The Friday Five:The Ford Sales Slump, Audi Teases Concept Spheres, and Subaru Surpasses 20 Million AWDs Edition

Beverly Braga | Jul 09, 2021

This week, Stellantis announced major electrification news during its "EV Day." 

Not only did the global conglomerate release a timeline for its expansion into battery-supported powertrains, but Stellantis also highlighted updated brand statements for all its 14 marques. This includes Jeep's "Zero Emission Freedom" and Dodge's "Tear Up the Streets...Not the Planet."

Marketing gibberish aside, Stellantis also unveiled the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe plug-in hybrid while teasing future EV products for Dodge and Ram. Dodge is developing an electric muscle car under its American eMuscle strategy, and Ram has a battery-electric 1500 pickup in the works. Both are expected to debut in 2024.

But it's not all EVs all the time. Ram has added the 1500 Laramie G/T and 1500 Rebel G/T to its lineup. These G/T models receive performance bits that were once exclusive to the Ram TRX but stop short of its supercharged Hellcat V8. So, consider them TRX-lite.

Other new vehicles on the horizon are the just-previewed 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe and 2023 Kia Sportage. And if you're shopping for a new crossover, we added expert reviews on the 2021 Jeep Renegade and 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime. For truck buyers, check out our latest comparison between the 2021 Jeep Gladiator and the 2021 Toyota Tacoma.

Also, new tech explainers break down the ins and outs of Audi Quattro with Ultra Technology and Toyota Crawl Control.

And yet, that's not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

The Other Mustang Outsells the Original One - Find the best Ford deals!

The heavy, sudden push toward electrification is not without warrant. While the market share for hybrids, plug-ins, and battery-electrics is currently a paltry percentage compared to internal combustion offerings, electrified vehicles are making headway. Case in point: Last month, the Ford Mustang Mach-E outsold the Mustang.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Yellow Front Quarter View

To be fair, they are two different models that just so happen to share a name. The Mustang Mach-E is an EV crossover, and the Mustang is a gasoline-powered pony car. Apples and apple pie, so to speak. Nevertheless, the crossover's 2,465 buyers did beat the pony's 2,240.

However, these are not stellar numbers in general, as Ford's June sales were down 32.5 percent compared to last year. And we all know 2020 was not a good sales year. A silver lining is that, through the first half of 2021, the original Mustang continues to outsell its direct competitors, the Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. Ford has moved 33,786 Mustangs compared to the 30,148 Challengers and 9,881 Camaros sold during the same period.

Audi Teases Three New Concepts - Find the best Audi deals!

Audi has three new vehicle concepts in the works, and all under the surname "Sphere." At least, according to a LinkedIn post courtesy of the brand's head of design.

In the two-minute video, both Audi's design chief and senior vice president are surrounded by covered cars while presenting ideas about the Sky Sphere, Grand Sphere, and Urban Sphere. The presentation has a highly secretive but low-key vibe, which is very much in tune with the did-anyone-see-this LinkedIn debut.

The vehicles under wraps may or may not represent these concepts, but Audi provided simple outline sketches for each one.

The Sky Sphere is a "driver's car and autonomous at the same time," says Audi. Its sketch is of a low-slung, long-hooded sports car. And based on the name, it could be available as a convertible.

The Grand Sphere is about making a "grand appearance" while offering an "immersive experience for all senses." Its sketch is representative of a large touring sedan with a fastback design. Think 4-door Coupé or Gran Coupe as German automakers like to call such things.

Lastly, the Urban Sphere will be a digital "private space in an urban environment" and "perfectly centered around you." Its sketch resembles a boxy minivan-SUV combo sitting on massive tires. It looks perfect for the city.

There's no word on when Audi will convert these Sphere sketches to sheet metal.

2022 Lotus Emira is Brand's Last Gas-Powered Car - Find the best Lotus deals!

The all-new 2022 Lotus Emira is the British brand's first new sports car since debuting the Evora more than a decade ago. The new Emira will replace both the Elise and Exige S and hold the lone sports car spot in the Lotus lineup. The Emira will also be the automaker's last gasoline-powered model as it converts its lineup to all-electric.

On sale next year, the Emira will be available with a choice of two engines. Emira First Edition models will be equipped with the same 3.5-liter supercharged V6 that powers the Elise and Exige. Power output measures up to 400 horsepower.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder will be available in the summer. Sourced from Mercedes AMG, the smaller engine will offer up to 360 hp and mate to a dual-clutch transmission. A manual will be available but limited to the V6-powered Emira.

Subaru Builds 20-Millionth AWD Vehicle - Find the best Subaru deals!

All-wheel drive is what Subaru is known for, and the Japanese automaker has achieved a production milestone of 20 million AWD vehicles made. But AWD wasn't always part of Subaru's history.

The company was founded in 1953, but it wasn't until 1972 that Subaru introduced the Leone 4WD Estate Van. It just so happened to be Japan's first mass-produced AWD passenger vehicle.

Today, 98 percent of Subaru's global sales consist of AWD vehicles. First known as "On-Demand" 4WD, the system allowed drivers to switch from a front-wheel-drive configuration to a 4-wheeled one. The second-generation system, which Subaru utilized throughout the 1980s and '90s, was called Full-Time AWD. But starting in 1996, Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive became standard across all model lines except for the rear-wheel-drive BRZ sports car.

Bugatti Now Owned by EV Startup

Rimac, a Croatian startup known for its all-electric hypercars, has taken majority ownership of Bugatti from Volkswagen Group. A deal two years in the making, Rimac, founded in 2009, will have a 55-percent stake in Bugatti, which has been around since 1909. Porsche will hold the remaining 45 percent share.

Rimac Automobili will be renamed Rimac Group, under which the new joint venture Bugatti Rimac will be a subsidiary. To be called Rimac Technology, the separate division will focus solely on the development and sales of performance EV powertrains. Porsche has opted to remain hands-off from an operational standpoint; Rimac's 33-year-old eponymous founder will be CEO of all three.

Initially, the group will produce two hypercar models: the Bugatti Chiron and the all-electric Rimac Nevera. Bugattis will continue to be built in France, while Rimacs will continue to be made in Croatia. However, moving forward, all vehicles will feature Rimac's high-performance drivetrains, which means an EV future for Bugatti.

The automakers are the sources of information in this article. It was accurate on July 9, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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