Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Blast: February 23-March 1, 2015
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Auto Central Chicago IL, March 1, 2015; Every Sunday, along with senior editors Steve Purdy and Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau I give you our "take" on this past week's automotive news in 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 20 year's 1,807,009 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 Blast - Week February 23-March 1, 2015
* The Geneva Motor Show begins next week and it promises to follow the major U.S. shows in revealing high-performance and racing cars. Aston Martin just announced it will be showing the new “Vulcan” 7-liter, V12, track-only super car. The car will have in excess of 800 horsepower and be constructed mainly of carbon fiber. Only 24 will be built. We'll have full coverage here on TACh.
* We hope you watched the Oscars and saw the Cadillac TV spot featuring Edith Piaf singing. Did you notice the white Cadillac slowly rolling down the cobblestone streets towards the end of the spot? That's the new top-of-the-line Cadillac CT6 that will be unveiled at the New York Auto Show in early April. ( Original Cadillac CT6 Release)
* Volvo made its self-driving ambitions clear with the announcement of a pilot program that will put 100 autonomous cars on Swedish roads by 2017. The program is unique in that it hands the keys to customers rather than company engineers. The test subjects will be able to operate the cars autonomously on select roads around Volvo's hometown of Gothenburg.
* The U.S. government began fining Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. $14,000 per day for failing to fully cooperate in a long-running investigation of faulty and potentially dangerous air bag inflators. The inflators, which are in cars made by 10 auto companies, can explode with too much force, spewing shrapnel into drivers and passengers. At least six people have been killed and 64 injured worldwide due to the problem. Only about 2 million of the 17 million vehicles recalled because of the problematic Takata airbags have been repaired according to the NHTSA.
* Meanwhile, the group of 10 automakers said they have selected Orbital ATK to test air bag inflators made by Takata that are tied to the recalls. The automakers also said they have selected former NHTSA Acting Administrator David Kelly to manage and coordinate the testing. Kelly is currently a principal and CEO of Storm King Strategies, a strategic affairs and advocacy firm in Washington, D.C. The automakers include BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota.
* It only took the U.S. EPA ten years to implement tightened guidelines for how automakers determine fuel mileage figures used in advertising. This follows two years of imposing penalties on automakers that overstated their fuel economy ratings. The change affects how a vehicles road load is determined which is then used in the laboratory dynamometer testing of a vehicle to arrive at the mpg rating. Remember: it's a test in a lab under very specific conditions to provide a mpg number for comparison when car shopping. On the road, it's all up to you depending on how you drive, the traffic flow and the weather mother nature throws at us.
* Buick earned its way into the top 10 on the newest Consumer Reports list of best reliability and performance. Lexus remained in first place for the fourth year in a row with Mazda close behind and Mercedes-Benz, Acura and Infiniti lost ground. Fiat was at the bottom of the list. The Vehicle Dependability Survey of 34,000 owners of 2012 vehicles measures dependability for the first three years of ownership. They also do an Initial Quality Survey (reported on earlier here on TACh) that measures problems in the first six months of ownership. The best overall vehicle was the Tesla Model S but, more realistically, Subaru had three of their models picked as best in segment…and Subaru only offers seven models in total.
* And in the J.D. Power and Associates' annual vehicle dependability study, Lexus, Buick, Toyota and Cadillac captured the top four spots. The study is among the most watched because it tracks complaints from owners of three-year-old vehicles.
* Put away your checkbook because you’re outa luck. Bugatti sold the last V12-powered Veyron, number 450, the world’s most powerful and fastest production car. You’ll be able to see the car at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. While the owner was not named the Bugatti folks revealed it went to a customer in the Middle East. The actual price was also not released but the super cars have been selling for around 2.3 million Euro, or $2.6 million. The last Veyron is an open-top Grand Sport Vitesse variant, which boasts 1,200 horsepower and called La Finale.
* The Penske Team brought home another NASCAR win for Ford in the season-opening 57th Daytona 500 race. Twenty-four-year-old Joey Logano from Connecticut held his pace through most of the race while veteran Jeff Gordon, who is beginning his last season, led for more than half the race. Some pushing and shoving near the end of the race resulted in dicey traffic and Logano found himself in the lead finishing under the yellow flag. The race was dominated by Hendrick Motorsports' Chevys and featured many laps of three-wide 200mph racing. Both Busch brothers were not in the race; Kyle broke his leg the day before in a crash and Kurt has been suspended "for actions detrimental to the sport."
* Having heard nothing in recent years about the ultra-cheap Tata Nano that went on sale in its home market, India, in 2009 at a price the equivalent of $2,500, Automotive News Europe reported this week they are rethinking their marketing plan. It seems many potential customers don’t like the idea of driving "the worlds cheapest car.” According to the story, Tata is planning to add a bigger engine and some other improvements. Sounds like it will still be the least expensive (read, ‘cheapest’) car in any market.
* Mercedes-Benz is recalling more than 147,000 sedans and station wagons to fix a problem with an engine compartment seal that could spark a fire. The recall mostly affects E350 models from the 2013 through 2015 model years.
* GM is recalling about 67,000 Cadillac ATS compact sports sedans to fix a problem with the power sunroof controls. The recall affects cars from the 2013 through 2015 model years.
* Fiat Chrysler is recalling nearly 26,000 of its 2015 Chrysler 200 midsize sedans equipped with V6 engines in North America to fix automatic transmissions that might not shift into park.
* Yutaka Katayama, Nissan’s first U.S. president, died of heart failure last week in a Tokyo hospital. He was credited with overseeing the design, production and marketing of the original Datsun 240Z in the 1960s as a response to the popularity of the Camaro and Mustang. Also under his leadership the epic Datsun 510, an inexpensive sporty small sedan, came here to challenge such cars as the pricey BMW 2002 and earliest 3-Series. “Mr. K,” as he was affectionately known, was 105 years old and had retired from Nissan pin 1977.