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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids Week of April 14-20, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY April 20, 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 1,586,989 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 March April 14-20, 2014

* All eyes were on Manhattan this week as the New York International Auto Show got underway with press previews of a variety of new products. Gathering the most attention this week was Ford's inspired promotion supporting the introduction of the new generation of the iconic Mustang and celebrating its 50th anniversary by cutting one up and moving it by elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. There it was put back together and displayed for just a couple days.

* Another striking introduction in New York this week is the convertible version of the ultra-high-performance Corvette Z06. The super car makes 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque making it a huge challenge to go without the extra structural rigidity provided by a roof. They've figured it out by using a variety of light-weight, high-strength materials. Chevy claims it is 20% stiffer without an increase in weight.

* World Car of the Year honors are doled out each year during the New York Auto Show. This year's big winner is the Audi A3. A panel of 69 international jurists determine the winners in five categories. The performance car category went to the Porsche 911 GT3, luxury car honors to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, green car award to BMW i3 and the design award to BMW as well for the i3. That makes it a sweep for the Germans. The Auto Channel's own Henny Hemmes of The Netherlands is among the jurors.

* We mentioned last week the return of Alfa Romeo to the U.S. market with the Alfa Rome 4C on display at the New York Auto Show. We've learned that 500 "Launch Edition" 4Cs will arrive at select Maserati and Fiat dealers/studios in the June/July timeframe priced around $70,000. Later in the year a lesser equipped version will arrive priced around $54,000.

* Mazda is celebrating the 25th birthday of the Miata MX5. They are also beginning to tease about the next generation MX5. We saw the new chassis at the New York Auto Show which uses more aluminum and more high-strength light weight steel. Mazda says the car will be about 100kg or over 200 lbs. lighter. Dimensions might be tweaked a bit.

* Lincoln officially introduced its brand to China, offering an innovative ownership experience unlike any other to meet the evolving needs of today’s Chinese luxury auto customer. Designed specifically for China customers, the brand has created The Lincoln Way – an innovative new model that shifts luxury automotive ownership from a sales-and-service transaction model to a relationship-based experience model. By 2016, Lincoln will bring five new vehicles to China, starting this autumn with Lincoln MKZ, a midsize luxury sedan, and Lincoln MKC, a small luxury utility vehicle. The two vehicles will be followed by a midsize luxury SUV, an all-new full-size luxury sedan and a large luxury SUV – Lincoln Navigator. Note the comment on the all-new full size luxury sedan; a D-segment entry, a flagship, that will also appear in the U.S.

* Also at the New York Auto Show, Prime Research highlighted the top trends in the auto industry, which are: 1) Efficiency, 2) Lightweight construction, 3) Design, 4) Connectivity and Digital Intelligence and 5) New Energy Powertrains. Silicon Valley has now gotten into the car and all forecasts say that by 2020 we will have autonomous cars on the road. The momentum for EVs has flattened, with Plug-in Hybrid EVs being the most promising.

* BMW joined the ranks of manufacturers issuing large recall notices last week as the German automaker tagged over 150,000 cars and crossovers for defective bolts in the variable valve timing system that might cause the engine to stall if they break. The vehicles covered all have the in-line 6-cylinder engine and include a long list of models. Contact your dealer if you think you might be effected.

* It had been reported earlier that GM enlisted the help of NASA engineers to help evaluated the huge ignition switch recall problem. Our colleagues at The Detroit Bureau reported this week that the space agency is not involved in the determination of whether it is dangerous to drive these vehicles before the fix is made. Fleshing out that story further, a Texas judge this week declined to order the cars to be parked pending repairs. GM is planning to ask a federal bankruptcy judge to reaffirm the protection from legal claims afforded by the restructuring agreement.

* Tesla, being a small automaker by any standard, wants to sell cars directly to customers without establishing a dealer network as middleman. Most states have franchise laws in place that prevent that from happening because of the risk of a large manufacturer undercutting the small business man operating a dealership. The Arizona legislature this week failed act on a bill to allow direct sales in that state. It died in committee. Tesla vows to bring it up in next year's session.

* The automobile business is finally looking up in Europe after years in the doldrums. Overall sales grew 10% in March and 8% over the first quarter. Ford posted some of the best sales numbers with a 12% increase in March.

* Mazda is recalling 109,000 Tribute SUVs in cold-weather states to fix rusting frame parts. The recall covers SUVs from the 2001 through 2004 model years. The frame can rust and a wheel control arm can separate from it.