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Nutson's Weekly Auto News Wrapup March 3-March 9, 2024



Auto Central March 10, 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.

Nutson's Auto News Weekly Wrap-up March 3 - March 9, 2024.

* February new vehicle sales. Increased inventories and higher discounts boosted February new car retail sales by over 6%. Hybrids lifted Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura sales and set records as leasing support drove sales higher. Ford sales were up over 10% basically due to increased sales of Maverick and F-150 hybrid pickups. Cox Automotive predicted a 9.6% year-over-year increase in sales for February for overall retail and fleet sales with a seasonally adjusted annual rate near 15.8 million vehicles. Morgan Stanley said overall sales of hybrids grew by 50% in February, five times faster than EV demand.

* Used car sales up. Retail used-vehicle sales increased in January to the highest volume since August 2023, according to estimates based on Auto Live Market View data. A total of 1,354,075 used vehicles were sold at retail – from both franchised and independent dealers – during January, up 4.7% from December. This according to Cox Automotive.

* Auto Techs needed. Ford Motor Co. announced that its philanthropic Ford Fund, along with Ford dealers, is investing $2 million in scholarship money throughout the country to help students become automotive technicians. The Ford Auto Tech Scholarship project will award 400 needs-based scholarships to current or future students who have completed high school and enrolled in auto programs, according to a Ford news release. This investment is twice what the Ford Fund announced in 2023, when it launched the effort. The application process, which opened Monday, runs through Aug. 31. Applicants must study in the areas of Detroit; Greater Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Phoenix; Kansas City, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami; Seattle, or Cincinnati. "The automotive industry continues to face an ongoing shortage of technicians, with over 400,000 techs needed by 2027," Ford said.  

* Most EVs driven locally. A recent study on battery electric vehicle driving range revealed: On average, EV drivers utilize only 8-16% of their vehicle's total range. While daily driving distances vary by state, the average typically remains under 45 miles per day. Despite being among the largest states geographically, Alaska, Texas and California all exhibit below-average daily driving distances. This could be attributed to EV owners residing in urban areas, where daily mileage tends to be lower, that EV drivers in these states have access to other vehicles for longer trips.
EV driving range study by state finds an overlooked stat

* US DoE factoid of the week. Daily vehicle miles traveled varies with the number of household vehicles. In a one-vehicle household the average daily mileage is about 50 miles, according to the 2022 National Household Travel Survey. In a two-vehicle household, the first vehicle averages nearly 60 miles in a day; in a six-vehicle household, the first vehicle averages over 70 miles per day. Daily miles for the second vehicle in each of these categories is less than 60% that of the first vehicle.

* What's a muscle car? The next-generation Dodge Charger made its debut. It will be available as a 2-door coupe or a 4-door sedan. The Charger will retain its title as the world’s quickest and most powerful muscle car, led by the all-new, all-electric 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona Scat Pack, which delivers 670 horsepower and is expected to reach 0-60 mph in 3.3 seconds and to run the quarter-mile in an estimated 11.5 seconds. Electrified models also include the 496-horsepower 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. The all-new Dodge Charger features standard all-wheel drive for all models and will offer performance choices via multi-energy powertrain options — the 550-horsepower Dodge Charger SIXPACK H.O. powered by the 3.0L Twin Turbo Hurricane High Output engine and the 420-horsepower Dodge Charger SIXPACK S.O. fueled by the 3.0L Twin Turbo Hurricane Standard Output engine. Production of the 2-door begins in mid-2024 and the 4-door in Q1 2025.

* Less costly. Rivian unveiled the long anticipated R2 SUV that should on sale as a 2026 model. Also introduced were the smaller R3 and R3X models that share same platform as the larger R2, but they are said to have a wheelbase about five inches shorter. They will be positioned as entry-level models when they reach production likely as 2027 models.

* Costs down and up. By 2027, battery electric vehicles will be less expensive to produce than vehicles with internal combustion engines due to streamlined production, according to a report from Gartner. However, Gardner Vice President of Research Pedro Pacheco said that repairs to BEVs will increase 30% in that time, which could prompt vehicle write-offs from serious accidents as the cost to repair could exceed residual value.

*  On the Road Again. Chevrolet has lifted a stop-sale order barring dealers from selling the new Chevrolet Blazer EV. The order was put in place on Dec 22 in response to reports of issues with the vehicle's software. Chevrolet also announced price cuts as much as $6,500, depending on model.

* Expanded recall. General Motors is expanding a recall to address an issue with the tailgate that may open while driving, potentially causing a road hazard. Originally the recall covered 323,232 vehicles. The expanded recall covers the US and Canada involving 820,000 2020-2024 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty trucks equipped with power-unlatching tailgates.

Best of the best. A 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO shown by David MacNeil was crowned Best in Show, Concours de Sport while a 1947 Delahaye 135MS Narval Cariolet owned by Dana Mecum took home Best in Show, Concours d’Elegance at the 29th annual Amelia Concours d’Elegance. The Sunday Concours concluded a week long celebration of the automobile which included auction, seminars, film viewings and several automotive events. In total, over 27,000 automotive enthusiasts visited The Amelia between February 29 and March 3.  

Ridler Award. Dave and Tracy Maxwell's 1953 Corvette, built by Kindig-It Designs has been named the winner of the prestigious Ridler Award at the 2024 Detroit Autorama. Completely hand-built, this car is the culmination of more than five years of work, all carried out behind closed doors, because on of the criteria for the Ridler Award is that the car has to make its public debut at the Autorama. The Ridler Award is arguably the most prestigious prize in the world of custom cars. The car was built entirely from scratch out of aluminum. The chassis, suspension, body, and interior are all the work of Kindig-It Design. The shape is loosely based on a Corvette concept car from 1954 called the Corvair. Thanks to MotorTrend for this report.

Stay safe. Be Well.

Kind regards, 
Larry Nutsonthe Chicago Car Guy