ford pulled a musk this week when it announced it would soon make its new hands-free driving software, called bluecruise, available as an over-the-air update to certain mach-e and f-150 vehicles starting in the third quarter of this year. at launch, owners who pay for the upgrade will be able to travel hands-free on 100,000 miles of divided highways in north america. that's half as many mapped miles as supercruise. but who's keeping score?
this week in cars
hyundai revealed the santa cruz, a small unibody pickup. the design is unusual (in a good way, we think), the bed is barely over four feet long, and the price is almost sure to be reasonable. look for it in dealerships this summer.
audi showed off the q4 e-tron and its fraternal twin, the q4 e-tron sportback (send your complaints about inconsistent initial capitalization to headquarters). the cars are a luxury take on vw's id.4 crossover and will come in two powertrain strengths. the standard powertrain will have roughly 250 miles of range, the optional powertrain will sprint to 60 mph in an estimated 6.2 seconds.
honda released images of the 2022 civic sedan. the car's exterior design has taken a turn toward sober, and we're fans of the result. the new car looks more like honda's larger accord and has fewer sharp angles than its predecessor. it will go on sale this summer, hatchback to follow.
the ev obsession hasn't fully conquered bentley: the brand showed a new speed edition of the continental gt, which will be powered by a 6.0-liter w-12 engine and have 650 horsepower. there's still some love for the 12-cylinder engine at mercedes's maybach arm, too. it teased a v-12 s-class variant to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the maybach brand.
supply chain woes, cont'd
disruptions in the global supply chain continue to have a serious impact on the automotive industry and, at least in north america, gm is bearing a lot of the burden. the manufacturer accounted for 73,500 of the 113,000 vehicles taken out of production plans last week. nissan said it would idle two of its japan plants for parts of may, and cut the night shift at two other plants in its home country.
meanwhile, jvis-usa, a stellantis supplier, is taking chip manufacturer nxp semiconductors to court in an attempt to force nxp to deliver more microchips to jvis. jvis claims nxp violated a verbal contract made during a zoom call when it reduced its promised supply of semiconductors from 42,000 to 27,000. jvis says the missing chips are necessary to avert a shutdown at a jeep factory in detroit, which without the chips will be necessary by april 19.
gm and lg chem announced friday that they will spend $2.3 billion building a new plant in tennessee to manufacture battery cells for electric vehicles. the two companies are still working on construction of a battery factory in lordstown, ohio. the tennessee plant will be conveniently placed to support a nearby assembly plant scheduled to build the cadillac lyriq ev and other as-yet-unannounced ev projects.
polestar announced it has raised $550 million from external sources to help accelerate its product development. polestar currently offers two models, creatively named 1 and 2. a third, called the precept, is in development.
gm's self-driving division, cruise, got in on the fundraising spree, announcing this week that it has raised $2.7 billion from investors including walmart. cruise intends to use its self-driving technology to power its autonomous electric pods for deliveries and ride-hailing. with the new cash, cruise is valued at $30 billion and the company says it is "focused on [its] path to commercialization," which is code for "we're still figuring out how to make this profitable."
check out the wall street journal on xpeng, a chinese electric-vehicle maker that draws inspiration from tesla and has drawn the ire of elon musk, who has accused the company (via twitter, of course) of engaging in intellectual property theft.
or read in the new york times about salvagers who turn wrecked supercars into one-of-a-kind masterpieces to the delight of massive youtube audiences.
or, if you were hoping for more ship content in this week's roundup, click here to read about the ongoing troubles of the ever given, the ship that blocked the suez canal last month. the ship is now in the hands of the egyptian government, which awaits payment in return for its rescue efforts.