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this week in sheetmetal
as if ford hasn't made enough truck news lately, the company unveiled a compact pickup this week. the maverick (you may remember the name from a 1970s-era coupe) will come standard as a hybrid and positioned as an entry-level vehicle with a starting price of $21,490.
bugatti has created another special-edition chiron to commemorate the modified car that broke the 300-mph barrier and set a world record in 2019. the new chiron super sport will mimic the tweaks made to the 300-club car but will be limited to 273 mph. it is intended to be more comfortable than a previous special edition honoring the same feat.
the promised plaid+ edition of the model s is dead. tesla ceo elon musk had previously said it would have more than 1100 horsepower and more than 520 miles of range, but he now says there's "no need" for the plus model because the regular plaid is "just so good." that car has 1020 horsepower, and tesla expects the epa to estimate its range as between 350 and 390 miles. tesla started deliveries of the plaid this week.
whither the lordstown assembly plant?
the twisting saga of the lordstown, ohio, automotive assembly plant continued this week, as its current eponymous occupant said in a regulatory filing that it does not have enough money to start production on the endurance ev pickup that it had planned to start delivering to customers before the end of the year. that admission raises serious questions about the future of lordstown motors. or perhaps we should say additional serious questions—lordstown was the subject in march of a scathing report by investment research firm hindenburg. also in march, the company revealed it was facing an inquiry from the securities and exchange commission.
lordstown hasn't given up yet. it is currently seeking the funding it will need to stay afloat. general motors holds a 5 percent stake in the company, which it says was an arrangement the two parties agreed on to help close the sale of the lordstown plant. it was owned and operated by gm until 2019. gm has not sold its stake based on the news of lordstown's liquidity problems.
chip shortage, cont'd
the united states senate proved that it does remember how to pass legislation when it approved (by a bipartisan vote, no less) a bill that would, among other things, provide $52 billion to fund research, design, and manufacturing of semiconductors in the united states. domestic production of the high-tech chips won't ramp up overnight, but things may be looking up soon nonetheless.
automakers are beginning to talk about an end to—or at least an easing of—the shortage. volkswagen said this week that it expects the shortage to improve by the third quarter after peaking this summer. ford has told dealers to expect stock to slowly increase starting late this summer. and gm said last week it was going to restart production at some plants that had been idled during the shortage, but just in case you were starting to feel optimistic, this week gm said it was building some full-size trucks without the fuel-saving automatic start/stop feature in an effort to make the most of the chips it can get its hands on.
there's a new manufacturing plant in the motor city, the first new plant to open in detroit for 30 years. read about the plant, operated by jeep and currently employing 2,100 detroiters, here.
read about people who love the yugo in the new york times, and read in michigan's tri-county times about how one of them pirouetted off the mackinac suspension bridge in northern michigan on a windy day in 1989.
and an update to our sporadic coverage of the air taxi market: archer aviation has unveiled an aircraft that it says will begin ferrying passengers around large cities by 2024 for just $3 or $4 per passenger mile (or $50 to $70 from jfk airport to manhattan). we'll believe it when we see it.