Know who had a good week? Fiat Chrysler. It avoided a strike by agreeing to make significant long-term investments in the Windsor, Ontario plant where the Chrysler Pacifica and Voyager and Dodge Challenger and Charger are built. Elsewhere:
This Week in Sheetmetal
While we eagerly await next week’s promised unveiling of the GMC Hummer EV (if you had told us in 2003 …), we’re enjoying a fall crop of concepts, face lifts, and special editions.
- Mercedes showed an absurd, excellent off-road concept based on its EQC electric crossover, called the EQC 4×42. Mercedes also shuffled the roll-out of its planned EV lineup. The production version of the EQC had been slated to lead off, but now we’ll see the S-class-based EQS first.
- Volkswagen revealed the Europe-only 296-hp GTI Clubsport, which is tuned for the Nurburgring and seems all but certain to make an attempt to reclaim the Nordschleife record for front-wheel-drive cars. The 2016 GTI Clubsport set the record in December 2016 and then lost it to the Civic Type R the following April.
- Volkswagen also unveiled its new subcompact crossover, the Taos. It looks a lot like everything else in VW’s crossover lineup but will cost less, with an expected starting price around $24,000.
- After releasing teaser shots last week, Acura unwrapped the 2022 MDX. It’s bigger than its predecessor with a much nicer interior, and there’s a 355-hp Type S version headed our way next Spring.
- Consider elbowing your way onto the order list for Hennessey’s upgraded Durango Hellcat HPE1000which uses a 2.7-liter supercharger and upgraded engine bits to make 1012 horsepower. Hennessey will only build 50.
Tesla on our Minds
We’ll be the first to admit that Elon Musk lives rent-free around here. Usually. This week he paid up. First, Musk announced that a software Tesla calls Full Self Driving, or FSD, will enter a limited beta test on October 20. The Level 5 autonomy FSD appears to promise is a necessary precondition for Tesla’s planned launch of an autonomous taxi fleet in 2021. Musk previously promised the software would be available to the Tesla-owning public by the end of the year.
Musk also chose this week to announce new price cuts to the Tesla Model S. On Tuesday, Tesla cut the Model S’s starting price by $3000 a day before rival EV carmaker Lucid planned to announce pricing for its Air. Coincidence? We think not. Because when Lucid announced that the entry-level Air would be cheaper (after tax credits) than even the newly discounted Teslas, Musk lowered the price of the Model S again, announcing via Twitter that the car would now start at $69,420 (or $70,620 if you aren’t into childish jokes but are into including destination charges).
As we all watch for signs of how (and how quickly) the global economy will recover from the coronavirus pandemic, there’s some good news coming from China. The car market there notched its first quarter of year-over-year sales growth in two years. Reuters reported this week that Subaru CEO Tomomi Nakamura thinks it will take three years for the US auto market to make it back to 2019’s high water mark of 17 million sales a year. American consumers have been buying more cars than analysts expected at the beginning of the pandemic, but inventory levels are low and a discouraging jobs report this week suggests that there could still be trouble ahead.
When even Rolling Stone starts to think something—in this case, a presidential election—is a car story, it just might be. Take for instance this feature on workers at the Lordstown plant, who lost jobs the president promised to save.
Prefer something a little more apolitical? We understand. Try this piece from the Ringer about a new Hulu mockumentary starring Walton Goggins as a forgotten spokesman for the old Ford Bronco instead. “We saw old advertisements for the original Broncos, and a lot of these early films don’t exist anywhere except in a cold room in Michigan at the Ford archives,” director Jake Szymanski told writer Matthew Sigur. “We definitely used a lot of that footage and stayed in that world. That’s the way we wanted to approach it.”
And the New York Times offers a look at the City’s thriving car culture with an examination of exhaust noise, the laws that govern it, and the people who couldn’t care less about those laws. Read this one on something larger than your phone.
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