Tesla will recall tens of thousands of cars because of rolling stops, Lexus is almost doing better than ever, and live car auctions are still a thing. All that and more in The Morning Shift for February 1, 2022.
1st Gear: Some Of Every Tesla Model Will Be Recalled
Tesla is no stranger to recalls, like every automaker, because we somehow still have not perfected the art of automobile production. And yet, this latest one seems self-inflicted, as it concerns a feature in Full Self-Driving we covered a few weeks ago that enables rolling stops at stop signs, which are, of course, illegal in every circumstance.
Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) will recall 53,822 U.S. vehicles with the company’s Full Self-Driving (Beta) software that may allow some models to conduct “rolling stops” and not come to a complete stop at some intersections posing a safety risk.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the recall covers some 2016-2022 Model S and Model X, 2017-2022 Model 3, and 2020-2022 Model Y vehicles. NHTSA said the feature also known as FSD Beta may allow vehicles to travel through an all-way stop intersection without first coming to a stop.
Tesla will perform an over-the-air software update that disables the “rolling stop” functionality, NHTSA said. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request comment.
Last week, Tesla said the number of FSD beta vehicles in the United States increased to nearly 60,000 from a few thousand at the end of September. Tesla has been testing the improved version of its automated driving software on public roads, but the carmaker and the regulator have said the features do not make the cars autonomous.
In California, where many, many Teslas reside, stop signs are basically treated as optional, a thing that is deeply embedded in California’s driving culture, so I can sort of see why Tesla thought this might fly. Still, that isn’t the case everywhere, and it doesn’t change the fact that a rolling stop remains illegal.
As someone who grew up in Ohio, where cops will pull you over for the slightest of traffic infractions no matter who you are, the very concept of a rolling stop makes me stressed.
2nd Gear: AAA Says That Semi-Autonomous Driving Systems That Only Monitor Hands On The Steering Wheel Are Bad
AAA says that other systems, like the camera GM uses to monitor drivers’ eye position when Super Cruise is engaged, are much better. This is obvious for anyone who has any experience with the two systems, but AAA did some testing to prove it.
The AAA study tested two camera-based monitoring systems, a 2021 Cadillac Escalade with General Motors’ “Super Cruise” system and a 2021 Subaru Forester with “EyeSight” technology, and two systems that only rely on steering wheel engagement: a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with “Highway Driving Assist” and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 with “Autopilot.”
The Hyundai system performed worst, followed by the Tesla. Subaru’s and GM’s systems were much better at keeping drivers engaged, but none of the monitoring systems performed perfectly.
“Driver monitoring systems are a good first step to preventing deadly crashes, but they are not foolproof,” said Greg Brannon, director of AAA’s automotive engineering.
Years ago, I was of the opinion that adaptive cruise control is where all of the tech should stop, until we reach full autonomy, if we ever get there at all. I’m not sure that I’m still there, but as a baseline, these systems should be able to reliably tell if you’re paying attention or not.
3rd Gear: Lexus Is Doing Just Fine
Lexus said Tuesday that global sales were up six percent for 2021, and even more in North America, as Toyota, Lexus’s parent, navigated the chip shortage slightly better than other automakers.
From Automotive News:
In detailing full-year results on Tuesday, Toyota Motor Corp.’s premium brand said overall volume increased to 760,012 vehicles in 2021. North America topped the regional charts, with sales up 12 percent to 332,000 units on robust deliveries of the RX and NX crossovers and ES sedan.
In the U.S., Lexus finished third in the luxury sales race, behind No. 1 BMW and runner-up Tesla.
China was Lexus’ second-biggest market, reporting a 1 percent increase to 227,000 vehicles. The China results were an all-time high for Lexus in the world’s biggest auto market.
European sales notched a 2 percent increase to 72,000 units.
Lexus’ global electrified sales rose 10 percent to an all-time high of 260,000 vehicles. But the brand’s only battery electric offering, the UX300e, chipped in just 5,800 units.
Hybrids still did the heavy lifting for the premium brand, as did crossovers. The Lexus crossover range booked sales of 495,664 vehicles, for about 65 percent of worldwide volume.
Lexus is still the most sensible car one can buy, if you want a nice, reliable, classy car and can afford the step up to luxury. Give me an all-wheel drive IS 350 F Sport, what more could you need?
4th Gear: Hyundai Is Also Doing Fine But Kia Not So Much
Inventory for both automakers has been an issue, not demand, like with pretty much every other automaker. Hyundai and Kia reported its January delivery numbers on Tuesday, and they were iffy, if also in line with expectations.
From Automotive News:
Retail deliveries rose 18 percent, offsetting zero fleet shipments last month, Hyundai said. The company set a January record with 47,872 deliveres largely behind four models — Venue, up 70 percent; Tucson, up 64 percent; Palisade, up 12 percent; and Ioniq, up 51 percent — that also posted record deliveries for the month.
Hyundai said it ended the month with 18,060 cars and light trucks, down from 21,420 at the close of December and 151,930 at the end of Jan. 2021.
Kia volume slid 5.5 percent to 42,488 mostly on sharply weaker Soul, Seltos and Forte deliveries.
Genesis racked up its 14th straight gain with January sales rising 29 percent to 3,638 behind deliveries of the new GV70 crossover.
Overall, light-vehicle sales across the industry are projected to fall 9 to 16 percent last month, based on forecasts from J.D. Power-LMC Automotive, Cox Automotive and TrueCar.
I told someone recently that the GV70 is the only crossover that is remotely cool, and, you know what, I stand by that.
5th Gear: Reassuring News For Those Who Love In-Person Car Auctions
Bloomberg reports that they are still here, despite the challenges presented to live events by the pandemic.
A rising tide lifts all ships. That was the message to collectors after the annual classic car auctions Jan. 22-30 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where each year, Barrett-Jackson, Bonhams, Gooding & Co., RM Sotheby’s, and Worldwide Auctioneers auction off thousands of the world’s classic and collectable cars in white tents and hotel convention centers under the desert sun.
Total sales across the five auction houses hit $266.7 million, up 22% over 2020, despite a lower number of cars actually sold. That’s according to accounting by Hagerty Automotive Intelligence, a company that insures and values classic and collectable cars. The sum bested Hagerty’s forecast of $211 million and achieved the second-highest-ever gross for the auction week, after a $307.3 million peak in 2016. (Sales totals were compared to 2020, rather than 2021, because last January the novel coronavirus pandemic prevented a full auction schedule in Arizona.)
“By every metric, this year’s selling spree in Arizona was better than 12 months ago—and even the last pre-pandemic, ‘normal’ year of 2020,” British car collector, broker, and analyst Simon Kidson wrote in the K500 Index report.
This is all despite Bring A Trailer seemingly taking over the car auction world.
In 2021, BAT single-handedly exceeded the sums brought in by all live auctions in the U.S. combined, bringing in a whopping $829 million. The online houses have also drained significantly the number of cars offered live throughout the year, according to Hagerty, auction insiders, and to the heads of auction houses themselves.
“We do a lot less volume than the online auctions do, and absolutely, a lot of the cars have gone to online auctions,” says Jakob Greisen, head of Bonhams U.S. Motoring Department.
I, for one, love the live auction tradition, such a magnet for weird old car guys that it is. I hope it never dies.
Columbia had been in operation for over two decades, spanning 28 missions.
Neutral: How Are You?
It’s been a proper winter in New York, which is not always a given. We got several inches of snow and everything.