E15 fuel is going country-wide, Nissan facelifts the Leaf, Lamborghini trots out another Huracán. 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 you’re morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Gentlemen, Behold: Corn!
With high gas prices weighing on everyone’s pocketbooks and summer road trips just around the corner, the federal government is turning to E15 gasoline in an attempt to lower fuel prices. President Joe Biden is set to announce Tuesday that anti-pollution restrictions which prevent the sale of E15 in smog-prone areas will be waived, permitting nationwide sales of E15 from June 1 to Sept. 15.
E15 may sound a bit scary, but gasoline that’s 15 percent ethanol by volume is actually fairly benign. It’s safe to use in all cars, light trucks and SUVs since model year 2001 and isn’t a huge change from the E10 fuel already sold at gas stations across America. More importantly, the production of ethanol fuel has already been subsidized by the federal government for 17 years, so it’s not like the move to E15 will impact you come tax time.
While the White House has issued a statement claiming that current gas prices are a result of Russia invading Ukraine, that’s not entirely truthful. Remember when oil futures went negative early in the pandemic? Petroleum companies sliced production as a result of decreased demand. Unfortunately, consumer demand spiked soon after, straining reserves and jacking up fuel prices due to supply scarcity. Add in the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and reduced public transit usage post-pandemic, and the picture looks too complicated to explain through simple finger-pointing. While the invasion of Ukraine has definitely contributed to rising gas prices, undersupply dating back two years and high consumer demand are the primary underlying factors.
Truthfully, E15 is a bit of a double-edged sword. While it should make gasoline cheaper, ethanol is less potent than gasoline so fuel economy is likely to suffer a touch. Speaking with Bloomberg, Gasbuddy’s head of petroleum analysis Patrick DeHaan said E15 retails for five to 10 cents per gallon cheaper than regular gasoline in areas where E15 is already available. Hopefully similar savings will be seen through the rest of the country when E15 rolls out to different markets. It’s also absolutely not recommended to run E15 fuel in small engines and older vehicles, as ethanol can be corrosive. Stick with E10 or ethanol-free fuel in cars made before 2001 and don’t use any ethanol in your lawnmower, hedge trimmer or portable generator. Still, cheaper gas is nice for the pocketbook, so here’s to hoping that E15 lives up to its expectations.
Make Like A Tree
Nissan has refreshed the Leaf heading into its fifth model year, though,tweaks are fairly minor. Up front, there’s a new blacked-out grille, blacked-out headlamp inserts, and the new-look Nissan emblem. Around the back, the rear diffuser and rear spoiler have been mildly revised while the new-look Nissan emblem appears on the tailgate. The higher-end SV Plus trim level features a wonderfully complex set of alloy wheels, but that’s about it for visual changes. As far as facelifts go, it’s rare to see one lighter than this.
While the new cosmetic updates do give the Leaf a nicer appearance, there are some caveats. Firstly, the Leaf is still hampered by the use of a CHAdeMO rather than CCS fast charging plug. Most Level 3 fast charging stations only support CCS connectors, so the Leaf is of limited road trip use. We’ll expand on Nissan’s decision to stay the course with CHAdeMO on the Leaf in a future article. Secondly, it’s no longer possible to get the larger 62 kWh battery pack on the base model, so pricing for the longer-range Leaf is expected to rise considerably. Nissan said that pricing and range for the SV Plus trim level, the cheapest 2023 Leaf with a 62 kWh battery pack, should stay close to the current SV Plus trim level’s price and range of $36,425 and 215 miles. I don’t know about you, but somewhere in the neighborhood of $36,425 for a five-year-old EV with limited charging network compatibility and just over 200 miles of range seems like a non-starter.
For context, the Chevrolet Bolt starts at $32,495 and features 259 miles of range, while the Hyundai Kona Electric SEL starts at $35,245 and features 258 miles of range. More importantly, both of these models feature modern CCS fast-charging connectors. While the 62 kWh Leaf’s price jump does include more features than the outgoing S Plus model, it doesn’t address the Leaf’s capability limitations. While some consumers may have been willing to put up with these limitations for a cheap starting price, the 2023 Leaf SV Plus doesn’t seem set up for success.
After selling out the Lucid Air Dream Edition, Lucid’s making high performance a little less limited with a new trim called the Grand Touring Performance. The specs are quite strong: 1,050 horsepower, 0-60 mph in a quoted 2.6 seconds and 446 miles of estimated range. That should worry the Porsche Taycan Turbo. While these figures are all a tick behind the Air Dream Edition P’s figures, who’s really going to notice a tenth of a second? More importantly, the Grand Touring Performance does the 0-60 mph dash four tenths of a second quicker than the standard Grand Touring trim. Now that’s something customers will notice.
Keen carspotters will be able to identify an Air Grand Touring Performance by its distinctive five-blade wheels. A massive 21 inches in diameter, these alloys are reminiscent of modern Porsche interpretations of the classic Fuchs alloy, except with a literal twist. I won’t lie, they look pretty sweet, and I’m normally a hater of the black wheels with cut faces trope. The Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance starts at $179,000 and first deliveries will start in June. Admittedly, it’s pretty rare for a car manufacturer to announce pricing for a new trim level at the same time as the new trim level itself, so kudos to Lucid for such early transparency.
Bull On Parade
Sensing a gulf between the absolutely insane Huracán STO and the perfectly docile Huracan EVO, Lamborghini has introduced a new middle child to the Huracán V10 supercar lineup. Called the Technica, it pairs STO power with a touch of civility. Just a touch.
See, the Huracán Technica may have a frunk and some semblance of rearward visibility, but it still spins just the rear tires with 631 horsepower. Rest assured, the rest of its performance figures are equally biblical. The new fixed rear wing helps contribute to a 35 percent increase in downforce and a 20 percent reduction in drag over the Huracán Evo. As a result, the Huracán Technica’s top speed stands at 202 mph. Proper supercar stuff. While the Huracán Technica may feature four-wheel steering, carbon ceramic brakes and a special traction control system, its rear-wheel-drive layout means keeping this bull on the road falls squarely in the hands of whatever talent its driver is packing. Shiny side up, please.
Perhaps more importantly, some of the Huracán Technica’s styling cues preview the Aventador’s replacement. The black accents in the front bumper were previewed by the Sian and will likely appear on the V12. Ditto the hexagonal exhaust tips. While spy shots of the next V12 Lamborghini don’t display prominent air curtain vents in the front bumper, the slat pattern of the Huracán Technica’s air curtains appears in the next V12 car’s side scoops. Faster, madder, more angular – it’s the Lamborghini way.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Tuesday everyone, you got through Garfield’s least-favorite day of the week. You know, the perpetual stream of new Lamborghinis makes me wonder if there are any true supercars anymore. The McLaren 765LT fulfills the scary to drive fast requirement, but even McLarens just seem a bit common these days. It’s hard to feel the same rush we felt as children seeing a Diablo or a Testarossa on the street unless we see a Diablo or a Testarossa. What was the last supercar that really excited you?
Lead photo credit: “Lincolnway Energy ethanol plant” by freddthompson is marked with CC-BY SA 2.0.