The Friday Five:The Tesla Goes to Texas, Toyota Adds Another Hybrid, and Genesis Will Have to Wait Edition

Beverly Braga | Jul 24, 2020

This week, the results of our 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study were released. Porsche earned top billing in the luxury segment while Dodge ranked highest among the mass market automakers. Mazda and Cadillac showed the biggest year-over-year gains, respectively jumping nine and six spots in their overall market segments. Learn more here.

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

Tesla Cybertruck Will Call Texas Home

After months of anticipation (and offers from big metros to small towns), the location of the next Tesla Gigafactory is no longer up for grabs. CEO Elon Musk confirmed this week that Austin, Texas, will be home to Tesla factory number three, following its production plants in Fremont, California (vehicles) and Las Vegas (batteries). Keep Austin Weird is the city’s unofficial slogan, making it a natural location to build the strange Tesla Cybertruck.

Tesla Cybertruck

Unofficially dubbed “GigaTexas,” Musk said the new plant would be within a 15-minute commute of Austin’s city limits, span 2,000 acres, and be an “ecological paradise” of trails and boardwalks open to the public. This after the county offered a minimum $14 million in tax breaks. Nevertheless, Tesla will look to hire 5,000 employees with hourly wages starting at $15.

Changes to 2021 Hyundai Sonata Add Safe Exit Warning as Standard for Most Models

Due to its complete redesign for 2020, 2021 Hyundai Sonata changes are minimal. All year-over-year updates involve transitioning optional features into standard amenities. For the turbocharged SEL Plus, this means 19-inch alloy wheels paired with Pirelli P-Zero all-season performance tires. Not only do they add to the vehicle’s sporty look but also further benefit its responsive driving demeanor. For the more luxurious Limited model, a 6-way power passenger’s seat is now in every car.

The most significant change for 2021 is Safe Exit Warning standard on all but the entry-level SE trim. This safety feature uses existing blind-spot monitoring technology to warn the occupants of approaching traffic when the vehicle is parallel parked. If an approaching object is detected, an audible warning and pop-up notification activate to prevent the driver and passengers from opening the doors and exiting the vehicle into traffic.

New 2021 Toyota Venza Price Announced

When the Toyota Venza entered the automotive landscape in 2008, the vehicle was a midsize 5-passenger crossover utility vehicle (CUV), powered by a 4-cylinder or optional V6 engine, available with front-wheel or all-wheel drive, and built in Kentucky. All of that changes for the 2021 Venza redesign. Well, except the being a CUV part.

For the 2021 model, Toyota moves Venza production to Japan, AWD is standard, and its only powertrain is a gas-electric hybrid. Combining a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with three electric motors, the vehicle offers a total output of 219 horsepower and a manufacturer-estimated fuel economy of 39 mpg. Also, the Venza will be available with Star Gaze, a panoramic sunroof that can change visibility from transparent to frost within one second — a Toyota first. 

On sale in September, the 2021 Toyota Venza price starts at $33,645 (including a $1,175 destination fee). It fits between the RAV4 and Highlander in Toyota’s CUV lineup. 

Genesis Delays U.S. Sales Launch of All-New G80 and GV80 Until Fall

Initially scheduled to arrive this summer, the all-new Genesis G80 midsize sedan and first-ever GV80 flagship SUV are being pushed to a fall arrival in dealerships. In a statement, the luxury automaker acknowledged the changes in the release date are directly impacted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Unveiled earlier this year, both vehicles received a welcome reception from media and consumers alike, particularly following the GV80’s Super Bowl ad. Both vehicles are expected to be priced similarly, starting at around $50,000 with top-of-the-line models reaching the $70,000 watermark.

2020 Audi e-tron Sportback Earns IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Rating

The 2020 Audi e-tron Sportback was recently named a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As the highest safety rating awarded by the IIHS, the e-tron Sportback joins the Audi A6, A6 Allroad, and e-tron SUV among Audi vehicles recognized with a 2020 Top Safety Pick+ designation. Notably, the e-tron SUV was the first-ever EV from any automaker to earn the top rating. The favorable Audi e-tron Sportback safety ratings are due, in part, to a multitude of driver-assistance features.

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