Behind The Wheel News

News from Hyundai, Kia building Apple, Ford Tremor, Honda, and RAV4 Upgrades

OEMs Struggle with EV Strategies

Deciding this early in the game which mainstream automakers have figured out the best electric vehicle (EV) strategy is a bit of a crapshoot, because in today’s sales climate, if an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) doesn’t offer a serious EV, it’s got a big problem. While OEMs’ strategies continually evolve as the market changes, what they have learned is to play to their strengths and remain flexible.

Tesla is the clear leader, with China’s Nio nipping at its heels, making it imperative for OEMs to figure out how to catch up — fast — as the EV market evolves faster than expected.

EVs are coming for sure. However, not as quickly as some have predicted. It will take another four to five years for the market to hit its stride. For buyers to totally embrace EVs and completely forego internal combustion vehicles, at least three things need to happen:

  • A massive build-out of quick-charge infrastructure so it becomes as common as gas stations today.
  • Battery range to roughly equal the distance of a tank of gas.
  • Charging to take only as long as filling your gas tank rather than hours.

When — or if — those hurdles are overcome, it will be the beginning of the end for the beloved internal combustion engine. Until then, stay tuned.

Hyundai, Kia Expand Market Share

In a tough year for the car business, Hyundai Motor Group — which sells vehicles under two separate companies, Hyundai Motor Co. and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. — gained market share in 2020. The increase was fueled by a slate of new sport-utility vehicles that have resonated with American buyers.

The South Korean company expanded its U.S. market share more than any other major automaker through November and held retail sales steady during the period, defying the broader industry’s 12 percent drop, according to market research firm J.D. Power.

Ford Revives Tremor Model for 2021

Seven years after discontinuing the F-150 Tremor package, Ford Motor Co. is resurrecting the off-road variant for the 2021 model year. The automaker said it will sell an F-150 Tremor starting this summer, to expand a package that also is offered on the Super Duty and Raptor.

The F-150 version will come in SuperCrew configuration with a 5.5-foot box, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and 10-speed automatic transmission, plus standard four-wheel drive.

Honda Takes Tougher Stance

Honda Motor Co. says no more Mr. Nice Guy when it comes to selling SUVs and trucks in an increasingly competitive market. The company plans to revamp three key midsized vehicles — two SUVs and its Ridgeline pickup — by giving them beefier looks. It also will play up their off-road capabilities in marketing to appeal to more-traditional truck buyers. A midcycle facelift gives the Ridgeline a larger grille, bulging hood and twin exhaust pipes.

Kia to Build Apple EV

According to a Reuters report, as well as some South Korean media, Kia has inked a $3.59 billion deal with Apple to build its long-awaited electric vehicles. It was reported in several South Korean media outlets that Apple would invest $3.6 billion in Kia as they collaborate to produce Apple’s electric vehicles at Kia’s huge West Point, Georgia plant.

Apple is targeting the production of 100,000 vehicles annually by 2024 at the Kia plant, aiming to expand that annual capacity to 400,000 at a later point according to the reports.

Both Apple and Kia’s parent company Hyundai, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, but Hyundai has been rumored to be working on a deal with Apple for some time. According to a Hyundai insider, Hyundai Motor Group “tentatively decided” that Kia would partner with Apple to build its electric cars in the U.S.

RAV4 Slated for Upgrades

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 will blend slightly higher pricing with a few equipment revisions. There’s a new XLE Premium model for the RAV4 hybrid, and the TRD Off-Road trim level adds a skid plate. Pricing is up by $100 for the conventional gas models, which start at $27,255 for the front-wheel-drive LE. The standard LE, XLE, XLE Premium and Limited models come with a 2.5-liter inline-four and an eight-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option.