Nissan ponders small electric truck, Tesla’s big moves at Nevada factory, Ferrari’s fake engine sounds
Nissan ponders small electric truck to replace withering Titan in the U.S.
Intake: Following a disappointing six-year run for its Titan full-size pickup in the U.S., Nissan may pull the plug on the model as soon as later this year, according to a report from Automotive News. But in the wake of the Titan exiting stage left, Nissan is rumored to be considering a smaller, all-electric pickup. Nissan Dealer Advisory Board chairman Tyler Slade told AN that Nissan dealers around the country are asking Nissan for an electric pickup similar in size to the Frontier mid-size truck. A beefier North America-specific version of the Frontier was launched in 2022 as the third-generation model, and early sales figures for the model are strong, with north of 76,000 units finding new owners in 2022. Slade says that an electric truck cast in a similar mold would be a logical step up for owners who soon won’t be able to upgrade to a Titan from the Frontier.
Exhaust: In 2022, Nissan sold just 15,063 Titans in the U.S. Chevy’s Silverado 1500 moved more than 91,000 units in the same timeframe. The Titan simply can’t compete in the Detroit-dominated conventional truck segment. But in the world of electric trucks? That’s another story. Ford, Chevy, and Ram all have electric full-size pickups brewing, but Nissan could be the first one to come out with a mid-size electric truck among the legacy automakers, which might give it an edge in one of America’s favorite vehicle segments. — Nathan Petroelje
Stellantis, Chrysler recalling plug-in hybrid minivans
Intake: Chrysler and parent company Stellantis are recalling 76,000 plug-in hybrid Pacifica minivans to correct a potential problem that could cause the engines to stall without warning. Reuters says the recall involves a possible short-circuit in an internal transmission wiring connector which could cause engine shutdown. An internal review of customer data discovered reports of stalling in 0.2 percent of this vehicle population, the company said.
Exhaust: Reuters says Chrysler will update the power inverter software and, if needed, update the instrument panel cluster software. An inverter helps control the flow of electricity to and from the battery pack. — SCS
Nevada scores big on $3.6 billion Tesla plant
Intake: Tesla said Tuesday that it will be investing an additional $3.6 billion in Gigafactory Nevada, adding 3,000 new employees and two new factories: a 100-GWh 4680 battery factory with the capacity to produce enough batteries for 1.5 million light-duty vehicles annually, “as well as our first high-volume Semi factory. Semi is our fully electric combination truck, with 500 miles of range and energy consumption of less than 2 kWh per mile.” Tesla’s Gigafactory Nevada is presently located in Sparks, near Reno. Tesla began construction of its first battery factory in Nevada in 2014. It operates this plant today with Panasonic and builds batteries that supply Tesla’s Fremont, California, vehicle assembly plant with high-voltage battery packs. So far the company says it has invested $6.2 billion in the Nevada facility.
Exhaust: How did Tesla founder Elon Musk make the announcement? On Twitter, of course. — Steven Cole Smith
Ram will sell ICE trucks alongside electric ones
Intake: In an interview with Road & Track at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) earlier this year, Ram brand CEO Mike Koval Jr. said that while there’s plenty of time and resources being devoted to the forthcoming electric pickup, internal combustion won’t be left to die on the vine. Koval Jr. said that the brand plans to sell internal combustion-powered trucks alongside the new BEV for the foreseeable future. The parallel strategy should help make the new electric truck more affordable to middle-class buyers and allow Ram to continue serving customers who have performance requirements (in towing, payload, range, etc.) that can’t yet be achieved yet by a BEV. Koval Jr. also told R&T that once the Ram 1500 BEV arrives in 2024, the product portfolio will quickly fill out with electric offerings aimed at everything from humble fleet vehicles to high-end luxury-appointed models—just like the gas-powered Rams do.
Exhaust: We’ve heard similar lines regarding ICE vs. BEV sides of the house from Ford and GM (and Ram) pertaining to heavy-duty pickups, and it’s no surprise to see a similar approach in light-duty trucks. Koval Jr. was candid in saying that not everyone that the brand talked to was ready to jump into electric trucks and that some folks were even actively against the idea. Choice is never a bad thing for the customer. — Nathan Petroelje
Ferraris EVs will echo the sonorous sounds of internal combustion
Intake: Ferrari has patented a technique to reproduce the emotive acoustics of its iconic engines when it switches to battery power. “In a high-performance sports car, the sound produced by the engine (usually, an internal combustion engine) and perceived inside a passenger compartment is important, for a significant part of the ‘driving pleasure’ of a high-performance sports car is due to the very sound produced by the engine,” reads the Ferrari patent. Ferrari’s method is to amplify the noise from an electric drivetrain like the hybrid component of the SF90 Stradale, manipulating its pitch and volume to match the power delivery and mimic the sound and feel of a combustion engine, according to a report by Carbuzz. Speakers would be installed inside the cabin to entertain occupants, but external noise would also be generated to let bystanders know you’re coming and continue to create those reel-ready moments for the influencers. Ferrari is aiming for 80 percent of its sales to be from hybrid or pure EVs by 2030 so we should start to hear this new approach within the next couple of years.
Exhaust: Ferrari follows Dodge and its Charger Daytona SRT EV concept by bringing the noise to the normally hushed world of electric cars. While there’s no doubt that the aural cues from an internal combustion engine add to the enjoyment and sense of speed in driving, is faking it for electrics really the right answer? — Nik Berg