Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrap-up August 20-26, 2023
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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. for Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up August 20-26, 2023
* Automotive News reports leasing an EV is the cheapest way to get a new car, according to a new study. Energy Innovation, a nonpartisan energy and environmental policy firm, said leasing an EV reaps government incentives and fueling and maintenance savings. The study, released by Energy Innovation, said leasing an EV can save drivers more than $400 per month compared to leasing a comparable gasoline vehicle or buying an EV or combustion engine vehicle.
* Tom Krisher writing for Associated Press reports: Just five years ago, a price-conscious auto shopper in the United States could choose from among a dozen new small cars selling for under $20,000. Now, there's just one: The Mitsubishi Mirage. This current version of the Mirage, which reached U.S. dealerships a decade ago, sold for an average of $19,205 last month, according to data from Cox Automotive. The Mirage, with hatchback and sedan versions, costs less than half of what the average U.S. new vehicle does. That average is now just above $48,000 — 25% more than before the pandemic struck three years ago. Another factor that has swollen average prices is that 32 models in the United States now have selling prices above $100,000, according to Cox.
* From Reuters we read: U.S. vehicle safety regulators have proposed requiring automakers to install systems to remind rear-seat and front-seat passenger occupants to buckle their seat belts. The real significance of this rule-making exercise is what it shows about the glacial pace of U.S. vehicle technology regulation compared to vehicle technology change. As Reuters’ David Shepardson reports, the proposal lands 11 years after Congress mandated seatbelt reminders for rear-seat passengers, and new rules won’t take effect for at least another year.
* GM's Cruise autonomous robotaxi fleet has more issues in San Francisco. After two accidents, following the approval to expand their fleet, the state DMV asked Cruise to cut the fleet in half while investigations continued. Cruise will have no more than 50 driverless vehicles in operation during the day and no more than 150 at night. One of the accidents involved a fire truck, which seems to be one of the issues because the Cruise vehicles fail to recognize emergency vehicles using the oncoming/opposite traffic lane.
* Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced that the City has filed a civil lawsuit against Kia America, Inc., Kia Corporation, Hyundai Motor America, and Hyundai Motor Company for their failure to include industry-standard engine immobilizers in multiple models of their vehicles, resulting in a steep rise in vehicle thefts, reckless driving, property damage, and a wide array of related violent crimes in Chicago. The complaint, which was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleges that Kia and Hyundai failed to equip their U.S. cars, sold between 2011 and 2022, with vital anti-theft technology, which almost all other car manufacturers made a standard feature over a decade ago and which Kia and Hyundai include in their vehicles sold outside of the country. Chicago is not the first city to sue Kia and Hyundai. In March, Milwaukee, Wisconsin sued the two automakers on similar grounds after the city saw a spike in thefts.
* Some 157 million trips were made in 2022 on bikes and scooters operated by companies making up the micromobility industry, according to a new report by the North American Bikeshare and Scootershare Association (NABSA), roughly the same number as in 2019. The industry has firmly moved into cities of all sizes, with 401 in North America — 363 cities in the United States — hosting a bike-share, scooter-share, or both, operation. On an average day there are 289,000 bikes or scooters available for use in North America. This is an increase from 194,000 in 2019.
* When US Highway 50 opened almost a century ago, traversing its entirety — from Sacramento, California, to Ocean City, Maryland — was a dicey proposition. The highway spans desert valleys and mountain ranges, and fellow travelers were scarce. So were gas stations. In 1986, Life magazine dubbed the Nevada portion of Route 50, which runs through the center of the state, “The Loneliest Road in America” for its dearth of activity and attractions. The highway’s nickname stuck. Thanks to new public charging stations, Route 50 is finally on the EV map — though two long stretches in the Midwest remain tricky. Making the full trek in a battery-powered car requires temperate weather, a few white-knuckle stints and a tailwind or two. But it is doable, as of a few months ago. With the right EV, a pioneering traveler can now cross America’s loneliest road on public fast chargers alone.
* Apple TV streaming service releasd the first episode of the four-part docu-series "Wanted: The Escape of Carlos Ghosn" on Friday. August 25. It's the latest documentary to explore the rise and fall of the Brazilian-born, French-Lebanese national who was arrested by Japanese authorities in 2018.
* A prewar Mercedes-Benz roadster that was first owned by the Shah of Afghanistan—one of just three similar cars surviving in the world today—was awarded the top prize at the 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This year, 216 cars from 18 countries and 30 states pulled onto the competition field of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the car named Best of Show was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster presented by Jim Patterson of the Patterson Collection in Louisville, Kentucky. The Pebble Beach Concours raised more than $2.68 million for charity this year, bringing the event’s total charitable donations to over $37 million to date.
* Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion has officially retired. Busch stepped away from racing last season following a significant concussion. Along with arthritis and gout, Busch has been trying to recover from the rear-impact collision that caused the concussion. Busch, 45, started 776 NASCAR Cup Series races during his remarkable career. Last fall, he announced that he would not return as a full-time driver but there was still hope that he could be back in select starts.
* Nissan is recalling more than 236,000 Sentra compact cars from the 2020 through 2022 model years in the U.S. because the tie rods in the front suspension can bend and break, possibly causing drivers to lose steering control.
* An apparent road rage incident claimed the life of Tony Stewart Racing TQ Midget driver Ashlea Albertson. Albertson, 24, was a passenger in a GMC Terrain driving on I-65 in Jackson County just south of Seymour, Indiana. The crash involved another vehicle and when the two collided Albertson was ejected from the SUV she was a passenger in. In a social media post, Stewart said he had lost a teammate that had “an infectious personality and could light up any room.”
* “Ohio George” Montgomery, one of the first superstars in NHRA history, passed away Aug. 24. Montgomery, who was voted No. 28 on the list of NHRA’s Top 50 Racers in 2000, was a dominant force in gasser racing for decades beginning in the late 1950s. He was the first driver in history to win the prestigious U.S. Nationals more than once. Incredibly, by 1963, he had won it three times before anyone had even won it twice. Montgomery first won the event in 1959 in its first of two years at Detroit Dragway. Montgomery’s weapon of a choice was a baby-blue ’33 Willys powered by a supercharged 390-cid Cadillac engine bored and stroked to 414 inches.
Stay safe. Be Well.