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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up Week Ending January 21, 2023



Auto Central January 22, 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.

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.

Weekly Auto News Wrap-up Week Ending January 21, 2023

* New-vehicle affordability declined again in December and reached a new low in 2022, according to the Cox Automotive/Moody’s Analytics Vehicle Affordability Index. Auto loan rates reached a new 20-year high and the average new-vehicle price increased to a record-high $49,507. The estimated typical monthly payment for a new vehicle increased to $777, another record. Auto loan interest rates continue to climb in the first part of January.

* To determine the most driver-friendly states in the U.S., WalletHub compared the 50 states across 31 key metrics. The data set ranges from average gas prices to rush-hour traffic congestion to road quality. Iowa is the best state for driving and Hawaii is the worst. To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit: Worst States To Drive In

* Somewhat jokingly, legislation had been introduced in Wyoming to phase out sales of new electric vehicles during the next 12 years, but the state senator behind the bill has said the move was simply intended to send a message to states such as California, which plans to phase out sales of new gas-powered vehicles. The bill states it is intended to "ensure the stability of Wyoming's oil and gas industry" and to "help preserve the country's critical minerals for vital purposes." VIDEO HERE

* Volta Inc announced that a unit of Shell Plc would take over the electric vehicle (EV) charging network operator in an all-cash deal valued at about $169 million. The company places its chargers at shopping malls and grocery stores, where EV drivers can power up their batteries for free. The deal is the latest example of energy companies snapping up or investing in EV charging infrastructure as demand for electric vehicles grows. BP, Total and France’s EDF are among a growing list of oil companies buying up EV charging assets. So, you may soon be able to charge an EV at your nearby corner gas station.

* Tesla has cut prices on most of its electric cars in the United States and Europe by as much as 20 percent in a bid to spur slackening demand. The cuts will allow some of Tesla’s lower-priced models, depending on equipment level, to qualify for federal tax credits of $7,500 that were made available starting Jan. 1 under the Inflation Reduction Act. The credit is available on electric cars priced under $55,000. Meanwhile, Teslas are losing resale value and customers feel duped.

* U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 2023 Best Cars for the Money awards. Covering 12 automotive categories, the awards put a spotlight on cars, SUVs and minivans that represent the best combination of long-term value and excellent ownership experience. Hyundai won four Best Car for the Money awards this year, which is more than any other brand. Kia earned three, Chevrolet and Honda each won two, and Mazda earned one. Best Car For The Money - HERE

* Reuters tells us pickup trucks are losing buyers in the United States to SUVs, according to a fresh look at registration data from S&P Global Mobility. Pickup truck market share fell to the lowest levels since 2012 during late 2022. That is bad news for the Detroit Three, who are relying on pickup profits to fund their EV investments.

* Exactly 70 years after the Corvette debuted at Motorama, Chevrolet returned to New York City to introduce the first-ever electrified Corvette with all-wheel-drive. The powerful 6.2L LT2 Small Block V-8 is supplemented by an electric motor driving the front wheels. The 2024 Chevrolet Corvette E-Ray with combined total of 655-HP will clock a 2.5-second 0-60 mph time before breezing through the quarter-mile in 10.5 seconds. The 2024 Corvette E-Ray goes on sale in 2023, with an MSRP of $104,295 for the 1LZ coupe and $111,295 for the 1LZ convertible model. 2024 Evette Video

* Car and Driver magazine announced their annual 10 Best Trucks and SUVs for 2023. This follows the previously announced 10 Best Cars. 10 Best Cars, SUV's and Trucks VIDEO

* MotorTrend announced that the Corvette Z06 has been named the 2023 MotorTrend Performance Vehicle of the Year. The Z06 bested 20 other contenders, including the highly regarded Civic Type R and Toyota GR Corolla.

* Reuters reported that a Tesla video produced to showcase the company’s autonomous driving technology was faked. This nugget came from Tesla’s director of Autopilot Software, Ashok Elluswamy, who testified in court last summer. In 2018 Apple engineer Walter Huang was killed while driving a Tesla that had the Autopilot system engaged. His family sued and that’s how Elluswamy found himself under oath. The video, which remains archived on Tesla’s website, was released in October 2016 and promoted on Twitter by CEO Elon Musk as evidence that 'Tesla drives itself.'

* The Roar Before the 24, the qualifying event for the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona runs this weekend, January 20th-22nd, culminating in qualifying. This year, IMSA reverts to the traditional form of class-by-class qualifying as featured at other rounds of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, rather than the sprint race we’ve seen at the Daytona road course for the last two years.

* The 45th edition of the Dakar Rally has come to an end in Dammam, Saudiu Arabia after 14 stages that saw dramatic turnarounds in every category as they covered a total of almost 5,000 kilometres. The overall win went to Nasser Al-Attiyah and co-driver Mathieu Baumel who piloted a Toyota Motor Corporation GR DKR Hilux T1+ pickup to overall victory. 235 of the 355 vehicles that started the 2023 Dakar have made it to the finish: 80 motorbikes (out of 121), 10 quads (18), 46 T1 and T2 cars (67), 38 lightweight prototypes (47), 39 SSVs (45) and all 22 trucks, along with 80 out of 88 crews in the third edition of the Dakar Classic, the regularity race for 20th-century vehicles.

* Jeff Beck was undeniably a world-class guitarist (named the fifth best of all time by Rolling Stone), but that didn’t stop him from spending half his life with his mitts shoved firmly in the finger-crunching inner workings of an engine. Jeff Beck had a significant car collection. GQ has a nice story: HERE

* Dr. Carl Hahn, the VW CEO who led the automaker's China expansion, has died at 96. During Hahn's decade-long tenure he established the Beetle as an American pop culture icon, and started Audi's transition to the luxury-car segment. He joined VW in 1954 and became its chief in 1982. Under Hahn, VW built factories in China, acquired Seat in Spain and Skoda in the Czech Republic, and expanded into former communist East Germany. Hahn died in his sleep at his home in Wolfsburg, according to a spokeswoman from his charitable foundation.

Stay safe. Be Well.