No Bronco pickup, Mercedes may halve ICE options, an 1111-hp Tesla rival

Ford/Hagerty Rendering

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Report: Ford (officially) scraps Bronco-based pickup

Intake: Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Ford has scrapped plans to build a Bronco-based pickup, according to a report by Automotive News. Although Ford never officially confirmed that such a vehicle was in the incubator, rumors swirled last summer that the Blue Oval would build the Jeep Gladiator’s first real rival. Ford has apparently notified suppliers that such a program was axed. Had it come to bear, the venerable F-150 full-sizer would have had three smaller siblings in the same segment: The newly introduced Maverick, the mid-size Ranger, and the now-dead Bronco pickup. The addition of a Bronco pickup also would have undermined Ford’s march towards an EV-driven portfolio, an effort well on its way with the F-150 Lightning and the Mustang Mach-E. Still, executives have hinted that the Bronco family will grow beyond its current circle, which includes the two- and four-door Broncos and the small-but-mighty Bronco Sport. Think range-topping performance model and, potentially, a hybrid version.

Exhaust: The cynic in us wonders if the pickup’s demise has something to do with the complete mess surrounding the hard-top, removable roofs of current Bronco models. Rather than risk more issues with other suppliers, better to axe the whole open-bed, open-top project and march on. It’s worth pointing out, too, that the Ranger and the Bronco share a platform. Rather than risk infighting, Ford may have chosen to let the Gladiator have its fun and tap the next-gen Ranger to fly the Blue Oval’s mid-size flag. 

Lordstown thrones Daniel Ninivaggi as new CEO

Lordstown Motors Endurance Reveal
Lordstown Motors

Intake: The troubled EV startup gained ground in its recovery today by appointing Daniel Ninivaggi as chief executive, effective immediately. Ninivaggi comes over from the holdings company Icahn Enterprises L.P., where he previously held the same post. While at Icahn, Ninivaggi oversaw the conglomerate’s automotive aftermarket and parts distribution sectors. His confidence in Lordstown’s Endurance pickup, and his determination to make it a reality, is resolute: “I believe the demand for full-size electric pickup trucks will be strong. And the Endurance truck, with its innovative wheel hub motor design, has the opportunity to capture a meaningful share of the market.”

Exhaust: Ninivaggi’s best work must lay ahead of him if the company is to wriggle out from under the monumental financial scrutiny that has plagued it of late. Lordstown’s board of directors is optimistic about their guy, citing his “capital markets expertise” and “investment proficiency” as invaluable assets to the job at hand. Today, the market is proving equally bullish about Ninivaggi’s appointment. Lordstown’s share price (RIDE) is currently soaring, topping highs of over 30 percent in early morning trading as a result of the catalyst.

Report: Mercedes to cut engine range in half

2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S sedan engine

Intake: Mercedes-Benz is likely to slash the number of internal-combustion engines it makes by half due to upcoming European emissions regulation changes in 2025, according to a report by Autocar. Continuing to develop new engines to meet ever-tighter rules is too expensive and the company is sinking cash into zero-emission EV production instead. Mercedes-Benz COO Markus Schäfer told Autocar that the company “will reduce the number of engine variants, going through Euro 7, by about 50 percent.” Mercedes has already culled V-8 engines from many models from 2022 due to supply issues, but it looks like the move might end up being permanent.

Exhaust: The Euro 7 rules will be the final set of standards for gas and diesel engines before Europe makes its switchover to all-electric in 2030, and it doesn’t make financial sense for manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to pour money into meeting these regulations when even cars that meet the restrictions will only be on sale for five years. 

Special-edition Lucid Air thumbs nose at Model S Plaid

Lucid Motors

Intake: In case it wasn’t obvious that Lucid is playing a game of one-upping Tesla, the California-based company has announced that the most powerful version of its BEV sedan (the Air Dream Edition Performance) will come with 1111 hp—precisely 91 more than the mostest Model S, the three-motor Plaid trim. Like the Hummer EV, the first available edition of the Lucid Air comes with the flashiest stats and the heftiest price tag. We knew the first Air to hit the market would be the dual-motor Dream Edition, and now we know it will come in two specs (sub-editions?) carrying the same $169,000 price tag: Performance, with the aforementioned 1111-hp beast; and Range, good for a projected 500 miles but with a scrawny 933 hp. We don’t yet know how much range the P sacrifices for its eleven-eleven horsepowers. EPA figures are likewise unavailable, for now.

Exhaust: Delayed due to COVID-19 and supply chain issues, the Air has missed its delivery window of spring 2021. The eye-grabbing stats—1111 hp, 500 miles, not in the same spec—keep Lucid in the conversation while cleverly reminding the EV-curious that performance and range are distinct and require different mechanical configurations.

Audi schemes electric: BEVs only after 2026, ICE ends in 2033

Audi e tron family vehicles

Intake: Audi is aiming to phase completely out of combustion powertrains in 12 years, with a target to be fully electric by 2033. On the way to that milestone, from 2026 onward, the company will introduce only all-electric new models. It does specify, however, that this EV-only plan applies to new models “on the global market,” leaving it some room post-2026 for country- or region-specific holdouts.

Exhaust: How this EV push shakes out on the motorsport front remains to be seen. A four-ring electric prototype is already headed to Dakar, and a hybrid Hypercar entry to Le Mans, but Audi also competes in GT and TCR series, and it’s hard to imagine either series booting out combustion entirely in the near future. On the street-legal front, expect Audi to lean heavily into its all-wheel-drive legacy with a lot of quattro-branded, dual-motor EV layouts. If there is going to be a next-gen R8, expect it to all-electric and fully baked, unlike the ill-fated R8 e-tron from 2015.

BMW X goes electric, but not for the U.S.

BMW ix3

Intake: BMW has launched its first electric X car, the iX3, in the U.K. The battery-powered version of BMW’s popular SUV looks almost identical to its ICE and hybrid stablemates and is almost a match for performance. The current-excited synchronous motor sends its 286 hp to the rear wheels and enables the iX3 to sprint to 62 mph in a sprightly 6.8 seconds. On Europe’s WLTP test cycle the iX3 can cover up to 279 miles on a charge of its 80-kWh battery and can accept an input of 150 kW to recharge up to 80 percent in 34 minutes. U.K. prices start at £58,850 ($80,880) and deliveries are set to begin soon.

Exhaust: The iX3 is being made at BMW’s Shenyang plant and is the first model ever to be exported from China, but it doesn’t appear to be scheduled for sale in the U.S.A any time soon. Instead, the focus will be on reducing BMW’s corporate average emissions in Europe and avoiding harsh financial penalties.

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