The Friday Five:The Hyper-sized Screen, Rotary Returns, Acura EV Edition

Liz Kim | Jan 08, 2021

This week, we covered the Good Design awards, summarized 2020 auto sales, and reported about the effectiveness of automatic braking systems. We've got all the details of the redesigned 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. We've performed a detailed Honda CR-V vs. Toyota RAV4 comparison. And we've published reviews of the Genesis GV80 and the Toyota Highlander.

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

Mercedes Hypes its New Hyperscreen

Mercedes Benz Hyperscreen

Have you ever dreamed about mounting a big-screen inside the cabin of your car? Mercedes-Benz has just the thing for you, and it's called the Hyperscreen.

Introduced at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the Hyperscreen is a 56-inch touchscreen that extends across the dashboard, from the driver's gauges on the left to the outer front passenger air vent on the right. Essentially, the entire dashboard is a screen.

The Hyperscreen uses the Mercedes Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment technology platform, and it incorporates three displays under its single piece of glass, including instrumentation, infotainment, and an entertainment module for the front passenger. Mercedes says the Hyperscreen will offer both touch and voice activation, with no physical buttons or knobs to ruin its clean aesthetic.

Mercedes plans to offer the Hyperscreen as an option in its all-electric Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan, set to go into production in late 2021.

Tesla Model Y Price Drops Below $42,000

The Model 3 sedan might be Tesla's lowest-priced vehicle at $37,990 (not including the $1,200 destination charge), but now that Tesla has introduced a stripped-down variant of the Model Y crossover, you can get one for just $4,000 more.

With its new rear-drive, single-motor, 76.8-kWh battery powertrain, the standard range 2021 Tesla Model Y supplies 244 miles of driving distance on a full charge. According to Tesla, it's not as fast or long-lasting as the more powerful Long Range and Performance versions of the Model Y, but it will accelerate to 60 mph in about 5.3 seconds. And it will save you $7,000 over the next cheapest Model Y.

Honda's New Kurumask Removes Viruses from Vehicles

Honda announced it is quickly hastening the development and distribution of its new Kurumask, a cap applied to the existing cabin air filter. Honda claims the Kurumask can capture 99.8% of airborne viruses, completely recirculating the air inside a vehicle in 15 minutes.

Although Honda has not explicitly performed testing for COVID-19, Kurumask results from an emergency response partnership with local Japanese governments to transport COVID patients, allowing Honda to skip the usual delays in advancements.

For now, the product is a dealer accessory with a cost of about $68, but it is only available on the Japanese-market N-Box. However, Honda hopes to expand its Kurumask program to fit more models and make it more widely available.

Mazda Returning the Rotary Engine to the U.S. Market

You remember the rotary engine. Mazda was a big proponent of the spunky, small engine design, which promised greater reliability and smoother operation than traditional piston-type engines. The rotary engine never caught on in a big way, though, and hasn't been available in the U.S. for nearly a decade.

While rotary fans may still be nostalgic for RX-7 and RX-8 sports cars, at least Mazda hasn't completely abandoned the rotary configuration. The automaker confirms it will use one as a charging mechanism for a new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Mazda MX-30. The electrified compact crossover will first arrive in the U.S. as an electric car – they are already on sale in Japan – but the company says it will also offer a PHEV version, with a rotary engine acting as a range-extender.

By way of explanation, the range-extending rotary engine will serve the MX-30 PHEV in the same way the 4-cylinder engine in a Chevrolet Volt worked. Once the MX-30's battery reaches a minimum state of charge, the rotary engine will spin to provide power, similar to how a home generator works when the electricity goes out. 

General Motors to Build Honda and Acura EVs

Not many people know that Honda has partnered with General Motors to develop SUVs and powertrains, including electric vehicles (EVs). This week, the companies confirmed that GM will build an electric Honda crossover SUV in Mexico and manufacture an electric Acura crossover in the Spring Hill, Tennessee plant earmarked for Cadillac Lyriq production.

Both the new Honda and Acura EVs will use GM's Ultium Drive battery and platform technology, a flexible system that allows the automaker to build multiple vehicle configurations on the same component set. The maximum driving range for Ultium-based vehicles is about 400 miles.

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