Will.i.am does some heinous things with Mercedes-Benz styling, Lucid Motors isn’t having a great time, Ferrari lines up V12 fury for the whole family. 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.
Will.i.am Continues His Streak Of Bizarre And Ugly Custom Cars
It almost feels like Black Eyed Peas singer will.i.am went to the Mercedes-Benz design studio and crashed the clay model of the AMG GT four-door into the clay model of the G-Wagen to create the styling for a new one-off. Honestly, who’d have expected anything else? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of bad taste when it’s executed well. Yellow leather in a Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV, mint green paint on an Alpina B7 and Lambo doors on an S13 Nissan 240SX are all good in my books. However, the WILL.I.AMG (yes, seriously) is bad taste with bad execution. It’s like nobody took a step back and realized that none of these lines work together. I know that will.i.am isn’t a designer, but come on now.
Strong rectangular fenders and a rectangular upper front fascia are cool, but they really don’t work with the PT Cruiser-esque domed hood, the curvy lower fascia inspired by the E 63, or the entire silhouette aft of the cowl. Speaking of things aft of the cowl, it’s painfully obvious that this thing is just a hack-and-slash AMG GT four-door, except now with two doors with open to the rear in true will.i.am fashion. Honestly, this car’s so hideous that the special bear-inspired three-pointed star that will.i.am calls “BEAR WITNESS” (yes, really) almost seems classy. Almost.
There is some good news though. According to a press release issued by Mercedes, all activities surrounding the WILL.I.AMG including a BEAR WITNESS merch line will partially benefit will.i.am’s i.am.angel foundation that offers STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) scholarships and opportunities to students from disadvantaged communities. Honestly, that’s a pretty noble cause. Honestly, between the very charitable cause and his bizarre feature on Eazy-E’s Christmas song, I don’t have beef with will.i.am. The ugly custom cars are definitely not to everyone’s taste, but will.i.am said on Season 18, Episode 1 of Top Gear that his first car was a Fiero, so questionable restyling is almost expected. Let’s hope his next creation is more Jalapeno and less Fierri.
[Editor’s note: I don’t hate that G-Wagon face on a sports car body… -DT]
Lucid Motors And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Quarter
While making cars is hard, Lucid Motors seemed to be in fairly good shape for the job. They have an experienced team, they already have EV powertrain manufacturing experience through their Atieva Formula E division, and they’ve always had a philosophy of doing things first and announcing them after. Unfortunately, it seems as if the American luxury EV maker is having a really rough go at things.
According to Automotive News, Lucid Motors delivered just 360 EVs in the first quarter of 2022 and saw an operating loss of $598 million dollars. Now I’m definitely not a financial professional, but this seems bad. Fortunately, there does seem to be some good news among the gloom. Despite only managing 360 deliveries, Lucid produced 700 cars in the first quarter and early second quarter news is hopeful with 300 cars delivered in April. While this steady ramp-up should help boost sales through the end of the year, not all is set in stone.
See, in the same Automotive News report, Lucid cites supply chain difficulties all the way down to components as basic as carpets as the reason why production is slow. With general parts in short supply across the automotive industry, prices for certain components are rising. Anyone with a twin-turbocharged N54 inline-six-equipped BMW has watched pricing for a set of Index 12 fuel injectors shoot through the roof. To claw their way back against shortages and operating losses, Lucid issued a press release announcing some price hikes that start in June for new orders of their Air luxury sedan. Pricing for the Grand Touring trim rises to $154,000 from $139,000, the Touring sees a price hike from $95,000 to $107,400, and the base Pure trim sees a rise from $77,400 to $87,400.
Honestly, with Polestar announcing price hikes yesterday and Rivian’s ill-planned price hikes earlier this year, it just felt like a matter of time before Lucid raised its prices. Mind you, even if you do place an order before next month, it’s not like you’ll see a finished car soon. With a backlog of 30,000 cars and a 2022 production forecast of 12,000 to 14,000 units, ramping up production is going to take time.
There’s A Chance That Ferrari’s SUV Might Be Really Good
When Ferrari announced that it would be making an SUV called the Purosangue (that’s Italian for thoroughbred), it felt like the end of times. Did expensive shirt sales get to the Italian brand’s head? Quite possibly. Would Enzo spin quickly enough in his grave to power Modena for an entire century? Almost certainly. However, as this super SUV edges closer to production, more and more tidbits are dropping to suggest that it might actually be good.
Automotive News Europe is reporting that the Purosangue won’t initially feature a plebeian V8 or a Polar Bear-friendly plug-in hybrid powertrain. Instead, it’s getting a full-fat V12, joining a very exclusive club of mass-produced SUVs with more than ten cylinders. There’s the Lamborghini LM002, the Volkswagen Touareg W12, the Audi Q7 V12 TDI, the Mercedes-Benz G 65 AMG, the Bentley Bentayga W12, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, and that’s about it. More importantly, only the LM002 has a V12 anything like what could be in the Purosangue. While there’s still a remote chance that Ferrari’s SUV will get a bespoke V12, the Italian marque’s only current V12 is the F140, a 6.5-liter naturally-aspirated unit that produces 829 horsepower at 9,250 RPM in top current road-car spec. Ooh yep, that would do the trick. What can I say? More cylinders is still more cool.
Mercedes-Benz Opens The Taps On Level 3 Autonomy In Europe
As of May 17, European Mercedes-Benz customers will be able to option Level 3 autonomy on the S-Class executive sedan and EQS electric luxury Dodge Intrepid. Honestly, I feel like everyone hates traffic, and the rich and powerful just gained a way of easing the stress of commuting without having to pony up for an Uber helicopter, Lyft autogyro or Bird jetpack. I may have made those last two up. Still, although Level 3 autonomy, dubbed Drive Pilot by Mercedes-Benz, will be cheaper than air travel, it still won’t be as cheap as chips.
While German pricing normally includes a Value Added Tax, Mercedes issued a press release citing pricing for Drive Pilot without VAT. On the S-Class, Drive Pilot will run a European customer 5,000 Euros, or around $5,282.85 at the time of writing. If you want your Level 3 autonomy on a vehicle that doesn’t produce tailpipe emissions and has more screens than a Buffalo Wild Wings franchise, you’ll have to pony up an eye-watering 7,430 Euros to get Drive Pilot on the EQS. That works out to $7,850.32 at the time of writing, a nutty sum that still manages to undercut Tesla’s absurdly-priced $12,000 Level 2 FSD Beta option. While Level 3 autonomy sounds neat on the surface, I’m not entirely sure it’s worth it.
Editor Jason Torchinsky and I generally agree that Level 3 autonomy is confusing garbage as you still have to be alert to pick up hand-off requests. Don’t pay attention until you have to is such a dangerous approach that I’m honestly not sure if Level 3 is any safer than a good Level 2 system. Plus, newer Level 2 systems are so good in stop-and-go traffic that since you’d need to monitor your environment to stay safe anyway, you may as well just save some cash. Regardless, Mercedes’ Drive Pilot is a notable advancement in autonomous tech because Mercedes-Benz assumes legal responsibility so long as the system is active. Expect to see Drive Pilot approved for use in California and Nevada by the end of this year.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on this edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Friday everyone, we made it! You know, this upcoming Ferrari SUV begs a very good question. If you were given an unlimited budget and had to buy a new or used SUV, what would you add to your stable? I’ll admit, SUVs generally aren’t my cup of tea. Living in a major city, smaller cars have huge perks from easy maneuvering around underground parking facilities to generally brilliant visibility of pedestrians and cyclists. If I must have an SUV, it should be very pleasant to drive, able to tow my 3-Series and have a locking differential on at least one axle for when a set of Nokian Hakkaliittas or Bridgestone Blizzaks simply aren’t enough for Snowmageddon. With that in mind, I’d probably pick up an old Cayenne Turbo with the locking rear diff and the tow bar. It may be thirsty, but it’s quite pleasant to drive, not excessively huge, properly capable, and surprisingly reliable once the coolant pipes and center support bearing are sorted. I’d love to hear what SUV you’d pick up on an unlimited budget, be it as ridiculous as a G-Class 4×4 Squared or as lovely as an immaculate K5 Blazer.
Lead photo credit: Mercedes-AMG