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Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up August 6-12, 2023



Auto Central August 6, 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 August 6-12 2023;

* The average price Americans paid for a new vehicle in July 2023 was 0.4% higher than one year ago, the smallest year-over-year price increase in the last decade, according to Kelley Blue Book. Electric vehicle (EV) ATPs – led by price cuts at Tesla – were down nearly 18% year over year in July 2023 to $53,469 from $65,108 one year ago. Incentives increased for the tenth consecutive month in July 2023; the average incentive package is now 4.4% of the average transaction price, the highest since October 2021. Get more details here.

* Kelley Blue Book has released 2023’s list of the 10 Coolest Cars Under $30K and the 10 Coolest Cars Under $20K. For car shoppers on the hunt for a reliable SUV, an EV equipped with the latest technology or a sleek sports car – there are options available for everyone! More details can be found in the press release linked here

* Reuters reports: Analysts have been watching for months in expectation that Lucid would eventually be forced by the price war Tesla started to discount its models. Over the weekend, the U.S. electric vehicle maker did just that. Lucid reduced the price of the Air Pure by $5,000 to $82,400, and cut the more powerful Touring and Grand Touring versions by $12,400 to $95,000 and $125,600 respectively. Tesla’s price cuts starting in January have sparked intense competition in China, where about two dozen automakers have followed with discounts of their own to stay competitive and stoke demand. They have also prompted global automakers including Ford, General Motors, Honda and Stellantis to slash prices as well. But the key difference between those established players and Lucid is they are all still making money off internal combustion engine models. Like other EV startups, Lucid has been burning through cash as it tries to ramp up production.

* CNBC reports Ford now expects to be building EVs at a rate of 600,000 per year sometime during 2024, a delay from earlier estimates that it would reach that level by the end of 2023. The automaker had previously targeted a rate of more than 2 million per year by the end of 2026, but now says it doesn’t know when it’ll achieve that volume. “The transition to EVs is happening, it just may take a little longer,” CFO John Lawler said following the automaker’s second-quarter earnings results.

* Bloomberg reports the average weight of a new vehicle sold in the US last year was a whopping 4,329 pounds. That's over 1,000 pounds higher than the average in 1980, and up about 175 pounds in just the last three years. The weight gain is being exacerbated by the swith to electified models. Stellanits says that reining in vehicle weight is the biggest engineering challenge. Safety equipment has caused weight increase. Consumer preference for large SUVs and Pickups is another reason. And now EV batteries are adding 1,000 to 1,500 pounds for a long range sedan or SUV. Vehicle weight is a big factor in the significant incresase in crash fatality rates that have risen 20%. Perhaps there is change about to come as indicated by the new Toyota Land Cruiser that is smaller than its predecessor version.

* Production of the Nissan TITAN is scheduled to end summer 2024 at their Canton plant in Mississippi. Under Nissan's Ambition 2030 vision of an electrified future, they are accelerating the process of transforming the Canton plant with the latest in EV manufacturing technology. TITAN has been an important nameplate for Nissan in North America for 20 years.

* US DoE factoid of the week: In 2021, 87% of U.S. truck freight tonnage was shipped less than 250 Miles. Trucks moved nearly 12 billion tons of freight domestically in 2021, with most of the shipments traveling less than 250 miles. Shipments below 100 miles accounted for 44% of the total tonnage, and shipments between 100 and 249 miles accounted for 43%. This breakdown has important implications as the freight sector shifts towards electric drive and other alternative fuels where range and refueling infrastructure may be limiting factors.

* If you were considering a home back-up generator, you might want to give that a re-think. GM plans to offer bidirectional charging on all EVs by 2026. Bidirectional charging capability will start with the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST this year. Bidirectional charging allows the EV to send energy from its battery to other sources, such as a house. And if you are presently considering an EV you might want to wait if this is of value to you.

* The Detroit News reports Volvo is recalling nearly all battery-powered electric trucks in the U.S. that were made over the past four years because of an issue that may potentially cause a battery fire. The checks affect about 172 vehicles as part of the Volvo brand and nine Mack Trucks, built between 2019 and 2023. The Swedish truck maker will replace the batteries, following a fire in a battery that had been shipped to its Virginia assembly plant, according a report by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dated from last month.

*AP reports California regulators approved an expansion that will allow two rival robotaxi services to operate throughout San Francisco at all hours, despite safety worries spurred by recurring problems with unexpected stops and other erratic behavior that resulted in unmanned vehicles blocking traffic, including emergency vehicles. The state’s Public Utilities Commission voted to approve rival services from Cruise and Waymo to operate around-the-clock service. It will make San Francisco first major U.S. city with two fleets of driverless vehicles competing for passengers against ride-hailing and taxi services dependent on humans to operate the cars. It is a distinction that San Francisco officials didn’t want, largely because of the headaches that Cruise and Waymo have been causing in the city while testing their robotaxis on a restricted basis during the past year. San Francisco fire, police, & transportation leaders testified against the Waymo/Cruise request to deploy an unlimited # of robotaxis.

* Hyundai Motor Company’s all-new Santa Fe SUV debuted through a digital world premiere with an ‘Open for More’ concept that conveys the model’s radical transformation centered on its new wide tailgate. The fifth-generation Santa Fe enhances the midsize SUV’s city-friendly, adventure-ready appeal with a class-leading, terrace-like living space made possible by its longer wheelbase and larger tailgate opening. The longer wheelbase also allows the new model to offer enhanced third-row seating. Sales in the US will start in the first half of 2024.

* Cadillac unveiled the first-ever all-electric 2025 ESCALADE IQ, a reimagination of the luxury full-size SUV experience. Cadillac estimates driving range at 450 miles. It will have a 24-module Ultium battery producing more than 200 kWh of available energy. It also employs a flexible, high-voltage architecture that enables 800-volt DC fast charging, the quickest form of charging currently available, providing up to 100 miles of range in 10 minutes of charge time. Regular production of the ESCALADE IQ begins in summer 2024. Price is expected to begin at $130,000.

* A tragic crash at the Nürburgring Nordschleife race track in Germany has claimed the lives of two Goodyear engineers, who were reportedly testing tires when the fatal incident occurred. The fatal crash occurred during an "Industry Pool" session at the race track – which are exclusively reserved for automotive companies such as Goodyear to test vehicles. The car reportedly crashed at the ‘Tiergarten’ S-curve section of the 20 kilometre-plus Nordschleife&rs layout, which is preceded by the long Döttinger Hohe straight – where performance cars often eclipse 250km/h.

Stay safe. Be Well.