AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO February 21, 2021 Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Executive Producer, with able assistance from senior 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.
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Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending February 20, 2021, Below are the past week’s important, relevant, semi-secret, or snappy automotive news, opinions and insider back stories presented as expertly crafted easy to digest news nuggets.
* JD Power released its 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study which found vehicle durability at an all-time high, improving 10% over 2020 — and 25% over 2016 when the industry was backsliding in durability due to the swarm of new electronics debuting on vehicles. Lexus, Porsche, Kia, Toyota and Buick are the top five. Land Rover is last.
* Mazda and BMW took the top two spots in Consumer Reports’ annual ranking of the most reliable automotive brands. Porsche, which won the top spot in 2020, fell to fourth place. Alfa Romeo came in last, down five spots from last year.
* The valuation analysts at Kelley Blue Book reported the estimated average transaction price for a light vehicle in the United States was $40,857 in January 2021. New-vehicle prices increased $2,110 (up 5.45%) from January 2020, while falling $295 (down 0.72%) from last month.
* Production in the auto industry is getting hit from every side. There’s a chip shortage, as in microchips not potato chips. There’s a natural gas supply issue due to extreme cold causing plants to close. There’s cold and snow in Texas also causing plants to close. Toyota and Nissan temporarily shut down Japanese plants because of disruptions to supply chains caused by an earthquake of the coast of Fukushima.
* Ford shut down production of its highly profitable 2021 F-150 pickup trucks and Transit Vans for a full week in Missouri, the company confirmed. “Due to unseasonably cold temperatures in the midsection of the United States, Ford was warned that the availability of natural gas could be restricted in the Kansas City area in the coming days,” said Kelli Felker, global manufacturing and labor communications manager. “To ensure we minimize our use of natural gas that is critical to heat people’s homes, we have decided to cancel operations,” she said. The plant employs approximately 7,300 UAW hourly workers who, by contract, will receive approximately 75% of their gross pay during the shutdown.
* But then this: Texans trapped without electricity for days in their homes have suffered without heat or lights or the ability to run refrigerators or stoves despite freezing temperatures. But a retired refinery worker from the town of Katy outside Houston and the owner of a 2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid truck with Pro Power onboard, generated envy on social media after posting images of how he’s using his pickup to power his home and help neighbors during the blackout affecting millions in the Lone Star State. He just bought his new F-150 the first week of February.
* General Motors agreed to a $5.75 million settlement to resolve allegations it made false statements to California’s largest pension system and other investors over its deadly ignition switch scandal. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the largest U.S. automaker concealed problems from investors related to faulty ignition switches linked to 124 deaths and 275 injuries. GM previously paid $900 million to settle a U.S. Justice Department criminal investigation and $1 million to resolve a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accounting case tied to the ignition switch issue.
* Chevy chose Valentine’s Day to share the love and reveal the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV and a revamped Bolt EV. The Bolt EUV has more rear seat legroom as its one advantage over the Bolt EV. So if height runs in your family, that’s the way to go. Chevy is reducing the base price of the freshened Bolt EV by $5,500 and covering the cost to install chargers at buyers’ homes. The 2022 Bolt EUV is priced from $33,9953 (including destination freight charge), and the 2022 Bolt EV starts at $31,9953 (including DFC), before any available state, local or utility incentives. Both will be available this summer.
* Jaguar is to become an all-electric brand as part of new turnaround plan. The historic marque will become an all-electric brand starting in 2025 to “realize its unique potential,” parent Tata Motors said. Land Rover will gradually follow Jaguar down the electric-only road.
* Reuters reports building an affordable, mass market electric vehicle is a big challenge for mainstream automakers. Designing an electric McLaren sports car that will be accepted by the brand’s fan base of discerning, demanding and wealthy petrolheads is another level entirely. McLaren can see the handwriting on the wall for its beloved internal combustion engines, and is working to reinvent not only the way it builds cars (trying innovative approaches to carbon fiber) but also the way it generates revenue (expanding the sale of its tech and engineering.)
* As part of a game-changing collaboration with Amazon, Mitsubishi revealed the all-new 2022 Outlander crossover utility vehicle (UV) via livestream, the first vehicle to ever debut on Amazon Live. All-new from the wheels up, the 2022 Outlander features a new design direction for both this vehicle and the brand.
* Ford says by mid-2026, 100% of its passenger vehicle range in Europe will be zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid; moving to all-electric by 2030. Ford’s commercial vehicle range in Europe also will be 100% zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid, by 2024; two-thirds of commercial vehicle sales expected to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2030. Note the word “capable;.” It doesn’t mean no more ICE power. There will be hybrids.
* Joe White for Reuters writes: IHS Markit said General Motors’ decision to aim for an all-electric fleet by 2035 underscores that world gasoline demand likely peaked in 2019. However, IHS Markit vice president Jim Burkhard projects in a study that gasoline demand will ease very, very slowly from here. By 2025, electric and fuel cell vehicles of all kinds will displace 1.5 million barrels per day of oil consumption – about 1.4% of the overall demand the consulting and economic forecasting company projects. Among the factors that could change that forecast, up or down: How rapidly consumers ditch old internal combustion vehicles for new electric ones once the promised wave of new EVs hits the market over the next 1-3 years, and what happens in emerging markets where vehicle ownership per capita could grow.
* Mercedes-Benz USA has recalled more than 1 million vehicles for a failure in the eCall system, which has resulted in emergency responders being dispatched to wrong locations, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The software design of the communication module may result in a failure to send the correct vehicle location for the emergency call system in the event of a crash and increase the risk of injury following a crash, the NHTSA said. Mercedes-Benz USA is recalling certain 2016-2021 CLA-Class, GLA-Class, GLE-Class, GLS-Class, SLC-Class, A-Class, GT-Class, C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLS-Class, SL-Class, B-Class, GLB-Class, GLC-Class, and G-Class vehicles.
* Ford has issued a recall on its popular Bronco Sport covering 1,666 of the small SUVs.The vehicles have an issue with the suspension where the rear suspension modules “may not be fully secured to the subframe.” The company had sold 13,170 Bronco Sports in the U.S. through January, according to its sales reports.
* Ford is also recalling 153,000 compact pickups that could have faulty air bag inflators. The automaker identified 144,340 Ford Ranger trucks from the 2004-06 model years in the U.S. and about 8,800 in Canada that could have obsolete Takata parts.
* Valentine’s Day brought us the 2021 running of the NASCAR Daytona 500. The “big one” occurred early on in lap 14 and took out 16 race cars. Then mother nature took over with rain causing a nearly six hour red flag race delay. Eventually Michael McDowell driving a Ford survived a last lap crash and won his first ever Daytona 500 race.
* The John Force Racing team will make its much-anticipated return to NHRA Championship Drag Racing at the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season-opening Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The 21-time championship-winning team will feature three full-time entries driven by John Force, Robert Hight, and Brittany Force. JFR put its racing activities on hold last July during a 2020 NHRA season heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Bruce Meyers, who turned a simple hand-laid fiberglass body melded to a shortened Volkswagen chassis into a worldwide sensation known as the dune buggy, has died at the age of 94. The cause of death was myelodysplasia, a blood disease similar to leukemia. Meyers was the creator of the original Meyers Manx, named Big Red, which he built and rolled out of his small Newport Beach, California, garage in 1964. Meyers and his wife, Winnie, just recently sold the Meyers Manx brand and business to Trousdale Ventures, an investment firm that vows to produce a new generation of the beach cruisers. Thanks to ClassicCars.com for this report.
Stay safe. Be Well.