The last seven days were an interesting week. It seemed like everyone you knew on the Internet suddenly became a stock expert. Meanwhile, We here at the Gear Patrol motoring desk reviewed a super-high-performance Audi, the Audi most people are probably going to buy, and quite a few other cars, trucks and SUVs (including, you guessed it, quite a few Audis).
We covered major announcements like the updated Tesla Model S and the most powerful BMW M5 we've seen. But we couldn't quite get to everything that was new, noteworthy and lighting up the non-Wall Street Bets corners of the web this week. Here's what you missed from the automotive world.
President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. government will convert its entire fleet — more than 650,000 vehicles — to electric vehicles. That tally includes more than 228,000 post office vehicles. So it's safe to say it's a good time for companies like Ford and GM to be investing in the electric van business.
General Motors announced plans to eliminate carbon emissions from new vehicle sales by 2035 as part of a bid to be carbon neutral by 2040. That would, of course, mean iconic vehicles like the Silverado and Corvette will be going electric. That said, CEO Mary Barra described ditching gas as an "aspiration," and suggested that, where that can't be done, the company would aim to use carbon capture or similar ideas to balance out the emissions.
While that timeline may sound ambitious, automakers may be legally prevented from selling combustion vehicles in much of the world by that point.
Manufacturers have been trying to figure out a better way to deal with the shift lever for decades. A big chunky gear shifter ruins the aesthetic and takes up valuable space. Tesla's refreshed versions of the Model S and Model X offer a very Tesla solution: automation. The car, Elon Musk claims, will simply know what direction you want to go based on context clues from its sensor. If you want to override that, you can use the touchscreen.
Engines need time to break in before going full-throttle if they're to survive. Chevy, it turns out, inserts electronic controls to save C8 Corvette owners from themselves. For the first 500 miles, new Vettes have a 4,000 rpm redline, and don't get access to the full reservoir of torque in first or second gear. This helps preserve the engine for the long haul...and, of course, keeps buyers from doing burnouts out of the lot.
The entire Hyundai Motor Group — Hyundai, Kia and Genesis — is planning a massive push into electric vehicles in the next few years. As it turns out, Genesis has filed trademarks for a whole host of what appear to be electrified models — including one for a GV90e, which would seem to imply a new range-topping SUV to go along with the G90 sedan.
VW has touted its "versatile" MEB electric car platform, but we had no idea quite how versatile it was. Volkswagen has said they will soon partner with Silent-Yachts, using the MEB platform to build electric catamarans.
70 years ago, the Jaguar C-Type was the cutting edge of the car world; in 1953, it took home the checkered flag at Le Mans. Today, though, it's a gorgeous vintage car that commands an insane price. Now, Jaguar's Classic division is hand-building a few exact replicas of the C-Type for discerning collectors...at a slightly-less-insane-but-still-insane price. Don't worry if you can't swing one, though; you can still play around on the online configurator.
Kelley Blue Book has released their best cars to buy awards for 2021. The results may surprise you.
Mini has brought its iconic compact into "the next stage of its evolution," with a bunch of styling changes that have "a purist look." The most notable changes come at the front, where the grille now has a body color bar and a black ring that looks like a goatee. Mini will also offer a Multitone Roof option.
One point of distinction for Honda in the minivan battle was that the Odyssey offering a built-in vacuum for beleaguered parents. That option, alas, will no longer be available as of the 2022 model year, because Honda's supplier has gone out of business.
As if Tesla didn't already have enough on its plate to begin with, Elon Musk announced during a conference call that the carmaker intended to follow GM, Ford and Rivian into the electric van arena. "I think Tesla is definitely going to make an electric van at some point," Musk said, according to Electrek. The problem, he said, was scaling up the production of batteries. "It’s really hard to appreciate just how hard this scale of production is. It’s the hardest thing in the world. Prototypes are easy. Scaling production is very hard."
The Dallas Morning News has found a car palace for sale. The "main garage" includes 10 stalls, two lifts and a custom paint job rig. The garage also includes a bar and a fireplace. There's also a 7,400-square foot home somewhere on the property. It can be yours for the low, low price of $8 million...if you don't mind moving to Dallas.
Lego has a new 1,458-piece 2-in-1 air-cooled Porsche 911 set coming. Builders can opt for the classic Targa top look, or slap on a whale tail and some fender flares to build a 911 Turbo. It goes on sale in-store and online for $149.99 on March 1st. Lego VIP members can get access to it on February 15.
NBC is hard at work on a new sitcom, American Auto, starring former Saturday Night Live cast member Ana Gasteyer. It will be an office comedy about executives at a fictional car company called Payne Motors. The show was created by Justin Spitzer, who also produced the NBC comedy Superstore. We expect it to cover weighty topics like the conversion to electric vehicles and curating the right mix of aggressive rock for that new car launch.
Car camping makes getting away easy as pie. These items will make it even tastier.