Dodge teases final Hemi build, play Angry Birds in your E-Class, BMW’s M SUVs go hybrid


Dodge drops first “Last Call” teaser video for the last Hemi sportscar

Intake: Dodge has posted a new video teaser leading up to the global debut of the “ultimate Dodge performance vehicle,” which will take place during the Dodge Last Call Powered by Roadkill Nights Vegas event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 20. The next full video teaser is set to premiere on March 1. Each teaser reveals clues to the identity, and performance DNA, of the final special-edition “Last Call” vehicle. This first teaser, called “Runnin’ Hyde,” features a sinister-looking leprechaun that morphs into something even more sinister-looking. “Last Call” is all about the pending end of the Dodge Challenger and Charger production. Six Dodge “Last Call” models have already been introduced: the Dodge Challenger Shakedown, Dodge Charger Super Bee, Dodge Challenger and Charger Scat Pack Swinger, Dodge Charger King Daytona and Dodge Challenger Black Ghost.

Exhaust: A leprechaun? Does it mean the car will be green? We’ll need more information. — Steven Cole Smith

BMW X5 M and X6 M jump to 617-hp hybrid setup

Intake: BMW has announced a raft of changes for its 2024 X5 M and 2024 X6 M SUVs. The two SUVs will now be offered exclusively as higher-performance Competition models, a designation BMW uses to denote the sharper of its M products. The pair will get a new 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that uses a cross-bank exhaust manifold, revised turbos, a new intake, and a few other tweaks that help it develop 553 lb-ft of torque between 1800–5800 rpm and 617 hp. Joining that new eight-pot is BMW’s first application of a 48-volt mild-hybrid system on an M car, which features an electric motor that can deliver 12 extra ponies and 147 lb-ft of extra torque integrated into the bell housing of the updated eight-speed transmission. BMW says that the new powertrain enables 0–60 times of just 3.7 seconds. Massive brake discs measuring 15.6 inches in the front and 15 inches in the rear are squeezed by six-piston calipers and single-piston calipers, respectively.

There’s a new 27.2-inch curved display in the cockpit to handle infotainment and instrumentation duties and new ambient lighting to adjust the mood inside the SUVs. The new X5 M Competition and X6 M Competition will debut at The Amelia in early March, and production will begin at the Spartanburg plant in South Carolina in April. The X5 M Competition will start at $123,295 and the X6 M Competition will start at $128,195.

Exhaust: It was only a matter of time before hybrid power came to the aid of BMW’s Big performance SUVs. Expect similar tech to start to trickle down to the smaller X3 and X4 SUVs eventually, although those models will likely stick with their twin-turbo straight-six engines. — Nathan Petroelje

GM to shut down truck plant for two weeks


Intake: GM is shutting down one of its truck plants for two weeks in March as the manufacturer “works to manage inventory levels,” said the manufacturer. The plant affected is the Fort Wayne truck plant, which builds the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, says Automotive News. The downtime is “an effort to maintain optimal inventory levels with our dealerships,” GM spokesman Dan Flores said. “The plant constantly reviews and adjusts production schedules according to customers’ needs,” he said. “Our production is up over the past month while demand remains fairly consistent, leading to an increase in inventory. Therefore, as we stated on our earnings call, we are going to proactively manage inventory levels, including plant downtime.”

Exhaust: Welcome to the new way of doing things in Detroit. In the past, GM and other manufacturers would just keep building trucks, and offer incentives and discounts to keep them moving. Now, with trucks and many other vehicles selling for list price or close to it, manufacturers will actively manage inventory to keep prices up. GM CFO Paul Jacobson told analysts on the automaker’s fourth-quarter earnings call in January that GM ended 2022 with a roughly 50-day supply of dealership inventory. GM is planning to have a 50- to 60-day supply at the end of 2023. — SCS

Mercedes E-Class: Take selfies, do Zoom calls, play Angry Birds

Intake: Owners of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class and their passengers may never need to leave their car. According to Mercedes: “The software experts at Mercedes-Benz developed a new compatibility layer that allows the installation of third-party apps. The following apps are available on the central display at launch of the E-Class: TikTok, the game Angry Birds, the collaboration app Webex, the video conferencing app Zoom and the web browser Vivaldi. In addition, the optional ZYNC entertainment portal offers video streaming, on-demand content, interactive experiences, sports, news, games and much more on the central and passenger displays, via one user interface.” In addition: “Another new feature is a selfie and video camera (part of the optional MBUX Superscreen) on top of the dashboard. When the vehicle is stationary, the driver can participate in online video conferences via Webex or Zoom, and take photos and videos.”

Exhaust: Selfies? Zoom calls? TikTok? This is definitely part of the new Mercedes philosophy, which also includes wild collaboration projects with fashion brands. — SCS

Will electric car prices reach parity with ICE cars by 2026?

Mustang Mach-E rear three-quarter dynamic action
Ford/James Lipman

Intake: The cost of making electric cars will reach parity with internal combustion cars by around 2025 and 2026, the head of Envision Racing’s Formula E team said. Sylvain Filippi, managing director of Envision, said it will soon become more expensive to manufacture traditional cars than their electric counterparts, given that the cost of manufacturing ICE vehicles is increasing. “In 2025 and 2026  you’ll start to see parity on the supply side, in developed countries,” Filippi said during an interview with Reuters at the Reuters IMPACT climate conference on Tuesday, adding sticker price parity meant the total cost of ownership would be lower. “That’s the tipping point. When that happens and we can manufacture these cars at scale, then the floodgates will open,” Filippi said. “At that stage, buying an internal combustion car will be a very bad idea because the original value of these cars will be nothing. It will become a really bad asset and I think the transition will accelerate really rapidly.”

Exhaust: Is price what’s keeping you from buying an electric car? Filippi, a longtime industry EV advocate, believes it is. If parity in price is indeed reached by 2026, there’s little doubt that electric sales should accelerate. — SCS

Florida bill would ban dogs from sticking their heads out the car window

Dog in car
Overture Creations / Unsplash

Intake: A bill filed in Florida—where else?—last Friday by Broward County Democratic state Senator Lauren Book would prohibit dogs from sticking their heads out of car windows. The measure includes various animal-welfare regulations: penalizing cat declawing, banning certain animal testing, prohibiting rabbit sales before Easter, and requiring the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to post an online registry of convicted animal abuses, according to USA Today. The bill would prohibit drivers from holding a dog in their lap, and dogs wouldn’t be allowed to put their head “or any other body part” outside a car window. The bill calls for pets to be restrained with a harness, seat belt, or if possible, to be held by a passenger. If a dog is being transported in the bed of a truck, it must be restrained by using a crate that is safely secured and large enough to allow the dog to turn around normally.

Exhaust: Presumably, people and other livestock can still hold their heads out the window. — SCS


Read next Up next: Homegrown: Fantastic “Fintasia 2” is much more than a Magnum

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *