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Nutson's Nuggets Automotive News Highlights - March 17-23, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY March 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 here are, you can easily "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 17 year's 1,546,0425 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 Highlights Week Of March 17-March 23, 2014

* Automotive News from the European Auto Makers Association show sales rose 5.4 per cent in Western Europe to 1.7 million in the first two months of 2014. LMC Automotive raised its forecast for 2014 to an increase of three per cent. Its previous estimate was 2.7 per cent rise a month earlier. IHS Automotive stuck with its prediction of a mild recovery of a mere two per cent – with sales inching ahead to 11.79 million in 2014 up from 2013’s 11.55 million.

* Automotive News From Paris France; Parishad an air pollution problem for a number of days due to temperature conditions and no wind. First there was a voluntary ban on driving and free public transit. Then the French government imposed a partial driving ban in Paris for one day for the first time in nearly 20 years. Public transportation was free for a fourth consecutive day including the city's Velib bike rental program. Police officers stopped and fined the drivers of vehicles with even-numbered license plates. Electric and hybrid vehicles were exempted, as were cars with three or more passengers, the cars of public transport employees and those with foreign plates. Drivers with odd-numbered plates, who were authorized to drive, found traffic jams reduced by up to 60 percent.

*Automotive News From Detroit; Our friends at The Detroit Bureau report that a multi-purpose CNG powered van that was intended to be used for a variety of duties, including transporting the disabled, is back in production. The big MV-1 is now being produced by AM General, the company most widely known for producing the original HUMVEE for the military, as well as the Hummer H2 for General Motors. The MV-1 was developed by a start-up company, the Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, which halted production after running out of money two years ago.

* Automotive News From Coventry; Jaguar’s brand vice president Jeff Curry addressed the International Motor Press Association (IMPA) in NYC this week and gave us a peek at the new Jaguar XF "Growler" tv spot that will soon air. We didn't get to see any more of the all-new all-aluminum XE midsize sport sedan, but we got some hints of a possible return to motorsports and maybe some thoughts of diesel-hybirds.

* Automotive News From Crewe; Bentley Motors today releases the first picture of the Bentley SUV, due to hit roads in 2016. It will be the most luxurious and powerful SUV on the market, setting it apart from any other SUV, true to the brand hallmarks of luxury, performance, quality and craftsmanship. Annual sales volume is around 3000 per year.

* Automotive News From Toyota-Shi Japan and Washington DC; Toyota Motor Corp. agreed to pay a $1.2-billion fine to settle a four-year federal criminal investigation into whether it properly reported safety complaints about the sudden acceleration of its vehicles to regulators. It is the largest penalty of its kind ever imposed on an automotive company. In the agreement with the Department of Justice, the Japanese automaker admitted that it misled U.S. consumers by concealing and making deceptive statements about two safety issues affecting its vehicles.

* Automotive News From Torrence CA; Honda is recalling 886,815 Odyssey minivans in the U.S. because a fuel pump cover can deteriorate and cause a fuel leak. Model years 2005 through 2010 model years are involved.

* Automotive News From Auburn Hills MI;Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) said it is recalling 18,092 new Fiat 500L cars because drivers may not be able to shift them out of park. The 2014 Fiat 500L cars were built between April 2013 and January.

* Automotive News From Fairfax Va; VW is recalling about 160,351 Passat sedans in the United States and Canada because a low-beam headlight could become inoperable. The 2012-13 Passats are affected. If the hood is closed roughly or dropped from a certain height the resulting vibration or impact can cause a low-beam headlight bulb's connector to lose electrical contact. Don't slam the hood.

* Automotive News From Detroit; GM announced three new recalls to add to the ignition switch recall. Top management decided to get it all over at once, or perhaps they woke up a sleeping dog in their house. GM is recalling 1.18 million SUVs, including 2008-2013 model years Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia SUVs, 2009-2013 Chevrolet Traverse SUVs and 2008-2010 Saturn Outlook SUVs, due to an air bag issue. If drivers ignore the Service Air Bag warning light, side airbags can potentially malfunction during a crash.

* Also recalled are 303,000 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans from the 2009-2014 model years, which do not comply with a head impact requirement for unrestrained occupants.

* And...GM is recalling another 63,900 Cadillac XTS sedans from the 2013-2014 model years due to a defect in the brakes that can lead to corrosion and engine fires. GM said they are aware of two engine fires that have been brought on as a result of the issue.

* As the investigations, both internal and external, intensify around the General Motors belated recall of more than a million and a half vehicles effected by poorly designed ignition switches, the company's new CEO, Mary Barra, has agreed to testify in Congress about the issue. In light of this week's announcement of a $1.2 billion settlement with Toyota over their handling of the unintended acceleration debacle, that we mentioned above, she'll have to be careful what she says.

* Barra is not the only one under scrutiny over the slow response to the ignition switch problem that is blamed in at least 12 deaths. David Freidman, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will have to testify on Capitol Hill about why his agency dragged its feet. NHTSA is the agency responsible for ordering recalls if a manufacturer fails to initiate one voluntarily.

* Automotive News From Orlando; AAA recently tested electric vehicles for city driving at temperature extremes to mimic stop-and-go traffic, and to better compare with EPA ratings listed on the window sticker. The average EV battery range in AAA's test was 105 miles at 75°F, but dropped 57 percent to 43 miles when the temperature was held steady at 20°F. Hotter temperatures were less stressful on battery range, but still delivered a lower average of 69 miles per full charge at 95°F.

* Automotive News From Munich; BMW has yet to confirm the rumor but it is being widely reported that the German manufacturer will expand the South Carolina assembly plant again, this time to produce a new large crossover to be call X7. The Spartanburg plant is already a leading exporter of vehicles based on the X3 and X5 crossovers. Also scheduled this summer is the addition of a new X4. The expansion will add another 400,000 units of capacity. The X7 will be the company's first 3-row seat vehicle.

*Automotive News From Auburn Hills, MI; Chrysler's $100,000+ super-car, Viper, will take a production hiatus soon because of lagging sales. Automotive News reports dealers have over a 400-day supply of cars to move, more than six times the industry average. Production stops from mid April to late June. Now might be a good time to get a great deal on one.

*Automotive News From Detroit; In more news from General Motors this week we heard the the company will soon announce the production of a new line of small, Ecotec engines to power a variety of vehicles around the world. Eleven variants of 3- and 4-cylinder engines range from 1.0 to 1.5-liters, make 70 to 184 horsepower, and some will be turbocharged. Some of the engines will accommodate alternative fuels and be used in hybrid vehicle applications.

* Automotive News From Traverse City MI; Our "Rest-in-Peace" report for this week is for Frank Hagerty, founder of the largest and most successful collector car insurance company in the country. Mr. Hagerty started out as an insurance agent then found he could not find decent insurance for is classic boat, so he started his own insurance company out of his Traverse City home. The company is now run by his son McKeel Hagerty and is now one of the largest employers in Traverse City. Their support of the hobby and charity works are legendary.

* Automotive News From Porsche; Boss, Matthias Muller, confirmed this week the company is planning to offer a four-cylinder boxer engine in the next generation Boxter and Cayman both of which have traditionally been powered by six-cylinder engines. The new four will make close to 400 horsepower, considerably more than the current six.

* Automotive News From Auburn Hills MI; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss, Sergio Marchionne, said this week he wants to begin offering stock in the fully merged company on the New York Stock Exchange by October 1st of this year. Look for the symbol FCA.

* Automotive News Los Angeles, Ca; You won't have to go to Dubai to see exotic police cars in use. The Los Angeles Police Department just added a Lamborghini Gallardo. This vehicle and its usage are a donation from Travis and Nathalie Marg, the owners of Light Source 1, which is a fiber optics company. The Gallardo will see use as a charity vehicle alongside the LAPD Air Support Team.

* Ford had its first race win for its new EcoBoost engine in the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Chip Ganassi Racing powered through to claim victory in the 62nd Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the second round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. After an unforgettable around-the-clock endurance classic, that saw nearly half the race run under yellow, Marino Franchitti took the No. 01 Telcel Riley-Ford across the line 4.682 seconds ahead of the No. 1 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b of Ryan Dalziel in second. The win marked the first victory for Chip Ganassi in his team’s Sebring debut. Additionally, Ganassi becomes the first team to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and Twelve Hours of Sebring.

* Critics expected disaster at the first Formula One race of the season in Australia with the radically new technical rules and cars now running a 1.6-liter 6-cylinder engine. Instead the race was mostly without problems and won by Germany's Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes. The most discussed item of the weekend was how quiet the cars are. The hybrid turbos were the quietest of any racecar in the other race series that ran.