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Official: First Look at All-New BMW 8-Series

BMW's flagship coupe returns after two-decade absence.

by on Jun.15, 2018

This is the first BMW 8-Series since the original was abandoned in 1999.

It may be time for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but the big news, trackside will turn to a new street model, BMW using the annual endurance race as backdrop to reveal the long-awaited rebirth of its flagship 8-Series model.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Bavarian automaker abandoned the original 8-Series, but we got word that it would make a comeback last year with the May 2017 debut of the Concept 8 at the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on Italy’s Lake Como. Finally, we’re getting a look at the production version.

The Last Word!

Like the original, the new 8-Series opts for a coupe body, albeit one with a much more modern, streamlined design. The pop-up headlights, for one thing, are gone, replaced by slim LED lamps and the automaker’s new LaserLight technology. Indeed, as you’d expect of a BMW flagship, everywhere you look the new coupe is loaded up with the latest in technology, from its optional carbon fiber roof to its self-parking system.

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Electrifying Jaguar I-Pace Sets a Benchmark Even Tesla Will Have to Clear

Performance, handling, style and spaciousness come together to redefine the BEV.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Whether on a track or a back country road the 2019 Jaguar I-Pace is a real game-changer.

I have seen – and driven – the future, and it is electric.

And I found it in a place you normally wouldn’t go looking, Faro, in the heart of Portugal’s Algarve region. When my plane touched down there, earlier this week, I was looking forward to some pleasant driving time. It’s beautiful countryside with lots of winding, lightly traveled mountain roads that pass through pastoral villages almost lost in time. As for the vehicle I’d crossed the ocean to test out, the new Jaguar I-Pace was, if nothing else, distinctively styled, both inside and out. Whether it would deliver that sometimes intangible concept we describe as “fun-to-drive” was going to be the real question.

When the first mass market battery-electric vehicles came to market early in this decade, about the most you could say for them was that they were environmentally friendly. They were slow, stodgy and required you to keep a constant eye on the range gauge lest you find yourself stranded miles from home. Tesla kicked it up a big notch by offering range comparable to a gas-powered vehicle and, with the optional Ludicrous Mode, blindingly fast acceleration. That said, the Models S, X and 3 each have their shortfalls. For most of us, they’re still not quite serious alternatives to conventional vehicles.

Electrifying Reviews!

The I-Pace, on the other hand, changes the equation. It is easy to fall back on clichés when trying to describe Jaguar’s first all-electric model, but it truly is electrifying, and by virtually every measure, it not only sets a benchmark for future battery-electric vehicles but also shows that BEVs can pose a direct challenge to conventional gas-powered models when it comes to not only design, interior space, comfort and utility, but performance and handling, as well.

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Chicago Gives Go to Musk’s Boring Co. for Underground Link to O’Hare Airport

System would take just 12 minutes for 16-mile route, slashing travel times, hassles.

by on Jun.14, 2018

Elon Musk's The Boring Co. won the bid to build a new high-speed tunnel from downtown Chicago to O'Hare Airport.

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. has received tentative approval from the City of Chicago to build a link from downtown to its suburb-based O’Hare Airport using skateboard-like pods that could move both vehicles and individual passengers.

The Boring Co. beat out bids by a number of other transit companies, but negotiations still have to be completed before work can begin on the venture which would be privately, rather than publicly funded. It would be “transformative,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement, and that likely goes for the new company launched by Tesla and SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk.

News Now!

“We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!” the Boring Co, tweeted after the city confirmed the discussion had moved to the next phase. (more…)

Toyota Latest to Push Into Ride-Sharing

Japanese maker investing $1B in Southeast Asia’s Grab.

by on Jun.13, 2018

Toyota invested $1 billion into Grab Holdings to bolster its ride-sharing operations.

Toyota will join a growing list of automotive manufacturers, including General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, making bets on the anticipated explosion in ride-sharing services.

The Japanese giant plans to invest $1 billion in Grab Taxi Holdings Inc., a Singapore-based technology company operating ride-hailing services in places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Originally launched as a taxi company, it is now positioning itself as a regional powerhouse after acquiring Uber’s Southeast Asian operations earlier this year.

News Now!

For its part, Toyota was a relative latecomer to emerging mobility services, including ride-sharing and self-driving vehicles. But it has launched a number of investments during the last several years, both in the form of outside alliances and by setting up its own technology subsidiary, the Toyota Research Institute, or TRI. (more…)

With AMR, Aston Rapide Gets a Little More Rapid

205 mph sedan is fit for street or track.

by on Jun.13, 2018

The Aston Martin Rapide AMR was first shown as a concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

Aston is no slouch when it comes to performance, but it’s in the midst of amping things up another notch with the help of its motorsports operations, Aston Martin Racing.

Appropriately, fast on the heels of the new DB11 tune-up, it’s pulling the covers off the Rapide AMR, a production version of the concept first shown at the 2017 Geneva Motors Show. If you happened to get a look at the prototype, it turns out, you’ll have a good idea what will soon be hitting the street – and the track, as many buyers will likely be finding ways to push the performance version of Aston’s sedan to its limits.

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The new performance models, Aston explained in a statement previewing the Rapide AMR, “draw a direct engineering and aesthetic link between the company’s successful race team and its road cars. As such the Rapide AMR is a sports car capable of comfortably transporting a team of race drivers to a circuit on the other side of a continent and then tackling the track when they get there.” (more…)

Polestar Will Pump Up New Volvo S60 Performance Model

Volvo takes performance to new level with modified S60 sedan.

by on Jun.13, 2018

The 2019 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered gets unique Brembo brakes, among other modifications.

Few brands have done more to try to transform their image in recent years than Volvo, and the new S60 T8 Polestar Engineered sedan should continue shifting the Swedish marque in its new direction.

The latest version of the S60 not only puts more of a premium on sporty styling but backs it up with a 415-horsepower engine. But that’s no ordinary powerplant. No V-8s or turbo-sixes for this new Volvo. It’s a Polestar-modified version of the carmaker’s T8 plug-in hybrid, the top-performing version of its all-four-cylinder line-up.

First Look!

“The new S60 T8 Polestar Engineered is an electrified car that does what you want it to,” said Volvo’s Senior Vice President of R&D Henrik Green. “All components have been fine-tuned to work together, delivering a responsive and exciting driver’s car.”

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Tesla Slashing Up to 9% of Workforce

Up to 3,000 likely to lose jobs, but assembly, battery-plant workers expected to be spared.

by on Jun.12, 2018

Tesla CEO Elon Musk told employees that the company would lay off 9% of the workforce in a letter.

Tesla will lay off as many as 3,000 workers, or nearly 9% of its workforce, in a bid to reorganize and address endemic problems, according to a letter sent by CEO Elon Musk to company employees.

The first layoffs reportedly were set to take effect this week, according to website Electrek, which obtained a copy of the letter. The automaker subsequently confirmed that the layoffs will take place, but emphasized that production workers will be spared, the cuts targeting the salaried side of a workforce that grew to around 30,000 after last year’s acquisition of Solar City.

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If anything, Tesla has been trying to expand the workforce at both its Fremont, California assembly plant and Reno, Nevada Gigafactory in an effort to finally put production of the critical Model 3 battery-sedan on track. Musk recently said Tesla is on track to roll out about 5,000 of the vehicles a week by the end of this month, a roughly 250% increase from the end of the first quarter – though still well below its original target. (more…)

Mercedes Previews Electric EQA With Concept Drive in Sicily

Production model set to join new Mercedes-EQ sub-brand.

by on Jun.12, 2018

Mercedes-Benz EQA concept though still a year from production is clearly making plenty progress toward road-readiness.

While Mercedes is still a year away from introducing its all-new EQ battery-electric sub-brand, it’s giving a preview of what’s to come with these images of the Concept EQA sedan being driven through the Sicilian countryside.

A production version of this prototype, which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show last autumn, will be part of a fast-growing line-up of long-range electric models, the EQC crossover set to launch the Mercedes-EQ brand-within-a-brand in 2019.

Product News!

Parent Daimler AG is committing billions in its drive to electrify virtually its entire line-up, with everything from mild hybrids to pure battery-electric vehicles in the planning to pre-production stage. By 2022, the automaker has said, it wants to have 10 BEV models in the Mercedes line-up alone. Add various forms of hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles and there will be 60 electrified Mercedes models and variants available by then. (more…)

Despite Concerns, Safety Probes, Musk Promise “Full Self-Driving” Autopilot to Debut in August

But CEO Musk doesn’t explain what that actually means.

by on Jun.12, 2018

According to a new tweet from Tesla CEO Musk, products like the new Model 3 may soon be updated with full "self-driving" capabilities.

Tesla Version 9, an apparently major software update to the operating system used for the automaker’s vehicles, will debut in August and, according to CEO Elon Musk, add “full sell-driving” capabilities to the controversial Autopilot system.

The news, announced in a Musk tweet late Monday, comes at a time when earlier versions of the semi-autonomous Autopilot system have come under intense scrutiny. A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board has raised serious concerns about how it functioned in the moments leading up to a fatal crash of a Tesla Model X SUV in California earlier this year.

Technology News!

But Musk has repeatedly downplayed such concerns — even pointing his finger at owners who may not have used Autopilot properly – while promising a far more advanced version of the system was coming. And in his late Monday tweet, Musk said, “to date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety (but) with V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features.”

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First Drive: 2019 Volvo V60

A wagon for those who want style, function and performance, not just trendiness.

by on Jun.11, 2018

The new 2019 Volvo V60 shows that Volvo is still the leader when it comes to wagons.

“You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” or so Bob Dylan once sang, and this particular morning, we know the wind – carrying some torrential rain – is blowing in off the Mediterranean as we head out for a day’s drive in the all-new Volvo V60. But before we can get much beyond the gates of our hotel in the suburbs of Barcelona, Spain, our new wagon will have to do a good impression of the taller, more off-roadworthy Volvo XC60, fording a good foot of water swirling like a tempest under the railroad bridge leading to the main highway.

The torrent cleared, the rest of the drive up through the now-sodden countryside and up towards the millennium-old abbey atop the craggy Montserrat mountain will be a relative breeze although, on this particular morning, the rain in Spain is definitely not just falling on the plain.

Reviews You Can Trust!

While we’d certainly have preferred the sort of warm and sunny day the Catalan coast is known for, the stormy weather is actually giving us a chance to test the mettle of the 2019 Volvo V60 at the extremes, and as we will discover by the end of a long day’s driving, it’s more than up to the task. While it might not be as trendy as the taller XC60, the SUV that was named North American Utility Vehicle of the Year in January, the V60 boasts the sort of nimbleness, functionality and styling that should make even wagon-averse Americans pause to take notice. (more…)