Attempting to charge an EV at a public charging station may sometimes suck, but at least it still usually offers some savings over fueling up a comparable gasoline-powered car. However, that cost delta could soon be changing as some charging networks are starting to adopt every mobility startup’s favorite way of juicing more cash from customers: Dynamic pricing.
At the same time, the Audi R8 gets a stay of execution, Mazda is making some MF’n money, and the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto is aggressively attempting to be the best indoor auto show in North America. Welcome back to The Morning Dump; let’s get into it.
‘Surge Pricing’ May Be Necessary For Charging Companies, Potentially Annoying For Consumers
In an electrified world, public charging is a necessity, but it’s currently a deeply unprofitable business. One potential solution? Just like paying more for an Uber ride after a concert than you would on a slow morning: dynamic pricing. In truth, it’s already a thing at public charging stations, and will likely continue to be a thing, as Automotive News’ article titled “Prices for EV charging fluctuate for profit certainty but risk driver angst” discusses:
Yes, gasoline prices also fluctuate based on demand, but to see hourly fluctuations is a shift from the way we’re used to paying for whatever makes our cars go, and that’s before we even get into time-based vs per-kWh billing (Some charging stations charge for the time you’re at the station, while some charge for the energy you actually use). It’s generally accepted that over the course of a day, the price of gasoline is fairly static due to the fact that gasoline is drawn from storage tanks at each station. However, electricity is more on-demand, despite the frequent presence of massive battery banks.
Still, even if dynamic pricing is an important solution for charging companies trying to make a profit, it may not be something consumers like. From the article:
For EV drivers without access to at-home charging, it’s not hard to imagine dynamic pricing devolving into a cat-and-mouse game between drivers wanting a cheap charge and cheaper off-peak times, leading to challenges as everyone adjusts to constantly changing structure (Put another way: Drivers who want to pay less will chase the cheapest times to charge, but as soon as those times get more popular, the window of cheaper charging may shift). For those on trips, being held hostage to surge pricing may eventually just become a reality. In any case, depending on how many charging companies hop on the dynamic pricing train, one aspect of EV ownership could get substantially trickier.
The Audi R8 Isn’t Dead Yet
After nearly 18 years and two generations, the Audi R8 supercar is entering purgatory. With the impending replacement of its Lamborghini Huracan platform-mate, along with a shift in market demand from mega-cylinder monsters to electrification, this glorious titan was living on borrowed time, and in fact, it still is, defying the odds. German outlet Automobilwoche reports that the supercar from Ingolstadt is getting a stay of execution. While production was expected to end as the calendar turned to 2024, production is now scheduled to continue through March.
A world with more looney V10-powered rocketships is a world I want to live in, so I’ll take what I can get. Long live the everyday supercar that captured everyone’s imaginations in the 2000s. We certainly had it good when Audi offered an entry-level V8 variant of the R8 with a gated manual transmission, but maybe we didn’t know quite how good.
Mazda’s Premium Push Is Working
Several years ago, Mazda announced it was going premium, and everyone cocked an eyebrow out of skepticism. It’s not that the Mazdas of the time weren’t nice, but rather the public perception of the brand wasn’t quite aligned with say, Acura. However, when we first saw a mega-crossover from the brand historically known for its Zoom-Zoom tagline, everyone knew that Mazda was taking this seriously. The CX-90 rides on a new longitudinal platform, is available with a new 3.3-liter turbocharged inline-six, and is pretty much as close as you can get to a BMW X5 for people who don’t work in finance.
In a period when EVs were the new hotness, all of Mazda’s work going into this thing felt a bit behind the times. However, all of this investment in powertrains, platforms, and materials seems to be working, because Automotive News reports that Mazda could be primed for its best financial year ever.
Cashing in on the higher sales, Mazda booked all-time high earnings for its just-ended fiscal third quarter and says it is now zeroing in on record profits for the full fiscal year ending March 31.
The old Mazda CX-9 just managed to coax up 2.5 percent market share. The CX-90? Four percent. Oh, and how are margins on this new three-row crossover? As Automotive News reports:
The more upscale CX-90 rings up about twice the profit as Mazda’s global average, [Mazda CFO Jeffrey] Guyton said.
Jackpot. It’s worth saying, we like the CX-90 for its strong luxury content, decent pricing, and useful plug-in hybrid option. If vehicles like this help finance the development of the next MX-5, well, all the power to Mazda.
The Toronto Auto Show Definitely Isn’t Dying
It’s been a rough few years for international auto shows. From pandemic closures to waning manufacturer attendance, pretty much everyone’s feeling the squeeze. The Detroit show isn’t even happening this year, and the Los Angeles show back in November saw the loss of several exhibitors, notably Stellantis, Buick, GMC, and Porsche.
Yep, Porsche is returning to the Canadian International Auto Show, along with VinFast, Volvo, Lincoln, Infiniti, Buick, and GMC, brands we didn’t see an OEM presence from in Los Angeles. On top of that, dealerships are filling voids with some brands both ordinary and interesting. Think Stellantis, Rimac, Zagato, and Ineos. Rivian will be there, Tesla will be there, Fisker will be there, Polestar will be there, all serious signs of life for a show. Could the paradigm be shifting to make Toronto the most interesting indoor auto show in North America? I’ll be on the ground next week to find out.
What I’m Listening To As I Write TMD
It’s safe to say that 2023 wasn’t the greatest year in music. Rap pretty much fell off the charts, Frank Ocean had that Coachella performance, “Rich Men North Of Richmond” was a number one song, and somehow the worst song on Guts is the one Olivia Rodrigo track everyone was blasting. However, the year wasn’t a total loss, as some seriously promising projects were bubbling up through whatever’s left of the blogosphere. Sure, Model/Actriz may be a bunch of Berklee kids, but their debut LP “Dogsbody” takes a measure of Xiu Xiu, a tablespoon of LCD Soundsystem, and a good dash of unrepentant horniness, blend it all together, and serves up one of the strongest debut projects I’ve heard in a long time. Just try to stay still as you listen to “Mosquito.” I dare you.
The Big Question
By now, it’s clear that most public charging networks aren’t offering a satisfactory experience for their users. While the gradual adoption of the Tesla Supercharger network by other automakers may ease the pain of non-functional equipment, loading up busy charging stations with EVs from other makes might not be a magic bullet. So, how would you fix public charging?
(Photo credits: Volvo, Audi, Mazda, Thomas Hundal)