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From Road & Track
Welcome to The Grid, R&T’s quick roundup of the auto industry and motorsports news you should know this morning.
Tesla Reportedly Dissolves its PR Team
Following months of radio silence from the Tesla media department, Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky published an article calling attention to the automaker’s (lack of a) media strategy. The company systematically ignores routine requests from media outlets for technical details or comment on controversies. For a brand with such an outsized influence, it’s weird to see them ghosting the press.
A new report from Electrek explains why. Tesla has reportedly dissolved its PR department, with most of the senior staff exiting over the last year. It’s unclear whether this was an intentional move or a slow bleed of talent. Regardless, it leaves Tesla with nobody to handle routine communication with the press.
That likely means that the automaker won’t be arranging for vehicles to be reviewed by the traditional automotive press going forward (though Tesla still seems to be providing test vehicles to certain high-profile YouTubers and other social media influencers). It also makes it nearly impossible for automotive media outlets to provide detailed, in-depth reporting on Tesla’s current or future products. There’s no word as to whether this is a permanent change—we reached out to Tesla for clarification, but immediately realized the irony of that attempt.
Toyota and Hino Are Developing Hydrogen Semi Trucks for the U.S.
Toyota remains highly committed to hydrogen-powered vehicles, largely shunning battery-electric drivetrains in favor of fuel cells. That’s a questionable strategy for the mainstream consumer market at this point, but it makes a lot of sense for heavy-duty applications. Now, as Automotive News reports, we learn that Toyota is developing a heavy-duty hydrogen semi truck for the North American market.
The company is working with its subsidiary truck company, Hino, on the project. This is the second hydrogen trucking project from the two brands, with the first one targeting the Japanese market. Details are light for now, but the company plans to have a demonstration truck ready in the first half of 2021.
Cold Weather Could Make for a Crazy F1 Race at the Nürburgring
Formula One is returning to the Nürburgring this weekend for the first time in years. If the weather forecast holds out, we can expect a wild race. Temperatures are expected to hover around 50 degrees F, with persistent rain showers. Even without rain, those temperatures will make it tough for drivers to keep heat in their tires, impacting performance. All of this will be compounded with the already tricky situation of racing on a newly-added track—teams don’t have any data from previous races to help solidify their strategy at the ‘Ring.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the car behaves in these conditions. Overall, given the time of year it could be quite an unpredictable weekend so we could be in for a crazy race,” Daniel Ricciardo said, according to Motorsport.com.
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