Ten Tiny Bits of Automotive News – April 3, 2012

1. The NHTSA wants to issue larger fines for safety and recall infractions.
Currently the maximum fine the NHTSA can levy per infraction is $17 million.

2. Ford announced it is opening a new research lab in Palo Alto, CA. The focus of the new lab will be on independent technology projects.

3. GM is trying to recruit new talent but is having trouble finding people who want to live in Detroit. Duh.

4. Chinese bus companies tell drivers not to hit supercars. As if there needed to be a rule about hitting ANY car???

5. 2013 Camaro 1LE: 426-hp, 1g cornering, under $40,000

The road-racing inspired Camaro 1LE performance package returns for 2013 with unique gearing, suspension tuning, and tires that makes the model capable of more than 1 g of lateral acceleration and a sub-three minute lap time at Virginia International Raceway’s Grand Course.

6. California Assemblyman Mike Gatto has introduced Bill 1658, which could eventually return three kinds of vintage license plates to California roads: yellow and black plates from the mid 1950s, black and yellow plates from the 1960s – such as the sample 1963 plate pictured – and blue and yellow plates from the ’70s.

7. IndyCar returns to Houston. The Grand Prix of Houston is scheduled for the first week of October, 2013. It will be held on the concrete parking lots of Houston’s Reliant Park adjacent to the Astrodome (where the Astros played baseball and the Oilers played football) and Reliant Stadium (where the Houston Texans football team currently plays) – the same location where Champ Car raced in 2006 and 2007.

8. Chrysler closed 789 dealerships in 2009. Many have sued to get the right to sell Chrysler again. Some have settled those suits. Some have progressed via arbitration but at least eight dealers have been rebuffed by a federal judge. Given the fact that Chrysler is making some really fine autos and in my opinion has the worst dealer network in the world, I can’t imagine what these 789 that DIDN’T make the cut must have been like.

9. Every new Buick model is on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’a Top Safety Pick list. Congratulations are in order for Buick after its new Verano earned top scores in the crash tests.

10. In a move that will drive the tea party activists crazy, George H. W. Bush purchased a Chevy Volt for his son Neil as a birthday gift.