Nutson’s Auto News Weekly Wrap-up



AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – January 9, 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 8, 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-digest news nuggets.

* General Motors has been the top-selling automaker in the United States since 1931. Toyota now holds the No. 1 spot in the U.S. market for 2021, selling 2.3 million vehicles to GM’s 2.2 million. This is largely due to the supply chain issues that crippled GM production for much of the year. But it’s more than that, as Reuters points out. GM has been diminishing itself by choice. The company largely abandoned the compact car segment, and cut production of midsize Malibu sedans to favor trucks during the worst of the chip shortage. Result: Toyota sold more than 729,000 passenger cars in the United States during 2021. GM sold about 162,000 cars. Toyota’s lead in cars overcame its deficit to GM in U.S. truck sales.

* Ford, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Kia all had sales declines in December. GM slid 43% in Q4. 2021 closed on a down note with total sales just over 15 million vehicles, up 3.4% from 2020, the year the pandemic took hold in the U.S.

* Tesla global sales is evidence of the rapidly rising acceptance of electric cars, especially in China. Tesla Inc. delivered 308,600 vehicles worldwide in the fourth quarter, smashing the previous record for the electric-car maker and setting a capstone on a year in which the company joined the exclusive $1 trillion market valuation club. The better-than-expected results pushed Tesla’s total sales for the year to more than 936,000, up about 87% over 2020’s deliveries of just under half a million vehicles.

* More than 2200 exhibitors were planning to be at CES 2022 this week. However, overall, the show got scaled down due to concerns over the Covid Omnicon variant. In the automotive space, General Motors, BMW, Stellantis and Mercedes all canceled their physical presence. Fisker, BrightDrop, and Blink Charging still were at the show. The Chevrolet Silverado EV, Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX concept and the 2023 BMW iX M60 were unveiled through online events during CES.

* At CES 2022, the Chrysler brand revealed the Chrysler Airflow Concept, giving a glimpse at the leading-edge drive-system technology, fully connected customer experiences and advanced mobility features, wrapped in inspiring, dynamic design, which will fuel the Chrysler brand’s future. Chrysler plans to be an all-electric producer by 2028.

* Sony revealed plans at CES to get into the auto business with a new business unit, Sony Mobility Inc. And, Sony showed another new concept vehicle: Vision-S 02. This is follows along from two years ago at CES when Sony showed a functional electric vehicle concept. The Vision-S 01 has been under testing in Europe for the past year.

* At CES 2022 a new player, the Vietnamese auto startup VinFast introduced three new battery-electric vehicles. This follows the debut of two other all-electric models at the Los Angeles Auto Show just two months ago. They expect to be selling in the U.S. later in 2022.

* Joe White writing for Reuters commented regarding CES: ‘once again the auto industry has proven you don’t need to gather hundreds of reporters in a convention hall to make news. Though it is fitting, given the huge wagers auto and tech companies are making, that the biggest U.S. auto show is now nominally taking place in Las Vegas.”

* In a new study GasBuddy forecasts the nationwide average price for gas will be $3.41 in 2022. The current price nationwide averages about $3.29. GasBuddy thinks prices could near $4 a gallon by June as drivers take to the roads for the summer. California is seen as primed for more gas price inflation in 2022. GasBuddy thinks gas prices could approach $6 a gallon in San Francisco, while hovering around $5.50 in Los Angelos and Sacramento. The average price for gas in California is currently $4.65, per data from AAA. In total, the average U.S. household may spend $2,341 next year on gas, compared to $1,977 in 2021. It would be the most spent on gas by households since 2014, according to GasBuddy.

* A new NBC sitcom “American Auto” will bring you inside the corporate headquarters of a Detroit auto maker. “American Auto,” which aired two episodes in December as a sneak peek, officially premiered this week in its regular time slot at 8 pm Tuesday. Set in Detroit, but filmed in the former Toyota headquarters building in Los Angeles, the comedy explores the day-to-day ongoings of Payne Motors, a fictional 100-year-old car company that’s struggling at a time when the future of the entire industry is up for grabs. Tune in.

* Electric pickups are hot. In September, due to huge demand for the F150 Lightning, Ford doubled its production plan from 40,000 to 80,000 trucks per year. The demand keeps growing, so Ford is doubling it again and now plans to produce 150,000 annually. Of note, nearly half of those ordering the new F150 Lightning do not own a Ford now.

* Joe White writing for Reuters points out that automakers and many Americans really like big trucks and SUVs, as sales figures and pricing data from the last couple of years prove. But keep an eye on criticism that big trucks pose an outsized safety risk, particularly to pedestrians. The Detroit Three have had a nearly decade-long vacation from significant challenges from safety advocates to the large, heavy vehicles that pay the bills. Climate concerns and rising traffic deaths could change that.

* Reuters reports Robo-semi company TuSimple said one of its trucks drove 80 miles on public highways in Arizona with no human driver on board and no human intervention. The Dec. 29 announcement appears to be a first for the nascent robo-trucking industry. Other robo-truck companies – including Gatik – are targeting 2022 to take out drivers and start scaling up automated, commercial goods delivery.

* A panel of world-renowned car designers, engineers, auto industry titans, motorsport legends, specialist journalists, broadcasters and media professionals voted for their Best Cars of the Year 2021/2022. The Kia EV6 and Hyundai IONIQ 5 tied for first place and were declared joint winners in this, the first-ever judging verdict from a new, revolutionary evaluation process. The 10 models voted for by those judges into this year’s Best COTY Top 10 are from 10 separate brands, based in six countries spread across the world’s Top 3 car-producing continents – Asia, Europe and North America. Vehicles will be displayed at the Best Cars of the Year stand at the British Motor Show this coming August, when the selection, evaluation, test driving and voting process for the Best Cars of the Year 2022/23 project will begin.

* Axalta, a leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, released its 69th annual Global Automotive Color Popularity Report revealing most cars on today’s roads are white (35%), black (19%) and gray (19%). White vehicles have been found in the most abundance on the roads since 2011 worldwide, with Asia leading in white vehicle builds. Overall, the popularity of white hit a long-term high of 39% in 2017. For the third year in a row, Europe is the only major region to report gray as the most popular color at 27%. Silver is most popular in South America as it ranks second place with 23% usage. Black is most found in Europe at 22% and continues to lead in the luxury segment. North America has the most amount of new red cars on the road at 8%.

* A good bellwether of the eventual three NACTOY “vehicles of the year” is the Detroit Free Press winners as chosen by Auto Editor and NACTOY juror Mark Phelan. The Free Press Car, Truck and SUV of the year are the Honda Civic, Ford Maverick and Ford Bronco, respectively. NACTOY winners will be announced on January 11.

* VW CEO Herbert Diess on Twitter sketched out the contours of the new design retro-microbus EV which draws on the lines of the original model. March 9 is the date set for it to be unveiled.

* American Amy Lerner is underway for her second Dakar, piloting her 1982 Porsche 911 SC through the prologue and the first stage of the 2022 Dakar Rally in Ha’il, Saudi Arabia. She and co-pilot Sara Bossaert of Spain, joined 409 teams from around the globe taking the official start on Jan 2. It is the third time the rally has been held in KSA and the second year for the “Classic” class that is open to vehicles of the same type that have competed in any pre-2000 Dakar race. Last year saw 24 entries in the class for vintage models while there are 142 competitors this year. Hearty vehicles, experienced off-road drivers and talented navigators are required to succeed in the 14-day rally that covers more than 6,000 kilometers of terrain with a substantial amount of sand, dunes and rocky tracks. The Dakar Rally is the longest and most grueling off road competition in the world.

* The 100th anniversary of famed Route 66 will be celebrated in 2026. A new exhibition honoring one of the original highways in the United States is in the works at the Illinois State Museum. The museum has received contributions from the estate of Bob Waldmire, an artist and cartographer known for his Route 66 art pieces. Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, Waldmire drove Route 66 and stopped win towns along the way to create and se his art. The museum is seeking items from anyone who lived, worked and travel Route 66.

Stay safe. Be Well.