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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up June 26-July 2, 2022



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO - July 3, 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: Complete 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 headline and inserting it into any Site Search Box.

Nutson's Automotive Weekly Auto News Wrap-up - Week Ending July 2, 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.

* Summer travel is already in full swing and Independence Day will be no exception as AAA predicts 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home over the holiday weekend (June 30 – July 4). This is an increase of 3.7% over 2021, bringing travel volumes just shy of those seen in 2019. The biggest surprise – car travel – will set a new record despite historically high gas prices with 42 million people hitting the road.

* A new survey by the car-shopping marketplace reveals that while 88% of American travelers plan to drive to their holiday destinations over Independence Day weekend, more than three-fourths say record-high gas prices have impacted plans, with many opting to stay closer to home or bring friends along to help chip in at the pump. Distance is the predominant sacrifice. More than half of those surveyed say they’ll be driving a shorter distance due to fuel costs¹, and while 62% of 2021 respondents said their goal was to get “as far from the house as possible” last Fourth of July, this year, 68% of road trippers will stay within 50 miles of home.

* J.D. Power reports new-vehicle transaction prices have hit an all-time high despite rising interest rates. The average transaction price for the first six months of 2022 is expected to reach a record of $44,907—a 17.5% increase from 2021. Total retailer profit per unit—inclusive of grosses and finance and insurance income—is on pace to reach a monthly record of $5,123, an increase of $1,174 from a year ago. The profit is more than offsetting the decline in overall sales volume per dealer.

* U.S.DoE factoid of the week: In most states the average retail price for residential electricity was less than 15 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2021. As consumers begin to transition from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs), the price of electricity is becoming a new area of focus for motorists. Although emphasis is often put on those states with the highest electricity prices, most states (38 states plus the District of Columbia) had average residential electricity prices of less than 15 cents/kWh in 2021. Only six states had an average residential electricity price exceeding 20 cents/kWh.

* Volkswagen gave us a preview of the brand's first global all-electric sedan. The VW ID. AERO concept car has a progressive, stylish and aerodynamic design that allows for a generous amount of space inside. The Chinese production version is expected to be launched in the second half of 2023, while Volkswagen plans to start production of a European model in Emden, Germany that year. No word on North America, but VW does refer to the sedan as global. It's a breath of fresh air in the sea of utility vehicle after utility vehicle.

* Cadillac is planning a future electric sedan to be named Celestiq. Cadillac said the sedan will be its premier offering and custom built at its engineering center just outside of Detroit in Warren Michigan. The price: $300,000. Fewer than 500 will be built annually. We're expecting to see a prototype of the new sedan this summer with production starting in late 2023.

* Michael Sivak of Sivak Applied Research reports his monthly monitoring of key U.S. transportation indexes shows a decrease in the amount of driving, apparently in response to the jump in gasoline prices. Specifically, the population-adjusted change in driving was down 6% in April 2022 compared with April 2019. This follows an increase of 1% in March 2022 compared with March 2019. Details are here:

* In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, initial vehicle quality notably declined, according to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Initial Quality Study(IQS), released this week. The disruptions caused by the pandemic—supply chain issues, record-high vehicle prices and personnel dislocations—contributed to vehicle problems reaching a record high in the 36-year history of this benchmark study. Compared with 2021 results, the industry experienced an 11% increase in problems per 100 vehicles. You can read more details and see rankings by brand: HERE

* EU countries clinched deals on proposed laws to combat climate change this week, backing a 2035 phase-out of new fossil fuel car sales. Some countries wanted the phase-out delayed to 2040. Countries eventually backed a compromise that kept the 2035 target and asked Brussels to assess in 2026 the development of plug-in hybrid vehicles and whether they could contribute to the goal.

* Rivian, maker of the R1T pickup and R1S SUV, launched the first fast chargers on its Adventure Network. The network is designed to provide dedicated electric vehicle charging for owners near off-road areas such as Yosemite, Death Valley and 600 future sites across North America. The California-based startup launched its first site in Salida, Colo., with four Level 3 chargers rated at more than 200 kilowatts of output. Under ideal conditions, Rivian vehicles can add up to 140 miles of range in 20 minutes on the charging units.

* Not ready for prime time! Automotive News reports a group of Cruise autonomous vehicles blocked traffic in San Francisco. The traffic jam, which a witness estimated involved more than a dozen of the robotaxis, was not resolved until human operators removed the vehicles. A Cruise spokesperson said a technical issue caused the vehicles to cluster together at an intersection. The issue was resolved and no passengers were impacted.

* Nissan is recalling more than 322,000 Nissan Pathfinders because the secondary hood latch may fail due to the accumulation of dirt and the lack of proper inspection and maintenance. The recall affects 322,671 Pathfinders from the 2013 to 2016 model years.

* Stellantis NA is recalling certain 2018-2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango vehicles. A malfunction in the antilock-brake system (ABS) module may illuminate the brake lights, and allow the vehicle to start and shift out of Park without the brake pedal being applied. 270,904 units are affected.

* Ford said it will recall about 2,900 battery-powered F-150 Lightning pickup trucks because a software issue could result in a failure to provide adequate warning of low tire pressure. The recall is the first for the Ford electric pickup.

* A fully electric car has beaten every car ever at the Goodwood Hillclimb track at the Festival of Speed, an annual gathering and demonstration of racing vehicles in England. The McMurtry Speirling fan car driven by Indycar and ex-F1 driver Max Chilton set a record of 39.08 seconds on the 1.86km (1.16 mile) course, almost a second better than the previous record. The previous record was 39.9 seconds set by Romain Dumas in 2019 driving VW’s ID.R electric racecar, which in turn had beat a record held for 20 years by F1 driver Nick Heidfeld driving a V10 McLaren F1 car from the 1998 season. The Speirling uses fans to create downforce rather than aerodynamic wings and fins that rob horsepower.

* Robin Shute won the 100th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last Sunday with a time of 10:09.525 driving The Sendy Club's 2018 Wolf. Substantial fog slowed the field significantly in the race to the clouds, with Shute finishing nearly a minute off his 2019 race-winning time of 9:12.4 in the TSC Wolf.

* Former Summit Motorsports Park owner Bill Bader Sr. died Sunday at age 79 in an accident on his Idaho property. Bader, who also owned the IHRA for a time, and wife Debbie lived north of Riggins, Idaho, since he retired in 2004. Bill Bader Jr. currently owns and operates the Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

* Have a wonderful Independence Day holiday. Be safe and enjoy the 4th of July!

Stay safe. Be Well.