Aston Martin Returns To Historic Newport Pagnell Production Facility

Production has officially returned to Aston Martin’s Newport Pagnell site, and the first cars to be produced there will be the 25 DB4 G.T. Continuation models.

Since the original Aston Martin Vanquish ceased production there in 2007, Newport Pagnell served as the company’s Works department, with countless Aston Martins restored to their former glory by the company’s highly-skilled team.

The special run of the 25 DB4 G.T. Continuation models was the perfect opportunity to restart production at such a historic site, where the original cars were produced almost sixty years ago.

The first of these track-only lightweight-spec cars have already been delivered to the lucky owners, with each car taking around 4,500 hours to build. Aston Martin says that the production run will be completed within 2018.

“For more than half a century Newport Pagnell was the heart of Aston Martin,” said Andy Palmer, CEO Aston Martin. “Thanks to the efforts of those at Aston Martin Works it has since become the torchbearer for our Heritage division.”

“Together with Gaydon and our all-new production facility at St Athan - which is progressing towards completion - it’s my pleasure to see production officially return to Newport Pagnell”, Palmer added.


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Pagani Creates One-Off Huayra Lampo With Fiat Turbina Theme

Pagani has joined forces with Lapo Elkann to create yet another marvelous one-off Huayra - the Lampo, which isn't Italian for...Lambo, but for 'Lightning'.

Made for Garage Italia Customs and inspired by the Fiat Turbina Concept from 1954 that had a bespoke two-tone red and white livery together with turbine power, the supercar sports a similar paint scheme. No turbine power here, though.

Beneath the beautiful red shade, the carbon fiber bodywork is noticeable, and that's not all, because the Pagani Huayra Lampo has welcomed additional parts made from the same lightweight material that were borrowed from the Huayra BC. It also has larger air intakes at the front.

Elsewhere, we notice the Italian flags applied to different parts of the exterior, including the brake calipers, whereas the bespoke interior has chequered brown leather that's said to have been hand-crafted by an artisan in Turin. The cabin also features exposed aluminum anodized in bronze and carbon fiber trim that keep the theme going.

No upgrades were applied to the Mercedes-AMG-developed 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine, as it's still good for 730hp and 1,000Nm (738lb-ft) of torque, although we admit that it would have been a little cooler with the 790hp unit that powers the Huayra BC.


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Look For Vehicle Electrification From Audi Sport In 2020

Audi Sport is going to be giving electrified performance, starting from 2020. The branch that puts the R in RS will be doing more crossovers too.

Stephan Winkelmann, head of Audi Sport shared the news to Autocar. “From 2020 onwards, the start of the introduction of battery electric vehicles”, said Winkelmann. “This will start by the end of 2020, with the first car of Audi Sport, and then there will be more coming.”

Using electricity to boost performance, the way Porsche’s e-hybrids do, is certainly not a bad thing. Green performance is still performance, and Winkelmann said electrified, not full EV. There’s an important difference if you’re not ready to give up internal combustion engines just yet. As Quattro, Audi Sport spent a great deal on electric R8s, with little production result.

Winkelmann also hinted that there will be more Audi Sport Q models. “We are also looking into cars which are, let’s say, in a growing segment or a body segment which is growing. These are the Qs. We will get more of them and we think that this is going to help us because every car we are building, and every car we are investing in, should have global visibility, so not just in Europe but in Asia and the Americas.” These won’t be Euro-only like the SQ7, and the idea of an RSQ7 or RSQ5 super SUV is certainly interesting.

Fans of the current lineup need not worry, however. “We are not forgetting our icons, so we will continue to build them. Even if we keep in mind that electrification is important for us, legislators permitting, our turbo engines will stay because we are very proud of these,” Winkelmann said. So RS cars after 2020 might get some electrification, but they’ll continue to get turbocharged gas engines. And hopefully, some of them will keep having five-cylinders.

A version of this story originally appeared on VW Vortex

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Skoda Debuts New Vehicle Lineup For Emergency Services [w/Video]

Skoda stays true to their legacy by continuing to support the Czech Republic's emergency services with an entirely new vehicle lineup.

Leading the pack is the Kodiaq Fire & Rescue, a special version of the SUV dressed in a distinctive livery and fitted emergency lights. This car is portrayed as a versatile vehicle thanks to its multi-terrain capabilities, and is joined by an ambulance variant.

Also available is the range-topping version of the Superb, which adds the 280 suffix. The most powerful production Skoda ever built is an undercover cop car here, using its 2.0-liter TSI petrol engine, shared with the Seat Leon Cupra, to fight crime.

It has 280PS (276hp) which are channeled to the standard four-wheel drive system through a DSG automatic transmission, and needs 5.8sec to reach 100km/h (62mph) from a standstill.

Skoda has man's best friend covered too, with a special version of the Superb aimed at K9 units, dubbed the Superb Estate Police Dog Vehicle. It has two fiber glass-made air conditioned kennels, said to be approved by the RSPCA and DEFRA, plus a 100-amp, 3-tone siren.

Finally, the Octavia Scout has been turned into an ambulance that's said to be "ideal for remote locations", thanks to its four-wheel drive capabilities and increased ground clearance. It's also capable of carrying an impressive 645kg (1,422lbs) of specialized equipment.



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Audi E-Tron Looks To Electrify The Booming Crossover Segment

Audi is preparing to launch an onslaught of electric vehicles and the company's upcoming E-Tron Quattro was recently spotted undergoing testing in Europe.

Previewed by the E-Tron Quattro concept, the production model has a familiar design but adopts a less dramatic front fascia. Moving further back, we can see plastic body cladding, a rakish windscreen, and slender mirrors with integrated turn signals. Designers also installed roof rails and a gently sloping roofline which meets a tailgate-mounted spoiler.

Speaking of the rear of the crossover, we can see a heavily raked window and a relatively upright tailgate. Other notable features include LED taillights and no exhaust system.

The E-Tron Quattro will go into production next year at the company's plant in Brussels, Belgium. Audi hasn't said much about the crossover but previously stated it will slot in between the Q5 and Q7. It also promises to deliver an intoxicating blend of "sportiness, driving dynamics and efficiency."

Performance specifications remain unconfirmed but the concept had three electric motors which could temporarily produce 496 hp (370 kW) and over 590 lb-ft (800 Nm) of torque. This enabled the all-wheel drive concept to accelerate from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 4.6 seconds before hitting a limited top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h). Furthermore, the crossover had a range in excess of 310 miles (500 km) and could be recharged in as little as 50 minutes.

Photo Credits: CarPix for CarScoops

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GM Patent Could Lead To High-Compression, Twincharged, Hybrid Powertrain

General Motors has recently filed a patent which could point to the future of the company’s high-performance offerings, including the C8 Corvette.

After 18 months in review by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, documents published on Oct. 24, 2017 reveal GM has been granted a patent for an internal combustion engine with elevated compression ratio and multi-stage boosting.

The document describes a propulsion system made up of a high compression internal combustion engine which uses a low-flow supercharger in combination with a high-flow turbocharger, linked to “one or more electric motor/generators, none of which are shown”.

It gives us an interesting look at how GM engineers plan to continue producing obscene performance cars like the Corvette ZR1 and Camaro ZL1 1LE in a world of increasingly stringent emission regulations.

The illustrations depict a longitudinally mounted four-cylinder engine, but GM says the thinking disclosed could be applied to engines with larger cylinder counts as well.

Typically, street-legal engines using forced induction operate below a 10.5:1 compression ratio in order to mitigate the effects of pre-detonation. High compression and forced induction don’t usually mix because the extra air-fuel mixture crammed into the cylinder by the turbo or supercharger can ignite prematurely as a result of the elevated cylinder temperatures generated by higher compression ratios.

In order to make high-compression ratios and forced induction viable for an engine that must meet federal requirements, GM is proposing an extreme variation of the Atkinson-cycle using late intake valve closing to allow some of the air-fuel mixture to escape and eliminate the risk of pre-detonation.

Where GM’s patent differs from other Atkinson type applications is the length of time the intake valves would be kept dwelling at peak lift. In the document GM proposes two different methods for generating peak lift for an extended period of time–simple cam lobe profiling in combination with a variable-ratio rocker arm between the valve stem and the cam lobe; or an electro-hydraulic actuator which could replace the conventional camshaft.

Using the cam and rocker solution, GM would employ a “generally flat” portion of the cam lobe which would interact with the variable-ratio rocker arms to jam the intake valve open for a slightly extended period of engine rotation.

The rocker arms would include their own rotatable cam-shaped roller which could alter the duration of peak lift dwell from substantial to insignificant. In another variation, a more traditional cam lobe could interact with a cam follower to achieve the same effect.

Like conventional engines with variable cam and valve technology, the position of the cam and rollers could be changed by high pressure streams of oil shot by phasers. Using this method GM claims the intake valves could be kept at peak lift for an extra 20 degrees of cam rotation.

Should GM replace the cam shaft with a hydraulic or mechanical actuator the ECU would offer much greater control over the valvetrain. The document claims peak intake dwell could be achieved for 5-80 degrees of crankshaft rotation, which is just shy of a quarter rotation, or nearly one full cycle.

GM claims using either solution would yield compression ratios for forced induction engines between 11 and 16:1. To put that in perspective, methanol fueled drag racing engines typically run a 15:1 compression ratio, while Formula 1 cars operate at 17:1. It’s unclear if GM intends to use the system to offer variable compression ratios like other automakers have proposed.

The document also includes new thinking on twincharging and the application of boost pressure. GM says the supercharger could be driven by either the crankshaft or a dedicated electric motor, with the blower’s speed managed by a continuously variable transmission which would control the supercharger independent of engine RPM.

That means the CVT could keep the supercharger pegged at peak boost if necessary, or spooled for low RPM acceleration before the turbocharger clicks on above 3,000 rpm, when enough high-flow exhaust would be available to feed the impeller. The multi-boosted system could be capable of operating sequentially or in tandem based on what the vehicle’s ECU wants, which will, in turn, depend on if it’s been programmed for performance or economy.

It’s unclear how GM is planning to apply the thinking delineated in the patent, but considering the high-performance potential of the proposed system, this could be our first inkling of what’s going to motivate the hybridized mid-engine Corvette.

A version of this story originally appeared on GM Inside News.

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Toyota And Panasonic Pondering Whether They Should Jointly Build Batteries

Toyota and Panasonic announced their agreement to “begin studying the feasibility” of a joint automotive battery business.

The collaboration would build on an existing partnership between the two companies, as Panasonic already provides the batteries for Toyota’s electrified models.

The goal is to build prismatic batteries, instead of cylindrical ones, that are safer and bigger in capacity for use in Toyota’s future electric models as well as EVs from other manufacturers.

Panasonic is the world’s largest battery supplier for EVs, holding 29 percent of the market. Toyota on the other hand has partnered with Mazda and Denso to accelerate the development of EV parts.

The two companies will consider details of this new collaboration, focusing on improvements in battery performance, price and safety, as well as a stable supply capacity to further accelerate the development of electrified vehicles.


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Pepsi Co. to Stack Doritos and Mountain Dews on Tesla Semi Short-Hauls

Count Pepsi as the latest entrant into the Tesla semi truck bull market.

This time, the soda giant has reserved 100 semi trucks, one of the largest reservations reported so far. They will join Pepsi’s U.S. fleet of approximately 10,000 big rigs as part of its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2030, in addition to covering fuel costs.

According to Mike O’Connell, senior director of North American supply chain at Pepsi’s Frito-Lay, in a statement to Reuters, the brand is studying optimal routes and type of loads to carry based on range. The goal is to deploy Tesla semis to short-haul Doritos, Pepsi Lite, Mountain Dew, and other empty calorie bombs from its manufacturing to distribution centers and retailers.

News of the move also prompted Tesla’s share price to hop by roughly 2 percent, with the entire stock up 56 percent this year in one of the most memorable bull runs by an automotive company in recent memory.

So far, a who’s who of large retailers have placed pre-orders for the Tesla semi-truck, including Walmart, Anheiser-Busch, DHL, Ryder, and J.B. Hunt Transportation Services. No mention by Tesla has been made on the total value of the reservations nor the total number of reservations, but several websites have started their own tallies. According to a Reuters tally, reservations now stand at 267, as of Dec. 13, 2017.

Tesla has offered a 2019 timetable for the Semi to go into production.

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Volvo’s Drive Me Initiative Now Live using Swedish Families as Beta Testers

Volvo is now engaging Swedish families to participate as beta testers for its public autonomous driving program, Drive Me.

In a partnership between Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration, a separate transport agency, and smaller entities, Volvo delivered two XC90 SUVs to two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis, in Gothenburg, Sweden. They are the beginning of Volvo’s program aiming for 100 Drive Me beta cars on the road, and have agreed to provide first-hand feedback on their experiences with the vehicle, where the goal is to replicate daily driving in everyday conditions, including 31 miles of designated roads.

According to Volvo’s Drive Me website, hundreds of terabytes of data will be collected on safety, user experience, traffic flow, fuel savings, and driving behaviors to be reviewed by its experts.

“Drive Me is an important research project for Volvo Cars,” said Henrik Green, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo. “We expect to learn a lot from engaging these families and will use their experiences to shape the development of our autonomous driving technology, so that by 2021 we can offer our customers a fully autonomous car.”

To start, a traditional XC90 will come equipped with sensors and cameras, along with driver-assistance features such as lane departure warning and dynamic cruise control. Drivers will be expected to keep hands on the steering wheel to avoid an audible alert. Over time, program participants will escalate to higher level classification autonomous vehicles with more advanced assist features, with Volvo’s safety specialists onboard.

Other players involved in Volvo’s quest for autonomous vehicles including Uber and Swedish automotive safety systems supplier Autoliv, collaborations meant to drive hardware and software production. A separate venture with Autoliv will also work on software licensing under a new name.

The goal is to deliver up to 100 self-driving prototypes to Swedish customers over the next four years before expansion plans to the United Kingdom, Sweden, and China by 2018.

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Audi CEO Says Company Is Ready To Move On From Diesel Scandal

Audi is planning on shutting down the very same task force they set up in order to find out how many of their vehicles featured defeat devices amid VW's diesel scandal.

According to company CEO, Rupert Stadler, Audi is on the home stretch as most of its diesel engines have been fixed, reports Autonews.

The automaker has retrofitted up to 850,000 TDI engines in Europe as well as a few other countries on other continents. "We are at an estimated 80 percent," said Stadler. "We are gradually emerging from the crisis mode and are moving back into regular operation."

By 2025, Audi plans on having over 20 partly or fully-electrified vehicles in its lineup, with EV sales accounting for a third of their total deliveries. Stadler added that more than 10 of those over 20 models will be purely electric.

The first new-generation EV from Ingostadt will be the e-tron SUV, scheduled to be unveiled at the Audi Summit in Brussels, in August 2018. Meanwhile, with Audi and Porsche cooperating on electric mobility, we could see a pure electric Audi Q5 and a new-gen Porsche Macan break cover in 2021.

Also, with CO2 regulations tightening in Europe in 2020, Audi can't afford to miss any of its targets, because doing so by just 11 grams of CO2/km, would cost the automaker a billion euros each year. "Non-fulfillment is not an option," concluded Stadler.


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US among initial launch markets for Polestar 1

Polestar 1The United States will be among the first countries to be offered the new Polestar 1 when the plug-in hybrid coupe starts deliveries in 2019. The others will include Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany and China. Polestar says the countries were selected in part due to the level of interest surrounding the Polestar 1. Since the car’s...
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New Audi A8 Becomes A Tad Sportier With Fresh Optional Bits

While Audi enthusiasts continue to wait for the new S8 to arrive, the Ingolstadt-based car manufacturer has launched a new exterior sport package for their flagship saloon.

Priced at €1,950 ($2,294) on the A8 50 TDI and available across Europe from the end of January 2018, it adds an aluminum clip to the grille, and clear contours around the air inlets, which also get honeycomb grilles and vertical struts.

Slightly wider side sills and a tweaked rear bumper with a rhombus-grille insert and contrasting diffuser are also available, as is an aluminum strip on the body's lower edging.

The seats have been revised as well, with what the automaker calls "optically integrated headrests" that feature electric height adjustment, in addition to the pneumatic seat and backrest side bolster adjustment. The latter are said to be approximately 15mm (0.6in) more deeply contoured than before.

Customers that just need to have these seats, which are compatible with all engine versions and both wheelbase lengths, will have to pay €4,520 ($5,318) for them, although before signing their name on the dotted line, they will also have to choose from five basic colors for the interior.


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Our Eyes Already Wish Lotus Would Come Back To Formula One

It's only been two years now since Renault bought its F1 team back and rebranded it again as its own. But we already miss it, and looking at these renderings, it's not hard to see why.

In five years on the grid – first as Lotus Renault GP, then as Lotus F1 – the team performed respectably, though not impressively. It won all of two grands prix, and finished no higher than fourth.

That's a far cry from the world championships the same Enstone-based team (under Benetton and Renault ownership) won with Michael Schumacher in the mid-90s and Fernando Alonso in 2005-06. But what it lacked in substance, it made up for in style.

When Genii Capital acquired the team, it also secured the rights to use the Lotus name (after a protracted battle with the team that would later become known as Caterham). And with it, the Lotus team brought back the iconic black and gold livery of the John Player Special days – one of the most beautiful color schemes, to our eyes, ever put on a racing car.

Now that Renault's back in control, the black and gold have been replaced by yellow and black. And that's Renault's right, of course, footing the considerable bill as it does for the team's budget. But looking at this livery, laid over a modern chassis by specialist designer Sean Bull, we can't help but wish that Lotus would come back. Maybe it will, now that Geely is in control... but we're not going to be holding our breath over here.

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Report: Ford to end North American production of Fusion

2018 Ford FusionNew reports surfaced on Wednesday claiming Ford is planning to concentrate production of the next-generation Fusion mid-size sedan in China. The current Fusion is produced at plants in Spain, Mexico and China. However, Automotive News (subscription required) and Reuters have learned from their respective sources that production of the...
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Renault Zoe Star Wars Edition Is French For The Millennium Falcon

If the idea of an entirely electric vehicle still seems like science fiction to you, wait 'till you get a look at this.

It's the new Renault Zoe Star Wars edition, and it takes the little French EV to a galaxy far, far away.

Stemming out of the same partnership that yielded all those Nissan show cars in LA, this special-edition Zoe is being released in the spring to coincide with the debut of the forthcoming Han Solo movie.

It features special decals patterned after the Millennium Falcon on the hood, roof, and tailgate. There's special badges as well, and the inside features special purple trim on the dashboard, air vents, speakers, gearshift, and floor mats.

The special edition is based on the Intens trim and comes standard with Bose audio, in-car wi-fi, reversing camera, and 17-inch wheels. Buyers will be able to choose between two shades of white as well as grey or black.

Only 1,000 examples will be made available exclusively in France. Pre-reservations start tonight before the order books open in March and the new movie debuts in May.

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2020 Aston Martin Vanquish spy shots

2020 Aston Martin Vanquish spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-MedienAston Martin has just unveiled its redesigned Vantage, and the next model in the automaker’s ambitious Second Century plan is a redesigned Vanquish. The new super GT is tentatively slated for a reveal late next year or early 2019, and we have a new set of spy shots of a prototype. (Earlier shots showed a test mule.) Although the tester looks...
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There’s A Yellow LaFerrari Up For Grabs With Only 317 Miles

With 500 made and 120 delivered to the United States, finding a LaFerrari on the open market may not be all that difficult. Finding one in nearly new condition, however, is another matter entirely, but that's just what we have here.

Set to headline Mecum's forthcoming auction in Kissimmee, Florida, next month is a yellow example of Maranello's hybrid hypercar with just 317 miles on the clock.

Unlike most LaFerraris that left the factory in “resale red,” this 2015 example was ordered in Giallo Modena, complete with yellow brake calipers, a black and yellow leather interior, and loads of optional carbon-fiber trim.

Like any other of its breed, it packs a 6.3-liter V12 hybrid powertrain unleashing 949 horsepower for a 0-62 time quoted at 2.4 seconds and a top speed in excess of 217 mph – making it one of the fastest, most capable performance machines ever devised.

With such low mileage, this one's anticipated to sell for a good $3.6 million (give or take the price of a 488 or Portofino) when the gavel drops during the nine-day extravaganza running from January 5-14, 2018.

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Hyundai Thinks Electric Vehicle Prices Will Level Off By 2020

Hyundai expects the prices of electric vehicles to plateau by 2020 due to supply restraints.

In recent years, the costs of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles have decreased rapidly, especially for the batteries themselves. The South Korean carmaker doesn’t believe this trend will continue for much longer.

“Not a single ingredient is going in a positive direction in terms of pricing,” Hyundai Motor senior vice president Lee Ki-sang told Reuters.

“So far battery prices have been declining at a rapid pace, but the pace will moderate significantly or maintain the status quo by 2020.”

In the five years to 2016, lithium-ion battery cell prices have decreased by roughly 60 per cent. However, as more and more carmakers begin to produce EVs, demand for minerals including nickel, cobalt, and lithium required for batteries will rapidly rise. Consequently, supplies of these key ingredients could be stretched.

Yesterday, Hyundai said it and Kia will release 38 green models by 2025.


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2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque spy shots

2020 Land Rover Range Rover Evoque spy shots - Image via S. Baldauf/SB-MedienLand Rover took a gamble with the Range Rover Evoque in that the vehicle eschewed serious off-roading capability in favor of a blend of design and luxury. It’s a gamble that paid off as the Evoque has attracted plenty of customers that previously wouldn’t have considered one of the British marque’s vehicles. It’s hard to...
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