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
There’s a lot to like about the i3, yet I find it inherently unlikable. It’s too weird to have any mainstream appeal, but not weird enough to give it that automotive oddball appeal. The interior is really nice, but the back seats are pretty much nominal. By most accounts the range was appalling, even with the ICE extender. Ultimately it came across as a test bed for whatever interesting EV ideas BMW wanted to try out, and given that it’s kind of impressive that they made 250,000 of them.
I wanted a used one preCovid, they were going for 10,000 to 14,000 for low mileage good ones. Even the extended range ones. Unfortunately, even though I could completely rationalize the purchase my spouse said no, unless you get rid of one of your other cars. But honey those were 40K+ when new and what a bargain…Not unless you divest yourself of 1 or even 2 of those toys. Well now they are unobtainium like everything else out there. I really wanted to drive around in that danish modern interior. It is currently 82 degrees with thunderstorms on the way, I will take the Saab for a ride with the top down and forget i3’s
Finished a two week long effort to replace the aftermarket Carrozzeria head unit in my 1996 JDM Toyota Caldina with an OEM piece from a USDM Toyota Highlander. Getting the dash apart was scary; a giant piece had to be removed before the stereo could be accessed. I looked at pictures of about 20 used panels for sale and every single one was broken in the same location, so dismantling it without doing the same was important. After I managed that, the new stereo plugged right in just as I had hoped. However, the existing brackets were all wrong so I had to order a new set from Dubai. Once they arrived the stereo was in, but then I realized that the opening in the dash was much to small. A dremel and a series of hand files and sand paper and polishing and four hours’ worth of labor finally allowed reassembly. Everything works, it looks OEM, yay!
Ran two errands and the power antenna broke. Disconnected it last night until I can disassemble it and ensure that I can repair it with locally available rod assembly. Yeesh. The antenna is super dirty, which makes me assume that the drain is clogged.
That sounds pretty expensive for Nissan.
Not buying that Toyota is going to have a hard time selling EV’s…
Yeah. The BusyForks might fall short on the specs, but these days “it’s in stock” is a pretty strong selling point.
Before my recent divorce, we were a two-car household with one short-range EV and one PHEV. It was about the perfect combo for a two-car household. Both cars function as EVs for running about town, but that PHEV works great on road-trips. A lot of my driving is short trips, so the PHEV makes a ton of sense to me. The only drawback is long-term reliability – it has all the complexity of a modern ICE as well the EV components. OTOH, I’m not hauling around 100kWh of battery pack that I’ll only use twice a year. Feel like PHEV is a great “transition” technology for people who might be EV skeptics.
I feel exactly the same about PHEV’s – have owned two of them now. Have a reservation for the F150 lightning, who knows how long it will take to actually get one, but I’d much rather have the option of a PHEV Ranger (or Tacoma).
Before my recent.. divorce…
Between two different types of EVs, peoples resitance to drive, I do not get the inability (or dis-interest and associated driving behaviors) or lack thereof. I will continue driving my Square Blue Honda… purely because I can do what Id like, when, where, how, why.. and they way I want to do it.
In 10yrs, Ive done anywhere between 3k miles yr and 33k miles a yr. Switching to less than that pigeon holes myself into what I think “a routine might be”. That and my Honda is coming on 22yrs old.. and Im not giving it up to fit in a nice neat stat.
Going by the recent documentary The Sparks Brothers, one of the guys from Sparks drives an i3. The other guy drives a VW Thing.
That docu was simply brilliant. Everyone should watch it.
I assume Toyota figured they had timed the PHEV sales and the Bee Zee Forex release pretty well. If the changes to the rebate had gone through, they would have maximized the PHEVs on the current rebate just before it switched over to the pretty much EV-only one, which would have started around the release of the Forex. It looked like a good move if everything went as expected.
But BBB didn’t pass (in part due to fights over union- and US-made benefits to the EV credit), so they ended up dropping the Forex with no federal rebate. Against the same vehicle from Subaru with the rebate. But they’ll do alright, since EV demand is high, so it probably worked out for them.
They probably don’t want to sell that many BeeZees anyways, and they sure aren’t in any hurry to increase capacity, so the rebate is academic for them. They will sell out regardless.
OK, that’s just eerie – As I was reading this, an i3 rolled up to the stoplight outside my office window. It’s like you summoned it or something.
Sure would be nice if congress stopped screwing around with that Jan 6th nonsense and refocused on issues affecting the country right now, like extending the PHEV/BEV credits. With prices still high and interest rates on autoloans going up, perspective buyers are going to need all the extra incentive they can get if DC is serious about transitioning to both platforms and away from traditional ICE vehicles.
Until a few weeks ago, I thought exactly the same thing. After calling a dozen dealerships trying to find a PHEV or at least one I could order. Any mfr any PHEV model. No luck. No dealership has them. I did get emails from 2 dealerships a few days later. There was a Tucson PHEV and an Escape PHEV on the way. Neither was on the lot yet. I was interested and ready to put down a deposit until I found out they wanted $4k over MSRP for the Ford and $11k over MSRP for the Hyundai. I wished them luck and said I’d keep looking. Found a local dealer that was not charging over MSRP, so I put down a deposit for a RAV4 hybrid (no primes allocated). It’s 8-10 months away but at least I’m not paying over MSRP.
tl;dr most of the benefit of the rebates for consumers is being taken by dealer markups. So unless you want to line dealers pockets, rebates are a waste in this current market. The same money would be better invested into helping overcome the vehicle/chip shortage.
“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.”
PHEVs are the future. There is no current path to 100% BEVs. And even in the cases where a BEV could solve the problem, usually the PHEV is better at it. They do a sufficient job solving the climate problem because the vast majority of the time they’ll burn no gas. They work in places where a BEV can’t. They act as a multiplier on our component and infrastructure capabilities (we can build 4 or more PHEVs for the same battery materials as one BEV).
The only way PHEVs aren’t the future is if stupid politicians ruin it.
Regardless, if there is a company that doesn’t need government funding, Toyota might be it. Never forget that EV subsidies are money for the manufacturers, not the consumers. They dressed it up to make it feel like it was money for you. But it’s not. That amount was added to the price tag.
I wonder what the production mix of BuzzyForks vs Subaru Solterra is, and whether Subaru’s still having plenty of EV credits factors in?
Every time the subject of the park position comes up I always think of Anton Yelchin. It’s a very good idea to get in the habit of using the parking brake even in an auto. Even if it doesn’t save your life, it may save you some money especially if you live in an inspection state – far more handbrakes fail from disuse (rusted cables etc) than anything else.
Toyotas don’t need no stinkin rebates 😀
Even before the pandemic, they could sell at sticker all day long.
I *am* pissed at them for killing the Prius V to protect the Rav4 Prime
Looks like it is about $10k more to get into a RAV4 Prime versus a RAV4 Hybrid. Never mind if you can actually find one. With $7500 rebate, it is a pretty good deal. Without it, $10,000 buys a lot of gas, even at $5/gal.
It is interesting that the Prius Prime starts only $3k higher than a Prius. Guess that “SUV tax” is real.
The Prime is $3K more than the Prius and comes with a $4500 Federal EV tax credit plus whatever you can get in state and local incentive. What is crazy to me is that the regular Prius still outsells the Prime.
If Toyota is so focused on PHEV,they should make a Prime versions of every car . Give us the 300 HP prime Camry, give us a Prime Corolla and Prius with 200 HP. They have so much potential in the next 10 years to close the gap between ICE and BEV
The problem is that as good as the PHEVs are, technology isn’t going to decide the winner. Regulations are.
You might have the best product, but if you aren’t genuflecting at the altar of BEV, you’re going to be excommunicated.
Seems like a no-brainer to PHEV the Highlander. Put the same RAV4 drivetrain in there. They’d be printing money.
Sorry to see the i3 go. I bought a 2015 i3 +REx in April 2021 and have loved every we’ve had it. As others have noted, the $1900 (Cdn.) tires are less than ideal, but it’s a blast to drive, surprisingly spacious, and unexpectedly good in winter. Hope to complement it next year with either a larger PHEV (maybe a Lincoln Corsair Grand Touring) for longer trips or camping.
“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.”
I mean, you can still get the rebates if you wanna drive down the road to the Subaru dealership.
“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.”
“a truffle leather interior”
Given that my only knowledge of truffles is as food, does this mean the interior is edible? 😉
The i3 is an awesome little car, and the last very small car I’m interested in. They’re huge fun to drive when you push them, and are stuffed with restrained Teutonic style, inside and out. I especially love the interior.
If it weren’t for the extremely expensive, unique size, single manufacturer, short tread life tire fitted to them, I would have at least one by now. I passed up a $12,000 i3rex with 40,000 miles during peak COVID because it needed $1,600 worth of tires immediately, and the backorder was 3-6 months, minimum.
I still look, occasionally, for aftermarket tire and even wheel options, but due to the high cost of just the tires, I have yet to find something that makes the i3 more cost effective to drive than a mid-size sedan. (That’s my baseline to give up all the extra utility of a larger vehicle. It’s preferably cheaper to own and drive, but failing that, it can’t be too expensive.)
The sad thing is that compared to a Toyota or Honda hybrid, the i3 makes no sense at all, other than coming in a rust free shell.
I aired up the spare on my wagon, because I couldn’t recall the last time I did.
It was at 12 pounds. Guess there was a good reason I didn’t remember doing it.
I was a teenager when I first read about parking pawls and how they worked. Ever since I’ve always used the parking brake. Always.
I locked up the interlocks on the first gen Dodge Dakota I had in high school once (shifted it too much climbing in and out of the bed using it as a couch so the transmission/ignition interlock got jammed to the steering/ignition interlock and took 30 minutes of fiddling/rocking the truck to free it) and have had a whole process since. Neutral -> parking brake -> release regular brake -> put in park
Of course now I daily a manual, but *shrug*
“every engineer who worked on this car is just so damn proud of it.”
I bet the Yugo’s engineers were proud too (no offense to any editors of this fine website). The i3 is a poor effort that’s outclassed by pretty much every one of its competitors.
I feel like if you still have to explain why it’s cool after I’ve seen it, ridden in it and driven it; it’s not cool. It’s more of a seemingly neat idea that didn’t pan out.
My 05 Square Blue Honda, sticks out like a sore thumb. Doesnt mean I still cant get tickets in it. Doesnt mean I dont squeal tires in it, every DAMN CHANCE I GET.
Its reviled by everyone for 1000x problems.
It is my Square Blue Pile of shit.
She does what I ask, she runs, drives, corners, takes a load of shit from anywhere to anywhere else. Shes run to drive. I still think its cool as hell.
It strikes me as the rough draft for the Chevrolet Bolt, before it was given normal doors and the taillights-in-rear-window-glass nixed for cost reasons.