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Mercedes-Benz to build next-generation eSprinter electric van in US

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Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric delivery van in Germany

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has been a long-time favorite for commercial customers around the world, and the United States has been the number two market behind Germany. Local sales have averaged close to 30,000 units annually for the past five years.

However, despite the strong demand for the big van here, we miss out on the battery-electric version known as the eSprinter that was launched in 2019 (shown below). That’s because the range is pretty low. We’re talking less than 100 miles.

This won’t be the case for the next eSprinter which is due in the second half of 2023 and planned for production in the U.S., as well as in Germany, Mercedes said on Tuesday.

Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric delivery van in Germany

U.S. production will take place at Mercedes’ plant in Charleston, South Carolina, where the current-generation Sprinter is built. Local production allows Mercedes to avoid the 25% Chicken Tax on imported light trucks and other commercials. Mercedes said it will invest close to $60 million to upgrade the plant for production of electric vehicles.

Mercedes in 2020 announced it was investing over $400 million to develop a new modular platform for the eSprinter that will make more configurations possible, including when it comes to battery size. Known as the EVP (Electric Versatility Platform), the platform is designed to fit the current Sprinter body.

The EVP will offer three battery sizes, two wheelbase lengths, and a rear-mounted drive system. The front section is reserved for the power control hardware. Mercedes is holding back the specs as the launch is still some years away.

Next-generation Mercedes-Benz eSprinter

Next-generation Mercedes-Benz eSprinter

The EVP’s additional flexibility means Mercedes will be able to offer the eSprinter as a chassis cab. The current eSprinter is offered exclusively as a panel van.

Mercedes also sells an electric version of the smaller Metris van overseas known as an eVito. The latest version delivers over 200 miles, but it isn’t clear if Mercedes plans to add it to its U.S. lineup anytime soon.

Mercedes also plans to build electric passenger vehicles in the U.S. The first of these will be EQE- and EQS-badged crossovers that will start production at Mercedes’ plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 2022.

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Autos

Edd China begins work on a neglected 1982 Range Rover in “Workshop Diaries” episode 2

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Edd China works on a 1982 Land Rover Range Rover

Former “Wheeler Dealers” co-host Edd China is back with a new YouTube show called “Edd China’s Workshop Diaries,” where he tackles projects at his home garage. For the second episode, China begins work on a friend’s 1982 Land Rover Range Rover.

Powered by the 3.5-liter V-8, this Range Rover saw plenty of off-road use, but was then parked for about 10 years. China is tasked with getting it running again.

The first step is simply getting into the Range Rover, which requires a bit of penetrating fluid on the doors hinges, and getting the hood unstuck. This is why it’s not a good idea to leave a car sitting for so long.

Edd China works on a 1982 Land Rover Range Rover

China then sets about diagnosing problems with the V-8, which won’t start. Because the Range Rover had been sitting for so long, China charges the battery and drains the fuel tank before even attempting to start it. Batteries won’t hold their charge indefinitely, after all, and gasoline will break down after awhile.

With the battery charged and fresh gasoline in the tank, China tries firing up the engine. But while the V-8 turns over with no problems, he doesn’t get ignition. He can’t hear the fuel pump turn on, providing a clue about the problem. However, we’ll have to wait until a future episode to see if a faulty fuel pump is the issue.

Midway through the episode, China takes his customary break for tea, and uses the time for a new segment in which he answers viewer questions. His car knowledge and engineering expertise come into play here with some smart answers, though there isn’t that much China can do remotely to help diagnose problems and come up with hands-on solutions.

This is China’s third attempt at a YouTube show after leaving “Wheeler Dealers” over creative differences. Basically, he disagreed with new producer Discovery’s plan to skip the nerdier details in order to appeal to a more general audience. Those details are exactly what China is focusing in “Workshop Diaries,” so if you’re really into the nuts and bolts (no pun intended) of car restoration, give it a watch.

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2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron arrives with concept car looks, high-tech cabin

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Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi on Wednesday unveiled the new Q4 E-Tron battery-electric compact crossover, in both regular and more rakish Q4 Sportback E-Tron guises.

The Q4 E-Tron is a smaller sibling to the E-Tron that was launched for 2019, Audi’s first volume electric vehicle and the model that set the tone for future EVs from the brand with the four rings. Since then we’ve seen the arrival of the E-Tron Sportback and E-Tron GT, and now the new Q4 E-Tron duo.

Audi Q4 E-Tron

The Q4 E-Tron is the corporate cousin of the recently launched 2021 Volkswagen ID.4, with both vehicles designed around Volkswagen Group’s MEB modular platform for mainstream electric vehicles.

There’s nothing mainstream about the Q4 E-Tron, however. The vehicle sports concept car looks and an interior that’s every bit as good as what you find in high-end Audis. For instance, there’s a digital instrument cluster (10.25 inches) and touchscreen display (up to 11.6 inches) in the dash, plus a sport steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls.

2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron

2022 Audi Q4 E-Tron

The real highlight is what you don’t see. That is until you’re out on the road. Audi is making an augmented reality head-up display available on the Q4 E-Tron. The HUD system displays information on the windshield in two sections and should prove especially handy when using the navigation. For instance, a dynamic floating arrow appears to guide you to correct turns and exits. Because of the way the image is projected, it appears as though it is ahead of the vehicle, allowing for real-world road features to be clearly highlighted.

The HUD can also display important traffic information. This should be especially helpful in low visibility conditions. For instance, as you approach a vehicle ahead, a light bar will appear to highlight the other vehicle. Other light bars will highlight important road features like lane markings, preventing you from drifting into another lane.

Beyond the tech, buyers will also be able to opt for typical Audi premium features like sport seats lined in Nappa leather. Given the roominess of the related ID.4, we expect the Q4 E-Tron to be comfortable for adults regardless of whether they sit up front or in the back. The vehicle measures 180.6 inches long, 73.4 inches wide, and 63.5 inches high, with a wheelbase of 108.7 inches. That’s about the same length as the ID.4 but almost 6.0 inches shorter than the rival Tesla Model Y. Maximum storage is 51.5 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat. Note, the Q4 Sportback E-Tron will naturally have less space than the Q4 E-Tron due to its lower roof.

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi Q4 E-Tron

In the powertrain department, the Q4 E-Tron has been announced with two battery options and three powertrain options (35, 40 and 50), and in each case a single-speed transmission is used to transfer power to the wheels. A base 35 grade comes with a 52-kilowatt-hour battery and a single electric motor at the rear axle rated at 167 hp and 228 lb-ft of torque. Audi estimates you’ll be able to cover a bit over 200 miles in this model.

Above this is a 40 grade which comes with a 77-kwh battery and a single electric motor at the rear axle rated at 201 hp and 228 lb-ft. Audi estimates this grade will get you just over 300 miles on a charge.

At the top of the range, for now, is a 50 grade. This one also has the 77-kwh battery but this time a dual-motor all-wheel-drive system that delivers a combined 295 hp and 339 lb-ft. This model is estimated to deliver a bit under 300 miles of range. Naturally, this grade is the quickest, with Audi quoting a 0-62 mph time of 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 112 mph.

The larger battery enables charging at up to 125 kilowatts (100 kw for the smaller battery), which means it will be possible to charge the battery from 5% to 80% capacity in a bit under 40 minutes. Audi guarantees that the batteries will have at least 70% capacity after eight years of operation or 100,000 miles.

The Q4 E-Tron starts sales in Europe this summer. Audi hasn’t mentioned timing for the United States, but an arrival of the Q4 E-Tron later this year as a 2022 model is a strong possibility. Pricing and specs for our market will be announced closer to the local launch.

Production of the Q4 E-Tron and Q4 Sportback E-Tron is being handled at VW Group’s plant in Zwickau, Germany.

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2022 Honda Civic dials up wow factor with good looks, digital dash

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2022 Honda Civic prototype

Honda on Wednesday provided a first look at its redesigned 2022 Civic sedan which goes on sale this spring.

The automaker teased a prototype version last fall, and we’re glad to report the production version has turned out almost identical to the handsome prototype.

2022 Honda Civic prototype

2022 Honda Civic prototype

2022 Honda Civic prototype

There will also be a redesigned Civic Hatchback (shown below) arriving several months after the sedan, with the more practical body style to once again serve as the basis of a Civic Type R performance flagship. A coupe body style won’t return however, due to the current-generation’s waning popularity.

The Civic looks to have adopted a more mature look for its latest redesign, and the proportions, with a low hood and cab pushed rearward, belie the car’s front-wheel-drive underpinnings. This isn’t just for looks, mind you. For example, by moving the A-pillars further back relative to the driver, Honda said visibility has been improved.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The interior, previewed in a teaser sketch, follows the more mature theme of the exterior by combining a clean, uncluttered look with the latest technology. We’re talking a digital instrument cluster, plus a 9.0-inch touchscreen for the infotainment. An interesting feature is the mesh strip running the dash, which hides the air vents.

A more rigid version of the current Civic’s platform underpins the new generation. That means powertrains are likely to carry over. The current Civic makes do with 1.5- and 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4s. The 1.5-liter engine in the Civic Si makes 205 hp and 192 lb-ft of torque, and the 2.0-liter engine in the Civic Type R spits out 306 hp and 295 lb-ft.

2022 Honda Civic prototype

2022 Honda Civic prototype

Full details on the redesigned Civic will be released on April 28, Honda has confirmed.

The new car represents the 11th generation of the Civic nameplate which was first offered in the United States in 1973. Since then around 12 million examples have been sold locally.

2022 Honda Civic Type R spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2022 Honda Civic Type R spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

With the new generation, Honda will handle production of the sedan at a plant in Alliston, Canada. The hatchback, including the Type R (shown above), will be built at a plant in Greensburg, Indiana. Currently, all Civic Hatchbacks are sourced from a plant in the United Kingdom that is scheduled to be shuttered this summer.

For more on the Honda Civic, read the in-depth reviews at The Car Connection.

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