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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Round-up December 17-24, 2023



Auto Central December 24, 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 December 17-24, 2023.

* Carfax reports, because there are more new cars available than expected in the wake of the relatively short United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, many automakers and dealers are acting to reduce their inventory by offering low-interest financing or cash-back deals on new models. Why does that affect used-car prices? Because of these rising incentives, new cars become more appealing to car shoppers than used cars, whose loans typically come with higher interest rates. Prices dropped for every category that Carfax tracks in December, and it’s hard to tell at this point when the prices will level off again – or begin to rise. Price drops varied in size last month, from roughly $100 up to $600. Interestingly, the bottom of the price range for most categories has also begun falling, suggesting that dealers are starting to slice prices on even their least-expensive used models. MORE HERE

* Forth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the equitable advancement of clean transportation, launched the Affordable Mobility Platform (AMP) electric vehicle carshare pilot project at The Creamery apartment community in Kalamazoo, MI. The launch represents the first site in a national community EV carsharing program. AMP is testing a model for offering affordable short-term use of electric vehicles to increase access to clean transportation in rural and historically underserved communities in the United States. Additional AMP carshare communities will include affordable housing sites in eight states. MORE HERE

* US DoE factoid of the week: E-Bike sales in the United States exceeded one million in 2022. In 2022, there were 1.1 million e-bikes sold in the United States, almost four times as many as were sold in 2019. In 2018, there were 325,000 e-bike sales, but that number dropped to 287,000 the following year. In 2021, e-bike sales saw exceptional growth, and sales more than doubled from the previous year.

* You are what you drive. Or are you? It’s no secret that drivers of certain car brands have bad reputations — but are these bad reputations warranted? According to the data, it may be in some cases. A recent analysis uses QuoteWizard by LendingTree insurance quote data to determine which car brands have the worst drivers. Across 30 car brands analyzed, Ram has the worst drivers. Nationally, Ram drivers had 32.90 driving incidents (accidents, DUIs, speeding and citations) per 1,000 drivers from Nov. 14, 2022, through Nov. 14, 2023. Tesla (31.13) and Subaru (30.09) were the only other brands whose drivers had incident rates above 30.00. Mercury has the best drivers in the year analyzed. Mercury drivers had 15.82 incidents per 1,000 drivers nationally — less than half the rate of incidents among Ram drivers. Pontiac (16.24) and Saturn (16.84) followed. (Editorial note: Mercury, Pontiac and Saturn brands all were closed down over 10 years ago, in 2010.) Have a look to see where your car brand ranks: MORE HERE

* The Canadian government is poised to pass rules requiring all new vehicles sold in the country to be zero-emissions by 2035, according to news reports. The federal government will announce the regulation, called the Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, in the coming days, with the aim of phasing out the sale of new combustion vehicles, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Toronto Star reported, both citing an unnamed senior government official. The new rules will require zero-emissions vehicles — which include battery electric, hydrogen and plug-in electric vehicles — to make up 20% of all new car sales in 2026, 60% in 2030 and 100% in 2035, the reports said. The UK introduced an EV sales mandate with similar timelines — including a target of 100% of new sales by 2035 — in September. More than a dozen US states, including New York and California, have EV sales mandates. US President Joe Biden’s administration in April proposed new tailpipe emissions limits that would effectively compel automakers to ensure two out of every three cars and light trucks sold in 2032 are electric models.

* GM Authority is setting the record straight. You may have already heard that GM will not offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto in its future electric vehicles, a decision it feels quite comfortable with despite millions of users who depend on the technologies. Some reports, released earlier this week, sloppily attempted to explain the decision by providing reasoning associated with “safety”, or lack thereof, with the two smartphone projection technologies. That may or may not be true, but it’s not the real reason for the direction. The answer is here: MORE HERE

* AutoPacific, an automotive marketing research and product consulting firm, released its "Electric Vehicle Consumer Insights Study" this week. AutoPacific wrote: "...70% of surveyed respondents who currently reside in a condo complex, and 67% of those who live in an apartment building, either intend to purchase, or will consider purchasing an EV in the near future, compared to 63% of those who own a single-family home. At the current time, however, relatively few apartments and condos offer onsite charging for residents, meaning most of these EV considerers will have to be reliant on public charging, which is less convenient and generally much more expensive than charging at home." The overall summary informs the need for a further deep analysis. However, the auto industry already knows that BEVs perform very well in lower speed city-type driving. The catch-22 is the challenge to install charging units in multi-unit dwellings such as condos and apartments...about 30% of US housing. Right-to-charge laws in many states and cities remove the possible stonewalling to deny a resident who wants to install an EV charger. But the cost for individual installation remains potentially high. Property management firms need to embrace the initiative to install EV chargers for resident use which will eventually benefit them in attracting new residents. MORE HERE

* NBC News did a report on how flawed road design leads to excessive car speeds with resultant injury and death. MORE HERE

* Hagerty media tells us the 40th anniversary of the end of Malaise Era is just around the corner. The era reflects the pervasive funk that the U.S. found itself in post-Vietnam. 2024 marks the 40th anniversary of the end of this much-maligned era where horsepower took a lengthy holiday as fuel prices and insurance rates went up while speed limits went down. Give a read here: MORE HERE

* Mercedes-Benz received approvals for turquoise-colored automated driving marker lights in California and Nevada. Mercedes-Benz is the world's first automobile manufacturer to receive permits for special exterior marker lights for automated driving in these two states. The exemption permit for California is for testing vehicles and initially limited to two years. The Nevada permit applies to Mercedes-Benz Model Year 2026 production vehicles and will remain valid until a statutory modification is achieved with the state legislature. The automated driving marker lights will initially be integrated into testing vehicles in California equipped with DRIVE PILOT, which is the world's first SAE-Level 3 system for conditionally automated driving with internationally valid type approval. DRIVE PILOT received certification in 2021 in Germany and in 2023 in Nevada and California, U.S. where each state requires separate certification. While DRIVE PILOT has already been available for order since 2022 in Germany, the first production vehicles in the U.S. recently made their debut on the freeways of California and Nevada.

* Audi plans to delay the launch of electric vehicles as customer demand hits speed bumps, said CEO Gernot Dollner, with a short-term focus on internal combustion engine vehicles and plug-in hybrids. However, the automaker still plans to release 20 new vehicles by 2026, with 10 of the new vehicles planned to be EVs.

* Meanwhile, Japanese customers are embracing hybrid vehicles at record rates decades after Toyota Motor introduced the Prius hybrid in 1997, with hybrids predicted to make up more than 50% of vehicles sold in Japan by 2024, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. "In Japan, hybrids are popular because they're affordable and reliable, since they don't rely on the existence of strong charging infrastructure," said Tatsuo Yoshida, senior auto analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

* News media reports that nearly half of Buick dealers took buyouts rather than sell EVs. Buick offered buyouts to dealers who did not want to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars on tooling, equipment and training to prepare to sell and service EVs. A Buick spokesperson shared that the Buick network remains a competitive advantage, with nearly 90% of the US population still living within approximately 25 miles of a Buick dealer. The vast majority of Buick dealers are associated with GMC. After the reduction, Buick will now have a network of approximately 1000 dealers nationwide.

* GM issued stop-sale on some 2024 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras for a roof defect. A recall was issued for its brand-new 2024 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickup trucks due to mysteriously cracking roofs. Over 3000 models are affected by the recall, and GM has not issued an explanation for the roof concerns. Media reports do say the problem has been rectified in production. This issue is plaguing vehicles that have already been sold, and vehicles that are still on dealer lots, so dealers must inspect their entire inventory for cracks under the passenger-side roof panel joint molding, or the rain channel.

* Honda America is recalling more than 2.5 million vehicles in the U.S. due to a fuel pump defect that can increase risks of engine failure or stalling while driving. According to documents published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fuel pump impeller used for in 2017-2020 Acura and Honda vehicles was improperly molded.

*The inaugural NHRA National Dragster All-Star Team was unveiled at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis. The roster is the result of more than 12,000 fan votes cast on in the weeks leading up to the show. Newly crowned Top Fuel world champion Doug Kalitta was saluted as Pro Driver of the Year, while his Mac Tools team crew chiefs, Alan Johnson and Brian Husen, were named Pro Tuners of the Year. Tony Stewart also walked out with a pair of the stylish acrylic All-Star trophies after first being named Top Alcohol Driver of the Year and later being honored as Person of the Year for his efforts to help promote NHRA throughout the motorsports community. Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force was named Fan Favorite, while popular Top Fuel star Clay Millican’s wide-reaching online presence helped him win Best Social Media Account. More here: MORE HERE

* Ford Performance is expanding its sports car factory driver lineup to nine drivers for its global GT3 race programs Ben Barker, Chris Mies, Dennis Olsen, Andy Priaulx and Frédéric Vervisch ae joining Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Harry Tincknell and Mike Rockenfeller. On top of the IMSA factory effort run by Ford Multimatic Motorsports, the sports car factory drivers will support the Mustang GT3 customer programs worldwide, which includes IMSA GTD, GT World Challenge Europe and the FIA World Endurance Championship. The Rolex 24 at Daytona will mark the official sports car racing debut for the new Ford Mustang GT3.

* Chris and Julie Ramsey, husband and wife adventurers, have completed their all-electric journey to the South Pole in Antarctica driving a Nissan Ariya. Their 10-month, 30,000 km adventure that started on the frozen Arctic Sea at the 1823 Magnetic North Pole, has seen them drive the varied terrains and conditions of North, Central and South America before carefully traversing the most remote continent on the planet, to reach the South Pole. This is the first time any car, let alone an EV, has completed such a journey. Across long distances and challenging off-road terrains, the all-electric expedition vehicle, a Nissan Ariya with e-4ORCE all-wheel control, has passed the toughest tests at extreme temperatures and high altitudes. The vehicle – factory-standard with no modifications to the powertrain or battery – was modified by polar mobility specialists Arctic Trucks, to accommodate 39-inch BF Goodrich tires.

* NHRA Drag Racing legend Don Schumacher has died. Schumacher's one-car NHRA Drag Racing Series team grew to as many as seven cars, and he orchestrated 367 event victories and 19 championships. In November 2022, Schumacher was honored at the NHRA Awards Ceremony where he was presented with the NHRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2019, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in Daytona Beach, Florida, and in May 2013, he was enshrined into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama. He also joined a prestigious list of straight-line racing legends when he was invited into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2007. He was 79.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. Peace!

Stay safe. Be Well.