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Nutson's Weekly Auto New Round-up - January 1-7, 2023



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 January 1-7, 2023

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.

* The new year began with a tragedy in the world of motorsports. Action sports legend and pro rally car driving champion Ken Block, co-founder of DC Shoes and Hoonigan Racing, died near his home in Utah at the age of 55 following a snowmobile accident. According to the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office, Block was riding a snowmobile at around 2 PM on a steep slope when the vehicle suddenly upended and landed on top of him. Officials say he was pronounced dead on scene due to injuries he suffered during the accident.

* General Motors has been crowned the sales king for 2022. GM delivered 2.27 million vehicles in the U.S. in 2022, a 2.5% rise and leading the industry in total sales. Toyota said it sold 2.1 million vehicles in the U.S. last year, down 9.6% from 2021. Toyota successfully retained the crown for #1 Retail Brand for the 11th consecutive year.

* Ford F-Series will surpass 640,000 trucks in 2022, making it America’s best-selling truck for 46 years and America’s best-selling vehicle for 41 years after selling an average of at least one F-Series Truck every 49 seconds last year. From F-150 to F-550 chassis cab, entry level XL to well-equipped Limited, EcoBoost to the all-electric F-150 Lightning, lined bumper to bumper, all of the Ford F-Series trucks sold last year would stretch approximately 2,400 miles, or further than the driving distance from Los Angeles to Detroit.

* U.S. auto sales rose slightly in December, helped by moderately improving inventory levels and higher fleet deliveries, but capped a year that will see volume drop to around 13.9 million, the lowest level since 2011. With the improvements in supply chain and microchip, strong demand should bring 2023 sales up about 1 million to 14.8 million. J.D. Power reports the aversge new veicle price in December was just over $46,000. Signs are that prices may be coming down as inventories grow.

* From the Wall Street Journal we read that U.S. electric vehicle sales in 2022 are up by 66%. Auto makers sold 807,180 full electric vehicles last year. That's 5.8% of total sales in a market that fell 8%.Tesla is still the biggest seller but their share is dropping. Ford is No. 2 in EV sales. There are 53 EV models on sale or slated to go on sale this year--a fraction of the 625 seperate vehicle models sold overall in 2022.

* AAA is expanding its services for electric vehicle owners across the United States. AAA is launching a pilot program, offering roadside charging for EVs in 16 metro areas. A AAA survey found the transition to EVs is being driven in large part by savings on fuel costs, with 77% citing this as a top reason. Range anxiety remains the number one barrier between consumers and wider EV adoption. AAA will help ease this anxiety by deploying specialized trucks equipped with mobile electric vehicle chargers, providing enough range to get drivers home or to the nearest charging station.

* Starting Jan 1 EV tax credits can be applied to consumer leases, according to the U.S. Treasury. The credit can be used to reduce leasing prices. However, the new guidance does not change the definition of what constitutes North American assembly to make more vehicles eligible for EV purchases.

* Also, the United States is introducing incentives on Jan. 1 for delivery firms and other companies to switch to electric trucks. Both the Ford eTransit and Rivian electric van are in use now by Amazon.

* If you are shopping for an EV the next few months is a good time to buy. The Inflation Reduction Act changed how the federal government incentivizes electric-vehicle purchases. Overall manufacturer sales limits were removed and replaced by monetary limits and domestic production and sourcing. However, the IRS said if needs a few months before it determines how it will calculate the sourcing requirements. The Chevrolet Bolt EUV and certain Tesla modles are now a good choice.

* From we read: Tesla has been fined $2.2 million by the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) for false advertising regarding its range. Last year, they reported on the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) launching an investigation into allegations that Tesla violated advertising laws by overstating the range of its electric vehicles. Korea uses the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and therefore, Tesla uses the same range as it advertised in most other markets other than in North America, where it uses the EPA-rated range. However, the KFTC’s main issue appeared to be the range drop in cold weather. Now the KFTC has announced that it is imposing a 2.85 billion won ($2.2 million) fine on Tesla for not clearly stating that its range might drop significantly in cold weather.

* US DoE factoid of the week: A wave of new planned electric vehicle battery plants will increase North America’s battery manufacturing capacity from 55 Gigawatt-hours per year (GWh/year) in 2021 to nearly 1,000 GWh/year by 2030. Most of the announced battery plant projects are scheduled to begin production between 2025 and 2030. By 2030, this production capacity will be capable of supporting the manufacture of roughly 10 to 13 million all-electric vehicles per year. To optimize supply chain logistics, many battery plants will be co-located with automotive plants. Most of the planned projects in the United States are concentrated along a north-south band from Michigan to Alabama. Based on current plans, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Michigan will see the highest growth in battery manufacturing capacity.

* Mercedes-Benz announced far-reaching plans to launch a global high-power charging network across North America, Europe, China and other key markets. It will begin to be built this year in the US and Canada, followed by other regions around the globe. The aim is to have the full network in place before the end of the decade, when Mercedes-Benz intends to go all-electric wherever market conditions allow. The Mercedes-Benz high-power charging network should greatly enhance customers' charging experience, accelerate the journey towards the all-electric future and create a global infrastructure asset with future value-creation potential. The Mercedes-Benz charging hubs will be located in key cities and urban population centers, close to major arteries, convenient retail and service destinations, including participating Mercedes-Benz dealership sites. Current charging networks don’t offer a Mercedes-grade experience, according to a company executive.

* At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas the new seven-seat all-electric Volvo EX90 SUV was shown for the first time in North America. Volkswagen took the wraps off the new ID.7 sedan, clad in smart camouflage, which uses unique technology and multi-layered paintwork to create light effects on parts of the vehicle. The sedan will offer top-class technology and quality and is aimed to extend VW's electric model range into the upper segments. Stellantis unveiled its Ram 1500 Revolution battery-electric Concept pickup. Expect a production model in 2024. Sony Honda Mobility Inc. announced its new brand “AFEELA”, and unveiled a prototype as a new type of mobility.

* The Kogod School of Business released the Made in America Auto Index, which highlights the new vehicles that contain the most U.S.-sourced domestic material. This year’s report found that the Lincoln Corsair is the “most American” new vehicle currently on sale. The Made in America Auto Index uses seven points derived from publicly available data based on research performed by the Center for Automotive Research to arrive at these conclusions. The seven points are: profit margin, labor, research and development; inventory, capital, and other expenses; engine, transmission, and body, chassis, and electrical components.

* The Detroit Free Press has named their 2023 Free Press Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year awards. The winners provide a good bellweather for the North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year winners. The Free Press car winner is the Acura Integra, truck winner is the Ford F-150 Lightning and the utility vehicle is the Kia EV6.

* Volkswagen is recalling nearly 42,000 Beetles in the U.S. and Canada because they have potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. The recall covers Beetles from the 2015 and 2016 model years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in documents that the inflators can explode with too much force and hurl shrapnel.

* In a joint announcement Andretti Global and GM said they are pursuing an entry as Andretti Cadillac on a potential Formula 1 entry following the FIA’s announcement it may invite Expressions of Interest from new teams. The partnership would bring GM into F1 for the first time. The team would be based out of the United States but with a support facility in the United Kingdom.

* Dakar Rally 2023 started on December 31, 2022 on the North Western coast of Saudi Arabia, before traveling inland towards the city of Ha’il. From there, the route continues in a South-easterly direction, bisecting the feared Empty Quarter, before finally swinging northwards towards the finish at Dammam, on January 15, 2023. Driving 370 different vehicles more than 1,000 people lined up to race nearly 4,660 mi across Saudi Arabian deserts.

Stay safe. Be Well.