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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up July 26 - August 1, 2020


This Happened Last Week: 12 Years Is Now Average Age Of Cars On U.S. Roads; Wuhan Virus Caused Big Changes In How We Buy Vehicles; Gasoline Demand A Worry To Oil Companies; Mercedes Evaluates Model Offerings; Ford Dogbot Vidographer; RV Sales Yup; EPA Evaluating Trump Emission Changes; 1000 Horsepower eHummer and Line Coming In September; GM and South Korean Company To Add 2700 Public Chargers Over Next 5 Years; Automotive Heritage Journalism Awards Presented; 2021 CES Virtual; NHRA Fixture Force Team Parked; Ford’s 1400 Horse Power EV Cobra Jet Coming Out


AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO August 2, 2020; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Executive Producer, with able assistance from senior editor Thom Cannell from The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, compile The Auto Channel's "take" on this past week's automotive news, condensed into easy to digest news Nuggets.

LEARN MORE: Links to full versions of today's news nuggets along with a million pages of the past 25 year's automotive news, articles, reviews and archived stories residing in The Auto Channel Automotive News Library can be found by just copying and then inserting the main headline into the News Library Search Box.

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Nutson's Automotive News Review - Week Ending August 1, 2020; Last week's important, concise or pithy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.

* On average, 25% of the cars and trucks on U.S. roads are at least 16 years old, according to new analysis of what Americans are driving. IHS Markit, which tracks vehicle registrations in every state, said the large number pre-2005 cars and trucks on the road is one reason the average age of vehicles in the U.S. has climbed to an all-time high of 11.9 years. “In the mid-’90s, 100,000 miles was about all you would get out of a vehicle. Now, at a 100,000 miles a vehicle is just getting broken in,” said IHS Markit’s Todd Campau.  A decade ago, the average age of a vehicle in the U.S. was 10.6 years according to IHS Markit. In 2002, the average age was 9.6 years. IHS Markit said the number of light vehicles in operation in the U.S. exceeded 280 million this year. That's an increase of 2 million, or roughly 1 percent, from last year.

* sees a bunch of change coming in the auto industry in the second half of 2020, and maybe longer. Prior to the pandemic 54% of dealers offered digital resources for shoppers. Since they were forced to close their doors due to Covid,’s Dealer Inspire saw a 250% increase in dealer inquiries for its Online Shoppers.  Online Shopper car sales were up 63% compared to before the pandemic. They say that 30% of American car shoppers want their local dealerships to offer at-home test-driving, while 31% want dealers to deliver their car at home after the purchase.

* As COVID-19 continues to threaten jobs and livelihood across the country, several big decisions like car and house purchases are taking a hit. What can the automobile industry expect in the coming months? Here are the quick insights from Piplsay’s poll of 30,422 Americans. Only 20% of Americans will go ahead with their preferred car purchase this year; 12% have canceled their car plans altogether. SUVs and Sedans continue to remain the top favorite with almost half (47%) of potential car buyers. 61% of Americans would be keen to purchase cars that come with health and wellness features like germ filters, air purifiers, biosensors, etc.

* A sharp rebound in gasoline consumption that helped to drive oil prices higher appears to be running out of steam, a development that should be a cause for concern across the petroleum industry. In the U.S., by far the world’s biggest gasoline market, the nation’s best measure of demand has flattened out during what’s meant to be peak driving season when millions of Americans normally take to the roads for their summer vacations. Gasoline is important because it normally accounts for almost a third of what the world’s oil refineries churn out, meaning that if demand falters, then the plants’ own need to procure crude will ultimately slow as well. Critically for them, another mainstay of consumption – jet fuel – still remains well below peak levels because the coronavirus has had such a big effect on international travel.

* Mercedes-Benz is looking to save some cash by axing approximately seven versions of its low-roof vehicles, according to Automotive News. This came from a dealer meeting with USA CEO Nicholas Sparks in late June. He didn’t say what vehicles would be cut, but the S-, C- and E-Class coupes and convertibles could be the first to go. Luxury car sales declined 37 percent in the past five years while luxury crossovers went up 73 percent. If you want a Mercedes-Benz with two doors, you better get yourself to a dealership soon.

* Ford is testing a dog-like robot named "Fluffy" that has five camera eyes and can take pictures and videos within a factory for Ford engineers to analyze as they redesign workspaces. "Fluffy" is not furry - it has a smooth, yellow skin. It can walk at about 3 miles per hour, or ride on another robot called Scouter. Auto factories are huge and it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to have human engineers walk the floors recording images.

* Americans wary of flying and sick of staying at home are storming RV dealerships. Wholesale shipments of RVs in June hit the highest levels since October 2018, rebounding from an earlier slump. Shares in RV makers such as Winnebago are up. 

* The EPA's inspector general, prodded by Democratic Sen. Tom Carper, agreed to take a look at whether the Trump Administration's decision to roll back vehicle CO2 emissions standards set by the Obama administration was done properly. A finding that the Trump EPA and DOT circumvented proper procedures could make it easier for a Biden administration to reinstate the tougher, prior CO2 and electric vehicle rules

* General Motors will officially unveil the new, all-electric GMC Hummer “later this fall,” the automaker announced. Plans are for both a pickup and an SUV. The two Hummer models are part of what GM officials have said will be “more than 20” all-electric vehicles they plan to put into production by 2023. GM postponed the original May debut of the 1,000 HP four-door pickup because of the coronavirus pandemic. Production begins in fall 2021. 

* A big hurdle to EV adoption is charging for those who live in high-rise buildings or park on the street in large cities. General Motors and EVgo plan to triple the size of the nation’s largest public fast charging network by adding more than 2,700 new fast chargers over the next five years, a move set to help accelerate widespread electric vehicle adoption. The two companies will add fast charging stations to cities and suburbs, unlocking new EV customer segments and providing increased charging access to drivers who live in multi-unit homes, rent their homes and can’t install chargers, or might not have access to workplace charging.

* The 2020 Automotive Heritage Journalism Awards were presented in a virtual program.The awards are usually presented at the Concours d'Elegance of America held at the Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth, Michigan. However Covid-19 forced the cancellation that event. But you can watch the complete AHF award presentation (Video) and find a list of all winners HERE

* CES, the biggest tech show of the year, will be canceled in 2021 and held digitally. The physical version of CES, the annual major tech conference that takes place in Las Vegas in early January, will be canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More than 171,000 people attended CES in 2020. The show will return to Las Vegas in 2022.

* Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force has announced that his John Force Racing team will remain parked for the 2020 season in order to come back at championship caliber in 2021. In their contracts with sponsors they have guarantees. They get social media, certain number of races, certain number of race days, activation at races and other commitments. No matter how Force looked at it they couldn’t deliver on those commitments.  

* Autoweek reports: Ford’s electric Cobra Jet 1400 has been on my mind ever since the company showed it a couple months ago. Fourteen hundred horsepower and 1,100 lb-ft will do that. Ford sources told Autoweek the company intends to hold the car’s first public exhibition runs at the NHRA’s U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend in Indianapolis. Ford sources (told Autoweek) in private testing the beast has made quarter-mile runs in the “low-eight-second range. Perhaps we'll see an NHRA class for high performance EVs.