2021 BMW 4 Series convertible debuts with canvas top, giant grille

Following closely on the heels of the latest BMW 4 Series coupe comes the new 2021 BMW 4 Series convertible. As expected, the four-seat droptop 430i and M440i adopt their coupe counterpart’s giant bucktoothed grille but do surprise by switching from the previous retractable hardtop to a traditional soft top.

While a retractable hardtop was used by the previous 4 Series as well as the preceding 3 Series convertibles going back to the F20 generation, BMW notes several advantages for making the switch. The insulated, multi-layer soft top is claimed to be 40 percent lighter than the previous hardtop, and it’s more compact when lowered, allowing for a 1.2-cubic-foot larger trunk. The top is available in black or Starlight black (black with silver woven into the material) and can be raised or lowered at speeds up to 31 mph, an operation that takes 18 seconds. Those actions also can be initiated via the remote on cars equipped with Comfort Access, which is standard on the M440i and optional on the M430i.

Powertrains essentially mirror those of the hardtop coupe, with one addition. The 430i uses the same B46 2.0-liter four bolstered by a twin-scroll turbocharger, making 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. The B48 3.0-liter six also boasts a twin-scroll turbo and spins out 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. BMW says the 430i convertible should reach 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, with the 440i able to do so in 5.0 seconds. As on the coupe, the B48 is joined by a 48-volt starter/generator hybrid assist system. It recuperates braking energy, which is stored in a 48-volt battery, and can tap that energy to supplement the powertrain under acceleration. It also smooths the operation of the start-stop system and allows it to shut down the gasoline engine at speeds as high as 9 mph when decelerating.

The 2021 430i and M440i convertibles both can be had with either rear-wheel drive or AWD (whereas the coupe is not offered in rear-drive M440i form). With either engine, your only transmission choice is an eight-speed automatic, as the six-speed stick previously offered on the 430i and the 440i has been consigned to history. One interesting new wrinkle to the eight-speed automatic is its Sprint mode. Pull and hold the left shift paddle, and the throttle response, exhaust system, and transmission mapping all switch into Sport mode, while the gearbox downshifts into the lowest possible gear.

The M440i comes with additional chassis embellishments including an M Sport suspension, M Sport brakes, and Variable Sport steering, all of which can be added to the 430i. An Adaptive M Suspension and a Dynamic Handling Package are optional for both models.

Technology features include an 8.8-inch touchscreen standard with a 10.25-inch unit available along with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Navigation is included as is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver assists include forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. Optional items include adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability, Extended Traffic Jam Assist, automated parking, a drive recorder, and a 3D surround-view camera. With the latter, one can call up a live image of the parked 4 Series on their smartphone.

Like its coupe counterpart, the 4 Series convertible has grown by just over five inches in length, 1.6 inches in wheelbase, and one inch in width. The 440i models get a matte Cerium Grey finish on various exterior elements, while a Shadowline Package renders them in gloss black. The M Sport Package also features black trim as well as restyled front and rear bumpers. The car in these pictures is finished in San Remo Green Metallic, one of three new colors out of a total exterior palette of 11 (nine of which are extra cost).

2021 4 Series convertible pricing starts at $54,095 (including $995 destination), with xDrive adding $2,000, figures that are unchanged from 2020. The 2021 M440i convertible is $64,995, with the M440i xDrive at $66,995, both of which are $3,850 more than the outgoing model. The 430i and M440i are set to reach dealerships in March 2021, with their xDrive counterparts due to arrive in July.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Dashcam shows Florida man shooting through his own windshield at another car

It’s the Wild West out there, nowhere more so than in the Sunshine State, where Central Florida’s WESH 2 news reports that a man fired several shots through his own windshield after he says the driver of another car pointed a gun at him. Dashcam footage captured the incident, which took place on Florida’s Highway 417 in Orange County.

The driver, Marco Mazzetta, posted the footage to YouTube (naturally), and it shows him squeezing off several shots at a Nissan 370Z, all while traveling at 93 mph. According to Mazzetta, the Nissan was being driven aggressively and it bumped Mazzetta’s truck when he tapped the brakes. Then it passed him, and the driver pointed a gun at him out the window. That’s when Mazzetta opened fire.

“I know this video doesn’t capture my smartest moments,” Mazzetta wrote in a text to WESH 2, then adds, “but I hope any idiot criminal with a gun watching thinks twice before loading, brandishing & aiming their firearm at someone over a traffic infraction.”

The unusual, um, tactic of shooting through one’s own windshield last came up a couple of years ago when a Las Vegas police officer fired through the windshield of his cruiser at murder suspects in an SUV he was pursuing, with a Florida deputy doing the same thing a few months later. It’s a move that seemed to carry a lot of inherent danger when a law enforcement officer was doing it — much less when it’s done by a participant in a road rage incident — though the Vegas officer’s superior shrugged it off at the time as allowable under department policy.

Thoughts?

Source: AutoBlog.com

New Hyundai division to develop walking cars and other extreme mobility vehicles

The Hyundai Elevate walking vehicle concept seemed pretty out-there when the brand introduced it at CES in 2019. The vehicle appeared to be closer kin to the All Terrain Armored Transport from Star Wars than to a conventional automobile. But the concept becomes slightly less outlandish with the announcement that Hyundai has established a new unit to develop what it calls Ultimate Mobility Vehicles, and that the Elevate will be the first among them.

Hyundai’s New Horizons Studio “furthers Hyundai Motor Group’s vision to shape the future of mobility,” the company said in an announcement. “Using a combination of robotics and wheeled locomotion technology, Elevate and other vehicles by New Horizons Studio are expected to redefine vehicular mobility.”

The battery-powered Elevate concept features moveable legs with wheels on the bottom, theoretically making it able to traverse extreme terrain. Hyundai posits that the Elevate or a similar vehicle could be sent into a natural disaster zone, for instance. Or that a car with similar capability could enhance mobility for the disabled.

Sounds cool, but here’s hoping the next Star Wars-inspired vehicle on their list is a real-life Landspeeder.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Aston Martin’s Formula One Car To Don Green And Pink Livery

The Racing Point teams rebranding to Aston Martin in 2021 will also come hand-in-hand with a livery change. The team is set to rehash its cars in the iconic green of the Aston Martin brand as per a report by AutoSport. The team used to use a British green livery during its short stint in Formula 1 but then more recently for its foray in the world endurance championship, the team has been seen donning a luminous green shade, including at last week’s LeMans race. 

“I believe it will be British racing green,” said Racing Point driver Lance Stroll whose father Lawrance Stroll led the consortium behind the take over of the Racing Point team from Vijay Mallya when it was the Force India team. The Canadian also added that it “will be pretty cool.” 

The Racing Point team has had a good season in 2020
Photo Credit: AFP

According to AutoSport, the livery will also incorporate the current pink of the Racing Point team which has been derived from the colour of its lead sponsor BWT. The new team will have both colours with the green of the Aston Martin marquee taking the lead. 

As per the AutoSport report, the Racing Point bosses have seen the current redesign of the livery but it has been rejected by BWT as they wanted more pink in it. Aston Martin will not be the first British team to be dressed in green. Back in the early 2000s, the Ford-owned Jaguar team also was in green. In fact, the Racing Point team is a derivative of that old Jaguar team which has gone through multiple owners. 

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Lance Stroll’s incoming teammate Sebastian Vettel famously crashed with him in Monza in 2019

The Aston Martin project is a big one. The team is going to increase its staff by 20 per cent. It is also developing a new factory as the ambition for the brand is to win world championships. It has also hired Sebastian Vettel, the four-time world champion who was let go from Ferrari earlier this year. Vettel who is having a torrid year with the underperforming Ferrari is going to join the upcoming team. Many expect the German to better in a more hospitable environment. 

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Source: NDTV.com

EPA administrator disses California goal for zero-emission car sales

WASHINGTON — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Monday questioned California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to require all new passenger vehicle sales in 2035 be zero-emission models, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the plan “raises serious questions regarding its legality and practicality” and said it could cause problems for the state’s electrical grid.

He also declared the move could be subject to federal approval, saying it “may require California to request a waiver to U.S. EPA.”

The EPA in 2019 issued rules barring California from requiring the sale of electric vehicles; a court challenge is pending.

Wheeler’s exchange with Democratic-led California comes as Republican President Donald Trump seeks to win votes in Midwestern auto manufacturing states in the Nov. 3 presidential contest.

California’s 2035 clean car move, the most significant yet by a U.S. state aimed at ending the use of gasoline-burning internal combustion engines, clashes with Trump’s pro-fossil fuel policies.

California accounts for about 11% of all U.S. vehicle sales, and many states adopt its green vehicle mandates.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) must write binding regulations to implement the 2035 goal.

Newsom did not immediately comment.

In the letter, Wheeler held up the state’s recent rolling blackouts as evidence that its power grid could not support the ambitious plan, which would require millions more cars to run on electricity.

“California’s record of rolling blackouts – unprecedented in size and scope – coupled with recent requests to neighboring states for power begs the question of how you expect to run an electric car fleet that will come with significant increases in electricity demand, when you can’t even keep the lights on today,” Wheeler wrote.

California on two days last month imposed rolling blackouts on about 400,000 customers during an oppressive heat wave.

The state’s grid operator blamed outages on a gas plant suddenly dropping offline, low wind power and a lack of imported electricity from other states due to scorching temperatures across the West.

Source: AutoBlog.com

GM paying back Ohio $28 million in tax breaks over Lordstown plant closure

Lordstown Motors CEO Steve Burns shows President Trump the Endurance all-electric pickup truck, made in Lordstown, Ohio, at the White House, Monday. (AP)

WASHINGTON — General Motors will repay $28 million in state tax incentives to Ohio after the largest U.S. automaker came under heavy criticism for closing its Lordstown Assembly plant in March 2019.

GM announced its planned closure of the plant in Northeast Ohio in November 2018 along with three other U.S. plants, drawing condemnation from U.S. President Donald Trump and many U.S. lawmakers.

GM sold the plant last year to startup Lordstown Motors, which plans to hire 400 workers to build EV pickup trucks starting in 2021.

On Monday, Trump inspected a prototype Lordstown Motors pickup outside the White House. “It’s an incredible piece of science, technology. It’s going to happen now with more and more trucks,” Trump said.

The unscheduled event came on the eve of the first presidential debate, scheduled for Cleveland, about 60 miles from Lordstown.

Democrats have seized on a July 2017 speech Trump made in Youngstown, Ohio, near the Lordstown plant when he said jobs were “all coming back.” and told local residents: “Don’t move. Don’t sell your house.”

GM’s agreement with the Ohio Tax Credit Authority also requires the Detroit automaker to pay $12 million for “community support programs” in the Mahoning Valley.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost had demanded GM repay $60 million in state tax credits after it closed its Lordstown plant and failed to retain 3,700 jobs.

The White House declined to comment on the Ohio tax repayment.

GM and LG Chem through the Ultium Cells LLC joint venture, are building a $2.3 billion battery cell manufacturing plant in Lordstown.

The state said it awarded a 1.95%, 15-year Job Creation Tax Credit to the joint venture, which is expected to create 1,000 full-time positions, generating $45 million in new annual payroll. Ohio said the estimated value of the joint venture credit is $13.8 million if the venture meets the requirements.

The automaker said in a statement Ohio recognized “GM’s substantial manufacturing presence across the state of Ohio.”

GM also announced it is investing $71 million in two other Ohio manufacturing facilities in Toledo and Defiance.

In August, GM agreed to invest $75 million in Lordstown Motors, which agreed to go public through a merger with DiamondPeak Holdings in a deal that valued Lordstown at $1.6 billion.

GM’s investment includes sale of the Lordstown plant and production equipment.

Republican Senator Rob Portman said at the White House event the Lordstown Motors plant and the battery joint venture together would replace the 1,500 jobs lost in 2019 when GM’s Lordstown plant closed ending the single remaining shift.

As recently as 2016, the GM plant employed 4,500 workers in three shifts.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Junkyard Gem: 2010 Nissan Cube with 6-Speed Manual Transmission

The Nissan Cube sold very well in its Japanese homeland, but struggled to find many North American buyers during its 2009-2014 sales run over here. As was the case with its boxy Scion xB competitor, the target demographic of youthful Americans looking for a “mobile hub” (Nissan’s term) seemed unimpressed with the Cube, and plenty of Cube haters saw its asymmetrical design as the visual equivalent of fingernails-on-the-chalkboard. Here’s a 2010 Cube in a Denver self-service yard with the exceedingly rare six-speed manual transmission.

The six-speed manual was mandatory in the base trim level and optional in the second-from-the-bottom Cube S. All the higher levels got the CVT, and that’s the transmission you’ll find in just about every Cube on the road today.

Getting a manual Cube saved the buyer plenty of money; a six-speed entry-level 2010 Cube cost just $13,990 (that’s about $16,780 in 2020 bucks), while the cheapest possible CVT Cube started at $16,030 ($19,225 today). Few felt willing to go for the cheaper transmission, of course, not when they had to spend hours in stop-and-go traffic every week, juggling a phone and coffee and steering with their elbows. Who’s got a hand free for a gearshift? 

The idea was that youthful drivers would go crazy for the color-changing LED interior lighting and futuristic-looking controls, and perhaps some did.

The Cube offered an amazing amount of interior space for its small footprint, and the rear door swung open sideways for easy cargo loading from the sidewalk (right-hand-drive cars had the rear door hinge on the other side).

If you never liked Big Daddy Roth’s Orbitron, the asymmetry of the Cube’s body likely sends you into a rage. I’ve always liked the look of the Cube, and I might keep my eyes open for a six-speed runner for sale at a reasonable price (since I know I’ll never manage to find any of the tiny quantity of five-speed Mazda5s sold in the United States).

Poor unloved Cube!

Pretty much the same thing as a really cool smartphone. Nissan keep the code-nerd underscore-character “SHIFT_” thing going for many years after the Dot-Com Boom made it crypto-fashionable.

Mobile devise, mobile device.

This ad is just depressing for those of us stuck in 2020.

Source: AutoBlog.com

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Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Lamborghini Urus Graphite Capsule is all about contrast

There are seemingly two reasons to buy a 2021 Lamborghini Urus. One is for the performance. The other is to stand out. The Urus does both well, but Lamborghini hopes the new Graphite Capsule model will further enhance the big Lambo’s ability to catch attention.

On the outside, the Urus Graphite Caspule gets one of four matte-finish paint colors for the main body, and one of four gloss paint colors for the accents, which are restricted to the front splitter, door trims, rear spoiler and wheel rims. The matte finishes come in black, white or a choice of two grays, and the accents are available in green, yellow or two choices of orange. The monochrome base paints let the boldly colored accents really pop.

The exterior color scheme is reflected on the inside, where all the stitching and a few seat, dash and door panels are given the same color as the outside accents. The rest is finished in black. The aluminum trim is given a dark anodized finish, and the interior carbon fiber has a matte finish. A special option exclusive to the Graphite Capsule, as well as the Pearl Capsule model, is ventilated seats upholstered in Alcantara.

Pricing has not been announced. Exact availability is also unknown, but it will be available on the current 2021 model. So it should be available very soon.

Related Video:

Source: AutoBlog.com

To grease the skids for Stellantis, PSA offers to boost Toyota’s fortunes

BRUSSELS/MILAN — Peugeot maker PSA has offered to boost Japanese rival Toyota to try to address EU antitrust concerns about its plan to create the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker, to be called Stellantis, by merging with Fiat Chrysler, people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

PSA has offered to increase the production capacity for Toyota in their van joint venture, one of the sources said. Another source said the French company would sell the vans at close to cost.

PSA makes vans for Toyota in its Sevelnord plant in northern France. The van collaboration started in 2012.

PSA submitted its offer to the European Commission earlier on Friday, three months after the EU enforcer opened a full-scale investigation into the deal with FCA on concerns that it would hurt competition in small vans in 14 EU countries and Britain.

“As of now, the transaction has obtained merger clearance in 14 jurisdictions. As previously stated, closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the first quarter of 2021,” PSA and FCA said in a joint statement.

The Commission, which temporarily halted its investigation into the deal in July while waiting for the companies to provide requested data, did not set a deadline for its decision.

“The deadline is still suspended. This procedure in merger investigations is activated if the parties fail to provide, in a timely fashion, an important piece of information that the Commission has requested from them,” the EU executive said.

It is now expected to seek feedback from customers and rivals before deciding whether to demand more concessions, or either clear or block the deal.

Source: AutoBlog.com