Auto Industry News: VW Beetle Dead, Musk Lights Up, Rivian Makes Moves, & the ZR2 Does What?

This week, we say goodbye to the VW Beetle. Then, we head off road with the ZR2 (and some suspicious results might we add). Elon Musk appears to be going off the rails, while competitor Rivian is making big strides. And don’t look now, but NASCAR playoff season is upon us!

Bye-Bye, Beetle

Last week, VW announced that it would be putting the iconic Beetle to rest. Since its inception in 1938, the VW Beetle has seen generations through war, revolution, Y2K, and even staked its claim in cinema, starring as the self-driving Herbie the Love Bug in six films. Now, as it has been officially stated, VW will stop making the Beetle after next summer.

Over the years, many fans of the unique model voiced their frustrations over VW flattening the Beetle’s distinguishable curvature. So, perhaps this news is not so much of a shock as it is a collective bumming-out over what could have been. However, this is not the first time the VW Beetle has been discontinued. And not to instill false hope, as these rumors are ONLY rumors, but the little bug as we know it could return in future plans. Whispers suggest the model could be a fitting addition to the future EV line that is more or less VW making amends for unethical animal testing and emissions cheating. All there is to know now is that the automaker will send the legendary VW Beetle off with two “Final Edition” models. Check them out here!

Musk Takes Hits, in Every Sense of Word

Speaking of hippies… Elon Musk, Tesla CEO who requires drug testing for his own employees, was recently on Joe Rogan’s podcast smoking drugs. What a funny guy! Musk, a proponent of other psychoactive drugs, took what was supposedly a rare hit of marijuana on the two-hour podcast in which he and Rogan waxed conspiracy theories and artificial intelligence among other things.

The act is believed to be the main cause of Tesla’s value falling 6% nearly overnight, but it should also be noted that the company has since rebounded. And we’ll be damned if this flamethrower-totin’, dope-smokin’, Grimes-datin’ S.O.B. doesn’t give his executives and PR team another heart attack sometime in the next couple weeks. Keep’em on their toes, Lonny!

Rivian A1T Spied (Kinda)

Musk isn’t the only one makin’ waves. You might remember a company called Rivian, who we wrote about a while back for its electric truck aspirations, despite the imposing presence of Tesla. Well now it appears the small American startup’s dreams are taking slow steps toward reality. Spy photos of a Rivian motor in the wild came out last week. And I know what you’re thinking: that looks like an F-150! That’s because it is an F-150 (just the body) used for testing the motor’s chops.

The photos don’t give away too much, but they do seem to indicate independent suspension at each corner. And this makes sense, as reports from Engadget in the spring said the company wants the truck to have 14 inches of ground clearance and navigate through over three and a half feet of water. The A1T, the flagship truck, officially debuts in 2020, but the media will get a sneak peek at this year’s LA Auto Show. If this thing can really perform, it’ll be good for everyone if it can stay true to the David and Goliath narrative.

The ZR2’s Off Road “Baggage”

The Chevrolet ZR2, Chevy’s direct response to the Ford Raptor, and a contributing player to the exploding performance truck market, is now having some serious issues. Reports from multiple sources are saying that when taken “too far” off-road, the ZR2’s air bags deploy unexpectedly. Now maybe this is a good thing— a better-safe-than-sorry sort of approach. But when the foundation of your marketing is images of the truck launching over hills and barreling through rivers, somebody better have answers.

The ZR2, up to now, has tested fairly well with consumers and seemed to be on pace to help shift this tectonic market. But this isn’t even the first variant of the Chevy Colorado to have similar issues. Apparently, the Z71 has had similar malfunctions, deploying the side airbags at low speeds. As it stands, Chevy has not yet issued any sort of recall for this specific issue, calling the instances “rare.”

Around the Circuit

Smoking drugs is bad, mmkay. SMOKING TIRES, HOWEVER… That’s what life’s about. And that’s exactly what Brad Keselowski did after claiming the checkered flag in NASCAR’s playoff opener in Las Vegas on Sunday. The win is crucial for Keselowski to keep in step with points leader Martin Truex Jr, who has been nothing short of magical in the past few weeks (and also took third place on Sunday). Keselowski raced incredibly well, dodging pile ups and spin outs that took out veterans like Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliot. In addition to that, the win also tallies the 500th total for Penske Racing. But it’s the playoffs, so while he’ll enjoy Vegas, Richmond awaits.

At Crandon International Offroad Raceway, a champion was born. Mikey Vanden Heuval, on Kenda tires, captured the Pro2 Title at the 2018 Lucas Oil Midwest League Off-Road Racing Series. Mikey’s truck, the Flying Dutchman was not to be denied, clinching the championship with a hard-fought fourth place finish for the day. Though it was a close call as it nabbed just enough points to keep the season total ahead of Chad Hord, who finished second.

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