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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrapup April 30-May 6, 2023



Auto Central May 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.

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.

Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up Week April 30-May 6, 2023.

* U.S. sales advanced 10 percent in April to a 15.9 million vehicle annualized rate, well ahead of expectations, according to Wards Intelligence and Cox Automotive. Cox Automotive says improving inventory and incentives, higher fleet deliveries, and sufficient retail demand continues to power the market to an upside. Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Genesis, Kia and Subaru all posted double-digit sales increases. Passenger cars (yes, cars) and electrified vehicles saw sales growth. J.D. Power, said new-vehicle transaction prices continue to rise, with the average price reaching an April record of $46,044.

* In the first reporting of the Carfax Used Car Index, the news is mixed: Although prices for all vehicle types are down from a year ago, they have started creeping up again in the last few months. The used car segment (which includes sedans, coupes, convertibles, hatchbacks, and wagons) has seen the biggest drop in average price year-over-year, down 10.8% to $18,869. A year ago, the average price for a used car on was just under $21,000. That difference might not seem huge, but an extra $2,000 off is a boon for shoppers with a limited budget. However, it’s not all good news. Nearly all of the 12-month trend charts are heading back up after declining for most of the past year. That suggests market volatility isn’t going away any time soon. Have a look:

* California officials approved a ban on the sale of new large semi-trucks and buses that run on diesel by 2036. The new rule requires federal government approval. It would create the most stringent practices in the country. Some large companies have already started to switch to trucks that emit little lto no carbon dioxide. A trucking industry group called the action to phase out combustion commercial trucks “unrealistic” and “unachievable.”

* Michael Sivak of Sivak Appleid Resesrch and the Green Car Congress reports carbon emissions from generating electricity for electric vehicles varies greatly across the individual U.S. states. The overall advantage of battery electric over gasoline vehicles, in terms of well-to-wheels emissions of greenhouse gases, has been well documented. However, the emissions of electric vehicles depend greatly on the energy source used to generate the electricity that powers them. The report informs that coal and oil are the energy sources leading to most emissions, and that hydro, wind, and nuclear are the energy sources leading to least emissions. On the two extremes, coal and oil result in about 176 times the emissions from hydro. Individual US states vary greatly in the distribution of the energy sources for generating electricity within their borders. For example, the dominant source in Rhode Island is natural gas (90.9%), in West Virginia it is coal (90.8%), in Washington it is hydro (64.6%), and in New Hampshire it is nuclear (56.5%).

* US DoE factoid of the week: U.S. motor fuel taxes are lower than in other developed countries. The taxes assessed per gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel in the United States are significantly lower than in other developed countries. As of December 2021, U.S. motor fuel taxes, which include a weighted average of state plus federal taxes, were less than half that of the other countries. In the most dramatic comparison, U.S. gasoline taxes were only 10% of those in the Netherlands. Have a look at the details here

* Texas electric vehicle drivers could soon be required to pay an annual $200 fee to register their cars. The state legislature passed Senate Bill 505 with unanimous support, sending the bill to Gov. Gregg Abbott's desk for his signature, which would make it law in Texas. Republican state Sen. Robert Nichols, who sponsored the legislation, said an additional electric vehicle fee is necessary because EV drivers don't pay gas taxes when they fuel their vehicles. Texas uses the gasoline/diesel fuel tax to fund transportation projects; however, with the growing use of EVs, the revenue from the fuel tax is decreasing, which diminishes the ability to fund road improvements for all drivers.

* Recurrent Motors, a battery analysis company based in Seattle, studied data from 15,000 electric vehicles in the US and found only 1.5% needed battery replacement and of those EVs that were driven about 100,000 miles or more, 90% have retained their original range. The study looked at charging activity, battery level and range by tapping the vehicles' connectivity systems. Worried about EV battery life? Research shows they could outlive the cars they power

* The Ford E-Transit is the first van from a full-line automaker to offer a Type A School Bus package on an electric powertrain. This prep package provides Ford Pro upfitters the chassis essentials to complete the vehicle as a school bus for school districts across the country as an alternative transportation solution with zero-emissions. Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is expected to increase interest and adoption. EPA's new Clean School Bus Program provides: $5 billion over the next five years (FY 2022-2026) to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models. Funding for necessary chargers and charging infrastructure.

* Ford cut Mustang Mach-E prices for the second time in 4 months. The latest price reductions — ranging from $700 to $3,700, depending on trim level — come as Tesla continues to lower prices on its own vehicles. Mach-E sales fell 20 percent in the first quarter to 5,407. The automaker had taken downtime at the Mach-E plant earlier this year as it prepares to boost capacity.

* Hagerty shared that the National Motorcycle Museum will close on September 5 of 2023, but only this week did we learn that hundreds of bikes and thousands of pieces of memorabilia will be sold to the public days after the doors are closed for the last time. The sale will be handled by Mecum Auctions and is set for September 6–9, according to the auction house’s website. READ HERE

* Stellantis will recall 131,700 Ram 1500 pickup trucks manufactured in 2021 due to a powertrain software issue. The issue may cause the pickup trucks with 5.7L eTorque engines to stall due to an incorrect fuel mixture condition.

* Ford is recalling certain 2004 to 2006 Ranger vehicles because replacement front passenger air bag inflators may have been installed incorrectly. The NHTSA said that the recall includes 231,942 vehicles.

* In the interest of customer safety, BMW of North America has pro-actively issued an immediate Do Not Drive warning for approximately 90,000 2000-2006 BMW 3 Series (E46) including M3, 2000-2003 5 Series (E39) including M5, and 2000-2004 X5s (E53) equipped with certain driver’s front airbag inflators manufactured by Takata. These vehicles have already been included in several Takata-related recalls; however, despite intense customer outreach efforts by BMW since 2016, they remain unrepaired and, as the airbag inflators age further, the risk of serious injury or death increases. Therefore, to reemphasize the seriousness of the situation, the decision was made to escalate the recall to a Do Not Drive order. Owners of affected BMWs that have not had their vehicles inspected and repaired should not consider them safe to drive.

* Qatari racer Nasser Al-Attiyah, who has won the Dakar Rally five times in addition to numerous other off-road racing victories, added to his resume last week with a win in the Sonora Rally in Northern Mexico. Al-Attiyah and co-driver/navigator Mathieu Baumel of France won the six-day FIA Rally Raid in a Toyota Gazoo Racing DKR Hilux truck, after rivals Sebastien Loeb and Fabian Lurquin crashed out on day three. The Sonora Rally has been held for nine years so far, in the wild sand dunes and trackless desert of the Sonoran state in Northern Mexico. Competitors must navigate using only maps, route book, and compass. No GPS or other modern conveniences are allowed. This is the first year the rally has been part of the newly formed FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, a series that is in only its second year. Thanks to Autoweek for this report.

* The 2023 Tire Rack One Lap of America presented by Grassroots Motorsports Magazine is a demanding eight-day, 3,200-mile road rally that runs from May 6 – 13. One of the most challenging grassroots motorsports events in the world, the 39th running of One Lap of America starts and ends at the Tire Rack headquarters in South Bend, Indiana, and sends competitors through 15 states. The competition includes timed track events at many of America’s greatest motorsports facilities, including Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, and Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tennessee.

* Jim Wangers, the Godfather of the GTO and ad guy who had John DeLorean’s ear and helped make the 1960s Pontiac’s decade, passed away peacefully early in the morning of April 29, 2023. He was 96 years old. Wangers joined Campbell-Ewald as a copywriter right when Chevrolet was transitioning from a member of the “Low-Priced Three” to “The Hot One.” He tried convincing his superiors that NASCAR‘s Speed Week was a fine opportunity to hype the new 180-horse Power Pack for the small-block V8, but Wangers was told that “Chevrolet is not into racing.” Pontiac had developed a reputation as being a unique sporty brand. Wangers enjoyed a unique role as the unofficial spokesman for Pontiac, a man with one hand on the pulse of the Pontiac thanks to his close relationship with Chief Engineer John DeLorean, the other on the pulse of the street.

Stay safe. Be Well.