Volkswagen might someday have an electric pickup in the American market, dealerships, and I regret to report that Tesla and Elon Musk are at it again. All that and more in the Morning Shift for February 17, 2022.
Well, one person thinks that’s a good idea, and he happens to be Herbert Diess, the CEO of Volkswagen. Diess said as much on Reddit, in addition to a bunch of other things. An electric pickup from VW is something that’s been rumored about for some time now, though a bit of an odd idea because pickups aren’t exactly VW’s thing and I’m not sure anyone is convinced that pickup trucks are the best application for EVs. But I digress. From Automotive News:
Diess wrote that the ID4 is scheduled to receive “Plug & Charge” and “Auto Hold,” as well as higher-capacity on-board charging capabilities as part of a software update this summer. He also said he looked forward to the start of U.S. production early this year at VW’s plant in Chattanooga. Plug & Charge automates the billing for charging an electric vehicle at many charging stations, while Auto Hold keeps a motionless vehicle stopped until the accelerator is applied, without having to rest a foot on the brake.
In terms of product news across VW’s multiple brands, Diess said that both Audi and Bentley are working on battery-electric limousines for their brands, and that VW is now working on an alternate design to the ID3 cabriolet concept it previously showed. The ID3 is on sale in Europe but not the U.S.
In addition to calling an electric pickup for VW in the U.S. a “good idea,” Diess was asked about an EV return for the Beetle after the launch of the ID Buzz microbus. He said that “many other emotional cars are possible on our scalable MEB platform.” He said his “first priority” was to bring the microbus back to life. VW plans to show the production version of the ID Buzz on March 9.
You can see Diess’s full AMA here.
The issue was reported earlier this month by the Washington Post, sometimes occurring at speed with no warning, according to those that have complained to Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Reuters says that on Thursday NHTSA announced that it is formally investigating the matter.
The preliminary evaluation covers 2021-2022 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in the United States after the agency received 354 complaints about the issue over the past nine months. NHTSA said the vehicles under review have a advanced driver assistance system that Tesla calls Autopilot that allows them to brake and steer automatically within its lanes.
NHTSA said: “Complainants report that the rapid deceleration can occur without warning, at random, and often repeatedly in a single drive cycle.”
Owners say they have raised concerns with Tesla, which has dismissed the complaints saying the braking is normal, and some have called it “phantom braking”.
The owner of a 2021 Tesla Model Y told NHTSA in October that while driving on a highway at 80 miles per hour “the car braked hard and deceleated from 80 mph to 69 mph in less than a second. The braking was so violent, my head snapped forward and I almost lost control of the car.”
Back in November, CNET went so far as to buy a Tesla Model Y just to review it and came away regarding it as “critically flawed” for slamming on the brakes for no clear reason, at times on the highway.
Elon Musk hates government regulation and yet his company keeps offering the best argument for it.
Elon has been tweeting in support of the Canadian truckers, and now he’s brought Hitler into it, in an apparent attack on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The following two paragraphs, from Bloomberg, are peak 2022 content:
The world’s richest man was replying to a post by cryptocurrency trade publication CoinDesk about Trudeau’s emergency orders aimed at cutting off funds to protesters who have blocked border crossings and camped out in Canada’s capital since late January. Musk tweeted a photo of Hitler with the text “Stop comparing me to Justin Trudeau” at the top, and “I had a budget” at the bottom.
Musk, 50, voiced admiration for Canadian truckers early on in the protests. He’s suggested that the Canadian government is suppressing peaceful demonstrations and lacks public support. On Jan. 30, he tweeted a meme making fun of people who invoke Hitler when discussing politics. The German dictator oversaw the genocide of about 6 million Jews before his death in 1945.
I will not be reposting Elon’s idiotic tweet here because life is too short.
I’m not sure what to make of this data from a Detroit-based company called Urban Science, but here you have it, via Automotive News:
The national dealership count fell in 2019 to 18,195, the first reduction since 2013, and dropped again slightly in 2020 to 18,157, according to Urban Science. But the increase to 18,230 dealerships in 2021 still represented a smaller population than 2018's 18,294 rooftops.
Urban Science said all the states with notable changes last year added dealerships, led by California with 28 new rooftops. The report also highlighted Texas, which grew by 12; New York (10); Florida (seven); and North Carolina and Virginia (five each).
Urban Science calculated that 85 percent of major and minor U.S. metro markets saw no net change in dealership count.
While rooftops grew, the number of franchises operating nationwide fell 1 percent in 2021 to 31,646.
“As the chip shortage resolves and additional inventory levels the playing field for consumers in purchase negotiations, a right-sized dealership network — not a reliance on short-term, pandemic-driven consumer willingness to pay more — will continue to be the underpinning of sustainable success now and in the future,” Mitch Phillips, Urban Science global data director, said in a statement Thursday.
The relative stability of the dealership count suggests it is already right-sized.
Nissan, like every major automaker, is charging forward with new EVs, with a plan to have 15 new EVs by 2030. At least two of those will be built at Nissan’s plant in Mississippi, Bloomberg says, in a piece that doesn’t appear to be online yet:
Nissan Motor Co. will build two battery-electric vehicles for the U.S. market at a plant in Mississippi, marking the Japanese automaker’s deepest North America move to date in to a growing field of consumer EVs.
The plug-in battery-powered models — one under the Nissan nameplate and one for Infiniti — will start production in 2025, the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker said Thursday. Nissan plans to invest $500 million for technology needed for EV-specific assembly lines at the plant in Canton, which is just north of the state capital in Jackson.
“Today’s announcement is the first of several new investments that will drive the EV revolution in the United States,” Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta said in a statement.
My mom owned a Beetle in the 1970s, like, obviously, a lot of people. At some point, she traded it in for a Ford Pinto.
I had dinner Tuesday night in Manhattan with some fellow Motoring Journalists and it was five motherfuckers yukking it up about cars. I didn’t realize that I missed that.