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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up July 2-8, 2023



Auto Central July 9, 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 Auto News Weekly Wrap-up July 2-9, 2023.

* US auto sales for June were strong as a result of increased availability that is meeting pent up demand across most all brands. Fleet sales are also on the rise. The seasonally adjusted, annualized rate of sales for June came in at 15.8 million. The percentage increases vary widely across vehicle brands, since a year ago so many makes did quiet poorly with low sales numbers. New vehicle sales up approximately 13% in the first half of the year totaling about 7.7 million vehicles. Electric vehicles accounted for 7.2% of sales in the first half, up from 5.8% last year.

* We previoulsy mentioned in this forum that car buyers considering an electric vehicle now have a lease option that will ease their pocketbook thanks to a loophole in the Inflation Reduction Act that allows vehicles made outside of North America to qualify for the $7,500 tax credit anyhow. Any car that is leased is classified as a commercial vehicle. Car companies can set up a commercial leasing division and buy their own vehicles in it, then they get the tax credit and they can pass it onto the consumer. Since December through June, the lease penetration rate for imported EVs has taken off, according to data from auto research firm The percentage of leased EVs in April, May and June has increased from 17-15-14%, respecrively to 37-37-44%, respectively. Some individual models have lease penetration rates as high as 85%. The Detroit Free Press has this covered very well. HERE

* A new report ranks states for their transition to electric vehicles. California leads the list, followed by New York, largely because of the Empire State’s robust plans to transition all of its school buses to zero-emission vehicles. The state of New York is set to lead the nation on a goal to transition school buses to zero-emission vehicles (ZEV), helping to position the state as the second-highest ranked region for EV adoption. The finding comes as part of the annual State Transportation Electrification Scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). New York, which operates some 45,000 school buses, the most in the nation, will require that all school bus purchases be zero emission by 2027, and all school buses in operation must be zero emission by 2035. The ACEEE electrification scorecard evaluates states along several metrics like planning, incentives, electric grid optimization and transportation system efficiency to better understand how effectively the state is transitioning its transportation sector toward EVs. The top five states in the 2023 scorecard are California, New York, Colorado, Massachusetts and Vermont. * Data from Mitchell shows that in 2022 electric vehicles cost about $6,800 on average to fix after accidents, about $2,400 more than the average for all cars. Battery-powered cars tend to require more expensive parts, the company said, and repairing them takes more time and may require work by specialist mechanics. Give this NY Times story a read. HERE

* And this Reuters story tells more: Insurers have complained that many EVs have no way to repair or assess even slightly damaged battery packs after accidents, forcing them to write off cars with low mileage - leading to higher premiums and undercutting gains from going electric. HERE

* A new report by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is intneded to serve as a strategic framework for the development of nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure designed to meet the needs of an anticipated 30–42 million light-duty EVs by 2030. NREL's analysis finds that a national network in 2030 could require approximately 1.2 million publicly accessible charging ports and an additional 26.8 million privately accessible charging ports. 1.2 million public charging ports would be comprised of: 182,000 publicly accessible fast charging ports—to enable long-distance travel and ride-hailing electrification and to support those who lack access to residential charging; 1 million Level 2 charging ports at publicly accessible locations—in high-density neighborhoods, office buildings, and retail outlets; 26.8 million Level 1 and Level 2 charging ports at privately accessible locations—largely homes, multifamily properties, and workplaces. HERE

* Joe White for Reuters writes Volkswagen said it is talking with Tesla about adopting its North American Charging Standard (NACS) and gaining access for its North American EV customers to the Tesla Supercharger network. VW’s statement came on the same day that luxury EV brand Polestar said it would sign up to join the Tesla standard and charging network. Also, Mercedes-Benz said it will access Tesla Superchargers in North America starting in 2024.

* U.S. DoE factoid of the week: For the past six months, the average nationwide monthly gasoline prices have been below $4 per gallon. When adjusted for inflation, average nationwide monthly gasoline prices have been below $4 per gallon since November of 2022 and were well below the most recent peak of $5.09/gallon in June 2022. Gasoline prices have traditionally fluctuated, but in the last 20 years the fluctuations have been more dramatic. The monthly average gasoline price was highest in July 2008 at $5.51.

* From SAE International we read, Mazda, the automaker with the longest and richest history of using the Wankel rotary engine announced that it resumed mass production of rotary engines for a new variant of the MX-30 compact crossover. Mazda provided little detail about the engine itself, which serves as a generator for the MX-30 e-SKYACTIV R-EV, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant of the MX-30 crossover. Mazda hasn’t used the unique powerplant for a production vehicle for more than a decade. The MX-30 e-SKYACTIV R-EV employs the rotary engine in a series-hybrid layout to generate electricity to replenish the vehicle’s 17.8-kWh lithium-ion battery, which when fully charged, can provide up to 85 km (31 miles) of driving range on Europe’s Worldwide Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) cycle. Gasoline from a 50-L (13.2-gal.) fuel tank supplies the rotary when its operation is required to provide electricity for extended-range driving. In a release, Mazda explained it “positioned it [the rotary engine] on the same axle as a high-output motor and a generator” in the front engine bay. The vehicle’s battery pack also can be recharged with AC or DC fast-charging. Mazda has yet to say whether the vehicle will be offered in North America; the MX-30 e-SKYACTIV R-EV was revealed in Europe in January 2023. It is the company’s first completely electric-drive model and is built in Hiroshima, Japan.

* The GRAND CHAMPIONS of the 2023 Hemmings Motor News Great Race presented by Coker Tire are Howard and Doug Sharp in their 1916 Hudson Pikes Peak Hillclimber! Congratulations to the Fairport, New York based team on their fourth Great Race Grand Championship. The 2023 Great Race of antique vehicles began in St. Augustine, Florida on June 24, 2023, and ended in Colorado on July 2, 2023. The nine-day, 2,300 mile endurance event has around 120 vehicles entered.

* NASCAR raced on the streets of Chicago last weekend, but mother nature took control. Heavy thunderstorms on Saturday resulted in the Xfiniti cup race being stopped two laps short of halfway. The 55-lap race on the inaugural 2.2-mile, 12-turn course through the Grant Park area of downtown Chicago was halted after 26 laps due to severe weather. Cole Cutler as declared the winner. On Sunday Shane van Gisbergen won his first victory in his first NASCAR Cup Series start in the rain-delayed, darkness-shortened, slippery-track Grant Park 220 on the Chicago Street Race Course. Delayed 90 minutes by rain, the weather gradually cleared but the dirvers still had to deal with water on the course. There were nine cautions, the last one coming on the last lap, which added additional laps in overtime.

* Charges are pending against a man who allegedly drove onto the NASCAR Chicago Street Race course on Saturday night after the day’s race was canceled early due to bad weather. The 46-year-old driver apparently moved a barrier to get access to the race course, Chicago police said. A bright yellow C-8 Corvette with red flame details could be seen stopped on the course. Officers appeared to question two men and the car was seen driving off the course with a police escort.

* News in F1 is saying the FIA is looking favorably on Andretti Global and General Motors to get the F1 team they want. Reports are there are five "expressions of interest" from teams interested in joining Formula One. GM Motorsports “expects to know in about 10 days” if its bid is accepted to join F1 with Andretti Global via the Cadillac brand. Regulations allow up to 12 teams. Presently there are ten.

* The LEGO “Icons” line is welcoming a new addition, the 10321 Chevrolet Corvette C1 set. The toymaker recreated the iconic classic car in celebration of the model’s 70th anniversary. The Lego Corvette C1 kit will sell for $150 around August 1, 2023, when it is scheduled to hit stores. Hemmings has more details

* Peter Horbury, Executive Vice-President of Design at Group Lotus passed away while on a business trip to China. Horbury was 73. In a career spanning almost 50 years, Horbury, probably is best known for turning around Volvo design. Horbury did design work at Chrysler, Ford (twice), Volvo (three times), Geely Group and Lotus while also freelancing for Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, MG, Rolls-Royce, Triumph and more. His diverse portfolio covered cars, bikes, buses, vans and London taxis from the mid-70s right up until his death. Stay safe. Be Well.