Usually car manufacturers are falling over themselves at this time of year, introducing new models, debuting industry updates, unveiling new technology, providing new vehicle test drives and so on.
It’s also traditionally when auto scribes start attending various new car launches and industry events, and filing update stories.
But with COVID-19, social distancing and all the rest, travel is a non-starter, as are any events involving more than a couple of people.
The automotive industry as we knew it may never be the same and carmakers are struggling to find ways to deliver their messages.
But some news tidbits are finding their way into the ether. Here are a few items that have come my way lately.
Honda/Acura is in the process of launching two new models: the TLX and Limited Edition Civic Type R. These are both 2021 models.
The Civic Type R may be sold out even as you read this – Honda made a mere 100 of this one. It’s basically a lightweight, track-ready hot rod that bangs out over 300 horsepower. Available in Phoenix Yellow only, this one is aimed directly at aspiring street racers.
The TLX, meanwhile, receives a refresh, with new front suspension, and various performance and chassis refinements. It’s to be powered by either a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder or a 3.0-litre V6 mated to Honda’s Super Handling all-wheel-drive system. It’s due to be unveiled any day.
And in one of the more unpredictable alliances, Honda is teaming up with General Motors to design and build a new electric vehicle based on GM’s EV platform. Honda will apparently take care of the exterior and interior design, while GM will handle drive-train technology.
Ford, meanwhile, is working to introduce COVID-19-fighting technology in its police car fleet. Apparently a new software design for cop cars will raise the interior ambient temperature over 133F for up to 15 minutes, to neutralize any lingering viruses in the car.
Ford is describing this technology as “packing heat” and claims it’s hotter than Death Valley in the summer. The technology is also apparently adaptable to older law enforcement Interceptor models.
Wait for the lawsuits.
Ford is also introducing a new ST-Line version of its Edge SUV. This model emphasizes “value over performance,” according to Ford, and is priced some $8,600 less than the regular ST model. It comes with a 250-horsepower EcoTec engine, eight-speed automatic and available all-wheel-drive.
The new Mustang Mach-E can now apparently go almost 100 km further than it used to on a single charge, a 30 per cent increase. The new technology also allows the driver to recharge the vehicle in just 10 minutes, at one of the new fast-charge facilities scattered around the country.
Nissan continues to forge ahead with electric vehicle technology, focusing on Formula E racing. This zero-emissions competition features races on tracks around the world, and Nissan recently triumphed at an event in Yokohama, Japan.
While not as stimulating aurally as Formula One, ABB Formula E racing is as technologically challenging and spectator friendly. It also, in Nissan’s words, “raises funds for UNICEF’s global coronavirus appeal, helping keep children safe, healthy, and learning in the face of the pandemic.”
And if you’re going through self-isolation, Nissan’s upscale division, Infiniti, will give you one of their “carigami” kits to help you pass the time. Go to www.infiniti.com/headlines/carigami and download instructions to fold your own miniature cardboard cutout of the Q50, QX80 or FX.
Nissan/Infiniti is also offering free colouring pages for the housebound. Go to the company’s website, look for #DrawDrawDraw, and get yourself 23 templates of the company’s new and older models, including the Figaro, ChoiMobi and others.
Overall pickup sales in Canada are lower than they’ve been in years. Our country’s love for light-duty trucks has been hit hard by COVID-19, and full-sizers like Dodge Ram and Ford F-150 are feeling the pinch.
Surprisingly perhaps, some models – Ford Ranger and Chevrolet Colorado – are holding steady.
Ted Laturnus writes for Troy Media’s Driver Seat Associate website. An automotive journalist since 1976, he has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past-president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).