Tesla beats Ford for Loyalty Award, IIHS slashes safety picks, GM wants smudge-free screens

Cameron Neveu

Tesla tops Ford in U.S. brand loyalty

Intake: General Motors and Tesla came out on top in the 2022 Automotive Loyalty Awards, with Tesla topping Ford for U.S. brand loyalty for the first time, the S&P Global Mobility survey company said, according to Automotive News. GM won the “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” award, while Tesla won the “Overall Loyalty to Make,” beating out Ford for the first time in the last 12 years, a result long spurred by customer loyalty to the top-selling F-Series pickups. S&P Global Mobility says loyalty “is determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and acquired another new vehicle of the same make, model or manufacturer. The newly acquired vehicle may be either a replacement or an addition to the household fleet.” Subaru won the “Overall Loyalty to Dealer” for the first time—38 percent of Subaru owners buy their next vehicle from the same dealer.

Exhaust: These awards are a big deal in the automotive industry. “As customers are returning to market post-pandemic and inventory levels have slowly improved from last year’s lows, retaining loyal customers has been more challenging than ever before,” Joe LaFeir, S&P Global Mobility president, said in a statement. The loyalty awards are the result of an analysis of 11.7 million new U.S. retail vehicle registrations in 2022. —Steven Cole Smith

IIHS makes it way tougher to get Top Safety Pick awards for 2023

Intake: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is strengthening the requirements for its Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ awards in 2023, demanding better side-crash protection along with improved pedestrian crash-prevention systems and eliminating subpar headlights from the field of qualifying vehicles. As a result of the tougher criteria, only 48 models qualify for 2023 awards. Of those, 28 earn Top Safety Pick+ and 20 earn Top Safety Pick. Last year, before changes to the award requirements, there were 101 winners, including 65 earning the higher-tier Top Safety Pick+.

Exhaust: “The number of winners is smaller this year because we’re challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they’ve already achieved,” said IIHS President David Harkey. The biggest change to the criteria for both awards is the replacement of the original IIHS side-crash test with the updated evaluation launched in 2021. The updated test involves 82 percent more energy than the original test. Vehicles must earn an acceptable or good rating to qualify for Top Safety Pick, while a good rating is required for the “plus.” The plus criteria include another new evaluation, the nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash-prevention test. Advanced or superior performance is required in both the nighttime and daytime pedestrian tests for the higher award. For Top Safety Pick, only a daytime rating of advanced or superior is required. —SCS

Tesla applies for “ultra-hard” steel patent

Tesla cybertruck race track

Intake: Tesla has applied for a patent on a new “ultra-hard” steel alloy that it apparently plans to use with the Cybertruck electric pickup truck, says Electrek. The Cybertruck will use a bare-metal steel exoskeleton, and while the patent doesn’t spell out in so many words that the steel would be for the Cybertruck, there are multiple clues in the patent filing, such as the statement that: “In some embodiments, an exterior surface of the exterior panel does not comprise paint.” 

Exhaust: According to Electrek, it’s still not clear who is going to manufacture this alloy for Tesla, but cites rumors that Steel Dynamics, which is operating a new, giant plant in Texas not too far from where Tesla plans to manufacture the Cybertruck, could be the source. Tesla still plans to start production of the Cybertruck at Gigafactory Texas in Austin this summer and ramp up volume next year. That seems ambitious, but we know better than to tell Elon Musk something isn’t possible. —SCS 

New GM patent aims to cure smudgy screens

cadillac escalade interior front
Cameron Neveu

Intake: General Motors has filed a patent that could help remedy the smudges that befall massive touchscreens when you—no, the passenger, certainly not you—jab at the screen to swap from radio to navigation and then back again. According to a report from Automotive News, the patent is for a process that uses “light from violet micro-LEDS that is invisible to the eye but can react with a photocatalyst built into the coating of the display.” The reaction between the light and the photocatalyst would supposedly erase any smudges by drawing on water found in the air. According to the patent document, what makes GM’s process different from existing smudge-reduction tech is that its version works in scenarios with low light—think at night or when the vehicle glass is tinted, which it is on almost all vehicles nowadays. GM hasn’t said when such an innovation will reach production cars—or whether it even will, for that matter.

Exhaust: With screens like the 38-inch OLED behemoth found in the Cadillac Escalade, a smudge-eliminating feature seems like a worthy pursuit. Having to pause your luxuriating to grab a microfiber and scrub away oily prints is the antithesis of a posh experience. —Nathan Petroelje

NASCAR TV ratings down early in the season

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – JULY 10: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Coca-Cola Toyota, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota, Kurt Busch, driver of the #45 Monster Energy Toyota, William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Milestone Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

Intake: NASCAR ratings sagged for the second running of the Busch Light Clash in the L.A. Coliseum, down 15 percent from the inaugural race last year. Similarly, the Daytona 500 ratings were down 7 percent in ratings and 8 percent in viewership from last year, making the audience the third-smallest ever for the race. Still, the Daytona race handily scored the highest ratings for the weekend for a sporting event, outpacing the NBA All-Star game.

Exhaust: Ratings aren’t in yet for the Palo Casino 400, the second race of the full season, which ran Sunday night, but the event—the last on the two-mile oval at the speedway in Fontana, California, before NASCAR shortens the track—was a sellout, as was the Daytona 500. Kyle Busch won Sunday’s race, in only his second outing with Richard Childress Racing. —SCS 

Florida state senator wary of electric cars on the road in an evacuation

2022 F-150 Lightning Platinum

Intake: According to CBS News Miami, a state senator has suggested that state transportation officials are considering limiting the use of electric vehicles during hurricane (and other natural disaster) evacuations. Senator Jonathan Martin (R-Fort Myers) raised a concern that electric vehicles could become “roadblocks” if they run out of power on highways crowded with fleeing residents. “With a couple of guys behind you, you can’t get out of the car and push it to the side of the road. Traffic backs up. And what might look like a two-hour trip might turn into an eight-hour trip once you’re on the road,” Martin said during a discussion on charging stations at the Senate Select Committee on Resiliency.

Exhaust: Trey Tillander, executive director of transportation technologies at the Florida Department of Transportation, said he’d bring the topic up with agencies including the Florida Highway Patrol. But the department’s preference, he said, is to find ways to help electric-vehicle owners during evacuations. “Some of the things we’re looking into [are] portable EV chargers,” Tillander said. “So, if an electrical vehicle runs out of charge, there are technologies. We have our Road Rangers. We have our emergency-assistance vehicles that we deploy during a hurricane evacuation that have gas. We need to provide that same level of service to electric vehicles.” —SCS 

After garage fire, MotoAmerica bans lithium-polymer batteries 

Intake: After watching Matty Scholtz’s Westby Racing Yamaha R1 spontaneously combust in background of an interview two weeks ago, MotoAmerica moved swiftly to ban the battery chemistry that caused that fire, citing rider safety concerns. “This rule has been implemented due to the safety risks associated with LIPO [lithium-polymer] batteries, including overheating, swelling, and explosion. We take the safety of our participants and spectators seriously and will not tolerate any behavior that puts them at risk.” Per the announcement, lead-acid, absorbed glass mat (AGM), nickel metal hydride (NiMH), and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are approved and can be used. 

Exhaust: Battery fires are something racetracks and race organizations are relatively unfamiliar with, and the sudden and documented nature of the Westby Racing fire made the situation pretty scary. This new rule came fast and for good reason. Batteries can be damaged during a crash and appear fine until a corner worker goes out to clear the track surface. This ruling helps protect more than the riders; it also preserves the safety of anyone who gets near one of the bikes in the paddock, around the hot pits, on the racing surface, or during transport. —Kyle Smith


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    Hard to be loyal to Ford with their quality issues last few years. I remember the old “Quality Job 1” ads but Ford apparently does not. Still have my 1970 Boss 302 but driveway has Ram and Subaru for dailies.

    I am original owner of a 1984 20th Anniversary Mustang GT350 (I know, no hate responses please) 5.0 that they put the running po0ny on right side (Passenger) with a left side (Driver) one so the pony is running backward. Also, in the hatch they “forgot” to finish cutting the hole for the access to one of the bolts to put the nut on. I think it maybe a Monday, or Wednesday, or Friday made car. Quality was not Job 1. But I know what it is and all the fun I have had with it. Now, with well over 200,000 miles on it still going strong with original engine…

    Not surprised on the Tesla loyalty thing. Some will even “street preach” and try to convert the “unwashed masses” of gasoline powered car owners. I have experienced a few at some car shows out here. I call them Tesla-vangelists. Like their TV televangelist counterparts I avoid them both.

    The Tesla Cybertruck most definitely features controversial styling…I can’t help thinking about how roasted Pontiac was over the Aztec styling years ago. The Cybertruck is as bad, or perhaps worse…why no uproar? Is Telsa truly immune to dissent and criticism?

    they have too many people with money in their pockets, as the cyber truck is not even a truly new design, just take a DMC Delorean and put it next to one and look at the profile, the cyber truck is pretty much a taller reversed delorean, they even stole the stainless steel body, yet no one has ever really commented about that.

    Considering Ford sells millions of vehicles per year, vs Tesla at….well much less!!! I don’t think Ford has anything to worry about.

    I have had actual experience with Tesla FSD for over two years & many thousands of miles. The criticism you write is inconsistent with the reality of the technology. The advantage of FSD far outweighs the disadvantages. Lets put it this way… Every day non-FSD cars hit things, & do incomprehensible things. But none of that is reported, as that is very common and fully accepted. But when a FSD car possibly shows one misguided move the media is in an uproar about it.

    Here is how I explained this to a group of consumers that had your similar thought pattern:

    FSD can prevent 90% of accidents in comparison to human driving behavior…

    The group says “That means 10% still have accidents! That is unacceptable!!”

    And I say “…While that 10% may happen, please understand it is also a 90% rate of accidents prevented…”

    The group then says “No FSD accidents are acceptable period!!”

    I respond “Really? Would you rather have the accident rate back at 100% ~ with no improvement?”

    While it is a sad fact that accidents will happen, getting the advantage of FSD (that offers 90% avoidance) is a much better choice than doing nothing. That is undeniable. We are in the infancy of the technology but the gains are clearly significant. The “results” (as you say) of FSD are impressive to date and it only continues to get more perfected as each day goes on.

    Non-FSD cars don’t hit things. The inattentive drivers failed to avoid things with the vehicle.

    FSD, be definition, is to remove human error and not hit stuff.

    Since there are plenty of documented Teslas imparting a Jayne Mansfield facelift upon the occupants, everything your wrote is nothing more than a sycophant running cover for your favorite appliance.

    Buy what you want, but I can tell the difference between a white semi trailer and mid-day sky.

    FSD doesn’t take the liability or responsibility away from the driver anymore than autopilot on a plane fully takes over command of the aircraft. Used correctly, FSD can only make roads safer. We already have inattentive drivers without FSD and that is worse.

    Well Ford has some really big issues confronting them right now. The quality issues are just a symptom of what is going on.

    Ford is in bad shape money wise. The company took loans on the plants before GM and Chrysler got bail out due to no loans available, I believe these loans are still outstanding. They also took a $7 Billion dollar loan from the government that is still not paid off. Their stock has been below $10 a share and it is dropping back to that level in the last few weeks.

    Ford was behind in the EV program so they rushed to get the Mach E and Lighting out before GM brought out their first models. Neither of these cars share anything with the coming EV program they are working on. Now the truck batteries are having issues. To pay for their initial EV program Ford laid off 8,000 people last year and more are expected.

    The one good thing is Ford is 51% owned by the Ford family so this will hold off take over bids but they really need to bring change to the company.

    The big issue now is the high cost of Aluminum is cutting into profits on the F150 and now it is reported the Aluminum, that comes from South America is a environment mess where it is made.

    I hope they get it together as we can’t lose anymore American MFGs.

    The Tesla thing is just a cult. You can not judge them as you would many other companies. They have had major quality issues and their designs are later unstylish and some like the S growing very old.

    I was in a Cadillac Lyriq and it blew the Tesla away. But will the cult still remain loyal will they finally wake up?

    Price of Aluminum is a major factor. Both ore and energy to refine it. As electricity increases, so does the price of aluminum.

    But Ford buys from Constellium. They have a sheet plant in Alabama and a casting/forging plant in Mexico. Nothing in South America.
    Ore supplies could be driving this, but we have a large and diverse sheet aluminum industry in the US and it’s unlikely any significant production will go further south than Mexico. Maybe South Korea, but that’s a long way to ship hot and cold rolled sheet.

    I guess I just assumed that the EV drivers would pack some spare jerry cans of electricity to use in a hurricane evacuation.

    I’m having trouble accepting that discharged EV’s can’t be pushed out of the way.

    “Top Safety Pick” isn’t really the top, but how many shoppers will know that when reading the brochure?

    What’s the difference between manufacturer and make?

    How can one be loyal to Ford, they don’t want to build cars anymore. When they had good reliable top selling models they dropped them. They only seem to be building high profit trucks and SUV’s. I certainly don’t see them in my future anymore

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