Nutson's Auto News Digest - Top Auto News October 4-10, 2020
Last Week's Auto Headlines: EV's Cheaper To Own After 200,000 miles, New Hummer At WS; Killer Takata (Still); Ex Car Execs Joining EV Start-up; Waymo Rolling; Toyota and Hyundai H Trucks; Norwegians LOVE EV's; ADAS Everywhere; Distaff Racing; RIP Driver Laura Salvo (21), Journalist and Photog John Lamm (76)
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Nutson's Automotive News Wrap-up - Week Ending October 10, 2020; 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.
* Consumer Reports is out with a detailed analysis that concludes electric vehicles are now cheaper to own over a 200,000 mile lifetime than comparable internal combustion vehicles. The Tesla Model 3 costs $15,000 less to operate than a BMW 330i or an Audi A4 - the best selling and Consumer Reports top-rated luxury sedans, respectively, the study concluded. Consumer Reports compared refueling/recharging costs, repair costs and lease depreciation costs, among other factors.
* Baseball fans will get a chance to see the GMC Hummer EV for the first time during the first game of the World Series Oct. 20. GM has purchased commercial airtime to show its new electric truck virtually on a variety of platforms including the World Series on Fox and on NBC’s The Voice. The unveiling will also be live at youtube.com/gmc.
* A 17th person has died in the United States because of an exploding Takata airbag. Honda confirmed a faulty Takata airbag inflator was responsible for the death of a driver killed in August in a crash in Mesa, Arizona. The car was a 2002 Honda Civic that was first recalled in December 2011, and Honda said it had sent 15 recall notices to registered owners of the vehicle. The victim was not one of those registered owners. The latest tragedy underscores the challenge the Takata case poses to automakers and regulators. Standard procedures for notifying owners of safety defects aren't working with a population of vehicles that is well over a decade old, and far past its original owners of record.
* Ex-VW CEO Matthias Mueller, who was ousted in 2018, has joined Piëch Automotive EV startup as chairman. Mueller joins tech investor Peter Thiel as prominent figures associate with Piëch Automotive, founded by the son of former VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch. Toni Piëch founded Piëch Automotive in 2017 with Rea Stark and they showed their Mark Zero (Mk0) EV concept at last year’s Geneva auto show.
* Hyundai Motor Co., which is currently testing heavy-duty fuel cell electric trucks (FCETs) in Switzerland, plans on commercializing the hydrogen-powered vehicles in the U.S. starting in 2022. A pilot program could begin in 2021 in California. The first fleet customers are expected to have 3,000 to 5,000 trucks. That allows Hyundai to gradually build out the much-needed and virtually non-existent infrastructure. As of Sept. 1, 2020, there were 42 hydrogen stations open in California for light-duty FCEVs, according to the California Fuel Cell Partnership.
* Also, per Reuters, Toyota fired two salvos in the EV/hydrogen vehicle wars. The company said it plans to develop a fuel cell truck for North America with its Hino truck subsidiary, expanding on a Class 8 fuel cell truck project previously launched for Japan.
* A new owner of a Tesla Model Y, barely hours old, had instant open-air driving when the entire roof glass center section blew out. The car was returned to the dealer with an offer to make a repair and provide a loaner in the interim. Reports are the buyer was going to switch another brand.
* In other Tesla news, the company has decided to discontinue having a media relations team. We're not sure what that means or the effect it wil have on anything.
* Joe White reporting for Reuters writes Volkswagen said it expects 90% of the vehicles it sells in Norway next year will be battery electric models, and Volkswagen could be an all-electric brand in the country by 2023. That's 12 years sooner than California's target for going all-electric. Norway, a nation enriched by oil production, is the auto industry's Electric Vehicle Tomorrowland. More than 60% of vehicles sold in Norway last month were electric. The government extended a policy of charging no tax on EV purchases.
* Subaru of America, Inc. announced it has broken the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the largest parade of Subaru cars with 1,751 Subaru vehicles, three times as many vehicles as the previous record. The parade, organized by the 2020 Subaru Tecnica International Subiefest, took place at the OC Fair & Expo Center in Costa Mesa, CA on Sunday, October 4. The parade spanned two miles and included 1,751 Subaru vehicles driven by Subaru owners.
* From the NY Times, Automakers are bundling electronic safety features and making them standard on even affordable cars, trucks and crossovers. But they all have different names. James McQueen at Consumer Reports points out that the organization teamed up with AAA, J.D. Power and the National Safety Council to create standardized names to give shoppers some clarity. “The Department of Transportation has endorsed the standardized names, but automakers don’t have to use them,” he said.
* Waymo is launching fully driverless vehicles to the public, a milestone achievement for Silicon Valley’s self-driving car industry that comes during a global pandemic in which efforts to limit person-to-person contact have found a welcoming audience. The company, a part of Google parent Alphabet, said it is opening up its driverless ride-hailing service to riders in the Phoenix metro area, enabling anyone in the region to download its app and hail a ride without a driver in the front seat.
* The 2020 Rebelle Rally got underway this week. The all-women, 11-day, 1,200 mile event kicked off near Lake Tahoe. The thirty-six teams include a Lexus QX80, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Rivian R1T electric pickup, and three different Ford Bronco Sport SUVs.
* From Autoweek we read Hailie Deegan is making her NASCAR national series debut on Oct. 17 at Kansas Speedway when the 19-year-old Ford Performance prospect drives the No. 17 for DGR-Crosley in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Deegan races full time in the ARCA Menards Series and is third in points, also driving for DGR-Crosley.
* Legendary automotive photojournalist John Lamm passed away this week due to complications from lymphoma. John was well know in the automotive world around the globe with his works having been published by many automotive outlets, most notably in Road & Track. John won the Ken Purdy and the Dean Bachelor motor press awards for his writing, and he was the consummate pro as a photographer. John was 76.
* Racer Magazine reports that Laura Salvo, a 21-year-old Spaniard, died Saturday following a crash at Rally Vidreiro Centro, a round of the Portuguese Rally Championship. Salvo was co-driving with Miguel Socias, when their Peugeot struck a tree during the event.
Stay safe. Be Well.