Weekly Auto News Wrap-up From Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy - April 10-16, 2022
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Nutson's Automotive News Wrap-up - Week Ending April 16, 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.
* President Biden announced a plan to suspend a ban on summertime sales of higher-ethanol gasoline blends, a move that White House officials said was aimed at reducing gas prices but that energy experts predicted would have only a marginal impact at the pump. The Environmental Protection Agency will issue a waiver that would allow the blend known as E15 — which is made of 15 percent ethanol — to be used between June 1 and Sept. 15. The White House estimated that approximately 2,300 stations in the country offer the blend and cast the decision as a move toward “energy independence.” E15 is about 10 cents a gallon cheaper.
* As new cars have become scarce because of supply chain problems and microchip shortages — and now the war in Ukraine, which produces a large part of the wiring harnesses used in every car — shoppers have been forced to find their desired vehicles in the used car market. This has driven up prices to the point that a “lightly used” car is now 1.3%, or $533, more expensive than its new car counterpart, according to a February study by car search engine site iSeeCars. And that’s just the average. A typical used, year-old Mercedes-Benz G-Class luxury SUV is almost 36% more than new, commanding a staggering $62,705 premium over the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, according to iSeeCars’ analysis of 1.5 million sales in January. Buying a used Chevrolet Corvette will cost you $16,645, or 20%, over a new one. Waitlists at new-car dealerships for the most sought-after models stretch well into 2023. That said, we note that used vehicles were one of the few categories of goods that cost less in March, down 3.8%, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
* U.S. DoE factoid of the week: As the transportation sector shifts from fossil fuels toward electrification, it is increasingly important to consider the distribution of electricity generation, in addition to the production of crude oil. In 2020, Texas produced 4.9 million barrels per day (mmbd) of crude oil. Besides Texas, only North Dakota and New Mexico produced over 1 mmbd. All other states produced less than 0.5 mmbd, with about half of the states producing no crude oil at all. In total, 11.3 mmbd of crude oil was produced in 2020, including 1.7 mmbd of Federal offshore production. In contrast to crude oil, all states produced electricity. In 2020, Texas produced the most with 473,515 gigawatt-hours (GWh) followed by Florida with 250,828 GWh and Pennsylvania with 230,143 GWh. All other states produced less than 200,000 GWh of electricity.
* New-vehicle average transaction prices (ATPs) decreased to $45,927 in March 2022 after reaching a record high in December 2021, according to new data released by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive company. Prices fell 0.3% ($156) month over month, but remain elevated compared to one year ago, up 12.9% ($5,247) from March 2021. New-vehicle inventory days’ supply was in the low 30s in March while customer demand remained high. These conditions enabled dealers to continue selling inventory at or above the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). In March, new vehicles from Kia, Honda and Mercedes-Benz were transacting on average between 7.8% and 9.8% over MSRP. On the other side of the spectrum, Volvo, Buick and Lincoln were selling around 1% below MSRP. The average price paid for a new non-luxury vehicle last month was $42,364, down $53 from February and marking the fifth consecutive monthly decrease for non-luxury. In March 2022, the average luxury buyer paid $65,123 for a new vehicle, up $272 month over month and still $2,550 above sticker price. For comparison, luxury vehicles were selling for more than $2,400 under MSRP one year ago
* Bloomberg News reports the world is about to pass another important milestone in electric vehicle adoption: 20 million plug-in vehicles on the road globally, come June, according to BNEF estimates. That’s remarkable growth from only 1 million EVs on roads in 2016. In the second half of 2022, almost a million EVs a month will be added to the global fleet, according to BNEF estimates. That’s about one every 3 seconds. Vehicles eventually get retired from the fleet due to age, wear-and-tear, crashes and battery degradation. But that’s not a big part of the EV story so far, mostly because the majority of EVs in the global fleet were sold in the past 18 months. By the end of 2022, BNEF is expecting over 26 million plug-in vehicles on the road. The speed of growth is much faster than many incumbents in the automotive and oil industries were expecting just a few years ago.
* Drivers behave differently when a driver assist (ADAS) technology is engaged. They tend to drive faster, look away from the road more often and for longer periods of time, and they engage in distracting behaviors more often during automated driving time versus full-on manual driving. Those are the key findings from a research project spearheaded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Advanced Vehicle Consortium. Just like when ABS started to come into use and drivers had to be educated to not pump the brakes, new ADAS technologies require education of drivers.
* Reuters reports independent auto repair shops could be an endangered species as more cars become electrified, software-driven machines requiring special tools and proprietary code to fix. Now, Canadian lawmakers are debating so-called "right to repair" legislation that would require automakers to give independent shops access to the information needed to repair EVs. Tesla, the EV market leader, has opposed similar legislation in the United States.
* Announced at the New York Auto Show, the Hyundai IONIQ 5 was a triple winner as it declared the 2022 World Car of the Year, as well as the 2022 World Electric Vehicle of the Year and the 2022 World Car Design of the Year award winner. The 2022 World Car Person of the Year, Luc Donckerwolke, Executive Vice President, Chief Creative Officer, Hyundai Motor Group was on hand to participate in a Q&A with media and receive his award in person. Also, the Audi e-tron GT was named 2022 World Performance Car, the Toyota Yaris Cross was named 2022 World Urban Car and the Mercedes-Benz EQS was named the 2022 World Luxury Car.
* The BMW 4 Series has been awarded the J.D. Power Engineering Award for Highest-Rated Vehicle Redesign. The award merges the results of J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Study (IQS) and APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) survey, and is intended to reward companies for listening to and understanding the voice of the customer and incorporating this feedback into vehicle design. Editor comment: It appears the controversial front grille of the BMW 4 Series is actually not so controversial.
* Thirty-five percent of all new cars sold in California would be electric by 2026 under a new proposal from the state Air Resources Board. Gov. Gavin Newsom has set a target of fully phasing out new fossil fuel-powered cars, the source of about 25 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, by 2035. The state is the first to set such a phaseout plan for vehicles. The new proposal would triple electric vehicle sales in the next four years. We'll see!
* The New York International Auto Show is back after a two year absence. The media vehicle previews held this week generated lots of news in the electrified vehicle arena with the Nissan Ariya, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Ford F-150 Lightening spotlighted. Many notable brands were conspicuously absent from the show but present was the new Vietnamese car maker VinFast that plans to introduce "Made In North Carolina" all-electric VF 8 and larger VF 9 SUVs, and a compact model the VF 7, to come along later in 2023.. The show also offers attendees an Electric Vehicle Indoor Test Track which provides them with an opportunity to test drive a wide range of new Electric Vehicles, e-bikes and e-scooters and explore the latest e-mopeds, support products, and accessories.
* MotorTrend reports an autonomous car pulled over by the cops and made a run for it. The Cruise AV's interaction with San Francisco's finest sure was amusing to onlookers. Get a laugh here:
* The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America (MSHFA) announced its 2023 Induction Class. The 35th Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Induction Celebration will honor the next class of racing royalty at the Motorsports Hall of Fame's home in Daytona Beach, Florida. Next year's black-tie affair will be held March 6-7, 2023. The Class of 2023 includes the Father of the Corvette and Corvette racing Zora Arkus-Duntov (Sports Cars), longtime USAC official and safety pioneer Henry Banks (Historic), America’s most successful enduro racer, Dick Burleson (Motorcycles), air racing superstar Art Chester (Aviation), one of NASCAR’s most innovative crew chiefs, Ray Evernham (Stock Cars), early NASCAR fan favorite Fonty Flock (Historic), one of the NHRA’s 50 Greatest All-Time Drivers, Darrell Gwynn (Drag Racing), prolific land speed record-setter Ab Jenkins (Speed Records) and two men who revolutionized racetrack emergency services, saving countless lives and careers, Drs. Stephen Olvey and Terry Trammell (Open Wheel).
* Formula 1 drivers have been reminded of the need to comply with the sport’s regulations on fireproof underwear. The FIA International Sporting Code requires Formula 1 drivers to wear “overalls as well as gloves, long underwear, a balaclava, socks and shoes homologated to the FIA 8856-2018 standard.” FIA F1 race director Niels Wittich is believed to have raised the matter at a drivers’ briefing. Wittich has also reminded drivers this weekend of the rules requiring them not to wear certain types of jewelry while in their cars.
Stay safe. Be Well.