Lexus has finally confirmed that its shapely RC coupe concept will hit the market, announcing this week that the production version will make its world debut at the Tokyo Motor Show on Nov. 20.
There will be two version of the RC coupe, an RC 350 with a 3.5-litre V-6 engine, and an RC 300h with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder gas-electric hybrid powertrain, specs that mimic the ones available on its ES line of mid-size sedans.
This is the first dedicated two-door coupe in the Lexus lineup since the SC was launched in 1991 as a two-door coupe based on the mechanicals of the larger LS flagship sedan. Ten years later, the SC coupe became a folding hardtop convertible, again with V-8 powertrains that reflected what was underhood in the LS, but also with a unique body that carried the most flamboyant styling of any Lexus product.
Judging from these photos, history is about to repeat itself. Lexus says the RC is the first Lexus to be created with a mandate to be “sexy,” a term rarely applied to Lexus models. But the RC is meant to bring a dose of passion into a brand better known for sterling reliability than design or driving pleasure, outside of Lexus’ super-exotic but short-lived LFA supercar.
The Lexus RC will seat four, and compete with the BMW 4 Series, Audi’s A5/S5, and Infiniti’s newly rechristened Q60 Coupe (née G37 Coupe).
EV owners angry at parking
A photo of four non-plug-in cars blocking access to four electric vehicle charging spots at Toronto’s upscale Yorkdale Shopping Centre has sparked heated online venom amongst Canadian electric car owners, with at least one owner vowing to block in gas-only vehicles who park in green-painted EV spots.
The poster of the photo – on the Nissan Leaf EV owner’s Facebook forum – spoke to a nearby security guard, who reportedly said their job was traffic flow management, not ticketing gas-only vehicles in EV spots.
Anthony Casalanguida, Yorkdale general manager, said that there’s no incentive for other drivers to park at those spots, since they require payment, while surrounding spots do not for the first four hours. However, in the almost nine months since the chargers have been installed, Casalanguida admits that not one ticket has been issued for drivers parked illegally in these spots, even after seeing the photo of the three cars and one SUV parked there.
As of late last month, there have been 240 charging sessions on these four chargers, though Casalanguida did not have an estimate for how much potential revenue may have been lost from drivers who wished to charge but couldn’t.
“Our goal is to support EV drivers with convenient charging stations, positively reinforce the benefits of EV vehicles and increase the visibility of green options with the marked charging stations,” he wrote in an e-mail. “We will remain focused on this approach and continue to issue courtesy tickets as a way of reinforcing the purpose of these charging stations.”
Cherokee fiasco still bothers Chrysler CEO
Toronto-raised Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne admitted in a recent conference call that mistakes were made for the recent launch of the Jeep Cherokee, such as taking too long to retool the factory after Liberty production ended, as well as underestimating the complexity of integrating its new engines with an all-new nine-speed automatic, an industry first.
The radically styled Cherokee is built in Chrysler’s Toledo Assembly plant, with production starting at the end of June, but deliveries to dealers just starting to trickle in now. Software integration issues with the new nine-speed ZF transmission prompted the company to thoroughly test-drive each and every one, reported trade journal Automotive News this week, a long and cumbersome process that further slowed down a line that had already started late.
“We're never going to take a plant down and be out of the market for over a year,” Marchionne reportedly told analysts. “We were just naked in 2013,” when sales of compact and mid-size SUVs spiked, but Chrysler had little to offer.
VIA Motors plant in Mexico up and running
There have been kinks along the way, but VIA Motors inaugurated its first assembly line for its lineup of plug-in cargo vans, SUVs and fleet pickups in San Luis Potosi, Mexico recently.
VIA Motors says that larger vehicles often used in fleets have big appetites for fuel, and would therefore see the largest potential benefits from hybridization. The company has added a larger battery that can also be plugged in, which the firm says allows the VTrux van an estimated all-electric range up to 65 km.
Unfortunately, in the consumer market, pickup truck and full-size SUV buyers are not particularly concerned with fuel economy, especially if it comes with a hefty price premium. With a starting price of $79,250, VTrux is about to find out whether the savings in long-term operating costs will be sufficient to convince cost-conscious fleet owners, who face an even stiffer premium for the larger (22 kWh) plug-in battery pack, which is eligible for provincial rebates between $5,000 and $8,000.
For the pickup truck model, a version of the outgoing generation Chevrolet Silverado, the company says operating costs are as low as three cents per kilometre, with fuel economy after the all-electric range runs out of about 10 litres/100 km.
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