Nutson's Weekly Auto News Digest June 22-27, 2020
Last Week's Auto News:"Honda Quits Ads on Facebook and Instagram; Wuhan Virus Continues to negatively impact the auto industry; Auto Sales Forecast 12.2 million Units; Lordstown Unveils Planned E-Pickup; Ford Splashily Revealed 2021 F-150; Indian Keeps Your Butt Comfortable; Ford Ranger Most American Vehicle; EV Sales In China Tepid; CAFE Signees; California Still EV Dream'n; NACTOY Announces; Alfa Romeo turned 110 years old; Dodge Building Good Vehicles; Topless Enjoyment; 2700 Mile Extension Cord; Waymo Dances With New Partner; Toyota Prius Recall; Pontiac MI Auto Events; Jessi Combs (39) Dies In Speed Test ; 104th Indy 500 With Fans; NASCAR Racing; Garage Pull Rope Causes Racial Incident” />
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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending June 27, 2020; Important or pithy automotive news, Opinion and back stories in expert-created easy to digest news nuggets.
* Honda is the first automaker to halt ad spending on Facebook and Instagram in response to pleas from civil rights groups, while calling out the social media giants for failing to prevent the spread of disinformation and hate speech.
* The COVID virus and the resulting economic recession continue to negatively impact the auto industry, but June is expected to be another small step “back to normal.” According to a forecast released by Cox Automotive, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of auto sales in June will finish at 12.6 million, down significantly from last year’s 17.2 million pace, but up from May’s 12.2 million level. Sales volume in June is expected to be down by 30% compared to last year. While sales volume in the first half of 2020 is forecast to drop 24.2% compared to the same period in 2019, there are signs that auto sales continue to track in a positive direction, although the pace of recovery is expected to slow in June and the weeks ahead as a number of factors may keep buyers away.
* Covid continues to talke its toll. Tesla registrations in California fell 37% in the last two months. Overall, registrations feel 52% in the state. In Europe, car sales fell 57% in May. Production is low in Europe and an oversupply is causing concerns. In the U.S., debt is the big issue with automakers and suppliers raising $21.7 billion in extra long-term debt. Total debt load is $1.1 trillion, or 3.4 times EBITA.
* Lordstown Motors, the electric truck startup that took over General Motors' shuttered Lordstown car plant, revealed its design for an electric pickup truck, named "Endurance" at an event that drew Vice President Mike Pence, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Ohio's Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. GM's decision to shut down the Lordstown factory drew the wrath of President Donald Trump, who is counting on winning in Ohio in November. Lordstown's electric pickup will have plenty of competition - including from rival startup Rivian, Ford and GM.
* Meanwhile, Ford took the wraps off the redesigned 2021 F-150 in an online video, public reveal that allowed anyone to watch on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. The F-150 will get a high-powered Hybrid, have hands free steering assist, and be able to get over-the-air software updates. Plus, you can get an on-board generator to power your work tools.
* America loves its trucks. Ford took a deeper look at this unique cultural obsession. Owners were asked what activities they would give up for a whole year before giving up the keys to their truck. 82% would give up streaming service, 79% would give up drinking alcohol, 71% would give up drinking coffee, 47% give up using a phone, 44% give up eating meat and 38% give up having sex.
* Indian Motorcycle, America’s First Motorcycle Company, announced a revolutionary new technology geared to improved rider comfort through a patent-pending system that delivers superior cooling for a more pleasant riding experience in warm weather. The all-new ClimaCommand Classic Seat delivers both heating and cooling to riders and passengers. I guess that's superior for your posterior.
* The Ford Ranger knocked the Jeep Cherokee out of the top spot, and Tesla made its debut in Cars.com's 2020 American-Made Index. The annual survey results rank new vehicles that "contribute most to the U.S. economy" through U.S. factory jobs, manufacturing plants and parts sourcing, according to a Cars.com news release. The Top 10 are: Ford Ranger (Wayne, Michigan), Jeep Cherokee (Belvidere, Illinois), Tesla Model S (Fremont, California), Tesla Model 3 (Fremont, California), Honda Odyssey (Lincoln, Alabama), Honda Ridgeline (Lincoln, Alabama), Honda Passport (Lincoln, Alabama), Chevrolet Corvette (Bowling Green, Kentucky), Tesla Model X (Fremont, California), and Chevrolet Colorado (Wentzville, Missouri). The 2020 index ranks 91 vehicles, counting hybrid and plug-in variants as separate models — more than six times the number ranked in any prior index.
* Joe White for Reuters reports China's government is giving some pandemic relief to automakers, easing the potential penalties for failing to meet electric vehicle sales quotas this year and reclassifying gasoline-electric hybrid models to make it easier for automakers to hit CO2 targets. The moves appear to offer a temporary respite, not a permanent shift away from China's long-term policy to electrify transportation. Don't expect automakers dependent on China to alter their EV rollout plans as a result.
* Nevada became the latest state to sign up to California's vehicle emissions standards, rejecting the Trump administration's plan to roll back vehicle CO2 targets. The states of Washington, New Mexico and Minnesota have also joined California's side since March.
* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau got the full story and report California regulators will require a major shift from gas and diesel to zero-emissions battery and hydrogen technology for new vans and trucks sold in the state, starting in 2024. The new guidelines will mean that at least 40% of the tractor trailers sold in California would have to be powered by some form of zero-emissions technology by 2024. Medium-duty trucks, such as the Ford F-250 or Chevrolet Silverado HD, would be required to switch over 55% of their sales by 2035. And 75% of delivery trucks and vans would have to use zero-emissions powertrain technology by 2035, a point by which fully 100% of government fleets and last-mile delivery trucks would have to meet the target.
* The North American Car and Truck of the Year, or NACTOY, announced a total of 36 new products on the list of eligible models for the 2021 awards. A broad mix of American, Asian and European cars, trucks and utility vehicles will be evaluated and culled leading to the three winners being announced next January. Currently, 10 passenger vehicles are competing in the “Car” category. Another 23 models fall into the “Utility” category, and just three new pickups will compete in the “Truck” category.
* Alfa Romeo turned 110 years old this week on June 24. To celebrate, the company is reopening its museum in Arese, Italy, just outside of Milan. As part of the reopening, visitors now have access to areas that were previously closed to the public like the storage collection, an extra 150 vehicles to see. Can't make it to Milan any time soon? Neither can we. The good news is that Alfa Romeo has a six-part video tour of the museum for us to experience at home.
* Dodge has made history with its performance in the 2020 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS). Dodge tied with Kia for the top spot among 31 competitors, becoming the first domestic brand ever to achieve a No. 1 ranking in the prestigious study’s 34-year run. FCA's performance brand leaped seven places from last year’s IQS results. The worst ranked brand is Tesla.
* The IIHS reported that convertibles may not look as safe as other vehicles when they’re cruising down the highway with the top down, but crash statistics tell a different story, a new IIHS study shows. Despite the relatively flimsy appearance of their roof structures, late-model convertibles are no riskier than non-convertibles, according to the analysis of crash and fatality rates. In fact, both crash rates and driver death rates were lower for convertibles than for nonconvertible versions of the same cars. However, the differences in driver death rates weren’t statistically significant.
* The Trump administration has opened an investigation into whether tire makers in South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam are violating trade rules by dumping tires in the U.S. market below cost, or with the improper aid of government subsidies.The election year investigation responds to a petition by the United Steelworkers, which represents American tire manufacturing workers, many of whom live in swing states. The union won a similar case against Chinese manufacturers in 2015, resulting in a sharp drop in sales of Chinese tires.
* Electrify America today announced the completion of its first cross-country route, which allows electric vehicle (EV) drivers to travel from coast to coast using the largest open DC fast-charging network in the United States. It is the first of two cross-country routes the network will complete this year, and spans 11 states and over 2,700 miles to take drivers from Los Angeles to the nation’s capital Washington D.C. The first cross-country route travels along Interstates 15 and 70, providing high-powered chargers with speeds up to 350kW to get EV drivers fueled up and back on their way quicker than ever.
* Waymo gathered in another automaker partner that has decided not to develop its own robot driver - Volvo Cars. Waymo and Volvo, owned by China's Geely group, said their partnership will include development of an electric, autonomous vehicle architecture specifically designed for ride hailing service.
* Toyota is recalling about 752,000 Prius models around the world due to a possible loss in engine power. The 2013 to 2015 Prius and 2014 to 2017 Prius v hybrids are affected. The recall covers 267,000 vehicles in the U.S.
* Henry Payne writing for The Detroit News reports the American Festival of Speed is coming in fall 2021 as the Pontiac, Michigan M1 Concourse aims to become the site of one of the premier automotive events in the U.S. Paired with another new event called the Woodward Dream Show — which debuts this August during what is supposed to be Woodward Dream Cruise week — the events will be coordinated under the umbrella of the Pontiac Motorsports Exposition. They will be explicitly modeled after the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival, England's world-renowned motoring exhibitions.
* Jessi Combs will always be remembered for her grit and ambition. Her dream was to be “The World’s Fastest Woman.” According to Guinness World Records, she now holds that title just over 10 months after her death in the rocket car that propelled her to that record on August 27, 2019. Combs, 39, was killed in the dry lake bed of the Alvord Desert when her jet car, the North American Eagle – essentially a 1957 Lockheed F-104A-10 Starfighter military fighter jet on wheels – had a mechanical failure during the return pass of the record attempt. Prior to the crash, she achieved a combined speed of 522.783 miles per hour, enough to surpass the record of 512.710 mph set by deaf stuntwoman Kitty O’Neil at the same Southeastern Oregon dry lake bed in the jet-powered, three-wheeled SMI Motivator in 1976.
* Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials confirmed their commitment to welcoming spectators to the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, Aug. 23, but with the venue capacity limited to 50 percent attendance. “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” was postponed from its original date of Sunday, May 24 due to the COVID-19 health crisis. “We’re committed to running the Indy 500 on Sunday, Aug. 23 and will welcome fans to the world’s greatest racing venue,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We will be limiting attendance to approximately 50 percent of venue capacity, and we are also finalizing a number of additional carefully considered health and safety measures. We’ll unveil the specific details of our comprehensive plan in the coming weeks.”
* NASCAR held its first race with fans since Covid-19 took hold at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. NASCAR opened the gates and limited attendance to 5,000 fans. Thunderstorms forced a postponement by a day.
* A noose was found over the weekend in the garage stall of NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. The apparent racist act came less than two weeks after NASCAR banned the Confederate flag on its properties at Wallace's urging. Before the start of the Talladega race all 39 other drivers showed support for Wallace by pushing his No. 43 Petty Racing car to the front of the field. The FBI investigated and subsequently found that Wallce was not targeted. The noose-shaped rope was the pull-cord for the garage door and had been there since last October. NASCAR is still looking into the matter.
Stay safe. Be Well.