AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO January 31, 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 January 30, 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.
* President Joe Biden signed an executive order aimed at bolstering federal government purchases from American manufacturers. Biden reiterated his commitment to replace federal fleets (round 650,000 vehicles) with American-made electric vehicles and to make “historic investments” in the research and development of battery technology, artificial intelligence and clean energy — all which have a direct impact on the auto industry. Under the decades-old Buy American Act, at least 50% of the components of a product must come from within the U.S. to qualify as an American-made domestic good. Perhaps we’ll see a new Presidential state car replacing “the Beast” and based on the new GMC Hummer EV?
* GM announced that it plans to become carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040 and has committed to setting science-based targetsⁱ to achieve carbon neutrality. GM said it “aspires” to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035. GM’s focus will be offering zero-emissions vehicles across a range of price points and working with all stakeholders, including EDF, to build out the necessary charging infrastructure and promote consumer acceptance while maintaining high quality jobs, which will all be needed to meet these ambitious goals. GM will offer 30 all-electric models globally by mid-decade and 40 percent of the company’s U.S. models offered will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025.
* Joe White reporting for Reuters points out that GM’s declaration is indeed a historic moment and puts pressure on rivals to follow suit. But White also notes, GM did not promise unconditionally to stop selling internal combustion engines (ICE). The company’s statement said it “aspires” to phase out sales of new ICE vehicles within 15 years, and to be carbon neutral (including the purchase of credits to offset emissions) by 2040. This is the same company that just a couple of months ago was still supporting the former U.S. administration in attacking California’s electric vehicle mandates and four years ago joined in an industry effort to roll back U.S. tailpipe carbon emissions standards.
* The Maserati MC20 received the Grand Prize for Most Beautiful Supercar of the year at the 36th edition of the Festival Automobile International. One of the most prestigious design awards, the recently launched MC20 premiered globally last September at the MMXX international show in Modena, Italy.
* Volkswagen of America announced that the critically-acclaimed Volkswagen Golf ended production for the U.S. market last week. Volkswagen expects that the model year 2021 Golf models built at the Puebla, Mexico plant will sustain sales of the affordable, European-designed hatchback through year end. The Golf family name will carry on in model year 2022 with the introduction of the all-new Mk 8 Golf GTI and Golf R, arriving this Fall. The Golf was first introduced to the U.S.as a 1975 model bearing the Rabbit name which was changed to the global Golf name in 1985.
* NBC has recently ordered a pilot for “American Auto” a workplace comedy show which will closely follow the day to day dealings of corporate executives of failing Detroit carmaker Payne Motors. The show, set in Detroit, will most likely mimic successful recipes like “The Office” and “Superstore” but revolves around the struggles and headaches of running a huge car company. NBC signed on Saturday Night Live alum, Ana Gasteyer, to play the lead role of Katherine Hastings, the CEO of Payne Motors.
* Reuters reports that truck maker Navistar, controlled by German truck maker Traton, said it will use General Motors hydrogen fuel cell systems to power a new line of zero emission commercial trucks targeted to launch in 2024. The deal does not appear to rule out a separate deal for GM to supply fuel cell technology to zero emission truck startup Nikola.
* Fiat Chrysler’s U.S. unit reached an agreement to settle a criminal probe by U.S. prosecutors into conduct of some former employees tied to the ongoing UAW corruption scandal. FCA US, which is now part of Stellantis, said it agreed to plead guilty to a single count of conspiracy to violate the Labor Management Relations Act and pay a $30 million fine. The automaker has also agreed an independent compliance monitor for three years. From 2009 to 2016, FCA conspired to make over $3.5 million in illegal payments to UAW officials, according to the federal investigators.
* One of the auto industry’s most influential design leaders will retire from Ford Motor Company this spring and be succeeded by an accomplished global industry veteran. Moray Callum will cap his 38-year product development career – more than half of which was with Ford – as the company’s vice president, Design, for Ford and Lincoln brand vehicles worldwide. He will be replaced by Anthony Lo, who most recently was vice president, Exterior Design, for Groupe Renault. Callum’s retirement is effective May 1, enabling a one-month transition to Lo, who will start with Ford on April 1. Like Callum, Lo will report to Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer.
* American Amy Lerner finished the famed 2021 Dakar Rally second in class and 15th overall in the Classic Rally; the world’s toughest off-road event took place in Saudi Arabia for the second time this year. Lerner drove a 1982 Porsche 911 SC in this all-new competition category for pre-2000 vehicles that have previously competed in the Dakar or are built to original specifications. It attracted 24 entries, and used a 5,000-mile-long parallel route to the main rally, with 12 regularity stages, including a 2-day marathon stage, with no mechanical support. The 43rd-annual Dakar started and ended in Jeddah and is one of the most-followed motorsports events in the world. More than 350 teams hailing from around the globe took the start; nearly one third were not able to complete the grueling rally. Sue Mead, an award-winning automotive journalist who has experienced the Dakar Rally five times, including as driver of record for a 2011 class win, served as the media and support team manager for Lerner’s team. Mead’s three decades of work in the automotive industry and off-road racing helped provide sponsor and other support before, during and after the rally.
* J.D. Power III who founder the influential car quality survey has died at 89. David Power, a former financial analyst at Ford who later represented General Motors as a marketing research consultant for Marplan, launched J.D. Power and Associates in 1968 in the family’s kitchen in Calabasas, Calif. His wife, Julie, was co-founder, and their three children were the associates. Power sold J.D. Power and Associates to McGraw-Hill in 2005.
Stay safe. Be Well.