It’s a great morning to grab a breakfast burrito because Toyota just dropped some news about Tacos. More specifically, the company said a whole lot about the next Tacoma with minimal wording and imagery, so buckle up as things are about to get exciting. Also on tap for today’s morning news roundup: GM’s electric vans, a new Carlos Ghosn TV series with a familiar face and some potentially gloomy economic news. We have fun around here.
Mmmm, Hybrid Tacos
The current Toyota Tacoma has been on sale since the cretaceous period, and it’s finally getting a replacement. Okay, so a seven-year production run pales in comparison with the 4Runner’s 13-year streak, but fresh competition in the midsize truck segment means it’s about time for a new Tacoma.
As of right now, Toyota is keeping details light on the new Tacoma, but today it dropped one picture and one sentence:
The best-selling midsize pickup in America is all-new for 2024 with electrifying i-FORCE MAX performance.
Oh, hell yeah. This plays well with earlier rumors of a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine paired with electrification. A hybrid powertrain for the Tacoma has been so widely rumored it’s basically an open secret at this point, but it’s great to get official confirmation.
What’s more, that tail light and tailgate are dead ringers for patent images of a new Toyota truck found earlier this year. Put simply, there’s a good chance we know exactly what the new Tacoma will look like, and it looks good. Granted, those patent drawings also look a lot like the current Tacoma with some new Tundra cues, but Toyota’s truck division knows not to change a good thing too much.
Don’t expect to see the new Tacoma in full this week though: Toyota doesn’t have a press conference scheduled at the New York International Auto Show, and the teaser image released today simply comes with the standard “stay tuned” message. (Editor’s Note: Back in the peak days of the auto show, we absolutely would’ve seen it at NYIAS this week, but that’s the world we’re in now. -PG) Still, confirmation of 2024 as the first model year of the new Tacoma means that we’ll probably see it by the year’s end.
From A Monk To A Fugitive
Even people who aren’t into cars probably know a thing or two about former Renault Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn. The story of escaping Japan to a non-extradition country in an instrument case is wild enough to seem written for the screen, so it’s not a huge surprise to see Variety report that Tony Shalhoub is set to start as Ghosn in a Michael Winterbottom-directed TV series about the rogue automotive CEO.
The six-part series titled “Fall of the God of Cars” is written by Winterbottom, the prolific British director of “Welcome to Sarajevo,” whose TV work comprises hit sitcom series “The Trip” and, more recently, “This is England” starring Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson.
While I have some reservations given how automotive biopics can be difficult to watch if you’re into cars (Robert Morsco’s Lamborghini: The Man Behind the Legend comes to mind), a Michael Winterbottom directorial project does hold promise, and Tony Shalhoub is a great actor. And he’s of Lebanese descent like Ghosn is.
Even if you haven’t seen a ton of his work, Jack Jeebs from Men in Black and Adrian Monk from Monk are two very different characters, and Shaloub pulls both of them off. Come on, the dude’s got four primetime Emmys, one daytime Emmy, six SAG awards, a Golden Globe, and a Tony award. That’s some serious cred.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the only small-screen adaptation of the Ghosn story in the works. French studio Federation Entertainment is working on a mini-series called The Fugitive expected to star Francois Cluzet. You might know him as the actor who played Philippe in The Intouchables, a fantastic film about an unlikely friendship that features some gorgeous Maserati Quattroporte chase footage.
GM’s Electric Vans Are About To Be Everywhere
While GM doesn’t make crossover SUVs in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada anymore, the CAMI plant is set to be busier than a beehive thanks to BrightDrop Zevo 600 production ramping up. According to a media statement, GM has accepted an order from Ryder for 4,000 of the things, which comes on top of existing pre-orders.
“Electrifying lease and rental vehicles can have a significant impact on transportation-related emissions, and our goal is to make that switch as easy and enticing as possible for our customers,” said Steve Hornyak, chief commercial officer for BrightDrop. “Ryder’s plan to introduce 4,000 of our electric vans to their fleet shows their commitment to sustainable options for customers, and their confidence that BrightDrop will help them deliver on that.”
I’m not surprised that GM’s finding heaps of buyers for its BrightDrop vans because they look pretty good. With 250 miles of range, more than 600 cu.-ft. of cargo space, a claimed 3,400 pounds of maximum payload, and a pleasant, utilitarian interior, the BrightDrop Zevo 600 looks like a winner. Here’s hoping they trickle down into the U-Haul fleet by the time I need to move apartments as I’d love to have a go in one.
It’s also neat to see the CAMI plant return to its roots in a way – the Geo Metro was a pretty green vehicle to commute in, and an electric van sounds like a pretty green vehicle to deliver parcels in.
JP Morgan Chase CEO Predicts Consumer Cash Crunch
Between high interest rates, recovering new vehicle supply, and people who think their E46 BMW 330i ZHPs are worth their weight in gold, it’s a crappy time to buy a car. Everything’s expensive, there’s lots of crap floating around the marketplace, and the train of people paying mad money doesn’t seem to be slowing down. However, JP Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon predicts that things could change soon. In his latest letter to shareholders, Dimon warns of a potential consumer spending decline.
Offsetting this, by sometime late this year or early next year, we expect consumers will have spent the bulk of their remaining excess savings. It remains to be seen whether this will cause a little bit of a cliff effect or whether consumer spending will simply slow down. Either way, this will add to whatever recessionary pressures there are sometime in the future.
That’s not terribly surprising but what does it have to do with cars? Well, look at it this way: Edmunds reports that the average monthly payment for a new vehicle is $730, that 17 percent of those financing a new vehicle in the last three months agreed to a four-figure payment, and that the average down payment now stands at $6,956. New cars are big money these days and if consumer cash dries up, manufacturers will have a harder time shifting loaded-up models. In addition, if consumers find themselves in a shortfall, high-value extraneous assets are often sold off first. Stuff like watches, jewelry, and yes, non-primary cars. If we do see some serious changes on the consumer side in the next twelve months, expect the car market to look very different. You might not have to sell a lung to afford a decent used Corolla.
The Big Question
What automotive story do you think deserves its own TV series? Could it be the life of a racing icon like Dale Earnhardt, or a scandal like Dieselgate?
(Photo credits: Toyota, Nissan, BrightDrop, Ryder)
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How about a series on failed or failing car makers of recent history.Yes,including the still-swimming-just-havent-yet-drowned ones is a bit mean but hey,i didnt say i was going to be nice about it XD
Tony Shalhoub as Carlos Ghosn? Brilliant! I don’t know if there’s any cloak and dagger stuff but I would love a Larry Shinoda story.
Ah, finally a hybrid truck that with a camper would make a great camper rig for boondocking. Hybrid to 120v inverter power for the camper goodies will make for a great camping rig.
Regarding the Tacoma… well it’s about time that vehicle got a hybrid powertrain. They should have done this years ago.
Regarding GM’s Brightdrop vans about to be everywhere… That’s great news. And I think these Brightdrop vans are an optional roof-mounted solar array away from being great options for the RV and food truck industries. One thing I don’t like about food trucks is their gas or diesel generators.
I recently watched a documentary on Group B rallying. A TV show that covered the ever increasing tradeoffs between safety and speed, the manufacturers tricks for getting cars homologated, Lancia vs Audi vs Renault…, there’s multiple seasons of content there.
I’ve been saying for years that the 20th Century Motors/Liz Carmichael story would make a fantastic movie – I thought HBO had jumped on it with their Lady and the Dale series, but it turned out to just be a very lazy documentary that largely missed the key points of the story and glossed over or eliminated a lot of details, possibly to ensure the cooperation of certain interview subjects
Bottom line, the story still hasn’t been properly explored and is out there to develop
Yeah… I agree. Just consider that she was married 4 times and was still married when ‘he’ transitioned into a ‘she’.
After reading this wiki page:
I have to wonder if this person was genuinely a trans woman or if it was just a ploy to evade authorities.
Now having said that, I want to check out Lady and The Dale…
Everything points to scams all the way down.
How about a History Channel Docu-Drama featuring low-rent actors portraying early 20th century men with scruffy beards, crummy sets, lousy CGI mattes of a sea of Model Ts, a less-than believable interaction between John DeLorean and Lee Iacocca at a Woodward Avenue drag race, and “expert” commentary from some guy who runs a car website and drives a Chinese golf cart?
Man, that had the crappiest acting and clunkiest dialogue this side of a CBS procedural
While there was a lot of motive power diversity (steam, diesel, gas & electric) over 100 years ago
We are in the middle of a major technological motive power shift (from ICE to EV)…
A series about this transition could be very interesting. While there certainly a Lot known & discussed about Tesla, At least in the US there seems to be very little known about the roughly 600 EV centric auto manufacturers in China.
Or how many of the established auto manufacturers are almost exactly following Clayton Christensen’s Innovators Dilema, i.e. retreating entire markets & product types to focus solely on their top margin products & as startups disrupt the market.
how about a movie about melon usk and tesla? could follow his journey thru college, paypal and then the primary focus on the growth of tesla. i expect it’d be an unauthorized biography, so some name changes to pass legal muster. gawd, there are so many facets and rabbit holes maybe a miniseries…
I think anyone who does that would have to choose whether to make it about Musk OR make it about Tesla.
And if someone makes it about the company, it should involve coverage of a lot more than Elon Musk’s role.
Because at the very start, Musk was just an investor in Tesla and didn’t have much involvement in running the company.
The story should start with the killing of the EV1 and how one of the Tesla founders wanted to buy an electric sports car like the EV1 or the AC Propulsion TZero prototype… and how AC Propulsion decided against putting the TZero into production which directly led to the founding of Tesla.
And even after Musk took charge, you still have to look at the role of other key Tesla people… such as JB Straubel
I predict this time around the market reacts different. Noone selling their 1st born to pay $10k over sticker for a new car. Those people already spent their nut. Also the supply shortage is somewhat sorted. My prediction is more new cars sitting on the lot longer and most of those 4 figure payment cars increasing the supply of used cars.
TV series “The Debaharcle” with Matt Berry from the IT Crowd playing Lotus CEO Dany Bahar. Brian May and Naomi Campbell play themselves.
I demand a credit for the title. Also I will launch 5 other successful TV shows concurrently or destroy this business trying.
I think a Virgil Exner biopic could be a lot of fun.
Edit: (hooray!) Big Daddy Roth, too.
My first thought was Brooks Stevens, but Exner would be fascinating, too. Another would be mechanic and racer Smokey Yunick.
I think most people in the automotive world know about Travis Pastrana, but I think that a lot of the rest of the world has no idea who he is. That dude has lived one hell of a crazy life! The last I saw of him was racing Unlimited Offshore boats in Florida.
Not sure how that makes for a show/movie, but he’s one impressive dude.
The other one that comes to mind is the effects of GM in South Africa on helping end Apartheid and rejuvenating the whole rail system there, among other things they did in other countries. Then their subsequent pull-out of all overseas operations in the 80’s. GM did some wild stuff back then. Shit, they built gold-plated Caddys for the Shah of Iran, ha.
That would be awesome. I remember first seeing him as a teenager in dirt bike videos, the guy is a freak of nature. If anyone does a movie about him they might want to hurry before the CTE sets in.
The tricky part, at least if it was a scripted show/movie, is that the only way to properly show an accurate depiction of Pastrana’s driving would either be CG or would be to have the real Pastrana behind the wheel.
Well a there’s a Nitro Circus show and a movie for starters.
I am going to make a prediction that the new Tacoma hybrid will cost a small fortune. Why? A friend of mine was looking to buy a new car. He wanted to get a Rav4 hybrid. Great. Went to the dealer…. THREE YEAR waiting list to get one and on top of that, when all was said and done and the dealer added its price gouging, it was going to be around $50,000. Tacomas, as ancient as they are, already come at a steep price. I cannot even imagine a new, hybrid version. Guess I will continue to drive my ancient, 27 year old Taco…
The hybrid or the prime? Maybe it is living in conservative country, but the hybrids aren’t major sellers here and go for MSRP. We just don’t get the primes, generally, and they command hefty prices everywhere you can find them.
My girlfriend just bought a Venza after having her choice between it and a RAV4 hybrid (or other things, but those were the size she really wanted most). No markups on either, and she even got to pick a red one.
Gotta be the Prime…regular Toyotas, hybrids included, have waiting lists but not as hard to get. RAV4 as a whole is Toyota’s best-selling model and the hybrid made up over a third of those sales last year. I’ve seen a couple Primes in my area of the southeast where I don’t think any states get them, but they all have front dealer plates so people are going to other states to get them when they can, driving up demand and thus markups all the more.
Our Toyota dealer does MSRP + $1000. It’s a gouge but they are upfront about it, and they sell every car before it arrives. Even the hideous Tundra. I’m in New England so the allocations are weird but the waiting lists aren’t 3 years, more like a few months.
the Tacoma hybrid would be the perfect truck for me, except as you say I anticipate: being unable to afford it; not going to live long enough to actually buy one even if the money was there. So it’s carry on in the 2004 Ford Sport Trac for the foreseeable..
And here yesterday I was thinking, “how possible would it be to hack a driveshaft onto a Prius powertrain and drop it under the hood of an old Toyota pickup?”
And to make it even better, a Prius could be obtained with AWD starting I think in 2019. I have a 2020 AWD, and it works well, although clearance isn’t great.
I think the story of Alan Cocconi needs to be told. From working on the GM Sunraycer, then designing the inverter for the GM Impact, subsequently leaving and founding AC Propulsion, and going on to license his technology to Tesla, and Tesla taking off from there, all deserves a long series. Without that man’s ideas, the electric car would not be where it is today.
It is Tuesday, after all.
Will be bummed if there’s no Tacoma Prime…though I’m not expecting it.
Even if they made a Prime model, it would likely be a unicorn like the Prius and Rav4. Frankly all the RAV4 and Prius should be PHEV. If people don’t charge it, well it still works like a regular hybrid.
Agreed on the PHEV.
It was tough to find a RAV4 Prime, and ultimately required driving ~4 hours each way…but I managed to get one. This was fall ’21, so a bit before things got super crazy…but where there’s a will there’s a way!
I’m likely not shopping for a car for a few years anyway, so who knows what options will be available by then…
That would get me to throw money at my local Toyota dealer to be first in line for one. Not going to happen, but it would be great.
I want to see a series following the “minivan” idea through Ford and into reality at Chrysler, with. b-plot at Renault and AMC developing the Espace
High budget with extremely good production design
I am wondering what the expectations could be for a hybrid Taco’s fuel economy. The Sienna AWD was able to jump from 20 to 35 combined. The V6, 4WD Tacoma is also rated at 20 combined. If they could get it into the mid-30’s, that would be a pretty big deal I think.
The Maverick is rated for 37, but that is 2WD. I don’t see Toyota doing a Tacoma hybrid that is only 2WD. Give us a 4WD Tacoma that gets 34, and it should fly off the lot.
I’m still holding out a little hope that there will be a Tacoma hybrid with an emphasis on efficiency, rather than just the i-force max.
Might be a long shot, but it would be nice to see.
Wonder if we’ll continue to see the approach they are taking with the Crown and Lexus RX. There is a regular hybrid with an emphasis on efficiency, but then the “Max” model with more power. Pick which one you want. And for what its worth, the “Max” models still seem to deliver above average fuel economy for the segment. That RX500 is rated like 27/29 or something.
I’m mostly looking at the Tundra i-force max for comparison (which might not be the best indicator). 18/24 is the best it achieves, with most trims doing slightly worse. Not bad for a full-size pickup, but not exactly screaming efficiency.
It’ll be nice if they do something more like the Crown and RX. A lot of mid-size pickups aren’t used for much towing, so it would be great to see good gas mileage and reasonable towing and hauling. They could use the max to go for “best in class” sorts of stats on power, then the efficient one to do the same for efficiency.
“French studio Federation Entertainment is working on a mini-series called The Fugitive…”
Ghoson: It was the one armed man!
Gerard: I don’t care.
You know what series we absolutely need? Group B, a proper HBO series with 4 seasons.
To expand upon this: You have all of the big drivers, the factory teams, the drama, the spectacle, the death, the cars, the noise, the exotic locations, the history, everything!
The complete story of the Edsel would be interesting. Watching the executive reactions to the poet suggesting calling it Utopian Turtletop would be magical.
And then watching the sales numbers come in.
And then watching them get all tight lipped when reporters keep asking how much money the company lost in that venture.
Could be fun…
Just base it off the book, “The Edsel Affair.” Easy peasy.