Our recap this morning also takes a look at the future of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW's hydrogen plans.
Good morning, and welcome to the middle of the month, as well as another edition of Cold Start. Since our last roundup on Friday morning, Nissan USA has activated the Z sports car configurator while a new rumor has emerged concerning a rotary sports car from Mazda. Ford has also been struck by criminals yet again, with a Raptor R the latest victim.
But to get this week started, we're going to take a look at the one-off Porsche 911 Carrera GTS inspired by Sally Carrera from Pixar's Cars. Thereafter, we discuss the electric future of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, a new $23 congestion charge in Manhattan, and coupe and convertible variants of the Toyota Crown. Finally, new developments have come to light in BMW's efforts to mass-produce a hydrogen-powered SUV.
In 2006, Disney and Pixar released Cars, an animated film focusing on the trials and tribulations of a hotshot race car in his rookie year. While the character of Lighting McQueen was based on two different versions of the Chevrolet Corvette (C1 and C6), his love interest was much easier to identify, with Sally Carrera based on a 996-generation Porsche 911. The 2022 recreation is a one-off roadgoing car created by Porsche experts in the Sonderwunsch program, which means no smiling bumpers or animated ocular expressions on the windshield. However, there are numerous bespoke nods to the film and the original character, including a drive selector featuring McQueen's 'Kachow!' catchphrase and Sally's pinstripe tattoo on the derriere of the car. Proceeds will support two charitable organizations, so get those bids in.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class isn't a bad car by any means, but it has failed to capture the attention of American buyers. Worse still, its closely related B-Class sibling offered in other markets has also received a lukewarm reception. Thus, both are about to be culled, but there could be hope for the entry-level luxury cars. According to recent reports, Mercedes is considering offering a small EV that would slot in below large sedans like the EQE and EQS. However, it seems that such a thing will be a long way off yet, as a suitable platform that could underpin the future Mercedes A- and B-Class is only expected to arrive in 2024. And don't bank on these being too cheap - Mercedes wants to move away from entry-level luxury.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is proposing the implementation of congestion charges for entering Manhattan, with these intended to come into effect in late 2023 or early 2024. If the MTA's proposal goes through, the cheapest possible charge for entering Manhattan during peak hours would cost you $9, while high congestion zones could cost as much as $23. For those in commercial vehicles and trucks, the range is considerably higher - $12-$82. The idea is that these charges should help improve congestion, with analysis suggesting car traffic could drop by as much as 20% while truck traffic may be reduced by between 21-81%.
According to new rumors, the recently unveiled Toyota Crown could expand its range beyond what we expected. Last month, we learned that as many as four body styles may be on offer soon, but now it seems that the number could be six, as recent reports indicate that a coupe and a convertible are in the cards too. The sources behind these revelations claim that the coupe will arrive in 2025 or 2026 and could be offered in the USA. The convertible seems less likely but cannot be ruled out and would likely arrive within six months of the coupe.
BMW has been developing hydrogen fuel technology for many years now, but much like EVs, the slow rollout of supporting infrastructure has meant that progress is slow. But BMW is not giving up hope, and new patent filings uncovered by CarBuzz suggest that a hydrogen-powered Bimmer could be along sooner rather than later. These patent filings reveal that hydrogen could be stored in tanks below the floor of a vehicle, in the same space that would be occupied by an EV's batteries. In addition, recent comments by sales boss Pieter Nota clearly state that this tech is especially viable for larger vehicles like SUVs, which could arrive as early as 2025.