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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids Week of May 12-18, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY May 18, 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 1,590,754 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 Factoids Week of May 5-11, 2014

* General Motors will pay $35 million in a civil settlement with the federal government over its failure to report in a timely manner a defective ignition switch in 2.6 million smaller cars, the Department of Transportation announced. In addition, the automaker signed a consent agreement which will require changes to its internal safety practices and which will include internal monitoring by the Feds of GM's handling of any vehicle problem or issue.

* I'm sure we all are getting tired of the word recall connected with GM. They issued five new recalls this week affecting 2.7 million Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, and Saturn vehicles from the 2004 to 2015 model years.The number of General Motors vehicles recalled in 2014 now tops 10 million. The reality is that GM management has stirred the internal pot to get the bad news addressed as it should be.

* Nissan surprised us all with the unexpected introduction of the 2015 370Z NISMO. Media were not invited. Rather, the intro happened at a gathering of Datsun and NISMO owners and enthusiasts in North Carolina. The new NISMO goes on sale midsummer and is essentially a substantial refresh of the current hot sports car. They've added a 7-speed automatic transmission, retuned suspension, new seats co-designed with Ricaro and lots of cosmetics.

* AAA's annual study of the cost of car ownership is out and it appears that it has gone down, unlike most of the rest of our consumer goods. They calculate one year of the average car costs to be $8,876, about 2.7% lower than last year. They use an average of 15,000 miles/year of driving costing 59.2 cents/mile. The lower costs may be attributed to lower costs for fuel, tires, depreciation and insurance.

* Might want to get your order in soon as Cadillac announced this week the new CTS-V Couple will be limited to only 500 units. The blindingly fast and sexy coupe goes on sale later this year. The powertrain is carried over from the 2014 model with 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque. The regular new CTS is vastly improved over the previous generation so we expect the new 'V' will be thrilling. Prices not announced yet.

* As some other automakers are limiting or eliminating their pure electric and hybrid offerings we hear from Chrysler they expect to expand their hybrid offerings in order to meet the governments fuel economy standards for 2025. Sergio Marchionne made the announcement at the Indiana transmission plant where the company is investing $162 million to build a nine-speed automatic transmission that will improve the mileage on all their front-wheel drive cars.

* Toyota said that it would allow a battery-supply deal with Tesla Motors to expire this year and would focus instead on building cars running on hydrogen fuel cells, a next-generation technology.

* Do you ever wonder about the accuracy of those miles per gallon ratings pasted on windows of new cars? So did Emissions Analytics, a United Kingdom-based vehicle emissions testing company. With the help of Sam Cao, a graduate student at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering, they set out to test the accuracy, but with one significant difference. Those numbers are based on a standardized test procedure performed in a laboratory by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Emissions Analytics placed portable emissions measurement equipment on vehicles to test fuel economy while the cars were being driven on the road. They found differences – up to 20 percent. Some cars fared better than EPA estimates, some worse and some about the same. The figures for all cars tested by Emissions Analytics can be found on the web site of Motor Trend magazine, which partnered with Emissions Analytics on the project. Currently, there are around 100 vehicles reported, but the list is growing. On average, of the cars already tested, there was less than one percent difference between the EPA numbers and Emissions Analytics’ findings

* Many U.S. cities are seeing an increase in bicycle commuters, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. Nationwide, the number of people who traveled to work by bike increased roughly 60 percent over the last decade, from about 488,000 in 2000 to about 786,000 during the 2008-2012 period. This is the largest percentage increase of all commuting modes tracked by the 2000 Census and the 2008-2012 American Community Survey.

* AT&T revealed it recently deployed its 8,000th compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle, achieving a major milestone in the company's overall 10-year, $565 million commitment to add approximately 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) to its fleet by end of year 2018. In addition to CNG, AT&T has deployed hybrid electric, all electric and extended-range electric vehicles, achieving a total AFV fleet of more than 10,000 vehicles located in 43 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. As AT&T looks to accomplish its broader target of over 15,000 AFVs, the company will continue to deploy a mix of technologies to meet the varied vehicle needs of its drivers. AT&T's AFV fleet allowed the company to avoid the purchase of 12.4 million gallons of gasoline as of the end of 2013, over the 5-year period since the company's commitment to alternative fuels was first announced.

* Automotive News reports that Porsche Cars North America is asking its dealers not to use live tigers in promotions of the new Macan mid-sized crossover after animal rights activists objected to the plans. Nick Twork, Porsche’s manager of product communications, said Porsche reached out to its dealers after Big Cat Rescue told the company about Reeves Import Motorcars’ use of live tiger cubs during a May 2 promotion of the Macan. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also reached out to Porsche on May 5 regarding the Tampa, Fla., dealer’s promotion. The next day, Twork said, Porsche “strongly encouraged” its North American dealers to drop all plans to use live tigers to promote the Macan, which is an Indonesian word for tiger.

* Bye, bye gasoline tax. Michigan could solve its road funding problems by being one of the first states in the nation to move to a system where motorists pay a fee based on the number of miles they drive, according to a University of Michigan report. Several other states and public institutions are studying the potential for a mileage fee policy, including Texas, Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin and Nevada. There’s also a legislative proposal in California.

* Bentley announced its return to racing after an 80-year absence. Billed as the first factory-associated team in all those years the M-Sport Bentley will contest the Blancpain Endurance race art Silverstone next week.

* Our R.I.P. thought for this week is for legendary Indianapolis 500 mechanic A.J. Watson who died four days after his 90th birthday. A car builder, mechanic and crew chief, Watson was in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area from 1948 through 1984. His cars won six Indianapolis 500s.