Electric G-Wagen spied in snow, crab-walking Hyundai, trouble at Rivian?
Spied: Electric G-Wagen undergoes chilly testing
Intake: Photographers have spotted Mercedes-Benz’s all-electric G-Class undergoing some winter testing in Northern Sweden. The new model—which will likely take the name EQG, in line with the EQ- designation on other pure-electric Mercedes models—is expected to make its public debut sometime next year. The electric G Wagen will utilize a modified version of the steel ladder frame that underpins the current G-Class, codenamed the W463. Mercedes has hinted that it will feature one electric motor for each wheel, although power figures are still a mystery. The prototype seen here features some ritzy camo that clearly hints at electric propulsion. Although the design doesn’t differ too much from the gas-powered models, we can see a more closed-up front grille and a muted rear bumper design. The swing gate-mounted spare tire is also absent here, although there’s no reason to believe that won’t make a return in the all-electric model on production versions.
Exhaust: The G-Class has endured in the modern era as a counter-cultural icon, staying resolutely boxy while everything else gets sleeker by the year. It may not be the biggest volume mover for Benz—although Mercedes-Benz USA sold 7,018 units in 2022, which is no small number for a high-margin brute like this—it may be the company’s most important EV yet. — Nathan Petroelje
Mazda’s 2023 MX-30 EV is pricey, puzzling
Intake: Mazda’s all-electric MX-30 is starting its second year in California dealerships with a starting price of $35,385, while the Premium Plus package that adds extra safety features like Blind Spot Assist and Front Cross Traffic Alert will bump the price up to $38,395. There’s still no hybrid option, and both versions are aimed at urban buyers as the 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery will deliver a 100-mile range on a full charge.
Exhaust: The MX-30 is at a strange place in the market. Its “freestyle doors” make it less practical than the typical four-door, while its 100-mile range puts it at a disadvantage when compared to even less-expensive EVs like the Chevy Bolt. After a slow start in 2022 with only a few hundred sales, the MX-30 is still only available in California. We’ll have to see if Mazda can inject enough driving fun with the 144-hp FWD crossover to gain momentum, or if it will need an injection of rotary power to make buyers notice. — Brandan Gillogly
Oh, your Hummer crab walks? So does this Hyundai IONIQ 5
Intake: At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week, Hyundai’s parts and service arm, a company called Hyundai Mobis, revealed a version of the brand’s Ioniq 5 EV with a neat trick: the ability to “crab walk.” The car features individual electric motors at each wheel, as well as individual brake-by-wire and steer-by-wire systems that enable the rolling stock at each corner to turn and revolve independently. Hyundai calls the tech “e-Corner” and the video above demonstrates the car folding all four wheels into a circle, enabling it to spin in place, as well as sliding sideways to make parallel parking a breeze. While GMC’s Hummer EV will put a form of this technology into production right from the get-go, we may see Hyundai attempt to scale this e-Corner tech into production versions of the Ioniq 5 in the coming years.
Exhaust: Neat as it is, this tech is not the first time that folks have attempted to use wheels to solve tricky maneuvering dilemmas. As this article from Jeff Peek shows, enterprising engineers were attempting to utilize wheels on different axis to make parking easier as far back as the 1930s! — Nathan Petroelje
Rivian short several executives and 700 trucks
Intake: There may be trouble at Rivian, says the Wall Street Journal: Several top executives have left the U.S. electric truck and SUV maker in recent months, as Rivian “exits a year in which it fell short of production targets.” The company “missed a critical milestone” in being unable to deliver its production target of 25,000 vehicles largely due to supply chain issues, the Journal says. Departures include Randy Frank, vice president of body and interior engineering, and Steve Gawronski, vice president in charge of parts purchasing.
Exhaust: Rivian fell 700 vehicles short of its production target, which frankly, doesn’t seem that bad. Rivian’s stock price is down 79 percent since its IPO in November of 2021, but while that sounds awful, one could argue that the drop is as large as it is because the stock was dramatically overvalued to start with. The company’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV are among the best electrics we’ve driven, but still, for every fledgling EV maker, the bugaboo always seems to be production targets. If Rivian can stay the course, it should succeed. — Steven Cole Smith
This is the last-ever Renault Sport
Intake: Just unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon, the Renault Megane RS Ultime will be the final car from the French firm’s fast subbrand. From here on out, future racy Renaults will be badged Alpine, like the Formula 1 team. The last of the line model will be limited to 1976 units as a nod to the year that Renault Sport was founded. It’s based on the already-hot Megane Trophy but gains a more aggressive body kit with wider fenders and a central exit exhaust, plus a smattering of black graphics. Inside there are Recaro seats in Alcantara and there’s a choice of manual or EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) manual transmissions. Power is from a 300-hp 1.8-liter turbo motor shared with the Alpine A110 sports car, the chassis is from the Megane Cup and there’s both rear-steer and a Torsen mechanical differential to aid agility.
Exhaust: Renaults of any kind haven’t been available in the U.S.A. since 1992, let alone Renault Sport models, so why should you care? Well, with the growing popularity of Formula 1, more and more Americans are becoming aware of Alpine. Renault Group boss Luca de Meo has hinted that Alpine could be introduced to America, especially as it switches to electric power for its next-generation sports car (under development with Lotus) and adds SUVs to its range. — Nik Berg