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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up March 20-26, 2022



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - March 27, 2022; 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 March 26, 2022 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-understand automotive universe news nuggets.

* Automotive consulting firm AutoPacific’s latest round of Fuel Price Impact Survey (FPIS) data comes amid alarmingly high fuel prices and continued conflict in Ukraine. The survey, issued bi-monthly to AutoPacific’s proprietary panel of respondents, received responses from over 650 vehicle owners in the United States. The data reveal that over half of consumers (52%) remain unwilling to change the type of vehicle they drive even with higher fuel prices. The 25% who say higher fuel prices would cause them to change the type of vehicle they drive say the price of fuel must be about $1.00 per gallon more than what they’re paying now, or a median price of $5.32 per gallon compared to the current median of $4.23 per gallon. For those who currently own an SUV or crossover, nearly half (47%) say they would consider a hybrid or plug-in hybrid SUV while 30% would consider an all-electric SUV if fuel prices are as high or higher than now when they’re shopping for their next vehicle. Under those circumstances, only 18% of SUV or crossover owners would consider downsizing to a smaller SUV or crossover, while a scant 7% would consider getting out of their SUV or crossover and into a sedan or other type of passenger car.

* DoE factoid of the week: A research study for the Bureau of Transportation Statistics focused on the number of daily trips taken in the United States. In 2021, 52% of all trips, including all modes of transportation, were less than three miles, with 28% of trips less than one mile. Just 2% of all trips were greater than 50 miles. A trip was defined as a movement that includes a stay of longer than 10 minutes at a location away from home. Multiple stays of longer than 10 minutes before returning home were counted as multiple trips. The trips included driving, rail, transit, and air.

* A U.S. Bureau of the Census American Housing Survey says 63% of all occupied housing units have a garage or carport. Garages and carports often have access to electricity for parked vehicles, so these data are important for electric vehicle market analysis. Seventy-percent of new construction units (five years old or less) have a garage or carport. The West and Midwest regions of the country have a greater percentage of housing with garages or carports, each with over 70%. For rental housing units, only 37% have a garage/carport, as compared to 78% for those owning housing units. The West is highest at 76% and the Northeast the lowest at 49% as to garage or carport access. In 2021, there were 129.93 million households in the United States.

* The Detroit Bureau reports sales of new vehicles are expected to decline again in March and are down by double digits through the first three months of 2022, according to new estimates by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, while estimates of the seasonally adjusted annual rate or SAAR has fallen to near recession levels. New vehicle sales are expected to fall 27.8% as inventory levels remain at record lows. J.D. Power and LMC Automotive predicted sales of new vehicles this month will decline 27.8% compared with March 2021 when adjusted for selling days. Comparing the same sales volume without adjusting for the number of selling days translates to a decrease of 25% from 2021.

* Reuters says Uber has agreed to put NYC's yellow taxis on its ride hailing app. Two existing NYC taxi hailing apps will now integrate their software with Uber to give customers access to Uber and yellow cabs in one glance. Investors liked this - Uber shares were up 5% pre-market. It was pointed out: Uber has pivoted from promising to "disrupt" the traditional cab industry, to collaborating with legacy cab operators to expand its driver pool.

* The U.S. Postal Service announced it ordered more than 10,000 new electric delivery trucks, up from the 5,000 the agency had initially planned to purchase. It's part of the service's initial $2.98 billion order of 50,000 new delivery vehicles from Oshkosh Corp. as part of a contract to replace its 30-year-old fleet. The change comes after the Biden administration criticized the Postal Service's technical analysis of emissions impacts and argued it overestimated the long-term cost of EVs.

* Drive a fully electric, luxury vehicle up to the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown and simply let the vehicle park itself. This scenario became a reality in a demonstration of automated valet parking at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown featuring the EQS sedan from Mercedes-EQ. Automated valet parking technology from Bosch and Mercedes-Benz is at the core of the demonstration in Los Angeles. It features INTELLIGENT PARK PILOT in the EQS from Mercedes-EQ and integration with the smartphone app as part of a holistic demonstration of the future vehicle experience for consumers. The demonstration is operated in conjunction with the InterContinental Downtown Los Angeles Hotel, an 889-room property located in the tallest building west of Chicago. Apologies for the sarcasm, but yeah, another job lost to technology.

* Meanwhile, the news is not all about electric vehicles and their batteries. Stellantis revealed its new, 3.0-liter, twin-turbo, inline, six-cylinder engine, named Hurricane, that delivers better fuel economy and fewer emissions than larger engines while at the same time generates more horsepower and torque than many competitors’ naturally aspirated V-8 and boosted six-cylinder power plants. Designed with an inherently smooth-running I-6 configuration and state-of-the-art technology, the Hurricane twin-turbo’s robust base architecture enables Stellantis propulsion systems engineers to create two distinct variants: Standard Output (SO) that is optimized for fuel economy, including the use of cooled exhaust gas circulation (EGR), while delivering enhanced power and torque (more than 400 hp/450 lb.-ft. of torque). High Output (HO) that is optimized for great performance (more than 500 hp/475 lb.-ft.) while maintaining significant fuel economy during heavy use, such as towing. The Hurricane twin-turbo achieves this V-8-rivaling performance while being up to 15% more efficient than larger engines. The Hurricane twin-turbo I-6 is the primary internal combustion power plant of the future in North America for vehicles using the STLA Large and STLA Frame platforms. We expect the new Hurricane engine to eventually appear in use in a hybrid setup.

* We traveled to California's Central Coast this past week to drive the all-new 2023 Mazda CX-50. The CX-50 is an addition to the Mazda lineup and does not replace any other model. That is, the CX-5 will continue. It's built in Alabama at the joint-venture plant with Toyota. Two engines will be offered. It can tow up to 3,500 lbs. and has an off-road mode. Check back this week for a full story.

* Ford is recalling nearly 215,000 pickup trucks and large SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because brake fluid can leak, causing longer stopping distances. The recall covers the F-150 pickup from 2016 through 2018, as well as Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from 2016 and 2017. All have 3.5-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engines.

* In the Bahrain Grand Prix the first Formula 1 race of the new 2022 season Charles LeClerc delivered Ferrari its first race win since 2019 ahead of teammate Carlos Sainz. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton grabbed third place over the final few laps of the Bahrain Grand Prix. This winter, Formula 1 introduced a new set of aerodynamic regulations aimed at making the cars easier to race. Those, along with the existing cost cap (designed to close the gap between rich and poor teams) and new leadership in the race director’s office, were a collective attempt to knock out many of the competitive issues that have dogged the sport for a decade or more.

* We are all saddened to report the unexpected passing of auto industry friend and colleague Pat Goss, who appeared on MotorWeek through forty-one seasons, beginning with their very first episode. Goss' Garage had been a pillar of the Motorweek program and a must-see segment for millions of viewers who tuned in for the no-nonsense maintenance advice and incomparable car knowledge that Pat dispensed with effortless familiarity and understated wit.

Stay safe. Be Well.