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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Round-up March 10-16, 2024



Auto Central March 17, 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 10-March 16 2024.

* Prices hold. New-vehicle transaction prices (ATP) in February 2024 held mostly steady, according to an analysis by Kelley Blue Book, falling less than one-tenth of 1% from the revised January ATP. The average transaction price of a new vehicle in the U.S. last month was $47,244, down 2.2% from February 2023 and down 5.4% from the market peak in December 2022. Still, new-vehicle prices in the U.S. remain elevated, higher by nearly 14% compared to February 2021. The luxury ATP in February was $61,424, an increase from January. According to newly revised electric vehicle (EV) transaction price data, the average price paid for an electric vehicle in February was $52,314, down from a revised $54,863 in January. Affordability continues to fade: Nine new vehicles transacted for under $25,000 in February, down from 29 in February 2021. More: HERE

* Value retained. Kelley Blue Book’s annual Best Resale Value Awards recognizes the 10 individual vehicles that are projected to retain the highest percentage of their original manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). This list represents the best of the best, and the threshold for this honor is high. These vehicles retain their value better than 95% of all other models. While the average new vehicle will be worth about 42.4% of its original sticker price after 60 months, these 10 vehicles will return an average of about 59% to their owners’ pockets. More: HERE

* What you don't know. The NY Times reports automakers are sharing consumers’ driving behavior with insurance companies. Automakers and data brokers that have partnered to collect detailed driving data from millions of Americans say they have drivers’ permission to do so. But the existence of these partnerships is nearly invisible to drivers, whose consent is obtained in fine print and murky privacy policies that few read. Policymakers have expressed concern about the collection of sensitive information from consumers’ cars. Read more here: HERE

* US DoE factoid of the week: According to the 2022 National Household Travel Survey, the average number of occupants per trip for all household vehicles was 1.5 persons. The occupancy for vans was 2.1, making it the only vehicle type to average more than two people per trip. SUV/Crossover was the next highest with an average occupancy of 1.7, followed by Car at 1.4 persons.

* Powertrain choices. Automakers are emphasizing consumer choice with internal combustion engines, hybrids and electric vehicles after some US consumers showed reluctance to embrace EVs. "Moving on to less tech-savvy buyers will slow the EV market share growth over the next few years," said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global vehicle forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions, who added that "early adopters" drove the first wave of EV sales. Though consumer demand for EVs hasn’t shown up in the way executives had expected, sales of the vehicles are still predicted to increase in the years to come. Read this CNBC report: HERE

* Not safe enough. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is introducing a new ratings program to encourage automakers to incorporate more robust safeguards into their partial driving automation systems. Out of the first 14 systems tested, only one earns an acceptable rating. Two are rated marginal, and 11 are rated poor. “We evaluated partial automation systems from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “Most of them don’t include adequate measures to prevent misuse and keep drivers from losing focus on what’s happening on the road.” The Teammate system available on the Lexus LS is the only system tested that earns an acceptable rating. More: HERE

* Autonomous anti-theft. An unhoused/homeless man was arrested after allegedly attempting to steal a fully autonomous vehicle. The Waymo vehicle, a white Jaguar sedan, had just dropped off a passenger in downtown Los Angeles when the suspect got into the driver’s seat. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the suspect attempted to put the vehicle in “drive” but could not manipulate the controls. The Waymo communication system warned Jones to leave the car before notifying the police. The suspect was arrested for attempted grand theft auto. Waymo, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., focuses on self-driving technology. As part of its testing and promotions program, it has been testing its vehicles in LA for more than a year.

* Formula 1 records. Autoweek reports Max Verstappen notched his 56th career F1 victory and his 100th podium finish in Formula 1 at the recent season-opening F1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, becoming the seventh driver in history to achieve the feat. He is likely to soon leap Kimi Räikkönen (103) and Fernando Alonso and Alain Prost (both 106) in the category, though he is still some way away from Lewis Hamilton’s series-record 197.

* Motorsports rock stars. Drag Illustrated reports: Legendary crew chief Austin Coil, who tuned John Force to 15 of a record 16 NHRA Funny Car championships and over 130 national event wins, was among 10 individuals inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s Class of 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Along with Coil, nine other luminaries from the world of motorsports will also be inducted: six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon (Open Wheel); seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (Stock Cars); late actor, IndyCar team co-owner and amateur racer Paul Newman (At Large); Jim Downing and Dr. Robert Hubbard (Technology); Bud Ekins (Motorcycles); John Surtees (Sports Cars); and Earl B. Gilmore and Phil Walters (aka “Ted Tappett”), both in the Historic category.

* Ford Motorsports' Leader. Widely known as both the “Godfather” of Ford Motor Company’s racing efforts, and a prominent ambassador for the sport of auto racing globally, Edsel B. Ford II was honored as a Bob Russo Heritage Award winner at the 2024 Induction Ceremony for the Motorsport Hall of Fame of America. The MSHFA's highest honor next to induction, the Bob Russo Heritage Award is named in recognition of the longtime motorsports journalist and historian and is presented only by the recommendation of the MSHFA Board of Directors in recognition of the recipient’s contributions to motorsports. Ford, who attended his first race at age 17 with his father, Henry Ford II, in 1966, and it just happened to be one of the most iconic races in motorsport history – the famous 1-2-3 finish by the Ford GT40s at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It sparked a passion for the sport that remains decades later, where he is still a familiar sight on starting grids at major races.

* RIP. Hagerty media reports Marcello Gandini. the Italian designer responsible for the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, the Alfa Romeo Montreal, the Lancia Stratos Zero, and many more definitive beauties, has passed away at the age of 85. HERE

Stay safe. Be Well.