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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Round-up December 24-30, 2023



Auto Central December 31, 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 24-30, 2023.

*Ferrari Movie: Ferrari the movie came out on Christmas Day. Autoweek says director Michael Mann packs as much realism into the story as any Hollywood racing movie is ever going to get. Go see it. (Ed. Note: It's a serious movie for grown-ups not a car racing movie for small kids...let me know what you think,

* Slim-Jim Z Goez Mizzing:: And there's this: A promotional Slim Jim car that was stolen in California was discovered thousands of miles away in the Chicago western suburb of Hillside. The custom Nissan Z, dubbed "Fast Meat" and worth about $115,000, with its hard-to-miss fiery red and yellow wrap and yellow leather interior, was found in a trailer in a parking lot. The car was reported stolen outside the Los Angeles area. There was a social media campaign to get it back based on #findfastmeat. The "Z" was reportedly still partially wrapped in Slim Jim graphics and the interior appeared untouched. Reports are the company had to put out a statement clarifying the theft was not a publicity stunt.

*New Car Sales Leverage Shifts: Experts at Cox Automotive anticipate weak economic growth, higher new-vehicle inventories, and an end to the seller’s market. Overall, Cox is expecting 2024 to be the best year for car buyers since the pandemic.The past four years have been chaotic, even by auto industry standards, and have shifted many normal seasonal patterns out of whack, which adds to the difficulty of forecasting what comes next. The Cox Automotive team, at this point, expects new-vehicle sales in the U.S. to increase less than 2%, finishing at 15.6 million sales in 2024. Retail new-vehicle sales will be mostly flat and fleet sales should recover from an end-of-2023 lull and continue to improve.

* 2024 Gasoline Prices Going In Right Direction: GasBuddy predicts a yearly national average in 2024 of $3.38 per gallon, down from $3.507/gal in 2023, and down from $3.95/gal in 2022. Americans will spend $32 billion less on gasoline they predict as a result in 2024.

* More Americans Working From Home: US DoE factoid of the week: Fifteen percent of workers in the United States worked from home in 2022. Over the last twelve years there has been a shift in means of transportation to work. In 2022, 15% of U.S. workers worked from home. The number of workers who worked from home was just 3.3% in 2000 and increased to 4.3% by 2010 before rising sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Driving alone in a car, truck or van remains the dominant mode of transportation to work for all workers 16 years and older, but as a percentage it has decreased from 76.6% in 2010 to 68.7% in 2022. In that same year, the share of workers who carpooled to work was 8.6% followed by 3.1% who took public transit and 2.4% who walked to work.

* Power Choice To Buyers: The 2024 Detroit Free Press Car, Truck and Utility vehicles of the year demonstrate that despite the auto industry’s inevitable and accelerating shift to electric power, there’s still plenty to appreciate about internal combustion engines — often shorthanded as “ICE” by engineers. The winners are: Car - 2023 Honda Accord midsize sedan; Truck - 2023 Ford F-series Super Duty medium-duty pickups; Utility - 2024 Kia EV9 three-row electric SUV. The Detroit Free Press picks are often a good bellwether for the eventual NACTOY winners that wil be announced in January.

* Cummins Fined:Truck engine maker Cummins Inc has agreed in principle to pay a $1.675 billion fine for installing defeat devices on hundreds of thousands of engines to allow them to emit excess pollution, the largest-ever civil penalty for a Clean Air Act violation. Cummins used defeat devices on 630,000 2013 to 2019 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines and undisclosed auxiliary emission control devices on 330,000 2019 to 2023 RAM 2500 and 3500 pickup truck engines to cheat emissions control requirements.

* Blazer Breaker Tripped: According to General Motors, sales of the 2024 Chevy Blazer EV have been temporarily paused due to software quality issues. The company has not specified the exact nature of the issues, but has confirmed that they are not safety-related.

*Porsche and Audi EV's Recalled: Audi and Porsche have both issued recalls for over 134,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) that came with a portable Compact Charging System or Porsche Mobile Charger. The charger’s 220V/240V cable could overheat and damage both the charging cable and the outlet it’s plugged into.

* A Hui Hou Roland Leong: Legendary NHRA team owner Roland Leong, known far and wide for a string of beautiful Top Fuel and Funny Cars emblazoned with the name The Hawaiian in tribute to his birthplace, passed away Dec. 29. He was 79. Leong was a successful gas dragster driver in Hawaii and a mild celebrity on the islands, but left his native Hawaii to come to California in the early 1960s and got work at the famed Dragmasters chassis building emporium near San Diego. Leong’s Dragmaster-built rail was driven to the Top Gas victory at the 1964 Winternationals by future motorsports legend Danny Ongais. Leong had ambitions of being a Top Fuel driver but infamously crashed at more than 191 mph the end of his first run, and his mentor, engine-building great Keith Black, suggested that he would be better off as a car owner and recommended that another growing legend, a young southern California car painter, Don Prudhomme, would be a good driver.Together they famously won the 1965 Winternationals and U.S. Nationals and even though they parted company before 1966 — Prudhomme to go out on his own and Leong to continue a growing legacy as a savvy car owner and tuner — they remained close friends right until Leong’s death. Leong had been in poor health the last couple of years and Prudhomme visited him the day before his passing, and the two spent a long afternoon together reminiscing.

* C'est avec émotion que j'apprends le deuil qui vous frappe tout d'un coup et je tiens à ce que vous soyez assuré de ma chaleureuse sympathie: Former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran has died at the age of 56 after suffering a heart attack while racing in Florida, the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA) said. The 2003 Indy winner, who also worked in Formula One as a consultant with McLaren after a stint as sporting director, fell ill at a private motor racing club in Opalocka, Florida. The Paris-born Brazilian won the 2000 and 2001 Champ Car World Series driving for Team Penske.

* EV Boosters Optimistic: As 2023 comes to a close, electrified vehicles will continue as the major automotive conversation in 2024, whether it be about prices, driving range or charging infrastructure. US EV sales lost momentum in 2023. That should improve in 2024 as lower price models are introduced. The NEVI program will bring more charging stations. EV (both battery electric and plug-in hybrid) sales have been slower to take off in the US. US sales did top 1 million but that is about 8% of the market, whereas Europe is at 15% and China at 27%.

* We wish all our readers and followers a Happy New Year! Here's to 2024!

Stay safe. Be Well.