Friday, December 25, 2020

Santa To Experience Amazing This Christmas Eve: The Lexus HX Sleigh Concept

Photo Credit: CNW Group/Toyota Canada Inc.



Among the greatest secrets in this world surrounds the operations of one of the most benevolent beings on this planet. Although we can recognize his capacity for kindness, generosity and remarkable abilities to find the good in the world, a lot of aspects about Santa Claus (also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas) are shrouded in secrecy. That being said, we have been able to create some elaborate visions surrounding the jolly man. Santa Claus’ appearance, North Pole headquarters and even his favourite foods have been constructed through a wide consensus. We have also predicted the image of the vehicle used by the man in the red suit as a rustic, 19th century-style sleigh being pulled by a group of magical reindeer. However, with this being the 21st century, is it possible that Santa is making deliveries in something more modern?

For the 2020 Christmas Eve journey, Lexus has offered Santa Claus an ultra-sophisticated sleigh. Sculpted by Takumi elves, the Lexus HX Sleigh Concept provides Mr. Kringle with a means to travel across the world with the benefits of functional luxury. Possibly making its debut in the skies of Christmas Eve for 2020, the Lexus HX Sleigh Concept is not the first time the luxury car builder has given Santa Claus a fresh perspective for delivering gifts. In 2012, the Lexus Flying Luxury Cruiser based on the brand’s LF-LC sport coupe design concept included a number of innovative features as well as an option to give reindeer a year off.

The enclosed, aerodynamic shape of the Lexus-branded sleigh provides incredible comfort, excellent cargo space and helpful high-tech solutions. According to Santa himself, "It was time for me to upgrade my capabilities to help deliver toys to all the children on my nice list more efficiently, so the Lexus HX Sleigh Concept couldn't have come at a better time. Mrs. Claus is excited to drive it, too!"


Photo Credit: CNW Group/Toyota Canada Inc.



With a stunning Lexus front end featuring a sporty black-coloured grille and LED headlamps, the HX Sleigh Concept’s sizable rear hatch open to a cargo compartment boasting an unlimited capacity. Santa and elves can quickly load and unload thanks to an automatic trunk with Kick Sensor. The sleek exterior of the Lexus HX Sleigh Concept is covered in four-coat infrared paint.

The striking outer shape of the HX Sleigh Concept provides a comfortable shelter for the futuristic two-seat interior. Climate Concierge with Neck Warmer and a Mark Levinson Surround Sound Audio System provides Santa Claus with a sense of relief and relaxation as he travels between chimneys. Navigation for Christmas Eve is presented through Embedded Air Traffic Control that is operated through a 25-inch touch screen display.


Photo Credit: CNW Group/Toyota Canada Inc.



The Lexus HX Sleigh Concept received a large amount of praise from Santa’s work colleagues in the North Pole. "I run a tight sleigh, and the combination of Lexus's trademark hybrid electric technology and well-honed All-Reindeer Drive will really allow us to take our job to the next level.” Said the Director of Reindeer Resources Rudolph. The celebrity, red-nosed reindeer added,  “With the added efficiency the Lexus HX Sleigh Concept gives us, I'm confident we'll even find some time to fit in some gift deliveries for grown-ups, too!"

Running 100 percent on renewable holiday spirit, the HX Sleigh Concept All-Reindeer Drive (ARD) system combines with Lexus’ hybrid electric technology supplies excellent propulsion for the one-night trip. 

While the children sleep ahead of Christmas morning, maybe adults can be treated with a glimpse of Santa’s new Lexus HX Sleigh Concept sailing in the sky. 


Infomation source: Toyota Canada

Saturday, December 12, 2020

An Off-Road Spirit On-Line: Jeep Launches Official Merchandise Store on Amazon

Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles



Perhaps if 2020 happened differently, the world would have been an easier place to explore. However, the events of this year have forced almost everyone to adjust to a period where travel needs to be conducted over shorter distances. Maybe you were lucky enough to discover and experience roads or trails closer to home during this time. Even though a tour through the Amazon in a Jeep may be out of reach for many Jeep enthusiasts, the online marketplace Amazon present fans as well as the family and friends of those individuals an opportunity to quickly gain access to officially licensed lifestyle products attached to the vehicles famed for their seven-slot grilles.

In a partnership announced in November, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Jeep brand and Amazon have together assembled a special store featuring a wide assortment of Jeep branded merchandise. Available through the United States portal Amazon.com (Canadians are welcomed to order through the site but would be faced with a disturbing caveat that will be mentioned later in this article), the selection of branded goods provide some great gift ideas for the four-wheel drive loving fans. 

Among the staple products found on the Jeep Store by Amazon portal are a variety of T-shirts capturing the personality of the off-roading vehicle marque in stunning styles. Several designs for Jeep-themed hats and coffee mugs can also be chosen in addition to keychains, tote bags as well as cell phone cases for the Apple iPhone SE and Samsung Galaxy S10 devices. Men, women and even small children are catered to on the marketplace with one of the more unique items being the Jeep Classic Wrangler 3-in-1 Grow with Me Walker. Capable of holding youngsters up to 25 pounds, the baby walker that can operate as a push-behind or a large rolling toy features lights and sounds recreating the real Jeep 4x4 vehicle. The listed price for the Jeep Classic Wrangler 3-in-1 Grow with Me Walker is $89.00 U.S. with stock appearing to be limited. Jeep Store by Amazon also contains a selection of holiday-themed T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies. One example priced at $19.99 U.S. is the Jeep Holiday Green Logo T-Shirt.


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


As said before, Canadians can purchase through Jeep’s Amazon.com website but there are two considerations that may deter the northern fans of the make. All prices for items are in United States funds requiring Canadian buyers to take currency conversion into account. The second, more unpleasant expense is the added shipping cost to Canada attached to items in the Jeep virtual store. The shipping and the accompanied import charges can result in some obscene totals. For example, the Jeep Christmas Tree Sweatshirt priced at $34.99 U.S. for American customers is inflated to almost $56 U.S. for orders sent to Canada. 

For many owners of Jeep branded vehicles, the desire for exploration is as strong as the proven achievements of the earlier generation of vehicles that faced gruelling distances, heat, coldness, water hazzards and notably war. A loyal, enterprising fan base celebrates Jeep’s past with the early Willys MB, Jeep’s present with the Grand Cherokee and Jeep’s future with the Grand Wagoneer as well as Wrangler 4xe. The resolute of the Jeep brand since its existence is the epitome of honour, duty and adaptability we need to keep in our hearts at this time. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

GM Canada/Unifor New Labour Agreement Includes Revival of Oshawa Vehicle Production

Photo Credit: General Motors of Canada



While General Motors is recognized as a company rooted with the United States, the automaker has a strong connection to Canada. Initially entering into a deal to purchase Buick engines for vehicles sold by McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1907, Canadian businessman R.S. McLaughlin gained a strong working relationship with General Motors’ architect William Durant. After the mutually beneficial Buick agreement, McLaughlin aided Durant in foundation of a new auto brand with Swiss race car driver Louis Chevrolet. The Canadian automotive magnate would not only be instrumental in establishing General Motors of Canada Limited serving as a chairman but was also an executive with the main company headquartered in Detroit. More recently, General Motors’ recovery from its 2009 bankruptcy included between 9 and 11 billion dollars in federal and government of Ontario funds.  

After a long intertwined history with Canada, General Motors had made many distressing moves in recent decades on their operations in the country. Despite gaining awards and accolades for assembling quality vehicles with dedicated workers, the auto company had trimmed production at its Oshawa-based assembly complex. Dating back to the production of the earliest McLaughlin-Buick cars, General Motors’ Oshawa facilities assembled what was thought to be its last vehicle at the end of 2019. Less than a year after a 112-year history of manufacturing vehicles appeared to have concluded, General Motors of Canada has now pledged to restart vehicle production in Oshawa as a result to a newly negotiated deal with the union Unifor.

In a three-year agreement that was ratified by 85 percent of Unifor members positioned at General Motors of Canada’s St. Catharines, Oshawa and Woodstock operations, this newest labour contract includes an exciting pledge to the construction of new vehicles in the country. The highlight of the Unifor/General Motors deal is a 1.3-billion dollar commitment to restart truck production in Oshawa. The Oshawa complex currently involved in the production of face masks in partnership with the Canadian government’s in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, new vehicles are expected to churn out of the plant in January of 2022 bringing 1,700 jobs to the area. When the Oshawa Assembly plant will be General Motors’ only facility that can be converted to produce light-duty and heavy-duty trucks.

Other investment announcements made in concert with the new labour deal includes a 109 million dollars towards the St. Catharines Propulsion Plant. In addition to maintaining production of eight-cylinder engines currently used in General Motors’ pickup trucks, large sport utility vehicles as well as the Chevrolet Camaro, the plant will also build a transmission used in the Chevrolet Corvette. General Motors’ Woodstock Parts Distribution Centre will also receive a modest investment to improving the facility.

The new labour agreement does not include workers at the General Motors’ CAMI Assembly Plant located in Ingersoll, Ontario. Currently producing the Chevrolet Equinox, the work force residing under Unifor Local 88 at CAMI operates under a different collective bargaining agreement with a four-year term scheduled to renegotiations next year.  

The ratification of a labour agreement with General Motors Canada concludes what has been a fairly fruitful series of bargaining by Unifor with the Detroit three automakers. Negotiations with Ford Motor Company of Canada resulted in a major pledge to build battery electric vehicles in Oakville while Unifor and Fiat Chrysler also ended with the announcement of new investments including new production at the Windsor plant. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

An Old Personality in a New Charge: The 2022 GMC HUMMER EV

Photo Credit: General Motors


Part of General Motors’ christening for their new electric vehicle lineup supported by new Ultium battery technology is being parted by two high-performance, high-style sport utility models. The Cadillac LYRIQ was unwrapped this summer but a second vehicle was teased since the beginning of 2020. Introduced in disguise in a commercial during the 2020 Super Bowl, the GMC brand would reintroduce a name equally famous for extreme off-roading prowess as it was for high fuel consumption. Although revived as a highly-capable modern off-roader, the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV will shed the gas-guzzling image of its ancestors.      

An all-electric super truck measuring 216.8 inches (5,507 millimeters) in total length, the GMC HUMMER EV is a radical four-door multi-terrain vehicle reaching peaks gasoline-powered vehicles will observe with awe. Operating on a three-motor e4WD drive system, the HUMMER EV’s maximum collective propulsion output is 1,000 horsepower and 11,500 lb.-ft. of torque (a lower output model as well as a two-motor HUMMER EV model will also be available). On a straight, paved path, the powertrain can launch the bold utility vehicle from 0 to 60 miles per hour (0 to 97 kilometers per hour) in roughly 3 seconds. The HUMMER EV’s energy supply is an Ultium 24-module, double-stacked battery pack. According to General Motors, the fully electric truck can reach a maximum range of 560 kilometers (350 miles). The Ultium battery pack can be replenished using publicly-located, 800-volt DC fast chargers that can provide drivers with 160 kilometers of driving range after a 10-minute charge. 


Photo Credit: General Motors


Quick on roads, the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV’s electrified performance is truly meant to be showcased in off-roading. Standard equipped with 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, the HUMMER EV is designed to athletically battle off-roading challenges. An adaptive air suspension system available on the vehicle can be adjusted by up to 6 inches (using the available Extract Mode) aiding the vehicle as it works to conquer uneven, rocky and even shallow bodies of  water. Inclusion of Extract Mode with the HUMMER EV allows for a maximum approach angle of 49.7 degrees and a departure angle of 38.4 degrees. Under certain driving conditions, the suspension system will also automatically lower the ride height of the truck by two inches to aid aerodynamic flow. 

Protected by strong steel plates, the underside of the GMC HUMMER EV handles fierce off-roading terrain with advanced technologies. UltraVision, consisting of up to 18 camera views, includes underbody cameras at the front and rear acting as electronic eyes when travelling over rocks and other obstacles. Operating on a 135.6-inch (3,445 millimeters) wheelbase, the HUMMER EV shadows the road with a 10.1 inches (257 millimeters) of ground clearance.

In addition to the adaptive air suspension system, the 2022 HUMMER EV truck features a wide amount of technologies for drivers to adapt for on-road and off-road travel. Helping the sizable GMC HUMMER EV manoeuver is a 4 Wheel Steer system. While decreasing the vehicle’s stable turning circle, the four-wheel steering technology is also equipped with a feature called CrabWalk. CrabWalk on the HUMMER EV permits all four wheels to turn to the same direction. 

Going on sale the 2022 model year, the GMC HUMMER EV will debut with an Edition 1 trim. The HUMMER EV Edition 1 will be first to show a unique premium equipment group for the exterior and interior. A 13.4-inch diagonal infotainment screen, 14-speaker Bose audio system, power rear drop glass window, power tonneau cover and a configurable MultiPro tailgate will all be included on the fully electric truck. The 2022 HUMMER EV will also include General Motors’ Super Cruise driving assist technology allowing for moments of hands-free driving for motorists.


Photo Credit: General Motors



Another key feature on the GMC HUMMER EV is the Infinity Roof where available transparent roof panels can be removed and stored inside a front compartment (so-called a frunk). Adhering to a muscular off-roading experience, the 2022 HUMMER EV’s outer appearance employs a mostly upright windshield and massive wheel arches. Headlights and the six-bar vertical front grille are assembled in a trademark-defining style. As well as providing excellent nighttime lighting, the illuminated HUMMER front end features animated elements when the driver walks away from the vehicle or for when the truck is being charged. 


Photo Credit: General Motors


Canadian availability for the GMC HUMMER EV is slated for the fall of 2022. Pricing for the HUMMER EV in Canada is not currently provided by General Motors but the price for the upcoming vehicle’s trim levels has been posted for the United States market. Arriving first, the well-loaded GMC HUMMER EV Edition 1 has a starting sale price of $112,595 US. Only available for the United States, reservations for the initial Edition 1 trim of the fully electric vehicle have already been filled ahead of a fall 2021 release.

Three additional variants of the HUMMER EV are planned over several years. Equipped with the same power unit as the Edition 1, the GMC HUMMER EV3X has an estimated starting price of $99,995 US for when sale is slated for fall of 2022. GMC also plans a two-motor version of the electric truck generating 625 horsepower and 7,400 lb.-ft. of torque that will be offered to customers in the spring of 2023. With an estimated 300-mile range, the HUMMER EV2X wears a projected price tag of $89,995 US. A base HUMMER EV2 is planned to be sold in spring of 2024 for $79,995 US coming with high-end features including HD Surround Vision, Infinity Roof and Super Cruise.

The GMC HUMMER EV is joining what will be a stacked market of all-electric trucks. In the next few years, customers will have the choice of a fully-electric versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150, the Tesla Cybertruck as well as the Rivian R1T.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Fiat Chrysler Pledges Sizable Investment Into Canada With New Unifor Deal

Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada



More than ever, we’re aware that the world we know is subject to change. Adaptation during these changing periods is essential for individuals or groups to prosper for the future. Consensus and understanding are necessary to make the first steps along a better path that will ideally benefit everyone. With the automobile being an evolving machine that requires the successful interaction of many parts, the industry behind the construction of high quality vehicles must operate in the collective best interests for the present and the future. 

Since 1925, the company now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) and Canadian auto workers have assembled a fleet of great products. The Windsor Assembly Plant has served as the depended upon location for the automaker’s minivan since its inception while the Brampton Assembly Plant (acquired in 1986 after Chrysler Corporation purchased the American Motor Corporation) is currently the home for the Chrysler 300 as well as Dodge’s full-sized Charger sedan and Challenger coupe. On Thursday October 15th, the union representing 9,000 current workers for FCA agreed to a tentative labour deal securing the production at the two automobile production plants as well as the company’s Etobicoke Casting facility.

The three-year agreement between the automaker and Canadian union includes crucial financial considerations for workers but also commitments to all three major facilities operated by FCA in the country. Increased work is slated to be allocated to Etobicoke Casting towards the construction of components for the Jeep Wrangler as well as FCA’s nine-speed automatic transmission. For the Brampton Assembly Plant, 50 million dollars will be pumped into the location for the purpose of extending production of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger. It’s unclear for how long the vehicles will be produced but could run up to 2023. Although rumoured for replacement several times in past years, FCA’s full-sized cars produced at the Brampton Assembly Plant remain steady sellers in North America.

The biggest news arriving after the announcement of the tentative labour agreement is an up to 1.5-billion dollar investment destined for the Windsor Assembly Plant. Currently manufacturing the Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Grand Caravan, the Essex County plant will be optimized to create electrified vehicles. A plug-in hybrid Chrysler Pacifica (the Pacifica Hybrid) is already produced at the FCA Windsor plant but the upcoming investment touts the addition of battery electric vehicles as well as the addition of at least one new model for 2025. Added vehicle production at Windsor Assembly will also see the re-institution of a third shift offering up to 2,000 new employment opportunities.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ pledge for the future of the Canadian automotive industry follows similar labour negotiations with Ford Motor Company also resulting in production guarantees. The 1.8-billion dollar investment by Ford into building fully electric vehicles at their Oakville Assembly Complex include a 590 million dollars from the federal and Ontario provincial government. It’s unclear at this time if government funds are paired with FCA’s Canadian investment. 


Sunday, October 18, 2020

NSX-Inspired Acura RDX PMC Edition Sells As Fast As It Looks

Photo Credit: American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Acura’s top-selling vehicle year after year, the RDX crossover has allowed buyers a reasonably accessible entry to modern luxury that also excels in everyday driving. With 62,876 units sold in the United States in 2019, it could be difficult for a premium brand such as Acura to convey a sense of tailored prestige around such popular crossover vehicle. Drawing upon the mystique of the NSX hybrid supercar, the limited production 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition is already seen by buyers as a fantastically vibrant means to obtain some differentiation from the common dealership fare. 

A specially-prepared variant that goes beyond aesthetic and trim details, the 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition is the latest among a series of handcrafted models giving the Honda-supported luxury badge a new sense of prominence. First showcased with the TLX sedan in 2019, Acura has extended the precision performance halo of the NSX supercar and their Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) located in Marysville, Ohio throughout their vehicle lineup.


Photo Credit: American Honda Motor Co., Inc



Sent to Acura’s performance facility in a body-in-white form, the RDX crossover configured to the PMC Edition specifications receives a robotically-applied, multi-layer exterior paint coating. The RDX PMC Edition’s Thermal Orange Pearl colour (lifted from the premium paint chart for the Acura NSX) is accompanied by a gold and mica mid-coat in addition to four layers of clearcoat. A paint process taking a total of five days, Acura PMC staff carefully hand inspects the colour application. The Acura RDX PMC Edition’s Thermal Orange Pearl outer appearance is paired with gloss black components. In addition to accent touches including door handles, upper roof panel, door mirrors, gloss black colouring is used to finish the special crossover vehicle’s 20-inch split 5-spoke wheels as well as for the Acura Diamond Pentagon grille framed by a body-colour surround. Also featured in the unique exterior of the RDX PMC Edition are black chrome finishers on the dual exhaust outlets. 

The interior of the 2021 Acura RDX PMC Edition is carefully curated with the best features of the RDX’s A-Spec and Advance Package in addition to other unique surprises. A full equipment of technology including ACURAWATCH safety suite, rain-sensing windshield wipers and 10.5-inch Head-Up Display is equal to the Advance Package trim while perforated Milano leather sport seats with Ultrasuede inserts arrives from the A-Spec featured in an ebony colour shade. Orange stitching is applied throughout the cabin as well as on the seats, floormats and the leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. The PMC Edition model’s numbered serial plate on the center console is the final interior touch.  


Photo Credit: American Honda Motor Co., Inc


During the entire process of adding the tailored features to the crossover vehicle, Acura’s P.C. master technicians are involved in hand assembling key components for the exterior and interior. Aspects receiving this attention to detail includes the installation of the Acura RDX PMC Edition’s turbocharged 2.0-liter VTEC four-cylinder engine, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, chassis pieces as well as electronics and wiring. Every 2021 RDX PMC Edition production model will undergo a thorough quality control inspection identical to the procedure before the NSX supercar leaves their facility.  

Acura is producing 360 units of the RDX PMC Edition in total with only 30 examples are destined for Canada. Canadian reservations opened on September 22nd and the special model sold out in just one day. Selling for approximately $58,000, each 2021 RDX PMC Edition will be moved to their respective Acura dealerships wrapped in a protective film travelling inside an enclosed single-car carrier. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Ford Plugs Forward to Convert Oakville Plant to Fully Electric Production

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Company


Since Ford’s presence in Canada starting in 1904, vehicles with internal combustion engines have been prominently sold and reliably produced in the country. Since 1953, Ford of Canada’s dominating production hub has been based in Oakville, Ontario. Over the course of decades, products turned out by the Oakville Assembly plant included vehicles from Ford Motor Company’s short-lived Edsel brand, the F-Series pickup truck, the compact Escort as well as the Windstar/Freestar minivan. At the start of 2020, Ford’s Oakville Assembly plant and its workforce of roughly 3,600 members has been producing the Edge mid-sized crossover vehicle as well as the Lincoln Nautilus premium crossover. With a reputation for building dependable, sought-after automobiles, a flourishing future of Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex is secured by plans to convert vehicle output to battery electric vehicles.

Following a successful negotiation with the union representing 5,400 employees across their Canadian operations located primarily in Oakville and Windsor, Ford of Canada announced $1.98-billion (Canadian funds) of new funding to maintain their three manufacturing plants. Accounting for $1.8 billion of Ford’s investment consists of a major shift in production at their vehicle plant in Oakville. Producing internal combustion powered cars, trucks, crossovers and minivans since it opened, the Oakville Assembly Complex will ready itself to build electrics vehicles. Reported originally by the Toronto Star on September 21st, the electrified plans for the Ford facility were officially confirmed by the automaker on September 28th. It’s also mentioned by reports that Ford’s investment into insuring the future for production in Canada also includes the federal government contributing a total of $500 million.

The positive news of Ford’s upcoming plans for the Oakville Assembly Complex puts to rest reports of uncertainty in regards to capacity beyond 2022. While production of the Lincoln Nautilus was reportedly set to move to China, it’s rumoured over the summer that Ford Motor Company is steering towards dropping the Nautilus as well as the Ford Edge after 2023. With Ford’s new vehicle manufacturing plans, five battery-powered electric models are slated to take the place of the two gasoline-burning crossovers currently leaving out the door at the Oakville building starting in 2025. 

The 1.8-billion dollar investment by Ford Motor Company in Oakville allows Canada to participate in the historic automaker’s grand, ambitious plan for electrified motoring. Looking back into the history of the automobile Ford, in lack of better words, initially killed the electric car market when the automobile was being established in the early 20th century. Although the automaker was not the only one to embrace gasoline for propulsion, Ford’s massive success with the Model T mobilized the population with a cheap and simplified design that would evolve into how vehicles are seen for more than a century. The Flathead V-8 engine, the 1949 Ford, the F-Series pickup and the Mustang are just a few examples of cultural icons formed by the blue oval brand showing off the entity’s ability to innovate for changing times. As the auto company has grown into a globally renowned household name, they have shown a pattern of properly adapting to the marketplace.

At the beginning of 2018, Ford Motor Company pledged to have 40 electrified vehicles available throughout the world with 16 being fully electric models. This year, the 2021 Ford Mustang Mark-E signifies the one of the American automaker’s most ambitious steps to selling a battery-electric vehicle. Ford is expected to produce a fully-electric F-150 pickup truck and Transit van is anticipated during the 2022 calender year. The specific battery-electric vehicles expected to be built in Oakville has yet to be revealed to the public. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Passing the Trident: Maserati Unveils The MC20 Super Sports Car

Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.


Founded more than 105 years ago, Italian luxury car builder Maserati has manufactured creations blending the exclusive, high-end luxury with passionate sports car athleticism. While Maserati spent recent years championing their Levante sport utility vehicle as well as the Ghibli and the heavily-updated Quattroporte premium sedans, fans of the brand eagerly awaited the time more personalized driving experiences connected to the Trident logo. The long-anticipated replacement to the GranTurismo and GranCabrio grand tourer line, excepted to borrow design language communicated with the elegant Alfieri concept car, is planned for sale either next year or 2022. With September 9th MMXX: Time to be audacious” event, Maserati took the covers off their exceptionally powerful, lightweight MC20.

Radiant in an elegant yet race car-like appearance, the Maserati MC20 is said to be the start of a new era for the Italian automobile company. The MC20 (a name combining Maserati Corse and 20 for the year 2020) is a two-seat, mid-engined performance car with tightly wrapped body panels honed through over two thousand hours in a wind tunnel. More than a thousand hours of simulations using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) has also been used to shape the super sports car. Maserati’s first production application featuring lightweight carbon fiber monocoque construction, the MC20's design allows a driver to experience an exceptionally high weight to power ratio while maintaining strong rigidity. Introducing their MC20 to the world in a coupe body style, Maserati states that a convertible version is in the cards for the future.


Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.

 

The Maserati MC20's key source of performance is a new racing-derived Nettuno engine. The twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 powerplant is Maserati’s first in-house developed engine in more than 20 years. Generating an astounding 621 horsepower and 538 lb.-ft. of torque, the MC20's  V-6 power unit contains patented Maserati Twin Combustion ignition technology as well as an engine fuel delivery system featuring direct injection and port injection. A dry sump oiling system with fully variable oil pump as well as an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is paired with Maserati’s Nettuno powerplant. 


Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.


Weighing 3,306 pounds, the weight to power ratio of the Maserati MC20's is recorded at 5.3 pounds per horsepower. Acceleration from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour (0 to 62 miles per hour) is realized in 2.9 seconds while the top speed of the MC20 is advertised at 325 kilometers per hour (202 miles per hour). The rear-wheel driven, mid-engined supercar’s handling is supported by front and rear double-wishbone suspension with virtual steering axle as well as limited slip self-locking rear differential (An electronic differential is optional). Providing steady means to counter the Maserati MC20's 621 horsepower, ventilated disc brakes include front Brembo six-piston calipers.

Entering the vehicle through butterfly-style opening doors, the driver and passenger of the MC20 rides in high-tech performance atmosphere. Strategically placed controls with steering wheel-mounted controls provide both a driver-focused experience and a clean dashboard layout. This appearance is aided by a pair of 10-inch screens. One serves as the driver`s instrument display of the Maserati MC20 while the other is the multimedia unit. The Maserati Multimedia System is paired with Maserati Connect featuring up-to-date navigation, WiFi hotspot and Amazon Alexa connectivity. Luggage space for the MC20 is modest totalling 150 liters (50 liters at the front and 100 behind the vehicle`s occupants). 


Photo Credit: Maserati North America Inc.


The MC20 is Maserati’s fifth mid-engined production vehicle and the first since the limited edition, Ferrari-based MC12. Maserati has grand plans behind the car that is being produced with pride in Modena, Italy. Along with desires to parlay the Maserati MC20 into a return to motorsports for the brand, the Italian auto company also indicates the potential to introduce a fully electric version of the super sport car.



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

An Off-Roading Legend’s New Charge: The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe

Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America


The figurehead of the Jeep brand, the image of the Wrangler is a storied shape in automotive history created by necessity. The military-developed four-wheel drive vehicle related to the modern Jeep Wrangler was manufactured as a specialized mode of transportation for reliability handling rough terrain. Since the end of the second world war, the vehicle was steadily contemporized over the decades improving its looks, function and comfort. When the latest generation Wrangler was introduced in 2018, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) retained much of its rugged off-roading personality but applied the flexibility to accept advanced technologies. Along with a powerful Pentastar V-6 engine, the 2018 Jeep Wrangler arrived with the choice of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that included the additional electric power punch of an eTorque system. For 2021, the introduction of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe plug-in hybrid allows drivers to chart a new path with the popular sport utility vehicle.

Based on the four-door Wrangler body style, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s heart is an advanced powertrain operating in conjunction with a full-time four-wheel drive system. Primary electric power for the plug-in hybrid Wrangler arrives from two motor generators with one replacing the traditional alternator and the other mounted ahead of the transmission. Collectively generating up to 147 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque, the electric motors are fed by a 400-volt, 96-cell lithium-ion battery pack featuring a nickel manganese cobalt anatomy. Capable of carrying the Wrangler 4xe up to 25 miles without burning gasoline, the electric power system is paired with long-lasting regenerative braking. A gasoline-powered, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission allows the plug-in hybrid Jeep to reach greater ranges and conventional on-road and off-road performance.


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America



The plug-in hybrid powertrain installed in the 2021 Wrangler 4xe can be operated in three main modes. With the Wrangler 4xe E Selec Modes, driver can choose to drive the sport utility vehicle in an ‘Electric’ setting or two selectable modes combining the electric motors and gasoline engine. A ‘Hybrid’ mode serves as a default setting or an ‘eSave’ mode that primarily uses the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s maximum available momentum is 375 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque.  Fuel economy for the plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle is rated at 50 MPGe.   

Available in three trim levels (base 4xe, Sahara 4xe and Rubicon 4xe), the Wrangler 4xe boasts Jeep’s familiar, confident four-wheel drive appearance on the outside. The four-door platform is situated on a 118.4-inch wheelbase with a nimble 64.4-inch track. The base and Sahara versions of the Jeep Wrangler 4xe come equipped with an SELEC-TRAC transfer case, standard open front and rear differentials as well as Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza tires mounted to 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels. The Rubicon trimmed model contains a more robust off-road package with BF Goodrich Ko2 All-Terrain tires paired with 17-inch polished wheels, Tru-Lok electronic locking differentials and a Rock-Trac 4x4 system. High-pressure gas-charged monotube shock absorbers with MTV technology comes equipped on the Sahara and Rubicon version of the Wrangler 4xe. With the Rubicon 4xe, off-roading prowess for the plug-in hybrid sport utility vehicle features an approach angle of 43.8 degrees, departure angle of 35.6 degrees and a ground clearance of 18.8 inches.  


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America


Appearing much like a conventional gasoline-powered four-door Wrangler, the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe features a subtle amount of specialized design cues. Rubicon-trimmed models are accented by Electric Blue colouring applied to the tow hooks and ‘Rubicon’ naming on the hood. Ten exterior colour options are offered with the 2021 Wrangler 4xe. With the battery pack tucked neatly under the second-row seating bench, the Wrangler 4xe’s interior maintains a comfortable five-passenger capacity. Electric Blue coloured stitching is found inside Jeep Wrangler 4xe with Rubicon trim models. 


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles North America



Arriving for sale in early 2021, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe’s debut is actually a long-pledged vehicle. In the late 2000s, Chrysler’s ENVI program was heavily involved in conceiving electrified products from Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. A plug-in hybrid Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was one of several concept vehicles shown off prior to the demise of ENVI following Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy and purchase into Fiat Group. 

While the Wrangler 4xe will be the first plug-in hybrid Jeep to be sold in United States and Canada, Renegade 4xe and Compass 4xe models are already found in European showrooms. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Teasing the New Jeep Wagoneer

Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles




Celebrating 75 years as a brand in 2020, Jeep has always emphasized versatility in conventional and unconventional means. Though the four-wheel drive and impressive off-road capabilities initially defined Jeep’s identity, there was a long-running marketing push by the marque to present their vehicles as an upscale product that can reach peaks few sedans would reach. Starting in the late 1990s, a growing driving consumer base entered the domain of the Jeep brand.  

First appearing in the 1963 model year, the Jeep Wagoneer was a longtime entrant in the sport utility vehicle category as a modern, premium product for its time. Sculpted by highly influential industrial designer Brooks Stevens, the original Jeep Wagoneer presented features attracting urban and suburban dwellers as much as drivers requiring a durable four-wheel drive vehicle. The SJ platform version of the Wagoneer endured the Jeep brand’s ownership by Kaiser Motors, American Motor Corporation and later Chrysler before being discontinued in 1991. A one-year appearance as a luxury level of the Grand Cherokee in 1993 under the Grand Wagoneer moniker was the most recent use of the Jeep signature model. Heading into 2021, the Wagoneer name is once again being set to establish iconic luxury. 


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles



FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has trumpeted the return of the Wagoneer ahead of a full unveiling on September 3rd with a series of teaser photos. On August 21st, an initial announcement included two images with the wording “Coming September 3 ...” featuring one shot appearing like a grille assembly with lettering W-A-G visible. Two more recent releases from FCA came with additional teaser images coupled with less secretive wording stating the debut a new Wagoneer accompanied with the reveal of an electrified Wrangler 4xe. The second media release also included an overhead shot of what is anticipated to be the new Jeep Wagoneer. Ahead of the official reveal, two facts that are safe to assume are that the Wagoneer will be Jeep’s luxury flagship and has the capacity for three-row seating.


Photo Credit: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


During FCA Capital Markets Day held back in 2018, the auto company delivered a comprehensive outlook for their business strategy to analysts, investors and media that featured an opening address from CEO Sergio Marchionne (less than two months ahead of his untimely death). Among the announcements made was a road map for Jeep’s 2022 model lineup. Predicting that the crossover utility vehicle market would account for a more sizable portion of their total sales and revenue, FCA intended to greatly expand the Jeep global product range. With a five-vehicle portfolio in 2018, up to eleven products were estimated for the 2022 model year including a pickup truck that has most recently been realized as the Gladiator. Part of the 2022 outlook for the Jeep brand was a new, large scale sport utility vehicle named the Wagoneer.

FCA and Jeep will officially debut the new Wagoneer on a Youtube stream on September 3rd at 9 a.m. EDT. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Two Times for Takuma: Sato Wins 2020 Indianapolis 500

Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski
 


The Indianapolis 500 ran for its 104th time in history under less than traditional circumstances for 2020. Held on a date in late August without any fans in the stands, the open wheel race on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval operated in a less than traditional way. However, the combination of the national anthem and “Back Home Again in Indiana” being sung, track owner Roger Penske gave the command to start engines and the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Pace Car took a 33-car field off pit lane towards the green flag provided an illusion close to the typical Memorial weekend 200-lap contest.

Becoming the first Japanese driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2017, Takuma Sato is now in the illustrious company of multiple winners of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. Taking the lead of the 500-mile race on lap 185, Sato fended off charges from New Zealand native Scott Dixon through the late laps until a caution on lap 196 solidified his place in victory lane for the 2020 event. 

Sato piloted his #30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-owned Honda-powered Dallara to his second time at the 2.5-mile Brickyard oval. “This was the entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan team. HPD and Honda gave us a lot of power, a lot fuel mileage, and my boys. They sacrifice a lot. I can’t thank all of the people.”, said Sato as the PeopleReady-sponsored sat in the new, elevated victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski


With 21 lead changes over 200 laps, the 2020 Indianapolis 500 field started with Marco Andretti serving as the pole sitter. Despite positioned in the top spot, the #98 US Concrete car of Andretti would not lead a single lap in the race. Completing the full distance of the Indy 500, Marco Andretti finished in 13th place.

The 33-car thinned quickly when on lap 4 the #51 car of James Davidson suffered an unusual mechanical issue as the front right wheel quickly erupted in fire. One of seven caution periods during the 104th Indianapolis 500, it’s fortunate to note that Davidson as well as the drivers involved in subsequent matters requiring a yellow flag did not suffer serious injuries. More serious accidents on track occurred on lap 92 and lap 196. The lap 92 incident took place as the field was returning to green after the cleanup for the #41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises car of Dalton Kellett. Conor Daly’s #47 Ed Carpenter Racing vehicle went for a spun coming off of turn four causing a tire smoke screen that led to Indy 500 rookie Oliver Askew also losing control. Askew’s #7 Arrow McLaren SP race car spun on cold tires and collided into the inside wall ahead of pit lane. The accident ended the day for both Daly and Askew.


Photo Credit: Chris Jones


What was the final caution for this year’s race, 2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot suffered a scary-looking crash. Spinning in turn 4, the driver of #45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing hit the turn’s SAFER barrier before continuing down the front stretch before colliding with the soft barrier at the pit road entry. Spencer Pigot was taken to a local hospital following his severe crash but was discharged later on Sunday night.  

Though Takuma Sato captured the glory of the Borg-Warner Trophy by crossing the finish line first after 500 miles, Scott Dixon commanded much of this year’s open wheel classic at the Brickyard. The #9 Chip Ganassi Racing car and driver held the lead for 111 laps. At lap 80, Dixon had pulled out a 10.945-second lead over the second place position prior to a caution for Canadian driver Dalton Kellett’s impact with the wall. 

The start of the second half of the 2020 Indianapolis 500, Scott Dixon was in a heated but well-orchestrated battle with Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi. Unfortunately, a pit road incident on lap 124 ended hope of seeing more of the #9 PNC Bank and #27 NAPA/AutoNation cars fighting towards the end of the race. Officials ruled the Andretti Autosport team performed an unsafe release with Alexander Rossi’s race placing the 2016 Indy 500 winner to the rear of the field. Although Rossi made some impressive moves to climb back up the race order early into a run, he lost control of his #27 car on lap 144 concluding a 2020 attempt for victory. 


Photo Credit: James Black


For Scott Dixon, his chances to claim a third Indianapolis 500 win were quashed with Spencer Pigot’s late crash. With four laps remaining, the NTT IndyCar Series allowed the race to run to the chequered flag under the yellow flag. Many fans and even race commentators may have preferred that a red flag would have been shown potentially setting up a final short sprint to the finish where Scott Dixon may have challenged Takuma Sato. Dixon does leave the Indy 500 with the perk of having a massive lead in the 2020 drivers’ standings 84 points ahead of Josef Newgarden.

After showing supremacy on Indy 500 Pole Day, Honda engines made a similarly strong performance in the race. Honda-powered entrants led 179 of the 200 laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and propelled the top-four finishers in the 2020 Indianapolis 500. Behind Sato and Dixon, Graham Rahal brought his #15 car to a third place result tying his best effort in the event. Racing for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan for his second Indy 500, last year’s rookie of the race Santino Ferrucci crossed the line in fourth with Honda power.

Purchasing the NTT IndyCar Series as well as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway late last year, Roger Penske may have witnessed one of his race team’s weaker performances at the prestigious 500-mile race in recent history. While Simon Pagenaud led 14 laps and Will Power was out in front for two laps, Team Penske was not a true contender at the front. In the final results, the #1 car of Josef Newgarden was the most successful with fifth place but struggled to keep up to the fastest Hondas. 


Photo Credit: Chris Jones


Along other notable finishers of the 2020 Indianapolis 500 includes Patricio O’Ward who finished sixth in his first outing at the great race. O’Ward’s performance in the #5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet was good enough to secure the prize of Indy 500 Rookie of the Year. One spot behind the Mexican rookie in the race results was James Hinchcliffe who drove the #29 Gensys car to 7th place recorded as the highest finish among the Andretti Autosport entries. This race is likely to be Hinchcliffe’s final NTT IndyCar Series appearance for the 2020 season as he was intended to only run a three-race stint. Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves made his 19th career start in the great race in a one-off drive with Team Penske. Qualifying in 28th place (his deepest grid position ever in the 500-mile race) Castroneves took his #3 car to a respectable 11th place finishing spot. Making his third and potentially final attempt at a triple crown in motorsports (consisting of the Indy 500, 24 Hour of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix), Fernando Alonso competed with a McLaren-affiliated team once more. Alonso crossed the line in the #66 Arrow McLaren SP car in one lap down in 21st place. Attracting a lot of buzz during his attempts to win the Indianapolis 500, the two-time Formula 1 world champion signed a deal in July that will see him return to Renault’s F1 team. Renault is unwilling to allow Alonso to compete in the Indianapolis 500 into the future since the traditional Indy 500 date falls on Formula 1's Monaco Grand Prix. 

Overall, the 104th Indianapolis 500 concluded as a successful race despite the many challenges due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. A competitive, safe event, the absence of fans was definitely notable as Takuma Sato celebrated his win. With the completion of the 2020 race, there is much hope that the 2021 race could be triumphant return to a traditional format.  


2020 Indianapolis 500
NTT IndyCar Series
Race Results