TTAC News Roundup: Mini Goes Electric, Audi SUV Gains a Watered-Down Name, Unifor Tangles With Ford, and Musk Delays Big News

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Mini has revealed what form its new hybrid will take.

That, the e-tron name lives on in Audi’s first dedicated electric SUV, Unifor squares off with Ford, and hype man Elon Musk reschedules his alleged big announcement … after the break!

Plug-in Mini Countryman confirmed for 2017, full EV follows

Capable of driving 25 miles solely on electric power, Mini’s Countryman will be the first hybrid vehicle offered by the company. BMW Group released photos of a lightly disguised Countryman being gleefully tested by Mini executives Sebastian Mackensen and Peter Wolf.

The press release offered few specifics regarding the vehicle’s drivetrain, claiming the electric motor will power the rear wheels while an internal combustion engine powers the front. Developed alongside the European BMW 225xe, it is expected to use the same powertrain. The 225xe combines a 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder motor with a rear-mounted electric mill, making for through-the-road all-wheel drive.

Mini did not confirm a launch date for the plug-in hybrid, but it is expected to make an appearance at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show next month. BMW executives also confirmed that Mini will be launching an all-electric vehicle in 2019.

Audi gives the e-tron moniker to fully electric SUV

Due for production in 2018, Audi’s electric sport utility vehicle will simply be known as the “e-tron,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler tells Britain’s Autocar. Stadler says the e-tron name is intended to evoke the quattro name used on the company’s iconic all-wheel drive model. Passed down from the now-defunct R8 e-tron to the A3 Sportback e-tron, the name will continue to identify electrified powertrains in other Audi models.

The e-tron SUV will likely be the first of many electric vehicles from Audi. The automaker has said it expects electric cars to comprise 25-percent of its U.S. sales by 2025. The decision to focus on EVs revolves around stricter emissions standards and fierce competition from other German manufacturers.

A e-tron quattro concept debuted in Frankfurt last year, with three electric motors producing a combined 430 horsepower and a tested range of around 300 miles. How much of concept’s hardware will be passed down to the production model is unknown.

Unifor-Ford talks begin on rocky ground

Canadian Detroit Three autoworkers union Unifor begins bargaining with Ford today after 70 percent of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Canadian workers agreed to a new contract on Sunday.

Similar to the contract the union reached with GM Canada in September, the deal includes wage increases, a move to a defined-contribution benefit plans for new employees, and more than $330 million (CAD) in plant investments.

Unifor’s negotiations with Ford aim to secure product investments at two engine plants in Windsor, Ontario, that produce motors for the Mustang and hugely important F-150.

However, the negotiations have already hit a snag with union opposition from Oakville, Ontario. According to the Windsor Star, Dave Thomas, president of Unifor Local 707, has informed both Ford and Unifor’s national leadership that his members will not vote to approve any deal similar to the GM agreement.

Thomas claims workers at the plant have said they want a more generous deal. “The framework that GM has set forward won’t ratify in Oakville,” Thomas told the Star. “My members have huge concerns.”

The GM and FCA contracts contain a $6,000 signing bonus, offer legacy workers a 4 percent raise over the life of the deal, and delivers wage increases to new hires under the 10-year grow-in period. The previous period saw a three-year wage freeze.

Elon Musk announces a delay for an announcement

Earlier in the month, Elon Musk announced that Tesla would be presenting a new product today. But last night Musk tweeted that the company was delaying the product announcement until Wednesday.

“Needs a few more days of refinement,” he explained while obnoxiously providing no additional details.

Musk seems to love teasing things on Twitter before it’s actually news, so none of this is really surprising. Occasionally, he gives up some actual information, like how Tesla plans to unveil a solar roof product for buildings at an October 28 event in San Francisco.

[Images: BMW Group; Audi AG; Ford Motor Company; Brian Soli/ Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY-SA 2.0)]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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2 of 13 comments
  • Whitworth Whitworth on Oct 18, 2016

    Tesla really doesn't have a convincing case once the other automakers no longer need to buy their mileage credits. When even Mini is getting in on the game, I think this once very profitable (silly) part of their business will cease to exist as every automaker will eventually no longer need to "buy" from tesla.

  • Zipper69 Zipper69 on Oct 18, 2016

    Are we supposed to run around tearfully happy at a Mini that can run a whole, astounding 25 miles on e-power? Put a zero after that and try again next year!

  • Theflyersfan I wonder how many people recalled these after watching EuroCrash. There's someone one street over that has a similar yellow one of these, and you can tell he loves that car. It was just a tough sell - too expensive, way too heavy, zero passenger space, limited cargo bed, but for a chunk of the population, looked awesome. This was always meant to be a one and done car. Hopefully some are still running 20 years from now so we have a "remember when?" moment with them.
  • Lorenzo A friend bought one of these new. Six months later he traded it in for a Chrysler PT Cruiser. He already had a 1998 Corvette, so I thought he just wanted more passenger space. It turned out someone broke into the SSR and stole $1500 of tools, without even breaking the lock. He figured nobody breaks into a PT Cruiser, but he had a custom trunk lock installed.
  • Jeff Not bad just oil changes and tire rotations. Most of the recalls on my Maverick have been fixed with programming. Did have to buy 1 new tire for my Maverick got a nail in the sidewall.
  • Carson D Some of my friends used to drive Tacomas. They bought them new about fifteen years ago, and they kept them for at least a decade. While it is true that they replaced their Tacomas with full-sized pickups that cost a fair amount of money, I don't think they'd have been Tacoma buyers in 2008 if a well-equipped 4x4 Tacoma cost the equivalent of $65K today. Call it a theory.
  • Eliyahu A fine sedan made even nicer with the turbo. Honda could take a lesson in seat comfort.