From new/old EVs to blasting around the desert on a new side-by-side, here’s what’s happening in the car world:
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
Nissan hasn’t necessarily had it easy the last few years with the messy Renault relationship, the headlines about former CEO Carlos Ghosn reading like a spy novel and the company projected to lose money for the second straight year. The flip side is Nissan still has its foot on the proverbial gas. A few weeks ago it showed the Z Proto, a cool-looking concept we’re guessing gives us huge clues about the next-gen Nissan Z. In June it showed the new-for-2021 Rogue, a car Nissan officials will tell you is even more important than the Z. Rogue production is underway at Nissan’s plant in Tennessee, and the crossover is hitting showrooms right about the time you’re reading this.
The Rogue is Nissan’s bestselling vehicle and has been for a few years. The new one looks good enough that it should extend the trend. In fact Nissan is counting on it. Michael Colleran, senior vice president of the company’s U.S. marketing and sales, told Autoweek the Rogue “will continue to be our bestseller for the foreseeable future. It’s at the heart of the marketplace.”
Colleran has been with Nissan since 2011 and took his present position in June. He’s responsible for all of Nissan’s sales and marketing in the U.S. A veteran of Saab and Cadillac, Colleran was chairman of Infiniti based at the global headquarters in Yokohama.
What’s Nissan’s plan to keep the Rogue’s momentum going? Any chance of the company launching a Rogue designed and engineered to compete with the upcoming Ford Bronco and various Jeeps? I think it makes sense for Nissan to want a piece of that off-roader pie, doesn’t it?
Colleran wouldn’t comment on specific future products but did tell Autoweek, “We are always evaluating, and we have a plan that lays out 10 new vehicles over a 20-month period as part of Nissan Next. Those vehicles will range across a number of different segments.
“We’re watching the off-road segment,” he told us. “It’s very clear that the American consumer has been looking for a little more rugged product in the marketplace. You can see that right now in some of the advertising you’re seeing and some of the recent announcements. So we’re evaluating all the segments.”
Nissan Next was launched in May. In addition to new models it includes cost cutting, reducing the number of models 20 percent by 2023 and shortening the product life cycle to less than four years. Under Nissan Next the focus is going to aim more on small and midsize cars, SUVs and pickups, as well as EVs and sports cars in core markets. Nissan considers Japan, China and North America the core markets.
“Nissan Next isn’t just about product and it’s not just a slogan, it’s re-creating the company from what I’ll call ‘the start,’ which is really product,” he told Autoweek. “The new Sentra has received a lot of accolades in the marketplace, for example. It’s really delivering value above what the segment expects, and frankly the consumer is seeing that because it’s the fastest-growing car in its segment this year.
“We think Rogue will come out in a similar fashion with a lot of value in its segment.”
Nissan being no stranger to electric powertrains, I asked Colleran if the Rogue would be a natural EV and/or plug-in hybrid down the road.
“We’re always evaluating our powertrain lineup, and EV and hybrid are certainly part of our future in various segments,” he told us. “You can see that with our Ariya EV (on sale here late next year).
“The Rogue’s segment is still primarily internal combustion dominant. For now it makes sense to be there. But we’re always looking forward. We are keeping our eyes wide open and proceeding with our EV development.”
CAR NEWS AND NOTES
How ’bout a new EV wearing a classic-car disguise? RBW Electric Classic Cars has an offering with its conversion of a vintage MGB to electric drive. The heritage body shell is from British Motor Heritage. The battery sits under the hood while the electric motor is out back sending power to the rear axle. Makes for good weight distribution and should also replicate the the original MGB’s rear-wheel-drive dynamics. Silently, of course. The roadster features a 94-hp/167-lb-ft motor and a 160-mile range. The car can hit 60 mph in about nine seconds (not too quick, for that vintage experience).
Speaking of EVs, Swiss electric-car startup Piëch Automotive has added another name to its already impressive roster of execs and financial backers: Matthias Müller, former Volkswagen AG and Porsche CEO, has joined the luxury EV startup as supervisory board chairman. Müller joins the company just as the vehicle design has been finalized and prototype builds are set to begin. By the way, if the Piëch name sounds familiar it’s because the company was cofounded by Anton “Toni” Piëch, the great-grandson of Ferdinand Piëch, along with Swiss entrepreneur Rea Stark Rajcic.
This week we saw photos of Aston Martin’s V12 Speedster on the road undergoing testing. The car debuted at the company’s Gaydon, Warwickshire, headquarters in March after the Geneva show was canceled, the first of many such cancellations making 2020 so memorable. We hadn’t seen the car since, until now. You’ll recall Aston’s bespoke customization service Q by Aston Martin created the V12 Speedster, bringing the car from an idea to a rolling reality in 17 months. It goes on sale in the first quarter next year in all its 700-hp, 5.2-liter twin-turbo V12 glory.
Hailie Deegan is making her NASCAR national series debut on Oct. 17 at Kansas Speedway when the 19-year-old Ford Performance prospect drives the No. 17 for DGR-Crosley in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. Deegan races full time in the ARCA Menards Series and is third in points, also driving for DGR-Crosley.
Honda’s Formula 1 exit after the 2021 season leaves Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault as the series’ three remaining power-unit suppliers. According to the rules Renault is next in line to supply Honda customers Red Bull and AlphaTauri with engines because Renault has the fewest customers at the moment, unless, of course, one of those teams does a deal with Mercedes or Ferrari for engines. Honda has 77 F1 wins and a share of six F1 constructors’ titles powering Williams and McLaren to multiple championships.
WHAT WE’RE DRIVING
Mark Vaughn has been blasting around the desert in Kawasaki’s new Teryx KRX 1000, the company’s first shot at a sporty side-by-side, or SxS. Kawasaki also makes a base Teryx, a $13,999 two-seater with a small truck bed and the $15,999 Teryx4, which, obviously, seats four. The utilitarian Mule still sits in the lineup, too, starting as low as $6,799. Vaughn’s tester is the Trail Edition, stickering for $22,999, including front and rear bumpers, nerf bars, a Warn winch and special graphics. Go here to find out if Vaughn enjoyed himself and if he came away from the experience with his molars intact.
MOSTLY ODDS, SOME ENDS
Have you dreamed of being a race car driver? Of course you have, and Lamborghini has you covered with a multitiered series of schools and driving experiences to make your dreams come true. You provide the Lamborghini ($214,366 for an “entry level” Huracan Evo RWD), Lambo does the rest. The program takes into account every experience and skill level in five levels from beginner to pro. Sounds great!
In the latest Quick Spin Robin Warner spends time in one of our favorite cars, the Mazda 6. Join Warner and Wesley Wren as they dissect Mazda’s terrific midsize sedan. Tune in here, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever podcasts are played.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“The shifting focus within the automotive industry has led to Honda’s decision to re-deploy their resources, and we understand and respect the reasoning behind this. Their decision presents obvious challenges for us as a team, but we have been here before and with our strength in depth we are well prepared and equipped to respond effectively, as we have proven in the past.”
—Red Bull team principal Christian Horner commenting on Honda’s leaving F1.
That’s it for this week. As always we’re on the case this weekend, monitoring and reporting on automakers’ and sanctioning bodies’ latest happenings . We’ll continually update the site of course—you’ll know what’s happening when we do. Check back often!
Thanks for reading Autoweek, and please stay safe.
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