2021 Ford F-150 price and options lists hit the web

A couple weeks back, CarsDirect reported on pricing at the bottom and top ends for the 2021 Ford F-150, based on very early order guides. At the bottom, and according to that paperwork, the entry-level F-150 XL Regular Cab 4×2 starts at $30,635, while the top-tier Limited starts at $72,520. The F150 Gen14 forum got hold of a new price list for every trim, bed length, engine, and drivetain on the way in 2021, plus options lists with pricing. We’re still a ways out from the new pickup’s on-sale date, so any of these prices could change. The base XL Regular Cab 4×4 with the 6.5-foot box starts at $28,940 before the $1,695 destination and delivery charge, totaling the aforementioned $30,635. Adding an eight-foot box costs $300. Adding four-wheel drive costs $4,645, taking matters up to a starting price of $35,280.

Prices for the base model of the XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, Platinum, and Limited trims, in regular, Super Cab, and Super Crew configurations, in 4×2 and 4×4 guises are (box length in parentheses):

  • Regular XL 4×2 (6.5) – $30,635
  • Regular XL 4×4 (6.5) – $35,280
  • Regular XLT 4×2 (6.5) – $36,745
  • Regular XLT 4×4 (6.5) – $40,170
  • SuperCab Lariat 4×2 (6.5) – $46,890
  • SuperCab Lariat 4×4 (6.5) – $50,315
  • SuperCrew King Ranch 4×2 (5.5) – $58,025
  • SuperCrew King Ranch 4×4 (5.5) – $61,450
  • SuperCrew Platinum 4×2 (5.5) – $60,805
  • SuperCrew Platinum 4×4 (5.5) – $64,230
  • SuperCrew Limited 4×2 (5.5) – $72,520
  • SuperCrew Limited 4×4 (5.5) – $75,945

The price of optional bed sizes and four-wheel drive changes depending on trim. 

The options lists put numbers to everything from the $45 SecuriCode keypad to the $6,920 Equipment Group 502A (High). The current 502A Luxury package costs $6,795 on the Lariat trim to get a chrome appearance package, B&O Play audio, a reverse sensing system, and a blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert and trailer tow monitoring. There are other minor changes across the extra features list; for instance, putting a 5.0-liter V8 into the XL to replace the 3.3-liter V6 will cost $1,995, same as now, but swapping into the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 will cost $1,195, which is $200 more than in 2020.   

Head over to the F150 Gen14 forum with a calculator app open to pore over all the details and plan for your new truck.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Porsche 911 Targa First Drive | The best roofless 911

My neck hurts. My forehead is beat red. My hair is in absolute disarray. I’m gladly embracing all of that, because I just hopped out of a 2021 Porsche 911 Targa 4S.

Perhaps Porsche is just so good these days that in addition to making preeminently capable sports cars, the company has also mastered perfect control of the weather, as my eight hours with this latest 911 variant were full of sunshine and 80-degree bliss. It’s the setting that’ll make you fall in love with the Targa. Peak rigidity and minor weight gains be damned. Driving around with the unimpeded blue sky above and warbling Porsche flat-six echoing off the trees is pure driving bliss.

Those who’ve been waiting for Porsche to deliver the Targa version of the redesigned 992 generation of 911 don’t have long to wait for their grins, either. It’s arrived just one model year after the new 911 hit the market, far quicker than it did with the previous 911 (a three-year wait). Despite making up only 15% of 911 sales, not including the Turbo or GT models, the unique body style was still popular enough that Porsche brought it back.

There’s a lot of carryover from the previous Targa, which represented a wholesale change in how Porsche approached the Targa model. Instead of the glorified sunroof it was previously (or the single roof panel it started off as), the Targa’s current roof design is a complex contraption consisting of a soft top that lifts back and gets swallowed by an aft-tilting rear window clamshell. It’s a good thing pictures exist, because it’s tough to describe.

One notable addition to the roof operation for the 992 Targa is its newfound cooperation with the rear parking sensors. If they detect anything within 1.6 feet of the bumper, it cancels the operation and prevents the clamshell from crashing against whatever’s within 1.6 feet behind you. Just like before, it takes 19 seconds to open or close, and you must be fully stopped for the duration.

The Targa’s reason for being hasn’t changed. It’s an open-top driving experience similar to the Cabriolet (the body itself is identical to the Cabriolet up to the window line), but it adds a glass rear window and throwback styling. Porsche does apply some limitations, though.

Chief among them is our biggest gripe with the Targa: it comes only with all-wheel drive. Porsche says that Targa customers tend to prefer all-wheel drive, which has been the case since those glorified sunroof days. However, a sports car with a removable roof still screams summer car. Assuming said summer car won’t be taking on snow, there’s little reason for all-wheel drive. A rear-drive 911 Carrera isn’t exactly some lurid, tail-wagging beast.

Another compromise is its heavier curb weight. The Targa 4 is 198 pounds heavier than a Carrera 4 (coupe) and 44 pounds heavier than the Carrera 4 Cabriolet. Blame the powered roof system for this weight gain. All the parts associated with the moving roof (fabric top, glass panel, bracing and more) account for 187 pounds of weight, which raises the center of gravity by 10 mm and causes a minor shift in weight distribution rearward. Porsche made the top lighter by using magnesium bracing for the soft top and “weight-optimized” laminated glass for the rear window. The Targa is also not as stiff as the coupe, but it’s at least more rigid than the Cabriolet.

Both Targa trims are equipped with the same engines as their counterparts. The Targa 4 gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-six with 379 horsepower and 331 pound-feet of torque. The more potent Targa 4S nets you a hefty 443 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque from its upgraded 3.0-liter twin-turbo flat-six. Porsche’s conservative 0-60 estimates are all ratcheted back a couple tenths on account of the extra weight. A base Targa 4 without the Sport Chrono package’s launch control is rated to hit the mark in 4.2 seconds, whereas a base 4S does the deed in 3.6. Launch control subtracts two tenths from both of those times.

Porsche says the Targa is identical to the Cabriolet underneath from a hardware perspective, but the dampers and the Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control system are tuned using Targa-specific software.

After an afternoon spent gallivanting about rural Michigan in a Racing Yellow Targa 4S with a black Targa bar, my notebook was full of exclamations about how creepily good this car is to drive quickly. At a certain point, I contemplated the notion that Porsche chassis engineers were actually just wizards using their powers to make fast cars. 

It’s more satisfying than the standard coupe in a couple ways, too. Losing the top inherently allows for a greater sense of intimacy between the driver and outside environment. The 911’s sheer sense of speed is enhanced by the wind flying through the cabin and the increased exhaust volume. Yes, the engine is easier heard than in the coupe, and the Sport Exhaust’s pops and crackles are more apparent, too. Even though the coupe is technically quicker, the 911 doesn’t feel any slower when the roof is off.

A vast number of things are identical to the coupe. The 911’s brilliant ride and handling balance is fully present and accounted for. It resolutely sticks to glassy-smooth tarmac, but is forgiving and pliant on undulating pavement. Other sports cars simply don’t offer the duality of greatness that the 911 does. The perfect pedal tuning and masterful steering are as excellent as always. Getting into a rhythm and connecting to the 911 on a twisty road couldn’t be easier. It’s quite simply unflappable.

Now, the Targa would likely reveal itself to be compromised versus the coupe on a race track, but no one is going to safely find those limitations on public roads. I also thought that the Targa handled impacts and especially terrible pavement better than the coupe does. 

Launching a Targa 4S is the same as in any other 911. The eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (the seven-speed manual is available on the 4S) drops the launch control hammer from 5,000 rpm. It effectively smashes you in the chest with a dumbbell upon brake release, while the car tears down the road as if the devil himself was chasing.

Putting the top up felt like the wrong thing to do, but we had to see what it was like. Turns out, it could be better. On rough roads, the Targa makes its fair share of creaking noises. Nobody is expecting a Bentley, but the top made enough noise to be annoying. Michigan’s horrendous roads don’t help the groaning and creaking, but smooth pavement quiets things down. Visibility out the sides takes a hit on account of the thick Targa bar right behind the driver’s head, but it’s a small compromise. Porsche’s large wraparound rear window almost makes up for it. 

The noise you hear from the engine with the top up is also weirdly distinct for the Targa model. With less stuff in the way between the driver and engine, a metallic zinging sound comes into play in the upper rev ranges. It’s high-pitched, and if heard often enough, is a tad grating on the brain. Porsche identified it as the belt drive. Interestingly, the sound goes away when the top is dropped. Wind noise wasn’t intrusive or bothersome with the top up.

Buffeting will sneak up on you when the top is retracted, but it can be avoided at all road-legal speeds by opening the windows or deploying the wind deflector integrated into the cowl panel frame. I couldn’t test it back-to-back with the Cabriolet full-convertible to see how the two compare, but other editors have reported that it’s impressively serene and quiet when its pop-up wind deflector is deployed behind the rear seat. For both flavors of roofless 911, though, driving them with the top removed is how they’re best served. Choosing between the two just depends on how much top you want removed and if you appreciate the uniqueness provided by the Targa. And if you don’t plan to lower the roof much, just get the Carrera coupe. It’s cheaper, has a more refined cabin experience and has the edge in weight and rigidity.

Price is another hurdle you’ll need to jump over. A Targa 4 starts at $120,650, with the 4S at $136,550. Both the Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S are $12,800 cheaper than their equivalents. A Targa 4 and Cabriolet 4 have the exact same prices. Every performance option you might want is available for the Targa, too. Our 4S tester totaled $181,840 after Porsche was through with it. Big ticket performance items like the $8,970 carbon ceramic brakes and $2,090 rear axle steering aren’t necessary to make it great, but you’ll want the $2,790 Sport Chrono Package and $2,950 Sport Exhaust System. Also, get the standard silver Targa bar. The black bar blends in with the black top and mutes the most important design element.

We could start comparing and contrasting the 911 to various convertible sports cars, but when you’re in this price range, emotion matters far more than anything you might find on a spreadsheet. And in the case of the 2021 911 Targa, we left the checkered driver’s seat only because Porsche was coming back to take the car away. A heavier curb weight and complex roof didn’t ruin the 911 experience. Unless lap times and 0-60 mph numbers are your priority, the positives of going Targa are worth the extra coin. It looks more exotic than the Cabriolet, goes like hell and is livable enough for everyday use. Once again, the 911 Targa is an open-top masterclass.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Nikola stock jumps after it bags big trash-truck order

Nikola CEO and founder Trevor Milton (Reuters).

Republic Services Inc will partner with Nikola, a maker of hydrogen-fueled vehicles, to develop 2,500 electric waste and recycling collection trucks, the companies said on Monday.

Nikola shares jumped nearly 22% in afternoon trading.

Ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets set by governments around the world are driving the development of alternatively-powered vehicles, with some countries already committing to phasing out traditional combustion engines.

The zero-emission vehicles, which will have a range of 150 miles (241.4 km), are expected to be integrated into Republic Services’ fleet beginning in 2023, the companies said. (https://prn.to/3fRIdGp)

Republic, a recycling and non-hazardous solid waste disposal firm, highlighted quieter operation in neighborhoods, lower maintenance costs, and lower emissions as benefits of electrifying its fleet.

The deal is expandable to 5,000 vehicles over the life of the agreement, the companies added.

Major vehicle manufacturers around the world have electric or fuel cell models in their product line-ups, but investment in the technology, coupled with a global automotive sector downturn, has squeezed profits and led to staff and cost cuts.

Along with Hyundai Motor Co and Toyota, Nikola is one of a few automakers to have backed hydrogen cars.

The company is aiming to start production of its Badger pickup truck in 2022 or earlier, which will compete with electric car maker Tesla Inc’s Cybertruck. The pickup truck is expected to be available in both electric and fuel-cell versions.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Fiat Chrysler denies GM’s ‘preposterous’ bribery allegations

DETROIT — Allegations by General Motors that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles bribed union officials are “preposterous” and read like a script from a “third-rate spy movie,” FCA lawyers wrote in court documents filed Monday.

GM, in a court motion last week, alleged that Fiat Chrysler used foreign bank accounts to bribe union officials so they would stick GM with higher labor costs.

But in a response, the Italian-American automaker fired back, calling GM’s claims “defamatory and baseless.”

GM alleged in a court filing last week that FCA spent millions on bribes by stashing the money in foreign accounts. The allegations of new evidence were made in a motion asking a federal judge to reconsider his July dismissal of a federal racketeering lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler.

In trying to revive the lawsuit, GM alleged that bribes were paid to two former United Auto Workers presidents, as well as a former union vice president and at least one former GM employee.

In its response, Fiat Chrysler said GM has to know that the prospect of getting the judge to overturn the dismissal is slim to none. “So this motion is apparently a vehicle to make more defamatory and baseless accusations about a competitor that is winning in the marketplace.”

FCA denied allegations by GM that FCA paid two “moles” to infiltrate GM and send inside information. The company also denied that foreign bank accounts were involved. “That GM has extended its attacks to individual FCA officers and employees, making wild allegations against them without a shred of factual support, is despicable,” FCA lawyers wrote.

GM’s claims are based on the alleged existence of foreign bank accounts, which are legal, Fiat Chrysler wrote. “There is not one well-pled allegation in the proposed amended complaint (by GM) that these foreign bank accounts were used to pay bribes or facilitate any other illegal conduct,” FCA’s response said.

GM contends that bribes were paid to former United Auto Workers Presidents Dennis Williams and Ron Gettelfinger, as well as Vice President Joe Ashton. It also alleges money was paid to GM employees including Al Iacobelli, a former FCA labor negotiator who was hired and later released by GM.

GM alleges that payments were made so the officials would saddle GM with more than $1 billion in additional labor costs.

Gettelfinger, whose name had not come up previously in a wide-ranging federal probe of UAW corruption, vehemently denied the allegations in a statement and said he had no foreign accounts. Williams’ California home was raided by federal agents but he has not been charged. Iacobelli, who is awaiting sentencing in the probe, also denied the claims.

In July, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit tossed out GM’s lawsuit that alleged that Fiat Chrysler paid off union leaders to get better contract terms than GM.

He wrote that GM’s alleged injuries were not caused by FCA violating federal racketeering laws, and that the people harmed by the bribery scheme were Fiat Chrysler workers.

GM’s motion contended that payments were made to accounts in places like Switzerland, Luxembourg, Italy, Singapore and the Cayman Islands. The accounts were set up to avoid detection in the federal criminal probe, according to the motion. The accounts were discovered recently by private investigators working on GM’s behalf, according to court records.

Source: AutoBlog.com

This miniature Bugatti Type 35 replica is totally driveable

Transcript: Drive a miniature Bugatti. The Bugatti Baby II was created to celebrate Bugatti’s 110th anniversary. It’s replicated from the 1920’s Bugatti Type 35 that brought Ettore Bugatti to stardom. The first Baby Bugatti was built for Jean Bugatti, the son of Ettore. It’s 3/4 the size of the Type 35 and can be driven by either adult or child. The electric Baby II comes in 3 different trims: Base, Vitesse, and Pur Sang. The Vitesse and Pur Sang models have a top speed of 42 mph. The Bugatti Baby II has a range of 15 or 31 miles depending on the model. There are only 500 units of the Bugatti Baby II and they start at $35,000.

If you’re looking for a Bugatti replica but the Bugatti Baby II price is a bit high, check out the Bugatti Divo Kids Ride On from Uenjoy for just $259.99.

Bugatti Divo Kids Ride On – $259.99 on Amazon.com

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability is subject to change.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Did Joe Biden out Chevrolet’s electric Corvette plans after all?

Democratic presidential hopeful (and soon to be nominee) Joe Biden may have outed General Motors’ plans to build an all-electric Chevrolet Corvette in a video about his C2 tweeted last week. 

“And by the way, they tell me, and I’m looking forward to, if it’s true, to driving one, that they’re making an electric Corvette that can go 200 mph,” Biden said near the end of the clip, prompting immediate speculation as to what GM may have in store.

While Biden’s remarks prompted GM to issue a standard we-don’t-discuss-future-products statement, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday that such a project may in fact be in the works, citing a source “familiar with Corvette production” at the company’s facility in Bowling Green, Ky.

“We are not going to engage in the rumor and speculation around this,” a GM spokesperson said in response to Autoblog‘s request for more information. “However, we are thrilled that he compliments the beauty that is Corvette and its American-made roots.”

So, there are two questions here that we cannot yet answer. For starters, who is the “they” to which Biden referred in his original comment, and are “they” on the same page as the source cited in today’s follow-up piece?

After all, it’s still possible that Biden is referring to an entity other than GM. Notably, the Genovation GXE, a Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport turned into an all-electric speed machine, has already been proven capable of speeds in excess of Biden’s quoted 200-mph figure.

In the “pro” column, we will remind you that GM has trademarked the name “Corvette E-Ray.” Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Source: AutoBlog.com

Hyundai launches Ioniq as a standalone brand to exclusively make electric cars

A new car brand has arrived, and it’s called Ioniq. Hyundai Motor Group is launching the new brand as another make in its portfolio that already includes Hyundai, Kia and Genesis. It’s technically IONIQ in all caps, but that’s the first and last time you’ll see us refer to it that way. The letters don’t serve as an acronym. The name is simply a word Hyundai used to first identify a development project that led to the creation of the Hyundai Ioniq model that is on sale today. That car comes in hybrid, PHEV and full electric versions.

Going forward, Ioniq in this context will refer to the standalone brand. Hyundai says the Ioniq brand will exclusively consist of battery electric cars. The press release says the creation of the brand is in response to “fast-growing market demand.” There are already three cars planned to appear under the Ioniq brand, too.

Over the next four years, Hyundai plans to launch the Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6 and Ioniq 7. The naming scheme is simple, but could take a minute to acclimate to. Odd-numbered models will always be crossovers or SUVs, and even numbered models will be sedans. The first one coming in 2021 is the Ioniq 5. Hyundai says it’s a mid-size crossover based on the Hyundai 45 concept. We’ve already seen this car in spy photos out testing, assuming it would be a Hyundai. Turns out, it’s going to be an Ioniq. Hyundai says it’s going to take inspiration from the past but combine it with cutting-edge parametric pixels for a modern twist. It looks like a slightly lifted hatchback from the spy photos, so we’re excited to see this one revealed for real.

The Ioniq 6 is possibly even more exciting. Hyundai says it’s based on the Prophecy Concept, which we already knew was going to see production. The Ioniq 6 will be revealed sometime in 2022. Lastly, there’s the Ioniq 7 that is teased here for the first time with a huge bumper-width front light (Rivian-like) and dramatic side lights. It’s described as “a large SUV,” and it will see an unveiling in 2024. There are reportedly additional models already planned to follow these three, but they’re even further out. Hyundai says that all Ioniq vehicles will be built around a theme of “timeless value,” meaning that they’ll be inspired by past models but also act as a bridge to the future.

All of the Ioniq-branded cars will sit on Hyundai’s future E-GMP electric vehicle platform. Here’s what Hyundai has to say about it: “The EV-dedicated platform will allow Hyundai to reimagine the vehicle interior as a ‘smart living space’ with highly adjustable seats, wireless connectivity and unique features such as a glove box designed as drawers. The platform paradigm shift will extend into the user interfaces that will be simple, intuitive and ergonomically designed to help occupants feel at ease.”

It all feels very … future-y. That’s part of the point of creating the new brand, though. It’s a way for Hyundai to develop something that’s tangibly different than whatever electric Kias or electric Hyundais will be available in the future. Unfortunately, Hyundai doesn’t have any specs to share with us on the E-GMP platform yet. We’re told that it’ll support fast charging and “plentiful driving range” for the cars it’s used with, though.

In case you were wondering what the fate of the current Hyundai Ioniq is, it sounds like that model will carry on. Hyundai says it plans to differentiate the Ioniq model from the Ioniq brand by referring to the various versions of the model as the “Ioniq + Powertrain” as it does now (e.g. Ioniq Hybrid, Ioniq Plug-In, Ioniq Electric).

Even in a pandemic-ridden world, Hyundai has found a way to make a grand gesture for the launch of Ioniq. It has turned the famous London Eye into a giant “Q” using a fancy light up display (shown above). We just want to see the cars, so thankfully we’ll only have to wait until 2021 for the Ioniq 5.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Judge denies bail for men accused of sneaking Carlos Ghosn out of Japan

BOSTON — Two American men wanted by Japan on charges that they helped sneak former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn out of the country in a box have again been denied release from a U.S. jail.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani on Friday rejected a bid to free Michael Taylor, a 59-year-old U.S. Army Special Forces veteran, and his 27-year-old son, Peter Taylor, on bail while they fight their extradition to Japan. Talwani said a magistrate judge properly found the two men to be a risk of flight.

“While the Taylors may well seek to remain in the United States to fight extradition through available legal channels, they have also shown a blatant disregard for such safeguards in the context of the Japanese legal system and have not established sufficiently that if they find their extradition fight difficult, they will not flaunt the rules of release on bail and flee the country,” Talwani wrote.

An attorney for the Taylors declined to comment Saturday.

Their lawyers have said the men have no plans to flee and argue their health is at risk behind bars because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Taylors have been locked up in a Massachusetts jail since their arrest in May.

Authorities say the Taylors helped smuggle Ghosn out of the Japan on a private jet while he was on bail and awaiting trial on financial misconduct allegations. With former the Nissan boss hidden in a large box, the flight went first to Turkey, then to Lebanon, where Ghosn has citizenship but which has no extradition treaty with Japan.

Ghosn said he fled because he could not expect a fair trial, was subjected to unfair conditions in detention and was barred from meeting his wife under his bail conditions. Ghosn has denied allegations that he underreported his future income and committed a breach of trust by diverting Nissan money for his personal gain.

The Taylors have not denied helping Ghosn flee, but argue they can’t be extradited. Among other things, they say that “bail jumping” is not a crime in Japan and, therefore, helping someone evade their bail conditions isn’t a crime either.

In a court filing on Friday, federal prosecutors urged Magistrate Judge Donald Cabell to rule that the men can be legally extradited. The U.S. Secretary of State will make the final decision on whether they will be handed over to Japan.

“The Taylors’ alleged plot to smuggle Ghosn out of Japan was one of the most brazen and well-orchestrated escape acts in recent history, involving a dizzying array of luxury hotel meetups, fake personas, bullet train travel, and the chartering of a private jet,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Hassink wrote.

An extradition hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 28.

Source: AutoBlog.com

School buses are another coronavirus question mark

HARRISBURG, Pa. — School districts nationwide puzzling over how to safely educate children during a pandemic have a more immediate challenge — getting 26 million bus-riding students there in the first place.

Few challenges are proving to be more daunting than figuring out how to maintain social distance on school buses. A wide array of strategies have emerged to reduce the health risks but nobody has found a silver bullet.

Should students with COVID-19 symptoms be isolated at the front of the school bus? Should bus seats be assigned? Should buses be loaded from the back? Should buses only carry a few students at a time?

“The transportation professionals are left with the issue of, OK, you’ve got little Billy at the bus stop. Mom’s not there and he’s got a temperature. That’s a dilemma,” said Steve Simmons, a bus safety expert who used to head pupil transportation for Columbus, Ohio, public schools. “We can’t answer those kinds of questions. I don’t think anybody can.”

Simmons, president of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, was part of team of industry and school officials who produced a 70-page report on ways to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Many schools have been surveying parents to determine how many students will take the bus and how many will be privately driven to school. Others are making decisions about bus capacity that involve a trade-off between safety and affordability.

The task force report warned that a 6-foot (2-meter) social distancing regulation “is not financially nor operationally feasible,” and that “current thinking” is that a 72-student capacity bus can accommodate 24 students, or more if family members sit together.

Some large districts will nonetheless “jam ’em in” the school bus, Simmons said, while other districts plan to stagger school start times or teach half the students in the morning and the rest in the afternoon, with two sets of bus runs.

School transportation plans are “just one of the many ways we’re seeing inequities playing out in this pandemic,” said Deborah Gordon Klehr, executive director of the Education Law Center in Philadelphia.

“Some districts are saying that they will cut back on the number of students offered transportation, or expect more parents to drive their students to school,” she said. “Students and families with fewer resources are going to be the ones hurt by this.”

Kim Blodgett quit her job as a fourth-grade teacher this year in order to drive her 5-year-old son to the Oklahoma School for the Deaf, concerned the twice-daily, 45-minute bus ride from their home in Norman was too risky.

“So many parents feel like they have no control over any of this that’s happened,” Blodgett said. “They have to work, they have to send their kids to school. They have to put their kids on that bus. It’s a horrible situation all the way around.”

Simmons said most bus drivers are old enough to put them at heightened risk for severe illness if they catch the virus. They will have to decide whether to continue driving — a job that typically does not pay much — or to stay home and prioritize their own safety, which could worsen a yearslong national school bus driver shortage.

Schools will have to decide what cleaning standards they want to set and whether to add sneeze guards or similar barriers among students and between students and bus drivers.

In Pennsylvania, the Transportation Department shot down a proposal to install plastic barriers around bus drivers, telling a school bus contractor there is not evidence it would make students or drivers safer. In New York, hand sanitizer isn’t even allowed on buses “due to its combustible composition and potential liability to the carrier or district,” according to guidance from the state’s school reopening task force.

The task force report said a survey of bus contractors found they were unanimously opposed to taking students’ temperatures, as some districts have considered. The contractors said drivers and bus monitors do not want to have to interpret health data, among other objections.

Getting on and off the bus is considered a time of heightened risk. Pennsylvania districts are considering assigned bus seating, making students fill empty buses from the back and emptying them from the front.

A suburban Philadelphia school district’s reopening plan states that students with symptoms should be placed in the front seat of the bus and brought to the school nurse. Another mandates that no students with symptoms will be sent on a bus or brought to school. Districts are designating rooms where sick or potentially sick children can be isolated until their parents can retrieve them.

Pottstown, Pennsylvania, schools have proposed keeping windows on its few buses open, a plan that will be difficult to carry out in winter. New York’s statewide recommendation is for windows to remain cracked if the outside temperature is at least 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Public schools in Providence, Rhode Island, had considered making all students attend the schools that are located closest to their homes as a way to limit ridership, but officials withdrew that proposal after parents objected.

The Kentucky Education Department suggests schools institute “walking school buses,” a system used in at least two other states in which adults chaperone groups of students walking to and from school together, with designated bus stops and pickup times. Kentucky Education Department spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman said there has been no word yet of any districts giving the walking school buses a try.

Bus plans are expected to be tweaked over the first weeks and months of school, but if a major outbreak is linked to bus transportation, parents will have to decide whether to vote with their feet and go another route.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Max Verstappen wins 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone

SILVERSTONE, England — Max Verstappen sprung what could be the surprise of the Formula One season by beating Lewis Hamilton to win the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Red Bull driver crossed the line at Silverstone 11.3 seconds clear of Hamilton, with Valtteri Bottas third.

“I didn’t see it coming but after the first stint it seemed we were really good on tires,” Verstappen said after his ninth career win. “We had a lot of pace in the car. I didn’t have any tire issues and we kept pushing.

“It was an incredible result to win, so everything worked out well and I am very happy.”

Mercedes had been expected to cruise to its fifth win from as many rounds this season. But both Hamilton and Bottas struggled with their tires to clear the way for Verstappen to take an unlikely win.

“It was a massive challenge,” Hamilton said. “Congrats to the Red Bull team and to Max. They didn’t have the problems we had today.

“It was definitely unexpected to have the blistering as hardcore. as we experienced. I was nervous the tire was going to explode but I am grateful I managed to progress and get through the race.”

Charles Leclerc finished fourth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Alexander Albon. Racing Point’s Lance Stroll was sixth.

Hamilton will head to next week’s Spanish Grand Prix with a 30-point championship lead over second-place Verstappen. Hamilton has 107 points, Verstappen 77 and Bottas 73.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team has been the class act of the field this year and, after pole-sitter Bottas beat Hamilton to the first corner, it looked as though it would be a straight fight between the all-black cars for victory.

But Verstappen, who moved ahead of Racing Point’s Nico Hulkenberg at the opening bend, remained hot on their heels. Both Mercedes cars started on the medium tires, with Verstappen on the more durable hard tire.

Verstappen sensed that the Mercedes cars were struggling and was soon hunting down Hamilton. At one stage, he was told to drop off Hamilton’s gearbox to protect his tires.

“This is the only chance to beat Mercedes,” he said over the radio. “I am not going to sit back like a grandma.”

And he remained aggressive. Bottas pitted from the lead on lap 13 with Hamilton following in for fresh tires on the following lap. Verstappen took the lead and, when he came in for new tires at the midway stage of the race, he left the pits just behind Bottas.

Verstappen took only a handful of corners to regain top spot after he resisted Bottas’ tame defense.

Both Verstappen and Bottas came in with 20 laps remaining for a second time, while Hamilton remained out on wearing tires until lap 41 of 52.

Hamilton emerged down in fourth but the 35-year-old showed good pace on the fresh tires, posting the fastest lap of the race before overtaking Leclerc at Stowe for third. He then set his sights on hunting down Bottas and, with two laps to run, he passed his teammate around the outside of Brooklands.

After Verstappen cruised to victory, Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh, while Sebastian Vettel was outside the points in 12th following an opening-lap spin.

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Source: AutoBlog.com