2024 Tacoma spied, Bugatti’s $200K Easter egg, Walmart adds fast EV chargers
Spied: New Tacoma flaunts rear disc brakes, longer bed
Intake: Just two days after the first teaser image from Toyota about the upcoming refresh for its Tacoma pickup, due in 2024, spy photographers have captured shots of a test mule. Though the prototype truck is draped in the automotive equivalent of a bathrobe, there’s no hiding those chunky Goodyear Wrangler tires or that serious ground clearance. As previously announced, the Tacoma—at least in its most off-road-ready, TRD Pro form—will be a hybrid, likely cribbing the 48-hp, 104-lb-ft AC electric motor from the hybrid (iForce Max) variant of its half-ton sibling, the Tundra. The current Tacoma, now seven years old, still uses drum brakes in the rear, but we can just make out calipers and discs behind those rear wheels on this mule. Will the new Tacoma finally get disc brakes on all four corners? It’s possible. That bed looks a bit longer than the 5-foot one offered on the current truck; perhaps the upcoming TRD Pro will finally allow a crew cab, 6-foot bed configuration. Style-wise, we’d expect the exterior skin to carry the same creased, angular styling seen on the larger Tundra.
Exhaust: It might be gaining a high-tech drivetrain, but if these photos are any indication, the upcoming Tacoma TRD Pro won’t lose any of its off-road chops. The new generation of this mid-size truck—a best-seller for 18 years—looks ready to pick up right where it left off. — Nathan Petroelje
Craig Breedlove’s wife, son share thoughts on his death
Intake: We’ve told you that Norman Craig Breedlove, 86, the first person to surpass speed marks faster than 400-, 500- and 600- miles per hour, died peacefully in his sleep surrounded by family on April 4. Now wife Yadira has issued a statement. In part: “He was an American treasure,” she said. “Our hearts are heavy today letting him go, but we also acknowledge Craig’s courage and bravery seeking motorsports honors for the United States of America. For decades, his deeds touched many, many people around the world.” She added, “I shared my life with a wonderful man that I will always admire; he filled me with deep, abiding love. My intelligent, strong, happy, brave, humble husband saw life with great positivity and was always full of so many projects! For 20 years I have known joyful love, complicity, respect, and learned so much by his side. He will forever stay in my heart.”
Exhaust: Son Norman credits his father with demonstrating how to shepherd dreams forward. “What I admired most about Dad was his tenaciousness,” he said. “He simply would not accept rejection and repeatedly went back to people and companies until he got a ‘yes.’” — Steven Cole Smith
No, Ettore Bugatti hasn’t risen from the dead
Intake: An ornamental egg from Bugatti and British jeweler Asprey is one you definitely won’t want to crack. Inspired by the words of Ettore Bugatti’s father Carlo who said, “The purest perfect shape of nature is the egg,” the Royale Edition Bugatti Egg is an art piece that is both retrospective and future-looking. Each limited-edition egg features a carbon-fiber shell, adorned with a silver diamond-weave lattice, and is decorated with diminutive Dancing Elephants, which were originally designed by Rembrandt and appeared on the hood of the Type 41 Royale, that stupendously luxurious, expensive 1920s Bugatti. The eggs have a diamond door that opens to reveal a scene of Bugatti’s Chateau Saint Jean in Molsheim, France, and a sterling silver Type 41 Royale Esders.
Exhaust: The price of these decorative eggs is no yolk. 111 examples will be crafted and the most expensive start at $200,000. — Nik Berg
Electric G-Wagen will go further thanks to U.S. battery tech
Intake: The Mercedes-Benz EQG will be the first car to make use of an innovative new technology that can increase EV range by 20 percent. Silicon Valley-based company Sila spent the last 12 years working out how to replace the regular graphite anodes of lithium-ion batteries with silicon and the result is a new material called Titan Silicon. Using silicon instead of graphite will allow batteries to charge faster and store more energy, which is a win-win. Unfortunately, silicon has a tendency to expand and degrade, but Sila’s experiments over 70,000 different iterations have led to a unique design that means the silicon only expands a tiny amount and won’t damage the battery. Sila is ramping up production rapidly, saying it will make enough Titan Silicon for 200,000 EVs a year by 2026, and enough for one million cars in 2028. Initially there will be a price premium, which is why it’s being launched on the EQG, but as volumes increase the anodes will become more widely available. “We are ready to take on more automakers now,” CEO Gene Berdichevsky told Automotive News Europe. “There are three things that customers care about, and it’s range, range, and range. We are here, and we are ready for it.”
Exhaust: More range and faster charging are what EVs desperately need to truly go mainstream, so this technology can’t come soon enough. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the 2025 arrival of the EQG to see just how well it works. — NB
NASCAR teams boycott meeting with sanctioning body
Intake: There may be a caution flag in NASCAR land: The Associated Press reports that a “ top group of NASCAR team owners skipped a [quarterly] meeting with series officials Wednesday with the two sides at an impasse over permanent charters, a key plank in the business model of the stock car series.” The boycott reflects differences in how the charter system works—36 teams out of 40 have charters, which guarantee that their cars will have starting spots in every race, regardless of how poorly they qualify. Each team has to pay seven figures for a charter and also has to largely fund their teams through sponsorship, which is difficult to come by in this near-recession. “The owners went public last October with their frustration over what they consider a broken business model in which racetracks and NASCAR make the bulk of the money and teams are forced to fund their organizations through outside sponsorship,” the story said.
Exhaust: The current charters expire at the end of the 2024 season, AP says. The race teams want the charters to become permanent, and NASCAR, apparently, is unwilling to even discuss the matter. Also an issue: The teams want more of the TV money that is currently going to NASCAR and the tracks. We’ll stay tuned—this could get serious. — SCS
VW stops selling ID.4; its doors could fly open
Intake: Volkswagen has recalled some ID.4 electric vehicles because a door could fly open while the vehicle is underway. In a statement, Volkswagen said it has notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of a voluntary safety recall affecting approximately 16,207 VW ID.4s from the 2023 model year (the car’s been in production since 2021). “Due to quality control issues at a supplier, parts that did not conform to our specifications were delivered to the Chattanooga plant. Among other issues, the part may allow moisture to enter the electronic board integrated in the door handle. In turn, this may allow the vehicle door to open unintentionally while driving or the vehicle door may no longer be opened from the outside and/or inside.”
Exhaust: VW has issued a “stop sale” on the ID.4 crossover, suggesting that at present, the company doesn’t have an immediate fix for the problem. — SCS
Walmart and Sam’s Club to add EV fast chargers
Intake: Walmart is building its own network of electric vehicle charging stations for public use by 2030, “to tap into growing adoption of EVs in the United States,” says Reuters. The new fast-charging stations will be placed at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores, alongside nearly 1300 it already operates as part of a deal with Electrify America, one of the country’s largest open public EV networks. Walmart’s more than 5000 stores and Sam’s Club warehouses are located within 10 miles of about 90 percent of Americans, Reuters says. “We have the ability to address range and charging anxiety in a way that no one else can in this country,” Vishal Kapadia, Walmart’s recently appointed senior vice president of energy transformation said, adding that the new stations will also address issues around reliability and cost.
Exhaust: The Walmart charging stations we’ve used have been clean and reliable. This could be a gamechanger for a lot of consumers on the fence about going electric. – SCS
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When Toyota offers a bare bones affordable small truck, like my old 4 cyl 5 speed ’93, I’ll pay attention
We have the same 93’ truck! Love it! I recently drove it 2000 miles to deliver it to my son at camp Lejeune, NC. I didn’t love it though, before I drove it that far – now I get it.
Problem #1 is they’re selling all they can make so they load ’em up. Problem #2, CAFE standards mean they have to offer hybrid versions and those don’t come cheap.
VW need to recall vehicles because “the part may allow moisture to enter the electronic board integrated in the door handle” and cause the door to open. Is this design really so superior to the mechanical door handle that has served so well for so long? We keep hearing about chip shortages and supply chain issues but automakers (not just VW) keep over-designing and over-complicating the simplest things.
I’ll keep my 2010 Tacoma as long as it runs. After that, I’ll probably buy something older. I’m with MrKnowItAll up there.
Me too, George. I had decided to replace my 2012 Access cab, 4 cyl, with the new one, but considering the wait and price I have instead purchased a URD supercharger. Seems counterintuitive for Toyota to make such beloved, long-lasting trucks if they want to sell new ones.
Why the Tacoma has not had disk brakes in the rear I will never understand. The Nissan Frontier has had them and was arguably a better truck for the money.
VW’s door is needlessly complicated but so are all sorts of new cars these days. They need to seem high tech for some I guess so put some electronics on it. What could possibly go wrong?
Drum brakes in the rear are an offroad control thing. I don’t do any offroading so that’s about as far as I go on the subject.
My 98, 2004, & 2016 Tacoma’s all have had drum brakes. All have had many miles without problems or service.
If Toyota offers the new Tacoma with a stick shift, I may buy one. But if they put their tail between their legs like Nissan did with the Frontier and go Automatic only, I’ll keep my Pro4X till the wheels fall off and then some.
Forget the egg, I’m waiting for the Bugatti pickup truck.
Walmart makes sense… leave your car on our charger and come inside and spend your money at our store.