Stellantis warns about EV costs, NHTSA looks into Honda phantom braking, the Nissan Titan might die. 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.
Stellantis Issues A Warning
Well, it’s looking more and more like fossil fuels will be phased out in automotive use over the next two decades or so. While the new European Union resolution to ban fossil fuel use in vehicles includes an exemption for synthetic fuels, manufacturing capacity remains an issue for synthetic fuels. As a result, EVs are expected to remain the most popular sort of future vehicle, but they do come with some significant costs. Speaking at Stellantis’ Tremery, France factory on Wednesday, Stellantis’ Chief Manufacturing Officer Arnaud Deboeuf announced plans to cut EV manufacturing costs by 40 percent come 2030. A good plan, but one that comes with a grave warning. According to Bloomberg, Deboeuf stated that if EVs don’t get cheaper, “the market will collapse.”
Honestly, Deboeuf has a point. Cheap credit can’t last forever, and consumers will eventually grow less and less willing to stretch out loans on expensive cars when interest rates aren’t at historic lows. Couple that to insane purchase prices and unless residuals remain incredibly high to prop up cheap leases, new EV prices will really need to come down. In addition, EVs are more likely to be considered by younger consumers, and younger consumers don’t have a ton of money to spend. Price parity with gasoline vehicles is a fairly critical goal to reach, and it’ll be an uphill battle to get there. Tesla, Ford, and other manufacturers have recently hiked EV pricing due to supply chain shortages, and battery pack production remains a challenge. Let’s hope that for the sake of everyone, EVs can get cheaper and better quickly.
NHTSA Probes 1.7M Hondas For Phantom Braking
Technology: it’s great when it works. When it doesn’t work, it can cause serious code browns, like having your 1.5-ton explosion-powered transportation machine unexpectedly drop the anchors at highway speeds. Indeed, NHTSA investigators are looking into reports of Honda’s Honda Sensing driver assist suite slamming on the brakes without any present threat. The investigation started earlier this year and has since expanded to cover more than 1.7 million vehicles, most made between 2017 and 2019, all equipped with Honda Sensing. According to Automotive News, regulators are seeking additional information from Honda, and the Japanese company has until about August 12 to respond without facing penalties.
To date, 278 complaints over phantom braking in Hondas have been filed to the NHTSA, and I totally get it. My second Civic press car featured ridiculously touchy automatic emergency braking, so all these complaints make sense. While Honda Sensing in models made between 2017 and 2019 featured a forward-facing radar unit, it also drew heavily on monocular camera data. Now, monocular camera depth perception is tricky, and while the radar unit is likely doing a bunch of heavy lifting, it’s not a huge surprise that some triggers for phantom braking exist.
Apple Wants You To Pay For Gas Using Your Car
As the clock slowly ticks towards the launch of Apple’s insane new CarPlay update, more details about functionality are coming out of the woodwork. Reuters reports that Apple demonstrated the ability to pay for gas using CarPlay at a developer conference this month, although the process seems a little bit clunky. Drivers will have to tap a fuel company app on which they’ve verified payment means to use this function. Fuel company HF Sinclair seems stoked on this development, confirming plans to use Apple’s new integration option. Senior vice president of marketing Jack Barger told Reuters, “We’re excited by the idea that consumers could navigate to to a Sinclair station and purchase fuel from their vehicle navigation screen.”
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure about this. On the one hand, the technology has the potential for some great applications. Some automakers are already letting you pay to charge your EV from your dashboard, and in-car Apple Pay integration with EV charging networks is already pretty great. No more loading money onto a bullshit little card that clutters up your wallet, just plug in and go. However, fueling company app integration seems a bit clunky and has the potential to be hilariously insecure. As ever, I’ll reserve final judgment for when I actually try this tech, but implementation just doesn’t sound that efficient.
The Nissan Titan Might Die
Making cars is hard, but making full-size trucks is even harder. Just ask Nissan. The Japanese automaker entered the full-size market in 2003 with the Titan, yet never quite hit sales targets. Now, with shifting corporate priorities, Automotive News reports that Nissan will kill the Titan within the next three model years. A source familiar with the matter claimed “It’s dead,” elaborating that “There’s no plan engineering’s working on for replacing it, updating it.”
Look, we all saw this coming, right? The Nissan Titan hasn’t exactly stolen much market share from domestic truck makers, and it’s been on sale in its current generation since 2016. Sales have been on a general downward trajectory since 2005, the generation’s getting old, and Nissan will want some space back in its Canton assembly plant at some point. Truthfully, the Titan was killed off last year in Canada, and I genuinely don’t think anyone misses it. The good news is that discontinuing the Titan will allow Nissan to dedicate resources towards vehicles it’s historically been good at making, like the Frontier midsize pickup truck, or sedans. Indeed, two new electric vehicles are forecast for assembly in the Canton plant come 2025.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. With Stellantis’ warning front-of-mind, how cheap would EVs have to be before you’d consider buying one, and what sort of EV would you want? I’m admittedly a bit flexible, but I’d want to see a nice entry-level EV sports sedan in the high 30s before I’d consider plunking down some cash. While it’s great to see automakers chasing mass-market EV adoption, it almost seems as if people who really like driving are largely forgotten about. Honestly, if this keeps up, I might just end up in a seriously clapped-out Taycan in a decade. Anyway, how about you?
Lead photo credit: Stellantis
I’d like to see a rear wheel drive compact EV, something similar to the i3 but with more conventional styling and competitive modern range that could be attained at prices that compete with its gas-powered FWD counterparts. It doesn’t need gobs of torque, just competitive acceleration to an ST or GTI, something that should be easy given what we’ve seen with EVs so far. It doesn’t need to match top speed, it should just play to its strengths which are easy rwd packaging and great low-speed acceleration.
“Making cars is hard, but making full-size trucks is even harder”
Aaaahhahahaha haha snort, sniff hahahaha, choke, sniff, hahahahahahahaha…
…Oooh belly ache.
Next someone is going to say making a crude 1920’s farm implement with leather seats and selling it at $50K plus is not profitable. Oh mercy. Stop already, ha hah, sniff snort aaaaaahhh.