This Week in Cars: Audi RS3, We Hear the C8 Z06, and a 620-Mile Mercedes EV

·4 min read
Photo credit: Tobias Sagmeister
Photo credit: Tobias Sagmeister

The 2020 Olympics (yes, they're still calling them that) kicked off with an opening ceremony in Tokyo on Friday, but the games aren't shaping up to be quite the end-of-pandemic celebration organizers had in mind when they decided last summer to push the start date back a year. Toyota announced Monday that it would not air Olympics-related commercials in Japan—where there is significant public opposition to the games—and CEO Akio Toyoda chose not to attend the opening ceremonies. Toyota isn't totally divesting from the Olympics: Some robots it developed to serve as mascots will still be part of the games.

This Week in Sheetmetal

Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes said this week that it plans to be an all-electric company by 2030, and that it is planning to invest $47 billion towards that goal between 2022 and 2030. To get us excited about this electric future, the company has built the EQXX concept, which promises 620 miles of range and a sleek, futuristic design.

GMC has confirmed that it will build a second full-size EV pickup (the first being the pickup version of the Hummer EV, which we expect to arrive in 2024). GMC is keeping most details of this truck secret, but we expect it to be closely related to the Silverado EV that's headed to market in 2023 or 2024.

We've heard our first official recording of the 2023 Corvette Z06, scheduled to debut this fall, thanks to a teaser video from Chevrolet. The video features the wail of a flat-plane-crank engine that we expect to make more than 600 hp and top out at 9000 rpm. We're counting the days until we can hear it with our own ears.

Audi revealed the U.S.-bound RS3 sedan, which will be powered by Audi's distinctive 2.5-liter inline-five engine making 401 hp in this application. Audi says it will hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, but we think it'll go even quicker.

Mobileye Takes New York

Autonomous driving company Mobileye is testing self-driving cars in New York City, according to the company's CEO Amnon Shashua, who referred to the city's driving environment as "very challenging" and said testing there was a "huge headache." The company is running the tests despite the inconvenience in an effort to prove that its camera-only autonomous driving setup (as opposed to setups that use both camera- and laser-based object detection systems) is up to the task of operating in a chaotic cityscape.

Ford is also forging onward with its self-driving car plans, and announced this week that it, in partnership with Argo AI and Lyft, will offer Lyft customers in Miami and Austin rides in semi-autonomous Ford Escapes starting later this year. The semi in semi-autonomous seems to refer simply to the fact that the cars will have a human driver behind the wheel in case of emergency. Argo says the cars will operate autonomously between pick-up and drop-off. If you'd prefer your Lyft driven in the usual manner, by someone who is simultaneously talking on the phone and texting, fear not. Riders will have the choice to opt out of rides in a computer-driven Escape.

Chip Crunch

Look, we're tired of talking about the chip shortage, too. But rosy reports from earlier this year that predicted a summer end to the shortage are being replaced with predictions of a multi-year chip shortage, and automakers continue to slash production plans. This week, GM said it was cutting production of its fast-selling, high-profit-margin Silverado and Sierra pickups as a result of the shortage. Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares says the chip shortage will likely continue into 2022. Others predict a future in which chip supply improves in the auto industry but tightens in the tech world, which could lead to shortages of the chips used for smartphones.

Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images

Further Reading

An update on our favorite capsized cargo ship, the Golden Ray, part of which is still in the water off the coast of Georgia, and the mooring cables of which have been vandalized, perhaps by frustrated pleasure cruisers.

Companies may be as enthusiastic as ever about autonomous cars, but Consumer Reports has a scathing review of the most recent iteration of Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" software, which it says is lacking crucial safeguards and may be putting the public at risk.

And like it or not, it looks like EVs are here to stay. The Wall Street Journal says EV sales have more than doubled in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period last year, while sales of other types of vehicles are up 29 percent.

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