Challenger smokes Mustang in sales, VW’s electric Bus due in March, Michigan’s Milan Dragway rises again
Dodge’s 13-year-old Challenger outsold the Ford Mustang last year
Intake: Numbers don’t lie: Even as the Dodge Challenger’s Daimler-era platform soldiers on into year 14, the car is proving as desirable as ever. It just outsold the much fresher Ford Mustang by a count of 54,314 to 52,414—a 1900-unit trouncing. 2021 marks the first year that the Challenger has outsold the Mustang since the former’s LC platform was debuted in 2008. The Challenger was also the only one of the three muscle cars—Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro—to see a sales increase (of 1359 units) this year. Both the Mustang and Camaro nose-dived relative to 2020 sales, with the Mustang down roughly 8600 units and the Camaro similarly lagging, to the tune of roughly 7800 units.
Exhaust: We’re not sure what’s more impressive—the fact that it took 13 years for the Challenger to topple the Mustang or the fact that the Challenger has plodded along for 13 years. It’s an achievement owed entirely to Dodge’s relentless personalization of the platform, and, as Jack Baruth put it, some of the best automotive engineering done by some of the laziest engineers. Hell yeah, Dodge.
Gordon Murray’s next car is coming
Intake: Gordon Murray Automotive will soon follow its epic, analog T.50 hypercar with a more refined, less racy T.33 that the British designer (the designer behind the McLaren F1) claims will be “the world’s finest supercar GT.” The T.33 will be developed and built at GMA’s new $70M HQ in Surrey, and will be the first model to be put through its paces on an in-house test track. Murray hasn’t confirmed any further information about the T.33 but he previously let slip that a second V-12 and a hybrid would be on the agenda, so expect more Cosworth-powered deliciousness.
Exhaust: Murray says that his new factory and the T.33 will be “game -changers in the automotive industry.” The facility will be the first opportunity to deploy his iStream production principles at a larger scale and we’ll be fascinating to see it come together.
Magna introduces EV parts for heavy duty trucks
Intake: Ford and General Motors are attacking the light-duty truck segment with electrified offerings, so noted OEM-supplier Magna International is going after the 3/4 and 1-ton market. Dubbed the EtelligentForce system, it features a conventional two-wheel-drive stick axle with an integrated electric motor plus a front motor that apparently works with an OEM’s front half-shafts for a seamless 4×4 conversion. The battery pack occupies the space once reserved for the rest of the drivetrain and exhaust, and Magna estimates an impressive 576 combined horsepower—335 rear, 241 front—with instant torque that should make towing a breeze. Tom Rucker, president of Magna Powertrain, suggests that EtelligentForce maintains “the capability and utility of conventional 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks” and they will “share these future-ready solutions with our stakeholders this year.” Last time we checked, every major auto manufacturer is (or has been?) a Magna stakeholder, so expect some ears to perk up in Detroit from this announcement. And possibly the folks who keep big fleets up and running around the country, too.
Exhaust: Truck life is loaded with brand loyalty, but it’s not just about the emblem on the grille. Greasy bits like Cummins diesel engines, Allison transmissions, and certain Dana axles are required hardware for some folks. Their cachet is justified in their prices, which are quite higher than those of the bits you’ll find in a lighter-duty truck. As of this writing, the Ford Powerstroke diesel upgrade adds a whopping $10,495 to the price tag, so did Magna just put these turbodiesel options on notice? It really depends on the range estimates and pricing, but don’t bet on the EtelligentForce system falling on deaf ears on the industry.
VW’s ID.Buzz set for March premiere
2022 is coming soon: the year of the new #VWIDBuzz! ?
— Volkswagen News (@volkswagen) December 23, 2021
Intake: Volkswagen has confirmed it will show its production-ready electric ID.Buzz van on March 9. The next-generation MPV and commercial vehicle will launch in Europe before the end of 2022 and will be the largest EV in the VW fleet, following the ID.3, ID.4, and ID.5. The ID.Buzz is based on the company’s MEB electric car platform and will ultimately be available in standard- and long-wheelbase variants, although it will be 2023 before the bigger Buzz goes on sale. Although the vehicle in the clip above is wrapped in a rainbow camouflage it’s clear that the ID.Buzz has become a little more square than the original retro-styled concept (below). It’s more aligned with the latest Microbus and we expect the ID.Buzz to share a similar set of interior configurations.
Exhaust: Will this be the new must-have machine for eco-conscious California surfers and #vanlifers? That’ll largely depend on range and charging speed, neither of which VW has revealed as yet.
Detroit-adjacent Milan Dragway will return to life under new ownership
Intake: Anyone who’s ever lost a hometown track knows how heartbreaking it is to watch their local course permanently bar its doors. If you haven’t been following along, such was the case for Detroit-adjacent strip Milan Dragway. In 2021, the Southeast Michigan strip that always could suddenly couldn’t. It was announced last month that Harry Bullock and Perry Merlo have purchased the facility. “I heard it was going to close down,” Bullock says in an interview on local radio station CKiW. “We had lost Detroit Dragway and this was our last drag strip here in town. I just went full bore and dove right in and tried to buy it right away.” Now that the duo owns the property, they will turn their attention to rejuvenating portions of the strip, in the spring, in addition to the numerous tasks that come in hand with renovating a facility left dormant for a year. The facility, which also holds a motocross course, has served up motorsports memories since 1964. Bullock and Merlo will write the next chapter in 2022.
Exhaust: Even if you’ve never been (or even if never plan on going) to Milan Dragway, take this a good omen for the future of drag racing. Over the past decade, too many strips have shuttered their doors. Considering Detroit’s automotive and motorsports history, it would have been an absolute crime for the city’s closest–and most prominent–drag strip to permanently close. Bravo to Bullock and Merlo for investing in the facility, Southeast Michigan’s local economy, and the future of drag racing. Also great news: The duo intends to keep the strip a quarter mile in distance. We’ll see you at the 1320 mark.
BrightDrop lands new Walmart partnership; quadruples FedEx reservations
Intake: GM’s last-mile EV solutions venture, BrightDrop, is starting off 2022 with a bang. The company recently announced it has inked a reservation deal with retail megalodon Walmart for 5000 EV600s and shorter EV410 vans. Walmart figures they will play an integral role achieving net-zero emissions in its logistics operations, as it aggressively expands services like InHome grocery delivery. What’s more, FedEx (the first fortune 500 to ally with BrightDrop) is upping their purchasing agreement from 500 to 2000 units. Negotiations remain underway between the two for a grand tally of 20,000 vans in the years to come. Walmart and FedEx both share the same timeline to achieve net-zero emissions, by 2040; BrightDrop is positioned to be a deciding factor in whether those goals become reality.
Exhaust: BrightDrop is off to a promising start in the last-mile EV wars. The Walmart partnership bolsters its outlook, as competitors such as Ram’s BEV Promaster and Rivian’s EDV 700 jockey over who will be Amazon’s belle of the ball in the long run. Sustainable delivery is very much a part of the fortune 500 optics moving forward and it’s not going away anytime soon. The quicker these EV companies can gobble up alliances will likely dictate who emerges from the pack as the leader in this market.