The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up February 25-March 4, 2023



Auto Central March 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 February 25-March 4, 2023.

* The number of people killed while walking U.S. streets increased yet again in the first half of 2022, demonstrating that the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths over the last decade shows no sign of stopping. The Governors Highway Safety Association, a group of state safety offices, estimated that the number of pedestrians who died in early 2022 was 5% higher than the same period a year earlier. That amounts to at least 3,343 people, according to a new analysis by GHSA based on preliminary data. “The causes are still the same—at least the ones everyone can agree on—dangerous driving, larger and heavier vehicles and inadequate infrastructure,” said Russ Martin, GHSA’s senior director of policy and government relations.

* The Paris-based International Energy Agency suggested it’s time for the car industry to downsize its vehicles, citing data that showed the world’s 330 million sports utility vehicles, or SUVs, pumped out almost 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2022. “The shift towards heavier and less fuel-efficient conventional vehicles increases growth in both oil demand and CO2 emissions,” the agency said, noting that SUVs consume about a fifth more gasoline than an average medium-sized car. Electric SUVs require larger batteries than smaller cars, the agency noted. “A growing electric SUV market would impose additional pressure on battery supply chains and further increase demand for the critical minerals needed to make the batteries,” it said.

* For those automakers who report monthly sales Februry was a mixed bag of results. Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Genesis, Subaru, and Volvo had gains. Honda, Toyota, Lexus are down. U.S. light-vehicle sales rose 9.5 percent to 1.14 million.

* The US is reportedly considering offering a range of limited trade agreements with allies in Asia and Europe who may have been unsettled by the Inflation Reduction Act, particularly the generous tax breaks offered on electric vehicle purchases. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says it may be possible to construct the agreements with no need for congressional involvement. For electric vehicles to be eligible for the full tax credit, a portion of the minerals that are used to make the batteries that power them must come from nations that have free trade agreements with the United States.

* US DoE factoid of the week: In 2022, seven states and the District of Columbia had more than 10 PEV (all-electic and plug in hybrid) registrations per thousand people. California led the nation in plug-in vehicle (PEV) registrations with 27.55 per thousand people. The next highest state was Hawaii with 15.43 PEV registrations per thousand people. More than half of the states had over five, while no state had fewer than one PEV registration per thousand people. Higher PEV registrations per thousand people trended along the West Coast and the Northeast with some exceptions, such as Colorado, which was one of the top states.

* S&P Global Mobility announced the winners of its 27th annual Automotive Loyalty Awards, recognizing General Motors as the winner of its “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” award and Tesla for “Overall Loyalty to Make.” Industry-wide inventory shortages prompted many consumers to shop other brands if their previously chosen brand did not have sufficient stock. From pre-pandemic 2019, overall industry average loyalty has decreased from 54.6% to 50.2% in 2022. Auto Brand and Model Loyalty Drops

* A Cox Automotive analysis reports as prices rise and high interest rates shut out many shoppers with low credit scores, the U.S. market is becoming a luxury market, i.e., a new vehicle is a luxury afforded only by wealthier buyers. In December 2017, there were 36 models with MSRPs below $25,000, and the under-$25K share accounted for nearly 13% of total new-vehicle sales. Sales volume was 204,593. In December 2022, there were only 10 models with MSRPs under $25K, and the share of sales plunged to under 4%. Shift in the Luxury Segment Sales Due To Rising Prices and Higher Interest.

* Tesla has opened its first batch of Superchargers to non-Tesla EVs. Tesla said select locations of its Supercharger fast-charging stations are now open to EVs from rival manufacturers and has pledged to open 3,500 new and existing chargers by the end of 2024.

* J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership study repoirted that the Rivian RT1 pickup and Mini Cooper Electric won top honors for electric vehicle ownership. Tesla got beat out and General Motors and Volkswagen failed to get mentioned in the top tier. JD Power StudyEV Ownership Experience JD Power Study

* Ford is selling 9,250 eTransit delivery vans to U.S. Postal Service. USPS also said it was ordering more than 14,000 charging stations to be deployed at its facilities after it announced in December said it would more than double its planned EV delivery purchases.

* The number of drivers citing fear of automated vehicles is growing rapidly, according to a survey from AAA. Sixty-eight percent of drivers are afraid of riding in a self-driving vehicle, up from 55% in 2022, the poll found. AAA said it's also the largest annual increase in the survey since 2020. The study also found there are a lot of misconceptions about automated vehicles. Nearly one in ten drivers believe they can buy a vehicle that drives itself while they sleep — which isn't true — according to its findings. The survey also found that the names manufacturers have given their vehicle systems confuse consumers. Twenty-two percent of Americans expect driver support systems with names such as Autopilot, ProPILOT, or Pilot Assist can drive a car by itself without any supervision.

* All EVs? Not so fast. (For perspective first read what Akio Toyoda recently disposed Toyota President and always respected Car Guy said about future auto power options. Reuters reports Honda Motor Co is moving rapidly to catch up with electric-vehicle competitors in global markets, but the company’s top executive said combustion engines could last through 2040 and beyond. Honda has been slow to follow larger rivals, from Volkswagen AG to General Motors Co, in committing billions of dollars to developing and building EVs and batteries. Now it plans to invest at least $40 billion through 2030, with the goal of pushing hybrid and fully electric vehicles to 40% of its sales by decade’s end.

*But First: The Auto Channel's Marc Rauch Reaction To EPA Stonewalling From Reuters we read, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule that would allow sales of gasoline with a higher ethanol blend in certain U.S. Midwest states - a win for corn growers but a potential logistical challenge for the oil industry. The proposal comes in response to a request from the governors of corn-producing Midwestern states including Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois, that the agency lift an effective ban on E15, or fuel containing 15% ethanol, to lower pump prices and help farmers. The EPA's proposal would take effect in the summer of 2024, a year later than the governors had requested.

* According to Bloomberg, Ford Motor Co. has filed for a patent on technology that could remotely shut down your radio or air conditioning. It could also potentially lock you out of your vehicle, or prompt it to beep constantly if you miss car payments. Ford could also shut down key fobs, door locks. Ford, according to the report, said it has no plans to use the technology.

* NHTSA Says Nissan is recalling more than 809,000 Rogue crossover utility vehicles in U.S. and Canada for collapsing ignition keys. The recall covers 2014-2020 Rogue and 2017-2022 Rogue Sport vehicles equipped with a jackknife-style ignition key.

* NHTSA Says Jeep is recalling over 69,000 Wranglers from the 2018 through 2023 model years and Gladiator pickups from the 2020 through 2023 model years with manual transmissions because a problem with the clutch pressure-plate could cause a fire. If the pressure plate for the clutch overheats, it could break, and hot debris could be expelled from the transmission case.

* NHTSA Says: Toyota is recalling 144,000 Tundra pickups in North America becaue the pickup bed tonneau cover may detach. The recall affects certain 2022-23 Tundra pickups with optional Toyota-genuine tonneau covers.

* Autoweek reports one of the premier Midwestern auto shows became Detroit’s Autorama, where the Don Ridler Memorial Award became one of the most sought-after triumphs for a car owner or builder to add to their resume. This year’s winner is Luigi Deriggi’s 1950 Mercury dubbed “Maximus.” Finished in a candy root beer paint by builder Pro-Comp Custom, this Mercury is stuffed full of radical changes. Gone is the standard Mercury chassis—in its place is hardware from the legendary Art Morrison. The Merc’s 255 CID flathead V8 has been replaced with a more modern Ford 5.0-liter Coyote engine.

* The entry list for the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans has been revealed and the 62 cars invited to the 100th anniversary of the iconic endurance race comprise a lineup of 16 Hypercars, 24 LMP2s, 21 LMGTE Am cars, and one Innovative Car. Ferrari is returning to the top tier at Le Mans for the first time in 50-years and will join Porsche, Peugeot, Cadillac, Vanwall, Glickenhaus and Toyota in the Hypercar class. NASCAR is returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Garage 56’s Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 racing as an Innovative Car outside of official classification. The Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is being entered by Hendrick Motorsports and was developed by a collaboration with NASCAR, Chevrolet, Goodyear, and IMSA.

Stay safe. Be Well.