Toyota exhausts EV rebates, Nissan recalls some trucks, we say goodbye to the BMW i3. 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.
Toyota Finally Exhausts Eligibility For EV Rebates
I’m afraid I have some bad news for anyone buying an electric or plug-in hybrid Toyota – eligibility for federal EV rebates has officially run out. See, the federal government only offers rebates for the first 200,000 EV and PHEVs sold by any manufacturer, and Toyota’s June sales of 3,876 EVs and PHEVs sends the Japanese manufacturer over the cumulative 200,000 unit mark. Once a manufacturer sells 200,000 eligible vehicles, rebates continue unchanged for a full quarter, then drop to half value ($3,750) for six months, then one-quarter value ($1,875) for another six months before disappearing entirely. While this means that consumers theoretically still have three months to score rebates on a Toyota, current market shortages mean getting that order filled in three months isn’t a sure thing.
I’ll admit, it’s a bold strategy for Toyota to blow almost its entire run of rebate-eligible vehicles on PHEVs, but it makes sense. Toyota knows how to make good hybrids, and the Prius Prime is particularly stellar at providing trail-braking rotation with zero environmental guilt. Sure, the Tesla-powered 2012 to 2014 RAV4 EV counted, as did a few bZ4Xs, but the plug-in hybrid has reigned supreme at Toyota. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if PHEVs grow in popularity over the next few years. Electric power for in-town use and combustion-powered ease for long road trips is a combination that just makes sense for most North Americans. Still, the rollback of federal rebates means that Toyota faces a bit of an uphill battle to sell its new bZ4X electric crossover, not to mention any future electric models.
Volkswagen Aims For Rental Market
Anyone who’s driven a 2012 U.S.-spec Passat will say that Volkswagen’s been in the rental car business for a long time, but news from Europe takes Volkswagen from a fleet supplier to a rental company owner. Reuters reports that Volkswagen has secured a whopping 93.6 percent stake in rental company Europcar, although the German automaker’s plans seem much, much bigger than just renting Polos to sweaty American tourists.
Yep, bring on the eye-rolling, Volkswagen’s corresponding press release is chock-full of every car enthusiast’s least-favorite word – mobility. Plans to centralize car rentals, subscription services, and “ride hailing” (there has to be a better phrase than that) under one platform, roll out autonomous mobility, and fling buzzwords around like a game of ultimate Frisbee abound, most of which seem a bit rubbish.
Look, rentals are the only thing here that makes sense. Fleet turnover means more late-model cars kept within the dealer network, possibly even as certified pre-owned cars. In addition, directly sending cars from the factory to a rental subsidiary should offer a competitive edge in today’s hot rental market. However, that’s about where the good news seems to end. Car subscription programs rarely save consumers money, and ride sharing just isn’t as efficient as public transit, something Europe is rather excellent at. Look, there is a chance that a six-month subscription on a tiny Volkswagen up! could be very cheap, but this largely sounds like another car manufacturer getting sucked in by hype and trying to do everything. I mean come on, look at how Free2Move went for Daimler.
Nissan Recalls Trucks That Might Roll Away
Inside just about every modern automatic gearbox is something called a parking pawl. It’s typically a big, beefy thing that locks the drivetrain in place so the car can’t move when in park. Well, that’s at least the theory. So what happens when the parking pawl in Nissan’s new nine-speed automatic gearbox has issues and the parking brake isn’t set? You end up with a runaway Frontier or Titan that’s recently been recalled.
Yes, Nissan has recalled 180,176 trucks due to roll-away issues. So what exactly is failing inside these nine-speed automatic gearboxes? According to the NHTSA recall report,
Due to dimensional variation during the manufacturing process, reduced clearance may cause contact between the edge of the parking pawl and the boss on the transmission case, which may result in non-engagement of the parking pawl.
Honestly, I’m impressed. The parking pawl fouling on the transmission case is a new and interesting sort of issue that’s sure to spice things up a bit. Nissan’s still working on a fix, so affected owners are urged to use their parking brakes in the meantime, either by reading about this issue online or by receiving a letter in the mail starting July 20. Four people allege mild injury from this issue, so let’s hope Nissan can stop its trucks from rolling away before that number jumps.
Godspeed You Plastic Wonder
A bit of sad news for anyone who likes quirky hatchbacks – the brilliant BMW i3 is now officially dead. Yes, Bavaria’s carbon-tub wonder has wrapped up production, although I can’t exactly say it didn’t go out with a bang. See, a black i3 came down the line a few days ago sporting a very big number. Why? In the eleventh hour, this black i3 was the 250,000th i3 BMW made. That’s a quarter of a million phenomenally unique plug-in hatchbacks sold over the course of a decade. To celebrate, BMW’s taken the last ten i3s and made them something very special.
Those last ten i3s got matte black or matte red paint, a truffle leather interior, all the fixings, and a rather intriguing name – the i3 HomeRun Edition. See, German car companies typically name their special edition models with brevity and literalness. Mercedes-AMG C63 Edition 1, Audi R8 RWS, BMW M5 CS, that sort of stuff. Naming a car the HomeRun edition has gravitas and emotion and enthusiasm. Light fireworks, roll credits, play My Hero by Foo Fighters, etc. You just can’t help but sense that everyone at head office in Munich, everyone at the assembly plant in Leipzig, and every engineer who worked on this car is just so damn proud of it.
Come on, it’s a rear-wheel-drive [Editor’s Note: rear motor, too! – JT] , carbon-frame, largely-recyclable electric car that debuted in 2013. Try making that and then not being proud of it. While it’s a shame to see the i3 go, but it’s not leaving us empty-handed. The incredibly fun Mini Cooper SE features the electric motor from an i3s, while the i3’s powertrain options shaped current electrified BMWs. Think of it as a bit of a giver, then.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. Happy Tuesday, we’re back after a long weekend and would love to hear about your weekend automotive exploits. I touched-up some chips on the 325i’s bumpers to take it from “shitty” to “looks awesome from ten feet away under overcast skies.” Whether you pulled off an engine swap, gave your floor mats a good vacuum, or simply ripped a sweet burnout, I’d love to hear what car stuff you got up to.
Lead photo credit: Toyota