AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO June 20, 2021 Every Sunday, Larry Nutson, The Chicago Car Guy and Executive Producer, with the expert assistance of Senior Editor Thom Cannell of The Auto Channel Michigan Bureau, puts together the “recording” of the Auto Channel for last week’s automotive news in easily digestible new nuggets.
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Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending June 19, 2021; Below are the all-important, relevant, semi-secret, or snappy automotive news, opinions, and insider backstories from the past week, presented as expertly crafted, easily digestible news nuggets.
* New research from IHS Markit shows that the average age of Light Vehicles in Operation (VIO) in the US has increased to 12.1 years this year, increased by nearly 2 months in 2020, and increased by the COVID-19 pandemic has been. The increase in the average age will further advance the possibilities of vehicle maintenance due to an aging vehicle fleet. The pandemic-induced increase in the average age is expected to be short-lived, as new registrations will return and increased activity in used registrations will be seen in 2021 as the post-pandemic adjustment is made. The ongoing microchip shortage is expected to continue to challenge new vehicle production volumes through the fourth quarter of 2021, but IHS Markit expects US light vehicle sales of 16.8 million based on current forecasts.
* Joe White writes for Reuters that General Motors said it would increase its EV spending to $ 35 billion by 2025 – 75% more than its pre-pandemic plan – accelerating an industry-wide spending race that AlixPartners predicts, that it will total $ 330 billion by 2030. This forecast is 41% higher than the comparable figure that AlixPartners published a year ago. The problem for automakers is that the demand for electric vehicles worldwide and in certain markets is not on track to absorb all new models and production capacities. GM doesn’t plan to get stuck on stranded investments, any more than Tesla or Ford, Volkswagen or Daimler. But some companies will miss their targets, either for profit or volume, or both. Be careful that the EV discussion shifts more aggressively to governments as manufacturers argue that their investments in decarbonization deserve equivalent public investments in charging, grid infrastructure and consumer incentives.
* Lincoln will unveil its first global fully electric vehicle next year, the first step in electrifying its entire vehicle portfolio by the end of the decade. The new electric vehicle will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year and accelerate growth in North America and China.
* Li Shufu, chairman of Chinese automaker Geely, said the company continues to research the use of methanol as a vehicle fuel, although most automakers are focusing on battery electric vehicles or hydrogen. Methanol can be made with coal – a resource in abundance in China.
* The BMW Group begins testing near-series vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell drives in everyday life on European roads. Using prototypes of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, it is investigated how effectively a CO2-free drive train, model-specific chassis technology and vehicle electronics work together under real conditions. The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT is a purely electric vehicle that uses hydrogen as a fuel by converting it into electricity in a fuel cell.
* Lordstown Motors replaced CEO Steve Burns and CFO Julio Rodriguez a week after warnings that business could be shut down, brought in restructuring advisors AlixPartners, admitting that management had checked the quality of the pre-orders for its electric trucks ahead of the IPO a SPAC had inflated.
The new management has confirmed that production will start as planned at the end of September with the delivery of the first production-ready vehicle in 2021.
* The new Ford Bronco two-door and four-door is finally in production after almost six months of delay. More than 125,000 Broncos orders have been placed, with a total of more than 190,000 reservations in the US and Canada to date. The pandemic plant closings and the production of the SUV’s removable roof are two of the reasons for the long delay.
* Jaguar Land Rover said it was working on a prototype hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle, with testing of the concept scheduled to begin later this year. The vehicle is based on the company’s new version of the company’s Land Rover Defender and is part of JLR’s broader effort to meet its goal of zero tailpipe emissions by 2036. The vehicle’s tests focus on areas such as fuel economy and off-road capabilities. Yes, BEVs that you need to plug in to charge aren’t the only game that is tracked.
* Reuters reports that FedEx will test Nuro’s R2 self-driving vehicles for transporting packages. Nuro has focused on low-speed vehicles that could, for example, move packages from a store to a depot across the city. FedEx announced that it will test Nuro’s R2 self-driving vehicles for transporting parcels.
* Hyundai and General Motors executives told attendees at the Reuters Events Car of the Future conference that their companies see real potential in aircraft and services, aka flying cars. The interest of the major automakers is meeting a growing enthusiasm from investors and the media for electric air taxi startups. However, notice as one manager said “There is a lot to be done, both on the regulatory side and on the actual technology side.” The FAA and Homeland Security will certainly play a role in this business.
* The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that it is illegal to modify road vehicles and convert them into special racing cars. This claim and enforcement makes it nearly impossible for amateur racing drivers to convert their vehicles into a dedicated racing car and begin their careers like so many professional drivers we know today. In addition, it affects the ability of the manufacturers of these parts to make and sell products to support amateur racing drivers. First introduced as a draft bill in 2016, the RPM bill has received strong legislative support, and although versions of the bill passed the House Energy and Trade Committee, it was never fully voted before the end of a congressional year. As the RPM Act gains momentum and currently has 65 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, business across the country continues to be impacted by the EPA submission.
* In the coming months, the Porsche Museum will be devoting itself to the main theme of Heritage: “The Porsche success story in Le Mans”. The Porsche Museum is posting the first Porsche moment with Timo Bernhard and Fritz Enzinger on Instagram @ porsche.museum. In addition to the Porsche Moments, the sports car manufacturer is also organizing a road show from June 2021 to January 2022. 14 stations are planned in 10 countries, including France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, the USA, China, the United Arab Emirates and Germany. Read more here: https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2021/06/16/1011387-porsche-success-story-le-mans-with-real-legends-video-pt.html
* The all-new 2022 Ford Maverick Small Pickup will make its global auto show debut at the 2021 Special Edition Chicago Auto Show, which takes place July 15-19. The Maverick complements Ford’s already addicting vehicle lineup, including the all-new F-150, all-electric F-150 Lightning, Bronco, Bronco Sport and Mustang Mach-E, all of which fans can experience at the Chicago Auto Show So July.
* Test drives with electric vehicles, an off-road course for new SUVs like the Ford Bronco and Jeep Grand Cherokee L, technology demos and new cars from nearly 40 brands stand for Motor Bella, the September event that acts as a warm-up for the return of the North American International Auto Show 2022 in Detroit. Motor Bella’s brief series of public days, scheduled for September 23-26, will host up to 40,000 people daily at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan. Tickets will go on sale July 12th on the North American International Auto Show website at www.naias.com.
* The North American Car, Truck and Utility Vehicle of the Year (NACTOY) Awards indicated a total of 38 cars, trucks and utility vehicles are eligible for the 2022 awards. As of now, automakers are planning to launch 12 all new or substantially new cars, eight trucks, and 18 commercial vehicles that meet registration requirements in North America this year. Electric and hybrid vehicles, including at least nine full-battery electric vehicles, will compete for awards in all three categories, and several new OEMs appear on this year’s list, with startups Lucid Motors, Karma and Rivian offering vehicles on par with those of the established ones compete with automakers.
* The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it has opened 30 investigations into accidents involving Tesla vehicles, including 10 fatalities. Most of the accidents investigated by the NHTSA’s Special Crash Investigations are vehicles that are operated with the autopilot-assisted driving system. Eight of the NHTSA’s investigations have been launched since March.
* Mopar has appointed Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Performance to supply officially licensed engine components for the 2015 and 2021 Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak. The Dodge Challenger Mopar Drag Pak is the limited-edition, purpose-built muscle car for recreational and professional drag racers participating in National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and National Muscle Car Association (NMCA) -approved events. The fastest, fastest, most powerful drag pak ever built made its debut on the track last March with a 7 second quarter mile run at the NHRA Gatornationals in the Sportsman’s Factory Stock Showdown (FSS) class with DSR- Leah Pruett pilot with a helmet. DSR Performance’s new online catalog offers engine components for the supercharged 354-cubic-inch Gen III HEMI V-8 engine that powers both the 2021 model year and the previous generation (2015) Drag Pak.
* Stunt rider Alex Harvill died of injuries sustained while trying to set a world record motorcycle jump in Moses Lake, Washington. Harvill, 28, attempted to skip the length of a soccer field and fell during a training run.
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