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The Motorists Guide

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  1. Italian maker has reintroduced GTA badge to Giulia but is unlikely to launch SUV variants Alfa Romeo has no plans to use its famous GTA nameplate on the Stelvio, following the reveal of the Giulia GTA last month. The Italian maker hopes the renaissance of the GTA badge will help create a halo effect for the brand - especially in the absence of the GTV and 8C rebirths, for which plans were ditched last year - but product marketing boss Fabio Migliavacca said the ethos of GTA doesn’t fit with other cars in Alfa Romeo’s line-up. “The GTA is an important name for Alfa Romeo," he said. "Frankly speaking, we had a meeting on a Stelvio GTA but it’s just not in line with customer expectations. It has to be the best possible [on track]. On the Stelvio, we have a higher centre of gravity [than a Giulia] so it won’t achieve the same goals.” The Giulia GTA was launched to celebrate Alfa Romeo’s 110th anniversary this year. Migliavacca said: “The idea for our anniversary was to renew GTA as an important pinnacle for Alfa Romeo. The [original Giulia GTA] car from 1965 was really important. If you think about the brand’s icons in history, there is GTA. We decided to bring back the old values. The car had to be special compared to the Quadrifoglio. It had to be lighter. We worked a lot to reduce weight and have better performance in terms of lap time over the Quadrifoglio.” Migliavacca added that reaction to the Giulia GTA has been “amazing”. Referencing the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Italy and, in turn, Alfa Romeo hard, he said: “In this particular moment, people - not only customers - are willing to see something positive in a really difficult reality. A lot of people are raising their hands and saying, ‘I want to have one’, ‘I want to have four’. It’s truly an amazing reaction considering the timing.” Only 500 examples of the GTA and more track-focused GTAm will be made and Migliavacca said that although orders were not yet open, it already had more than 500 expressions of interest. Currently, the split is biased towards requests for the hardcore two-seat GTAm. Performance figures for the range-topping Giulia are yet to be confirmed, but it will eclipse the Quadrifoglio’s 3.9sec 0-62mph time and 191mph top speed. However, Migliavacca said the main focus was not to make the car faster in those terms but to achieve more speed around corners. “We are talking about particular tracks where the car can be faster than the Quadrifoglio," he said. "It is easy to drive, unbelievably quick and effective in corners. For aerodynamics, the front and rear fascias and side skirts have been redesigned to achieve downforce not achievable on the Quadrifoglio.” READ MORE New Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA is firm's most powerful model yet Alfa Romeo scraps plans for new GTV and 8C models New Alfa Romeo Tonale: 2020 production car leaks online Alfa Romeo axes 4C sports car to focus on SUVs View the full article
  2. Petrol Retailers Association warns dramatic dive in sales during pandemic will make businesses “unviable” Petrol stations could be the next victim of the coronavirus pandemic, after warnings that a dearth of business will force many to close in the coming weeks. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents the independent fuel retailers that make up the majority of UK forecourts, cites a government survey claiming sales of petrol have fallen by an average of 75% across the UK, with diesel down 71%. “Many petrol stations will have to close in the coming weeks, as sales of fuel dry up and their businesses become unviable,” the PRA said in a statement. Stations in hardest-hit rural areas will be most at risk, it claims. Motorists are advised to check that their local station is actually open before leaving the house. The problem is compounded by the majority of retailers filling their fuel storage tanks at much higher wholesale prices prior to the price of crude oil collapsing. In the past week, fuel prices have fallen to a rate not seen since June 2003. “Fuel retailers are having to maintain pump prices at previous levels to avoid suffering significant stock losses,” the PRA claims. The PRA aims to keep a “strategic network of petrol stations open across the country” but acknowledges the immediate challenges many of its retailers face. As well as reduced demand and falling prices, staff shortages, competition from supermarkets and lack of delivery flexibility are all taking a toll. READ MORE Fuel pumps should have cigarette-style warnings, claim health experts Government plans E10 petrol switch in 2021 Petrol and diesel car sales ban could come in 2032 View the full article
  3. Our man gets in a Defender first drive and a tour of the newly opened Silverstone Experience museum before coronavirus lockdown begins In this week's automotive adventures, Steve nabs the opportunity to be wowed by the Silverstone Experience museum and a drive in the new Land Rover Defender just before lockdown descends. He also ponders the impact of Covid-19 on the car industry and Gordon Murray's new website. Monday A torrid week begins. Already lots of coronavirus restrictions are inhibiting out-and-about people like us. During action photography, photographers talk to drivers via phones or two-way radios to obey the law and avoid the usual chat through an open window. Then photography stops altogether. Yet we’re finding we can manage. Car companies have pictures. So does our archive. We’ve got a decent flow of stories in the pipe. Car people are available for phone chats. Feature ideas come from all directions. Working from home, even luddite members of Autocar’s staff (such as your humble servant) learn to meet via computer: surprising how natural it feels. And none of us misses the airport. Stories start filtering out through about hacks marooned with test cars that can’t be given back because their makers/importers have closed. Mine’s a Bentley, but more of that next week. Tuesday Just before lockdown, I grab an opportunity to visit the newly opened Silverstone Experience, a museum that tells the fascinating history of Silverstone (first a monastery, then a country estate, then an RAF base, now the home of British motorsport). I’m shown around by CEO Sally Reynolds, who came to Silverstone from Legoland in 2011, saw a chance to build something fabulous from an old aeroplane hangar (Hangar Straight, geddit?) and, after many struggles, has achieved her dream. Don’t get the idea ‘museum’ means fusty: this place is packed with amazing exhibits and activities, gripping video, fascinating cars and mighty interactive displays, and ends with an Ultimate Lap that’s second only to being on track for real. It’s shut for a while, but don’t miss it. Wednesday Curious contact with one or two reader-critics taking us to task for not saying enough about Covid-19 hurting the motor industry. We’re behaving as though life’s still okay, says one. My view: apart from the fact that every screen and printed page is already packed with virus doom stories, we do feel oddly optimistic. This thing will pass and, when it does, what seemed like routine opportunities will have greatly enhanced appeal. I’m booked into an October autosolo with my Mazda MX-5 and it feels like I’ll be on the grid of the British GP. Thursday Last activity before lockdown: a chance to drive the long-wheelbase Land Rover Defender on the road and then to have its outer-limits capabilities demonstrated by legendary engineer and wheelman Mike Cross. Ours is a poky six-cylinder prototype and – because Mr Prior has already done extensive Defender off-roading – our mission is to drive fast on smoother roads. JLR’s Gaydon high-speed track is like a slightly reduced Le Mans if you get a serious run at it (which we do) and we’ve soon proved the car is composed at 130mph, takes 100mph corners with some roll but amazing grip, feels amazingly supple over bumps but never, ever floats. As our session ends, Mike says he has one more thing to show, then attacks a single-lane road at serious speed. It contains two large jumps. We hit the first at 90; the second at 85. Despite its generous suspension travel, the Defender flies both times but lands almost as if on a feather bed. “This is one of the best cars we’ve ever done,” murmurs Mike, never a man to overdo the hyperbole. Buyers are going to be impressed. Friday Into my inbox drops details of Gordon Murray’s excellent new website featuring the T50, his ‘modern F1’ hypercar. In typical Murray fashion, the site is brilliant. And uplifting. Take a good look at gordonmurrayautomotive. com to see an open-and-shut case for the featherweight, sophisticated but essentially simple supercar. And another thing... A bloke with a grey, short-wheelbase, steel-wheels Toyota Land Cruiser drives past my house every morning at 6.45am. As a result, I can’t forget my regret at never driving Matt Prior’s identical long-termer last year. Note to self: call Toyota as soon as this lockdown ends. READ MORE Land Rover Defender 110 S 2020 review Jaguar Land Rover to invest £1bn in three new UK-built EVs New £25k Land Rover to be followed by luxo-Defender View the full article
  4. How Autocar imagines Bentley's maiden electric vehicle could look British firm aims to push eco credentials with the help of cutting-edge electric tech Bentley has begun conceptual work on a new high-riding saloon that it’s preparing to launch as its first fully electric car. The radical model will further the firm’s ambition to establish itself as the most environmentally and sustainably led premium luxury car maker in the world. In their bid to establish global leadership in these areas, Bentley bosses want to follow this year’s launch of the brand’s first hybrid models by revealing its first electric car by 2025. That date is already challenging designers and engineers as they wrestle with delivering a vehicle with sufficient range for customers looking for a grand touring experience along with the performance capability of today’s cars. Heavy investment in battery technology is already helping to reduce the cost and improve the capability of batteries. However, it’s believed that the next notable step forward will come when solid-state batteries reach production, something that is not expected to happen until closer to the end of the decade. As such, Bentley is likely to launch its first electric car using a more mature version of today’s lithium ion battery technology. However, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark has hinted to Autocar that his teams have already hit on one potential solution by designing a car with similarities to, but more extreme than, the Jaguar I-Pace. This machine combines a traditional saloon shape with a higher-riding bodystyle to accommodate the battery pack without pushing up into a full-SUV format, which is aerodynamically inefficient and therefore reduces range. The upcoming Jaguar XJ and a related J-Pace model, plus a Land Rover – dubbed the Road Rover but not expected to carry that name into production – are set to follow a similar path, although Bentley’s interpretation is being envisioned to set new performance benchmarks for the industry. “If we’re to launch an electric car in the mid-2020s, then it either needs to be smaller than today’s cars or the same size but not as upright, and smaller isn’t an appealing solution, as it implies a lower price segment,” said Hallmark. “The prediction is battery technology will have moved forward again by that date and that will put us at the edge of what we think we need to give customers: 300-350 miles of range, or enough to cruise at a 65mph average for five hours. “We need to be looking at how we can deliver slippier cars with a profile that gets the most out of it aerodynamically in order to deliver on that promise.” The target date of 2025 and Hallmark’s comments confirm growing evidence that the first Bentley EV will crown a position of environmental and sustainability leadership that the company has been building towards in recent years. Bentley’s Crewe factory was certified as carbon-neutral late last year, underlining an increasingly holistic approach to sustainability that has extended as far as making honey from on-site beehives. The EXP 100 GT concept – revealed last year and created to celebrate the firm’s centenary by looking ahead to its next 100 years – also hinted at the powertrain, materials and production methods that Bentley is working towards. The EXP 100 GT has an electric powertrain that uses four 201-335bhp electric motors and an advanced torque-vectoring system to distribute a combined output of between 800bhp and 1340bhp to all four wheels, depending on spec. Combined peak torque is just over 1100lb ft, delivering an estimated 0-62mph of 2.5sec, along with a top speed of 186mph. Although the figures should be regarded as long-term targets, they hint at the sorts of performance levels that Bentley engineers believe will be possible in time. Likewise, the EXP 100 GT’s interior featured innovative material use, including natural woods, glass, fabrics and leather. Some materials introduced on the concept have already transferred to production in the Bacalar, such as rice pigment paint, sheep’s wool and riverwood. Bentley is well advanced in developing alternatives to the interior styles that have dominated its cars for decades – albeit combined with technical advances such as biometric seating to monitor and potentially boost the well-being of occupants. “Bentley has very little to fear from an electric future,” said Hallmark. “In fact, many of the facets of electrification are what define Bentley. “Sure, today in a GT, you can hit 207mph, but that doesn’t mean very many of our customers drive around at that speed very often, if at all. We’re not a brand that is in any way defined by offering hypercar or supercar performance. “What they do enjoy every time they go out is super-refinement, effortless pace and total comfort. Electrification will only enhance all of those, so for customers, the trade-off is about 12 cylinders for 2000 or so electrical cells. Everything else is improved.” Hallmark said he hoped Bentley would be in a position to pioneer any major battery or electrical architecture breakthroughs made by the Volkswagen Group, of which Bentley is a member, because of its relatively small scale and its customers, who have traditionally been willing to pay a premium to be at the cutting edge of technology. “At Bentley, we are looking to build 11,000 to 12,000 cars a year in a worldwide market of about 85 million,” said Hallmark. “Our values are about delivering the very best money can buy, and that puts us in a position where we can lead in whatever direction we turn to. “Yes, one goal is to lead in electrification in the luxury segment, but we also feel that sustainability can be about far more than just electrification. Our customers are happy to pay a premium if they can buy a car that is truly carbon-neutral, and that is now a core mission of the company.” Hallmark also highlighted the Volkswagen Group’s investment of $100 million (£78.5m) in California-based battery specialist QuantumScape as a likely route to the brand becoming a leader in the development of solid-state batteries, which he described as “game changing” in terms of the energy density they could deliver for the same manufacturing costs. “Once solid-state batteries can be productionised, then the growth in capability will become exponential,” he said. “Of course, they will initially be at the top end of the price scale, but which car maker within the [Volkswagen] Group is best placed with customers to carry that cost? I very much hope that Bentley can be at the vanguard of that and it seems logical that we should be.” Hallmark also confirmed that emissions regulations and customer tastes mean that Bentley’s iconic W12 will be phased out, although he didn’t specify a time frame. Asked if the 12-cylinder engine had a limited lifespan, he said: “Yes, absolutely. For 100 years, we’ve tried to make engines bigger and more powerful. For the next 10 years, we’re going to try to make them disappear. “We want to do this in a progressive and customer-orientated way. We don’t hate engines, but we do love the idea of electrification. We’ll offer hybrid options alongside combustion engine options on every model by 2023.” Jim Holder and Mike Duff READ MORE Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible revealed Mulliner expansion continues with horse-themed Bentley Continental GT Bentley reveals one-off Continental GT W12 ice racer View the full article
  5. Decisions such as launching all-electric versions of car lines, well in advance of the new regs, has allowed PSA to keep its average CO2 emissions beneath the 95g/km limit The PSA Group has been compliant to the new EU 95g/km limit on fleet average CO2 emissions in the first two months of 2020 and as such will not pay a penny in fines if it maintains this. PSA Europe boss Maxime Picat said that it had actually been the case since the very first working day of the year on January 2. If car makers average 95g/km or lower as a fleet average for CO2 emissions, they will pay no fines. If they go over it, the fine is €95 for each g/km of CO2 over the limit for each car sold, which could run into the billions for some car makers. PSA’s own limit is 93g/km, as the 95g/km figure is weight adjusted according to the types of car a car maker sells. It is trying to hit the target on a monthly basis to more accurately track progress towards the target; the EU only takes a yearly figure. “We want CO2 compliance to be natural,” said Picat. “We are working normally and won’t do stupid things at the end of the year.” Picat said that decisions taken six or seven years ago with the 2020 deadline in mind were now bearing fruit. That included launching all-electric versions of many of its car lines, which were planned to launch at the end of 2019 to allow PSA to get a perfectly-timed benefit from their sale in bringing down its overall CO2 level. It also cut several higher-emitting models last year, chiefly at Opel/Vauxhall which it acquired three years ago so initially would not have been part of this long-term planning towards overall compliance. PSA boss Carlos Tavares said that the firm had modelled out a whole host of different scenarios to ensure that it remained compliant even in the worst case, such as diesel dropping to a 10% market share. At present, it has stabilised at around 30%. Picat said the any impact on the coronavirus would not be felt on its CO2 average, as any potential drop in sales would be proportional across all model lines. However, to date he said the virus had had no impact on its operations outside of China, and even there it had not been hit as hard as rivals as China isn’t as important to PSA’s overall business as other car makers. “We are working on the supply chain and finding solutions and issues,” he said. “So far, so good.” READ MORE PSA Ellesmere Port factory investment will hang on EU trade deal Citroen and DS get new bosses in PSA reshuffle PSA Group posts record profits despite sales slide View the full article
  6. German media reports tech still isn't ready and Volkswagen is discussing common OS with Daimler and BMW Volkswagen is facing an uphill battle to launch its ID 3 electric hatchback this summer as the struggle to resolve its substantial software problems continues. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung claims that examples of the crucial EV had been rolling out of the factory in Zwickau before production was halted due to the coronavirus, but that these cars are effectively 'dead', meaning they don't have the necessary software to run or be used. Volkswagen is hoping to introduce a basic version of the ID 3's operating system (OS) into these cars once it has been finished, the newspaper reports. However, the software project is described internally as an "absolute disaster", with the company failing to employ the software experts needed to fix the wide-ranging issues. Volkswagen has a desire to sell 100,000 EVs globally (with the ID 3 making up a substantial portion of that number) by the end of this year. This is also vital to ensure the reduction in fines from the European Union due to fleet average CO2 emissions. CEO Herbert Diess has been defiant, stating at last week's annual press conference his intent to deliver the ID 3 over the summer as his core project, but the likelihood of that target being hit is up for debate. One source cited by Süddeutsche Zeitung is a Volkswagen Group insider, who claims the cars that are being prepped for the summer aren't actually series-production models. The increasing difficulty in developing software has lead Volkswagen, the newspaper reports, to discuss with the board of directors of Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler the idea of merging resources to create a OS for both firms' electric models. However, when the news emerged, it seemed BMW was also in discussions with Daimler on the same issue. Despite the three brands jointly owning the Here mapping and location data consortium, it's claimed that a joint OS deal could break competition laws. Read more: Volkswagen ID 3: vital EV revealed with up to 341 miles of range Audi to lead Volkswagen Group R&D efforts Volkswagen braces for "very difficult year" as pandemic shuts factories View the full article
  7. Hyundai offshoot's new luxury flagship is lighter and packs more technology than its predecessor Hyundai’s luxury arm Genesis has revealed the new third-generation version of its flagship G80 saloon, which is claimed to offer significant performance and technology upgrades over its predecessor. Sitting atop an all-new, bespoke rear-wheel-drive platform, the Lexus ES rival retains the long wheelbase, short overhangs and rakish, coupé-style roofline of the previous model, but bears the results of a subtle styling overhaul influenced by the brand’s GV80 SUV. At the front, a large, shield-shaped grille is flanked by a pair of distinctive split-cluster headlights, while the previous car’s small air intakes, positioned under each headlight, have made way for an extended lower grille that spans the width of the car. The brand claims the new car’s window line, which slopes more obviously towards the rear of the car than that of the outgoing G80, is inspired by iconic classic cars. A full-length chrome strip is said to strengthen ‘forward visual motion’, in the same way as various styling cues featured on parent company Hyundai’s new Prophecy concept. Larger 20in alloy wheels, dual shield-shaped exhaust tips and a prominent rear spoiler indicate the car’s performance potential, which is delivered by a choice of two turbocharged petrol engines or a 2.2-litre diesel four-cylinder, which can each be specified with rear- or all-wheel-drive. The most potent option, a 3.5-litre turbo V6, sends 375bhp and 391lb ft - significantly more than the outgoing car’s 3.8-litre unit - to the wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic gearbox which is standard to all models. The mid-range 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder produces 296bhp and 311lb ft, while the diesel option puts out 207bhp and 325lb ft. Inside, the new G80 offers improved rear legroom and headroom, courtesy of a lowered rear bench which also allows for a more heavily raked roofline. The dashboard is dominated by a 14.5in infotainment touchscreen; Genesis says minimal use of physical buttons and switches improves the interior’s appearance and enhances ease-of-use. The G80’s new platform, aside from allowing for improved interior space, also lowers the body and centre of gravity for improved driving stability. It also weighs 125kg less than its predecessor, with aluminium used for around 19% of the body components. Safety functions featured as standard to all models include motorway driving assist, intelligent cruise control, collision avoidance assist, blind spot monitor and pre-active safety seats which automatically pull the passengers’ seat back forwards in the event of an accident to minimise injury. There’s an emphasis on user-friendly technology, too; alongside remote parking, smartphone connectivity and handwriting recognition, the G80 offers ambient interior lighting, a pair of rear-mounted infotainment touchscreens, automated air filtering technology and a posture-correcting drivers seat. In the South Korean market, the G80 will feature an in-car payment device which will also allow drivers to pay for things like tolls and fuel without leaving the vehicle. Launching initially in the brand’s home market of South Korea, the new G80 will arrive in other global markets, including North America and Russia, in the second half of this year. Genesis boss Manfred Fitzgerald previously told Autocar that the brand was plotting a UK launch in 2020, though this is likely to be pushed back as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. When Genesis does arrive in the UK, it is unlikely to bring the G80, as demand for large luxury saloons is not as strong here as it is in the US and the Middle East. Hyundai managed to sell just 50 examples of the original Genesis saloon in the two years it was on sale here. Read more Genesis Mint concept is quirky electric city car 2021 Hyundai i20 N: new hot hatch testing at Nurburgring Hyundai i30 gets redesign, new tech and mild hybrids for 2020​ View the full article
  8. Jaguar Land Rover lends vehicles to Red Cross and NHS Fleet, including 27 new Defenders, will be used to help deliver food and supplies to elderly and vulnerable Jaguar Land Rover is deploying more than 160 vehicles – including the new Land Rover Defender – globally for use by emergency response groups tackling the coronavirus outbreak. The manufacturer has already given the British Red Cross access to 57 vehicles, including 27 Defenders, for delivering food and medicine to vulnerable and elderly people. Another 65 vehicles are supporting Red Cross efforts in Australia, France, South Africa and Spain. JLR is also loaning vehicles to the National Health Service and emergency services to support local efforts and donating protective equipment including safety glasses to a number of NHS hospitals. It's aiming to deploy futher vehicles in the coming weeks. The vehicles handed over to the Red Cross and NHS have been taken from the JLR press fleet and include Defenders intended for use on now-postponed launch events. Simon Lewis, head of crisis response for the British Red Cross, said the “generous support” will allow its teams “to reach even more people living in isolated communities than we could alone”. Like other UK manufacturers, JLR is working with the UK government to offer its expertise in a wide range of research, engineering and production areas. These include digital engineering and design, 3D model printing and prototypes, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Land Rover has a long relationship with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies that dates back more than 65 years. READ MORE Review: New Land Rover Defender driven and rated Land Rover SVO creates bespoke Red Cross Discovery View the full article
  9. Share P42, our concept car This is the radical Volkswagen Golf-sized electric car that we have designed for 2025 to 2030 Get up to date with part one and part two before you get started here. It is finished. We first anticipated writing this short, triumphant sentence about six weeks ago, when we began to conceive, with the help of top-class UK designers and engineers, an all-new Volkswagen Golf-sized family hatchback for 2025 to 2030 and beyond. The car you see here, both as a 1:5-scale model and as a series of elaborate, almost photo-real digital drawings, is called the Share P42. It is our car for the future, a five-door C-segment hatchback proposed both for shared and private ownership by Autocar’s journalists, working with experts from the Coventry-based engineering services firm Envisage Group. Autocar’s angle? To investigate what a car planned for two to three generations’ time might be like, and to understand the problems and thought processes the world’s real-time car creators are facing right now. Envisage’s angle? To publicise its impressive talents and skills in car design and prototype building as widely as possible – without revealing any of the confidential projects on which the business is based. The P42’s interior and exterior design is principally the work of four young Coventry Transport Design graduates (Aadil Hafiz, Michael Mills, Ben Martin and Danny Alvarez), who have worked for the past three months at Envisage’s 2016 summer school under the tutelage of Envisage’s practising designer, Oliver Le Grice. Engineering and feasibility work has been handled by ace software jockey Gary Skeggs, working under the creative leadership of Envisage’s dynamic engineering director, Bill Walsh. It has been an amazing experience. Here’s a confession, though: our car isn’t finished. In motor industry terms, it’s hardly started. True, it looks believable and complete, but we’ve learned enough about car creation over the past six weeks to understand that it would take three years from this point to resolve the many technical uncertainties, do the market research, carry out the detailed engineering design, find the suppliers and prepare the manufacturing operation that could put the Share P42 to 40,000-a-year production – assuming we could find a car company that liked the idea and had the finance. Yet many of the decisions and conclusions about the P42’s concept, features and inner workings are mature. They could work. Were we able to continue, we believe we have a good basis to do so. Here are the key features… CONCEPT The Share P42 is a C-segment five-door hatchback, close in size and duty to today’s VW Golf and Ford Focus and as easy to use and own. It can be configured as a shared car or a light commercial vehicle. It is a pure electric car of about 4.3m in length because, like much of the motor industry, we are content that new cars 10 to 15 years hence will prove that the future is electric – aided by the fact that battery prices are falling fast, batteries themselves are being packaged smaller and lighter, improving chemistry adds 5-10% a year and much faster charging points are on the horizon. Multiply all that by 10 and we’re in a promising place. Our car is much sleeker and yet much roomier – in both passenger area and luggage space – because we’ve included two hugely important features that, we reckon, will be feasible by 2025-2030. The first is deployable front and side impact protection – in effect, compact external airbags that pop out to protect when a comprehensive package of sensors detects an impending accident. The second is the decision to design this car without a large, traditional fascia. Instead, we simplify its instruments with head-up displays, use the driver’s smartphone for personal settings and music, and give it a steering boss switchpad and a central touchscreen for primary and secondary controls. The airbags, comparatively small these days, are carried in the car’s pillars. The P42’s heating and ventilation gadgetry fits into engine bay space freed by its use of a single, compact electric drive motor, especially since much of its complex, currently bulky control mechanism will be carried in the cloud. As a result, much more of the car’s overall length is dedicated to passenger and load carrying. Or to put it another way, the P42 rivals a D-segment (Ford Mondeo-sized) car for passenger and luggage room, except that it’s 20-30cm shorter and 10-15cm narrower. It offers flexible seating for four or five, the possibility of more conventional seating for seven, plus a completely flat floor and a huge rear boot that presents the possibility of a cavernous (and possibly extended) white van version. One more revolutionary feature was the idea of a solitary light source, piped around the car by a series of mirrors and lenses to be used for headlights, tail-lights, signalling and interior lights – and perhaps even for messaging fellow road users. ‘After You’ displayed on a front screen might be a better message than a flash of the headlights. DESIGN, STYLING The P42 is unashamedly modern and challenging, developed from an original concept by Envisage’s Mills. The brief was to be up-to-date, distinctive and highly recognisable because none of us had any interest in a ‘me too’ car for a changed world. Besides, the proportions bear little relationship to today’s Focus or Golf. Tomorrow’s designers will be freer in some ways, more constrained in others. Let them find new ways… BODY, CHASSIS We’ve firmed up on the idea of a light, integrated spaceframe formed in aluminium towards the bottom and carbonfibre for the upper structure. We’re cautious about overuse of carbonfibre (CFRP, for carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, is Envisage’s more correct term) because it’s hard to recycle and recycling is about to be a bigger issue. The outer panels are made of seamless impact-resisting plastic, hopefully formed in one of the degradable compounds under serious development right now. The side doors are a clap-hands design, human-powered to save weight and complexity. They’re brilliant for access in tight parking spaces, and the fact that they don’t need a centre pillar makes for really spectacular access, especially with the seats in a club configuration. The load space will also be spectacular. Our designers have conceived a 600-litre volume accessible from the rear either via a side-opening glass door or a much larger lifting tailgate (containing the door), which reveals a flat, wide floor space. Instead of using what Le Grice dismisses as “ancient ironwork”, the P42’s seats have carbonfibre frames, which pick up runners integrated into the car’s aluminium floorpan, which also carries the thin, immensely strong and well-protected battery box. POWERTRAIN The P42 is proposed as a simple battery electric car, carrying the 100kWh energy pack that, Walsh believes, will be relatively common in the electric cars of 2025-2030. The battery is likely to have shrunk to two-thirds the size of packs today. In a car weighing 1600kg, with a drag factor of around 0.28 and a modest frontal area, it should be good for an honest range of 400 miles. Ultra-fast chargers, on the horizon now, will slash charging times so that this car’s pack should be able to be charged from near zero to 80% in an hour at the most. A get-you-home charge might take as little as five minutes. Performance? As befits a car that deploys maximum torque from standstill, the P42 will feel quick, but its 0-60mph time will probably be around 8.0sec, with a potential 100mph top speed governed to around 85mph both to save power and because regulations may well demand it. It will be smooth, seamless and almost silent power, though. Driving a manual gearbox, combustion machine from 2016 will seem like stepping back in time. SUSPENSION, STEERING, BRAKES By wire will be the way to go. There need be no mechanical connection between driver and motor, or steered wheels or brakes. New systems offer far greater flexibility of steering effort (probably configurable to the driver’s taste) and of integrated retardation between regenerative and friction braking, a current bugbear in hybrid and electric cars. It’s probable the P42’s driver will be offered a range of driving modes, selectable according to taste or loaded automatically via a smartphone app. Advancing NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) technology will do much more to help: flush glass will lower wind noise, fibrous panels will absorb sound, and ever more careful design of the exterior mirrors will cut wind rush – until these are replaced by much smaller rearward-facing cameras (the kind we have on our bootlids already). In short, very little noise should disturb your conversation or audio quality. The refinement theme offered by the P42’s near-silent powertrain will continue into the suspension and running gear: it has been configured with thin-section, low-noise tyres on 20in wheels. The all-independent suspension (double wishbones front, space-saving trailing arms rear) will have variable ride rates via magnetic dampers, whose settings are changed by both wheel movements and your sat-nav’s prior knowledge of the road. Sensing technology will sample your car’s grip in arduous conditions and configure the car, juggling its braking or limiting speed. CABIN Although it’s a low car, the P42 is uncommonly airy because its screen and windows are large, it has a see-through roof and there’s no bulky ‘furniture’ in its cabin. The seats are skeletal, compact and easy to move. The floor is flat. The doors are large. The steering column (which is likely to stay in place because we’re unsure whether full autonomy will be around – or permitted – when this car is on the road) can be made to fold forward, leaving the screen and switchgear in accessible positions. Of course, this car is always connected. It reads your preferences from a smartphone app. It communicates via the cloud with others of its ilk for safety’s sake. It monitors your health and tiredness by assessing your pupils. It predicts your likely journey and warns you of hold-ups. It responds to gestures and voice commands far better than today’s imperfect systems. And while doing all this, it is far more intuitive than today's systems. What is more, it is practically impervious to theft, at least as a private car, because it knows your unique fingerprints and the unique pattern of your pupils. And it is never truly ‘off’. CONCLUSION If this Share P42 project has taught us one thing, it is that in the next decade or two, cars will be very, very different. This will be required by the authorities’ pursuit of lower and lower CO2 outputs and toxic emissions, which are not going away. Electrification – via batteries, hydrogen fuel cell stacks or petite on-board charging motors – is coming fast and we punters had better learn to appreciate its advantages. As Walsh puts it, “personal transport is about to become a hugely more relaxing, soothing experience,” even in a Focus/Golf-class car. With electrification, we hope, will come the kind of deployable safety systems suggested for the P42, leading to the changed proportions we suggest here. These, we believe, are arriving just in time. Many of today’s cars have become unfeasibly large and heavy, mostly because of the crash structures they must haul about. As a result, many of them struggle in supermarket car parks and along narrow city streets. Cars currently on the drawing board have many of the answers, especially if they can be shared by some as well as owned outright by others. We believe that many of their advantages are embodied in our dream car, the Autocar-Envisage Share P42. It’s just a shame that we can’t all fast-forward a decade or so to see if we are right. Finished? How about catching up on part one and part two here. This article was originally published on 30 December 2016. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide engaging content in these difficult times. Read more Back by popular demand: reinventing the Ford Capri​ From ink to I-Pace: How Jaguar designs an electric car​ View the full article
  10. Group calls for “shocking” warning labels showing the damage to health and the planet from pollution and climate change Petrol and diesel pumps should carry cigarette packet-style warning labels as a shock tactic, a group of public health experts has claimed. The Times reports scientists have called for “shocking” images including blackened lungs and flooded houses to be displayed on pumps as a warning about the negative effects of using the fuels, such as pollution and climate change. Such labels are already in use on fuel pumps in the city of Vancouver, Canada, while Sweden is also set to introduce them in May. The comments were made in an article published on the British Medical Journal’s website and led by Mike Gill, a former regional director of public health in south-east England. The article claims the same attitude taken towards smoking should be adopted in order to “sensitise people to the consequences of their actions”. “Smoking is no longer viewed as a normal lifestyle choice,” the article claims, “but as an addiction which harms the individual and those around them through exposure to second-hand smoke. Fossil fuel use also harms others through ambient air pollution that accounts for about 3.5 million premature deaths per year, as well as through climate change, which increasingly threatens the health of current and future generations.” The group is calling for labels to be brought in this year, ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in November. READ MORE Government plans E10 petrol switch in 2021 Why car buyers are the victims in the climate change debate Analysis: Can car makers really save the planet? View the full article
  11. In 1986, we had our first experience with a Lee Noble machine – and boy was it an experience Lee Noble made waves in the early 2000s with his eponymous maker of affordable supercars, most notably with the superb Noble M12 GTO at the turn of the millennium. However, he was already getting noticed back in the 1980s, when he began Noble Motorsport Ltd - better known as Ultima, a company that is still going very strong today, having recently revealed the 1200bhp V8-powered RS. The first car produced, dubbed the Ultima, was designed in 1983, and three years later Autocar had its first experience of Noble's talent. Looking like a Group C Le Mans car, the Ultima was based around a tubular spaceframe chassis and used various bits from the Austin Princess (radiator), Ford Cortina (uprights, brakes and steerings), Lancia Beta (rear brakes) and Renault 30 (engine and gearbox), plus some components of Noble's own design. Perhaps unwisely, we decided to drive the Ultima to Leicester Square in central London (because it was built in Leicester, right?), and it was on the way that the first of several encounters of the copper kind would occur. Apparently, this "Mulsanne refugee" didn't quite tally with the Renault family hatchback that NUT 602P showed up as on the police database. The next, rather irate constable called it "the stupidest thing he'd ever seen". "Oh well, the things we do for art," we said. "Now, driving the Ultima around town is an interesting exercise," we said, "because you sit so low that you virtually see under Range Rovers, let alone lorries, and rearward vision is decidedly non-existent. Except for the wing mirrors, so named because all you see in them is wing. "Moreover, the beast is pretty wide. Your ego works overtime on the outward view, all sculpted Can Am-style wheel arches, but then suffers a massive crash with the rending sound of glassfibre graunching pavement. "At least you can be comforted that it's relatively easy to drive, docile and tractable, and the noise! Never before has a humble Renault V6 sounded so like a burbling Chevy V8. It's muscle without the tears." Perhaps more of a challenge than threading through narrow streets was keeping away public attention. The effect on passers-by was apparently "something akin to Samantha Fox removing her dress in an army base". On our fifth try, we finally got the Ultima parked in front of the Empire cinema with police permission, only for "what seemed like half the world to descend upon it", half of them drunk and all of them desperate to have their photograph taken with it – even if only one reveller didn't need telling exactly what the Ultima actually was. "Forget your Ferraris, Porsches and Panther Sixes," we enthused, "this beats the lot in pure, unadultered pose value." Okay, enough of that; time to test the thing where it belonged. So the next day we took to the country, and there the Ultima revealed itself to "handle and drive like the racing car its outward appearance suggests". "Tractability is excellent, the car simple and easy to conduct. The fascia may be less than ergonomically perfect, but everything is there, and the driving position is sensational, as you lie prone, racing car-style, with near-straight legs and arms. "The handling of this all-round independently suspended beast is superb. For sure, there's a little bump-steer, but the roadholding limits go far beyond the bounds of my bravery. "The gearchange takes some getting used to, with an imprecise gate for the Renault five-speeder, but it's slick once you get used to it, while the steering is suitably precise, if slightly too light, likewise the clutch, all of which aid day-to-day driving." The 2.6-litre six-cylinder engine had been modified only slightly by Noble, with just a peaky pair of cams and three double-choke Dellorto carburettors to boost its power output to 168bhp. However, the car weighed only around 740kg, so it recorded some "incredible" performance figures at our MIRA test track: 0-60mph in 6.5sec in the rain. We continued: "The 30-50mph and 50-70mph in-gear acceleration times were faster than the Audi Sport Quattro we tested last year and very close to the Lamborghini Countach Quattrovalvole times as well. "So, in performance terms, it's a Ferrari for the masses, because this slingshot will cost around £7000 (about £20,600 today) to build up from the basic kit; for £3500 (£10,300), the purchaser gets a body and spaceframe kit, with all-round double-wishbone suspension. "All that is then required is trim, wiring and fitment of the mechanics, which are all low-cost items." For us, though, the Ultima was all about the pose value that was shown so obviously in the capital. "You forget the fact that the car is noisy," we said, "typically kit car in its trim, the superb performance and the quibbles over brake and ride, and revel instead in the gaze of passers-by. Which, surely, is why people will pay the price of a hot hatch to own one." READ MORE From the archive, 1996: Jacques Villeneuve makes dramatic F1 debut From the archive, 1992: The 20th-century Renault Twizy From the archive, 1981: Soviet dream machines View the full article
  12. Citroën C4 Cactus: there’s no funkier way to enter a ULEZ zone Alfa Romeo Mitos, Citroen C4 Cacti and Fiat 500 Ls are what you're looking for The great privilege about being asked to answer car buying questions is that quite often it isn’t an Autocar reader after their next supercar fix. A very nice lady recently spotted an online article I wrote in the dark ages about how very wonderful the Nissan Figaro is. I have no recollection of writing that, but it inspired quite a wish list. She wants a fairly small, ideally left-hand-drive car that will carry five and is around four years old, classic-looking like a Beetle or Mini, automatic, Ultra Low Emissions Zone-compliant and economical – all for around £6k. Seeking out a left-hooker for a town car with infrequent trips over to France seems a bit illogical. It’s better to stick with a locally sourced motor. Petrol cars are safer to buy if you want to comply with ULEZs (it’s easy to check whether the car is compliant by going onto the Transport for London website and entering the registration number), but Euro 6 diesels from 2015 should be fine. The most difficult thing is finding a small automatic hatchback with character. When it comes to small-car character, the Fiat 500 has it, but it won’t comfortably seat five people. In that case, the 500L is rather more accommodating. So a 2015 1.3 Multijet Pop Star with 45k miles and Dualogic transmission at £5600 seems very reasonable. Not pretty, but sort of like an old-school Multipla. The Citroën C4 Cactus is an interesting sort of micro-SUV with roof rails and all that jazz. It’s still fairly big, but a 2015 example with 44k miles and the 1.2 petrol engine is ULEZ-compliant, too, and that’ll cost £5900. The character question always brings up Alfa Romeo. On the small side, there’s either the Mito or the Giulietta. It’s easier to find an automatic Giulietta 2.0 JTDM-2, which is ULEZ-appropriate. I found a Business-spec one with 85k miles at £5900. When it came to the Mito, I only saw an insurance-recorded 2016 1.4 TB MultiAir Collezione at £5500; otherwise, it would have been more than £7000. One day a Ford Fiesta with an Aston Martin-esque grille might be a classic, and at least it’s cheaper than a real Cygnet. So a 2016 1.0T Ecoboost Zetec Powershift with one owner and a serious 85,000 miles costs around £6000. That seems like a pretty good compromise when it comes to economy, value for money and exclusivity if you want to play with bonnet badges. At the moment, if you want a little automatic that’s economical and ULEZ-appropriate, some options are available. But with city cars fast becoming an endangered species, it may not last. What we almost bought this week Toyota Paseo 1.5 ST: Is it just us or does this old Paseo look passably attractive? It’s certainly sleek and nicely proportioned, although look inside and you’ll be greeted by the sight of floral seat upholstery. It’s a 1997 P-reg with 99,700 miles but only one previous owner, who from this distance appears to have looked after it. They want just £500. Tales from Ruppert's garage BMW 320, mileage - 84,350: There has been a colossal amount of outgoings recently, so I’m looking to save some money. Rather than liquidating a member of the fleet, how about dodging the tax? One of two V11s to arrive was for my daughter’s Golf, so at least I didn’t have to pay for that. And the Baby Shark is now well over 40 years old so should be road tax-free. But, because of the strange way the ‘rolling’ system works, I’ve had to wait until 2020 plus three months for it to qualify for a zero rating. That didn’t stop them asking me for £265, though. I’ll go to the post office on 1 April with ‘historic’ paperwork. Hope I’m not a fool. A-to-Z Bangerpedia C is for Citroën C3: There’s plenty to like about the C3, and many will appreciate the raised, people-carrier-like driving position. So there’s a lot of room up front with a usefully adjustable steering wheel and driving seat. The spec levels have always been pretty good; most will want the SX, which has air conditioning and a CD player, while the Exclusive even throws in climate control and sat-nav if optioned. The C3 is a reasonably lively drive and most of the engines are pretty good, especially the 1.4 turbodiesel. Ultimately, the C3 could have been the new 2CV, but Citroën knew today’s car buyer wouldn’t be satisfied with something so basic. Readers' questions Question: What road tax changes are due to come into force next month? Showrooms near me are plastered with window stickers urging motorists to beat the tax rise. Colin Thurrock, via email Answer: The tax rise they’re referring to is the fact that first-year road tax on new cars registered from 1 April will be based on CO2 readings derived from the new, tougher WLTP emissions test rather than the old NEDC regime. The difference in the two readings averages around 25%, and duty revenue is forecast to increase by around £200 million as a result. The change will hit some cars quite hard. JE Question: When abroad, I notice public parking operators grant motorists an additional 10 minutes for free, I assume to allow them to walk to the shops. Why can’t British councils do the same? Dave Harris, Chippenham Answer: In fact, they do; at least in England. A 10-minute grace period after a parking ticket has expired became law in 2015. It applies only in local authority car parks, but there are plans to extend it to private car parks throughout the UK. The regulation says: ‘No penalty charge is payable for the contravention where the vehicle has been left beyond the permitted parking period for a period not exceeding 10 minutes.’ JE READ MORE Petrol-powered Fiat 500 to continue 'as long as there is demand' Fiat 500 reinvented as all-electric city car for 2020 Future of small cars at Fiat Chrysler in doubt, CEO reveals View the full article
  13. Stroll (pictured above) is now Aston chairman Despite a big cash injection from Lawrence Stroll, the British luxury marque faces a tough future It’s an old political cliché that a week is a long time in politics. On the stock markets, however, just a few hours can turn a company’s prospects upside down – as Aston Martin has recently proven. Ironically, as recently as 23 January, it was reported that analysts at Citigroup rated Aston as a ‘high-risk, high-return’ bet based on the potential of the DBX, targeting a future share price of £6. Since Aston Martin Lagonda plc was floated on the stock market in October 2018, its launch share price of £19 has been in decline, dropping to £11.56 on 14 December 2018. It had taken less than two months for the shares to lose around 40% of their value, although many analysts felt the initial launch price of the shares was over-enthusiastic. By 18 January last year, things had picked up a little before continuing their downward journey. This was perhaps a little surprising, because Aston was reporting a generally successful 2018. According to its accounts, the number of ‘wholesale’ cars sold for 2018 was 6441, up from 5098 in 2017. The company sold 1785 V12-engined cars and 4471 V8s. Sales in the US jumped 38% and Aston’s revenue hit £1.1 billion, up 25%. Excluding the ‘specials’ built by the company, the average selling price for its cars was £141,000. That’s high, but perhaps not high enough considering Aston’s incoming investment plans. One surprise hiding in the accounts was that the cost of placing the company on the stock market was £136 million, helping to push annual profits down to just £68m. On future product launches, the investor presentation was especially bullish. As well as the DBX crossover, the line-up included two new mid-engined supercars – the Vanquish and Valhalla – as well as an electric SUV and electric saloon from Lagonda in 2021 and 2022. On top of that ambitious schedule, in addition to 155 examples of the battery-powered Rapide E, Aston was promising the DB4 GT Zagato continuation model, the DB5 Goldfinger continuation and two versions of the Valkyrie hypercar. Clearly, this programme – as well as the costs of setting up the St Athan factory for DBX production – was ambitious in the extreme, especially for such a small company. The share price continued its overall descent during the first half of last year, dropping to just £8.43 on 24 May before firming up to over £10 by July. But a trading update and profit warning from the firm on 23 July put an end to any hopes of a recovery. Aston revealed it had experienced a 25% drop in sales between April and June last year, with falls of 22% in the UK and 28% across Europe and the Middle East. Shares plummeted by 26% in a single day. On 31 July, Aston announced that it had lost £78m in the first half of 2019, in contrast to a £21m profit in the same period in 2018. By 5 August, the share price had cratered to just £4.54, then £3.99 by 31 October. However, some confidence returned to investors towards the end of the year, with the price stuttering back up to £6.30 on 6 December. That was the recent peak for the company, and one to which it is unlikely to return for quite some time. At the beginning of this year, Aston released its preliminary figure for the whole of 2019. Sales in the UK fell from 1798 to 1429 and in Europe from 1489 to 1074. Revenue went down 9%. The rumour in the analyst world – one later confirmed by CEO Andy Palmer – was that Vantage sales had failed to hit the mark, which might explain the recent redesign. Even a rise in sales in the US couldn’t prevent Aston’s finances taking a beating. That ambitious new model programme was biting, with the company’s debt leaping from £560m to £876m. Serious alarm bells rang and the company’s cash position became incredibly precarious, making the planned roll-out of crucial models such as the DBX difficult. Then came a rescue, of sorts, on 31 January, when billionaire Lawrence Stroll bought a 16.7% stake in the company for £182m, which was to be added to a £318m rights issue to give the company a £500m boost, get the DBX in showrooms and get the development programme for the new midengined cars well under way. Stroll’s plan, which made him chairman, confirmed the Valkyrie for this year, cancelled the Rapide E and pushed the relaunch of Lagonda back to 2025. And then the coronavirus struck. Stroll took advantage of a well-placed clause in the original contract to renegotiate his offer, valuing the shares at £2.25 rather than the original £4 and taking a 25% stake. He also added an additional £25m to the original plan to give £55.5m in working capital in order to tide Aston Martin over. Overall, Aston Martin intends to raise £536 million as announced today. £171m of that will be through Stroll’s consortium as part of their total investment of £262m, while a subsequent rights issue will also follow. Stroll’s new offer was, perhaps, based on the market price of £4.02 recorded on 30 January, and his investment pushed the shares up to £4.98. From there, though, it has been downhill all the way, as the world reacted to the spread of Covid-19. After dipping as low as £1.20 during one day of trading, Aston’s share price ricocheted around under the £2 mark as day-traders took advantage of mini bounces. Despite the factory having to close as a result of the pandemic, the share price has gently risen above that figure since, but not by much. But the value of Stroll’s holding has essentially been halved. And with global car sales almost halting during March and revenue drying up, Aston’s situation now, once again, looks critical. READ MORE New Aston Martin V6 hybrid will be brand's most powerful engine New Aston Martin Speedster is exclusive V12 two-seater Aston Martin: new chairman Lawrence Stroll to bring racing focus View the full article
  14. Our reporters empty their notebooks to round up a week in gossip from across the automotive industry In this week's round-up of automotive gossip, Mercedes gives buyers the gift of time, Kia pours water on online sales utility, Volvo snubs wireless charging and more. Mercedes' helping hand Hybrid and electric car customers typically need more support from retailers before they commit to a purchase, according to Mercedes-Benz’s head of sales and marketing, Britta Seeger. “We take the time to identify if the car really suits their needs,” she said. “These are big changes, and it is right that customers take their time to be sure before they commit.” Kia's face-to-face focus Kia has no plans to push online sales in the UK, said boss Paul Philpott: “The complexity of products is increasing, not decreasing. There’s more need than ever to go and speak to someone face to face.” Volvo not wiring in to wireless Wireless charging for electric cars is an over-engineered solution, according to Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson. “If you have a space to charge, then it takes 10 seconds to plug a car in,” he said. Volvo plans to launch five fully electric models during the next five years, including the now-on-sale XC40 P8 Recharge. Honda's performance Jazz possibility The popularity of the Honda Jazz with 20- to 30-year-olds in Asia means there is demand for a Type R version. That’s the view of Jazz project manager Takeki Tanaka. “There are no plans to launch a sporty version of the Jazz,” he said. “However, when you consider the customer profile in Asia, they tend to love driving dynamically, so there are always possibilities.” READ MORE Mercedes to launch 32 new models by 2022 in massive rollout New 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 facelift spotted Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe 2020 UK review Mercedes to reduce model line-up, platforms and powertrains View the full article
  15. Mazda's fuel-saving tech trickles down to its iconic two-seater sports car When Mazda introduced the fourth-generation MX-5 back in 2015, driving enthusiasts were quick to bemoan a lack of power from both available powertrains – a 1.5-litre unit pushing out 129bhp and a 2.0-litre range-topper that had a barely more exciting 158bhp on tap.Fortunately, in 2018 the situation was put right, and subtle mechanical tweaks across the board saw the power of the top-rung variant increased to a nice, usable 181bhp, bringing with it added bonuses that included improved acceleration and a more distinctive warble at low revs.Mazda has lightly refreshed the MX-5 range for 2020, with the aim of enhancing the usability of a car already billed as one of the more accessible sports cars on sale, and bolstering the range of specification packages available. A new GT Sport Tech trim heads up the range, resplendent with its gunmetal grey BBS alloys, stainless steel scuff plates and a red leather interior, while Mazda’s i-Eloop KERS technology and stop-start functionality feature for the first time across the MX-5 line-up. Like all 2.0-litre models, our test car came outfitted with Bilstein shock absorbers at each corner, a front strut brace and a limited-slip differential. In second-from-top Sport Tech trim, it has a comprehensive kit package that belies its relatively low £28,395 list price, with 17in alloy wheels, a reversing camera and adaptive LED headlights.View the full article
  16. Jeep’s new 4xe PHEVs (rendered above by Autocar) get up to 240bhp and 30-mile electric range Plug-in hybrids of core 4x4s will be joined by electric models to make Jeep “the world’s most sustainable SUV company” Jeep is fully ready to embrace electrification and wants to become “the greenest, most sustainable SUV company in the world”, its boss has said. A number of electric Jeeps are potentially on the cards, including an ‘adventure’ model making full use of the benefits of EVs for off-roading: namely instant torque to the individual wheel that needs it, reduced nature-disrupting noise and the ability to provide high-voltage power for camping. “There are so many things we need to bring together to make Jeep a modern, contemporary brand that will break through and sustain for the next 80 years,” Christian Meunier told Autocar. “That’s a big transition in our world. “There was a little evolution every year, but there’s a big revolution happening now. To make Jeep the greenest, most sustainable SUV company is a little bit of a challenge, but it’s the most exciting one.” Meunier added that we’ll soon see a “lot of things we are working on, like BEV”. In Europe, the focus is on three core models: the Renegade, Compass and Wrangler. Jeep showcased plug-in hybrid versions of all three, badged 4xe, at CES in January. Each is set to be launched this year. Meunier continued: “PHEV has a very strong role to play for us, we believe, because it gives a lot of advantages: a 50-kilometre [31-mile] range, zero emissions and then removes the [range] anxiety. “So I think for markets like Europe and China, it’s critical.” Former Jeep CEO and now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief Mike Manley said in 2018 that there would be four EVs in Jeep’s portfolio by 2022. It’s not clear if this plan has been altered or wound back following the substantial executive reshuffling since that statement, but Meunier’s comments suggest launching EVs is still a priority for Jeep. Meunier was quick to point out that electrification brings just as much in performance as it does ecological credentials. “Think about a Wrangler Rubicon, full electric or PHEV,” he said. “This is a car that’s going to do 0-60mph in six seconds, potentially, so you’re going to get acceleration you’re never going to get with an engine. You’re going to get the most capable Jeep ever. “The opportunity is two-fold, with the compliance and the ecology and sustainability, but in my mind, it’s also an opportunity to improve the capabilities of our trucks and SUVs and make it even more exciting off road and on road.” The high-voltage batteries of EVs would also allow them to serve as external power sources – a trait Jeep reckons will appeal greatly to hardcore off-roaders, adventurers and campers alike. It would enable the car to power a variety of electrical equipment, including compressor kits, welders, lights and camping gear. Meunier is convinced the US – Jeep’s home market and overwhelmingly its biggest – will move to electrification faster than most people predict, giving his brand the volume necessary for an extensive roll-out of electrified models and variants. “Either you try to be compliant and do the bare minimum or you embrace it and go full speed on it,” said Meunier. “The latter is the way we should go, because we have the opportunity to make some really, really exciting products, and I think the company is convinced of that. You’ll see a lot of electrified products in the next few years. It’s not about having small cars to offset big cars; every car will have a role to play.” Lawrence Allan and Matt Prior READ MORE Jeep Renegade plug-in hybrid: technical details revealed Jeep's plans for Europe include Gladiator pick-up in 2020 How to fix Jeep: what is the future for the firm in Europe? View the full article
  17. The Aston Martin DBX will enter production in its new St Athan factory this summer Aston secures the funds to put its DBX SUV into production, while also announcing a works F1 entry under new chairman Lawrence Stroll Aston Martin claims it now has the funding to last at least the next 12 months as part of a new investment into the company that will also see it enter a works Formula 1 team in 2021. In a series of announcements this evening (30 March), Aston Martin has now formally confirmed F1 team Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll will take over as executive chairman on 20 April. A rights issue has raised £536 million and a further £150m will be made available to the company. That investment will allow Aston to put the DBX SUV into production imminently after the new St Athan facility returns to operation after its COVID-19-enforced shutdown last week, subject to any delays in the production chain. The first customer deliveries are planned this summer should the supply chain function as anticipated. The next 12 months is considered significant for Aston Martin as the DBX SUV is seen as make or break for the company's future. Make a success of it, and it will become the firm's biggest selling model with the likely largest profit margins. Failure would put the very future of the company at risk given the huge investment needed to realise not just the car, but the St Athan factory in which to build it. The investment from Stroll's so-called Yew Tree consortium stands at a total of £262 million, £171m of which has come today as part of the rights issue. The balance has come from existing company shareholders. Aston's share price has been in freefall ever since its stock market launch at £19 per share towards the end of 2018. It fell another 18% today to finish at £2.26 per share, before this deal was announced. It has tonight said that it would not have the funds to meet the 12 months of investment needed in its previous financial plan announced on 13 March due to the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on its business. Stroll, who replaces outgoing chair Penny Hughes, gave little detail on the plans to enter F1 as a works team, but it's expected to be a renaming of his existing Racing Point squad. Aston's title sponsorship of Red Bull Racing ends this year, although the two remain committed to bringing the co-developed Valkyrie hypercar into production this year. "I, and my co-investors in the consortium, continue to believe passionately in the future of Aston Martin Lagonda," said Stroll. "This is most clearly demonstrated by our investment of £262m which underpins the financial security of the company. This is a very significant capital raise of £536m - due to be made by my consortium and other shareholders at a very challenging time. "This gives the necessary stability to reset the business for its long-term future. We have a clear plan to make this happen, including Aston Martin entering an F1 works team next season and I look forward to working with the management team to deliver this programme." Aston CEO Andy Palmer said there were 2000-plus orders for the DBX, as well as strong early demand for the recently announced Vantage Roadster. Beyond those, development would continue on the new V6 hybrid drivetrain as well as the Valhalla and Vanquish mid-engined supercars that Aston is prioritising development of ahead of the Lagonda sub-brand of electric cars that had been due to join the DBX at St Athan. Aston's two production sites at Gaydon and St Athan are currently on shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and many of its staff are being furloughed where appropriate. It has said it will look at all government help and support on offer in order to protect the company's future. READ MORE Lawrence Stroll to take bigger stake in Aston Martin New Aston Martin Speedster is exclusive V12 two-seater New Aston Martin Vantage Roadster gets fastest production roof First drive: 2020 Aston Martin DBX prototype View the full article
  18. The Aston Martin DBX will enter production in its new St Athan factory this summer Aston to put DBX SUV into production and works F1 entry under new chairman Lawrence Stroll - but will need more investment within 12 months Aston Martin claims it now has the funding to last at least the next 12 months as part of a new investment into the company that will also see it enter a works Formula 1 team in 2021. In a series of announcements this evening (30 March), Aston Martin has now formally confirmed F1 team Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll will take over as executive chairman on 20 April. A rights issue has raised £536 million and a further £150m will be made available to the company. That investment will allow Aston to put the DBX SUV into production imminently after the new St Athan facility returns to operation after its COVID-19-enforced shutdown last week, subject to any delays in the production chain. The first customer deliveries are planned this summer should the supply chain function as anticipated. The next 12 months is considered significant for Aston Martin as the DBX SUV is seen as make or break for the company's future. Make a success of it, and it will become the firm's biggest selling model with the likely largest profit margins. Failure would put the very future of the company at risk given the huge investment needed to realise not just the car, but the St Athan factory in which to build it. But while confirming the deal, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd warned in a statement: "Taking into account the proceeds of the capital raise, the Company is of the opinion that the Group does not have sufficient working capital to meet its requirements for 12 months following the publication of the Original Prospectus." Since the prospectus including details of Stroll's investment was published the COVID-19 outbreak has heavily impacted Aston Martin, and the firm said the resulting uncertainty raises questions over its future financial position - and making the success of the DBX even more critical. The investment from Stroll's so-called Yew Tree consortium stands at a total of £262 million, £171m of which has come today as part of the rights issue. The balance has come from existing company shareholders. Aston's share price has been in freefall ever since its stock market launch at £19 per share towards the end of 2018. It fell another 18% today to finish at £2.26 per share, before this deal was announced. It has tonight said that it would not have the funds to meet the 12 months of investment needed in its previous financial plan announced on 13 March due to the dramatic impact COVID-19 is having on its business. Stroll, who replaces outgoing chair Penny Hughes, gave little detail on the plans to enter F1 as a works team, but it's expected to be a renaming of his existing Racing Point squad. Aston's title sponsorship of Red Bull Racing ends this year, although the two remain committed to bringing the co-developed Valkyrie hypercar into production this year. "I, and my co-investors in the consortium, continue to believe passionately in the future of Aston Martin Lagonda," said Stroll. "This is most clearly demonstrated by our investment of £262m which underpins the financial security of the company. This is a very significant capital raise of £536m - due to be made by my consortium and other shareholders at a very challenging time. "This gives the necessary stability to reset the business for its long-term future. We have a clear plan to make this happen, including Aston Martin entering an F1 works team next season and I look forward to working with the management team to deliver this programme." Aston CEO Andy Palmer said there were 2000-plus orders for the DBX, as well as strong early demand for the recently announced Vantage Roadster. Beyond those, development would continue on the new V6 hybrid drivetrain as well as the Valhalla and Vanquish mid-engined supercars that Aston is prioritising development of ahead of the Lagonda sub-brand of electric cars that had been due to join the DBX at St Athan. Aston's two production sites at Gaydon and St Athan are currently on shutdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and many of its staff are being furloughed where appropriate. It has said it will look at all government help and support on offer in order to protect the company's future. READ MORE Lawrence Stroll to take bigger stake in Aston Martin New Aston Martin Speedster is exclusive V12 two-seater New Aston Martin Vantage Roadster gets fastest production roof First drive: 2020 Aston Martin DBX prototype View the full article
  19. New upgrade package includes power and torque boosts for recently discontinued hot hatch Essex-based tuner Mountune has developed its most powerful upgrade yet for the recently discontinued Volkswagen Golf GTI. The latest tune-up raises the Mk7 hot hatch’s output to 380bhp – 74bhp more than the previous package and 153bhp more than the standard car. The new Stage 2+ kit, which costs £2,062.50 excluding VAT and is produced by Mountune’s Volkswagen Group division, Mountune52, builds on the previous Stage 1 upgrade. Stage 1 (the lowest, most affordable tuning category) and Stage 2 (a mid-stage tune-up where hardware modifications boost performance further) upgrades are common in the tuning world. Stage 2 tweaks are often followed by a hardcore Stage 3 package. Mountune has increased the Golf GTI’s peak torque ouput to 376lb ft, over the 350lb ft of the previous stage and the 258lb ft of the unmodified car. This allows it to sprint from 0-60mph in 5.2sec, slashing 0.2sec from the Stage 1 car and 0.5sec from the standard model. Alex Pell-Johnson, Mountune and Mountune52’s performance chief said: “The Golf GTI is an incredibly popular car with a huge community of enthusiasts always striving to take the performance of the car to the next level, and we believe that the Stage 2+ power upgrade does just that.” The power gains are enabled by an IS38 turbocharger – standard on the Golf R – being fitted to the GTI’s usually detuned 2.0-litre engine. Other added features include bespoke calibration, allowing drivers to adjust performance via an mTune handset, as well as the ability to fully disable their vehicles via a new anti-theft setting. Mountune52 also offers a TCU DSG calibration upgrade for drivers whose cars have Volkswagen's dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The GTI upgrade follows Mountune’s recently developed Ford Fiesta ST m235 upgrade, which raises the output of that hot hatch to 232bhp and is the most powerful upgrade available for the small Ford to date. The Golf GTI’s successor was revealed in late February and is set to arrive on the road in September, delivering 242bhp from the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. READ MORE Ford Fiesta ST gains 232bhp Mountune tuning kit Ford Focus RS Mountune M520 2020 UK review New Volkswagen Golf GTI gains power boost and more tech New Volkswagen Golf GTD is 197bhp 'endurance athlete' View the full article
  20. The 2018 Paris motor show Organisers scrap September event at Porte de Versailles – but pledge some elements will survive The Paris motor show has been scrapped “in its current form” for this year, with organisers citing the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact. The biennial event was due to start on 29 September at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in the French capital. Alternating each year with the Frankfurt motor show, the event is one of the biggest on the motor show calendar, with more than a million visitors attending the 2018 show. In a statement, event organisers said that the decision was taken due to the “unprecedented health crisis”, and the resulting “economic shock wave” it had caused for the automotive sector. Organisers cited the uncertainty over when movement and other restrictions would be eased as a reason for the early decision. While the main event will not run as a traditional motor show, organisers said that elements of the wider Paris Motion Festival – the Movin’On innovation and sustainability summit, the Smartcity show and a number of out-of-town events – were “not in question”. Organisers added: “We will study all the alternative solutions. The profound reinvention of the event, with a festival dimension based around innovative mobility and a strong B2B component, could offer an opportunity. “Nothing will be like before, and this crisis must teach us to be agile, creative and more innovative than ever.” The Covid-19 outbreak has led to the cancellation or postponement of most of the major motor shows due to take place this year. The Geneva motor show, scheduled for earlier this month, was cancelled, while both the Beijing and New York shows – due to be held in April – have been postponed. The Detroit show that was to take place in June has also been cancelled. Along with the Frankfurt show it is paired with, the Paris show has struggled in recent years, with an increasing number of high-profile car firms choosing not to attend. It remains unclear if organisers will attempt to run a full show again in 2022, or if the “profound reinvention” means the ‘traditional’ motor show element will not return. The organisers of the Frankfurt show have already decided to move it to Munich for its next running in 2021. READ MORE Coronavirus and the car world: full news and updates Frankfurt motor show will relocate to Munich for 2021 Paris motor show 2018: Read Autocar's full event report View the full article
  21. The competition between these two roadsters isn't as clear-cut as it may seem; will a new MX-5 outshine a second-hand Boxster? A Porsche Boxster versus a Mazda MX-5? Well, we all know which way this one’s going, don’t we? Or do we? Because the latest MX-5 is quite the thing, as you’ll know. It’s small, light, agile – at its thin-Elvis best. We’ve ummed and ahhed about which is the perfect spec for the latest-generation MX-5 roadster, but although the purity of the base 1.5-litre model is appealing, the 2.0 is not all that much heavier and Sport Nav trim gives you a limited-slip differential, Bilstein dampers that keep its body movements better controlled than standard and a strut brace to add rigidity. As such, then, it feels more like an old-fashioned sports car, with a pleasing engine note and snappy gearshift and just about enough power to make it throttle adjustable. Equipped like this one, it cost £23,295 when new. That’s around £4500 less than Chris Pyle, who generously gave up his time and use of his car for the day, paid for the white Boxster you see pictured next to it, but that makes it close enough to be a valid comparison. This Boxster is a 2.9-litre 2011 model (a facelift or ‘gen 2’ 987-series car), with 33,600 miles on the clock, which Chris bought to replace an earlier model. So good he bought another one, in short. That it cost as much as it did is down to two things. First, Chris wanted it to come with a two-year warranty, which added £2000 to the price, but it did mean peace of mind and the car went through a 111-point service before he took custody of it. Secondly, as with most Boxsters, its original owner didn’t skimp when specifying it in the first place. The vast options list includes – deep breath – a Sport Chrono Pack Plus, leather seats, embossed headrests, a wind deflector, PDK dual-clutch automatic transmission with sports steering wheel and shift paddles, a Comfort Pack, heated seats, park assist, an Infotainment Pack, auto air-con and 18in Cayman wheels. Many of those are £1000-plus options, and although I don’t have Porsche’s 2011 configurator to hand any more, it’s a fairly safe bet that together they’d have added the best part of 10 grand to the £35,000 or so list price of the time. To those options, Chris has since added twin round exhaust pipes, because – and I agree with him – he thinks they look cooler. At the time, as now, there wasn’t a better sports roadster than the Boxster, and we figured that the 2.9 was as good a bet as the 3.4-litre Boxster S. But, as now, the Porsche was more expensive than a Mazda that, back then, wasn’t as delicious as the one on offer today, if you follow. So the MX-5 could draw blood. There are two things I want to know, then: which of the two is the more recommendable car to buy now, and which is the better sports car now? I have a hunch that I know the answer to both things, but it’ll want a back-to-back test to know for sure. The Mazda, then, has the advantage of being new. That means its rubber bits and joints and bushes are all new, too, and that, I often find, makes a big difference to the way a car drives. New cars feel tight and responsive, in the way they were designed to. Buy a new one and you’ll also get a three-year/60,000-mile warranty – and if you drive 60,000 miles in three years in one, you’re a better person than I am, because the fact that there are great things about the Mazda being small doesn’t mean there aren’t some downsides, too. First, you feel rather like you’re sitting on it, not in it. The seats don’t adjust for height and the steering wheel doesn’t adjust for reach, so you end up perched and the wheel can feel too far away. Otherwise, ergonomics are good. Everything is in the right place, because there aren’t that many things to put in the wrong place. Worried about glovebox ergonomics? It doesn’t have one. Hence it weighs 1075kg, which is remarkable for a new car. I still remember the glee on a Mazda engineer’s face when, before he and his colleagues had released any specs, he asked me to guess how much a basic 1.5-litre car weighed. “About 1100kg?” I asked, thinking I was being optimistic. “Less than 1000!” he said. “Extraordinary,” I thought, then as now. The Porsche weighs rather more – 1335kg – because it’s bigger (4.3 metres long versus 3.9m) and because it has an extra 0.9 litres and two cylinders, and an electric roof. And either its seats are set lower or the window sill is higher than the Mazda’s – or both – because it feels cosier yet more spacious at the same time. The driving position is great and there’s decent oddments storage. Chris’s example still feels good, even given its age – but then, at 33,600 miles, there’s nothing tired about it. In fact, regular use is best; the car is not a leggy example but has been used enough to avoid some low-mileage Boxster problems such as corroding brake discs and a battery that doesn’t like to hold charge. By this age, the Boxster’s engine was generally sound, although some earlier cars suffered cylinder bore scoring. Overall, reliability is good. Coil springs can corrode, as can damaged wheels, and uneven tyre wear suggests things have been knocked out of alignment. When things do go wrong, they can be expensive, mind, so it’s worth ensuring there’s a full history and you call on an expert to inspect it, should you need one. Many owners find that Porsche Club Great Britain, which has a Boxster Register (and helped to put us in touch with Chris) is invaluable. When new, the Boxster’s flat six engine produced 252bhp at 7200rpm, and it still feels like it makes that today. The car rides well and corners flatly, with great composure. It also steers accurately and with terrific feel. The gearshift doesn’t have the rapid response of the latest PDK system, but it’s plenty good enough. It feels, in fact, an altogether more serious proposition than the MX-5, whose roll movements fall more quickly, slightly unsettlingly, while the steering is more remote. With 158bhp, it’s slower than the Porsche, and because it has four cylinders, it doesn’t sound as good, either. But as a road car, it’s still terrifically good fun; it’s compact, there’s a snappy gearshift and it responds with great agility. There’s also the appeal of running a new car whose problems, should it have any, you won’t have to give a thought to for three years. Still, given the choice, I’d stick with the Boxster. How about you, Chris? Keeper of this Boxster, yes, but presented with an MX-5 in cold steel in front of you, could you imagine opting for the new Mazda over the old Porsche? A pause. Not very long. “No,” he said. That’s that, and I am in agreement. This article was first published on the 9th of July 2016. We're revisiting some of Autocar's most popular features to provide entertaining content during these difficult times. READ MORE Nearly-new buying guide: Mazda MX-5 Mk4 Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS bring back six-cylinder power Mazda ponders MX-5's future View the full article
  22. Reckon you can craft the ultimate version of one of the British firm's cars? Here's your chance to prove it Online car configurators aren’t just a buying tool: they’re also a great source of entertainment. And now you have some new-found extra time at home, why not use it to create your dream new Bentley? Even if you never get round to buying it, there’s great pleasure to be had from crafting every detail of your perfect car, picking everything from paint colour to wheel size, interior fabrics and added extras. But there’s even more pleasure to be had sharing your creations with the world. So we’re setting you a challenge: to configure the ultimate Bentley. Simply visit the British firm’s online configurator and sculpt your perfect Bentayga, Continental, Flying Spur or Mulsanne. Once you've finished your design, you'll be given a code and a PDF of your design. All you need to do then is click here to share the code and PDF file with us, and we’ll feature the best in a gallery on autocar.co.uk. Better yet, Bentley has offered the person who we judge to have submitted the best entry two places on a future tour of its Crewe factory, so you’ll be able to see up close where your dream machine could be made. To enter the configurator contest, and for full terms and conditions, click here. View the full article
  23. Pack can survive being crushed, bent, penetrated and heated to highlight importance of EV battery safety Chinese car maker BYD has revealed a new battery pack for electric vehicles that's designed to "redefine safety standards for the entire industry". The Blade Battery, developed by BYD over several years, is said to offer a 50% increase in space utilisation over current packs, thanks to its optimised design. More significantly, however, BYD claims that it has been proven to be far more durable than any equivalent, helping to reduce concerns over battery fires and explosions in EVs. BYD tested the Blade Battery first by penetrating it with nails. While it's claimed a ternary lithium battery "violently burned" and exceeded 500deg C and a more typical lithium ion battery reached temperatures between 200 and 400deg C, the Blade Battery "emitted neither smoke nor fire after being penetrated" and its temperature never exceeded 60deg C. Top 10 best electric cars 2020 BYD claims the Blade Battery is far less susceptible to fire as a result. Further extra tests included crushing and bending the pack, heating it in a furnace to 300deg C and overcharging it by 260%. None of these tests apparently allowed any thermal runaways or fires to occur. The company's motivation for launching the Blade Battery is rivals' ever-increasing "unreasonable pursuits of energy density". It alleges that battery makers are becoming obsessed with offering ever-greater range, with safety "sidelined" from battery development. He Long, BYD vice-president and chairman of Findreams Battery Company, claimed that "many vehicle brands are in discussion with us about partnerships based on the technology", although he is yet to detail which these are. Read more: Under the skin: the quest for perfection in EV battery tech We build a lithium-ion car battery Battery technology firm warns of looming EV waste problem View the full article
  24. We round up our hottest stories, pictures and videos for you to devour in your lunch break It’s everyone’s favourite part of the working day, lunchtime, and you’re no doubt craving a hefty dose of car-related content. So we’ve revived our Autocar Lunchbox feature to bring you our favourite videos, stories, photos, quotes and more all in one place. Here are today’s picks: HOT NEWS Can’t touch this… The industry trend for shifting as many controls as possible onto touchscreens might be halted at Honda. The upcoming Jazz supermini has reversed its predecessor’s onscreen climate controls for physical dials and buttons. Apparently customer feedback was the primary reason for making the switch, according to the Jazz project leader. Honda bucks industry trend by removing touchscreen controls VIDEO OF THE DAY Few small cars can handle mud-plugging off-road antics quite like the Suzuki Jimny, and we’ve got two of ‘em. The all-new Jimny met its ancestor, the Suzuki SJ 410, for a look back across half a century of progress. Is the forebear able to keep up with the latest model through a tricky woodland obstacle course? Watch on to find out: PHOTO OF THE DAY Blue skies, an open road and an open-roof sports car: it’s the kind of scene we’re all dreaming about right now. And with a long-rumoured TVR revival still on the cars, what better car to do it in than a Griffith? We’ve been reminiscing about the 500, the 5.0-litre ultimate Griffith that made 340bhp and an incredible sound. TVR Griffith: revisiting an all-time classic British sports car QUOTE OF THE DAY “A four-lane road? Try six or seven cars wide using the space, with bikes weaving in-between. And typically then at least one car or bike coming the wrong way towards you. Oh, and if you’re driving at night, don’t expect them to have any lights on.” Getting behind the wheel of a Tata Harrier, the flagship SUV of the company that owns Jaguar Land Rover, wasn’t quite as straightforward as Mark Tisshaw was expecting. His journey through Mumbai was eye-opening for all the wrong reasons. Passage through India: Negotiating Mumbai in a Tata Harrier FROM THE ARCHIVE An electric BMW hatchback capable of 155 miles of electric range. No, we’re not talking about the i3, but the E1 - a smartly packaged concept car we got to drive back in 1991. The E1 had a 45bhp electric motor and 19kWh battery but weighed an impressive 900kg thanks partly to custom-built light alloy wheels. Impressive stuff for the early 1990s, don’t you agree? Throwback Thursday 1992: BMW E1 first drive POPULAR OPINION People might claim to be experts in a particular field, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be wrong. Matt Prior’s recent encounter with an automotive executive who thinks hydrogen is a dead technology shows that while you may speak with conviction, there’s almost always an opposing view. Try telling that to Toyota, whose second-generation Mirai is already turning heads toward the alternative fuel thanks to a stunning design. Matt Prior: The experts can't agree about cars or coronavirus View the full article
  25. BMW's Hydrogen Next concept Pilot of X5-based hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles is due in 2022, ahead of full launch later in decade BMW’s first hydrogen-fuelled electric vehicles are most likely to be its larger SUVs, such as the X5, X6 and X7, and will arrive from 2025. The German manufacturer revealed the i Hydrogen Next concept at last year’s Frankfurt motor show and has now detailed more of its plans regarding hydrogen, including details of the powertrain. BMW's board member for research and development, Klaus Fröhlich, said: “We are convinced that various alternative powertrain systems will exist alongside one another in future, as there is no single solution that addresses the full spectrum of customers’ mobility requirements worldwide. “The hydrogen fuel cell technology could quite feasibly become the fourth pillar of our powertrain portfolio in the long term. The upper-end models in our extremely popular X family would make particularly suitable candidates here.” The i Hydrogen Next concept is based on the current X5 and will go into small-scale production in 2022 as a pilot for hydrogen vehicles, using technology being developed in a joint venture with Toyota. The hydrogen fuel cell system generates up to 168bhp of electrical energy. An electric converter located underneath the fuel cell adapts the voltage level to that of both the electric powertrain and the peak power battery, which is fed by brake energy as well as the energy from the fuel cell. The car has a pair of tanks that can together hold 6kg of hydrogen at 700bar of pressure. BMW claimed that this set-up guarantees a long range regardless of weather conditions and promises refuelling in just three to four minutes. This system is integrated with BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive unit, which will first appear in the battery-electric BMW iX3 this year. BMW said that in the i Hydrogen Next, the peak power battery positioned above the electric motor “injects an extra dose of dynamics when overtaking or accelerating”. The powertrain will deliver 369bhp overall. BMW said mainstream production for hydrogen fuel cell technology “will be brought to market at the earliest in the second half of this decade by the BMW Group, depending on the global market conditions and requirements”. The company highlighted the lack of a Europe-wide network of hydrogen filling stations and competitively priced hydrogen as two major barriers to adoption. It added that it's using the time until the infrastructure and sustainably produced hydrogen supply are in place to substantially reduce the cost of manufacturing the powertrain. Fröhlich said: “In our view, hydrogen as an energy carrier must first be produced in sufficient quantities at a competitive price using green electricity. Hydrogen will then be used primarily in applications that cannot be directly electrified, such as long-distance heavy duty transport.” By 2023, the BMW Group plans to launch 25 electrified vehicles, 12 of which will be fully electric. READ MORE BMW i8 hybrid sports car to end production in April New BMW M2 to spearhead hotter junior M line-up BMW confirms next 7 Series to be petrol, diesel, hybrid and electric View the full article
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