement (PACE) syndicated study released by Morpace Inc. Fuel economy issues highlight the PACE results, including the fact that 68 percent would sacrifice vehicle performance in favor of improved fuel economy. However, just 48 percent of consumers would be willing to pay more for a vehicle that is environmentally-friendly. This as we see gasoline prices fall to $3.00 per gallon.

* In the ongoing battle to keep customers and win new ones, Ford announced a new two-year warranty on its parts. The new warranty provides unlimited mileage coverage for 24 months from the time the Ford or Motorcraft part is purchased or installed. Ford’s previous service parts warranty was 12 months or 12,000 miles.

* Toyota will unveil a near to production version of its FCV hydrogen fuel cell vehicle later this month at the Tokyo Motor Show. Rumors indicate the vehicle is not an advanced concept but a close to production preview of what will be offered at Toyota dealers in 2015. According to reports, the vehicle will have a range of about 300 miles and can recharged in minutes instead of hours. Note that it's not a plug-in hybrid but produces its own electricity from hydrogen. The new Toyota will become the first EV to be mass produced using a hydrogen fuel cell. Is the Prius short lived?

* Chrysler will recall 1.2 million Ram trucks in North America to correct problems that could result in a loss of steering and also recall 94,000 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokees because of electronic problems that could disable two safety systems.

* Toyota will recall about 3,800 Tacoma pickups from the 2013-14 model years because their 4-cylinder engines could be damaged and possibly stop running.