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Nutson' s Weekly Auto News Wrap-up December 11-17, 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 December 11-17, 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.

* New-vehicle inventory levels are improving, but prices remain elevated. According to data released by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive company, the average transaction price (ATP) for a new vehicle in the United States in November 2022 hit a record high of $48,681. November prices rose 0.9% ($422) month over month from October 2022 and were up 4.4% ($2,250) from year-earlier levels. In November 2022, the average luxury buyer paid $67,050 for a new vehicle—a record high and up $405 from October. Luxury vehicle share remains historically high, increasing to 18.2% of total sales in November from 17.8% in October. The average price paid for a new non-luxury vehicle in November was $44,584—also a record and higher by $330 month over month. The average price paid for a new EV increased in November by $1,172 (up 2%) compared to October and was up by 9% compared to a year ago in November 2021. The average new EV price was $65,041.

* It is often said that the safest seat in a vehicle is the right rear seat. A recent IIHS study of real-world crashes showed that in many cases, back-seat passengers were injured more severely than front-seat occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is updating its moderate overlap front evaluation crash test because protection for rear passengers is lagging. In the first tests, only two out of 15 small SUVs, the Ford Escape and Volvo XC40, protect the rear occupant well enough to earn a good rating. The Toyota RAV4 earns an acceptable rating, and the Audi Q3, Nissan Rogue and Subaru Forester are rated marginal. Another nine vehicles — the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V, Honda HR-V, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Mazda CX-5 and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross — are rated poor. More details are here.

* Vehicles are cleaner and get better mpg, but in real life all the big pickups and SUVs make things worse. EPA has collected data on every new light-duty vehicle model sold in the United States since 1975, either from testing performed by EPA at the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, or directly from manufacturers using official EPA test procedures. EPA just released its 2022 trends report. In model year 2021, the average estimated real-wolrd CO2 emissions rate for all new vehicles fell by 2 g/mi to 347 g/mi, the lowest ever measured. Real-world fuel economy remained at a record high 25.4 mpg...but it hasn't gone up. In spite of this seemingly good news, the trend away from sedan/wagons, which remain the vehicle type with the highest fuel economy and lowest CO2 emissions, and towards vehicle types with lower fuel economy and higher CO2 emissions (pickups and SUVs) has offset some of the fleetwide benefits that otherwise would have been achieved from the improvements within each vehicle type. Have a look for yourself: HERE

US DoE factoid of the week; As of 2021, two-thirds of U.S. housing units had a garage or carport, therefore improving opportunities for EV adoption. Garages and carports often have access to electricity for parked vehicles, which eliminates one barrier to electric vehicle adoption. Although two-thirds of all housing units nationwide have a garage or carport, factors such as urban density, weather, and typical age of construction determine the home parking options from region to region. The Pacific region had the highest share of housing units with garages or carports at 80% while the Middle Atlantic region had the lowest percentage at 53%.

* MotorTrend announced that the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning has been named the 2023 MotorTrend Truck of the Year. The Ford F-150 Lighting was judged the 2023 Truck of the Year by excelling in each of MotorTrend’s six key criteria: safety, efficiency, value, advancement in design, engineering excellence, and performance of intended function.

* The holiday season is known for being merry and bright, but hectic schedules, last-minute shopping and travel both near and far can translate to the roads in the form of aggressive driving. A new survey from GasBuddy reveals that drivers in certain cities across the United States are up to 54% more aggressive than the average driver. The study revealed Tucson, Arizona and Portland, Oregon as the cities with the most and least aggressive holiday drivers, respectively. Find your city ranking here:

* Not about EVs! Ford announced official horsepower and torque ratings for the new seventh-generation 2024 Mustang. It's up, up, up! The Mustang Dark Horse 5.0-L V8 is rated at 500 HP and 418 ft.-lb. That makes it the most powerful naturally aspirated 5.0-L V8 ever. The GT's 5.0-L V8 has a max output of 486 HP and 418 ft.-lb. with the available active-valve performance exhaust. The 2.3-L EcoBoost turbo-four is rated at 315 HP and 350 ft.-lb. 

* The 2023 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards have been announced. The list of the best vehicles for your money includes some repeat winners, some newcomers, and more electric cars than ever before. An electric vehicle (EV) even claimed the top of the podium for the first time. KBB's team of editors spent months evaluating more than 300 new-vehicle models. The all-new Hyundai Ioniq 5 won the title of Best Electric Vehicle for 2023 and also earned the Best New Model trophy. See all the winners rifht here:

* Are you looking for that special Christmas present  for that special person in your life? The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class Haute Voiture was presented during an event in Dubai. The car itself is a Mercedes-Maybach S 680, which comes with a 621-horsepower twin-turbo V12 and all-wheel drive. It's finished in a two-tone color scheme with a dark blue on top with rose gold sides. The wheels are painted to match the blue top. The interior continues the blue and rose gold theme with the colors added to hard dash panels. Seats are finished in white leather. Bouclé fabric accents on the door panels and in some areas on the seats that have a blend of dark blue, beige, gold and rose gold colors to tie the vehicle together. The car's unique production number, key ring and a scale model of it will be presented to each customer in a gift box along with a custom car cover. Only 150 of these S-Class models will be offered for sale. Mercedes didn't give a price for them but speculation has it north of $230,000.

* From Reuters we read California will add 90,000 electric charging stations to more than double the number in the state and bring the total to 170,000. The project is a $2.9 billion investment to have 250,000 charging stations online by 2025. The state will allocate $1.7 billion to support medium and heavy duty zero emission vehicles.

* Joe White of Reuters writes rising costs of electric vehicle batteries and a lack of EV charging infrastructure have hurt adoption in the US, say experts. While EVs in China have 21% market share and 12% in Europe, only 6% of the US vehicle market are EVs. By 2029, electric vehicles could account for a third of the North American market, and about 26% of vehicles produced worldwide, according to AutoForecast Solutions, a consultancy. Electric vehicle sales likely will not increase in a smooth, ever-ascending curve, said AFS President Joe McCabe. If there is a recession next year, as many economists forecast, that will slow EV adoption. AFS President Joe McCabe's expects that less than 20% of the 74 EVs to be sold in the US in 2025 will exceed 50,000 in sales volume. Wards Intelligence forecasts that combustion vehicles will make up just under 80% of North American sales in 2027.

* Stuck in traffic or cruising in the fast lane? Someday your electric vehicle could be charging wirelessly thanks to electrified roads. As a first-of-its-kind program in the US, three companies -- Electreon, NextEnergy and Jacobs -- are working in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Transportation to pilot a wireless EV charging road system for public transit vehicles in Detroit. The project involves embedding Electreon’s unique copper coil technology just below the surface of the road—a process that can be deployed overnight. A kit attached to the vehicle receives the wireless energy (whether it’s in motion or idle) and transfers it to the vehicle battery

* Lyft has announced a bonus of up to $8,100 for drivers in California who use an electric vehicle and provide a minimum number of rides. Other incentives include a nationwide discount at EVgo fast-charging stations and lower prices on residential chargers. Lyft wants to reach its goal of 100 percent electric vehicles by the end of 2030.

* Stellantis said it is recalling 1.4 million Ram pickups worldwide because tailgates might not latch properly and could open while driving. The automaker said the recall covers various 2019 through 2022 model year Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks. 

* GM is recalling more than 740,000 vehicles in the U.S. for daytime running lights that may stay on
Vehicles affected by the recall are the 2021-23 Buick Envision, 2020-23 Cadillac CT4 and CT5, as well as Cadillac Escalade, and Escalade ESV, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Sierra 1500, Yukon and Yukon XL vehicles from the 2022-23 model years.

* After two years racing the NTT IndyCar circuit, Jimmy Johnson announced a return to stock cars in 2023, buying a stake in Petty GMS. Johnson said he'll return to the driver’s seat for a handful of races as well. It now looks like the number will be five including the Daytona 500. Petty GMS fields the No. 43 driven by Erik Jones and the No. 42 of incoming rookie Noah Gragson.

* Team principal Jost Capito and technical director François-Xavier Demaison are leaving Williams after it finished last in the Formula One constructors’ championship. Capito led the team for two seasons after investment firm Dorilton Capital bought the team in 2020 from the Williams family. Williams didn’t give a timeline for replacing Capito and Demaison. The first race next season is on March 5 in Bahrain. Williams has won nine constructors’ titles, second only to Ferrari, but none since 1997. The team has been among the slowest in F1 and faced financial problems before the 2020 takeover.

Stay safe. Be Well.