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Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up August 27-September 2, 2023



Auto Central September 3, 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. for Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up August 27- September 2, 2023

* Average prices for Hybrids & EVs on Carfax are down 22% from a year ago, roughly $9,000 off. The Carfax Used Car Index compares the average price of a segment’s listings on to the average price from a year ago. It also shows a trend line for the most recent 12 months.

* Joe White for Reuters writes: S&P Global is out with a cautionary take on U.S. vehicle sales. August sales will look good compared to a year ago, when supply chain snafus made it hard for consumers to find the vehicles they wanted. But compared to July, S&P said the daily selling rate is trending down. Inventories of unsold vehicles advertised by dealers are up 57% from a year ago – and that does not count vehicles in transit, or vehicles dealers aren’t advertising for sale for whatever reason, S&P said. How big a problem that will be depends on whether Detroit automakers lose production this fall to strikes by the United Auto Workers or Canada’s Unifor.

* US DoE factoid of the week: The growth in the number of vehicles in the U.S. outpaced growth in population and licensed drivers from 1960 to 2021. The number of vehicles in the United States grew at a faster rate than both the population and the number of licensed drivers between 1960 and 2021. The number of vehicles in 2021 was 4.3 times that of 1960 while the population was 1.8 times higher and the licensed drivers were 2.7 times higher. By 2021 there were 0.88 vehicles per capita.

* Mercedes-Benz plans to build 2,000 charging stations for electric vehicles in Germany, China and the US by the end of next year. By 2030, the automaker plans to have 10,000 charging stations built through partnerships, with MN8 Energy and ChargePoint named as partners for North America charging stations. Depending on region, the charging stations offer charging rate of currently up to 400 kW, provided via the respective standard charging systems CCS1, CCS2, NACS and GB/T. Intelligent charging management will allow each vehicle to be charged at its maximum power rating. This reduces the charging time for customers to an absolute minimum.The first US location will be in Atlanta.

* General Motors launched its “Hands Free, Eyes On” consumer education program to encourage consumer confidence in the use of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) as part of GM’s larger commitment to the safe deployment of these technologies, like Super Cruise. To avoid concern and confusion about the benefits of ADAS as they become more widely available, GM intends to give consumers more information so that they are informed, excited and confident in the technology. The “Hands Free, Eyes On" program is designed to explain the current state of ADAS — from active safety to hands-free features like Super Cruise — available to customers, all of which require the driver's constant attention to the road, versus fully autonomous driving which does not require driver intervention. With a hands-free enabled vehicle like one equipped with Super Cruise, the driver is responsible for the vehicle's operation. That means their eyes need to be on the road at all times, even when their hands are free.

* John Voelcker covers advanced auto technologies as a freelance reporter and analyst, focusing on electric vehicles and the energy ecosystem around them. Voelker's four-part deep-dive update on the EV charging landscape at the moment can now be read in CHARGED Electric Vehicles Magazine. HERE.

* Dog enthusiasts nationwide celebrated National Dog Day this past weekend, with Autotrader joining in on the festivities. According to an Autotrader survey, an overwhelming 92% of dog owners consider their furry companions to be family members or their best friends. Additionally, over 89% of dog owners prioritize the ability to transport their pets when purchasing a vehicle. To help with this decision, Autotrader compiled a list of 2023’s Best Cars for Dog Lovers. Woof.

* Reuters reports sales of electric vehicles in Europe jumped by 61% in July, and now make up nearly 14% of the market, according to new data from the European automakers’ association. Diesel vehicles accounted for just over 14% of European sales in July. Diesels owned half the market in 2015. Overall, vehicle sales in Europe rose by 15%.

* Ford has brought hands free driving to the German Autobahn. Ford has received approval from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) to use BlueCruise technology in Germany. With it, drivers can take their hands off the steering wheel on certain sections of numerous federal motorways, known as Blue Zones, while continuing to follow the traffic carefully. In the USA and Canada, more than 194,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles have already covered more than 175 million kilometers in BlueCruise mode. The system went into series production there as early as 2021.

* Say goodby to a stick shift VW GTI. VW announced the 2024 Golf GTI 380 that features a special equipment set, standard on every 2024 manual-transmission GTI, celebrating the final year of manual production in Golf GTI. Design details include 19-inch gloss black multi-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels, as well as a gloss black roof and mirror caps, and exclusive Graphite Gray Metallic exterior color. Special-edition build combo features performance content on every manual trim: summer tires and DCC® adaptive damping system.

* Hyundai Motor America presented the first North American public appearance of its class-leading Sonata and Elantra during the 2023 Miami International Auto Show. The new Sonata boasts a dynamic, progressive design with low-slung, elegant proportions and more aggressive coupe-like styling along with an array of advanced safety, driver assistance and convenience features. The 2024 Hyundai Elantra includes exterior and interior enhancements, advanced safety features, and a variety of purposeful technologies, for a refined driving experience. Hyundai emphasized they remain committed to the sedan market, unlike some other auto makers.

* Alfa Romeo announced the rebirth of the “fuoriserie” (custom-built) 33 Stradale, a genuine manifesto of the Italian brand’s capabilities. Alfa Romeo’s new limited-edition car follows in the footsteps of an icon in the 1960s and one of the most beautiful cars of all time — the Tipo 33. This will be a limited series of 33 already sold units. There's two powerful options: V-6 twin-turbo engine delivering more than 620 horsepower, eight-speed DCT gearbox, rear-wheel-drive and electronic limited-slip differential; BEV configuration delivers more than 750 horsepower with estimated range of 450 km (WLTP).

* Two Dodge muscle cars, the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and Dodge Charger HEMI, once again top the Highway Loss Data Institute’s list of the most-stolen vehicles for model years 2020-22. Meanwhile, a viral trend targeting Hyundai-Kia vehicles propelled four Kia models into the top 20. Theft claims for the Charger SRT Hellcat were more than 60 times more frequent than the average for all 2020-22 models, relative to their numbers on the road, while theft claims for the Charger HEMI were more than 20 times higher than average, HLDI’s latest whole-vehicle theft report shows. Thefts of Hyundai and Kia vehicles soared in recent years after thieves discovered that many of them lacked electronic immobilizers. MOST STOLEN Via IIHS

* "The Drive" reports GDP Tuning and Gorilla Performance, owned by Barry Pierce, pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and agreed to pay $1 million in criminal fines. According to the Justice Department, the two companies conspired to sell “tens of thousands of tuning devices and accompanying software” that “tampered with vehicles’ on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems.” The devices described are essentially external ECU tuners that are common in the diesel truck and gasoline car aftermarket. GDP Tuning and Pierce fell afoul of the EPA was supplying tuners that could circumvent emissions devices, effectively selling “defeat devices” en masse.

* Hyundai is recalling 2021-2023 Elantra Hybrid compact sedans for a software issue that could cause unintended acceleration. The recall affects 37,997 vehicles, but just 1% are expected to have the fault, according to NHTSA. The affected cars were built between Dec. 15, 2020, and Jul. 29, 2023; a production change implemented Aug. 10, 2023, included a fix for the issue. The NHTSA noted that owners can continue to drive their cars until recall work is completed. Elantra Hybrids are equipped with a standard brake override that automatically cuts power if the brake pedal is pressed.

* Hemmings reports: The Unser Racing Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has closed its doors; however, the collection will not be liquidated. Instead, the more than forty race, pace, and Pikes Peak cars, as well as trophies, artwork, helmets, drivers’ suits, and other racing memorabilia, will be transferred to the Speedway Motors Museum of American Speed in Lincoln, Nebraska. Founded by Al and Susan Unser in 2003, the 20,000-sq.ft. Unser Racing Museum had plans to keep the Unser legacy alive prior to Al’s death in 2021. The Speedway Motors Museum is a natural fit for the collection: the famed Johnny Lightning Special—Al’s 1970 Indianapolis 500 winning car—and a 1971 Gurney Eagle, driven by his brother Bobby, were among the Unser cars already on display. HERE.

* NASCAR is about to get a Netflix documentary series similar to the “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” series that has helped catapult F1’s popularity, particularly in the U.S. Announced by NASCAR and Netflix, the new series will air in early 2024 and focus on the 2023 Cup Series Playoffs. The first of the 2023 playoff races is scheduled for Sept. 3 at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway. Five episodes, each spanning 45 minutes, is planned, and filming has already begun. The episodes will show drivers and team members, both during races and away from the track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. is among the list of executive producers, along with Ben Kennedy, Tim Clark, Matt Summers, and NASCAR Studios’ Tally Hair. Thanks to the Motor Authority for this news report.

* We wish you all a safe and happy Labor Day holiday weekend as meteorological summer comes to an end.

Stay safe. Be Well.