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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up December 20-25, 2021



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - December 26, 2021; 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: Full versions of today's news nuggets along with thousands of pages of relevant news and opinions, information stored in a million page library published and indexed on The Auto Channel during the past 25 years. Complete information can be found by copying a bold headline and then inserting into any Site Search Box.

Nutson's Automotive News Wrap-up - Week Ending December 25, 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.

CAFE Lives! * Final auto emissions rules detailed by the Environmental Protection Agency are more stringent than those initially proposed and put in place under former President Barack Obama. Environmental and public health groups are putting pressure on President Biden to impose the strongest rule possible, including eliminating additional incentives and credits that make it easier for automakers to meet the standards. Under the final rule, the emissions reduction targets for 2023 to 2026 increase in stringency from 5% to 10% in each model year to reach a fuel-economy fleetwide average of 40 mpg in 2026, compared with 38 mpg under an August proposal. The rules represent the most stringent federal greenhouse gas emissions requirements to date and come after years of lower standards put in place by former President Donald Trump. Those regulations put the fleetwide target at 32 mpg.

* However, note this. There is a glaring loophole on the books that has been among the single greatest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the US over the last 30 years. While the details are a bit technical, the upshot is the Biden administration is presenting yet another policy as a victory in the fight against climate change when it is a marginal improvement at best and fails to correct one of the most glaring policy issues that has made climate change worse. Every new vehicle buyer should read this: HERE

Charger Eiquette* In a recent report Wards Intelligence points out that charge time may be replacing range anxiety as the top concern for BEV purchase intenders, recent consumer surveys indicate. On average, industry insiders believe by 2025, BEVs must recharge to 80% capacity within 10-20 minutes, although here too the views are somewhat divergent across the industry. About one-fifth to one-third of BEVs available in 2025 are expected to have higher-voltage 800-900 volt battery packs that allow for fast charging, say the majority of respondents in a survey by Wards.

* Investment continues in EVs. The US DoE reports in addition to electric vehicle battery plants that are already in operation in the United States, 13 additional plants have been announced and are expected to be operational within the next 5 years. Of the 13 plants that are planned, eight are joint ventures between automakers and battery manufacturers. Many of these new plants will be located in the Southeast or Midwest.

* From the Detroit Free Press we read more than 1,000 customers who thought they'd get a new all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E this year and qualify for the $7,500 tax credit may be in for an unpleasant surprise. Ford Motor Co. alerted its dealers to needed seatbelt repair involving certain 2021-22 model year Mach-Es, triggering a hold on any undelivered new vehicles. Customers can still apply for the federal tax credit, it just may shift to calendar year 2022 for some buyers. The credit is applied to the year a vehicle is delivered, not ordered.

* General Motors reopened the Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky that was closed in the wake of tornado damage. High-speed winds plus a fire on the roof from the twister that roared through the area forced the plant to close for a week. Reports vary on the number of damaged Corvettes, but more than 100 vehicles were damaged beyond repair and will be scrapped.

* Automotive News reports that GM has delayed production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV until February. GM also has suspended sale of the Bolt EV. The automaker in August widened its recall of the Bolt to more than 140,000 vehicles to replace battery modules after a series of fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an ongoing investigation into the battery fires.

* A study says your car’s make and model is an important factor in determining what you pay for auto insurance. The Tesla Model 3 is the most expensive popular car to insure. The Jeep Cherokee and Subaru Forester are the cheapest popular cars to insure. Have look at the details HERE

* Automakers are increasingly turning to lifestyle events to reach new buyers. Earlier in December at 2021 Art Basel Miami, BMW, Lamborghini, Lexus, Lincoln, Lucid and Mercedes-Benz all were present in South Beach with vehicle displays. BMW chose Art Basel rather than an auto show to reveal the Concept XM, the first electrified M model.

* At the upcoming CES 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 5-8, 2022 Stellantis displays will include Citroën Ami urban EV, Citroën future mobility concept, 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe equipped with Uconnect 5 in-car-technology system, DS Automobiles Formula E race car, Fiat New 500 and a Chrysler Airflow concept vehicle.

* Automotive News reports General Motors and Waymo are the latest companies to cancel CES plans over COVID-19-related concerns. GM CEO Mary Barra had been scheduled to give a keynote speech at the annual conference on Jan. 5, during which the company would have shown its electric Silverado pickup for the first time. Barra will still make the speech and presentation over the internet, a spokesman said. Waymo had planned to display its new Class 8 Freightliner Cascadia truck for the first time. Built with redundant autonomous systems in collaboration with Daimler Trucks, the platform is a lynchpin of Waymo's emphasis on self-driving trucking. Twitter, T-Mobile, Amazon and Meta (Facebook) said they would not participate because of health concerns. Technology-focused media outlets such as TechCrunch and The Verge have also withdrawn.

* Dodge announced a new Direct Connection performance parts lineup, parts catalog and technical hotline. Direct Connection is the Dodge brand’s exclusive source of factory-backed performance parts, that will include: New “Tuner” and “Stage” kits that can boost the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and Challenger SRT Hellcat up to 885 horsepower and 750-plus horsepower, respectively; 14 new performance kits for the production Dodge Challenger; 13 new race-ready kits and four graphics packages for the Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak. The new Direct Connection parts catalog, is available for download at

* Tesla is under pressure from U.S. safety regulators because it allows video games to be played on center infotainment screens while vehicles are moving. In response Tesla has agreed to stop allowing the games to be played with its "Passenger Play" feature. A software update sent out over the internet will lockout the feature.

* Ford is recalling almost 185,000 F-150 full-size pickups. The 2021 and 2022 model-year trucks have driveshaft problems that could cause it to fracture. The issue only affects certain F-150 Crew Cab 4×4 pickups.

* Autoweek reports two-time CART champion and former F1 racer Alex Zanardi continues to recover from a near-fatal handbike crash in which he was struck by a vehicle while racing in Italy in June, 2020. His family is happy to report that at least now he has been able to move from a rehabilitation clinic to his home. Wife Daniela gave an update on Zanardi's condition that was published today on a BMW Group website. Zanardi, who was a 15-time winner in Indy cars, is a BMW Group Ambassador.

* Shunji Tanaka, a key designer of the iconic Mazda Miata, has died. He was 75. Tanaka led the exterior and interior design of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a lightweight Japanese roadster inspired by postwar-era British sports cars. The car went on sale in the U.S. in May 1989 with a starting price of $13,800 and a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 116 hp.

Happy Christmas!

Stay safe. Be Well.