Here's what you may have missed over the weekend.
Good morning, and welcome to another installment of Cold Start, our roundup of the most important automotive news stories. This weekend, some significant new information has come to light, much of which could prove beneficial to the everyday consumer.
We start with Toyota's industry-leading position on next-generation EV tech before welcoming a new automaker to American shores. Then, we have an exclusive story on a new invention from Mazda before reflecting on how Tesla will help all EV owners. Finally, we get a first look at the new Toyota Crown, a car with sedan styling and the presence of an off-roader.
The most common arguments against electric vehicles concern the issues of range and recharging speed, but solid-state batteries address these problems and more. The technology is still some distance from becoming available to the mainstream consumer thanks to cost, but just like LED headlights, carbon fiber parts, and so-called flappy-paddle gearboxes, the technology will eventually become cheap enough to be applied to everyday cars. And Toyota, a champion of affordable mobility, is currently leading the way. According to a recent study from Nikkei, Toyota has more solid-state battery patents than anybody else. While the rest of the world has been jumping into the EV space head first, Toyota will wait to offer better products. As a result, it should have a definite advantage in the coming years.
Vietnamese carmaker VinFast is an exciting alternative to the typical EV players like Tesla. Its products promise outstanding value, brilliant tech, and attractive design. As part of its expansion plans, the automaker is to open the first of its American showrooms this week, on Thursday, July 14.
By the end of this year, 30 stores will be opened in California, starting with those in Santa Monica, San Mateo, San Diego, Corte Madera, Berkley, and Commerce. In addition, VinFast is on track to begin construction of a new factory in North Carolina this year. Building on the brand's existing HQ in Los Angeles, these new developments will help give prospective EV owners more choices than ever before.
Automatic hands-free tailgates are a brilliant idea, helping individuals whose arms are full to open their cars with ease. But at present, the systems fitted to crossovers like the Mazda CX-30 have a flaw: they take an age to open and close. This is to prevent injury or damage, but surely there's a better way of doing things. In patent filings uncovered by CarBuzz, Mazda has proposed a variable speed system for the tailgate of a hatchback. The idea is that the car will detect when you step back from the vehicle and speed up its opening or closing when it detects that it is safe to do so. When you're closer to the vehicle, it will operate at its normal glacial pace to prevent hitting you.
Tesla has been trialing the idea of allowing non-Teslas to charge at its Supercharger stations, with the pilot program starting in Europe, specifically in Austria, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and parts of the UK. Now that program is officially making its way to the US, with the White House announcing that "later this year, Tesla will begin production of new Supercharger equipment that will enable non-Tesla EV drivers in North America to use Tesla Superchargers." As predicted, it appears that a switch to the industry standard of the CCS plug will be inevitable. With more Superchargers available and more cars able to use them, the idea of going all-electric is getting more appealing.
The Toyota Crown is set to be revealed later this week, and we've been quite keen to see what this will look like. According to recently leaked patent images, the car will look much like a sedan but will have the high-riding stance of a crossover. Those patent images also gave us a preview of what elements like the headlights may look like, and thanks to the first official teaser image included below, we can see that this won't be a conventionally-styled machine. We'll know more soon, but before this week's reveal, we're expecting both front- and all-wheel drive configurations, along with two engine options.