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Nutson's Auto News Factoids - December 23-29, 2013


Auto Central Louisville, KY December 29, 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 1,486,945 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 December 23-29, 2013

* We don't usually report on personnel changes within the industry here but this week's news (billed by many as the big news of the week in a slow news week) of John Krafcik's departure from his post as president and CEO of Hyundai North America took us all by surprise. Many in the journalist community thought him one of the most talented and approachable in the industry. His five years at the helm of the Korean automaker saw a dramatic rise in sales and product advancement. The Korean automaker did not renew his contract and he will be replaced by David Zuchowski, executive vice president of sales. We expect he'll not be out of work long and there is lots of speculation where he will show up next. Could it be non-automotive?

* Hyundai and Kia have reached agreements to settle consumer and regulatory claims that the Korean automakers exaggerated fuel economy performance of 2011-13 model year cars. Owners will get to choose from among four different ways to be compensated. About 600,000 current and former owners and lessees of cars from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 model years are affected. The settlement, which must still be approved by the court, offers as one option to compensate customers with between $353 and $667 in the form of debit cards.

* We mentioned last week that the new Ford F-150 is expected to be revealed at the upcoming NAIAS in Detroit. Reports this week have it that the new F-150 will be made extensively of aluminum to save weight and reduce fuel consumption. Supposedly Ford is getting some military grade aluminum from Alcoa to demonstrate its toughness at the show. Why not aluminum in a truck, contrary to some pundits concerns? We're flying in carbon fiber airplanes built by Boeing.

* Lamborghini released images and specifications for its successor to the V10-powered Gallardo. Like other Lamborghini's who's names are associated with Spanish bullfighting, the new model will be called the Huracán 610-4. The Huracán will make its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March and features a 610-horsepower 5.2-liter V10 with a top speed of 201 mph. Zero-to-62 m.p.h. time is 3.2 seconds.

* The competition to be the world's best selling luxury brand just got a bit more intense. BMW and Mercedes have been vigorously vying for this honor but now will be competing with Audi as well. Audi's parent company, VW, announced similar ambitions some years ago and is well on its way to becoming the largest selling brand overall. Audi announced this week a $30 billion investment in new products and technology with a goal of outdoing its German rivals and any other comers.

* The annual spectacle of the New Year's Day Rose Bowl Parade will see another record set by Honda for the longest float participating. Honda continues to be a major sponsor of the event and now holds the record established by their float 207-foot float in 2005. This year's entry will be 274 feet long and will celebrate the upcoming NSX super sports car as well as many other Honda products.

* The AIADA newsletter wrote that a story published by the Detroit News reported that Cuba is opening its automobile market and its roads to thousands of late-model cars by eliminating a special permit that sharply restricted the number of people allowed to buy vehicles from the state, the government announced. The communist government has long required any potential buyer to obtain a special card from the Transport Ministry authorizing the purchase of a car. Even for successful applicants, the cards took months or years to obtain, creating a black market in which people with ready cash would buy permits for more than the price of vehicles themselves. Opening Cuba's domestic car market to imports is likely to have fateful consequences for the lovingly maintained 1950s Chevys, Fords and Pontiacs that have survived a 50-year-old US embargo. Experts believe there are around 60,000 American cars still circulating on the island.

* Consumer Reports published a list of the best and worst automobile values. The CR list highlights models that offer the best or worst combination of performance, utility, and reliability for the money, considering all owner costs over a five-year period. All have an automatic transmission, except where noted, and typical options. Best values are all recommended by CR. The Best are: Toyota Prius Four, Honda Fit (base), Scion xB, Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium, Volkswagen Golf (2.5), Toyota Corolla LE Plus, Volkswagen Golf TDI (manual), Honda Civic EX, Honda Civic Hybrid, and Subaru Impreza Premium. The Worst are: Nissan Armada Platinum, BMW 750Li, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, Cadillac Escalade (base), Cadillac XTS Premium, Lincoln MKX (3.7), Lincoln MKS (base, 3.7), Ford Explorer XLT (V6), Ford F-250 Lariat (6.7L, V8), and Nissan Pathfinder.

* Staging for the epic Dakar Rally began this week as the racing vehicles, support vehicles and other essentials landed in the Port of Campana in Argentina near Buenos Aires. The endurance rally begins January 5th and finish on January 18th covering some of the most challenging terrain imaginable. Cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs compete in various classes and on tough routes that challenge drivers and machines to, and sometimes beyond, limits. Fatalities are not uncommon in this competition.

* The Formula One movie, “Rush,” achieved an unofficial but noteworthy milestone when it was listed among the nominees for best dramatic picture for the 71st Golden Globe awards.

* As the year end approaches we're getting more detailed estimates on 2013 total car and light truck sales. With each estimate throughout the year optimism seems to have grown steadily. With December sales expected to be strong as well we expect the best year since at least 2007, just before the economic slump. The Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate for 2013 is now expected to be 15.8 million.

* Well, this will do it for 2013 as this is our last bit of factoids for the year. We wish you all a Happy New Year and a wonderful 2014.