Toyota wins fourth Le Mans, Mazda rotary edges closer, Chevy recalls 2020–22 MY Bolts
Toyota goes 1-2 and wins its fourth consecutive Le Mans
Intake: Toyota won the Le Mans 24 Hours race for the fourth successive year after the early hopes of main rivals Alpine and Glickenhaus faded. Glickenhaus led mid-week testing, but Toyota’s Hypercar entry took pole by a comfortable margin and clearly had the pace to dominate the race. However, in an incident-packed 24 hours the weather, accidents, and technical issues led to race that wasn’t quite so easy to win. The #8 car of 2020-winner Sébastien Buemi was tagged by the #78 Glickenhaus on lap one, leaving the #7 Toyota out in front for the rain-drenched start. Safety cars, slow zones, and a brace of punctures meant that the #8 car was able to catch up, despite having a puncture of its own. Towards the end of the race both Toyotas suffered a fueling issue but still managed a textbook one-two, with Kamui Kobayashi scoring his first victory. Behind them in third was the Alpine, followed by Glickenhaus in fourth and fifth. LMP2 honors went to Team WRT, with Ferrari taking first in the GTE Pro class and bagging the win in GTE Am as well.
Exhaust: Le Mans seldom fails to deliver high drama, although this weekend was more about the weather than inter-team rivalry. At least next year, when past winner Peugeot enters the Hypercar fray, there should be a better fight for the front.
Mazda trademarks hint at rotary return
Intake: A series of Mazda trademark applications unearthed by the Japanese Hatena blog suggest that the rotary engine will indeed be returning. Mazda filed for no less than four different trademarks based around the name e-SKYACTIV R and using a logo that’s very clearly based on the engine’s Dorito-shaped rotor. Mazda recently introduced the e-SKYACTIV name to cover its mild-hybrid models so expect the next rotary to be combined with electrification, while the names e-SKYACTIV R-Energy, e-SKYACTIV R-HEV and e-SKYACTIV R-EV seem to confirm hybridization.
Exhaust: Mazda is taking its sweet time with reintroduction of the rotary engine. First we heard it would be used as a range extender in the MX-30 electric car, but then that was canned or put on hold, depending on who you ask. Hopefully now that the company has gone as far as designing a logo and filing these trademarks, the rotary’s return is edging closer.
Chevy Bolt recall expands to all Bolts from 2017-’22
Intake: GM is officially recalling its entire tribe of Bolt EVs, due to fire risks stemming from a manufacturing defect in the high-voltage batteries. Originally, an earlier safety recall was issued in the fall of last year, diagnosing issues to 50,932 Bolts from 2017-’19 using N2.1 batteries from LG Chem’s Ochang plant in Korea. The battery’s issue, it seems, is tied to charging capacity, where fire risks arise while the packs either hit or near a full charge. GM has since taken action and recently pledged to recall all Bolt EVs and EUVs to the tune of over $1 billion dollars. New modules are set to arrive soon for the swap, with 8-year 100,000-mile limited warranties in tow. In the meantime, current owners are urged to take the following safety precautions: setting a Target Charge level limitation at 90 percent capacity, charging the old battery more frequently to avoid extreme depletion, and parking vehicles outside after charging. Customers are advised never to leave them indoors on a charger overnight.
Exhaust: This setback is no doubt a blow to GM’s mission and momentum to be all-electric by 2035. Manufacturing defects of this sort do nothing for the confidence of the mainstream new-car shoppers that GM is hoping to herd into the electric movement. Although recalls are common across the automotive industry, and some are more serious than others, spending a billion dollars to prevent dangerous fires is pretty much the definition of a rocky start. Determining which party should rightfully pick up the bill, is actively rankling the relations between GM and LG.
As promised, Ford adds green to Bronco palette for ’22
Intake:Amid a second slew of hardtop-related delays, Ford is attempting to lift Bronco customer morale by announcing two new color options for the 2022 model year: one green and one red. Eruption Green, a new paint color we had originally thought would arrive on the 2022 GT500, is a metallic riff on the Mallard Green worn by first-gen Broncos. The ruby-toned Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat is gone for 2022, replaced by another shade of red, the orangey Hot Pepper Red that recently debuted on the Maverick. Ford’s removing both Antimatter Blue and Lightning Blue, however, leaving Lightning Blue as the off-roader’s only sky tone, a navy halfway point between the grey-toned Antimatter Blue and the true-blue Velocity. (Antimatter Blue is bigger news here, considering that Lightning Blue was a First-Edition exclusive.)
Exhaust: Isn’t this just a tease for the poor folks waiting on build dates? Not necessarily: The Webasto-sourced roof delays are so bad that if you made a reservation for a hardtop but don’t have a build date, you’ll be getting a 2022 MY Bronco and can choose from the ’22 options menu. Bad news if you wanted Rapid Red on a hard-shell Bronco—but good if you were holding out for green.