Amazingly, part of what an automaker does is to let people try its half-baked cars.
Other industries ship review products out to customers, sure, but at times, experts are brought in at an early stage to help craft a new model near its inception. More common—and something I’ve been able to do a few times—is when an automaker allows writers to try vehicles not normally offered for sale.
It could be a car from another market, like a diesel Suzuki SX4 I once reviewed. Or a prototype BMW 7-Series with a V12 engine fed by hydrogen, which I drove around downtown Toronto with the windows down, asking pedestrians, “Would you believe this car runs on hydrogen?” (The handler that came with the Honda FCX Clarity prototype I drove shortly after was a bit more into discussing technical details…)
Which recent concept car would I give my left walnut to drive? The Citroën Oli. Thing is…I didn’t realize Oli can actually drive.
Not only that, it’s plated…in traffic…snapping necks and earning Parisian shrugs. You’re going to want to see this.
First, however: an antagonizing EV from China.
“Beneath this benevolent façade, Lotso is truly a cruel, ruthless, sadistic, mocking, conniving, cunning, rage-driven dictator and prison warden, ruling Sunnyside with an iron fist and imprisoning new toys…”
…is how a Disney Toy Story-based wiki describes the pink stuffed bear-based character now forever associated with the 2023 KiWi EV Strawberry Bear Limited Edition.
We last saw Lotso filthy and imprisoned—tied to the front of a garbage truck—in Toy Story 3, after karma finally caught up to the movie’s main villain.
However, like a modern day Robery Downey Jr., it appears as though Lotso cleaned himself up, got new management, and hopefully a decent payday from SAIC-GM-Wuling. Lest you think this is some mere sticker deal, no: months ago, Baojun built a pink fuzzy concept car for an entire commercial announcing the Toy Story partnership, as well as a street-level marketing tour.
Since General Motors seems to have texting privileges with Disney and isn’t afraid of playing the villain, here’s an idea: the Lyriq Cruella de Vil.
I’m not saying I’m jealous that Ginny Buckley of Electrifying got to drive the Citroën Oli prototype. I’m very jealous.
How could I be jealous isn’t the question—how could you not be jealous is what I want to know. My Citroën 2CV had flip-up side windows, like the Oli. My 2CV didn’t have coated (structural) cardboard panels for its hood, nor intricately moulded seats or special Goodyear tires designed to be re-tread (finally!!!!)
Top speed? About the same. So many details here deserve to be put into production, Citroën might as well just build the whole car and let everyone else play catch-up.
(But Jesus H Christ, without emissions laws to deal, with what’s the f**king excuse for Stellantis not selling a car like the Oli here? Servicing? F**k that, there are entire Mopar catalogues and supporting documentation filled with V8 wares. You think North Americans really couldn’t handle servicing on one of the most simple EVs yet developed? -inside voice)
Provided its safety is up to code, it’s time to put pride aside and offer more vehicles like this in North America. Climate change is happening, EVs and microcars are happening, but our corporations, investors, laws (and lawmakers) are unwilling to balance the car market—people with loans go to work and stay out of trouble, right?
Here’s an idea for a drinking game: take a shot every time you’ve read the terms “China-only” “EV” and “sedan” in automotive news this month. This is Honda’s latest concept that ticks all three of those boxes, called the e:N2.
Here’s something the blogs have missed: Honda has an official website already up for the e:N2 sedan featuring lots of motion video to give a solid view of the car’s striking silhouette. Granted, most of us will need help from translation software, but one thing’s for sure…the e:N GT Concept could be reborn as a Prelude to Honda’s upcoming EV onslaught.
Carve off another of the N:2 platform designs as a Sony for North America and—in one universe, at least—I can start to see a runway for Honda’s successful transition into an EV-focused future.
Adding to the points Carlton Reid makes in his piece, I sit here day in, day out, learning about all of the new exciting software features new vehicles are getting.
From LIDAR-enabled low-speed navigation to elaborate backup / top-down cameras, auto manufacturers can seemingly pluck any feature from the drawing board and put it into production under the auspices of safety—except for one: speed control within city limits.
Yet even ebikes (and bicycle conversion kits) are limited to ludicrously low speeds and smaller output motors below 500W—which still puts these slower road users at deadly odds with motor vehicle traffic. Why do we allow this?
“Rental e-scooter companies do not market their products with the same sort of deadly glamour. Nobody bats an eyelid when a car company promotes dangerous driving, but e-scooter companies still have to market worthiness, not the sizzle.”
Last week, I promised a ZEEKR gif, then I flaked. I blanked, forgot, and neglected to include it. Four minutes after I’d sent the Friday newsletter, I realized my error and wrote this in big letters at the top of my notes app: I FORGOT THE ZEEKR. Well…
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