Automakers partner up for EVs, write to Trump, and go airless: The Week in Reverse


Which automakers banded together to put more electric cars in their lineups?

What new tires did General Motors say it aims to put on its upcoming shared electric cars?

This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending June 7, 2019.

This week the news was mostly about cooperation among automakers (and occasionally lack thereof), in tackling the investments needed to bring more electric cars to market. 

Along the way, however, a group of 17 automakers took time out to write a letter to the Trump administration imploring officials to restart negotiations with California (perhaps in fear of other, more extreme proposals from the state) over plans to freeze fuel economy standards through 2026 and devise a new plan that would continue raising fuel economy standards.

These are the same automakers who, days after Donald Trump’s election, wrote another letter to the incoming administration begging for relief from the current, rising standards. Tesla was not a signatory to either letter.

Mary Nichols, chief, California Air Resources Board

To spread the financial burden of changing over to electric cars, several large and small automakers are looking to join forces in developing big battery and electric-motor supply chains.

Subaru and Toyota, which have long had a partnership in manufacturing and designing sports cars and plug-in hybrids, announced that they will jointly develop a new electric platform for SUVs and large sedans. Each company will build its own mid-size electric SUV on the new architecture, which will fill conspicuous electric holes in each automaker’s lineup.

Toyota-Subaru electric vehicle platform

Toyota-Subaru electric vehicle platform

BMW and Land Rover will also team up to develop electric motors and power electronics for their planned upcoming lineups of electric and plug-in hybrid models.

After announcing plans for a similarly-motivated but much larger alliance last week, Fiat Chrysler broke off merger talks with French automaker Renault after Renault’s partner Nissan, along with the French government, failed to support such a union.

2018 Jeep Grand Commander

2018 Jeep Grand Commander

And some automakers are going it alone with new electric-car efforts.

General Motors President Mark Reuss announced that the company is already working on an all-electric pickup and said that it will be based on the company’s planned new BEV3 chassis, which is expected first to debut in a Cadillac SUV no sooner than 2023.

Mercedes-Benz is developing a new mid-size electric sedan, the size of its E-class, to take on the Tesla Model S. It is expected to be called the EQE.

2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid

2020 Hyundai Kona Hybrid

And Hyundai announced that it will sell a new hybrid version of its Kona small SUV—at least in Europe.

Karma announced it will more than double the size of its dealer network, expanding into 13 new U.S. states and 19 new countries.

Volkswagen set a new lap record for electric cars on Germany’s famous Nürburgring race track.

Volkswagen ID R at Nürburgring

Volkswagen ID R at Nürburgring

And Tesla released new pricing for Chinese-built Model 3s, which will cost $7,100 less than Model 3s imported from the U.S. CEO Elon Musk also said the upcoming Tesla Pickup will start at less than $50,000. And the company updated its design web pages in the U.S. to focus more on actual cash prices, rather than theoretical prices that took into account variable fuel savings numbers and tax credits.

Electric cars, however, won’t work for everybody, one of our correspondents argues.

2018 Toyota Mirai

2018 Toyota Mirai

That may go double for hydrogen fuel-cell cars, as many owners in Northern California are finding out. After an explosion at a local distribution facility (which thankfully didn’t severely injure anyone), 9 of the 11 hydrogen stations in the region are without fuel. Automakers are scrambling to find replacement transportation for owners.

Not all new technology is quite as questionable, however. GM announced a new deal with Michelin to buy new airless tires for its self-driving and shared electric cars, because it says the airless tires will need much less maintenance than conventional tires.

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