TTAC News Round-up: Subaru Goes Beyond the Beige, Battery Battle at Porsche, and Tesla Confuses Economists

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ttac news round up subaru goes beyond the beige battery battle at porsche and

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!

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.

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.

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 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.

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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6 of 26 comments
  • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 11, 2016

    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.

    • See 3 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Mar 13, 2016

      @jimbob457 Formula E is entering its third season, I believe. Indy-styled battery-electric racecars have been running for a couple of years now.

  • Durishin Durishin on Mar 11, 2016

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

  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?
  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.
  • FreedMike Next up should DEFINITELY be the Cadillac Eldorado. On the subject of Caddies, I saw a Lyriq in person for the first time a couple of days ago, and I'm changing my tune on its' styling. In person, it works quite well, and the interior is very nicely executed.
  • Probert Sorry to disappoint: any list. of articles with a 1 second google search. It's a tough world out there - but you can do it!!!!!!
  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars