Each week TheDetroitBureau.com reports on the biggest news and events happening in the auto industry and relays those stories in its weekly the Headlight News podcast. The roundup includes news, features, reviews and more.
With dealer lots nearly bare, U.S. new car buyers have taken a big punch to the wallet, industry sales data revealing over 80% of those who bought a vehicle in January paid more than MSRP. By comparison, less than 1% of buyers paid over sticker in January 2020, just before pandemic lockdowns led to a shortage of vehicles on dealer lots.
If there’s any good news, it’s that the average transaction price — what buyers actually pay after everything is factored in — dipped slightly last month from the record levels seen in January.
Some of the other stories you need to know about include:
- In a sharp reversal from the Trump era, the Biden administration is indicating it will accept the new emissions rules California’s implemented to control pollution from buses, delivery vans and heavy-duty trucks hauling cargo across the state;
- Nissan will invest $500 million to update its assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi to handle production of two all-new battery-electric vehicles;
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating about 416,000 late model Tesla vehicles for what some call “phantom braking”;
- Airbnb is now promoting its special filter on its website so EV owners can find rentals offering access EV charging, which is vital to the growth of electric vehicles; and,
- Reliability may mean fewer trips to the dealer, but it doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. That’s the takeaway from Consumer Reports new ranking of brands that most consistently please their customers across their brand line-up.
Consumers are taking the brunt of punishment in the wake of the blockades crimping two crossings between the U.S. and Canada in Michigan. Plants are now just getting back to full speed, although Ford is still battling semiconductor-related shutdowns. Executive Editor Joe Szczesny notes these reasons are why 8 out 10 people paid above sticker price for a new vehicle in January.
The Bugatti Chiron Super Sport marks the end of an era for the brand, and the car. Now that electric supercar startup Rimac holds a controlling stake in the company, this is no doubt the last Bugatti powered purely by an internal combustion engine. But what a way to go, says Executive Editor Larry Printz.
Money and electrification top this week’s agenda, starting with Stellantis sharing its fourth quarter and full year earnings on Wednesday. GM’s Mary Barra and Ford’s Jim Farley will both speak at a conference Wednesday afternoon about electrification. Other GM and Ford execs will speak at two other conferences Thursday. We’ll also continue our Black History Month series with two more stories, including a piece about how Blacks continue to impact the UAW.
Executive Editor Printz returns to tell about the birth of Sakichi Toyoda this week in 1867 — yes, that Toyota. The profits from the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, created the automaker we know today. However, he died before he saw the first Toyota, the 1936 Model AA roll off the assembly line.
In 1958, the four-seat Ford Thunderbird debuts, the idea of Robert McNamara, who thought it would be far more popular than the two-seat Thunderbird the company had been selling since 1955. He was right. In 1968, the Lincoln Continental Mark III arrives and so does the other end of the spectrum: the Subaru 360 from Japan courtesy of Malcolm Bricklin.
Find out more the industry’s history and more by listening to TheDetroitBureau’s latest edition of the Headlight News podcast by clicking here. And look for a new episode every Monday!