Mullen Technologies is taking deposits for the MX 05, which has a claimed range of 520 kilometres. PHOTO: MULLEN TECHNOLOGIES

The Auto Sleuth: Honda’s urban pickup, a custom Ferrari and more

Hot off the press news from the auto world

The revamped Honda Ridgeline has a much more aggressive front end, while these nifty bronze wheels are optional. PHOTO: HONDA

The revamped Honda Ridgeline has a much more aggressive front end, while these nifty bronze wheels are optional. PHOTO: HONDA

• Honda’s urban pickup receives more swagger for 2021:

The Sleuth sees a growing trend away from genteel grille shapes to more rugged-looking noses. This approach is exemplified by the latest Honda Ridgeline, which comes with a more dramatic front end for 2021. As well, the truck makes available 18-inch bronze wheels that appear far less benign than the standard wheels. Buyers can also order black fender flares and side graphics, but they likely won’t fool anyone into thinking the Ridgeline is ready to take on the off-road-ready Ford F-150 Raptor or new Ram 1500 TRX. Unchanged is the pickup’s 280-horsepower V-6, but a nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the previous six-speed.

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The MX-30 hybrid — instead of a battery-electric EV — is expected for 2021. PHOTO: MAZDA

The MX-30 hybrid — instead of a battery-electric EV — is expected for 2021. PHOTO: MAZDA

• Mazda creates an EV, but not for North America:

The Sleuth confirms that the Japan-based automaker will introduce its first battery-electric model to its home country plus the European continent. However there’s some confusion regarding the launch of the MX-30 in North America. It seems that the battery’s 200-kilometre range — far less than competing electrics — is insufficient for U.S. and Canadian driving needs. Instead, a gasoline-electric hybrid MX-30 is expected in Canada sometime in 2021. The system consists of a 2.0-litre four-cylinder plus an electric motor that assists the gasoline engine, but does not operate independently from it (referred to as a mild hybrid). The MX-30 is roughly the size of the Mazda CX-30 utility vehicle, but comes with two smaller rear doors for accessing the rear seat.

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The Jaguar XE compact sedan is being cancelled and without a replacement. PHOTO: JAGUAR

The Jaguar XE compact sedan is being cancelled and without a replacement. PHOTO: JAGUAR

• Jaguar trims its feline family:

Compared with major-league players BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and others, the British automaker is a small player in the luxury class. For 2021, Jaguar will retire the XE sedan that competed in the same segment as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C Class and Lexus ES. Jaguar will also stop bringing the XF Sportbrake (wagon) to our shores. The updated-for-2021 XF sedan will stay, albeit without the 380-horsepower supercharged 3.0-litre V-6. Jaguar is also cutting prices on base models that come with the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine.

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Mullen Technologies is taking deposits for the MX 05, which has a claimed range of 520 kilometres. PHOTO: MULLEN TECHNOLOGIES

Mullen Technologies is taking deposits for the MX 05, which has a claimed range of 520 kilometres. PHOTO: MULLEN TECHNOLOGIES

• Another electric-vehicle company ramps up:

The Sleuth is having a difficult time keeping track of all the EV startup (or upstart) automakers announcing their coming products. One of the latest is California-based Mullen Technologies, which recently announced it’s taking deposits for the midsize MX 05 utility-style vehicle, expected to arrive by mid-2022. The all-wheel-drive model comes with electric motors of (so far) unknown output, a claimed range of 520 kilometres, and a zero-to-60-mph (96 km/h) time of 3.2 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. No price has been announced for Canada, but the U.S. price is expected to be $55,000. Later, Mullen will launch the all-wheel-drive Dragonfly K50 sports car, which will cost well over $100,000.

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• Ford’s coming electric pickup might have a trick up its sleeve: The Spy Guy hears that the battery-electric version of the F-150 that’s scheduled for the 2022 model-year could offer an available gasoline internal-combustion engine generator as a backup. Supported by a small fuel tank, it would kick in when the truck’s battery pack becomes depleted. At that point, the generator would feed electricity to the batteries and would remain in operation until the vehicle is recharged through an electrical outlet. The range-extending generator would be positioned in an enclosed spot directly behind the cab and inside the pickup bed. This option would be especially ideal for rural F-150 electric owners who frequently travel long distances.

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UPS AND DOWNS

  • Up: Future Volvos could be both left- and right-hand-drive – A patent filed by the automaker could solve the problem (and expense) of engineering different versions of their models, according to which country they’re headed. It also means that Volvo owners in Great Britain could conceivably slide the steering wheel to the left from the right seat when crossing the English Channel by boat or train to France and onward to the rest of Europe.

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This Ferrari 812 Superfast Omologata is the only one in existence, specially designed for the customer. PHOTO: FERRARI

This Ferrari 812 Superfast Omologata is the only one in existence, specially designed for the customer. PHOTO: FERRARI

  • Up: A one-off Ferrari – You know you’re rich when you can commission Italy’s storied automaker to customize car just for you. A European customer is taking possession of a Ferrari 812 Superfast Omologata, replete with unique styling and interior finishes. The front-engine Superfast runs with a 6.5-litre V-12 rated at 789 horsepower and 530 pound-feet of torque.

-written by Wheelbase Media

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