Automotive News Headlines – January 11 – 17, 2024

This is the automotive news making headlines for January 11th-17th, 2024

Mazda made waves this week from the Tokyo Auto Salon with a tease showcasing a couple of cars from the new Spirit Racing brand. The manufacturer is evaluating offering track focused, but street legal versions of the MX-5 Miata and the Mazda 3 through the new brand. If green lighted, expect to see ground effects, larger brakes, stiffer suspensions, and tricked out goodies in the interior of both cars. Spirit Racing Brand could replace the recently shuttered Mazdaspeed brand.

On a different note, Mazda made additional headlines when its President and CEO stated, “I am very happy and deeply moved by all the support and encouragement I have received for the compact sport car concept [revealed in 2023]. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all. With your encouragement, we are launching a rotary engine development group on February 1 to move closer to this dream.” The rotary engine group was previously disbanded in 2018 leaving many fans to wonder how long before its return, if ever. Now we have an answer.

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RAM Promaster EV
RAM Promaster EV (RAM)

On January 16th, RAM introduced its first fully electric vehicle. Surprisingly, it’s not a pickup. It’s the RAM Promaster EV van. This popular delivery vehicle is ready for consumer orders now. Maximum range is listed at 162 miles in the city, with 268 horsepower and a payload of 3,020 lbs.

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Automotive News from CES

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, ended Jan 12th. The multi-day show was full of automotive related news. There were solar cars, fully autonomous vehicles, personal helicopters the size of a phone booth, flying cars, EV motorcycles, and more. But, it is entirely too much to cover here. However, highlights are listed below. 

Honda was present at the CES with two interesting EV concepts. One of them is being displayed with “production intent” for 2026. That would be the Zero Series Saloon. Honda’s official video of the car is here. Sadly, few details about range and performance are available. 

The second concept from Honda is the Space-Hub electric mini-van. Like the Saloon, details about the EV are currently scarce. 

LG is not known for making cars. Yet, the LG Alpha-Able made an appearance at CES. The “Future Mobility Concept”  is full of displays from the front bumper to the inside roof area. Yes, that’s right! The roof is utilized to hold a monitor or television in a flat configuration for reclining rear seated passengers. That’s because LG considers future cars as a “personalized digital cave.” No indication is given as to actual production for the vehicle. 

Kia EV3 automotive news
Kia EV3 (Kia)

South Korean auto manufacturer, Kia was present at the show with three interesting concepts. The PV5 concept minivan, the EV4, and the EV3 compact. The EV3 is a smaller SUV like vehicle. No official timeline has been pronounced yet, although 2026 has been speculated. The EV4 is a larger fastback-like vehicle and is expected to go in production during 2024. The PV5 boasts a flexible modular interior. So, it could conceivably be used as a cargo van as well. No production guesses yet on this one. 

New Mercedes debuts at CES

Mercedes concept
Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class EV (Mercedes)

The Mercedes “Concept CLA Class EV” was parked prominently in the manufacturer’s booth. This is a theoretical forerunner for the all electric entry level platform the maker will offer. The vehicle has swooping lines, a full glass roof, and an space age-y interior. Much of this will likely  become the design language increasingly prominant in succeeding years of production for the CLA. 

Mercedes also debuted the All-Electric G Wagen Prototype. The SUV will have 250 miles of range, 590 horsepower. The popular vehicle is already pricey, starting at $139,900 according to their website. The new electric version is expected to have a premium for its electron capability.

New Automakers from CES

Mullen is a largely unknown manufacturer. That’s something the California company intends to change with the introduction of the 5RS High-Performance Sport Crossover EV. Although announced via press release in 2022, the vehicle was itself present at CES. It is a vehicle that concentrates on track performance with top speed of over 200 mph and more than 1,000 horsepower. Pricing is expected to be north of $295,000.

Vinfast VF3 (Vinfast)

Vinfast is a Vietnamese manufacturer that is selling vehicles in the United States. For 2023 the company was aiming to sell 50,000 units of its products. It fell short. So, it is trying to create more enthusiasm for the brand with a few concepts it showed at CES. 

The most interesting Vinfast product showcased at the show was the Wild. It is an EV truck concept with a converting 5-foot to 8-foot bed via a folding midwall. The company is not providing price points, or EV range as of this writing. 

Vinfast also had another interesting EV. This one is called the VF3. It is a small hot-hatch-like EV SUV that was launched globally at CES. Car and Driver is reporting that it will be coming to the United States for the 2026 model year with an estimated price point… less than $20,000… for an EV! A targetted estimate of 125 miles per full charge is announced in the press release.

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Is the Detroit Auto Show happening in 2024?

January 11th came with the news that The North American International Auto Show will not happen in 2024. For the last two years the show has been held in September, but attendance and sold exhibitor space have not been great. So, the organizers decided to cancel the show for 2024 and instead have the show return to its previous January timeframe for 2025.

Also announced on January 11th, Hertz is aiming to reduce its electric fleet by 20,000 units, including Teslas. According to Reuters, the rental company is claiiming repair costs as a motivator for the shedding.

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Stay tuned for continuing automotive news roundups.

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