U.S. Army puts Bradley Fighting Vehicle replacement plans on hold

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army will go back to the drawing board after an effort to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle proved too challenging for the industry, a Pentagon official said on Thursday.

Only one proposal for a replacement vehicle was submitted, and it failed to meet Army requirements. 

The U.S Army has embarked on an ambitious modernization task focusing its efforts and funds on six priorities including a better way to precisely fire weapons over a long distance, a new combat vehicle, a new helicopter, better missile defenses and networks.

“Today the U.S. Army will cancel the current solicitation” for the rapid prototyping phase for the optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMFV),” Bruce Jette, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology, told reporters at the Pentagon. He said “it’s a tactical pause,” because the Army is committed to getting a replacement for the Bradley.

“Based on feedback and proposals received from industry, we have determined it is necessary to revisit the requirements, acquisition strategy and schedule before moving forward,” Jette said. He did not give a timeline for when the Army would restart the competition.

A new vehicle, which could be self driving, could be worth $35 to $40 billion over the life of the program, according to Jim McAleese, of the defense consulting firm McAleese and Associates.

Jette said that in the past more than 10 companies had shown interest in participating. General Dynamics was the only company to submit a design on time for this phase of the competition. Raytheon recently hired a lobbyist to help position itself.

Mainstream automotive manufacturers have pursued U.S. military contracts in the past, and just last year all three of the Detroit automakers presented military-spec concept vehicles. FCA (in partnership with AM General) floated a Jeep Gladiator-based offering; General Motors and Ford also showed concepts based on civilian truck models as potential light military transport vehicles. 

The cancellation happens just weeks before the anticipated release of the Pentagon’s 2021 defense budget. This program was one of the Army’s top modernization priorities.

Jette told reporters the Army has asked industry to do a lot in a very compressed time frame.

The Army has recently combed through its own programs and shifted here more than $30 billion from programs in the coming years to invest in top modernization priorities to meet a rising Chinese and Russian threat.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS, Boxster GTS upsize with 4.0-liter flat-six

While downsizing is the order of the day in the automotive industry, Porsche is upsizing by bringing the naturally-aspirated flat-six engine to the 718 GTS range. Enthusiasts will undoubtedly see the move as right-sizing. 

The 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 and the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 will replace the existing four-cylinder-powered models, which Autoblog can confirm will retire at the end of the 2019 model year. As their name clearly implies, they receive a 4.0-liter flat-six tuned to deliver 394 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque. The mid-mounted six spins the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. There won’t be a PDK automated manual transmission available at launch, though a Porsche spokesperson told Autoblog one could eventually join the range.

Both members of the GTS duo take 4.3 seconds to reach 60 mph from a stop, and they top out at 182 mph. To put all this into perspective, the outgoing GTS models released in 2017 share a turbocharged, 2.5-liter flat-four rated at 365 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque when ordered with a six-speed stick, or 317 when equipped with the optional seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. They perform the benchmark zero-to-60 sprint in 3.9 seconds when fitted with two pedals, and can reach 180 mph.

Aficionados have a little less torque to play with, but Porsche doesn’t think they’ll mind.

“The turbo four put the car on another performance level, but in the upper echelons of the model line there’s a lot of interest in the six-cylinder engine, especially in the United States,” a spokesperson told us. Besides, the 4.0-liter is closely related to the 414-horsepower six that powers the flagship GT4 and Spyder variants of the 718, so it makes sense for Porsche to use it in other models if possible, the spokesperson added.

The GTS models come standard with Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) technology, which lowers the ride height by nearly an inch compared to other 718s, and bigger cast-iron rotors with six-piston front calipers. Torque vectoring and a mechanical limited-slip differential are also part of the equation.

Car-spotters need to keep an eye out for black trim, tinted lights on both ends, and 20-inch alloy wheels. Porsche spruced up the cabin with black Alcantara upholstery and carbon fiber trim, though other materials are available.

The standard Sport Chrono package includes Porsche’s Track Precision App, which allows drivers to record track runs, and upload performance-related data (like the pedal position, the steering angle, and the racing line) onto their smartphone for analysis. For street driving, there’s a 7-inch touchscreen in the center stack that buyers can upgrade with internet-connected navigation software that provides real-time traffic data.

Porsche will begin taking orders for the 718 Cayman GTS 4.0 and the 718 Boxster GTS 4.0 in the summer of 2020. Pricing information will be released in the weeks leading up to their on-sale date, but we estimate their price tag will fall right under $90,000. For context, the four-cylinder-powered models start at about $80,000.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

U.S. threatened auto tariffs if allies didn’t accuse Iran of breaking nuclear deal

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has threatened to impose a 25% tariff on European automobile imports if Britain, France and Germany do not formally accuse Iran of breaking the 2015 nuclear deal, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed European officials.

The three European countries triggered a dispute mechanism under the agreement on Tuesday, amounting to a formal accusation against Tehran of violating its terms and could lead to the reinstatement of United Nations sanctions lifted under the accord.

Iran has criticized that move, calling it a “strategic mistake.”

Though Trump has previously made threats to place such a duty on European automobile imports, the intent behind them was to receive better terms for Washington within the U.S.-European trade relationship, not to shift European foreign policy, according to the Post.

It was not clear if the threat was necessary since the Europeans had signaled an intention to trigger the dispute mechanism for weeks, the newspaper reported.

The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal, or JCPOA, in 2018. Washington has said its abandonment of the pact was part of a strategy intended to force Tehran to agree to a larger deal.

Iran, which denies its nuclear program is aimed at building a bomb, has gradually rolled back its commitments under the agreement since the U.S. withdrawal.

Russia, another signatory to the pact, has said it saw no grounds to trigger the dispute mechanism.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Barrel-rolling down a sand dune won’t stop Fernando Alonso’s Dakar race

Former F1 driver Fernando Alonso was well aware of the Dakar Rally’s dark and extremely dangerous history before he entered the 2020 race as a first-time participant, but that didn’t stop him from taking on what he called the biggest challenge of his career. In the early stages, Alonso’s first rally got off to a rocky start when he hit a hole that ripped off a wheel and severely damaged his truck’s suspension geometry. Though it cost him significant recovery time in the race, the first wreck was nothing compared to what happened in Stage 10. With former Dakar champion and co-driver Marc Coma along for the ride, Alonso rolled his truck down a sand hill before driving off and continuing the race. He finished the race, and nobody was seriously injured.

The Dakar Rally is one of the most insane and intense competitions in the world, motorsport or not, and only those with bulletproof minds and bulletproof rides are capable of reaching the finish line. The rally takes place in Saudi Arabia and covers about 4,660 miles across constantly varying terrain. More than 75 percent of the race takes place on sand, but the undulating depths and multiple types of pulverized stone continually add difficulty.

Alonso’s ride for the rally is a Gazoo Racing-prepped Toyota Hilux truck. In the video below, posted from the official Dakar account, the Hilux is seen approaching a fairly large sand dune at high speeds. Going into the jump blind, the truck hits the crest at a cocked angle and immediately starts to rotate toward its right side. After two barrel rolls, Alonso, Coma, and the Hilux land on all four wheels with the shiny dusty side up. After a moment’s hesitation, the truck fires back up, and it goes upon its way. 

Although we haven’t seen any detailed images of the vehicle after the wreck, it seems to have taken on a fair bit of body damage, just nothing that prevented the car from driving. Alonso went on to finish the stage and posted to social media after the race to let everybody know he’s ready to take on Stage 11. Following Stage 10, which included about an hour of time to tidy up the vehicle, Alonso sits in 14th place in the automobile class.

For more on Alonso’s decision and journey to compete in the world’s ultimate rally, visit Dakar.com, and check out our full gallery of crazy Dakar vehicles.

 
 
 
 
 
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Is all good and ready. 😇😇😇!! Looking forward to recover ground tomorrow 👏🏻👏🏻✊️✊️✊️ #toyota #gazooracing #dakar

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Source: AutoBlog.com

EV buyers in New Jersey to get tax rebates up to $5,000, PHEVs included

Going green in the Garden State could soon net you some green, in the form of state tax rebates for those who buy or lease an EV or a PHEV. A bill that just passed the state Legislature would give New Jersey among the strongest electric-car incentives in the country.

EV purchases would earn a $5,000 rebate for models with 200 miles of range or better. For EVs with less range, the rebate would be pro-rated at $25 per mile. The PHEV rebates are the same $25 per mile, and are also based on electric range. The PHEV incentive sunsets after 2022. Vehicles priced above $55,000 would be ineligible for the incentives. The bill also provides $500 to offset the purchase price of an in-home charger, and spurs development of public chargers as well.

According to Energy.gov, New Jersey’s proposed rebate would put the Garden State ahead of Colorado, giving it the most generous maximum state incentive in the nation . New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign the bill into law.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Tesla’s shattered T-shirt costs half a Cybertruck preorder

Considering the cloud of hype (and disdain) surrounding the Tesla Cybertruck, branded merchandise was not a question of if, but when. Still, this just-released T-shirt is a bit of surprise due to its graphics. Trying his best at self-deprecating humor, Musk launched a black tee with an image of shattered glass on the front and the Cybertruck logo and silhouette on the rear.

For those out of the loop, the shirt is a direct reference to the Cybertruck’s debut performance. While on stage at the unveiling event, Musk attempted to show off one of the truck’s supposed features, impact-resistant Tesla Armor Glass. He asked his designer Franz von Holzhausen to throw a hard ball straight at the driver’s window. When he did, the window shattered, and Musk joked, “well, maybe that was a little too hard.” Despite the mishap, Musk insisted on trying again on the rear window, which also shattered. The full video can be seen here.

The talk about the truck’s design overcast the fail (it was just a concept car anyway), and the public quickly moved on. Now, for some reason, Musk is again reminding everybody of what happened with a commemorative T-shirt.

Musk tweeted the shirt on January 14, 2020, and as of this writing, one day later, the only sizes left are small and extra small. Odd, considering the provided image suggests everybody looks buff by wearing the smallest shirt possible. The Bulletproof tee, as it’s labeled, lists at $45, before taxes and shipping. 

Source: AutoBlog.com

2020 Aston Martin DBX video review: prototype driven on and off-road

Aston Martin will hope to get its ‘Second Century’ expansion plans back on track by launching the 542bhp DBX in spring 2020 – the first SUV in the company’s 107-year history.

The £158,000, five-seat 4×4 has been in development since 2015, and aims to take a sizeable chunk out of the premium SUV market with its familiar, AMG-sourced 4.0-litre turbocharged V8. It’s built on an all-new platform not shared with any other Aston, and has been tested extensively across all surfaces to ensure it proves dynamic to drive, even when taken off-road.

So, is it a match for a Lamborghini Urus, Porsche Cayenne or a Bentley Bentayga? Matt Saunders hitched a ride in one with Aston’s chief chassis engineer Matt Becker, and then took a turn at the wheel through wet and muddy Wales, to find out.

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Source: AutoCar.co.uk

2021 Genesis GV80 engines and features revealed

The 2021 Genesis GV80 luxury crossover was given a modest reveal of sorts earlier this month. Now we get a much clearer look at the crossover thanks to its South Korean reveal. It looks pretty much as we expected, with lines based on the original concept. It looks flashy outside and sumptuous inside. Genesis also went to lengths to keep weight down by making the hood, doors and hatch from aluminum.

Besides getting our clearest look at the crossover yet, the company released details about the engines and features. Three engines will be offered globally, and only two are bound for the U.S. The first engine available will be a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel engine making 274 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. You probably guessed that’s not the engine coming here.

The other two engines are a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter six-cylinder. We’re expecting the 2.5-liter to be similar to the turbo one available in the upcoming Hyundai Sonata N-Line, and will probably be shared with the base Genesis G70, too. Output for it should be at least 290 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The 3.5-liter engine is more mysterious, as Genesis does not have an engine with that displacement available currently. It could be a higher-displacement version of the twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6 offered on the G70, G80 and G90, as well as the Kia Stinger. The 3.3-liter engine makes 365 horsepower and 376 pound-feet of torque. All engines will be paired with either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, and probably the same 8-speed automatic used in other Genesis models. All-wheel-drive GV80s in the U.S. will get a rear limited-slip differential.

The GV80 also boasts several luxurious bits of technology. The electronically adjustable suspension will have a camera to read the road and automatically change settings for optimal comfort. Navigation will have an augmented reality mode similar to that used by Mercedes in which information will be overlaid on a camera feed to help make clear where to go. The feed is displayed on a massive 14.5-inch infotainment display that also features handwriting recognition for text input. The GV80 has an advanced adaptive cruise control system with steering assist and automated lane change assist. The cruise control also has artificial intelligence that can adjust its driving style to match that of the owner. Active road noise cancellation comes standard, while rear power-adjustable heated and ventilated seats are an option. The GV80 can also be had with three rows of seats.

The diesel Genesis GV80 will be the first to go on sale in South Korea and will start at 65.8 million won. At current exchange rates, that comes to $56,776. Final pricing for the U.S., as well as additional details on trims, power and more will be announced later.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Ghosn says French ambassador told him: ‘Nissan is turning against you’

BEIRUT — Former Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn said on Tuesday that the French ambassador had warned him shortly after his arrest that his own company was plotting against him.

“Frankly, I was shocked by the arrest, and the first thing I asked is make sure Nissan knows so they can send me a lawyer,” Ghosn told Reuters in an interview in Beirut.

“And the second day, 24 hours from this, I received a visit from the French ambassador who told me: ‘Nissan is turning against you’. And this is where I realized that the whole thing was a plot.”

Former Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa, who was forced to resign last year after admitting that he had received improper compensation, told a news conference shortly after Ghosn’s arrest that Ghosn had been using corporate money for personal purposes and under-reporting his income for years.

The arrest of Ghosn, widely respected for rescuing the carmaker from near-bankruptcy, has put Japan’s criminal justice system under international scrutiny.

Among the practices now under the spotlight are keeping suspects in detention for long periods and excluding defense lawyers from interrogations, which can last eight hours a day.

“When he told me that ‘two hours or three hours later, after your arrest, Saikawa went in a press conference and made his infamous statement where he said, you know, ‘I am horrified, but what I’m learning…” — so when he told me he made these statements, I said ‘Oh my God this is a plot’.”

  • Related: Yamaha warns not to climb into instrument cases after Ghosn arrest

Ghosn, 65, fled Japan last month while awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting earnings, breach of trust and misappropriation of company funds, all of which he denies.

The one-time titan of the car industry said the alternative to fleeing would have been to spend the rest of his life languishing in Japan without a fair trial. Ghosn said he had escaped to his childhood home of Lebanon in order to clear his name. He noted that there were conflicting stories about his astonishing escape, but declined to say how he had managed to flee.

Tokyo prosecutors said his allegations of a conspiracy were false and that he had failed to justify his acts. The 14-month saga has shaken the global auto industry and jeopardized the Renault-Nissan alliance, of which Ghosn was the mastermind.

Japan’s Ministry of Justice has said it will try to find a way to bring Ghosn back from Lebanon, even the countries have no extradition treaty.

Ghosn said the Japanese authorities were intent on preventing him from having a just trial.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2020 Aston Martin DBX Prototype Drive | Sliding into your mentions

OMAN, Persian Gulf — The last time I got an Aston Martin this filthy was 5 years ago in dusty Anza-Borrego, California, where I ripped several illicit burnouts in a low-slung V12 Vantage S. This time around is dramatically different: Chief Engineer Matt Becker, seated alongside me, is actually egging me on to powerslide an Aston Martin DBX across an off-road trail in Oman — the first time I’ve ever been encouraged by Aston brass to hoon one of their vehicles, let alone a priceless prototype, in the dirt.

You wouldn’t expect Becker, who spent 26 years at Lotus, to be an SUV guy. But the hardcore chassis and handling guru says the DBX project gave him a new respect for the genre because sport utes need to do far more than just go around a track quickly: They’re required to tow, support weight on their roofs, and manage all manner of terrain, all while creating a comfortable living space for their passengers.

“Once you push them and understand what they can do off-road, on-road, on-track,” he tells me while I’m tackling a rock-strewn trail at highway speeds, “you really start to respect what they’re capable of.”

Building the DBX will also show us what Aston Martin is capable of — capable of surviving, that is. The new decade is shaping up to be the most challenging yet for the storied carmaker, so bringing a viable sport utility vehicle to market is essential. And though weathering severe business headwinds seems to be an ongoing pastime for Aston Martin, the brand’s first-ever crossover gets a rather ambitious hardware package. The DBX’s bonded aluminum chassis is entirely unique to the model, as is the brand’s first-ever air suspension system. While there’s no V12 available in the DBX — that honor remains reserved for Rolls-Royce’s almighty $325,000 Cullinan — the AMG-sourced, 4.0-liter twin turbo V8, while similar to the mill found in the DB11 and Vantage, has also been coaxed to produce more power: 542 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, capable of launching it to 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 181 mph.

But building Aston’s first-ever SUV from the ground up enabled unique packaging opportunities in addition to the specific hardware. For instance, market research revealed female drivers were often frustrated because most cars don’t have a place to stash their purse. Daimler’s 9G-Tronic transmission happens to be dimensionally compact, which enabled a sizable cubby to be introduced between the DBX’s front seats. As it stands, the DBX’s interior is just as gorgeously finished as you’d expect, with pretty veneers and acres of supple hides stitched together with imaginative detailing (even though the pretty little HVAC vents look like they couldn’t possibly deliver strong airflow on a toasty summer’s day). And while the nose has been called out (rightfully) as being a tad too similar to the considerably more down-market Ford Escape, the upturned tail is a saucy, visually arresting feature that all but redeems the sins of the front.

Inside the cabin, DBX’s rear legroom is expansive, a fairly transparent concession to the Asian market, where more owners are likely to be chauffeured than drive. However, there’s plenty to enjoy from behind the wheel, where six drive modes (one offering individually tailored settings) allow the DBX to take on different personalities. Default mode is GT, a somewhat tame configuration that gets sharper when switched to Sport, which drops the suspension 0.59 inches. Dial it to Sport Plus, and things get palpably more interesting: The body lowers another 0.59 inches, power gets dialed rearward (which lights up the ESP indicator on the digital dash), and the exhaust adds more bangs and pops. Terrain mode boosts the body up 0.59 inches from baseline, while Terrain Plus offers more articulation at low speeds with an additional 1.2 inches of clearance. Coupled with a 48-volt active anti-roll system, the air suspension is arguably the technical star of the show, allowing for a wide range of damping and body control.

Becker’s urging that I drift the DBX reveals that the limiting factor, at least on these tight Omani roads, is space and visibility, not power. Unlike some high-end SUVs like the Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga, which use a Torsen differential to apportion torque front-to-rear, the DBX inherits an electronic center diff from the AMG E63, enabling up to 100% to be diverted rearward and 47% up front. The result, at least in Sport Plus mode, is an easily coaxed chassis that can kick the tail out with a firm tap of the right pedal. The potential issue with big, heavy cars is that body roll can make them feel even more lumbering and difficult to maneuver. On the other hand, active anti-roll suspension can create a body that’s so flat, it’s hard to gauge when weight shifts during cornering. Although Becker says the DBX I’m sampling is about “80% there,” it doesn’t feel entirely sapped of body roll, which makes it feel fairly comfortable and communicative when driven sideways through a corner.

The engine sound is also appropriately growly and present; though Becker says his team is focusing on bringing out the middle and high registers through the tailpipes, this prototype is still too early to provide an accurate impression of what the production spec car will sound like.

My drive across Oman’s desert plains reveals a swift, smooth-riding experience that combines the familiarity of Aston Martin’s grand touring-focused efforts with the versatility of an SUV. Yet Aston admits that few, if any, DBXs will be taken off-road. No matter. The foam-filled tires soak up quite a bit of road noise, lending it more of a DB11-on-stilts feeling than a brash, canyon-bashing G-Wagen sensation. And with an interior this precious, would you really want to tackle the sand dunes in a DBX?

The leads me to ask Becker where he thinks Aston Martin’s first-ever sport ute fits in the microcosm of pricey crossovers. It’s a difficult question to answer, but the Aston team cross-tested the Porsche Cayenne Turbo most extensively, and Becker says he feels it’s “really good as an all-around car,” though he also admits he found it “a little bit dull.” Nonetheless, he also says he aimed to infuse “more character than a [Bentley] Bentayga,” but something “less extreme than a [Lamborghini] Urus … we wanted to use the good bits from the Cayenne, but give our car more character and soul.”

As mentioned previously, my DBX prototype drive tackled primarily off-road scenarios that are unlikely to be seen by most owners. However, Aston’s first SUV in its nearly-completed state manages to feel special and involving, despite a few warning lights and rough edges that are bound to be ironed out in the final version. More important, it feels like a real Aston Martin, despite venturing into uncharted territory for the company. There’s a lot of generously-funded competition in the segment, but by pairing Aston Martin’s unique brand attributes and hardware from Mercedes-Benz, the DBX is ready for a fight.

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Source: AutoBlog.com