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Nutson’s Weekly Auto News Wrap-up: January 23-29, 2022

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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – January 30, 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 January 22, 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. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced that the Biden administration will implement a new strategy to curb the recent upswing in traffic-related injuries and deaths. After three decades of steady declines, U.S. traffic fatalities have trended back up since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Buttigieg said his department is embracing a new “safe system” approach urged by auto safety advocates to bolster initiatives, underway in several cities, that seek to eliminate fatalities by taking into account more than just driver behavior. Over the next two years, he said, his department will provide guidance as well as $5 billion in grants to states to spur lower speed limits and embrace safer road design such as dedicated bike and bus lanes, better lighting and crosswalks. The strategy recommends pilot programs to study and promote greater use of speed cameras, which the department says could provide more equitable enforcement than police traffic stops. Among the possibilities is rethinking how speed limits are set.

* Reuters reports Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin called on automakers and the U.S. Transportation Department to figure out how to use vehicle location technology to deter a surge in car-jackings in big cities. The carjacking wave has become a political problem for some Democratic mayors. But using vehicle connectivity systems to track location could be a tricky ask given concerns about privacy. Editor comment: Over the air communication to a vehicle certainly is possible. How about a remote panic button to shut a vehicle off?

* A recent Wall Street Journal article points out that U.S. vehicles are among the least fuel efficient globally. The actual sales-adjusted fuel economy rating of new vehicles has been unchanged at around 25 mpg since 2014. This exceeds the world average by 21% and Europe’s by 46%. Carbon dioxide emissions from motor gasoline were 23% higher in 2019 than in 1980. Gasoline consumption has risen 39%. EPA says the 2023 to 2026 standards can be reached with EVs and PHEVs reaching 17% of new cars manufactured, up from 3% in 2021. In discussion is to redefine the two categories of cars and SUVs (light duty trucks) into one category that includes all vehicles designed to carry passengers.

* From the EPA Trends Report we share data on the five vehicle types on today’s market namely, sedan/wagon, car SUV, truck SUV, pickup truck, and minivan/van. The distinction between car and truck SUVs is based on regulatory definitions where SUVs that are 4WD or above a weight threshold (6,000 pounds gross vehicle weight) are generally regulated as trucks and classified at truck SUVs. The remaining 2WD SUVs are subject to car standards and classified as car SUVs. Since model year 2004, the combination of technology innovation and market trends have resulted in average new vehicle fuel economy increasing 32%, horsepower increasing 17%, and weight increasing 1%. Footprint has increased 4% since EPA began tracking it in model year 2008. Between model year 2008 and 2020, fuel economy and footprint increased within each of the five vehicle types, and horsepower increased in four. Weight decreased within each of the vehicle types.

* General Motors is making the move to debut its performance-based auto insurance offering sometime during the first quarter of 2022. Onstar Insurance was created in 2020 to facilitate GM’s entry into the auto insurance market. Performance and behavior-based auto insurance is not a new concept, insurers have utilized either mobile apps or a data recorder that has to be plugged into the vehicle to record data. GM will instead collect vehicle data directly from onboard systems, which he says provides more reliable and consistent information. So if you are comfortable with big brother watching your every move, you may save on your insurance.

* The team that created the F-150 Raptor unveiled a desert-dune conquering, boulder-crawling, street legal SUV it calls the ultimate vehicle for hardcore off-road enthusiasts who want next-level capability. The all-new 2022 Ford Bronco Raptor – designed and engineered by Ford Performance – is inspired by Ultra 4 Racing. It comes with standard 37-inch all-terrain tires, an exclusive twin-turbo 3.0-liter EcoBoost engine targeted to deliver more than 400 horsepower, and a Raptor HOSS 4.0 race-ready suspension system, with a fully boxed, high-strength steel frame. Built for highway-speed desert racing and Baja rock crawling, the Bronco Raptor is 9.8 inches wider than a base Bronco four-door for more confident high-speed cornering. The styling is also extreme with Raptor styling cues like model-specific LED headlights to provide a mincing look and the Ford block lettering at the front stretches across the signature two-piece rectangular grille. Customers can begin placing orders in March. A majority of the 2022 model year Bronco Raptor allocation will go to existing reservation holders based upon their original reservation timestamp. Ford will send communications later this month soliciting reservation holders’ interest in Bronco Raptor. Vehicles will begin to arrive this summer.

* Ford has now shut down all 2022 orders for its $20,000 (and higher) Maverick pickup because it cannot keep up with demand, the Wall Street Journal reports. Ford previously shut down orders for just the Hybrid engine model. Ford previously shut down orders for the electric F-150 Lightning. “Sold out” is becoming the new marketing message for Detroit automakers.

* 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of Corvette, the longest running nameplate of any car on the road today. The 2023 model year Corvette Stingray and Corvette Z06 will celebrate this milestone with a special 70th Anniversary Edition package. Available when production starts later this year, 70th Anniversary Edition Corvettes will stand out in one of two exterior colors unique to this package – an all-new White Pearl Metallic Tri-coat or Carbon Flash Metallic and feature distinct wheels with commemorative wheel center caps, plus other unique exterior and interior items.

* Nissan is recalling more than 790,000 Rogue compact utility vehicles in the U.S. and Canada for potential electrical connector corrosion. The recall affects 2014-2016 Nissan Rogues.

* Kia is recalling more than 410,000 vehicles in the U.S. to fix a problem that can stop the air bags from inflating in a crash. The recall covers certain Forte cars from the 2017 and 2018 model years, and Sedona minivans and Soul small SUVs from 2017 through 2019.

* This weekend the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona opens the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship racing season. It’s the 60th anniversary of the famed race at Daytona International Speedway that will open the motorsports season with a 61-car field in the round-the-clock competition. The first race was held in 1962 as a 3-hour competition. It grew to 2,000 kilometers in 1964 and then to 24 hours in 1966.
Rolex is also celebrating its 30th anniversary as the race title sponsor. A Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch is awarded to the driver of winning cars. The 60th anniversary celebration will honor previous champions, including Mario Andretti, Hurley Haywood and Scott Pruett, as well the cars they drove for the win.

* The annual Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) held in Chicago each fall is making an expansion to bring in a new breed of enthusiasts with its new Malaise Era Muscle Invitational. What is Malaise Era Muscle, you may ask? It’s the new breed of collectible cars that fall between the years 1973-1987. The Malaise Era is the era where multiple oil crises affected cars being produced—not in a positive way.

* Sebastien Loeb and Co-Driver Isabelle Galmiche (M-Sport Ford) prevailed in a titanic battle with Sebastien Ogier and Benjamin Veillas (Toyota Gazoo Racing) that came down to the last stage of the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally. 2022 brought the start of the new World Rally Championship era with the new Rally1 regulations. The new cars now run with a hybrid power-train as well as enhanced safety improvements which judging by events on this rally, have already shown their worth in being implemented. M-Sport Ford come into the season with a wholly new car, swapping out the Fiesta for the new Puma, Hyundai have entered the new shape i20 and Toyota are using the GR Yaris body for their title defence.

* Vince Granatelli, who was a leading mechanic for two notable machines in Indianapolis 500 history and later became a race-winning team owner, died Jan. 22. He was 78. Granatelli was a member of the famous racing family that made its name through “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” including his father, Andy, the flamboyant owner of the car that Mario Andretti drove to victory in the 1969 Indianapolis 500.

Stay safe. Be Well.

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