J.D. Power is listening. Join our advisor community. Get an Amazon e-Gift Card!

The Friday Five:The Convertible Corvette Lives, Pandemic Pickups Surge, and Rotary Engine Reborn Edition

Beverly Braga | May 22, 2020

This past week, a slew of new vehicle announcements for the 2021 model year commanded the news cycle. Monday started off with redesigned family haulers in the Toyota Sienna and Toyota Venza while fast luxury in the Porsche 911 Targa, BMW Alpina XB7, and Acura TLX followed in the coming days.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space.

Chevrolet Corvette Convertible Will Not Skip 2020 Model Year

Last month, there was speculation that the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette would be a limited-run model—an unintentional future classic—due to the pandemic-related production stoppage just as vehicles were trickling out of the Bowling Green, Kentucky, manufacturing plant following a GM worker strike in the fall of 2019. Rumor had it the Corvette Convertible would be even be pushed to the 2021 model year.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible Orange Overhead Rear View

Well, that’s not happening.

Sources at General Motors state the factory will reopen on May 26 and that 2020 model-year production is now extended through October – and will include the convertible. The wise move will satisfy loyal customers who pre-ordered the 2020 Corvette with the intention of owning a first-year production version of the car.

Popular During a Pandemic, Pickups Are in Short Supply

Although automotive sales were in steep decline when much of the country remained in coronavirus crisis lockdown, another unprecedented moment happened last month: trucks outsold cars for the first time ever.

Of course, this was bound to happen as pickup sales started picking up in 2009 and never let up. And don’t forget about crossover SUVs concurrently speeding by passenger cars in the sales fast lane. But while April sales offered a sliver of a silver lining for automakers, the segment sales flip could be bad news for consumers.

Even though truck sticker prices have increasingly reached luxury-vehicle levels, pandemic pricing strategies that included 0% financing, no payments for three months, and 7-year loan terms depleted dealership inventories at the same time factories were shut down. Now, some dealer groups, particularly in the Midwest, have only a 30-day supply of trucks and could run out entirely if new trucks don’t arrive by late June.

Automakers resumed production in May, with a slow ramp-up as companies and employees get used to a new normal in the workplace.

Cadillac Super Cruise Could Get an Ultra Update

Super Cruise, currently exclusive to Cadillac, is a semi-autonomous hands-free driving system for use during highway driving. But in a recent report by TechCrunch, General Motors’ VP of product development Doug Parks said engineers are working on expanding the system to operate within cities as well.

Dubbed “Ultra Cruise,” the technology could provide self-driving capabilities through neighborhoods, on surface streets, and all around town, similar to what Tesla is promising with its Autosteer technology, to be part of the Full Self Driving Capability option package. But don’t take Ultra Cruise as Level 5 autonomy, said Parks. The system will not be fully autonomous, although that would be the ultimate goal.

There is no timeline for Ultra Cruise, and its introduction could very well be years away. But an enhanced version of Super Cruise will be available starting with the 2021 Cadillac CT4 and Cadillac CT5. Super Cruise also will make its way into other GM brands, beginning with the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV. By 2023, Super Cruise will be available on 22 models within the GM portfolio.

Mazda’s First-Ever EV Begins Production in Japan

Mazda can finally add “electric vehicle” to its repertoire as the all-new, all-electric MX-30 made its manufacturing debut this week in Hiroshima, Japan. Utilizing Mazda’s e-Skyactiv1 powertrain, the front-wheel-drive crossover has a 124-mile (200 km) range based on the global standard WLTP test cycle. Its battery pack can reach an 80% charge within 40 minutes. The automaker also confirmed working on a range-extender that pairs the electric motor with a rotary engine.

That’s right. The rotary returns, but as a range extender for an electric vehicle.

Unveiled at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, the MX-30 is slated for sale in Europe and Asia. The vehicle is about the same size as the CX-30 compact CUV. While the CX-30 is sold globally, including in the U.S., Mazda remains mum on the MX-30 for other markets. But there’s always a chance if the demand is there, especially if it means the return of that infamous rotary, which went into hibernation after the discontinuation of the RX-8 sports car.

GMC Confirms Removable Roof for Hummer EV

Although GMC has delayed its Hummer EV reveal indefinitely, there’s no shortage of teasers. For example, in a video released alongside its non-reveal announcement earlier this month, eagle-eyed viewers pointed out that overhead shots suggest the vehicle had no roof. At the time, GMC shared no additional news beyond already released powertrain details. Until this week.

In a one-sentence news release, GMC confirmed removeable roof panels for its all-electric super truck. The all-new Hummer EV isn’t scheduled to arrive until the end of 2021 so until a proper unveil can happen, news will apparently be distributed in bread crumb form. And we’ll hungrily eat it up.

Explore new car previews
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
2020 Subaru Outback Preview
Introduced at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, the 2020 Subaru Outback has been optimized to offer better fuel efficiency, a quieter and safer ride, boosted technology, and turbocharged power, which is something Subaru hasn’t given its Outback in over ten years.
Read the full review
2020 Mazda CX-30 Preview
2020 Mazda CX-30 Preview
Based on the redesigned Mazda 3 platform, the new 2020 Mazda CX-30 is larger and more sophisticated than a Mazda CX-3, but smaller and sportier than a Mazda CX-5.
Read the full review
What's New For 2020 Honda Pilot
What's New For 2020 Honda Pilot
Fresh off of last year’s redesign, the 2020 Honda Pilot adds three new trim levels to its 2019 fleet of five. And while there are no significant changes for 2020, find out on what they are.
Read the full review
Read all articles
Scroll to the top
New Car Preview
2021 Mazda3 Preview
Most Dependable
2019 Vehicle Dependability: Most Dependable Family Cars
Most Popular
10 Most Popular Hatchbacks and Wagons
New Model Update
New for 2019: Audi
New Car Preview
2021 BMW 3 Series Plug-in Hybrid Preview
More related