It’s the most significant update to Tesla’s largest and priciest vehicle since the model launched in 2016. The biggest changes come on the inside of the SUV. The $100,000 Model X now has a landscape-oriented display (rather than a vertical one), a second screen in back for rear passengers, and a rectangular steering yoke, like something you’d see in an airplane.
Tesla gave the Model X a new battery pack and an exterior a facelift as well. Bits that used to be chrome, like the door handles and window trim, are now painted black. The front bumper looks different, too. As part of the updates, Elon Musk’s automaker also introduced a high-performance Plaid version of the Model X, which promises more than 1,000 horsepower and a 0-60-mph time of 2.5 seconds.
When Tesla announced major updates to the Model X SUV and Model S sedan in January, Musk – ever the optimist when it comes to timelines – said deliveries of the new Model S would begin in February with shipments of the Model X starting shortly thereafter. New Model S deliveries started a few months behind schedule in June.
On Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call in April, Musk said Tesla had encountered “more challenges than expected” in developing the new Model S and Model X. That included navigating supply-chain issues and figuring out new internal production processes for the updated vehicles.
One CEO said salespeople are happier and selling more after his company let go 1,500 people.
New and used vehicles are selling for record prices, leading to big commissions.
As the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the US economy in 2020, millions of workers across industries lost their jobs. Car salespeople were no exception.
Now, with the economy recovering and the auto market hotter than ever, some dealerships aren’t planning to hire back the employees they cut loose last year, The Wall Street Journal reports. Dealers have found that they’re doing just fine with a leaner, more efficient workforce.
Moreover, with fewer salespeople on staff, those that remain are faring better than before the pandemic, one dealer told The Journal. Car salespeople typically earn a base salary plus a commission for each vehicle they sell.
“We tried to keep the ‘A’ players and they are a lot more productive,” David Smith, CEO of Sonic Automotive, said. “I think they are happier making more money.”
In 2020, Smith laid off some 1,500 of the 9,000 employees that worked across the company’s roughly 100 dealerships. Now, salespeople are moving around 18 cars per month, double the 8-10 they were selling before the pandemic, Smith said.
Although some dealerships are having trouble matching pre-pandemic sales volumes amid a massive shortage of new cars, margins are way up, dealers told Insider previously. That means healthy profits and sizeable commissions for sales associates, even with fewer cars to sell.
In the face of a dwindling supply of new cars, shoppers are willing to pay more than ever. The average transaction price for a new car rose to $45,031 in September, according to Kelley Blue Book, an all-time-high. Dealer incentives and discounts have practically vanished.
Edmunds estimates that in September the average new car sold for nearly $300 above its suggested retail price, a huge departure from before the pandemic, when paying $2,000-$3,000 below MSRP was the norm. These days, haggling with a salesperson for a deal is pretty much off the table, experts told Insider.
Other dealers echoed Smith’s takeaways. Marc Cannon, executive vice president at AutoNation, told The Journal the chain is in no rush to hire back workers it let go in 2020. AutoNation, a publicly-traded behemoth with more than 300 locations, laid off 4,000 employees last year, Cannon said.
“We are not going to get back to pre-pandemic employment levels,” Cannon said. “Why would you immediately rebuild staff if you’re running more efficiently?”
Are you a dealer or salesperson with a story to share about selling cars in today’s chaotic car market? Are you a dealer struggling with too few vehicles to sell? Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
I drove the 2022 Nissan Leaf, the cheapest EV you can buy in the US.
The latest Leaf starts at $27,400. The one I drove came out to a bit over $39,000.
The 2022 Leaf is accessible, practical, and nice to drive, but other EVs have more range.
When Nissan first launched the Leaf hatchback in late 2010, electric cars weren’t really a thing.
Tesla had been selling its first model, the Roadster, for a couple of years. But it didn’t sell very many of them, and they were for rich people. If you were one of the few buyers who wanted a practical, economical, fully-electric ride in those early days, the Leaf was your best bet.
More than a decade later, the electric-vehicle landscape couldn’t be more different.
Tesla is the most valuable car company on Earth. The Hummer nameplate, which shut down mere months before the Leaf arrived, is being reborn under GMC with electric motors in place of a roaring engine. More battery-powered SUVs and pickups are on the horizon than I care to count.
Through all that change, the Leaf is still kicking. Moreover, a recent price cut to $27,400 makes the 2022 Leaf the lowest-priced EV you can buy new in the US. That drops to just under $20,000 if you redeem the full federal tax credit for plug-in purchases.
But can one of the OG EVs still deliver value in 2021, even at a budget price point?
A week with the 2022 Leaf told me the answer is: definitely, so long as you can look past the hatchback’s so-so range in certain trims, less common fast-charging plug, and analog interior relative to some of its newer rivals.
A solid EV at a bargain base price
Although I did test the cheapest EV you can buy in the US, the 2022 Leaf, I, unfortunately, didn’t get to drive the cheapest version of the Leaf. Nissan would only loan out an upper-trim SL Plus model, which came out to $39,255, destination fees included. Still, the core of what the Leaf offers is shared across the lineup.
The 2022 Leaf comes in five trims and offers two battery sizes. The key difference between normal and Plus models is that the latter come with the bigger battery pack, which translates to more power and longer range.
Here’s how the trims break down by retail price and EPA range:
Leaf S ($27,400): 149 miles
Leaf SV ($28,800): 149 miles
Leaf S Plus ($32,400): 226 miles
Leaf SV Plus ($35,400): 215 miles
Leaf SL Plus ($37,400): 215 miles
What stands out: EV practicality that won’t break the bank
The Leaf I tested was perfectly pleasant to drive and delivered lots of the pros you’d expect from any EV.
Without a rumbly gas engine up front, the Leaf was quiet. Although it didn’t deliver nearly the kind of lose-your-lunch acceleration you get in some higher-priced EVs, the Leaf was noticeably agile from a stop. Darting through city traffic or making short-notice highway merges was no problem, and the Leaf smoothly and eagerly got up to speed, which you can’t say of every gas-powered economy car.
Like most EVs, the Leaf offers one-pedal driving, which makes driving incrementally more convenient while boosting range. Switch on the e-Pedal function, and the Leaf doesn’t coast when you take your foot off of the accelerator. Instead, the motor starts slowing down to a stop while feeding that captured braking energy back into the battery pack. Once you master the timing, you practically never need to touch the brake.
Another plus: A bunch of advanced safety features come as standard. That includes blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, and reverse automatic braking, but excludes ProPilot Assist, which steers for you on the highway and uses radar to match the speed of the car ahead.
Some may call the Leaf’s shape and look dorky compared with the swarm of high-riding little SUVs zooming about these days. But I ask you: Is a roomy, practical interior “dorky”? Are comfortable back seats with ample leg and headroom … “dorky”? How about a cavernous rear cargo area with the seats folded down? If that’s “dorky,” then maybe I don’t want to be cool.
What falls short: Range and charging, but not by much
In a job interview or college application, it’s cliché (and a terrible idea) to rattle off “weaknesses” like “caring too much” and “working too hard.” But in the case of the Nissan Leaf, what some call flaws, others may see as legitimate selling points.
Step inside the 2022 Leaf and you won’t find a minimal interior and a giant, iPad-style touchscreen like you’d see in the latest EVs from Volkswagen, Ford, or Tesla. Instead, there’s a modest, eight-inch display and buttons. Lots of them. There are buttons for the climate control. A button that turns on one-pedal driving. Switches for the heated seats.
This could repel EV shoppers looking to live on the bleeding edge. But for anyone put off by the screen-ification of new cars, the Leaf could be a breath of fresh air. Inside and out, the Leaf feels less like some futuristic piece of technology and more like an approachable, familiar vehicle with the small quirk of running on electricity instead of gas.
Range – or the lack of it – could be a real drawback for some. The base Leaf gets 149 miles on a charge, which isn’t much in today’s market, but it’s also tough to complain about given the hatchback’s low price. Only one person can decide whether 149 miles works for you.
Looking at the Leaf’s top trims, though, range feels like it’s lacking for the price. For just a bit more than the price of the SL Plus I tested, you could buy a Tesla Model 3 or Volkswagen ID.4, both of which offer at least 250 miles of driving on a full battery. For a bit less, you can get a Hyundai Kona EV with 258 miles of range.
The mid-range S Plus, which promises a healthy 226 miles of range and only costs $5,000 more than the base model, feels like the best deal here.
Another knock to the Leaf: It uses a CHAdeMO port for fast-charging, an aging standard of charger that’s harder to come by in the US than newer CCS plugs. The Leaf is also equipped with a more common J1772 port, but that’s only good for slower charging. Fast-charging is the only way to add substantial amounts of range in minutes, rather than hours.
This all may not matter much if you plan to juice up at home, but it could pose a problem if you rely on public chargers.
Our impressions: Bring on the good, cheap EVs
The Nissan Leaf may be the cheapest new EV for sale in America, but you need to pay up for some of the things I experienced during testing: extended range, extra interior conveniences, features like adaptive cruise control, and more. But the core of what the Leaf offers – a pleasant driving experience, conscience-cleansing electric power, and hatchback utility – all can be had on the cheapest model.
Even after spending on the larger battery pack, the Leaf only retails for $32,400. That’s all pretty remarkable in a world where sub-$35,000 EVs are in short supply. Alongside the Leaf S, the only other EV you can buy new for less than $30,000 is the Mini Electric, which only has 110 miles of range and isn’t really practical for a school run or Costco haul.
Amid all the flashy new startups and pricey flagship EVs, it’s nice to see that someone out there is dropping prices and making solid, accessible EVs for the masses.
The Porsche Taycan EV is starting to outsell the brand’s iconic 911.
During the first nine months of 2021, Porsche sold several hundred more Taycans than 911s.
The Taycan is in its second year of production. The 911 has been around for nearly 60 years.
In only its second full year in production, Porsche’s first electric model is starting to outsell its longtime flagship sports car, the 911.
It’s the latest sign that electric vehicles, which have made up a tiny fraction of global vehicle sales for years, are gaining traction.
Porsche sold 28,640 Taycans worldwide during the first nine months of 2021, the company said Friday. It delivered 27,972 911s over that period. The Taycan is also outpacing the 911 in the US, selling 1,861 units compared with the 911’s 1,621.
Porsche launched the Taycan in 2019 as a high-powered, four-door sport sedan that competes with the Tesla Model S. In early 2021, Porsche added a new base version of the Taycan that costs $82,700. It recently introduced a roomier, station-wagon variant called the Taycan Cross Turismo. The Cross Turismo rides a bit higher than the regular Taycan so owners can take it on dirt roads and gravel paths.
Porsche, a brand under the Volkswagen Group umbrella, wants at least 80%of the vehicles it sells to be either fully electric or hybrid by 2030. A battery-powered version of its popular Macan SUV is due in 2023, but don’t expect an electric 911 anytime soon.
CEO Oliver Blume, told reporters in March that the 911 will be the last Porsche to go electric, if it ever does.
In September, wholesale used-car prices surged and vehicles sold faster than they did in August.
A shortage of new cars is driving secondhand prices up.
The worldwide supply of cars may not recover until 2023, industry analysts say.
Looking to buy a secondhand set of wheels for a reasonable price? You may want to wait a couple of years.
Used-car values have surged during the pandemic as a chip shortage reduced the flow of new vehicles off of production lines to a trickle. It looked like prices were starting to come down after hitting a peak this spring, but now that relief appears short-lived.
According to Manheim Auctions, the largest wholesaler of used vehicles, wholesale used-vehicle prices hit a record high in September of 27.1% above the prices from the same month last year. Retail prices tend to lag slightly behind wholesale, so consumers will likely feel the price hikes soon, too.
Even amid the inflated prices, demand for vehicles is high. The sales-conversion rate jumped to 65% in September, according to Cox Automotive, indicating that buyers are getting more aggressive. It was 52% in September 2019.
Used cars are selling extraordinarily quickly, and buyers will have to act fast if they want to get their hands on a particularly popular model, according to a new study from iSeeCars published Tuesday.
In September, the average used vehicle sold 32.8 days after being listed for sale online, according to iSeeCars. That’s compared with 34.6 days on average in August. In the months preceding March 2020, the average was 68.9 days.
Some of the fastest-selling used vehicles were the Tesla Model 3 (on the market 16 days on average), the Mitsubishi Outlander (19.7 days), and the Toyota Prius (20.7 days).
In light of the worsening chip crisis, forecaster IHS Markit projected in September that global vehicle production will be severely diminished through the rest of 2021 and throughout 2022. Production will also take a hit in early 2023, the firm forecasts.
That means the shortage of new vehicles that’s driving up prices will be with us for quite a while.
IHS Markit forecasted in October that the global supply of cars will start to stabilize in the second half of 2022 and begin to recover in the first half of 2023, Automotive News reported.
Deliveries of the 2022 GMC Hummer EV are set to start this fall.
The ‘super truck’ will be the first electric pickup from GM in the modern EV era.
The Edition 1 pickups hitting streets first will cost $112,595.
The Hummer is coming back after a decade-long hiatus. But it won’t have a roaring, gas-gulping V8 engine under the hood like before.
In fact, there won’t be anything under the hood at all, and the new Hummer will be whisper-quiet. That’s because it’s going electric.
The GMC Hummer EV, a big, luxurious pickup unveiled in late 2020, is scheduled to hit streets before the end of 2021. It’s meant to showcase the best of the best that General Motors has to offer as it makes a massive pivot toward cleaner vehicles.
Here’s what to know about the GMC Hummer EV.
How much does the GMC Hummer EV cost?
The GMC Hummer EV comes in four trims arriving over the next few years:
Hummer EV Edition 1 (available in fall 2021): $112,595
Hummer EV3X (available in fall 2022): $99,995
Hummer EV2X (available in spring 2023): $89,995
Hummer EV2 (available in spring 2024): $79,995
First to ship will be the limited-run Edition 1, reservations for which sold out in 10 minutes. GMC isn’t saying how many reservations it’s taken in.
The Hummer EV’s luxe price tag means it’s aimed more at people who drive a G-Wagen or Escalade than those who own a Silverado or F-150.
How big is the Hummer EV?
The pickup comes in at around 217 inches long and has a five-foot bed.
The truck measures up somewhere between the mid-size GMC Canyon, which is around 212 inches long, and the full-size Sierra, which is 231.7 inches.
What’s the truck’s range?
The Hummer EV uses GM’s latest Ultium battery tech, and GMC pegs range at more than 350 miles for the Edition 1. That’s more than most EVs on the market, including many Teslas.
The Edition 1 will be able to charge at speeds of 350 kilowatts, faster than any currently available EV. But what the truck can ultimately do with that power matters too. GMC says that’s enough to add 100 miles of range in 10 minutes.
The EV2 promises 250 miles of range while the EV2X and EV3X claim at least 300 miles on a charge.
What about horsepower?
According to GMC, the Edition 1 will put out 1,000 horsepower from three motors. The company estimates a 0-60-mph time of three seconds.
The other trims will deliver 625-830 horsepower, GMC says. All the trucks have all-wheel drive.
What’s the interior like?
The Edition 1’s interior is sleek, but – like the rest of the truck – not delicate in the slightest. There are lots of hard angles, prominent buttons, and bold, blocky features. The truck gets a 13.4-inch center touchscreen and a 12.3-inch driver display that acts as a digital gauge cluster.
It has four-wheel steering, which lets the rear wheels turn up to 10 degrees in either direction. That makes it more nimble around sharp corners and allows it to drive diagonally by turning all four wheels in the same direction.
The Edition 1 also comes with underbody armor, an array of exterior cameras, and adjustable air suspension. There’s also a frunk (standard on all Hummer EV pickups) and removable, transparent roof panels. All models will come with three years of Super Cruise, GM’s hands-free driving system.
Slowly but surely, electric pickups are set to start hitting streets in coming months.
The Rivian R1T is already in production, and the F-150 Lightning comes in spring 2022.
Here’s how the two e-trucks stack up across range, capability, pricing, and more.
The electric-pickup wars are heating up.
Electric-vehicle startup Rivian began producing its debut model, the outdoorsy R1T, in September. And Ford recently started building preproduction F-150 Lightning pickups ahead of the truck’s spring 2022 launch.
One could argue that these trucks are aimed at completely different buyers. The F-150 is a familiar, work-ready truck from an industry heavyweight, while the R1T is a feature-packed lifestyle vehicle from an exciting upstart.
But seeing as these will be the two main options for electric truck buyers for the time-being, there’s bound to be some overlap. Here’s how they stack up:
The Rivian R1T has an estimated range of 314 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The company says a 400-plus-mile battery is on the way.
Ford says the base F-150 Lightning will be able to travel 230 miles on a full battery, while an optional larger pack will deliver 300 miles of range.
Like Tesla, Rivian is aiming for the luxury end of the market. The base Explore model starts at $67,500, while a fancier Adventure trim will run you $73,000. A bigger battery pack is a $10,000 add-on.
The F-150 Lightning starts at around $40,000 for a basic work truck (the Pro trim). However, like other F-150s, the Lightning can get considerably fancier and more expensive when you start looking at options and higher trim levels.
A fully loaded Lightning will cost around $90,000, roughly the same as an R1T will all the bells and whistles.
The F-150 Lightning is the bigger truck of the two. It’s 232.7 inches long, compared with the R1T’s 217.1 inches. They’re about the same width with the mirrors folded in.
Much of that extra length comes by way of the Lightning’s bed, which measures 5.5 feet. The R1T’s bed is a foot shorter, but it’s meant more for hauling camping equipment than lumber.
In terms of the numbers, the R1T promises more than 800 horsepower and over 900 pound-feet of torque from its four motors – one at each wheel. The F-150 Lightning’s pair of electric motors put out 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque when mated to the larger battery pack, Ford says.
The R1T’s maximum towing capacity and payload rating are 11,000 pounds and 1,760 pounds, respectively. For the Lightning it’s 10,000 pounds and 2,000 pounds.
Both pickups offer interesting features you can’t get in a gas-powered vehicle. Both have spacious front trunks, though the F-150’s is the roomier of the two. The R1T sports a Gear Tunnel – a horizontal storage cubby behind the rear seats – that’s one of a kind.
The Lightning offers up to 9.6 kw of power through outlets in the frunk and bed. And thanks to its Intelligent Backup Power feature, it can power your house in the event of a blackout.
Like Tesla before it, Rivian gave the R1T a sleek and minimal interior with barely any physical buttons. A giant central touchscreen controls pretty much every vehicle feature.
The Lightning’s cab is mostly shared with Ford’s gas-powered F-150s. While it isn’t quite as tech-heavy as the Rivian, it gets a big central touchscreen as well. Both vehicles can receive over-the-air software updates.
Musk stressed that although Tesla’s homebase is moving from Palo Alto to Austin, Tesla isn’t leaving California altogether. The company still aims to expand output from its Fremont, California, factory by 50%, he said.
“To be clear though, we will be continuing to expand our activities in California,” he said. “So this is not a matter of Tesla leaving California.”
Tesla decided to move in part because it’s difficult for employees to afford houses in the Bay Area, and that some people need to commute from far away, Musk said.
“There’s a limit to how big you can scale in the Bay Area,” he said.
Tesla has been working on a manufacturing plant outside of Austin since the summer of 2020. Over the last year, Musk moved both his residence and his charitable foundation to the state. Tesla’s latest two press releases in late September and early October came out of Austin, fueling speculation about a move.
In May 2020, after butting heads with local officials over coronavirus restrictions, Musk threatened to move all of Tesla’s operations to Texas or Nevada.
In recent years and especially during the pandemic, Austin has attracted droves of tech workers from Silicon Valley and elsewhere. Tesla will join companies including Google, Facebook, and Oracle, which all have offices in the city.
Thanks to massive shortages and high demand, buying a car now is trickier than ever.
Shoppers should be extra flexible on just about every aspect of buying a car, experts told Insider.
There are also pros to leasing a vehicle or delaying a purchase until this all blows over.
If you’ve been following the news, shopping for a car probably feels incredibly daunting right about now.
Between a computer chip shortage, booming demand for cars, and a rat’s nest of other pandemic-related factors, vehicles are in short supply nationwide. Practically all cars – from the latest models to decade-old clunkers – cost significantly more than they did a year and a half ago.
It all means that the decisions surrounding buying a car have become more challenging than ever before. Successfully navigating this difficult market means resetting your expectations, expanding the options you’ll consider, and possibly even deciding not to buy a car at all, experts told Insider.
Flexibility is key
There’s a good chance you won’t find exactly what you’re looking for at precisely the price point you’re used to. Being open to a variety of brands, models, and options is the way to go in today’s market, Brian Moody, Autotrader’s executive editor, told Insider.
“The person who’s probably going to do the worst in terms of finding what they want is the person who’s very rigid,” he said.
People looking to buy secondhand should broaden their search to include older models than they’d normally consider, says Benjamin Preston, an automotive reporter at Consumer Reports. On the new side of things, being open to less-popular vehicle types like sedans, hatchbacks, and smaller SUVs could pay off, he added.
Prepare to pay up
Whether you’re shopping new or used, expect to fork over much more than you’re accustomed to, Ivan Drury, senior manager of insights at Edmunds, told Insider. New vehicles are selling at or above MSRP. And used cars, even older ones, are worth thousands more than before the pandemic. Some lightly-used vehicles are selling for as much or more than their new counterparts.
And don’t go in expecting to negotiate thousands off of a vehicle’s sticker price, Drury said. While that may have worked before, right now there are way more customers than cars – and dealers know that.
If you decide to stomach the astronomical used-car prices, be sure to keep that vehicle for the long haul, Drury said. One of the worst things you can do for your wallet right now is to buy a vehicle at today’s prices and dump it in a year or two.
Leasing may be your best friend
If you’re having trouble finding what you’re looking for or can’t afford the eye-watering price tags of some in-demand models, consider leasing until it all blows over, Drury said.
“Just borrow something you’re okay with instead of buying something you don’t love,” he says.
Leasing costs less per month than paying off a car loan, but the trade-off is you have to return the vehicle after the two- or three-year lease period. People who go this route should check automaker websites for lease specials on certain models and trims, Drury said. Customers afraid of exceeding the mileage limit on a lease should see if they can add miles at the beginning of their contract.
“Bottom-line shoppers” who are leasing as a last resort should hunt for vehicles with the lowest monthly cost and the lowest up-front payment, Moody said.
Work with what you’ve got
With prices the way they are, investing in an existing vehicle could make more financial sense than it did just a few months ago, Preston, of Consumer Reports, said. Even expensive repairs may be worth it in the long run if they allow you to delay a purchase and escape today’s chaotic market.
“Our advice is if you can wait, that’s probably your best bet,” Preston said.
It’s connected to a removable 4-gallon water tank that’s accessed from the other side of the truck.
At $5,000, the Camp Kitchen doesn’t come cheap. But that gets you more than just a cooktop and sink.
The kitchen’s three drawers come filled with a 30-piece cooking set.
It includes pots, plates, silverware, bowls, a kettle, and all manner of cooking utensils.
Every piece of the set has a spot in these cork inserts. The idea is to stop everything from rattling around when you’re driving.
Also included is a string light that hangs from two poles on either side of the kitchen. Nobody likes to cook in the dark.
The lights plug into a USB port.
What’s perhaps even more exciting than the kitchen itself: You can also option the truck with just the sliding drawer system it sits on. The Gear Shuttle costs $1,500.
Rivian says it’s working on lots of other accessories for the shuttle. Bins, refrigerators, and heaters to dry off ski boots were all floated as possibilities. But I’m more eager to see the hacks owners come up with all on their own.
Outdoor gaming rig? Mobile frozen marg station? Really skinny hot tub? On-the-go tanning bed? The possibilities are truly endless.