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Nutson's Nuggets: Automotive News and Opinion Week of July 7-13, 2014


Auto Central Louisville, KY July 13, 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 their "take" as easy to digest nuggets of the past week's automotive news.

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 1,697,683 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 Boston TV viewers, You can now enjoy The Auto Channel TV Network "Free and Clear" on WHDT Channel 3 and your cable system, South Florida auto fans can continue to watch The Auto Channel's TACH-TV on channel 344 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

Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of July 7-13, 2014

* Ford Motor Company announced the Alan Mulally Leadership in Engineering Scholarship, a $1 million program that honors the company’s former CEO by providing financial assistance to outstanding students pursuing degrees in the field of automotive engineering. Scholarships will honor former Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally’s background and expertise in science and engineering. Ford Motor Company Fund will administer $10,000 scholarships annually to 10 outstanding sophomore or junior engineering students working toward degrees in the automotive field at premier partner universities around the world Scholarships support Ford education efforts to build a new generation of leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). BTW, recent data shows that STEM program college grads starting salaries are 20% to 30% more than the average.

* Ford is recalling 101,000 vehicles in six new recall campaigns. The biggest recall covers 92,000 including 2013-2014 models of the Ford Taurus, Ford Flex, Ford Police Interceptor, Lincoln MKS and Lincoln MKT; 2012-2014 Ford Edge; and 2014 Lincoln MKX. All have potential issues with the right-side halfshaft. Also recalled for various issues are some 2014 Escape SUVs, 2014 Ford Fiestas, 2014 Transit Connect and some Ford commercial truck chassis. Some of the recalls are very small and minor but it is very clear that automakers are taking no chances.

* Hyundai has recalled 58,000 Elantra Touring wagons from model years 2010 - 2012 because the metal support bracket in the headliner could become dislodged when the side-curtain airbag deploys. If this happens, occupants could suffer lacerations. A similar issue was found with Elantra sedans. The fix involves using adhesive strips that will be applied to the headliner to prevent it from coming loose in a crash.

* Harley-Davidson is recalling 66,421 Touring and CVO Touring motorcycles from the 2014 model year because their front wheels can lock up without warning. Motorcycles with anti-lock brakes built between July 1, 2013, and May 7, 2014, are included in the recall.

* Chrysler is recalling about 895,000 SUVs including 2011-2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango SUVs.The problem centers on the wiring of vanity mirrors in the vehicles, which may lead to a fire. The wiring will be re-routed as part of the recall.

* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau report that automakers and auto dealers better enjoy the good times while they last because new car sales are going to begin sliding after this year, with a serious drop off by 2017, according to a new study. AlixPartners, a global business advisory firm, suggests automakers are going to get a chance to prove they can make money while selling 12 million vehicles a year in the near future. The industry is tracking for a 16-million to 16.5-million unit sales year right now, but they predict that’s all going to come to an end. The firm believes that a projected rise in interest rates and a lack of interest in car ownership by the next generation of drivers – especially with the advent of car-sharing services – will combine to crimp sales, starting next year.

* Nissan has implemented a "No Charge to Charge"??? program for Leaf EV owners, letting them use public charging stations at no cost for two years. The program currently covers over 2,600 charging locations, including more than 200 quick chargers, in ten different markets across the country.

* In a move that is unusual but not unprecedented, the United Auto Workers union has sidestepped its loss in a worker vote in February and created a local union to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee. And what's surprising, considering decades of fierce anti-union efforts from the other foreign-transplant automakers in the South, this time the union has the tacit approval of Volkswagen itself. Membership will be voluntary and, for now, no dues will be collected. The union's move also creates some uncertainty over Volkswagen's continuing negotiations with the state of Tennessee on a proposed $300 million incentives package to persuade the world's largest automaker to build a new crossover utility vehicle.

* Dodge is giving its Challenger owners full on bragging rights at the drag strip and racing to the front line of the horsepower wars with its new 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. The 707 HP, 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is the fastest muscle car ever with a National Hot Rod Association-certified 1/4-mile elapsed time of 11.2 seconds at 125 miles per hour (mph) with stock Pirelli P275/40ZR20 P Zero tires. With drag radials, the run dropped to just 10.8 seconds at 126 mph!

* Own a diesel pickup truck, and you can spend somewhere between several hundred to several thousand dollars on modifications that make the vehicle capable of belching towers of black smoke on command, all for the apparent pleasure of leaving fellow drivers or pedestrians choking on a cloud of soot. This practice is called "coal rolling" or "rolling coal," which is the equivalent of farting in someone's vehicular face. In recent days, the Environmental Protection Agency at the center of many coal rollers' angst has issued a statement saying that the modifications that enable rolling coal are illegal. "Tampering with vehicle pollution controls is against the law," an EPA spokesperson said.

* The top nine teams in NASCAR have for the first time formed a single entity to collaborate on initiatives and issues facing their sport. The Race Team Alliance was announced this week, and Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman was elected chairman. The goals of the RTA include lowering costs for NASCAR teams and creating one voice on issues facing the teams. Kauffman insisted the RTA is not a union.The RTA currently includes Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.