Cars and Trucks

This Week in Cars: the Volvo C40, the Taycan Cross Turismo, and a Semi-Autonomous Honda

Utah could soon become the seventh state where it is illegal for dogs to ride in the beds of pickup trucks. A viral video of a four-legged Utahn riding unrestrained on an open-sided truck bed inspired the bill, which is supported by the Utah Humane Society. No word if the bill was also inspired by the long-ago antics of Utah Sen. Mitt Romney.

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Volvo

Volvo unveiled the electric C40 Recharge fastback crossover, which it estimates will have 210 miles of range. The C40’s electric powertrain will make 402 horsepower and should manage a 4.7-second zero-to-60-mph time. Also this week, Volvo announced its plan to stop selling cars with internal-combustion engines by 2030.

Porsche showed the electric Taycan’s wagon variant, the Taycan Cross Turismo. Intended to compete with Mercedes-Benz’s E-class wagon and Audi’s A6 wagon, the Taycan wagon will come in four strengths. The top-dog Turbo S will give you 750 horsepower and an estimated 2.7-second sprint to 60 mph, if you can afford it. Here’s how we’d spec it.

Not to be outdone, Mercedes-AMG confirmed this week that it will build an ultra-high-performance version of the four-door GT. The GT 73 will be a hybrid and could make more than 800 horsepower, but the powertrain will still be based on a twin-turbo V-8, so don’t expect to save money on gas.

mercedesamg gt73 hybrid

Mercedes-AMG

Butterfly Effect

You’ve heard about the semiconductor shortage, but what about the foam padding shortage? The winter storms that hit Texas late last month shut down oil refineries, which make the chemicals necessary for the production of the polyurethane foam that’s used in automotive seat cushions. One anonymous auto executive told Automotive News that the problem is “bigger and closer” than the aforementioned chip shortage, while another called foam-related production shutdowns “a threat, not a given.” We’ll find out who was right in a few weeks, and in the meantime let this serve as a reminder of how far away we really are from a zero-emissions auto industry.

Infrastructure Week

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. infrastructure a C- in a report published this week and said the government will need to spend $2.6 trillion on infrastructure repairs in the next decade. That’s actually the best grade the group has given our infrastructure in 20 years; the last report in 2017 rated the country’s infrastructure at a D+. The report may have served as fodder at an Oval Office meeting led by President Biden and attended by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. On the campaign trail, Biden promised to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure projects, including high-speed rail and electric-vehicle infrastructure, but Republican congressman Sam Graves said after the meeting that members of his party would reject a “multi-trillion-dollar catchall bill.”

honda launches next generation honda sensing elite safety system with level 3 automated driving features in japan

Honda

I, Honda

Honda leapfrogged Tesla to become the first automaker to sell (well, lease) a production car with Level 3 autonomous capability when it made 100 copies of its Legend sedan equipped with a Honda Sensing Elite package available to customers in Japan. The package allows the cars to accelerate, steer, and stop without input or constant monitoring from the driver. Honda even goes so far as to suggest that drivers could watch TV on the car’s infotainment screen when the system is engaged. So far, the system’s use is limited to traffic jams or similar low-speed, high congestion scenarios, and there are no plans to bring the Legend or its self-driving capabilities to the United States. But progress is progress, right?

Further Reading

Read in the New York Times about a German town that is pursuing zero emissions in part by encouraging its residents to give up their cars, particularly the ones that run on gas or diesel.

Also in the Times, a suggestion that the United States use currency manipulation to hold on to manufacturing jobs.

If you’re looking for a dose of schadenfreude, take in the extradition to Japan of two men who helped former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn flee justice after being charged with various financial crimes.

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