april fools' day unfolded with the usual smattering of mildly amusing but entirely transparent corporate stunts. but none rivaled the volkswagen of america prank in which the company accidentally (it wasn't an accident) posted and then deleted a press release announcing that it would rebrand to voltswagen, a nod to the company's electric future. some news outlets reported the change as fact, and the german and american arms of the company publicly disagreed about whether the announcement was a stunt, before the americans finally gave in and admitted that it was all supposed to be a joke. to make it even dumber, all of that happened on march 29-30 and was over by april 1. what a mess.
this week in sheetmetal
genesis showed off a luxurious new coupe concept, the genesis x. the concept car seats four and showcases design elements borrowed from genesis' suv lineup but applied to a sleek, sporty-looking coupe. sadly, it doesn’t seem to be foreshadowing any specific forthcoming genesis projects. but maybe if we ask nicely?
lexus unveiled an ev concept, called the lf-z, which takes the form of a low-slung crossover. it appears to be an evolution of the brand's outrageous lf-30 concept, but it still doesn't look production-ready. lexus is aiming to put its first full ev on the market in 2025.
mercedes-amg released details of two forthcoming plug-in hybrid powertrains, branded as e performance. so far we know about a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a twin-turbo v-8, both with a 48.4 kwh battery pack, electric motor, and two-speed transmission. the v-8 powertrain can make up to 804 horsepower. that's electrification we can get behind.
actually infrastructure week
president biden announced the details of his infrastructure spending plan this week, and proved in the process that he, like us, knows that infrastructure means more than just highways. the $2 trillion plan includes money for roads and bridges, yes, but also $174 billion for investment in evs and ev infrastructure, $56 billion to modernize the country's water systems, $35 billion to research technology solutions to the climate crisis, and funding for plenty of other projects large and small.
biden promised earlier in his term that he would not seek to raise the gas tax, leading some policy watchers to think his plan might call for a road usage tax instead. but biden has hit on a totally different way to pay for his ambitious plan: raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent for 15 years. remember though, this is all just a plan. it's up to congress to decide what the plan will look like when it becomes law, or whether to humor biden's spending plans at all.
in the green
the first-quarter results are in, and car sales in the u.s. are up from the first quarter of last year. this quarter's report marks our first chance to compare an early-pandemic economy to a (hopefully) late-pandemic one, and things appear to be looking up. ongoing supply-chain issues notwithstanding, march auto sales were on pace to return to pre-pandemic levels. dealers are facing tight supply because of the aforementioned issues, which allows them to charge more for the cars they do have in stock. the average transaction price for a new car was $37,314 in the first quarter, up $3000 compared to the same time last year. the dearth of new vehicles means used vehicle prices are hitting record levels, too. it's a great time to sell a car, but it may not be a great time to buy one.
here's something we wish we'd thought of first: the new york times has an analysis of how paint color impacts a car's resale value. read before you buy.
if you can never quite remember in which order to clip on jumper cables, take it from someone who knows and read the crash course that f1 mechanic kevin hines gave to road & track.
and if the confluence of cars and politics brought about by the introduction of president biden's infrastructure plan isn't enough for you, read about ford's decision to resume political donations after suspending them in the wake of the january 6 riots at the u.s. capitol. what, did you think they were going to let gm do all the schmoozing?