It wasn’t a great year for the hobby…
If you feel like gearheads are getting hit with a lot of bad news lately, we can sadly confirm plenty of alarming things dominated the hobby this year. We’re not trying to be pessimistic but instead want to just tell things straight as we see them, so make sure you’re sitting down, take a deep breath, and remember next year could be better.
Watch a tuned Toyota Supra race a Dodge Hellcat here.
States Ban Gas Cars
One of the biggest news trends we saw in 2022 was states following through on pledges to ban both gas- and diesel-powered passenger cars in different ways. This had been on the horizon for a while, but Washington state jumped ahead of California, revealing in early April a ban on ICE car registrations by 2030. About two weeks later, California followed through with its ban on the sale of ICE engines by 2035.
As if that wasn’t enough, some cities in California started banning the construction of new gas stations or the addition of new pumps. Of course, those cities encouraged the addition of vehicle chargers at gas stations, all while rolling blackouts were causing headaches.
In October, New York state revealed its ICE passenger vehicle ban set to take effect in 2035. Other states have been following suit, like Virginia which had a trigger law tied to California enacting a ban. Last count, 17 states were either following California’s lead or considering doing so.
Lest you think all automakers’ executives love this shift, some CEOs and board presidents have said some harsh things about the bans and all-in march to electrification. These include top leadership from Stellantis, Toyota, BMW, and Aston Martin.
Dodge Starts Taking A Dive
We’ve loved most of what Dodge has been doing for the past several years, especially since the Hellcat launched in 2015, but it looks like the good times are coming to a close. We’re not reveling in this fact, despite some accusing us of being Dodge haters (some of us own Dodges, so you know), but instead this fills us with a measure of sorrow. Still, we can’t deny the truth.
One of the biggest and most bizarre examples was the reveal of the concept Dodge battery-electric “muscle car” the Daytona SRT Banshee. In a way it looks good, in a way it looks horrible, but more concerning is we have zero specs and no firm timeline for a market-ready model. Also, the fake exhaust tone demonstration was laughably bad.
We knew in late 2021 rumors were flying the Hellcat would be discontinued, but there was still confusion about whether the Charger and Challenger nameplates would continue, as would the Hemi or any V8 engine. In March we received some clarification as Stellantis revealed the Hurricane inline-6 engine, declaring the twin-turbo version “delivers V8 levels of power.” That seemed to indicate the Hemi was done for. Dodge still hasn’t clarified that entirely, with executives saying contradictory things in interviews and the PR department releasing ambiguous language.
Supposedly to celebrate the end of the current-gen Charger and Challenger which apparently will see a new generation, Dodge decided to release some limited-edition “Last Call” models. They seemed more like a cash grab as they were all cosmetic packages, not introducing any crazy, new mechanical upgrades to the lineups.
The final “Last Call” model was supposed to introduce a big increase in power, but Dodge said it was delayed from its scheduled SEMA Show unveiling because of supply chain problems. Then it was revealed the problem included the unfortunate habit of the Hemi V8 blowing up, a perfect metaphor for what’s going on with Dodge these days.
Car Thefts Keep Accelerating Out Of Control
If anyone thought 2022 would see car thefts start to decrease they were unfortunately disappointed. Despite covid restrictions being blamed by some for rising crime, easing and even eliminating them didn’t cause a drop. In fact, car thieves became more violent, carjacking victims at gunpoint.
Surprisingly, the Denver metro area became a hotbed for car thefts, although cities like Detroit continued racking up solid numbers. Also, carjackers decided acting like they were interested in buying high-end cars, then taking them at gunpoint during the meetup with the owner was a good business plan.
Many media outlets completely missed the boat when it came to covering the Kia Boyz car theft trend. They claimed it was a TikTok-only phenomena when we found examples of it on every major social media platform. Basically, what started as kids in Milwaukee stealing Kias and Hyundais using a phone charger spread to other areas thanks to explicit tutorials on how to do it, all disseminated on social media.
Gas Prices Soar
Car thefts and carjackings weren’t the only things to climb steeply in 2022 with gas prices spiking as we entered the summer months. By mid-May the average cost of a gallon of gas in all 50 states was above $4.00, a first in the history of this country. Understandably, people weren’t happy as their fill-ups were budget busters. The cost of everything from groceries to food deliveries also climbed, ostensibly all because of gas prices.
For a bit there the concern was that $10.00 a gallon for gas would become reality in certain areas, especially after some stations in Washington state added an extra digit to the readout. There was controversy about why exactly that was done, but just weeks later a gas station in California started selling premium gas for $9.76 a gallon.
Perhaps with gas prices soaring so unbelievably high, that’s why a trend started with thieves driving Shelby GT500s running the tanks dry while crossing bridges. It has been truly a strange year.
Gas prices have dropped some since the summer months. At the time of writing this article, the national average is $3.31 a gallon. However, speculation abounds that come the new year we’ll see prices start climbing rapidly. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the trend.
Supply Chain Shortages Continue
One of the biggest stories of 2021 was the supply chain shortages which throttled new car production and automotive parts. The problem hasn’t been solved and in some ways became worse this year, despite some predictions of the opposite.
Russia invading Ukraine has triggered a firestorm of consequences, including hitting the microprocessor chip industry heavily. For some reason, over 70 percent of neon gas used globally was coming out of Ukraine, so the supply dried up almost overnight. Chip producers tried all kinds of tricks to make their neon last while looking for suppliers not in Ukraine.
However, both Ukraine and Russia are rich in gases and minerals used in the production of microprocessors. Thanks to sanctions against Russia and Ukraine being thrown into utter chaos, it looked like early in the year the car chip shortage would worsen.
The shortages didn’t include just microprocessor chips, with other components and raw materials becoming scarce. That meant vehicle production was slimmed down and in some cases halted. For example, Corvette production was shut down in March and May after some stoppages last year. In June GM was forced to cancel some 2021 model year orders so work on the 2022 cars could begin.
By June, the situation was getting contentious with people like Ford CEO Jim Farley and Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger telling completely divergent stories about how the chip shortage would play out in the near future. Farley said the shortage would be done by the beginning of 2023 and it looks like he was dead wrong, unfortunately.
We expect shortages will be a story well into 2023.