Kia Niro EV review, Tesla FSD recall, Ford LFP batteries, Ram 1500 REV: The Week in Reverse

Which brand revealed a fully electric convertible available this year?

Which state opted to join California’s EV mandate this week?

This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending February 17, 2023.

In a review of the 2023 Kia Niro EV, we find that while this 253-mile EV has improved incrementally in every way versus its predecessor, it backslides on value—especially when you start to lay out how it compares by the numbers. 

The federal government acted to put Tesla’s $15,000 Full Self-Driving on a tighter leash. The NHTSA said that Full Self-Driving Beta poses “an unreasonable risk to motor vehicle safety,” with the announcement of an over-the-air recall of more than 360,000 vehicles that will adjust a number of ways the system behaves and responds. It results after an engineering analysis by the agency. 

Ram 1500 REV

Ram 1500 REV

Coordinated with a Super Bowl ad about “premature electrification,” Ram revealed the production version of its 1500 REV electric truck, which appears to be nothing close to the design revolution shown by the brand’s recent Ram 1500 Revolution BEV Concept. 

A plant that could produce battery cells enabling Ford EV affordability was announced for Michigan. The facility will be owned and run by Ford but will employ technology from CATL and make LFP (lithium iron phosphate) cells.

Ford Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning getting CATL LFP batteries

Ford Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning getting CATL LFP batteries

With the LFP battery tech headed to the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning over the next year, and we looked into what makes it superior for certain kinds of budget-minded buyers. 

Unrelated to the battery announcement, Ford this week halted F-150 Lightning production over a battery-related issue that involved a fire outside its Dearborn plant. Ford didn’t stop Lightning sales in the wake of the issue, which it continues to evaluate.

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla Supercharger

Earlier in the week, we looked at how Tesla might open its Supercharger network to other EVs and augment its proprietary connectors to access government funding. And then on Wednesday it happened, with the Biden administration laying out technical requirements for companies claiming federal funds for the $7.5 billion national EV charging network. That includes Tesla, which will open up some of its network—for a price, of course. 

There will be three EV debuts from Cadillac in 2023, the GM luxury brand announced Wednesday, with production starting in 2024 for all three. Don’t expect them all to come to the U.S. immediately, either, as they’ll be given staggered rollouts across world markets. 

MINI Cooper SE Convertible (Euro spec)

MINI Cooper SE Convertible (Euro spec)

There’s now a production electric convertible! Don’t get your hopes up too much, though; the Mini Cooper SE Convertible confirmed this week is only arriving to Europe, in a very limited-edition form. 

Before its own self-imposed disruption of Dieselgate, VW saw plug-in hybrids as a “bridge” to EVs. After years of saying that hybrids and PHEVs for the U.S. will only divert the focus from its fully electric models, VW appears to be returning to that old messaging. 

Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept live photos, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept live photos, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that his Garden State will take a path to adopt California’s 2035 end date for new internal-combustion vehicles, other than plug-in hybrids. With the recent defeat of an effort to scrap Virginia’s adoption of the rules, there’s now a cohesive East Coast bloc mandating more EVs

Meanwhile, seven automakers earlier this week filed testimony that solidly backs California’s ability to mandate EVs as part of tougher emissions standards—in response to a challenge from 17 Republican-led states opposing this case that tangles with states’ rights. 

A Ford patent application proposes a dual-charge-port solution that could, with bidirectional charging capability, charge multiple EVs in series from the same station—or allow them to provide power to each other or to the grid. The tech looks like it could be a useful part of Ford’s plan to help businesses cut costs and electrify their fleets.

Ford series EV charging patent image

Ford series EV charging patent image

Ford has also patented the combination of a solid-axle and hub-motor combination for EVs, and it reminds us of the setup used by Lordstown Motors in the Endurance—a setup Ford had said wasn’t durable enough for the F-150 Lightning. Might it make sense after all in a future off-roader?

Redwood Materials is reportedly likely to receive a $2 billion U.S. Department of Energy loan applying toward its $3.5 billion recycling and manufacturing facility in Nevada, and getting a jump on a U.S. supply chain for battery materials. 

A potential cold-weather stalling issue is prompting Toyota to recall some 2021 RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrids. It’s a software fix, but in this vehicle that means a service appointment at the dealership. 

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE

Results from a study sponsored by a petro-refining trade group suggest that Midwest motorists will pay an additional 8 to 12 cents per gallon of gasoline due ethanol policy supported by the region. Would a cohesive fuels standard including electricity generation serve everyone better?

According to a report summing up California sales, Tesla took 11% of the state’s market in 2022, passing GM, Honda, and others. It did that with only EVs, and no pickups yet, as EVs surged to 17% of the California market in 2022. 

And is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration going to take seriously a petition that seeks pedestrian sounds on nine million older hybrids and EVs? It’s extremely unusual for the agency to open such a wide-ranging investigation on one petition, so this may mark several auto-safety firsts.

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