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2020 Ford Explorer ad features adorable puppies

Ford's new commercials feature adventures you can have at home and across the world (and beyond).

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

To infinity and beyond! Ford's latest Explorer ad campaign serves to remind Americans that you don't have to go to another planet to be an explorer. Some of the best adventures, it reminds us, happen a little closer to home.

In a series of three spots that are voiced by actor Bryan Cranston, the Explorer story is told through the eyes of three adventurers. "Nighttime Adventure" features the 2020 Ford Explorer ST and a marine biologist who goes from the sea to grabbing froyo with her family at a local stand that could be nearly anywhere in small town America.

The 2020 Ford Explorer ST: Nighttime Adventures | Explorer | Ford www.youtube.com

"Hybrid Civilization" focuses on a dog carer who starts the tale atop a mountain covered in snow, in harsh weather conditions, surrounded by her huskies. When the dogs protest to the weather conditions, she loads them into her Explorer and they head downhill, with the 2020 Ford Explorer Limited Hybrid pulling a trailer, ultimately ending up at their local pet resort and spa.

The 2020 Ford Explorer Hybrid: Civilization | Explorer | Ford www.youtube.com

In a touching move, Ford has included a father retuning home from extraterrestrial adventures to tasks most fathers will recognize as being a different type of adventure like shoe shopping and making it to school in time to pick up the kids in the carpool line. "Journey Home" features the 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum.

The 2020 Ford Explorer Platinum: Journey Home | Explorer | Ford www.youtube.com

The Ford Explorer is facing increasing competition as SUVs that are used for mundane daily driving tasks are becoming more capable off-road thanks to the prevalence of torque vectoring technology and all-wheel drive. These Explorer commercials show that the model isn't just keeping up. It's striving to stand out.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Production of the Volkswagen ID.4 will mark the automaker's first all-electric SUV launch. The ID.4 will have about 310 miles of range, depending on the drive package.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen is investing heavily into electric vehicles (EVs), even in the U.S. where the models make up a smidgeon of the sales each year. The company has already begun expanding its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory to build a North American center for the engineering and assembly of EVs.

That doesn't mean that they're just working on cars. They're working on the design of the "things" that go into cars as well. Much of this will happen at the Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) in Chattanooga. Breaking ground on the center is set to happen soon with the expectation of it being fully operational by spring 2021.

Volkswagen Chattanooga plant Volkswagen is investing $800 million and adding 1,000 jobs at its Tennessee plant. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The EPC will feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory that is designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs. These cells and packs are slated to be assembled in the U.S. before being inserted into vehicles.

"There are two ways that auto companies approach the development of electric vehicle batteries," said Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President of Engineering at Volkswagen of America. "A lot of them will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter."

The lab will include pressure testers, explosion-rated climate chambers and – perhaps the most unique – a custom multi-axis shaker table (MAST), which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.

According to Volkswagen, most automotive labs have MASTs, "but almost none were designed for electric vehicle batteries". EV batteries present their own set of testing challenges because of their size and weight. They typically weight hundreds of pounds each, making them the heaviest component in an EV.

"The battery is not only shaking; it is going through a series of harsh conditions to test its durability in a variety of possible environments, from the South Pole to the Sahara," said Jason Swager, the Director of Electrical Development. "We needed to build a MAST that could withstand the immense force and frequency that we need to test these batteries."

Volkswagen describes the process:

"To run a MAST at such high frequencies, Volkswagen had to design its own tool rather than using an outside supplier. The supports for the MAST will be buried 12 feet under the lab's floor and buttressed with concrete to help withstand the forces in use. Volkswagen's new lab will be only the second location in the country with a MAST of this size."

Volkswagen is building the lab to LEED standards. "This lab was planned to be as sustainable as possible," said Maluche.

The production version of the Volkswagen ID.4 EV is expected to be revealed soon. It will be produced at the factory. The company recently celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off the line at the plant.

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Mazda has added a turbo back to its options list for Mazda3 for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

The 2021 Mazda Mazda3 2.5 Turbo is the powerful engine option many buyers have been seeking. We now know how much power it will deliver and how much it will cost.

Mazda is selling the Mazda3 with the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine in both sedan and hatchback variants. Sedan models will start at $29,900 and hatchback at $30,900. Adding the Premium Plus package to the sedan model bumps up the cost to $32,450 and the same treatment for the hatchback prices it at $33,750.

2021 Mazda Mazda3 2.5 Turbo The Mazda3 Turbo is aesthetically unchanged on the interior from the other top-tier Mazda3 models.Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

There is a $945 destination and handling fee for each vehicle ($990 in Alaska).

Both models come with the 250-horsepower engine that delivers 320 pound-feet of torque on premium fuel (227 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque on regular fuel). All-wheel drive is standard.

When equipped with the Premium Plus package, the hatchback version of the model gets a front air dam and rear roof spoiler. When adding the available Aero Kit ($1,075), a rear diffuser and side sill extensions is added. Or, a buyer can choose to have the Mazda3 Turbo without the Premium Plus package and just add the Aero Kit as a standalone option for $1,900.

Mazda is making new BBS 18-inch gloss black forged wheels available on all grades of the Mazda3 Turbo for an added $918.95.

Getting a premium paint color on the Mazda3 Turbo will also cost extra. Prices are $395, $495, and $595 for Snowflake White Pearl Mica, Machine Gray Metallic, and Soul Red Crystal, respectively.

Power To The People | 2021 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo | Mazda USA www.youtube.com

There are no further aesthetics changes to the model for the new year.

To coincide with the arrival of the new model, Mazda has launched a fresh ad campaign that showcases a touch of the company's history alongside the beginning of this new, turbocharged chapter. Mazda celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2020.

The 2021 Mazda3 Turbo is expected to arrive at dealerships later this year.

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