By on March 30, 2021

On Tuesday, Mercedes announced it would be pouring roughly $59 million (€50 million) to build the all-electric Sprinter van at three facilities. One of them will is the American MBV factory in Ladson, South Carolina, with the remaining two sites naturally situated in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, Germany.

Over 200,000 Sprinter and Metris model vans have been assembled in the United States since 2006, though the automaker had actually been using the state to avoid the chicken tax for much longer. Considering the region is the second-largest market for Sprinter vans, Mercedes is not interested in dissolving its American commitments either. The investment will be spread across the three facilities for the necessary tooling to build the EV variant the automaker already started selling in Europe.

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By on March 26, 2021

VW Microbus I.D. Buzz Concept

Remember the all-electric Microbus successor Volkswagen was chirping about a few years ago? If you don’t, you can be forgiven. Despite the model receiving loads of press after the automaker acknowledged it would indeed be coming to North America, reports on its progress started becoming incredibly rare by 2019. With #VanLife trending inside the United States, VW would be an absolute fool not to start offering something trendy to fit the bill and the horribly named I.D. Buzz seems an ideal candidate. However, it feels as though the company has forgotten our market while it preps the model for Europe.

There’s reportedly no reason to worry. Volkswagen has confirmed that the model will be showing up on our shores in 2023 after it’s made a splash across the pond. But there will be a few stipulations.  (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2021

Jaguar Land Rover unveiled its all-electric SUV to the Indian market this week, proving that it’s dead serious about expanding the I-Pace’s customer base. While parent company Tata Motors undoubtedly has a fondness for its home region, we cannot help but wonder if its a market worthy of pursuit considering the model’s starting price.

The manufacturer has the (90-kWh) I-Pace stickered at 105.91 lakh rupees, which translates to about $147,000 USD. Considering the unique way India writes out denominations and often transitions between crore and lakh as a way to avoid listing high-value items in the millions of rupees, we were initially convinced we’d messed up the conversion. The sum would not only eclipse the $70,000 MSRP Jaguar has affixed to the I-Pace in the United States, it makes it highly uncompetitive against the luxury EVs already on a market that’s not known for its wealthy consumer base. How could this be JLR and Tata’s preferred strategy?

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By on March 22, 2021

Despite Volkswagen having snatched away MEB development duties planned for SEAT, it’s apparently happy to give the Spanish brand an opportunity to head projects for the MEB-Lite platform for the majority of VW Group. The resulting vehicles should all be compact battery electric or hybrid cars, and potentially very low in fat, sugar, or carbs based on the agreed-upon naming conventions.

Better still, Volkswagen has claimed these vehicles should begin arriving by 2025 yielding MSRPs below €20,000 — which is roughly $24,000 USD. We’re not willing to rule anything out for our market, especially given the segment is relatively new. But North America isn’t prone to receiving exceptionally small European imports, so don’t hold you’re breath if you happen to be living within the region and eager to buy an EV smaller than the I.D.4.

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By on March 2, 2021

There was a time when practically any automaker could earn a few brownie points by proclaiming that they too would be transitioning toward becoming an electric-only manufacturer by [insert year here]. But times have changed and EVs have been around long enough for consumers to expect more than a promise that there would someday be more of them. There’s also a sense that regulations (stemming largely from Europe and China) are forcing the issue to a point where practically all automakers will eventually have to totally seize electrification or be forced to hand over vast amounts of money to governments or their chief rivals as a way to “offset” carbon emissions — making corporate promises far less impressive than they otherwise could have been.

Volvo, which was at the forefront of novel combustion powertrain solutions a few years ago, has since committed itself toward wholly embracing electrification under the tutelage of Geely Automotive. The Swedish-Chinese brand has made repeated announcements suggesting just how important EVs are for its future. On Tuesday, the company announced that it had officially committed itself to going fully electric by 2030 and showcased a new model while also vowing to make future sales online only.  (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2021

Jaguar Land Rover has canceled several planned vehicles and opted to reassess its Modular Longitudinal Architecture (MLA) after the company started fretting about the probability of unmet emissions requirements. Chief Financial Officer Adrian Mardell addressed investors on Friday to explain that all subsequent development of the platform would be postponed indefinitely. Ironic, considering MLA was supposed to be flexible enough to facilitate electrification and putting a lid on it means canceling the planned all-electric Jaguar XJ sedan and at least one unnamed Land Rover.

Rather than its intended purpose of underpinning all JLR products by 2025, the MLA platform is now said to be used exclusively on Land Rover’s larger SUVs. Meanwhile, the manufacturer has decided to prioritize its battery-focused Electrified Modular Architecture (EMA) as it tries to place a greater emphasis on electrification moving forward. Sadly, that means the $1.4 billion it spent in service of advancing MLA and finding a new partner that can help make Jaguar all-electric by 2025.

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By on March 1, 2021

As much as we like to chide domestic automakers for abandoning traditional cars for the juicier margins of crossover vehicles, they haven’t done away with them entirely. Cadillac even went so far as to introduce Blackwing variants of the CT4-V and the CT5-V in 2021, something many claimed was necessary after the V-Series lost some of its mightiness when the new models arrived. Apparently, General Motors wants its luxury division to keep it up with the Blackwing models while it continues to expand the V-Series lineup.

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By on February 24, 2021

We recently published an article about Hyundai’s upcoming Ioniq 5 EV and closed by suggesting it might be desirable that North America wouldn’t be the first to get them. If you read our post about the automaker’s current situation with supplier LG Chem, you may have already been able to guess why we feel this way. The manufacturer is looking down the barrel of an expensive recall relating to battery fires and EVs have a propensity to experience botched product launches. Considering the newness of the technology, some of that is to be expected. But that may not be the whole story.

News has begun circulating that Hyundai and Kia would begin sourcing more products from China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and Korea’s SK Innovation. We’ve likewise seen reports coming out of Korea stating that the automaker had decided to install SK batteries in the Ioniq 5, presumably because the units it has already sold to Hyundai haven’t been implicated in any fire-related recalls.

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By on February 18, 2021

Ford CEO Jim Farley announced his fondness for the Puma ST at the start of the week, going so far as to state that he wished the crossover was available in North America and other markets. This resulted in a steady stream of outlets suggesting that he’s totally forgotten his role within the company. As head of the brand, Farley would indeed have meaningful influence in regard to Ford’s distribution choices.

But he probably already knows that and we’re wondering if his social media musings about the rowdy little Puma — which borrows the Fiesta ST engine — were more about testing the waters on a global market push. While we don’t want to rule out the possibility of Farley kissing a photo of the crossover on his nightstand every night as he wonders how to spread its glory, something tells us there may be alternative scenarios.  (Read More…)

By on February 17, 2021

Ford badge emblem logo

Another day, another automaker making promises about electric vehicles. Today’s company is Ford, which has vowed to make all European automotive sales electric-only by 2030.

This comes with the footnote of having the ability to soften that promise with plug-in hybrids. But, since this is all about corporate virtue signaling, that’s not what automakers tend to lead with. The industry wants to focus upon net-zero carbon emissions, sustainability, and other buzz terms that allow something to sound environmentally friendly without our needing to check if that’s actually the case. By the time 2030 comes around, only a few dozen people are even going to remember these promises if they’re not kept anyway — giving companies another opportunity to move the goalpost.

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By on February 16, 2021

2019 Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has announced that it plans to have transitioned the Jaguar side of the business entirely to electric vehicles by 2025. Meanwhile, the more profitable Land Rover brand will be receiving its very first EV sometime in 2024. The plan is backed by a £2.5 billion (roughly $3.5 billion USD) investment.

As usual, take these promises with a grain of salt. Practically every manufacturer has underdelivered when it comes to electrification and features existing under the catch-all mobility tag. Jaguar’s current battery-electric vehicle, the I-Pace, hasn’t exactly been a smash hit and its construction is actually contracted out to Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. Jag also recently abandoned the new XJ model, which has been in development for years. Ironically, the car was supposed to become the brand’s first all-electric sedan.

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By on February 10, 2021

While Europe often appears as a safe haven for punchy subcompacts, the reality is that the continent’s biggest sellers happen to be reasonably sized automobiles equipped with a tepid engine option. The Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Corolla, and Škoda Octavia (especially if you happen to travel through any former satellite states of the Soviet Union) are absolutely everywhere. Europe also has a strong taste for many of the compact crossovers that are popular here in North America, giving subcompacts an increasingly small share of the overall market. And it’s projected to get smaller (globally) under the existing European regulations.

Pint-sized economy vehicles aren’t exactly profit leaders for automakers and their margins are only going to become slimmer. The EU is now reaching a point where building them won’t make sense, as tailpipe regulations will eventually force some amount of electrification. This will jack up their price to a point where the kind of people that might have been considering them will probably shop used. But don’t take our word for it; Audi CEO Markus Duesmann recently said this is probably what will kill the A1.  (Read More…)

By on December 3, 2020

The Japan Broadcasting Corporation, better known as NHK, reported that the island nation is considering banning new internal combustion engine cars by the mid-2030s this week. While we will continue to maintain that such an effort seems unrealistic when confronting the current realities of the market, Japan’s alleged plan offers a bit more leeway than proposals pitched in parts of Europe and North America. Nippon also finds itself in a better position in the preferred mixed approach of allowing mixed powertrains, which would allow the industry to continue production gasoline-driven hybrids.

For starters, the Asian country has a fairly comprehensive hydrogen fueling network thanks to its small size. It’s also in a position that would make nationwide EV charging more feasible than regions with plenty of wide-open spaces. But automakers aren’t making a peep on the issue, preferring to leave it up to regulators and the market.

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By on November 12, 2020

Details of the upcoming Rivian R1T and R1S electric vehicles leaked just hours ahead of the company sharing some equipment options for the various trims and announcing that the online configurations (allowing you to build your own) will launch on November 16th.

As of now, Rivian’s plan involves offering identical trims for the R1T pickup and R1S SUV — splitting the two body styles into Adventure and Explorer packages. While the former is a bit more upscale, both come with a panoramic roof, vegan upholstery, and are big on connectivity. Wi-Fi is embedded and allows for Rivian to issue over-the-air updates. There’s also the First Edition model, which is effectively a gussied up version of the Adventure going to true believers that booked their EVs well in advance. (Read More…)

By on November 9, 2020

2013 Mazdaspeed 3 - Image: Mazda Canada

We’ve spent the last few years wondering how Mazda’s upmarket push would impact its focus on performance. But keeping tabs gradually devolved into holding out hope that the brand wouldn’t totally snub fun-to-drive products to broaden its appeal. While there’s a wealth of Japanese brands ready to sell you comfortable and well-appointed automobiles, there aren’t many devoting a sizable amount of resources into maintaining engaging driving dynamics for the whole of their lineup. Mazda used to be the exception but now seems interested in banking on its above-average styling and novel luxury aura to drive sales.

It’s not a bad strategy but appears to have come at the expense of performance. Despite Mazda products rarely being famous for the output of their powertrains (unless we’re talking in the context of size), the brand is not making up the difference in handling anymore. It also hasn’t built any new Mazdaspeed performance products in years and doesn’t seem interested in trying.

(Read More…)

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