New EV

Volkswagen ID. Buzz is a retro-inspired electric van

The electric ID. Buzz enters production this fall.

Volkswagen

Few vehicles are as iconic or as instantly recognizable as the Volkswagen Bus. The funky German people-hauler features a unique upright shape and cavernous interior space for carrying passengers to music festivals far and wide. Volkswagen hasn't sold a van here in the U.S. for several years now, as the last family carrier it offered was the Routan. That's about to change, and in a big way. The ID. Buzz - a seriously quirky electric van is on its way, and promises to be a compelling zero-emissions vehicle.

Volkswagen ID. BuzzVW promises 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. Range figures are expected soon.Volkswagen

The van premiered at the Detroit Auto Show in 2017, and VW has used it as an EV ambassador since. Though it looks like a frumpy people hauler, Volkswagen says the MEB platform upon which the ID. Buzz rides makes it agile. Like many EVs, its 82-kWh battery is located beneath the load floor, which helps give the van a low center of gravity and improve handling. It's paired with an electric motor mounted on the rear axle that provides 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque.

The ID. Buzz offers five seats and 39.6 cubic feet of cargo space. An available ID. Buzz Cargo carries a petition behind the front seats and offers a total cargo capacity of 5.1 cubic yards (137.7 cubic feet). Both versions of the van are 185.5 inches long and ride on wheels ranging from 18 to 21 inches in size. The relatively compact dimensions give the van a turning radius of just over 35 feet.

Volkswagen ID. BuzzThe ID. Buzz is on a final European quality check tour before entering production. Volkswagen

VW says a fleet of pre-production vans is touring Europe working out final kinks before full-scale production begins. VW will start building the ID. Buzz in the second half of 2022 and the van will launch in Europe in fall. The vehicle we see here in the United States will ride on an extended wheelbase, but no other region-specific specs are available.

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Electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning could get tank turn

Ford patented a tank turn feature in late 2020.

Ford

The F-150 Lightning is packed with cool tech and capability, but we're learning that Ford has even bigger plans for its first electric pickup. Inside EVs found an exciting document on the Lightning Owners Forum that shows ford applied to patent a tank turn feature like the one we saw Rivian pull off a few years ago, where the truck spins around a center point using its electric motors. Rivian's tank turn feature still hasn't made it to market, so it's possible that Ford beats them to the punch.

Ford F-150 LightningTank turn allows the truck to spin while almost completely stationary.Ford

Ford applied for the patent in October 2020, but it's just now making its way out. In the document, Ford gives an example of how it could work: "Methods, apparatus, systems and articles of manufacture are disclosed to perform a tank turn. An example vehicle includes a first wheel and a second wheel, the first wheel located on an end of a first axle, the second wheel located on an end of the second axle, the end of the first axle opposite to the end of the second axle, a first suspension coupled to the first wheel, a second suspension coupled to the second wheel, and a controller to drive the first axle in a first direction, drive the second axle in the second direction and decrease a first suspension load of the first suspension and a second suspension load of the second suspension."

As Inside EVs points out, Rivian's tank turn feature employs the R1 T's quad-motor setup to drive each wheel individually. The F-150 Lightning doesn't currently have a four-motor choice and instead offers two motors – one on each axle. It's important to note that Rivian patented tank turn and showed that it could work, but there hasn't yet been a production vehicle that offers the capability. Toyota filed a patent in 2019, but again it's just paperwork at this point.

Ford F-150 LightningNo automaker has brought tank turn to production yet.

To achieve the turn, Ford has a few options. The most obvious would be to offer a quad-motor upgrade in future model years. It's unclear if such a feature is in the works or if Ford plans to provide beefier versions of the Lightning, such as a Raptor variant with upgraded motors. The automaker could also design gearing to reverse the wheels on one side while the others drive forward, or it could use braking to lock the wheels and tighten the turning radius.

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New luxury EV

Lexus announces all-electric RZ 450e

Lexus just announced the new RZ 450e

Lexus

Lexus and Toyota have finally jumped onto the EV train, and we’ll soon see new all-electric SUVs from both. The Lexus variant, named RZ 450e, features a reasonable range, upscale interior, and neat all-wheel drive technology. We don’t have firm pricing for the Lexus, but expect it to start in the mid-to-high $40,000 range.

2023 Lexus RZRange is expected to reach 225 miles per chage. Lexus

The RZ shares a platform and much of its underlying engineering with the Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra, but will take a more upscale approach. Though its size and overall shape are similar to the others, the Lexus’ exterior styling is sharper and sportier, with functional aerodynamic bodywork. A new Lexus logo is spelled out on the rear gate, instead of the traditional “L” of previous models.

The SUV comes with a 71.4-kWh battery that should deliver a range of around 225 miles on a charge. All-wheel drive is standard, and uses the RZ’s dual electric motors to shift power between the wheels that need it most.

Inside, the RZ features a minimalist, open space with controls meant to remind drivers of a horse’s reins. Ultrasuede upholstery and woodgrain trim come standard. Lexus notes the RZ’s head-up display is controllable via steering wheel-mounted buttons that handle navigation, audio, and other functions.

2023 Lexus RZThough similar to the Toyota bZ4X inside, the Lexus IS more upscale and minimalist. Lexus

Speaking of the steering wheel, the first RZs will be available with a round wheel only, but later on, Lexus will offer a yoke-style wheel like the one seen in the Toyota bZ4X concept and Tesla’s Plaid models.

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