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Nutson's Auto News Factoids - Week Of January 20-26, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY January 26, 2014 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 1,488,209 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 January 20-26, 2014

* The Auto Channel's John Heilig reported that this week's weather wreaked havoc on the Washington, DC Auto Show media day at the Walter Washington Convention Center. Fortunately, although temperatures were expected to reach single digits and possibly below, the public portion of the show should proceed without incident. The Washington Auto Show, which bills itself as "The Industry's Public Policy Show," continues from January 23 through February 2. While several of the manufacturers represented took the opportunity to stress the need for government cooperation in developing the infrastructure for future electric or hydrogen powered car expansion, several had vehicles on display and a couple even claimed to have hydrogen-powered cars ready for production and sale this year. You can read MORE HERE.

* The Cadillac ELR's innovative Regen on Demand technology has taken top honors as the winner of Green Car Journal's 2014 Green Car Technology Award. The prestigious award was presented at a Green Car Journal press conference during the Washington Auto Show's second Policy Day.

* Nissan and FedEx Express announced a test program with the all-electric e-NV200 van being used in real-world conditions as part of the delivery company's fleet in Washington, DC. Similar studies that have taken place in Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Brazil, and are intended to help determine if the e-NV200 is up to the task of serving as a greener alternative to traditional U.S. delivery vehicles. Seems a better idea to me than delivery using drones.

* Chrysler Group became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fiat SpA this week as the Italian automaker completed the purchase of remaining stock from the UAW retiree's health care trust, known as VEBA. The deal requires Fiat to pay the trust $2.4 billion over four years along with a separate payment from Chrysler coffers of $1.9 billion. Discussions are underway on where the company's administration will be headquartered.

* Lincoln gave us a look at the restyled 2015 Lincoln Navigator. It has the same dimensions, a new face, and new engines. The 310HP 5.4-liter V8 is history. New is a 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost, now with the twin-turbos, producing 370HP and pushing through a 6-speed automatic transmission. We expect an all-new Navigator in a couple years, speculating that it will be aluminum like the new Ford F-150.

* Now for the second consecutive year Toyota beat out General Motors as the leader in worldwide auto sales. Toyota sold 9.98 million vehicles, a 2% increase, to GM's 9.71 million. VW Group was third in the world. Toyota says it will top 10 million in 2014. Take note that VW was the top seller in China.

* To no one's surprise we learned this week that mini cars like the Honda Fit, Prius C and Fiat 500 did not do well in the new small overlap frontal crash test administered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Of the eleven small cars tested only Chevy's Spark was deemed "acceptable." None of the cars tested were considered "good," but Ford's Fiesta and three others garnered a "marginal" rating. In the test a car hits a barrier with the front driver's side corner at 40 miles per hour, simulating clipping another car head-on or hitting a tree or pole.

* NHTSA announced actions on a new rule that requires child car seats to withstand side-impact collisions of up to 30 mph to better protect children. Federal regulations have neglected this auto safety issue for years. Congress directed action and this is considered a major step in a larger effort to improve the safety of car seats for small children.

* Nissan announced they will bring the Micra minicar to North America but not to the U.S. initially marketing it only in Canada where interest in tiny, economical cars is strong. Nissan sales have recently surged in Canada up over 11% in the past calendar year.

* Ford has announced three recalls. About 28,000 of the 2012-13 Ford Edge crossovers are being recalled for possible fuel leaks on models equipped with the 2.0-L EcoBoost engine. About 300 Explorer SUVs from the 2011-12 model years are being recalled because a replacement steering gear might be defective. And, about 4,500 of Ford's 2011 full-size vans are being recalled because bubbles may form inside the windshield, reducing forward visibility.

* Meanwhile, while the Northeast and Midwest were dealing with the polar vortex things were hot with classic and vintage car sales at the auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona. Bonhams, RM, Gooding & Company and Barrett-Jackson all held events over the past week. There was $249 million worth of vehicles and other car stuff sold, which is up from $224 million in 2013. A total of 2,815 vehicles were sold, up by 116. The average sale price was $107,096– up from $100,176 in 2013. The data is from Hagerty, the insurer of classic cars. The biggest seller of the week was a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB, sold at RM Auctions for $8.8 million.

* The first new-generation 2015 Mustang GT to make it into private hands sold for an amazing $300,000 at a charity auction in Arizona at Barrett-Jackson. The new Mustang was a hit in its first public showing at last week's Detroit Auto Show and will be in dealers later this summer. The car has not been built yet so the auction buyer will get to spec his car to be the first produced. So far we've only seen pre-production versions as they sort it out for full production. This purchase helped Ford Motor Company increase its charity vehicle sales to more than $3.5 million for JDRF, the leading diabetes research organization and a Ford partner since 1983.

* Overshadowing the big price for the first Mustang GT at the Arizona auctions was the sale of the first Camaro Z/28, also auctioned at Barrett-Jackson. The Z/28 brought an over-the-top price of $650,000 from Rick Hendrick whose Hendrick Motorsports is a top competitor in NASCAR racing. Hendrick also owns several Chevrolet dealerships.

* Both Elan Musk, founder and CEO of electric car maker Tesla, and former product boss for GM, Bob Lutz, were in the news this week expressing support for electrification of pickups and commercial vehicles. The cost differential would be less noticeable on the high-profit, high-cost trucks and the positive effect on the environment could be greater because of big potential savings in fuel consumption, they contend.

* GM said that more than one-third of its 4,300 U.S. dealers are now participating or have signed up to use the automaker’s Shop-Click-Drive program that allows customers to search and even buy a vehicle online. So...please deliver my new car by FedEX.

* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau reported first that the Library of Congress has launched a national registry of historically significant vehicles, each one of which will be arrived at and certified by The Department of the Interior through collaboration with the Historical Vehicle Association. The announcement came at the Washington DC Auto Show. The first vehicle to be entered onto the registry will be displayed for the public at the show—the 1964 Shelby Daytona Coupe—number CSX2287—one of six such race cars produced by Carol Shelby to take on Ferrari in the GT Series. The car on display in Washington is owned by the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia. Dr. Fred Simeone is part of the HVA team that will work with the Dept. of Interior in clearing vehicles for the Registry. The Daytona Coupe may make an appearance at the Philadelphia Auto Show in early February.

* Tire selection was the key for competitors in the famous WRC's (World Rally Championship) famous Monte Carlo Rally that began this week. Weather conditions from heavy rains in the valleys to heavy snow in the mountains challenged competitors in this epic test of courageous drivers in a wide variety of rally cars. Special stages require teams to race full out regardless of conditions. Many consider rally racing the purest form of racing because the competition is on real roads rather than sterile and safety-conscious race tracks.

* NASCAR announced a revamping of the qualifying system for its three top series. Instead of the single-car, two-lap qualifying in most races NASCAR will now use a knockout-group qualifying that could enliven the (now boring) process for drivers, fans and track promoters. The new system will be used in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck series. However, qualifying procedures will remain unchanged for the Daytona 500, and non-points Sprint Cup events and the trucks race on the dirt at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. The system is similar to formats used for non-oval Formula One and IndyCar events.

* The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, motor racing's Cooperstown, has finally found a new home. The announcement came this week that Daytona International Speedway will become home to the Hall of Fame's extensive collections of racing machines, memorabilia and archives as part of the Daytona facility's $400 million front-stretch renovation.

* A sure sign of an approaching Spring is the return of motorsports with this weekend's Rolex 24 AT Daytona. Professional sports car racing in North America is again under one sanctioning organization, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), opening the season this weekend with a daunting endurance test at Daytona International Speedway. Merged together now are the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, after more than a decade of separate operations. Created is the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, utilizing a "best of both worlds" mantra that is perhaps most noticeable in the intriguing car class lineups.