Volkswagen to make electric car cells, battery packs in U.S.

German automaker Volkswagen said it was expanding its Chattanooga factory in Tennessee to make electric vehicle cells and battery packs in the United States, alongside assembling electric vehicles.

The company said it plans to break ground for a laboratory in Chattanooga to develop and test cells and battery packs for its upcoming car models assembled in the U.S., with the goal of a fully operational lab by spring 2021.

“A lot of auto companies will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter,” said Wolfgang Maluche, vice president of engineering, Volkswagen of America.

Volkswagen’s plan to produce its own cells and battery packs for electric vehicles in the United States follows an emissions scandal at the company, which admitted to using illegal software to cheat pollution tests in the country.

The scandal has cost Volkswagen 30 billion euros ($35.51 billion) in fines, penalties and vehicle buyback costs worldwide.

Insourcing electric vehicle cells and battery packs reinforces Volkswagen as one of the most ambitious traditional carmakers in the electric vehicle domain, Credit Suisse analyst Dan Levy said.

Last year, the carmaker said it would invest $800 million to build a new electric vehicle at its plant in Chattanooga.

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The Aston Martin Rapide leads this month’s list of discounts

Aston Martin was an early entrant into the coupe-shaped sedan battlefield with its rakish Rapide. It was first shown in concept form in 2006 at the Detroit Auto Show before finally going into production in 2010. Ten years have passed since then, and this could well be your last chance to drive a new Rapide off your neighborhood Aston Martin dealership’s lot as the four-door is replaced by the DBX crossover.

If you’ve got your eye on a new Rapide — and congratulations if so — you’ll be pleased to know that you can snag a 2019 model for the low price of just $217,484. Sure, that’s still a lot of money, but it’s $24,341 off the car’s average $241,825 sticker price. That’s the largest monetary savings of August, 2020, and it represents a discount of a little over 10%. And even if the Rapide is getting a little long in the tooth, it’s still a strikingly beautiful machine, particularly in its most recent AMR guise.

Looking for something different but still extremely rapid? The 2019 Acura NSX is selling for an average transaction price of $142,141. That’s an 11% savings off its sticker of $159,703. Or you could opt for a Maserati Quattroporte if you’d like the convenience of a luxury sedan but not the price of the Aston Martin – the four-door Trident-badged machine’s average transaction price this month of $107,372 is a 12.4% discount.

And if none of that is up your alley, you could go full baller with a Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV for $320,085. That’s a savings of $12,665 off the car’s average retail price of $332,750. Just think of how much Grey Poupon you could afford with all that leftover cash.

For a look at the best new car deals in America based on the percentage discount off their suggested asking prices, check out our monthly recap here. And when you’re ready to buy, click here for the Autoblog Smart Buy program, which brings you a hassle-free buying experience with over 9,000 Certified Dealers nationwide.

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This Toyota Tercel promises minimalism, ’80s-style

We’re guessing it’s been a while since you’ve seen one of these: Toyota’s humble Tercel, the brand’s longtime entry-level model, an econo-box that resided below the Corolla. This 1983 model is for sale right now on eBay Motors, looking just as you remember. That is, if you remember.

These cars have all but disappeared from American roads despite the fact that the Tercel was quite popular in its day, owing to its combination of an ultra-low sticker price and its high fuel economy. And yet, as those of us who were around in the ’80s and ’90s can attest, the cars were pretty much invisible even back then. Now, though, the tiny Toyota turns heads — it did ours, at least.

This is the second-generation Tercel, which switched to front-wheel drive. This two-door hatchback body style was the most commonly seen, although there was also a four-door hatchback and the better-known all-wheel-driver Tercel wagon. As an SR5, this Tercel is the fanciest available trim level, but it was still pretty parsimonious.

The included original window sticker (!) shows a starting price of $6,618. That includes power front disc brakes but not power steering, which was optioned here for $185. This buyer also ticked the boxes for alloy wheels ($265), a rear window wiper/washer ($90), and carpeted floor mats ($46). The biggest extravagance was a power sunroof for $460. Air conditioning, however, was a bridge too far.

Under the hood, a 1.5-liter engine dishes up 62 horsepower, and since this is an SR5, the driver can track its ministrations with the standard tachometer. It’s fair to say that the new owner will be working the five-speed stick pretty hard to wring the most out of this engine, but just imagine the smile on your face as you motor simply, the way they did back in the Reagan era. After all, not everyone back then was a yuppie or a “Greed-is-good” Wall Street leveraged buyout king. This was a car for the victims of LBOs.

The window sticker shows that this Tercel was originally Light Yellow, and the seller acknowledges that the current golden hue is a respray. The body, though, appears laser-straight — thank that gentle California climate. And the cloth-and-vinyl buckets seats, those carpeted floor mats, and that AM/FM radio all appear well preserved. So far, one bidder has a raised a virtual paddle, offering $3,000. With five days to go, there’s plenty of time for the price to climb. Or not. Whoever ends up with this Tercel will likely have the only one for miles around. Oh, what a feelin’!

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2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line picks up where Elantra Sport, GT N Line leave off

While we were sad to learn the Hyundai Elantra GT is disappearing from America, especially the sporty N Line, the good news is that Hyundai isn’t done with sporty compacts. The company has just revealed the 2021 Hyundai Elantra N Line, which will pick up the baton from the outgoing Elantra Sport and GT N Line. It combines the recently redesigned sedan’s crisp exterior with some unique sporty accents and a familiar turbocharged four-cylinder.

Visually, the N Line is distinguished by subtle yet distinct cues. The front gets an all-black mesh along with larger outboard grilles with arrow-like inserts. The sides get small skirts, and the rear features a small spoiler, diffuser and twin round exhaust tips on the right side. The N Line also has 18-inch alloy wheels and “N Line” badging scattered about. The inside is upgraded with more heavily bolstered seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter and aluminum pedals. 

Powering the Elantra N Line is the same turbocharged 1.6-liter engine featured in the old Elantra Sport and GT N Line, as well as the Veloster Turbo. It can be paired with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Additional upgrades over the base sedan include larger front brake rotors, a multi-link independent rear suspension and stiffer suspension tuning.

Hyundai includes plenty of safety and convenience technology with the Elantra N Line, too. Automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping and lane-follow assist, automatic high-beams, blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning lead the standard safety features. The N Line will also have wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with Hyundai’s Digital Key, which allows access via your smartphone.

The Elantra N Line will be available sometime this year. Exact dates haven’t been given, but it will be available ahead of the Sonata N Line, which is also slated to release this year. Pricing also hasn’t been announced, but expect it to come in around $24,000 like its Elantra Sport and GT N Line predecessors.

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Meet Tucson, a stray dog who became Prime Hyundai’s newest car consultant

In the midst of crummy news seemingly everywhere, we have one that’s thoroughly heartwarming. A Hyundai dealer in Brazil has gained worldwide fame after adopting a stray dog and bringing him into the dealership as a “car consultant” to spend time with the sales staff and customers.

According to Brazilian news outlet A Gazeta, the manager of Prime Hyundai, Emerson Mariano, found the dog a couple of months ago. Another Brazilian news agency, ES360, reports that the manager started giving him food, water and shelter, and as the dog stuck around, he and the staff became fond of him. That led to the manager adopting him permanently, and he named him Tucson after Hyundai’s small crossover. Tucson is apparently about a year old, and he has been taken to the vet for all his necessary shots.

Since becoming part of the Prime Hyundai family, he has received a variety of dapper accessories including ties and a piece of a tuxedo, along with his own employee badge. He spends the day at the dealership, where the employees recently put together his very own doghouse. He has an Instagram account that has over 124,000 followers, but more important, it also has photos of him at the dealership. A Gazeta also noted that he will be featured in some advertising. Mariano also told ES360 that he was happy to give Tucson a home, since he has noticed a lot of pets becoming homeless in the wake of the pandemic. We’re happy Tucson found a home, too, one that seems to love him quite a bit.

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Here’s how cross-platform ‘Rocket League’ play will work

Rocket League’s upcoming update is a huge one — it will not only make the game free to play on all platforms, it will also introduce cross-platform progression. Now, Psyonix has detailed how cross-platform progression will work for the car racing/soccer title and how you’ll be prompted to make an or link to an existing Epic Games account to take advantage of the feature after you upgrade.

See, Rocket League will also debut on the Epic Games Store (and leave Steam completely) with the next update. The developer says that after you link an Epic Games profile, you’ll be asked to set a Primary Platform. That will serve as the source of progression, including your Rocket Pass Progress, Competitive Rank and XP Level, for all the platforms you connect. Once that’s set up, you’ll be able to link your PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Nintendo Switch Online and Steam accounts.

Psyonix says you can unlink platforms and switch primaries if you change your mind, but you won’t be able to link any platform you remove to another Epic Games account. When it comes to items in your inventory, the feature will allow you to share all earned free drops, season rewards, shop purchases, Rocket Pass items, blueprints and Rocket League-branded DLC. However, you can’t share platform-exclusive items and credits. You can’t share Premium DLC Packs, as well, but Psyonix is working to make them accessible across platforms in the future.

Finally, the developer has clarified that you can only trade purchased items on the platform you bought them on to reduce the risk of fraud. You can’t hop onto Xbox to trade something you bought on PlayStation, for instance. You’ll also need at least 500 Credits to trade, unless you’ve been playing Rocket League before free to play’s launch.

This article by Mariella Moon first appeared on Engadget.

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Hyperion unveils XP-1 hydrogen fuel cell supercar

Did you hear that? It didn’t sound like much, did it? Pretty quiet. Did you feel it? Just a whiff of passing vapor? Either that’s the emissions of a fuel cell supercar, or a big entrepreneurial dream not long for this world. When you see it, though, it’s hard to miss. That’s the Hyperion XP-1, which, after a little teasing, was officially revealed in the video above.

We don’t have a lot of details yet. Hyperion says the hydrogen hypercar can travel 1,000 miles between refueling — a process that takes mere minutes — and that it’ll do 0-60 miles per hour in a blistering 2.2 seconds. Its side aero elements not only help provide high-speed cornering stability, but they house solar panels, “which can articulate to follow the trajectory of the sun.” Hyperion, which also has aerospace and energy arms in addition to its automotive business, plans to produce the XP-1 in the U.S. starting in 2022.

Sure, I was a little flippant in my lede with the vaporware insinuation. We’ve seen a lot of high-tech, green cars come and go without making much of a splash or nary a ripple in the marketplace. We’ve seen it go the other way, too, and we’re still waiting on sure signs of success from others. Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris called the XP-1, in part, “an educational tool for the masses.” He added, “Aerospace engineers have long understood the advantages of hydrogen as the most abundant, lightest element in the universe and now, with this vehicle, consumers will experience its extraordinary value proposition. This is only the beginning of what can be achieved with hydrogen as an energy storage medium. The potential of this fuel is limitless and will revolutionize the energy sector.”

It’s easy (maybe even lazy) to be dismissive of hydrogen with all the gains battery electric vehicles are making, but I still believe hydrogen has a place in the green energy ecosystem, and I’m not alone. Look at Toyota, Hyundai, even a number of countries that see a big future for it in their economies. It currently has its challenges (and listen to our Green Episode of the Autoblog Podcast for more about that) but also plenty of promise, if you know how to look at it. Furthermore, Hyperion says it has a “plan to revolutionize the hydrogen refueling industry.” If that’s the case, it gives the XP-1 — and hydrogen cars in general — a better shot at success.

Anyway, check out the cool fuel cell car from Hyperion in the video and photos above, and debate about it — and about hydrogen — in the comments.

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Behold the first electric ‘Smart Kart’ for kids

Transcript: Customizable go-kart for kids. Actev Arrow is a sleek, miniature go-kart for children ages 5 to 9. It can reach speeds of 12 mph with the help of 2 independent 250W electric motors. A companion app can give parents control over what their child can do with the Actev Arrow. The app can control speed, activate anti-collision tech, and turn on geo-fencing to limit travel distance. Comes in two body kit configurations: red and silver. The kits include a front nose/wing, two side pods, and a rear wing. The front wing houses the collision avoidance sensors. Actev Arrow is priced at $1,499.95, and the body kits are $289.99.

Actev Arrow is awesome but isn’t the only electric go-kart out there. The Segway Ninebot Electric GoKart Drift Kit is available on Amazon for purchase at a slightly lower price than the Arrow if you’re trying to save some cash. This one is also part Segway, so if you’re sick of karting around, you can make a quick tweak and ride away on your Ninebot S instead.

Segway Ninebot Electric GoKart Drift Kit – $1,288 at

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability is subject to change.


Tesla announces a 5-for-1 stock split

Tesla on Tuesday announced a five-for-one stock split, sending the electric carmaker’s recently high-flying shares up 7% in extended trade.

Tesla’s stock, which traded at $1,475 after the announcement, is among the highest priced on Wall Street, and the Palo Alto, California-based company said in a press release it was looking to make its shares more accessible to employees and investors.

Tesla’s stock has surged over 200% this year, while shares of General Motors and Ford declined on fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Stock splits are a way for companies to make shares more accessible to retail investors, potentially attracting individual investors who make small trades. However, brokerages increasingly let customers buy parts of shares, making the benefit of share splits less clear than in the past.

Tesla said stock holders of record on Aug. 21 would receive four additional shares after the close of trading on Aug. 28, with the stock trading on a split-adjusted basis beginning Aug. 31.

Tesla’s stock split follows a four-for-one split announced by Apple in late July, the iPhone maker’s first stock split since 2014.

Stock splits have become rare on Wall Street in recent years, with just three S&P 500 components announcing splits in 2020, compared with an average of 10 a year over the past decade, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

Tesla in July posted a second-quarter profit as cost cuts and strong deliveries helped offset coronavirus-related factory shutdowns, clearing a hurdle that could lead to the carmaker’s inclusion in the S&P 500 index.

While many institutional investors have avoided Tesla’s stock in recent years due to a lack of consistent profitability, the company has a strong following among individual investors.

Over the past 30 days, Tesla was second only to Apple as the most popular stock on the Robinhood trading app, according to Robintrack, a website that tracks Robinhood holdings.

Tesla’s stock split should not affect S&P Dow Jones Indices’ potential decision to add the company to the S&P 500, which is weighted by companies’ overall stock market values.

The share split will not make Tesla any less expensive in terms of actual earnings it delivers to investors. The stock currently trades at 112 times expected earnings over the next 12 months, according to Refinitiv. By comparison, GM is valued at eight times expected earnings, and Ford at 45 times expected earnings.


2021 Bentley Bentayga Speed adopts new look, still fastest SUV in the world

The updated 2021 Bentley Bentayga didn’t have to wait long to gain its Speed variant back. We’re less than a month removed from the standard 2021 Bentayga’s big reveal, and the Speed has returned sporting all the same styling elements as its less powerful sibling.

If you paid much attention to the Speed model when it was revealed in February last year, you already know most of the pertinent information on the new one. It has a 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W12 under hood that produces 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. That’s good enough for a 3.9-second 0-62 mph sprint. Top speed hasn’t changed from before at 190 mph, so it still slots in right next to the Lamborghini Urus as the fastest SUV in the world. Not as though efficiency will matter all that much, but the W12 does feature cylinder deactivation technology that can deactivate up to six cylinders.

You’ll be able to tell the Speed apart from the standard Bentayga on the road if you look closely enough. It has unique bumpers in front and back, a dark grille, oval-shaped quad exhaust, elongated roof spoiler, body-color side skirts, unique 22-inch wheels, and of course, Speed badging. The seat backrests are also embroidered with “Speed” unless the customer prefers the Bentley logo. Contrast stitching and diamond quilting unique to the Speed is used to further differentiate the interior. Plus, Bentley adds “Speed” badging to the illuminated sill plates.

Lastly, Bentayga Speed buyers will have the choice of optioning the “Black Specification.” This replaces any brightwork on the exterior with blacked-out or carbon fiber trim. For example, the front splitter, side sills and roof spoiler are finished in carbon fiber. Bentley then uses gloss black paint on the rear bumper diffuser, roof rails, exhaust tips and wheels.

Pricing isn’t out for the new Bentayga Speed yet, but it’ll be available soon after the standard V8 Bentayga begins arriving at Bentley retailers.

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