Max Verstappen poses next to a special Honda e, Ye is working on a vehicle, the EU mulls a toxic label for lithium. 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.
Bring Your Own World Champion
Look, any excuse to post Honda e content is a good one. This wonderfully adorable electric city car is everything the next Mini should be – hip, gadget-filled, sustainable. It just oozes cool from every seam and shut line, an inch-perfect depiction of what retro modern should be. Leaning into the fashion car role, Honda’s decided to launch a special Limited Edition version in Europe, and it seems to have smashed it.
A limited-edition fashion car is always a tricky thing. Play it too safe on the colorway and it’ll seem boring. Going a bit wild risks the special edition aging poorly, so it’s a bit of a tightrope here. Thankfully, Honda’s used common sense – a bit of red, a bit of black, job done. The cherry red paint looks absolutely dripping, while the black roof, alloys, and trim add some decent contrast. I’m generally not a fan of black wheels, but I reckon they might just work here. Anyway, Honda’s only making 50 of these Limited Edition models for Europe, so they’re sure to sell quickly. Also, just to be extremely clear, Max Verstappen is not included with the purchase of a Honda e Limited Edition. Sorry, Red Bull fans. Another minor disappointment is that the Honda e still isn’t planned for the U.S. market. A bit of a shame considering how hip it is, but understandable given its limited range. So, if you’re American and want to get your hands on a Honda e Limited Edition, set an alarm for 2047.
Ye Is Working On A Vehicle
From shoes, to electronics, to rapping about bleached assholes, Ye is a cultural force who’s here to stay. More importantly, this controversial figure is not afraid to get properly weird. While the release of Donda 2 had a bizarre cyberpunk aesthetic and the shift from rap to Christian music is a bit of a strange move, that’s nothing compared to the Donda foam vehicle.
At this point, I have no idea if the Donda foam vehicle will actually be a real concept car or just a rendering. The first photo states “Conceptualized, designed, manufactured in the United States,” but what does Ye mean by “manufactured”? I haven’t forgotten about Turbo Grafx 16. Still, this rendering is heaps better than the will.i.amg that Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am dropped earlier this year. The Donda foam vehicle is a cab-forward van-like thing with a huge rake and what appear to be airless tires. Nifty stuff with properly weird enthusiast credentials. As for the “foam” part of the name, we’re still trying to figure that out. The Renault 5 used foam-dipped bumpers, but that doesn’t mean the Donda foam vehicle is intended to use traditional construction techniques. Maybe it’ll float like a giant Yeezy slide? Who knows? Actually, who even knows if we’ll ever see a full-scale version? Still, it’s neat seeing those without traditional automotive design experience try their hand at cars. Sometimes it results in brilliance, sometimes it results in The Homer, but it never hurts to try.
EU Mulls Toxic Label For Lithium
Hot on the heels of banning new fossil fuel-powered vehicles past 2025, the European Union is mulling over declaring lithium carbonate, hydroxide, and chloride as dangerous Class 1A reproductive toxins. According to Bloomberg, some of the studies cited in this proposal date back to the 1980s and 1990s.
Now, I don’t mean to be rash here, but has the European Union gone thick? It’s common knowledge that the phrase, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” is often the most terrifying one in the English language, but it doesn’t take someone with even a triple-digit I.Q. score to realize this is a bad idea for the concept of affordable electric cars. In a best-case scenario, classifying lithium carbonate and hydroxide as Class 1A toxins will set up roadblocks and added costs for extracting and refining lithium, and producing common NMC batteries found in most EVs. In the worst case, it could mean that automakers are forced to find different battery tech and quickly. See, the EU plans to phase out similarly-classified carcinogenic and mutagenic toxins like flame retardants and PVC, so a wide-scale phaseout of lithium could have catastrophic effects from the mines to the battery recycling centers. It just isn’t conducive to the EU’s plan to have a competitive local battery supply by 2025.
While environmental regulations are a good thing, weighing short-term costs and benefits of sacrificing some lithium regulation for stable domestic production of vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions makes it fairly clear that electric vehicles are a fairly large environmental improvement over fossil fuel-powered vehicles, and incremental environmental gains can likely be made once domestic production is stable. Then again, electric vehicles alone won’t save us, so if we’re going for a shitshow anyway, we might as well do it big.
Rivian’s Moving Units
Let’s end things off with a bit of good news, because who doesn’t like good news? Electric truck maker Rivian is ramping up production. Reuters reports the Normal, Ill. firm produced 4,401 vehicles last quarter and delivered 4,467. Hey, those aren’t bad numbers considering Rivian’s a startup and we’re experiencing a global shortage of everything.
Rivian built just 2,553 trucks in the first quarter, so 4,401 represents a fairly significant jump in production. As the chip shortage eases, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see that figure rise further. God knows Rivian hopes the same, catching up on deposits seems like a herculean task. Hopefully the maker of nifty electric trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles can keep things up. It’s always nice when carmakers succeed at making good vehicles because more choice in the marketplace is a good thing. At the bare minimum, it makes the roads more interesting.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. While Ye’s attempt at designing a vehicle certainly seems interesting, I’d love to know what automotive designer you feel is underrated. Maybe you want to vindicate Chris Bangle, celebrate Harm Lagaay, or give thanks to Uwe Bahnsen. I’ll nominate Luigi Colani for being a car designer worthy of more credit. While his designs were certainly experimental, I reckon he’d have had a lot of fun in the current low-drag EV age. He had such a wonderful vision of organic futurism that was decades ahead of its time.
[Editor’s Note: This is just to remind Thomas that our health plan includes vision. – JT]
Lead photo credit: Honda