Auto Makers: US Little Known (Part 4D)

You probably think after writing a post on the big three automakers and three new, start-ups making Electric Vehicles we’d be ready to close out the series with some phased out/defunct car makers, but we have one more post on companies that still make cars–these are the ones you might not of heard of or maybe thought were out of business entirely but they’re not.

DeLorean Motor Company

Vital Stats: 1995-Present, Headquartered in Humble, TX. Founded by Stephen Wynne.

Wait, what? DeLorean still exists? And it started in 1995? What!?! Okay, here’s the story.

As you likely know, if you’ve been around the automotive world for awhile, or if you lived through the 1980’s in the US, DeLorean Motors was started by a man named John DeLorean, an American automobile executive. The company was founded in Detroit, MI, late in 1975. The stainless steal sports car (named after the company owner) featured gull wings and an iconic look, and became the one and only car model for the company.

John DeLorean was already known as an innovator for his work at GM, and raising funds in part through Hollywood connections helped add to the car’s automatic celebrity. The owner ran short on funds and DEA undercover agents offered offered him a quick fix if he’d bankroll a giant drug buy. DeLorean sought to offset the costs of building a factory by government incentives in exchange for locating the factory in a zone of high unemployment.

The UK Government leapt at the chance to build a car factory in Northern Ireland, to the tune of $120 million pounds. They’d easily make their money back on export taxes, a fact they didn’t tell John DeLorean. Upon finding out he’d make $20,000 dollars less per car just to sell it in the US Johnfound himself in a bind. Unfavorable exchange rates didn’t help, nor did the early models terrible reputation for breaking down all the time.

Ultimately, DeLorean was acquitted of drug charges due to entrapment. But the damage to his reputation and by proxy, the highly recognizable car names after him, was too much to overcome. The car went into receivership and bankruptcy in 1982.

In 1985, America was reminded of the iconic car when Universal Studios made a time machine out of it for their blockbuster movie, “Back to the Future.” The car was modified and used twice more in the sequels (1989 & 1990).

Beyond the reliability issues, DeLorean faced a innate problems. The stainless steel body made them all look alike. It was shaped lie a sports car, but didn’t have the speed you’d expect from one (it was a manual transmission), and it cost $25,000 ($70,000 in todays money.) DeLorean seems to have overcome its mechanical issues and found a place in the hearts of Americans which is likely why Stephen Wynne, a mechanic from Liverpool, decided to buy up all the remaining stock, parts and the rights to the name and logo.

Wynne began marketing hats and tee shirts with the logo, and was soon able to distribute parts to existing DeLorean owners. By 2007 you could homebrew your own DeLorean for about $57,000 US by mixing new and factory leftover parts. So the new DeLorean began selling factory “refurbished” models.

When the enterprise became successful, DeLorean’s widow, Sally Baldwin, sued. They originally settle out of court for an undisclosed amount. Her second lawsuit didn’t go anywhere. What made her sue? The new DMC decided to create a brand new model that was all electric. Believe it or not, government red tape has slowed the creation of a DeLorean EV, but the EV climate has massively improved so don’t be too surprised.

Hennessey

Vital Stats: 1991-Present, Headquartered in Sealy, Texas. Founded by John Hennessey…no relation to the cognac.

We’ve included car tuners before when covering UK automakers. So, before we leave the great state of Texas we thought we’d take a look at Hennessey. As a tuning house Hennessey mainly works on sports cars including  FerrariPorscheMcLarenChevroletDodgeCadillacLotusJeepFordGMCLincoln and Lexus. However, they’ve been known to also sup-up pickups and SUV’s, luxury cars and muscle cars…so everything really.

Venom GT by Hennessey, based on a Lotus Exige.

Hennessey is also famous for running a Tuner School where they train mechanics to do what they do. But if you click the tab in the middle you’ll see some of their specialty cars–the venom line. What makes us consider the Venom line it’s own car model as opposed to just a juiced up car is that they use different base cars for different models.

At the Kicker, we’re partial to the Venom GT, built from a Lotus Exige. twin-turbocharged V8 engine that is rated at 1,244 hp in a car that weighs 1244 lbs creates a worlds fastest car three times over. It’s also quite pretty. The original Venom GT came about in 2010, but a 2012 roadster version name the Venom GT Spider was built at the request of Stephen Tyler. Only 6 were made. If we were celebrities we ight steer clear of cars named spider, but Stephan Tyler can make his own decisions.

Commuter Cars

39″ Wide

Vital Stats: 1998-Present, Headquartered in Spokane, WA.

Commuter Cars makes an ultra-narrow electric sports car, the Tango, designed and built by them in their facilities in Spokane, Washington. Well, one of their cars was made in England during an attempt to get manufacturing going, so they’ve only really made a few prototypes, about 20. But they sold them so they are a car maker.

The very 1st Tango was sold to actor George Cluny in August 9th, 2005. The range of the Tango is under 100 miles and it was initially designed to seat only the driver. Car and Driver gave the company a 1.1 out of 10 on survivability. So why are we featuring it. Well this little company did some innovative things. They had some good ideas and are victims of a couple bad bumps of circumstances.

Rick Woodbury and his son Bryan Woodbury founded the company, financed in part by the sale of Ricks yacht. The goal was to produce a vehicle purely for city commuting, with tight, expensive parking. The also banked on continued increased cost of fuel and that the hydrogen fuel cell would be developed by the time they went into production.

Gas prices have climbed, but electricity is also expected to climb in price. The Fuel cell seems to be harder to create than originally estimated and the decision to go ahead an make a standard battery EV meant they entered competition with many other (better funded) startups. Competition is made worse by traditional automakers deciding to also produce EV’s in response to warning signs from the government.

What did they do well? This car is tiny. You can see the specs below, but put it this way–you can split lanes like a motorcycle and park more than one in a standard parking spot. You can also charge it from a standard dryer plug in about an hour. They also put more than one engine in, which is an obvious miss on the parts of almost every major EV maker in the market right now.

Commuter car made sure the heavy batteries are low giving the car stability even at 39 inches wide.

Finally, they got smart and manufactured a separate generator cart that can be drug behind to extend the range. If this seems comical, well it is, but it’s also practical. It allows the owner who lives less than 50 miles from work to drive it normally all week, and still be able to use it to get out of town on the weekend.

Gen Cart (not specifically for a Tango)

Now if the pandemic hadn’t made it so we all work from home…

  • Width: 39 in (990 mm)
  • Length: 101 in (2,600 mm)
  • Weight: 3,000 lb (1,400 kg) (claimed)
  • Batteries: 12 V * 19 Hawker Odysseys or 25 Exide Orbital XCDs or Optima Yellow Tops. Lithium-ion battery options available
  • Nominal voltage: 228 V with 19 Hawkers, 300 V with 25 batteries, 250 V with lithium-ion batteries.
  • Charging: 50 A Manzanita Micro on-board charger with Avcon conductive coupling. 200 A off-board charger under development.
  • Motors: 2 Advanced DC Motors DC FB1-4001 9″,[13] one driving each rear wheel with claimed 1,000 lb⋅ft of combined torque at low rpms. 8,000 rpm redline. or 4 motors, one for each wheel, lithium batteries.

Performance (claimed)

  • 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h): 3.2 seconds
  • 14 mi (0.40 km): 12.25 seconds @ 106 mph (171 km/h)
  • Top speed: 150 mph (240 km/h)
  • Range: 40–60 miles (96–128 km) with lead-acid batteries. 150 mi (240 km) with lithium-ion batteries.
  • 805 hp claimed.

Auto Makers: US Startups (Part 4F)

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. Let’s start with the big three, and within those we’ll take on one parent company per post. Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

Tesla

Vital Stats: 2004–present, Headquartered in Austin, TX, USA (on Tesla Road, BTW).

The above statement is a tad misleading. Tesla Motors Inc. was born in July 1, 2003 in San Carlos, CA. The Tesla Motors Part lasted until February 2017 when the company was reborn as a Texan.

Noteworthy: Tesla was named after Nicola Tesla, the Romanian super genius who immigrated to America and invented the US invented the Induction Engine and A/C Generator, which were stolen from him by American Industrialist Thomas Edison. You’d think they’d make Tesla cars with 4 Induction Engines (1 per tire) wired in series, giving it 4 wheel drive, four wheel steering and auto power regeneration–but Elon doesn’t consult the Kicker before designing his cars.

Best know as a car maker, Tesla also manufactures related products like home batteries, and solar panels as well as charging stations for their vehicles. The drive behind Tesla is clean energy. While electric vehicles currently use whatever power their local grid provides–by and large fossil fuels–they have created a mode of transportation that doesn’t create emissions in and of itself, which can honestly claim to be doing a big part toward an environmentally friendly future. (If you ignore how much pollution is created mining and making batteries.)

Prototype Roadster

The world’s most valuable automaker with a market capitalization of more than US$760 billion, Tesla owns about 23% and 16% of the full EV and plug-in world market respectively.

Contrary to popular belief Tesla is not the brain child of Billionaire Elon Musk. It was actually incorporated by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, then essentially taken over by a $6.5 million investment by Musk in 2004. Musk’s true objective was to raise capital for a private space company, but Tesla is definitely the smartest $6 million he’s spent so far.

Musk, CEO since 2008, is not without controversy, wracking up lawsuits for creative accounting, workers rights violations, and technical issues in their autopilot. Still, with global sales of 936,222 cars in 2021, a 87% increase over the previous year, total Tesla’s sold tops 2.3 million. Tesla is one of the most successful car companies in the world, becoming the sixth US company history to reach a market capitalization over a trillion dollars in October of 2021.

Tesla Models began with a roadster, then the Model S (Sedan), the Model X (SUV), the Model 3 (first EV to sell a million units), and the Model Y (Crossover). Then of course the Cybertruck. An observant reader might notice that subtle name game–S.3.X.Y.

Tesla’s plans for the future? Cheaper cars for the less affluent in society. A Tesla motorcycle seems unlikely based on Musk’s 2018 statement, “we’re not going to do motorcycles.”

Lucid Motors

Vital Stats: 2007–present, Headquartered in Newark, CA. Founded by Bernard Tse and Sam Weng.

Following a model piloted by Elon Musk, Lucid heavily marketed their design ideas and financed part of their start up by selling slots on their waiting list before they even had a product. The first 20 got their cars the day before Halloween, 2021.

In the tradition Dodge and other American Car makers, Lucid first existed to make parts for other EV makers, as a company called Atieva. CEO Peter Rawlinson of Tesla, and Derek Jenkins formerly of Mazda, rebranded the company when they decided to make their own vehicles in 2016, with some investment from  Tsing CapitalMitsuiVenrockJAFCO, among others.

The Lucid Air

Lucid picked Casa Grande, AZ, as their US manufacturing base, and built a plant projected to make a maximum capacity of 380,000 cars per year. It opened 2 years late, but that’s not too bad considering red tape, pandemics and the like. Lucid was acquired by a Saudi Investment fund and has since merged with  Churchill Capital Corp IV, a publicly traded investment fund. The resulting nearly $12 billion investment will complete the factory through phase 4 and allow them to develop their Project Gravity SUV by 2023, then try to start competing with Tesla’s Model 3.

If you feel like $12 billion is a big investment for a company that’s only sold a few hundred cars, you may want to ask your financial advisor where your 401K is. In the mean time, it’ hard to get a feel for how successful this company will be, but it’s poised to make the next few billionaires.

Rivian

Vital Stats: 2009–present, Headquartered in Irvine, CA. because apparently California is the new Michigan.

Rivian’s an EV automaker with a slightly different approach. Rather than starting with a traditional modern unibody car, Rivian has gone straight to the skateboard model, which allows them to make a standardized powertrain platform, upon which they can build an SUV or a Pickup Truck.

This allows them to develop other types of vehicle in the future, or make that platform for other car makers–existing or yet to come. Given the number of semi-manufacturers out of the UK, the Kicker staff wouldn’t be surprised if a company like Caterham or David Brown Automotive, doesn’t grab an investor and build a plant somewhere in the US Land is cheap and business friendly like Texas or North Dakota, then create a Line of EV sports cars based on Rivian’s skateboard.

Rivian raised money via going IPO. Based on Tesla’s performance as a company, investors leapt at the chance to get in on the ground floor of a similar company–they raised $13.5 billion (153 million shares sold).

Rivian manufactures in 5 locations inside the US, with plans to build another factory in Georgia, as well as Canada and the UK.

Robert “RJ” Scaringe, is an American Engineer, Entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of what’s now Rivian. It started as Mainstream Motors and got renamed Avera Motors on it’s way to it’s modern incarnation. The original idea was to make a sports car, but that dream grew as investment dollars came in.

Another early stroke of luck was their purchase of the Normal, Illinois Mitsubishi plant for $16 million dollars, including everything inside it. A ready to make facility can accelerate your plans. In 2017, Rivian revealed its first two products: an electric five-passenger pickup truck (A1T) and an electric seven-passenger SUV (A1C), which it renamed in 2018 R1T and R1S, respectively.

Rivian RT1

Rivian employed 250 people in 2018 and by 2021 it employs 9,000. Although they’ve since announced a 6% reduction in workforce, siting economic downturn.

Despite a few delays, the R1T began shipping out in October 2021, making Rivian the first car company to bring an all electric truck to the US market–not GM, not Ford, not even Tesla (although Tesla has since caught up). Ford was counting on a partnership in Rivian to bring an all EV truck to market, but Rivian backed out leaving Ford with a 12% stake in the company worth around $10 billion.

Rivian made news in March of 2022 announcing a retroactive price increase of 17% for the R1T and 20% for the R1S vehicles not yet delivered, citing increased cost of goods to manufacture. Due to backlash, the company recanted their decision for folks waitlisted prior to March 1. (Only reasonable since locking in a price is one of the big advantages to ordering a new car before it even exists.)

The most recent news, aside from their new COO starting early last month, is that Time Magazine added Rivian to their List of 100 Most Influential Companies (2022).

Rivian R1T

All-electric cars (aka EVs) are becoming nearly as common as hybrid cars. While the technology seemed to take a bit longer to enter the truck world, it’s likely not long before we see a highly competitive market with all the major manufacturers vying for entry.

Enter the Rivian R1T all-electric truck. Not only is this the first year for the model, but the R1T will also be the first-ever all-electric truck to be put into full production.

Under the “Hood”

Rivian is setting the bar for all-electric trucks high with the R1T. There will be other power options in future model years, but the stats for the initial truck are impressive. A 128.9-kWh powers a quad-motor setup, that provides over 830 horsepower to the transmission.

The power is distributed to each wheel with the all-wheel-drive with independent motors powering each wheel. Taking advantage of the quad-motor setup, the R1T is capable of what Rivian calls the “Tank Turn.” The quad motors allow the wheels on each side to turn in opposite directions, causing the R1T to turn completely around at a standstill.

Capabilities

Having so much power in a truck does nothing if its capabilities don’t match. Rivian claims the R1T can carry a payload of about 1,700 pounds or tow over 11,000 pounds. While carrying or towing, the extra weight significantly impacts the range of the truck, the cargo and towing limits are impressive.

Off-Road

Somewhat surprising for an all-electric truck, the Rivian R1T also offers impressive and genuine off-road capabilities. To keep good aerodynamics while on the road, the suspension height is a mild 8 inches. However, this can be adjusted on the fly, and the air suspension can increase the clearance to 14 inches.

The off-road capabilities do not affect the on-road performance. The 835-horsepower launches the truck from a stop to reach 60 mph in just over 3-seconds. This performance has been reported to stay throughout the charge levels in the battery.

Range

Right now, the R1T will only be offered with Rivian calling the “large” battery. The 128.9-kWh gives the truck an estimated range of 314 miles. However, in real-world testing with a payload consistent with an expected payload, a 75 mph speed only gave a range of 220 miles. This translates to an estimated 35 MPGe.

In future model years, Rivian is expected to introduce a “max” and a smaller “standard” battery, which would give ranges of about 400 and 240 miles, respectively.

Interior

Matching other electric vehicles, the interior dash panel is clean with just two multifunction/instrument screens. The two large 16-inch screens sit in a dash made from premium wood and leather.

For security, there are nearly 12 cubic feet of lockable storage space in the cabin, and a large trunk under the hood, upfront. The locking trunk brings a great relief from trying to hide bigger items in the bed.

Warranties

It’s not uncommon for people to have concerns about the durability and longevity of a new model, especially one from a brand new manufacturer. Rivian offers a 5-year or 60,000-mile limited bumper-to-bumper warranty and 8-years or 175,000 miles for the battery and powertrain. This is a great relief for this first-ever all-electric truck.

Price

This performance and capability do not come cheap. Checking in at nearly $75,000 some drivers might be priced out of this first-ever electric truck. However, there are very few downsides found in the R1T, and future models will come with even more features and options.

What are the Different Types of Electric Car Plugs? 

The previously rare electric vehicle is now just as commonly seen as almost all other car types. Nearly every major car manufacturer offers an all-electric version of their most popular models, with some even offering all-electric trucks. This should give you a sense of where the future is headed. But there is likely one thing that might cause you hesitation from taking the plunge, how to charge the batteries.

Gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles are easy. You open the fuel cap and insert the nozzle from the dispenser and your local station. It’s extremely rare to find one that doesn’t work with your vehicle (although some evaporation recovery devices are quite finicky).

Charging an electric car is not all that much more difficult, and can even be easier if you have the right plug.

Power Ratings

The power ratings and the specific type of electric current are vitally important in ensuring not only the correct plug but for protecting the life of the batteries. The rate of charging simply determines approximately how far the car can travel after a certain period of charging. The more power that is supplied to charge the battery, the less time it takes to charge to a certain percentage of battery capacity. However, the amount of power used to charge the batteries can also affect their longevity. Generally, the lower the charging power, the less strain is placed on the batteries, extending their life.

Current Type

Given the designs of the plugs, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use an A/C system with a D/C charging current. Generally, when the car is at home and simply a top-off is needed, A/C is the better choice with D/C charging better reserved for quick on-the-road needs. D/C does take a lot less time to bring the batteries to the same level of charge, as a consequence, however, of much higher temperatures that can greatly degrade the life of the batteries.

Type 1

As the name implies, this was one of the first plugs developed to charge the batteries in electric vehicles. This plug uses five pins and is a standard for most electric vehicles in the United States. The plug does allow for slow and fast charging at 3.7 kW and 7 kW, respectively. You should exercise caution, as this plug has no locking mechanism and can be dislodged.

Type 2

The Type 2 charging plug is an improvement on Type 1 and adds two more connection pins, as well as a built-in locking mechanism. This plug also adds to the charging rate with the capability of 22 kW (using three-phase charging) if your vehicle allows it.

CHAdeMO

One of the first rapid charging systems has a name to fit its use on the road. The “Charge de Move” or CHAdeMO, is a favorite of many Asian automakers such as Honda, Nissan, and Toyota. This is a rather large plug and tends to require a much larger charging area/flap on the vehicle and is not very common beyond certain carmakers. Charging power for the CHAdeMO can reach 400 kW with plans for up to 900 kW.

Combined Charging System

Perhaps the most convenient of all is the Combined Charging System or CCS allows for a single cord/plug system to be used for slower charging at home as well as rapid charging on the road. The top of the plug looks nearly identical to a Type 2 plug, with two of the five connection pins being located on the D/C section of the plug. This will likely become the standard for D/C charging.

Can You Tow with a Hybrid or Electric Vehicle?

Electric and hybrid vehicles are incredibly popular these days. And looking at recent gas prices, it’s for good reason. Looking at the number of models available in plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and all-electric (EV) versions, it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart from their gasoline-powered brethren. With these types of vehicles being more and more accessible, switching to a PHEV or full-EV is as easy as choosing a paint color.

While PHEVs and EVs may help save money and cut emissions with their fuel efficiency or not needing fuel at all, we also don’t want to cut into how we can use these vehicles for recreation. The evolution of electric vehicle technology is now at a point where we no longer need to trade all capabilities for fuel efficiency. 

Getting Started

In some ways, towing with one of these types of vehicles will be a more pleasant experience than using their gasoline-powered counterparts. Somewhat surprisingly, the electric motors in EV and the electric assist in PHEV can provide the most important power factor for getting the payload moving from a stop–torque. Even the short time electricity generates the power in the PHEV, the high amount of instant torque is enough to get the full payload in motion. Be sure to check to see the payload capacity of the vehicle. 

Towing with an EV

While towing is possible, with an EV capable of such, there are significant hurdles that technology has not quite caught up to.

Range

There is no way around it. The more you tow, the shorter distance you will be able to travel. With some testing, towing near the payload capacity for a particular car can cut the range in half. Consider that most of your towing might be done for recreation to places that likely do not have EV charging stations, this may rule out EVs overall.

Weight

The torque of the electric motor easily gets the vehicle and payload in motion. However, stopping the weight can prove problematic. Looking at the weight of the EV itself, it does not take a lot more in the way of payload to exceed some vehicle weight limits. Some EVs can weigh almost a ton more than their gasoline kin. This is a lot to stop, not even considering what is being towed.

Charging Supply from Braking

One of the ways EVs maintain their charge to extend their range is by using the braking action of the vehicle to provide a slight amount of regenerative power back into the system. When the force needed to stop the EV and the payload exceeds what this system can safely handle, many EVs will turn their regenerative braking systems off. Without this source of charging on the go, the range is decreased even more. 

Towing With a PHEV

Using a PHEV over an EV to tow, seems to solve most of these issues and keeps the benefits of an electric motor. The PHEV uses the electric motor to get things started before the gasoline engine takes over. Once at speed, the hybrid system keeps the fuel efficiency quite high. There still are some downsides to using a PHEV to tow. The added weight and strain on the electric motor and hybrid system can have significant effects on the longevity of the batteries. This is much less than what is seen with EVs but is still worth considering. 

Conclusions

There are many EVs and PHEVs that offer significant towing capacity. However, this comes at a significant penalty by reliance on denser networks of charging stations and potential more frequent replacement of battery systems. And if your goal is to get off grid you are likely not heading to places with lots of charging stations.

Honda Confirms Small Electric and Hybrid Compact SUVs for 2023

Looking at the prices shown on nearly all gas stations has undoubtedly made you think about the fuel efficiency of your vehicle (s). Especially if you are in the market for a new vehicle, there is an increasing number of options that will not only help you save money by burning less fuel but will still provide you with the capabilities you need.

One of the most popular names in smaller automobiles has just announced two great options for fuel-efficient or electric SUVs for 2023. The all-new Honda e:Ny1 and the next-generation CR-V look to provide you a range that rivals other all-electric vehicles, while keeping the familiar capabilities and space of the long-standing CR-V.

The e:Ny1

At this point, there is not a lot we know about this all-electric prototype. What we do know is extremely promising and is worth looking at. From initial looks, this small crossover looks remarkably similar to the HR-V.

The Looks

There are a few differences that set the e:Ny1 apart from its relatives. The front-end is shaped more like the CR-V with the grille-less form seen on most electric vehicles. The rear carries forward the sporty styling of the HR-V. The body sits atop Honda’s e:N Architecture F chassis, which is specifically designed for electric front-wheel drive vehicles.

What’s Inside

Under the hood is a new battery pack that is estimated to give a range of just over 300 miles while supplying a potent 201-horsepower. This is a significant improvement to the “e:” family that started off 2020 with a limited 137 miles.

Next Generation CR:V

Honda’s stalwart in the small-SUV category, the CR-V, will receive a near-total make-over with the addition of a few proven components from other models. The all-new CR-V still has ample size and capabilities. It is also expected to be available with seating for 5 or 7.

The Looks

Outside, the CR-V seemed to trade in more of its utilitarian and purpose-built looks for some class and refinement. The front grille is opened up and is bordered by contrastingly thinner LED headlights. Looking at the profile, it is clear the design has spent a lot of time in the wind tunnel with previously sharp corners being smoothed into gentle curves. The hood is blended into the teardrop shape of the body.

Under the Hood

The 2023 CR-V will borrow several newer, but proven power-train components that come from the recent update to the Civic family of cars. The non-hybrid version is powered with a 1.5-liter turbocharged, inline 4-cylinder motor with a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated I-4 in the hybrid. Both of these motors have been well tested were given a few minor tweaks to make them fit in CR-V’s hood, and improve reliability.

Plug-In vs. Hybrid only

To bridge the gap between hybrid gasoline and all-electric vehicles, many automakers have come out with “Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles” (PHEV) and Honda is no exception. As there is more and more pressure for all-electric vehicles, it might be worth considering this move sooner than later.

While it remains to be seen just how available the PHEV version of the new CR-V will be in the American market, it certainly has a lot to offer and may help take the plunge into driving an electric vehicle, while maintaining the familiarity of a gasoline-powered engine. Actual fuel efficiency numbers have yet to be released, but some other PHEVs from other makers have reported in the triple-digits for miles per gallon. Plus, there is the added “safety-net” of being able to drive up to 50 miles on solely electric power.

Diesel – To Buy Or Not To Buy?

Diesel hasn’t been that popular in the US and the introduction of hybrids will further reduce their popularity. In Europe, the laws requiring low-sulfur refining for gas made gas more expensive, which has in turn made diesel more attractive. The return on diesel is about 30% better than gas so the same liter gets you more bang for your buck.

The current result of all this is that Diesel is only 3% of the US car market. That might change though, the Diesel Technology Forum have quoted a survey that 40% of the populace would buy diesel. About 10 years ago it was a mere 13%.

According to fueleconomy.gov diesel is 20-35% better than gas power as far as emissions are concerned. Diesel and gas produce similar combustion, only diesel can do so at lower temperature. As a result, spark plugs are used to assist in a gas-powered car. This makes the diesel engine much more efficient.

The elephant trap with diesel is that the US has an emission standard which diesel engines find hard to match. The effects of diesel are more noticeable with the increased engine noise and engine odor. In other words, diesel is technically a little cleaner to operate but smells and looks worse.

Resale

Another reason not to buy is the price. Although diesels cost $2,500-$4,000 more (depending on the model) they seem to hold their value. Even if a diesel lacks spark plugs finding other spare parts may prove costly on the wallet.

Why do they store value better? Because they tend to run to much higher milage. For the vehicle to pay you back you need to keep it for more than five years, providing you use it on highways.

What about Traveling across the Country?

On long trips it can be tricky to find places to fill up your diesel tank. On the other hand, semis are almost all diesel so there are plenty of places to fill up in you’re willing to look. So travel isn’t a reason to prefer gas.

Does Type of Car Matter?

Diesel cars tend to have a strong Alpha Male appearance, so the US market, with their love of Pick-up trucks, may embrace non-gas pickups and off-road vehicles more than commuter or sports cars.

It’s not just cars, people seem to prefer gas powered vans. The Ford Transit was gas powered in the US but diesel powered everywhere else. As of 2011, an electric version might seem to supersede the gas and diesel versions, but it didn’t catch on.

What About Hybrids

There’s a lot of political pressure to reduce our use of fuel overall, which means EV’s or Hybrids. It could be a moot point which is better between diesel and gas, someday. BUT we’re not there yet.

The main reason why car companies continue to produce diesel instead of hybrid is due to cost. Retooling factories is expensive and EV’s and hybrids represent a huge cost compared to just refining the current models. Car makers do make large scale changes to their models but most of their “new models” are really just minor tweaks to the previous year. Why fix what aint broke? Especially if it’s really expensive. The consumer also wins in this scenario because the cost of retooling passes onto them. Consumers like feeling like they bought a brand new design at the cost of a car that’s been in production for 5 years.

So long-story-short, car companies are embracing EV’s and hybrids, just at a pace more inline with the natural attrition of their factory equipment.

This is where we see start up manufacturers like Tesla grab market share because they have the same outlay of money to build a factory regardless of the type of car they’re going to make.

As long as hybrids cost to make for the big traditional automakers we wont’ really know how popular hybrids are because they cost more than an equivalent gas or diesel, without the advantage of longevity diesel has. Fuel prices are another factor. If gas continues to rise in price people will start to look for relief. Only time will tell if they’ll buy more diesels or more hybrids.

Only when prices go down for hybrids and they become more mainstream does it become a fair economical comparison and gas prices are going to completely throw the numbers off.

With cars makers like Ford making an f-150 hybrid and the Toyota making a Tundra hybrid even our assertion that diesel might become more popular in US pickup trucks is in doubt. You’d think of, due to their off-road nature and the torque diesel would find a home.

In Conclusion?!?!

What’s all this macroeconomics, and trend projections got to do with the question: “Should I spend the extra up front to get a diesel or just by a gas car?”

Well, a lot, really. The big plus to diesel is the high mileage they might go to, the fuel economy (dollar for dollar) and the overall reliability. Altogether making diesel an easy win if your intention is to buy it and drive it until, and long after, its paid off. Which isn’t a good idea if diesel become rare or hard to find in the next five years.

Are we really saying Diesel manufacture could drop?

If demand drops it could happen, and it doesn’t have to go away completely to become a problem. If Supply drops due to low market demand, then price will go up. Fewer stations will carry it and your like-new Merc that was going to hold most of its value is suddenly an expensive lawn decoration.

Factors that might impact the Future…

Gas powered ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars seem to be the obvious poorer choice and should fade away, even in America. However, gas cars are the majority of the market still. They may continue to be the cheaper upfront purchase for a long time, where diesel is basically battling for its share of the slightly higher initial price vehicle market with hybrids. Making it more likely that one of those two competitors will get shoved out.

Bottom-line, gas-powered cars in the US will not go quietly into the good night. The will linger and likely cause upcoming laws banning them to be shoved off several times before they are entirely replaced.

The EV Factor

EV’s might continue to be the most expensive upfront vehicle as many people see it as the only full hedge against rising fuel prices. So, it’s likely that the part of the market that finds hybrids attractive would be at least as attracted to an all-electric vehicle (EV). In which case, hybrids are battling on two fronts.

Ironically if the laws currently working their way through the process succeed in banning the sale of new ICE cars by 2035, and everyone buys an EV, the cost of electricity will sky-rocket. Basically, your car will burn the same fuel as you heat your house and cook with—talk about demand.

EV’s can have a torque and traction advantage over ICE trucks, but until recently EVs have stuck the commuter market. One reason might be it’s the biggest slice of the market. Another, more likely, reason is the low range on EVs. It’s unlikely EVs will ever make inroads with the offroad market. Trucks like Tesla’s Cybertruck are marketing to an urban consumer.

So, the most likely outcome for EV’s is a steady rise in market share at the high (but not luxury) price point.

The Hybrid Factor

It’s unfortunate that US Automakers went all in on hybrid model cars because their future is the least bright. Too much competition, and most importantly the laws banning ICE vehicles have, for the most part, failed to exclude hybrids.

It’s also sad that Hybrids are likely doomed because from a sustainable and practical standpoint hybrids are the clear winner. When you combine emissions with the amount the toxic batteries going into landfills, hybrids have the best blend of upside with the minimal downside.

The Diesel Factor

Obviously if legislators can’t be bothered to differentiate between a gas ICE car and a hybrid car they can’t be bothered to exclude diesel from their ban.

Diesel has a couple opportunities to battle back. First, as already mentioned diesel is technically cleaner. There’s a chance that will count for something, some places, if not everywhere. Second, diesel engines easily convert to handle “bio-diesel” which should make the environmentalist lobby a little friendlier to them. But there isn’t a lot of real science (or thought) going on inside most of these lobby groups.

The Likely Deciding Factor

Range! How far can you go without stopping? This is pretty basic, but somehow EV marketing has done a great job of misdirection. Don’t look at the fact that our cars only go 300 miles and take a long time to recharge. Don’t think about how annoying it is your year-old cellphone has to be charge by 2 PM. Pay no attention to the lithium strip mining of the 3rd world or the landfills piling up with toxic batteries.

Sorry, forget that last part. The question will soon be, how far do you need to go?

You should look at the economics to see which vehicle is best. A diesel can go for 600 miles without stopping for a new fill-up. It’s most likely that suburban shoppers will demand to keep using gas cars, or switch to EV’s, while urban shoppers will transition to public transportation. This will leave diesels with an open market in the rural, and offroad markets.

BUT, as said earlier, if you constantly change vehicles gas may be better value in 2022 and 2023. But otherwise, why not go for diesel?

Electric Trucks And Similar Vehicles.

Rivian E-Pickup Truck

To create a new electric truck company it seems as if you need the right people to invest in you. One example is Rivian who is backed by the business giant Amazon. The Amazon stake is high – 20% of the company, but then again Ford has a 12% backing to the company.

You might need Einstein to work out the math. Although it’s produced only 150 trucks it’s valued at $100 billion, which is about 66 thousand million dollars per truck.

It’s not only the prestige of being backed by Amazon and Ford but this does work wonders. There are several competitors on its tail, such as GM. Rivian cannot survive by coolness alone. It has 55,000 trucks due to be built as well as an electric SUV set to hit the market so this should be added into the equation. Can it be scaled up okay? It needs to grow a huge amount to make waves against Tesla, though a valuation of Rivian says it will sell 3 million vehicles in 10 years.

Not all critics agree with this assessment, it will always need the assistance of Ford, remember. There is a total lack of proof so a bit of healthy skepticism is in order. Still, this sort of calculation is done all the time, there’s been hundreds of business startups.

Arrival

Arrival Electric Delivery Vehicle

Whereas many vehicles are being built in mega-factories the Arrival brand is being constructed in what is known as “microfactories” beginning in South Carolina. One small factory can make either 10,000 vans or buses. These vehicles won’t be on the market until later in 2022. It’s biggest selling point is price due to them being constructed by a composite metal instead of something similar to steel.

Since they are marketing towards fleet operators-that is logistic companies and transport companies they can be more certain of a client than those companies who rely on car lot sales. They can also be competitive with price. The shot in the arm for Arrival seems to be money from such brands as Hyandai and Kia.

BYD Motors

Based in LA, BYD Motors, are set to deliver five refuse vehicles, all class 8, to New Jersey. If you’re interested in specifics, two can hold 25 cubic yards of garbage and the other three can hold 10 cubic yards of garbage. They can run for eighty miles (about the distance between Jersey City and New Haven) and take a mere two hours to charge.

Electric Vehicles = Infrastructure

Electric trucks like all electric vehicles require the correct infrastructure, but the difference is staggering in that a semi going long distance (OTR) will need way more infrastructure than cars that might only get used around town. This isn’t only a matter of money but also time. The state of California to this end has organized a three-year hydrogen fueling and charging initiative for electric trucks, what they call heavy duty infrastructure.

It aims at zero carbon fuel production where possible and near zero carbon fuel production where that target is not feasible. Could these be weasel words? Who’s to say what is possible and what isn’t?

At least $244 million is added to allow for the manufacture of zero emission trucks. Is it possible to have zero emissions by 2035? Not without a huge amount of funding including EV truck stops with solar power. Everyone needs something to aim at though.

Canoo Electric Truck

Honorable mention goes to Canoo Electric Truck which is more of a camper van. Still its an impressive vehicle with multiple expandable work surfaces and outlets throughout the bed and storage compartments. Known for its 2019 microbus the Canoo Pickup will be available in 2023. The California based company believes this will be popular with their adventurous customer base.

Deadline 2030ish – How Cars May Change

When governments and car companies start planning for 2030 or 2035 they are no longer planning for the long term, but the midterm. The planning centers on getting more green vehicles on the market. Although the planning is technically midterm, they’re trying to look at the long term. Of course, “environmentally sound” is in the eye of the scientist. (Still haven’t found an sound way to mine or dispose of those batteries, have we?)

Cars which run on gas power are known by the acronym ICE for vehicles with an Internal Combustion Engine. The stated goal of this phase a “phase-out” of ICE cars.

The target in California doesn’t include heavier trucks but it does include off-road vehicles.

You will be able to buy a hybrid car in 2030, up until 2035.

52% vehicle sales will be all-electric by 2030, according to the latest figures. The plan is to breed a bunch more Elon Musks who will create another bunch of electric car start-ups by this date which will create this demand (or at least the public’s interest in these companies will create this demand). This distinction may be important. One obvious thorn in this plan is that Elon Musk (the 1st) is already moving his manufacture out of California as its too tax heavy.

A recent survey found that most people surveyed felt that these new start-ups will have a moderate effect on sales. Remember they are called start-ups, but these are also huge businesses selling thousands, even tens of thousands of cars.

Although 91% of those polled support the program (that’s not the same as wanting to buy an electric car by the way), only 77% felt it could be achieved without the subsidy of the government.

Manufacture Innovation Adoption (Er…Absorption)

It’s not the same throughout the industry. Ford and GM only went for a goal of 50% by 2030. Why is that particularly important to pay attention to? Because if history shows us anything in the car business its that these startups will eventually be swallowed up by a bigger company. So why not use the larger company you may ask. Traditionally, large companies get comfortable leading the market and miss opportunities to meet hidden demand. That’s a fancy way of saying they use there market position to sell cars that people don’t really want until people get so frustrated that they go start their own car company that does make a desirable product. After the new car company innovates, the established company buys them out and continues to incorporate the innovation. Okay that’s a pretty radical depiction of the situation, but on some level its true.

State Incentives

It seems that only a few states are currently offering real incentives for drivers of electric vehicles, such as Arizona, California, Colorado and Texas. Florida is the most populous state which is currently not considering an electric car revolution.

The margin of error for the studies of market adaption is somewhere between 20% and 90%, which is a wide to the point of being meaningless. Does it all come down to the mindset of the American consumer? Yes. Is the consumer fickle? YES!

The Rest of the World

It is a worldwide problem. China and Japan will also undergo a steep climb in car sales over the same period. Japan has plans to achieve total electric cars by the 2030s (though doesn’t give an exact year). They also plan to be totally carbon neutral by the year 2050.

Looking at French speaking Canada, the light duty ICE vehicles will no longer be on sale in Quebec. Something that may confuse you is the omission of a distinction between electric and hybrid vehicles. There is a rebate offered if you rent or purchase an electric vehicle (this offer does seem to differentiate between electric and hybrid) but it is unclear if this rule will remain in place by the end of the decade.

It remains to be seen how serious the governments of the world are. Also, it’s likely that the lack of distinction between hybrid and EV is owed to politicians hedging their bets against Consumers who aren’t ready to limit their travel to only 300 miles at a go.

E-racers – Grand Turismo and Forza

It seems that the virtual world of racing is as interesting as the real world of racing. As always, it depends on how you like your thrills.

Grand Turismo

Starting with the Grand Turismo brand; Grand Turismo 7 has been linked with the Porsche brand since 2017. It’s different from designing a car as it’s all about what it feels like to be behind the wheel and although you need to know something about the interior and the paintwork this isn’t the main focus.

The Deep Forest Roadway is apparently back as is the Trial Mountain and the High-Speed Ring.

This is the first year that a Porsche has been developed for the game, as if it were a concept car or one-off. It’s not a car you’d see on the road now, it’s far too futuristic an aesthetic.

Porsche Taycan

It needs to look and feel as if it were a Porsche-in other words, have the correct proportions and the iconic light strip which is linked with the brand. It has a hologram display in a curved shape which is also linked with Porsche and has the low seat associated with a racing car. Although these features wouldn’t necessarily work in real life.

The LED headlights are certainly reminiscent of the Porsche but to be clearer it is most similar to a Taycan, a Porsche electric sports car.

The titanium and carbon casing that the car were accounted for in the weight and wind dynamics effect on the cars handling. Funny enough, made sure that interior appears to be made out of vegan elements. Not sure why a car that doesn’t actually exist in real life needs to go that far, but…there you have it.

The display reacts to the steering wheel/controller as quickly as it can be. There are a number of mysteries under the hood which the game merely hints at.

Apparently, creating a concept car so real your competitors could potentially steel your design ideas from it’s avatar in a racing game is a concern for Porsche. Remember when automakers tried to keep people from viewing their design models so you couldn’t reverse engineer them—well, now adays you might be able to do it from a digital footprint.

Forza Horizon 7

Forza Horizon 7 has introduced speedsters such as the Lamborghini Aventador and various other vehicles recognizable to road users such as the 2011 Ferrari. There is also the 1939 Maserati which might only be considered highly recognizable to vintage car experts.

Do people buy the Forza Horizon for the different qualities of car horns which can be heard? It’s highly unlikely, but they made the horn sounds accurate and we nerds thank them for adding a new level detail to the gameplay.

Unfortunately, its predecessor Forza Motorsport 7 stopped being available in online stores in September 2021. The only way to buy it as a boxed copy is now second hand.

1939 Maserati

This seems to be the way of things; gone are the days of owning a physical copy of a game. People must prefer to buy it online and play it online without a physical box or file that you can hold.

Even if you delete Forza Motorsport 7 and similar games you can redownload it for nothing (in a similar way as you can redownload apps).

As of December 2021, there’s no news of the game which is simply called Forza Motorsport, or the one called Forza Motorsport 8. Project Woodstock is also linked to Forza but again there’s scant news about these projects.

This keeps everything guessing about the latest fads, so it probably keeps online racers intrigued. We’d love to write a post about how racing game developers are pushing designers to innovate real cars, or something along those lines, but game developers don’t seem to be able to push themselves to release their own games on time. So we’ll work with what we have. Look for updates as they become available.