The Grand Cherokee L seemed to arrive out of the blue with little or no fanfare. It’s built on a separate platform from the regular-length model, foreshadowing the new look for all GC models. PHOTO: FCA

The Grand Cherokee L seemed to arrive out of the blue with little or no fanfare. It’s built on a separate platform from the regular-length model, foreshadowing the new look for all GC models. PHOTO: FCA

The Auto Sleuth: Hot-off-the-press news from the auto world

2021 Grand Cherokee L, GM’s BrightDrop, the next Ford F-150 Raptor and more

  • Apr. 3, 2021 1:30 p.m.

The seven-passenger Grand Cherokee arrives this summer

OK, where did this come from? In case you missed the news, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L will join the current five-passenger model a few months from now. And no, it isn’t a stretched version of the existing model; it’s built on a separate unitized (frameless) platform and has its own unique grille and other body panels. Second-row captain’s chairs are standard, however they can be swapped for a bench seat for more passenger space. Look for similar trim designations to the five-passenger model. Engines choices include a 290-horsepower 3.6-litre V-6 and a 357-horsepower 5.7-litre V-8. Word has it that Jeep will add a hybrid powertrain option for 2022.

FedEx is BrightDrop’s first customer with 500 EV600 vans ordered. Fleet-management company Merchants Fleet is the second customer, with an order for 12,600. PHOTO: GENERAL MOTORS

FedEx is BrightDrop’s first customer with 500 EV600 vans ordered. Fleet-management company Merchants Fleet is the second customer, with an order for 12,600. PHOTO: GENERAL MOTORS

General Motors launches its commercial electric-van division

BrightDrop is the name applied to GM’s new battery-electric-vehicle operation that will market to fleet operators such as delivery businesses. The first to arrive in late 2021 is the BrightDrop EV600, which will be built at the company’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., 150 kilometres west of Toronto, near London. GM announced the $1-billion plant investment in January. According to the automaker, the van’s Ultium-brand batteries (another General Motors offshoot) will give the E600 a range of 250 miles (400 kilometres). Included in the EV600 is a host of active-safety technologies, including forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and pedestrian alert. Also available will be an electric-powered pallet with a 200-pound (90-kilogram) payload capacity that’s designed to assist loading/unloading.

The Outback heads into the wilderness

Subaru’s all-wheel-drive wagon has a reputation for ruggedness on and off the pavement. Apparently the automaker believes it should project a tougher image and will introduce a special Wilderness package as an option for the Outback. Included is a raised ride height, blacked-out trim and wheels and off-road-capable tires. Only wagons fitted with the optional 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine will be eligible for the Wilderness treatment, which will also be offered with the Forester and Crosstrek.

The next Ford F-150 Raptor is close at hand

The automaker isn’t wasting time introducing a new version of its groundbreaking (and ground-pounding) off-road pickup. The base model has a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V-6, with a 48-volt electric assist, pumping out 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque. That compares with the current model’s 450 horses and 510 pound-feet. Select the Raptor R and Ford drops in the 760-horsepower supercharged 5.2-litre V-8 originally developed for the Mustang Shelby GT500. That gives it a leg up on the recently announced 702-horsepower Ram 1500 TRX. A 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive come with both versions.

With GM committing to stop selling internal-combustion-powered vehicles by 2025, it seems that, yes, the Corvette will go electric at some point. PHOTO: CHEVROLET

With GM committing to stop selling internal-combustion-powered vehicles by 2025, it seems that, yes, the Corvette will go electric at some point. PHOTO: CHEVROLET

Is an electric Corvette on Chevrolet’s radar?

The Sleuth hears it’s under serious consideration for the near term, and given that parent GM plans to stop selling gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035, it’s an eventual certainty. As well, the Corvette name could be applied to a utility vehicle, thus expanding the brand to include more than just one two-seat sports car. It’s likely that the unrelenting buzz created by the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E has convinced General Motors’ execs that a Corvette-branded crossover producing 1,000 horsepower (similar to the 2022 GMC Hummer electric pickup) would certainly create the necessary performance image. There are also rumours that a low-cost front-engine ’Vette is being considered, adding further credence to the automaker’s long-term plan to turn Corvette into a multi-vehicle brand.

UPS AND DOWNS

PHOTO: Motor Bella

UP: The Detroit Auto Show gets a new name and location

The North American International Auto Show remains the event’s formal name, but it will henceforth also be called Motor Bella. The partial outdoor car show is scheduled for September at an 87-acre (35-hectare) venue in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac. The Motor Bella site includes a racetrack, vehicle-testing skid pad plus space for indoor displays.

UP: Volkswagen’s EV sales

Global sales of VW Group electric vehicles in 2020 totaled 231,600 (up from 73,600 for 2019), which ranks it second behind Tesla, which recorded 499,550 total sales. Volkswagen’s top-selling nameplates include the ID.3, e-Golf and Audi E-Tron. For Tesla, the Model 3 sedan and Model Y utility vehicle are the most popular offerings.

– written by Wheelbase Media

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