AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – November 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.
LEARN MORE: Full versions of today’s news nuggets along with almost a million pages of the past 25 year’s automotive content, news, articles, reviews and archived relevant stories residing in
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Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending November 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.
* President Biden signed into law the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. IHS Markit expects the U.S. infrastructure bill to supplement only 66 percent of required U.S. EV charger growth through 2026. Overall, only 63 percent of U.S. households have access to a garage and that figure is less in urban areas where more than 50 percent of EV sales occur. If EVs remain impractical for apartment, condo, and historic home dwellers, we cannot adequately reach the administration’s stated EV goals.
* GM ZERO: President Joe Biden got a tour of the retooled factory where GM will build all-electric vehicles. GM is opening the doors of Factory ZERO, the renovated aging Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. Biden’s visit comes on the heels of his signing into law a $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill he helped write.
* CALIFORNIA TAXPAYERS BUY EV CHARGERS: Meanwhile, California will spend $1.4 billion over the next three years to build up EV charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure.
* EV’s BECOMING MORE APPEALING TO YOUNGER DRIVERS:A recent Cox Automotive study says sales of battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States are on track to set an all-time record in 2021, with sales up more than 88% through the end of September. Despite the rapid growth, EVs will account for only 3% of the new-vehicle market this year. Vehicle range and price remain the top purchase barriers. Younger Millennial and Gen Z buyers are becoming more open to the idea of an electric vehicle future. 57% of consumers point to a lack of charging stations in their area as a top barrier.
* APPLE CAR/TAXI ANNOUNCED:Bloomberg reports Apple Inc. is pushing to accelerate development of its electric car and is refocusing the project around full self-driving capabilities, according to people familiar with the matter, aiming to solve a technical challenge that has bedeviled the auto industry. In trying to master self-driving cars, Apple is chasing a holy grail within the industry. Tech and auto giants have spent years on autonomous vehicles, but the capabilities have remained elusive. Apple is internally targeting a launch of its self-driving car in four years, faster than the five- to seven-year timeline that some engineers had been planning for earlier this year. But the timing is fluid, and hitting that 2025 target is dependent on the company’s ability to complete the self-driving system — an ambitious task on that schedule.
* NEW EV’s AT 2021 LA AUTO SHOWThe Los Angeles auto show opened its doors this week in a scaled down format but for the first time in two years. New EV utility vehicles are all that’s in the spotlight with new models or concepts such as the Hyundai SEVEN, Kia EV9, Subaru Solterra, Toyota bZ4x, Fisker Ocean, and the Vietnamese auto maker VinFast. Many auto brands are conspicuously absent from the show, making for possible disappointment for those shopping for a vehicle now. A non-EV of note is the 493-hp mid-engined 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS.
* EPA SAYS EMISSION SKY IS NOT FALLING: The latest EPA report on U.S. vehicle fuel efficiency (CO2 emissions) says overall, the fuel economy of the U.S. vehicle fleet improved by 2% from 2019 to 2020, rising to 25.4 MPG from 24.9 MPG. Preliminary EPA data forecast that fuel economy for GM is down 6.5% and Ford is down 1% because microchip shortages led to building large pickups and SUVs instead of smaller, less profitable vehicles. Only Tesla, Subaru and Honda met current federal mileage requirements without using regulatory credits.
* OCTOBER US SALES SCORECARD Transportation researcher Dr. Michael Sivak of Sivak Applied Research reports that due to the covid pandemic Delta variant the rebound of travel by road, air, rail, and public transit stalled in August. The population-adjusted changes for August 2021 compared with August 2019 are: Road vehicle miles down 5%, Air passenger miles down 15%, Rail passenger miles down 34%, Trips on public transit down 50%. October 2021 compared with October 2019 has vehicle sales down 22% and the price of gasoline up 17%. The report can be viewed here. (https://www.greencarcongress.com/2020/10/20200923-sivakindex.html).
* ROOKIE LUCID NAMED CAR OF THE YEAR MotorTrend announced that the Lucid Air has won the 2022 MotorTrend Car of the Year, the first instance in which the initial product from a new automotive brand has been awarded the “Golden Calipers.” MotorTrend Car of the Year judges evaluated six key criteria for Car of the Year, with Lucid Air excelling at each: efficiency, value, advancement in design, engineering excellence, safety, and performance of the intended function. The Lucid Air was evaluated side by side with 24 highly-regarded vehicles, coming out on top against finalists that included the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Mercedes-Benz EQS, Porsche Taycan, Honda Civic, and many more.
* NACTOY FINALISTS NAMED: The finalists that will compete for the 2022 North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) awards were announced at the Los Angeles Auto Show. North American Car of the Year finalists are Honda Civic, Lucid Air and Volkswagen Golf Mk VIII (Golf R/Golf GTI). North American Truck of the Year finalists are Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz and Rivian R1T. North American Utility Vehicle of the Year finalists are Ford Bronco, Genesis GV70 and Hyundai IONIQ 5. The three winners will be announced in January 2022.
* US NEWS NAMES BEST VEHICLE BRAND<:> U.S. News & World Report unveiled its Best Vehicle Brand awards and Best Certified Pre-Owned Program award for 2022. The Best Vehicle Brand awards, evaluating 36 brands, recognize industry-wide excellence for cars, SUVs, trucks and luxury vehicles. Honda is Best Car Brand, Hyundai is Best SUV Brand, Ram is Best Truck Brand, Porsche is Best Luxury Brand, and Best Certified Pre-Owned Program is Lexus.
* MAZDA CX50 PREMIERE: Mazda North American Operations hosted the virtual world premiere of the first-ever Mazda CX-50. A completely new model, CX-50 is the first Mazda vehicle to be built at the new Mazda Toyota Manufacturing (MTM) plant in Huntsville, Alabama, with production beginning in January 2022. As a new addition to the Mazda lineup, CX-50 maintains key attributes expected of all Mazda vehicles, including superior driving dynamics and beautiful design. In addition, Mazda has extended this vehicle’s capability to enable drivers to venture further into the outdoors and various terrains. At launch, CX-50 will be available with Mazda’s efficient powertrains, Skyactiv-G 2.5 naturally aspirated engine or Skyactiv-G 2.5 Turbo engine and paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. In the coming years, the CX-50 will also be offered with electrified powertrains, including a traditional hybrid model.
* HOT DODGE PERSONALIZATION: Dodge brand is breaking all the rules, unlocking new, unrestricted, personalization options with new Jailbreak models for 2022 Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebodies. The Jailbreak models unlock color-combination ordering restrictions and add new factory-custom options to deliver enthusiasts the freedom to create a Dodge performance vehicle that perfectly fits their individual style. Jailbreak models include unique badging and boost SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody output to 807 horsepower with a revised powertrain calibration.
* MISSPELLED CAR BRANDS:The business finance team at money.co.uk, used online analytics tool Ahrefs to find some of the most misspelled brand names on the internet. The top three were all auto brands. Money.co.uk found that popular South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai is one of the most misspelled brands on the internet, with an average of 605,000 incorrect global online searches per month. In second place is Lamborghini and Ferrari is the third most misspelled. https://www.money.co.uk/business-loans.htm
*RAM DIESEL RECALL: Stellantis NA is recalling nearly 250,000 heavy-duty Ram diesel trucks globally for an issue with the fuel pumps that may cause the vehicles to stall or prevent them from starting. The affected vehicles are certain 2019 and 2020 Ram 2500 and 3500 heavy-duty pickups and Ram 3500, 4500 and 5500 chassis cab trucks that are equipped with 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engines. The recall covers an estimated 222,410 vehicles in the U.S., 20,539 in Canada and 3,525 in other markets outside of North America.
* CONSUMER REPORTS: Consumer Reports published its annual Auto Reliability Study with Lexus, Mazda and Toyota taking the top three spots for most reliable brands. The top ten ranks include eight Japanese brands, one Domestic brand (Buick) and one European brand (MINI).
* ROUTE 66 HISTORY: From ClassiCars.com we read the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership has published a new “more accurate history” of Route 66 in conjunction with the Research Encyclopedia on American History from the Oxford University Press. The Route 66 centennial celebration is scheduled for 2026. Established in 2015 with support from the National Park Service and the World Monuments’ Fund, The Road Ahead Partnership set a mission of sustaining and revitalizing Route 66 as a national and global icon. https://oxfordre.com/americanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-967
*2021 NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP: Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat driver Ron Capps and Don Schumacher Racing earned the 2021 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car World Championship in the season finale at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California. It is the veteran driver’s second Funny Car title of his 27-year career, following his first championship win in 2016, and the seventh of the 19-year partnership between DSR and the Mopar and Dodge//SRT brands. DSR driver Matt Hagan drove his Direct Connection Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat to the semifinals at Auto Club Raceway and closed out the 2021 NHRA season as runner-up in the Funny Car championship to teammate Capps. In late news, Capps announced he will be leaving the DSR team.
* 2021 NHRA CHAMPIONSHIP: Other title winners in the 2021 NHRA season are Steve Torrance in Top Fuel, Greg Anderson in Pro Stock, Matt Smith in ProStock Motorcycle, and Pro Stock driver Dallas Glenn was named Rookie of the Year.
Stay safe. Be Well.