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Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrapup-Week September 24-30, 2023



Auto Central October 1, 2023; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Auto Channel Executive Producer, with able assistance from senior Detroit 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 September 24-30 2023

* This week was somewhat quiet with the United Auto Workers strike. That usually means negotiators are in deep discussion. President Biden joined a picket line with UAW workers at a GM part distribution facility in Bellville Michigan. Donald Trump told a group gathered at a non-union Michigan vehicle parts maker that auto jobs will disappear because of Biden’s EV policies. Both visits did not make the Detroit-3 auto makers happy. On Friday UAW president Shawn Fain said the union is broadening its two-week-old strike to two more assembly plants. It is striking G.M.’s plant in Delta Township, Mich., near Lansing, and Ford’s Chicago Assembly plant. Fain said Stellantis was exempt from the broadened strike because progress was being made in its talks.

* This week was National Drive Electric Week. We attended Chicago Drives Electric, organized by the folks who put on the Chicago Auto Show. The event allows vehicle shoppers to get behind the wheel of some of today’s brand-new electric vehicles! This ride-and-drive event is designed for attendees to experience the latest EVs, hybrids and plug-in hybrids to showcase a variety of options that may fit individual needs or lifestyles. It's happening now...Friday thru Sunday Sept 29- Oct 1. In cooperation with the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), news media, in addition to driving and learning about the latest electrified vehicles, heard from experts from the automakers,, CDK Global, Charge Enterprises, ComEd, Drive Chicago, and Powering Chicago with information related to range and charging anxiety, on-the-go charging networks and infrastructure, at-home charging and installation, and where to begin your EV search.

* U.S. consumers bought more vehicles in September than a year ago, according to Cox Automotive, another sign that the economy is chugging along despite the Fed’s run of interest rate increases. Cox plussed up its forecast for the year, predicting U.S. auto sales will finish at 15.3 million to 15.4 million cars and light trucks, not 15 million as forecast earlier.

* US DoE factoid of the week: According to registration data used as a proxy for sales, there were four counties in the United States with electric vehicle (EV) market penetration above 30% as of December 2022, and all were in California. Santa Clara County topped the list at 35%, followed by Marin County at 34%, and then Alameda and San Mateo Counties at 32% each. Several counties outside of California also had robust EV sales, including Boulder County, Colorado (22%) and San Juan County, Washington (22%). As of the end of 2022, there were 100 counties where EV market penetration was 10% or more.

* Reuters reports: California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave a helping hand to struggling robo-trucking startups by vetoing a bill that would have undermined the nascent industry’s business model in one of its biggest potential markets. The legislation would have required robo-semis to have trained humans on board – defeating the purpose of automating the vehicles. The proposal could still become law if two-thirds of lawmakers vote to override Newsom’s veto.

* Meanwhile, automated vehicle optimists got a reality check from analysts at S&P Global Mobility who said in a report that wide deployment of fully-automated, go-anywhere driverless vehicles is more than a decade away. Through 2035, AVs will exist mainly as geo-fenced robo-taxis operated by fleets (think Cruise and Waymo), S&P Global concluded. “A car that is able to drive anywhere and everywhere a human driver can go is simply not going to happen anytime soon,” SPG analyst Jeremy Carlson writes.

* Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida said the company intends that all its new vehicles sold in the UK and Europe by 2030 will be electric. All new models launched from this year on will be EVs, Uchida said during a visit to Britain, where Nissan has a large assembly plant. “There is no turning back now,” Uchida said. As we reported last week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak just last week found room for turning back, saying the government’s plan to completely ban sales of new combustion vehicles by 2030 will now be delayed five years.

* Honda, in partnership with its local dealer associations, has started production of Shogo, an electric ride-on vehicle that will transport young patients at children's hospitals across the U.S. Shogo was designed by a team of Honda associates with 60 of these vehicles being built exclusively by Honda Performance Development (HPD), the Southern California-based center for Honda's North American racing activities. Check it out!

* From SAE we read: The world isn't on track to meet the UN's net-zero by 2050 target, but experts agree it's still technically feasible and a key variable is arranging the right level of policy support. "We have 95% of the technologies we need to transition right now, so if we just deployed as fast as we could, we could transition at least 80% by 2030," said Mark Jacobson of Stanford University. Jacobson identifies rapid renewables deployment, electric vehicles, heat pumps and green hydrogen or electrification for industrial facilities among the top priorities. MORE HERE

* Six months after Ford Motor Co. revealed plans to build a $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Marshall, Michigan, the project ground to a halt with the automaker citing concerns about being run it at a profit. “There are a number of considerations” behind the decision, among other things, questions about whether it can operate the plant at a profit. (Does this mean, Ford may not need as many batteries as they thought?)

* Reading between the lines, the demand for EVs is falling off. The transition across the chasm from early adopters to the mainstream adopters has gotten wider. Reuters said this: "Global automakers are launching scores of new electric vehicles in the United States, and pouring billions of dollars into new EV and battery plants. But few of them besides Tesla's Model Y and Model 3 are selling at high enough volumes to support a full-scale assembly plant, according to a Reuters analysis of U.S. EV sales data for the first six months of 2023."

* However, a recent survey report from CDK Global says one-third of present EV shoppers drive 15,000 to 20,000 miles a year and have daily commutes of 20 miles. And, 87 percent of present EV shoppers say they plan to set up a charging system in their home. Survey respondents agree that EVs are more expensive. Interestingly, people think EVs will cost more to maintain than a gas-powered vehicle.

* Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker to receive U.S. state approval for deployment of a SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving vehicle. Level 3 means the automated driving function takes over certain driving tasks. However, the driver must be ready to take control of the vehicle at all times when prompted to intervene by the vehicle. DRIVE PILOT performs the dynamic driving task while allowing the driver freedom to tend to other activities. The production-ready version of DRIVE PILOT will make its on-road debut in California and Nevada in late 2023 with a limited fleet of Level 3 equipped EQS Sedans. Mercedes-Benz plans for further customer deliveries of DRIVE PILOT equipped MY2024 EQS Sedan and S-Class models in early 2024 through participating authorized Mercedes-Benz dealers in California and Nevada. DRIVE PILOT to be offered via subscription through the U.S. Mercedes me connect store for S-Class and EQS Sedan models. There are some open questions as to who will assume liability in a crash.

* Gardner On Automotive reports the U.S. DoE has compared the growth of the U.S. population, the number of licensed drivers, and the number of vehicles on the road from 1960 to 2021. It discovered that the population was 1.8 times higher in 2021 than 1960, the number of licensed drivers was 2.7 times higher. . .and the number of vehicles was 4.3 times higher.

* On Automotive also shared: S&P Global Mobility has calculated that the average age of light vehicles on the road today in the U.S.—and it estimates there are some 284 million in operation—is 12.5 years. This is the sixth straight year of an aging car parc and a three-month increase in age over the average age in 2022. Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions for S&P Global Mobility, says, "There are almost 122 million vehicles in operation over 12 years old." And the research firm calculates the volume of vehicles ages six to 14 will increase by 10 million units by 2028, and that vehicles over age six will account for about 74% of the fleet in that year.

* Traffic fatalities dropped 3.3% in the first half of the year compared with the prior year period, according to NHTSA. An estimated 19,515 people dies in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the first half od 2023. However, pedestrian and cyclist deaths continue to rise, having increased by 64% since 2011 to an estimated 8,413 in 2022. This coincides with a steep increase in sales of SUVs, pickup truckas and vans which accounted for 78% of new U.S. vehicie sales in 2022. An IIHS study of crashes with pedestrians at intersections found that vehicles most likely to be involved in left-turn crashes were SUVs and pickups. This suggests that drivers of these tall high-front vehicles are having a harder time to see pedestrians. The NHTSA is proposing new pedestrian avoidance tests for vehicles.

* EVs now account for 8.4% of the retail new-vehicle purchase and lease market, which represents considerable growth during the past few years, but before that market share can reach a meaningful tipping point, manufacturers will need to tap into the mass market segment. Currently, the lion’s share of EV sales (76%) is occurring in the luxury market. One big reason for that: relative affordability. According to J.D. Power data that tracks five-year total cost of ownership in the compact SUV segment—the highest volume retail sales segment in the United States—the average premium brand buyer is paying just 0.4% more for an EV than a comparable ICE vehicle. By contrast, the average mass market brand buyer is paying 18.0% more to own an EV. Additional insight is here:

* Hyundai Motor America and Kia America have issued “park outside” recalls for more than 3.3 million vehicles due to the risk of fire. The vehicle’s anti-lock brake system module could leak brake fluid internally and cause an electrical short. An electrical short could result in significant overcurrent in the ABS module, increasing the risk of an engine compartment fire while driving or parked. Hyundai’s safety recall applies to the following vehicles and model years: 2012-2015 Accent, 2012-2015 Azera, 2011-2015 Elantra, 2013-2015 Elantra Coupe, 2014-2015 Equus, 2011-2015 Genesis Coupe, 2013-2015 Santa Fe, 2013 Santa Fe Sport, 2011-2015 Sonata HEV, 2010-2013 Tucson, 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell, 2012-2015 Veloster and 2010-2012 Veracruz. Kia’s safety recall applies to the following vehicles and model years: 2014-2016 Cadenza, 2011-2013 Forte/Forte Koup, 2015-2017 K900, 2010-2015 Optima, 2011-2013 Optima Hybrid, 2011-2017 Rio, 2010 Rondo, 2011-2014 Sorento, 2011-2013 Soul and 2010-2013 Sportage.

* Back in 2021 NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick got his 269th team Cup race win to claim NASCAR's crown from the King, Petty Enterprises. Last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway Hendrick got his 300th team Cup race win with William Byron behind the wheel of his Chevrolet. Hendrick's engine shop got its 500th win with Kyle Larson's win at the Southern 500 in Darlington.

Stay safe. Be Well.