The next big EV race is a war, not a battle. As every Western automaker has rushed into the premium plug-in vehicle sector, it’s about damn time some serious trickle-down started to happen in North America. While the second-generation Chevrolet Bolt could establish an early foothold, a new Tesla is reportedly on the horizon, and it could be coming as soon as next year.
In addition, we learn of a group of people who wanted Ford Edges [Ed Note: If you’re as confused by this as I am, don’t worry. -DT], and see that it’s just been a shambolic time for automotive trim pieces, as several automakers have issued recalls for flying plastic. Welcome back to The Morning Dump, eh?
What’s Next For Tesla?
With the statement-piece Cybertruck now in production, it’s time for Tesla to focus its vehicle research and development priorities on other matters, some of which could arrive soon. Reuters reports that Tesla is fielding supplier bids for a next-generation vehicle expected to launch next year.
Tesla has told suppliers it wants to start production of a new mass market electric vehicle codenamed “Redwood” in mid-2025, according to four people familiar with the matter, with two of them describing the model as a compact crossover.
Hmm. Well, even though the Model Y fits the industry description of a compact crossover, the alleged codename floating around for the facelifted Model Y is Project Juniper. There’s a chance “Redwood” could sit below the Model Y and Model 3 in sizing, which means this might be the future entry-level electric vehicle Tesla’s been touting. Whether or not it will meet Elon Musk’s $25,000 target price for an entry-level car, or even 2025 deliveries, is yet to be seen. I mean, how much harder could this be to build than the Cybertruck? Speaking of cheap cars, Reuters has an idea on a potential benchmark.
Tesla in recent years tore down a Honda Civic, whose price starts at $23,950 in the United States, to study how to make cheaper cars, two separate sources said.
Mind you, “Redwood” might not just be one vehicle. According to Reuters, “The next-generation Tesla architecture, internally called “NV9X,” will include two or more models, said the two people and one of the initial sources.”
So, lots of information here and plenty still missing, but keep in mind this is still early-stage stuff and this is still Tesla. Plans change, delays happen, and there’s a nonzero chance the end result might not be what people are expecting. As ever, just use the rule of thumb of lowering your expectations. That way, you’ll either get the satisfaction of correctness or a pleasant surprise.
Triangles, Triangles, Triangles
Even though the big buzzword on the street these days is electrification, the rotary engine with its funny triangular rotors seems to be staging a comeback. Automotive News reports that Mazda has assembled a new team to work exclusively on rotary engines, with a particular focus on making them part of green systems:
Considering all the research and development Mazda put into the Wankel rotary, along with the existence of the rotary-equipped MX-30 R-EV extended range electric vehicle, this seems like a perfectly logical next step for Mazda. Just one wish: Could we have a production version of the Iconic SP concept car, pretty please?
Living On The Edge
We’ve heard of thieves stealing new vehicles from U.S. factories before, but now the trend appears to be leaking through the northern border. As reported by local news outlet Halton Hills Today, 14 Ford Edge crossovers were stolen from the factory in Oakville, Canada.
Overnight on Jan. 7 to 8, police say thieves cut a large hole in the exterior fence surrounding the property and stole 14 brand new Ford Edge vehicles valued at approximately $630,000.
Halton Police took carriage of the investigation, and through partnering with neighbouring police services, 12 of the 14 vehicles have been recovered throughout the GTA.
Police have also arrested five people in relation to this investigation.
So what lesson have we learned here? That’s right, Ford surprisingly still makes the Edge. It’s a fine, quiet, comfortable crossover with enough rear seat width to fit three child seats across, it’s just old. A massive new touchscreen in 2021 only went so far, and the standard two-liter Ecoboost turbocharged four-cylinder engine feels underpowered, but the last Edge I drove was remarkably pleasant. Also, don’t steal cars.
It’s A Bad Week For Trim Pieces
On-the-fly weight reduction is generally frowned upon, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Recently, several automakers have issued recalls for parts that may fly off while underway, known to other motorists as the second-least fun reason to file a windshield claim, just behind some “Final Destination” shenanigans.
Ford is recalling 1,889,110 Explorer SUVs from model years 2011 through 2019 because according to a NHTSA defect report, “An A-pillar exterior trim part that detaches while driving can create a road hazard for other road users, increasing the risk of a crash.” No kidding. The fix? New A-pillar trims installed with both clips and adhesive. This should be a considerable quality of life upgrade for any Explorer driver experiencing A-pillar trim rattles, not to mention anyone fearful of being hit with a flying trim piece.
Oh, and Ford isn’t alone in its trim panel woes. Kia is recalling 101,049 2023 to 2024 Sportage crossovers and Carnival minivans for improperly installed roof moldings that may make a break for it at high speeds. Apparently, spontaneous roof trim panel release has happened hundreds of times on these vehicle, as per the safety investigation timeline.
Kia NA Safety Office updates data analysis across all data sources and identifies 492 unique incidents for 2023-2024MY Sportage: (dates of receipt: 5/23/2022—1/9/2024) and 365 unique incidents for 2022-2024MY Carnival (dates of receipt: 6/21/2021—1/8/2024)]. No crashes or injuries.
While both of these situations feel like Tim Robinson sketches, you’d expect major automakers to install good trim pieces that don’t fly off while you’re driving. Maybe it’s time to update that old, cliched bumper sticker that goes “All parts falling off this car are of the finest English workmanship,” don’t you think?
What I’m Listening To While Writing This
Spoiler alert, I’m driving a 2023 Toyota GR Corolla Circuit Edition this week, and there’s just something about a hot hatch that makes you want to throw on some DnB. Today, it’s Chase & Status with “Baddadan” featuring IRAH, Flowdan, Trigga, and Takura.
The Big Question
Recalls are often an unfortunate part of vehicle ownership, and when they require in-person fixes, quality of service may vary. The last time I had my 325i in for recall work, the process was quite good. I dropped it off, the local dealership called me a cab home, then collected me when the car was ready, and there wasn’t even a single “you might want to…” service upsell attempt during the entire process. However, not every dealership is like that. This morning I want to ask, how was your service experience the last time you took your car in for recall work?
(Photo credits: Tesla, Mazda, Ford)