While the all new Chevy Blazer offers a blast from the past, an all-electric SUV is on the horizon from Rivian Automotive showing that for every throwback on the main stage there’s a futuristic EV waiting in the wings. Slovenian automaker Elaphe offers an even bolder vision with its progressive in wheel electric motor technology. Meanwhile, President Trump is back in the news with threats of new tariffs, possibly affecting your future car purchase. And watch as one heroic father risks his own life to save his driver son from a fiery wreck. All this and more in this week’s auto industry news!
A New Chevy Blazer for a New Audience
The Trailblazer lives! The longtime Chevy SUV staple will return after a 14-year hiatus. But why now? Well, the all new Chevy Blazer is here to get a piece of the tectonic movement that is the crossover market. Yes, the versatile and legendary SUV will join the Traverse and Equinox in the crossover game. Its debut is set for early 2019, with a base model price tag near $30,000.
There are two potential setups for this resurrection. The new model will possess either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.6-liter V6. But expect it to generate about 193 horsepower/188 lb-ft of torque and 305 horsepower/269 lb-ft of torque respectively. Don’t bank on seeing the same rugged off-roader of old. There will be an all-wheel drive option, but that’s about it. And while the new Chevy Blazer won’t have the off-the-grid chops of its boxy predecessor, the crossover makeover gives it an aesthetic edge. It’s also stuffed with a multi-faceted infotainment system. We’ll certainly keep riding the hype train for now. But we also have to wonder—is this more of a nostalgia cash grab or a genuine revival?
Rivian Automotive Inches Closer Toward Debut
Despite what one may think of the new Chevy Blazer, the SUV game is destined to keep changing. And Rivian Automotive, an American startup focusing on EV technology, is quietly plugging toward that reality. Founded in 2009, Rivian Automotive has stated that by 2020, it will have two fully electric pickups and a three-row SUV. The SUV, according to the company’s early projections, will deliver “the acceleration of a Ferrari with the off-road capability of a Rover or Jeep.” A bold claim, indeed. But Rivian Automotive’s electric powertrain technology separates itself from other EVs. Vehicles will share the “skateboard” chassis design debuted at Michigan’s Designing the Future Summit. And Rivian’s minimalist approach to EV and autonomy (so long as its funding remains) has the company optimistic enough to foresee pre-orders after its first two vehicles debut at the LA Auto Show in November.
An In Wheel Electric Motor You Have to See to Believe
Like Rivian Automotive, Slovenian startup Elaphe has remolded the way we think about EV tech. The company’s Elaphe M700 is an in-wheel electric motor that compartmentalizes the entire approach of greener power. This technology allows the powertrain to be divided among the wheels of an electric vehicle. Each motor runs at a maximum of 101 hp (67 hp average). And it’s equipped with its own individual cooling system. The power of each in wheel electric motor is regulated by a centralized module and features anti-lock regenerative braking. A bold design that is sure to shift the way we think about efficiency!
While Elaphe isn’t the first to conceptualize the “off-the-shelf” powertrain, the company feels as though it has the best start on commercializing this bold new propulsion technology.
Trump’s Tariff Proposal
You may want to get your European auto technology while you can though, as the current administration aims for some changes in pricing. Earlier this week, via his Twitter account, President Donald Trump sought to level the playing field by threatening a 20% tariff on European vehicles. The tweet was a spiritual successor to previous statements the president has made about EU car tariffs. Many people suspect it to be a retaliation against the EU’s recent decision to place a tariff on various American goods like bourbon and Harley Davidson motorcycles. (Which was most likely provoked by President Trump’s tariff on EU steel.)
The president’s proposed import tariff is a significant figure because in 2017, the US imported over 1.3 million vehicles from the EU, which accounts for 7% of all vehicles sold. German automakers like VW and BMW would likely be hit hardest if the tweeted tariff gained life, experts say. Though there has been no official action by the administration yet.
Around the Circuit
And while it seems like the Germans can’t catch a break, the F1 circuit brings a little more bad news. Sebastian Vettel, who appeared to take home another victory at the French Grand Prix, actually had to forfeit the win due to a penalty, ultimately placing him third. Vettel received the five-second penalty for a small collision with Valtteri Bottas, who ended up finishing second. Worst of all for Vettel, the penalty surrendered the victory to rival Lewis Hamilton—his third of the season.
It is has been a sad weekend for the dirt racing community. Jason Johnson, sprint car driver for World of Outlaws, died of injuries sustained in a crash Saturday night at Wisconsin’s Beaver Dam Raceway. After a restart on the 1/3-mile oval, Johnson was competing for an early lead in the 18th lap when he lost control of his vehicle, climbing the wall and flipping into a billboard. Racing legends have already tweeted emotional statements commending his impact on the sport, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson was just 41 years old.
Driving is a dangerous sport, and no one knows it more than Mike Jones and his father, Dean. After spinning out and crashing at a NASCAR event, Mike’s car caught fire—a terrifying scene. Then, despite the life-threatening flames, Dean (who is also Mike’s crew chief) jumped over the track’s concrete barrier and rushed to his driver side window to help Mike escape alive. As many of us already understand, this result is sadly not always the case. No words do justice to the heart-stopping video below.