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Nutson's Nuggets: Last Week's Automotive News and Opinion September 8-14, 2014


Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief Chicago Bureau
The Auto Channel

Auto Central Louisville, KY September 14, 2014; Every Sunday, along with Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau give you our "take" on this past week's automotive news as easy to digest nuggets.

If you are a car nut like we all are here at The Auto Channel, you can easily wish to "catch up" on these stories as well as the past 19 year's 1,739,654 automotive news, automotive stories, articles, reviews, archived news, video, audio, rants and raves just search The Auto Channel's Automotive News Archive.

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Nutson's Automotive News Factoids - Week of September 8-14, 2014.

* At Chicago's International Technology Manufacturing Show, a huge 3-D printer worked for 44 hours to print out plastic parts that were then assembled into a two-seat electric car, called Strati. After the car's body was printed it was smoothed out and the mechanical and electrical components added. On Friday the fully assembled car was driven away. The car weighs about 1200 lbs. and has a top speed of 50mph. More cars will be built in early 2015 and priced from $18 to $25 thousand depending on customer specs.

* GM’s two recalls this week were both on the new Corvette Stingray and one involves a “stop-delivery order.” About 2000 of the Corvettes have an airbag problem and about 800 have an issue with the rear parking brake cable. These recalls interrupt strong sales of the new Stingray and are the first recalls for this high-performance sports car. This brings to 67 the total number of GM recalls this year.

* A big shakeup at Ferrari this week saw longtime chairman, Luca di Montezemolo ousted (or retired, if you like) after announcing his intent to continue limiting production to 7,000 cars/year insisting “A Ferrari is like a beautiful woman. She must be worth waiting for and desired.” A disappointing season by the flagship Formula One team might also have had some influence. Among his other responsibilities Sergio Marchionne, chairman of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is the new boss at Ferrari. Purists fear Ferrari will become more of a “commoditized, globally marketed luxury good[s] that just happens to have four wheels and a motor and [is} blindingly fast” according to an AutoWeek story.

* Land Rover CEO Raif Speth announced the Evoque will be the first model produced at the company’s new factory in China. Holding court with the press in London this week Speth explained the Evoque is their highest demand vehicle in China. The new factory in Changhsu is their first manufacturing facility outside the UK and includes engine production for the new range of “Ingenium” four-cylinder engines.

* Kia announced pricing for the much-anticipated electric version of the popular compact CUV Soul. The Soul EV will have an expected range of just under 100 miles, sell for $34,500 and will be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. The car will first be available in California before being sold in other markets. By the way, you can get a loaded conventionally-powered Soul for around $25,000.

* The annual Harbour Report provides the auto industry with valuable manufacturing data regarding plant efficiency. James Harbour, founder of Harbour and Associates and creator of the report died last week at the age of 86. His son Ron and daughter Laurie ran the company from 1999 until it was sold to Oliver Wyman in 2008. Ron Harbour continues to produce the Harbour Report.

* It’s always been a challenge doing business in China. This week Audi was fined 31 million Euro and Chrysler 4 million Euro for price fixing. Last month 12 Japanese suppliers were hit with a total of 152 million Euro for anti-monopoly violations.

* Jaguar revealed the new XE sedan in London this week. The small luxury sedan will sell for around $44,000 and sits on an all-new aluminum, rear-wheel drive platform. The last small sedan in the Jaguar lineup, the X-Type, based on a Ford Mondeo platform, did not sell particularly well. The new XE will be available with either gasoline or diesel power in Europe, and will begin sales in 2015.

* Honda Motor Co. is recalling 126,000 motorcycles for a second time because their brakes can malfunction. The recall covers Honda’s GL-1800 motorcycles for model years 2001-2010 and 2012. A problem with the secondary brake master cylinder can cause the rear brake to drag.

* Even very low volume cars have recalls. Porsche has recalled its 887-horsepower, $845,000 918 Spyder supercar because the rear suspension could fail, according to a report filed with the NHTSA. The automaker said the connecting links of a control arm on the hybrid “could break, making it more difficult to control the vehicle.”

* Toyota is recalling around 130,000 Model Year 2014 Tundra Crew-Max Cab and Double Cab vehicles. A garnish on the center pillars might be mis-installed and could interfere with the side Curtain-Shield-Airbags (CSA) in the event of a deployment, which may not allow the airbag to achieve its intended inflated shape.

* Formula One racing champion Michael Schumacher has left the hospital and will now continue recovery from his skiing accident severe head injury at his home In Switzerland. Schumacher spent six months at a hospital in Grenoble, France and then was transferred in mid-June to a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland.