AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO April 4, 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.
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Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending April 3, 2021, 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.
* So an April fools joke by VW went bad. On Tuesday Volkswagen issued a press release saying it was changing its name to Voltswagen..notice the letter t replacing the letter k. Many of the news media believed it especially after VW officials said it was true. However, it was a false press release to underscore its electric vehicle ambitions. The company said in a statement that the Voltswagen release that includes a new logo was in fact a prank, “designed to be an announcement in the spirit of April Fool’s Day.” Now add “logogate” to dieselgate in the big book of VW. Happy Fahrvergnügen! Epilogue: VW North American President Scott Keogh took full responsibility for the prank gone bad and apologized to the new media.
* Auto sales in the first quarter were hot, with some brands selling more than double from the pandemic ravaged first quarter last year. Many brands had increases well over 20%. The selling pace hit near to 18 million, far exceeding analyst’s forecasts. We’re not sure how Q2 will do with inventory shortages due to microchip supplies.
* President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal would include $174 billion to “win” the global electric vehicle race against China and Europe. The plan dovetails with the administration’s hopes to make the U.S. economy carbon neutral by 2050 — in part by cutting pollution from the transportation sector, which still makes up the lion’s share of greenhouse gas emissions in the country. The proposal includes point-of-sale rebates and tax incentives, a national network of half a million EV chargers by 2030, and replacing 50,000 diesel transit buses, among other things. Right now, there are about 279 million vehicles on the road in the United States. The proportion that are fully electric, according to IHS Markit, is 0.36%. Of the 14.5 million new vehicles that were sold last year, 2% were fully electric. Even if every new vehicle sold were battery powered – something no one envisions – it would take about 15 years to swap out the entire fleet. The average U.S. vehicle has been on the road for nearly 12 years.
* Stellantis will get in the zero emissions delivery game, offering medium sized, fuel cell powered vans to European customers by late 2021. The carmaker, which was formed by the merger of PSA and Fiat Chrysler earlier this year, said the hydrogen fuel cell vans will be launched under the Peugeot, Citroen and Opel brands. A passenger car model powered by hydrogen fuel cells will come later.
* took the wraps off its new EV6, a symbol of Kia’s new brand and the first BEV built on new dedicated EV platform. It’ll have a choice of multiple zero-emissions powertrain configurations; over 510 kilometers from a single charge; 800V ultra-fast charging from 10 to 80 percent in just 18 minutes; 100 kilometers in less than 4.5 minutes.
* And we had the world premiere of the “LF-Z Electrified,” a BEV concept car symbolizing the next generation of Lexus. By 2025 Lexus will introduce 20 new vehicle models including BEVs, PHEVs, HEVs, and other electric vehicles, and develop a diverse product lineup.
* Subaru of America introduced the most rugged and capable Outback in the auto manufacturer’s history: the new 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness. Standard is a 260hp 2.4-liter turbocharged SUBARU BOXER engine, advanced dual function X-MODE, increased 9.5-inch ground clearance, standard front skid plate, all-terrain tires, upgraded suspension and Subaru’s Symmetrical All-wheel drive.
* Hyundai has released the first teaser sketch of its highly anticipated Santa Cruz Sport Adventure Vehicle. The 2022 Santa Cruz will break new ground within the SUV, Truck and Crossover segments by offering a new category of vehicle unlike anything else in the U.S. market. The new truck will make its debut on April 15.
* Mercedes-Benz released images of its new EQS all-electric top-line sedan with and amazing drag coefficient (cD) of 0.20. We remember went going below 0.30 cD was big accomplishment. Expectatiosn are that the EQS will have an EPA range rating of over 400 miles. Daimler said it will accelerate its plans to field more electric vehicles this year.
* General Motors is recalling more than 10,000 vans due to a fire risk and recommending that owners park them outdoors away from buildings and other structures until they are repaired. Affected are almost 8,000 2021 Chevrolet Express and more than 2,000 2021 GMC Savana vehicles. A low battery voltage warning may occur if a short circuit occurs, which can cause the battery to die or cause a fire under the hood. The short circuits are caused by contact between the positive battery cable and a fuse attachment post. Only vehicles with 6.6-liter gas engines built on or prior to December 7, 2020 are affected by the recall.
* Audi is recalling A3 models in the U.S. over airbag concerns. Parent company VW issued a recall for Audi that affects more than 150,000 A3s in the U.S. on concerns that passenger-side airbags might not activate.
* The first 2022 GMC Hummer EV pickup has yet to be built, but it is already sold for $2.5 million. The buyer — a woman whose name is not public, according to a General Motors spokeswoman —will receive the vehicle with VIN 001 when it rolls off the assembly line at Factory ZERO in Detroit and Hamtramck this fall. Hummer VIN 001 was sold at the 2021 Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, with the proceeds going to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit that honors firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on Sept. 11, 2001. The group helps injured military and first responders and the families of those who died in the line of duty.
* Lewis Hamilton’s quest for a record eighth Formula 1 world championship is off to a winning start. Hamilton held off polesitter Max Verstappen in a riveting finish to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. Hamilton got in front of Verstappen, who had the fastest car all weekend, by pitting ahead of Verstappen on two occasions and got some help from a Verstappen pass for the lead that went slightly awry. A noteworthy F1 changes is the Aston Martin safety car that now alternates with the Mercedes-Benz safety car.
* NASCAR’s first dirt track race in 50 years finally happened after a one day delay due to heavy rain creating a mud bowl. In a dust bowl of Tennessee red clay Joey Logano driving his Penske Ford won the race on the 1/2 mile Bristol Motor Speedway bullring. Logan is the seventh different race winner in seven races this season. The experiment at Briston was driven by broadcast partners Fox who wanted a dirt race. Marcus Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, says they will do it again next year.
Stay safe. Be Well.