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Weekly Auto News Wrap-up From Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy - April 17-23, 2022



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - April 24, 2022; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Auto Channel 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 April 23, 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.

* Earth Day, the annual event intended to demonstrate support for environmental protection, happened this week on Friday April 22. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of global initiatives. A multitude of car makers touted their plans and support to try and address the climate challenges before us.

* U.S. Doe factoid of the week: Volumetric energy density refers to the amount of energy that can be contained within a given volume. Increasing the volumetric energy density of batteries allows electric vehicles (EVs) to travel further without increasing the size of the battery pack. Conversely, it can allow an EV to travel the same distance with a smaller battery pack, thus saving space, weight, and manufacturing costs. Given the enormous benefit of increasing the energy density of batteries for EVs, there has been heavy investment in battery development by the Department of Energy and private industry that has yielded impressive gains. In 2008, lithium-ion batteries had a volumetric energy density of 55 watt-hours per liter; by 2020, that had increased to 450 watt-hours per liter.

* Did you know listening to Beethoven can help EVs go farther? An experiment conducted on behalf of Kia UK found that drivers who listened to classical music drove more efficiently while up-tempo pop songs drained the battery faster. We guess many EV drivers will need to come up with a new road trip playlist.

* General Motors, together with its subsidiary that builds commercial electric delivery vans, announced on Friday that BrightDrop Zevo 600 driver Stephen Marlin achieved the Guinness World Records title for greatest distance traveled by an electric van on a single charge when he drove the Zevo 600 from New York City to Washington, D.C., a trip of nearly 260 miles. Marlin was transporting a shipment of sustainable cleaning products from Full Circle, a brand of sustainable home care products, and a customer of FedEx. The Zevo 600, formerly called the BrightDrop EV600, has up to 250 miles of range. Marlin completed the near 260-mile trip on a single charge.

* The Wall Street journal reports utilities are expected to spend $140 billion annually in 2022 and 2023 to upgrade electrical grids, far exceeding yearly investments seen in the past 20 years, the Edison Electric Institute reports. The upgrades are in anticipation of higher demand stemming from a reduction in reliance on fossil fuels, increased use of electric vehicles and a drive to improve resilience to severe weather conditions related to climate change.

* Reuters reports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's latest carbon report says transportation is the No.1 source of carbon dioxide from the U.S. economy, emitting 34% more than industrial consumers of energy. Transportation generated more climate emissions than power generation. For all the attention paid to Tesla and other EV manufacturers, petroleum fuels accounted for 94.5% of the energy consumed by transportation in 2020, the EPA found. Transport emissions decreased between 2019 and 2020. That was mainly because the pandemic put the economy into a temporary coma. Automakers get a lot of attention from climate policy makers who want to ban internal combustion. This is why.

* U.S. News & World Report announced the 2022 Best Hybrid and Electric Cars. U.S. News evaluated 82 vehicles and named winners across eight categories. Toyota had the most wins of any brand, winning the Best Hybrid Car award with the Toyota Prius and the Best Hybrid SUV award with the RAV4 Hybrid. The Kia EV6 won the Best Electric Vehicle award, and the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid won the Best Plug-In Hybrid award. Learn more here.

* Speaking of battery electric vehicles (BEV), or not! Toyota will invest $383 million in four of its U.S. manufacturing plants that build the "heart" of new Toyota and Lexus vehicles. The new investment supports the production of four-cylinder engines, including options for hybrid electric vehicles, at its Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee plants. And you'll recall that Stellantis recently introduced its new Hurricane 4-cylinder engine in two horsepower ratings. So yeah, it appears the future is not all BEVs.

* Lexus revealed the all-new 2023 RZ 450e, the luxury brand’s first global Battery EV (BEV) at a digital, online premiere. A new all-wheel drive system called DIRECT4 and a new steering control and available Steer by Wire system are featured. The 2023 Lexus RZ 450e is expected to go on sale towards the end of 2022.

* The Lincoln Star Concept made its global debut, hinting at the brand’s design language for its future electric vehicles. Lincoln will deliver three new fully electric vehicles by 2025, adding a fourth by 2026. More than half of Lincoln’s global volume is expected to be all-electric vehicles by mid-decade.

* A new report by Mckinsey says: "In a scenario in which half of all vehicles sold are zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2030—in line with federal targets—we estimate that America would require 1.8 million public EV chargers and 28 million private EV chargers by that year.2 All told, the country would need almost 20 times more chargers than it has now." Read more here:

* Gasoline prices are dropping, but slowly. The national average for regular gas is $4.08 per gallon. Diesel fuel average is $5.03 per gallon. The process drops is coming from the release of one million barrels of oil a day from the U.S. oil reserves.

* Toyota and Lexus are recalling more than 458,000 vehicles for a stability control software glitch that could disable the system. Affected Toyota vehicles include the 2020-22 Highlander Hybrid, the 2021-22 Mirai, RAV4 Prime, Venza and Sienna, and the 2022 RAV4 Hybrid. Lexus models affected are the 2021-22 LS 500h and the 2022 LX 600, NX 350h and NX 450h Plus.

* Ford is recalling nearly 653,000 trucks and SUVs, including the 2020-2021 Ford F-150 pickup truck, 2020-2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs, and 2020-2022 Ford Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks, because their windshield wipers may suddenly stop working or even detach.

* Randy Pemberton, a well known television personality in the 1980s and 1990s, perhaps best known for hosting “Inside Winston Cup Racing”, died last week. He was 62. Randy had neck surgery last week and returned home Friday afternoon, but passed away unexpectedly that night.

Stay safe. Be Well.