The average new vehicle price continues to climb, Dodge unveils a special Challenger, Daniel Ricciardo to split from McLaren. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Record Average New Vehicle Price Expected For August
Consumers really do keep on consuming. Reuters reports that August’s average new vehicle transaction price is expected to soar higher than giraffe nostrils despite interest rate hikes.
Average transaction prices are set to reach a record $46,259, an 11.5% increase from a year earlier, according to the report from auto industry consultants J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.
However, an inventory shortage continues to shackle new vehicle sales. Retail sales of new vehicles are expected to reach 980,400 units in August, a 2.6% decrease from a year earlier, the consultants added.
“In September, the constraints are expected to continue with sales being hampered by available inventory. In the near term, prices and per-unit profitability will remain strong,” said Thomas King, president of the data and analytics division at J.D. Power.
Wow, that’s a ton of money right there. $46,259 could buy any number of amazing cars, so it’s staggering to think of it as an average transaction price. While it’s worth noting that Kelley Blue Book previously reported an average new vehicle transaction price of $48,043 in June, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive use different methods to reach an average transaction price, and this latest figure represents records using their methodology. Kelley Blue Book also reported another average price increase for July, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it reports yet another increase for August.
A year-over-year sales decline isn’t good news either; it indicates that new vehicle supply is still tight, fueling dealer markup and high transaction prices. While it’s entirely possible that rising interest rates dissuaded some drivers from entering the new car market, it’s going to take far more than the Federal Reserve hiking its benchmark overnight interest rate to cool down this crazy car market.
High Energy Prices Threaten UK Auto Manufacturing Recovery
While supply chain shortages may be the hot topic of the moment, it certainly isn’t the only thing putting pressure on automakers. Bloomberg reports that rising energy costs threaten to derail the U.K. automotive industry’s pandemic recovery plans.
Wholesale UK gas and power prices are at near-record levels, with gas futures currently a staggering 10 times their normal level for this time of year — a development SMMT called “alarming.”
The energy market has been rocked by Russia cutting supplies to mainland Europe and fears about shortages this winter.
“If we are to attract much needed investment to drive the production of zero-emission vehicles, urgent action is needed to mitigate these costs to make the UK more competitive for manufacturing,” Mike Hawes, SMMT’s CEO, said in a statement.
“This must be a priority for the next Prime Minister else we will fall further behind our global rivals, risking jobs and economic growth,” Hawes said.
Between supply chain disruptions and rising energy prices, costs of operations are rising across the UK’s automotive sector. While getting a leash on energy prices isn’t a silver bullet, it should give automakers and consumers alike some breathing room.
The Dodge Challenger Shakedown Is A Limited-Edition Nod To A Very Special Project
To commemorate the end of Dodge’s full-size muscle cars, the American company announced earlier this month that seven special edition models will slowly be unveiled over the next few months. Here’s the first one, the Dodge Challenger Shakedown. Why Shakedown? Because these special edition Challengers pair the Goldilocks 6.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 with a throwback shaker hood, along with other aesthetic embellishments.
If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu from the Shakedown name, cast your mind back to 2016. At that year’s SEMA show, Dodge pulled the wraps off a gnarly Challenger restomod called the Shakedown. Classic body, modern running gear, job done at the time. To create this new Shakedown, Dodge has transplanted some ideas from the one-off project into brand new Challengers.
As expected, the Challenger Shakedown isn’t a stripped-out bare-knuckle brawler. Dodge takes a standard Challenger R/T Scat Pack and piles on the Plus Group, Technology Group, Dynamics Package, suede upholstery, carbon fiber interior trim, and navigation to create a reasonably fast personal luxury coupe. From there, a special stripe package, unique badges, black wheels, red interior accents, and red six-piston Brembo front calipers are added, along with the aforementioned shaker hood.
Choice of color comes with choice of body. If you’re in the camp that narrower tires lead to more fun, you’re locked into a Destroyer Grey paint job that looks like somebody shot clearcoat over primer. If you can foot a tire bill the size of a car payment, step right up to the widebody and Pitch Black paint that really makes the red accents pop. Production will be limited to 500 standard body and 500 widebody models, giving the Challenger Shakedown the potential for real collector cred.
While a shaker hood and some visual touches are likely to appease Mopar die-hards, I’m excited at the potential for six even cooler limited edition models to drop soon. After all, why start off with the strongest product? There’s a really good chance that Dodge will do some really special stuff to ensure its iconic Hellcat engine goes out with two middle fingers in the air, and I can’t wait to see what’s planned.
Daniel Ricciardo To Split From McLaren F1 Team
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) August 24, 2022
An important F1 silly season rumor has been confirmed. The Associated Press reports that Daniel Ricciardo will officially split from McLaren after the 2022 Formula 1 season.
“This will be my last year with McLaren. Obviously we put in a lot of effort on both sides, but it just hasn’t worked the way we wanted, so the team has decided to make a change for next year,” Ricciardo said in a video message posted to his social media platforms Wednesday.
“I think for the future, what lies ahead, I am not sure yet. I am not sure yet. But we’ll see. I look back on this time with McLaren, I look back with a smile. I learned a lot about myself, I think things that will help me for the next step in my career, but I think just in general in life.”
McLaren head Zak Brown in May acknowledged that Ricciardo’s seat was shaky and said there were “mechanisms” in which the driver and team could split ahead of the 2023 season. The mechanism turned out to be a buyout since Ricciardo held the option on next season.
It’s a shame to see Ricciardo out of McLaren, but not entirely surprising. Ricciardo is currently 12th in the driver standings with just 19 points on the board, not an especially strong showing for a household name. In addition, McLaren’s plans to fill Ricciardo’s seat aren’t looking especially certain. While Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri is widely believed to fill that position, he’s embroiled in a contract dispute that’s yet to be settled.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Thursday, the weekend is just around the corner. With the march towards EVs ongoing, it’s only a matter of time before we lose the sound of tiny controlled explosions in new cars, which begs a good question. What’s your favorite automotive sound that isn’t internal combustion? For me, it’s a toss-up between the chattering protest of tires just approaching the limits of adhesion and the imperious thunk of old Mercedes-Benz doors. How about you?
Lead photo credit: JeepersMedia licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0