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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids Week of April 21-27, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY April 27, 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 1,587,897 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 21-27, 2014

* Global new car intros took place this week at the Beijing Auto Show. Lincoln revealed the MKX Concept that is very close to what we will see in production. Lexus unveiled the NX small crossover, and then simultaneously put it on the show floor the NY Auto Show, a couple days after press previews. Mercedes-Benz showed the all-new Concept Coupe SUV, a “four-door coupe”. BMW previewed its upcoming new flagship 9-Series with a concept car. VW debuted the New Midsize Coupe concept, a four-dour coupe, as well as the Golf R 400 with 395HP. China will most likely surpass the U.S. as the largest luxury car market in the next few years.

* The UAW unexpectedly announced that it was dropping its effort to force a new unionization vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Bob King, the UAW's president, said his union was basing its decision on the belief that the National Labor Relations Board’s adjudication process in the dispute “could drag on for months or even years.” The union lost a vote at the plant in February, 712 to 626, and soon afterward it asked the labor board to order a new election, asserting that anti-union statements and threats by Tennessee lawmakers had prevented a fair election. One expert says that VW may be positioning itself to reach an agreement with a different union than the UAW.

* GM "Switchgate" continues with the filing by GM of a suit in a U.S. bankruptcy court asking a judge to protect the company from legal claims for actions that took place before it emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. The filing asserts that the “numerous lawsuits” recently filed throughout the United States dealing with GM’s recall of cars with possible ignition switch problems are “retained liabilities” of the old GM, not the new company. It says the recall involves vehicles “manufactured and sold by Old GM” and asks Judge Robert Gerber to protect the “new GM” from claims.

* The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is also now investigating General Motors over its handling of the ignition switch defect. Government investigations include a criminal probe by the U.S. Justice Department, a regulatory investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and inquiries by U.S. House and Senate committees. While CEO Mary Barra acknowledged she had learned of the defect and the delay in addressing it, it was however not included in the company's 2013 Annual Report to stockholders.

* GM has nominated a retiring UAW executive to serve on the Board of Directors. The nomination of Joe Ashton, a UAW vice president, came from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust. If approved by shareholders at the June 10th meeting his term would begin in August.

* While GM struggles with recall costs Ford also announced this week a 39% drop in first-quarter earnings blaming warranty costs, increased warranty reserves and "weather-related costs." They are sticking to their projection of a gross profit for the year of $7 to $8 billion. Worldwide sales and total volume grew substantially including a 45% sales increase in China.

* Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally, the man credited with saving America’s most iconic auto company, plans to hand over the keys to the Blue Oval this year. Mark Fields, 53, a 25-year Ford employee and its chief operating officer, will replace the 68-year-old Mulally, according to sources.

* I thought this unusual and very creative. At the New York International Auto Show, Audi of America has included a Careers at Audi stand in their show display. Representatives from AoA Human Resources are at the stand during all of the Public Days to promote available employment opportunities.

* Just in time for Earth Day, Kelley Blue Book editors picked the 10 Best Green Cars of 2014 to assist eco-friendly drivers in the market for a new vehicle. While Honda was the only brand to have two models included, taking the top spot on this annual list for 2014 was the all-new, all-electric BMW i3.’s 10 Best Green Cars of 2014 are: 1) BMW i3, 2) Nissan Leaf, 3) Toyota Prius, 4) Honda Accord Hybrid, 5) Tesla Model S, 6) Chevrolet Volt, 7) Ford C-Max Hybrid, 8) Honda Civic CNG, 9) Lexus ES 300h, and 10) Volkswagen Jetta TDI.

* The Ford Mustang GT has offered a Track Apps suite of performance mods "for track use only." The news this week that got all the performance media abuzz was the announcement that line lock would be added. What's line lock you ask? A device common in drag race cars to hold brake pressure on the front wheels only so that the driver can spin the rear tires to heat them up to get better traction at launch. Remember, for track use only. It's burn-out time!

* And you have to be able to repair cars too. Patrick Hahn and Colt Morris, students at Grafton High School in Grafton, Wisconsin, finished in 1st place at the 2014 National Automotive Technology Competition at the New York International Automobile Show. The students are sponsored by the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee. The Competition, the auto industry's largest school-to-work initiative, pits the nation's best high school automotive vocational education students against one another for the title of 'America's Top Technicians'.

* We read this week that Nissan is testing a "self-cleaning" car with a high-tech coating on the paint allowing dirt and road grime to just slide off or never stick in the first place. Nissan calls it "a specially engineered super-hydrophobic and oleo phobic paint." The car wash owners association has yet to weigh in on the plan.

* Fisker may not be dead after all. The new Chinese owner announced this week intentions to begin production of the Karma hybrid sedan next year, according to a report in the Detroit News. The company's owner, Wanziang America Corporation, paid only $150 million for the company and plans to add a lower cost sedan and a wagon to the lineup beginning in 2016.

* Cinderella electric car maker Tesla has been in litigation in a variety of states to circumvent franchise laws protecting car dealers from manufacturers being able to sell cars without a middle man. Though the laws in question are state laws many were surprised this week when three members of the Federal Trade Commission said in a blog post this week that these laws are "bad policy."