Audi goes to Formula 1, Tesla wants FSD Beta videos taken down, Ford hikes Mustang Mach-E pricing. All this and more in 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.
Audi To Officially Enter Formula 1 In 2026
After months and months of chatter through the grapevine, Audi has finally confirmed that it will enter Formula 1 in 2026. However, don’t expect Audi to develop an actual chassis. Audi is entering Formula 1 as a power unit supplier, offering teams a healthy helping of Vorsprung durch Technik.
While not quite the same as developing a whole car from scratch, developing a power unit is still fascinating, especially considering proposed changes for 2026. In four years’ time, Formula 1 cars will still use the 1.6-liter V6 turbo hybrid architecture, just with a much more powerful hybrid system. Audi claims equal output of around 536 horsepower (400 kW) for both the combustion engine and the electric motor and a sustainable fuel requirement.
While Audi hasn’t yet announced what team it will partner with, expect news on that by the end of 2022. The mockup you see here is just a 2022 Formula 1 car with an Audi livery and not really indicative of future product. Still, it’s a neat visual. According to an Audi press release, the Formula 1 project exists “as a consequence of discontinuing its LMDh project.” While Le Mans isn’t quite the same without Audi ripping about in the top class, I’m excited to see how Audi takes to F1.
More And More Car Loans Are Reportedly For Used Cars
With new cars in short supply, the second-hand market is in the limelight right now. Automotive News reports that 62 percent of car loans issued in the second quarter of 2022 were for used vehicles, up four percentage points year-over-year.
The flight to used vehicles could be seen across all credit tiers, with the largest gain seen in the 77 percent of near-prime customers financing used models, up 5 points from a year earlier. Experian defines near-prime as customers with credit scores between 601-660.
“Between the inventory shortage and rising vehicle costs, consumers are looking to make the most cost-effective decision, which is often a used vehicle,” Melinda Zabritski, Experian automotive financial solutions senior director, said in a statement Thursday. “The benefit of higher vehicle values is that consumers are able to get more for their trade-ins, which can help offset the increased cost of their next vehicle.”
While this news isn’t hugely surprising, it’s nice to be able to quantify an increase in used car transactions compared to new car transactions. It’s quite likely that this focus on used cars isn’t just a matter of affordability. Fewer new vehicles on lots and long wait times are driving consumers towards cars they can actually buy and used vehicles certainly fit the bill there. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to this trend through the third quarter as interest rates have risen.
Tesla Threatens Legal Action Over FSD Beta PSA
At this point, you’ve probably seen that public safety campaign where a Tesla Model 3 equipped with FSD Beta repeatedly runs over a child-sized mannequin. According to Reuters, Tesla isn’t too happy about the videos, to the point of threatening legal action.
The group, the Dawn Project, has launched a nationwide TV campaign warning of alleged potential dangers of what Tesla calls “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) software, adding to public and regulatory scrutiny of the technology.
One of the videos posted by the group shows a Tesla vehicle with FSD software running over child-sized mannequins, and says “Tell Congress to Shut it Down.”
In a Cease and Desist letter dated Aug. 11, Tesla said the Dawn Project and its founder “have been disparaging Tesla’s commercial interests and disseminating defamatory information to the public.” The letter was disclosed by the Dawn Project on Thursday.
Tesla threatened to take legal action, saying the tests in the videos are “likely fraudulent” and “misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology.”
Look, it’s fairly common knowledge that Tesla’s FSD Beta software may not detect everything in a vehicle’s path, and that includes simulated children. While this whole Cease and Desist business feels like nonsense, the line about how the Dawn Project’s videos “misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology” is rather hypocritical. The capabilities of Tesla’s technology are quite low. FSD Beta is simply a really sketchy Level 2 advanced driver assistance system, yet Tesla is marketing it using the Full Self-Driving moniker which seems like a misrepresentation of the software’s capabilities.
Ford Substantially Hikes Mustang Mach-E Prices For 2023
With news of big price hikes for next model year’s Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck recently announced, it’s been a waiting game to see how that might translate to 2023 Mustang Mach-E electric crossover pricing. Well, wonder no more, for Ford has announced pricing for the next model year of its watt-swilling pony.
First things first, freight charges are up by $200 to $1,300. Since it’s a non-negotiable fee, I’m including it in all these price hikes. The basic Select trim sees prices rise by $3,200 to $48,195 for the rear-wheel-drive model and $50,895 for the all-wheel-drive model, while Premium trims with the standard range battery pack see a much larger price increase of $6,075. If that sounds crazy, you might want to brace yourself for this next one. Tack the extended range battery pack onto a Premium model and you’ll see an MSRP some $8,675 over a 2022 model. In fact, the extended range battery pack itself is up $2,600 over last year no matter what trim level you choose to order it on.
Things ease up just a touch with the 2023 Mustang Mach-E GT which sees an $8,100 price hike, while the range-focused California Route 1 model costs $8,300 more than it did last year. However, some Mustang Mach-E customers will get more features thrown in. The California Route 1 model is now exclusively available with all-wheel-drive, while Ford’s Co-Pilot360 advanced driver assistance suite is now standard across the model range. That pricey extended range battery pack is expected to get an extra 13 miles of range, while buyers of base Select models will get a free 90-day trial of Ford’s hands-free BlueCruise advanced driver assistance system thrown in, and GT models now get a standard panoramic roof.
While none of this upcontenting neutralizes the sting of substantially higher prices, it seems a little bit more appetizing than GM’s non-negotiable OnStar subscriptions. Maybe Dr. Evil’s a Ford client, as the Dearborn-based company seems to be throwing customers a frickin’ bone here. Oh, and Ford hasn’t completely forgotten about 2022 order holders who are getting bumped to 2023 VINs. Apparently, those customers will be getting private offers. In any case, it’s a bit of a shame seeing such massive price increases on Ford’s electric crossover. Hey, at least the Chevrolet Bolt’s still cheap.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve almost made it to the weekend. To celebrate, let’s play a little bit of a game. You’ve been given $25,000 to buy four cars that accurately represent the four seasons. One for spring, one for summer, one for autumn, and one for winter. What are you buying?
Lead photo credit: Audi