GM considering smaller Hummer, BMW’s $1.7 billion EV investment, Lotus Hot Wheels
GM may build a smaller Hummer truck
Intake: According to Bloomberg, General Motors may build a smaller electric Hummer pickup, down a size from the massive, $110,000 Hummer truck that has been on the market, with great success, since 2021. “A smaller, electric Hummer is still a design concept in GM’s California studio, but has a good chance of going into production and is seen as a priority project, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. GM already builds the large electric Hummer pickup and will begin building a full-size SUV early next year,” Bloomberg said.
Exhaust: It makes sense, following the original Hummer strategy that had Hummer sell the military-style H1, then the smaller H2, and the still-smaller H3. The smaller electric truck would certainly help GM if it decides to take the brand to Europe, Bloomberg noted. —Steven Cole Smith
Lotus Emira and Evija get the Hot Wheels treatment
Intake: You can now buy the last gas-powered Lotus and the British firm’s first electric car in Hot Wheels form. The Emira comes in Seneca Blue with the Evija being delivered in a two-tone British Racing Green and Lotus trademark yellow. As Hot Wheels Collectibles they won’t be in unlimited supply, but according to the Hot Wheel Wiki there’ll be a second release of an Atomic red Evija in 2034 if you do miss out.
Exhaust: The Emira has experienced production delays so the 1:64 scale model might be the only version customers can get their hands on for some time. Meanwhile, just 130 examples of the $2 million Evija electric hypercar will be sold, so zooming the Hot Wheels version along the ground will be most people’s only chance of getting their hands on one. —Nik Berg
Brits add a supercharger for a faster Miata
Intake: Brodie Britain Racing has been tuning Mazda Miatas since the day they first landed. The British firm, based in the heart of “Motorsport Valley” has fettled every generation of the world’s most popular roadster, and its latest effort adds a supercharger to the 2015-2019 ND. The Rotrex charger and EcuTek engine remap combine to deliver 222 hp and a chunky 200 lb-ft of torque, cutting the car’s 0-60 mph down by two seconds to 5.3 seconds. That’s Stage One. Opt for Stage Two with a TIG-welded stainless steel high-flow exhaust and a Forge Motorsport intercooler and you’ll get 247 hp and shave another couple of tenths off the acceleration run. Prices are from $5415, and kits for later models are currently under development.
Exhaust: If it’s ultimate power you’re after then BBR’s Stage One turbo kit actually has a little more to offer, with 251 hp. It’s also a tad quicker to 60 mph, but the tractability of the supercharger probably make it the better real-world performer. If you want to go even further then you’ll be better off staying Stateside and shoehorning in a V-8. —NB
New Jersey Assembly takes a stab at in-vehicle subscriptions
Intake: A short, 705-word bill introduced in the lower house of New Jersey’s state legislature is picking up on a global debate: Should automakers be allowed to charge customers subscription fees for certain vehicle options? The most notorious example in recent history concerned heated seats. The automaker in question was BMW, who implemented an “on demand” subscription approach in South Korea for things like a heated steering wheel, automatic high beam headlights, maps, and music partnerships. Though this “micro transaction” subscription approach was aimed at the South Korean market, Americans were outraged. (So much that BMW published a statement to clarify that it would never revoke or block access to options—like heated seats—ordered on a new, U.S.-market car.) As of September 22, 2022, two New Jersey assemblymen sketched out a solution: Bill no. 4519, if signed into law, would forbid vehicle manufacturers to charge a recurring payment for a feature that “utilizes components and hardware already installed on the motor vehicle at the time of purchase of lease.” It does provide an exception if the dealer, manufacturer, or third party can prove that the feature requires ongoing expense on its part. Fines would range between $10,000 and $20,000. As of September 22, #4519 was introduced and referred to the New Jersey Assembly’s consumer affairs committee.
Exhaust: If you’re on the warpath against subscription-style vehicle services, don’t pop the champagne. This bill would apply only to New Jersey—and, as of this writing, it’s a long way from becoming law. One note: This bill’s phraseology would not forbid manufacturers of EVs from charging a one-time fee to digitally “unlock” additional output from the battery. —Grace Houghton
BMW to invest $1.7 billion in domestic electric vehicles
Intake: On Wednesday, BMW Chairman Oliver Zipse announced that the company will invest $1.7 billion in American EV manufacturing, with $1 billion going to BMW’s factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the remaining $700 million to build a battery assembly plant in Woodruff, South Carolina. “For decades, Plant Spartanburg has been a cornerstone of the global success of the BMW Group. It is he home of the BMW X models that are so popular all over the world. Going forward, it will also be a major driver for our electrification strategy, and we will produce at least six fully electric BMW X models here by 2030. That means: The ‘Home of the X’ is also becoming the ‘Home of the Battery Electric Vehicle’,” said Zipse.” Plant Spartanburg currently produces 11 models including the BMW X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles, four BMW M models and two plug-in hybrid electric models. Production of the all-new hybrid-electric BMW XM will begin later this year.
Exhaust: Interesting, though, that Zipse told Reuters in an interview Wednesday that manufacturers or governments shouldn’t force a final date for selling ICE vehicles on the public, warning that “setting a date to phase out gas-powered vehicles could remove ‘cheap cars’ from the market, putting ownership out of reach for many,” Reuters said. “We don’t want cars to be taken away out of the base segment, politically that’s super dangerous,” said Zipse. “If you all of a sudden make car ownership only for rich people, it’s a dangerous thing.” So despite the massive investment in EVs, it sounds like gas vehicles will be a part of BMW’s portfolio for some time. —SCS
Ford announces a driveshaft fix for the Bronco
Intake: Ford Customer Satisfaction Program 22B27 is welcome news to owners of Ford Broncos that were built between September 23, 2020, and September 17, 2021. The problem is the driveshaft boot can crack and allow grease to leak out and dirt to seep in, thus causing “unwanted noise and vibration” while driving. Ford is replacing the front driveshaft for all the affected vehicles.
Exhaust: There’s no denying the new Bronco is a hit, but there’s no denying that it has suffered more than its share of teething problems. Ford is only offering the free driveshaft fix through October 12, 2023, so it’s a good idea not to wait until the last minute to schedule your repair. Replacing the driveshaft should take about an hour, Ford says. —SCS