VW’s new Bus goes camping, GM gets in the energy biz, Jeep’s tiny Euro EV


VW ID. Buzz gets first camper conversion

Intake: Volkswagen #vanlife has been electrified. Mere months after the ID. Buzz was unveiled German firm Ququq has released a plug-and-play camper conversion that costs less than $3,000. The BusBox-4 slots into the rear cargo area and features a slide-out camp kitchen, and a lofted bed for two. There’s room for freshwater storage and a coolbox as well. The box weighs less than 150 pounds so shouldn’t impact the range of the ID. Buzz too much. In fact to prove its practicality the company has already covered almost 22,000 miles on a road trip through 20 different European countries.

Exhaust: This is a neat and cheap solution for those who can’t wait to explore the outdoors in their new ID. Buzzes, but realistically it’s more suited for quick getaways than grand adventures. Expect many more conversions to follow, with pop-tops, awnings and sleeping for the whole family. —NB

Kia shows second-generation Niro

2023 Niro group

Intake: Kia’s versatile second-generation Niro SUV plug-in hybrid goes on sale this fall with slightly larger dimensions and a roomier cabin, but despise its beefier size, has a 25-percent greater all-electric range of 33 miles. It’s powered by a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine coupled with a 62 kW electric motor, giving the Niro Plug-in Hybrid a combined 180 horsepower and 195 lb.-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed dual clutch transmission. When connected to a Level 2 charger, the Niro PHEV can refill its 11.1-kWh lithium-ion polymer battery in under three hours. It’s priced at $33,740, excluding a $1,295 destination charge.

Exhaust: Stronger, lighter and more powerful for 2023, the Kia Niro plug-in hybrid is a nice starter car for customers moving gingerly away from ICE vehicles — it’s a hybrid, but it also offers 33 miles of all-electric driving, which is more than the average American drives in a day. Kia hasn’t announced pricing on the all-electric Niro model for 2023, but Automotive News claims the regular Niro hybrid will be priced at $27,785, including destination, an increase of $1800 over 2022. —Steven Cole Smith

BMW partners with AirConsole to bring gaming inside the cockpit

BMW EV Vehicle Console Gaming while charging up

Intake: “Collection of single- and multiplayer games to make every waiting situation in the vehicle an entertaining experience,” says the press release, which kind of sums it up. AirConsole is a gaming platform which fits the BMW Curved Display and offers a “large and diverse catalogue of games.” The games run directly inside the vehicle entertainment system. The AirConsole technology enables games to be instantly delivered over-the-air, and you can control them using smartphones. “This will make every waiting situation inside the vehicle, such as charging, an enjoyable moment,” said Stephan Durach, senior vice president, BMW Group Connected Company Development. Scan a QR code in the vehicle, and you’re hooked up. The games play only if the car is in Park.

Exhaust: Games on the AirConsole roster include “Real Estate Challenge,” “ClusterPuck Challenge” and “Zombie Annihilation.” Oddly missing is “Pong” and “Super Mario.” AirConsole will roll out first on the 7 Series, then trickle down to the other 2023 models. —SCS

GM’s new business unit wants to transform your Ultium EV

GM garage and home electrification

Intake: General Motors unveiled a new business unit yesterday, called GM Energy. The new business unit will provide customers with “energy management services” that will enable you to interact with your Ultium-powered EV, your home, and the broader energy grid to help improve your electric experience. GM Energy will offer solutions like bi-directional charging, vehicle-to-home (V2H), and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications. If your EV is topped off at night, the new solutions will allow your EV to charge your home, or even sell power back to the grid if you have a surplus at any given time. If your area experiences a power outage, your Silverado EV will one day be able to keep the lights on at home. GM says it already has several large-scale companies such as SunPower, a solar technology firm, signed on to help develop home battery, solar panel, and energy systems.

Exhaust: The American power grid has been a hot topic of discussion as electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity and severe weather events, such as Hurricane Ian, become more frequent. We’ve all seen the stories of Ford’s F-150 Lightning powering homes during power outages, and GM isn’t about to let Ford have all the fun. A business unit offering integrated, easy-to-use solutions that help mitigate the effects of power interruptions sure seems like a solid pursuit in our eyes. Earning a few extra bucks by selling extra power back to the grid doesn’t seem so bad either. As EVs continue to shift the role that vehicles play in our lives, expect to see these sorts of expanded business units pop up with greater frequency at the hands of automakers. —Nathan Petroelje

Jeep Avenger to debut at the Paris Auto Show

Jeep Avenger EV front driving action

Intake: The good news: The cute little Jeep Avenger, the brand’s first battery electric vehicle, will debut at a press conference at the Paris Auto Show on Monday. The bad news: That’s about as close as we’ll get to it. The Avenger’s stand “will display an energetic, vibrant, and visually dynamic look featuring a rock crawling display, to provide the right staging for the media and public reveal of the Jeep Avenger.  The all-electric Jeep Avenger will offer Jeep brand capability that is rightsized for the European market delivering a targeted electric range of 400 kilometers (249 miles), combined with modern and technologically advanced interior, with plenty of space for people and cargo.”  The Jeep Avenger is a “milestone for our growth plans in key European markets, such as France, and on our path to becoming the leading zero-emission SUV brand in the world.”

Exhaust: Jeep is serious about this electric business. In countries such as Germany and France, the Jeep brand offers only electrified SUVs and by the end of the year in almost all of the major markets in Continental Europe will offer only electrified SUVs. “As a result of this product onslaught, all the Jeep vehicles on sale in the region will be 100 percent electric by 2030.” —SCS

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    Can you explain to BMW that cars are for transport not game playing. Appealing to a juvenile market in this fashion increases death statistics. Get the techno crap out of cars. Make people responsible for their actions.

    I agree, this will increase the business of body shops and funeral homes. Don’t drivers have enough distractions now with cell phones ? Shame, shame, shame BMW !

    Games in a BMW? Guess we need to justify all those useless touchscreens? Hey BMW can we focus on driving? That is supposedly what you want us to think you are about?

    VW: college kid styling on a vehicle that college kids will never do
    BMW: we have completely gone off the deep end with the flat panel dashes
    GM: great, my vehicle kept the lights on during the power outage, but now I can’t get to work, the grocery store, the hardware store, evacuate….

    I remember when Greyhound buses had a sign prominently displayed over the driver. It read ” Please Do Not Talk To Driver”. Are VW and BMW big wigs so stupid that they don’t know about it not being safe to distract the driver? It is bad enough to be meeting people on the road who are texting and talking on their cell phones. It is inconceivable that playing games while driving is a good idea. I’m alarmed at the idea.

    So you won’t be able to play games unless you’re in Park -NOW how many light cycles will you miss behind someone who just HAS to finish this level before they can move on? And who thinks there won’t be any way to defeat the lockout anyway so addicts can finally play on a good sized screen while neglecting their driving??

    Jeeze! What is it with the rush to overload the power grid with all the EV’s? Who says EV’s are the future? I would hope someone who has the power and respect will finally explain to the masses, that if just 20% of the vehicles on the road were EV’s the power grid, as is would not be able to handle it! Never mind what the powered that feebly be, are selling the masses an awful load of BS! The only way to help in any way at the user level, so everyone on the grid, meaning EVERYONE, does not get hit with huge rate increases to help build what no one can get permits for as is, power stations! So the only band aid would be for everyone who actually buys an EV, is required to also install a state of the art solar power system in their home, where their EV is parked, so at least during the daylight hours, they can charge their car and home batteries, so they can be used at night, or possibly a bit on stormy cloudy days. But not everyone has the means to do so!

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