Musk promises semis by December, Toyota finally fixes loose wheels, NASCAR drivers not happy with new car
Elon Musk will deliver first electric Tesla semi trucks December 1
Intake: Five years after debuting his electric semi truck, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, said he will begin delivery of 15 trucks to Pepsi by the end of the year, starting December 1. Pepsi, says Automotive News, has a contract for 100 of the trucks. The trucks supposedly have 500 miles of range, and Musk has said in the past that he has deposits from Walmart and Anheuser-Busch for the trucks. AN speculates that Musk’s interest in the trucks was spurred by the Senate passing the Inflation Reduction Act, which made heavy-duty electric trucks eligible for as much as $40,000 federal tax credits.
Exhaust: On the website for the truck, Musk says it has “Badass Performance,” generated by three electric motors, and can “accelerate from 0-60 mph in 20 seconds, fully loaded, and maintain highway-level speeds even up steep grades.” Tesla’s “semi chargers” will recover up to 70 percent of the range in 30 minutes, and “operators can see estimated fuel savings of up to $200,000 within their first three years of ownership.” Pepsi seems like a good first rollout customer, since its runs are relatively short compared to most over-the-road truckers’. —Steven Cole Smith
Wheels no longer fall off Toyota’s EV, sales resume
Intake: Toyota’s BZ4X production electric vehicle will resume sales after the company resolved an issue in which its wheels could loosen and potentially fall off. The recall covers 258 units of Toyota’s EV sold in the U.S., but the 403 affected examples of its Subaru sistership have reportedly not been “sold to dealers or retail purchasers.” The older NHTSA report mentions that the “investigation is ongoing,” but according to Automotive News, Toyota chief technology officer Masahiko Maeda says it missed the issue “because we didn’t conduct the assessments based on a premise that the quality of wheels would be so off.”
Exhaust: Toyota’s CTO suggests a bad batch of wheels is to blame, but no further details were given. That said, if you’ve ever bought aftermarket (or refinished) wheels only to learn that the lug nut recesses have too much paint on them, I reckon you know exactly what Toyota is going through right now. Can we wager that Toyota dealers are grabbing a paint meter, then sanding a little off so the lug nuts can do their job? — Sajeev Mehta
NASCAR drivers frustrated by safety concerns with new Cup car
Intake: Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman will both be out of the NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend because of concussions, one reason NASCAR driver and team owners are speaking out about the safety of the new-for-2022 NASCAR Cup car. Both Busch and Bowman backed into the wall; the complaint centers around the belief that the new cars are too stiff, with the car transmitting the shock of a crash straight to the driver rather than absorbing it. While Bowman and Busch are the only two drivers to miss races with concussions, the Associated Press “learned of at least two other drivers who believe they suffered concussions earlier this season.” Drivers have long been reluctant to admit they may have a concussion for fear of missing an important race or losing their seats altogether. “We have done really well in the last 10, 15 years with safety in so many ways. But this car, from the rear impact, it’s just like you’re sitting on a piece of steel. We need to fix it as soon as we can,” team owner Rick Hendrick told AP.
Exhaust: This is not a new problem, but in the past few weeks, the number of very prominent drivers, such as Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick, who have spoken out about it makes it a very real concern. NASCAR is working on the issue, but it won’t be an easy fix. —SCS
Charge Cars to debut limited-edition ’67 electric car in Los Angeles
Intake: Charge Cars, a British company, will host its electric Mustang-lookalike’s North American debut in Los Angeles later this month, but we can see the ’67 now. Just 499 examples of the ’67 will be built and each will feature a steel chassis with carbon-fiber bodywork. Its 535-hp, all-wheel-drive system is enough to propel the car from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and its floor-mounted batteries will deliver a range of up to 200 miles. The exterior is very familiar, but the interior is all new and the two-seat configuration has a large luggage area and a modern design.
Exhaust: We must admit that the lines of the classic fastback look good—the basis of the car is clearly a ’67 Mustang—yet Charge Cars never mention its pony car roots. Strange, huh? We’re all for electric conversions when the original car didn’t have a stellar powerplant, but that was not the case with early Mustangs. Is that gorgeous interior enough to make up for the absence of a high-strung small-block? —Brandan Gillogly
Two top sports car teams looking for a female driver
Intake: Kelly-Moss Racing has extended a dozen invitations to female racers to come to Putnum Park Raceway in Indiana to try out for a seat at Kelly-Moss. During the shootout, the women will be evaluated both on and off track. This intensive event will involve assessment of track times, technical communication with engineers, understanding of car dynamics, interview skills, sponsorship value, fit with the team and more. The funding for the 2023 race season position includes 16 races, 6 tests, race entry fees, and a Porsche GT3 Cup car for the races and tests. Meanwhile, Heart of Racing, an IMSA team, is doing essentially the same thing, with a funded ride in an Aston Martin in GT4 competition at stake. The shootout will be held at the Apex Club track outside Phoenix. They are still taking applications: Apply here by October 23 to be considered.
Exhaust: These are no publicity stunts: These are top-notch professional race teams offering a solid season to selected female racers. Should be interesting to watch. —SCS
Australian Supercars could visit the U.S. as soon as 2024
Intake: Australian Supercar fans on this side of the Pacific, get excited, as the V-8-powered touring car series could be making a rare visit to the United States as soon as 2024. In an interview with Autosport, Supercar chairman Barclay Nettlefold revealed that top brass are examining the possibility of joining select Formula 1 grand prix as an undercard. And, in case you missed it, F1 is rapidly expanding into North America. Next year, Supercars will also roll out its new Gen3 racer—which includes a new Chevy Camaro (rather than the stalwart Holden Commodore) and a Ford Mustang (below). “We’ve got global relevance now,” said Nettlefold. “We’re the only touring car really focusing on that. I would love to see us as category support in the Americas. How powerful would that be for Ford and General Motors.” This wouldn’t be the first time Supercars have traveled stateside, having held a standalone event at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas in 2013, putting on a great show.
Exhaust: If you’ve never watched Australian Supercar competition, you’re missing out. The V-8 powered Mustangs and Commodores (soon to be replaced by the Camaro) make for epic showdowns of close racing, daring maneuvers, and dramatic finishes. Should they seal the deal and partner with Formula 1, this could be the perfect pairing of rip-snorting rumblers and high-tech open-wheelers; a well-rounded weekend for those in the grandstands. Though, with Formula 1’s recent expansion into the United States, you have to wonder if NASCAR isn’t already making the same pitch to F1 behind closed doors? After all, NASCAR’s NextGen stocker processes some similar pieces to its Aussie counterparts (sequential shifter to wide, low-profile slicks), which has presented a natural transition to more road course racing. Wait, I have an even better idea: let’s put Supercars tourers and NASCAR stockers on the same track to vie for the title of supreme V-8 racer. —Cameron Neveu