Toyota solid-state tech; battery-price plunge; Mach-E, Mirai, Q5 PHEV all driven: The Week in Reverse

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Which global automaker started a new brand for hydrogen fuel-cell tech?

Which EV startup plans to make an electric RV?

This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending December 18, 2020.

It’s been an unusual week, from the standpoint of seat time in new vehicles. We published first drive reviews for three new vehicles, the first of which is one of the most highly anticipated new electric vehicles of the year. The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is great-looking, fantastic-driving, and practical, with no major flaws we found in a first drive—once you push past the overeager Mustang branding, that is. 

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E first drive - Portland, OR

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E first drive – Portland, OR

We also drove the 2021 Audi Q5 plug-in hybrid, finding its 19 miles of electric range and 27 mpg to be a good fit for Zoom town types that aren’t quite in electric vehicle range yet. And we got some time in the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car, finding it completely different than the one it replaces. With a Lexus-like ride, engaging handling, and attractive styling, the infrastructure is, once again, the piece that will hold this car back. 

2021 Toyota Mirai

2021 Toyota Mirai

Toyota is reportedly preparing a fleet of prototypes with solid-state battery tech, enabling twice the range, a 10-minute recharge, and perhaps, the economies of scale that Toyota looks for. But then Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda tempered all the excitement and buzz over that; he reportedly told the Japanese press that a greater emphasis on EVs—and a proposed ban of internal combustion vehicles—would worsen CO2 emissions. There’s definitely a backstory, as Toyota’s invested much of its future in hybrids and Japan’s power grid faces some very different issues than those in Western Europe or the U.S.

Canoo revealed the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle, an electric van that it says can fit 30% more cargo than gasoline or diesel vans the same size. It will start at $ 33,000. 

Canoo MPDV electric van

Canoo MPDV electric van

Geely’s Zero Concept, which marks the debut of a new dedicated electric vehicle platform, has already advanced to the prototype stage, and a name change to Zero EV. The platform is due to be shared by Volvo, Polestar, and Lynk & Co., and a production vehicle due on the Zero EV could arrive as soon as 2021. 

Subaru revealed a few more sparse details about the fully electric crossover on the way from the brand, and being co-developed with Toyota. We expect it to bow in prototype form by late 2021, with a market arrival some months after that. 

Lordstown Endurance

Lordstown Endurance

The Lordstown Endurance electric pickup could form the basis for a fully electric RV, to be conceived with Camping World, while the latter company will help support the Endurance for service and repairs. 

A new survey suggested that even though only 4% of American drivers can say that their next car will be an electric one, 7 out of 10 say that they’re interested in an EV. Barriers include a lack of chargers, and a lack of choice in all-electric vehicles.

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

2021 Hyundai Kona Electric

The Hyundai Kona Electric and Nxeo hydrogen fuel-cell models are being recalled for a braking issue, requiring a dealership visit for the software issue. 

EV battery pack prices have fallen 13% just in 2020, and their $ 126/kwh on a volume-adjusted basis is far lower than what was anticipated just a few years ago. That should help enable many more affordable and competitive electric vehicles in the next few years. 

Volkswagen is testing a new wallbox that uses DC current and vehicles’ fast-charging port, for compatibility with home battery backup and smart-grid applications. 

Volkswagen bi-directional charging pilot program

Volkswagen bi-directional charging pilot program

In Europe, a group of major truckmakers have allied to phase out diesel in big commercial trucks by 2040. That’s ahead of a proposed California ban, and even ahead of what EU regulators have already discussed.

Hyundai announced that it will form HTWO, a new brand dedicated to hydrogen fuel cells—including the use of the technology in vehicles, ships, and even trains. 

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime

And this week we looked at the Tesla Model Y and Toyota RAV4 Prime as Green Car Reports’ Best Car To Buy finalists. One of the five finalists will be named the winner on January 4.

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