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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids November 18-24, 2013


Auto Central Louisville, KY November 24, 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 1,482,986 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

* It was a global three-ring circus of auto shows this week with press previews in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Guangzhou, China. The Los Angeles auto show, considered the kick-off of the U.S. auto show season (or circus, if you like) brought a multitude of new product. Among them the new line of Audi A3s, BMW 4-series convertible, Ford 2015 Edge concept, Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups, Honda fuel-cell EV, Jaguar F-type coupe, Kia K900 rear-drive sedan, Mercedes-Benz Vision Gran Turismo, Porsche Macan small SUV, Subaru Legacy concept, and VW E-Golf. And on the extreme side we saw the Youabian Puma, an extreme 4-seater convertible truck priced at $1.1 million.

* In addition to introducing a new version of the Hardtop at the LA Auto Show, MINI announced two new powertrains including a 1.5-liter 3-cylinder, the smallest ever to power the modern MINI. The new little engine will be shared with parent company BMW's new 1-Series cars.

* Meanwhile in Tokyo, Toyota revealed its next Prius, the hydrogen fuel-cell powered FCV concept. Toyota said it plans to sell a car based on this concept starting around 2015. Honda and Hyundai also revealed hydrogen cars too. Nissan showed its electric concept called the BladeGlider which has a single seat in front for the driver and two in back.

* We all knew Hyundai was planning the introduction of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle next year but they announced at the LA Auto Show this week that we will see it earlier than expected in early 2014. The Tuscon small crossover with this futuristic powertrain will come first to a few dealers in the Los Angeles area where a half dozen hydrogen fueling stations are ready for action. The zero-emissions car will have a range of about 300 miles and will lease for $499/month.

* You can see complete coverage and all the details of the LA Auto show right here. And watch for ongoing auto show coverage by The Auto Channel team in January from Detroit, February from Chicago, March in Geneva, and April in New York.

* Meanwhile while the LA Show was going on Ford announced the reveal of the all-new sixth-genertion 50th anniversary 2015 Mustang. On December 5, the all-new Ford Mustang will make its debut in six cities on four continents. The reveal events will take place in Dearborn, Mich.; New York; Los Angeles; Barcelona; Shanghai and Sydney.

* Automobile Magazine named the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray its "Automobile of the Year."

* The Motor Press Guild (MPG), the largest automotive media association in North America, announced two winners of its 2013 Innovation Vehicle of the Year (IVY) Award, with the 2013 Mazda Mazda3 winning the under $29,000 class and 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray taking the accolade for the $29,000 and over category.

* The Green Car Journal named the 2014 Honda Accord winner of its prestigious "Green Car of the Year" award for 2014. This award honors the 2014 Accord model in all its iterations, including the Accord, Accord Hybrid, and Accord Plug-In. Honda's Accord emerged on top of an exceptional field of finalists namely, the Audi A6 TDI, BMW 328d, Mazda3, and Toyota Corolla.

* The U.S. Treasury plans to sell the last of its G.M. stock by year end. The government still holds about 31 million shares after selling off more than 70 million shares. The government's direct investment in G.M. approached $50 billion and after the final selloff it appears the net cost of saving the world's largest automaker will be about $9 billion. Canada still holds 110 million shares.

* We're holding our breath as auto sales in Europe grew strongly for a second straight month. The European markets have been slumping seriously for years and we've only recently seen signs of improving health. Year-to-date sales are down only 3% compared to much worse results in recent years.

* Fisker Automotive filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this week in preparation for a restructuring that will have a company called Hybrid Tech Holdings buying the defunct company's assets and fund the restructuring. The U.S. government no longer holds equity in the company but Fisker owes plenty to suppliers. Founder, Hienrich Fisker has been out of the company for some time now. We know that auto industry icon Bob Lutz has his eye on the company as well, hoping to replace the Karma model's hybrid gas-electric powertrain with a high-performance Corvette one. Taxpayers will lose $139 million on the $192 million loan to the failed electric vehicle startup, the Energy Department said.

* One of the reasons why electric cars are poor sellers is because consumers have little understanding of the financial incentives and other benefits available to owners of the vehicles. That’s the finding of two Indiana University researchers who surveyed more than 2,000 drivers in 21 of the nation’s largest cities. They discovered that 95 percent of respondents didn’t know about state and local subsidies, rebates and other incentives.

* According to a new consumer survey from Navigant Research, favorability ratings for alternative fuel vehicles remain high, with all three types of vehicles (hybrid, electric, and natural gas) above the 50 percent mark for favorability. Consumer awareness of specific models, however, is still relatively low: 44 percent of the respondents are familiar with the Chevrolet Volt, but less than one-third are familiar with the Nissan Leaf, the Tesla Model S, Ford’s C-Max Energi and BMW’s i3.

*VW is recalling 78,000 2009-2011 Tiguan SUVs in the United States and Canada because a fuse may overheat and melt that could cause a partial loss of exterior lighting. VW is also recalling 3,837 2013-2014 Jetta Hybrid cars in the United States because the internal gearbox lead frame may rust because of fluid additives.

* Kia will recall nearly 80,000 Sedona minivans from the 2006-12 model years because of a problem that could cause steering failure.

* Porsche will recall 207 Cayennes from the 2014 model year, including the diesel and hybrid models, because the fuel sensor may read high. Porsche will also recall 81 of its 2014 Boxster, Cayman and 911 models because of a defective wiring harness in the passenger seat that can keep the air bag from deploying in a crash.

* ALG, a company that forecasts auto values, found Honda tops for residual value for a mainstream brand and Mercedes-Benz the best premium brand. ALG said Toyota, Audi and Honda captured the most segment honors due to the consistent high value of all their products.

* Kelley Blue Book said the Toyota brand has the best expected resale values in its 2014 awards, while the Lexus brand is best for luxury vehicles. Kelley's top value-retaining 2014 cars are Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Dodge Challenger, Honda CR-V, Jeep Wrangler, Toyota FJ Cruiser, Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Tundra and Toyota 4Runner.

* For the 3rd year in a row, Michelin and Pirelli took the top two spots in replacement tire owner satisfaction, according to the results of AutoPacific’s newly released Replacement Tire Brand Dynamics and Satisfaction Study, followed by Goodyear and BFGoodrich. Big movers in 2013 were Continental, Dunlop and General, each up three spots, and Kelly, with a five spot jump from 2012 to rank 14th.

* In NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson won his sixth championship. Johnson is now one behind the seven championship wins held by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. In the final Sprint Cup race Johnson finished ninth overall driving his Chevrolet which gave him enough points to beat Matt Kenseth who finished second in his Toyota. Johnson beat Kenseth by 19 points for the Sprint Cup Championship win.

* The Detroit News reports that a record nine automotive manufacturers will exhibit at the 2014 consumer electronics show — renamed 2014 International CES — as automakers seek to convince consumers that their brands have the best and most up-to-date onboard electronics. The show’s organizers said Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes and Toyota will showcase their latest technologies at the Jan. 7-10 show in Las Vegas — just a week before press preview days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

* The Volkswagen Group is the world’s largest private sector R&D investor. That is one of the key findings of the European Commission’s annual “Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard” based on a sample of 2,000 international companies from various sectors of industry taken in 2012. With research and development costs of €9.5 billion (€7.2 billion in 2011), the Volkswagen Group tops the study’s ranking for the first time and is the only German company in the top ten.

*The all-new 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage 5-door – the most fuel-efficient gasoline-powered non-hybrid vehicle in America with an EPA-rated fuel economy of 40 mpg combined city and highway driving (44 mpg highway) – has been awarded "Best Sub-Compact Car 2014" by the Hispanic Motor Press Awards. Also, four Chrysler Group LLC vehicles were named as Top Ten Cars of 2014 by Hispanic Motor Press Awards Panel, they are the 2014 Jeep Cherokee: SUV, 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel: Diesel, 2014 Ram ProMaster: Commercial Vehicle, and 2014 Fiat 500e: Electric Vehicle.

* The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance received IHMA’s Motoring Event of the Year Award. The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, widely regarded as one of the top concours events in the United States can now be expanded to the entire world after the International Historic Motoring Awards recently honored the concours with its Event of the Year trophy.

* There's a war of words with NHTSA. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it is opening a formal investigation into 13,100 Tesla Motors Model S electric cars after three reports of battery fires that occurred after accidents. And the head of the safety agency flatly denied that Tesla had sought an investigation into the fires, and questioned if it would even be proper for the automaker to make the request. Additionally, the NHTSA tightened the guidelines on how automakers can advertise crash test claims after Tesla had claimed to be the safest car in America. Take note that Tesla has made changes to improve the clearance between the bottom of the car to reduce impacts with debris. Software updates will cause the air suspension to maintain the static 6 inch ground clearance at US highway speeds.

* Models that topped their categories in Consumer Reports’ latest owner-satisfaction ratings include the Porsche Boxster sports car, Audi A6 luxury sedan, Mazda6 midsized sedan, Subaru Forester SUV, Dodge Charger (V8) large sedan, and the diesel-powered Volkswagen Golf TDI compact car. Owners of the Tesla Model S gave it the highest owner-satisfaction score Consumer Reports has seen in years: 99 out of 100. Other perennial favorites that pleased their owners include the BMW 3 Series, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang (V8), Jeep Wrangler, Lexus LS, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Porsche 911, and Toyota Prius.

* If you are traveling this upcoming long holiday weekend, please do so carefully and safely.