Let’s start deep in the e-weeds. The FCC proposed a rule this week that would allow Wi-Fi providers and other unlicensed users to access a band of radio frequencies once reserved entirely for short-range communication between cars and roadway infrastructure, like a car receiving a signal from a crosswalk telling it there is a pedestrian entering the roadway. Automakers have been slow to implement such technologies, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao still says the rule change could result in “thousands more deaths annually.”
This Week in Sheetmetal
- Genesis, having thoroughly impressed us with the re-done G80 and brand new GV80, has revealed another beautiful crossover in the compact GV70, due in the U.S. sometime next year.
- Ford revealed a few more details about its electric cargo van, such as the name (E-Transit) and the date of the planned unveiling (November 12). The vans are aimed at commercial customers, but we’d bet there are a few conversion van enthusiasts popular on Instagram who will get on board, too.
- Hennessey announced a 24-unit run of engine-swapped Broncos. The cars will have 750 horsepower flowing from a supercharged 5.0-liter V-8 and will be called Ford Bronco VelociRaptors. Ford promised that the Bronco would never come with a V-8, but never doesn’t mean anything to John Hennessey.
- We caught spy shots of a 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-class sedan. We called the design “evolutionary” in our reporting which is another way to say, “exactly like the old one.” Look for these to show up in dealers next year.
- Bugatti showed off renderings of the Bolide, an 1825-hp hypercar with an 8.0-liter W-16 engine. The company says it hasn’t yet decided if it will build a production version, but we’d bet that if enough rich people call them demanding one it’ll make the cut.
Consumer Reports published its ranking of 17 driver assistance systems this week and ranked Autopilot a “distant second” to GM’s Super Cruise feature, largely because Super Cruise is better at monitoring the driver’s attention to make sure it is still focused on the road even when the car’s systems are doing most of the driving. We’re big believers in the importance of a focused driver, but this might only serve to encourage drivers who are interested in autonomous cars precisely because they would allow the human driver’s attention to wander.
The Results are In
Third quarter earnings reports are starting to trickle in, and the news is good—or at least better than we thought it would be this time six months ago. People are back to buying cars at a pre-pandemic pace, and they’re buying them at record prices. IHS Markit revised its estimate of US car sales upward to 13 million from an April estimate of 12.2 million. Before the pandemic struck, analysts were expecting 16.5 million to 17 millionnew car sales in the United States.
The Need for … Speedy Verification
A very particular segment of the car world was consumed in a he-said-he-said drama this week when YouTubers and social media users accused Shelby Supercars (SSC) of faking the production-car top speed record they claimed to set in the SSC Tuatara earlier this month. SSC says the 1750-hp Tuatara went an average of 316.11 mph over two runs. When the company released video of the runs, though, eagle-eyed viewers noticed inconsistencies. SSC admitted that there was a “mix-up” in the editing of those videos but maintains that the runs were legitimate. The whole thing is a little Watch What Happens for us, but if you’re dying for details you can read about them here.
Never Say Die
If you’re a sucker for an underdog story (or maybe just a sucker) you might be interested in Fisker’s latest bid for survival. The electric car manufacturer and passion project of automotive designer Henrik Fisker completed a deal this week to go public by merging with a special-purpose acquisition company, a type of shell corporation that allows companies to go public without the usual regulatory gymnastics required for an IPO. Fisker got $1 billion in the deal, which the company says will allow it to deliver its next car, the Ocean, by the end of 2022.
If you find yourself in the mood for a truly depressing piece of reporting from the Wall Street Journal, we learned that all that time we haven’t spent commuting during the pandemic has been spent on work and household chores instead.
This significantly more cheerful article, also from the Wall Street Journal, is about how luxury carmakers are building partnerships with fashion designers in an effort to attract more young, hip people to their products.
For the voyeurs in the audience we suggest this somewhat bizarre profile of Grimes, pop musician and mother of Elon Musk’s youngest child, in which you can read dispatches from the mind of someone who believes deeply in a robot future.