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Nutson’s Weekly Auto News Wrap-up March 13-19, 2022



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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – March 20, 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 March 19, 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.

* There are various conversations being had in the political arena around the country to temporarily suspend the tax on gasoline due to the current high per-gallon prices at the pump. Will this gas tax suspension issue lead to a new end game? That is, repeal the gas tax and in its place implement use-fees for motor vehicles. With the ever increasing electrification of private passenger cars now might be the time to make the change.

* The semiconductor chip supply shortage has led automakers to ship new vehicles to dealers with some equipment not functioning. Usually this is some customer convenience feature that can be retrofitted later. Ford is the latest to join this practice shipping Explorer vehicles without the rear seat climate control function. BMW, GM and Nissan have shipped vehicles without certain features operating.

* And, it’s not just microchip supply, so says Reuters. War in Ukraine, turmoil in London’s nickel market, the COVID surge in China and an earthquake in Japanese are the newest issues. S&P Global Mobility, formerly known as IHS Markit, slashed its forecast for global vehicle production in 2022 and 2023 by a total of more than 5 million vehicles – 2.6 million lost in each year – and warned the auto industry could lose a total of as many as 8 million vehicles this year and next if supply chain disruptions get worse.

* From Subaru: As the automotive marketplace continues to move towards electrification, Subaru is focused on how our future sports and performance cars should evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace and the regulations and requirements for greenhouse gasses (GHG), zero emissions vehicles (ZEV), and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ). As part of that effort, Subaru Corporation is exploring opportunities for the next generation Subaru WRX STI, including electrification. In the meantime, a next generation internal combustion engine WRX STI will not be produced based upon the new WRX platform. The Subaru WRX STI and the STI brand represent the zenith of Subaru’s performance vehicles exemplifying Subaru’s unique DNA and rally heritage. As we look to the future, we also look forward to incorporating the essence of STI into our next generation of vehicles.

* The World Car Finals Powered by Brembo continues with the announcement of the Top Three in the World finalists. The winners in all six categories will be declared live at the 2022 New York International Auto Show on Wednesday, April 13, 2022. A jury of 102 distinguished international automotive journalists from 33 countries selected the finalists by secret ballot based on their evaluation of each eligible vehicle as part of their professional work. The vote results have been tabulated by KPMG. See the finalists here: https://www.worldcarawards.com/files/2022_WCA_TOP_THREE_FINALISTS.pdf

* Volvo said it will develop a public EV charging network in partnership with Starbucks that initially will stretch from Denver to Seattle. When’s the last time you spent a bunch of time in a Starbucks? EV public chargers might be better situated at a movie theater parking lot or garage where you might want to remain parked for a few hours.

* Pirelli announced the introduction in North America of its first replacement tire developed specifically for electric vehicles: the P Zero All Season Plus with Elect marking. The new tire has low rolling resistance, designed to increase the driving range while reducing consumption. Another advantage of the Elect marking is noise reduction, for ultimate comfort and to emphasize the quiet inside the cabin. In electric cars, the engine is no longer the primary source of noise, so reducing sound frequencies produced by the tires is key to increase driving comfort. BEVS are quieter which results in the surrounding environment being more pleasant.

* Joe White for Reuters writes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told an audience at the South by Southwest tech conference that there will be “meaningful” federal policy on autonomous vehicles developed during the 2020s. Buttigieg acknowledged the obvious: Regulators are running far behind development of AV technology. Under Buttigieg, the Transportation Department has taken some steps, such as eliminating the need for fully autonomous vehicles to have steering wheels and pedals.

* Continuing for Reuters, Joe White writes: Do you know what a Level 2 automated driving system is? How about “Level 2.5?” Does Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system really enable a vehicle to fully drive itself? Don’t know? Don’t feel bad. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, the U.S. auto industry’s main trade group, is “increasingly concerned about persistent confusion among consumers and policymakers over the critically important difference between partial automation (Level 2) and automated driving systems (Level 3-5), particularly as it relates to the responsibility of a human driver in the driver’s seat.” The Alliance has asked SAE International to do more to clarify its current taxonomy for automated driving systems. The Alliance’s concern coincides with a rush by automakers to deploy systems that more or less provide “Level 3” automation, defined as technology that enables vehicles to take over driving functions under limited circumstances. Tesla’s Autopilot is NOT a Level 3 system, yet. According to Tesla it is a Level 2 system. What FSD will be once it exits its Beta form is still TBD.

* Sure, you known you need to be careful when crossing a street. A new study by IIHS says at or near intersections, minivans, large vans, pickups, and SUVs (collectively known as light truck vehicles, or LTVs) were more likely than cars to be involved in crossing-roadway–vehicle-turning-left crashes versus crossing-roadway–vehicle-not-turning crashes. LTVs were also more likely involved in fatal crossing-roadway–vehicle-turning-right crashes at or near intersections versus crossing-roadway–vehicle-not-turning crashes when compared with cars. At non-intersections, LTVs were associated with increased odds of walking-along-roadway crashes relative to crossing-roadway–vehicle-not-turning crashes when compared with cars. The implication is the potentially problematic visibility of pedestrians near the front corners of these vehicles.

* Ford is recalling 157,306 F-150 pickups from 2021 model year due to a windshield wiper malfunction. At issue is a potential failing windshield wiper motor, which needs to be replaced.

* Dodge and Ram are recalling more than 370,000 vehicles because their electronic stability control (ESC) warning lights may not illuminate even if the ESC system is malfunctioning. Included in the recall are all 2021-2022 Dodge Durango SUVs, 2019-2022 Ram 2500 pickups, and 2019-2022 Ram 3500 cab chassis trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) below 10,000 lbs.

* Volkswagen is recalling its 2019-2023 Atlas and 2020-2023 Atlas Cross Sport utility vehicles due to an electrical issue that may trigger delayed airbag deployment or unintended low-speed braking. The recall affects 222,892 units of the midsize SUVs. VW does not yet have a fix for the problem.

* Racer magazine reports NASCAR is planning a return to Le Mans in 2023. In a collaborative effort between IMSA, NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, a modified Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will be entered in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will be a Garage 56 entry, which is reserved for highlighting innovation and technology that exists outside of the WEC regulations. The entry will not take a spot from a car on the traditional starting grid. Bill France Sr. first took a stock car to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 12, 1976. Hershel McGriff owned and drove a Dodge Charger while Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson drove a Ford Torino owned by Junie Donlavey.

* For a NASCAR cup car to run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans it will need windshield wipers, headlights and taillights, air jacks, and rain diffuser flaps. Garage 56 was introduced in 2012 as a special single-entry class reserved for innovative cars. We’ll speculate here and suggest this NASCAR Chevrolet may even have a hybrid engine. We’ll see!

* Chip Ganassi Racing’s #02 car won the Sebring 12 Hours, the second round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, after an action-packed ending to the American sportscar classic. The 70th staging of the 12 Hours of Sebring represents the next endurance classic in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A 53 car entry formed the grid for the 70th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. That’s an increase of 16 cars from a year ago, in the second race for IMSA’s newly revamped class structure. There are few surprises with seven DPis, eight LMP2s, 10 LMP3s, 11 GTD Pro and 17 GTD cars.

* Vic Elford, Porsche 917 ace and one of the finest sports car racers, has died at the age of 86. Though outright Le Mans success eluded him, Elford twice won his class in the 24 Hours, with a Porsche 906 in 1967 and then again in a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 in 1973 before retiring to the United States. Elford was the first driver to have an average lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe (Le Mans) above 150 mph – he did so in a 1970 Porsche 917 LH (Long-Tail). Elford initially made his name in rallying, largely in Triumph and Ford machinery, and then joined Porsche. He won the 1967 European Rally Championship before an incredible run of success in early 1968. Elford won the Monte Carlo Rally with co-driver David Stone in a 911T then, just a week later, he took the Daytona 24 Hours, one of five drivers to share the victorious long-tailed 907.

Stay safe. Be Well.