AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO February 28, 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 February 27, 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.
* Consumer Reports (CR), the nonprofit consumer research, testing, and advocacy organization, announced the launch of Green Choice, a new initiative to make information about auto emissions more accessible to consumers. As part of Green Choice, CR will use a new green leaf icon to designate cars and trucks in its ratings that produce among the lowest amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) and smog-forming emissions, based on EPA data. Two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans are “very or somewhat” worried about tailpipe emissions contributing to health conditions related to air quality, according to a January 2021 nationally representative CR survey of 2,223 adults. Sixty-one percent said that those emissions are a “very or somewhat” important factor when considering which vehicle to purchase or lease.
* The inaugural J.D. Power U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study says consumers are on the fence about considering a battery-electric vehicle for their next purchase. It presents a sales opportunity for automakers, but it also could create a temporary surplus in EV inventory. Currently, more than half (59%) of new-vehicle shoppers fall into the “somewhat likely” or “somewhat unlikely” categories when it comes to considering a BEV for their next purchase or lease—a significant window of opportunity for future EV sales. The study finds that firsthand experience with BEVs plays an important role in purchase consideration. Half of respondents have never been in a BEV, highlighting a critical need for automakers and retailers to create opportunities for consumers to familiarize themselves with these vehicles.
* As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the Super Bowl ad Bruce Springsteen made for Jeep urging Americans to find “the middle” is back after the famed singer’s drunken-driving charge was dropped.
Springsteen admitted during a court hearing that he had “two small shots of tequila” and pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol in an enclosed area in New Jersey, according to the Asbury Park Press, which is part of the USA Today Network. But federal prosecutors said they could not prove drunk and reckless driving charges against him connected to his arrest Nov. 14 at Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey, the paper reported.
* The Cherokee Nation is calling on Jeep to rename its top-selling vehicle. Jeep, the SUV brand of Stellantis NV, has carried the Cherokee nameplate for more than 45 years. Jeep said in a statement: “Our vehicle names have been carefully chosen and nurtured over the years to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess, and pride. We are, more than ever, committed to a respectful and open dialogue with Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr.”
* Mercedes-Benz revealed the redesigned 2022 C-Class, showcasing a longer and wider body style with a new mild-hybrid powertrain featuring an electric motor to boost the 2-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine and 9-speed automatic transmission. The center console is equipped with an 11.9-inch touchscreen, while the traditional analog instrument cluster is replaced by a 12.3-inch digital panel. Mercedes-Benz did not reveal pricing for the 2022 C-Class, which goes on sale in early 2022.
* Hyundai Motor Company launched the IONIQ 5 midsize CUV during a virtual world premiere event. As the first model in Hyundai’s new IONIQ brand dedicated to battery electric vehicles (BEV), IONIQ 5 sets the benchmark to redefine the electric mobility lifestyle with sustainable and innovative features.
* Hey Mom – 2022 Kia Carnival Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) which replaces the outgoing Sedona has a bold and boxy appearance. Staking claim on the unoccupied space between SUV and family hauler, the Carnival arrives with a new name and is the first vehicle to be sold in the U.S. with Kia’s new logo proudly displayed on its sculpted hood. The Carnival conveys the visual language found on the brand’s recent and highly successful line of rugged utility vehicles.
* We saw the debut of the first-ever Lexus IS 500 F SPORT Performance, which dials up the sports sedan formula with the addition of a powerful 472-horsepower naturally aspirated V8 engine and ferocious quad exhaust system. It expands the IS family and ushers in a new era of F SPORT Performance models.
* The United States Post Office said that it has chosen Oshkosh Defense to build its next-generation mail-delivery vehicle, part of an effort to make the USPS more environmentally friendly by switching a portion of its huge fleet to electric vehicles. Oshkosh Defense, a division of Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corp., will assemble 50,000 to 165,000 of the new Next Generation Delivery Vehicles at its existing U.S. manufacturing facilities. It will get an initial $482 million toward retooling and building out its factory. The new vehicles will have more room for packages, and will be updated with modern safety and driveability standards like cameras, airbags and collision avoidance systems. The vehicles will also be a combination of electric and gasoline powered, but the gasoline-powered new vehicles will have the ability to be retrofitted with new electric systems in the future.
* Tiger Woods suffered leg injuries in a car crash in Southern California and underwent surgery. His injuries were not life-threatening.Tiger was driving a new Genesis GV80 SUV. Early reports say inappropriate speed may have been the cause. Later reports suggest Woods may have fallen asleep. Automotive News reported the Genesis GV80 was praised for protecting Tiger Woods in crash. Law enforcement officials said the crash integrity of the Genesis GV80 — and Woods’ use of a seat belt — may have saved his life. Go to this link to learn more about the Genesis GV80:
* Cox Automotive released its 11th annual Car Buyer Journey Study. The extensive study is based on a survey of consumers who bought or leased a new or used vehicle. While the global COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted nearly every measure of life, the Car Buyer Journey (CBJ) Study suggests the automobile buying process improved during the prolonged downturn. Both new- and used-vehicle buyers in 2020 report the process took less time and was more efficient than before. The average vehicle buyer last year was 50 years old and had a reported income above $75,000.
* IIHS, in a report says that women are much more likely than men to suffer a serious injury when they are involved in a crash, but much of the heightened risk is related to the types of vehicles women drive and the circumstances of their crashes, rather than physical differences, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows. “The numbers indicate that women more often drive smaller, lighter cars and that they’re more likely than men to be driving the struck vehicle in side-impact and front-into-rear crashes,” says Jermakian. “Once you account for that, the difference in the odds of most injuries narrows dramatically.”
* The jury of the Women’s World Car of the Year announced the winners in each of nine categories. These vehicles represent excellence in their segments based on safety, comfort, technology, and value for the money. This is the eleventh year for WWCOTY, a team of fifty motoring journalists from 38 countries spanning five continents. It is the only jury in the automotive world composed exclusively of women. See the winners here: https://www.womensworldcoty.com/voting/
* Ford said that 87,350 of its 2020-21 Ford F-Series fail to comply with federal motor vehicle safety standards “because the front windshields are inadequately bonded to the vehicle body structure.” The windshield may not stay in place in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury, according to a recall notice.
* Hyundai is recalling approximately 82,000 electric vehicles globally to replace a faulty battery pack. The recall covers 75,680 Hyundai Kona Electric models as well as 5,715 Hyundai Ioniq Electric models. The recall effort is expected to cost $900 million, making it the most expensive electric car recall ever.
* According to an independent third-party evaluator, Roush Fenway Racing has successfully become the first NASCAR organization to achieve PAS 2060 carbon neutrality for its entire organization — including the two Cup Series teams with drivers Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher. That goal was achieved by transitioning to renewable energy wherever possible, including at its Ford Performance supported shop in Concord, North Carolina. The team has also reduced its single-use plastic consumption and all hotel stays have been converted to low-impact to the environment standards.This is in addition to the NASCAR Green initiative launched in 2011 with the stated goal of reducing the entire industry’s carbon footprint. Every team runs on Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent ethanol blended bio-fuel that has reduced emissions by 20 percent according to the EPA Renewable Fuel Standard.
* The Detroit News reports that Lordstown Motors, the Ohio-based electric pickup truck maker, will enter its Endurance pickup in the SCORE San Felipe 250 on April 17, a grueling test of off-road endurance on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Automakers have a long history of proving production vehicles in extreme racing environments, and the nascent electric vehicle industry is proving no different. Lordstown’s Baja entry follows other manufacturers into competitive racing. The Jaguar iPace has competed in the FIA’s international eTrophy series. Rivian put its R1T truck to the test in the Rebelle Rally last fall. And GMC Hummer is sponsoring a prototype EV racing team in the Xtreme E off-road series. The Baja desert series, sanctioned by the Southern California Off Road Enthusiasts International (SCORE), has been a benchmark for off-road racing. The Baja 1000 – a 1,000-mile race in its 54th year– is the premier event in a series that includes the San Felipe 250, Baja 500 and Desert Challenge.
* Ferrari will make a return to the pinnacle of sportscar racing in World Endurance Championship with a new Le Mans Hypercar in 2023. The Italian manufacturer announced its first factory prototype campaign at world championship level since 1973. Ferrari is the third major manufacturer to commit to the LMH category after Toyota and Peugeot, which will start racing in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
* 1983 World Rally champion Hannu Mikkola, the Finnish rallying legend best known for scoring multiple wins for Ford and Audi, passed away at the age of 78. Despite retiring in the early 1990s, Mikkola’s 18 World Rally Championship victories keeps him in the Top 10 most successful rally drivers in history. He won the 1983 World Rally Championship in an Audi Quattro, but also three times finished runner-up and three times finished third.
* Norman Kraus, better know to drag racers as Mr. Norm, passed away at age 87. Mr. Norm together with his brother Lenny owned Grand – Spaulding Dodge in Chicago. It was the home of Dodge performance during the muscle car era and became the largest Dodge dealer in the country.
Stay safe. Be Well.