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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up Week Ending May 7, 2022



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - May 8, 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 May 7, 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.

* U.S. DoE factoid of the week: In California, 12.5% of new light-duty vehicle registrations were plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) in 2021. PEV includes plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and all-electric vehicles (BEV). Next highest were the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon, which each had PEV registrations accounting for more than 7% of new registrations. Of all light-duty vehicle registrations in California for 2021, including new and existing registrations, 2.5% were PEV.

* We attended the Ninth annual Green Drives Conference and Expo put on by Chicago Area Clean Cities. The event promotes and supports cleaner energy for transportation and automotive fleets in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. It is one of more than 75 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean Cities program. In 2023 the organization will become statewide in Illinois, a recognition of the ever growing interest and popularity in alternative fueled vehicles. From private passenger cars, to trucks, vans, school buses, large construction vehicles and more, alternative fuel is the way to go.

* From the New York Times we read high gasoline prices are not the only concern. Many Americans are being hit by rapidly rising electricity bills, compounding inflation’s financial toll on people and businesses. The national average residential electricity rate was up 8 percent in January from a year earlier, the biggest annual increase in more than a decade. The latest figures, from February, show an almost 4 percent annual rise, reaching the highest level for that month and approaching summer rates, which are generally the most expensive. The immediate reason for the jump in electric rates is that the war in Ukraine has driven up the already high cost of natural gas, which is burned to produce about 40 percent of America’s electricity. The concern is that rates will continue to rise for years ahead.

* A recent story from Carfax says that according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks crimes reported to insurance companies, the number of reported catalytic converter thefts increased from roughly 1,300 in 2018 to more than 52,000 in 2021, the most recent year for which data is available. That’s an increase of roughly 1,215% from 2019. The reason? The costs of the precious metals in catalytic converters have skyrocketed in recent years, making converters more attractive to thieves. You should read this to learn more:

* U.S. auto sales dropped 17% in April; the SAAR slide to 14.7M. Toyota, Ford, Honda, Hyundai and Kia sales fell by double digits again as chip woes linger. Sales are down for virtually every car brand except for Genesis with its growing portfolio of new models. Ohm and Bentley is on a roll with the British marque announced that it just enjoyed the strongest first quarter in its 103-year history coming from increased revenue per car.

* SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association founded in 1963, reports that the specialty-equipment industry continues to experience strong growth and demand as the U.S. puts COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. According to the new “State of the Industry–Spring 2022” report from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), 75% of manufacturers, 68% of distributors, and 53% of retailers/installers report that sales are currently above where they were prior to the pandemic, and consumer demand continues to remain robust for most companies. However, despite strong industry growth, concerns remain due to ongoing supply chain issues, inflation, economic uncertainty, and the war in Ukraine. SEMA’s report indicates that 80% of Americans plan on taking a road trip this summer. Pickups, classics, track racing and sports car parts make up the top-4 spots for manufacturer and retails sales in the SEMA report. Electric and hybrid car parts are at the bottom. On the retail end classic vehicle parts led with 26% of the market segment.

* Meanwhile, two of the biggest automaker exhibitors at SEMA, Ford and Honda, are dropping out of the show this year. And, Volkswagen will be coming back to the show with an official presence.

* Reuters reports Leaseplan, a company that manages 1.8 million vehicles globally, has done a new study of how ready U.S. states are to support substantial EV fleets, and has concluded none of them are. LeasePlan said it looked at the ratio of EVs to public chargers, the availability of public chargers, the level of state incentives, the current market shares for electric vehicles and “climate suitability,” which means, how cold does it get? On those measures, the best prepared states are Nevada, Mississippi and Hawaii, LeasePlan found. That may come as a surprise to California, the U.S. state with by far the highest market share of EVs at 12.5%, according to U.S. Energy Department data.

* Supply chain disruptions and the war in the Ukraine have again taken their toll. MINI is suspending the availability of manual transmissions on all its models. Word from the story first reported by Autocar is this is just temporary and needed to secure maximum production output. Manual transmissions have been ever and ever less in demand, although a MINI is the perfect car to have one. Our friends at The Detroit Bureau point out in the third quarter of 2019 more electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. than vehicles with manual transmissions, according to J.D. Power.

* Seven Chevrolet Camaros were stolen from a General Motors plant in Lansing, Michigan and after a high speed chase nine suspects were apprehended. Five of the Camaros were on the I-96 interstate that connects to Detroit traveling at high speeds, traffic stops were attempted but all five vehicles did not stop, and multiple pursuits ensued. Some of the stolen Camaros crashed after stop sticks were used by the police and no injuries were reported.

* Formula 1 returns to Florida after a 63 year absence. In 1959 racing was at Sebring on a track at an old military aerodrome which featured several hairpin bends. This year, racing will take place at the Miami International Autodrome which is located at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. It is a 5.41 km (3.36-mile) long street circuit with three straight sections and 19 turns but with various differences in elevation especially between turns 13 and 16.

* Automotiove News reports Volkswagen Group's premium brands, Audi and Porsche, have decided to join Formula One, VW Group CEO Herbert Diess said. Audi is ready to offer around 500 million euros ($556.30 million) for British luxury sports carmaker McLaren as a means to enter, a source told Reuters in March, while Porsche intends to establish a long-term partnership with racing team Red Bull starting in several years' time. Diess, speaking on YouTube, said that Porsche's preparations were a little more concrete. VW Group last month said its supervisory board had backed plans for the brands to potentially join F1 as early as 2026. Porsche and Audi will provide further information on the details at a later date, a VW spokesperson said.

* New inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame were named this week. Drivers Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion, and Hershel McGriff and crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine were selected for the 2023 class. Mike Helton was named the Landmark Award winner for outstanding contribution to the sport. The group will be inducted on January 20, 2023.

* The 2022 Tire Rack One Lap of America presented by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine took place this week. It was the 37th running of the One Lap with 86 teams competing in the week long event that began at Tire Rack headquarters in South Bend, Indiana. The route took the teams through Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas and back to Indiana. The One Lap had its beginning in May 1971 with the original Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash organized by Brock Yates. with its start at the Red Ball Garage in New York City and ending at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California.

Stay safe. Be Well.