After a two-year hiatus due to the epidemic, North America’s largest auto show starts again in Detroit this weekgiving consumers a first glimpse of what the trillion-dollar auto industry has in store.
The North American International Auto Show is taking place in Michigan, but there was some interesting news for Canadians on Wednesday as Chrysler announced plans to restart the 300 sedan — which will be manufactured in Canada.
Starting in 2023, Chrysler will manufacture the gas-powered sedan at its plant in Brampton, Ont. First launched in 2005, the 300 saw solid sales for about a decade before demand began waning even before the COVID-19 pandemic, as smaller, more fuel-efficient models became more popular. The last version of the 300 was launched off the line in 2020.
Chrysler, part of the multinational automaker Stellantis, will build about 2,000 cars for the US market and about 200 for Canada in one final round, before shutting down the car permanently. In addition to the 300, Chrysler’s Brampton facility also makes gas-powered Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger vehicles, both of which are also scheduled for sunset after next year.
“This is the last year for the 300 model,” Chrysler Brand CEO Kristen Foyle told CBC News. “We really wanted to give our 300 fans something to celebrate, while we’re closing this edition.”
She added, “We hope to build up enough stock to conduct some stock sales for some time…until the new product is launched.”
Electric cars are the focus
The new product that Feuell is teasing is mostly electric in nature, with Chrysler leaning heavily on electric vehicles for their future, just as many other automakers do.
Chrysler plans to introduce its first battery-electric vehicle in 2025, but the switch will be fast: In seven years, the brand expects to offer only electric vehicles, closing the book on internal combustion engines.
“Our transition really starts in the next couple of years as we transition to full electric,” Foyle said.
While the displays at the Detroit auto show contain the familiar brand names car buyers are accustomed to, there are some newcomers to the event that hint at the future of the electric industry.
A Detroit-based startup called Plug Zen is showcasing its lineup of charging stations and infrastructure. So is Harbinger Motors, an aptly named electric vehicle truck manufacturer whose product lineup is a sign of what’s to come for delivery trucks.
Another company, Blue Arc, is also showing off its portable car charger that can be powered by solar or wind energy, which may help relieve stress on the electric grid if it becomes overloaded.
“The unit is designed to be delivered anywhere, anytime so you can charge within minutes,” said CEO Eric Fisher. “Think of it as a mobile gas station.”
Swedish brand Volvo’s truck unit has announced plans for six new all-electric trucks, with the goal of half of its fleet being electric by the end of the decade.
The electric hype is so great that US President Joe Biden made an appearance in Detroit, where he announced his administration’s plan to spend $900 million to build a network of charging stations on 85,300 km of roads across 35 states.
His latest infrastructure bill includes a new federal tax credit of up to $7,500 for anyone who buys an electric vehicle, as long as it’s built in North America. Qualified vehicle batteries must also be manufactured in North America, and there are requirements for battery metal production or recycling on the continent.
The tax credit aims to create a US electric car supply chain and end dependence on other countries, especially China.
Biden then toured the new electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, marveling with Ford CEO Bill Ford at the model’s performance. “It’s incredible speed,” Biden said, adding, “Does it have a play button?” Also explore less bright vehicles, such as Ford’s all-electric E-Transit truck and F-150 truck.
Biden finally takes the wheel of the Cadillac Lyriq electric all-wheel drive, which starts at $63,000, as he drives it briefly down a hallway in the blue-carpeted hall. It was a rare occasion to drive — albeit a little more than walking speed — for the president, who is usually ferried in armored U.S. Secret Service vehicles when out in public.
“Jump, I’ll get you to Washington,” he joked to reporters. “It’s a nice car,” he added, “but I love the Corvette.”