Corvette production resumes, Audi plans a rowdy R8 send-off, Lotus Emira gets sideways
In wake of fire, Corvette factory swings back into action
Intake: Good news, fans of America’s sports car: The factory in Bowling, Green, Kentucky is back on its feet after suffering damage—though no loss of life—in the wake of a tornado that churned through six states last Saturday. The whirlwind caused a fire on the plant’s roof that forced Chevrolet to idle the plant for a week. Second- and third-shift production was, as of this past Monday, put on hold until “the week of December 20,” and things appear to be going as planned. Automotive News reports that employees are beginning to return today, and the full complement will be present on Tuesday, at which point we expect production to resume.
Exhaust: We are, first and foremost, grateful that no harm came to any of the roughly 1400 workers at the Corvette plant. The on-time resumption of production is also cause for relief—though Vette enthusiasts will recall that the Bowling Green plant weathered far longer idling periods in March, October, and November of last year due to a parts shortage.
Audi isn’t abandoning the V-10 R8 quite yet
Intake: Earlier this month, we learned that the R8’s successor will be electric-only, and that the magical V-10 that built the Audi R8’s reputation is nearing its end. But take heart: The four-ringed supercar will not go quietly into that (electric-only) good night. Speaking with Top Gear, Audi’s RS division head Sebastian Grams hints at plans for one—or possibly a few—more iterations of the current R8 platform and its yowling ten-cylinder. “What I can say is that we have plans to do more,” Grams tells TG. These would likely be some sort of “final series” cars, probably limited in production and carrying a hefty price tag.
Exhaust: The arrival of the R8 RWD heralded a departure from Ingolstadt’s familiar flagship recipe: an all-wheel-drive supercar rich in V-10 noise but often poor in soul. If we had our druthers, this rumored hardcore sendoff would be adorned with big wings and wild aero trickery, akin to its Italian cousin, the Lamborghini Huracán Performante.
Watch Lotus’ chassis guru eviscerate the Emira’s tires
Intake: Gavan Kersaw may have the rather mundane job title of Director, Attributes and Product Integrity at Lotus Cars, but everyone knows that he’s really the company’s king of skids, as he clearly demonstrates in this track preview of the new Emira. Winding on the opposite lock, Kershaw extols the benefits of the car’s Toyota-derived, supercharged V-6 engine, and shows off the Emira’s four different driving modes with varying degrees of drift angle and tire smoke. “With the 3.5-liter V6 configuration and the supercharger, you start an acceleration from as low as 1,500rpm and the car just pulls and pulls and pulls, getting stronger and stronger as the revs increase. This is what a real sports car feels like,” says Kershaw. “The whole package is tuned to give you maximum reward and confidence. It’s ‘For The Drivers’.”
Exhaust: In many ways the Emira is the most mature Lotus yet, with real effort paid to ergonomics and upgrading the daily driving experience, but it’s lost none of its exuberance in the process. Show it a circuit and the Emira looks like an absolute animal—in the hands of someone as skilled as Kershaw, at least.
2022 Mustang Mach-E gets a new appearance package, more range, and a new paint color
Intake: Ford has announced the model updates for the 2022 Mustang Mach-E. The base Mach-E Select has climbed $1000 in starting price, up now to $43,895—$44,995, including the $1100 destination fee. The Mach-E California Route 1, which was previously rear-drive only, now can be optioned with the all-wheel-drive setup, which adds a 50 kW AC synchronous motor to the front axle in addition to the standard 216 kW motor for the rear wheels. The California Route 1 will also come standard with heated seats and steering wheel. There’s a new Ice White Appearance package for the Mach-E Premium, pictured above. Mach-E GTs and GT Performance Editions now come standard with a black painted roof. Ford has made the Grabber Blue Metallic and Cyber Orange Tri-Coat exterior paints available across all trims of the Mach-E for 2022. Additionally, a new color, called Iced Blue Silver Metallic is now offered. Ford tweaked the battery packs of both the standard range and the extended range Mach-Es, which now offer 70kWh and 91kWh of useable energy, up from 66kWh and 88kWh, respectively. There’s a mild range bump as a result, with the rear-drive Mach-E California Route 1 going from 305 miles of EPA-estimated range to 314 miles.
Exhaust: While controversial among enthusiasts, the Mustang Mach-E is proving to be a big hit for Ford. These model year updates likely reflect the folks at Dearborn adapting to the tastes of potential customers. We’re always glad to see useable range added to these EVs; expect to see this trend continue in the years to come as battery construction and battery management technology continue to progress. While the slight bump in base price isn’t a particularly desirable update, we doubt $1000 is likely to be the make-or-break point for interested customers.
Rosberg beats Hamilton to Extreme E title
Intake: It’s like 2016 all over again, as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 team was pipped to the inaugural Extreme E championship by Nico Rosberg’s RXR. That’s two narrow losses for Hamilton in 2021 and, to make things even more painful for the recently-knighted racer, it all came down to the final lap of the season, just as it did in Formula 1. X44 paired nine-times World Rally Champ Sébastien Loeb with Dakar stage winner Cristina Gutiérrez, and during the final X-Prix on Britain’s Jurassic Coast they were dominant in qualifying, and comfortably in control during the feature race. Meanwhile, RXR’s Johan Kristofferson and Molly Taylor came into the season-ender leading on points, and only need a fourth place to take the title. They started behind X44, but dropped back behind Jenson Button’s JBXE team and Andretti United, with Acciona Sainz closing fast at one stage. All X44 could do was watch their mirrors and hope for a miracle from the racing gods, who once again didn’t favor Hamilton.
Exhaust: Another title battle that went down to the wire is great news for race fans. Extreme E’s first season wasn’t without its problems, but this eco-friendly electric championship does seem to be doing good for motorsports and for the environment. Next year sees McLaren racing enter the fray so the racing should heat up even more. Not a bad direction for a series that aims to cool the planet.
FedEx receives first all-electric BrightDrop EV600s
Intake: FedEx’s efforts in the world of greener global logistics just took a big next step. Partnering with GM’s BrightDrop, the first five of FedEx’s 500 eLCVs (electric Light Commercial Vehicles) have arrived at the firm’s Inglewood, California, location. The EV600 rides on GM’s Ultium platform outfitted for deliveries with 600 cubic feet of cargo volume and 250 miles of range when fully charged. Much is riding on the model’s ability to competently replace the traditional technology that FedEx plans to wean away from to become a carbon-neutral competitor by 2040. “The EV600 combines the best attributes of a traditional and a step-in van into one vehicle, keeping driver safety, comfort, and convenience top of mind,” says Travis Katz, CEO of BrightDrop. Meanwhile, FedEx will continue to ramp up its charging infrastructure across the country to support these vans and broaden its enviro-conscious operations at scale.
Exhaust: These are some of the first all-electric delivery vehicles to enter the FedEx fleet, but expect to see a lot more announcements like this in the years to come. Competitors are all piling into this space. Achieving carbon neutrality by 2040 for a pickup and delivery fleet as large FedEx is a lofty goal, but this is a logical first step. It remains to be seen how effective the EV600s will be outside of densely populated urban centers, making this venture a lot easier to start than it may be to finish.