Place Your Bets: Mercedes Suggests Level 4 Automated Driving By 2030
Remember a few years ago when just about every automaker was promising that self-driving would become publicly available by 2020? Well, they’re hoping you didn’t because a few of them are starting to issue new claims that vehicular autonomy is once again less than a decade away.
While “hands-free” driving systems that require you to remain constantly vigilant (in case you need to take over) have become the new hotness, Mercedes-Benz said it’s planning on selling a version that will qualify as truly self-driving by 2030. But there are caveats to that claim pertaining to specific traffic conditions – meaning it’s still not actually going to be SAE Level 5.
Report: Nissan Says Solid State Batteries Coming By 2028
Nissan is reportedly on track to have its very first solid-state battery production plant up and running by 2025, with vehicles leveraging the technology by 2028. While these units are supposed to offer increased range and decreased charging times, improving EV ownership, they also have some shortcomings engineering teams have yet to address. However, this hasn’t stopped a majority of manufacturers from pursuing the technology in the hopes of gaining an advantage over the competition as everyone attempts to transition toward all-electric lineups.
N Day: Hyundai Reveals N Vision 74 And RN22e, Ioniq 5 N Debuts In 2023
The 21st century has been particularly kind to the Hyundai Motor Company, though this was hardly a matter of chance. Originally known in the West for providing bargain automobiles that were surprisingly competent, it wasn’t long before the South Korean brand was giving Japanese mainstays stiff competition. By the early 2000s, Hyundai was working hard to differentiate itself from the recently acquired Kia and opted to make its products more luxurious and saw massive gains in the U.S. market that have more-or-less continued until today.
Volkswagen Board Displeased With Current Software Situation
Last week, Volkswagen’s supervisory board reportedly told management that it needed to work on improving the company’s software division. Though that should hardly be surprising considering how often digital glitches have delayed product launches and forced the automaker to issue sweeping recalls.
Software gremlins stymied the launch of numerous ID-badged EVs, the Mk8 Golf, and a handful of other vehicles from VW Group’s many subsidiaries. But the issues have persisted, with customers citing electrical troubles and noting that the automaker’s novel touchscreen interfaces are brutally unresponsive. Some of the problems were deemed so heinous that the company eventually recalled literally every current-generation Golf sold within its native Germany. But it’s going to have to do a lot more if it’s serious about leveraging computer code as the cornerstone of an evolving business model and the board of directors seems keenly aware of that fact.
Mercedes to Focus on Premium Luxury Vehicles Again
Mercedes-Benz has said it will cut back its entry-level offers to better prioritize premium vehicles with loftier margins. While this strategy has become relatively uncommon throughout the industry, even among some mainstream brands, Mercedes has historically been synonymous with high-end luxury cars. One wonders why it bothered chasing volume to begin with, especially since it doesn’t seem to have panned out for the company.
While executives had previously hinted at its revised strategy in interviews, Mercedes officially unveiled its plan to investors on Thursday. The German brand will focus investments on top-of-the-heap models like the S-Class at the expense of entry-level products that have failed to garner juicy profits.
Nissan Developing Nismo Performance EVs
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.
Mazda Says Rear-Drive Mazda6 Replacement Isn't Happening
When Mazda announced it would be discontinuing the midsize Mazda6 sedan for the U.S. market, some were crestfallen. With the industry having spent the better part of a decade moving away from the body style to support models they could associate with higher price tags, there’s been a deficit of good sedans of late. But a seed of hope was left intact when the company announced it would be pulling the Mazda 6 from our market.
You see, the company had long been teasing a rear-drive variant utilizing a powerful inline-six motor. Mazda was also going upmarket, indicating the possibility of the model returning to do battle with midsized German products with a higher price tag. But it’s looking like the concept is going into the trash bin along with Mazda’s suggestion of bringing back RX performance vehicles and creating rotary range extenders for EVs.
That Blows: Honda Opens New Wind Tunnel
There is seemingly no end to the number of toys and tools automakers have at their disposal when developing new cars at places such as Honda. Wind tunnels – those development halls, not local politicians – have been around for decades but have seen an array of advancements in tech over the years. Today, Honda opened a state-of-the-art facility at its campus in Ohio.
Subaru Says No WRX STI, Suggests Electric Model
When Subaru announced the latest WRX sedan, it was made perfectly clear that it would arrive without the high-performance STI variant metaphorically in tow. After attempting to push performance versions of the Impreza sedan into becoming their own thing for years, the 2022 model year saw the WRX jumping onto the Subaru Global Platform. This resulted in a more mainstream vehicle we assumed would need additional time in the relevant skunkworks garage before it could reemerge as the aggressive, rally-inspired, no-nonsense WRX STI.
But Subaru is now saying that there won’t be an STI for this generation. According to the manufacturer, “future sports and performance cars should evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace and the regulations and requirements for greenhouse gasses (GHG), zero emissions vehicles (ZEV), and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).”
Stellantis CEO Says Electrification Advanced by Politicians, Not the Industry
Despite Stellantis making formal announcements that it will be investing 30 billion euros ($34 billion USD) into its novel electrification strategy, CEO Carlos Tavares has been making it sound as if the automaker’s plan was crafted under duress. He’s been telling European media that the widespread adoption of EVs is primarily being pushed by politicians who are ignoring the environmental risks and logistical shortcomings.
“What is clear is that electrification is a technology chosen by politicians, not the industry,” he said told the press this week.
Toyota Promises Solid-State Batteries By 2025
While electrification has felt like the only thing automakers are willing to talk about anymore, CES 2022 provided yet another opportunity to see which companies are willing to make the biggest promises when pitted against each other. This encouraged plenty of manufacturers to issue reminders of their existing EV timetables, though we’d be lying if we expected any company to adhere to them all that closely.
Then there’s Toyota. Despite being the largest automaker on the planet by volume, the Japanese company is famous for hedging its bets and not being all that secretive about it. When other manufacturers were vowing swift electrification at all costs, Toyota said they would need to continue producing hybrids if they were to realistically serve the public. But the business is still developing battery tech, with a vested interest in selling it off to rival manufacturers who are more willing to run with BEVs exclusively. It’s also been developing solid-state batteries, which it has confirmed are on track for delivery by 2025.
Report: Apple Wants IPhone to Have More Control Over Cars
Most of us have synced our phones to a vehicle to play music, unwittingly funneling personal information to the manufacturer in the process. But only an elite few have used their mobile device to digitally summon an automobile out of a garage or remotely tell it to pre-condition interior temperatures to the desired specification. However, that’s likely going to be the future and Apple would very much like to be leading the charge.
The tech giant is reportedly developing a way to better integrate smartphones with cars by accessing systems that are currently unavailable to CarPlay. Apple’s new program, internally known as IronHeart, seeks to collaborate with automakers so that its phones can network with vehicles in new and interesting ways. It’s effectively CarPlay 2.0 and sounds as though it would be giving the company access to just about every item drivers might interface with on a daily basis.
Daimler Getting Back Into Bed With Chrysler for Battery Biz
Daimler is getting cozy with Chrysler again, or at least the American side of Stellantis, so they can tackle battery development and production. Those in the know will recall that Chrysler has been passed around more than a bottle of booze at a middle school party. But its long history of partnerships also kept it in business and resulted in some of its better products.
Before the Amero-French merger that resulted in Stellantis, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was an Italian-American company with facilities dotted around North America. Prior to that, it was known as DaimlerChrysler – resulting in the LX Platform, Pentastar V6, and a wider variety of Jeep Wranglers. Now, Chrysler’s alienated German wife has shown up on the doorstep with a wad of cash and news that she’ll be investing it into the new battery business.
Volkswagen Group: Audi Employs Ken Block, Porsche Making 718 Electric
Despite being the target of a German lawsuit accusing the manufacturer of not being green enough, Volkswagen Group is probably the legacy automaker touting the merits of electrification with the most enthusiasm. While undoubtedly influenced by the diesel emissions catastrophe that cheesed off every regulator in the Western world, its brand has actively been delivering EVs and praising alternative energy automobiles whenever possible.
There was more of that this week. Porsche has reportedly decided to make the 718 to be an all-electric model by 2025 and Audi recently announced that it’s employing rally icon and Hoonigan founder Ken Block (who broke with the Ford Motor Co. earlier this year) to develop EVs.
Return of the Apple Car: Almost There or Vaporware?
After years of restarting and then killing its electric vehicle program, Apple has again signaled that it’s once again serious about developing something for your driveway. Ulrich Kranz, former Canoo CEO and brains behind the BMW i-cars, has reportedly been picked up by the company for its automotive team.
Apple has yet to verify the hire and Kranz hasn’t updated his LinkedIn profile. But there have been multiple reports that he’s been been taken aboard specifically for his EV expertise. Unless social networking platforms are becoming passé (fingers crossed), it’s likely that the tech company wanted to wait until it could make an official announcement accompanied by an update on development.
That’s assuming Apple is still doing a car, however.