Germany Says No To A Ban On New Combustion-Powered Cars

Morning Dump Germany

Germany says no to the EU’s combustion car ban, Polestar’s SPAC date draws nearer, AMG murders out the GLE. All this and more on today’s issue of The Morning Dump.

Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.

Germany Rejects EU Combustion Car Ban

Germany hopes eFuels can prevent a combustion car ban
Photo credit: Porsche

Just when it looked like the internal combustion era was truly about to end in Europe, in steps Germany to defy the ban. According to Reuters, Germany plans to reject the European Union’s proposal to ban all new combustion-powered cars by 2035, dealing a blow to the future of the proposal. As reported by the Associated Press, Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing said, “We want to shape the transformation in a way that is technologically open,” further elaborating by stating that “This includes registering new cars beyond 2035 if they are powered exclusively with synthetic fuels in a climate neutral way.”

Honestly, a blanket ban seems a bit excessive, and synthetic fuels are certainly an interesting way of sidestepping a combustion car ban. They’re created without drilling and can often be burned in a standard combustion engine without the need for special modifications. The refining processes can be powered by sustainable energy, and the fuels claim to not emit more carbon emissions than the production process removes from the atmosphere, rendering the fuels climate-neutral. They are still very much experimental technologies, although early reports seem promising. Personally, I’m a fan of trying out this renewable fuel concept and seeing what happens. After all, it’s typically sensible from an environmental standpoint to stick with the car you currently own, and a source of cleaner fuel should prevent those who need a car but can’t afford an EV from falling into a chasm of sorts from a combustion car ban. The principles are sound, now let’s see it in practice.

Polestar SPAC Merger Draws Near

Polestar 2 White
Photo credit: Polestar

Just when it seemed like EV SPAC mania was finally over, Polestar leaps into the public market using this controversial reverse merger technique. According to Automotive News Europe, this method of going public will raise an estimated $850 million for Polestar and list the company on the NASDAQ. It’s expected that Polestar will merge with Gores Guggenheim SPAC on Thursday and that the stock’s ticker will switch from GGPI to PSNY on Friday. But wait, what is a SPAC and why is Polestar using this particular method to go public?

SPAC stands for Special Purpose Acquisition Company, or a shell company raising capital to merge with or acquire an existing company. SPACs have been fairly popular in recent years because they don’t require as much paperwork as filing for initial public offering (IPO) does. Lucid Motors went public via SPAC, as did Faraday Future. It’s worth noting that while SPACs do offer corporate advantages, they also come with risk for investors. One extreme case is that of Electric Last Mile Solutions, which went public via SPAC and has recently filed for bankruptcy according to Reuters.

It’s worth noting that I’m not qualified to give financial advice and that holding stock in any automaker would be rather immoral in my line of business, but it’s still worth informing people of the risks that come with investing. Whether you buy in or you don’t, it’s still a good idea to be informed. It’s also worth noting that a few SPACs have eventually bounced to near pre-merger heights and that this is a huge moment for Polestar, both in terms of raising capital and in terms of business development. As ever, it’ll be interesting to track stock value in a year’s time.

Hyundai and Michelin Commit To Three More Years

Large 45968 2022ioniq5
Photo credit: Hyundai

Good news from the tire world, Hyundai Motor Group and Michelin have committed to another three years of tire development for OEM applications. According to Hyundai Motor Group, this announcement comes hot on the heels of an existing five year partnership, and heralds a more focused partnership concentrating on EV tire tech. Bong-soo Kim, Vice President and Head of Chassis Development Center at Hyundai Motor Group seems quite confident in this arrangement, saying in a statement that “This partnership with Michelin will result in real innovations in tire technology, solidifying Hyundai Motor Group’s position as a leader in the smart mobility industry.”

The Michelin collaboration makes a ton of sense as Hyundai and Genesis have been strong proponents of Michelin rubber. The Genesis G70 sports sedan comes on PS4 tires, the Hyundai Elantra N sport compact comes on PS4S summer tires, and both the Genesis GV80 crossover and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric crossover roll on Primacy Tour all-seasons, the latter of which were specially-optimized to meet the Ioniq 5’s targets. While tire tech has always been important, there’s a chance it’s now more important than ever. See, take away engine noise and add the low drag coefficients EVs are known for, and suddenly the bulk of noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) comes from the tires. Add in the massive weight of a long-range battery pack, and it seems like we’re entering an era that needs high-load index tires that are quieter and more comfortable than just about anything that’s come before. Honestly, the extension of the Hyundai Motor Group and Michelin tie-in is great news, and I’m excited to sample future offerings.

AMG Murders Out The GLE

22c0216 001
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Sure, BMW’s M division may be celebrating 50, but AMG is turning 55 and looks ready to rumble. In an act of celebration, the makers of often berserk Benzes are dropping a limited-edition version of the GLE mid-size SUV. While at first glance, a performance SUV doesn’t seem to honor the AMG Hammer or Die Rote Sau, the top-trim GLE Coupe looks a bit swine-like and definitely fits AMG’s heritage of making big, comfy things go quicker than they should go.

Gle Edition 55 Interior
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

So what exactly does the Edition 55 treatment entail? Honestly, a whole lot of black. Black 22-inch forged wheels with special center caps, black trim, dark graphics above the sills, black chrome exhaust tips, and Obsidian Black Metallic paint are all present and accounted for here. Of course, buyers can swap out the black paint for Diamond White Metallic from Merc’s Manufaktur (nee Designo) line for a high-contrast option, but I suspect the murdered-out look will be quite popular. On the inside, Edition 55 models add some red to go with the black, with red-and-black leather on the seats and door cards, red contrast stitching on textile surfaces, red illuminated door sill plates, and plenty of carbon fiber. Finishing up the interior is a special Edition 55 emblem on the steering wheel, and topping everything off is a special indoor car cover. While we don’t know much about pricing for the Edition 55 treatment, it’s available both on the V8-powered GLE 63 and on the inline six-powered GLE 53 in SUV and coupe SUV bodystyles in limited numbers of 55 units each for America. Buyers can expect to take delivery later this year, although precise timing hasn’t been confirmed.

The Flush

Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. I took some time yesterday to get the drivetrain refresh finished up on my 325i, and I’m wondering what you think the most underrated thing you can change on a car is? Maybe you like your sidewalls to do the flexing and your suspension bushings to stay put, maybe you enjoy the satisfaction of a well-weighted shift knob, or maybe you’re a huge fan of throwing LED bulbs in your dome lights. Whatever the case, I’d love to hear about your favorite little maintenance items and upgrades.

Lead photo credit: Ruben Holthuijsen, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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42 Responses

  1. “what you think the most underrated thing you can change on a car is?” – properly inflated tires.

    I am the unfortunate owner of a very slowly leaking left rear tire, but every time I top it up and check the others to make sure everything is where I want it to be, that next drive always feels sooooo good.

        1. The tire pressure for a given wheel is related to the load it has to support. You will frequently note manufacturers quoting an ’empty’ and ‘fully loaded’ spec for their vehicles. Therefore, many small, rear engined cars have pretty low recommended pressures for the front end. On VW 411/412’s for instance, the recommended inflation pressure on the front wheels is 23 PSI. Old Porsches are low like that too, with the 1968 911 recommending 26 PSI.

      1. Is this a thing?

        LR slow leaks on my C10 and the Mustang! Both have fairly new tires and had new valve stems at that time. It’s too slow to bother fixing, but man, what a coincidence.

      1. Factory specs for my 2017 i3 REX are 33 front / 41 rear; not surprising as the motor and range extender are both in the rear and it has staggered tires. I run them all roughly 5 psi higher for better tire wear / increased efficiency.

        The best upgrade I’ve done recently was enabling the “Hold State of Charge” mode on it. I highly recommend this to anyone else who has a US-spec i3 REX. It makes the car vastly more useful and pleasant.

      1. I like that my tailgate drops violently. Sometimes the stupid thing doesn’t latch and with my tonneau cover I can’t necessarily see it so feeling/hearing it drop helps me know to get out and close it.

      2. Not to go all “think of the children” here, but my 6 year old niece tried to shut a tailgate last year and didn’t quite get it latched. If I hadn’t been standing there it would have dropped on her head.

        I don’t have one on my truck, but it’s a useful cheap upgrade so you can take your mockery and GTFO.

    1. Fully agree. Technology is still full of opportunities, the target should be a result (contribution to warming) and not a mandatory solution (no ICE). That’s how we live now with catalytic converters attached to our pipes -at list our car’s one- when other solutions were available to decrease greenhouse gases.

      1. Houstonian here: I do it with the windows down; it’s like a free sauna. Luckily I’m never doing this to / from something important like work, a date, an activity that would require I am hydrated when I arrive or at full mental capacity.

  2. Torch should read this as I believe it is the same on his truck as mine.

    My favorite maintenance tweak was turning the oil gauge in my truck into an actual gauge.
    In the 90s Ford started to move to dummy gauges on much of their stuff. For my truck, coolant still reads as a sweeping gauge, as does the charging system, but instead of an oil pressure sender they have an oil pressure switch and at about 6ish PSI the switch turns from Off to On. At that point its wired up so that the gauge will read a customer appropriate level on the dash.

    All it takes is removing the dash, bypassing the resistor on the gauge with a jumper wire, then replacing the switch with a sender and you’ve got actual oil pressure on your dash.

    No numbers on the system, and you need to calibrate it if you are really interested, but it was enough to let me know my oil pump was going out before it did.

    1. An excellent suggestion.

      For those wondering why Ford and other automakers did this, it was to reduce service visits for vehicles when the gauge moved in a normal fashion but the customer thought something was wrong.

      My Tempos and ’95 Taurus were/are among the last Fords with a “real” temp gauge (you could tell when the thermostat opened, etc), not one programed to read normal until the temperature climbed high enough to warrant a warning, in other words, becoming a glorified idiot light.

  3. Just changed my shifter knob on my Firebird. Nothing crazy, but i now get the put my hand in a sweet lady everytime i shift…

    The (pretty old) knob was 1/2 in size while my stock shifter shaft had 16mm in size.
    About 2 hours later and some homemade bolt crafting, the thing is now in its place!

    While a small project it was fun anyway.

  4. Well done Germany! It was an utterly stupid plan and it deserved to get kicked in the teeth.
    I’m actually shocked the idea got this far.

    What is it about environmentalists that they -too often- come up with really dumb ideas? Guys,you have a certain amount of goodwill to work with.Dont waste it on pie in the sky stuff!

    1. Because the environmentalists aren’t the ones making the policy, it’s scumbags politicians that want to look like they are helping but don’t give a shit if it actually helps. So they make policies that mostly screw poor people, and ignore industries that emit way more pollution than personal cars.

  5. While it’s not a small upgrade, it’s not one I’ve ever read about but have done nonetheless: custom seat foam.

    Driving is so much more comfortable with something taylored to my own butt and the additional lateral support in the twisties is oh so good.

  6. “Whatever the case, I’d love to hear about your favorite little maintenance items and upgrades.”

    … wait, you’re serious?
    I dunno, I guess completely redoing the internals without cranking the power up to 11 is a ‘little upgrade’? If the manufacturer did it wrong enough that I’m that unhappy with it, I’m not going to slap some Flexseal on the Titanic and call it done.

  7. A couple of easy upgrades that even I (with barely a modicum of wrenching ability) can do in a few minutes:

    1. Install a decent pair of wiper blades. Instead of squinting through a streaky haze every single time I drive, my view of the asshat running the red light in front became crystal clear after spending all of $20 bucks on the slightly-better-than-average Bosch Icon blades, and probably saved my life.

    2. A set of those deep all-weather floor mats that you can just hose off. Stupidly expensive for what is just some injection moulded plastic, but worth every cent whenever you drive home from somewhere muddy/snowy/sandy and don’t want to spend the next 5 years smelling whatever crap was in the dirt you trod in every time you get behind the wheel.

  8. I’d say my favorite upgrade would be modern OEM wheels/tires on an older car (see profile pic for example, although one got cut off).

    When you account for the difference in sidewall, they sit almost exactly the same height, but finding 17s today is SO MUCH EASIER than 15s or, gasp, 14s or below. I couldn’t find 12s in the 2000s when I had my Festiva, I couldn’t imagine finding them now (internet Chinese garbage notwithstanding).

    I was able to find new GoodYear Wrangler TrailRunner ATs (made in USA) for the pickup in 15″, so I ended up going with a set of rally wheels for the classic square body look. Seems easier to find 15s in truck sizes, especially all terrains. Probably so many out there that demand is warranted.

    I’m sure it throws the suspension geometry off a little, but the car handles much better and is even more planted feeling than it was with 15s (to say nothing of my earlier Taurus’ with 14s). Fuel mileage is excellent and I haven’t gone through wheel bearings or brakes or anything else out of the ordinary. The wheels came from a 2015ish Focus.

  9. “The Genesis G70 sports sedan comes on PS4 tires, the Hyundai Elantra N sport compact comes on PS4S summer tires, and both the Genesis GV80 crossover and the Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric crossover roll on Primacy Tour all-seasons, the latter of which were specially-optimized to meet the Ioniq 5’s targets.”

    Funny thing I learned about modern tires, basically every OEM tire is either a little or a LOT different to the generic tire of the same brand name (ex. PS4) that you would buy from like, tire rack. The brand name at that point is purely marketing

  10. “solidifying Hyundai Motor Group’s position as a leader in the smart mobility industry.”

    Does anybody else get annoyed by companies declaring themselves, their products or their industry as “smart”? It’s like someone self declaring themselves as “cool”. It just feels wrong.

    Also, by extension, would that mean that, say Jeep, is a stupid mobility company?

  11. Good for Germany, while I’m not against a electrified future….I just think we’re jumping the gun by alot. Electric does t make sense for alot of people myself included living in a rural area so why should we have to suffer under electric rules? What about all the 100s of other countries that will NEVER have the infastructor or money for electric? It just doesn’t make sense that we have to do things and they don’t… Wtf

  12. …not change, per se, but address is conditioning my head light plastic…went from a worn, matte-ish finish to crystal clear with one of those kits from one of those auto parts stores. Also polished the chrome bumper just because I was in the garage and actively avoiding house projects.

    1. True about the headlights, but I’ve also replaced them in several cars to great effect (’95 Accord, my Taurus, 05 Element). I don’t mean with some tacky eBay shit, either, I mean OEM style, just new.

      The Accords and Elements headlights were too far gone to clean, plus replacements were cheap. The Taurus had the old plastic style and I upgraded to the crystalline clear ones used in the higher end models. This was not a cheap upgrade, but one I definitely do not regret.

  13. Stick-on convex mirrors on the wing mirrors! It costs about $4 and provides the driver with as much information as a blind spot monitoring system and automatic mirror tilt-down in reverse feature, combined.

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