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2018 Jaguar E-Pace First Drive Review: The No-Brainer Jaguar

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There was a certain inevitability to the Jaguar E-Pace. With its midsized F-Pace, Jaguar’s first ever SUV, powering an 80-plus percent increase in global sales for the storied British brand over the past year, and demand for the compact Range Rover Evoque blasting past 600,000 units worldwide since 2011, the decision to build a small Jaguar SUV was a no-brainer. Especially as the Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport had provided Jaguar with a platform and a parts bin as a starting point.

The E-Pace shares its basic body structure, powertrains, and sundry other pieces of hardware with the Evoque and the Discovery Sport. But JLR has worked hard to keep the two brands distinct, giving the E-Pace a unique character that’s more than skin-deep. Quicker and sportier, the E-Pace is more fun to drive than either of the Rovers. Which is as it should be. Eager to see it? It has just gone on sale in the U.S., priced between $39,000 and $55,000,

Critics will note that this is only the second-ever Jaguar built on a front-drive architecture, with a transverse-mounted engine under the hood. (The other? The unloved X-Type sedan, which was based on the Ford Mondeo.) Nevertheless, the E-Pace successfully morphs the studied emotion of Ian Callum’s design language onto a tall package with a short dash-to-axle ratio. The trapezoidal grille, power bulge on the hood, and slimline taillights are key Jaguar family visual triggers. A bold, crisply defined haunch over the rear wheels and a greenhouse that riffs on that of the F-Type sports car give the E-Pace its own personality.

Inside, the PRNDL shifter and the flying buttress that arcs down from the dash to the center console give the E-Pace cabin a dash of F-Type spice. And the TFT instrument panel and InControl Touch infotainment interface are straight from the JLR parts bin. But careful attention to materials—both in terms of quality and execution—has made the E-Pace cabin appear more discreetly upscale than that of the F-Pace. Impressive, given the price leap to the larger crossover. Significantly, there’s no wood trim available, not even as an option. The E-Pace truly is a modern Jaguar.

Dimensionally, the E-Pace is an inch longer than the Range Rover Evoque, a half-inch taller, and has a wheelbase nine-tenths of an inch longer. The difference in wheelbase is due to a different rear suspension. Whereas the Evoque has struts, the E-Pace rear axle has the same integral link design as the F-Pace and the Discovery Sport; the rear knuckles are the same as the F-Pace’s, and the subframe and control arms are shared with the Discovery Sport. The E-Pace therefore has a different rear floor to the Evoque, with more legroom for rear-seat passengers and more room for luggage—there are no strut towers intruding into the load space.

Early in the E-Pace development program insiders acknowledged the biggest problem with using the all-steel Evoque platform—which traces its ancestry back to Ford’s ownership of Jaguar and Land Rover—was its weight. Developing a new, lighter platform from scratch simply wasn’t an option, so the engineering team applied what weight-saving countermeasures it could. The E-Pace’s hood, front fenders, roof panel, and tailgate are aluminum, delivering weight savings of almost 75 pounds over comparable steel parts. The bodysides are also stamped from special, thinner steel that saves almost 8 pounds. Even so, a base E-Pace still weighs 155 pounds more than the entry-level version of the larger F-Pace, which is built on JLR’s aluminum-intensive D7a architecture.

The E-Pace is the first Jaguar in history available only with four-cylinders under the hood. No V-6. American-market buyers can choose between two different versions of JLR’s 2.0-liter turbocharged Ingenium gas engine, driving through a ZF nine-speed automatic transmission. The regular E-Pace, which is available in standard, S, and SE trim levels, gets a 246-hp variant that also develops 269 lb-ft of torque from 1,200 to 4,500 rpm. In E-Pace R-Dynamic form, available in S, SE, and HSE trim levels, the engine has been tweaked to deliver 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. Peak power in both arrives at a modest 5,500 rpm. Jaguar claims the R-Dynamic’s extra horsepower cuts the 0-60-mph acceleration time from 6.6 seconds to 5.9 seconds.

JLR’s 2.0-liter Ingenium engine isn’t the smoothest in class. There’s almost a diesellike graininess at idle and under light throttle at low speed, especially when cold. But it delivers good performance and drivability on the road. The nine-speed automatic transmission has been recalibrated to deliver smoother and faster shifts, especially in Dynamic mode, and R-Dynamic models also benefit from having paddle shifters on the steering wheel for drivers who like DIY driving in the twisty bits.

Although the platform is front-drive-based, all-wheel drive is standard across the E-Pace range. There are, however, two systems available. The regular E-Pace lineup gets a conventional setup that simply varies torque between the front and rear axles, depending on load. The R-Dynamic models come equipped with Jaguar’s electronically controlled Active Driveline, which is capable of rapidly shifting 100 percent of the torque to either the front or rear axles and between the rear wheels. In steady state cruising, the Active Driveline switches to front-drive only, decoupling the prop-shaft to the rear axle to help save fuel. But it can funnel needed power back to the rear wheels in just three milliseconds. Two electronically controlled wet plate clutches on the rear axle also send precise measures of torque to each rear wheel to help control understeer and oversteer.

Subtle chassis and suspension tweaks have given the E-Pace a more alert and agile rear-drive feel than the Evoque. On the rear axle, positive camber has been increased to help initial turn-in response, particularly at low to medium speeds, and brake-induced torque vectoring is standard. Up front, there’s more negative camber to help get the nose of the car into corners, and the two rear-mounting points of the front subframe have been bolted directly to the body to deliver a more rigid platform. The E-Pace is 20 percent stiffer than an Evoque and 25 percent stiffer than a Discovery Sport, says lead engineer Matt Eyes. In turn, that stiffness improves steering feel and response.

What’s more impressive is that this fun-to-drive character happens with smoothness and silence, too. Our tester, a loaded R-Dynamic HSE riding on 20-inch alloys and 245/45 R20 Pirelli P Zero summer tires, felt calmer, quieter, and more relaxed on jittery British back roads than Evoques we’ve driven on 20s. Impact harshness is better suppressed, and there’s much less tire noise from the rear axle.

In terms of off-road capability, the little Jaguar doesn’t give much away to the baby Range Rover. All E-Pace models can be switched between four drive modes—Normal, Dynamic, Eco, and Rain, Ice, and Snow. The latter setting allows drivers to activate the standard All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), the low-speed, off-road “cruise control” system developed by the off-road specialists at Land Rover. ASPC is masterful at exploiting every last vestige of available traction, especially when working with the Active Driveline system.

Worldwide sales of compact SUVs last year totaled 9.8 million vehicles, according to JLR, and are forecasted to grow substantially in the near future. As it gives Jaguar the opportunity to play this white-hot segment for the very first time, the E-Pace is arguably one of the most important new Jaguars in history.

Although comparisons with the Range Rover Evoque are inevitable, the E-Pace’s real targets are BMW’s X1, Audi’s Q3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, along with buyers moving up from mainstream U.S. and Asian brands. Its mission is one of conquest, and early indications show that’s exactly what’s happening—more than 90 percent of customers who’ve placed an order for an E-Pace in the U.S. are newcomers to the brand. A lot of buyers are looking for a stylish, accomplished, competitively priced premium compact SUV, and they are likely going to see that Jaguar has a definite place in this segment.

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Toyota Corolla XSE: Sensible compact sedan that’s easy on your wallet

WASHINGTON — Have you noticed the prices of compact sedans lately? If you want all the options, the price can get close to $30,000 — a pretty large chunk of money for a small sedan. That’s what made the Toyota Corolla’s top- of-the-line XSE trim level a surprise when it showed up with a price under $25,000. So what do you get for the money?

Car guy Mike Parris says the Toyota Corolla XSE is a roomy compact sedan with a stylish interior. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

The Corolla XSE is a roomy compact with a stylish interior. The XSE version is a sportier version of the people-mover. Blue stitching on the seats, dash and door trim pieces add a nice touch. The front seats are heated and the driver’s seat has eight-way power adjustments. The seats are finished in a material called SofTex, a convincing leather-type material. A power moon roof is standard on this model, and it’s a welcome addition on good weather days.

Back seat space is above average for a compact sedan, with plenty of space for two adults or three children. I wish there where air vents for the back seat passengers. The dash controls are easy to use with larger knobs and buttons for radio/NAV and climate controls. But there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto offered for any Toyota products as of now.

The Corolla isn’t the quickest compact sedan I’ve driven. You can have a manual transmission in some trim levels but the XSE has one transmission, the CVT automatic. It helps with good fuel economy. I managed 32.9 mpg for my week of driving. It keeps the engine in a drone when accelerating up to speed. There is a 132-horsepower, four-cylinder engine that feels a bit underpowered compared to some other cars in this compact class; you notice it when trying to merge.

While not very sporty, the Corolla is a pleasant commuter car soaking up most bumps well. There is clear vision out of the car. One thing I noticed on the highway is that it’s a little louder than some other compact sedans I’ve driven lately. The Toyota Safety Sense-P adds radar cruise control and a pre-collision system with pedestrian protection that works really well. There is also lane departure warning with assist which will steer the car a bit if it veers off road or wanders trying to get back in the lane.

Usually when you think Corolla, “stylish sedan” isn’t the first description out of my mouth but times are changing at Toyota. The Corolla has upped the styling lately and the XSE trim level is the most daring of them all. There’s a lot going on visually up front. It has a large, wide grill that’s blacked-out that leads farther up the front fascia to LED headlights and smaller openings between the lights. The side view is tamer in comparison but nicely done with sporty looking 17-inch alloy wheels and blacked-out trim around the windows to give it a more upscale look. The rear-end styling is normal and there is a nicely integrated rear spoiler that adds details to the Corolla.

The Toyota Corolla XSE certainly looks different from past Corolla models. But underneath, it’s still a solid compact sedan that has been popular for decades. While still not the most exciting to drive, it does everything a small sedan should do. Now with some advanced safety features, the Corolla is a safer compact sedan and at nice price, too.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

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Farfus claims fourth place in Macau in the BMW Art Car #18

Having finished second in the qualification race, BMW Team Schnitzer’s Augusto Farfus (BRA) was also the best-placed BMW driver on Sunday at the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (CHN). The Brazilian overcame an unscheduled pit stop, caused by a collision on the “Guia Circuit” that was not his fault, and worked his way up to fourth place from the back of the field. Chaz Mostert (AUS) and Marco Wittmann (GER), competing in two BMW M6 GT3 cars from the FIST – Team AAI, secured fifth and sixth positions to complete the good overall result for BMW at the spectacular 2017 GT season finale.

 BMW M4 GT3 Macau 01 830x553

The race started behind the safety car due to wet conditions, with Farfus in second place. When the FIA GT World Cup finally got going, the #18 BMW M6 GT3 was hit by a competitor. This caused serious damage to the rear bodywork, which threatened to tear off completely. Farfus had to head for the pits, where the crew removed the loose boot cover. The BMW Art Car returned to the race in last place. Farfus showed real fighting spirit to make up lost ground and finish in fourth position.

Despite his lack of experience at Macau, Mostert again put in a commanding performance to cross the line in fifth place after 18 laps, just ahead of his team-mate Wittmann. The two-time DTM champion’s car was badly damaged in a mass collision during the qualification race but the AAI team managed to repair it in time for the main event.

 BMW M4 GT3 Macau 02 830x553

However, Tom Blomqvist (GBR) missed out on the main race in Macau. His #99 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 took such a severe hit during the spectacular mass pile-up on Saturday that competing on Sunday became an impossibility.

Reactions to the main race:

Jens Marquardt (BMW Motorsport Director): “That was an unbelievably exciting weekend – with a dramatic finale. It is difficult to draw a definitive conclusion from a race like that. Of course, it is a bit disappointing from a sporting perspective to start from second and then cross the line in fourth, but the recovery that Augusto put in with our Art Car, after being knocked back to last place through no fault of his own, was impressive, breath-taking and in the end reconciling. We must also not forget that two other BMW M6 GT3s made it to fifth and sixth places as well. Congratulations to Team AAI, Chaz and Marco – even more so – as the team did a great job to repair Marco’s car overnight, after it had sustained such serious damage. This race also marks the end of a thrilling year under the art banner which we heralded in Daytona with the Art Car by John Baldessari and have now concluded here with the 18th Art Car by Cao Fei. Both Art Cars were fascinating in their own way. It was impressive to experience the enthusiasm of the fans and our guests here, as they joined us in cheering on Augusto and the Art Car. This project was a great success and I am sure it was not just me that found it inspirational. We believe that we have been able to continue the great Art Car tradition and we are looking forward to more projects like this in the future.”

Cao Fei: “I was nervous and excited before and after the race. Through my BMW Art Car there was a connection between Augusto and me. He asked me to sign his helmet and I wrote ‘Fast’ on it. It is amazing what he has achieved and I congratulate Augusto Farfus from the bottom of my heart. He is a hero to me!”

Augusto Farfus (#18 BMW M6 GT3, BMW Team Schnitzer, 4th place):

“I enjoyed the race. We showed that we never give up. Things looked really bad for us after the first lap. After the pit stop, we fought our way up from the back of the field. When you consider the state the car was in after this race, it was a dream result. Thanks to BMW, Cao Fei, the art department and BMW Team Schnitzer. I think we showed the world that we are a really strong family. I just missed out on the podium but I will be heading home with a big smile on my face.”

Chaz Mostert (#90 BMW M6 GT3, FIST – Team AAI, 5th place):

“Everything went well for me here in Macau, apart from qualifying. I felt more and more relaxed after each session. I did touch the wall briefly during the race today. I was really lucky there. My performance was good enough for fifth place in the end. It was my first race on this circuit, and only my third in a GT3 car. I am completely satisfied and hope that I get the chance to come back.”

Marco Wittmann (#91 BMW M6 GT3, FIST – Team AAI, 6th place):

“In Macau, it is particularly difficult to start from so far back. Of course, I would have preferred a normal start because it was more difficult to make up ground. I benefited from some accidents and finishing in sixth is OK. This result really shows what a great job the team did to put the car back together overnight so that we were able to compete in the final race. The boys gave their all so I am just happy that we made it to the end of the race. Of course, I would have liked to have finished higher, or reached the podium, but that wasn’t realistic today.”

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Blog: Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing reach NASCAR’s peak

Martin Truex Jr. walks on pit road before qualifying for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Terry Renna) 

After a dominant season, Martin Truex Jr. is the 2017 NASCAR Monster Energy Series Champion, and the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing has its first title.

The only team west of the Mississippi River was the first single-car team to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2013, and they’ve come a long way in a short time.

It was fun documenting their rise last year in The Gazette’s NASCAR column, Speed Read (shut that one down a little too soon, whoops) but this year was something else entirely.

It’s been a rough few months for Furniture Row Racing – team member Jim Watson died the night before a race, team owner Barney Visser suffered a heart attack, and Truex’s girlfriend Sherry Pollex’s cancer reappeared. But through it all, Truex, 37, won eight times. His eyes were red from crying by the time he climbed out of his car on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

As for the other three championship contenders, Kyle Busch finished second, Kevin Harvick was fourth and Brad Keselowski was seventh.

Furniture Row looked to be growing, fielding two cars this season for the first time in the organization’s history. But with Erik Jones leaving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Furniture Row Racing sold the charter for the No. 77 team and there’s no plan to run a second car next year.

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Have luxury carmakers’ hopes around GST been belied? Top honchos explain

In mid-September, the GST Council raised the cess on passenger vehicles. Although it was not as high as the expected 10 percentage points, luxury carmakers ended up with the rough end of the stick, with prices of their models going up by between Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 4.5 lakh. The CEOs of the Indian operations of the global top 3 in automobile luxury — Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz — point out in pieces penned by them why their hopes around GST have been belied:

Overnight Orders Throw Business Plans out of Gear: Rahil Ansari, head, Audi India

Have luxury carmakers' hopes around GST been belied? Top honchos explain

I think nothing else has kept the luxury car industry busy this year as GST. There have been emotional ups and downs during the journey.

We felt and still believe that GST in principal is a good move to bring the country under a uniform tax regimen and reduce complexities. There had been a strong push on GST by the government and we were looking forward to the implementation. We were still studying the impact of GST to understand the final effect on the ex-showroom price, owing to the complexity of the value chain in mid-May, but were confident on the business development in the coming months.

Traditionally, April and May are slow months, implying dealers will be carrying higher stocks. The demand from customers was at a low this year because of the GST announcement. After May 19, for a whole week there was a sense of complete indecisiveness among the people but this changed in June. Apart from manufactures preloading the GST benefits in the pricing in the month of June itself, dealers were also keen to liquidate the stocks. Hence, June was one of the best of times to buy luxury cars because of good offers in the market.

Smart buyers who understood the economics knew that this was the time to buy. Audi India also rolled out measures to help dealers sell the stock.

After the initial GST announcement, the prices on most of our models were reduced and we saw a great excitement in the market. We had hoped that this will be a new and exciting phase of the luxury car business in India. The new realigned prices post-GST offered luxury carmakers a great opportunity to expand the market and widen the customer base. And then in August, the news of a possible cess hike hit us.

Luxury cars in India, while small in volumes, still contribute around 10% in value. The taxes on this industry were already very high and we expected the unfulfilled potential of this segment to increase after the implementation of GST and rationalisation of taxes. However, the proposal of further increasing the cess on the luxury car industry dampened the spirits of not only the companies, dealers and customers but also workers and employees in this industry. We estimated correctly that this proposed increase in cess will adversely impact sales. We were forced to re-evaluate our business plans in light of this development.

For me personally, it was just six months on board in Audi India and we were discussing about a second tax change. While it dampened the spirits for the industry, it was a good time for customers.

For sure, we were seeing an increase in customer footfalls as, for them, it was the best time to buy before the potential cess hike hits. Customers who were looking to buy a car during the festive season or during the next two or three months looked at immediate purchase. However, it was a temporary increase in sales as this was a preponement of purchases. Hence, it was not really positive in that sense if you see it from a larger perspective. We were wishing for a sustainable increase in sales in terms of GST implementation and long-term growth of the luxury auto segment.

The cess rate hike was announced in September. Even if the rumoured cess hike of 10% was not concluded, the prices still had to go up, which is disappointing. We expect the luxury car market to showcase a flat growth this year. Due to the developments during the year, we are expecting sales for the year to be stable. Also, we were very clear on achieving a sustainable growth, which excludes buying market share.

While we still support GST and think it will be beneficial in the long run, our worry has been the implementation of GST especially for the luxury car industry. Overnight orders throw business plans out of gear, especially because we were looking at support for that segment in order to support the economy in India through more sales. A plan to increase the cess barely after a month of an announcement is unheard of.

Where is the planning security in such a scenario? What projections do we work on when we don’t know what might happen tomorrow?

We should let go of the socialist attitude: Roland Folger, MD CEO, Mercedes-Benz India

Have luxury carmakers' hopes around GST been belied? Top honchos explain

For the automotive industry in general and luxury cars in particular, 2016 was not the best of years, as we hit more speed-breakers than expected. The implementation of the GST structure in 2017 came as a much-required boost for the luxury car industry and we hailed this as a landmark achievement, which promised to further aid the ease of doing business in India.

However, in course of the following months, GST turned out to be a mirage as the government termed the reduction in GST rates for luxury cars as an anomaly and drove fast to correct it.

The delineated positives of this new tax regime on the auto industry were beneficial; for instance, simplifying logistics, driving efficiency and reducing the overall operational and manufacturing costs.

At Mercedes-Benz, we were hopeful that with GST, the overall complex tax structure will decrease and drive higher efficiency in our operations, as the whole country would be treated as One Single Market. We were hopeful that GST implementation was going to be creating the much-required consumer demand for the luxury car industry.

In this context, and also backed by my GST experience in Malaysia, we decided that as a customer-centric measure we will pass on the GST benefits to consumers with immediate effect. We hence compensated for the difference between the current and the post GST ex-showroom prices for our entire Made in India model range. The GST measures in India ensured we took the customer into confidence and were transparent with them. This meant we passed on these benefits at our own cost and won the customer’s trust. We set the trend of being the first carmaker to pass on the actual GST benefits to the customers and not merely insurance and service packages. We are glad to see others followed us.

In the 2016 Union Budget, the tax collection at source for luxury cars was implied on vehicles above Rs 10 lakh, and we hoped the GST Council would adopt the same logic while considering the implementation of cess, if they decided to implement one. We also hoped that the council would not forego of the fact that if it chooses to set a higher price barrier for implementing the cess, it has lesser scope of optimising the tax collection overall.

Any deviation from this would seem to have been unfair and defy logic. Even a car below Rs 10 lakh would be in many ways a luxury item for many customers, then why adopt this unfair approach, which specifically seems to be aimed at luxury vehicles only.

Currently, it appears we are drifting far away from the growth projection of 80,000 units of luxury cars a year, which seemed quite achievable years back, due to the unfavourable market conditions; contributed largely by arbitrary policy decisions like continuous taxing of luxury cars, among others.

Today, we are clubbed with demerit goods and are bound to be constricted to small volumes. This is highly unfortunate, as we limit further employment opportunities and contribution to the economy simultaneously loses out in terms of potential revenue generation.

The government’s decision to increase the cess again within a month of implementation without even giving enough time for us to analyse the outcome is not a confidence evoking step and I would like to believe that it somehow overlooks the contribution we make to the auto industry and to the economy.

I am sure the government knows well that, had there been a fair taxation, the luxury industry which has so much potential in the country could have grown and contributed more to the GDP, employing more skilled people and also investing more through expansion.

I am usually optimistic, but it often appears now that the luxury car industry has been treated rather unfairly and we should let go of this socialist attitude and be more open to the contribution of luxury car makers in terms of innovation, technology, investments and jobs.

If this approach of continuously taxing the luxury cars persists, I am sure our contribution to the total passenger vehicle market in India is bound to remain constricted. In contrast, in developed economies, the contribution of luxury is on a higher side and continues to rise gradually. GST thus remained an opportunity lost for the government to course-correct the stalled growth of the luxury car industry.

Hasty policy inconsistencies derail business continuity: Vikram Pawah, president, BMW Group India

Have luxury carmakers' hopes around GST been belied? Top honchos explain

Doing business in India has become much easier with GST removing multiple layers of taxation and administrative processes.

BMW has been the fastest to offer GST benefits and well-prepared much before the roll-out took place. GST will strengthen and foster growth in the country and benefit consumers at large.

However, immediate changes and fluctuations on motor vehicles cess will adversely affect the stability and growth of the automotive industry in India.

Today, BMW India is a fast-growing luxury carmaker. We have achieved this radical growth as a result of our all-round strategy, resolute approach in its implementation and our absolute commitment to our customers and their needs. But our primary goal is to grow the size of the luxury car market in India. We believe growth is more important than anything, even more important than being No. 1.

However, hasty inconsistencies in policy such as the abrupt cess roll-out after GST implementation derail business continuity and consumer confidence. We strongly believe that long-term stability in tax reforms and regulations are of paramount importance to foster growth of any industry in the country. A right and fair tax structure in GST will provide the necessary ingredient to drive the growth of this segment and its contribution towards overall economic growth.

The global automotive industry is witnessing a paradigm shift from the conventional combustion engine to sustainable mobility solutions. This change is inevitable but will not happen overnight. Therefore, a comprehensive policy framework implemented in a phased manner is essential to nurture the development of emobility and its success in India.

Premium automotive manufacturers like BMW are already progressively taking a lead in e-mobility with radical investments in innovation and technology. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) is the first step towards the eventual transition to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV).

A framework that only supports BEVs will make it difficult for effective e-mobility implementation in India. Therefore, we believe, a balanced GST framework supporting both PHEVs and BEVs is required.

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Is the Entire Car Industry Really Doomed?

So auto retailing will be OK for the next 10, maybe 15 years as the auto companies make autonomous vehicles that still carry the manufacturer’s brand and are still on the highway.

Totally agree, but replace 10-15 with 30-50.

But dealerships are ultimately doomed.

YES, as we know them.

And I think Automotive News is doomed. Car and Driver is done; Road Track is done. They are all facing a finite future. They’ll be replaced by a magazine called Battery and Module read by the big fleets.

Half true. Automotive News will become Battery Module. Car and Driver will survive because there will always be an enthusiast market — albeit smaller — and they’ve made some decent attempts to address autonomous tech in recent issues. Road Track? Motor Trend? Dead. Upstart brands like Petrolicious will survive because they’re already focused on the best of the past, and need only expand their definition of classics year by year. Petrolicious may have to split into pre and post 2000 classics, but I think most of the cars sold between 2000 and Lutz’s tipping point will be unserviceable — the dark ages of electronics and all — but that’s another story.

The era of the human-driven automobile, its repair facilities, its dealerships, the media surrounding it — all will be gone in 20 years.

Fifty. And we’ll still need repair facilities. But they’ll be for modular replacements, and will most likely come from new companies whose infrastructure is radically different from current dealer models, who have no path to survival short of investing in automation and cheaper real estate in the next five years. As I said, Auto Nation will survive. (FYI, I have no stake in AutoNation.)

Today’s automakers?
The companies that can move downstream and get into value creation will do OK. But unless they develop superior technical capability, the manufacturers of the modules, the handset providers, if you will, will have their specifications set by the big transportation companies.

Mostly yes.

The fleets will say, “We want a module of a certain length, a certain weight and a certain range.”

Uh huh.

They will prescribe the mileage and the acceleration and take bids.

Transportation markets will be huge. So will traffic markets.

Automakers, if they are smart, may be able to adapt. General Motors sees the handwriting on the wall. It has created Maven and has bought into Cruise Automation and Lyft.

We’ll see. #SelfDrivingTheater is the new security theater. There’s no real evidence GM is any smarter than Daimler, Ford or Toyota, all big players who’ve also invested fortunes as a hedge against Lutz’s argument. Still, all of them blew it relative to Waymo, who just removed the safety engineers from the driver’s seats in their Phoenix deployment.

[GM] doesn’t want to be the handset provider. It wants to be the company that creates the value and captures the value, and it is making the right moves to be around when the transition occurs. I think probably everybody sees it coming, but no one wants to talk about it. They know they will be OK for a few years if they keep providing superior technology, superior design and have good software for autonomous driving.

Everyone wants to be that company, and no one sees a clear path forward. At this point it’s unclear whether Uber or even Lyft will survive as independent companies. If and when one or both are acquired, a buyer that can combine manufacturing with a TNC platform is guaranteed to become dominant under their legacy brand, which upends Lutz’s argument.

So for a while, the autonomous thing will be captured by the automobile companies. But then it’s going to flip, and the value will be captured by the big fleets.

Again, unless the fleet companies are acquired by manufacturers.

This transition will be largely complete in 20 years.

Not without mandates. This might work in fairly homogenous, socialist states where local culture aligns with broader goals, say, Norway or Sweden. American red states? Guns are the only thing people take more seriously. In this country, the suggestion that people won’t fight to retain control — and by that I mean ownership — is absurd. Lutz’s prediction requires a tough political slog. Anyone pushing to mandate self-driving cars will see the left and right subdivide, coalesce and unite around the concept of ownership of motion, which conflicts with utopian visions of “mobility”, which is no better than code for turning transportation into health insurance.

In America, that’s not a good thing.

I won’t be around to say, “I told you so,” though if I do make it to 105, I could no longer drive anyway because driving will be banned. So my timing once again is impeccable.

Actually, Lutz will be around to see some of this happen. Just not here in the United States.

In the meantime, I can’t wait for a future aftermarket shop to do a restomod of a Gen 1 Dodge Viper, but add the awesome parallel/augmented driving tech I predict will set back Lutz’s timeline by decades, and make driving great again. Those Vipers were awesome, clunky and dangerous. God bless them all, and Lutz, and whomever can build an uncrashable Viper before he dies.

“On a long enough timeline,” according to Fight Club, “the survival rate of everyone drops to zero.”

Now change “everyone” to “everything”.

By that standard, Lutz is right and wrong, by half. As in half a century.

Alex Roy is Editor-at-Large for The Drive, Host of The Autonocast, co-host of /DRIVE on NBC Sports, author of The Driver and Founder of Noho Sound, has set numerous endurance driving records in Europe the USA in the internal combustion, EV, 3-wheeler  Semi-Autonomous Classes, including the infamous Cannonball Run record. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Why Tesla scares the rest of the car industry

The new, $200 000 Tesla Roadster

On Friday, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk introduced the company’s new electric-powered tractor trailer. The “Semi” goes 800km on a charge, uses Tesla’s semiautonomous driving system, with lane keeping and auto-braking. The truck has lower centre of gravity than traditional haulers, dramatically reducing rollover risk; dynamic torque distribution lowers the chance of jack-knifing. Musk promised the truck “will not break down for a million miles”.

That wasn’t the big news.

Musk, in a very Steve Jobs-like, “Oh, and one more thing” moment, introduced the Tesla Roadster. The US$200 000, all-wheel drive supercar goes 0-100km/h in a mind-blowing 1.9s, making it the fastest production car ever. Oh, and it tops out at more than 400km/h.

Why does speed matter? Car makers have been sponsoring racing teams since the beginning of the automobile. Manufacturers have seen the merit in the “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday” marketing formula; recent studies back up those beliefs.

Fast halo cars are aspirational vehicles created for shoppers. Lots of Chevy buyers spend time gawking at the slick new Corvette in the showroom; most end up buying sport-utility vehicles or ordinary sedans. Many of the styling cues from the halo cars trickle down to the more pedestrian vehicles, as does the latest automotive technology, from antilock-braking systems to suspension improvements to aerodynamics to turbo chargers.

Two years ago, I suggested Musk create just such a halo car: “Put a sexier body on the Model S — low-slung, fat tires, gull-wing doors and steal share from Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Porsche, Bentley and Bugatti.” Minus the gull-wings, the new roadster is all that, and more.

When Musk first rolled out the Tesla Model S P100 “Ludicrous Mode” in 2015, reports noted that 100km/h in 2.8s seconds is “crazy fast”. For a fraction of the cost, the five-passenger, four-door sedan was competitive with the likes of Lamborghini, Bentley and Porsche. It was not long before videos of the Tesla Model X P90D Ludicrous — a bulbous, ungainly SUV — was shown smoking a Ferrari F430 in a drag race.

Performance advantages

Pure electric cars like the Roadster have several inherent performance advantages, most notably immediate peak torque and a single-gear transmission. That’s a large part of the reason why these cars tend beat their petrol-powered competitors in drag races.

To be fair, the $200 000 F430 was produced between 2004 and 2009, so it isn’t Ferrari’s latest, greatest speed ship. That would be the LaFerrari, the company’s $1.4m flagship. It has a 6.3l V12 engine, with an electric hybrid drive, and makes an enormous 949 horsepower. That translates into 0-100km/h in 2.6s.

In other words, LaFerrari owners pay an extra $1.2m for the opportunity to be beaten by the new Roadster.

The same day Musk was rolling out his Roadster, The Wall Street Journal reviewed the brand new 2018 Porsche 911 GT2 (price, $325 250 as tested) with the question, “Is this the fastest street-car ever?” The answer — 0-100km/h in 2.7s — was almost. But within six hours, once the Tesla Roadster was introduced, it wasn’t close. Perhaps the Porsche Mission E will prove to be more competitive.

Other supercars are suffering similar fates. The $1.3m McLaren P1 hits 100km/h in 2.7s (tweaked versions can reach 100 in 2.4s); the Porsche 918 Spyder goes 0-100 in 2.6s and costs $847 000. A six-figure upgrade shaves a few tenths of a second off that time, but not enough to beat a car that costs three-quarters of a million dollars less.

If these supercars can’t beat the Tesla, perhaps the next generation of “hypercars” can: Aston Martin’s Valkyrie and Mercedes-AMG Project One both cost about $3m. Undeniably beautiful and extremely limited in production, these spectacular cutting-edge cars in present form will both be slower than the Tesla Roadster.

The speed crown matters to car makers. Most all of the major car manufacturers have been frightened by Tesla into embracing hybrid and/or electric vehicles. How successful Tesla is as a car company is almost beside the point and is surely open to extended debate. But it has already forced the rest of the industry into following its electric lead.  — By Barry Ritholtz, (c) 2017 Bloomberg LP

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2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 First Look: Big Power, Big Wing, Big Bet

No Obligation, Fast Simple Free New Car Quote

It’s official. After spy shots, speculation, and leaks, the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 formally breaks cover here in Dubai, home of the fast, rich, and fabulous.

Yes, this latest iteration shares much of the bones of the Z06 but adds more power, refinement, a giant optional rear wing, and a pledge that this really fast car is for everyone. Even though the new ZR1 has a top speed of more than 210 mph, the Z06 and Camaro ZL1 1LE still corner the market on crazy.

General Motors chose Dubai for the global premiere of the last celebration of the C7 generation Corvette and the return of the ZR1 crown that was applied to the third-generation Corvette in 1979, C4 in 1990, and C6 in 2009. “We don’t do a ZR1 every generation,” said chief engineer Tadge Juechter. “It’s not an automatic.”

The private unveiling was held a few days before the Dubai auto show. Corvette continues to grow in popularity in the fast-growing Middle East, making Dubai a good choice for the global debut, said Tom Peters, director of exterior design for GM performance vehicles.

The car goes on sale this spring, and GM expects to make 2,000-3,000 of them at the plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, but production will not be limited.

Pricing has not been announced but could easily exceed $130,000. The 2009 ZR1 started at $105,000; a carbon fiber package alone added $15,000. The 2018 base Stingray coupe starts at $56,490 and the Z06 starts at $80,490. Juechter said the ZR1 won’t be double the price of the Stingray.

Many of the suspected details were confirmed. The new coupe continues with GM’s 6.2-liter pushrod small block V-8, but the automaker calls this updated version of the supercharged engine the LT5. It’s confusing because the expectation is LT5 would refer to a switch to a DOHC V-8. The ZR1 sticks with Corvette’s traditional overhead valve, two valves per cylinder.

And just when you thought that engine couldn’t squeeze out any more power, GM tells us it’s rated at 755 horsepower and 715 lb-ft of torque. “After driving this around for a while the Z06 feels really sluggish,” said Juechter. It’s a nice exclamation point in the dying embers of C7 before C8 goes mid-engine and DOHC.

“I’ve never driven a Corvette like this before, and nobody else has either, because there’s never been one like this before,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “Its unprecedented performance puts all other global supercars on notice that the ZR1 is back.”

A major difference: This is not the supercharger of the 2009 ZR1 or the 2015 Z06. The Eaton supercharger is 2.9 inches taller with a more efficient intercooled system that Chevy says has 52 percent more displacement than the Z06’s LT4 supercharger. Cooling has always been a Corvette bugaboo. The heavier supercharger changed the weight distribution so Chevy made the front wheels a half-inch wider for more cornering stiffness.

Another big difference: GM’s first dual fuel-injection system. It has primary direct injection and supplemental port injection. A cool by-product: It is said to shoot flames from the exhaust.

The Corvette keeps the seven-speed manual, but buyers can also choose an automatic for the first time in a ZR1 with GM’s eight-speed with paddle-shift. There was speculation the model could receive GM’s new 10-speed co-developed with Ford, but Juechter said that unit doesn’t fit the Corvette architecture and was never designed to. Instead, they updated the eight-speed to shift faster.

The ZR1 has the stellar carbon ceramic brakes of the Z06—not the non-ceramic Brembo brakes in the Camaro ZL1 1LE1. ZR1 made the right choice, they are among the best on the planet, as we discovered in Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car testing.

The look of the most powerful Corvette to date reveals the efforts Chevy has gone to for greater performance. The strip of carbon fiber down the middle of the hood is the cover for the bulging engine that Peters did not want to be any taller so the driver can still sit low in the seat and see over the hood. It was a craftsmanship challenge to match the weave of the many pieces of carbon fiber that had to come together.

The front clip is all new and the new front fascia has four new radiators which means 13 heat exchangers in total. “The front end has almost no fascia; it is almost all openings,” Juechter said.

And the crankshaft has been strengthened. These changes, and the larger supercharger, add about 60 pounds of weight to the car. Curb weight is 3,560 pounds for a car with the most carbon fiber to date.

The latest king is designed to perform better on the track with the option to forego the regular low wing for a crazy high wing that produces an estimated 950 pounds of downforce for the track. The adjustable high wing is part of the ZTK Performance package and is attached right to the chassis. It can be adjusted about five degrees but it’s not an automatic adjustment; it requires changing the bolts. Even the low wing generates up to 70 percent more downforce than the Z06’s base aero package, and it’s much easier to get at your gear in the back.

This is the first Vette to get a front underwing to assist with downforce. Historically GM would use front splitters to push the nose down, but balancing the big wing would result in a front that too easily scrapes the ground. Borrowing some race tech, incorporating underwing creates low pressure to keep the car down, said Peters.

The ZTK package includes a front splitter with carbon-fiber end caps, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 summer-only tires, and tuning of the chassis and Magnetic Ride Control for better cornering grip—another area where Corvette needed improvement.

And if you like orange, the Sebring Orange Design package is, you guessed it, Sebring Orange with matching brake calipers, rocker and splitter accent stripes, seatbelts, stitching, and bronze aluminum interior trim. There was a strong customer pull for orange, Juechter said. “We’ll see if they show up with their money.”

The ZR1 has leather-trimmed seats with a suede-like microfiber and an option to make them heated and cooled. Or you can opt for a sport seats and a carbon-fiber rimmed steering wheel.

Based on all the spy shots out there, the new coupe with a removable hardtop will be quickly followed by a convertible ZR1 with a soft top.

We doubt it’s a top priority, but the estimated fuel economy is 15/22 mpg in city/highway driving with the manual and 13/23 mpg with the automatic.

GM has been getting ready for the 2019 ZR1 as well as the mid-engine Corvette in the works. Production of the 2018 model at the plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, stopped for three months to retool for future products.

The 2019 Corvette ZR1 will be on display later this month at the Los Angeles auto show.

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New 2018 Toyota Rush Spy Images Completely Reveal the Small SUV

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2018 Volkswagen Virtus Revealed; To Replace Vento in India

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