Nutson's Weekly Auto News Roundup - Week Ending February 6, 2021
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Nutson's Automotive News Wrap-up - Week Ending February 7, 2021, Below are the past week's important, relevant, semi-secret, or snappy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.
* January U.S. auto sales were confirmed by many automakers, and the Cox Automotive Industry Insights team forecasted healthy numbers. Cox forecasts calls for volume of approximately 1.1 million vehicles, down from a year ago, but moving at a good pace similar to last month. The January seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is expected to be near 16.3 million, a sales pace that places the industry on course for a solid year. Full-year forecast is 15.7 million, up 8% from 2020. Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru, Kia and Mazda saw increased U.S. sales in January due to strong UV sales.
* Kia will sit out the Super Bowl, breaking an 11-year advertising streak. So will Hyundai and Kia. GM, Toyota and Jeep have confirmed spots for the game. And Volvo who has been sponsoring contests for years is doubling down on last year's popular promotion by promising to give away $2million worth of cars if a safety is scored during the season-ending showdown. BTW, a safety has been scored in just nine of the previous 54 Super Bowls. Ford is using a new set of commercials that will debut during the Super Bow to encourage Americans to keep implementing safety measures in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and Subaru joined GM in withdrawing from the Trump administration’s legal bid to end California's ability to set its own emissions and fuel economy rules. GM pulled its support for the suit last November...right after Biden won. Ford, VW, BMW and others always sided with California.
* Reuters reports that U.S. auto industry executives are accelerating their efforts to start bargaining with the Biden administration over a new, new set of standards for vehicle CO2 emissions/Corporate Average Fuel Economy. First GM, and now Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and other automakers have withdrawn support from the former administration's legal effort to bar California from setting its own clean air and electric vehicle standards. Simultaneously, the trade group that represents GM, Toyota and most other major automakers has proposed a deal to split the difference between the 5% annual reduction in CO2 emissions required by Obama administration rules, and the 1.5% improvement adopted by the former administration in 2019.
* The U.S. Justice Department and state of California have ended investigations into Ford Motor Co.’s gas mileage and emissions certification processes. Ford says in its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the DOJ and the California Air Resources Board told the company they don’t intend to take further action. Ford said in a statement that the DOJ and CARB findings are “consistent with the company’s own investigation and conclusion that we appropriately completed our certification processes.” Many auto pundits were critical of automakers doing testing themselves and submitting the data to EPA. In reality, all automakers test to the same regulatory prescribed test procedures and risk legal action if they deviate.
* Home charging is a significant part of the electric vehicle (EV) ownership experience, with 88% of owners who say they charge their vehicle at home “often” or “always.” Overall home charging satisfaction is highest among EV owners who install a Level 2 permanently mounted charging station, with a score of 749 (on a 1,000-point scale), according to the inaugural J.D. Power U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Home Charging Study. The study measures EV owners’ satisfaction within three charging segments: Level 1 portable; Level 2 portable; and Level 2 permanently mounted (permanent) charging stations.
* Automotive News Europe reports organizers of Germany's top auto show, the IAA, plan to stage digital and real world activities as the event continues to struggle to attract foreign automakers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. German automakers Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler will take part in the show, which takes place in Munich from Sept. 7 to Sept. 12. Frankfurt was the IAA's host city for almost 70 years but the VDA has picked Munich for this year's event. So far only a handful of non-German automakers, including Ford, Hyundai and Chinese brands, have said they will be present.
* Daimler AG will break itself up into two companies - one to focus on taking the carbon out of heavy commercial trucks, and the other - likely renamed Mercedes-Benz - to develop electric light vehicles to do battle with Tesla and the EV startup Swarm. Daimler CEO Ola Kaellenius used a conference call to outline other reasons for the move. Commercial trucks appear to be headed for a fuel cell/hydrogen future. Luxury vehicles and light vans are headed for a battery-electric future. There are not many shared parts between hydrogen trucks and BEV premium cars, so little to gain from economies of scale.
* Rivian, the fledgling but well-financed electric truck maker, is opening one of its first retail locations in the country in Chicago's trendy Fulton Market neighborhood. Rivian has picked an up-and-coming neighborhood to build its brand in Chicago, a trendy area that fits with the company’s cutting-edge image. Rivian has also gone public with plans for one retail location in a former movie theater in Laguna Beach, Calif. The automaker plans to keep the theater but shrink it, and showcase its vehicles in the building’s lobby, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rivian expects to deliver the first of its trucks and sport-utility vehicles this year. Reports are a total of 10 retail locations are planned.
* Ford will team up with Google to apply Google's infotainment products, cloud computing power and AI and machine learning capability to a wide array of Ford operations and vehicles. The consumer facing side of the deal will kick off in 2023 when Ford plans to make Google's Android operating system and various Google products such as Google Maps and Google Assistant standard in Ford and Lincoln dashboards.
* The track-capable 2022 Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing and CT4-V Blackwing made their full debut this week. The CT5-V Blackwing uses an upgraded 6.2L supercharged V8 that is rated at 668 horsepower. The CT4-V Blackwing sports an evolution of the Cadillac 3.6L Twin-Turbo V6 rated at 472 horsepower. Both models come with a Tremec 6-speed manual and a 10-speed automatic is optional. Reservations for both vehicles opened on Feb. 1, 2021 on Cadillac.com, with deliveries later this summer.
* Ford unleashed its most off-road capable and connected F-150 Raptor ever. The fully redesigned F-150 Raptor boosts its off-road capability with all-new five-link rear suspension featuring improved wheel travel, electronically controlled next-generation FOX shocks with Live Valve technology, plus first-in-class available 37-inch tires to tackle tougher terrain on high-speed desert runs. The New Raptor has V6 twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost power. A V8 Raptor R is coming next year.
* We saw the global debut of two of Nissan's most iconic models in the U.S. – the all-new 2022 Frontier mid-size pickup and all-new 2022 Pathfinder SUV. These new entries in two growing vehicle segments are an important next step in Nissan NEXT, the company's global plan to transform its product lineup as well as its business and company culture. Both vehicles will go on sale this summer.
* Tesla has agreed, under pressure from NHTSA, to recall more than 134,000 vehicles to fix potentially defective touchscreens. Model S sedans and Model X UVs are affected. The touchscreen problem has been an issue reported by owners and Tesla has been making free repairs as needed. The Feds wanted a recall due to the crash risk.
* Jeep is recalling 46,500 Gladiator pickups and Wrangler UVs with manual transmissions because of the potential for the clutch assembly to overheat, creating a fire risk. The recall affects 42,193 manual 2018-2021 Wranglers and 2020-2021 Gladiators only with a V-6 engine in the United States.
* The DPi class Acura ARX-05 of Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Alexander Rossi and Helio Castroneves delivered Wayne Taylor Racing its fourth win in five years at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In LMP2, Era Motorsport beat Tower Motorsport by Starworks, Corvette Racing scored a 1-2 in GT Le Mans – its first Rolex 24 win since 2016 – while Riley Motorsports took LMP3 honors by three laps, and Winward Racing and Sun Energy 1 scored a 1-2 for the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3.
Stay safe. Be Well.