Toyota hints at more sports cars, Sierra HD bolsters off-road chops, sedan sales on the uptick
More sports cars from Toyota? New CEO says there’s a chance
Intake: On the heels of Toyota Gazoo’s one-two finish last weekend at the six-hour race at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps–Toyota’s third win in the first three races in the World Endurance Championship, with the first coming at Sebring International Raceway in the series’ only U.S. appearance–comes word that we might expect more sports cars from Toyota. Koji Sato, Toyota’s new CEO, hinted to Autocar that Gazoo Racing’s GR models will continue under his leadership, and suggested that even more are in the works. Sato replaced Akio Toyoda, a keen enthusiast and race car driver who now holds the chairman title. Free of the daily responsibilities of running the company, Sato said Toyoda was “also president of the company at the same time as he had a steering wheel in his hand for Gazoo. Now he is only chairman maybe he will have a lot more time to develop cars for them.” Either way, “The Gazoo brand will be acknowledged for the future–and maybe we can even speed it up,” Sato said.
Exhaust: Toyota Gazoo Racing also announced that the cumulative production of its GR Supra GT4 customer race vehicle has hit the 100-unit mark. It reached that milestone about three years after its sales launch in March 2020, which started in Europe and expanded to North America in August, then to Japan and other parts of Asia in October of that year. – Steven Cole Smith
GMC brings the trail-tackling AT4X subbrand to the heavy-duty arena
Intake: Not to be outdone by its bowtie brethren, GMC has just announced two even gnarlier versions of the Sierra HD—the HD AT4X and the HD Extreme AEV Edition. First up is the Sierra HD AT4X, which boasts a 1.5-inch suspension lift, trick Multimatic DSSV dampers, an electronic locking rear differential, 35-inch Goodyear tires, trim-specific upper and lower control arms and steering knuckles, a larger transfer case skid plate, and a unique interior color called Obsidian Rush. To that kit, the HD AT4X AEV Edition adds steel bumpers with integrated recovery points and a front winch, more heavy-duty underbody armor, unique 18-inch wheels, and some special interior and exterior badging.
The new Sierra HD AT4X can be optioned with either the 401-hp, 464-lb-ft 6.6-liter gasoline V-8 or the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V-8, which delivers 470 hp and a whopping 975 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a 10-speed Allison automatic transmission. Opt for the diesel, and you’ll be able to tow up to 18,500 pounds. Both heavy-duty off-road luxo trucks are expected to arrive at dealerships this fall. Pricing will be announced closer to the launch.
Exhaust: GMC’s AT4X brand has been a roaring success, thanks to standout tech such as those Multimatic DSSV dampers. It was only a matter of time until the heavy-duty Sierra got the same treatment as the light-duty Sierra and the Canyon mid-sizer. Between this brute, the Ram 2500 Rebel, and the Tremor version of Ford’s Super Duty, the truck wars have truly gone off the road and onto the trails. — Nathan Petroelje
Saab’s successor is for sale and it has a 600-mile EV ready to go
Intake: Engineers from shuttered Swedish car maker Saab have been shut down again, but they hope that their last ten years of work won’t be in vain. Electric car company NEVS was founded by former Saab experts and was close to signing off on its Emily GT—a typically Swedish-styled sedan with a claimed range of 1000 km (621 miles). Smaller battery versions were also planned and the Emily would come with a wireless charging facility as well. Featuring four hub motors making 122 hp apiece, the Emily’s party piece was advanced torque vectoring that could allow it to spin on its axis. “The possibilities for torque vectoring are fantastic,” former Saab engineer Peter Dahl told Swedish publication Carup. “All torque can be controlled. It’s like changing from straight slalom skis to carving skis. In addition, the wheel motors ensure that all backlash is eliminated, resulting in an incredibly direct and solid feeling.”
NEV’s Chinese backers Evergrande Group hit financial trouble in 2020 and the Swedish company is now in “hibernation.” CEO Nina Selander says she is looking for a buyer for the Emily project. “It’s for sale. It’s also a joy to be able to show it. Everything is in place to take it further into production. The prototypes are completely drivable, except that the airbag and auto-braking systems are missing.”
Exhaust: Fellow Swedish-Chinese EV maker Polestar has already taken over part of NEV’s factory in Trollhättan to use as an R&D facility. Could Polestar’s owner Geely come to the rescue of this innovative electric car? — Nik Berg
Marking your Bronco’s off-road exploits? There’s an app for that
Intake: Ford has unveiled a new app for off-road enthusiasts that enables them to scout, mark, and share trail-based adventures. The Bronco Trail App, available on Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices, is available only to Bronco owners and features 1200 professionally curated off-road trail maps across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It offers the ability to record photos and videos of your trail exploits, overlaid with vehicle data such as driveline configuration, real-time camber angle and more, to share on social media.
The app has roughly 18,000 miles of existing off-road trails already loaded, which can be filtered by location, length, difficulty, and more. You can mark points of interest along the way such as certain obstacles that require extra focus, or a neat view that the trail offers. Trails are marked through satellite imagery and 2D topographic maps which can be downloaded and saved for offline viewing if you’re venturing out of cell signal. There’s also a real-time tire pressure gauge that compares your current tire pressures to the recommended readings for the trail ahead. The Bronco Trail App is available now for download through the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Exhaust: Serious overlanders have several different map apps to choose from, including GAIA maps, onx Offroad, and more, but having something with model-specific touches like Ford’s new app might be appealing to certain Bronco customers. It’s interesting to watch drive data capturing move from the racetrack—think Chevy’s brilliant Performance Data Recorder—to the trails as the attention of enthusiasts turns increasingly to the dirt. — NP
Sales of actual cars are on the upswing
Intake: Car sales–and we mean actual cars–are rallying, according to Automotive News, which is wondering aloud: “After years of decline, the share of cars sold in the U.S. compared to light trucks has stabilized and actually grown. Is it a mirage? Or the start of a trend?” The story points out that sales of cars, which have taken it on the chin as America flocks to SUVs and trucks, appear to be rebounding, despite being essentially abandoned by some manufacturers. Cars represented 21.4 percent of the 3.6 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. during the first quarter of the year, up from the car’s low point of 19.6 percent at the end of 2021.
Exhaust: The story suggests lower prices of cars may be a factor, after sticker prices have soared in the SUV, van, and truck market. We’re speculating that cars may be more comfortable and more fun to drive than their competition, and more consumers are realizing that. We’ll see if this trend continues. – SCS