2020 Audi RS 3 Nardo Edition is aimed at enthusiasts who revere handling

Audi expanded the RS 3 range with a sporty, well-equipped limited-edition model named after the famous Nardo track in southern Italy. Unveiled online (regrettably with only this single poor photo), it’s aimed at enthusiasts who value handling above all.

Car-spotters will tell the Nardo Edition apart from the regular-production RS 3 thanks to a light shade of gray paint appropriately called Nardo Gray, contrasting black trim all around, and red brake calipers visible through 19-inch alloy wheels. Inside, stylists added red accents, floor mats embroidered with the RS logo, plus Audi’s Carbon trim. Photos of the interior haven’t been published yet, so we’ll need to take the company’s word for it.

Navigation — a $2,000 option on the standard RS 3 — comes standard. Nardo buyers will also get a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, as well as an infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

There are no mechanical changes to report. The Nardo keeps the RS 3’s 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. It develops 394 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, and its distinctive exhaust note serenades the passengers with a sport exhaust system that features black tips. The turbo-five’s output travels through a seven-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system to send the RS 3 from zero to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, and the Nardo model’s top speed checks in at 174 mph, 19 faster than the standard model’s.

The electronic magnetic ride suspension technology also found in the TT and the R8 stays in the parts bin. Instead, Audi fitted the Nardo with a fixed sport suspension that promises to make the RS 3 sharper to drive (though almost certainly less comfortable).

On sale now, the 2020 Audi RS 3 Nardo Edition is limited to 200 units in the United States. It carries a base price of $60,895 once a $995 destination charge enters the equation. For context, the regular 2020 RS 3 starts at $57,195, so the Nardo package adds $3,700 to the bottom line. Ticking the option boxes that correspond to the extra equipment would bump the sedan’s price by $5,400, so Nardo buyers will comfortably come out ahead.

The Nardo Edition is one of the last variants of the current-generation RS 3. Although the model remains on sale across America, Audi started replacing the A3 it’s based on when it released the fourth-generation hatchback in early 2020. Replacements for the A3 sedan, the S3, and, of course, the RS 3 are on their way.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Aston Martin F1 name change for Racing Point adds pressure – Stroll

Racing Point Formula 1 team owner Lawrence Stroll says that the planned change to the Aston Martin identity in 2021 will bring “pressure and expectation”.Stroll’s involvement in Aston Martin was first announced in January, but the formalities of his investment were only completed this week.The renaming of Racing Point is at the heart of his future marketing strategy that he has laid out for the British sportscar manufacturer, and Stroll sees it an opportunity for the Silverstone team to take a step forward.”The group of men and women at Silverstone are true racers and their determination and spirit is one of the main reasons I invested in the Formula 1 team,” he said.”After 30 years, they deserve this opportunity to represent this legendary brand. “We are continuing to invest in the team to give everybody the resources required, and we will see the benefit of those efforts this year as Racing Point.”With the Aston name comes more pressure and expectation.”We will need to be competitive from the outset. “But I have no doubt the team at Silverstone will rise to the challenge and do the Aston Martin name proud.”He added: “A brand with the pedigree and history of Aston Martin needs to be competing at the highest level of motorsport. “I think it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in recent memory in F1 and it’s incredibly exciting for all stakeholders in the sport, especially the fans. “I can’t think of a better name for an F1 team.”The global spotlight of F1 is second to none, and we will leverage this reach to showcase the Aston Martin brand in our key markets.”Stroll said that the team has had to adjust to the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 outbreak.”I don’t think there is any area of life or business that hasn’t been touched by this devastating pandemic and the racing community is certainly adapting as best it can.”Of course, as racers, we are all very frustrated not to be competing, but we all understand the bigger picture in this global fight and so we stay at home. “The team is also supporting Project Pitlane to help accelerate the production of ventilators.”In the meantime, we can rely on video conferences to keep our plans for 2020 and 2021 moving forward. “I am committed to F1 with a long-term vision and this is just a temporary pause in the journey.”
Source: AutoSport.com

Aston Martin confirms £536 million cash injection and F1 entry

Aston Martin has signed an agreement with Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, that will secure the company £536 million of funding. The cash injection will help the British brand push the DBX through the start of its production cycle, as well as back the company’s return to Formula 1 for the first time since the 1950s.

Stroll, who made his fortune through his investment in upmarket fashion brands, is reported by Forbes magazine to have a net worth of $2.6billion. He and his company, Yew Tree Consortium, will offer a total investment of £262 million to Aston Martin, with the remaining funds being sourced from a rights issue. Stroll will also replace Penny Hughes as chairman.

In addition, Aston Martin has opened a fresh $100 million (around £81 million) credit line after fears the business would not have the required funding to meet its spending plans for the year. The funding will be available from May of this year, and sits on top of the brand’s existing £36.7 million of loan arrangement and £40 million of inventory.

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Aston Martin’s financial troubles have been well documented of late – the company made a loss in 2018 and issued profits warnings to its shareholders last year. 

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Aston Martin’s share price has also fallen dramatically since its Initial Public Offering (IPO) of October 2018. The price has plummeted to £2.26 a share in the last week – with Aston Martin losing more than 150 percent of its value since it was offered on the stock market. 

Aston Martin’s production facilities in both Gaydon and St Athan, Wales remain closed, in accordance with the Government’s guidelines on combating the spread of COVID-19. The economic turndown caused by the pandemic has forced the company to reassess its product strategy – details of which were released alongside this financial announcement.

The new DBX SUV, which is due to go on sale in summer this year in spite of the factory closures, will be crucial to the brand’s success – along with the recent launch of the new Vantage Roadster, which is expected to comprise up to 40 per cent of all Vantage sales.

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The launch of Aston Martin’s all-electric luxury brand, Lagonda has been pushed back from 2022 to 2025, while the new Vanquish won’t be unveiled for another two years. The company will also aim to reduce its annual operating costs by £10 million, in a bid to offset the price of its all-new production facility in St Athan, South Wales.

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Stroll said: “I, and my co-investors in the consortium, continue to believe passionately in the future of Aston Martin Lagonda. This is most clearly demonstrated by our investment of £262m which underpins the financial security of the company. This is a very significant capital raise of £536m – due to be made by my consortium and other shareholders at a very challenging time. 

“This gives the necessary stability to reset the business for its long-term future.  We have a clear plan to make this happen, including Aston Martin entering an F1 works team next season and I look forward to working with the Management team to deliver this programme.”

Aston Martin’s return to Formula One racing

Lawrence Stroll owns the Racing Point Formula One team, having purchased the assets of the former Force India team in 2018.

Racing Point will undergo another change for the 2021 season, becoming a works Aston Martin team powered by Mercedes engines – just like Aston Martin’s V8 road cars. Aston Martin has signed an agreement to appear on the F1 grid for the next ten years – meaning it will return to the sport as a full factory operation for the first time since the 1950s.

The British brand will continue its sponsorship of the Red Bull Racing F1 Team for the 2020 season, while its technical partnership with the race team will remain intact until the first Valkyrie deliveries arrive later this year.

Do you think Aston Martin will flourish with investment from Lawrence Stroll? Let us know in the comments section below…

Source: www.autoexpress.co.uk

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Aston Martin’s ’21 F1 plans still on track despite financial warnings

Aston Martin’s rebrand of the Racing Point Formula 1 team in 2021 is still on, despite warnings its parent car company could run out of money within a year.A consortium led by Lawrence Stroll bought a 16.7% stake in Aston Martin in January, which will see the firm return to F1 as a ‘works’ team, while its current title sponsorship with Red Bull will end.The luxury sportscar manufacturer has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, and the company has had to take action to stabilise its financial situation following concerns about a lack of capital on a scheme outlined in March when Stroll came on board.In a company statement issued on Monday night, it said: “Taking into account the proceeds of the capital raise, the Company is of the opinion that the Group does not have sufficient working capital to meet its requirements for 12 months following the publication of the Original Prospectus.”This is due to the increased impact, since the Company published the First Supplementary Prospectus on 13 March, of COVID-19 and the ongoing and unquantifiable uncertainty it has created and continues to create.”In response to that, following a General Meeting on Monday, it has suggested that it may have to tap in to £150 million of loans and other financial instruments that are available, to see it through the next 12 months.The General Meeting also approved the injection of £536 million through a combination of £262 million investment and an equity raise – which includes a private placement of shares for £171 million for the Stroll-led Yew Tree Consortium.Stroll, who is to become executive chairman of Aston Martin on 20 April, said his commitment was unwavering despite the coronavirus situation.Speaking after the meeting, Stroll was clear that plans for the Racing Point team to become Aston Martin were still on track.”I, and my co-investors in the consortium, continue to believe passionately in the future of Aston Martin Lagonda,” he said.”This is most clearly demonstrated by our investment of £262m which underpins the financial security of the Company.”This is a very significant capital raise of £536m – due to be made by my consortium and other shareholders at a very challenging time.”This gives the necessary stability to reset the business for its long-term future.”We have a clear plan to make this happen, including Aston Martin entering an F1 works team next season and I look forward to working with the management team to deliver this programme.”Aston Martin has already had to take unprecedented action because of the coronavirus outbreak, and its situation has not been helped by the collapse of its share price from its stock market launch at £19 a share to recent lows of less than £1.50.It has temporarily suspended all production at its Gaydon and St Athan facilities, with staff either now working from home or being furloughed.The company is making use of all government aid and has rephased its operating costs to change spending patterns, such as on marketing, to stabilise its situation.The Stroll push through his Yew Tree Consortrium comes in the wake of ongoing speculation linking Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff with the company – either through a formal role or private investment.Wolff recently moved to deny reports that he was going to quit Mercedes and become CEO of Aston Martin to help Stroll, who he has a good relationship with.”The story is not true,” said Wolff.”I am not becoming CEO of Aston Martin.”
Source: AutoSport.com

Aston Martin may need more cash even after bailout by billionaire

LONDON — Aston Martin said it may need to tap into high-interest notes it was trying to avoid drawing down, even after a capital infusion of up to 536 million pounds ($663 million) from a group led by billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
The automaker does not have sufficient working capital based on European Securities and Markets Authority rules because the coronavirus has created “increased and unquantifiable uncertainty” in its business, Aston Martin said.
That has made it impossible to come up with a model for a “reasonable worse case downside,” the company said.
Aston Martin, which has struggled with cash flow and dealer-inventory back-ups since going public in 2018, had hoped that the fundraising approved by shareholders on Monday would avoid the need to seek additional money. But the coronavirus crisis has added a level of difficulty to the turnaround put in place with Stroll’s arrival.
“Taking into account the proceeds of the capital raise, the company is of the opinion that the group does not have sufficient working capital to meet its requirements for 12 months” from February, when it published the original prospectus for the Stroll bailout, the company said.
The Canadian billionaire will take over as executive chairman of Aston Martin next month. His Yew Tree consortium is set to get a bigger chunk of Aston after it renegotiated the terms of the fundraising this month.
Turnaround plan
The liquidity warning notwithstanding, Aston Martin’s directors said they were confident that the company has enough access to loans. That includes $100 million of delayed draw notes issued in October 2019 that carry an interest rate of at least 12 percent.
In a statement, Stroll said that he and his co-investors “continue to believe passionately in the future of Aston Martin Lagonda.”
The investment, including 262 million pounds ($324 million) from his group, “gives the necessary stability to reset the business for its long-term future,” Stroll said. “We have a clear plan to make this happen,” including Aston Martin entering an F1 works team next season.
Cash burn
To fund its cash burn, the company tapped the debt markets twice last year, with a $190 million bond issued in April paying a 6.5 percent coupon and a $150 million bond with a 12 percent coupon priced in September. It could draw up to $100 million more before July.
S&P lowered the company’s credit rating two notches to nine levels below investment grade on March 17, saying that even if the automaker successfully completed the rights issue, declining sales of sports cars and uncertainties related to the coronavirus pandemic would weaken its financial performance and add liquidity pressures over the next six to 12 months.
Aston Martin’s stock has fallen 60 percent this year and is now 89 percent below its IPO price.
While the coronavirus pandemic could dent demand, the company says its order book “remains significant,” including over 2,000 commitments for the DBX SUV.
The company is banking on the $189,000 DBX selling in higher volumes than its sports cars.
Deliveries of the DBX are planned to begin in summer. They will compete with prestige brands like Lamborghini’s Urus and the Bentley Bentayga, which have already established themselves in the ultraluxury SUV market.
Source: autonewscom

Inside GM’s and Ventec’s rush to build ventilators for coronavirus patients

Ventec’s VOCSN multi-function ventilators, which integrate five separate medical devices. / Reuters

Who could have imagined that the coronavirus pandemic would be, in part, an automotive story? More than that: Automakers, in particular GM and Ford but also plenty of others, may wind up being some of the story’s heroes. 

The New York Times had a glimpse inside the GM effort the other day, and now The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker provides a better sense of the timeline by which General Motors and Ventec Life Systems, of Bothell, Washington, went from perfect strangers to partners in mass-producing Ventec’s innovative multifunction ventilators — devices that might ultimately save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans. This is all happening astonishingly fast.

Two weeks ago, the project seemed dead before it had even begun, Baker reports. The Ventec machine has 700 components. But one of them was made in India, in a factory that was in coronavirus lockdown. Without that part, the machine might as well be a doorstop. 

“GM literally sent people there that night to India to get boots on the ground to help us get that factory opened,” Ventec CEO Chris Kiple told The Times. “It changed the conversation.”

GM had to get that supplier going again, as well as that supplier’s suppliers on back up the chain, and it had to surmount many other problems on other fronts. But just as Ventec brings its technology and patents to the table, GM brings a century of experience making a thing — many copies of a thing — and pulling together a worldwide web of suppliers and resources to do it. 

Kiple said his company had sought a partner since early March. Thirty seconds into his first call with GM on March 19, he knew he’d found it. “Where we had talked to many other people, GM went into action,’’ Kiple said. “There was no talk. … It was just, ‘What do you need?’’’

That call was the 19th. By the 20th, GM had people in India solving that supplier problem. By the 22nd, GM had dozens of people in Bothell who then fanned out. The Times describes how GM zeroed in on a $4 million parts order from a crucial supplier in neighboring Woodinville. 

Ventec builds 250 ventilators a month in Bothell. With GM’s help, it’ll get that number up to 2,000. Meanwhile the partners expect to start building machines at a GM plant in Kokomo, Ind., in mid-April and quickly ramp up to 10,000 a month there, for a total monthly output of 12,000. And, Kiple says, GM is doing this at cost.

That’s right: From initial phone call to mass production of a complex device that GM previously knew nothing about. In a month.

It’s difficult to understand how “GM was wasting time,” which was the White House’s accusation last Friday before President Trump eventually sang a different tune on Monday. 

A feeling of pride would be the more appropriate response.

For the full story, visit The Seattle Times, which is providing free access to all coverage on the pandemic.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Listen to the 2020 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400’s screaming exhaust

The best thing about the 2020 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is its engine. That 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 makes one of the better noises in the automotive landscape on its way to the 6,800 rpm redline. It makes 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, and the engine feels every bit that strong. Peak power is made at a high 6,400 rpm, so it feels linear all the way up to that point. There’s no mistaking this for a naturally aspirated engine with the lag off the line, but once it’s up and running, there’s no obvious fading of power in the higher rpms.

As for the sound … it’s also pretty spectacular. We took the Q60 out to some of our favorite deserted backroads and let it rip with a GoPro attached to the bumper. This particular Q60 Red Sport 400 is fitted with a more aggressive exhaust from Infiniti. It’s an axle-back exhaust, aptly named the “Axle-Back Sport Exhaust Kit.” Infiniti sells the exhaust on its official online parts store — there’s one available for the Q60 and another for the Q50. It’s currently listed for $707 and is backed by the original factory warranty. Buy it from the store, and then have the dealer fit it to your new (or old) car.

We’ve driven Infinitis with this engine that don’t have the sport exhaust installed, and they’re nowhere near as loud. And after driving one with the exhaust, it’s safe to say the factory exhaust is a bit too quiet for our tastes. Starting the cold engine up in the morning is much more satisfying.

And under load this exhaust sounds fantastic, too. In the cabin we hear loud intake whooshes, and on the outside we get to hear its screaming yowl. There’s enough sound deadening in the cabin to make it refined and luxurious on light throttle applications, but the exhaust’s sound doesn’t ever disappear. A bit of drone sneaks in on the highway, but if you turn up the decent-sounding Bose audio system, it fades away. More cars could use legitimately aggressive exhausts like this one. Manufacturers continue to pump fake audio into the cabin over the speakers, but it’s not as authentic as something like this. All that’s missing are bangs and pops on shifts, but we can live without them. Each downshift is delightful, and the overrun is music to our ears.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Tesla plans to supply ventilators free of cost for coronavirus fight

Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday the company has extra FDA-approved ventilators that can be shipped free of cost to hospitals within regions where the electric carmaker delivers.

“Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please me or @Tesla know,” Musk said in a tweet.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many ventilators it has to offer, or how the company will prioritize requests. Two weeks ago Musk said Tesla could easily make ventilators, though he questioned the need for them. Then days later he said Tesla had purchased excess ventilators from China.

Governments across the globe have appealed to automakers and aerospace companies help procure or make ventilators and other medical equipment amid a fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 777,000 people globally and killed over 37,500.

In United States, states hard hit by the pandemic have pleaded with the Trump administration and manufacturers to speed up production of ventilators to cope with a surge in patients.

Earlier this week, Ford said it will produce 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan in cooperation with General Electric’s healthcare unit, and can then build 30,000 per month as needed to treat patients afflicted with the coronavirus.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Volvo Valet is the automaker’s new concierge maintenance service

One day when this is all over, it will be interesting to look back on the various ways businesses of all stripes adapted to the novel coronavirus to see what stuck around and what disappeared as life returned to something resembling normal.

Volvo’s latest service offering, a new concierge service called Volvo Valet, seems tailor-made for the coronavirus era, even though the company says it’s been under development for at least a year. 

It’s essentially a pickup and dropoff service for owners who need to service their Volvo, and it’s similar to other services such as Lincoln Way. Users can enable it either through a mobile app or by calling a participating dealer to schedule an appointment and preferred pickup time. Doing so gets you a loaner vehicle, delivered by a retailer employee who then takes your vehicle in for service. The app provides notifications for where the driver is and when he’ll arrive, similar to a ride-hailing service like Uber, when your Volvo arrives in the shop and when it’s ready for pickup or delivery back to your address. If you don’t use the app, the dealer will call you to coordinate pickup and return times.

Volvo Valet is the fruit of Volvo’s September 2017 purchase of the intellectual property and other assets of Luxe, a San Francisco-based car valet and concierge service startup. The service is eligible for the Service by Volvo benefits available to all owners, including free towing to the nearest Volvo dealer, lifetime parts and labor warranty and other perks.

Volvo says the new service will expand to leased and purchased deliveries, lease returns and overnight test drives later this year.

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Source: AutoBlog.com