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Nutson's Weekly Automotive Weekly Wrap-up, January 28, 2024 - February 3, 2024



Auto Central February 4, 2024; 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 story picks from this past week's important to you, relevant, semi-secret, or snappy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy-to-understand automotive news nuggets. for Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up January 28- February 3, 2024

* GM says yes to plug-in hybrids. General Motors is changing its product lineup strategy to include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, CEO Mary Barra told investors according to CNBC. Barra did not disclose specific details of the plans other than that plug-in hybrids will be rolled out on select vehicles in North America to assist in meeting more stringent federal fuel economy regulations. More companies are reconsidering the viability of hybrid vehicles to appease consumer demand and avoid costly penalties related to federal fuel economy standards. Most of GM’s main competitors offer traditional hybrids as well as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The Detroit automaker previously planned to forgo plug-in hybrid vehicles and move all of its traditional cars and trucks with internal combustion engines to all-electric models for consumers. GM said they remain committed to eliminating tailpipe emissions from their light-duty vehicles by 2035, but, in the interim, deploying plug-in technology in strategic segments will deliver some of the environment or environmental benefits of EVs as the nation continues to build this charging infrastructure. (In other words, to offset less-efficient gasoline-powered pickups and large SUVs. And, who knows what changes in the EV world the Presidential election might bring.)

* BEV and PHEV sales are rising. US DoT factoid of the week: Annual new Light-Duty BEV sales topped 1 Million for the first time in 2023. Annual sales of EVs more than quadrupled from 2020 to 2023, with a period of rapid growth beginning in 2021 and culminating in more than one million BEV sales for the first time in calendar year 2023. Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) represented about 20% of all plug-in vehicle sales in 2023. They, too reached record sales in 2023, with more than 250,000 sold. Cumulative sales of new light-duty plug-in electric vehicles since 2010 reached 4.7 million in 2023.

* Best cars. U.S. News & World Reports announced their 2024 Best Cars for the Money. Vehicles are in 11 distinct categories that deliver the most for their money. The vehicles were chosen for their combination of quality and cost-competitiveness. Have a look here. CLICK4VIDEO HERE

* It's trophy time. The WORLD CAR FINALS POWERED BY BREMBO begins with the announcement of the Top Ten and Top Five finalists in six World Car Awards vehicle categories. The countdown ends on March 27th when the winners will be announced live at the 2024 New York International Auto Show during an awards ceremony. Vote results have been tabulated by KPMG. A jury of 100+ distinguished international automotive journalists from 29 countries selected the finalists by secret ballot based on their evaluation of each eligible vehicle as part of their professional work. See the finalists CLICK4VIDEO HERE

* Heavy EVs bring new issues. The Detroit News reports in crash testing of much heavier EVs into roadside guardrails intended to keep vehicles they break through. The University of Nebraska released the results of the crash test. The concern comes as the rising popularity of electric vehicles has led transportation officials to sound the alarm over the weight disparity of the new battery-powered vehicles and lighter gas-powered ones. The concern over the weight of electric vehicles stretches beyond vehicle-to-vehicle crashes and compatibility with guardrails. The extra weight will affect everything from faster wear on residential streets and driveways to vehicle tires and infrastructure like parking garages. Here's the details. CLICK4VIDEO HERE

* AM radio going away. The Wall Street Journal reports on the ongoing topic of automakers eliminating AM radio from some new vehicles. This is all about the electronics of EVs interfering with the AM radio signal. The US Congress is being lobbied to stop this practice and force automakers to keep free AM radio.

* Car theft in Canada. Canada is the new hot spot for auto theft. Interpol has labeled Canada one of the world’s “main source countries” for stolen vehicles, feeding a global black market that law-enforcement officials say is funding international organized crime groups. Roughly 105,000 cars were stolen in Canada in 2022, a 27% increase from 2021 and the most in 13 years, according to government statistics. In the U.S., almost one million cars were stolen in 2022, up 11% from 2021, according to the FBI.

* Do not drive. Toyota Motor said it is urging the owners of 50,000 older U.S. vehicles to get immediate recall repairs because an air bag inflator could explode and potentially kill motorists. The Japanese automaker said the "Do Not Drive" advisory covers some 2003-2004 model year Corolla, 2003-2004 Corolla Matrix, and 2004-2005 RAV4s with Takata air bag inflators. More than 30 deaths worldwide, including 26 U.S. deaths, and hundreds of injuries in various automakers' vehicles since 2009 are linked to Takata air bag inflators that can explode, unleashing metal shrapnel inside cars and trucks.

* Font size is important. Tesla is recalling nearly all its U.S. vehicles for incorrect font size on certain warning lights. Tesla began releasing an over-the-air software update on Jan. 23, free of charge, to fix the issue, NHTSA said. The letter font size of the brake, park and antilock brake system visual warnings on these vehicles is smaller than 3.2 mm (1/8 inch), in violation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards Nos. 105 and 135. Insufficiently large warnings could reduce the driver's detection of it when illuminated, increasing the risk of a collision, the NHTSA said in a statement.

* Penske Porsche Rolex 24 winner. Felipe Nasr delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona overall win for team owner Roger Penske in 55 years and the first for Porsche in 14 years, in an exciting conclusion to the iconic endurance sports car race. Driving the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 that he shared with co-drivers Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and reigning Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden, Nasr crossed the finish line 2.112 seconds ahead of the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R driven by Tom Blomqvist, who was aiming to become just the second driver in Rolex 24 history to be an overall winner three straight years. Team owner Penske’s last win at the Rolex 24 came in 1969 when Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons drove a Lola T-70/Chevrolet to victory. The No. 18 Era Motorsport took the victory in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class with co-drivers Ryan Dalziel, Dwight Merriman, Christian Rasmussen and Connor Zilisch. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3 claimed victory in the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class with drivers Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado. Winward Racing’s No. 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was victorious in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class, the car shared by Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Indy Dontje and Daniel Morad.

* Not quite 24 hours. Actually, the Rolex 24 wasn't quite 24 hours. Autoweek reports an officiating error caused the 24-hour endurance race to end one lap too early, in effect making this year's race at Daytona International Speedway the Rolex 23-Hour, 58 1/2 Minutes at Daytona. In a release sent out by IMSA, the error was explained: Due to an officiating error in race control, IMSA inadvertently announced and subsequently displayed the white flag with under three minutes remaining in the race. At the end of the lap, the race-leading No. 7 GTP car then received the checkered flag with 1 minute, 35.277 seconds still remaining, ending the race short of the planned 24 hours by effectively one lap. Here's the detail. CLICK4VIDEO HERE

* A quiet race car. reports the first fully electric NASCAR race car will make its public debut during the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum event in Los Angeles this weekend. CLICK4VIDEO HERE

* Formula 1 in Chicago. The Chicago Sun Times reports Formula One racing franchise has filed for trademarks indicating it could be seeking a race in Chicago, less than a year after NASCAR held its first street race in Grant Park. F1 applied for variations of the trademark “Formula 1 Chicago Grand Prix” and “Grand Prix Chicago” on Jan. 19, according to U.S. patent office records. Filing trademarks could be a protective measure. But it could also show the franchise is considering a Chicago race. There is some indication the city has held initial talks with F1 about a possible Chicago race, according to a Chicago City Council member. The likelihood of this developing appears slim.

* F1 says no to Andretti. Formula One rejected Andretti Global's application to join the global racing series in 2025 or 2026 but said it is willing to revisit the issue in 2028 when General Motors under its Cadillac brand has an engine ready for competition. The FIA had already approved Andretti Formula Racing LLC as a potential entrant that met its criteria late last year, but commercial approval from Formula One Management (FOM) was required, and FOM had been opposed to expanding beyond the current 10 teams. An agreement was provisionally in place with Renault to supply the power unit. However, General Motors has already registered its interest in becoming a full power unit supplier from 2028 onwards, and FOM says that is a point where it would look more favorably on the Andretti bid.

* Lewis Hamilton to Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton will join Ferrari next year and replace Carlos Sainz in a shock move. Hamilton signed a two-year contract with Mercedes which expires at the end of 2025 but he will spend just one more season with the team. Hamilton's current contract with Mercedes was due to expire at the end of 2025 but he will depart the team after this season and replace Carlos Sainz at Ferrari. Hamilton activated a release clause in his Mercedes contract, and Ferrari confirmed that the seven-time world champion is joining them on a "multi-year" deal. Charles Leclerc signed a new contract with Ferrari last week and will be Hamilton's team-mate at Ferrari from next year.

Stay safe. Be Well.