News Roundup: PHEV Jeep Priced, VW Robochargers, Tesla Updates, More
While things were quiet over the holidays, there was still some important automotive news. Jeep priced the first PHEV Wrangler, Mahindra has a facelift, Teslas can pass gas, the Mitsubishi Mirage gets a facelift, Volkswagen has adorable robochargers, and Fiat is down to one.
The first plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler is getting close to hitting the market, and now we know how much it will cost. The 4xe uses a 2.0L turbo-four and an integrated electric motor with a 17 kWh battery back to deliver 375 hp, 470 lb-ft of torque and an estimated 40 km electric range. Starting from $54,995 for Sahara trim and $59,995 for Rubicon it will go on sale this quarter. The models should qualify for the full green incentive in Quebec of $8,000, and they do come with a proper low range including the 4:1 Rock Track heavy-duty system for the Rubicon.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a more traditional Jeep, Indian automaker Mahindra is back to building what is, deep down, as close to the original Willys Jeep as you’ll find anywhere today. After facing multiple suits from Fiat Chrysler over the Jeep copy, The Detroit News reports that the U.S. International Trade Commission decided that thanks to a new grille the Mahindra Roxor no longer interfered with Jeep’s intellectual property. So the off-road-only Roxor is getting ready for a re-launch.
It’s still not full self-driving, but Tesla had a fun update for owners of recently built Tesla models under the tree Christmas morning in the form of a Holiday update. The over the air update made some changes to the touchscreen display and added some new games, but more crucially, it added sound effects to the horn. Yes, the horn on vehicles built after model year 2019 now have Boombox, which lets users cycle their horn through sounds like a goat, applause, coconuts, and, of course, a fart noise. All broadcast through a speaker under the car. Owners can also add up to five custom sounds through a USB drive.
One of the contestants vying for the title of lowest-priced new car in Canada gets a refresh for 2021, adding some new standard equipment but also a higher price. The Mirage gets a new nose to look like the brand’s crossovers, but the base ES climbs $1,600 to $13,858 without any significant content additions. Up one trim to SE ($17,158), though, and you get a larger screen, alloys, and a driver’s armrest. The top GT spec car is up $1,060 to $20,158. In a segment with much less competition this year thanks to the loss of three competitors, the Mirage is set to arrive at dealers this month.
Volkswagen Group is looking at innovative ways to solve charging infrastructure issues, and this might be the best so far. It’s an autonomous robot that brings the charging to your vehicle, in any space in the parking lot. The robot picks up a large battery pack at a main station and takes it to your vehicle. It then plugs the energy storage unit into your car and charges it. While yours is charging the robot can manage multiple other vehicles. The system would allow charging at any space in a garage without the need (or cost) to run wiring and charge boxes to every space. Currently a prototype, the system is largely waiting on more availability of car-to-X communication technology.
Finally, Fiat is down to just one vehicle in Canada for 2021. The 500L and the 124 Spider have been discontinued, leaving the 500X crossover the brand’s only vehicle for the model year. Just over 200 Fiat models were sold in the first three quarters of the year, most of those the 124, so it’s not clear what Fiat’s future is here. They’ll certainly need more models and more volume if the brand has any hope of remaining in dealer showrooms for long.