Cars and Trucks

This Week in Cars: Hyundai Elantra N, Aston Martin Valhalla, and More Chip News

If you keep a list of the most unusual product placements, ready your pencils: Ford announced this week that it has partnered with Nabisco to print a limited-run pack of Oreo Thins cookies labeled as if they were the owner’s manual of a Ford Maverick, ostensibly to camouflage them so the cookies will not be eaten by anyone but the intended snacker. The concept is tortured and relies on anecdotes about the Maverick design team’s love of Oreos. But everyone knows you only need a hiding place if they’re Double Stuf.

This Week in Sheetmetal

Formula 1

We’ve had our first look at the 2022 F1 race cars, which will use ground effects—tunnels on the underside of the car used to generate downforce—for the first time in decades, along with other changes intended to minimize the vortex of turbulent air that follows in the wake of the current models.

The car that began its life as the Aston Martin Valkyrie concept in 2019 has now reached production in the form of the Valhalla. It’ll be powered by a 937-hp 4.0-liter AMG-sourced twin-turbo V-8 instead of the hybrid V-6 that was hinted at in the concept, and it’s expected to cost $800,000 instead of the initial $1.3 million estimate. But don’t get too excited—deliveries are still at least two years off.

Hyundai has confirmed some details about the Elantra N, which we expect in the U.S. next year. It’ll be powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter found in the Veloster N and Kona N. The Elantra N will have 286 horsepower and an aggressive, angular design. Also this week, Hyundai announced it will discontinue non-N variants of the Veloster for 2022, which is what we’ve been pretending they did ever since the N launched, anyway.

Start It Up

As EV sales start to tick upward, the EV-startup market is producing a seemingly endless stream of strange-looking, high-horsepower concepts. This week, a Detroit-based startup called Hercules showed a 1000-hp EV pickup concept designed by Pininfarina, which it says will be available next year. Vietnam’s first car company, VinFast—another Pininfarina partner—announced plans to enter the U.S. market selling electric crossovers by March 2022. And Pininfarina showed an EV concept of its own in the bizarre, missile-like Teorema, though unless another company signs on to build and sell the car, the Teorema likely won’t ever make it to production.

But a sleek design and a big vision do not a car company make, as the folks at Lordstown Motors seem to learn anew every day. Today the company disclosed that it is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice over matters relating to the merger that took the company public last year and the orders it once claimed to have, which it now admits were not binding. The company had already said it is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over similar issues. EV truckmaker Rivian hit a much smaller snag this week when it announced it will delay deliveries of its R1T truck until September. They had previously been scheduled to begin shipping this month.

Global Supply Chain Disruption, Continued

Various car companies and industry analysts have predicted that the microchip shortage that has upset production schedules for months would begin to ease in the second half of the year. But now that the second half of the year is here, we’re beginning to understand that there’s a difference between “begin to ease” and “resolve entirely.” Volkswagen said this week that it still thinks the chip shortage will improve by the end of the year, but GM has announced new downtime related to the chip shortage for five plants, Nissan has extended downtime at the plant that builds its Altima sedan, and Ford is reportedly considering shipping vehicles with missing microchips to dealers, who would finish and sell the vehicles once chips become available. The plan is not final, but it’s one strategy Ford has in mind to empty its own storage lots, which are currently clogged with tens of thousands of unfinished cars and trucks.

Further Reading

Ok, so it’s not reading, but we think you should watch the trailer for Stuntman, a documentary from Disney about Eddie Braun, a stuntman chasing his last big feat. The movie will be streaming on July 23.

Read about the zipper merge and the fools who oppose it in the New York Times.

Or, if you’re partial to the rich-person-on-the-run-from-justice genre, check out Carlos Ghosn’s interview with the BBC, in which he details how he fled from Japan to Lebanon inside a box that was inside a private jet.

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