If negotiations between Apple and Hyundai-Kia bear fruit, there could be an autonomous Apple-designed, Kia-assembled car (or maybe more of a pod) on the roads in 2024. The two sides have been flirting since early January and are reportedly closing in on an agreement. If they manage to make a deal it’ll represent the culmination of a five-year effort by thousands of Apple employees to get into the mobility game.
This Week in Sheetmetal
It was a wonderful week for reveals, starting off with the long-awaited launches of Cadillac’s CT5-V and CT4-V Blackwing sedans. The former will have a 668-hp V-8, the latter a 472-hp twin-turbo V-6, and both will be available with six-speed manual transmissions. It’s as if Cadillac made them just for us.
Ford unveiled the latest iteration of the F-150 Raptor in all its dune-crushing glory. The company also confirmed what we already suspected: they will build a Ram TRX-fighting F-150 Raptor R. Ford hasn’t yet confirmed much other than the truck’s existence, but count on it to have more than 700 horsepower. We’ll find out for sure when the R goes on sale next year.
Nissan showed off the next generation its compact pickup, the Frontier, marking the truck’s first redesign in 16 years. It’s not a full overhaul (the truck retains the previous generation’s frame, and the powertrain was new in the 2020 model) but the this Frontier is recognizably a product of the 21st century, and that’s a step in the right direction.
Kicking and Screaming
Tesla is recalling 135,000 Model S and Model X vehicles to replace the cars’ infotainment system media control unit (MCU) with a longer-lasting part. Tesla initially resisted recalling the cars over the problem, which can render the large infotainment display unusable and leave drivers with no way to control the external turn signals, the front or rear defrosting mechanisms (or any part of the climate control system), and no way to view the display for the rearview camera. Before finally agreeing to the recall, Tesla said the issue was not a safety concern and that that drivers of affected cars should avoid dangerous situations by “performing a shoulder check” when backing up, “taking care” when making turns, and clearing their windows of snow before driving. All good pieces of advice, but not quite what you want to hear from the company that sold you the $100,000 car.
Electric vehicles might finally find the sales foothold to match their media buzz, at least in Europe. More than a million plug-in hybrids or EVs were sold in the EU in 2020, making up 10 percent of all vehicle sales in the region and representing an increase of more than 600,000 compared to 2019. Sales of non-plug-in hybrids accounted for another 1.2 million sales.
Meanwhile, Ford announced that it will more than double its investments in electric and autonomous technology, vowing not to be left behind if the market shifts quickly towards EVs. Volvo’s early decision to focus on electrified vehicles has already paid off—a third of the brand’s EU sales were of EV and plug-in models in 2020.
It’s Lightning Lap week at Car and Driver, which means that you can lose hours of your weekend perusing the results of our annual performance fest at Virginia International Raceway. Click here to read the stories, listen to the exhaust notes, and compare this year’s cars to those of the past.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that we haven’t mentioned it until now: the great semiconductor shortage is ongoing. Ford, General Motors, and Mazda have announced new production cuts, and IHS Markit says we’ll be dealing with the problem through the third quarter of this year.
If you, like us, are locked in a wintery hellscape and half expecting the topiary to come to life, take some time to dream about spending sunny days in one of these luxury campers.
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