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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids February 15-22, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY February 23, 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 1,543,110 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 February 15-22, 2014

* We've been watching the ongoing saga of Fisker's demise as an hybrid electric car maker and the story advanced this week. Chinese auto supplier Wanxiang picked up the Fisker assets at auction this week and began plans to begin producing a car again. The bid was $149.2 million. After Fisker Karma production ended in 2012 Bob Lutz, auto industry icon and performance car enthusiast, launched a project to take unsold Karmas and replace the hybrid powertrain with one from GM's Corvette. Wanxiang just announced a plan to partner with Lutz to pursue that plan.

* Tesla continues to improve its financials, with lower losses, if you will. Tesla says it will deliver over 35,000 model S vehicles in 2014 with most of the sales growth coming from expansion into Asia and Europe. Tesla sold 22,477 Model S sedans last year. Stock price is up and Tesla earns about $35,000 extra per car when it sells its California EV credits to other car makers.

* Mazda was the recipient of Kelley Blue Book's “2014 5-Year Cost to Own Award,” for having the most affordable five-year cost of ownership for their models compared to any other automotive manufacturer.

* GM is working towards a largely aluminum-bodied pickup truck by late 2018, under pressure from federal fuel efficiency standards, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. GM recently locked-in supply contracts with Alcoa Inc and Novelis Inc and both suppliers are now working to increase their aluminum sheet production to supply the next-generation GM pickup, according to the Journal. A GM spokesperson confirmed that GM is working on a process to weld together aluminum and steel.

* Maybe someday we'll have very quiet local delivery trucks. The Obama administration will issue tougher fuel-efficiency standards for delivery trucks and larger semi-trucks by March 2016. These are on top of standards in place for the 2014-2018 model years. Heavy-duty trucks make up just 4 percent of the vehicles on the nation’s roadways but are responsible for about 20 percent of the climate-changing gases.

* Big gasoline V8s are going away. Ford showed its refreshed Expedition full-size SUV at the DFW Auto Show now with a standard 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, due out in late 2014. The V8 is dropped. Dallas and Houston are the top two markets for Expedition sales

* Ram introduced the first regular-duty, half-ton pickup with a diesel engine recently with the EPA certifying 28-mpg highway test mileage. Dealers have ordered the entire first run of production - 8,000 of them - and they report many customers have paid up front before even having an opportunity to test drive one. The 3.0-liter diesel makes 420 pound-feet of torque and has a towing capacity of 9,200 pounds.

* A family auto dynasty comes to an end. Chinese automaker Dongfeng will invest 800 million euros ($1.1 billion) in France’s Peugeot, Europe's No. 2 automaker, and expand cooperation in China’s fast-growing market. The agreement would give struggling PSA Peugeot Citroen much-needed capital while state-owned Dongfeng Motor Co. gains access to a well-known brand and advanced technology to help expand its share of the Chinese auto market.

* For the ninth consecutive year, consumer voters proclaimed their favorites in five categories in the Chicago Auto Show's “Best of Show” balloting. In voting conducted over the 10-day public run of the nation’s biggest auto show, winners in the contest's five categories were: Best All-New Production Vehicle: 2015 Ford Mustang (25 percent of vote), Best Concept Vehicle: Cadillac Elmiraj (29 percent of vote), Best Green Vehicle: Cadillac ELR (32 percent of vote), Best Exhibit: Chevrolet (20 percent of vote), and Vehicle I'd most like to have in my driveway: Bugatti Veyron.

* Porsche has stopped deliveries and is recalling the 911 GT3 and advising owners not to use the high-performance sports car after two vehicles caught fire following an engine failure. The recall affects all 785 Porsche 911 GT3 vehicles from the current model year.

* Toyota will recall about 261,000 pickups and sport utility vehicles because several electronic safety systems could be disabled by an electrical terminal that is faulty due to manufacturing variations. The vehicles affected are the 2012-13 Lexus RX 350, the 2012 Toyota RAV4 and the 2012-13 Toyota Tacoma.

* We'll surely miss the deep, resonate voice and the charisma of Ford's pitchman Mike Rowe, also well-known for his TV show "Dirth Jobs." After seven years of starring in Ford car and truck commercials Rowe and Ford will part ways.

* The next story in the ongoing saga of the UAW trying to unionize VW's Chattanooga assembly plant was reported by Automotive News this week. As you may recall the UAW lost the battle to organize the plant last week as workers voted about 63% to reject the union's bid after Tennessee politicians threatened to withhold any future incentives if the union were approved. Now German VW labor leaders say they will fight any future VW facilities in the U.S. south unless the plant establishes a German-style works council. And, the UAW filed an appeal contesting the recent election with the National Labor Relations Board.

* At the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Unlimited race the Chevrolet SS pace car had to be pulled from the track after smoke and flames shot out the back. The announcer said, it was a “caution for the caution car.” Neither the driver nor the passenger were injured. Perhaps some of Chevy's ego took a hit. The suspect is the electrical equipment for the pace car auxiliary lighting.

* The 2014 NASCAR season begins Sunday with the 56th running of the Daytona 500. Rules changes for the new NASCAR season are expected to make for a more competitive series as points will more favor "racing to win" in order to increase the importance of each race throughout the season.

* Other NASCAR news this week surrounded 72-year-old Morgan Shepherd who failed to qualify for Sunday's big race. Some observers thought it would be a detriment to the racing series if someone that old were to compete in a sport that is considered to be intensely demanding. We'll wager Mr. Shepherd had a great time in his attempt to qualify.