You may not like your job, but take solace in the fact that you’re (probably) not one of the Tesla engineers who logged in to Twitter this week and saw their boss publicly declaring their work product “actually not great.” The software he was tweeting about is a beta, or test, version of Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving (FSD) program, but Tesla owners pay $199 a month for access to the non-beta FSD product, and the test software is only available to people already paying for FSD.
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This Week in Sheetmetal
EV startup Lucid hasn’t yet delivered a single car in the U.S., but it’s already updating its launch edition. Lucid previously said its Air Dream launch model would have 1080 horsepower and 503 miles of driving range. Now they’re offering a 1111-hp Performance model of the Dream that is claimed to go from zero to 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds, or a range-oriented model with 933 hp. Lucid didn’t share new estimated range figures.
Ford never officially announced that it was working on a pickup variant of the Bronco and now it never will. Reports say the company has scrapped plans for a Bronco truck to maintain focus on the forthcoming compact Maverick and the existing mid-size Ranger, with which the Bronco truck would have shared a footprint.
Acura executive Jon Ikeda confirmed that there will be a next-generation NSX—the current generation is in its swan song phase—and hinted that a future NSX might be fully electric, an evolution from the current car’s hybrid powertrain.
If an electric NSX hasn’t convinced you that EVs can be fun, too, then maybe this will do the trick: Ford has teased an electric crate motor called the Eluminator that will go on sale this fall and is designed for drivers looking to turn gas-engine cars into performance EVs.
Sales of and interest in EVs have increased rapidly in the last few years, and practically every major automaker has pledged to make significant investments in electrifying its fleet over the coming decades. But every big change comes with stumbling blocks, and this one is no exception. GM announced late last week that it was expanding a recall on Chevy Bolts to include every Bolt EV and EUV ever built. The recall is over a manufacturing defect in some Bolts’ LG-supplied batteries that could lead to fires, and which Chevy apparently can’t pinpoint to specific cars or groups of cars. Chevy has paused production on the Bolt until at least mid-September and will have to spend more than a billion dollars paying to repair the Bolts already on the road.
Meanwhile, in Japan, the number of EV charging stations has decreased for the first time since 2010, from 30,300 in 2020 to 29,200 in 2021. Toyota president Akio Toyoda made comments in June that appeared to disparage the Japanese government’s aggressive charger installation strategy. Perhaps not unrelated, Toyota still hasn’t given up on the hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles that most manufacturers have eschewed for battery-electrics. Toyota announced this week that it plans to start building fuel-cell modules for semi trucks in its Kentucky in 2023.
More, Different Chip Drama
There was, of course, the usual smattering of semiconductor shortage–related production pauses this week. But there was also microchip news of an entirely different sort, thanks to a Reuters report that the U.S. government has approved license applications for Chinese telecommunications company Huawei that would allow the company to buy automotive microchips from U.S. suppliers. Huawei’s 5G device business is the target of trade restrictions imposed by the Trump administration and upheld by the Biden administration. In response to those restrictions, Huawei shifted some of its efforts to supplying automotive components for so-called connected vehicles. U.S. Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio slammed the license approvals, but the Reuters report says since the chips Huawei sought approval to buy for its automotive business were less advanced than the ones it would have used in its 5G business, the bar for approving the licenses was lower.
If you just can’t get enough of the intricacies of the supply chain, read this explainer from the Wall Street Journal on why everything is taking so long to build right now.
The New York Times has a deep-dive into a fatal Autopilot crash in Florida.
Or, if you’re in the mood for something cheerful, watch Ken Block and friends race 2000 hp of off-road cars on a short out-and-back course.
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