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First 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Sells for $300,000

Sun, 01/21/2018 - 21:20

The very first example of the 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt has sold at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale sale for $300,000. All that money will go toward the non-profit Boys Republic school for troubled youth.

We don’t yet know what the special-edition model will retail for when it goes on sale later this year, but you can count on it being much less than the hammer price for this auction. Though $300,000 is a lot to pay for a Mustang, the new owner has the satisfaction of knowing he or she has the very first copy (VIN 001) of the new Mustang Bullitt. The 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt features a modified 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 that makes 475 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, up 15 hp from a standard GT. It also gets a six-speed manual transmission with a cue ball shift knob, special leather-trimmed Recaro seats, Highland Green paint, Bullitt badges, and all the goodies from Performance Package 1. The Bullitt will be a limited-production model, though the size of the run hasn’t been announced yet.

Those who’ve been following the Bullitt saga will recognize this auction listing as the one that gave away the Bullitt’s surprise debut in Detroit. When it was discovered in early January, the listing described a “special new Ford Mustang,” and said 100 percent of proceeds from its sale would go to charity. Automakers routinely auction off the first example of a new model for charity, and the charity in this case was pretty specific and unusual. Steve McQueen, star of 1968’s Bullitt, attended Boys Republic and remained associated with the school long after graduating, so one only had to connect the dots to figure out what Ford had in store.

Source: Barrett-Jackson

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Categories: Property

Unrestored 1968 Ford Mustang From Bullitt is a Detroit Must-See

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 18:00

If you want to keep a secret, chances are the Kiernan clan can keep it for you. In case you missed it, a 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt rolled out in time for the 50th anniversary of the 1968 classic Steve McQueen film.

McQueen’s granddaughter Molly introduced it at this year’s Detroit auto show, but the real star of the show was a rusty 1968 Mustang in Highland Green that is one of two cars used in the movie. Sean Kiernan, of Nashville, Tennessee, is the lucky owner.

 

McQueen drove this Mustang for many of the close-up scenes in the movie. The second car used during the filming of Bullitt was modified for use for the film’s wild stunt scenes. It was recently discovered in Mexico in poor condition.

Kiernan’s parents, Robert and Robbie, of Madison, New Jersey bought the car in 1974 from a detective for about six grand and it has stayed in the family ever since.

The car was used mainly as a daily driver for many years before it went into storage during the 1980s. It is estimated now to be worth $4 million dollars, but the Kiernans have no plans to sell it.

“It means way too much to me,” Sean Kiernan recently told the Detroit Free Press.

Even Steve McQueen tried to buy the car back in 1977 from the Kiernans and the family surprisingly said “no thanks” to his generous and substantial offer.

“For decades, our car has been the subject of numerous rumors, myths, and dead-end searches. These stories evolved and took on a life of their own and the car became something of a holy grail in the old car world—waiting to be rediscovered,” said Sean Kiernan in a statement.

“Today we revealed the car to the general public and it is pretty much the way my parents bought it back in 1974.”

Since it was used for filming, there was no soundproofing and the trunk had a huge cut out for a smoke machine. The badges were all removed and the paint was scoured to make it look dull for filming.

The family’s plans to restore the Mustang were sadly put on hold when Robert was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and later passed away in 2014.

Eventually the family contacted the Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) in Washington, D.C. and the Mustang has now become the twenty-first vehicle to join the prestigious program.

An HVA documentary, “Little Pieces: The Untold Story of the Bullitt Mustang”, is in the works and expected to be released later this year. A national tour for the coolest Mustang ever built is planned by HVA as well.

The Bullitt Mustang can be seen inside the Cobo Center at the Detroit auto show through January 28.

 

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Categories: Property

Marchionne Considers Entering IndyCar With Alfa Romeo

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 15:00

Late last year, Alfa Romeo signed on as the title sponsor for Sauber F1 Team beginning in 2018, which will mark the brand’s return to Formula 1 after a 32-year absence. But F1 may not be the only open-wheel series where you can see the Alfa Romeo cross and serpent logo. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has confirmed his interest in IndyCar.

“Why not Alfa Romeo in IndyCar? We are thinking about it,” he told Motorsport.com in an interview at the Detroit auto show.

Further evidence could be that IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye confirmed that IndyCar had met with around 10 OEM brands over the past several months about possible participation in the series. He would not confirm whether FCA was one of the companies involved in the talks, however.

In Detroit, the Verizon IndyCar Series unveiled its universal aero kit, a versatile racing package that will be suitable for road courses, street courses, and ovals. The kit is built around the Dallara IR-12 chassis, and includes specially developed aero bodywork for each type of race. The new car will race beginning with the 2018 season, and has already received praise for looking better than the race car it replaces.

In Detroit, Marchionne expressed his admiration for Dallara’s founder. “Gian Paolo Dallara–I consider him a great, the best Italian engineer around,” he told Motorsport.com. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s committing to an IndyCar bid, but he’s clearly a fan of the firm behind the series’ new hardware.

Every team will run the new Dallara chassis, but they’ll have some choice when it comes to engines. Currently, the rules specify a naturally aspirated 2.2-liter DOHC V-6. There are only two OEM suppliers, Honda and Chevrolet, and both have expressed interest in more manufacturer competition. Will Alfa join the IndyCar party? We’ll have to wait and see.

Source: Motorsport.com

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Categories: Property

2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch Long-Term Update 2: Dude, Where’s My Truck?

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 09:00

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this update about the long-term Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch I’m stewarding for a year. I lost it. OK, I didn’t actually lose it, but I lost possession of it. Turns out that for an organization like Motor Trend, a big, haul-anything, go-anywhere workhorse such as Ford’s Super Duty is exactly what we need all the time. From photo shoots to hauling tires to moving bodies around in spacious comfort to just daily living, it’s hard to beat an XXL truck.

 

My day-to-day responsibilities have changed considerably over the past few years. Back in the day I was primarily a writer who dabbled in video. These days, my primary professional focus is making two shows for Motor Trend OnDemand, Ignition and Head 2 Head. Meaning that I’m spending days and weeks at a time away from the office driving the cars we’re filming and not “my” long-termer. As I mentioned, please don’t think for a moment that our two-tone beauty sits idle waiting for me to return.

The F-250 was used as a support vehicle for this year’s Best Driver’s Car, SUV of the Year, Car of the Year, and Truck of the Year programs. Again, sometimes the Ford was needed for hauling gear. Other times photographers and videographers were hanging out of the bed to get shots of whatever we happened to be testing. The 6-foot, 8-inch bed provides plenty of room, though of course I always chuckle that at 160 inches, our Super Duty is the short-wheelbase version. A 172-incher is available and comes with an 8-foot bed, for all you drywall aficionados.

The F-250 gets used for all sorts of unofficial business, as well. Furniture seems to be our staff’s favorite truck-based activity, with surfboards coming in a close second. We are headquartered just a few miles from the beach, and it seems that half the office surfs. My favorite staff use of the F-250 is when Randy Pobst used it to haul a couple of motorcycles and the accompanying fuel cans, ramps, and whatnot needed for a ride he did across the desert. He also took along three of his buddies and all of their gear.

I asked Randy how the F-250 did on his excursion: “Fabulous. Eats diesel, but it would eat more gas, no? Shoulda brought a bike trailer. Loaded to the roof inside and looking Beverly Hillbillies outside! Thanks again, it was super for the trip.” At least somebody is getting some quality use out of it.

My video crew has been making good use of the Super Duty, specifically, as a support truck for the 99th episode of Head 2 Head, a clash between the Chevy Colorado ZR2 and the Ram Power Wagon. We filmed the episode at the Johnson Valley OHV Area. That meant the F-250 took five guys and all the accompanying camera and sound gear over some pretty serious off-road terrain. Our King Ranch is on the semi-monster truck equivalent of street tires—it struggled a bit initially, but then the crew popped it into 4-Low, and voila! The leathered-lined luxury truck went everywhere the two purpose-built off-roaders did. Well, everywhere except for the insane bits of rock crawling. What a workhorse.

Read more about our 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty here:

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Categories: Property

Diesels Reportedly Won’t Return to Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. Lineup

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 01:30

Last year, Mercedes-Benz dropped plans to have its cars’ diesel engines certified for sale in the U.S. again. The decision was made partly because diesels accounted for only a tiny percentage of its American sales, but Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal played a role, as well. At the time, Mercedes left the door open for diesels to return, but now it looks like that’s unlikely.

Speaking to The Detroit Bureau at this year’s Detroit auto show, Ola Kallenius, Mercedes’ head of R&D, said that even though Mercedes’ newest generation of diesel engines would likely be clean enough to sell in the U.S., it doesn’t have any plans to do so. According to Kallenius, there simply isn’t enough demand from American buyers.

“The diesel doesn’t fit into our portfolio in the U.S.,” said Kallenius.

For fans of the torque and fuel efficiency that diesel engines offer, this has to be disappointing news. Then again, considering how few diesels Mercedes sold, it shouldn’t be surprising. According to Kallenius, diesels never accounted for more than 3 percent of Mercedes’ U.S. car sales.

But that decision appears to only apply to passenger vehicles. On the commercial side of things, he said the growing popularity of the Sprinter van means Mercedes-Benz Vans will continue to offer a diesel engine.

Source: The Detroit Bureau

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Categories: Property

Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 01:00

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 debuted at the 2018 Detroit auto show wearing an exterior that commands attention. Larger than the truck it replaces, the 2019 Silverado 1500 is more capable and is now available with a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel I-6. In total, six powertrain combinations will be available along with eight trim levels.

Immediately, the 2019 Silverado 1500’s front fascia grabs attention with its new slim headlights and a massive new grille that changes based on the trim level. The most aggressive-looking variant is the Trail Boss with its blacked out front fascia, giving it a tougher appearance than other trims. In comparison, the outgoing Silverado 1500 was boxier and its front end didn’t have nearly as much visual pop as the 2019 model.

From the side, both trucks have a very similar silhouette until you get closer to the front where the 2019 model’s slim headlight clusters give it a less conventional look by breaking up all the boxiness. Out back, the angular theme continues with taillights that mimic the shape of the headlights and split dual exhaust tips instead of the large side exit tips of the outgoing truck. The most obvious change is the addition of a large Chevrolet script on the tailgate, which is similar to what’s found in crosstown rivals Ram 1500 and certain trims of the Ford F-150

The interior is where some familiarity can be found between the 2019 model and the outgoing truck such as the dual glove box and a conventional instrument cluster. Some of the controls remain to the left of the driver; however, the center stack in the 2019 Silverado 1500 appears to have more buttons compared to its predecessor. Even the center console design is similar and features a large storage cubby ahead of the cup holders and on the side.

When it goes on sale later this year, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will offer a full range of configurations to suit any truck buyer’s needs, from a utilitarian work truck to a luxury-minded High Country variant packed with all kinds of creature comforts. For those of you looking for some off-road performance, the Trail Boss will come with just that and include a specially tuned suspension with additional ground clearance, all-terrain tires, Rancho shocks, and skid plates.

The post Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

CARB Document Suggests 2019 Camaro Will Get a Seven-Speed Manual

Sat, 01/20/2018 - 00:30

Due to the fact that U.S. car buyers overwhelmingly prefer automatics, the number of cars that still offer a manual transmission is dwindling. Even if you’re shopping for a performance car, there’s no guarantee a manual will be an option. But as an increasing number of automakers are throwing in the towel on the clutch pedal, it looks like Chevrolet is set to give Camaro buyers their choice of two manual transmissions.

Two days ago, General Motors filed an emissions certification document for its 6.2-liter V-8 with the California Air Resources Board. That isn’t notable on its own, but as AutoGuide discovered, the last page includes a chart that suggests the 2019 Camaro will get the Corvette’s seven-speed manual. But it’s not replacing the six-speed manual, either. Both are listed as options alongside the eight-speed automatic.

If we wanted to get nit-picky, we’d point out that the skip-shift feature on the Corvette’s seven-speed manual can be annoying, but that’s why God created the skip-shift eliminator kit. And in a world where so few performance cars can be had with a stick shift, we’re certainly not going to turn our noses up at Chevrolet offering the Camaro with two manual options. You can also expect to see an extra MPG or two if you choose the seven-speed over the six-speed.

Sadly, there’s no way to tell from this document which trim will offer which transmission. But when this year’s New York auto show rolls around, don’t be surprised if Chevrolet announces that the 2019 Camaro will get an optional seven-speed manual.

Source: CARB via AutoGuide

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Categories: Property

2018 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale: Four Firsts Hit the Block for Charity

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 23:30

A new year means a new beginning. More importantly, it also means the return of Barrett-Jackson’s collector car extravaganza down in Scottsdale, Arizona. This year’s auction looks to be one of the biggest yet, attracting a surprising number of first-off-the-line production cars for charity, supercars, and rare classics.

Here’s a few of the star cars you can expect to see on Saturday.

First Production 2018 Chevrolet Corvette Carbon 65 Edition

Created in celebration of the marquee’s 65th anniversary, the Carbon 65 Edition is one of the sharpest looking packages for the Corvette Grand Sport and Z06. Each Carbon 65 Edition arrives with excellent Ceramic Gray paint, unique blue stripes and graphics on the front fenders, special ground effect body trim, and distinct graphics on the doors. Inside, there’s liberal use of carbon-fiber trim and edition-specific badging.

Proceeds from this sale to benefit the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Military Service Initiative. Watch the sale live at 4:30 p.m. MST.

Carolyn and Craig Jackson’s 1988 Chevrolet Corvette 35th Anniversary Edition

The eponymous Jackson family is donating its Corvette to the charity portion of the auction, with proceeds benefiting the auction house’s “Driven Hearts” program that works with the American Heart Association, crossing the auction block at 5:30 p.m. MST.

Only 2,050 of this white-over-white-over-white C4 were made, so Corvette collectors will be on high alert.

First Production 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

If the Z06 Carbon 65 Edition isn’t gnarly enough with 650 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, make sure you get a bid in for the first production 2019 ZR1. The sale, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST, will benefit the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Building on the Z06, the widebody ZR1 packs a 6.2-liter supercharged LT5 V-8, spitting out a tremendous 755 hp and 715 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the rear wheels through either a seven-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic, allowing for a 0-60 sprint of under 3 seconds, and a top speed right around 210 mph.

The First 2017 Ford GT Publicly Auctioned for Charity

Crossing the block at 8:30 p.m. is a 2017 Ford GT in Liquid Blue, the first public auction of a Ford GT for charity. Proceeds will go directly to the Autism Society of North Carolina, who intend to use the funds for the Ignite Program that offers activities, skill training, and workshops for young adults with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.

First Production 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt

If you can catch the stream on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. MST, you’ll see the first production 2019 Mustang Bullitt go under the hammer. Proceeds are slated for the Boys Republic charity. If you recall, this was the lot that first tipped us off to the Bullitt’s Detroit debut.

A Pair of Mid-Century Stunners

If the charity cars are a bit too new-school, there’s two gorgeous European grand tourers up for grabs.

The 1951 Talbot-Lago T-26 Grand Sport Saoutchik Coupe remains one of the most graceful and fluid automotive shapes of all time, presented here in a wonderfully lustrous red-and-black design. This is in concours-ready condition, having previously taken home a class win at Pebble Beach.

If you fall more on the side of team Italy, check out the 1952 Ferrari 212 Europa that closely follows the Talbot-Lago. It’s also no stranger to the concours circuit, having racked up a class win at Pebble Beach as well as an outstanding 100-point perfect score.

Go Behind the Scenes

If you can’t get down to Scottsdale before the sale, make sure you catch the live stream of the Motor Trend Live Stage all week, culminating with the charity cars on Saturday, January 20.

You can catch the stream on MotorTrendLive.com right up until the final hammer fall on Sunday, showcasing in-depth discussions about select auction cars, interviews with industry experts, and watch automotive trivia competitions.

The post 2018 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale: Four Firsts Hit the Block for Charity appeared first on Motor Trend.

Categories: Property

The Veloster N Sparked a War of Words Between Hyundai and VW

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 23:00

The Detroit auto show had very few surprises this year, but one of our favorites was the Hyundai Veloster N. We’ve known it was in the works and would be closely related to the i30 N sold in Europe, but we had no idea it would debut so soon. If Hyundai’s testing chief is to be believed, the Veloster N will be a blast to drive while offering a little more daily practicality than a Honda Civic Type R. But a conversation he had with another outlet about the Veloster N may have started the War of the Hot Hatches between Hyundai and Volkswagen.

Speaking to Australia’s Motoring, Albert Biermann, the head of Hyundai’s N division, promised that the Veloster N would be much more capable on the track than most of its competitors, as well as more fun to drive. In the process, though, he took aim at the longtime king of hot hatches, the Volkswagen GTI.

“There can be GTIs that are suitable for the track driving, but if you take the standard GTI, it’s not like that,” he said. “So with the N we clearly want to be more suitable for track driving, and give it more character and the most important thing—make it much more fun to drive.” But Biermann didn’t stop there.

“It’s a great car,” he said, describing the GTI, “but after two laps the fun is over. I mean you know.” When asked for more details about what went wrong after the second lap, he responded, “Everything.”

The first comment wasn’t particularly controversial, as it focused on how Hyundai wanted to position the Veloster N in the segment. But the second comment went further, claiming the GTI couldn’t handle track duty. After Motoring published those quotes in an article, Michael Bartsch, the head of Volkswagen Australia, had a few words for Biermann.

“Extraordinary claims are being made for supposed rivals that are not yet on sale. While any skunkworks can turn out a track day special, the expertise and experience required to engineer a GTI or an R—cars that also excel in the real world—is rather more hard won,” Bartsch told Motoring. “When you’ve owned a GTI or an R, it’s difficult to settle for anything less. Volkswagen offers not only the most accomplished fast and fun compact cars in the world, it provides the world’s widest range. There is now a performance Golf for everyone.”

We certainly understand why Bartsch would want to respond, but it’s a little surprising to see him go on the record like that. Usually, when executives are asked to respond to comments from someone at another automaker, their response is something along the lines of, “We welcome this new competition. A rising tide raises all ships.” Something about Biermann’s comments must have gotten under his skin.

Then again, maybe it has less to do with the comments themselves and more to do with who made them. Before Biermann joined Hyundai, he was the head of BMW’s M division. He has more than three decades of experience developing high-performance vehicles, and if anyone can help Hyundai build a credible GTI killer, it’s Biermann. Priced right, the Veloster N could do some real damage to the GTI’s sales numbers.

Whether Volkswagen does or not, we have to say, we certainly welcome its new rivalry with Hyundai. Fresh competition will force this whole segment to improve, and when the cars get better, drivers win.

Source: Motoring

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Categories: Property

Toyota’s Jim Lentz Talks Off-Road SUV, Apple CarPlay, and More

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 22:00

Jim Lentz has been Toyota’s top American executive for more than a decade, calmly guiding the Toyota, Lexus, and Scion brands through the recession and into the current boom. Lentz spoke to Motor Trend at the Detroit auto show in January.

Toyota and Mazda just announced a shared plant in Alabama that will build Corollas and a small Mazda SUV. What happens to the plants already building Corollas?

A few years ago, we were trying to find more capacity for RAV4. We decided to move all K-platform vehicles toward the northern part of the U.S., the C-platform vehicles to the south, and trucks in the southwest. We moved Corolla out of Canada to Guanajuato, Mexico, to make room for more RAVs. And we used our Baja plant for more Tacomas, which we were building at a 60,000-unit annual rate in December. The pickup market continues to grow, so we needed more pickup capacity. At the same time, there was an opportunity with Mazda. The quickest way to make this happen was to move Tacoma production to Guanajuato. That solved our most pressing need. We sold 329,000 Corollas in America last year, plus another 50-ish in Canada. We have Mississippi building 165,000, and the new joint venture in Alabama will build 150,000 more. (Mazda gets the other 150,000 from the Alabama plant.) So we have 310,000 capacity in North America. Either we need to find a way to build a few more depending on demand, or we get a few from Japan. We think that’s the right long-term sustainable Corolla number.

Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz

First sharing the Yaris with Mazda2, now the plant. Is Toyota getting cozy with Mazda?

The biggest thing is the philosophy of the two companies. They are both headquartered in an area where they’ve been for a long time. We’re in Nagoya, and Mazda is having the 100th anniversary of being in Hiroshima in 2020. Mazda is a company that really loves cars and loves driving cars. That’s a good match for us and for (Toyota Motor CEO and company scion) Akio (Toyoda). The head of Mazda and Akio really hit it off. Mazda is part of a mobility group working with us on the e-Palette (concept), along with Uber, Amazon, and Pizza Hut. And they are working with Denso, working on the fundamentals of EV platforms. This has evolved over time.

You predicted years ago that the RAV4 would outsell the Camry, and now it has. How far can SUVs go?

Last year, we sold 407,000 RAVs including Canada, and Camry was 387,000. The shift from passenger cars to light trucks been shifting 3–4 percentage points a year. That’s going to slow, but there still will be some movement. Obviously the big growth has been in the small SUV segment, and I don’t see that slowing down. I still think they will be red hot. If any one segment has surprised me it was entry (subcompact) SUV. I thought it would have been hotter, but it also shows people know the value of the (compact) SUV.

Toyota has shown some interesting, rugged small SUV concepts such as the FT-4X. Do you see a return of an FJ Cruiser-type vehicle?

There’s room for an authentic small off-road SUV. Everyone moved out of that segment because of truck CAFE ratings, but the 4Runner continues to do well in its segment. But we’re getting a lot of requests from folks who want another FJ or some variant. Some of our concepts are along those lines. We’ll see how market testing goes. As all these SUVs get larger, and we see proliferation in the overall SUV segment—there is room on the lower end in terms of price or authenticity for an authentic, off-road, frame-based SUV, which is what the FJ was. This would be for people going outdoors but truly going off-road. This would not be about all-wheel drive for safety; this would be four-wheel drive with ground clearance. The difference is in wheel travel, and you can only do that with frame-based. This could be FJ-sized, but for an enthusiast, it’s gotta be something with a small wheelbase to be more maneuverable when in the rocks. We’ll do some testing with small concepts.

Where does the SUV trend leave the 4Runner and Sequoia?

The jury is still out. Most SUVs have gone car-based because they needed to get lighter. There’s market demand for frame-based SUVs, but we have to crunch all the CAFE numbers to see if there’s room for them in our lineup. 4Runner continues to do well, but the softest segment is for big SUVs, where Sequoia is. It’s been OK but not great because the midsize SUV rear-seat packages are so good, and the size has gotten larger. If you have a large family and a lot of cargo, you gotta go large. But the segment was flat, whereas midsize was up 6.5 percent and small was up 8.9 percent. But entry SUV was down 1.3.

BMW has already shown its Z4, which will be shared with a Toyota sports car. Anything you want to say about the new Supra?

We have no announcements yet. This is the longest introduction in the history of mankind.

Toyota recently announced it would launch 10 EVs globally by the early 2020s. But how many are destined for the U.S. market?

It depends on where market heads in the U.S. We’ve talked about 5.5 million electrified vehicles by 2030, but that could be either pure battery-electric, fuel cell, or hybrid. About 1 million was going to be battery-electric, which could include fuel cell. Looking at the U.S. market today, hybrid is 2.7 percent of the industry, and EV is just 0.6 percent. It’s a tough market for EVs. Demand still is not there in the U.S. The good news is that because of need for EVs in China and Europe, that’s creating a global push for EVs. But when demand comes here, we will have a stable of EVs to choose from. When you look at the number of manufacturers chasing that 0.6 percent, it’s still not a business yet. We’re at 9 percent of our sales mix is hybrids and will be 15 percent by 2020. Toyota is going to increase the number of hybrids, plug-in hybrids—we’ll continue to see the technology of hydrogen and see where the technology goes with battery electric vehicles. If you take out the GM EV1 and the Toyota RAV4 EV, then battery EVs have been on the market as long as hybrids in the modern era. Hybrids have gone from 0 to 2.7 percent in 18 years. EVs are still at about a half-point of share. The question is whether the adoption of EVs will grow faster than the adoption of hybrids, slower, or about the same. Even if it grows more quickly, it’s difficult to see a robust EV market in the near future. Unlike hybrids, EVs still have range and infrastructure challenges.

Small-car maker Daihatsu is a Toyota subsidiary. What about bringing the Compagno show car to America instead of the boring old Yaris?

We’re not involved very much in their product right now. They are viewed as a small car and developing-market car brand, not a mature-market car. It’s not targeted for developed markets. But we can go to see if there’s something that gets us excited. Back in the Scion days, the Copen got us excited, but it didn’t work out.

Toyota held back from having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto infotainment in its cars. But the 2019 Avalon will have CarPlay. What changed?

Everyone wants to control the center stack of the car. When you look at who’s responsible for the safety of the center stack, it’s on the OEM. So we need to control it. Apple understands that need. Not everyone does.

What do you think of the Lexus LF-1 flagship SUV concept?

There are concepts to stretch the imagination of the designer, made on imaginary platforms, but they not buildable. Then there are concepts built on platforms that could go to market. This is on a platform that could go to market. That’s the direction Toyota goes, especially in North America. We use this as an antenna into the market. You can stretch the imagination, but then you still have to get the concept to production. To us, we think there’s a market for a vehicle like this. We’d rather have a concept that could go to market much quicker. There is an insatiable appetite for light trucks. And the luxury segment is moving as hard as the mainstream.

Engine bay of the turbocharged 2017 Lexus IS 200T

The German luxury brands have had turbo-four engines forever, but the idea is new to Lexus. How have Lexus customers reacted to turbocharging?

They have been well received. The LS twin-turbo six-cylinder is just hitting the market, and the reaction has been spectacular. Turbos are viewed as a higher-tech engine, so luxury customers see it as a step ahead of a naturally aspirated engine. Just like hatchbacks were. They were the cheap cars; now they’re the cool cars. But it’s about how you execute the turbo or the hatch. Hatches were cheaper, but now they make a really nicely styled car. You can have a great performing engine with a turbo; it’s not just a way to jam a small engine in a small car.

What about the future of the Lexus F and F Sport subbrands?

They’ve been going really well. Some of the executions have allowed F Sport to spread across entire lineup. Before the LFA (supercar), an F Sport made sense only on a few select models. It would only work on a GS sedan. But we had some image creep with the LFA, and now the LC and RC, so it makes sense to have F Sport across the line. It allows us to reach broader demographics, and F Sport skews younger. F Sport brings Gen Y into the brand.

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Categories: Property

2018 CES Tech Roundup: Twelve CES Tech Treasures

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 20:43

This year CES, the trade show in the desert that some feel threatens Detroit’s North American auto show in terms of prestige and automotive news-making, suffered a daylong deluge that leaked through perpetually sunbaked convention-center roofs and forced booth closures and a major power outage (curiously, a day after the rain had stopped). Enjoy the Schadenfreude, NAIAS organizers. In between the chaos, your future-tech hound dog managed to sniff out quite a lot of cool tech, over and above perhaps my favorite announcement of all: That Ford’s Sync 3 will allow Waze interaction on the screen! Here’s the best of the rest.

Sound Ideas

The sound wizards at Bose always trot out the coolest concepts from their sandbox to show the manufacturers at CES, and they were kind enough to share three intriguing ones with Motor Trend, too. CarWear is a cool way to integrate the company’s range of popular Bluetooth-enabled noise-canceling headphones into a vehicle. Today’s vacationing family often finds itself privately listening to different content from multiple tablets and devices. What if each of these devices—which are already capable of connecting to multiple devices (so a phone call could interrupt a tablet video for example)—also connected to the car? Then Mom or Dad in the front row could press a button and pause everyone’s content to draw attention to a roadside attraction or poll the crowd about dining options. Everyone converses at normal volumes using the microphones integrated into the headsets. And individual seating positions can be selected, allowing a front-row and third-row van occupant to chat like motorcyclists using helmet cams without disturbing anyone else. The hardware needed for this concept could be built in or offered as an aftermarket plug-in device.

Volume Zones for Bose Performance Series is an idea where the front and rear of a vehicle can have a sound-level difference as great as 12 dB—ideal for when someone wants to have a private conversation in one row while the other row enjoys content loud enough to cover their chat. This is far more than a fader knob—it preserves the sensation of surround sound for each row, and making the music seem to come from the direction where someone doesn’t want to be heard is pretty crucial. The system demonstrated in a Volvo S90 featured 23 speakers, including four bass woofers—two in each front footwell and two in each rear door. That’s double the usual number because bass is so hard to isolate. The bass speakers in the quiet zone must do noise-cancelation duty to hush the ones in the loud zone. And no, I was unable to learn how a speaker can simultaneously play a tone while canceling that same tone.

ClearVoice is a long-overdue concept in which the Bose system that is playing content, navigation commands, and Bluetooth telephone calls manages to cancel all the known content from a phone call. This means that when you take a call, the radio broadcast can continue to play (perhaps at slightly lower volume) so passengers don’t miss that crucial play that was about to happen on a sports broadcast, and the driver can continue to receive nav prompts. Meanwhile, the party on the other end of the phone call hears nothing at all but your voice. The car’s (often) cloud-connected voice recognition system or Siri/Alexa/Google assistant also gets fed a “clean” voice signal for improved accuracy and no transcription of radio or nav chatter. This system features four microphones to record the driver’s voice with high accuracy, and it requires considerable computing power, but it could be implemented quickly.

Meanwhile, Israeli firm Noveto proposes personal listening without headphones. This system uses a face-recognition camera (like those used for Level 3 autonomous driver-readiness detection) to locate the listener’s ears. A highly focused beam of sound is then sent from the dash or seatbacks directly into each ear. The signal is so directional and accurate that it’s inaudible inches away, even at reasonable volumes. The sound quality didn’t quite match that of great headphones or a killer car audio system, but it keeps the driver’s ears open to hear emergency vehicles and the like, and it allows passengers to consume individual content without their ears getting sweaty. It also allows passengers to still carry on conversations with one another. The system is being developed for computer monitors, game consoles, and other home/office uses, too.

Hi-Res Headlights

Texas Instruments introduced a new digital light processing (DLP) adaptive headlamp system that projects 1 million addressable pixels of light per headlamp onto the roadway ahead (80- to 100 is typical). Interestingly, the light source can be LED, laser, or something else intensely bright. Using digital micromirrors, each of these pixels illuminates 0.012 degree of the road ahead. They can be dimmed or darkened altogether, which makes all sorts of features possible when connected to onboard forward-facing cameras, nav systems, and the like. The lamps can precisely darken the area around an oncoming driver’s head (or the windshield or the entire car), project nav direction arrows onto the pavement, draw new lane-marker lines in tight construction areas, or even signal pedestrians that you’ll wait for them by projecting a cross walk onto the ground in front. Adjusting headlamp patterns to account for heavy loads or when driving in a foreign country using the “other side” of the road is equally possible. No pricing was estimated for this concept.

Not to be outdone, lighting rival Osram showed off its Eviyos concept, which promises much of the same functionality at a much lower price point. It uses a single LED chip per headlamp; each chip is subdivided into 1,024 addressable subsegments that work like Texas Instruments’ pixels. Each of these pixels shines with a maximum of 3 lumens, and the resolution of the nav arrows and crosswalk lines, the beam pattern cutoff, and so forth were not as crisp as TI’s, but if the price brings it to C-Classes instead of S-Classes, good for Osram. Of course, you might as well know that our federal regulations don’t yet fully permit the coolest of these features. Perhaps one day if our government budgets itself more than three weeks in advance, agencies such as NHTSA will be able to do this work.

Presale Automation

Swedish tech company Semcon is teaming with Volvo Bil, a retail subsidiary of Volvo Car Sweden, to investigate the possibility of automating the numerous off-highway movements of a new car between the factory and the customer—around the factory grounds, the logistics lots, dealer property, etc. A pilot program starts this month. Semcon has been involved in development of autonomous/driverless vehicles such as autonomous snowplows and lawnmowers.

Gesture Wheel

ZF demonstrated a capacitive touch steering wheel that doubles as a user interface. Its 11 capacitive sensors accurately detect when the driver is holding the wheel, and they also permit tap and slide operation of a unique user interface. An interactive screen is positioned at the center of the wheel with typical menu functions located at its corners and sides. Double tap the wheel at a corresponding position to activate the menu in that corner of the screen. Then maybe with the temperature or fan control dial showing on the screen, tap the wheel and slide your hand clockwise or counterclockwise to raise or lower the temp or fan speed. Tap the top of the steering column for horn. That’s also the area the airbag now deploys from because the center of the steering wheel is all screen. An LED light strip illuminates the inner ring of the steering wheel rim. Blue lights indicate autonomous mode, white lights connote manual driving, yellow lights indicate turn signaling, and red lights provide driver warning.

Connected Cameras

Valeo’s XtraVue concept leverages vehicle-to-vehicle communication to share one vehicle’s forward-facing camera view with those behind. The following vehicle uses forward-scanning lidar to verify that the car ahead is most likely the one it’s receiving a signal from (GPS coordinate sharing in these vehicle-to-vehicle transmissions lacks accuracy), then its 360-degree surround-view photo-stitching capabilities are put to work integrating the forward car’s image with its own camera images to “phantom” the car ahead.

Biker Concepts

One night I escaped the CES Auto Show in the convention center’s North Hall for a roundup of cool nonautomotive stuff. Cosmo Connected’s helmet light is a magnet-mount USB-rechargeable Bluetooth-connected lighting unit that mounts to the back of the rider’s helmet. It automatically illuminates at night, brightens when the bike slows, and signals a turn when prompted by the rider’s phone-based nav or manually via an app on a handlebar-mounted phone. It also detects when an accident has happened and immediately rings the rider’s phone. If there’s no answer, it texts an emergency contact and prompts them to call the phone twice. If no answer, EMS is contacted with GPS coordinates and medical info on file. Cost is $59 for the light.

A similar concept, the Coros Omni smart helmet, also features Bluetooth connectivity and a light, though the light only provides night illumination, not braking or turn signals. It does, however, use an interesting “speaker” system that excites the rider’s cheekbones to transmit sound, leaving the ears open to hear traffic, emergency vehicles, etc. The sound quality was surprisingly good. This one will also detect a wreck and summon help. The helmet is totally waterproof, weighs 340 grams, and costs $199.

The Velco Wink Bar is described as the world’s first connected handlebar, featuring Bluetooth phone pairing, onboard GPS, and GSM phone connection. It also offers LED forward lighting and lights on top of the bar that flash to indicate which way the phone-based nav wants the rider to turn. The right handle grip contains the rechargeable battery, which can easily be brought inside for recharging. It even includes an anti-theft alarm that texts the owner if the bike is moved without prior authorization via the Bluetooth connection or an RF ID “ignition key” present.

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Categories: Property

Celebrity Drive: Dr. Michael Lavigne of Animal Planet’s ‘The Vet Life’

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 20:26

Quick Stats: Dr. Michael Lavigne, Animal Planet’s The Vet Life
Daily Driver: 2010 Dodge Ram (Michael’s rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: New Orleans to Florida
Car he learned to drive in: 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
First car bought: 1984 Ford Bronco

Although viewers see Dr. Michael Lavigne’s love of helping animals on Animal Planet’s The Vet Life each week, he also developed another passion while at vet school—working on projects cars—with his beloved 1974 Dodge Charger.

“That’s my pride and joy, it recently got restored,” Lavigne says. “I had it for quite a while, and it was never really a reliable vehicle to drive. Almost every time I took it out, I had a problem with it, but I finally worked out all the kinks, and I’ve been able to enjoy it now and recently got it painted, so it looks good. It turns a lot of heads, and it’s running pretty strong. So that’s my favorite right now.”

He rates it a 9 on a scale of 10. “I’ve always had a real strong interest in cars and always wanted an old-school muscle car, and Mopars are more attractive to me,” he says. “I liked the body lines, and they were known for being strong cars.”

When Lavigne was in vet school, a couple classmates had older cars. After he saw them work on their cars, he figured he’d start with something inexpensive to give him practice because he never did that growing up.

“As much interest as I had, I wasn’t very familiar with working on cars,” he says. “I decided, ‘I’ll get a little project car to work on and learn and see if I can teach myself a few things’ because those older cars are a lot easier to work on. You’ve got a lot of space, they were just more simple.”

He looked on eBay for cars to work on during summer break after his first year of vet school and saw another Charger. “I had a lot of time on my hands and wasn’t sure what I wanted, but I came across a ’71, it had a big block motor and it was in New York,” he says. “I was hesitant to pull the trigger. I hadn’t seen it in person. It was buying it sight unseen. I was trying to get in contact with a friend in New York to take a look at it, and before I knew it, somebody snatched it from under me. Then I found the car I ended up buying. It had a small block motor in it. It wasn’t quite as good, but it was close enough. I figured I would use this and take some time and make it what I want.”

Daily Driver: 2010 Dodge Ram

Rating: 8

A 2010 Dodge Ram 1500 is shown here

“I was looking for a truck,” Lavigne says. “I feel like every household needs a good reliable pickup truck, and I’m a Mopar fan. When I got my ‘74 Dodge Charger, that’s what really turned me on to the Mopar world. I got that back in 2003 and not too long after that, Dodge came back out with the trucks with the Hemi engines, so that really sparked my interest.”

At the time, Dodge was also offering a good deal compared to Chevy and Ford. “I feel like I got more value for my money, not to mention I got a Hemi, so that was a win win,” Lavigne says.

“I feel like the Dodge has the best-looking truck as far as its lines,” he says. “It’s been pretty reliable. At the time they were offering an extended lifetime warranty, so I took advantage of that and it’s paid off a couple times already. So I plan on keeping this forever.”

Lately, because Lavigne has put a lot of miles on it, the truck has had a couple of “hiccups,” he says. “Luckily they take care of it whenever I bring it in. If I could have got all the bells and whistles, that might bumped it up to a 10, but at the time I couldn’t afford it.”

1965 Chevy Impala

Rating: 7

Lavigne recently bought this Impala from a neighbor. “Old cars always catch my eye. It just had real nice lines—he put aftermarket wheels and lowered the suspension—so it just caught my eye,” he says. “I would always see it out in his driveway, but it never moved, it was always there. I finally ran into him and asked, as a joke, when he was going to get rid of it. He was actually in the process of getting ready to move, and he knew he hadn’t been giving it the time and attention that it needed.”

“I haven’t really done anything to it, I just got it the way it was,” he says. “The guy who had it before worked on the suspension. I was really surprised because it had been sitting there so long, and all we had to do was charge the battery and it started right up.”

The interior is faded from the sun, so he admits there’s still work to be done. “It’s not a perfect car, but it’s in really good shape,” he says.

Lavigne wished it had more power. “I like cars with power, that have that old-school muscle,” he says. “It’s got a small block engine in it, it’s good for cruising. It’s a nice cruiser, but it’s not going to win any races.”

Lavigne hasn’t had time to drive the Impala or his Charger as much as he’d like. “The most use I’ve gotten out of my Charger, since I’ve got it running pretty strong, is [when] my truck was in the shop and they had it over a week,” he says. “I have a nice little commute to work, it takes me 35 minutes. I had to drive the Charger every day, so that’s the most wear and tear I’ve put on it since I’ve restored it. It served its purpose, it got me there safely, and now I got my truck back.”

Car He Learned to Drive In

Lavigne learned to drive in his mom’s 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme that became his high school car when he was became a senior.

He lived in Slidell, Louisiana, but was going to school in New Orleans, so before the Oldsmobile, Lavigne commuted to school with his dad who worked in the city: “I would ride with him, and he’d drop me off every day. I’d walk home to my grandmother’s house and wait for him to get off work. But once I was old enough to drive myself, she passed her car down to me.”

That’s when his love of cars first started. Lavigne worked some jobs and saved up money to buy wheels and a little sound system to put in it. “The summer after my high school year, it actually got stolen,” he says. “So it didn’t last me very long.”

Lavigne doesn’t recall anyone teaching him how to drive in the Oldsmobile. “I think I just taught myself. I started out just moving the car around in the driveway, so I got the feel of it, and then eventually, I was probably not supposed to, but I’d take it for a little drive here and there when I could,” he says. “I taught myself until I ended up taking a Driver’s Ed course where I learned more of the rules and regulations of driving.”

First Car Bought

“I got a couple of hand-me-downs, but the first car I bought with my own money was a 1984 Ford Bronco,” he says. “I was working in restaurants at the time. I did everything from washing dishes to bussing tables to waiting and working in the kitchen as a cook. I thought I got a good deal at the time. It ended up being a lemon. It caused me a lot of problems, but I’m grateful for that vehicle, because that was the vehicle I had when I met my wife.”

Lavigne once locked himself out of the car with the key in the ignition, and since the back window never rolled up all the way, it had a little gap where he went to try to recover the key.

“I took a long branch I broke off a little tree and put a hanger on the end of it and fished my keys out the ignition from the back window. She was walking from one class to another and saw me with my arm in the back of a window,” he says. “That’s one of the things she always remembered about me. She just thought I was weird, ‘What’s wrong with the guy. He’s got his arm in the window with a stick trying to fish some keys out of the ignition.’ We had a class together, and we hadn’t really talked a whole lot, but that gave us a talking point to break the ice. And the rest is history.”

His wife was impressed that he managed to get his keys out of the ignition that way because “she thought I was pretty creative and resourceful,” he says.

Favorite road trip

Lavigne’s favorite road trip was the time he and his wife drove from New Orleans to Miami back when they were still dating.

“She just finished school, and I wanted to surprise her with a little trip, get away, have a little rest and relaxation, a good time,” he says. “It was my first road trip as an adult. It was just the two of us. We rented a car, I got a hotel, and we just went down there to go have a good time by ourselves. What made it really memorable was I realized a good three hours into the trip that I forgot all my money at home, and we had to turn around and go back,” he says.

It was cash, and Lavigne didn’t have a debit card at the time. “We wouldn’t have had enough money to do anything, so I was like, ‘Well, we’ve got to go back and get it.’ So that definitely made a memory,” he says. “We had a good time, we put on some music and let the windows down and had a good time.”

Season Three of Animal Planet’s The Vet Life Photo: Discovery Communications

Lavigne, Dr. Diarra Blue, and Dr. Aubrey Ross and became really good friends while in vet school. After they all went to a Las Vegas practice to get training, they stayed there for eight years before opening a practice in Houston.

Blue’s sister was a producer on Pawn Stars. “She came up with the idea—it’s really unique, you’ve got these three friends, three young black veterinarians that are going to start their own practice together, they’ve got a really good bond and friendship,’” he says. “The first season showed the grand opening. It captures the three of us trying to juggle between opening a new practice, our families, our family lives, and juggling everything together.”

Unlike a lot of reality shows, this show is more of a “docu-series,” Lavigne says. “What you see is actually real, we’re not acting. That’s our personalities, we really are close like brothers, our families are really close, we actually get together all the time as much as we can and try to spend with each other. What you see is actually the reality.”

Photo: Discovery Communications

Lavigne encourages viewers to catch up on the first two seasons, where you see all kinds of animals including owls and tigers.

“This new season is going to be awesome,” he says. “You see a lot of camaraderie the three of us have in all the seasons, but this latest season our personalities are coming out, and you get a good idea of who we are individually and how we all work together. Being like brothers, there’s a lot of competition between the three of us. Ross and Blue probably go at it a little bit more. The two of them, they’re like the siblings that always battle each other, and I’m more of the level-headed mediator.”

This season also includes the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, their involvement, and what they all went through at the Cy-Fair Animal Hospital. “One of our technicians, she got hit hard. The hospital was OK,” Lavigne says. “A lot of people were affected. We got to help out with some of the rescue groups in the area.”

Season three of The Vet Life started Jan. 13 on Animal Planet.

Photo: Discovery Communications READ MORE CELEBRITY DRIVES HERE:

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Categories: Property

2018 CES Tech: Six Budget Lidar Systems

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 20:15

Autonomy requires gobs of sensors, and although Elon Musk and Tesla have publicly said “no thanks” to laser-based lidar sensing in favor of cameras, most of the rest of the industry expects to augment cameras with this “light detection and ranging” technology. For the past few years, the race has been on to replace those spendy spinny laser scanners festooning the roofs of the current crop of robo-taxis and autonomous prototype test vehicles with cheaper, smaller, lighter designs that are easier to integrate into the bodywork. At CES, plenty of options were found featuring lasers that still move, mirrors that move (microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS), and completely solid-state flash lidar concepts. One even involves cameras to interest Mr. Musk.

TetraVue 4D Lidar

This design adds a new dimension: time. That’s because 20 times per second, it flashes the road ahead with an infrared light pulse recording 60 megabits per second. The reflected 2.0-megapixel image is recorded on an optical camera chip in raw form and in an infrared modulated form. The images are compared, and the degree to which any pixel on the modulated image is dimmer than its unmodulated counterpart indicates that photon’s “time in flight,” from which distance to that object is calculated. Many competing flash systems integrate computational circuitry on the receiving sensor board, which diminishes resolution, but here every pixel counts. Range is said to be 100-plus meters, the optimal viewing angle is 54 degrees, visible light levels don’t affect it, and rain, fog, and dust merely curtail a bit of the system’s ultimate range. The resulting image is detailed enough to consider integrating object detection in this device, simplifying the sensor fusion task of the host vehicle. Cost in high-volume production is expected to be $200 or so. Several OEs have expressed interest.

InnovizOne

 

Israel-based Innoviz showed off a high-accuracy, low-cost MEMS solid-state lidar, which features 7.5-megapixel/second resolution, a 25-frames/second refresh rate, and a 120-degree horizontal/25-degree vertical field of view. It aims the laser light with a micromirror that is as thin as a human hair. Innoviz’s optical coding method is said to be particularly resistant to false reports from other signals in lidar-rich traffic environments. CEO Omer Keilaf claims his design will be the first solid-state lidar to reach volume production in late 2019 for use shortly thereafter on a European brand.

LeddarTech LCA2

Billed as “the world’s first solid-state 3-D lidar integrated circuit,” Quebec-based LeddarTech’s LCA2 3-D system-on-chip flash lidar is said to be ready for 2020 production. The field of view is customizable to customer needs, but the demo unit scanned 60 degrees horizontally and 20 degrees vertically. At 30 frames per second, it supposedly generates 1.3 billion data points per second, arithmetically computing 245,000 waveforms from them. LeddarTech provides the lidar engines and intellectual property for the lidar units produced by many Tier 1 suppliers. This device was named a CES 2018 Best of Innovation Awards Honoree in two categories, one for Vehicle Intelligence and Self-Driving Technology and another for and Embedded Technologies.

Pioneer 3D-LiDAR

Pioneer would like to remind everyone of its abundant experience with laser devices back in the LaserDisc entertainment era (millennials please picture a DVD the size of a vinyl album that held a max of about two hours of standard-def video). The company offers raster-based laser scanning where the laser scans a tight line back and forth, wobbling type where the laser wags back and forth through a wider angle, and a new MEMS type offering that is said to be particularly good at detecting dark objects and seeing through rain and snowfall. They can also combine signal processing and object recognition that further add value to what are claimed to be lower-cost units.

Velodyne Velarray

No lidar wrap-up would be complete without checking in with Velodyne, the alpha manufacturer in the segment and maker of most of those spinning roof-mounted sensors that still generally cost $4,000 and up. The company is beginning to offer designs that can integrate into the bodywork of a customer-owned car, with solid state and “hybrid solid-state” partially rotating designs. Velarray offers a 120-degree horizontal and 35-degree vertical field of view at a range of 200 meters and is expected to cost a few hundred dollars at mass-production volumes. The company representative was not optimistic about the prospects of competing technologies ultimately demonstrating automotive-grade reliability. We shall see.

Foresight QuadSight

Israel-based Foresight proposes to provide forward-vision and laser-range findings by using two pairs of stereoscopic cameras—one recording visible light, the other infrared. The former handles tasks such as lane finding, traffic sign recognition, object detection, etc., while the latter computes distance to said objects and “sees” through rain, snow, and fog (all of which do somewhat limit total range of perception somewhat). Foresight was proposing to mount one IR camera in each A-pillar because they cannot tolerate any absorption of the infrared light entering, and all windshields block infrared to reduce climate-control loads. Lucky for them, Japan’s Asahi Glass Company was demonstrating a zero-absorption infrared windshield over at the Velodyne booth. AGC preserves the upper central sensor area as clear glass and treats the rest of the windshield with an infrared filter applied to the inner layer of the rest of the glass. Foresight plans to begin production at the end of 2019.

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Report: Ferrari 488 GTO Will be Faster Than a LaFerrari

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 19:45

The Ferrari 488 GTB is a very good driver’s car. In fact, we recently declared it the Best Driver’s Car. But just because it’s already fantastic doesn’t mean it can’t improve. And if the latest alleged leak is to be believed, Ferrari has an updated version in the works that will take everything we love about the 488 GTB and make it even better. It’s even rumored to be faster than the LaFerrari hypercar.

The fan site Ferrari Photo Page claims it was recently contacted by an anonymous insider who attended a private preview of the car Ferrari called the “Sport Special Series.” Even better, this tipster was able to capture photos of the slide show that reveal quite a few details of the upcoming even-more-hardcore 488, most likely called the 488 GTO.

| Very big news! Details of the 488 GTO have just been shared with us by anonymous sources. You can read everything about the car in our latest article [LINK IN BIO!!] It’s rumored to be faster than the LaFerrari… _______________ #️⃣ • #FerrariPhotoPage ???? • Check out our website! ???? • Subscribe to our YouTube-channel! _______________

A post shared by Ferrari (@ferrariphotopage) on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:49pm PST

You can head to the page for a closer look at the images, but according to the presentation, this new car will get the most powerful V-8 ever put into a production Ferrari. No specific figures were given, but a previous report suggests it will make more than 700 hp. The engine will be derived from the one found in the 488 Challenge race car and 10 percent lighter than the one in the regular 488. It will also offer a “unique track-like sound” that we can’t wait to hear.

Expect the Sport Special Series coupe to be lighter, too, not simply more powerful. The presentation claims the glovebox has been removed, the floor will be made of aluminum, and the wheels will be 40 percent lighter than standard alloy rims. The hood, both bumpers, and the spoiler will all be carbon fiber. To further reduce weight, carbon fiber will be used extensively throughout the cabin, giving this car more carbon fiber than Ferrari has ever used on a full-production vehicle.

To continue Ferrari’s quest to make sure this car offers a “race-like experience even to non-professional drivers,” it will get a GTE-inspired diffuser, an active spoiler, racing-oriented transmission programming, an “extremely direct steering ratio,” and Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires. Overall, the 488 GTO is said to be 20 percent more aerodynamic than the 488 GTB.

Put it all together, and Ferrari Photo Page‘s source says the new 488 will be faster than the LaFerrari. For any version of the 488 to be able to compete with Ferrari’s hybrid hypercar in any way is definitely impressive, but it still isn’t clear what “faster” means in this context. Will the 488 GTO be able to beat the LaFerrari’s 220-mph top speed? Will it be able to lap a specific track with a faster time than the LaFerrari? Did the source mix up the terms “faster” and “quicker,” meaning the new GTO can out-accelerate the LaFerrari over a certain distance?

Hopefully, Ferrari will answer those questions for us when the 488 GTO is officially revealed, most likely at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Source: Ferrari Photo Page

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Eighth-Gen Volkswagen Golf to Begin Production in June 2019

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 18:45

Roughly a year and a half from now, the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf will begin production, the automaker announced at the Golf 8 Supplier Summit. Yes, the Volkswagen Golf is such a big deal in other parts of the world that it has its own supplier summit.

VW says the Golf 8 will begin production in 75 weeks, which works out to late June 2019. The main plant at VW’s Wolfsburg facility will remain the flagship site for Golf production, but the compact will continue to be produced elsewhere in the world. Volkswagen will invest €1.8 billion (roughly $2.2 billion) in the next-gen Golf family, and much of that will likely go toward upgrades and retooling for the Wolfsburg plant, Europe’s largest car factory.

Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg plant

Volkswagen says 120 suppliers were in attendance, and the automaker will now work with the selected parts makers to streamline the start of Golf production. Of those suppliers, 80 percent are already making parts for the current Golf. It’s not clear if the other 20 percent will replace existing suppliers that just didn’t make the cut or will produce completely new components for the Golf line. As we previously reported, the next-gen Golf is said to receive a 48-volt electrical system and mild hybrid setup to boost performance and fuel economy. VW will also reportedly improve the MQB platform with more lightweight materials to reduce weight by roughly 110 pounds.

“Together with the I.D. family, the introduction of the upcoming Golf generation will be the most strategically important product launch for the brand,” said Volkswagen board member for procurement Ralf Brandstätter, in a release.

The I.D. family of all-electric cars is set to launch the same year as the new Golf in 2019, starting with the I.D. hatchback and followed by a crossover based on the I.D. Crozz concept in 2020 and the retro I.D. Buzz microbus tribute in 2022.

Seventh-gen Volkswagen Golf pictured below

Source: Volkswagen

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Bentley Bentayga Headed to Pikes Peak Hill Climb

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 23:30

It’s only January, but Bentley has already announced it’s entering the Bentayga SUV in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 24. This marks the first time Bentley is competing in the event.

The folks at Bentley are currently preparing the competition car in Crewe, England. Brian Gush, head of Bentley’s motorsport operations, is leading the project.

“Since its launch, the Bentayga has set the luxury SUV benchmark with its unique combination of bespoke British craftsmanship, performance and grand touring ability,” he said in a statement. “We hope to set another benchmark at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb by conquering the most demanding mountain road course in the world.”

Although Bentley recently announced a new V-8 version, the competing Bentayga packs the more robust 6.0-liter W-12 engine good for 600 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. We’ve clocked the SUV hitting 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, making it the quickest gasoline-burning SUV we’ve ever tested. But it will be a different challenge altogether tackling the 12.42-mile hill climb with 156 corners. During the competition, vehicles climb 4,720 feet all the way to the finish line at the mountain’s summit of 14,115 feet.

Bentley says it aims to tackle the hill climb quicker than any SUV before. It will announce more details, including the name of the driver, closer to the event.

Source: Bentley

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Ram Might be Hinting at a Hellcat-Powered Rebel

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 22:30

When Ram showed up to the 2016 State Fair of Texas, it brought along one of the coolest concepts we’d seen in a long time, the Rebel TRX Concept. Designed for high-speed off-roading, the Rebel TRX looked more than ready to take on the Ford F-150 Raptor. Even better, it packed a 575-hp supercharged V-8 that was essentially a detuned Hellcat engine. But even though the Rebel TRX was never intended to go into production, our dreams of a Hellcat-powered pickup truck might not be dead just yet.

As Allpar points out, it looks like the 2019 Ram 1500 borrows several of its design cues from the TRX Concept, especially the new Ram Rebel. Some are more subtle, like the kink in the rear doors and the badge on the steering wheel, but it’s hard to miss TRX’s influence on the Rebel’s new hood.

Still, that’s only proof that Ram didn’t completely forget about the TRX Concept when it was designing the new 1500. The actual hints that there’s a Hellcat-powered Ram Rebel on the way required digging a little bit deeper. As Allpar points out, if you zoom way in on the official press photo for the Ram Rebel’s interior, the clock is set to 7:07, just like the Hellcat’s 707 hp. Considering Fiat Chrysler’s history of hiding hints or Easter eggs in the teaser images for the Dodge Challenger Demon, we wouldn’t put it past Ram to have hidden a little clue in the Rebel’s press photos.

Of course, while Allpar claims to also have an anonymous inside source that confirms the Hellcat-powered Ram Rebel is under development, the biggest clue might be Fiat Chrysler’s history of shoehorning big engines into every vehicle it can. In a world where Dodge offers a Durango SRT, Jeep has both a Grand Cherokee SRT and a Trackhawk, and you can get both the Charger and Challenger in Hellcat form, it might be more surprising if Ram never builds a 707-hp Rebel.

Source: Allpar

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Washington Might Block Chinese Automaker From Entering U.S.

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 21:30

At this year’s Detroit Auto Show, Chinese automaker GAC Motor announced plans to begin selling cars in the U.S. in 2019. The goal is to sell a redesigned version of the GS8 SUV (shown above) as a 2020 model and then slowly fill out its lineup over the next several years. But while GAC sounds like it knows breaking into the U.S. won’t be easy, it may have underestimated how much resistance it will face from Washington.

Reuters reports that yesterday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer called the rules for exporting cars to China “manifestly unfair, and a typically unfortunate example of China’s rapacious trading policies.” That’s because if a car is built in China and sold in the U.S., it is subject to a 2.5-percent tariff, but if a car is built in the U.S. and sold in China, the tariff is 10 times higher at 25 percent.

In a separate interview, President Trump told Reuters he felt the same way. He believes “we have helped to build China because they have taken out so much money in terms of trade deficits with this country,” and that “when China or another country charges us 50 percent tariffs—more than that in some cases—and we charge them nothing, that’s not fair. That’s not fair.”

While Trump and Schumer appear to agree that China’s tariffs on U.S. goods are unfairly high, it’s not entirely clear what they plan to do about it. At the moment, neither has called for an increased tariff on Chinese cars or proposed a way to block GAC from selling vehicles in the U.S. But considering how little Trump and Schumer agree on, the fact that they’re on the same side of this particular issue could be bad news for GAC.

We’ve reached out to senator Schumer’s office and the White House for comment, and are awaiting their replies.

Source: Reuters

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PSA Working on U.S.-Bound Vehicles but Brand Decision Still Year Away

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 20:45

Which brand PSA Group will choose to sell in the U.S. by 2026 will be decided next year, and engineers in Germany have begun work on ensuring the future models meet North American regulations and tastes.

DS or Peugeot are most likely. Alternatives include Citroën and now Opel and Vauxhall after PSA bought the U.K. brands last year from General Motors for about $2.5 billion. Opel is the least likely candidate, as the plans to return to North America began before the acquisition and the brand would have too much overlap with existing GM models, especially Buick models created on Opel platforms.

PSA is using the former Opel engineers based in Rüsselsheim to work on next-generation models for the U.S., and they began their work a few months ago, said Carlos Tavares, CEO of the PSA Group since 2014. He thinks their engineering combined with the emotion of French brands will resonate with American buyers.

Citroën C4 Cactus

Research shows the three French brands have a positive connotation in the U.S., associated with fine wines and cool design even though the products have not been sold on this side of the Atlantic for a long time. Citroën left in 1974, and Peugeot left in 1991. The attractive vehicles should resonate in North America much like they have in other markets, but Tavares said PSA must not be so arrogant as to think success in Europe guarantees success on this side of the pond. So he is being deliberately slow and careful in the rollout.

“Our heritage is French brands, that’s a differentiator for us,” said Larry Dominique, president and CEO of PSA North America. “We have done the research. We know directionally what we want to do,” and they have the time to ensure they understand the market and their brands’ position in it.

The brand coming to the U.S. has been essentially chosen, but the final decision will be made in a year, Dominique said, allowing time to continue to monitor the market and the product development efforts. Peugeot has the most recognition, he said. Past comments and speculation have centered on DS. There has been talk of a return to North America for years; at one time the plan was to sell Citroën in Canada first as a test bed.

The latest plan is a 10-year, three-phase re-entry to both the U.S. and Canada with sustainable retail sales no later than 2026. High volume is not a criteria.

The first two phases are car-sharing services using competitive vehicles initially and then PSA models. The final stage has retail sales of the yet-to-be named brand.

Step one uses the car-share app Free2Move that is a global app with 600,000 users but only a few thousand in the U.S., where it has not been marketed, Dominique said. It is like Expedia for car-sharing, allowing access to ZipCar, Car2Go, and other sharing partners, and it will use vehicles from other automakers. It will start in a large East Coast city in a few months and expand to a few more U.S. cities later this year.

PSA has a separate partnership with Travel Car, a peer-to-peer rental app already available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago with Seattle to be added soon. It books other people’s cars and also finds and books discounted parking.

Car-sharing with a fleet of existing Peugeots could happen as early as next year, giving PSA control over the fleet.

The third phase is deciding the best brand to bring to the country and how to sell them, Tavares said. He would not say if it is a luxury or more mass-market brand. And they are looking at sales through traditional dealers, online, using a subscription model, or a combination of distribution models.

“The risk is to do things poorly,” he said. “Because our company is profitable and healthy, we don’t need to rush.” Tavares does not want to repeat mistakes of some past foreign automakers entering the U.S. market unsuccessfully.

“The U.S. market for PSA is only about upside, so I don’t have to be fast,” Tavares said. “So the number one criteria is to do it well.”

PSA CEO Carlos Tavares

Tavares also said that by 2025 all PSA vehicles will have some form of electrification–either full battery electric or plug-in hybrid—as an option on all of its 40 vehicles. Gasoline and diesel engines will continue to be options. Several second-generation all-electric models are launching next year, but Tavares does not know how many models will be pure electric by 2025.

By 2030 the automaker will also be offering some degree of autonomous vehicle technology on 80 percent of its vehicles, and 10 percent will be Level 4 or 5, which means the cars are capable of self-driving. Level 1 started with the Peugeot 3008, and Level 2 technology is in the new DS7 Crossback. Level 3 will be on the road in 2021–2022 followed by Level 4 by 2023.

The French automaker is financially healthy, and turning Opel around is a priority. Tavares said vehicles on GM platforms will migrate over to PSA architectures as each model completes its current life cycle, a process expected to take three or four years. It raises uncertainty for GM products such as the Buick Regal, which rides on an Opel platform.

Opel is where PSA was four years ago, and it will follow the same turnaround trajectory. The PSA team found Opel vehicles more complex than necessary, which affects manufacturing, as well. “The cost of manufacturing in U.K. plants is double the cost of French plants,” Tavares said. Cuts are inevitable, and next week the CEO is meeting with unions in the U.K. who have been told their plant costs and productivity are where PSA plants were four years ago; those plants have since had their manufacturing costs cut by 50 percent. The CEO also continues to meet with government officials in the aftermath of Brexit.

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How the Ram 1500, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Silverado Compare in 5 Areas

Thu, 01/18/2018 - 20:28

The 2018 Detroit auto show was the most truck-heavy show we’ve seen in years, with three major automakers debuting new pickups. GM and Fiat-Chrysler had new generations of the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 to show, and Ford brought back the midsize Ranger to our shores after an absence of nearly a decade. We don’t have all the specs yet—and yes, the Ranger is in a different class than the Silverado and Ram—but we can still compare these new trucks in a few key areas.

Engines

The new 2019 Ram 1500’s gas 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engines mostly carry over but receive new eTorque starter/generators fed by a small battery pack that provide between 12-16 hp and 90-130 lb-ft of torque, depending on application. The eTorque motors also restart the engine in 0.55 second after shutting off via the new stop/start capability. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 is set to return in 2019 without the eTorque mild hybrid system.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s full engine lineup is unknown but will again include 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8 options, now equipped with cylinder deactivation tech that can shut off as many as seven cylinders. But the big news is an all-new Duramax 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six that GM promises will deliver better performance than the competition, possibly meaning 30 mpg on the highway. A four-cylinder hybrid could be offered in the future. Chevy says a total of six engine and transmission choices will be available on the Silverado 1500.

Meanwhile, the 2019 Ford Ranger will launch with a version of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four found in other Ford products. It’s a second-generation turbo-four and features a forged steel crankshaft and twin-scroll turbocharger. No specs were revealed, but it could make around 280 hp and 310 lb-ft like the unit available in the Explorer. Future engine options could include a turbodiesel five-cylinder that’s available in other markets, but no hard details have surfaced yet.

Transmissions

Given that these are next-gen trucks, high gear counts are to be expected, and all three deliver. The 2019 Ram 1500 uses a specially tuned version of FCA’s eight-speed automatic, which has been programmed with more than 40 shift maps to work in concert with the eTorque system. Meanwhile, the Silverado and Ranger both use the 10-speed automatic that was jointly developed by GM and Ford. The Hydra-Matic 10-speed can be found on Silverados with the diesel and 6.2-liter V-8, and it comes with stop/start tech.

Infotainment

All three trucks get their respective automaker’s latest infotainment system, but the Ram 1500 Limited steals the show with a segment-first 12.0-inch touchscreen running Uconnect 4C (the display is shown above). The screen is brighter and sharper than FCA’s others, producing 1,000 candela per square meter and matching the resolution of the iPhone 8’s Retina HD display. Lesser Ram 1500 models will continue to use the 8.4-inch touchscreen. SiriusXM Guardian offers a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot for a subscription fee.

Base Chevy Silverado 1500 work trucks will get a 7.0-inch color touchscreen, and LT models and up get an 8.0-inch unit. A 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection continues to be offered for a subscription fee. The Ford Ranger gets an 8.0-inch touchscreen available with Ford’s Sync 3 infotainment system and also offers a 4G Wi-Fi through the subscription-based FordPass. All three trucks are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (when properly equipped), but only the Ford is available with the Amazon Alexa voice assistant.

Bed

Although connectivity is great, people buy trucks to do truck stuff—and the bed is a big part of that. The 2019 Ram 1500 will be available in multiple cab and bed configurations, and the bed in each features sides that have been raised 1.3 inches to increase box capacity. RamBox in-bed storage continues to be offered and adds a 115-volt power outlet and repositioned lighting in the lids.

The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado’s bed gains nearly 7 inches in width, thanks to new construction methods. The bed floor is made of roll-formed high-strength steel and is rated for 500 megapascals of force (up from 340 MPa in the previous model). An in-bed 120-volt outlet provides up to 400 watts, enough juice for most large power tools. GM’s CornerStep bumpers are now taller to accommodate work boots, but the Silverado’s big party trick is its available power tailgate that can lower and raise using the key fob.

Ford didn’t provide dimensions for the U.S.-market Ranger, but the truck will be offered as a four-door supercrew or a supercab with two rear half doors, so there will likely be different bed sizes.

Off-Road Chops

Not all truck owners will take their rigs off-road, but those who do will appreciate that the Ram 1500, Silverado, and Ranger all have the capability to do so, along with special variants designed to do it better.

The Ram has an available updated air suspension and new Frequency Response Damping shocks that improve performance off-road. There’s also a new 4×4 off-road package that include a 1-inch lift, unique shocks, locking rear axle, and hill-descent control feature. Of course, the off-road-oriented Rebel trim is still offered, which gets the locking differential standard along with a host of other goodies.

The Silverado’s suspension gets a redesign, which should help its off-roading prowess. For maximum off-road looks and capability, though, there’s a new Trailboss variant that adds a 2-inch lift and the Z71 Off-Road package, which includes skidplates, Rancho shocks, a locking rear differential, and 18-inch wheels wrapped in Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires.

Ford says the Ranger is designed with off-road adventures in mind, which is why it has such a short front overhang and high ground clearance. There’s an FX4 Off-Road package available that includes all-terrain tires, off-road-tuned shocks and suspension, skidplates, and a Terrain Management System similar to the one available in the F-150 Raptor. A Trail Control feature acts like a low-speed cruise control and takes over throttle and braking to let the driver focus on steering. An electronic locking rear differential is available, and four-wheel-drive models have a selectable low range setting.

2019 Ford Ranger 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (and LTZ) 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel

 

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