Mazda’s rotary engine is back, but in a range-extending role:
The Spy Guy congratulates the Japan-based automaker for finally jumping into the electric-vehicle pool (or onto the electric-vehicle grid) with a battery-powered model dubbed the MX-30. The recently revealed compact hatchback comes with a driver’s side mini rear door, similar to what was found on the previous-generation RX-8 that retired after the 2011 model year. The MX-30’s power system consists of an electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the floor. It’s rated at 141 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. Maximum range is estimated at a modest 130 miles (210 killometres), but that can be extended with the addition of a rotary engine that generates power directly to the battery when needed. That is likely the only version that will be sold in North America when the MX-30 goes arrives in calendar-year 2020.
When the Mazda CX-30 arrives here, it will likely be equipped with an auxiliary gasoline-powered electric generator to provide a boost in range. Photo: Mazda
Nissan has a new electric car in the works:
The Spymaster’s overseas operative recently observed the unveiling of the Nissan Ariya at the bi-annual Tokyo Motor Show and was privately informed that the concept utility vehicle is likely headed for production and sale in North America sometime in 2021. The attractively styled vehicle comes with front and rear electric motors that function independently and automatically adjust their torque depending on surface conditions without driver input (no multi-mode switches or buttons to adjust). The simplified dashboard appears to be just one elongated screen that controls all key functions with a swipe of a hand. A solitary knob adjusts the climate controls and the 31-centimetre touch-screen. Nissan’s ProPilot with semi-autonomous (e.g. hands-free) driving and remote parking capabilities is included. Details relating to performance and range between charges remain hush-hush for now.
The Sleuth hears that the Nissan Ariya electric car is likely headed to North America in 2021. Photo: Nissan
Is General Motors planning a Hummer revival?
That’s the rumour The Sleuth’s intel team has picked up on. The brand that went away after 2010 was loaded with gas-guzzling sport utility behemoths (remember the H2?) and is said to be returning to action sometime in 2021. This time, however, instead of using V-8 power, the Hummer — just a single model vehicle — will be 100 per cent electrically driven. It will also use a lighter platform called BT1 (instead of a traditional frame) that’s specifically designed for use with other GM EVs that are under development. Apparently the automaker wants to compete more effectively with the highly successful Jeep Wrangler and sees the Hummer brand as a good way to do it. Ford is attempting to do likewise with the impending revival of the Bronco for 2020, although The Sleuth is not hearing about any electric plans.
Thumbs down on swapping gasoline engines for electric motors?
As the electrification movement spreads to include conversion of older vehicles, one organization is raising a red flag. The Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens (FIVA), an international body that includes the North America-based Historic Vehicle Association as a member, is strongly opposed to such alterations to antique or classic cars older than 30 years, as it sullies their “cultural heritage.” Although FIVA has a point, however moot, it is The Sleuth’s opinion that the organization fails to recognize that a large number of old-car fans, especially those into muscle cars, have been modifying them for years with non-original powertrains, suspensions, interiors and assorted aftermarket paraphernalia. In fact, many of theses resto-mods sell at auction for huge money, eclipsing vehicles maintained in their original state. Electric power systems are just another modification option and one that promises fewer maintenance issues, cheaper operating costs and less tailpipe emissions. Because there is no tailpipe.
Honda’s Fit-ness program:
The Sleuth has uncovered additional details regarding the next-generation of the automaker’s smallest hatchback. For the 2020 model year, the Honda Fit is expected to offer a hybrid powertrain, which is unusual for an entry-level subcompact. As the electrification movement gains momentum, however, it would seem that Honda wants to get in on the ground floor — literally — to back up its stated goal of offering every model it sells with an electrification option within the next few years. Also rumoured for the Fit is a turbocharged 1.0-litre three-cylinder base engine that’s expected to produce about the same 128 horsepower (but more torque) as the current non-turbo four-cylinder.
The Honda Fit appears to be destined for a hybrid powertrain. Photo: Honda
Ups and downs
Up: Autobahn remains limitless (in some places):
A proposed bill that would have placed a 130 km/h speed limit on Germany’s major freeway system has been defeated. The parliamentarians voting in favour of the legislation argued that a speed limit would reduce vehicle emissions, while increasing safety. Autobahn is not entirely limitless, however, as speed limits near major cities remain in effect.
Up: Tesla retractable door handles under fire?
Some luxury brands, including Tesla, install flush-mounted door handles that automatically deploy when the key fob is near. But the automaker apparently faces a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida after an emergency responder encountered difficulties opening the door of a burning Tesla Model S to rescue a driver trapped inside.
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-written by Wheelbase Media
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