Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up August 28-September 3, 2022
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Nutson's Automotive Weekly Auto News Wrap-up - Week Ending September 3, 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. new-vehicle sales in August showed that the substantially slower pace of sales that started a year ago continues as new-vehicle supply remains virtually unchanged. According to the Cox Automotive forecast, the U.S. auto sales pace, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), finished flat month over month in August at 13.3 million, up from last year’s 13.1 million level. The August sales volume is 1.14 million units, up 3.6% from last year but down 0.3% from July. Ford, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru did have sales increases from year-ago low levels. Not all manufacturers report monthly sales.
*A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports many models' automatic braking systems perform poorly in nighttime tests. Of the 23 models tested, only four earned a Superior rating from the IIHS, and more than half earned a Basic Score or No Credit. The four vehicles that earned Superior ratings were the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Camry and Toyota Highlander. Despite their poor performance at night, 19 of the 23 vehicles earned high marks in similar daytime tests.
* US DoE factoid of the week: Fourteen model year 2022 light-duty electric vehicle models have a driving range of 300 miles or greater. The 2016 model year (MY) marked the first time the Environmental Protection Agency certified an electric vehicle (EV) with 300 miles or more of driving range. Over the next five years, the number of EV models achieving a certified range of 300 miles or more slowly increased. In MY 2022, however, the number nearly tripled from the previous year. Manufacturers are still introducing MY 2022 vehicles, so additional EV models could be added to the list. To search for new EV models by range go to: https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evSelect.jsp
* The new electric vehicle requirements in the Inflation Reduction Act are strong incentives for auto makers to produce batteries in the U.S. Honda, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, Stellantis and VinFast have all announced plans for ten U.S. battery plants. The federal $7,500 EV purchase credit requires the vehicle to have a battery built in North America with 40% of the metals mined or recycled on the continent. Demand for EVs is expected to grow. LMC Automotive expects EVs to be 5.6% of U.S. new vehicle sales this year and rise to more than 36% by 2030.
* Meanwhile: The AP reports the new federal credit for U.S. buyers of qualifying EVs made in North America has ignited a possible trade war. The EV credit is intended to incentive domestic battery and vehicle production. Auto makers in Europe and South Korea which sell millions of vehicles in the U.S. have threatened to lodge a complaint with the World Trade Organization. Official describe the EV credit as discriminatory against foreign producers in relation to U.S. producers. Stay tuned!
* The Biden administration is asking for a waiver of "Buy American" rules for federally-funded electric vehicle chargers to more rapidly roll out the infrastructure needed to scale up EV adoption. Domestic content rules say 100% of steel, iron, and manufactured goods made mostly of steel and iron in federal highway projects must be made in the United States. But only a handful companies can build fast EV chargers that would meet the requirements, according to a filing submitted Wednesday by the Federal Highway Administration.
* Christian Levin, CEO of the Traton trucking unit of Volkswagen, says the future of commercial vehicles will be "battery-electric as the dominant technology." Levin predicts large-scale adoption of battery-electric commercial trucks will occur as early as 2025 in Europe. Levin also heads Scania which has partnered with startups including electric-truck maker Einride and Northvolt, which will supply cells to a battery assembly plant Scania is setting up. There is an estimated 4 million heavy trucks in Europe.
* The Detroit News reports major car brands are skipping Detroit's revamped auto show. Overwhelming vehicle demand, insufficient interest, costs and a preference for more exclusive driving opportunities are among the many reasons major brands are skipping next month's North American International Auto Show. The one-day media program has events from Chevrolet, Ford and Jeep with the expectation that Chrysler brand is also doing something. The show runs from September 14 to 25, after a three and a half year delay due to Covid. President Joe Biden said that he'll be attending the Detroit Auto Show later this month because he is “a car guy.”
* High gas prices through the spring and early summer led many truck and SUV shoppers to consider downsizing to smaller, more fuel-efficient versions of trucks and SUVs, according to a Cox Automotive analysis of consumer shopping data on Kelley Blue Book. Large truck shoppers also considered electric trucks. Midsize SUV intenders added hybrid versions to their shopping lists. As gas prices have retreated, consumers are now falling back into familiar shopping patterns to some degree. Shopping for EVs and hybrids lost share in July and so far in August. Full-size vehicle shopping has inched up.
* U.S. new-vehicle sales in August are expected to show that the substantially slower pace of sales that started a year ago continues as new-vehicle supply remains virtually unchanged. According to the Cox Automotive forecast, the U.S. auto sales pace, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), is expected to finish flat month over month in August at 13.3 million, up from last year’s 13.1 million level. The sales volume in August is forecast to finish near 1.14 million units, up 3.6% from last year but down 0.3% from July.
* An electrical fire at a BP refinery in northwest Indiana is unlikely to have a major effect on gas prices in the region, according to industry experts. If anything, it will slow the decline in prices. BP's Whiting Refinery is major Midwestern oil refinery supplying gasoline, jet fuel and diesel used in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and ?Wisconsin. It's expected to reopen within a few days.
* Catalytic converter theft is a big national issue. Thefts across the U.S. are up 1,215% since 2019 according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. California is the epicenter accounting for 37% of the incidents, followed by Texas, Washington, North Carolina and Minnesota. A Carfax study last June found the Ford F-150 the number one target, followed by the Honda Accord. Typical replacement costs run $1,000 to $2,500. Delays in securing the part lead to long vehicle down time and the need to rent a car beyond the typical 30 days covered by insurance.
* Ford Motor Co. is recalling more than 277,000 Ford Super Duty trucks and Lincoln Continental luxury sedans from the 2017-20 model years. An internal lens on the vehicle's rearview camera has an antireflective coating that may degrade over time from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The degradation "can lead to a progressively foggy or cloudy rearview camera image," according to the safety recall report.
* GM is recalling nearly 121,000 Chevrolet Spark vehicles from the 2013-15 model years and Spark EVs from the 2014-15 model years because the hoods may open unexpectedly while driving, increasing the risk of a crash. GM previously recalled about 89,000 2013-15 model-year Sparks in 2014. The latest recall expands the scope to include more vehicles that may experience prematurely corroding hood latches.
* Rivian Automotive Inc. is recalling a small number of electric pickups and SUVs because the front seat belt anchors could be improperly secured to the B-pillar and, therefore, might not adequately restrain an occupant during a crash. The recall covers 207 R1T pickups and R1S SUVs from the 2022 model year.
* Jalopnik had a laugh at Fox News for criticizing Prince Harry's 'Gas-Guzzling' Electric Audi e-Tron SUV. The news network says the Prince's Audi sat idling at the airport for a half hour pumping carbon into the air. However, the Audi-e-Tron is battery powered all-electric.
* AAA predicts this to be the busiest Labor Day travel weekend in three years, reaching pre-pandemic levels. More than 80% of people are taking their car as opposed to a plane. Trends are similar to Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends this year. Have a safe weekend!
Stay safe. Be Well.