The Friday Five:The Discounted EV Discount, OEMs Invest in U.S. Batteries, and Leafs Turning Into SUVs Edition

Beverly Braga | Oct 22, 2021

This week, Ford’s smallest truck, the Maverick, delivered in a big way with an EPA-official 42 city mpg for the hybrid. Also sizable was Land Rover’s blurry teasing of its all-new Range Rover ahead of next week’s reveal, but not expecting official renderings and covertly shot photographs to be released shortly after.

From the Honda Motor Company, we previewed the all-new 2022 Honda Civic Si, discussed pricing of the updated 2022 Acura RDX, and explained what Honda Sensing 360 is. We also reviewed the new 2021 Kia Sorento Hybrid and 2022 Volvo XC60 as well as offered up an explainer on remote engine start.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

BMW “Neue Klasse” of EVs Arriving in 2025 - Find the best BMW deals!

2022 BMW iX xDrive50 Front Quarter View

Prepared for the inevitable is BMW. Its new “i” series line of battery-electric versions (BEV) of its popular gasoline models kicked off just this year, but already there’s an announcement of their demise. Uh, the all-new i4 Gran Coupe and iX crossover SUV haven’t even arrived at U.S. dealerships yet.

Never mind that, says BMW, because its “Neue Klasse” (New Class) of underpinnings for the next generation of Bavarian BEVs will be coming later this decade. The modular global platform will support not only EVs but PHEVs and—wait for it—ICEs, too. Expect the class to commence with a redesigned 3 Series in 2025.

California to Cut Incentives in Half for EV Buyers

On a page from the “We didn’t see that one coming” book, effective November 2, an instant rebate applied to electric cars and plug-in hybrids (PHEV) purchased in California will be slashed by half. Dropping to $750 from $1,500, the California Clean Fuel Reward (CCFR) is a point-of-sale incentive launched only last November.

The Golden State is committed to its proposed 2035 sales ban on new internal combustion-equipped vehicles (ICE), but how and what incentives will ease consumers into making the switch remains to be seen. The more familiar California Clean Vehicle Rebate (CVRP) and its much larger cashback of up to $7,000 involves a separate application and other eligibility requirements, such as income.

Automakers Announce Investments in North American EV Battery Production

To support this unrelenting influx of electric vehicles, we’re going to need more batteries. Having witnessed (and suffered through) a year-plus of supply chain disruptions, automakers are focusing on spreading battery production around. BMW, Stellantis, and Toyota this week announced heavy investments toward North American-based output.

BMW is investing in Michigan-based Our Next Energy (ONE). An energy storage solutions startup, ONE is focused on developing long-range, low-cost batteries that also utilize sustainable chemistry properties.

Stellantis is partnering with LG to build a new battery manufacturing plant. Locations of the joint venture are currently under review, but groundbreaking is expected in the first half of 2022, with production starting in 2024.

Going solo is Toyota. With an earmarked $3.4 billion toward battery development in the U.S., a dedicated production plant (location TBD) will create an estimated 1,750 new jobs. Its production start date is targeted for 2025.

Confirmed: Nissan Leaf Drops, Reincarnated as SUV - Find the best Nissan deals!

The Nissan Leaf will apparently get swole for its third-generation makeover. According to Autocar, the automaker confirmed that the electric hatchback would be reimagined as an electric crossover. The quoted source is Guillaume Cartier, Nissan’s senior vice president of nearly every market that isn’t the Americas.

Carter said the next-generation Leaf for the UK and Europe will start production in 2025 and be built in the same English plant that is home to the Juke, Qashqai (Rogue Sport in North America), and current Leaf. The EV is also manufactured in Japan and the U.S. Although Carter’s comments were specific to across the pond, North America is likely all for the bigger Leaf considering its insatiable appetite for crossovers.

Volvo Software Update Includes Range Anxiety-Fighting App - Find the best Volvo deals!

With its latest over-the-air (OTA) updateVolvo and Polestar EV owners will enjoy increased range, a battery pre-conditioning smart timer, improved safety systems, cold-climate impacts, and the new Range Assistant app. The Volvo XC40 Recharge and Polestar 2 will be the first models to receive the update, while the just-unveiled C40 Recharge will have the new software pre-installed.

Although a beta version, Range Assistant is an embedded in-car feature that will help drivers battle range anxiety by helping track available range and real-time battery usage. Drivers can then better understand factors affecting vehicle range and how to improve it through energy management, driving style, and a range-optimizer function that can automatically adjust energy use, such as climate controls.

The automakers are the sources of information for this article. It was accurate on October 22, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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