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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up May 28-June 3, 2023



Auto Central June 4, 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 May 28-Jume 3, 2023.

* Cox Automotive reports that annual new-vehicle sales pace in May is expected to finish near 14.9 million, up 2.3 million from last May’s 12.6 million pace, but down from April’s 15.9 million level. May sales volume is expected to rise 20.3% from one year ago and reach 1.35 million units. Sales volume will fall 1.1% from April, which had one additional selling day. Significant year-over-year new-vehicle inventory levels and continued momentum in fleet sales are seen as key drivers of the expected healthy sales increases.

* Electric vehicles (EVs) are in the news everywhere you look. But twice as many car shoppers consider buying a hybrid. And a much-hyped revamp of federal EV tax credits did almost nothing to change demand for EVs. Those conclusions come from Kelley Blue Book’s first-quarter Brand Watch report for electrified vehicles. About a quarter of all new-car shoppers considered an electrified vehicle – an industry term encompassing hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and EVs – last quarter. Eighteen percent researched a hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Plug-in hybrids are hybrids that can travel a certain distance (usually around 30 miles) on electric power alone before using gasoline. Half that total, just 9%, looked at an EV.

* Reuters reports Ford CEO Jim Farley said that, for many automakers, EVs will remain more costly than their internal combustion engine counterparts until the second and third generation models go into production later in this decade. Between 2030 and 2035, Farley added, much of the industry's EV cost savings will come from "dramatically lower labor content" because the vehicles will be simpler to build with fewer parts, and will be fitted with smaller batteries that use cheaper materials. Today, EVs on average are in the price range of a luxury vehicle.

* US DoE factoid of the week: Light trucks dominated sales of Light-Duty Vehicles with an MSRP over $30,000. At the lower end of the price spectrum based on manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP), there were more cars sold than light trucks; however, light-duty vehicle sales over $30,000 were dominated by light trucks (pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, vans, and minivans). For 2021, most light-duty vehicle sales fell into the MSRP range of $28,000 to $44,000.

* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule to require all new vehicles to include automatic emergency brakes. The agency said that the proposed rule would “dramatically” reduce the number of crashes with pedestrians and rear-end collisions. It projects that the rule would save 360 lives and reduce injuries by 24,000 every year. NHTSA chief counsel Ann Carlson said 90 percent of new vehicles already include the emergency braking through a voluntary program. But she said the agency wants to have the brakes become more effective at higher speeds and better at avoiding pedestrians. She said the rule would require all vehicles to be able to stop and avoid contact with a vehicle in front of them up to 62 miles per hour.

* Families looking for a safe, practical set of wheels for a recent high school graduate or other young driver can choose among 46 used vehicles and 16 new ones on this year’s teen vehicle list from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Consumer Reports (CR). Finding an appropriate, affordable vehicle can be challenging, as prices for new and used vehicles remain stubbornly high. In contrast to previous years, all but a handful of the vehicles on this year’s list of recommended vehicles for teens cost more than $10,000.

* Volkswagen of America, Inc. unveiled the three-row ID. Buzz in Huntington Beach, California. Paying homage to the iconic Volkswagen Microbus, the three-row ID. Buzz has been tailored specifically for North America. It offers a longer wheelbase than the two-row European vehicle that debuted in 2022, plus a bigger battery and more horsepower. Retro design cues—like the oversized VW logo, short overhangs, and available two-tone color palette—meet a tailored interior, cutting-edge EV technology, and advanced driver assistance features, clearly marking it as a vehicle of the future. The three-row 2025 ID. Buzz is planned for sale in the North American market starting in late 2024. Yes, 2024!

* Stellantis and General Motors paid a total of $363 million in fines for falling short of U.S. fuel economy targets, Reuters' David Shepardson reported exclusively. “The record-setting penalties include $235.5 million for Stellantis for the 2018 and 2019 model years and $128.2 million for GM covering 2016 and 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Shepardson writes. The Biden Administration last year reinstated tougher financial penalties on automakers that failed to meet minimum fuel efficiency standards under the Corporate Average Fuel Economy program.

* Wiser thinking prevails. Rivian will cancel the 'tank turn' feature to prevent trail abuse. CEO RJ Scaringe says the R1T pickup can spin like a tank — as shown in a viral 2019 video — but the potential for environmental damage is too great.

* Again! Park outside. Ford is recalling 142,000 Lincoln crossovers in the U.S. for fire risks. Ford said it is advising owners to park outdoors and away from structures due to potential underhoof fire caused by a short-circuit in the 12-volt battery monitort sensor. Affected vehicles are the 2015 t0 2019 MKC utility vehicles.

* Toyota is recalling 96,000 Corolla Cross crossovers for airbags that might not deploy. The passenger-side airbag may not deploy correctly in certain 2022 and 2023 models. The automaker recommends no one sit in the front passenger seat until the vehicle is inspected and a repair is completed.

* Josef Newgarden won the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 in a wild finish after three crashes in the last 16 laps. Newgarden's Chevrolet-powered racer boosted Roger Penske to a record 19 victories. A trio of red flag crashes set up a dramatic finish during the race, which saw 52 lead changes among 14 drivers.

* Robin Matthews, whose car was damaged at the Indianapolis 500 after a crash sent a tire spinning over the grandstands, will get a new vehicle. According to an Indianapolis Motor Speedway spokesperson, Penske Entertainment will provide Matthews with a new car. The incident occurred with less than 20 laps to go in Sunday's race when Felix Rosenqvist and Kyle Kirkwood collided and Kirkwood's rear left tire bounced off the track and flew over the crowd in Turn 2. Matthews car appears to be a Chevy Cavalier, based on a twitter post.

* The Circuit de Monaco is one of the most iconic stops on Formula 1’s schedule, but it is also one of its most treacherous. When rain started to fall during the Monaco Grand Prix and tires started to lose their grip Max Verstappen kept things under control. While others struggled, he simply sped away, claiming his fourth win of the season and the 39th of his career. Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin finished the race where he started it, in second place, and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon did the same to claim a satisfying third. Mercedes teammates Leiws Hammilton and Russel finished fourth and fifth.

* Hagerty media reports Tina Turner was known for many things: her unmistakable raspy voice, her unrivaled on-stage energy, and her ability to overcome whatever life threw her way. Did you know she was also an avid an auto enthusiast? Turner always found solace in automobiles, most notably her white Jaguar XJ6, which she received as a gift from Sammy Davis Jr. in 1970. She also had a silver E-Type, given to her in 1973 by then-husband Ike Turner. With the success of Turner’s 1984 comeback album, Private Dancer, she treated herself to a new Lamborghini LM002.

* George Maharis, who starred as the brooding Buz Murdock on the "Route 66" TV show before he quit the acclaimed 1960s CBS drama after contracting hepatitis, has died. He was 94. Route 66, created by Stirling Silliphant and Herbert B. Leonard, featured the Hell’s Kitchen native Murdock and Martin Milner‘s Yale dropout Tod Stiles touring the highways of America in Tod’s Chevrolet Corvette, encountering adventure along the way. All 116 installments of the series over four seasons starting in October 1960 were filmed in cities across the U.S., making for a grueling production schedule.

Stay safe. Be Well.