Honda issued a pretty serious Ridgeline recall, VinFast ponders an electric truck, McLaren unveils the Artura GT4. 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.
Ejecto Fuel Tank-o, Cuz!
In a normal modern car, fuel is supposed to be pumped from the tank through the fuel lines into the injectors, then atomized, compressed, ignited, and burned. Some Honda Ridgeline pickup trucks in salt belt states have found a way to potentially bypass this pesky process and simply return petroleum products to the earth from which they came. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t a good thing, so Honda’s issued a recall. While there haven’t been any reported fuel leaks due to this problem, the potential is very much there due to how de-icing agents take their toll on the Ridgeline’s structure. Unsurprisingly, the recall report spells out exactly what that leads to.
“Over time, the accumulated de-icing agents/mud/dirt mixture could cause the frame mounting surface, where the fuel tank mounting bands are attached, to corrode and possibly separate from the frame.”
While most fuel tanks are tougher than Hollywood’s SFX departments believe, that doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. All that banging around underneath an affected Ridgeline can cause a detached fuel tank to leak, which is bad for the environment and bad full-stop should fuel splash onto something like hot brakes or a catalytic converter. What can I say, your chances of fiery Ridgeline death are low, but never zero. Owners of 2006 to 2014 Ridgelines currently or previously registered in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin can expect recall notices to arrive in the mail in August, with repairs to start thereafter.
Of course, scope of repairs depends entirely on how much the undercarriage of each individual Ridgeline resembles the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. According to the recall report, the recall fixes look like this:
1) attach a reinforcement brace, clean the rear frame, and apply anti-corrosive wax
- attach reinforcement repair plates if necessary
2) repair a corroded frame; or
3) offer to repurchase the vehicle
Wow, that potential buyback option certainly seems extreme. While I’m sure Honda dealers will do the best they can to repair affected vehicles, some Ridgelines might be too far gone to economically save. A total of 112,060 U.S.-market Ridgeline pickups may be affected by this recall, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see buybacks offered on several early vehicles. Honestly, a buyback is the worst possible case, and a crappy thing for consumers due to the short supply of replacement vehicles, especially considering the niche the Ridgeline fills.
Harley-Davidson Agrees To Right To Repair
Harley-Davidson, America’s most iconic cosplay company, has finally agreed to some level of right to repair language. According to Reuters, the Federal Trade Commission said on Thursday that the maker of obnoxious motorcycles has agreed to uphold warranties when customers use independent shops and third-party parts. Previous Harley-Davidson warranty language stated that “the use of parts and service procedures other than Harley-Davidson approved parts and service procedures may void the limited warranty.” Obviously, this previous language was a bad move, especially considering how many Harley owners use trusted independent shops and install aftermarket accessories on their bikes.
I’m not going to mince words here – if you’re interested in the concept of a free marketplace and want what’s genuinely best for consumers, right to repair is a massive deal. The concept of the right for consumers to not be locked to a manufacturer for service and parts, to have everything from smartphones to cars serviced at independent centers without any issues, supports small businesses and hobbyists across the country while lowering repair barriers for consumers.
VinFast Floats The Idea Of An Electric Pickup Truck
The electric truck wars offer the chance of a paradigm shift in the American pickup truck market, so it shouldn’t be surprising that everyone and their mothers want in on it. Ford has the F-150 Lightning, Rivian has the R1T, GMC has the Hummer EV, Chevrolet is gearing up to launch the Silverado EV, and Tesla might be doing something. That’s all before we even get into startups with bold plans like Lordstown Motors and Atlis.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vietnamese EV maker VinFast might want a piece of the action. Speaking with Reuters on Thursday, VinFast U.S. chief service officer Craig Westbrook seemed receptive to the idea of an electric pickup truck. “If we decide that’s what the market needs, and I think it absolutely could, yeah. It’s something we should consider,” said Westbrook. That’s definitely a more forward response than the typical automaker’s unwillingness to comment on future product, and VinFast honestly seems like it could be well-positioned to enter the electric truck market. With a plant in North Carolina on track for 2024, a chicken tax-friendly production facility would be exactly what VinFast would need to break into the truck market. Obviously, things are still very much not finalized, but it’s an interesting perspective to see.
McLaren Unplugs The Artura For GT4 Racing
The McLaren Artura is a technological tour de force. I mean come on, hybridization, a 120-degree hot-vee turbocharged V6, McLaren’s first electronically-controlled limited-slip differential, and an all-new carbon chassis are some serious bits of hardware. However, to make the new Artura GT4 race car, McLaren has yanked out the hybrid system for rulebook appeasement and weight savings. See, hybrids aren’t allowed in GT4 class, but that seems to be anything but a downside here. After all, what manufacturer wouldn’t kill for a 287-pound (130 kg) weight reduction over the street car?
Now, this does come with a caveat. McLaren lists dry weights for their cars, which is a rather meaningless measure. We don’t weigh ourselves without any blood in our bodies, why weigh cars without any fluids in them? Still, 287 pounds is nothing to sneeze at, and it’s required some pretty big changes to make happen. Because McLaren ditched the hybrid system, the whole eight-speed gearbox had to be thrown in the bin due to reverse gear being provided by the electric motor. As a result, the Artura GT4 rocks a seven-speed transaxle with a mechanical limited-slip differential that offers a proper reverse gear.
Since the removal of the hybrid system leaves a massive cavity low in the structure where the battery pack would normally go, McLaren’s stuck a 29 gallon (110 liter) fuel cell in the gap. Add in required safety gear, a new aerodynamic package including a fixed wing and canards, lightweight windows, and a new Bosch DDU instrument cluster, and you have a fully-fledged turn-key GT4 racer. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Artura GT4 starts at just £10,000, or roughly $12,304.30 at the time of writing, more than the basic road car. That doesn’t seem terrible considering all the extra FIA-approved safety equipment, the reworked powertrain, and all the research and development that went into making the GT4 car.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve made it to the last day of the week which means automotive adventures draw near. To celebrate, let’s play a game. The car market is still absolutely insane and will continue to be bonkers for a long time, so lots of people are just fixing up the cars they have. What’s the most unreasonably-priced car part you can think of that isn’t for some exotic car? I’m going with BMW part number 51167131147, a cupholder for the mid-2000s 6-Series coupe and cabriolet that retails for north of $1,200. While that’s an exorbitant price, its model-specific nature tempers things ever so slightly. If you know of anything more ridiculous or similarly egregious, I’d love to know.
Lead photo credit: Honda