Welcome to our mid-monthly auto news roundup for January! From Tesla cutting prices and committing to a new factory, to Hertz electrifying parts of its fleet, to Chevy debuting a new hybrid corvette, we’ve got plenty to cover – so grab your morning carfee and let’s get down to business.
Ever since Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter back in 2022 (oh, how the time flies), the Tesla brand has seen its fair share of headlines – good and bad. That trend doesn’t look like it’ll fall out of style anytime soon.
Tesla stock plummeted in late 2022, along with other EV brands like Rivian, Fisker, and Lucid Group. In response, Tesla cut prices across its fleet by as much as 13%. It’s a move that was unexpected, but not necessarily surprising.
In recent years, Tesla has run into more competition than ever. Branded as a tech company, the EV pioneer has come under increasing pressure as it consistently failed to progress technologies – like its self-driving systems – as quickly as promised. Now, with large automakers such as Ford and Hyundai fully committing to EVs (and successfully), and new emergent brands as Rivian and Lucid Group finding success among EV-enthusiasts, Tesla finds its spot as EV top dog increasingly insecure.
The effort to cut prices, while simultaneously announcing a $770 million expansion at its Austin factory, is a statement: Tesla’s willing to do what it takes to remain in the conversation.
Lower prices make the automaker more competitive with industry standards, addressing a major historical pain point for Tesla buyers. Moreover, Tesla’s price cuts indicate a brace for oncoming macroeconomic headwinds. Lower prices could help the automaker counteract the impact of high rates as the Federal Bank continues to try and slow or reverse inflation.
While many investors and Tesla enthusiasts will see the price reductions as a prudent move, it hasn’t all been sunshine and roses for the company…
Back in 2016, Tesla posted a blog entitled “Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Teslas.” It appeared to demonstrate a car driving itself, with a driver along for the ride. In the six years since, Tesla has routinely promised full self-driving capabilities for its vehicles, but has yet to materialize those promises in full. Elon Musk recently tweeted the video, causing many to assume it was more recent footage.
However, a recent Senior Engineer at Tesla says the footage was staged, according to a report by Reuters. Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla’s Director of Autopilot Software, stated in a deposition from a 2018 lawsuit that “the intent of the video was not to accurately portray what was available for customers in 2016. It was to portray what was possible to build into the system.”
It’s news that will Tesla critics who doubt the brand’s technology prowess more ammunition to work with. Tesla has yet to address the footage or Elluswamy’s statements, but we’ll be sure to post an update if they do.
Hertz Debutes Thousands of EVs and EV Chargers in Denver, CO
We’ve written a lot lately about how various automakers are rapidly expanding their EV fleets. Now, rental car company Hertz plans to follow suit. Hertz recently announced a partnership with the city of Denver that will see more than 5,000 EVs added to its fleet in the city, and install public EV chargers throughout Denver.
In an interview with CNBC, Hertz CEO stated that “Public private partnerships are very powerful vehicles. We see what’s happening in mobility, we see the direction of travel. And therefore we can be a force along with a very powerful city and mayor, to sort of move this forward in the way in which I think all of us would like to see, which is broad participation in electrification.”
The partnership aligns with Denver’s goal of reducing the city’s carbon emissions 80% by 2050 and completely electrify the city’s buildings and vehicles by 2030. Hertz also stated it would pursue similar partnerships with other cities across the U.S., making use of the up to 340,000 EVs the company plans to purchase from Tesla, Polestar and GM by 2027.
General Motors Debuts a New Chevy Corvette – & It’s a Hybrid
General Motors recently debuted the Chevy Corvette E-Ray as the latest addition to the automaker’s iconic Corvette line. However, one thing about the release surprised consumers and auto industry insiders: The E-Ray is a hybrid.
That breaks away from GM’s aggressive moves toward electrifying its fleet, including discontinuing all of its hybrids – plug-ins included – to focus more on EVs.
General Motors stated that the E-Ray was developed before it decided to discontinue hybrids, and is more of a legacy model than a sign of things to come. But that may not be telling the whole story. For many fans of luxury sports cars, the smell of gas and feel of a powerful engine are integral to the experience – two things EVs can’t offer, at least not yet. Until automakers find an IMAX-esque way to convince drivers that EVs can smell, sound, and feel the same as something with an internal-combustion engine, many sports cars will likely remain hybrid.
There you have it! Your mid-month auto news roundup of our three headline stories from January 2023. Want more car news, tips and tricks? Stay tuned!