NACTOY

Ford, Hyundai win big as 2021 North American Car, Truck, SUV of the Year announced

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E came up with a trophy at the annual NACTOY awards.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

While it's an honor just to be nominated as a finalist, three vehicles stood out to the jurors of the North American Car, Truck, and SUV of the Year (NACTOY) awards. All NACTOY nominees are vehicles that have either been introduced for the 2021 model year or undergone a significant redesign.

Ford and Hyundai earned top honors with the Ford F-150 earning the North American Truck of the Year award, Ford Mustang Mach-E taking the North American SUV of the Year trophy, and the Hyundai Elantra getting the North American Car of the Year nod.

2021 North American Car of the Year: Hyundai Elantra

2021 Hyundai Elantra

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai has redesigned the Hyundai Elantra for the 2021 model year taking it from a passive daily driver to an engaging small car with a lot of zip, especially in the Elantra N model where it gets a standard manual transmission and tuning to make it a sleeper. It also has a boatload of high-tech features that make it punch far above its price tag, which starts under $20,000.

2021 North American Truck of the Year: Ford F-150

2021 Ford F-150 Tremor Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford didn't just redesign its F-150, it listened to its customers and made it better for them. Sure, that seems simple enough but while they may get accused of not going far enough, NACTOY jurors appear to have recognized how innovative the redesign is for the average F-150 customer. On-board generator? Check. Collapsable shifter? Check. Fold out work station for the driver? Check. Clamp zones in the tailgate? Check.

Ford recently made news saying that the F-150 will be the latest model that is available with the Tremor off-roading package.

2021 North American SUV of the Year: Ford Mustang Mach-E

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is the first all-electric crossover the company has offered and Ford is aiming to do it 100 percent right the first time. Like other electric SUVs, the Mustang Mach-E comes in a variety of battery range levels. Ford is pairing those with options for all-wheel drive and premium appointments, treating the Mustang Mach-E more as a traditional vehicle than an electric outlier.

Ford recently announced a new Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition will be added for the 2022 model year.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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