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AUTO CENTRAL CHICAGO – December 19, 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 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 December 18, 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.

*Joint Office of Energy and Transportation Formed To Spend $7.5 Billion * U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg signed a memorandum of understanding to create a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to support the deployment of $7.5 billion from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build out a national electric vehicle charging network that can build public confidence, with a focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach locations. The funding is meant to jump-start the creation of a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers nationwide, which is crucial for making zero-emission vehicles viable for customers. The biggest barrier to consumers buying electric vehicles is concern over where they would charge it, which the administration’s plan hopes to address. Support is needed for the transition of the nation’s transportation systems, which currently accounts for 29% of all U.S. carbon pollution, to electric vehicles and other zero-carbon technologies.

*Older Drivers Lowering Emission Benefits * Harvard University researchers who study the environment and public health examined the impact of declines in emissions from vehicles over a decade. They found deaths dropped from 27,700 in 2008 to 19,800 in 2017 and that the economic benefits of the reduction in emissions totaled $270 billion. But…the researchers found that these benefits were limited by an increasing and aging population and by drivers buying larger cars and driving more.

*Nov 2021 Driving Miles Down Just 1%, Public Trans Down 46% Gas Prices Up 21%)* Michael Sivak of Sivak Applied Research reports in the Green Car Congress the rebound in travel by road, air, rail, and public transit continued to be on hold in September. The population-adjusted changes for September 2021 compared with September 2019 are: Road vehicle miles: down 1%; Air passenger miles: down 15%; Rail passenger miles: down 34%; Trips on public transit: down 46%. Changes for November 2021 compared with November 2019: Vehicle sales: down 29%; Price of gasoline: up 21%. https://www.greencarcongress.com/2020/10/20200923-sivakindex.html

*2020 Plug-in Sales Up In Europe Asia* Although overall light-duty vehicle sales were down in 2020 due to the pandemic, plug-in vehicle sales bucked that trend and saw growth in many markets. This was especially evident in Europe where the share of plug-in vehicle sales more than tripled, reaching 10.5% of all new light-duty vehicle sales. The sales share in China and the United States also increased but at more moderate rates, reaching 5.4% and 2.1% of all light-duty vehicle sales, respectively.

* MotorTrend announced that the all-electric Rivian R1T has been named the 2022 MotorTrend Truck of the Year. The Rivian R1T was judged the 2022 Truck of the Year by excelling in each of MotorTrend’s six key criteria: safety, efficiency, value, advancement in design, engineering excellence, and performance of intended function.

* Motor Trend named Ford’s Jim Farley its Person of the Year. The Blue Oval’s top exec has overseen a dramatic shift for the iconic American automaker.

* Time named Elon Musk its Person of the Year. He’s rattled the auto industry as well as the space industry and is the world’s richest person.

* Genesis G90 Unveiled* Genesis unveiled its new redesigned G90 flagship sedan now with air suspension, rear wheel steering, automatic closing doors and remote start parking assist. New features like Virtual Venue and Mood Curator will help meet drivers’ emotional and aesthetic needs. We expect the new G90 in 2022.

*Toyota Joins Electric Herd (“Almost”)* Toyota has led the world in hybrid vehicles and now has decided to play catch-up in pure electric vehicles. Toyota announced big plans for electric vehicles coming in every segment by 2030. The company will invest $35 million in BEV sedans, crossovers, sports cars and pickups. Lexus will become all electric.

*Corvette Bowling Green Plant And CHOF Sustains Tornado Damages * GM’s Bowling Green Assembly Plant, where the Corvette is produced, and the National Corvette Museum Motorsports Park have sustained damage from the tornado that swept across Kentucky last week. The National Corvette Museum appears to have been only minimally damaged. Production was impacted and photos show numerous already-built Corvettes with damage.

*Audi SUV Recall * Audi is recalling 289,000 SUVs in the U.S. because water can get into a control computer under the back seats. The recall covers certain 2021 and 2022 Q5 and SQ5 Sportback models and some 2018 through 2022 Q5 and SQ5 models.

*Subaru Recalls 200,000 Vehicles* Subaru is recalling nearly 200,000 vehicles in the U.S. because a chain in the CVT automatic transmission can break, causing a loss of power. The recall covers certain 2020 Legacy and Outback vehicles, as well as some 2019 and 2020 Ascent SUVs.

*2022 Detroit Auto Show Scheduled* The Detroit Auto Dealers Association is targeting Sept.14-25, 2022, to revive the North American International Auto Show. The last downtown Detroit auto show took place in January 2019. The show was expected to come back in June 2020, but organizers canceled it because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Covid concerns led to canceling the 2021 show too. Instead, this summer a downtown concert and car crawl was held to raise money for charities, and in September organizers hosted the Motor Bella auto mobility event at M1 Concourse in Pontiac.

*Canadian Auto Shows Cancelled* Three 2022 Canadian auto shows have been canceled due to omicron variant of Covid-19. The Montreal show held in January, the Toronto show held in February and the Vancouver show in March have decided to call off their shows.

* Max Verstappen is the 2021 Formula 1 world champion after he passed Lewis Hamilton on a final lap restart to win the 2021 world title at Abu Dhabi. Verstappen had fresh tires for the final restart after he was 11 seconds back of Hamilton when Nicholas Latifi crashed with five laps to go. That crash allowed Verstappen to pit for fresh tires and overtake Hamilton after the restart.Max Verstappen was confirmed as Formula One world champion after the FIA stewards rejected a Mercedes protest over the result of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

* Sir Lewis Hamilton has officially received his knighthood from the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle. The 36-year-old was awarded his knighthood and the resulting title in the 2021 New Year Honors list after matching Michael Schumacher with his seventh Formula 1 World Championship. Mercedes’ driver missed out on a record eighth title this season after a nail-biting conclusion to the F1 season in Abu Dhabi as Max Verstappen took the title for the first time. But Hamilton will be back to try and break the record in 2022 alongside new team mate George Russell. Hamilton is the fourth Formula 1 driver in history to be knighted, following on from Sir Jackie Stewart, Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jack Brabham.

*Lotus Co-founder Passes * Hazel Chapman, who co-founded Lotus with her husband Colin and helped build the first cars while Colin was in the Royal Air Force, has passed away at the age of 94. “Her contribution to motorsport and the motor industry in the latter half of the 20th century should not be under-estimated,” the company said in a statement. “She was a successful racing driver, a shrewd businesswoman and the rock upon which the Lotus foundations—since 1948, when the very first Lotus car was made—were built. Her involvement in the development of the Lotus business was almost without equal at the time, in a world where women so often played second fiddle to their husbands.”

*RIP Jesse Alexander * Legendary motorsport photographer Jesse Alexander has passed away at his home in Santa Barbara. Alexander was 92. A veritable artist in his own right, Alexander was one of the most iconic photogs from motorsport’s golden era. The American spent many years in Europe in the 1950s chronicling Formula 1 and long-distance racing as well as the famous Mille Miglia and Targa Florio events, where his beautiful imagery aesthetically showcased the sporting and human themes of the day. Alexander’s body of work, which has been exhibited in museums in the United States and featured in many of his books, also includes theater photography as well as travel photographs of Iceland, the Galapagos Islands, and birds.

Stay safe. Be Well. Keep On TACh’n.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article contained an incorrect placement of “RIP” before the the Max Verstappen story. I apologize for my editing error, Max is well and enjoying his F1 Championship…congrats Max.

By Tara