Automotive News Underground 3/10/2023

Estimated read time 4 min read

Here are the car news stories you might have missed this week.

Now that we’re moving deeper in March uncertainty in the automotive industry seems to be growing almost by the day. In this week’s news the future electrification of cars is called into question in a big way, China might crack down on one of its own, two automakers announce big technology shifts, and more.

Scouting out South Carolina.

Scout Motors Inc., which is backed by Volkswagen Group, has chosen South Carolina for its future $2 billion vehicle plant. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster proudly announced the facility will be built in Blythewood and will eventually product over 200,000 electric SUVs. The real question is with other startup EV brands like Rivian and Lucid struggling to ramp up production thanks to a mix of challenges, what will make Scout Motors different?

Read more about the new plant here.

Learn about the ongoing Ford Lighting production shutdown here.

Blocking CARB mandates?

A group of House Republicans in D.C. have unveiled the Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act which would nullify internal combustion engine car sales bans in California and other states. The leader of this movement, Representative Bob Latta from Ohio, said ICE sales bans are “heavy-handed government intervention.” Others have pointed out that these movements will affect the poor and middle class the most since EVs are considerably more expensive and charging them at home brings additional costs.

Learn more about this effort here.

Maybe don’t do so well?

Leader of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping, who has famously outlawed Winnie the Pooh because someone said he looked like the cartoon bear, is definitely big on controlling the supposed free market in his country. His latest warning shot was fired at Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer CATL, which has become the largest supplier in the world. Xi told people in a closed-door meeting he’s “both happy and worried” about the success of CATL. If you don’t know, CATL is Ford’s partner for the new battery plant being constructed in Michigan after Virginia rejected proposals to build it there. Xi has reined in other companies that have expanded internationally, clearly showing that China isn’t truly capitalist but instead is a Marxist-Leninist communist regime with Chinese characteristics.

Learn more about the CATL situation here.

Tesla baiting in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government is moving to provide EV incentives with the hope to not only boost sales in the country but also to attract a Tesla factory. Since motorcycles are quite popular in the Southeast Asian nation, the plan will focus on getting people to buy electric motorcycles as well as swapping out the ICE engines from existing bikes.

Read more about this move here.

BMW reworks the touchscreen, again.

Most vehicle touchscreen interfaces are awful and drivers in general hate them. One that many have expressed frustration with is BMW’s iDrive interface. This week the Bavarians unveiled a completely refreshed iDrive that allows for customizing the home screen and “flat” menu structure so often-used features aren’t buried under layers of menus. When it goes to market in higher-end models this summer we’ll see how much Bimmer owners love or loathe the new iDrive.

Ultra Cruise is coming.

General Motors unveiled its next-generation advanced driver assistance system called Ultra Cruise this week. According to the automaker, the tech will “ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios.” To do this, Ultra Cruise will come with an array of cameras, LiDAR, short- and long-range sensors, cutting-edge computing system, plus a driver attention system which will monitor if you’re watching the road or not. Just how much this system will cost, how much electricity it will consume while operating, and more will come to light when it’s launched for the Cadillac CELESTIQ.

Read the official GM press release here.

Abolishing inequality through an ad campaign.

German automaker Mercedes-Benz put out a rather… interesting commercial for International Women’s Day that calls for more female engineers, among other things. It’s almost like whomever put these sorts of ad campaigns together doesn’t realize that when barriers are lowered and opportunities are opened up to females, women actually choose STEM field careers at even lower rates. The commercial doesn’t quite go as far as the notorious Gillette one from a few years ago, but the tone is a little too familiar. Check it out for yourself.

Images via Scout Motors, BMW

Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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