Dodge will now sell you a carbon fiber body, Volkswagen is running out of ID. Buzz vans, public charging is reportedly getting worse. All this and more in 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.
Dodge Will Now Sell You Carbon Fiber 1970 Charger Bodies
Among the new products Dodge has announced over the past few days, expansions to its Direct Connection speed parts program may be the most fascinating. For instance, you are now able to buy a carbon fiber 1970 Charger body directly from a dealership parts counter.
The carbon fiber body is licensed from Finale Speed, and isn’t the only one Dodge has planned. Carbon fiber bodies for Road Runners and Barracudas are also expected to make their way into the Direct Connection parts catalog. In addition to these wicked cool carbon fiber bodies, Dodge is giving drag racers a leg up by offering a rolling Challenger chassis with an NHRA 7.50 ET-certified cage and a Challenger body-in-white.
The Challenger Drag Pak Rolling Chassis packs some serious hardware in addition to a proper cage. The standard Challenger’s independent rear suspension gets ditched for a four-link setup with a Strange Engineering nine-inch rear end, and double-adjustable Bilstein dampers. Lightweight Weld wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires help put power down, while Strange Pro Series II brakes help rein in the speed at the end of the quarter mile. The rolling chassis carries an MSRP of $89,999 and fits a variety of powertrains depending on how you want to go fast. As for the body-in-white, it’s a simpler proposition with a much lower price tag of $7,995.
Those don’t seem like terrible deals, and it’ll be interesting to see what racers do with the new options. It’s always awesome to see OEM support for motorsports and outrageous builds, so I’m understandably stoked that Dodge is giving its customers options for building crazy fast stuff.
Two Thirds Of The Initial Volkswagen ID. Buzz Production Run Are Already Sold
The public has been really falling in love with the Volkswagen ID. Buzz, so much so that Automotive News Europe reports that two-thirds of its initial production run are sold out. Volkswagen plans on making 15,000 ID. Buzz vans in 2022, and 10,000 have already been pre-sold. Norway reportedly leads the charge with 3,400 pre-orders, with Germany in second place at 2,500 orders.
Employees at VW’s plant in Hanover, Germany, where the ID. Buzz is built, were informed of the news by an email from VW Commercial Vehicle’s head of sales, Lars Krause, according to a report in Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.
“10,000 orders, without the car actually being at the dealer, let alone a customer having driven it,” Krause wrote. “That is just impressive.”
“I am very pleased that the ID. Buzz and the ID. Buzz Cargo are already selling so well,” Krause continued. “We are, after all, still in the launch phase, before the market launch.”
“Pre-sales have not even started yet in France and the UK,” he added.
While the ID. Buzz isn’t a cheap proposition, it seems like exactly the sort of retro smash hit that Volkswagen needs right now. A halo product with serious recognition that’s fashionable to be seen in. For anyone who misses the initial wave of production, don’t worry. Volkswagen expects to make 60,000 ID. Buzz vans in 2023, with maximum capacity eventually peaking at 130,000 units per year. While it’ll be a long wait until America gets the ID. Buzz in 2024, it seems like a wait that could be worth it. Here’s to hoping the American-market long-wheelbase version looks as cool as the European model.
[I guess 10,000 cars pre-ordered isn’t really that impressive to me? Should it be? -DT]
Toyota Halts Production At Chinese Plant Due To Electricity Rationing
It feels like every day we hear about plant interruptions due to supply chain shortages, so hearing of a plant temporarily halting production for any other reason feels almost bizarre. In a plant interruption that seems very strange at first, Reuters reports that a Toyota plant in China is temporarily shutting down due to electricity rationing.
Toyota’s joint venture plant in the city of Chengdu has ceased operations until Saturday, a company spokesperson said.
“We’re monitoring the situation every day and following the guidance from the government,” the Toyota spokesperson said.
Sichuan province is reportedly experiencing its worst heatwave in 60 years, and industrial operations in 19 of the province’s 21 cities including Chengdu face mandatory production suspension until Aug. 20 so that residents can run air-conditioning and not die. While a shutdown may be an inconvenience for Toyota’s joint venture plant, it’s certainly better than having some employees call in dead. It’s not often that we hear of climate change affecting vehicle production, but this is 2022 and shit really does happen. Here’s to hoping that residents of Sichuan province can stay safe in the face of temperatures that are expected to crest 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius).
Public Charging Is Reportedly Getting Worse
With a recent uptick in EV sales, there have been some quite valid concerns that public charging networks aren’t able to keep up with the public’s demands and expectations. If you’re looking for a sign that may indeed be the case, this could be it. Automotive News reports that a JD Power survey found worsening consumer sentiment towards public Level 2 EV charging.
Driver satisfaction with Level 2 public chargers is falling, according to J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Public Charging Study, released Wednesday.
“Not only is the availability of public charging still an obstacle, but EV owners continue to be faced with charging station equipment that is inoperable,” said Brent Gruber, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power.
Its survey of more than 11,000 EV and plug-in hybrid owners found satisfaction declined to 633 from 643 last year on a 1,000-point scale. Satisfaction with DC fast chargers stayed the same, at 674.
The J.D. Power study, conducted with EV data firm PlugShare, cited a shortage of available public charging as the top reason for the drop.
While a drop of ten points on a 1,000 point scale doesn’t seem hugely significant, let’s look at the bigger picture. Either score roughly converts to 3.15 out of five. You likely wouldn’t buy something from Amazon with a three-star rating, so why settle for three-star public charging? Level 2 charging is far from the DC hotness of Level 3 fast charging, it still plays an important role in public charging. Level 2 chargers make sense for places where people will spend lots of time, like subway commuter lots and workplaces. It’s much easier to implement than Level 3 charging, so if Level 2 charging is getting a failing grade instead of consistently improving, that’s damning the most basic part of the public charging ecosystem. Charging networks really need to get it together to provide widespread consistent, reliable service for EV owners everywhere. No more missed maintenance contracts, unexpected downtime, or insufficient charging station setups. Whether Level 2 or Level 3, charging should be as easy as filling up a car with gasoline.
[Editor’s Note: I could see how driver satisfaction could drop, especially as more folks adopt EVs, and the charging infrastructure problems become even more apparent. That doesn’t mean the infrastructure is getting worse, of course, but it does mean that the overall charging situation for consumers is. -DT].
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. We’ve made it to the middle of the week, so why don’t we play a game of fictional badge engineering. What new car would you rebadge under another manufacturer’s product umbrella and why? Weirdly enough, I think replacing the Lexus UX subcompact crossover with a badge-engineered Mazda CX-30 would do wonders for Lexus’ profile in the premium subcompact crossover segment.
Lead photo credit: Dodge