10 Tiny Bits of Automotive News – February 21, 2012

1. Kia is preparing to launch its first rear wheel drive car – code name KH will share the Equis platform. It is a world car and we don’t know whether it will reach US shores or not.

2. The average price of gas is up according to AAA and it predicts that the usual summer increase in gas prices will be more severe than usual.

3. Think you’re saving money by buying a cheaper car? Not necessarily. Cheaper cars are often more expensive to insure – according to insure.com. Of course you can go too far the other way. An R8 is one of the most expensive cars you can buy and also one of the most expensive to insure. The Toyota Sienna the cheapest.

4. U.S. Department of Transportation head Ray LaHood has announced a new set of proposed distracted driving guidelines for automakers that would limit the use of in-car tech solutions that are “not directly relevant to safely operating the vehicle, or cause undue distraction by engaging the driver’s eyes or hands for more than a very limited duration while driving.”

5. The latest J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study shows a 13-percent improvement in new car dependability over the first three years of ownership. Lexus was the highest rated brand followed by Porsche, Cadillac, Toyota and Scion.

6. Tesla and Daimler are planning to build a new electric Mercedes-Benz. Teslay is set to supply a full powertrain for an unnamed electric Mercedes-Benz in the near future. Those components include a motor, transmission, inverter and all of the software necessary to keep the car whirring along.

7. Robb Report Car of the Year named – Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 followed by the Maserati GranTurismo MC, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, Audi A7, Bentley Continental GTC, Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, Aston Martin Virage Volante, Nissan GT-R, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, Jaguar XKR-S, BMW 650i Convertible, Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca, and Chevrolet Volt.

8. The Governors Highway Safety Association reveals that the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths went up 11 percent during the first half of 2011 despite the fact that overall driving deaths are down.

9. Maserati introduced the GranTurismo Sport, replacing the GranTurismo S, slotting in between the base GranTurismo and the GranTurismo MC. The biggest upgrade is found under the engine, where the 4.7-liter V8 has been boosted from 434 horsepower to 460.

10. Polk Research says American drivers kept their new vehicles an average of 71.4 months — up 4.7 months from March. Both the length of ownership and the rate of increase set records.