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Nutson's Weekly Automotive News Wrap-up May 5-11, 2024



Auto Central May 12, 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 May 5-11, 2024.

* Tesla not what it says. Reuters reports U.S. prosecutors are examining whether Tesla committed securities or wire fraud by misleading investors and consumers about its electric vehicles’ self-driving capabilities, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving systems assist with steering, braking and lane changes - but are not fully autonomous. While Tesla has warned drivers to stay ready to take over driving, the Justice Department is examining other statements by Tesla and Chief Executive Elon Musk suggesting its cars can drive themselves. Full story here: Exclusive: In Tesla Autopilot probe, US prosecutors focus on securities, wire fraud

* Cicadas and cars. According to AAA, cicada emergences can lead to a number of concerns with vehicles, including overheating vehicles, airflow issues, paint damage and more. “While cicadas are harmless, they can cause quite a bit of damage externally and internally to vehicles,” says Chris Storms, District Director for AAA Car Care. “Drivers are urged to take proactive steps to protect their vehicles while cicadas are in the area.” More details in this news story:

* The EV world. A new study by AlixPartners identified “two distinct camps” in the world EV market: China, where nearly all consumers are ready to buy an EV, and the United States and Europe, where EV demand is sputtering. Battery range (43%) and charging infrastructure (43%) are tied atop the list of BEV concerns in the U.S. in this year’s survey, followed by the amount of time it takes to charge (38%) and ownership/leasing costs (33%). The study found PHEVs address two of the most prominent challenges serious BEV intenders face: charging and range. The study indicates the appeal of PHEVs will fade in the longer term, with 85% of PHEV owners internationally saying they would strongly consider a BEV by 2035.

* The Best.'s 2024 3-Row SUV Challenge brought together seven well-equipped versions priced from around $50,000 to $55,000. Once toddlers grow out of the minivan-phase a 3-row SUV is the best for an active family to haul people and all that active-lifestyle gear. Have a read here:

* Goodbye stretch limo. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van has become a preferred mode of transportation for actors, singers, athletes and “Real Housewives,” and is now a staple in streets outside star-studded events like the Oscars and the Met Gala. The Sprinter’s size and luxurious reputation are reasons it has replaced vehicles like limousines and SUVs. Also, the Sprinter has an otherwise innocuous exterior that doesn't draw as much attentions as a Rolls-Royce or Bentley. Full story: HERE

* Less gas. Reuters reports increased EV adoption in China and the US, coupled with normalizing consumption levels, could slow global gasoline demand growth from 700,000 barrels per day last year to 300,000-340,000 bpd in 2024, the slowest pace since 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie and Rystad Energy. Analysts expect US gasoline demand to hold steady this year, potentially weighing on refining margins after the peak summer driving season.

* Keep it level. South Carolina’s ban on the “Carolina Squat” went into effect on May 9. The Carolina Squat is a dangerous mod on trucks and SUVs whereby owners lower the rear end and raise the front. Obstructed views over the nose of these vehicles have led to vehicle collisions and pedestrian deaths. The trend is already outlawed in North Carolina and Virginia. The Carolina Squat has its origins in Baja off-road racing, where desert trucks often employ negative rake as way to help absorb bumps and hard landings in their long-travel front suspension.

* Bad recall fix. The Detroit News reports Federal investigators say they have “significant safety concerns” about a Ford SUV recall repair that doesn't fix gasoline leaks that can cause engine fires. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is demanding volumes of information from the automaker as it investigates the fix in a March 8 recall of nearly 43,000 Bronco Sport SUVs from the 2022 and 2023 model years, and Escape SUVs from 2022. All have 1.5-liter engines. Ford’s remedy for the leaks is to add a drain tube to send the gas away from hot surfaces, and a software update to detect a pressure drop in the fuel injection system. And, the agency wants to hear Ford's take on “its obligations (legal, ethical, environmental and other) to prevent and/or limit fuel leakage onto the roadway at any point during a vehicle's lifespan.”

* One Lap The 40th running of One Lap of America began on May 4 at Tire Rack headquarters in South Bend, Indiana. One Lap covers 3,500 miles of driving across 15 states over a period of eight days. Seventy-seven teams are engaged in 20 competitive events including autocross, drag racing, and time attack racetrack events during the cross-country drive. The timed track events are held at many of America's greatest motorsports facilities, including Quaker City Motorsports Park in Salem, Ohio, High Plains Raceway in Deer Trail, Colorado and Putnam Park Road Course in Mount Meridian, Indiana.

* The Great Race. Coker Tire has a nice wrap-up overview of The Great Race Spring Rally presented by Stahls Automotive Collection. The Great Race is a favorite automotive event that has been going on since 1983. This year's dates are June 22-30, 2024. The Spring Rally serves as a warm-up event. It's a three-day clover leaf style rally, meaning that each day starts and ends from the same place. In this case, the event headquarters was Chesterfield, Michigan, which is the home of Stahls Automotive Collection. Read more and see photos here:

* Penske slip-up. reports Roger Penske has suspended multiple members of his Team Penske IndyCar operation in the wake of the push-to-pass cheating ordeal that led to fines and disqualifications for Josef Newgarden’s No. 2 entry that won at St. Petersburg, and also for the third-placed No. 3 entry for Scott McLaughlin. Team Penske president Tim Cindric, who also oversees the No. 2 car as its race strategist, managing director Ron Ruzewski, No. 2 race engineer Luke Mason, and assistant engineer Robbie Atkinson have been suspended for the next two IndyCar races in reaction to the matter.

Stay safe. Be Well.