Nutson’s Auto News Digest – Top Stories Week Of May 30-June 5, 2021



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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO June 6, 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 new>s Nuggets.

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Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending June 5, 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.

* More people died on U.S. highways in 2020 than in any year since 2007, and death rate per mile traveled hit the highest level since 2006. The report by the NHTSA says that as highways emptied during the 2020 pandemic lockdowns, many motorists who did venture out were speeding, impaired or not wearing seat belts. During the second half of 2020, as coronavirus infections spiked, traffic deaths rose 13%. Industry aspirations for “zero crashes” thanks to automated driving and advanced safety technology come into question. Modern vehicles are loaded with safety technology Technology alone cannot reduce highway deaths, let alone bring them to zero. Behavior change on a mass scale is needed.

* A hydrogen powered zero emission Toyota Mirai broke the world record for distance driven with one fill of hydrogen. The new Toyota Mirai driven on public roads south of Paris has increased the world record distance to 1003 km (622 miles). After breaking the record, the Mirai was refuelled, ready to go again in only 5 minutes. Toyota was demonstrating that hydrogen fuel cell technology is a leading solution for long distance driving with zero emissions.

* Toyota’s new bZ4X Concept, first shown at the Shanghai Motor Show in April, made its its U.S. debut at Toyota headquarters in Plano, Texas. The concept was developed as part of a joint program with Subaru who will launch a production version of its Solterra prototype in late 2022. The production version bZ4X Concept will be the first of seven Beyond Zero battery-electric vehicles from Toyota.

* Toyota also unveiled the 2022 Corolla Cross subcompact UV, that fits in size between the Toyota C-HR and RAV4. Rounding things out, Toyota also has announced a slew of special edition models across its product lineup.

* May auto sales show huge gains across many brands, in spite of a tight inventory with only 44 days supply. However, the sales pace is slowing from April’s. U.S. car and light truck sales hit a 17 million pace in May, according to Wards Intelligence. Interestingly, sedan sales were strong especially for Toyota and Kia brands because folks wh need a new vehicle bought what was available.

* Americans are closely divided over the idea of phasing out combustion-engine vehicles by the year 2035, and many are on the fence about whether they themselves would purchase a chief alternative: an electric car or truck. A recent Pew Research Center report finds 47% of U.S. adults support a proposal to phase out production of gasoline-powered cars and trucks, while 51% oppose it. About four-in-ten Americans (39%) say that the next time they purchase a vehicle, they are at least somewhat likely to seriously consider electric, while 46% say they are not too or at all likely to do so. Another 14% are not expecting to purchase a car or truck in the future.

* Piplsay, a global consumer research platform, conducted a nationwide survey to find out what Americans think of a battery powered pickup truck–25% of Americans have plans to purchase an all-electric pickup truck in the near future.–25% of potential buyers would be most interested in purchasing the F-150 Lightning, followed by 24% for the Cybertruck.–34% of potential buyers would focus the most on specifications while making their purchase.

* BMW unveiled three new BEVs. The i4 eDrive40 with 335 horsepower and rear-wheel drive, and the performance i4 M50—with 536 horsepower and all-wheel drive. Also shown was the iX xDrive50 with 516 horsepower and electric fully variable all-wheel drive.

* Ford announced that its all-new Maverick compact pickup will be revealed on June 8 with the help of actress Gabrielle Union. Based on the same platform as the Escape and Bronco Sport, the “city truck” is for the active young person. This rebirth of a classic Ford name, Maverick, once used on a ho-hum passenger car, might signal the return of young folk again buying small trucks like they once did during the days of the original Ford Ranger.

* GM Authority reports that a class-action lawsuit has been filed against General Motors by disgruntled customers who claim the automaker’s destination charges are misleading and deceptive. The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of California, involves two plaintiffs who allege they were not aware that GM made a profit off of the destination fees it charges customers. According to Car Complaints, the plaintiffs are California resident Robert Romoff, who recently purchased a new 2021 Chevrolet Equinox with a $1,195 destination charge, and New Jersey resident Joe Siciliano, who purchased a new 2019 Cadillac Escalade with a $995 destination charge. The suit claims General Motors makes a “significant amount of profit” off of the destination charges that it applies to its new vehicles and “deceives customers into paying far more than the actual cost of vehicle delivery.” An article published by Consumer Reports earlier this year attempted to shine a light on rising destination freight charges in the automotive industry. The report indicated that destination fees had risen from an average of $839 in 2011 to $1,244 in 2020 – more than 2.5 times the rate of inflation.

* Stellantis NA is voluntarily recalling 446,643 trucks in the U.S. for potential wheel stud issues. The affected vehicles are certain model-year 2012-2021 Ram 3500 heavy-duty pickups, and 4500 and 5500 cab-chassis vehicles. Certain service and owner’s manuals contain incorrect lug-nut torque instructions. This could lead to the vehicles having their lug nuts over-torqued and potentially compromising the wheel stud.

* Tesla is recalling 6,000 vehicles to fix a problem with loose bolts in brake assemblies. Federal safety regulators are also reviewing whether Tesla’s new camera-only/no radar vision system is safe enough to merit 5 star plus safety ratings.

* Hello Castroneves won the 2021 105th Indy 500 driving the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda. Castroneves joins A.J.Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners of “The Greatest Spectacles in Racing.”

* is 46 years old and one of the oldest drivers in IndyCar. Castroneves became the fourth oldest driver to win the Indy 500 behind Al Unser (47, 1987), Bobby Unser (47, 1981) and Emerson Fittipaldi (46, 1993).

* Kyle Larson driving the No. 5 Chevrolet won the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to pick up Hendrick Motorsports’ record-setting 269th all-time Cup Series win. Petty Enterprises had held the top spot on NASCAR’s wins list since 1960, with its final victory coming at Martinsville in 1999 with the late John Andretti behind the wheel, the same track where Geoff Bodine scored Hendrick’s first win in 1984.

Stay safe. Be Well.

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