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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up June 11-17, 2023



Auto Central June 18, 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 June 11-17, 2023.

* The average price Americans paid for a new vehicle in May remained below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) for the fifth consecutive month, according to data released by Kelley Blue Book, a Cox Automotive company. The average transaction price (ATP) of a new vehicle in the U.S. increased in May 2023 to $48,528, a month-over-month increase of 0.5% ($251) from an upwardly revised April reading of $48,277. In May 2023, the average price consumers paid for a new vehicle fell to $410 below MSRP, or sticker price. The average price paid for a new non-luxury vehicle in May was $44,960, an increase of $158 compared to April. The average luxury buyer paid $64,396 for a new vehicle in May 2023, up $239 from April. The initial estimate for the average price paid for a new electric vehicle (EV) in May is $55,488, mostly stable from last month and aligned with the industry change. The ATP for EVs in May 2023 is down a noteworthy $9,370 (down 14%) compared to one year ago.

* Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, outlined an ambitious plan for a new generation of Vehicle Power including hydrogen and electric vehicles. Toyota’s plan hinges on what the company said are breakthroughs in solid-state EV battery technology. Solid-state batteries hold the promise of longer driving range and less risk of fire. But experts have said solid-state batteries were difficult to manufacture at auto industry scale. Toyota says it has achieved breakthroughs that should allow it to launch vehicles with solid-state batteries by 2027 or 2028. Note: We have said that EVs will improve over time. It will take until the 2nd or 3rd generation of some to provide usability that is acceptable by a wide segment of vehicle owners.

* According to a Washington Post analysis of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data there have been 736 U.S. crashes since 2019 involving Teslas in Autopilot mode — far more than previously reported. The number of such crashes has surged over the past four years, the data shows, reflecting the hazards associated with increasingly widespread use of Tesla's futuristic driver-assistance technology as well as the growing presence of the cars on the nation's roadways. The number of deaths and serious injuries associated with Autopilot also has grown significantly, the data shows. When authorities first released a partial accounting of accidents involving Autopilot in June 2022, they counted only three deaths definitively linked to the technology. The most recent data includes at least 17 fatal incidents, 11 of them since last May, and five serious injuries.

* A new study from the AAA Automotive Engineering research team finds that electric vehicles (EVs) lose a significant amount of range when loaded with heavy cargo. The study tested the Ford F-150 Lightning, a popular electric pickup truck, and found that its range dropped by 24.5% (from 278 miles to 210) when loaded with 1,400 pounds of sandbags - 110 pounds shy of its maximum capacity. For context, 1,400 pounds is the same as hauling around 70 bags of mulch or 20 bags of concrete mix. Extra weight requires more energy to move. The type of driving also plays a role. Highway driving, which typically involves higher speeds and less regenerative braking, will further reduce range. Unlike gas-powered vehicles, which perform more efficiently at highway speeds, EVs thrive in urban driving conditions due to regenerative braking from more frequent stops. Regenerative brakes capture the energy from braking and convert it into the electrical power that charges the vehicle’s high-voltage battery. This electricity can then be stored in the car’s battery or power other electrical components. (Note: ICE-powered vehicles also use more fuel and have less range when loaded heavily.)

* Reuters reports EV charging network operators Chargepoint, Blink and EVgo said they will equip their charging stations with Tesla-compatible NACS plugs, falling in line with GM and Ford’s decisions to embrace Tesla’s hardware standard. Mercedes-Benz said it is evaluating “a technical implementation of the NACS and the resulting customer benefits with the respective experts.” Mercedes plans to build network of 2,000 charging hubs in North America, China and Europe. The ripples from the charging standard alliance among Tesla, GM and Ford are moving faster than the body that governs charging standards can keep up. CharlN, which had backed the rival CCS plug design, said the Tesla plug should go through the proper process to be designated as a standard. Stellantis said it is evaluating the situation. Volkswagen so far has said it is sticking with CCS.

* The San Francisco Bay area is the first major U.S. metropolitan area in which more than half the new vehicles registered are either electric or gas-electric hybrids, S&P Global reported. The Bay Area’s affluent, tech-savvy young buyers led the way to this milestone, S&P said.

* Wisconsin's legislative finance committe has voted to raise electric vehicle registration fees to $175 a year, up from $100 a year. For comparison, the registration fees for a gas vehicle is 485 and a hybrid vehicle is $75 a year. The increased fees are estimated to bring in an additional $3.3 million to the state's transportatin fund over the next two years. (Since EVs don't use gasoline they need to pay a road tax.)

* New-vehicle buyer consideration of electric vehicles is increasing, albeit slowly, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study. This year’s study reveals that 26% of shoppers say they are “very likely” to consider purchasing an EV, up from 24% a year ago, while the percentage of shoppers who say they are “overall likely” to purchase an EV increases to 61% from 59% in 2022.'s all about the charging. Consumer fear of finding working chargers on road trips is slowing purchase interest in electric vehicles, according to J.D. Power. Nearly half (49%) of shoppers rejecting the idea of buying an EV say their primary reason is a lack of charging station availability. 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study

* Joe White for Reuters writes, GM is counting on big pickups and SUVs to haul billions in profits into the next decade. That’s the strategy behind $3 billion in new factory investments announced in recent weeks. GM is not alone. All of the Detroit Three plan to keep their biggest combustion vehicles in production into the 2030s. They are putting asterisks on their commitment to EVs out of necessity. For now and for some years to come, EVs will not generate the levels of profit that combustion trucks and SUVs deliver – especially if a future U.S. Congress reduces EV subsidies. The worries about EV economics among Detroit executives explain the call this week by the industry’s main trade group for the Biden Administration to “ease up” on emissions rules aimed at pushing electric vehicles to a 67% share of the U.S. new vehicle market 2032.

* Toyota has developed an electric vehicle feature that behaves as if it has a stick shift, complete with revving sounds and faux gear shifts. The feature isn’t available yet but could be included in a new generation of EVs expected to be rolled out beginning in 2026. Toyota says they want to amplify the fun of driving.

* US DoE factoid of the week: The average annual number of miles that a combination truck (a tractor with at least one trailer) was driven in 2021 was 62,229 miles. Single-unit trucks are more often driven locally or regionally, resulting in much lower average annual miles driven—just 12,306 miles in 2021.

* Stellantis is recalling 331,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees for a spring problem. The rear coil springs could become detached, but Stellantis is not aware of any accidents or injuries caused by the issue. Models affected are the 2022-2023 Grand Cherokee and the 2021-2023 Grand Cherokee L.

* Ferrari ended a 50-year absence from the 24 Hours of Le Mans by toppling the mighty Toyota in the 100th, centenary running of the most iconic sports car race in the world. Ferrari last competed in Le Mans in 1973. As part of the new hyper class category featuring hybrid technology, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinaz driving the new #51 AF Corse 499P delivered Ferrari its first outright Le Mans win since Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt took top honours in 1965.

* Also at Le Mans, the #33 Corvette Racing car won the LM GTE class, marking a stunning end to its factory Le Mans team. GM has had a factory Corvette team at Le Mans for the last 25 years. The Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup car, shared by Jimmie Johnson, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller, was classified 39th after a series of delays in the final stages owing to apparent gearbox issues. This year marked the first time since 1976 that NASCAR was officially involved in Le Mans.

* Ford plans a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its Mustang muscle car next year under a massive rebranding of Ford Performance aimed at bringing the automotive manufacturer “into the racing business.” The new Mustang Dark Horse-based race car follows Ford's previous announcement that it will return to Formula One in 2026 in partnership with reigning world champion Red Bull. The Mustang will enter the GT3 category with at least two cars in both IMSA and the World Endurance Championship, and is hopeful to earn an invitation to next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

* The Austrailian-built Ford Performance Ranger Raptor race-truck has taken a strong class victory at the 2023 Finke Desert Race, with Brad and Byam Lovell winning the Production 4WD class in Alice Springs, Australia. The winning vehicle is the same race-prepared Ranger Raptor that won its class at the 2022 Baja 1000, finishing the race from Alice Springs to Finke and back in 5 hours, 56 minutes and 30 seconds. The time the truck set from Aputula (Finke) to Alice Springs is a Production 4WD class record. The Ranger Raptor completed the 226km course in 2 hours, 51 minutes and 18 seconds.

Stay safe. Be Well.