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Nutson's Auto News Digest - Week Ending December 26, 2020



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO December 27, 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

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Nutson's Automotive News Wrap-up - Week Ending December 19, 2020; 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.

* We hope that you all had a Merry Christmas and safe travels to see family and friends. This past week is usually a slow news week but there are few stories to mention.

* Cox Automotive says boosted by year-end sales and extra selling days, light vehicle sales in the U.S. for December are expected to finish near 1.54 million, a 1.9% increase over last December. The sales pace is forecast to fall to a 15.5 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), down from last month and down nearly 7% from last December’s 16.8 million pace. Full-year 2020 sales are forecast to end down 15.3% from 2019. After a 34.1% drop in Q2, improvements in Q3 and Q4 salvaged what many in the industry thought would be a far worse year. 2020 will be the first year below 17-million sales since 2014. The 2020 full-year forecast is 14,437,000 light vehicle sales.

* Our friends at The Detroit Bureau published that the average price for a new vehicle in the United States has now surpassed $38,000, both JD Power & Associates and LMC Automotive report. Once the sales data for December is collected, the average transaction price for new vehicles sold in the U.S. is expected reach another all-time high, rising to $38,077, a 9% increase from a year ago, the report said. “This is the first time that average prices have exceeded $38,000 — just one month after prices exceeded $37,000 for the first time in November 2020,” the reported noted.

* Nissan is launching Nissan@Home, a complete online shopping program for customers who, if they choose, will never have to leave the comfort of their home to buy a vehicle from a Nissan dealership. The solution will be available through participating Nissan dealerships throughout the U.S. in the coming months. Nissan@Home provides customers a seamless online experience. A customer will be able to schedule and complete a test drive, manage the purchase process, take delivery, and handle service needs from a computer, tablet or mobile phone. They can transition into a Nissan dealership at any time during the process, or complete the deal from a remote location of their choice – their home, a local coffee shop or anywhere they have online access.

* Volkswagen has warned of production delays at factories in China and other locations after an unexpectedly strong rebound in car sales during the pandemic created a worldwide shortage of semiconductors used in automobile computers. After the pandemic gutted auto sales earlier this year, many semiconductor makers shifted to consumer products, Volkswagen said.

* The Detroit News reports that Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. once again can produce and sell its off-road Roxor vehicle after the Indian manufacturer made adjustments to the design following a federal determination in June that called the Roxor a virtual copy of the Jeep Wrangler. The International Trade Commission modified the cease-and-desist order against Mahindra that a Michigan court in August said barred the company from building the Roxor. The commission determined the post-2020 Roxor "does not infringe the Jeep Trade Dress" with its broader nose and new horizontal two-slat grille that retains the Roxor's retro look.

* The Fiat brand will be down to just one vehicle in the United States after cutting the 500L compact car and 124 Spider roadster from its 2021 lineup. That leaves just the 500X small crossover in the Italian brand's lineup.

* Reuters reports that Apple Inc is moving forward with self-driving car technology and is targeting 2024 to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The Apple EV would be powered by Apple's monocell battery technology, which could yield more capacity in the same space as a traditional battery pack. The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when it first started to design its own vehicle from scratch. At one point, Apple drew back the effort to focus on software and reassessed its goals.

* GM is recalling nearly 840,000 vehicles in the U.S. for suspension problems or because the front seat belts can fail. The seat belt recall covers 624,000 2019 through 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 pickup trucks. Also included are the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and GMC Yukon XL, and the 2020 and 2021 Silverado 2500 and 3500 and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500. All have split bench front seats. Pickups with bucket seats are not affected. The suspension recall covers the 2012 and 2013 Buick Regal, the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, and the 2010 through 2013 Buick Lacrosse midsize cars that were sold or registered in salt-belt states. The rear toe links can rust and fail on 213,000 of the vehicles.

* Ford is recalling 29,344 Ford E-Series vehicles from the 2021 model year with 7.3-liter engines in the U.S. and 2,412 in Canada to fix a mispositioned insulation on the underside of the engine cover. Ford is also recalling 1,405 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators in the U.S., 65 in Canada and two in Mexico. The select Chicago-built vehicles have motor mount fasteners that may become loose. They are from 2020 and 2021 model year.

* The Greenwich Concours d’Elegance can’t catch a break. The 25th annual event, planned for May 2020, was canceled in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now the 2021 concours has been postponed until October. The Greenwich Concours, traditionally held in late May or early June, will now be held October 22–24. That’s the new plan, anyway. Hagerty acquired the Connecticut event last year and is still preparing for its first go-around.

* Long-time Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan is stepping down after 22 seasons at the helm of the ultra-successful Chevrolet GT squad. Fehan has masterminded the General Motors marque's assaults on the Le Mans 24 Hours, the American Le Mans Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a line of Corvette racers since 1999. He oversaw eight class victories in GTS/GT1 and GTE Pro at Le Mans, eight ALMS drivers' titles and four in the IMSA series with Corvette Racing. Chevrolet said that a replacement for Fehan will be announced at a later date.

* NASCAR champ and team owner Tony Stewart went back to school...Frank Hawley's Drag Racing School that is. Stewart received instruction and practiced running the quarter mile in Super Comp and Alcohol dragsters. What's next for Smoke? Will he be behind the wheel of of a top fueler? We'll see.

* We'll see you next in 2021. Happy New Year to all!

Stay safe. Be Well.