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Nutson's Nuggets - Automotive News Factoids Week of May 19-25, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY May 25, 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 1,591,108 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 19-25, 2014

* At the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) Spring Rally, two all-new vehicle models, one truck and one car, made there first ever in-person appearance before the media. GMC introduced the 2015 Sierra All Terrain HD, a refined, off-road-inspired execution of the brand’s capability that blends exclusive design features with the versatility of 4WD. It goes on sale this summer. “The new 2015 GMC Sierra HD lineup helps customers tackle tough jobs more comfortably, and with the new All Terrain HD, they can do it with greater style,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of GMC Sales and Marketing. And, Dodge showed the all-new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with its supercharged 600-plus horsepower HEMI Hellcat engine, a race-inspired interior and new technologies geared towards the driving enthusiast. Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis spoke in-person and ran the HEMI Hellcat for all to hear the raucus exhaust that expresses Dodge's new badassness.

* The National Motorists Association (NMA) has released an analysis that ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia from worst to best based on their treatment of drivers. The motorists’ rights organization used 24 metrics that spanned the categories of legal protections, regulations, enforcement tactics, state-imposed cost to drive, and state fiscal responsibility to examine the government-motorist relationship in each state. The NMA found the District of Columbia (25 out of 100 total points) to be most exploitative of motorists, followed by New York State, Delaware, New Jersey, and Vermont. The rankings reveal Wyoming (85 points), North Dakota, Utah, Mississippi, and Montana as the most driver-friendly states.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has a request for potential buyers of the automaker's Fiat 500e electric car: Don't buy it. He's tired of losing money in spite of its $32,700 price tag. Speaking at a conference in Washington, Marchionne said Tesla Motors Inc was the only company making money on electric cars and that was because of the higher price point for its Model S sedan. Decrying the federal and state mandates that push manufacturers to build electric cars, Marchionne said he hoped to sell the minimum number of 500e cars possible. "I hope you don't buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000," he said to the audience at the Brookings Institution about the 500e. He, like most other execs within the industry, thinks the government should not be involved in determining how manufacturers meet the fuel economy standards. He also offered the opinion that to meet the stringent 2025 standards at least half the new car fleet will have to be hybrids.

* In a related story, Toyota announced this week it will cease production and sale of the RAV4-EV (full electric crossover) as they begin producing and selling a new hydrogen fuel-cell version in the California market. Tesla helped develop both with their lithium-ion batteries.

* The 2015 Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition was unveiled at April's New York Auto show. When the car was released to order this week, it reportedly sold out in just 10 minutes. Only 100 models were available, and most of which were sold through Mazda’s pre-order site beforehand. Starting at $33,000, the Mazda MX-5 25th Anniversary Edition comes with new features like a Soul Red Metallic paint only, brilliant black trim, 17-inch dark gunmetal alumni wheels and 25th anniversary badging.

* Ford has done a great job of hyping the new generation of the iconic Mustang including displaying one on the observation deck of the Empire State Building during the New York Auto Show. The next step was announced this week. The company is now taking orders for the 2015 Mustang fastback which starts at $24,425 for delivery this fall. You can have it with the all-new 2.3-liter turbo EcoBoost, the classic 420-hp 5.0-liter V8 or a 300-hp V6. Take your pick.

* Chrysler began production this week of the new 9-speed automatic transmission they expect to integrate into a broad range of cars and crossovers in order to enhance fuel economy. The company put $162 million into an Indiana plant that Getrag half built in 2007 just before Cerberus gave up on Chrysler. Fiat Chrysler Automobile's CEO Sergio Marchionne acknowledged this week some early niggles with the transmission but expressed confidence that it will be a bread-and-butter product for the company.

* We learned this week that Jaguar will build 6 brand new 1963 Lightweight E-Types . Back in the day Jag planned to build 18 of these specialty cars but only built 12. Now it's finally time for the extra 6. We'll see the first of these later this year and find out only then what they will cost. Jag collectors are expected to get first dibs on the cars.

* A recent San Jose Mercury News story suggests both Corvette and Tesla owners in California are pulled over quite frequently for being without a front license plate. It's big issue for Corvette owners, considering the number of ‘Vettes on the road in the 31 states that require both front and rear license plates. Car designers wish front license plates would go away altogether across all 50 states. Perhaps someday electronics technology will allow that to happen.

* Now we have a recall that may require the entire car to be replaced. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says a small number of 2014 Nissan Leaf electric cars were built incorrectly. Nissan is recalling 211 Leaf EVs in the U.S. (and another 65 in Canada) built between February 28 and March 12 of this year to inspect them to see whether or not a series of six spot welds are present in the motor compartment. The welds in question are located on each side of the motor just above the sway bar ends and are critical enough that their absence could affect the crashworthiness of the electric hatchback. If the welds are there, then the vehicle is released to the customer with no further action required. If the welds are missing, the situation becomes far more serious. According to the official recall notice from the NHTSA, if any welds are missing, the vehicle is to be replaced.

* Hyundai Motor Co. said it will recall 141,000 2011-2014 Tucson crossovers because the airbag may not have been properly attached to the steering wheel.

* Toyota is recalling 466,000 vehicles globally, about 460,500 of which are in North America, for rust corrosion and brake pedal problems. The recall includes 10,500 2013 Lexus GS sedans in the United States and Canada and 450,000 2004-11 Sienna minivans in colder climate salt belt regions.

* GM is still investigating what went wrong in the "Switchgate" ignition switch recall matter but the fingers are starting to point to GM's own legal department as having not connected the dots. It all comes down to good clear communication.

* GM also issued four additional new recalls now covering 2.4 million cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles, and then on the next day announced a recall of 218,000 Chevrolet Aveo cars from the 2004-08. The problem with the Aveo cars stems from a faulty part in their daytime running lights that could overheat and cause a fire. The GM recalls this week include 140,000 2014 Malibus (2.4-liter engines only) for a possible brake problem, 103,000 Corvettes for low-beam headlights, 19,000 Cadillac CTS sedans for windshield wipers and 477 new full-size trucks for a tie-rod issue.Best is if you own a GM car to check with your dealer if you are involved. GM has been under intense pressure from federal officials, safety advocates and consumers for its negligence in fixing defects in its vehicles. No problem is too big or too small as GM desperately tries to regain its reputation.

* Suzuki, although no longer selling cars in the U.S., recalled 184,000 Forenza models from 2004 through 2008 and Reno models from 2005 through 2008 because the steering columns can catch fire. Both vehicles were made for Suzuki by General Motors, and is related to the similar recall for the Chevy Aveo.

* Triple Formula One World Champion Sir Jack Brabham has died at the age of 88. He passed away peacefully in his Gold Coast, Australia home. He was the oldest living Forumula One World Champion. This icon of motor racing amassed a total of 14 F1 victories and three titles in his career. He is also the only driver to ever win the World Championship in a car of his own design and construction (1966). His other two triumphs came with the Cooper Racing Team in 1959 and 1960. The Australian also participated in four Indy 500's, finishing as high as ninth in 1961. Jack was also the first man ever knighted for his services in motorsport.

* Two new additions to consider for your automotive library are "Car Posters" by Emmanuel Lopez that includes over 200 images of car poster used in advertising starting form the 1800s and "The Life of the Automobile" by Steven Parissien that contains 130 years of automotive history.

* We have a trifecta of motorsport this weekend with the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Coca-Coal 600. On the pole of the Indy 500 for the second straight year is Ed Carpenter with a four-lap average of 231.067mph.

* From all of us at The Auto Channel we wish you a safe and wonderful Memorial Day as we remember all those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom.