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Nutson's Nuggets: Automotive News and Opinion July 21-27, 2014


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

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Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of July 21-27,2014.

* The J.D. Power 2014 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study found the Porsche brand as the highest nameplate for a 10th straight year, followed by Jaguar, Audi, Land Rover and BMW. Hyundai was the highest-ranking non-luxury brand and Lincoln was the highest-ranking American brand at No. 8, with Cadillac following at No. 9. Mitsubishi finished last.

* The Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan held their annual induction event this week to a sold-out crowd of industry leaders. Inducted were: Kieth Crain of Crain Communications, Automotive News and AutoWeek; Ferdinand Piech, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Volkswagen; J. David Power III, founder of J.D. Power and Associates; and respected automotive designer, Alex Tremulis. Also honored as Industry Leader of the Year was Jim Lentz, CEO and President of North America for Toyota. Veteran automotive journalist, Ken Gross and Frank Venegas, Jr., founder, chairman and CEO of Ideal Group received Distinguished Service Citations.

* Our colleagues at The Detroit Bureau reported this week that a 17-year engineer at Ford is being investigated by the FBI for industrial spying. She had planted listening devices in conference rooms around Ford HQ. She said it was to ensure she was taking thorough notes during meeting, said her attorney. Many in the industry are gun shy because of a number of incidents of industrial espionage in recent years.

* General Motors was chosen for the second year in a row as as one of the best companies in China for social responsibility, civic spirit and sensitivity to the environment. The honor was bestowed by Southern Weekly, a respected Chinese newspaper. GM and individual employees have been involved in a variety of safety initiatives as well as making significant contributions to disaster relief projects.

* GM earnings for the quarter are down 80% but they are still in the black. The dismal numbers are attributed to having to recall 22 million vehicles. Retail volume was up 6% to close to a million units in North America but continue to be down in Europe. GM maintains nearly 18% market share in North America.

* Chrysler is next in the ignition switch recall business. They announced this week the recall of nearly 800,000 Jeep SUVs worldwide because ignition switches “can be knocked out of the run position by the driver’s knee.�?? The recall involves 2006-2007 Jeep Commanders and 2005-2007 Jeep Grand Cherokees.

* Kia Motors is recalling nearly 52,000 Soul hatchbacks from the 2014 model year because the steering system may fail.

* Hyundai is recalling almost 2,100 Sonata sedans from the 2015 model year because a problem with a wiring harness can result in a sudden lack of power assist to the steering and an inability to move the transmission lever from the park.

* And of course, keeping their name in the forefront, General Motors issued six more recalls, covering 717,950 U.S. vehicles for a variety of safety issues. Buick, Cadillac, Chevy and GMC models from 2010 to 2015 model years are involved. Now they are up to sixty recalls on nearly 29 million vehicles. We suggest you check with you dealer and find out if your car is affected.

* Ford announced this week they will offer two new V6 engines in the upcoming F-Series, aluminum-bodied pickup. Because the new pickup is 700 pounds lighter, they say, they will perform like past V8 engines. Standard on the F-150 will be the 3.5-liter EcoBoost with 283 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque with a 1,900-pound payload capacity. The new 2.7-liter, twin-turbo, EcoBoost produces 325 horsepower and 375 pound-feet of torque accommodating a payload of nearly 2,300 pounds. Automatic stop-start will be standard with the 2.7-liter engine.

* Fun story of the week was the fourth vehicle added to the National Historic Vehicle Register, a program something like the designation of buildings as historical landmarks. We attended the ceremony at the General Motors Heritage Center where the 1918 Cadillac Type 57, a veteran of WW I service, was honored. The car’s owner, Marc Lassen, spent 8 years extensively researching the cars history and decided to leave the car in its original condition, with seats worn by carrying dignitaries around Europe and bullet holes in the body. Watch of the full story here on TheAutoChannel.

* Our friends at AutoWeek did a nice report on James Garner passing. Garner, a lifelong racing enthusiast who might have really gone places in motorsports if his acting career hadn’t kept getting in the way, died in Los Angeles July 19 at age 86. Garner is best-known to the public for two popular roles: Jim Rockford, the wise-cracking private eye who often used his gold Pontiac Firebird to nab (or escape from) bad guys; and as Bret Maverick in the early-'60s TV western. But he will always be best-known to race fans as the talented American driver Pete Aron taking on the Europeans in the movie "Grand Prix." In that John Frankenheimer hit, one of the top-10 highest-grossing movies of 1966, Garner got to work with the best F1 drivers of the day, including Phil Hill, Graham Hill, Fangio, Jim Clark, Jack Brabham, Dan Gurney, Ritchie Ginther and Bruce McLaren. A friendship with "Grand Prix" cast members Bondurant and Dick Guldstrand lead to the creation of Garner’s race team “American International Racing,�?? after the movie wrapped. AIR fielded L88 Corvettes and Lola T70s at Daytona and Sebring, with leading sports car drivers of the day Scooter Patrick, Davey Jordan, Lothar Mothschenbacher and Guldstrand. The team also fielded a John Surtees Formula A/F5000 car in late 1969 that was featured in the documentary "The Racing Scene" starring James Garner as himself.