Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up Week Ending April 30 2022
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Nutson's Automotive News Wrap-up - Week Ending April 30, 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.
* Sales of cars and light trucks in the United States will fall to an annual pace of just 14.5 million vehicles, down more than 20% from a year ago. But average new vehicle prices will hit a record $45,232, up 18.7% from a year ago, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
* Joe White writing for Reuters tells us U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin has said aloud what even some in the auto industry are wondering: Does the United States government need to offer expanded subsidies to spur sales of electric vehicles at a time when demand for many EVs is outrunning supply? Sen. Manchin’s judgment appears to be, no, and that likely means lights out for the Biden Administration’s proposals to significantly expand the current $7,500 per vehicle tax credit for a manufacturer’s first 200,000 EVs.
* A new consumer survey commissioned by Engine’s CARAVAN and conducted by MINI USA reveals various shifts in American consumers’ sentiment toward electric vehicles over the last three years. The survey, which repeated the same set of questions used in a 2019 questionnaire carried out by MINI USA, indicates that more Americans – and particularly younger and female consumers – view electric vehicles as a primary car in the household more than any other use case. This represents a shift from 2019 where more respondents selected “commuting car” and “city car” as preferred uses. A point that has remained consistent from both surveys is daily travel distance, as 76% of respondents say that 75 miles of battery range is sufficient for everyday driving. Only a 3% increase over the course of three years, consumers’ daily driving distances continue to remain well below the current range of all new electric vehicles on the market today. Expectations for faster charging times rose over the last three years. More than two-thirds (67%) of consumers now believe charging should take no more than an hour, an increase from 59% three years ago.
* More than a dozen automakers are introducing electrified pickup trucks – full EVs or hybrids – over the next couple of years. One of those is Ford, which celebrated the delivery of the electric F-150 Lightning to its first customers on Tuesday, April 26. With so many electrified pickup trucks hitting the market, the question is who will buy them. Will it be traditional pickup truck owners, or will electrification open a new segment of truck buyers? The latter seems most likely based on new research from Cox Automotive and orders Ford has received for the Lightning, the vast majority of which are from consumers who have not owned a Ford, much less a Ford truck. “Younger consumers – under age 35 – and current owners of SUVs and sedans are the most likely candidates to buy an electrified pickup truck,” said Vanessa Ton, senior manager of Cox Automotive’s Research and Market Intelligence team.
* The North American International Auto Show (aka Detroit Auto Show) announced a peek behind the curtain of its first-ever indoor-outdoor fall auto show, including plans for dynamic vehicle activations, free community activities downtown, Charity Preview’s return and a rebranded logo for the iconic Detroit show. Scheduled for Sept. 14 – 25, 2022, at Huntington Place in Detroit, the auto show returns after a multi-year absence precipitated by the pandemic.
* Automotive News reports Volkswagen has given is Amarok pickup (not sold in the U.S.) a more robust look, along with driver assistance systems and engines from its partner Ford Motor. The second-generation Amarok, based on the latest Ford Ranger, will offer an expanded array of driver assist features and a broader range of engines than its predecessor, VW Commercial Vehicles said. VW has no plans to offer a plug-in hybrid version but the automaker is looking at a full-electric version, VW Commercial Vehicle's marketing boss, Lars Krause, told Autocar. And we ask: Will the Amorak find its way to the U.S., produced in North America, as a battery-powered pickup?
* Ford celebrated the first production battery-powered F-150 Lightning coming off the assembly line this week at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center. Ford's new EV manufacturing facility at Ford's historic Rouge complex has been expanded to boost production capacity to 150,000 units annually. Lightnings will begin shipping to customers in the next few days.
* Volta Inc., an electric vehicle charging network, revealed broader EV adoption is dependent upon highly visible EV chargers that are conveniently located at the places drivers already frequent. The findings come from a nationwide research study and go beyond price and range anxiety to understand top barriers to switching to electric. Nearly half (42%) of Americans have never seen an EV charging station, and over a quarter (27%) of EV intenders still have not. 75% of EV intenders rank convenient access to EV charging as their top barrier to making the switch (5 percentage points higher than price)—63% of the general population agreed. Americans ranked grocery shopping (73%), dining at a restaurant (70%), retail shopping (69%), working (68%), watching a movie at a theater (64%), and exercising (60%) as top activities they would like to accomplish while charging their EV— all higher than downtime activities like reading while charging (54%).
* The U.S. Postal Service has been hit with three separate lawsuits filed by 16 states. the District of Columbia and environmental groups. Filed in New York and California, the suits ask judges to order a more thorough environmental review before the USPS moves forward with the next-generation delivery vehicle program. The plaintiffs contend that purchases of fossil fuel-powered delivery vehicles will cause environmental harm for decades to come and want the Postal Service to buy more electric delivery vehicles.
* Chevrolet said that a hybrid version of the Corvette will be available “as early as next year,” with a fully-electric model to follow sometime in the future. Reports are that GM President Mark Reuss also confirmed the news to CNBC’s though declined to give any specific dates besides noting that “We will have an electrified Corvette next year, so it’s coming very quick.” Joe White from Reuters points out the a hybrid Corvette is not in accord with GMs all-electric strategy.
* First told to our friends at The Detroit Bureau and recently confirmed to Automotive News, Mazda is bringing back its rotary engine. A plug-in hybrid version of the MX-30 utility vehicle with be using the rotary. The arrival of the MX-30 Plug-In Hybrid should happen sometime after the end of Mazda’s current fiscal year, which ends on March 31, 2023, reports The Detroit Bureau.
* A self-driving Tesla (which actually does not have self-driving capability) crashed into $3.5 million private jet when the owner used the "Smart Summon" feature. The feature, which operates at a speed limited to 5mph, was introduced by Tesla in 2019 and is still a beta feature...meaning, not-ready-for-prime-time.
* Ford is recalling more than 250,00 Explorer utility vehicles in the U.S. because they can roll away unexpectedly while shifted into park. The recall covers certain 2020 through 2022 Explorers with 2.3-liter engines, as well as 3-liter and 3.3-liter hybrids and the 3-liter ST. Also included are 2020 and 2021 Explorer Police hybrids and those with 3.3-liter gas engines. A rear axle mounting bolt can fracture and cause the drive shaft to disconnect. If that happens, the Explorers can roll away even if they are placed in park gear, without the parking brake on.
* Tesla is recalling about 48,000 Model 3 Performance vehicles in the United States because they may not display the speedometer while in “Track Mode.” The recall covers vehicles from the 2018 through 2022 model years.
* The Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) racecar, a Dallara AV-21 programmed by team PoliMOVE from Politecnico di Milano (Italy) and the University of Alabama (USA), set a new land speed world record for a self-driving car of 192.2 MPH / 309.3 KPH at the historic Kennedy Space Center. Operating the Dallara AV-21, PoliMOVE set out to push the limits of a boosted engine package during test runs at Space Florida’s Launch & Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center. The upgraded engine package, capable of delivering 30% more horsepower than previous models, will be on all IAC race cars moving forward. Future competitions will be announced in the coming months. The primary goal of the IAC is to solve real world problems by advancing technology that will speed the commercialization of fully autonomous vehicles and deployments of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS).
* After months of anticipation and more than 173,500 applications, the Dodge brand’s search to fill the greatest automotive job in the world came to its supercharged conclusion. Proving he has the character and the drive in a series of high-stakes challenges, Preston Patterson of North Carolina has officially been named chief donut maker. The announcement came on 4/26, April 26 that is, which is Hemi Day. After a four-month search ten finalists had been selected to go through a final round of tests. The chief donut maker search is part of the brand's Never Lift plan, which provides a 24-month road map to Dodge's performance future.
* DSR Performance, Don Schumacher Racing’s (DSR) performance aftermarket division, has launched the DSR 1150. An earth shattering 1150-horsepower crate engine based on the current generation (GEN III) HEMI. This game changing crate engine has unparalleled performance levels and is designed to run on 93 octane unleaded fuel. The DSR 1150 has been engineered using technology and data developed from the championship-winning DSR Challenger Drag Pak program that has competed and won in the ultra-competitive NHRA Constant Aviation Factory Stock Showdown Series and NMCA Holley EFI Factory Super Cars Class. In paying homage to the infamous Chrysler HEMI engine that ruled the streets and strips in the 1960s and early 1970s, the modern DSR 1150 displaces 426 cubic-inches (7.0-liter) and is the highest horsepower pump gas OE production-based crate engine sold on the market today. The DSR 1150 retails for $37,950 and is sold direct through DSRperformance.com and exclusive dealers.
* A 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Limited is being entered in the seventh annual Rebelle Rally, an all-women, off-road navigational challenge held in the deserts of California and Nevada. Automotive writers Jill Ciminillo and Kristin Shaw will share driving and navigation duties. The rally starts Oct. 6 at a to-be-determined location in Nevada. It will cover 1,500 miles in eight days before reaching the finish line, Oct. 15, in the Imperial Sand Dunes of Southern California. It will be Ciminillo and Shaw’s first attempt at the Rebelle Rally and Hyundai’s first time supporting the event.
* A team of Acura engineers will take the brand's high performance Type S variant to a different form of competition this month as they tackle the iconic 2022 Tire Rack One Lap of America, a demanding eight-day, 3,200-mile road rally, April 30 – May 7. Driving a turbocharged 2022 Acura TLX Type S sports sedan they helped create, two engineers from Honda's Ohio-based North American Auto Development Center, Nicolas Hammann and Clifton Ching, will compete in the grueling competition that includes timed events at nine racetracks across the U.S. The 37th running of the One Lap of America starts and ends at the Tire Rack headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, and sends competitors through 12 states.
Stay safe. Be Well.