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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Wrap-up April 21-27, 2024



Auto Central April 28, 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 April 21-27, 2024.

* Prices still high. New-vehicle transaction prices (ATP) in March 2024 held mostly steady, according to an analysis by Kelley Blue Book, down 1% from the revised February ATP. Last month, the average transaction price of a new vehicle in the U.S. was $47,218, down 1% from March 2023 and down 5.4% from the market peak in December 2022. Still, new-vehicle prices in the U.S. remain higher by 15.5% compared to March 2021. The industry’s vehicle mix and focus on luxury continue to make affording a new vehicle more difficult for the average consumer. In March, of the roughly 275 new-vehicle models available in the U.S. market, only eight had average transaction prices below $25,000 and only two transacted for less than $20,000. The average price Americans paid for an electric vehicle in March was $54,021, up from a revised $53,707 in February, according to Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book estimates. EV transaction prices in March were lower year over year by 9.7%. The average incentive spend from manufacturers increased 11% to $3,121, which was up 102% year over year.

* Auto Loan Delinquency. With the rate of auto loan delinquency increasing in all 50 states between Q3 2023 and Q4 2023, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its new report on the States Where Auto Loan Delinquency Is Increasing the Most, to show where people’s risk of credit score damage and vehicle repossession is surging most. More details here:

* US DoE factoid of the week: A study by Recurrent of about 15,000 vehicles from model years 2011 to 2023 showed that plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) battery replacements due to failure have been rare, at 1.5%, outside of recalls. For PEVs from model years 2016 to 2023 battery replacement rates due to failure were well under 1% and most of those would have been covered by the manufacturer's warranty. EV batteries have continued to improve with technologies such as active liquid cooling and other strategies that optimize thermal battery management, as well as new and improved chemistries. With greater numbers of PEVs and more years of data, a clearer picture should emerge on the longevity of these newer battery packs which will be critical for long-term owners and the used PEV market.

* Their Best. U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 2024 Best Hybrid and Electric Cars. U.S. News evaluated 96 vehicles and named winners across 10 categories. Hyundai leads the industry with the most awards in 2024 with three. Volvo secured two wins in the luxury classes. Full story here.

* Best interiors. The winners of the 2024 Wards 10 Best Interiors and UX competition encompass several trends, including distinctive decorative trim, big display screens with increasingly high resolution and clarity and the improvement of the user experience (UX) as it relates to in-vehicle technology. 10 Best Interiors & UX winners for the first time are all light trucks, with a mix of small, medium and large CUVs and SUVs and one fullsize pickup. Details here:

*Tighter rules. Six senators are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get busy regulating autonomous vehicles, citing numerous high-profile crashes involving everything from Level 2 Teslas to Level 4 driverless Cruise vehicles. On Thursday, April 18, Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued a letter to NHTSA Acting Administrator Sophie Shulman, urging the agency “to take more proactive and aggressive action to address the safety concerns of” autonomous vehicles. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) also signed off on the letter. Full story here:

*Limited autonomous driving.Mercedes-Benz is bringing Level 3 autonomous vehicles to the U.S. — the first automaker to do so. While Tesla calls its Level 2 driver assistance system "Full Self-Driving," with CEO Elon Musk promising, and then failing to deliver, Level 4 or Level 5 autonomy, it is actually Mercedes-Benz that officially achieved the feat of getting a Level 3 car on a U.S. road. Learn more here:

*First Indoor Flagship Station: In February 2024, Electrify America, the largest open-to-any-EV DC fast charging network in the U.S., opened its first indoor flagship charging station at 928 Harrison Street in San Francisco. In the first 30 days, the company has seen high use and received positive feedback, affirming the demand for larger stations in urban areas, and demonstrating strong community support. Over 8,000 charging sessions have taken place. Nestled just blocks from the Bay Bridge in the South Market neighborhood, the station features 20 Hyper-Fast chargers providing up to 350 kilowatts (kW) peak power per charger. Beyond charging, customers can make use of the dedicated temperature-controlled lounge areas with food and beverage vending options, complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi, and restrooms.

*Tesla price reduction. The Detroit News reports Tesla knocked roughly a third off the price of its Level 2 “Full Self Driving” system — which can’t drive itself and so drivers must remain alert and be ready to intervene — to $8,000 from $12,000, according to the company website. Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk promised in 2019 that there would be a fleet of robotaxis on the road in 2020, but the promise has yet to materialize, and the system still has to be supervised by humans. The cuts follow Tesla's moves to slash $2,000 off the prices of three of its five models in the United States. That's the latest evidence of the challenges facing the electric vehicle maker.

*EVs and hybrids at Beijing Auto Show. The Beijing Auto Show will welcome around 700 exhibitors at the first show since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. BMW, Toyota Motor and Volkswagen are among automakers that will exhibit electric vehicles designed to compete with Chinese automakers such as BYD and Geely at the auto show, which will showcase 278 EVs and hybrids. Story from Reuters here:

*Goodbye Legacy. Subaru of America, Inc. announced production of the Legacy sedan will end next year at the conclusion of the 2025 model year. The Subaru Legacy was designed for the American market and on its debut in 1989 it became the first Subaru manufactured in the United States at Subaru’s new Indiana plant, Subaru of Indiana Automotive.

*NHRA Hemi Challenge. Sox & Martin and the McCandless Collection will be the sponsors of the 2024 Hemi Challenge as part of the 70th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. The world’s biggest and most prestigious drag race takes place Aug. 28-Sept. 2. The Hemi Challenge is the longest-running continuous specialty race in NHRA history and has been a fan favorite for more than two decades. This event features exciting heads-up, wheel-standing, side-by-side racing of Hemi-powered '68 Super Stock Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas competing in the NHRA SS/AH class. Full story here:

*Stay safe. Be Well.