AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – November 14, 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.
LEARN MORE: Full versions of today’s news nuggets along with almost a million pages of the past 25 year’s automotive content, news, articles, reviews and archived relevant stories residing in
The Auto Channel Automotive News Library can be found by just copying a headline and then inserting into any Site Search Box.
Nutson’s Automotive News Wrap-up – Week Ending November 13, 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.
* The average U.S. price for regular-grade gasoline is up by 5 cents over the past two weeks to $3.49 per gallon. That’s $1.30 higher than a year ago. The rise in price is due to higher crude oil and ethanol prices. Around the nation, the highest average price is $4.77 in San Francisco. The lowest is in Houston at $2.98 per gallon.
* Cox Automotive reports October saw an acceleration of job gains as the labor market is improving following the peak of the Delta variant wave and the end of the pandemic unemployment assistance in September. New-vehicle sales showed gains over September, which posted the lowest seasonal pace of sales. The used-vehicle retail market was flat and still slower than spring but is outperforming the new market. Average incentives fell to $2,003, which was a 20-year low while the average transaction price reached a record $46,036.
* Reuters reports at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow it became clear that much of the auto industry and the largest major auto manufacturing nations are NOT ready to sign up for deadlines to stop making combustion vehicles. Six major automakers, including Ford and General Motors, Volvo, BYD and Mercedes, signed a pledge to work toward eliminating combustion vehicles in major markets by 2035, and globally by 2040. But notable for their absence from the signature line of the auto industry pledge were Volkswagen and Toyota, and the United States, Germany and China.
* Congress has created a new requirement for automakers: Find a high-tech way to keep drunken people from driving. It’s one of the mandates aimed at improving auto safety amid escalating road fatalities in the $1 trillion infrastructure package. Monitoring systems to stop intoxicated drivers would roll out in all new vehicles as early as 2026, after the Transportation Department assesses the best form of technology to install in millions of vehicles and automakers are given time to comply.
* The zero-emission Audi Q4 e-tron has risen to the top amid a stellar field of all-electric finalists to earn the coveted honor as Green Car Journal’s 2022 Green Car of the Year. It’s joined by an exceptional field of winners in seven additional Green Car Awards categories including the Lucid Air, Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Hyundai IONIQ 5, BrightDrop EV600, Tesla Model S Plaid, Toyota Sienna and Ford Maverick.
* The Newsweek 2021 Autos Awards highlight the industry’s best in 25 individual vehicle and brand categories. This first annual list includes several U.S. companies, a start-up automaker and a number of models that have recently been redesigned. Nearly all of the vehicles they ranked are made in America. See the list here.
* The J.D. Power 2021 Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study was released. Among premium brands Porsche leads with 833 points, perhaps reflecting the devotion of the marque’s owners as well as good dealer performance. In second was Infiniti (825), followed by Lexus (820), Cadillac (814), Lincoln (813) and Jaguar (812). Among mass-market brands, GMC came out on top with a score of 812. It was followed by Buick (806), Chevrolet (804), Dodge (796), Nissan (795), and Mini (794). Of note, buyers of EVs have a satisfaction index of 790, compared to 844 for ICE cars. A major problem is a lack of knowledge among sales staff and dealer personnel overall. Also new, satisfaction levels were much higher for buyers who could complete the purchase without physically visiting the dealership. That holds true in both the premium and mass-market segments.
* Dodge previewed the brand’s two-year business plan, dubbed “Never Lift.” The Dodge Never Lift plan will be news-packed, calling for a minimum of one product- or automotive-enthusiast-related announcement every three months. Dodge announced the return of Direct Connection as the exclusive source of the brand’s factory-backed performance parts that maintain the vehicle factory warranty, as well as technical information straight from the factory. The so-named “Operation 25/8” will lead the Never Lift launch with a massive eight-week, 25-dream-car giveaway. Dodged dealers will be certified as “Power Brokers.”
* Subaru revealed its battery electric Solterra utility vehicle a few days ahead of its appearance at the LA auto show. Based on an architecture shared with Toyota, the Solterra bring Subaru into the age of electrification. Offered with all-wheel-drive standard, along with plenty of the Subaru-look cladding, the Solterra will have a 215-hp dual-motor setup and a battery with 64-kWh usable capacity.
* Also just ahead of the 2021 LA Auto Show, Kia teased sketches of a new electric SUV concept, the EV9. Following the EV6, the EV9 and the nine other future EV concepts from Kia are all part of its plan to become carbon neutral by 2045.
* GM will temporarily stop offering heated seats, one of the most popular options among vehicle buyers, in many of its 2022 crossovers and all but the top-end trims of its full-size pickups. Starting as soon as Nov. 15, heated and ventilated seats will no longer be installed on nineteen nameplates — including the Chevrolet Colorado, Blazer and Equinox, the GMC Canyon and Terrain and Cadillac XT4, XT5 and XT6. A study by AutoPacific reports heated front seats are the number one item on consumer wish lists with 66% wanting this on their next new vehicle. A heated steering wheel feature will also be eliminated in many of the same models starting Nov. 22.
* For years, Uber and Lyft lost money on their ride-hailing services, gunning for growth in users over profits. Joe White writing for Reuters brings up something many of us already realized. As the pandemic collapse in ridership reverses, Uber and Lyft are discovering they CAN charge more for their services, and at least those riders who are coming back will pay. Average prices for rides are up nearly 25% and prices for rides to airports are up as much as 50%. In many areas a licensed taxi is less costly.
* Genesis has announced the unveiling of Genesis House New York, a sophisticated oasis located in the heart of New York City’s Meatpacking District, adjacent to Little Island and the High Line. Designed by the Seoul-based architecture firm Suh Architects, the 46,000-plus square foot space is audacious in design, progressive in function, and distinctly Korean throughout. Genesis House’s curated programs will engage New York in cultural conversations about design, food, travel, health, and future mobility. The nearly 9,600-square-foot Genesis House Restaurant marks the first international expansion for Onjium, a Michelin-starred restaurant and cultural institute from Seoul.
* Organizers of the Montreal International Auto Show say the show is a go for 2022. The show is set for Jan. 21-30, 2022 at the Palais des Congrès in downtown Montreal. The last, pre-pandemic show took place in January 2020.
* Kyle Larson closed out his comeback season in NASCAR with his first championship. Larson capped his return from a seven-month NASCAR suspension with a title-winning victory at Phoenix Raceway driving the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet. Larson has been impossible to stop all season with this his 10th victory. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Mario Andretti all consider Larson the most talented driver in motorsports right now. Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 champion, finished second at Phoenix and was followed by Denny Hamlin, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Chase Elliott, the reigning champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver, led 94 laps but finished fourth.
* The final NASCAR Cup Series race of 2021 was also the last time we’ll see race cars with five lug nuts securing each wheel. The new Next Gen Cup car that will be raced next season will have a single center-lug wheel like we see in sports and formula car racing. So yeah, there will be no more missing lug nut penalties. We also should see faster pit stops.
* Champion Race Car Driver Bob Bondurant died in Paradise Valley, Arizona on Nov. 12 at the age of 88. Bondurant is the only American to bring home the World Championship trophy back to the U.S. while racing for Carroll Shelby. He won his class at Le Mans and has been inducted into ten motorsports halls of fame. Bondurant Racing School was founded in 1968 and has graduated celebrities for car movies like James Garner, Paul Newman, Tom Cruise, Nicholas Cage, and Christian Bale, along with over 500,000 graduates from around the world.