Electric Off-Road Vehicles, RIP Chrysler and What is Dakar? [Ask Nathan]

MMUSA Nathan and Roman
Nathan Adlen and Roman Mica
  • Do electric off-road vehicles make sense?
  • RIP Chrysler?
  • What is Dakar?

The first question comes from Twitter (@Nathanadlen) regarding the future of electric off-road vehicles.

Q: (Via Twitter@NathanAdlen) Seriously, do electric off-road vehicles make sense?

If you have enough range, you weigh too much. If you want enough power you need more batteries too! Weight and range are the killers. 4X4 EVs will never happen!


Howdy Andres!

I added some photos of the Suzuki Concept Model e-Survivor to make a point: automakers are sincerely looking at EV 4X4s, including Jeep/FCA, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and more. In some cases, EV crossovers with some off-road-ability have already been produced.

Just look at the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X. The Jaguar I-Pace has already demonstrated the virtues of EV power on somewhat challenging off-road courses. More off-road EVs are slated for the very near future, some of which are far more serious about off-road capability.

You’re right, weight is a killer and battery packs are known to be pretty heavy. That issue is being addressed right now by several battery makers. Massive steps in manufacturing, energy and weight management are already yielding results.

One of the most promising possibilities of 4X4 EVs is the idea that you can have one EV motor powering each wheel individually. This Suzuki concept would use a setup like that which would give the driver access to massive torque immediately upon demand.

No my friend, I think the idea of building 4X4 EVs could be a good one.



The next question comes from a FCA hater who thinks Chrysler is about to be axed.

No Mention of Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge in Five-Year Plan
Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid [Photo: FCA]

Q: Nathan I know you love FCA because of Jeep and Dodge. But you have to admit, Chrysler is going to die.  

I think FCA is a plague upon our American landscape. Every Chrysler and Dodge my family ever owned was tainted from the beginning. Now I see that Chrysler only has two vehicles selling.

Now you have to admit with only a few cars being sold, there is no reason to keep Chrysler right?


Will Chrysler Get the Ax?
If and when Chrysler drops its last remaining passenger car, only the Pacifica will remain to carry the brand. [Photo: Fiat Chrysler]

A: Hi Corey, thanks for the email.

You’re right, there’s only two Chrysler vehicles being sold in the United States. In 2018, Chrysler sold over 46,000 Chrysler 300s and over 118,000 Chrysler Pacificas. While those numbers are not massive, they are reason enough to keep the factories buzzing – for now.

While I agree that quality has been an issue, FCA has improved over the years. Still, they need to do a much better job with quality – top to bottom. In this day and age of copious robotic assembly assistance, this issue should be addressed.

I know you’re bitter, but I hope (for the sakes of the employees, fans and this country) things improve for Chrysler.



Photo: MINI

The last question comes from a viewer who wants to know about Dakar rally.

(Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) Love your shows, but I am new to car sports.

Can you tell me what Dakar is all about? I am so confused why something that happens in South America is called by an African name.

2013 dakar rally kamaz jump
Nice to see a 10 ton truck getting launched into the air

A:  Hi!

The Paris-to-Dakar rally began in 1978 by off-road motorcycle racer Thierry Sabine. The race started in Paris and ran 6,000-miles to Dakar, Senegal. Along the way, drivers stopped at stages ending each leg, often at the end of the day.

It was brutal, it was awesome and it became wildly popular.

Security became an issue and promoters opted to make a major change. The “Dakar” race had to move. Keeping (most of) the name, the same intrepid, adventurous race was relocated to South America Over time, the race evolved into what it is today.

GEE MOTZKIN Motorcycle rider DAKAR #149 Photo: Motohouse

Now trucks, autos, motorcycles, side-by-sides and quads compete on terrain that’s considered by many to be even more challenging than Africa. It’s still dangerous with numerous injuries and, occasionally, fatalities attached to the event every year, but that’s the price to pay for the adventure.

This year, the entire race takes place all over the South American country of Peru. You can read up on daily results (here) on tfloffroad.com!


Speaking of serious off-road…

Nathan and The Fast Lane Car team are here to answer your (reasonable) questions. Interesting and/or entertaining emails will be posted to this column. If it’s relevant in the automotive universe, there’s a chance we may know something about it. The author’s email address and name will be omitted – leaving your initials or nickname, your preference.From day one, The Fast Lane Car has made it our policy to answer as many questions and comments as we can. We get thousands of emails and comments and feel that, as part of a tight-knit automotive community, having an open dialogue with you keeps things fresh and exciting.Got a question for Nathan? Drop him a line at: asknathan@tflcar.com.