2020 Cadillac CT4-V, CT5-V revealed, less powerful than predecessors

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Expectations have reached stratospheric heights for the 2020 Cadillac CT4-V and 2020 Cadillac CT5-V, and for good reason: Their ATS-V and CTS-V predecessors were potent sports sedans with gobs of power and handling and braking to match. Now the new sedans have been revealed, and they’re not what we expected. They each lose two cylinders compared with the other vehicles, and on paper, they don’t look as capable. But we do have hope that these won’t be the end-all, be-all performance Cadillacs.

First, let’s look at the cars. The CT4-V will be the base of the V brand, and it’s our first look at the small luxury sedan. It has a roofline and window treatment more like past Cadillacs, eschewing the C-pillar garnish of the CT5. It also naturally gets dark trim and headlights, a unique spoiler and quad tailpipes to distinguish it as a V. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder that is based on the engine in the new Chevy Silverado. It makes 320 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, a far cry from the ATS-V’s 464 horsepower and 445 pound-feet of torque.

Power goes through a 10-speed automatic transmission only. Both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available. It gets a mechanical limited-slip differential whereas the ATS-V had an electronically controlled limited-slip differential a la Camaro ZL1. The brakes have four-piston calipers at each corner versus six-piston front units and four-piston rear units on the ATS-V, and the rotors are smaller. Magnetic Ride Control remains standard on the rear-drive version, but the all-wheel-driver version sticks with conventional shocks. The new CT4-V is about 200 pounds lighter than the ATS-V, though, and it has 50/50 weight distribution. Additionally, both the CT4-V and the CT5-V have Super Cruise available as an option.

Moving on to the CT5-V, it looks like a regular CT5 but with dark trim and lights, quad tailpipes and a unique rear diffuser. Instead of the CTS-V’s 640-horsepower supercharged V8, the CT5-V uses a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 355 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Changes made to the 3.0 for the CT5-V include a new intake system and new exhaust, and it revs higher too. Like the CT4-V, it comes with a 10-speed automatic and either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. It does get the electronically controlled limited-slip differential.

The CT5-V also gets the latest Magnetic Ride Control suspension system in all versions. The brakes switch to Brembo four-piston units at all four corners. The old CTS-V had six-piston brakes up front and four-piston rear brakes, both with larger rotors than the CT5-V. But like the CT4-V, the CT5-V is lighter than its predecessor. In this case, it’s lighter by about 170 pounds.

Some of this seems a little disappointing, but there is good news. Cadillac made it clear that there are more V variants coming, and it sounds as though harder-core versions of these sedans are also coming, but with different, unknown nomenclature. These new V cars are designed to be less hardcore for a broader buyer set. And according to a Cadillac representative, the slightly softer image will make it easier to apply the brand to its crossovers. So to sum up, the new V is a little more like the old V-Sport. It’s sporty, but not ultra-hardcore. But there may still be something hardcore for later.

If these new V models appeal to you, they will go on sale this year. We’ll also get a look at the regular versions of the CT4 in the next couple of months. Pricing has yet to be announced for either of the V models.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Seattle man builds fence around car-share vehicle on his property

SEATTLE — A Seattle man took exception to a car-share vehicle that was parked without permission at his duplex. So he built a fence around it.

Dan Smith told KIRO-TV he doesn’t know who parked the car2go Mercedes on May 17, but it wasn’t one of his tenants. He contacted Share Now, the company that operates car2go, and gave them two hours to move the vehicle. A few hours after that, he erected the barricade, preventing other customers from using it.

He wants the company to pay $65 a day in storage fees, $300 for the fence and up to $500 for “harassment fees.”

In a written statement, Share Now suggested that might amount to extortion. Spokesman Tim Krebs told The Associated Press on Thursday that the company is seeking help from the police.

Car Sharing Fence

“We will not allow anyone acting with ulterior motives, including anyone attempting to extort our business by holding our property illegally, to prevent us from providing transportation to the citizens of Seattle,” the company’s statement said. “We would like to avoid taking legal action and hope for a quick resolution.”

The company said it has been unable to remove the sedan because of the fence. Its policy requires customers who park in unapproved areas to pay any towing and ticketing fees; repeat offenders are banned from the service.

Smith told the AP he put up the barricade to make a point about respecting private property and because he was worried about liability if, for example, a customer became injured on his property. He said he initially tried to have the car towed, but three tow companies declined, with at least one noting that Smith had not posted signs warning that the spots were on private property and that violators could be towed.

If the police tell him he’s in the wrong, he’ll cooperate, he said, because he doesn’t want that much trouble. But he said he has rights to control his property, and Share Now had made no arrangements and offered no compensation to use it.

“I’m happy to help make Seattle a better place,” Smith said.

Source: AutoBlog.com

This dog hammock allows your pup to feel safe and secure on car rides

Transcript: This dog hammock and seat cover hangs between the front and back seats providing a barrier that prevents your dog from climbing into the front seat. It’s water- and stain-resistant, and machine washable. The six attachment points keep the hammock in place without any sliding. It measures 55″ wide by 56″ long. The price is currently $62.39 on Amazon.

An adorable pup
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Source: AutoBlog.com

Pentagon seeks to reduce U.S. reliance on China’s rare earth metals

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WASHINGTON, May 29 (Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Department is seeking new federal funds to bolster domestic production of rare earth minerals and reduce dependence on China, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, amid mounting concern in Washington about Beijing’s role as a supplier.

The Pentagon’s request was outlined in a report that has been sent to the White House and briefed to Congress, said Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman.

Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements used in both consumer products, from iPhones to electric car motors, and critical military applications including jet engines, satellites and lasers.

Rising tensions between the United States and China have sparked concerns that Beijing could use its dominant position as a supplier of rare earths for leverage in the trade war between the world’s top two economic powers.

Between 2004 and 2017, China accounted for 80% of U.S. rare earth imports. Few alternative suppliers have been able to compete with China, which is home to 37% of global rare earths reserves.

“The department continues to work closely with the president, Congress and U.S. industry to improve U.S. competitiveness in the mineral market,” Andrews told Reuters.

He gave no details but said the report was tied to a federal program designed to bolster domestic production capabilities through targeted economic incentives.

While China has so far not explicitly said it would restrict rare earths sales to the United States, Chinese media has strongly implied this will happen.

In a commentary headlined “United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back,” the official People’s Daily noted the United States’ “uncomfortable” dependence on rare earths from China.

“Will rare earths become a counter weapon for China to hit back against the pressure the United States has put on for no reason at all? The answer is no mystery,” it said.

GROWING CONCERN

John Neuffer, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said the chances of China restricting rare earth exports were growing.

“I do expect the other shoe to drop,” he told an event hosted by the Washington International Trade Association.

The Pentagon has repeatedly flagged its concerns about American reliance on China for rare earth minerals, including in a 2018 report on vulnerabilities in the U.S. defense industrial base. The Pentagon said the latest report was a Defense Production Act III rare earths mineral report. According to a Pentagon website, that program gives the U.S. president “broad authority to ensure the timely availability of essential domestic industrial resources to support national defense and homeland security requirements through the use of highly tailored economic incentives.”

John Luddy, vice president for national security policy at the Aerospace Industries Association, said U.S. government funding could be used to bolster production, processing capacity and stockpiling of critical supplies.

Industry officials liken Washington’s potential role to the way government funding ensures the capability to launch sensitive military and intelligence satellites into space – another costly initiative.

The Defense Department accounts for about 1% of U.S. demand, which in turn accounts for about 9% of global demand for rare earths, according to a 2016 report from the congressional U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Raytheon Co, Lockheed Martin Corp and BAE Systems Plc all make sophisticated missiles that use rare earths metals in their guidance systems and sensors.

Rare earth minerals are also essential in other military equipment such as jet engines, lasers and night vision devices.

California’s Mountain Pass mine is the only operating U.S. rare earths facility. But MP Materials, owner of Mountain Pass, ships the roughly 50,000 tonnes of rare earth concentrate it extracts each year from California to China for processing.

At least three U.S.-based companies have rare earth processing plants under construction or in the planning stages, including one that is set to open next year at Mountain Pass mine to produce about 5,000 tonnes of two popular types of rare earths annually, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The other two aren’t expected to open until 2022 at the earliest.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder and David Brunnstrom.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP First Ride Review | Embrace your inner badass

“Honey, need anything from the supermarket?” I ask my wife, because … well, she can always use a little help, right? “But it’s 10:30 pm,” she answers, with more than a hint of suspicion in her voice. We both know what this was all about: 2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP in the driveway. The kicker? This extreme dirtbike-inspired machine has an MSRP of only $16,695 — just less than half the average new car price in the United States.

The Hypermotard was introduced in 2005, and the latest “Hyper” introduces several key improvements including friendlier ergonomics with wider handlebars, and trimmed mass thanks to a new variable diameter frame, new wheels and new suspension hardware.

Weight is an especially critical factor in motorcycle design. Though the base model is only 8.8 pounds lighter than before, that reflects a not-insignificant 2% of its total 440-pound curb weight. Also aiding performance is where the weight is lost: right where it counts, on unsprung elements that help the bike change direction more easily. The engine produces more power, 114 horsepower at 9,000 rpm, and greater torque, 71 pound-feet, of which 80% is available at 3,000 rpm.

Why does a sub-$18,000 motorcycle stoke more excitement than a sports car costing several times more? For starters, there’s the setup: when you throw a leg over a sportbike, your legs are literally straddling an energy dense powertrain that propels a machine with nearly double the power-to-weight ratio of an average supercar. You can literally feel the effects of the compact, 937cc L-twin engine’s reciprocating mass between your thighs as it moves through a combustion cycle, driving six straight-cut gears towards a rear tire with a contact patch roughly the size of a postage stamp. It’s no wonder the Hyper gets serious electronic hardware to manage its safety systems: roll, yaw, and pitch angles are constantly in check by six-axis Bosch system, able to modulate power delivery and ABS thresholds based on constant high-speed calculations.

2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

You’ll want to take a moment to figure out your custom settings before hitting the road, via the color-intensive 4.3-inch TFT screen. Preset riding modes (Urban, Touring and Sport) can be selected while the motorcycle is in motion by switches on the left grip, as long as the throttle is closed. To fine-tune those settings, pull over and navigate through the menu, adjusting variables like traction control, wheelie control, and ABS that includes a slide-by-brake mode that enables exactly what you think it does.

Hopping aboard the Ducati Hypermotard SP requires a bit of a climb. The premium model is equipped with Öhlins suspension with 0.6 inches more front travel, for a total of 7.3 inches. An inch is added at the rear, for a total of 6.9 inches of suspension movement. The 35-inch seat height is a bit tall if you’re short of inseam, though getting onto the bike and staying in control is easier than you think because the relatively short kickstand brings the altitude down and the saddle is sculpted to make it easier for your feet to reach the ground.

2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

There’s a remarkably direct relationship between rider input and motorcycle behavior, and it’s all accentuated by the raw rasp of the Italian twin-cylinder engine, a tempestuous mechanical thing that emits a punchy bark urging you to wind it up. It initially takes some getting used to because the clutch, now requiring less effort thanks to its new hydraulic setup, engages over a relatively short span of lever travel. Because it takes a few hundred rpm off idle for the engine power to ramp up, it takes a somewhat healthy twist of the throttle to keep from stalling during aggressive launches. Learn the balance between clutch and gas, and it becomes easy to launch hard. Once in gear, it’s easy to see why fiddling with the settings before takeoff is a good idea: crank the throttle, and the nose just wants to lift in a glorious, law enforcement-attracting wheelie. Jerk the gas with the engine set to full power mode, and you can get the front wheel to elevate briefly before the electronics taper down the elevation.

Aiding the effort is Ducati Quick Shift, or DQS, which enables clutchless cog swaps, either up or down. Standard on the SP and optional on the base model, the system works well if the shifter is stabbed hard. Tap it lightly at lower rpms, and there can be a momentary pause in power delivery. The system, like the bike, works best when it’s triggered deliberately, with intention. Nail the shifter at high rpms, and you’ll feel like Rossi barreling down the straight at Mugello – if you don’t, you might want to check your pulse.

There’s a reassuring, almost imperceptible smoothness to how the Ducati’s electronics safety systems step in, and if you’re skeptical of the aids, you owe it to yourself to give them a try. Having a safety net is never a 100% sure thing, but it goes a long way towards bolstering confidence when feeling out the bike’s performance envelope. Equipped with sticky Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP rubber, the top model’s suspension and lightweight Marchesini wheels work together to strike a strong balance between bump absorption and control. The four-piston front Brembo brakes offer excellent feel, and are strong enough to compress the forks quite a bit if you ride with them calibrated to lower compression settings.

2019 Ducati Hypermotard 950 SP

City riding is where dirtbike roots come in handy: unlike a stiffly sprung sportbike, rolling through a pothole doesn’t affect dynamics nearly as dramatically. That imperturbability, coupled with its slim physical profile and fantastically charismatic engine, makes the Hypermotard a wildly entertaining motorcycle to ride through urban landscapes, especially in areas like California where lane splitting is legal.

The Hypermotard embodies an element of badassery that beckons you for a late night ride for absolutely no practical reason whatsoever. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the dreaded “hooligan” label might be more apt here, describing a motorcycle that incites you to do naughty things like wheelies, stoppies and things you really ought not — even if it’s slightly beyond your skillset. Though there’s some mighty intimidating sound and fury coming from the twin aluminum tailpipes, exploring this Hypermotard’s capabilities is a rewarding, exciting endeavor. Whereas the older generations were edgy to the point of intimidation, with a tendency to turn in so responsively that they demanded loads of attention at highway speeds, the new bike retains a level of stability that encourages bold moves you might not otherwise try.

Sometimes that feeling can transcend the performance aspect of riding, encouraging you to do things like leaving the comfort of your sofa and saddling up for a late-night ride. If you have the means — and an accommodating significant other — it’s an experience I highly recommend.

Source: AutoBlog.com

This electric motocross bike is made for kids

Transcript: The MX350 Dirt Rocket by Razor is an electric dirt bike for younger riders. It’s designed for ages 13 and up. The MX350 has a top speed of 14 mph and provides 30 minutes of continuous use. The 12″ pneumatic knobby tires are designed to get through dirt. It has a chain driven motor with twist grip throttle control and a weight capacity of 140 pounds. The price is currently $249.

Razor
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Source: AutoBlog.com

NASA’s electric vehicle reimagines on-road maneuverability

Transcript: NASA’s electric car. This vehicle reimagines on-road maneuverability. Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) is a battery-powered vehicle from NASA. Designed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. MRV is electric and driven by a wire system. It’s able to maneuver through busy urban environments or large resort areas. It has 190 ft-lb of torque and a top speed of 40 mph. MRV is driven by 4 independent wheels with 180 degrees of steering. It’s easy to park by driving sideways. MRV can also be operated by remote control.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Brabus attacks the Mercedes AMG GT 4-Door, gives it 800 horsepower

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Brabus tends to do some bonkers stuff to Mercedes, and now the tuner company has a version of the AMG GT 4-Door. It’s based off the AMG GT 63 S 4Matic, and is simply called the Brabus 800. The name comes from the amount of horsepower coming out of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. In Brabus-form, the AMG GT 4-Door makes 800 horsepower and 737 pound-feet of torque. That’s an increase of 161 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque over the stock car. Brabus says it brings the 0-62 mph time down to just 2.9 seconds — the car will go 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds straight from Mercedes.

The extra power comes courtesy of two new Brabus turbochargers and a recalibration of the ECU. Brabus says the extra power is safe, and it conducted testing on track and on the road to make sure of it. Mercedes’ nine-speed automatic transmission still does the shifting, and will take you to 196 mph before the electronic limiter stops the fun. An optional stainless steel exhaust from Brabus is available to amp up the soundtrack, too.

Appearance-wise, Brabus throws the book at the car. Carbon fiber is the main theme. A new Brabus front spoiler reduces front-axle lift at high speeds. There’s a new carbon diffuser insert on the rear fascia to frame the tailpipes, which get wrapped in carbon fiber, too. Then, carbon fiber inserts on the rear bumper attempt to accentuate the shape back there. Brabus logos are scattered throughout the car, with the most obvious being the massive “B” where the big three-pointed star goes.

New forged, monoblock wheels from Brabus are debuting on this car, too. It’s a staggered setup with 21-inch wheels in front and 22-inch rollers in back. Brabus says the wheels enhance the already good handling from the AMG GT 4-Door. Wide 275-width Pirelli rubber is up front, while absurdly-wide 335-width rubber does the job in the rear. If you want even more aggressive handling, the Brabus Airmatic Sport Unit plugs into your car and lowers the ride by about one inch with the air suspension.

Brabus didn’t include a price, but we’re going to guess it’s extremely expensive. The AMG GT 63 S 4-Door starts at $163,000, so expect to pay a good chunk more than that for the Brabus 800.

Source: AutoBlog.com

This bike rack holds road, hybrid, and some mountain bikes for $69.99

Transcript: The Steadyrack can store your bicycle vertically. It holds bikes up to 77 lbs and fits road, hybrid and select mountain bikes with tire diameters 20″ to 29″. The 160-degree swivel is designed for easy loading and unloading. The rack stores flat against the wall in a closed position when not in use. Price is currently $69.99.

Bike
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Source: AutoBlog.com

Tesla Model S to get Model 3 minimalist interior, says report

Tesla is planning on giving the Model S another refresh later this year, according to a new report. Sources inside the company and former employees told CNBC that the Model S is going to get an interior with a minimalist look, similar to the Model 3. Additionally, the same drive units and seats that are in the Model 3 are reportedly slated to be included in the expensive four-door.

We aren’t surprised to hear that it might be adopting the Model 3’s interior, as Tesla is trumpeting it as the future of its brand after slapping the same thing on the Model Y, too. However, this also means that the much more expensive Model S could end up getting the same interior as the “cheap” car.

Tesla interiorsTesla interiors

The refresh is reportedly set for a rollout in September this year. To go with the new electric motors from the Model 3, Tesla is expected to give the Model S a longer-range battery. As of now, the longest-range Model S is rated at 370 miles — breaking the 400-mile barrier seems like a goal to shoot for.

When we drove the Model 3, our biggest gripe was the interior. All the controls and vehicle information is isolated to the single 15-inch touchscreen mounted in the center of the dash, and we found it unnatural to use. Minimalist interior design can look and feel good, so long as it doesn’t compromise the user experience. Needless to say, we’d love it if the Model S interior keeps the instrument cluster for line-of-sight viewing, or at least has a head-up display for the more premium price. What the Model S could really use is a total redesign, though. It’s been nearly seven years since the current car came out, which means a total redesign would be arriving for most manufacturer’s cars any day now. Some new sheetmetal would go a long way into improving the curb appeal of Tesla’s flagship car.

Source: AutoBlog.com