By on March 11, 2016

Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

Subaru, worried that it might be losing its coolness, could be planning to rebel against its new-found mainstream image.

That, Big Battery picks up steam, Tesla’s stock turbulence continues to amaze, NASCAR wants Millennials to watch a race, and Porsche thanks its lucky stars for SUVs … after the break!

Subaru XV Crosstrek

Maybe it’s not hip to be square

Any music snob will tell you that selling out will net you the big bucks, but it will take your soul, man.

Subaru’s fortunes are soaring thanks to the popularity of its family-friendly wagons and sedans, but the all-wheel-drive infatuated automaker might be looking to let its hair down, reports Car and Driver:

Subaru is testing a first for the company: a prototype with a mid-mounted turbocharged boxer engine driving the rear wheels, and two electric motors powering the fronts.

Our source says that Subaru is testing the radical all-wheel-drive platform in a modified BRZ, since that’s the only rear-drive model in the current lineup. “Whether the end result will be a two-door sports coupe or some kind of sports crossover/CUV is still in the evaluation stage,” says our insider. “A coupe seems more likely, though.”

The mysterious offering, if built, would ride atop Subaru’s new global platform, and would challenge the notion that the company has lost the je ne sais quoi that once made it a quirky and treasured outlier.

highlander-hybrid-battery2

There’s money in them there batteries

The electric vehicle battery market is today’s equivalent of “Plastics!” in 1967.

Battery suppliers are thirsty for the next automaker to dip its toe in the EV pool, and the current bidding war is directed at Porsche’s long-range electric sports car, reports Bloomberg (via Automotive News):

Costs for the package offered by crosstown neighbor Bosch would be higher than the competing technology from Japanese peer Panasonic, which supplies Tesla’s batteries, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are confidential. The advantage to Bosch’s offer would be less-complex logistics.

“We’re in the final stage of making a decision,” Porsche CEO Oliver Blume said in an interview last week at the Geneva auto show. He declined to comment on the suppliers being considered.

Big Battery is going where the action is to court automakers. South Korean battery makers LG Chem Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Company are planning to build a factory in Europe, with Audi listed as a customer.

The other option is to do it yourself, which is the route Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler plans to take for its future vehicles.

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Hop on the Tesla rollercoaster

If Tesla’s stock price was a physical entity, it would be the most popular ride at the theme park.

After going down, down, down at the start of the year, Tesla’s stock is now rocketing skyward, with little to warrant the surge in investor confidence, according to Business Insider:

(Tesla) started 2016 by getting clobbered, with its share price dropping by $100 to the $140s.

The reason was simple: Wall Street decided that for Tesla to grow in accordance with a $30-billion market cap, it needed to execute on building cars …

But for the past 30 days, shares have been rebounding strongly, up a whopping 44% to $206 in trading on Thursday.

The see-sawing is the response to a pattern at Tesla, the author posits. Promising big and delivering less scares off investment when new vehicle deliveries hit snags, then attracts it back when the share prices are lower and a new vehicle is promised.

A note to nervous investors: your bank account has to be *this high* in order to get on this ride.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

NASCAR tries to rekindle the flame

Maybe they’ll try bikes?

The Great Recession hit NASCAR’s fan base hard, but demographics are preventing it from regaining its lost popularity, Business Insider reports:

Viewership across major networks has fallen by about a third, according to data cited by JP Morgan.

Attendance at races has also declined too, indicating that the decline in TV audience has not been offset by an increase in live audiences …

Another NASCAR demographic trend cited by JP Morgan is that fans tend to skew older than other leagues: Only 14% of NASCAR fans are under 34, compared with 45% for the NBA, 37% for the NHL, and 29% for the NFL.

To get butts in seats, NASCAR is embarking on a Millennial outreach program to portray its races as a modern, connected experience, and not the ball-cap-beer-and-sideburns tailgatefest many have of the sport.

2015 Porsche Macan

Porsche gives thanks to the SUV Gods

Its parent company is pulling its hair out, but it’s heady times at Porsche, all thanks to a gamble on SUVs that paid off in a big way.

The release of the Macan compact SUV and continuing popularity of its Cayenne led to a 25 percent sales surge in 2015 at Porsche, but the company remains cautious, Automotive News reports:

Following a boost last year from the rollout of the Macan compact SUV, delivery growth is set to slow this year. Porsche also faces substantial expenses for developing its first fully-electric model and expanding its manufacturing network.

Even so, a revamp of the brand’s 911 sports-car range and robust demand for its SUVs should help Porsche meet its 15 percent operating profit margin target in 2016 after achieving 16 percent last year, the automaker said.

“Porsche continues to be on success course in the current year as well,” CEO Oliver Blume said in the statement.

Porsche’s sales performance is a bright spot for parent company Volkswagen, which is grappling with the financial fallout of its diesel emissions scandal.

[Image: NASCAR, Jonathan Moore/Getty Images]

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26 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Subaru Goes Beyond the Beige, Battery Battle at Porsche, and Tesla Confuses Economists...”


  • avatar
    MBella

    I have a very radical concept for nascar. Stock car racing should return to using stock cars. Radical, I know.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yup do a family sedan and a three row CUV series, weld the doors shut, take the glass out, strip to the interior to a drivers seat and a safety cage. Lets see whose V6 engines and auto/CVT transmissions can last 500 laps at near WOT the whole way.

      That is some stuff I would watch!

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      No, it should do a lot more road racing. The race it did with the Nationwide Series in Quebec Canada, was probably the best NASCAR race I have ever seen. Races at Rosd America were pretty good,, much better than the ” let us switch off for the 40 laps, before the last couple of laps” Oval races

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      NASCAR would be great if it was more like Australian V8 Supercars. As is, it’s not very interesting and, for some reason, reminds me of the WWE.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        More sports should be like the WWE.

        I can’t listen to NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB commentary, but Jim Ross could commentate a fencing match and I’d be glued to the screen.

        • 0 avatar
          ClutchCarGo

          I don’t know about sports, but presidential politics are getting a lot more like the WWE.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Dwayne Johnson would be a pretty badass president…

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            Dwayne Johnson is smarter and less belligerent than he looks.

            As far as reality TV stars turned politicians go, he’d be a big improvement.

            Still I’d love to see a competent adminiatrator witj moderate politics actually run. Alas, such people are smart enough not to get involved.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Because more driver deaths and seasons dominated by one brand will do wonders for the health of the series.

  • avatar
    multicam

    “To get butts in seats, NASCAR is embarking on a Millennial outreach program to portray its races as a modern, connected experience, and not the ball-cap-beer-and-sideburns tailgatefest many have of the sport.”

    Sorry, not going to work on this Millennial. Despite being from the home state of the Daytona 500 I have no interest in watching cars turn left. Then again, I don’t really follow any other sports either so there never was a chance.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    NASCAR needs to go back to doing road courses. I haven’t watched a NASCAR race in years but back in the day, when they did road courses, and you had folks like Ricky Rudd on the track (well more like making his own track Ricky Bobby style) it was a lot of fun to watch.

    That and generally speaking, I just hate spec racers. Ya, ya, ya, more about the driver then, even playing field, and BORING. Racing was so much better when this type of engine tended to have a cooling system failure, and this type of transmission tended to fail at 450 miles, and this type of chassis ate tires faster and…

    There was a lot more factors, it made it a lot more interesting.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Agreed, see my post above.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Here here! Wouldn’t it be a hoot to see some Teslas out there, with the announcer saying “I can’t believe it, Bob, but it looks like Jarrett is going to try to eek one more lap out of that tired battery pack!”

      Let’s get back to using real, production cars that the fans actually can identify with. Performance of modern-day V6 sedans is so good that they could literally race them almost stock (with upgraded tires, brakes, and cooling systems along with a roll cage).

  • avatar
    ajla

    Millennial NASCAR fan here. I’ll admit it is annoying that the series’ reputation is so bad that I basically have to keep my fandom on the down low as if I was going to an orgy club every weekend.

    Things I think would help NASCAR:

    – Stop endorsing political candidates.
    – Get rid of Brian France.
    – Get rid of the Waltrip brothers.
    – Do more (4-5 more) road courses.
    – Vary the track schedule more and *especially* vary the last track of the year and the Chase cutoff track.
    – Get tires that allow you to race in the rain. Maybe not driving thunderstorms, but at least be able to run on a damp track.
    – Although I don’t really want to see “stock” cars I would like to see more variation allowed in the engine, chassis, and tires.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Nascar needs to be fun again, like it was 10 years ago. Back then you could watch “Inside Winston/Nextel/Sprint Cup” on Speed, which was the best show about racing ever, the Nascar web site included humor, drivers were allowed to speak without too much fear of penalties. It was a good time.

    They killed all the fun, young people stopped watching, and now they think it’s because they need an app (or something all millenial-like and stuff). Forget that, Nascar is a cross between a soap opera and a traveling circus. They should embrace that instead of trying to be something they aren’t.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      NASCAR needs more guys like Carl Edwards who backflip out of cars and seem to possess a personality.

      Of course, I’m a big fan of professional wrestling where personality comes first and sports come second so…

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    What about that Tesla home battery power storage unit? that might have the potential to be a “game changer” if it can store power from the grid at cheap night rates, and use the power in the afternoon.

    id imagine it would also help during power outages- basically a UPS for the home

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Not worth it, unless your area has the electric rate structure to capitalize on it. A lot cheaper than I thought it would be though.

      http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/01/technology/tesla-home-battery-price/

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Where I live, I’m unaware of any day/night pricing schedules, though I’ll admit my local distributor has been trying to convince me that I need a remote-controlled thermostat in my home. Problem is, they want to turn back the AC during the heat of the day…while I’m home… while I’m working… on the top floor of a multi-story house that realizes a 10°F difference between floors. Their cutback would send my office to nearly 90° in the heat of summer–and they don’t want to acknowledge that.

      My point? The Powerwall or Powerpack would make a good whole-house UPS, but it wouldn’t serve very well to save money except maybe to take some of the energy load of my AC during the day. Cash-wise it would save me nothing.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Nascar has lost sight of what spawned their sport; people modifying factory production cars into fast and agile moonshiners. Even the trucks are nothing like the real thing; a super-light body laid over a custom-built chassis that has nothing to do with the vehicle it’s supposed to represent.

    The Bloomin’ Tesla Electric series next year sounds much more interesting; especially if other brands get invited in on future seasons. Let them run ‘factory’ batteries and drivelines with ‘factory’ bodies (of course with proper crash hardware inside, including roll bars) and let the cars prove themselves as they’re meant to race.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I disagree with the factory battery requirement. I say let them do whatever they want for a battery. There are some amazing battery technologies that aren’t ready for mass production, but should be available in sufficient quantities for racing.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      +1

      There’s nothing aspirational about watching a bunch of million dollar custom beasts run around the track. There’s no feeling of “I could do that, if I *really* wanted to”.

      Come to think of it, that’s a problem with a lot of the sports I don’t watch.

  • avatar

    Back to the subject, Subaru need to bring a petrol-hybrid, AWD WRX and STi.

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