Maine gas prices drop a cent, depressing average to $3.46

The average price of gasoline has fallen a penny in Maine in the past week, to $3.46 a gallon.

The gasoline pricing website GasBuddy.com surveys more than 1,200 Maine gasoline outlets.

The average price of gas nationally has fallen slightly in the past week, to $3.26 a gallon.

Prices in Maine are 23.5 cents per gallon lower than a year ago, and 7 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.

The national average has decreased 4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 21.4 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

Automakers’ 2013 recalls most extensive since 2005

Automakers recalled 21.9 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, a nine-year high.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says automakers initiated 632 separate vehicle recalls in 2013, up 9 percent from the prior year.

Companies are saving money by using more common parts. But that can force them to recall many more vehicles when something goes wrong.

Chrysler Group initiated the most recalls, with 36. Among those was a recall of 282,000 minivans whose air bags could deploy on the wrong side. In all, Chrysler recalled 4.7 million vehicles last year.

After Chrysler, General Motors had the most recalls, with 23. Mazda had the fewest, with two. Toyota recalled the most vehicles, with 5.3 million in 15 separate recalls. Mercedes-Benz recalled the fewest vehicles – 747.

California loses nearly a quarter of citrus crop in 7-night freeze

A week of freezing temperatures in early December wiped out nearly a quarter of California’s $2 billion citrus industry, an industry group estimated on Monday.

The group, California Citrus Mutual, said the damage was confined to the state’s Central Valley, where about $441 million in mandarin and navel oranges and lemons were lost during seven consecutive nights of freezing temperatures in early December.

Consumers are likely to see at least a slight increase in the price of oranges at the grocery store and can expect a shorter season for California citrus, the group said.