Mitsubishi posts a profit, Carvana lays off 2,500 workers, Toyota hops aboard the downsized turbocharged four-cylinder engine train. 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.
Good News For Mitsubishi
It’s been a rough decade for Mitsubishi. From a massive fuel economy scandal to a drought of new product to Nissan taking a controlling stake in the Japanese company, good news was far and few between. Then, signs of life started to appear. The new Outlander crossover SUV is actually really, really good. The Mirage subcompact car may be a bit old, but it’s the recession-proof car we need right now. The upcoming 2023 Outlander PHEV offers an impressive 54 miles of range on the WLTP test cycle and Mitsubishi’s ten-year powertrain warranty has remained unwavering. Now, in the midst of supply shortages and inflation, Mitsubishi has even more good news to share.
According to an Automotive News Europe report, Mitsubishi has made a profit. While an operating profit is largely expected in the car business, going from a $70.6 million operating loss to a $257.6 million profit in such a tough year is absolutely incredible. Moreover, Mitsubishi’s predicting continued profitability through fiscal year 2022, even in the face of rising supply costs.
Look, we’ve all ragged on Mitsubishi for such questionable decisions as the Eclipse Cross and routinely pumping Botox into the Outlander Sport, but it genuinely pains me to see any car company doing badly. Call it tough love, but the new car landscape is better with more brand diversity, and the best way to stay in business is to build better cars. Here’s hoping that the next all-new Mitsubishi carries the same fundamental goodness as the new Outlander and that the Japanese carmaker can better serve its niche of providing customers with great value and a great warranty.
Mayday! At Carvana
When will startups learn how difficult it is to disrupt established industries? While I can’t speak to the greater tech bro zeitgeist, Carvana’s used car fantasies are crashing down right now. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on May 10, Carvana announced the layoffs of 2,500 staff members and the temporary pause of executive salaries. Not exactly brilliant news on the eve of acquiring the second-largest wholesale used car auction company in America.
So what’s the takeaway here? Besides the fact that ‘staff’ and ‘member’ are both synonyms for ‘penis,’ a tidbit of information that should make looking at employee directories significantly more entertaining, it seems that offering sky-high values for used cars is a bad idea and that trying to trade on volume during a global shortage is a lot harder than it sounds.
Honestly, it’s hard to argue that Carvana’s aggressive offers on private vehicles haven’t hurt the private used car market in some manner. As with most situations where dealerships get involved, consumers are the ones who end up getting screwed. While my heart goes out to the employees who’ve found themselves victims of e-commerce’s hubris, I feel no sympathy at all for the executives who’ll forgo their salaries for the rest of the year. You’ve made your bed, now lie in it.
Land Rover Claims The New Range Rover Sport Can Reduce SARS-CoV-2
No, I’m not joking. Land Rover claims in the press release for the new Range Rover Sport that its new Cabin Air Purification Pro system “…combines PM2.5 filtration and nanoe™ X technology to significantly reduce odours, bacteria and allergens, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” While this certainly raises an eyebrow or two, it’s probably the least-interesting thing about the new Sport. Let’s quickly dive into the latest Range Rover model and see exactly how comfortable your realtor’s next vehicle will be.
On the outside, Land Rover’s put in some serious work to make the new Range Rover Sport more subtle. The character lines are softer, while flush glass, flush door handles, a laser-welded roof, and a full-width tail lamp treatment make this enormous SUV a bit sleeker than its predecessor.
More importantly, all these little touches give the new Range Rover Sport a drag coefficient of 0.29, which should help facilitate a quiet cabin. On the inside, it’s much the same story with the Sport as it is with the big Range Rover. There’s an enormous 13.1-inch curved touchscreen for the infotainment, a powerful 29-speaker top-spec Meridian sound system on offer, a set of winged airplane-style headrests and available vegan upholstery.
I know, it’s easy to roll your eyes at most vegan upholstery considering vegan leather is often plastic, but the vegan upholstery option in the new Range Rover Sport will have you rolling your eyes for an entirely different reason. Land Rover’s calling it Ultrafabrics. Look, good fabric beats leather for luxury, but Ultrafabrics? Let me pop my Ultrabagel into my Hypertoaster and pour myself a cup of Megatea while we’re at it.
While Ultrafabrics is a rubbish name, the Stormer Handling Pack is anything but. It’s actually a nice nod to the 2004 Range Stormer Concept. This package includes active anti-roll bars that run off the vehicle’s 48-volt electrical system and reduce body roll, four-wheel steering, an electronically-controlled limited-slip rear differential, brake-based fake torque-vectoring and customizable drive modes. All good things, so definitely tick this box or spring for either 500-plus-horsepower powertrain to really put the Sport in Range Rover Sport.
Speaking of powertrains, Land Rover’s famous, screaming, hollow-wolf five-liter supercharged V8 has been sent to the shadow realm in favor of a BMW-sourced twin-turbo V8. While 523 horsepower and 553 lb.-ft. of torque aren’t figures to sneeze at, the V8 isn’t the most interesting powertrain available in the new Range Rover Sport.
That honor goes to the P510e model which blends the glorious smoothness of a boosted inline-six with a 105 kW electric motor and a 38.2 kWh battery pack. Expect that powertrain to offer a 0-60 mph time in the low five second range and 54 miles (88 km) of all-electric range on the admittedly optimistic WLTP test cycle. Not that we’ll know what the P510e will do on the EPA test cycle, Land Rover’s reportedly not bringing it to America.
It’s not all bad news though, an all-electric Range Rover Sport is coming in 2024. In the meantime, we’ll get a 355-horsepower inline-six, a 395-horsepower inline-six, a 434-horsepower inline-six plug-in hybrid, and the aforementioned V8. Realtors and dentists, your chariot has arrived.
Toyota Hops On The Turbo Four Bandwagon
Toyota are notoriously late adopters of just about everything. The Corolla soldiered on with a Mikuni carburetor into the early ‘90s before fuel injection made it across the entire range, and made it to 2015 with a four-speed automatic, long after competitors had adopted six-speed or CVT automatic gearboxes. When an industry trend finally rolls around to Toyota, it’s a sign that trend will be with us for a very long time. The latest bit of tech Toyota’s finally hopping on? Downsized and turbocharged four-cylinders in place of V6s.
Granted, the Lexus NX compact luxury crossover has featured a turbocharged four-banger for a very long time, but the 2023 Highlander marks the first time a turbo four has replaced a V6 in a mainline American Toyota vehicle. Displacing 2.4 liters, this turbo four is likely the same T24A-FTS motor seen in the new Lexus NX 350.
However, it does feature a reduction in output, likely signifying an engine calibration for regular fuel. The new four-banger puts out 265 horsepower and 309 lb-ft of torque, down 30 horsepower from the V6 but up 46 lb-ft in the twist department. Weirdly enough, this new turbo motor isn’t expected to benefit fuel economy at all.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Toyota says it’s expecting 24 mpg combined out of the new engine, same as the V6. However, the new engine is expected to reduce emissions, most notable a 50 percent reduction in NOx, a 50 percent reduction in non-methane organic gas, and a reduction in CO2.
In comfort news, the updated Highlander gets Toyota’s new-generation infotainment system that’s much faster, slicker and higher-resolution than the outgoing system. The wireless charger is relocated to the shelf below the climate controls, the XLE and XSE trims get a hands-free power liftgate and the hybrid powertrain option continues undisturbed. Pricing and arrival timing for the 2023 Highlander haven’t been announced yet, but we expect it to roll onto dealer lots sometime this year without massively moving the needle on pricing.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week. While Mitsubishi may be cleaving their way back from the brink, some brands weren’t as lucky. I once owned a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and while it was certainly plush, it felt a bit behind the times of the 1980s. Oldsmobile may have made great leaps in the next 19 years, but even the glorious form factor of the Aurora flagship sedan couldn’t stop GM from pulling the plug. Honestly, I wish Oldsmobile soldiered on a bit longer, even just to see a proper second-generation Aurora rather than the Aurora badge slapped on the Antares project. My question for you today is quite simple. Have you ever owned a car from a dead brand, and do you wish that brand was still around.
Lead photo credit: Mitsubishi