Coronavirus case numbers are dropping in the United States, but the pandemic is still raging. Ford shut down a plant in southern India this week not because of the semiconductor shortage that has been upending production plans all year, but because workers staged a sit-in protest demanding leave and health benefits after 230 workers caught the coronavirus. At least two of the affected employees died.
This Week in Sheetmetal
We saw more of the Hyundai Ioniq 5. The hatchback will lead Hyundai's planned EV sub-brand, Ioniq, has an angular design, and should have around 300 miles of range in rear-drive format, slightly less when it's all-wheel drive. Look for it in showrooms this fall.
McLaren announced it would build some examples of its stripped-down supercar, the Elva, with the windshield that the prototype car eschewed. Purists can still have a screen-free Elva if they so desire, but buyers with a little common sense (or those who live in a place where it is illegal to sell cars without windshields) will surely appreciate this 44-pound addition.
Rolls-Royce announced Coachbuild, a new service for buyers who want a car that's built exactly for them, and we don't just mean they get to paint-match their childhood bedroom. The project launched with a three-off four-seat roofless pleasure-mobile dubbed the Boattail. If you're rich enough to order something from Coachbuild, Rolls-Royce has probably already reached out to you. The rest of us will just have to watch from afar.
Fresh off the success of last week's launch of the F-150 Lightning, Ford doubled down on electric vehicles. The company said this week that it wants EVs to account for 40 percent of its sales by 2030, and that it would invest more than $30 billion dollars in that goal (up from a previous promise to invest $22 billion in EVs by the end of this decade). Of course, hoping EVs will make up a huge percentage of sales doesn't mean the company will actually find buyers for that many EVs in the next nine years. Ford's next play to bring its customers into the EV world will likely be an Explorer EV, and hints about a line of "rugged" EV SUVs strongly suggest that Ford will offer an electric Bronco at some future date. The company's stock is up on the news of its investment in EVs, and Ford has already notched 70,000 reservations (at $100 each) for the belle of last week's ball, the F-150 Lightning.
Hyundai is also on the EV bandwagon. Reuters reported this week that the company would reduce by 50 percent the number of models it builds that rely on fossil fuels, and invest heavily in electric motors, batteries, and fuel cells, aiming for an entirely electric lineup by 2040.
Spy vs Spy
In March, the Chinese government banned Teslas from certain military bases because of concerns that the cars' cameras might be sending video back to servers based in the United States where the videos might be vulnerable to spying eyes. Tesla strenuously objected to the idea that its cars or its data centers were anything but secure, but it seems China was serious. A draft of a new rule proposed by Chinese regulators would require automakers to get drivers' consent before collecting driving data and would require carmakers to store all the data they collect within China's borders. Reuters reports that many car companies already do that, among them BMW, Daimler, General Motors, Nissan, Volkswagen and, now, Tesla.
If all this news about EVs has got you worried about a war on cars, then you'll love this meditation from the New York Times on how cities would change if we removed the interstate highways that run through them.
Are you a sucker for a good deal? Then get yourself to this northern Virginia Nissan dealership, where you can get two (wildly different) cars for the price of one.
Or if personal finance is more your style, read about the increasingly extraordinary lengths American buyers will go to in order to finance their beloved SUVs.
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