Cars Review

Car Industry

Can 3D Printing Give Us the Future Cars We Really Want?

If you’ve read previous Wheelspin columns, you’ll know I’ve been obsessed with collisions between the past and the future in the automotive world. 

One assumption popular among business thinkers is that cars are evolving to become software-defined and device-like. In the future, the thinking goes, vehicles will be differentiated not by mechanical characteristics, like powertrain and driving dynamics, but by “soft” traits like user interface and application design.

That’s where my car enthusiast friends tune out. Many of them would rather study pig viruses of the Junggar Basin than confront the technological convergence of hardware and software we’re hurtling toward. But what if there was a less-bleak forecast for digital disruption in the auto industry? What if it didn’t unfold like the smartphone revolution did, with hyper-mass production, homogeneity, and software engineers owning the user experience? 

What if the future favored affordable, small-batch vehicles that defied mass homogenization? What if highly efficient, decentralized production allowed car companies to react more quickly to demand, spread out their production facilities regionally, increase profit margins, and meet sustainability goals, all without high setup costs like tooling? Most importantly, what if automakers could pull off digital convergence and still build cool shit? To quote actor Martin Landau in Entourage, “Is that something you might be interested in?” 

It’s the promise of building cars with the Ctrl + P command. That is, using additive manufacturing, which has become the umbrella term in heavy industry for technologies like 3D printing that can deliver a digital model in solid, three-dimensional form. 

It’s a massive leap from the current car-building method, which requires automakers to make large, upfront investments in setting up factories to produce a particular model, with an additional outlay for any mid-cycle changes. Those costs must be recouped over a car’s production life before

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Car News

Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour canceled after SUV hits, kills 2

IONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Make-A-Wish ride planned for Sunday was canceled after two cyclists died after being hit by a vehicle.

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office says two people died, three were hurt and one person was arrested after an SUV crashed into a group of cyclists Saturday.

BIKE ACCIDENT.png

Daren Bower / WXMI

Police investigate the scene of a vehicle hitting several bikes (right) in Ionia County on Saturday.

Witnesses told FOX 17 that a passing vehicle hit several bicycle riders.

The sheriff’s office says one male cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene and another was flown to the hospital, but died from his injuries.

Deputies responded to Stage Road, north of East Nickle Plate Road around 11:15 a.m. Saturday.

Ionia Co Bicyclists Hit by SUV

FOX 17

Shortly thereafter, Ionia County Central Dispatch issued the following statement:

“Please avoid the area of Stage Rd north of Nickleplate Rd due to a critical incident. Road will be shut down for undetermined amount of time. Will update when it is back open.”

The sheriff’s office says the SUV crossed the centerline, into oncoming traffic, while trying to pass another vehicle on Stage Road.

Ionia Co Bicyclists Hit by SUV

FOX 17

Deputies say the other three cyclists who were hit were taken to the hospital with severe injuries.

The sheriff’s office says the driver of the SUV, who hit the cyclists, was arrested for operating while intoxicated causing death and taken to jail after receiving medical treatment.

Deputies say the cyclists were participating in the Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour, a three-day endurance ride covering most of the state of Michigan.

Neither the driver’s nor the cyclists’ names have been released, pending arraignment and family notification.

The road reopened around 4:30 p.m.

Make-A-Wish Michigan issued the following statement Saturday following the crash:

We are deeply saddened to share that a tragic accident occurred in

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Auto News

Rivian cuts 6% of work force; Illinois factory will not be

Rivian Automotive Inc. said it is cutting its work force by 6 percent as part of a restructuring process to better align its head count with business priorities, but it will spare its Normal, Ill., factory of job cuts.

The electric vehicle startup has struggled to increase production of its R1T pickup and the newly launched R1S SUV and Amazon commercial vans because of parts shortages, including semiconductors. Production improved in the second quarter to 4,401 vehicles from 2,553 in the first quarter.

“Today we announced the difficult decision to reduce the size of the Rivian team by approximately 6 percent,” a Rivian spokesperson said Wednesday.

“This decision will help align our workforce to our key business priorities, including ramping up the consumer and commercial vehicle programs, accelerating the development of R2 and other future models, deploying our go-to-market programs and optimizing spend across the business.”

The automaker has said total head count is about 14,000 before the cuts.

Rivian’s R2 platform is for a new generation of vehicles that will slot below the R1 consumer vehicles that start above $65,000. The R2 platform will be built at a future factory in Georgia.

Under Rivian’s severance program, laid-off employees will receive 14 weeks of pay, health care through the end of the year, their next quarterly equity vesting and job placement assistance.

“We’re deeply grateful for each departing team member’s contribution in helping build Rivian into what it is today. They will always be part of the Rivian story and community,” the spokesperson said.

Two weeks ago, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said in a note to employees that they would be briefed shortly on the terms of the company’s restructuring, including layoffs.

Scaringe said in the note, which was shared with Automotive News, that “Rivian is not immune to

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Car Industry

U.S. Senate Preps More Money for Auto Industry

Senate Democrats have settled on how to funnel more money into the automotive sector using all-electric vehicles and environmentalism. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin have reportedly agreed on a proposal that would expand the $7,500 tax credit for EVs while also introducing a new $4,000 subsidy for used models.

But that’s just to kick things off. The legislative package is likewise said to include $369 billion that’s been earmarked for climate and energy spending. For automakers, that means massive financial help from the government whenever they want to convert their existing factories into the kind that build all-electric vehicles. Though it may not be limited to EVs, as the updated language now makes fuel cell vehicles similarly eligible for the proposed industry subsidization.

With the Biden administration signaling that it will do whatever it takes to electrify American roadways, it’s not all that surprising to see allied politicians pushing for expanded tax breaks. The original $7,500 tax credit was implemented in 2010 as a way to help spur EV adoption rates while the technology was in its infancy using a quota system designed to keep things equal among the individual automakers. The theory was that, if the price of EVs were artificially lowered via tax breaks, more people would buy them.

Tesla was the first company to reach this cap and has been pretty clear that it doesn’t want to see things changed. Elon Musk derided any plan to expand or reset the credits as unfair, as it did not put all automakers on even financial footing. He also came down hard on earlier proposals that additional funding could be set aside for union-built cars, finding an unlikely ally in the Toyota Motor Corp (which had also reached the 200,000-vehicle cap, along with General Motors). However,

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Car News

2023 Toyota Supra Pricing Announced, Including for the

  • The 2023 Toyota Supra with its new six-speed manual transmission starts at $53,595, the same price as the automatic model.
  • The manual-only A91-MT special edition costs $59,440 and comes with a brown leather interior and other tweaks.
  • The base Supra 2.0 is also still available, but only with an automatic transmission, and starts at $44,635.

    The new six-speed manual transmission is arguably the 2023 Toyota Supra’s most desirable option, but it won’t cost extra. For 2023, the Supra 3.0 starts at $53,595 and the 3.0 Premium starts at $56,745, both representing a $610 increase over last year, but those prices apply regardless of whether you choose the eight-speed automatic or the newly available stick-shift.

    The manual comes only with the 382-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six, as the base 255-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four remains automatic-only. The base Supra 2.0 costs the same $44,635 as it did last year.

    There’s also a new trim level to commemorate the addition of the manual to the lineup. The 2023 Supra A91-MT edition (pictured), which is limited to 500 units, will cost $59,440, a $2695 upcharge over the Premium. For that sum, you get a brown leather interior, an Alcantara shift knob, red brake calipers, red badging, red strut tower braces, and 19-inch wheels. The manual also gets different calibration for the traction control and stability control and a rearranged center console, and all 2023 Supra models get different suspension tuning and a new blue color.

    We don’t yet have EPA fuel-economy ratings for the manual Supra. Toyota says it will go on sale later this year. We’re eager to get behind the wheel to see how the three-pedal version of this sports car compares in terms of driving experience and performance.

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