A wonderful Friday morning to you all, readers of The Autopian. I hope that wherever you find yourself in the world, it means good post-winter driving weather, no matter what high-performance (or low-performance) vehicle you choose to operate.
Before you begin a weekend of hoonage, I will send you off the best way I know how: by delivering the news. Today, that means updates on Toyota’s electric vehicle plans, Ford’s take on Tesla’s price cuts and margin battles, an important new vehicle coming to Norway, and I will tell you the magic secret to unlocking a major discount on new EVs.
If Anyone Can Pull Off EV, Profitability It’s Toyota
Here’s the thing about EVs so far: Most automakers are kind of taking a bath on them right now. Yes, even with their higher-than-average MSRPs. Tesla is still the king of making big profits on EVs (though Chinese automakers are rapidly catching up there), while other OEMs squeak out tiny margins or lose money outright on this new technology. It’s an expensive venture until batteries and everything around them can be grown to scale.
So the one to watch in this field, I think, is about to be Toyota. Yes, really.
We all know the world’s largest automaker is behind the curve on EVs (and actively lobbied against them in the U.S.) because it favored a more balanced, global approach to powertrains as well as its own bet on hydrogen. It remains the world leader in hybrid cars, which will maintain a crucial role in bringing down emissions.
And there’s nothing wrong with balance; it’s smart, really. But Toyota’s problem is that it’s not balanced. It’s behind on battery EVs. The bZ4x and its Lexus and Subaru siblings aren’t terribly competitive or well-received. Toyota could make the “balance” argument if it brought anything to the table, but right now, it feels like it lags far behind the curve as the U.S. dumps a ton of public subsidies into public charging, EV tax credits and more.
Toyota’s new boss, Koji Sato, is an engineer by background—always a good sign at a car company—who is taking EVs much more seriously. But the goal has to be profitability with scale, he told journalists in Tokyo recently. He defended the company’s record on reducing carbon emissions with hybrids, but admitted there’s catch-up work to be done.
Two of my favorite journalists who cover the Japanese auto industry, Automotive News‘ Hans Griemel and the AP’s Yuri Kageyama, have dispatches worth reading about the Sato Plan today.
Here’s AN, starting with Toyota’s three-step plan. Step one was the bZ family of EVs on the e-TGNA platform—which is already being scrapped for an all-new, ground-up EV architecture. And then, around 2026, the rest of the plan:
So a dedicated EV platform, connected cars and software-driven vehicles. It’s a plan remarkably similar to what most large automakers are also doing. Sato’s cagey on the “potential business opportunities” for the last item, but that probably means on-demand app features and subscription services. They all want to do this stuff; I wrote something for TechCrunch this week about what Hyundai’s up to, for example.
Here’s Yuri at the AP for more:
Sato, who has managed the Lexus luxury division, declined to outline specifics of such features. But he stressed that future EV models would be truly “Toyota-like,” pointing to a high standard for quality and not just affordable pricing.
The company’s entire production system must be revamped to make quality EVs befitting the Toyota or Lexus nameplates, he said. Toyota prides itself on its “just in time” production system, which runs like clockwork and is praised by manufacturing experts around the world.
When I say Toyota will be a player to watch, that’s what I mean. Yes, it has some catching up to do. By the time it launches those next-gen “we’re doing it for real this time” EVs, the stuff from Hyundai or even General Motors and Ford could be on their second generations, to say nothing of what Tesla or BYD or whoever could be up to.
But revolutionizing manufacturing to emphasize speed, reliability and low cost is what Toyota’s world-class at. This company is behind on the BEV front but it’s not to be underestimated, either. Let’s see if Sato can really put this level of urgency into place.
One more note: Sato says he sees incredible potential for hybrids in developing markets like Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. He’s right. Those people deserve cleaner transportation and less fuel use too, just as much as comparatively rich Europeans, Americans and Chinese do. De-carbonizing the developing markets will be super important, even as we see hybrid sales drop off in all those places I just mentioned.
The last thing I’ll add is that I am putting a photo of the Toyota EV Sports Concept as the featured photo on this article, because I want it to exist in some form and choose to manifest it into the universe.
Ford’s Jim Farley On Tesla
This week we learned that Tesla’s rapid-fire price cuts through the year have had a not-surprising effect on profits: deliveries are up, which is good after it faced accusations of declining demand last year, but revenue is down compared to Q4.
But the fact that Tesla has the scale to do this at all has the respect of Ford CEO Jim Farley. While Farley said Ford’s EV plan has a lot to do with “less-crowded segments” like trucks and vans for now, it’s also interesting how much the traditional OEMs have gone from scoffing at Tesla to essentially trying to run the same playbook. Here’s Farley speaking to Reuters:
Farley said Ford was moving quickly to have a second-generation electric vehicle (EV) ready since the pace of product overhauls is happening far faster pace with EVs than with other cars.
“We used to think we would have a model year,” Farley said. “Now with Model e, four times a year we have a model year,” he said in reference to the pace of change for electric vehicles.
Musk said this week that Tesla would be able to cut prices now – even potentially to zero profit – and earn more later on software and services when it has technology available that allows for autonomous driving.
“I think what he’s going to learn is that product freshness matters a lot,” Farley said of Musk.
Ford’s own history has a cautionary note for Musk, who appears to be modeling the Tesla playbook on what Henry Ford did, Farley said.
Ford drove down costs for the Model T and created a mass market with production innovation. But it failed to respond to customer demands and new competition, with Henry Ford famously insisting the only color available would be black.
“You could have had red or green, but it took them 10 years,” Farley said.
F-150 Lightning Goes On Sale In One Of The Biggest EV Markets
The big pickup may not be ideal for Oslo’s streets, but in the countryside, owners could “bring a lot of deer with them to the cabin,” said Per Gunnar Berg, managing director, Ford Norway.
Ford, which will sell the pickup through its authorized dealer network in Norway, said deliveries will begin next year.
The launch comes a month after the company said its electric vehicle business unit could lose $3 billion this year, but remains on track to achieve a pre-tax margin of 8% by late 2026.
This is also why we need more baby EV trucks, too. Every country needs trucks, but few of them need or want to go as big as we do. Hell, plenty of Americans don’t, either.
Leasing. The Secret Is Leasing
Do you understand the vast complexities of the revised EV tax credits in America? It’s OK if you don’t; few people do, few automakers do, and now the list of qualifying vehicles is now a lot smaller. It will grow over time as more automakers beef up their U.S. battery and EV manufacturing setups, but not a ton of new vehicles qualify for the full $7,500 tax break. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you consider how expensive these things are.
Unless! You lease the EV! That’s the loophole nobody knows enough about. As long as your dealer decides to pass on the savings to you (because they are technically the ones buying the car upfront) you can get the discount on any damn EV right now, regardless of where it’s from. Take it away, New York Times:
To make up for the loss of the tax breaks, Hyundai and other automakers are trying to lure buyers through leases. Under the administration’s broad interpretations of the law, leased electric cars are eligible for tax credits even if they are made overseas and are not subjected to the government’s rules on sourcing requirements for battery components and minerals, household income caps and vehicle price thresholds.
Car dealers can pass along the commercial credit to consumers by lowering the price of the car in lease transactions, which could reduce monthly payments. Under the rules of thumb for auto financing, applying the full $7,500 credit to a lease could save consumers about $225 per month over three years, or $125 per month over five years, said Russell Datz, a spokesman for Volvo.
Consumers are getting the money-saving message. In September, after the law’s passage, just 7 percent of consumers leased an electric vehicle, according to Edmunds.com. By March, leases accounted for 34 percent of the electric car market.
This actually works out in your favor. Leasing’s a great idea for new EVs. The tech is still new, the costs are high, and you’re gonna need to see if this works for your lifestyle as the charging network slowly builds out. It’s 100% what I would do if I were buying a new EV instead of buying outright. Hyundai, Volvo and a few others are basically banking on this since they got screwed out of the credits.
Range? Style? Reliability? Costs? Power? How can Toyota win, or at least get ahead, on the EV front? And would you rather buy or lease one of these things?
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The gold GR Sports concept shows that finally, after 60 years, Toyota is considering putting Racer X’s car, the Shooting Star, into production.
I’m going to go with the Model-T (or perhaps more accurately Beetle) example here. If you can keep making vehicles with the same already paid for tooling and use the savings to lower cost, do it as long as you can. We don’t need new goofy headlight shapes every few years. Bring prices down and invest in some incremental improvements and that can be a good sustainable business.
Eventually the tooling will wear out and that’s when you make your change.
“If Anyone Can Pull Off EV, Profitability It’s Toyota”
Toyota’s problem is that they previously talked about ‘waiting for solid state batteries to be ready’. The problem with that previous strategy was that it can be a very long time before that tech is “ready”. And even when it’s “ready”, the manufacturing capacity to crank those batteries out in the volumes needed don’t just magically build themselves.
And by the time THAT happens could easily be 5-10 years from now.
Toyota needs to and has started to take a more pragmatic approach. Use what is available in volume.
But there is still a problem with that… in that there isn’t much spare battery cell production to go around these days. Any big company basically needs to have some battery cell plants of their own to ensure sufficient supply.
And because they don’t have their BEV supply chain built out, THAT is the real roadblock for making BEVs profitably for them.
I think they will get there eventually. But when it comes to BEV profitability, I see Ford and Hyundai getting there long before Toyota.
And it’s a shame. Some of Toyota’s experience with hybrid battery packs should have resulted in them being better prepared for selling BEVs in volume.
But apparently not.
And while Sato’s three steps sound fine, it really doesn’t change all that much. They’re still just as behind.
The only really good thing I’m seeing is they’ve given up on the idea of kludging BEV powertrains onto ICE platforms.
“How can Toyota win, or at least get ahead, on the EV front? “
They should buy a Tesla Model Y, tear it apart to get ideas and use those ideas to do their own BEV platform.
On the battery front, they need to work with their battery partner or partners where they currently get hybrid battery packs from. And specifically, enter a joint venture with that battery partner (like Tesla did with Panasonic) and get themselves some dedicated BEV cell capacity. And if they have done that, then expand what they have… given they don’t have enough cells to even supply an adequate number of plug-in hybrids.
And the first vehicles produced on this new BEV platform should be high end/low volume vehicles… such as a new Lexus LS sedan and new LX/GX full size electric SUV. And from that starting point, they can slowly ramp up and deal with anything that comes up fast… which will be easier to do without breaking the bank when you have a high margin/lower volume vehicle.
Once that is done, have the BEV/platform flow down to smaller/cheaper models.
They did tore a Model Y apart and realised how far behind they are https://electrek.co/2023/02/28/tesla-model-y-work-of-art-toyota-tearing-down/
Wait, he actually said that? Because for all the doom and gloom predictions of Tesla haters, this could be a big enough misstep to kill the company. If they bet the farm on autonomous cars now they could very well be bankrupt in a few years, especially given that Musk’s predictions on when things would release have been…optimistic, at best. I mean, they promised us that we’d all be making money on our Teslas by hiring them out as autonomous cabs by now too.
I assume this is Musk being full of hot air, but if not it seems like a perfect time for the phrase “big if true”.
“If they bet the farm on autonomous cars now they could very well be bankrupt in a few years”
We can hope.
It would be nice if Toyota started cutting out the dealers in their EV push. The only AWD BZ4Xs available in my state are marked up higher than all the competition. Some of the competition (ID.4, Model Y) even qualify for the $7,500 tax credit. Why would they buy something with such mediocre specs when VW, Kia/Hyundai, Tesla and VW have cheaper AWD EVs with better specs?
to be fair, some people like the smell of musk though
Good to see Farley checking out the specs on the end line for the rotary girder up there. He really should have on his hard hat though or they’ll be scooping out his brains with a soup ladle.
The last time I saw a Farley checking the specs on the rotary girder, his lack of catlike speed and reflexes got him hit in the face wth big ole hunk of steel.
To be fair they were coming pretty fast.
Toyota could be way ahead with a Prime everything. Including (perhaps especially) the BZ4X Prime, which would add a small range extender engine. Beyond that, Toyota can just throw their weight around and just shift their manufacturing to competitive EVs. Their reputation is enough to sell them, their manufacturing capacity is good, and their dealers don’t have trouble selling the product.
I’m very much on Team PHEV Versions Of Normal Cars
Sounds like something that will happen.
Giving up profit to make up market share is very much something automakers will do under the right circumstances. See Tesla, right now.
Its rare that the dealer is the leasing company so I’m not sure why it was phrased that way.
Hyundai Finance (or whomever else’s captive leasing company) is absolutely going to throw that cash out there to get the deal. The dealer has no incentive to hold it back because they’re not the ones getting it.
I’m not worried about Toyota – their hybrid technology will scale just fine. But they are missing out on semi trucks of tax payer money by dragging their feet. VW just snagged 13 billion, that’s billion, for their PowerCo plant in Canada. Privatize profit socialize losses I guess…..
I think all of the anti-Toyota rhetoric on EVs has been a little ridiculous. Yes, they’re behind the 8 ball. But all the governments putting all their eggs in the EV basket with mandates and the EV-or-die crowd are, in fact, way ahead of it. It’s hard to understate how much Toyota has advanced hybrid technology and hybrids/PHEVs are a great solution for right now and I continue to fail to understand why they aren’t talked about more. More hybrids and PHEVs are a great solution to lowering emissions in the present while full electric technology continues to develop further.
I think Toyota will eventually catch up by producing EVs that are…well, Toyotas. Their customer base doesn’t really care about having the latest or greatest anything…they want cars that are simple, functional, reliable, and can be kept for 10 years or more. I think the company’s more patient approach will lend itself to their products being just that in the end…and I think their angle is to give people EVs that are an easy transition for folks used to ICE. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel and give us the latest abstract retro future spaceship that’s operated by an 84 inch touchscreen. Giving people Highlanders, RAV-4s, etc. that happen to be electric will work just fine.
I wouldn’t buy an EV right now because they’re terrible investments. They’re basically cell phones at this stage…designed for right now and will be outdated in 2-3 years. Then you’ll switch to the next one. They’re a disposable commodity…which is an environmental aspect to them that no one is willing to talk about for some reason. Where are all the EVs from this era that’ll be useless in 10 years and their batteries/technology going to go?
Anyway, this is one of the only situations where leasing makes sense to me. Buying is almost always the wiser financial decision in the end unless it’s a car with mondo depreciation (entry and mid level luxury cars) and/or a car that’ll be extremely outdated within 3-5 years. There’s no need to tie up a bunch of money in product that’ll be dated before the warranty expires and with the tax credits factored in the lease options make the cars a lot more attainable.
I get emails from Hyundai about Ioniq 5 and 6 leases all the time and they’re very affordable. I think one was $399 a month, which is minuscule in a world where the average monthly car payment is creeping towards $1,000. Honestly it’s a pretty enticing option for someone who doesn’t have a ton of budget to work with…and then when you factor in the lower running costs of an EV? Damn. If I was someone making a salary in the 50-70 range or so and wanted an affordable new car that would be mighty enticing.
Thank you for hitting some major points that don’t get press.
Toyota didn’t carry the EV-only tune that is getting all the attention. The old “ICE is bad” had mutated to “Anything with ICE is bad.” Thus hybrids are bad. <– This is all sort of BS. EVs aren’t the end all solution.
Aside from Tesla vehicles, pretty much all current production EVs will gone in 10 to 12 years. You know what vehicles will still be around?…..ICE and hybrids. It’s not that BEVs are in some way badly built, but (relatively) low volume products and products what are undergoing rapid evolution are not supported in the long term.
Recycling hinges on making it economically viable. From what I’ve read, current batteries aren’t designed to be recycled. Whether it is the construction or chemistry. I think manufacturers are focused on ensuring the batteries will not catch fire and energy density, for right now. The tech to recycle is expensive and inefficient. Thus, we are going to have a mountain of Bolt, Lightning, Mach-e, Tesla and Ultium batteries in 12 years sitting in some future EPA Superfund site. It’s like we are thinking we are Saving The Day, but pooping on the future if we don’t stop thinking of only getting new BEVs into the hands of people.
The recycling concern is valid, but overblown. Yes, taking today’s EV batteries and recycling them into new batteries is pretty much prohibitively expensive at this point. But we currently see uses for batteries that would no longer have acceptable capacity for a vehicle, but might have other use cases. One of the most common is as a home battery system. You can take old cells that still have capacity, but not enough for vehicle use, make yourself a powerbank for outages, and you’ve extended their useful life by a lot (home battery backups don’t go through a lot of charge/discharge cycles, so they can last a long time in this scenario).
That said, I believe PHEVs are a great choice for a lot of people right now, if only they made more of them. They give the benefit of a full EV for local trips and good range without a massive battery, though you are using some gas then.
This gets discussed a lot (using old battery’s for home backup). Is there anyone out there doing it? Ideally packaging the old batterys with chargers and inverters for home use? Maybe a DIY crowd that could provide insight? I’d love a 3-5 kwh battery backup for my house but the setups I see are using new battery’s, and are prohibitably expensive.
It’s a pretty involved process, and I suspect the more likely large-scale use is that companies buy up old batteries, pull cells, and repackage the whole thing. I work in a place with a bunch of electrical engineers, and some of them have done it themselves, which is awesome, but not necessarily for everyone.
It’s beyond my comfort level, but you can find some info out there on it. I would suggest sites, but I don’t know if I have the skillset to determine who’s giving the right advice.
Yeah, kinda where I stand. I’m comfortable doing basic electric work, but cobling together a used battery (often a weird voltage) then finding a suitable charger and inverter and getting them all to talk to each other without burning down my house is out of my league. looking at used batteries i’m finding the same as you said, most recycle done now is removing batteries and replacing bad cells and then selling them as refurbished for vehcile use. Any promise of cheap battery backup’s for home use seems to be a ways off.
I think Toyota’s lack of EVs looks worse because after initially helping to mainstream hybrids for the mainstream, they’re only just now really leaning into hybrids across the rest of their lineup, so it looks like an attempt to catch up just as there’s a push for all-EVs.
I remember seeing Sienna owners say they’d buy a hybrid version if it were offered, way back when the hybrid Camry was new. And Toyota had hybrid minivans elsewhere, just too small for the U.S. market like the 2nd-gen Previa/Estima that also went front-engine (when the lines divulged and we got the larger Sienna). The Highlander Hybrid was usually a top-trim proposition and Highlanders already weren’t cheap. It’s only in the last few years that Toyota is really spreading it to the rest of the lineup and allowing a bit more performance.
Granted, in the 2000s of course so much of the hybrid push was seen as a greenie thing, needed to recoup the hybrid premium in gas savings over the nonhybrid, that battery is going to be $10k or something in 8 years to replace, etc. So it wouldn’t have happened that early. I wonder if Toyota could go back and do it over, they maybe wouldn’t have tried to make the Prius its own sub-brand and try to hybridize the rest of the lineup sooner. I have to wonder if they get annoyed seeing the splash Hyundai is making with Ioniq taking off as its own sub-brand. But then, the more conservative Toyota wouldn’t have done it the way Hyundai is anyway.
It is extremely frustrating watching this unfold. The platonic ideal approach to decarbonizing personal transport is a gentle transition from gasoline to hybrid to plug-in hybrid to EV (or equivalent). But like steering the Titanic around an iceberg on the horizon, a gentle pivot takes time, and the right time to start was twenty years ago.
There are companies and industries that accurately predicted in the early 2000s where regulations were headed, and invested in the manufacturing bases, the supply chains, and research, and they’ve had the luxury of making that pivot on their own terms and in their own time. Even I was able to accurately predict when combustion engine bans would hit after sitting down with a handful of climate studies and a calculator about ten years ago. But for whatever reason, the auto industry didn’t execute its pivot twenty years ago. They had some great ideas like CNG and biofuels and hydrogen, but they just didn’t invest in them to the degree that the energy industry (for example) invested in renewable energy research.
Today, the EPA mandates promote any efficiency-boosting tech equally, but as of 2021, only 22% of Toyotas sold in the US are hybridized, and their fleet average fuel economy is just 27.1 mpg. ZEV state mandates allow PHEVs and the EU mandates allow fuel cells, but only 2% of Toyotas are PHEVs or fuel cells. If Toyota had committed to their preferred techs in a timely manner, they’d be celebrating right now. But they didn’t. They haven’t been patient, they’ve been passive. And like the Titanic trying to avoid the iceberg, we’re so close to the deadline that it’s going to be a HARD maneuver.
For better or worse, Toyota refused to choose the time and method of their pivot, so the choice is being made for them, and it’s being made by regulators who (for better or worse) do not hold the health of the automotive industry as their top priority.
Two words (well, one of them is an acronym): shareholder ROI. They would rather have rode the SUV gravy train and let some future generation deal with the far-off, “unproven” idea of climate change.
“But all the governments putting all their eggs in the EV basket with mandates and the EV-or-die crowd are,”
The thing is… the EV basket is not really just one basket. For batteries, there are a number of alternative chemistries available.
And there are all sorts of electric motors that can be used.
It’s not the tech ‘lock in’ that you think it is.
Leasing seems like the best bet for financing an EV right now. The technology is improving every year, with better batteries coming out down the road (hopefully sooner rather than later), so there’s a reason to swap your car every 4 or 5 years.
Step 1: Collect Underpants
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit
Came for this, left satisfied…
What, sell them in a vending machine?
Let’s be honest. Us Toyota zealots aren’t generally looking for the most cutting edge, push the envelope, ultimate driving machine. We want a nice place to be on the road that just works. It needs to have a solid, premium feel to it. Be reliable. And just continue to feel like a Toyota. I’m iffy on leases. I’ve had them work and been bitten. We’ll hold on to the rav4 hybrid we have at least 3 more years. It’s 3.5 years old with 20k miles. I think it’ll last until the Toyota strategy settles out.
We bought the last year of a Sienna generation (2020) rather than go for the new model for exactly this reason. Planning to run it for as long as it will last.
The Sienna might be one of the exceptions to not buying the first year, because transverse V6’s are impossible to work on, especially in a minivan. Toyota’s are even worse, even by transverse V6 standards. Now a Toyota transverse minivan, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
The 2021 is a 4-cylinder hybrid that should be easier to work on with no problems. Plus you get MUCH better mpg being hybrid.
Otherwise, the 4-cylinder Sienna offered in 2011-2012 would be the best choice.
For how rarely spark plugs are changed, I’m more than willing to put up with the hassle. The fact that the 2021 has way less power and a less convenient interior layout also factored in, as did the fact that we took a 2011 Sienna with the V6 to 280,000 miles (sold it while still running well). Fuel economy is a pretty minor concern in the scheme of things.
This is the correct take. The Prius Prime is tempting me more than it should. The markups I’ve seen though make it way less tempting. I’m not paying almost 50k for a Prius XSE Premium. That’s about a $6500 markup. As much as I would love one I can’t justify that cost when I have a perfectly functional car. Hopefully when I’m ready to buy my next car PHEVs are more readily available and similar to current hybrid prices. We’ll see what happens though.
I just spent this week in a new Corolla rental. I could only imagine the kind of toyota zealot someone has to be to buy such a POS in the 21st century against any of the available options. It makes some shitty Versa seem like a combination of Rolls Royce with Ferrari dynamics. The fact that Toyota can ask almost the same amount of money for a Corolla that VW asks for a Jetta is just mind-blowing.
I’m dumbfounded that anyone is foolish enough to spend Corolla money on a VW.
It takes all types I suppose.
Hey now I owned a VW once!
……..and I will never own one again
Any multi-time VW owner is a mystery to me, as in I truly don’t and can’t understand what makes them tick. If you want to put up with the German tax, at least buy a Porsche or Mercedes!
I could *maybe* understand it when the GTI/Golf R was the only game in town, but there’s plenty of alternatives now if you’re into that kind of thing.
Well, here’s my personal experience with my current VWs:
– 2017 GTI with a tune that puts tons of boost through the stock turbo & engine (about 340 whp) and spends its time basically at redline on tracks has 70k miles on it without a single issue (I cannot even count the number of stock or mild-tuned Subarus I’ve seen blow up on the tracks I visit); been trying to blow up its stock turbo to justify a bigger one for years, no luck yet
-2015 TDI wagon with stg2 tune currently at 150k miles (my daily & workhorse), spends lots of time hauling hundreds of lbs of industrial equipment in the back, sometimes on a trailer, again zero issues
OTOH my ex-MIL’s Camry bought brand new went through 3 transmissions in 4 years before she got rid of it (old lady, no hoonage 🙂
I’m no stranger to reliability nightmares, I’ve owned lots of Alfas, but VWs are not that ..unless you can’t grasp the concept of basic maintenance 🙂
It is nice in cases like this that we have years of objective data instead of needing to rely on personal anecdotes. Because I could go on and on about my VW ownership experience vs my Toyota experience, but that doesn’t really convince anyone of anything.
5-10 years ago the GTI and R were really appealing, but today? You’d have to be a VW fanboy to choose either of them over the competition. The Ns absolutely smoke the GTI/GLI for the same money and I’d take a GRC or CTR over a Golf R every single time…and I’d even deal with the manuals in horrific traffic every day than choose the option of the DSG Golf R.
As you know, I owned a disastrous MK7.5 GTI and have driven a MK7 Golf R. The new ones use the same powertrains and transmissions so I doubt they’re that different other than the exponentially worse infotainment systems and interiors. They’re fun cars at 7/10ths but if you go beyond that they start to struggle quite a bit between the traction control that can’t be fully defeated, the DCTs that auto upshift before redline regardless of settings, and other things.
They’re good entry level “maybe I want to be an enthusiast” cars but once you drive more purpose built stuff they just don’t hold up at all. Reliability issues aside I was bored with my GTI after a year. Im now nearly a year into my Kona N and you’re going to have to pry the keys out of my cold, dead hands. Every single drive is amazing.
I’m driving mine at nothing but 12/10ths LOL
I expect some Autopian readers could get what a closed deck cast iron block with forged internals means and what it’s good for (hint: lots of boost).
I get why the specs of Hyundai N cars would be enticing, but somehow I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Hyundai on a track. Ever.
Also the ESP & traction control can definitely be turned off in a VW, just need a decent OBD reader.
You’re driving a car that’s been tuned and talking about doing stuff that requires aftermarket tinkering. I am talking about the cars stock for stock. It’s apples to oranges…and my N is hitting the track this spring! Hoping to hit the drag strip at some point as well.
And I get why it’s good, I owned one. Unfortunately I got tired of the persistent gremlins and wanted something that had more edge stock so I could keep my warranty. The N products provide that.
“Any multi-time VW owner is a mystery to me, “
I think it’s a VAG-specific form of Stockholm Syndrome.
They’ll swear up and down that their VAG product was “trouble free”… and then I would ask questions:
“Sooo… did you have to replace any ignition coils on your 1.8T”?
“Oh yeah… I had to do that a few times”
“Power window switches?”
“only on 3 doors”
“How was the timing chain job on your Audi?”
“Oh that was a big job… but I only had to do it once and it’s been great since then”.
“Any electrical issues or CELs?”
And then it becomes crystal clear that their ‘trouble free’ VAG product wasn’t all that trouble free.
And my impression VAG owners are like that because they like how their vehicles look and drive. And they also bought VW’s marketing bullshit that they are somehow ‘premium’.
I myself like how they drive as well (have rented them in the past).
But I can get a similar good driving experience with a Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Elantra or Corolla hatchback.
I would pay more for a Corolla than a Jetta for quality, reliability and durability reasons alone.
Having seen someone (who worked at a dealership and got a scorching deal on it) have a Versa completely disintegrate itself at 200k km, how ACTUALLY reliable and durable basic Toyota automobiles are through the whole life of the vehicle is nearly unbelievable.
Then when something does go, it doesn’t cost a ridiculous amount to fix. I played this same game on a Hyundai, friend got a Toyota. It doubled the mileage with no major mechanicals until someone wrote it off.
For someone who wants the most dependable transportation appliance, it’s Toyota or nothing.
I mean but the Jetta is going wind up in the service bay every 3-6 months of its life and will be lucky to hit 100k. The Corolla will probably hit 200k with only routine maintenance and it won’t be a big deal if it misses an oil change or 2. Longevity and simplicity are important, especially in affordable cars.
I don’t know about you but if I didn’t have a lot of money to spare I’d rather have something that’s going to bulletproof for the next 10 years than a VW that’s going to cost 4 figures a year to keep running once it’s off warranty or a Nissan that’s going to shit its CVT out between 40 and 60k miles…
I work in an industry where I have a great deal of access to repair data for basically any make. Costs (real world from shops doing the work), frequency, etc. Toyota pretty much wins over all other manufacturers, though Honda is (no surprise) really reliable. Ignoring the obvious theft issues, Hyundai/Kia are about as reliable as Honda, and cost similar. And Mazda’s are also high on the reliability and low on the costs.
If I’m spending the same amount, and I consider reliablity and future costs important, my money is going to an Asian manufacturer every time. However, those are not my primary considerations in buying, so instead I drive a 2006 Turbo Saab 92X. There is nothing known for high reliability about a turbo subaru. Well, Saabaru in this case.
I traded my headache inducing GTI in for my Kona N so you’re preaching to the choir. While I’ve only had it for 11 months and 6200 miles, it has been completely problem free. My GTI had 3 unscheduled service visits in the first 8-9 months I had it, it incinerated all of its consumables in the first year, and when I traded it in at 2 years/12000ish miles it was having ignition issues and spent its entire life with cruise control that only worked about 3/4s of the time.
And do you know how the dealerships fixed the incessant misfiring problems it had in the first 6,000 miles? They didn’t! Two different service departments literally told me it was a “normal problem” (excuse me?), poured a container of engine cleaner into the gas tank, and sent me on my way. At least one was generous enough to give me a list of “VW approved gas stations” (seriously!) that they claimed would reduce my risk of further problems.
Fuck Volkswagen, honestly. I am never dealing with those cars again…especially after my sister bought a certified Tiguan. They had to have the sunroof repaired TWICE before it eventually broke fully, flooded the car, and they figured out that the techs somehow missed a recall on it during certification (how?!?) and their previous visits about it. They had to fight with the dealership for weeks just to get it fixed despite having proof that their techs messed up.
As soon as the saga was finally over they promptly and wisely traded it in for a certified Lexus NX.
Honda fan here. A bit less reliable than a Toyota, but a bit more interesting IMO.