New midsize Ram teased to dealers, Lambo’s electric Urus successor, Iceman returns to NASCAR

Ram mid-size truck RAM logo Manifold lede bannered

Dealers will get a look at potential midsized Ram this month

Intake: Ram will show dealers a model of a potential midsize pickup this month, the brand’s CEO said Wednesday. Mike Koval Jr. told Automotive News that the concept would be in the form of a “physical property,” not just a sketch or rendering. Koval said at the Detroit auto show in September that Ram was thinking about giving retailers a peek at an early midsize concept to “gauge their interest,” but it wasn’t clear at the time whether that would be just an image or a tangible prototype.

Exhaust: We have little doubt that Ram dealers, who have been clamoring for a midsized truck, will enthusiastically greenlight the project. Still, as Koval told Automotive News, “I can’t think of a better incubator: a collection of 5,000 of my closest friends to tell me if I’m on the right path or not,” Koval said. “If I get the thumbs up, I know I’m doing something right. If they throw something at me, I understand that too.” — Steven Cole Smith

Lamborghini’s Urus successor will be all-electric

Lamborghini Urus Performante exterior green front three quarter

Intake: Speaking to journalists at a preview for the brand’s hybrid Aventador successor in Sant’Agata on Friday, Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann declared that the replacement for the Urus SUV will arrive in 2029 and be powered exclusively by batteries, according to Road & Track. The new generation of the performance SUV will arrive one year after the brand unveils its first electric vehicle in 2028. “In ’28 and ’29 we will have our first two BEVs,” Winkelmann said. “We will have a fourth model, so today we have three models. It will be the first one to be completely a BEV car in 2028. And then in 2029 there will be the new Urus.” Winkelmann noted that the two forthcoming EVs will help drive down the brand’s overall emissions by some 80 percent relative to today’s output. There’s also a plan to hybridize the current Urus sometime in 2024, possibly utilizing some of the same technology that will debut on the Aventador successor, codenamed LB744.

Exhaust: Lamborghini is getting ready to hybridize every car in its lineup, beginning with the Aventador successor, which Winkelmann called “The real Lamborghini, the tip of the spear of our lineup.” Alongside the hybrid Urus, a new plug-in hybrid version of the Huracán will also bow in 2024, according to Winkelmann. Will the electric Urus be able to maintain the same raging bull spirit that made the gas-powered one a sight to behold? Time will tell. — Nathan Petroelje

Kimi Räikkönen will try NASCAR again

Kimi Raikkonen and Justin Marks Watkins Glen NY
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Intake: The Iceman cometh … again. Formula 1 champion Kimi Räikkönen will pilot Trackhouse Racing’s third car in a NASCAR Cup Series race. This time, the Finnish driver will join the good ol’ Cup boys at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Last year, Räikkönen drove a Trackhouse Camaro at Watkins Glen, where he demonstrated solid pace but was ultimately swept up in a mid-race accident and finished 37th. Trackhouse honcho Justin Marks formed the third team dubbed “Project 91” as a landing spot for international motorsport superstars who wanted to try their hand at NASCAR stock car racing. So far, Räikkönen has been the only shoe to campaign the novel entry.

Exhaust: NASCAR’s first road course race of the season is shaping up to be a headline-filled affair. It was announced yesterday that American road racer Jordan Taylor will make his NASCAR debut at the Texas driving for Hendrick Motorsports as a fill-in for an injured Chase Elliott. Now, Räikkönen. The third domino expected to fall sometime soon is Jenson Button’s announcement that he’ll be driving for Stewart-Haas racing at COTA. Regardless of how each of the top-flight drivers performs, NASCAR will no doubt benefit from the additional eyes during the race. Last year, the COTA race produced intense drama and a last-lap battle for first which resulted in a crash among the three leaders. With a little luck, NASCAR will be able to showcase the same on-track action this year with a few fresh faces in the field. — Cameron Neveu

FIA president loses son in car crash

FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem at the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain
FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem at the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain, March 05, 2023. Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Intake: Said Ben Sulayem, son of FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem, was killed in a car crash in Dubai, according to a new report from Autosport. The news has been confirmed by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) but the governing body that oversees much of the world’s motorsports series, including Formula 1, will not provide a further statement, indicating that the president has asked for privacy during this tough time. Said Ben Sulayem shared his father’s passion for cars and racing, even attempting to forge his own path as a racing driver in the 2016–17 UAE Formula 4 championship, a feeder series that eventually could land drivers into Formula 1, which at the time included current F1 Drivers like Logan Sargeant and Oscar Piastri. The elder Ben Sulayem became president of the FIA in December 2021.

Exhaust: One of the FIA’s biggest contributions to motor racing over the past few decades has been advancements in safety, both within car design as well as at the tracks. Our thoughts are with Mr. Ben Sulayem. — NP

BEV satisfaction lower than ICE products


Intake: Customer service satisfaction among owners of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) is lower than those who own internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, according to a study released on Thursday, Reuters reports. The J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Customer Service Index Study, which is in its 43rd year, saw a year-over-year score decline for the first time in 28 years. Recall rates, which are more than double for BEVs than their gas or diesel counterparts, are a leading factor, the report said. BEV owners’ customer service satisfaction was 42 points lower than owners of ICE engines. “As the electric vehicle segment grows, service is going to be a ‘make or break’ part of the ownership experience,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power. “The industry has been hyper-focused on launches and now these customers are bringing their electric vehicles in for maintenance and repairs.”

Exhaust: It’s worth pointing out that the J.D. Power study does not include Tesla, which builds the lion’s share of EVs on today’s roads and topped the chart in the S&P Global Mobility’s “overall loyalty to make” category, beating out Ford. That key counterpoint aside, the J.D. Power study paints a picture of legacy automakers struggling to properly equip their dealers with sufficient parts and skilled labor to service the EVs relative to their ICE counterparts. — SCS


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    It is not only the dealers that need to step up their EV game. My son had a fender bender in our Nissan Leaf a few years back, and the insurance company could not get any body shop to touch it. They all harped the “We do not have any electric vehicle certified mechanics” line. Insurance ended up totaling it for two front fenders, a hood and grill. That experience turned me off of EVs. Otherwise we loved the thing.

    Not excited with all the EV stuff here, but it is to be expected. Urus replacement all electric? Oh boy, a Lmaborghini badged Toaster. How exciting.

    So many years late Ram might finally produce a midsize truck. While they are at it why not build a minitruck? And remember a real truck has two doors.

    Didn’t JD Power put a big disclaimer on some recent study that they couldn’t include Tesla as it was outside the study parameters but if it were they would score poorly? I thought I read that here…

    Ram should build a Dakota yes. I dare them to build a Rampage too.

    I think a Durango based RAM Rampage would be a great idea, as a competitor to the Honda Ridgeline/Hyundai Santa Cruz/Ford Maverick, with a BoF Dakota in the mix using the underpinnings of the Gladiator for traditional truck people. I similarly think that, based on the success of the Maverick, Ford should bring back the Explorer Sport Trac. Clearly, the Maverick has shown there is indeed a market for Unibody, very light duty, trucks, for those who are realistic about how they actually use their truck, vs the many truck buyers who get an off-road spec that will never go off pavement unless they park on the lawn to wash it. I still believe that the Maverick proved my long held belief that low Ridgeline sales were the result of the Honda badge on front, not its utility specs which were adequate for a large segment of truck buyers (basically anyone who was well served in the past by an S10 or old Ranger would be upgrading capability across the board with the Honda). Given the fact that the Honda has outsold the current Ranger for the last 6 months or so says a lot about how the Maverick changed perceptions. People who liked the Maverick but found it too small discovered a larger alternative that didn’t require buying a BoF “off-road” vehicle.

    Awesome! Terry Labonte, The Iceman is returning to Nascar. Wait, what? It’s Kimi Räikkönen? Oh, darn.

    This EV this is only going to get more complicated.

    #1 none of the automakers really want this but if you are going to sell vehicles you are going to have to have them.

    This is another case of the government forcing a square peg in a round hole. It is only going to add cost and more issues for many people. They are working hard to force us into an all electric future which is dangerous.

    As for the Ram it has been on and off how many times. It will likely just be a rebadged Fiat.

    Not enough interest for anything but the most gargantuan vehicles in my area. Everyone seems to clamor for the most doors, most seats and largest font screaming “4X4!” on the fender possible.

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