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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up January 29-February 4, 2023



Auto Central February 5, 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 Februry 4, 2023.

* Total light-vehicle deliveries rose 4.5% to 1.04 million vehicles in January, with sharply higher fleet shipments offsetting flat retail volume, according to Automotive News. Fleet volume has accounted for around 18% of total light-vehicle sales. The seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales, or SAAR, reached 15.9 million units, according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive. Toyota sales were down; Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, Mazda were up. Better availability of new vehicles is helping.

* The price war in the electric vehicle market just escalated. Ford dropped prices for its Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle by as much as $5,900, responding to Tesla’s price cuts on the Model Y. Ford is also offering reduced cost financing on Mach-Es through April 30. The price cuts mean four of six Mach-E models will now start below the $55,000 cut-off for the $7,500 U.S. EV tax credit. Ford already planned to increase Mach-E production this year for North America to 130,000 vehicles from 78,000 in 2022. Ford plans to use lower-cost lithium iron batteries from China’s CATL in North American Mach-Es to drop costs and boost production.

* And then this. The U.S. Treasury Department said it will make more Tesla , Ford Motor, General Motors and Volkswagen electric vehicles eligible for up to $7,500 tax credits after it revised its vehicle classification definitions. The reversal by Treasury is a win for Tesla, GM, Ford and other automakers which had pressed the Biden administration to change the vehicle definitions. Under the $430 billion climate bill approved in August, SUVs can be priced at up to $80,000 to qualify for EV tax credits, while cars, sedans and wagons can only be priced at up to $55,000. The Treasury announcement allows vehicles automakers consider crossover SUVs to qualify for credits. The decision raises the retail price cap to $80,000 from $55,000 for GM's Cadillac Lyriq, Tesla's five-seat Model Y, Volkswagen's ID.4, the Ford Mustang Mach-E and Escape Plug-in Hybrid. Only one version of the VW 1D.4 had been considered an SUV by the Treasury.

* US DoE factoid of the week: Monthly sales of new plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), including all-electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), reached 7.4% of all light-duty sales in September 2022, exceeding a 7% share for the first time. Of these, 6.2% were EVs and 1.2% were PHEVs. From the introduction of mass-market PEVs in 2010, it took about a decade for monthly sales of PEVs to routinely exceed a 2% share of all light-duty vehicle sales. That share then more than tripled in just two years to over 7%.

* EV charging infrastucture is growing. But, be patient. TravelCenters of America Inc., the nation’s largest publicly-traded full-service travel center network, announced an agreement with Electrify America to offer electric vehicle charging at select TA/Petro locations with the first stations planned to be deployed in 2023. Electrify America is the largest open direct current fast-charging network in the U.S. With a goal of installing approximately 1,000 individual chargers at 200 locations along major highways over five years (yes, five) TA will purchase Electrify America’s DC (Direct Current) fast chargers. Electrify America will install, operate and maintain the charging stations at TA/Petro locations, through its Electrify Commercial business unit.

* The U.S. EV Fast-Charging Corridor Road Map, recently released by the Great Plains Institute and Carbon Solutions, lays out what a national electric vehicle charging network could look like, consistent with the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program requirements. Highlights from the report: There are 509 fast-charging stations that meet basic NEVI requirements. The US needs at least 1,104 additional new fast-charging EV stations with four ports each, equaling a total of 4,416 charging ports. An estimated $794 million to $1.3 billion would be needed to fully build out the recommended stations. The fiscal year 2022 funds that each state will be receiving from the NEVI program would not fund all stations recommended by this analysis, assuming that each state spent all of its funding on charging stations. An additional $228 million to $646 million would be needed across the nation to build out all recommended stations.

* We saw the entirely new 2024 Mazda CX-90 at its world premier in Southern California this week. The new three-row SUV will seat up to eight. There’s a choice of mild-hybrid inline six cylinder or a plug-in hybrid both paired with a new 8-speed automatic. A rear-biased all-wheel drive system is standard. Have a look here:

* San Francisco is trying to slow the expansion of robotaxis after repeated incidents in which cars without drivers stopped and idled in the middle of the street for no obvious reason, delaying bus riders and disrupting the work of firefighters. The city’s transportation officials sent letters to California regulators asking them to halt or scale back the expansion plans of two companies, Cruise and Waymo, which are competing head-to-head to be the first to offer 24-hour robotaxi service in the country’s best-known tech hub. The outcome will determine how quickly San Francisco and possibly other cities forge ahead with driverless technology that could remake the world’s cities.

* Honda announced it will not only continue electrifying its products but also take a proactive approach to increase the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier and strive to expand its hydrogen business. Honda is planning to begin sales of the all-new FCEV model in 2024 in North America and Japan. This model will be based on the CR-V introduced last year in North America and equipped with the next-generation fuel cell system. In addition to the advantages of FCEVs, which enables long-distance driving with short refueling time, this all-new FCEV model will feature a plug-in function that offers the convenience of EVs which can be recharged at home. Honda is envisioning the initial sales level of 2,000 units per year and will strive to expand sales in stages, with goals to increase sales to 60,000 units in 2030, and to a few hundred thousand units per year by the second half of the 2030s.

* Hyundai announced the new, all-electric 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6 has completed final EPA testing with the IONIQ 6 SE Long Range RWD trim receiving an EPA-estimated range of 361 miles. The IONIQ 6 SE AWD achieved an EPA-estimated range of 316 miles. The EPA ratings equate to a rating of 140 combined MPGe for the model. That rating matches the efficiency of the two Lucid Air models that are at the top of Fuel 2023 Top Ten Vehicles list.

* Barrett-Jackson kicked off the 2023 auction calendar with their flagship Scottsdale Auction, January 21-29 at WestWorld of Scottsdale. In dynamic and trendsetting fashion, the historic event featured a diverse docket of 1,907 No Reserve collectible vehicles totaling more than $184.2 million in auction sales and surpassing 200 world auction records. Leading the charge was the 1989 Ferrari F40 that sold for $2.75 million.

* Hemmings reports California car nuts, restoration shops and chrome plating companies are on the brink of losing access to chrome’s distinctive shine. According to a California Air Resources Board (CARB) document, the state is considering tightening chrome plating regulations, specifically phasing out hexavalent chromium, the chemical compound that gives chrome its mirror-like finish. This compound is also widely used outside the automotive realm from home items like kitchen faucets, to stainless steel production and textile manufacturing. CARB’s restriction on hexavalent chromium, or “chrome-6” as the bill states, would be the first ever ban of its kind.

* North America's premier endurance race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona, ended its 24-hour event last Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. The 61st edition was headlined by the new GTP class, featuring nine LMDh prototypes produced by Porsche, Cadillac, Acura and BMW. Tom Blomqvist dominated the final hour in Meyer Shank Racing's No. 60 Acura prototype, giving the team a second straight win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Blomqvist's co-drivers over the two laps around the clock were Helio Castroneves, Colin Braun and Simon Pagenaud. The No. 60 was 4.190 seconds ahead of another Acura, the No. 10 from Wayne Taylor Racing, as the checkers flew to bring an end to the motor racing marathon.

* After more than two decades, Ford is returning to Formula 1. Ford and Red Bull Powertrains are entering into a longterm strategic technical partnership for the development of a next-gen hybrid power unit to be used from the 2026 Formula 1 season onward. Red Bull Ford will provide the power units for both the Oracle Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri teams from 2026 to at least 2030. In 2026, Ford will be the only manufacturer to be competing in racing disciplines from grassroots motorsports to Formula 1 comprising WEC and IMSA including Le Mans 24 Hours with Mustang GT3, WRC with the M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1, Baja 1000 with Ranger Raptor and Bronco, and NASCAR, NHRA and Supercars with Mustang.Ford dominated F1 in the late 1960s and 1970s as an manufacturer with Cosworth.

Stay safe. Be Well.