Refreshed Porsche Taycan, Kia hybrid minivan, cheaper Ford and GM EVs: The Week in Reverse


Which EV brand rolled out lower-priced versions of its electric pickup and SUV?

Which hotels are soon getting Tesla wallbox chargers?

This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending February 9, 2024.

In a first drive of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van, we saw how businesses and fleet managers are going to run out of excuses, as diesel’s living on borrowed time. And this quiet, super-efficient van leads the way to passenger vans, RVs, and the electric vanlife arriving in just a few more years. 

2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter

2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter

Rivian on Thursday released details for the cheaper R1T and R1S Standard pack versions that had been expected to arrive with an LFP battery pack. Instead of that, the Standard and Standard+ versions are getting a smaller version of the same battery pack offered on the rest of the lineup. That qualifies them for the $3,750 EV tax credit from the get-go—effectively $67,950, including destination, for a 270-mile electric truck, or upping it to a 315-mile range for $3,100 more..

On March 7, Rivian will reveal its mass-market R2—even though it’s not due to arrive to customers until 2026. Will it stoke some new interest in the electric truck brand and be its “Model 3 moment?”

2025 Porsche Taycan

2025 Porsche Taycan

In a revamped 2025 Porsche Taycan lineup revealed Tuesday, Porsche has teased out better numbers in many respects, including range, efficiency, charging and acceleration—and it appears that the Taycan’s range gains will go well beyond its 13% gain in battery capacity. The Taycan stands strong versus gasoline models, too; Porsche says it’s the quickest and most powerful production Porsche ever. 

Ford CEO Jim Farley, during the company’s Q4 2023 earnings call Tuesday afternoon, noted that the company was shifting its electric vehicle efforts away from large EVs and toward smaller, lower-cost EVs to rival a $25,000 Tesla and products from China. With the Gen 3 platform he referred to—what’s being developed under Model 3 development guru Alan Clarke within Ford’s Model E—will Ford translate the ethos of the Model T into the EV era?

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning

Farley also emphasized Ford hybrids amid regional variations in EV demand. In California, for instance, the Lightning EV is 30% of F-150 sales, while in Dallas hybrid and EV versions together only added up to 15%. Farley claimed that easier showroom math on hybrids’ cost advantages are part of it.

The efficiency-focused California startup Aptera claims it’s crowdfunded enough money to build its three-wheel solar EV. But is it enough to escape Elio’s long shadow, and a pattern of pushed-back timelines?

2023 Kia Niro EV

2023 Kia Niro EV

Kia is recalling two of its EVs—in this case, a small number of 2023-2024 Niro EV and 2023 EV6 models for potentially defective driveshafts. The recall covers models made within a relatively narrow build window earlier last year—1,243 U.S. vehicles in all.

Toyota’s recent comments downplaying EVs don’t appear to have changed its plans to build a three-row electric Toyota SUV in Kentucky. It announced an additional $1.3 billion toward the plant to add a battery-pack assembly line to the plant, where EV production is set to start in 2025.

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid

With the addition of the 2025 Kia Carnival Hybrid minivan, families will have another high-mpg family choice with three rows of flexible seating. The Carnival Hybrid is set to rival the Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, although it won’t initially offer all-wheel drive or a plug-in hybrid version. 

Want an electric sport wagon? The BMW i5 Touring announced Wednesday is that—a wagon version of the i5 electric car and member of the 5-Series family. BMW calls the first EV of its kind. Yet if you want anything with its utility in America with the BMW badge you’ll have to go with one of its SUVs; BMW confirmed that there are no plans to bring it, or any 5-Series wagon, to the U.S.

2024 BMW i5 Touring

2024 BMW i5 Touring

And there were many pieces of charging news. Among them, Choice Hotels, the chain that includes Radisson, Cambria, Comfort, Quality Inn, and more, has announced that it will add Tesla wallbox chargers at thousands of hotel locations—good for a full charge overnight for many EVs. The Cambria brand will offer EV chargers at every location, by the end of 2024. 

Electrify America is showing a template for the future in its flagship urban EV charging station, which shifts it indoors with climate-controlled lounge areas, food and beverage vending, and free wifi along with connectors up to 350 kw. It starts a new strategy for larger stations serving urban areas, while its new outdoor layout adds solar canopies and more. 

First Electrify America indoor charging station opens in San Francisco

First Electrify America indoor charging station opens in San Francisco

Ionna is the name for the EV charging network formed by seven automakers, it revealed Friday. The network, set to eventually offer 30,000 fast-chargers, each at 350 kw or more, might be the closest rival yet to Tesla’s Supercharger network. First U.S. charging stations will be open this year, it says. 

The Biden administration’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program tends to favor gas stations and convenience stores. But a fast-charging stop at Waffle House in Tennessee is one such example that bucks the trend. 

Rendering of EnviroSpark EV chargers at at Waffle House

Rendering of EnviroSpark EV chargers at at Waffle House

GM has tapped former Tesla battery-development chief Kurt Kelty to bring lower-cost GM EVs to production sooner. GM’s production ramp has been going extremely slowly, with the battery ramp itself pointed to as part of the reason why the company has missed production targets by such a margin.

As a sales roundup released this past week by dealers in California pointed out, EV sales from franchised dealerships were way up 94% from 2022 to 2023. But the direct-sales champ Tesla still reigned in California, with the Model 3 and Model Y adding up to nearly one in eight vehicles sold in the state, electric or not. To mix it another way, nearly one in eight Teslas sold globally were delivered in California.

2023 Tesla Model Y

2023 Tesla Model Y

And the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) thinks it can turn car dealers into EV experts in 90 minutes. Could such a program be all dealers need to get pull out of the slow lane and belief that the Biden administration is moving too fast on EVs?

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