Last week, a group of Republican attorneys general decided to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its decision to reinstate the waiver allowing California to set its own limitations on exhaust gasses and zero-emission vehicle mandates that would exceed federal standards.
The agency approved the waiver after it had been eliminated as part of the Trump administration’s fuel rollback on the grounds that it would create a schism within the industry by forcing automakers to produce vehicles that catered to the Californian market at the expense of products that might be appreciated in other parts of the country. However, Joe Biden’s EPA sees things differently and has aligned itself with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in giving the state more leeway to govern itself in regard to emissions policing.
Ford Motor Co. has decided to continue offloading Rivian stock, with the burgeoning electric vehicle manufacturer at roughly $24 per share. After divesting itself of 8 million shares earlier this month, Blue Oval sold another 7 million ahead of the weekend — leaving itself holding about 9.7 percent of the company.
With 86.9 million shares leftover from the sale, Ford remains a relevant stakeholder. However, investors are growing worried that the legacy manufacturer will continue dumping Rivian as a way of salvaging future losses. Ford, which previously owned some 102 million shares in Rivian, endured a massive $3.1-billion loss in its first quarter as the value of its investment in the company slumped. Worse still, investors are souring on tech and EV stocks in general.
In our last entry in the Stutz saga, we covered the final few years of the Blackhawk that originated in 1971. Through various trim transformations and minor updates, the ’71 lived all the way through the 1979 model year. That final year it was also transformed into the very rare Bearcat targa convertible. But the winds of change were blowing: Detroit downsizing was already well underway, and Stutz was out of 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix platforms to use. The incredibly expensive Blackhawk sold roughly 350 examples in its first generation.
Because of domestic market downsizing, the contemporary G-body Grand Prix of 1980 wasn’t large enough for Blackhawk purposes. Instead, Stutz turned to the B-body platform, and specifically the Pontiac Bonneville’s two-door variant. And though it was marketed as a coupe by GM, the roofline was so formal your author would file it as a two-door sedan. In any event, the new hardpoints of the Bonneville meant considerable visual changes on the 1980 Blackhawk coupe.
We resume our coverage of Stutz today and pick up in the mid-Seventies. With the reborn brand’s personal luxury Blackhawk attracting the rich and famous from across the nation, Stutz attempted to keep the car fresh through visual edits every couple of years. In addition to the marketing appeal of a new “generation” Blackhawk, management was also able to cut costs: Split windshields became one-piece, and bespoke doors were replaced with those of a Pontiac Grand Prix.
All the while, the Blackhawk’s price continued to escalate and doubled by the end of its first decade. It was by far the most expensive American car on sale. We find ourselves in 1977, as Stutz continued with Blackhawk edits after the one-off convertible version named d’Italia was scrapped.
General Motors, Stellantis, and Ford Motor Co. collectively decided to reinstate masking mandates in Michigan over the weekend — stating that the impacted factories were in areas with high levels of COVID-19.
The automakers had lifted mask requirements for employees after the backlash against government-backed restrictions and mandates hit a fever pitch in March. While protests had begun swelling by the fall of last year, the Canadian Freedom Convoy that was forcibility disbanded in February drew national attention to the issue. Despite Detroit manufacturers suggesting they would walk back restrictions (if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was okay) for months, ditching masks initially involved a series of stipulations about vaccinations and job titles. It wasn’t until public outrage spilled over into the real world that sweeping changes began to occur.
Despite the United States confronting some of the highest energy prices in its history, the Biden administration has canceled oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), national fuel prices are averaging out to a whopping $4.43 per gallon of regular gasoline. Diesel is much higher at $5.56 and is speculated to endure mass shortages in the coming months as reports from the Northeast have indicated there are already seeing record-low inventories. Over the past twelve months, fuel prices have risen by nearly $1.50 per gallon and most market analysts expect rates to continue moving upwards through the summer. Though they’re not all in agreement as to who should be blamed for our current predicament.
We return to our Rare Rides Icons coverage of the Ford Festiva today. An important world vehicle for the likes of Ford, Mazda, Kia (and eventually many others), the Festiva arrived at a time when rear-drive subcompacts were being replaced by much more efficient models that were front-drive. And the Mazda-designed Festiva was certainly more efficient and more front-drive than the Fiesta it replaced.
The last few years have certainly been interesting for Nissan. After clawing its way back from financial disaster in the early 2000s, the company endured one of the most high-profile and scandal-ridden management shakeups in automotive history by 2018. It also became desperately unprofitable while incurring negative growth, with the remaining leadership deploying an aggressive restructuring plan designed to help get the business back on track.
Those efforts appear to have been successful.
Best known for manufacturing small electronic devices for companies around the world, Foxconn will soon be branching out to assemble automobiles in Ohio. On Wednesday, the Taiwanese Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (traded as Foxconn) closed on a deal with Lordstown Motors to purchase a 6.2 million-square-foot plant that used to belong to General Motors.
The $230 million deal leaves Foxconn with the facility and 400 Lordstown manufacturing employees it’s supposed to use to assemble the delayed Endurance pickup. Though the long-term plan is to use the plant to become a contract manufacturer akin to Magna Steyr, with an emphasis on all-electric vehicles.
Yesterday, we (and the rest of the Internet) brought you our drive impressions of the all-electric F-150 Lightning, putting it through its paces in a variety of typically trucky situations and finding it to be a largely familiar experience behind the wheel – albeit one powered solely by electricity. If part of the challenge in getting truck customers to make the jump to electric is convincing them the experience will not be totally alien, Ford’s approach with the Lightning will pay dividends.
Here’s the thing about most electric vehicles: That enormous battery deep within its frame can, with some creativity, be used for more than just shoving a 6,000+ pound pickup down the freeway. Ford has a few ideas – some of them slickly integrated into the truck and others costing thousands in expenditure to implement. Let’s dig in.
In 1966, Shelby American joined forces with Hertz for its Rent-a-Racer program. Legend has it that the entire thing started as a way for Carroll Shelby to sell 1,001 modified Ford Mustangs, effectively conning the rental agency into paying for the privileges of advertising his products. But the resulting Shelby GT350H has become a bit of a legend, with the surviving examples consistently going for six figures at auction.
In actuality, Hertz was already offering high-performance vehicles years before Shelby got involved and the pair had previously worked together to offer the Cobra in 1962. Their marriage solidified the company’s efforts to occasionally provide customers with the opportunity to drive something truly glorious to drive. While the Mustang (along with the Corvette) remained a staple for North America, Shelby models wouldn’t return until 2006 delivered a second incarnation of the GT350H, to be followed by the 2016 GT-H. Hertz and Shelby American have confirmed a new partnership — one that has resulted in the 900+ horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500-H.
Volkswagen Group is reportedly considering reviving the Scout name for North America. Following the merger of trucking subsidiary Traton and Navistar in 2020, VW found itself in possession of the farm-focused International Harvester. While the brand technically hasn’t existed since 1985, the German company effectively owns its intellectual property — including the Scout name — and is keen to leverage some of its nostalgia for an alleged sub-brand specializing in sport utility vehicles.
We return to our coverage of Kia sedans today and discuss a midsize from just prior to the flagship Enterprise we discussed last time. Kia offered the first midsize car to bear its branding in 1987 when it introduced the new Concord. Concord was essentially a broughamed, front-rear clip swap take on the GC platform Mazda 626. Mazda discontinued the GC 626 that year and immediately sold the platform and tooling to Kia. A couple of years later, the Concord spawned a lesser sibling called the Capital. Capital looked very similar to the Concord but sold to a more economically-minded customer with its much lower level of equipment and low-powered engines.
When the Capital finished up its run in 1997, it was replaced by a compact car Kia had on sale for a few years already: The Sephia. Sephia wouldn’t do for Concord-level customers though, and upon the sedan’s discontinuation in 1995 they were directed to an all-new Kia. The company was ready with its new midsize to bookend the Concord, and it went on sale the same year. Though the new car was again on a donated platform, it was the first time Kia had some leeway to design a midsize of their own. It’s time to discuss Credos.
We’ve reached the end of the Nineties in Kia’s midsize-or-more sedan story. It was a time of modernization across Kia’s portfolio, and 1998 and 1999 were years of expansion in particular: Kia introduced an impressive nine all-new models across those two years.
For its larger sedan lineup, the dated Potentia (a rework of the Eighties Mazda Luce) continued on in its popularity in the South Korean market. Potentia was updated from its original 1992 looks for 1998. However, that same year Kia introduced a new large luxury sedan to its lineup. The company once again relied on friendly product partner Mazda. Let’s talk about Enterprise.
This is the third-generation Range Rover Sport, a model at which some traditionalists originally sneered but which has done much for the fortunes (and sales volume) of the British brand. Offering all the RR swagger in a tidy package, this thing has been a darling in the moneyed set for nearly two decades.
The newest one, unveiled earlier today across the pond, will be offered with a variety of powertrains including – you guessed it – an all-electric model in the next couple of years.
The automotive sector is currently suffering from ongoing component shortages and supply chain bottlenecks stemming from regional restrictions relating to the pandemic. However, it’s assumed that those problems will gradually abate, only to be supplanted by a global deficit of the raw materials necessary for battery production. Analysts have been warning about the shift toward electric vehicles, spurred on by government regulations, for years. But they’re starting to get some company from within the auto industry.
On Tuesday, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares suggested that there was a very real possibility that manufacturers could begin confronting serious issues in terms of battery production by 2025 if the shift toward EVs continues at pace. Though his concerns aren’t limited to there being a new chapter in the already too long saga about parts shortages. Tavares is also worried that Western automakers will become overwhelmingly dependent upon Asian battery suppliers which already dominate the global market.
The State of California is considering leveraging enhanced surveillance to increase the number of motorists it can fine for noise violations. While the rules allowing the state to penalize motorists for emitting too much sound have existed for years, they were amped up slightly in 2019 when Assembly Bill 1824 went into effect and established the limits for what’s allowed today. The updated rules also required police to immediately fine anyone driving an automobile that’s emitting noise measured above 95 decibels, rather than issue a fix-it ticket. Motorcycles, which can occasionally exceed 95 dB in their stock format if they’re older, are limited to just 80 dB.
But determining when and where someone broke the rule is difficult, especially considering measurements were originally supposed to be taken under the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) test procedure J1169, so the coastal region is on the cusp of launching a new program that would introduce microphone-equipped traffic cameras similar to what we’ve already seen in New York and the United Kingdom. California leadership believes that an automated system would result in greater levels of enforcement by effectively mimicking the speed camera formula and applying it to vehicular noise violations.
Hyundai Motor Group has been considering where to establish its planned EV manufacturing hub for the United States for roughly a year now and is reportedly zeroing in on the State of Georgia as a final destination. It’s even said to have conducted some preliminary meetings with local leaders about the possibility of breaking ground in an area that could be strategically aligned with its existing facilities – namely Montgomery’s Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA) and West Point’s Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG).
The fortunes of many are won and lost on America’s stock markets – or even on reports of share sales. Markets reacted this morning to a news report alleging Ford Motor Company is divesting itself of 8 million shares in Rivian, the latter being an EV startup with designs on producing the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV.
In premarket trading, Rivian’s stock fell over 10 percent to just $25 per share, well off its 52-week high of nearly 180 bucks. Yeesh.
The reborn Stutz brand introduced its Blackhawk in 1971. It was a mostly hand-built and Virgil Exner-styled coupe atop a late Sixties Pontiac Grand Prix platform. Despite its rather common underpinnings, the Blackhawk found an immediate clientele among the very wealthy who were of a showbiz variety. After Elvis took delivery of the first Blackhawk sold (prototype two, to be precise), celebrities of various stature placed their orders with Stutz.
This gave the Blackhawk status and immediate luxury credibility, however garish and Extra Super Seventies it all was. Thus, Stutz increased the price of the Blackhawk throughout its debut decade and effectively doubled its profits by the turn of the Eighties. By 1981 the Blackhawk’s base price was $84,500 ($279,242 adj.). But Stutz knew it would have to update its coupe to keep buyers coming back for more, and the majority of updates took the form of trim differentiation and cost-cutting. Let’s talk about the multiple generations of Blackhawk.
You’re no doubt familiar by now with Wordle, the easy to learn yet often challenging to win word game that caught fire online, figuratively speaking, a while back.
Or maybe you’ve played a game that’s based on Wordle but focuses on one topic, like Gordle (hockey players) or Canada (Canuckle).
We return to our Lincoln Mark series coverage today, in the midst of learning about the first Mark of the line, the Continental Mark II. The Mark II aimed to carry on the tradition set by the gracious Continental of the Forties, and take Ford to new heights of luxury, desirability, price (and thus exclusivity), and quality. The latter adjective is where we’ll focus today; it was certainly the focus of the folks at the Continental Division prior to the Mark II’s release.
Acura has announced that production of the much-anticipated 2023 Integra has officially commenced in Marysville, Ohio. Deliveries of the iconic nameplate are said to commence in June and orders can be placed now.
But with pricing having revealed the starting MSRP of $31,895 — over three grand more than the mechanically similar Honda Civic Si — one wonders if the public interest has held strong. We now know that we’re effectively getting a revamped version of the ILX (also based on the Civic) with a steeper price tag and a more desirable name. The Integra comes with a 200-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-four, mated to either a continuously variable automatic (CVT) or a six-speed manual transmission. But the CVT is standard, forcing customers that want a manual to spend $36,895 (including destination) for the A-Spec — which also comes with adaptive dampers, sportier looks, a limited-slip differential, and Acura’s technology package.
With the house of Stellantis constantly exploring the upper echelons of what customers will pay for a rig with a Jeep badge on its nose, it seems that placing six-figure Grand Wagoneer L models next to entry-level Ram work trucks has become passé. If some corner-office dwellers have their way, Jeeps – or at least the snazzy ones – could earn a place in their own showroom.
Nissan has coyly been suggesting that it might someday furnish electrified performance models ever since it released Nismo-badged examples of the humble Leaf for the Japanese market. This was followed by the 2020 Leaf Nismo RC, which served as an experiment to see what would happen if you added a bunch of electric motors in a bid to make the model genuinely fast on a race track.
With the automaker set to deliver 15 new EVs by 2030, there’s been some speculation about how many will boast sporting aspirations. But it looks as though a few might know that Nissan has confirmed its developing Nismo-branded performance electrics for the global market.
In Part I of our Abandoned History coverage of GM’s Turbo-Hydramatic transmission line, your author made reference to a very exclusive Nissan that made use of the hefty THM400. That extremely formal Rare Ride has been on my mind since then, so here we are. If it pleases your majesty: The 1966 Nissan Prince Royal.
Aston Martin Lagonda will be seeing new leadership. Tobias Moers will be surrendering his role as chief executive to make way for former Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa.
While the formal announcement was made on Wednesday, rumors about Moers getting the boot had been circulating ever since Aston Martin Racing head Otmar Szafnauer left the company in January after repeatedly butting heads with executive chairman Lawrence Stroll. Szafnauer was said to have resigned, however, reports suggested that the Canadian financier was displeased with his performance. At the time, there were claims that Moers’ head was next on the chopping block.
Rivian Automotive Inc, purveyor of the all-electric R1T and R1S, will receive $1.5 billion in incentives from state and local governments to build a new manufacturing facility in Georgia. Eager to become home to the company’s planned $5 billion assembly plant, the state is offering a comprehensive incentive package that includes tax breaks. The government has a few stipulations, however.
Under the new agreement, Rivian’s factory would be required to produce 7,500 jobs and its existing investment target by 2028 to receive the full $1.5 billion. That includes a sizable battery production site and may explain why the state is offering up the largest corporate incentivization package in its history.
BMW and Mercedes-Benz are dumping ShareNow — their jointly managed car-sharing businesses — and Stellantis will reportedly become the recipient. Effectively a merger of BMW’s DriveNow and Mercedes’ (technically Daimler AG’s) slurry of similar services that were rolled into car2go, ShareNow’s individual components have spent the last decade trying to figure out which markets would embrace app-based, roadside rentals charging by the minute and which would reject it.
In a captive import enterprise that began in 1979, Dodge sold Mitsubishi’s compact pickup (aka Mighty Max in North America) to compete with the likes of the Ford (Mazda) Courier and the Chevrolet (Isuzu) LUV. Badged as the Ram 50, the truck was sold through two generations, 1979-1986 and 1987-1994. By the Nineties, the second-gen was showing its age, and Dodge decided it would rather focus on its own midsize truck, the Dakota.
But there was another captive import that arrived at the very same time as the second edition of the Ram 50. Say hello to the Raider.
Audi and Porsche have been talking about Formula One for ages and it appears that the talk is finally being replaced by action. Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed that both will be entering F1 in the near future.
While the exact nature of their involvement hasn’t been explained, it’s assumed that Audi will be purchasing one of the existing teams while Porsche will become a purveyor of engines. Diess has only confirmed that the companies will be getting involved thus far.
Toyota will be launching nine new studies over the next five years to improve automotive safety, specifically in relation to how drivers engage with advanced driving aids equipped to modern vehicles. While the press release to a back seat to the automaker receiving an award for hiring female engineers and a $400,000 donation to the National Environmental Education Foundation, it’s likely to have broader ramifications on the industry.
Despite launching a bevy of new assistance features over the past few years, manufacturers haven’t actually spent all that much time studying how they might impact the act of driving. Testing usually focuses on ensuring the system functions, with independent research being left to examine how electronic helpers might influence behavior from behind the wheel. Unfortunately, preliminary studies have suggested that they lull motorists into a false sense of security, potentially offsetting any legitimate safety advantages the relevant technologies provide.
We embark on the important and global tale of a subcompact hatchback today. Your author referenced it last week in Part I of our Kia large cars series, and now it’s time for the promised comprehensive Rare Rides coverage! Manufactured in various places around the world, our subject vehicle lived a long life and had no fewer than 10 identities over its impressive 17-year span. We’re going to party, karamu, Festiva, forever.
Whatever you think about Acura’s usage of the vaunted Integra nameplate, I think most of us can agree it’s leagues better than the alphabet soup to which we’ve been subjected over the past 25 years. All they need to do is trot out the Legend and Vigor names once again and we’ll be in business.
Now the model’s made the rounds after its official launch, Acura is ready to put a price tag on the thing. If you seek a copy of this turbocharged five-door liftback, it’ll set you back no less than $31,895 including destination.
Elon Musk has sold an estimated $4 billion worth of Tesla stock days this week after reaching a $44 billion deal to purchase Twitter. Regulatory filing show the CEO offloading nearly 4.5 million shares of the automaker between April 26th and the 27th.
The timing of the transaction makes the why of the situation fairly obvious. Despite the resulting political hubbub, Musk reached an agreement on April 25th to acquire Twitter. The deal was tied up with tens of billions of dollars worth of his Tesla shares to support margin loans after the executive said he could come up with $21 billion in equity. While some questioned where the funding would come from, others claimed it was obvious.
Any of you lot who’ve been claiming to be holding off buying a Supra simply because it doesn’t have a third pedal will need to break out your checkbooks. This morning, Toyota announced what was teased earlier this month: the Supra is getting a bonafide manual transmission.
Well, there’s still one out: It’ll be limited to models powered by the 3.0-liter engine.
On Thursday, The UAW and a group of environmental groups based in the United States filed numerous lawsuits in an effort to block the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from moving forward with plants to purchase gasoline-powered next-gen delivery vehicles (NGDVs) from Oshkosh Defense. The suits are being launched on the grounds that the USPS failed to comply with environmental regulations and went back on an earlier promise to field all-electric variants.
They’re supported by the White House — which launched an initiative to convert the entire federal fleet into battery electric vehicles last year — and congressional Democrats that were angered after the Postal Service went against the Biden administration’s request to prioritize EVs. The president and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) even went so far as to request that the USPS to hold off on the $11.3 billion contract with Oshkosh so electric options can be reevaluated. However, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has repeatedly stated that it’s not realistic to field a significant number of electric vehicles and that the mail service would need additional funding from the government to consider such a move.
We pick Kia’s large-car story once more today, at a point when the Korean manufacturer was in the midst of establishing itself as a proper full-line automaker, albeit with contributions from various other automotive firms. After Kia built Fiats and Peugeots via knock-down kits, it moved on to a light rework of the early Eighties Mazda 626. It made two cars out of the 626, its first midsize offerings. They were the upscale Concord and lesser (but still sort of upscale looking) Capital. But before we move on to the company’s first truly full-size car, we need to talk about the Mercury Sable for a moment.
Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has effectively indicated that the brand will be rebadging Alfa Romeo Tonale to better tackle the subcompact crossover segment. Called the Hornet, the vehicle harkens back to the miniature MPV (pictured) that debuted back in 2006 of the same name. At the time, the plan was for Dodge to release the model in Europe in 2010. However, the financial crisis forced Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to restructure, with the boxy hornet Hornet being one of several casualties.
The concept has since been revised, with Kuniskis confirming the vehicle’s summer debut with The Detroit News. While the CEO said the company would like to introduce the model in August between the Dodge-sponsored Roadkill Nights and Michigan’s annual Woodward Dream Cruise, he noted that supply chain disruptions could force a revised timeline.
“This gray hair that I’m getting? It’s not COVID, it’s not lockdowns, it’s supply chain, man,” Kuniskis said during a virtual news conference. “But every single thing we’re doing is like in Jell-O right now, because it’s so hard to plan anything.” At this point, it’s getting hard to drum up sympathy for the industry. People are paying out the nose for vehicles because of the automotive sector’s collective inability to manufacture at scale. Granted, not every setback can be pinned on the manufacturer. But we’re over two years deep into constant disruptions, relentless product delays, and dealerships robbing people blind with very few tangible solutions being offered. Though even if Dodge continues having problems, you may still be able to nab something closely related to the Hornet. Alfa Romeo has already revealed the Tonale and it looks as though Stellantis plans on using it as the template for the similarly small Dodge. From The Detroit News:
He declined to confirm where the vehicle will be built, but it’s set to be assembled alongside the Alfa Romeo Tonale at Stellantis’ plant in Pomigliano, Italy, according to AutoForecast Solutions LLC. In February, Alfa revealed the four-door Tonale, its first subcompact SUV that launches in June with deliveries to the United States expected to arrive before the end of the year. It comes standard with a gas-powered 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine, but also is available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with 272 horsepower from twin electric motors mated to a 1.3-liter turbocharged engine.
Previously, the Hornet was a concept, two-door small SUV that Dodge revealed in 2006 at the Geneva Motor Show. The brand at the time said it combined American attitude with European function. Dodge trademarked the name for passenger vehicles in March 2020.
The upcoming Hornet is also said to come with a PHEV option, which Kuniskis suggested could launch in 2023. Expect it to be more-or-less identical to Alfa’s crossover with fewer creature comforts and a slightly lower price tag.
“The Dodge brand needs something,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president of global forecasting for AutoForecast Solutions. “They can’t survive the brand on muscle cars. Making a fun-to-drive compact crossover fits into the Dodge brand.”
“You kind of have to move up a price class to get to the real fun-to-drive ones,” he continued. “If it’s under $30,000, it’s usually packaged and sold as transportation, lifestyle vehicles with price being key and fun-to-drive being secondary. It could potentially break open a market for Dodge, especially if they can keep the price low enough.”
Dodge is also supposed to be launching an all-electric performance car the company has cringingly dubbed “eMuscle” in 2024 with its planned debut preceding the Hornet introduction. Mr. Kuniskis suggested this could also be delayed, however. Apparently, the manufacturer is waiting on an important piece he said was “outside of my control, it’s outside our industry, quite frankly” before the car should be shown.
“I’m pushing to get it in the public view and show you what we’re doing and how we’re doing it different as fast as I can,” he said. “Because it drives me crazy that other people are way out in front of their headlights, and I’m not.”
Kuniskis also issued an ominous warning to dealerships and the aftermarket community after musing about electrification and evolving business models.
“There’s a change going on in the industry that’s going to affect our retail partners, our dealers, our partners in this business, and when we go to full electrification across the industry, they’re going to lose a revenue stream that they have today,” he elaborated. “They’re going to see a decrease in revenue and parts and service and maintenance. That’s just a fact.”
The Detroit News also made mention of the stage kits from the Direct Connection performance parts program Dodge had relaunched to sell certified, factory warranty-backed modifications to boost the power on Dodge vehicles when installed by a dealership. Guess what? They’re delayed, too. Though this was a combination of the absent semiconductors and approval by the California Air Resources Board so they can be sold in all 50 states.
By now, save for only the least informed gearheads, almost everyone has heard Elon Musk has been successful, at least to this point, in his quest to buy Twitter. This development has caused no shortage of natterings in all corners of the internet, with tech blogs suddenly discovering the unpredictable and sometime unfathomable morass that is Musk’s social media presence. Auto journalists have been dealing with such issues for years.
One surprising result of the Twitter buyout? Henrik Fisker, boss of an EV company which ostensibly competes with Tesla, has packed up camp and disappeared.
The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning has officially started production at the company’s Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan and will apparently be getting some company at the Blue Oval City campus in Tennessee. On Tuesday, CEO Jim Farley said that the upcoming plant had been selected to produce a new model during a press event covering the official launch of the all-electric F-Series.
“It’s another truck,” he explained. “This is not our only truck. We said very clearly we want to be the leader in electric pickup trucks.”
Today finds us at the third installment in our coverage of the Lincoln Mark series cars. So far we’ve covered the original Continental that ran from 1939 to 1948 and learned about the styling decisions that made for the most excellent Midcentury Continental Mark II. The Mark II arrived to herald the birth of the new Continental luxury division at Ford. A division of Ford and not Lincoln-Mercury, Continental was established as the flagship of the Ford enterprise. We pick up circa 1952, with Cadillac.
We pick up our Lincoln Mark series again today, at a point where Ford’s executives were really not interested in selling a personal luxury coupe. The original Continental was developed as a concept at the request of Edsel Ford, who wanted a car to take on his spring vacation in 1939. After an informal debut in Florida, Edsel came back with 200 orders and the Continental entered production.
Halted by World War II, the Continental picked up where it left off and underwent a light reworking at the hands of Virgil Exner. But the end of the Forties were not kind to the likes of the V12 engine, nor did Ford want to create a new Continental to replace the decade-old one circa 1948. Continental went away, its name unused. Instead, Lincoln foisted reworked Mercurys as the Cosmopolitan and ignored personal luxury. The brand generally lowered the bar of exclusivity set by Continental and the K-Series cars, and made things more affordable to the upper-middle portion of the American consumer base. Things stayed that way at Lincoln for some time.
The perpetual cycle of one-upmanship in the pickup truck game seems to be continuing at a breakneck pace into the electric era. The in-yer-face Ram brand, never one to shy away from bold or poke-the-bear marketing, let fly with a Twitter post touting their upcoming Ram EV – one day before the scheduled launch of the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning.
On Monday, General Motors publicly asked its suppliers to pledge themselves toward adherence to carbon neutrality. But the vow actually goes quite a bit further, incorporating numerous Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) scoring aspects we’ve seen being advanced by some of the world’s most powerful corporations, financial institutions, and world leaders.
In fact, the official name for the oath is the “Environmental, Social and Governance Partnership Pledge” and it’s already been associated with metrics defined by EcoVadis — a third-party assessor that focused on evaluating how individual companies integrate its preferred principles of sustainability, corporate responsibility, social cohesion into their business and management systems.
We pick back up in the Stutz story today, at a time when (once again) all was new and promising at the luxury brand. Under the company’s new ownership, Stutz had the funding for Italian craftsmanship and hand-built goodness. The all-new Stutz Blackhawk entered production in 1971.
Nineteen feet long and full of wood, precious metals, and optional mink upholstery, the Blackhawk asked for a stunning amount of money that was far greater than domestic personal luxury coupes and more than a Rolls-Royce. At a base ask of $22,500 ($162,533 adj.) in 1971 dollars, there were few cars that actually competed with the Blackhawk’s purchasable exclusivity. And said exclusivity attracted some very wealthy people. Let’s talk celebrity status.
A group of German automakers, chemical concerns, and battery producers have announced the joint development of a “battery passport” designed to help government regulators trace the history of the cells. The consortium is funded by the German government and is supposed to work in tandem with new battery regulations that are being prepared by the European Union.
According to the German economic ministry, officially the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the overarching plan is for the EU to mandate traceable hardware be installed in all batteries used in the continent by 2026. Those intended for use in electric vehicles are up first, with the passport scheme also serving to chronicle everything from the vehicle’s repair history to where the power cell’s raw materials were sourced.
Following an abundance of rumor and conjecture (plus a bit of trying to wring the grapevine for news), top brass at General Motors have confirmed an electrified Corvette will prowl the streets and tracks of America as soon as next year. Even more interesting? An all-electric Corvette, based on The General’s new Ultium EV architecture, will also show up in due course.