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.
Doctor, My Polestar Hertz
Not content with an all-Tesla EV fleet, Hertz has struck up a deal with Polestar for up to 65,000 Polestar 2s. While that’s more than twice as many cars as Polestar delivered worldwide last year, deliveries are expected to be spread out over five years so production capacity shouldn’t be a problem. Speaking with Automotive News, Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath seemed excited about the brand exposure possible from this deal. “People trying an electric car perhaps for the first time will be doing it in a Polestar,” said Ingenlath.
While brand exposure is awesome, fleet sales are also great way to build up pre-owned programs. All of these rental Polestars are expected to make their way back through the Polestar retail network, opening the door to more used EVs. More used EVs means more choice and affordability, a good thing for people who don’t want to or can’t afford to take the initial depreciation hit of buying new. As cool as this news is, it raises a few questions. How will data privacy be handled in rental cars with Android Automotive infotainment? Will renters view the Polestars positively given the patchy state of third-party charging? Will Hertz still call the cops on customers by wrongly flagging rented-out cars as stolen? Time will tell.
GM And Honda Double Down On EVs
Remember the EV partnership that GM and Honda announced last year? It just received a huge boost courtesy of new, ambitious plans for affordable EVs. As expected, these new vehicles that ride on a joint-developed platform and use GM’s Ultium battery tech. The first model is expected to go on sale in 2027 and GM and Honda expect to build millions of them, a seriously bold target if I’ve ever seen one. The first vehicle expected on this platform is a compact crossover SUV. No surprise there, compact crossovers seem to be all any automaker can imagine right now and an affordable electric option should be a smash hit with consumers.
During a call with reporters on Tuesday morning, Ken Morris, GM’s executive vice president of electric, autonomous and fuel cell programs, said that these joint-developed vehicles are expected to start at under $30,000. That’s a massive step forward for EV affordability, though $30,000 is still a lot of money for many consumers. Funnily enough, this isn’t the first time that Honda and GM have collaborated; not only did GM tap Honda to supply J35S1 3.5-liter V6 engines and H5 automatic gearboxes for the first-generation Saturn VUE, Honda licensed OnStar for use in Acura vehicles from 2002 to 2006. Time really does seem like a flat circle sometimes.
The War In Ukraine May Have Slashed Car Production By 150,000 Units
When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, nobody really knew how drastically this act of aggression would affect vehicle production. Would automakers be nimble enough to source wiring harnesses, mechatronic assemblies and other critical components from suppliers outside Ukraine in a timely manner? Erm, not really. A new report from LMC Automotive estimates that new car production has been slashed by 150,000 units across Europe. This lines up well with a two-week shutdown at BMW’s Oxford assembly plant, Porsche cutting shifts at Zuffenhausen and Leipzig, and Mercedes-Benz reducing capacity at their flagship Sindelfingen assembly plant.
While manufacturers are slowly ramping up production by sourcing parts from other suppliers, plant workers still have to bear the brunt of these shutdowns. One anonymous worker at BMW’s Oxford plant confided to Oxford News that line workers were only paid 40 percent of their usual wage during the latest shutdown. Fortunately, automakers seem to be pivoting to other suppliers, so this drought will likely be largely resolved by summer.
The Toyota GR86 Is Getting A Spec Series
Great news for anyone who loves one-make racing series: Toyota’s launching one for the GR86. This isn’t some home market series for us to daydream about either, Toyota’s latest baby coupe is going wheel-to-wheel in North America. Organized by Toyota Gazoo Racing North America, the GR Cup will consist of seven races on American soil where caged-and-shod GR86s will go wheel-to-wheel. While we don’t have a ton of info on the cars right now, a teaser photo shows a cage, a wing and refreshingly few other modifications. We wouldn’t be surprised if series costs are on-par with the Mazda MX-5 Cup, making the GR Cup a relatively affordable way to go wheel-to-wheel racing. The GR Cup kicks off in 2023, so you still have time to pinch your pennies and save up for a race car. More information is expected to be announced this summer and we’ll have it for you as soon as we can get our hands on it.
Fast Audis Recalled For Exploding Turbos
Audis have long held a reputation for being 2 Fast 2 Fragile and the previous generation of 4.0-liter V8 cars are no exception. While owners, shops and the aftermarket have known of turbocharger oiling issues with these engines for a long time, Audi’s only just issued a recall yesterday. What exactly is the problem? The mesh screen on the turbochargers’ oil feed lines is extremely fine, so carbon buildup and other gunge can block the mesh. Blocked oil line mesh accelerates turbocharger bearing wear, and accelerated bearing wear usually ends with the turbocharger’s turbine hitting the housing or the cartridge shaft snapping entirely. More than 26,000 2013-17 Audi A8, S8, S6, S7 and RS7 model have been recalled, with owners expected to be notified of this recall on or before May 20. The silver lining? Because the turbochargers on an Audi 4.0 TFSI V8 are right in the engine’s vee, servicing the turbo lines isn’t a huge pain in the ass.
Whelp, time to pull the lever on today’s issue of The Morning Dump. Hey, weight reduction is great for racetrack performance and the easiest weight to reduce is usually by getting rid of what you had for dinner yesterday. From our vantage point this Tuesday, the EV revolution has already begun. Between the push for affordable EVs and surprisingly lively mass-market adoption, we’re a lot closer to the future than we think. Whether launch control in a Porsche Taycan Turbo S or the joys and pitfalls of running a dirt-cheap Nissan Leaf as an about-town beater, we’d love to hear your EV experiences in the comments. My best friend’s dad just traded in his E70 X5 diesel for a brand new Ioniq 5 and is absolutely loving it, so I’m pretty stoked for him.