Ford EV drivers will get access to 12,000 North American Tesla Superchargers next spring

Last February, the Biden administration unveiled its $5 billion plan to expand EV charging infrastructure across the country. Not only with the Department of Transportation help states build half a million EV charging stations by 2030, the White House also convinced Tesla to share a portion of its existing Supercharger network with non-Tesla EVs. On Thursday, Ford became the first automaker to formalize that pact with Tesla, announcing during a Twitter Spaces event that “Ford electric vehicle customers access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada,” starting in Spring 2024, per the company release.

Because Teslas uses a proprietary charger port design for its vehicles, Ford owners will initially need to rely on a Tesla-developed adapter connected to the public charging cable in order to replenish their Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles. Ford also announced that, beginning with the 2025 model year, it will switch from the existing Combined Charging System (CCS) port to Tesla’s now open-source NACS charge port. These 12,000 additional chargers will join Ford’s 84,000-strong Blue Oval charging station network.   

“Tesla has led the industry in creating a large, reliable and efficient charging system and we are pleased to be able to join forces in a way that benefits customers and overall EV adoption,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Ford Model e, said in the release. “The Tesla Supercharger network has excellent reliability and the NACS plug is smaller and lighter. Overall, this provides a superior experience for customers.”

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Ford will add AM radio to EVs following concerns over emergency alerts

The next big update to your Ford EV might bring some decidedly old technology. Ford chief Jim Farley has revealed that the brand will add AM broadcast radio to its 2023 Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning models through a software update following discussions with politicians about the emergency alert system. It will also be included on all 2024 Ford and Lincoln vehicles, including the previously announced Mustang coupe.

Ford cut AM radio from its 2023 EVs after data showed that less than 5 percent of customers used it, according to spokesperson Alan Hall. The company was also concerned about interference with the EV system, and was trying to reduce cost and manufacturing challenges. You could still stream AM stations, but conventional broadcasts weren’t available.

The decision comes less than a week after a bipartisan group of senators and House representatives introduced a bill, the AM for Every Vehicle Act, to require the older radio format in new cars without charging a premium. They believe AM is “essential” during emergencies, and that removing it could put public safety at risk. A trade group that includes Ford, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, claimed the measure was unneeded as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can deliver alerts through FM, satellite and streaming.

This isn’t an altruistic gesture, then, and it’s unclear how Ford will address potential interference problems. Even so, this may be good news if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. You can buy EVs from Ford knowing you’ll get potentially life-saving warnings. This also applies pressure to BMW, Tesla and other vendors that have dropped AM radio in newer cars.

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Vinfast’s first EV is almost ready for the world

If you want to lose a lot of money, become an automaker. Cars are incredibly difficult to build and scaling manufacturing is nearly impossible. It took Tesla years to get the Model 3 to market after bringing the Model S and Model X to the road. So Vietnam’s VinFast decision to become an EV automaker after it spent a few years building vehicles based on BMW’s platform is sort of insane. And yet, this week we had the opportunity to drive the VF 8, the first VinFast EV to land in the United States.

Driving the VF 8 in San Diego was a stark reminder of the difficulty of building a vehicle. While we were impressed with what the company has done, we also have to report that the VF 8 electric SUV needs work if it’s going to truly compete with the rest of the US EV market.

Oddly, VinFast had us drive the lease-only California edition that’s actually only available in the Golden State. It has a shorter range than its competitors and the standard version of the vehicle that’s hitting US shores right now.

Overall though, we found the car needs a few more months of tweaks (most of which are software) to battle it out in the increasingly competitive mid-size electric SUV market. But don’t count them out: VinFast has the foundation to be a major player sooner than you think. Watch our first drive video below for the full story.

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Tesla recalls over 1.1 million cars in China over braking flaw

Tesla’s latest large-scale recall effectively covers its entire output for one nation. China’s market regulator has ordered a recall of over 1.1 million Tesla cars, or nearly all the vehicles it has sold in the country, over a reported flaw in the regenerative braking system. As drivers can’t set the intensity of regenerative braking or receive alerts with a sustained press of the accelerator, officials believe there’s a risk owners might misuse the pedals (as they can’t hear a revving engine) and crash.

The EV maker will fix the issue through a software update that both tweaks the default regenerative braking level and lets users customize the system’s strength. Tesla will also notify drivers who press the accelerator for a long time. The recall covers Model 3 and Model Y cars made in China between January 2019 and April this year, as well as some imported Model 3, Model S and Model X examples.

Tesla has disbanded its PR team and hasn’t commented on the recall. Bloombergpoints out that Chinese drivers have complained multiple times about acceleration and braking issues. One driver used the 2021 Shanghai auto show to highlight a serious crash where her father nearly died after the brakes failed. Tesla apologized, but didn’t acknowledge a glitch and noted the high speed before the collision.

As with most Tesla recalls, the software update won’t significantly disrupt the company’s business in the short term. However, it’s not a good look for a brand that has had numerous recalls in recent years, including 80,000 in China last fall for software and seat belt problems. Tesla depends heavily on China for revenue — it’s home to the giant Gigafactory Shanghai, which currently produces more than half of the firm’s cars each year. Tesla can’t afford to alienate either customers or officials.

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The Polestar 3 and Volvo EX90 are both delayed until 2024

Electric vehicle brand Polestar plans to reduce its headcount by 10 percent as part of an effort to cut costs. It will also institute a global hiring freeze and it has trimmed production guidance for 2023. Polestar now expects to produce between 60,000 and 70,000 vehicles this year, down from the previous figure of 80,000.

The brand cited a delayed start to production of the Polestar 3 and “the economic environment affecting the automotive industry” as key reasons for the changes. The electric SUV is now expected to enter production in early 2024.

Polestar says Volvo (which, as Autoblog notes, is Polestar’s vehicle producer and largest shareholder) needs more time for software development and testing of the new electric platform. Volvo has delayed the start of production of the EX90 for the same reason. Production is slated to start in the first half of next year.

There are no changes to the Polestar 4 schedule as things stand. Polestar expects to start production of that EV for China in the fourth quarter of this year and in early 2024 for other markets.

Polestar said in its latest earnings report that it delivered 12,076 cars in the first three months of 2023, an increase of 26 percent from a year earlier. More than 100,000 of the brand’s cars are now out in the wild. Polestar’s revenue rose to $546 million, up from $452.2 million a year earlier, while the net loss for the quarter was $9 million, compared with $274.5 million in Q1 2022.

There’s enough cash in the kitty for Polestar to make it through this year, the company previously said. It received a $1.6 billion injection from Volvo and fellow major shareholder PSD Investment in November. Polestar had $884.3 million cash on hand as of March 31st, though it expects to need more funding over the next few years.

Other nascent EV players have also been struggling to manage their expenses. Last month, Lucid said it would lay off 1,300 workers to cut costs, accounting for 18 percent of the total workforce. Rivian has also laid off more than 1,000 workers since last summer.

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Panasonic delays production of its next-generation Tesla batteries

Panasonic will not be able to start the volume production of its 4680 battery cells for Tesla before March 2024 like it had originally planned. According to Reuters, the company has delayed the battery’s mass production and has decided to kick things off between April and September 2024 instead, so that it would have enough time to improve its performance. “Mass production rescheduled to begin during [the first half of the fiscal year ending in March 2025] to introduce performance improvement measures that will further enhance competitiveness,” the company has revealed in its earnings report. 

The 4680 battery format has the potential to boost the range of electric vehicles by over 15 percent. Nikkei previously said that it could extend the range of the Model S from 404 miles on a single charge to around 465 miles. It’s unclear what Panasonic means by introducing “performance improvement measures” and whether that would lead to even longer range capacities for electric cars. 

Tesla manufactures its own batteries in its Fremont, California facility and at the Gigafactory Texas, and it is expected to ramp up production in the latter. But the company still depends on its partner manufacturers, Panasonic being one of them, to be able to meet its battery needs. At the moment, Tesla is using the 4680-type cell for the base Model Y vehicles produced at Gigafactory Texas. The company plans to equip its other vehicles with it, though, including the Cybertruck, which will enter mass production in 2024. 

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Volvo’s compact electric SUV will be called the EX30

Volvo has revealed the name for its upcoming fully electric small SUV in a teaser showing its official launch date. The vehicle is called EX30, and a previous report from the Auto Express suggests that it’s targeting MINI’s electric vehicles. Volvo first teased the compact SUV when it announced the EX90, which the company calls its “safest car ever,” last year. Apparently, it shares several design components with the EX90, including its sharply angled hatchback form factor and its tail light. 

The EX30 will reportedly use the electric vehicle platform developed by Volvo parent company Geely. Smart, an automative brand established as a joint venture between Mercedes-Benz and Geely, already used the platform for its compact electric SUV called the #1. That’s why Auto Express expects the EX30 to be available as a 268-horsepower single-motor vehicle like the #1 or as a 400-horsepower four-wheel drive vehicle similar to Volvo’s older EVs.

Like other automakers, Volvo Cars aims to go fully electric by 2030 and unveiled its first electric vehicle, the XC40 Recharge SUV, back in 2019. It also launched a curvier version of it, the C40 Recharge, in 2021. The automaker will officially unveil the EX30 on June 7th, when the vehicle will also be available for pre-order in select markets. 

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Tesla unveils Model S Plaid track package that unlocks a top speed of 200 MPH

Tesla has unveiled a $20,000 track package for the Model S Plaid, finally allowing it to reach the 200 MPH top speed the automaker promised when it was first announced. The Model S Plaid vehicles the company delivered after they became available could only reach around 163 MPH, which is fast, but not 200 MPH fast. Turned out Tesla put a limitation on its software to prevent it from reaching its full potential. According to Electrek, the company wanted the vehicle to have bigger brakes first, so they could slow down better from really high speeds. 

When you visit the Model S Plaid order page, you’ll see a note when you click the 200 MPH stop speed spec that the indicated spec requires paid hardware upgrades. The new track package will set you back $15,000 for a carbon ceramic brake kit package, or $20,000 for the brake kit and a wheel and tire package optimized for performance and track usage. You will need the ceramic brakes to be able to unlock the vehicle’s top speed, but you can also purchase just the wheel and tire package for $6,000

The automaker first started offering the ceramic brake kit for $20,000 back in 2021, but it has yet to start installing it on customers’ vehicles. (While there was a company that was able to push past the Model S Plaid’s software limitations last year, it had to hack into the vehicle’s software and install third-party brakes.) The new track package pages have a clear date for their availability, though: They will be out in June 2023 and can be purchased from the Tesla app.

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