Stellantis: Car market could collapse if EVs don’t get cheaper

One of Europe’s biggest automakers warned after a deal to phase out combustion engines that the industry is doomed unless EVs get less expensive.

Stellantis is aiming to cut the cost of making electric vehicles 40 percent by 2030, Chief Manufacturing Officer Arnaud Deboeuf said Wednesday. The producer of Fiats, Rams, Jeeps and Peugeots, among others, plans to manufacture some parts in-house and also pressure suppliers to cut the price of their products.

If EVs don’t get cheaper, “the market will collapse,” Deboeuf said at the company’s Tremery factory in France. “It’s a big challenge.”

Stellantis is planning to introduce more than 75 fully electric models this decade and transform at least some of its French car plants to make EVs. While the company is spending big on the rollout, it’s pledging to maintain strong returns, relying on extra revenue from software and services as well as some premium vehicles.

EV prices are going up quickly. Tesla raised prices as much as $6,000 per car this month, following similar hikes earlier this year from Rivian, Hummer and Ford. Rising raw-materials costs are rendering some battery-powered models unprofitable, Ford Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said at an investor conference earlier this month.

European Union countries this week endorsed a push to eliminate carbon emissions from new cars by 2035. With EU lawmakers in favor of giving up fossil fuels in the auto industry, it’s highly likely that most manufacturers will have to shift to producing EVs in little more than a decade.

While Stellantis will comply with the decision, policy makers appear to “not care” whether automakers have enough raw materials to underpin the shift, Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares said Wednesday.

Greater demand for EV batteries between 2024 and 2027 — a period before more European capacity is due to come online — will benefit Asian producers and “put at risk” cell output in the West, Tavares said during a factory visit in Metz in northeastern France.

Stellantis is developing five large battery factories across North America and Europe to produce 400 gigawatt-hours of cells by 2030. He added the company won’t rule out buying a mine to secure raw-material supplies.

Stellantis is also considering to what extent it might produce its own energy to buffer rising prices in case of supply disruptions as a result of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We have significant areas where we could put solar panels,” Tavares said.

The executives were speaking during a trip aimed at showcasing how the automaker is transforming some of its French combustion-engine and gearbox plants to make EV parts. Tavares offered no guarantees that all European factories will make the transition, saying that depends on whether the overall auto market holds up.

NHTSA wants more info from Honda in probe of 1.7M vehicles for alleged unintended braking

WASHINGTON — The nation’s top auto safety regulator is seeking more information from American Honda Motor Co. to aid an investigation into more than 1.7 million vehicles for alleged unintended activation of the automatic emergency braking system.

In a letter sent June 14 to Jeff Chang, Honda’s division head for product safety, NHTSA is requesting more information concerning the automaker’s “collision mitigation braking system,” its components and operation.

NHTSA launched the formal safety probe in February after receiving 278 reports alleging inadvertent activation of the braking system in 2018-19 Honda Accord midsize cars and 2017-19 Honda CR-V compact crossovers with no imminent collision hazard present.

The agency is now seeking further details related to the AEB system, including all associated sensors, control modules, hardware, software, data and wiring, and has expanded the scope to include information for all 2017-18 Acura RDX, 2017-19 Honda Civic, 2017-19 Honda Pilot and 2019 Honda Passport vehicles in the U.S.

Honda has until Aug. 12 to respond, or it could face civil penalties of up to roughly $122 million.

In addition, NHTSA wants to know of any complaints or lawsuits related to the alleged defect as well as reports involving a crash, injury or death. It also wants to know how many vehicles are equipped with the AEB system and any known system performance differences among the vehicles covered in the information request.

More specifically, NHTSA wants to know at which speeds each of the systems’ sensors can trigger a braking event, how Honda’s Sensing and AcuraWatch advanced driver-assistance systems interact with other driver-assist features and any known environmental factors such as time of day, glare from the sun, weather or other road objects that may affect the system’s performance.

NHTSA’s information request comes as the agency prepares to issue a proposal to require AEB, including pedestrian detection, on all new light-duty vehicles and set minimum performance standards, as mandated in the infrastructure law passed by Congress last year.

This month, NHTSA said it has received reports of nearly 400 crashes involving driver-assist systems and 130 crashes involving fully automated vehicles since it began requiring automakers, suppliers and tech companies to disclose the data last June.

Tesla Inc. and Honda reported the most ADAS crashes to the agency — 273 and 90, respectively — according to the data, which is limited and lacks context necessary for comparison.

The agency, also in February, opened an investigation into certain Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles equipped with Autopilot alleging “phantom braking” after receiving 354 complaints.

NHTSA this month said the number of reports of unexpected brake activation in those vehicles had increased to 758.

Tesla Closes San Mateo Office, Lays Off 200 From Autopilot Team

Tesla Closes San Mateo Office, Lays Off 200 From Autopilot Team

Tesla’s layoffs continue as the company sees to reduce its head count by 10 percent, but they don’t seem to be restricted to salaried employees. 

According to a Bloomberg news report citing people familiar with the matter, the EV maker has laid off about 200 hourly workers who processed data at its San Mateo office in California. The people were working on Tesla’s Autopilot team at the facility, which was shuttered.

Prior to the cuts, the San Mateo office had about 350 employees, but some had been transferred to a nearby facility in recent weeks. The unnamed sources claim the majority of those who were let go were hourly workers. That seems to contradict Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s stated plans to cut 10 percent of salaried staff while increasing hourly jobs.

The people working at the San Mateo office were employed in evaluating customer vehicle data related to the Autopilot driver-assistance features and performed data labeling. Many of them were data annotation specialists, all of which are hourly positions, according to one of the sources.

Tesla Model S Plaid

The work they did consisted mostly of labeling images for cars and the environment they navigate, such as street signs and traffic lanes, with the goal of improving Autopilot. That said, one source claims Tesla has continued to expand its Autopilot data-labeling teams at its office in Buffalo, New York, where staff doing the same role are paid a lower hourly rate than in San Mateo.

After a surge in hiring in recent years that increased its headcount to about 100,000 employees globally, Tesla has started to trim its ranks. Earlier this month, Elon Musk said layoffs would be necessary in an increasingly shaky economic environment. He said that about 10 percent of salaried employees would lose their jobs over the next three months, though the overall headcount could be higher in a year.

The company’s downsizing efforts have focused on areas that grew too quickly, with some human resources workers and software engineers being among those who have been laid off. In some cases, the cuts affected employees who had been with the company for just a few weeks.

Tesla did not comment on the report.

Driven: The Electric 2023 Cadillac Lyriq Is Music To Our Ears

Driven: The Electric 2023 Cadillac Lyriq Is Music To Our Ears

Revolution is in Cadillac’s blood as the brand made a bold transformation two decades ago with the CTS. Designed for a new generation of customers, the model ushered in an edgy Art & Science design as well as a sportier driving experience that continues to this day.

While the CTS has given way to the CT5, Cadillac’s next revolution is already underway as the 2023 Lyriq marks their first step towards having a fully electric lineup by 2030. The crossover is another bold step forward and thankfully it’s more fully baked than the original CTS.

However, that’s selling the Lyriq short as it can be described as nothing other than a home run. After decades of being frustratingly close to perfection, Cadillac seems to have finally nailed it as the Lyriq looks great, drives remarkably well, and features an interior that both surprises and delights.

A Concept For The Road

Fast Facts › › ›

› Model: 2023 Cadillac Lyriq Debut Edition

› Price: $59,990

› Power: 340 hp (254 kW / 345 PS) and 325 lb-ft (440 Nm)

› Driving Range: 312 Miles (502 km)

› On Sale: 2023 Lyriq Sold Out, 2024 MY Available For Pre-Order

The Cadillac Lyriq looks like nothing else on the road as it closely resembles the concept, which was introduced nearly two years ago. As a result, it’s an athletic and handsome crossover that turns heads wherever it goes.

Nothing carries over from previous models and the Lyriq features a distinctive black crystal grille, which is billed as an “all-new face for Cadillac.” It boasts an illuminated logo as well as distinctive lines that allow light to shine through.

The company makes the most of this as they’ve developed a choreographed lighting sequence that sees the grille gracefully illuminate. The turn signals then briefly flash, before the LED headlights and daytime running lights fill vertically. It’s a bit of a spectacle and is bound to draw attention at night.

Putting the lights aside, the Lyriq features an aerodynamic design with a rakish windscreen that flows into a sloping roof. It’s joined by a distinctive rear spoiler, featuring a center-mounted third brake light. Designers also installed flush-mounted door handles, which act as buttons and automatically open the door slightly when pressed.

Other notable highlights include gloss black cladding and aerodynamically optimized 20- or 22-inch wheels. It’s also worth noting the crossover eschews a rear window wiper in the name of aerodynamics.

In terms of size, the Lyriq measures 196.7 inches (4,996 mm) long, 86.9 inches (2,207 mm) wide, and 63.9 inches (1,623 mm) tall with a wheelbase that spans 121.8 inches (3,094 mm). To put those numbers into perspective, the model effectively slots between the XT5 and XT6. However, the Lyriq is lower and has a far more generous wheelbase than both of its ICE counterparts.

An Interior That Surprises And Delights

Cadillac interiors have left a lot to be desired as the company has been all too happy to borrow from the GM parts bin and use materials that were far from luxurious. The brand has been slowly moving away from this practice and the redesigned Escalade showed what their designers were capable of.

The Lyriq takes things even further as the cabin is truly modern and luxurious. Since designers wanted to avoid the ‘iPad stuck on the dash’ appearance, they adopted a massive 33-inch curved display that is broken up into multiple sections and features high quality graphics. The digital instrument cluster takes center stage and customers can choose between four different displays ranging from a minimalist speedometer to a full map view.

The infotainment system is to the right and it features Google integration. It’s fairly easy and intuitive to use, although we did have some difficulty adjusting the audio system. However, Cadillac is planning to push out an over-the-air update ahead of launch so hopefully it will improve the user experience even further.

Speaking of the infotainment system, there’s a stylish controller on the cantilevered center console should you choose not to use the touchscreen display. It’s joined by a rotary volume controller as well as dedicated buttons that provide easy access to navigation, media, phone, and home screens.

Putting the display aside, the Lyriq features high quality materials, knurled accents, and premium switchgear that will be exclusive to Cadillac. Drivers will also find beautiful open-pore Dark Ash wood trim that features laser cut accents, which allow the 26-color ambient lighting system to shine through.

The attention to detail is impressive and it’s easy to miss the numerous special touches at first glance. In particular, I didn’t notice the dashboard end caps feature the Cadillac crest and it’s long forgotten ducks until reviewing photos later in the evening. These touches are minor, but they help to create an experience that will surprise and delight owners.

Designers also adopted a philosophy of taking “functional parts and making them beautiful.” As a result, there’s stylish metal door handles, bright cup holder surrounds, and a blue-trimmed “jewelry box” in the center stack. The latter is a bit of an oddity, but women will be thankful for the open center console bin that has been designed to keep purses within easy reach.

The Lyriq Debut Edition comes nicely equipped with spacious eight-way power front seats that feature four-way power lumbar support, heating and ventilation as well as a massage function. It’s also worth noting Cadillac has moved the seat controls to the door panels, where they’re easy to access.

The rear passenger compartment is less impressive as the Debut Edition eschews luxury features such as heated rear seats and dedicated climate controls. On the bright side, there’s plenty of space as the rear seats offer 39.6 inches (1,006 mm) of legroom and more than enough headroom to keep this 6’ 2” reviewer happy.

On the topic of space, there’s a generous 28 cubic feet (793 liters) of room behind the rear seats. That falls just short of the Audi E-Tron, but when you fold the rear seats down, there’s a whopping 60.8 cubic feet (1,723 liters) of luggage space and that bests the Audi by 4.4 cubic feet (124.6 liters). That being said, the rear seats don’t fold completely flat.

While electric vehicles are nearly silent, Cadillac aimed to turn the cabin into a “quiet oasis.” As part of this effort, they equipped the Lyriq with acoustic laminated glass, triple door seals, and materials to snuff out noise, vibration, and harshness. The company didn’t stop there as the model is also outfitted with a next-generation active noise cancellation system, which works to cancel out undesirable sounds. Thanks to these efforts, the cabin is extremely hushed as the most prominent sounds are passing vehicles, the electric sound enhancement system, and the music being pumped out by the 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system.

An Electric Powertrain With 340 HP And 312 Miles Of Range

At launch, all Lyriqs will come with a 102 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that powers a rear-mounted motor developing 340 hp (254 kW / 345 PS) and 325 lb-ft (440 Nm) of torque. Cadillac didn’t give a 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) time, but the 5,610 lbs (2,545 kg) crossover feels reasonably quick and that’s aided by the near instantaneous response of the electric motor. That being said, fans looking for more power can opt for the all-wheel drive Lyriq which is slated to arrive early next year with a dual-motor powertrain producing around 500 hp (373 kW / 507 PS).

Besides being plenty powerful, the rear-wheel drive Lyriq has an impressive EPA-estimated range of 312 miles (502 km). That bests the Audi E-Tron by 90 miles (145 km), while also falling just short of the 318 mile (512 km) Tesla Model Y Long Range. Of course, it’s important to note those competitors are all-wheel drive and Cadillac hasn’t revealed ranges for the all-wheel drive Lyriq at this point.

Like other new GM EVs, the Lyriq rides on the Ultium platform and features a structural battery pack. The model also features a rigid body structure, which uses both high strength and ultra-high strength steel. This gives the crossover a solid foundation and one that helps to improve the driving experience.

A Comfortable Cruiser

While crossovers are rarely exciting to drive, the Lyriq exceeded our wildest expectations as it was a joy on the twisty mountain roads outside Park City, Utah. This can be chalked up to a number of factors including the rear-mounted motor, excellent steering, a remarkable ride quality, and a near 50:50 weight distribution.

Starting with the suspension, the Lyriq is the first Cadillac crossover to feature a five-link setup front and back. That isn’t the only interesting development as the company went with “passive-plus premium dampers,” instead of their well-regarded Magnetic Ride Control system.

The results are impressive as the Lyriq has a firm, but comfortable ride that doesn’t get upset by minor road imperfections even when wearing massive 22-inch wheels. The good news doesn’t end there as the model feels reasonably sporty for a crossover thanks to flat cornering and a low center of gravity.

While the driving experience is impressive by default, owners can fine-tune it using the drive mode selector. It offers Tour, Sport, and Snow/Ice modes as well as a customizable MyMode. The latter allows drivers to select their preferred settings for the steering, brakes, throttle response, and electric sound enhancement system.

When it comes time to stop, the Lyriq calls on capable discs that measure 12.6 inches (321 mm) front and 13.6 inches (345 mm) rear. While they offer excellent feel and modulation, they also have a few tricks up their sleeve.

First and foremost, the Lyriq offers one-pedal driving with normal and high modes. When activated, the system slows the crossover down as soon as the driver lifts off the accelerator. Thankfully, this is a smooth transition and owners will be able to quickly get a feel for how fast the Lyriq will come to a stop. While I’m not a fan of one-pedal driving modes in general, there’s nothing to fault about the system and it helps to maximize regenerative braking.

That isn’t the only braking feature as the Lyriq also has a Regen on Demand function, which is controlled by a pressure-sensitive paddle on the back of the steering wheel. Drivers simply pull on the paddle and the regenerative braking system slows the crossover down at a rate determined by the amount of pressure applied to the paddle.

The paddle is extremely sensitive but, once you get the hang of it, you can apply light pressure and gracefully slow the crossover down. When coming down steep mountain passes, the paddle came in handy as a little pressure kept us at our desired speed while also generating electricity.

Being a Cadillac, it’s not surprising that the Lyriq offers Super Cruise. The semi-autonomous driving system allows for hands-free operation as well as automated lane changes on more than 200,000 miles (321,868 km) of compatible roadway in the United States and Canada.

The Cadillac You Plug-In

When it comes time to charge, owners will find a standard dual-level charge cord with a swappable end that enables the vehicle to be charged from both 120V and 240V outlets. This means owners can recharge virtually anywhere there’s an outlet, but be forewarned that the 120V connection is a last resort as it only delivers around 3.5 miles (5.6 km) of range for every hour of charging.

If you happen to have a 240V outlet in your garage, you can swap the charging cable and charge at 7.7 kW. This dramatically reduces charging times as the Lyriq can get up to 21 miles (34 km) of range for every hour of charging.

While the dual-level charge cord should be fine for most owners, as the average American travels less than 40 miles (64 km) per day, they’ll have the option of purchasing 11.5 and 19.2 kW wall-mounted chargers. The 11.5 kW unit will provide up to 37 miles (60 km) of range for every hour of charging, while the 19.2 kW charger increases that rate to 52 miles (84 km).

Away from home, owners will be thankful for the Lyriq’s Plug & Charge function as well as its 190 kW DC fast charging capability that can provide up to 76 miles (122 km) of range in as little as 10 minutes. While some other electric vehicles offer better DC fast charging capabilities, charging stops in the Lyriq should still be relatively short.

As an added bonus, Lyriq customers can get either two years of unlimited charging at EVgo stations or a credit of up to $1,500 that can be used to make their home EV-ready via the installation of a 240-volt outlet (or Level 2 charger) through Qmerit.

Welcome To The New Era Of Cadillac

Cadillac has built some impressive vehicles over the past two decades, but it has always felt like the company was holding back. The Lyriq breaks that tradition as it feels like a no holds barred luxury vehicle that was designed to become the standard of the world.

While some competitors have advantages here and there, it’s hard to argue with the Lyriq as a whole as it offers good driving dynamics, an impressive powertrain, and 312 miles (502 km) of range. However, that’s just part of the story as the crossover sports a futuristic design, an upscale interior, and high-tech features such as Super Cruise.

It’s amazing what Cadillac was able to accomplish with the Debut Edition and it’s even more impressive when you consider the model started at just $59,990. That’s a phenomenal value and it’s no wonder why the limited edition sold out in a matter of minutes.

That brings us to the bad news as getting a Lyriq will require plenty of patience. The 2023 model sold out in four hours and the company has already begun accepting pre-orders for the 2024 model, which won’t arrive until the spring of 2023. However, after two days with the Lyriq Debut Edition, the wait might be worth it.

more photos…

Picture credits: Michael Gauthier for CarScoops

2024 Porsche 911 S/T spy shots: New retro sports car coming

2024 Porsche 911 S/T spy shots: New retro sports car coming

Porsche has been spotted testing what’s likely to be the next addition in its growing series of retro Heritage Design models.

The series was launched in 2020 with the arrival of the 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design and expanded earlier this year with the 911 Sport Classic, with both based on the current 992-generation 911. The next in the series is thought to be a modern take on the 911 2.5 S/T track car launched in 1971.

The prototype in our latest spy shots looks similar to testers for the 911 GT3 Touring, though there are unique elements like the double-bubble roof which Porsche also used on the 911 Sport Classic, as well as a new front fender vent design hidden beneath a makeshift panel. There’s also a small lip spoiler attached to the 911’s standard integrated rear spoiler, and the engine cover has a roundel similar to the one bearing the “Porsche Heritage” inscription on the 911 Sport Classic.

While the 911 Sport Classic is based on the 911 Turbo S, the 911 GT3 Touring as the basis for the modern 911 S/T is fitting given the original was a light, track-focused model developed for customer racing. It was first offered in late 1971 and available in limited numbers only.

1972 Porsche 911 2.5 S/T

1972 Porsche 911 2.5 S/T

And while the 911 Sport Classic features extensive mechanical mods compared to the 911 Turbo S from which it’s derived, we don’t expect the same for the 911 S/T. This means it will likely keep the 911 GT3 Touring’s 4.0-liter flat-6 and the engine’s stock 502-hp rating. The 911 GT3 Touring offers the choice between a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic or a 6-speed manual, and it’s possible only the manual will be fitted to the 911 S/T in keeping with the car’s retro positioning.

A debut is expected in early 2023. Porsche shortly after is expected to introduce another model in the Heritage Design series. According to a report from last year, this additional model will be a modern take on the 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 homologation special, suggesting that it might be based on the upcoming 911 GT3 RS. Stay tuned.