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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Wrap-up April 28-May 4, 2024



Auto Central May , 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 top 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 28-May 5, 2024.

*April Sales. When all the numbers come in Cox Automotive forecasts a 2.2% decrease in sales volume for April compared to April 2023. Sales are set to hit 1.34 million units. The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) is expected to reach nearly 15.9 million, the highest point this year. This uptick in selling pace suggests that, while volume may have hit a small speed bump due to fewer selling days, the market is rolling along just fine. “Despite high interest rates and elevated vehicle prices, consumers remain resilient. Sales growth may be sluggish, but growth continues,” said Cox Automotive Senior Economist Charlie Chesbrough. “And we expect these conditions to persist throughout the year.” Fleet sales are expected to total 219,687 vehicles last month, down 14 percent from April 2023 when adjusted for selling days, J.D. Power and GlobalData estimate, with volume accounting for 16.8 percent of total light-vehicle deliveries, a decline of 2.5 percentage points from a year earlier.

* Used car prices. After falling down a steep pricing slope over most of the last year, the average used car prices on have – in most segments – flattened out, suggesting a return to “normal” after a couple of years of upheaval in the market. Carfax says “normal” because prices are still running higher than historic levels, and the market is still being affected by fallout from the pandemic. Read the full story:.HERE

*New math of car ownership. Car and truck owners are squeezing more life out of their current ride. U.S. vehicles’ average age hit a record 12.5 years in 2023, increasing for the sixth straight year, according to S&P Global Mobility. Wall Street Journal reports drivers are rethinking the optimum number of years to hold on to a car as the costs of ownership increase. Full story here: HERE

* Increase safety. Automatic emergency-braking will be required on cars in 2029 to cut roadway deaths and injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled the final version of the new regulation and called it the most significant safety rule in the past two decades. It's designed to prevent many rear-end and pedestrian collisions and reduce the roughly 40,000 traffic deaths that happen each year. Regulators expect the rule to save 360 lives a year.

* More trouble with hands-free. Reuters reports the Biden administration’s highway safety regulators launched an investigation of Ford’s Blue Cruise hands-free driving system after two fatal accidents, days after re-opening a probe of Tesla’s Autopilot technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has yet to issue comprehensive rules to govern the design and performance of systems such as Autopilot or Blue Cruise that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel but not to abdicate responsibility for control of the vehicle to software and sensors.

* Cadillac rethinks. reports Cadillac has backed away from its plan to offer “an all-electric portfolio by 2030,” the luxury brand’s global boss acknowledged. While that could yet happen, said General Motors Vice President John Roth, Caddy is likely to continue offering vehicles using internal combustion engines well into the next decade. With the pace of sales growth slowing, Cadillac is the latest automotive brand to rethink its electrification strategy, company officials confirmed.

*EV charging network. Musk dismissed the head of Tesla’s new product efforts and its successful charging business and signaled plans to let go hundreds of staffers in their departments, the Information reported. The implications of Telsa laying off its entire Supercharger team are not yet entirely clear. Automotive News reports Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk said expansion of the automaker's Supercharger network will slow, following media reports that the company had slashed hundreds of jobs in its electric vehicle charging group. "Tesla still plans to grow the Supercharger network, just at a slower pace for new locations and more focus on 100 percent uptime and expansion of existing locations," Musk said on the X social media platform that he owns. The Supercharger network is now open to many other EV manufacturers who are now concerned with this new situation.

*EV tax credit rules. The U.S. Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service updated the EV tax credit rules with new requirements that should enable more electric cars to become eligible. Even though the rules have been in effect for over a year, the US has still been frequently updating its reformed federal incentive for electric vehicles. The rules require EVs to be assembled in North America to get the credit. It also requires gradually higher percentages of battery materials and components to be produced in North America and in countries with free trade agreements with the US, which has been the most problematic for automakers. Because of those difficulties, the treasury department and IRS have decided to relax some of those rules, especially regarding the sourcing of graphite, electrolyte salts, binders, and additives, until 2027.

* HFC Pickup. A hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) pickup might make the most sense for a U.S. light vehicle deploying the zero-emission technology, senior Toyota North America R&D executives told Automotive News. Fuel cell technology "offers a great opportunity for light-duty trucks. You could get to the same amount range for a truck that you would need a very large battery for," Jay Sackett, Toyota's chief engineer for advanced mobility, said during an interview at Toyota's North American Hydrogen Headquarters on Wednesday. Sackett is the former chief engineer for the Toyota Tundra pickup.

*US DoE Factoid of the week: While the total number of trucks increased 111% from 2002 to 2021, the total truck miles increased 70%. The data on which this was based is the Vehicle Inventory and Use Survey (VIUS) and includes all trucks – pickups, SUVs, minivans, cargo vans, single-unit trucks and truck-tractors. The recently released 2021 VIUS contains a myriad of data on the nation’s truck population, both personal use trucks and those used commercially. Historically, VIUS was conducted in a five-year cycle up to 2002. The latest data show that overall, miles per truck are lower than they were in 2002, possibly due to influences from lower personal travel during the pandemic and greater use of hub and spoke distribution for medium/heavy trucks.

* Ford Recall Ford is recalling nearly 243,000 Maverick small pickup trucks in the U.S. because the tail lights may not illuminate. The company says a computer can falsely detect too much current on one or both of the tail lamps, causing them to stay dark while the trucks are being driven. That can increase the risk of a crash. The recall covers certain pickups from the 2022 through 2024 model years.

* IndyCar scandal. Chevrolet denied any knowledge of the IndyCar cheating scandal within Team Penske and said it hired an independent law firm to investigate whether General Motors employees were involved. General Motors President Mark Reuss said the manufacturer respects the “decision and actions” of IndyCar following last week’s disqualifications of winner Josef Newgarden and Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin from the March 10 season-opening race. IndyCar discovered, nearly two months after the March race, that the push-to-pass software system on all three Penske cars had been manipulated to override series rules and allow the drivers to utilize the boost of horsepower during restarts.

* Formula 1 gets hot. Henry Payne for the Detroit News reports the Andretti Cadillac race team is turning up the heat on Formula One in its bid to enter the world’s fastest open-wheel motorsport. Michigan Rep. John James, R-Shelby Township, joined legendary race driver Mario Andretti at a Capitol Hill news conference, warning Formula One of federal antitrust action if it does not reconsider its decision against letting Andretti Cadillac participate in the global series. The series' rejection of America’s team, Andretti Cadillac, for entry into the sport in 2026 has set off a firestorm of criticism in the United States and revealed fissures in F1’s governing body between the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, which approved Andretti Cadillac’s entry) and its 10 race teams (Formula One Manufacturers), which rejected the deal. Full story :HERE

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