Corvette Z06 to pace Indy 500, Mercedes axes CLS-Class, Polestar cuts production


Corvette Z06 will pace the 107th Indianapolis 500

Intake: For the 20th time since 1978, a Chevrolet Corvette will pace the field for the Indianapolis 500 this year. It’s the 34th Chevrolet to pace the Indy 500, dating back to 1948. This year’s Z06 pace car features a Red Mist Metallic exterior paint, a two-tone Jet Black and Sky Cool Gray interior with Torch Red accents, and forged aluminum wheels finished in Tech Bronze. It’s powered by a 5.5-liter LT6 engine with 670 horsepower, making it the highest-horsepower naturally aspirated V-8 engine ever to hit the market in a production car. It’ll be the first hardtop convertible version of the Corvette to pace the race.

Exhaust: “We are honored to be pacing the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 with the Corvette Z06 convertible,” Scott Bell, Global Chevrolet vice president, revealed. “Chevrolet and IndyCar share the same spirit of competition, and we are proud the Z06 will lead the pack across the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.” The 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 28. — Steven Cole Smith

End of the road for Mercedes’ slinky CLS-Class 4-door coupe

Intake: Mercedes-Benz has announced that the CLS-Class 4-door coupe sedan will cease production at the end of August. A statement provided to Hagerty by Mercedes spokeswoman Cathleen Decker said the following: “In consideration of the global growth potential, and as part of our strategic product portfolio planning, we have decided to end the lifecycle of the CLS on August 31 with the changeover of the E-Class to the 214 model series.” Last year, the company announced intentions to streamline its portfolio and strip out some of the excess that was filling hyper-niche areas, a decision that appears to have led to this result. Mercedes now sees the E-Class as a fitting platform to take over the ground that the CLS used to cover. Decker’s statement also mentioned that the EQE and EQS electric models have eaten into the market that the CLS would normally try to conquer. Thankfully, Mercedes-AMG’s raucous 843-hp AMG GT 4-door coupe will remain.

Exhaust: As automakers rush to make the expensive transition to electrification, trimming small-volume models from the gas-burning portfolio comes as no surprise. Since the CLS-Class and the E-Class share underpinnings, it makes sense to whittle that duo—which are cars, remember, and those don’t sell like they used to—down to one more thoughtfully-executed model. We’ll be sad to see the slinky styling go, but we’re far from surprised by the move. — Nathan Petroelje

Lexus teases a larger three-row SUV called the TX

Lexus TX teaser

Intake: Lexus has released an image of the Lexus TX, with the caption, “Something big is coming!” That’s a reference to the TX’s three-row seating. It’s expected to be a sibling of the Toyota Grand Highlander, which has already been shown. The pair will be built in Toyota’s Indiana plant. Car and Driver found Lexus trademarks for the names TX350 and TX500h that suggest it will offer both gas V-6 and hybrid versions.

Exhaust: The TX will give Lexus a new three-row SUV, adding to the smaller existing three-row RX L, which is pretty cramped in the back. Like most big Toyota and Lexus SUVs, it should sell like the proverbial hotcakes and run forever. We expect to see the whole vehicle soon, perhaps before June. — SCS

Polestar cutting production, staff


Intake: Swedish electric vehicle maker Polestar lowered its 2023 production guidance on Thursday and said it would cut its staff by 10 percent, citing a delayed production start for its Polestar 3 and a challenging environment for the industry, says Reuters. Polestar now expects to produce between 60,000 and 70,000 cars this year, versus the previously predicted 80,000. “It has been a tough quarter for EV startups, who face mounting competition from new Chinese players as well as from more established brands,” Reuters says. “An ongoing price war started by Tesla, in addition to high interest rates, has put a further squeeze on the already cash-strapped startups.

Exhaust: Polestar said the production start of its Polestar 3 would be delayed until the first quarter of 2024 instead of the initial mid-2023 start. The company said the delay was due to Volvo Cars, which produces its cars and is delaying its own EX90, having to do further software development and testing. — SCS

Nikola pivots toward hydrogen


Intake: Nikola, the manufacturer of big electric tractor-trailer trucks, is pivoting toward hydrogen for the North American market, according to Automotive News. “Nikola is retooling its strategy. Executives said they’ll refocus operations in North America with an emphasis on fuel cell trucks and a nascent hydrogen refueling business, HYLA.” The Phoenix-based manufacturer, like most startups, is burning through cash, losing upwards of $150 million per quarter, and holds about $150 million in cash and receivables on its balance sheet. About half of Nikola’s spending can be attributed to ramping up production of fuel cells.

Exhaust: Hydrogen is a viable fuel for big trucks, and it would seem, in North America anyway, that Nikola is deeding over the electric big-truck business to Tesla, and attacking from a different direction. Nikola closed at 86 cents per share on Tuesday and opened at 83 cents per unit on Wednesday. Over the past year, Nikola shares have declined 85 percent. At this time last year, Nikola traded at $5.57 per share. SCS

Subaru ramping up electric production

2023 Subaru Solterra group

Intake: Subaru plans to sell 400,000 electric vehicles a year in 2029 by adding a second EV production line in Japan, signaling a dramatic ramp-up as it tries to get 40 percent of its global sales from electrified vehicles by decade’s end. As part of the rapid expansion plan, Subaru said it will also roll out four all-electric crossovers by the end of 2026, a jump from the single vehicle in the brand’s current portfolio, says Automotive News. All of the upcoming EVs are expected to be offered in the U.S., incoming CEO Atsushi Osaki said.

Exhaust: Subaru has been late to the EV party, but appears to be making up for that. In a quarterly call, Subaru announced that operating profit nearly tripled in the company’s fiscal year ended March 31. “Under the roadmap,” Automotive News said, “Subaru will add a dedicated EV assembly line at its Oizumi plant in Japan as early as 2027, with capacity for 200,000 vehicles a year. That will complement a line at the nearby Yajima plant that will deliver capacity for 200,000 EVs a year from around 2026.” — SCS




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    Hydrogen is smart, electric is dumb. There is no real future in electric cars and the endless disasters for electrical grids, lithium battery fires, massive planetary damage caused to supply all those batteries, etc, etc are all going to underline what a massive mistake it is, driven by hysteria and politics.

    Hydrogen is a completely different story. All the money spent on “green” energy should be spent on figuring how to get cheap hydrogen, the ultimate fuel. That is what makes sense.

    I fully agree with Iso_Griffo. Electric cars will change transportation in America and in the whole world, probably, and it will not be a change for the good. We really need to re-think the direction in which we’re headed. As Trump says, “drill, baby, drill.”

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