Monday, May 31, 2021

Gov't Considers Raising Electric Car Tax Incentive, Except for Teslas

[Auto Styling News]

A new bill to reform the federal electric car tax incentive in the US has passed the US Senate Finance Committee, the Electrek blog reports.

It includes increasing the electric vehicle tax credit to up to $12,500, but it was expertly crafted to give $2,500 less to Tesla vehicle buyers, explicitly because Tesla factories do not employ union members of the United Auto Workers Union.

The main goal has been to lift the cap of 200,000 electric car deliveries per manufacturer, which has put Tesla and GM at a disadvantage simply for being early in producing electric vehicles.

Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.

Friday, May 14, 2021

#Chrysler Has "10-year Window" To Prove Itself, Says New Owners

[Auto Styling News]

Chrysler has 10 more years to prove itself as a viable brand, says it's new European Masters, Stellantis.

CEO Carlos Tavares says he's giving his brand execs a 10-year window to prove their worth. He says all 14 brands (Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, Ram and Vauxhall) are being "given a chance."

“We’re giving each a chance, giving each a time window of 10 years and giving funding for 10 years to do a core model strategy. The CEOs need to be clear in brand promise, customers, targets and brand communications. If they succeed, great. Each brand is given the chance to do something different and appeal to customers.”

As you may or may not know, Chrysler currently has an anemic lineup of just two name plates, the Pacifica minivan, which comes both as a combustion engine and electric version as well as a stripped-down version they're calling the Voyager. 

They also have one car, the 300, which, while it has been updated several times, essentially is the same four-door sedan as when it was introduced in 2005.

If Tavares is honestly giving this brand a chance, he needs to seriously rethink the strategy of the previous owners, FCA.

To succeed, Chrysler will have to somehow developed a mini ute - the most popular vehicle in America right now, which is for some reason lacking in its lineup. It will also have to develop an electric strategy because many cars, if not most, in the 2030s will be electrified.

California is looking at going with a ban on all combustion engine car sales in the 2030s, as are several nations in Europe, such as Ireland and Germany.

Chrysler should look to other luxury car brands and see them as competitors once again. Clearly, the brand has lowered its standards and saw itself as a competitor to the likes of Ford and Chevy in the past few years. They need only look at Genesis to see how to build a highly successful luxury brand in this segment.
Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.

Monday, April 5, 2021

#Tesla Delivers 185,000 Cars In First Quarter, Beating Record Set In Fourth Quarter

[Auto Styling News]

In the first quarter, Tesla produced just over 180,000 vehicles and delivered nearly 185,000 vehicles, the company said in an SEC filing.

In the final quarter of 2020, Tesla made a record 180,570 deliveries.

All of the electric vehicles it produced  in this first quarter were Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossover SUVs, and it didn't produce any of its more expensive Model S sedans and Model X SUVs.

It delivered just 2,020 Model S and Model X vehicles from inventory, however representing just 1% of its total deliveries. 

In a statement, Tesla wrote that with "new equipment installed and tested in Q1" the company is now "in the early stages of ramping production" for updated versions of the S and X.

The company says they are encouraged by the strong reception of the Model Y in China and are quickly progressing to full production capacity.  

The new Model S and Model X have also been exceptionally well received, with the new equipment installed and tested in Q1 and we are in the early stages of ramping production.

(More here.)

Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.

Monday, March 22, 2021

SEC Launches Investigation Into EV Maker Lordstown Motors

[Auto Styling News]

The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked Lordstown Motors for more details about claims that the EV start-up deceived financiers about its development to date. 

Lordstown Motors, which is backed by General Motors, stated last Wednesday that it is complying with the investigation and its board of directors has created a special  committee to evaluate the claims.

The claims came last Friday from short-selling company Hindenburg Research study, which divulged in addition to the report that it had taken a brief position in Lordstown Motors. 

The company formerly launched a report about hydrogen trucking start-up Nikola that likewise caused probes from the SEC and the Department of Justice.

Hindenburg declared in the report that a few of the EV start-up’s largest preorders were made by business that do not appear to actually have the cash needed to acquire huge batches of Lordstown Motors’ electrical pickup, each of which will begin at around $50,000. 

In January, this blog reported that the company had claimed to have received more than 100,000 non-binding production reservations from commercial fleets for its forthcoming Endurance all-electric pickup truck

Hindenburg asserts that Lordstown Motors deceived the general public, financiers, and the federal government about the development it has made up until now on its first model.

More details here.

Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.

Monday, March 15, 2021

#Canoo EV Manufacturer Introduces Pickup Truck

[Auto Styling News]

Electric vehicle manufacturer Canoo (Nasdaq: GOEV), has debuted its fully-electric pickup truck during the Motor Press Guild’s Virtual Media Day. 

The production version of the pickup will open for pre-orders in the second quarter of 2022, with deliveries beginning in 2023.

“We are so passionate about building vehicles that can change people’s lives,” said Tony Aquila, Executive Chairman, Canoo. “Our pickup truck is as strong as the toughest trucks out there and is designed to be exponentially more productive. This truck works for you. We made accessories for people who use trucks – on the job, weekends, adventure. You name it, we did it because it’s your platform and she’s bad to the bone.

Canoo’s pickup truck was built with several unique features to help customers do more with their vehicles:

Pull-out Bed Extension: The pickup truck bed is six feet long and can extend to a fully enclosed eight feet, allowing big items such as a 4 by 8 ft sheet of plywood to easily fit inside. The pull-handle bed extension also helps with loading and unloading the truck. The extension also serves as a license plate holder. When the bed is extended, a second layer of tailgate doors can be swiveled out. The bed extension also houses a secondary lamp, containing all tail lamp functions, so the truck can be driven while the bed space is maximized.

Fold Down Worktable + Cargo Storage: To offer the greatest customer utility, the pickup features a front cargo storage area that can hold tools or gear, also includes a fold down worktable with electrical outlets. The workstation table is extendable to allow customers to have maximized work surface on the go, in addition to providing an area to put on gear before heading out exploring.

Flip-Down Side Tables: Both sides of the vehicle house a flip down table in two expandable depths. Built into the side panel of the truck bed, the flip-down side table becomes a workbench with multi-functional power sources in close proximity.

Side Step + Storage: On the side of the vehicle there is a hidden step to allow quick and easy access to the truck bed. Underneath the step is a flexible storage area for items including: a first-aid kit, cooler for snacks and drinks, lockable laptop storage and more. This space efficient feature is only possible due to Canoo’s ultra flat platform.

Modular Bed with Space Dividers: The truck bed is modular with the use of Canoo’s space divider system designed to keep items separate and secure. The bed wall also incorporates modular wheel chocks to secure bikes and configurable tie downs for ladders, large equipment and other materials.

Multi-Accessory Charge Port: The pickup truck can double as a powerplant with exportable power accessible on all sides of the vehicle. Power can last all day for tools and devices, which only has a 10% impact on vehicle range.

Integrated Overhead + Bed Perimeter Lighting: The third break light doubles as an overhead light to see inside the cargo bed at night. The vehicle is also equipped with perimeter lighting on all sides of the bed wall for added visibility.

Roof Rack: The pickup truck has optional roof racks in variable sizes for added cargo storage. The roof rack is easily accessible from the flatbed or via the sidestep.

Camper Shell: The pickup truck has been designed to accommodate a variety of camper shells to fit as many uses as possible.

The pickup truck is the third vehicle that will be based on the company’s proprietary multipurpose platform architecture, enabling the accelerated development timeline. 

Canoo’s EV platform functionally integrates all the critical components of an electric powertrain to be as flat and efficient as possible. 

Traditional EV platforms have power units, shock towers and mechanical steering columns that protrude into the vehicle and take up space. By incorporating steer-by-wire and other space-saving technologies, Canoo’s thin platform ("skateboard") with no need for an engine compartment, allows the company to offer a flatbed size comparable to America’s bestselling pickup truck on a smaller footprint. This makes the vehicle easier to maneuver and more convenient to drive and park in any terrain.

Canoo designed its pickup truck to be the most cab-forward and space efficient on the market, with massive cargo capacity on the smallest footprint possible. Thanks to the flexible platform and steer-by-wire, the passenger compartment was able to be shifted forward to maximize driver visibility. Canoo’s designers gave the pickup added stance and durability with increased wheel spats to support larger wheels, which provides improved stability and gives it a rugged profile. Advanced lighting technology provides adaptive safety, and the company’s iconic signature headlights and taillights serve as core brand identifiers without the need for a logo. Beyond just storage, the front surface of the vehicle has been extended to better protect the headlights and windscreen.

The bumpers are designed for maximum functionality and durability with integrated tow hooks and metal skid plates on both the front and rear. The vehicle's fog lamps are also integrated seamlessly into the bumper design to offer the driver additional visibility and safety. Lined with trim and materials selected for durability, the extended cab vehicle has two seats in the front with a customizable rear compartment that can accommodate two additional seats or support additional purpose-built use-case configurability.

Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Audi's New E-Tron GT Looks Gorgeous [Auto Styling News]

[Auto Styling News]

Audi just unveiled its latest production vehicle, and it looks pretty stunning. 

The Audi e-tron GT is a battery-powered, all-electric sports car, with—in top-performing $140,000 RS guise—motors on the front and rear axles capable of producing 637 horsepower. 

This provides the sporty four-door with the ability to accelerate from zero to 60 m.p.h. in about three seconds. If you’re not quite so aggressive with the go pedal, it should also be able to eke out well over 200 miles of range on a charge.

Expansion of its electric vehicle (EV) lineup—which currently consists of the pedestrian-looking e-tron SUV—is a top priority for Audi, which for years has staked out a position as a forward-thinking luxury brand, quick to embrace new forms and tech. 

“Fifty years ago, Audi was nothing compared to our main competitors Mercedes and BMW,” says Marc Lichte, the brand’s global design director. “And the reason why Audi became successful was that Audi made some really bold and progressive decisions.” 

For Lichte, these include universal implementation of the marque’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system, its use of lightweight aluminum in the underpinnings of its cars, and its abidance of advanced aerodynamics, as in the radical Audi 5000 of the 1980s.
Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.

Monday, February 8, 2021

As Stellantis Takes Over Chrysler, Can the Storied Name Be Saved? (Yes! Here's how!)

[Auto Styling News] 

Stellantis is the new owner of Chrysler. And very likely its last one.

The new brand name (created by marketers from the Latin word "stello," meaning, "to brighten with stars") consists of a mish-mash 14 Italian, French, German, British, and American automakers including Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, FIAT, Jeep®, Lancia, Maserati, Opel, Peugeot, RAM, and Vauxhall.

The newly minted brand name takes over this month from FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) a company that oversaw extremely weak US sales not only for Chrysler, but for FIAT, Abarth, and Alfa Romeo. FCA Group acquired Chrysler in 2014.

Chrysler Corporation was of course founded as an American company in 1925 by Walter Chrysler from the remains of the Maxwell Motor Company. In 1998, it was acquired by Daimler-Benz, and the holding company was renamed DaimlerChrysler. 

The German-American union was not a happy one, with many differences coming to the surface about the direction of the company. In short, it was a really bad fit.

After Daimler divested Chrysler in 2007, the company briefly existed as Chrysler LLC (2007–2009) and Chrysler Group LLC (2009–2014) before merging in 2014 with the Italian holding company Fiat S.p.A. and becoming a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Chrysler has clearly fallen on hard times. It has two nameplates, the aging 300 sedan (first introduced in 2005) and the Pacifica van (it has an electric version of the van and a stripped-down model now using the iconic Voyager name, but these are just badge-engineering exercises. They have two.)

That's really sad for several reasons, not least is which that company has a recent history of innovation and large, exciting lineups. Lee Iacocca revived the company from bankruptcy and (paid back government loans - early!) with the K-Car line. In the 1990s, the company had success after success with exciting concept cars that they brought to market. Among them was the PT Cruiser, which sold in the millions.

The 300, back in the day, was also a huge hit. The Crossfire fired imaginations, and the LHS was a gorgeous car that made it to production as a beautiful vehicle, part of the "cab-forward" design style that captured America's imagination. They introduced many new nameplates that sold well in that era.

The company could use a dose of the spirit of the '90s and early 2000s right about now - a spirit that showed many concepts taken to the market, a daring can-do spirit that showed it was a bold car designer, not just a retread, recycling old nameplates on boring vehicles, as they are now.

The once-luxury brand has no top-of-the-line "halo car," no SUVs, no mini-Utes (the hottest vehicle type on the market) and no sports cars for middle aged men to buy during their mid-life crises.

Last year sales were anemic. It sold around 110,500 vehicles, about one-third its volume in 2015, according to company figures.

Fiat, a maker of small cars reintroduced to the US in 2011, also saw a sharp drop-off in sales.

Experts believe there is a consolidation of the new car conglomerate's 14 brands coming, and that doesn't bode well for Chrysler.  One news site suggested that Chrysler was already dead (as a name, anyway) when their sign was replaced with the Stellantis one at their storied Auburn Hills, Michigan headquarters.

Regardless of when it happens, it almost seems inevitable that the brand is going to fade away, unless someone in the new company's Amsterdam, Holland headquarters decides to revive it in a BIG WAY.

It's not hard to see how it could regain its footing. It must launch a solid, stylish luxury SUV. It must launch a dependable mini-UTE that actually stands out from its many vanilla competitors, and it must launch a hot sports car that captures imaginations.

That's a tall order, since new vehicles take 2-5 years to produce through the traditional  auto design pipeline. But these are not ordinary times, and innovation is called for if Chrysler hopes to survive to see its 100th birthday.

Auto Styling News is a blog that covers car concepts, newly released models, and the auto industry.