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Car news, 1 July ’24: Ford Ranger gains new Black Edition in Australia, Volvo expected to launch EX90 initially with missing features, and more


Every important car news story breaking today, one convenient read

Thanks for joining us this Monday July 1st 2024. Notably in car news today: Ford has announced a new Black Edition variant for its popular Ranger ute, and Volvo’s upcoming EX90 large electric SUV could launch without some key features amid delays.

Browse this issue:

Ford Australia announces limited Black Edition Ranger

2024 Ford Ranger Black Edition rear 3/4 image
This is the new Ford Ranger Black Edition
  • Ford Australia has announced it will bring a limited number of Ranger Black Editions to showrooms in the third quarter of 2024. 
  • Priced from $56,680 before on-road costs, the Ford Ranger Black Edition is $2300 more than the $54,380 XL Bi-turbo 4×4 pickup it is based on.
  • However, the Black Edition has a current driveaway deal of $57,990 when specced in Arctic White.  
  • Additional features include black 17-inch alloy wheels, black long-legged sports bar, black side steps and black grille. An in-built cargo management system, 12-volt socket and a drop-in bedliner also feature on the model. 
  • Just 1500 Black Editions will be built for Australia and are available to order now through Ford Australia’s dealership network. 

Volvo EX90 to arrive in the USA with missing features

2024 Volvo EX90 front 3/4 static image
The Volvo EX90 will launch without some features in the USA, but Australia looks clear
  • The first Volvo EX90 large electric SUVs are set to launch, at least in the US market, and are very likely to launch without some key features, according to reports from Motor1
  • Several features including LIDAR functionality, cross-traffic alert, curve speed assist, wireless Apple CarPlay and bidirectional charging are affected. Motor1 has also reported that only the dark infotainment theme will be available from launch, as regular functionality causes excessive battery drain when the vehicle is parked. 
  •  As for the effects on our local market, a Volvo Cars Australia spokesperson has confirmed to Chasing Cars that “introducing a new generation of technology comes with inherent challenges and we need additional time to develop and release features and functionalities and prepare the car for long-term continuous improvement”.  
  • The brand also stated that, “the EX90 customers can expect updates and upgrades over time that will improve functionality and add features…with updates [applied] remotely over-the-air.”
  • The Volvo EX90 is scheduled to land in Australia during 2025, with no delay or change expected. 

Toyota’s first self-driving tech will feature in BZ3X SUV

Toyota BZ3X SUV front side angle static
The upcoming Toyota BZ3X SUV will have Toyota’s new self-driving tech
  • Toyota is squaring up with key rival Tesla and has announced it will bring an electric model to market in 2025 with its own self-drive technology. It’ll debut first in the Chinese market
  • According to reports from Reuters, Toyota has developed the electric vehicle with help from one of its joint venture partners, Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC)
  • Called the Bozhi 3X SUV, or the BZ3X, the new EV will launch in China, but could very well come to Australia in time
  • It’s unclear what platform the BZ3X will use, however with its planned 2025 debut the model is expected to ride upon the existing E-TNGA platform. A future platform is expected in 2026 with next-generation batteries and faster charging capabilities
  • Toyota Australia has vowed to commit to offering three zero-emission models in Australia by 2026

Audi to bring AI functionality even to 2021 cars 

2025 Audi SQ6 E-Tron interior screen wide
Audi will introduce AI in new cars and also cars as old as 2021 releases
  • Audi has announced it will bring ChatGPT AI software not just to its new cars, but to existing cars as old as 2021 releases.
  • If your Audi is fitted with a third-generation modular infotainment system, it’s very likely you’ll have artificial intelligence in your pride and joy very soon.
  • The move by Audi and several other key global automakers to use AI in their vehicles is being pitched not simply as a gimmick, but as a way for the car to better understand the driver’s inputs and behaviours. 
  • Audi has naturally followed on from Volkswagen who is already starting to roll out AI into many of its models. The updated Mk8.5 Golf range is just one example of ChatGPT’s integration as part of an infotainment overhaul for the model. 
  • The ChatGPT integration will be available in roughly two million Audis starting from this month. 

Mercedes-Benz spending more on internal combustion engines 

2025 Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S E Performance engine bay shot
Mercedes-Benz is currently spending more than expected on combustion vehicles
  • Mercedes-Benz’s chief executive officer, Ola Kallenius, has told overseas media that the brand intends to invest more than it expected to on ICE engines.
  • According to Automotive News Europe, the luxury German automaker has been investing in and reworking several hybrid drivetrains that will serve its lineup “into the next decade”
  • Kallenius has also confirmed that the brand has spent much more to develop the combustion version of the brand’s luxurious S-Class facelift, which is due in 2026. 
  • The brand will reportedly “spruce up” its combustion engine models after demand recently slowed for electric vehicles in general.  
  • The brand is only expecting to offer 50 percent of its lineup as electrified by the end of the decade, rolling back on its initial plans to be all-electric by 2030

Self-driving cars still 50 years away: Mercedes-Benz 

Mercedes-Benz says self-driving cars are still 40-50 years away
  • They’re referring to the fabled SAE Level Five autonomy  – or fully autonomous driving capability – where an occupant can be transported in a self-driven vehicle A to B without occupant input whatsoever. The race is on between engineers across manufacturers and firms around the world to develop the first vehicle that can safely accomplish this task.
  • But it’s a longer way off than many pundits would have you believe, said Matthias Kaiser, Senior Engineer for Automated Driving Mercedes-Benz.
  • “I compare it to the Holy Grail,” Kaiser told Chasing Cars at a Mercedes-Benz safety technology demonstration in Melbourne this week.
  • “[Level Five full autonomy] would be the final goal but I think this will definitely need some more decades until we see Level Five cars for customers on the real streets like in a mass production vehicle. 
  • Mercedes-Benz engineers said SAE Level Three autonomy – where a car can drive itself hands-free down a motorway – was on its eventual way to Australia. It’s already legal in some jurisdictions like on the German autobahn and in California, USA, where it’s restricted to a maximum of 40mph (64km/h) and can only be used during the day. 
  • Mercedes-Benz expects the Level Three technology to be ready for up to 130km/h autonomy by the end of this decade.

The next issue of Car News Today will be published on Tuesday 2nd July at 4.30pm Sydney time.