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Vote for the Bill Knight Automotive high school football player of the week for Week 14 - Tulsa World

Bixby vs. Owasso (copy)

Bixby celebrates after defeating Owasso in their 6AI state championship football game at Chad Richison Stadium.

Mike Simons, Tulsa World

Barry Lewis

To vote for the Tulsa World’s high school football player of the week, read the profiles of each candidate and then cast your vote at OkPrepsExtra.com.

Voting ends at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Who is the Week 14 Bill Knight Automotive high school football player of the week?

To vote for the Tulsa World’s high school football player of the week, read the profiles of each candidate and then cast your vote at OkPrepsExtra.com. Voting ends at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

You voted:

Kale Charboneau, Wagoner: Sophomore QB accounted for 257 yards and three TDs, plus had four tackles in a 24-21 win over Cushing in the Class 4A final.

Gunner Dozier, Gore: Senior RB rushed for 163 yards and three TDs in a 48-12 win over Hominy in a Class A semifinal.

Kirk Francis, Metro Christian: Senior QB completed 37-of-62 passes for a state playoff record 626 yards and five TDs in a 72-56 loss against Heritage Hall in the 3A final.

Dylan Hasz, Bixby: Senior DB/WR caught a 65-yard TD pass, had two interceptions, a pass breakup and recovered an onside kickoff in a 69-6 win over Owasso in the 6AI final.

Connor Kirby, Bixby: Senior QB accounted for 291 yards and six first-half TDs against Owasso. Completed 16-of-25 passes for 205 yards and had 16 rushes for 86 yards.

Noah Roberts, Stillwater: Senior RB had 24 rushes for 198 yards in a 26-21 win over Choctaw in the 6AII final.

Julius Talley, Stillwater: Senior WR/DB had the tying TD catch, a pivotal interception that set up the go-ahead TV, and shared the game high with 12 tackles against Choctaw.

Ethan Muehlenweg, Wagoner: Senior kicked the winning 36-yard field goal as time expired against Cushing.

Your choice for player of the week, along with the World’s choice, will be published Wednesday in the Tulsa World and on OkPrepsExtra.com.

Kale Charboneau, Wagoner

Sophomore QB accounted for 257 yards and three touchdowns in a 24-21 win over Cushing in the Class 4A final. Completed 16-of-33 passes for 147 yards and carried 26 times for 110 yards. Also had four tackles on defense.

Gunner Dozier, Gore

Rushed for 163 yards and three TDs in a 48-12 win over Hominy in the Class A semifinal.

Kirk Francis, Metro Christian

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Senior QB completed 37-of-62 passes for a state playoff record 626 yards and five TDs in a 72-56 loss against Heritage Hall in the 3A final.

Dylan Hasz, Bixby

Senior DB/WR caught a 65-yard TD pass, had two interceptions and a pass breakup, and recovered an onside kick in a 69-6 win over Owasso in the 6AI final.

Connor Kirby, Bixby

Senior QB accounted for 291 yards and six first-half TDs against Owasso. Completed 16-of-25 passes for 205 yards and four TDs, and had 16 rushes for 86 yards.

Noah Roberts, Stillwater

Senior RB had 24 rushes for 198 yards in a 26-21 win over Choctaw in the 6AII final.

Julius Talley, Stillwater

Senior WR/DB had the tying TD catch, a pivotal interception that set up the go-ahead TD, and shared the game high with 12 tackles against Choctaw.

Ethan Muehlenweg, Wagoner

Senior kicked the winning 36-yard field goal as time expired against Cushing.

— Barry Lewis, Tulsa World

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Loren Montgomery’s Spartans responded in an exactly typical manner: with energy, intensity, crisp execution and cold-blooded domination.

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Connor Kirby leads Bixby's 69-6 rout over Owasso for title

Kirby accounted for 291 yards and six first-half touchdowns to lead the second-ranked Spartans past No. 4 Owasso before 7,800 fans at Chad Richison Stadium.

POLL CLOSED: Vote for the Bill Knight Automotive high school football player of the week for Week 13

Voting ends at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

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California road trip in Toyota Mirai fraught with fuel station tensions - Automotive News

So finally, after the L.A. auto show and Automotive News Congress, I was getting behind the wheel. But now I was all frustrated that my delays were going to make the drive to see my dad near Palm Springs longer and shorten our brief visit. Sigh.

So I turned on the air conditioner, snuggled my phone onto the inductive charger and generally tried to get comfortable with the layout.

I was only about 10 miles down the road when I realized that I had 130 miles to go, and then about the same distance to get back to Los Angeles International Airport ... but only 265 miles of estimated range in the tank.

Gulp!

But I took a breath and remembered: I had been here before.

A few years ago, I got to borrow the previous version of the Mirai. And the night before I got it, I was lucky enough to see Jim Press, the legendary former Toyota sales executive, at an Automotive News event, and I went to tell him how excited I was to drive it.

He told me he had one himself, that it was great, but you need to plan ahead and be prepared for problems at the pump.

Like what?

Lack of fuel. Broken pumps. Frozen nozzles.

Gulp.

The unreliability of fueling stations has been the bane of hydrogen vehicles. That's what Craig Scott, who helps manage Toyota's hydrogen-powered heavy-truck project at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, told me in a panel discussion at the Automotive News Congress, the morning before I took off on this latest adventure.

Gasoline and diesel are physically simpler to deliver than hydrogen gas at 700 times atmospheric pressure, said Tom Mourmouras, Scott's counterpart from Shell, who noted that those fuels have more than a 100-year head start on hydrogen pumps for cars.

That advantage adds up in real estate as well as technology.

"There are something like 8,000 gasoline stations in California," Scott said. "Perhaps we don't need that many hydrogen stations, but you know, certainly growing it by an order of magnitude from where we are today would be a significant help."

No doubt.

That first trip, a few years ago, I found a hydrogen station in Riverside — about halfway to Palm Springs. I figured, if it wasn't open or wasn't working, I would take the Mirai to a Hertz lot and rent a car to drive for the rest of the weekend.

As it happened, the place was open and functioning and I was quickly on my way with just enough fuel to get to La Quinta and back. (On the way back, the nozzle did get stuck in the tank, but a helpful guy who was tired of waiting helped me crack it free.)

But this trip was different. As I crawled down the freeway, I checked multiple websites, apps and social media: The Riverside station was closed.

It was getting serious: I was heading into the desert with a bare minimum of fuel.

I immediately turned off the air conditioner. The weather was mild so I could do without it.

I looked at the phone and paused: I was low on battery and feared I couldn't afford a wrong turn that might add 20 miles to my route. But I knew I was also adding to the drain on the battery and hence the hydrogen supply.

Aha!

I turned off the wireless charger, reached around for my laptop and connected it to the phone, reallocating the electrons to improve my odds.

Which is not to claim that I'm a brilliant tactician: We've all had to learn a lot in the 21st century.

When I started covering autos in 1997, Toyota and Honda were introducing a new kind of car called a hybrid that was powered by both gasoline and electricity. It was a steppingstone, Toyota sources said, to electric vehicles — ultimately, to something called a "fuel cell," powered by hydrogen and emitting nothing more than water vapor.

Last month, Toyota revealed the fifth generation of the Prius. This year, EVs' share has topped 5 percent — small but doubling, with many more models heading to the market.

Hydrogen, too, may be seeing more entries. Honda last week said it plans to make a fuel cell version of the CR-V in the U.S.

Which is all a lovely history lesson ... until you find yourself entrusted with someone else's $50,000 car and wondering what you'll do if you can't properly return it.

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Lease offers deserve more marketing investment - Automotive News

A year and a half of tight dealership inventories and strong consumer demand have let automakers dramatically curtail what they spend marketing their products, allowing those dollars to instead pad their bottom lines and soothe any financial damage from rising costs. But while the industry doesn't need a lot of glitzy television ad campaigns or cash-on-the-hood incentives to move vehicles it already has trouble producing, one portion of the traditional automaker marketing spend deserves a boost in resources right now: lease subvention.

There's an opportunity to win loyalty by helping offset fast-rising interest rates with subvented leases that use cash incentives from the automaker to lower monthly payments.

Leasing rates are down sharply this year — Cox Automotive puts it below 20 percent, from 34 percent in 2019 — as rising interest rates, slashed incentives and higher transaction prices conspire to make the once affordable financing alternative far less so.

Falling lease penetration rates may be of little concern to automakers and dealers when they are selling everything they can make, usually at asking price or more. But its fall from popularity could come back to bite auto manufacturers and retailers before long.

Modern automotive leasing has evolved beyond its traditional role of offering a lower monthly payment on a new car. The financing plan now serves several vital industry purposes: It puts consumers on a schedule that keeps them coming back to the dealership, either for often-included service or for a new lease. It serves as a pressure-relief valve for clearing the market: letting automakers pull forward leases in times of slack demand or extend them when supplies are tight. Leasing also gives dealers an ample wellspring for profitable certified pre-owned vehicles that can offer consumers an attractive way to sample a brand.

It may be tempting for automaker executives to study their current demand and supply situations and conclude that marketing dollars that would have gone to leasing should be spent elsewhere or distributed to shareholders. But ignoring depressed lease penetration rates for more immediate gratification imperils the future financial health of both automakers and dealers.

No one should waste marketing dollars, but supporting leases can pay big returns down the road.

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AutoNation slowly integrates captive CIG Financial - Automotive News

Dealership group AutoNation Inc. is slowly integrating its recently acquired CIG Financial into the company.

AutoNation in October purchased Irvine, Calif.-based auto finance company CIG Financial for $85 million.

Glenn Chin, senior equity analyst at Seaport Research Partners, said CIG is not yet integrated in AutoNation's new-car dealerships but is active in the group's AutoNation USA standalone used-car stores.

In February, AutoNation CEO Mike Manley said the group was to restart a finance company as a source of profits and strategic advantage as it grew its used-vehicle business.

"I think it's important for the largest automotive retailer in the country to be able to offer finance through a captive where we can tailor-make services, where we can make sure that the relationships that we build with our customers are deep, where we can be flexible to make sure that we account for different cycles, different changes in buying habit," Manley said on an earnings call at the time. "So I am strongly in favor of that."

Chin: Captive as a growth-driver

Captives are typically profit centers for automakers, though Fiat Chrysler, which Manley led as CEO for two and a half years, didn't have one.

AutoNation used to have a finance unit, but it was losing money when then-CEO Mike Jackson pulled the plug in 2001. It considered restarting a captive finance company in 2014, but a year later dropped the plans with Jackson citing cost, return on investment, scale and competition as the reasons against it.

Starting a captive from scratch is extremely costly. Other hurdles include staffing needs, acquiring state lending licenses and investors' reluctance to buy bundles of auto loans until a lender establishes a history.

For those reasons and others, it makes sense for a national group to turn an existing lender into a captive.

"The plan is to be very deliberate and slow with the growth," Chin told Automotive News of AutoNation's plans for the captive.

"It will grow with AutoNation USA. They don't expect [CIG Financial] to be material until 2024."

A captive finance company can be a great growth-driver, Chin points out, just as it is for publicly held used-car retailer CarMax. The CarMax Auto Finance arm provides as much as 40 percent of CarMax's total income.

But Chin pointed out that although a captive has the potential to drive additional used-car sales by offering financing to customers with lower credit scores, this can pose a risk — especially because U.S. auto loan delinquencies are on the rise.

"Investors don't like to see that," Chin said.

Lithia Motors started its captive finance company, Driveway Finance Corp., in 2011. According to Chin, Lithia is growing Driveway quickly, and CarMax Auto Finance, which has been operating for about 30 years, is on track to generate about $800 million in income this year.

"Consumer credit has been very strong," Chin said. "Losses and delinquencies have been unusually low. We're at the point in the cycle where all that is set to normalize.

"For CarMax, the concern is they're overearning. The concern about Lithia is they are building up their captive finance arm at the same time that expectations are that we're heading to the downside of a credit cycle."

Penske Automotive Group CEO Roger Penske has been asked about adding a captive but would only say they've had "opportunities" to do so and might "at some point, maybe."

Asbury Automotive Group CEO David Hult said last winter that Asbury was "in the really early stages" of studying whether to add a captive.

AutoNation ranks No. 1 on Automotive News' list of the with 262,403 in total new retail units sold last year. Lithia ranks No. 2 on the list with 260,738 new retail units sold last year.

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EV maker Rivian a year on: big losses but staying the course - Automotive News

But Rivian remains in the best shape in terms of cash, vehicle output and plans to move into the mainstream.

The R1T starts at $73,000, excluding shipping, and the R1S starts at $78,000. Rivian hasn't announced price levels for R2 vehicles but has suggested significantly lower production costs.

"I think Rivian's long-term prognosis is as strong as any all-new EV maker," Brauer said. "I'm not saying they are absolutely going to make it — I'm saying they have as good or better shot than any relatively new EV brand. The company has already overcome a lot, but they've also been around a long time."

Rivian was founded by Scaringe in 2009.

Brauer noted that Tesla Inc., the EV industry leader, was able to go more than a decade without turning a profit. Rivian, a relative newcomer in terms of production, has some time to prove itself in the market and on Wall Street.

"Rivian has many of the same traits as Tesla, both being domestic EV companies with over a decade of history and highly innovative products," Brauer said an an email.

"But Rivian has a more stable leadership team with a much less controversial history. And I like Rivian's products more than Tesla. I still don't know if Rivian will make it. But Rivian should make it."

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