AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – May 22, 2022; Every Sunday Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Auto Channel 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 May 21, 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. traffic deaths jumped 10.5 percent in 2021 to 42,915 — the highest number killed on American roads in a single-year since 2005, U.S. regulators said in its preliminary estimate. The yearly increase is the highest reported since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began using its current traffic fatality tracking system in 1975. Traffic deaths surged after coronavirus lockdowns ended in 2020 as more drivers engaged in unsafe behavior like speeding and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Traffic deaths in 2020 rose 6.8 percent and up 18 percent over pre-pandemic 2019 levels.
* American streets have grown more crowded and the risks to pedestrians, cyclists and others who share those streets has increased. In the United States in 2019, a pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes in a traffic crash. To help address pedestrian-related trends, automakers, academic institutions and government agencies including law enforcement in Michigan formed the Vulnerable Road Users Injury Prevention Alliance (VIPA). VIPA, which includes Volkswagen Group of America as a founding partner, is dedicated to gathering and studying detailed data on pedestrian safety to help find ways to reduce pedestrian-related collisions, as pedestrians are referred to as “vulnerable road users” by VIPA safety researchers. The further development of vehicle-to-vehicle (V to V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V to X) communication will enable the providing of information directly to drivers as well as to the vehicle itself to help change a moving vehicle’s actual course and speed so as to prevent collisions. Considering the grim traffic death data this can’t come soon enough.
* While electric cars get most of the attention, electric lawn mowers, boats, bicycles, scooters and all-terrain vehicles are proliferating. In some categories, battery-powered machines are gaining market share faster than electric cars are conquering the auto world. Start-up companies are wooing investors by claiming to be the Teslas of the boating, cycling, or lawn and garden industry. The start-up Canadian company, Taiga, makes the first electric snowmobiles to be sold widely — and symbols of how conveyances of all kinds are migrating to emission-free propulsion. Taiga is also offering battery-powered personal watercraft, another form of recreation where the gasoline version is regarded in some circles as a scourge. The environmental benefits are potentially significant. Unlike cars and trucks, outboard motors or lawn mowers do not usually have catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions. They are noisy, and they often use lower-quality fuel. A gasoline lawn mower generates as much pollution in an hour as a 300-mile car trip, according to the California Air Resources Board. Thanks to the New York Times for this news.
* New Zealand’s government said it will help pay for lower-income families to scrap their old gas guzzlers and replace them with cleaner hybrid or electric cars as part of a sweeping plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The government said it plans to spend 569 million New Zealand dollars ($357 million) on the trial program as part of a larger plan that includes subsidies for businesses to reduce emissions, a switch to an entirely green bus fleet by 2035 and curbside food-waste collection for most homes by the end of the decade. The plan also sets a target of reducing total car travel by 20% over the next 13 years by offering better transportation options in cities as well as improved options for cyclists and walkers.
* History has been made. Gas prices are over $4 per gallon in all 50 states for the first time ever. Gas prices reached an average of $4.52 a gallon, according to AAA. That’s up from $4.37 a week ago, and up from $3.05 a gallon a year ago.
* The National Automobile Dealers Association and 12 other trade groups are urging Congress to advance a bipartisan bill that would combat an alarming rise in catalytic converter thefts. In the U.S., catalytic converters are being stolen at increasingly higher rates because they contain costly precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium and are not easily traceable. The National Insurance Crime Bureau said there were 14,433 catalytic converter thefts reported in the U.S. in 2020 — the last year figures were available — compared with 3,389 cases in 2019. In 2018, there were just 1,298 thefts reported. Stolen converters can go for anywhere between $20 and $350 each on the black market, the groups told the lawmakers, but can cost vehicle owners as much as $2,500 to replace.
* The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) beefed up its side impact crash testing last year. IIHS reports that more than half of the midsized SUVs it tested recently using the new, more rigorous side impact test scored well. Last year, most small SUVS fared poorly, with only one vehicle getting the top Good rating. These vehicles were already on the market and manufacturers had not adjusted the vehicle design to meet the new test standards. In order to receive a Good rating in either the old or the new side impact testing, a vehicle’s basic interior structure needs to hold up well, and the two crash test dummies—which are designed to simulate a small woman or 12-year old child, and are placed in the driver’s seat and the rear seat directly behind the driver—indicate a low likelihood for severe or fatal injuries. Learn more HERE.
* Automotive News reports tjhat Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has announced that prices for the ID Buzz electric van will start at 54,430 euros ($57,220) in Germany for the Cargo version and 64,581 euros ($67,891) for the five-seat passenger Pro version. Orders will open on Friday for the Buzz, with retro styling that evokes the original air-cooled, rear-engine VW Kombi (or Microbus). The first vehicles will be delivered in autumn, VW said Wednesday in a news release. U.S. deliveries are set to start in early 2024.
* Autotrader has named the 10 best cars for this year’s college graduates. All 10 of the new vehicles on this year’s list are inexpensive (under $30,000), offer terrific fuel economy (none are pure battery electric), have impressive reputations for reliability, and will hold their value well. Find the list right here: https://www.autotrader.com/best-cars/10-best-cars-recent-college-graduates-281474980013135
* From MotorTrend we learn California has developed a stick-on license plates. No bumper drilling or mounting brake is required. In 2014 the State of California passed a bill that sought alternatives to the traditional screw-on front license plates. ONe of the most promising alternatives proposed under the State bill is a simple sticker, from LicensePlateWrap.com. The custom-ordered license plate wrap will set you back $85, plus state registration fees. Have a look: https://licenseplatewrap.com
* The Los Angeles Fire Department had a big day last week after becoming the first fire department in the U.S. to have an electric fire engine. Rosenbauer, an Austrian-based fire engine manufacturer, claimed to have built “the world’s first fully electric drive fire truck,” the Rosenbauer RTX. In addition to the zero emissions and quieter motor, the fire truck meets all national fire standards, and is smaller in width than standard fire trucks. Rosenbauer says that its electric truck is equipped with a 360 kW electric powertrain and a 132 kWh battery pack, which is good for two hours of operation. The new fire truck cost $1.2 million.
* In the ever-evolving world of auto shows the Tokyo Motor Show will rebrand itself yet again in an attempt to breathe life, energy and attendance into Asia’s onetime premier auto expo. When the show returns in 2023, it will open under a “Japan All-Industry” banner, said the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, which has hosted the event since its inception in 1954. In announcing the update May 19, JAMA Chairman Akio Toyoda said it was important to bring together different sectors at a time when collaboration is needed to achieve carbon neutrality. U.S. auto shows are also revamping themselves into mobility shows.
* A couple weeks back we mentioned that Ford and Honda were not participating in the 2022 SEMA show. Honda now says it will at the show. But now GM has said they are not participating. Hyundai is apparently also out. Show business is tough these days with auto makers finding other ways to reach customers.
* Ford is warning owners of some 2021 Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVsthat the engines in their vehicles could catch fire—even when they’re turned off. The automaker has issued a recall of 39,000 of the vehicles and is urging owners to park in the driveway, rather than the garage, due to the risk. Ford is also alerting owners of more than 310,000 2016 Super Duty F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550s that their air bags might not deploy as intended.
* Hyundai is recalling certain 2022 Ioniq 5 vehicles. A software error in the Shifter Control Unit (SCU) may disengage the parking mechanism, which can allow the vehicle to rollaway. 10,729 units are affected. And from the same family, Kia is recalling certain 2022 EV6 vehicles for the same issue. 9,014 units are affected.
* RM Sotheby’s announced that a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe has been sold at auction for a record price of €135,000,000 to a private collector. The car, which is one of two created in 1955, has always been regarded as one of the great jewels of motoring history, but few ever imagined that it would be offered for sale. One of just two prototypes built by the Mercedes-Benz racing department, the car is named after its creator and chief engineer, Rudolf Uhlenhaut, and is considered to be one of the finest examples of automotive engineering and design, often cited as being ?the most beautiful car in the world’ by automotive experts and enthusiasts worldwide. The world record price oaf bout $143 million makes it not only the world’s most expensive car to be sold at auction, but also the world’s most expensive car, period.
* A 1951 Vincent Rapide owned by Max Hazan was awarded “Best of Show” out of 250 entrants at The Quail Motorcycle Gathering presented by GEICO Motorcycle. Nearly 3,200 spectators gathered on the lawns of Quail Lodge & Golf Club in Carmel, California for the show’s highly-anticipated awards ceremony recognizing the most significant bikes in motorcycling history. The 12th-anniversary event presented an array of pre-and post-war sports and racing motorcycles, as well as live entertainment, motorcycle lifestyle vendors, a silent auction supporting local charity Monterey Youth Museum, award-winning wines, local brews, and locally beloved food trucks.
Stay safe. Be Well.