NHTSA hands Tesla a fat bonus, $2.8M Koenigsegg gathers dust, Alfa thinks big
Did NHTSA just hand Tesla a fat bonus?
Intake: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reinstated a sharp increase in penalties for automakers whose vehicles do not meet fuel efficiency requirements for model years 2019 and beyond. And that could be a big win for Tesla. According to Reuters, the agency did not collect penalties for the 2019–21 model years while the issue was being fought in court. The fine for those years is $14 for every 0.1 mile per gallon new vehicles fall short of required fuel-economy standards (that’s a jump from $5.50), multiplied by the number of noncomplying vehicles sold. The penalty rises to $15 per 0.1 mile for 2022. The move will cost non-compliant automakers millions, but how does that help Tesla? Automakers whose vehicles achieve higher fuel economy than required can sell credits to automakers that do not meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) rules.
Exhaust: As offending automakers’ legal options dissipate, those non-compliant manufacturers are going to take a huge financial hit. Reuters says that by using previous estimates provided by Stellantis, for example, the decision could cost Chrysler’s parent company as much as $572 million. Like an eager volunteer waiting to answer the phone during a PBS fundraiser, Elon Musk is ready for the call. Just make that check out to T-E-S-L-A.
“First” standalone Genesis dealership opens in United States
Intake: Known as the Happiest City in America, the city of Lafayette, Louisiana, is now famous for having the first standalone Genesis dealership to serve their community with style and class. The dealership sports features like a “transparent, open floor plan, an indoor vehicle delivery area, and infrastructure to support the upcoming portfolio of Electrfied Genesis models.” The new store is part of the Sterling Automotive Group, and as we regularly see during grand openings, the dealership worked with “Genesis Gives” to donate $15,000 to the local Boys and Girls Club. The strong showing in a local market is clearly part of Genesis’ commitment to providing a higher end experience for the whole community, and the sales increase since the brand’s inception in 2016 proves this part of their strategy is working. Genesis posted its best year in 2021, with 49,630 units sold nationally.
Exhaust: Genesis says this is its “first standalone retail location in the United States,” but that’s a bit misleading. Indeed this is its first standalone dealership designed as per the brand’s latest standards (shown below), and that’s certainly a cause for celebration; but standalone stores like Genesis of Southwest Houston (shown above) have been in play for years, albeit as rebadged buildings that formerly sold vehicles like Hyundais (and Saabs before that). So while we applaud this milestone in Genesis history, let’s not forget the retailers who already forked over the cash to ensure the fledgling Genesis brand wasn’t sold in the same building (and by the same people) who promoted loss-leader Hyundai Accents to a different class of clientele.
Koenigsegg One:1 owned by corrupt politician collects dust in Dubai
Intake: Life comes as you fast. That’s the lesson Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the VP of Equatorial Guinea, should’ve learned when his multimillion-dollar supercar collection was seized by the Swiss government and auctioned away for charity in Geneva in 2019. Among his collection was a one-of-seven Koenigsegg One:1, chassis #7111. Now take a crack as to who the lucky bidder was … rumor has it, “Teodorín” Nguema. The sly fox, who is no stranger to sanctions and confiscation of personal property by European nations, almost certainly still had the riches to repurchase most of his collection that went to auction, the likes of which are flexed from time to time on social media. If the Koenigsegg’s current condition is any indication, Nguema’s One:1 in this video was shipped to Dubai awhile back and has been sitting storage long enough to now don a blanket of dust. Until the car’s owner decides to grace the Emirates with their presence, #7111’s cover will only grow thicker.
Exhaust: Lesson learned? Probably not. We (and our supercar underwriters) would like to believe that all high-dollar machines are secure, cared for, and covered in pristine climate-controlled environments, when not out on the road where they belong. This goes to show however, that when you’re spoiled for choice, there apparently isn’t enough time in the world for a visit to your own One:1 at least once a year.
65,000 people want Hummer EVs, and most are actually serious
Intake: Reservations for the Hummer EV surpassed 65,000, exceeding what GMC had predicted for its first all-electric vehicle, according to a new report from CNBC. The overrun in reservations—a $100 payment gets you a spot in line—has put pressure on the automaker to ramp up production for both the pickup and SUV versions of the Hummer. According to Reuters, GM told suppliers to plan for 21,000 Hummers at its Factory Zero plant in Detroit. While not all $100 deposits translate to vehicles sold, Duncan Aldred, GMC’s global vice president, tells CNBC that about 95 percent of those 65,000 people are converting their reservations into orders. While the Hummer is technically on sale now, grabbing a reservation at this point will likely equate to a delivery some time in 2024, even with increased efforts to expedite production. Those early reservation holders likely plunked down for one of the Hummer Edition 1s, which coast $112,595. Versions with a bit less content range between $79,995 and $99,995.
Exhaust: The appetite for big electric vehicles is clearly very strong here in America—that, or the automakers had conservative forecasts from the get-go. The truth probably lies somewhere between the two. That same Reuters article noted that GM has received roughly 110,000 reservations for the Silverado EV, which rides on the same Ultium EV platform as the Hummer. Earlier in 2022, Ford had to close the reservation system for its F-150 Lightning pickup, as reservations climbed near 200,000. To meet overwhelming demand, Ford nearly doubled annual production volume of the Lightning from 80,000 units to around 150,000. Although we don’t know what Ford’s conversion rate is for Lightning reservations, we’d expect it to be similar to the Hummer’s 95 percent figure—perhaps even higher.
Bugatti Centodieci piles on the miles before production
Intake: The ten Bugatti Centodiecis soon to be built are destined for a life locked in climate-controlled private collections, but that hasn’t stopped Bugatti putting the hypercar through the same tough testing program as other models. The 610-hp 3.5-liter V-12-powered prototype model covered over 30,000 miles on the road and on the superspeedway of the Nardò test track in southern Italy. During months of rigorous evaluation the Centodieci was driven more than 700 miles per day in all weathers to prove its durability. “The Centodieci is deliberately driven to its limits in order to guarantee reliable handling at the highest level, even in extreme situations,” says Carl Heilenkötter, the engineer in charge of the project.
Exhaust: Bugatti is well aware that the prototype has covered far more miles at far higher speeds than all of the production models will probably ever do in their lifetimes. “Even though most cars never enter this range, it is nonetheless tested. This is the philosophy of the brand and that is why we put such a huge amount of effort into all this testing. Bugatti is committed to the highest quality standards, durability, and customer satisfaction,” says Heilenkötter. Good to know when you’ve written a check for $9 million.
Supersize me, says Alfa Romeo
Intake: Having just introduced the Tonale compact SUV Alfa Romeo is planning to go large. In an interview with Dutch magazine Autoweek, Alfa’s CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said the Italian firm would go after BMW’s X5, X7 and 7 Series. “Since I want to be the global premium brand of Stellantis and because everyone in the world knows our brand, I want to bring a high-end SUV to the market. How exactly are we going to shape that is another question, but above a D-segment model there will also be an E-segment car with very high performance. We are going for the most profitable segment, targeting models such as BMW’s X5, X6, and the 7 Series. That decision was made recently and with that we can also to growth markets like China,” he says. Imparato adds that 2027 would be the target date for this move upmarket, and he also reveals that a new B-segment car will be launched in 2024.
Exhaust: Alfa Romeo has already said that its range will be fully electric by 2027 so that means its rise up the ranks will be purely e-powered. It also raises questions about Stellantis sibling Maserati, as the new Alfas could encroach on Trident territory. Buoyed by the reception to the $215,000 MC20 supercar, Maserati will, no doubt, be pushing higher still.