Mazda spends $11 billion on electrics, F1 TV ratings up, Scout profile appealing

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Mazda bankrolls electrification—including the Miata?

Mazda-Electric-Sports-Car-Concept-Manifold-News-Lead
Mazda

Intake: Mazda has always preferred to take its own path, but now looks set to follow the herd into electrification. The Japanese carmaker which continues to persevere with the rotary engine, and pushed ahead with spark-free ignition in its Skyactiv-X motors is investing almost $11 billion in electrifying its line-up. The cash comes alongside an updated mid-term business plan which includes partnering with battery maker Envision AESC Group. Mazda now estimates that up to 40 percent of its sales will come from battery electric vehicles in 2030 and some of those could well be built in the USA to benefit from tax credits. “Given the importance of the market, we hope to manufacture EVs in North America at some point,” said CEO Akira Marumoto. “But at the moment, we are thinking of the possibility in the second half of phase two.” Even more exciting is the concept car that came with Marumoto’s announcement. The Vision Study Model hints at what an electric Mazda sports car could look like, and while it’s tricky to judge the size from the images, it appears to have the compact proportions of a Miata successor.

Exhaust: Mazda’s only electric offering so far is the quirky MX-30 which hasn’t exactly stormed the sales charts, thanks to its very limited driving range. This huge investment will mean that the company’s future EVs will be much more competitive, but we hope Mazda doesn’t lose sight of the things that make the Japanese brand stand out from the pack. The Vision Study suggests that lightweight, fun-to-drive Mazdas are here to stay, even if they are electric. —Nik Berg

Mazda Electric Concept high angle rear
Mazda

Logo no-go: people are confused by the new Kia badge

2024 Seltos hood badging
Kia

Intake: Kia’s incredible re-invention has seen the South Korean brand go from a maker of budget runabouts to some of the best SUVs and EVs out there, including the 2020 World Car of the Year-winning Telluride and the 2022 Car of the Year EV6. In 2021 Kia refreshed its logo from a bland oval with its name clearly visible inside to a more stylized silver badge with the three letters conjoined, but it appears to be baffling people. Google search data reveals that 30,000 people each month are now searching for “KN” instead of Kia, with many seeming to believe that it’s a completely new car maker. Which, in a way, it is.

Exhaust: This could be seen as a catastrophic graphic design fail, if the brand can’t even be recognized by the public. However, the very fact that so many people have been inspired to search for “KN” shows that Kia’s cars are really attracting attention. —NB

Formula 1 viewership way up

Getty Images

Intake: If we need another example of the burgeoning popularity of F1, we present the TV ratings from ESPN. Not long ago it was unheard of for an F1 race to top a million viewers, and this year that happened 17 times. The season averaged 1.21 million viewers per race across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, a 28 percent increase over the previous U.S. television record of 949,000 average viewers that was set in 2021. The 2022 season also became the first in U.S. television history to average 1 million or more viewers per race. In addition, more female and younger viewers watched F1 races on U.S. television than ever before. The season included a record 2.583 million average viewers for the new Miami Grand Prix, setting the mark for the most-viewed live F1 telecast ever in the U.S.

Exhaust: The presence next year of American Logan Sargeant in a Williams car will only help the ratings; we expect another record year in 2023. —Steven Cole Smith

Goodwood Members’ Meeting to host GT1 machines

Intake: “Goodwood is delighted to announce that the 80th Members’ Meeting presented by Audrain Motorsport will for the first time host a collection of top-flight GT1 cars from the early 21st Century in a spectacular on-track demonstration set to be one of the loudest and most exhilarating ever held at a Members’ Meeting,” says a press release from the British track. “Taking to the historic Goodwood Motor Circuit, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023, will be Le Mans Class and GT1 race winners, including the likes of the Aston Martin DBR9, Ferrari 550 GT1, Maserati MC12, Chrysler Viper GTS-R, Lister Storm and many more.” We indeed expect many more, since these cars were so recently raced. The event is scheduled for April 15-16. Tickets are available now for Fellows of the Goodwood Road Racing Club: You can join here.

Exhaust: It’s a good way to visit a Goodwood event if you don’t want to fight the massive crowds that should be present at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2023, which will feature cars of 24 Hours of Le Mans in the year of its 100th anniversary. It will be, Goodwood says, the largest collection of cars it has ever hosted. It will be held July 13-16. It’s also the 30th anniversary of the Festival of Speed. Said Tom Kristensen, nine-time Le Mans winner:It’s amazing that Le Mans has been holding this great race for 100 years. Goodwood and Le Mans are so much fun, I always enjoy visiting and have had the privilege of driving fantastic cars there. I’m already looking forward to the reunion next year. I’m sure it will be a remarkable celebration.—SCS

eBay becomes latest place to tighten policy and stop sales on tuning devices

Brandan Gillogly

Intake: In a change to its policy regarding the sales of vehicles, parts and accessories, eBay has now begun removing and restricting sales of tuning devices that can be used to defeat or remove government-required emissions equipment, citing an EPA enforcement alert from December 2020. This includes everything from block-off plates to the computers and connectors needed to re-tune ignition and fuel curves. To read the whole list of restrictions on eBay’s site here.

Exhaust: eBay likely saw the EPA’s widespread crackdown on independent shops which were selling these devices under the guise of “off-road or race use only.” While it is not clear if the EPA would ever come down on eBay for hosting the selling of these items, it appears it has chosen to be proactive in limiting access for both sellers and buyers. The policy is wide-ranging though, and includes items like fuel injection conversion kits and standalone ECU modules that actually serve to improve emissions of vintage cars. Balance was always going to be tough to find in limiting access to ways to de-regulate modern cars while enabling DIY enthusiasts to still enjoy the hobby, and this is one step that makes life just a little tougher. —Kyle Smith

Scout website finally has something worth looking at

Scout Motors SUV front silhouette
Scout Motors

Intake: And this is it: A teaser profile of the new SUV. It looks pretty interesting, and certainly takes the Volkswagen-owned brand back to the glory days. We await more than this smidgen of copy: “To honor where we’ve come from. To unlock the potential of what lies ahead. To show our land the respect it deserves. To lift up our communities and haul their heaviest burdens. To lead the charge into the great unknown. Scouts go first. Scouts go farther. Scouts always come back to lead the way.” Wow, heady stuff.

Exhaust: The “rugged” theme keeps coming up. But then, we’re currently driving a “rugged” version of the Kia Sportage. “We’re making the next generation of all-electric trucks and rugged SUVs for American drivers,” the site says. OK, we’re holding you to that. —SCS

Mecum Kissimmee closes in on 4000 vehicles

Mecum

Intake: With the recent addition of 50 investment-grade vehicles from the main attraction Rick Grant III Estate Collection, along with several other private collection offerings, the tally board of consignments for Mecum Kissimmee 2023 continues its climb to 4000 vehicles for the world’s largest collector car auction this  January 4-15 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, just south of Orlando. If you can’t go, the event will be featured on MotorTrendTV and MotorTrend+. At last count, the number was 3156 vehicles consigned.

Exhaust: If you’ve never been, it’s worth the trip, especially if you’re looking for warm weather in January. During the early days of the auction, there are bargains to be had. Not so much on the featured weekends, though, when TV bidding frenzy takes over. —SCS

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Comments

    First it was the lack of vehicles with manual transmissions and now they’re going after the niche market for car tune-ability. What’s next – no cars over 25 years old on the road??

    It is government. They are actively trying to kill their subjects, what do you expect?
    Remember “safe and effective” and you will eat the bugs…

    With every carmaker on the planet jumping on the EV bandwagon, it should certainly keep junkyards and recyclers in business for the next couple hundred years!

    Government agencies have no place in a person’s bedroom, let alone in one’s garage. As regulations grow, freedoms indeed die. Don’t politicians have anything else better to do??

    I said the moment the new Kia logo appeared out it was a terrible choice. I knew it was Kia but I said it looks too much like KN and it was going to confuse people. Turns out I was right at the tune of 30k plus a month. If only I had a dollar for each search made.

    Scout? Umm, it’s not but enjoy.

    i love the new kia symbol. anyone who mistakes it for KN simply don’t know the symbols their language is created from. the diagonal down stroke on an N is opposite to the KIA diagonal up stroke to symbolize an A leaving the middle vertical stroke to represent an I. very straight forward and clean.

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