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Nutson’s Weekly Auto News Wrap-up February 26-March 5, 2022

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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – March 6, 2022; 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.

LEARN MORE: Full 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 bold headline and then inserting into any Site Search Box.

Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending February 26, 2022 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-understand automotive universe news nuggets.

* U.S. DoE factoid of the week: Sales of new light-duty plug-in electric vehicles, including all-electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), nearly doubled from 308,000 in 2020 to 608,000 in 2021. EV sales accounted for 73% of all plug-in electric vehicle sales in 2021. EV sales grew by 85% from 2020 to 2021, while sales of PHEVs more than doubled, with an increase of 138% over the previous year. The rapid growth in plug-in electric vehicle sales from 2020 to 2021 is remarkable in the context of overall light-duty vehicle sales, which increased by only 3% during the same period.

* The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its 2020 annual traffic crash data, showing that 38,824 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide. That number marks the highest number of fatalities since 2007. The estimated number of police-reported crashes in 2020 decreased by 22% as compared to 2019, and the estimated number of people injured declined by 17%. While the number of crashes and traffic injuries declined overall, fatal crashes increased by 6.8%. The fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased to 1.34, a 21% increase from 2019 and the highest since 2007. In 45% of fatal crashes, the drivers of passenger vehicles were engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors: speeding, alcohol impairment, or not wearing a seat belt.

* Kelley Blue Book’s annual Best Resale Value Awards recognizes the 10 individual vehicles that are projected to retain the highest percentage of their original MSRP. This list represents the best of the best, and the threshold for this honor is high. These vehicles retain their value better than 95% of all other models. While the average new vehicle will be worth about 40% of its original sticker price after 60 months, these 10 vehicles will return an average of more than 59% to their owners’ pockets. The top vehicle is the 2022 Toyota Tundra. Check the complete list right here.

* IHS Markit announced the winners of the 26th annual Automotive Loyalty Awards, recognizing General Motors for its leadership as top manufacturer for automotive loyalty in the U.S. in 2021. This is the seventh consecutive win for GM in the ‘Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer’ category and 18th in the last 26 years. Ford took top honors in the ‘Overall Loyalty to Make’ category, winning its 12th consecutive award. IHS Markit Names General Motors Top Manufacturer for Seventh Consecutive Year in its 26th Annual Automotive Loyalty Awards

* The Kia EV6 has been named the 2022 Car of the Year in the prestigious European Car of the Year (COTY) awards. The innovative all-electric crossover was voted the overall winner by a 61-person jury consisting of highly respected motoring journalists from 23 European countries. The Kia EV6 was initially listed for consideration for the top award alongside over sixty models that launched during 2021.

* At a global press event in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Stellantis laid out its future business plan. “Dare Forward 2030” focuses on electrification, mobility, data as a service, reduced carbon footprint, and increased customer care. Jeep and RAM battery electrics and Dodge electric performance muscle cars will be coming along. The goal is to have 50 percent of U.S. sales being EVs by 2030.

* The Felicity Ace cargo ship carrying nearly 4,000 new Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Lamboghini vehicle that caught fire last week has now sunk. The fire had been extinguished and the ship was under tow when listed to starboard in rough seas, capsized and sank around 220nm off the Azores. The cause of the fire remains unknown.

* Cox Automotive reported new-vehicle sales in February were expected to reach 1.08 million units, a drop of 11% compared to February 2021, according to a forecast released last week. The February pace of U.S. auto sales, or seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), showed a market still significantly constrained by lack of new-vehicle supply and finish near 14.4 million, down from January’s 15.0 pace, and down from last February’s 15.9 million level.

* Oil prices are surging over $100 a barrel. The United States and other member states of the International Energy Agency (IEA) agreed to release 60 million barrels of oil reserves to compensate for supply disruptions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The 60 million barrels represent 4% of the 1.5 billion barrels of emergency stockpiles held by IEA members, the agency said, and is equivalent to 2 million barrels a day for 30 days.

* The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., hosted a hearing on a red-hot topic of carjackings that are occurring in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia, New Orleans and Washington, DC in what’s become a national crime wave. Cook Country Illinois Sheriff Tom Dart said that geolocation equipment included in most new cars since 2015 has proven to be “one of the most effective tools available” in tracking and recovering stolen cars, but some automakers are “reluctant or unwilling to track carjacked vehicles,” sometimes even adding a surcharge to allow car owners to draw on the device. “We believe auto manufacturers can be a great ally in this battle,” Dart said. He called for a single round-the-clock hotline between law enforcement and automakers to streamline and standardize the process.

* Fully autonomous vehicles are in the news but are drivers ready and willing to hand over the controls? In a recent study of over 600 licensed drivers aged 18-80 in the United States, automotive consulting firm AutoPacific gauged comfort with autonomous vehicles and investigated such topics as insurance responsibility, accident liability, price willing to pay and trusted automotive brands. Rating their current comfort level, only 29% of respondents said they would be comfortable being automatically driven in their own fully autonomous vehicle in the future. A slightly lower 26% of respondents would be comfortable as passengers riding in someone else’s fully autonomous vehicle. When asked about their comfort level being driven in their own fully autonomous vehicle, 40% of respondents aged 18-29 say they would be comfortable, while only 18% of drivers 60 and older say the same. Nearly a third of all respondents (32%) say they trust Tesla to develop a safe and reliable fully autonomous vehicle, followed by Toyota (19%) and BMW (18%).

* Ford Motor Company announced the creation of distinct electric vehicle and internal combustion businesses poised to compete and win against both new EV competitors and established automakers. Ford Blue will build out company’s iconic portfolio of ICE vehicles to drive growth and profitability. Ford Model e will accelerate innovation and delivery of breakthrough electric vehicles at scale, and develop software and connected vehicle technologies and services for all of Ford. Ford Blue and Ford Model e will operate as distinct businesses, but share relevant technology and best practices to leverage scale and drive operating improvements; along with Ford Pro, all three businesses are expected to have discrete P&Ls by 2023.

* Rivian said it is raising prices for its electric adventure trucks by as much as 20% to offset rising component costs. The move provoked anger among customers still waiting for their now more expensive Rivian trucks and more dismay from Rivian shareholders. Following the uproar from reservation holders Rivian’s CEO recinded the price increase on their vehicles.

* The ethanol industry and a group of 16 states are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate vehicle CO2 emissions. Team Ethanol objects that the EPA’s proposed mileage/CO2 standards unfairly and improperly favor EVs over ethanol fuels.

* Low-volume vehicle manufacturers can now sell replica cars that resemble vehicles produced more than 25-years ago. Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) worked with Congress to pass the federal policy change in 2015, known as the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized the regulation. The law allows low-volume manufacturers to produce up to 325 replica cars a year and the vehicles are required to meet current model year emission standards.

* General Motors has lost a bid to avoid recalling about 727,000 small SUVs in the U.S. with headlight beams that can be too bright and cause glare for oncoming drivers. In 2019, the Detroit automaker petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking to avoid a recall, saying the problem didn’t affect safety for surrounding vehicles. The petition covered GMC Terrain SUVs from the 2010 through 2017 model years.

* Gene Haas and his Haas Formula 1 team announced two related moves, releasing a driver two weeks before the start of the season and breaking ties with the team’s title sponsor. Haas terminated Russian driver Nikita Mazepin’s contract and also ended the sponsorship arrangement with Russian company Uralkali, owned by Mazepin’s father, Dmitry, The Associated Press reported. The moves follow the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has caused the sports world to impose sanctions. Already, F1 has canceled its contract with the Russian Grand Prix, and FIFA and UEFA have removed the country’s soccer teams from competitions.

* Danny Ongais, the Hawaiian driver admired by fans and competitors for his speed and bravery in an Indianapolis 500 career spanning three decades, died Feb. 26 of congestive heart complications in Anaheim Hills, California. He was 79. The versatile Ongais made 11 Indianapolis 500 starts between 1977 and 1996, with four top-10 finishes. His best years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway came with Interscope Racing and its eye-catching No. 25 Parnelli and Penske chassis powered by Cosworth engines, with a best finish of fourth in 1979 and a top start of second next to pole sitter Tom Sneva in 1978. Rest in Peace Danny.

* Tim Considine made a career as a sports and automobile photographer, writer and author. His books included “The Language of Sport” (1982) and “American Grand Prix Racing” (1997) American At Le Mans (2019). Tim Considine was a child star of “My Three Sons,” playing the oldest son, Mike, after gaining fame in the “Spin and Marty” serial on Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club.” Tim was the World’s First Indy 500 Webcast Anchor
as a member of The Auto Channel team that in 1996 produced and streamed the first-ever cybercast coverage of an Indy 500, Tim died at his home in the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles at age 81, Thank you and Rest in Peace Tim.

* Martha Hindes, an automotive journalist, who lived in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, died on January 10, it was recently learned. She was 85. A graduate of Wayne State University, Hindes worked as a reporter and feature writer for The Detroit News for several years, before becoming an independent journalist, focusing on automotive topics. In recent years, she was a senior editor for online publication The Auto Channel. Hindes was a member of the Automotive Press Association and the Individual Communicators Network, both based in Detroit. Thank you and Rest in Peace dear Martha, Rest in Peace.

Stay safe. Be Well.

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