Like almost every industry, automotive manufacturing took a beating early in 2020. Sales dropped as buyers scaled back their spending, and carmakers struggled to keep their assembly lines moving in the face of new safety requirements and supplier disruptions. As a result, a lot of highly anticipated new models have been delayed. But the industry has regained its mojo, and sales are up.
Besides, carmakers have a lot of development pipelines that aren’t easy to turn off. And consumer interest in new technology—particularly in performance cars and electric vehicles—keeps the global appetite strong. Daily commuting may have dropped dramatically in the spring, but people still need, and want, cars.
2022 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The new mid-engine ’Vette, which landed this year and took our Car of the Year award, will likely earn another round of accolades when the track-oriented Z06 arrives later in 2021. The car will deliver more than 600 horsepower from its naturally aspirated V8 (up from the 500 in the conventional Stingray), include wider tires and bigger brakes, and come with boosted chassis strength and a newly tuned suspension. Make no mistake: This variation is a big deal. It takes the “argument” of the base Corvette—that you can have world-class design and engineering delivering thrilling, perfectly balanced performance without the price tag associated with Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and McLarens—and puts a bow on it. It’s not just the engine placement that’s new, either. The Z06 benefits from modernized sensors for monitoring vehicle dynamics, smoother power delivery thanks to engine geometry improvements, better cooling courtesy of improved airflow, and greater downforce as a result of better aerodynamics.
2021 Volkswagen ID.4
Volkswagen’s first purpose-built electric car—debuting the brand’s widely adaptable, all-electric MEB platform, which is modular for greater adaptability to different vehicle types and designed to simplify electric powertrain hardware—is shaping up to be the EV surprise of the year. First, it’s got a striking design, at once sleek and perhaps a little toy-like, but absolutely eye-catching and attractive. The profile rises toward the rear, lending the car an unmistakably athletic posture, and its interior is clean and bright thanks to the optional glass roof. Second, its electric chops will go a lot further toward winning over consumers than most of the affordable EVs that have debuted thus far. Arriving as a crossover certainly gives it a leg up, but its 201-horsepower, 82-kWh powertrain will make it energetic—though perhaps not a ton of true fun—while delivering an estimated 250 miles of driving range. The magic number for EVs is 300 miles nowadays, but few hit that mark, and 250 is more than enough to match people’s daily driving needs.
Tesla’s wedge-shaped, stainless steel-clad Cybertruck is a bit of an acquired taste. Which means people who just want a normal electric pickup truck with have to look elsewhere. The Rivian R1T is the most promising alternative yet, with appealing, fully modern styling without crossing the line into cartoon sideshow. It’s also going to be a killer ride, with four-motor all-wheel-drive, three feet of wading capability, and a startling 0-60 time of 3 seconds. It’s also been tested across some wild terrain recently, including competing in the off-road Rebelle Rally in the U.S. and playing a cameo role in a 13,000-mile South American adventure featured in the Long Way Up television series with Ewan McGregor.
This is the latest information for the upcoming cars.