J.D. Power finds out the fairly obvious state of public EV perception, Maserati chops the head off its supercar, Luminar picks up a key Apple automotive employee. All this and more on today’s edition 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.
J.D. Power EV Survey States The Obvious
Look, a survey of more than 10,000 people is great for determining public concerns over electric vehicles, but gauging public sentiments of EVs isn’t rocket appliances [Ed note: Apparently this is a reference to a Trailer Park Boy or something? -DT]. As such, much-lampooned consumer research firm J.D. Power has published a report on electric vehicles that kind of makes you want to say, “well, duh!”
First on the list of the obvious: Electric vehicles are more likely to be considered for a future car purchase by people who have money. A full 37 percent of premium vehicle owners surveyed and 27 percent of homeowners said they’d be “very likely consider” an electric vehicle for their next car purchase, compared to 21 percent of mass-market vehicle owners and 17 percent of renters. Gee, if you have more money and a home, you can afford to buy an EV and have a place to charge it overnight. Who’d have thought?
Next, EV consideration is on the rise overall. Some 24 percent of those surveyed said they’re very likely to consider an EV for their next car, up four percent from last year. Considering the recent rush of dope EVs like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ford F-150 Lightning, this shouldn’t be a surprise. People want cool stuff, and gas prices are absurd right now. Also on the no-brainer list? Familiarity brings appreciation. According to the survey, 11 percent of people with no EV experience would very likely consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase, rising to 24 percent for people who’ve been passenger in an EV, 34 percent for people who’ve driven an EV, and 48 percent of people who own an EV.
While this latest J.D. Power survey does seem a bit obvious, it is nice that J.D. Power’s put numbers to qualitative EV sentiments, as this can help inform how we improve. Now that we have quantification of the obvious, let’s do some analysis. Since only 17 percent of renters would very likely consider an EV, we need to do more to lower EV entry costs and get charging stations into apartment complexes and rental homes. More importantly, if 76 percent of people surveyed aren’t very likely to consider an EV for their next car, that doesn’t bode well for an EV adoption ramp-up. We have a long, long way to go if we want to reach that arbitrary 2035 target, and there’s a chance that it may just not happen. Honestly, I wouldn’t be mad. Plug-in hybrids are a pretty awesome solution for most North Americans, they’re cheaper than EVs, and they can grab enough range to run errands just by plugging into a 110-volt socket overnight. Maybe every new car being a true EV isn’t pie-in-the-sky thinking, but we still shouldn’t ignore sensible solutions right on our doorsteps.
Maserati Breaks Out The Guillotine
It hasn’t even been two years since Maserati debuted the MC20 supercar, but the team at Modena has decided that it’s time to let the sun in. Say hello to the Maserati MC20 Cielo, a 621-horsepower sun-seeker with a carbon fiber chassis.
Thumbing through Maserati’s history, it seems like the company’s a fan of very literal names. Quattroporte may sound sexy but it really just means “four doors.” Care to guess what Cielo means? That’s right, it’s a literal translation of sky. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that the MC20 Cielo has a few different options for letting the sky in. The first is obvious, a power-retractable hardtop that’s stowable in a claimed 12 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph (50 km/h) and adds a fairly reasonable 143 pounds to the coupe’s curb weight. The second is a touch less obvious. That power-retractable roof is made from electrochromic material that can go from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button. Very nice.
Visual changes with the roofless conversion are mostly subtle, although I’m not so sure about the giant Maserati trident sticker on the deck lid. It almost seems like a bat signal for fuckboys, a notable skyward element of bad taste. That giant trident’s a bit out of place, especially since the MC20 itself seems to be in good taste. There are no giant wings and splitters, no unnecessary creases, no stupid forged carbon and no overgrown air curtains. It’s a supercar in the 2000s sense, a few necessary scoops, massive power, still relatively pretty. There’s something quite nice about that.
Oh yeah, about that massive power. You’ve probably heard about the MC20’s pace, but here’s a quick reminder. 621 horsepower from a three-liter turbocharged V6, an eight-speed dual-clutch transaxle, 0-60 mph in under three seconds, top speed in the neighborhood of 200 miles per hour. Yeah, that’s proper supercar pace. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but don’t expect to sneak one out the door for any less than the $212,000 commanded by the MC20 coupe. So, if you have a quarter of a million dollars to spend on a new supercar, don’t like the games Ferrari plays, aren’t a fan of Lamborghini’s brashness, and aren’t hugely enthused by how every McLaren looks pretty similar, you might want to plunk down an order with Maserati.
Lucid Issues Another Recall
It’s no secret that making cars is hard, and Lucid is learning in real-time. The maker of spectacularly beautiful electric sedans has just issued another recall, this time pertaining to the Air’s displays. Yes, this includes that 5K screen they tout so often.
According to recall documents, the wiring harness running to the dashboard screens may not be secured properly, leading to potential chafing on the steering shaft. Now, the word chafing in any context is generally bad news, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that a chafed wiring harness could essentially turn all the screens off. That’s decidedly not brilliant, although I suppose there are worse failures than driving with no speedometer, gear indicator, warning lights, vehicle notifications, audio display, etc. As such, Lucid is recalling every Air luxury sedan manufactured before May 4, some 1,117 vehicles.
Honestly, this seems like an improvement over Lucid’s previous recall for front damper snap ring failure that could suddenly lower the vehicle, damage a brake line, or cause a loss of damping force. Honestly, that one seems to be 50:50. According to recall documents, Thyssenkrupp Bilstein realized an issue with their quality assurance vision system and Lucid didn’t check the dampers thoroughly once received. Let’s hope that Lucid and its suppliers can get everything up to scratch quickly, because the Air is really much nicer than a Mercedes EQS or a Tesla Model S.
Apple Car Lead Hops Over To Luminar
There’s a bit of a Silicon valley shake-up going on as Apple car project manager and former Tesla director of Autopilot Christopher “CJ” Moore headed over to Luminar to lead global software development. The change in roles happened within a year of Moore joining the team at Apple, a pretty quick exit from the sound of things. So what exactly is going on here and what does this mean for the auto industry? Let’s find out.
Apple’s Project Titan is a long-running trope. The thing is, nobody really knows if Apple’s developing a full car, it’s all just speculation. What we do know is that the tech company is working on autonomous vehicle software, as evidenced by a Reuters-reported acquisition of drive.ai in 2019, and a fairly substantial stack of autonomous test vehicle permits as reported by the BBC. Now I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff speculated about Apple, from folding phones to dual-monitor MacBooks, so all speculation is drivel as far as I’m concerned. Without proper reporting practices and cited sources, it’s not news. However, the focus on autonomous vehicle software contextualizes the hiring of Moore and his departure to Luminar.
See, Luminar is working with Geely Group, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, and other OEMs to bring LIDAR and autonomous tech to market. So far, results seem promising. Luminar put on one hell of a demonstration at the Consumer Electronics Show, and Nissan’s work with Luminar has essentially created a Skyline (Infiniti Q50) that can swerve and avoid moving obstacles, brake in complex situations, and more. While Apple may be doing some neat stuff with its automotive program, Luminar seems closer to production. Moore’s move means more talent will be available to more manufacturers on a faster timeline than what Apple seems to be planning.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. I’ll admit, I’m not exactly considering an EV for my next car purchase. I love electric cars, but they’re quite expensive, especially on the used market these days. Plus, I’ll always have time to buy an EV, I might not always have time to have a romp in a combustion-powered sports car. That’s just my two cents though, I’m curious to hear how you feel. Will you buy an EV sometime soon, or is there one combustion-engined car you want to tick off your automotive bucket list first?
Lead photo credit: Electrify America