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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up November 27-December 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 Auto News Weekly-Wrap-up November 27-December 3, 2022

Here are Larry's picks among 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. sales at Toyota, Subaru, Mazda, Hyundai and Kia rose by double-digit percentages in November from a year earlier. Hyundai and Kia brands both set November records with deliveries jumping 43% at Hyundai and 25% at Kia. At Toyota, brand sales rose 12%, while Lexus fell 4.3%. Honda fell 6.1% this month — leading U.S. sales down by 35%. Ford said U.S. November retail sales fell by nearly 16%, even though its EV sales more than doubled. Sales of cars and light trucks ran at a 14.1 million vehicle annual pace in November, Wards Intelligence reported. That’s up from a year ago, but down from October.

* U.S. Senators from Nebraska and Minnesota introduced legislation that would expand nationwide sales of E15, a gasoline with a higher blend of ethanol, after gaining support for the bill from an oil industry trade group for the first time, Senator Deb Fischer from Nebraska told Reuters. The legislation, introduced by Fischer and Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and supported by the American Petroleum Institute (API), would mark a huge win for the ethanol industry and corn farmers who have repeatedly tried to expand sales of E15 but have faced hurdles.

* US DoE factoid of the week: Light-duty plug-in electric vehicles in the United States traveled 19 billion miles on electricity in 2021. All-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) traveled a combined 19 billion miles on electricity in 2021. This includes all miles traveled in EVs and the electric portion of miles traveled in PHEVs. EV miles driven increased by 57% from 2020 to 2021, while electric miles driven in PHEVs increased by 24%. Total electric miles were still less than 1% of the 2.9 trillion vehicle miles driven in 2021, however.

* According to Argonne National Lab, between 2010 and the end of 2021, the US had bought more than 2.1 million plug-in vehicles, including 1.3 million battery EVs. That sounds like a very impressive number, but bear in mind that's out of a total national vehicle pool of nearly 276 million cars and trucks. Argonne estimates that despite all these plug-ins, national gasoline consumption was reduced by just 0.54 percent in 2021. In total, Argonne calculates that US plug-in vehicles have driven nearly 70 billion miles since 2010, consuming 22 TWh of energy in the process. That's displaced the use of more than 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline and 19 million tons of greenhouse gases, Argonne reports, although for context, the US consumed about 369 million gallons of gasoline a day in 2021. For 2021 specifically, plug-in vehicles saved about 690 million gallons of gasoline—about two days of consumption—and reduced CO2 emissions by 5.4 million metric tons, consuming 6.1 TWh in the process. Argonne provides evidence against naysayers who think EV adoption will crash the electrical grid—in 2021, charging EVs accounted for only 0.15 percent of all US electricity consumption.

* Reuters reports the fights over electric vehicle industry investment and jobs are intensifying. European Union officials are demanding that Washington give EU products the same favorable treatment for EV subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act as Canada and Mexico get. (Canada and Mexico have their own issues with U.S. interpretation of their free trade agreements.) France’s president is urging European CEOs not to be tempted by new U.S. manufacturing subsidies.

* President Macron of France visited the U.S. this week. Macron openly continued to voice concern with the inequity in the requirements of the new Inflation Reduction Act that favor the EVs made by U.S. auto makers. In response, President Biden admitted to some gliches in the new law and indicted tweaks can be made to satisfy allies. Message here: Wait a bit before you run out and buy a new EV.

* Also from Reuters, Tesla used the relative quiet of the Thanksgiving weekend to make its Full Self-Driving “beta” software available to anyone in North America who had purchased the option in advance. Musk on Twitter called this “the most important software release of any kind in a very long time.” Hype? Sure. But not entirely. The wide release enlists tens of thousands of Tesla owners as safety validation engineers for the company’s automated driving system. A lot is riding on how that works out. On Twitter, commenters say the latest version still requires the human driver to pay attention. Federal and state regulators are already investigating Tesla’s automated driving systems. Wide release of FSD puts pressure on regulators to make a call whether they are safe, or not.

* Car and Driver broke the news the next move for GM with its valued Corvette nameplate will be to launch a Corvette subbrand. It will include a four-door "coupe" and a sporty high-performance crossover to partner the upcoming two-seater Corvette EV, the new Z06, a possible E-Ray hybrid, and the revived ZR1 and the even more extreme Zora hybrid named after Zora Arkus-Duntov, father of the original C1.

* Honda announced that it will produce an all-new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) based on the recently launched, all-new Honda CR-V starting in 2024 at its Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) in Marysville, Ohio. This new zero-emissions vehicle will contribute to Honda’s previously announced goal to make battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and FCEVs represent 100% of its global auto sales by 2040.

* Toyota’s grand plan for its SUV lineup will expand the Highlander nameplate in 2023 with the all-new Toyota Grand Highlander. The automaker revealed a glimpse of the new design this week. The complete unveiling will take place on the eve of the Chicago Auto Show, February 8, 2023.

* Cruise, GM’s robotaxi/robodelivery unit, plans to enter a “large number of markets” and scale operations up to “thousands of vehicles” in 2023, Chief Operating Officer Gil West told Reuters. Cruise has announced plans to start offering rides in Austin and Phoenix, adding those cities to its current base in San Francisco. West said the company plans to expand to more cities in 2023.

* Reuters reports Mercedes and Bosch demonstrated technology that enables a Mercedes vehicle to park itself in a Stuttgart airport garage. No more frantic searches for a spot while the deadline for boarding a flight ticks down? That’s a use of automation we can all get behind.

* You probably heard about the rental vehicles that caught fire on Nantucket Island. Some of them had been used as support vehicles for the Secret Service during President Biden's recent family stay on Nantucket for Thanksgiving. Reports have it that evidence is pointing to a Ford Expedition that started the blaze. The Expedition is under recall for the risk of a battery that may short out. The Expedition used by the Secret Service hadn't yet been fixed. The message here: Get recall repairs done to a vehicle you drive right away.

Stay safe. Be Well.