MERCEDES-BENZ G500 4×4 SQUARED ENDS PRODUCTION

The utterly ridiculous Mercedes-Benz G500 4×42 had no business heading to market, but we’re glad it did. Mercedes-Benz announced that production on the model is coming to an end, and if you want one, you have until the end of the month to place an order. Prices start at 231,693 euros.

Inspired by the public’s strong reactions to a similar concept vehicle, Mercedes-Benz introduced the G500 4×42 in December 2015. The model later came to the U.S. market in 2017.

Not only is the vehicle more than 7 feet wide, it’s 7 feet, 9 inches tall and has nearly 18 inches of ground clearance. The model is known for its military-grade portal axles that help it handle extreme off-road adventures, including fording water more than 3 feet deep. Power comes from a twin-turbo 4.0-liter  V-8 engine that makes 422 hp.

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the most bonkers G-Class Mercedes has ever built. How can we forget the G63 AMG 6×6 that rides on three portal axles and weighs over 9,000 pounds?

Mercedes-Benz recently introduced 1:18 scale models of the G500 4×42 apparently as a send-off. Fortunately, there’s still the regular G63 AMG that packs a whopping 563 hp from its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8. And there’s the even more powerful G65 AMG producing 621 hp from a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V-12.

REPORT: MAZDA ROTARY ENGINE COULD ARRIVE AS SOON AS 2019

Mazda’s rotary engine is coming sooner than expected, but not powering a sports car. Speaking to Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi, Mazda’s global powertrain boss, said that the rotary engine will become a range extender for the automaker’s upcoming electric vehicle.

During a technology preview in Japan, Hitomi said to Automotive News that a rotary engine is ideal as a range extender because it’s small, powerful and doesn’t generate much vibration. Mazda’s first EV is expected to hit the market alongside a hybrid in 2019. Akira Kyomen, program manager for vehicle development, revealed that there will be two variants of the EV, pure electric and one with a range extender. Japan, Europe and China will be the key target markets for the pure EV as Mazda believes these type of vehicles can get by with less range. In North America, on the other hand, the range extender is a necessity because consumer have longer daily drives, according to Kyomen. Along with the two-model strategy for its EV, Mazda has developed a new vehicle platform that will also debut in 2019 and it’s been engineered with EV and hybrid powertrains in mid.

Hitomi also revealed that a second, larger, more powerful rotary engine is also under development. This unit is expected to power a high performance sports car in the future that will slot above the Mazda MX-5 Miata. However, Hitomi told Automotive News that the main issue remains making a business case for the vehicle and whether the automaker will be able to sell enough cars.

Originally introduced in the Cosmo Sport, the rotary engine first appeared in a Mazda vehicle in 1967 and powered a number of sports cars including the third-generation RX-7, which featured a 1.3-liter two-rotor unit with sequential twin-turbocharging. Mazda remains the only Japanese automaker to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans and it did it using the rotary-powered 787B race car.

REFRESHING OR REVOLTING: 2018 HONDA ACCORD VS. TOYOTA CAMRY

You know which vehicle won our recent Accord vs. Camry comparison test, but now it’s time to take a look at the design differences between the two midsizers. Fresh off redesigns for the 2018 model year, both vehicles now feature bolder sheetmetal, making it clear they are jockeying for sedan buyers’ attention. So which one wins the styling crown?

When it comes to the front end design, the Accord features a structured look dominated by horizontal lines. The grille is flat and consists of rectangular shapes, while the Toyotafeatures a more layered look. Some trim levels of the Camry have silver grille slats that wrap across from one end of the front fascia to the other, while others have a grille dominated by trapezoid and rhombus shapes. Meanwhile, the Honda features fog lights slotted below the headlights, unlike the Toyota. Overall, we’d say the Toyota looks a bit more three dimensional, which perhaps makes it more visually interesting up front. And we might dock a few points from the Honda because of its silver bar that cuts into the top of the headlights, creating a furrowed eyebrow look.

The Accord shares the same overall length as the Camry, except SE and XSE Camrys are longer by just a hair. While you won’t notice any differences in length, the two cars appear quite distinct in shape when examining them from their side profiles. The Toyota appears to have a rounded snout while the Accord’s nose comes down sharply into an almost 90-degree angle. Compared to the Camry, the Accord features more structured character lines that run across the side. One consistent line on top of the doors runs from the hood to the rear, compared to the Camry that has a more fluid line in the same area. Harsh lines run across the lower portion of the doors on the Accord, while the Camry features a softer indentation.

In the rear, the Accord dons the same C-shaped taillights as the Civic. However, the Camry has more typical taillights. Both cars feature small rear decklid spoilers and sculpted rear bumpers. The Toyota gets “Camry” badging between the taillights.

Just like much of the exterior, the Camry features more fluid lines in its interior compared to the Accord. The Camry’s infotainment screen sits on a curved upper center console that melds into the lower area near the cupholders. The dashboard also features swoopy, dramatic lines. Meanwhile, the Accord is once again dominated by boxier shapes. A rectangular infotainment screen sits on top of the dashboard, while the Camry’s screen is embedded in. Both feature 8-inch infotainment screens and 7-inch digital instrument cluster displays.

U.S. WANTS AUTOMAKERS TO USE MORE NORTH AMERICAN PARTS ON CARS

The United States has proposed more North American parts and steel in cars built under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) during the latest round of negotiation talks with Canada and Mexico.

Reuters cites sources familiar with the talks, who say the mood is bad in the fourth of seven planned discussions regarding NAFTA. The U.S. previously proposed a sunset clause that would see the deal expire in five years. Both Canada and Mexico opposed that idea as well as the latest parts content demand that would require trucks, cars, and large engines to contain 85 percent North American parts content (up from 62.5 percent) and 50 percent U.S.-made parts, according to sources. President Donald Trump has railed against NAFTA since his campaign days, calling it an unfair deal that the U.S. must renegotiate or walk away from. According to Trump administration officials, current content rules don’t do enough to discourage automakers from using parts from China or other low-wage Asian countries.

Future site of Toyota’s plant in Guanajuato, Mexico

In addition to the increased regional parts content, the U.S. wants automakers to ensure North American steel, aluminum, copper, and plastic resins are used. Canada and Mexico say meeting these demands would mean disrupting the North American auto industry. The Trump Administration also hopes to stop vehicle production from leaving the U.S. for Mexico.

Upping regional content requirements would raise costs and would defeat the benefits of NAFTA’s tariff-free arrangement, according to auto industry groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce calls the demands “poison pill” proposals that will sink the deal.

Both Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said they were committed to achieving a “win-win-win” deal. The talks are scheduled to run through October 17, and three more meetings are on the books.

New BMW X2 SUV: teased at Milan Fashion Week ahead of 2018 launch

Image result for New BMW X2 SUV: teased at Milan Fashion Week ahead of 2018 launch

We get another look at BMW’s new sporty X2 crossover’s shape before it hits the showrooms in 2018

The new BMW X2 has been shown-off again with a camouflaged car doing the rounds at Milan Fashion Week.

We’ve already seen plenty of spy shots of the forthcoming BMW X2with the most recent images revealing more of the roof line of the sporty new crossover. While the X2 will share its running gear with the X1, as well as the 2 Series Active Tourer and MINI Countryman, the newcomer will get a sportier look, with a swept-back windscreen and a smaller glass area than the more upright X1.

With a pared back diguise, it’s clear that the rear windows taper towards the back of the car, where the high-set tail-lights and small rear windscreen add to the sporty look.

Our spies also managed to get a glimpse of the interior, where BMW’s iDrive controller, a three-spoke steering wheel and the X1’s infotainment screen and climate controls were clearly visible, and it’s apparent that the X2’s interior won’t be a radical departure from the rest of the range.

The X2 is scheduled to appear in 2018, and it will slot into BMW’s crossover range between the X1 and X3. It will share its platform with the X1, so it will use the front-wheel-drive UKL structure also found under the 2 Series MPV and MINI Countryman. However, like top-spec versions of all these cars, xDrive four-wheel drive will be available.

These latest spy shots follow the leak earlier this year of renderings submitted to Japanese patent authorities that revealed the all-new member of BMW’s ‘X’ line-up of SUVs goes on sale in 2018.

Looking side on, the production X2 carries over a near identical profile, boasting the same lines and window openings – even the badge on the C-pillar will be carried over for production.

Changes at the rear are a bit more noticeable. The large, chunky bash plate of the concept, along with its two exhaust exits, has been changed. Instead a smaller skid plate is present, while basic models will get a modest single exhaust poking out of the rear. The taillights have also swollen in size.

The leaked renders complement the spy shots we’ve published of the X2, including pictures of this recent sighting at the Nurburgring. The race track location and sporty, low profile tyres strongly suggest that BMW is already hard at work prepping a performance variant of the X2.

The most basic versions of the new  X2 will share the X1’s petrol and diesel engines, which means all will be turbocharged and have four cylinders. While there may be a front-drive sDrive18d, most X2s will use xDrive four-wheel drive. 

The sportier M-developed high-performance version, which could be pictured here may be powered by an uprated version of the 2.0-litre petrol engine, and the car could carry the BMW M25i badge. 

We’ll see the finished X2 production car at the end of 2017, ahead of deliveries in 2018. Prices are expected to start at just under £30,000 to position the car between the current X1 and an all-new BMW X3, due for launch in mid-2017. 

The X2 will be the third Sports Activity Coupe to be launched by BMW, following on from the larger X6 and X4, although the Concept X2 does have a more practical look about it.

According to design boss Adrian van Hooydonk, the Concept X2 is designed as a vehicle that “combines enjoyment with practicality”, while Head of Design Karim Habib highlighted that the car “combines the fast-moving body languge and low-slung proportions of a coupe with the robust construction of an X model”.

Up front, there’s a large kidney grille flanked by slender headlights with a unique LED running light signature, while the big front bumper and silver lower trim give it a rugged SUV look. Further back, the low roof line and narrow windows are where the Concept X2 delivers on the coupe design cues, although it’s more like a hatch than sports car.

There are sharply angled C-pillars featuring BMW’s signature Hofmeister kink and a BMW roundel, which is a nod to sports cars such as the BMW CSL, which featured badges in the same place.

Wide wheelarches add some muscle, while the vast 21-inch wheels complete the car’s profile. At the back, the raked tailgate isn’t quite like the hatchback rear ends found on an X6 or X4, so the X2 should add more practicality despite its sleek styling.

From the rear, the Concept X2 features a centrally mounted BMW badge flanked by slender tail-lights, while the number plate is set into the bumper, similar in style to the BMW 1 Series hatch.

The Concept X2 is purely an exterior study with its blacked-out windows, but the production model is very likely to use the same cabin layout as the firm’s X1. The production version will be based on that car’s UKL2 platform that also underpins the firm’s 2 Series Active and Gran Tourer MPVs. This means that the X2 will be the fourth front-wheel drive BMW to join the line-up.

MOT exemption for cars over 40 years old arrives in May 2018

MOT exemption for cars over 40 years old arrives in May 2018

The Department for Transport has announced that classic cars more than 40 years old will be exempt from MOT testing, with owners voluntarily electing for an MOT if they feel their car needs one.

Currently, only cars from before 1960 are exempt, which represents 197,000 cars on UK roads. The new rules will exempt a further 293,000 cars from MOTs.

The thinking behind the decision, according to the DfT, is that these cars are “usually maintained in good condition and used on few occasions”. The decision also eases concerns that garages may not be adequately testing cars over this age, as the modern MOT applies less to cars of this age.

The new date would also bring the age of cars exempt from MOTs in line with the exemption of road tax. The Government dismissed concerns that these cars pose a greater risk of failure than modern ones; cars registered in the interim period between the old exemption and the upcoming exemption have a substantially lower rate of failure than the national average.

“We consider the element of risk arising from taking vehicles over 40 years old out of the testing regime is small. The option for owners to submit their vehicles to a voluntary MOT test will remain and they will still, like all vehicle owners, need to ensure that they meet the legal requirement of keeping their vehicle in a roadworthy condition at all time.”

Of the 2217 respondents consulted for the proposal, more than half supported the suggested annual or biennial roadworthiness test for 40-year-old vehicles, checking the cars’ identity, brakes, steering, tyres and lights. The DfT has rejected this approach, saying: “Those owners who feel an annual check is needed will be able to submit their vehicles for a voluntary MOT.”

A stronger majority voted against exemption of vehicles aged 30 years or older from MOT tests; the DfT sided with the consultation on this proposal, citing accident data as well as the strong negative reaction from the public to this suggestion.

Ferrari sells for record $10 million at charity auction

A LaFerrari Aperta supercar just sold at a charity auction for a record €8.3 million ($10 million) — the most money ever fetched by a 21st century vehicle.

The sale was made at the Ferrari factory in Italy during a celebration for the automaker’s 70th anniversary.

The futuristic Aperta, which has yet to be assembled, sold Saturday for twice the amount auctioneers expected after a bidding war between at least 12 auction attendees, the auction house RM Sotheby’s said in a press release.

The buyer — whose identity was not revealed — saw nothing but a digital mockup of the finished product before making the purchase.

Image result for Ferrari sells for record $10 million at charity auction

Once completed, the Aperta will be sprayed with “one-of-a-kind stunning metallic” red paint. It’ll also sport two white racing stripes along its body, while the interior will be trimmed with black leather, red stitching and black carbon fiber paneling.

It’ll be the 210th and last La Ferrari Aperta ever made.

RM Sotheby’s said of the Ferrari, “There has never been another vehicle as eagerly anticipated or as technologically advanced” throughout the carmaker’s history.

The car’s entire $10 million sale price will be donated to Save the Children, an international youth education charity, RM Sotheby’s said.

While it is a record price tag for a car built after the year 2000, it should be noted that prices are typically higher when auction proceeds are intended for charity.

Car sales hit major speed bump in Brexit Britain

Car sales hit major speed bump in Brexit Britain

Is the British auto industry running out of gas?

Auto sales in the U.K. dropped by 9.3% in July compared to the previous year, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. It was the fourth consecutive monthly decline.

It’s a trend being driven by uncertainty over Brexit.

“The fall in consumer and business confidence is having a knock on effect on demand in the new car market and government must act quickly to provide concrete plans regarding Brexit,” said Mike Hawes, the industry group’s chief executive.

Britain started exit negotiations with the European Union in June, but there has been little clarity on what its future relationship with the bloc might look like.

Many businesses have delayed investments while they wait for more information. Consumers, meanwhile, are avoiding major purchases where they can.

The consumer spending slowdown has been fueled in large part by a sharp decline in the value of the pound, which has dropped 13% since the referendum in June 2016. Its weakness has made imported goods more expensive.

“This is consistent with the overall softness in consumer spending over the year so far, particularly a reluctance to make major buys,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club.

Related: These countries want to ditch gas and diesel cars

mini car uk brexit

It’s not just auto sales that are suffering.

The number of cars produced in the U.K. fell by nearly 14% in June compared to the previous year, according to SMMT data released last week. It was the third consecutive month of lower output in row.

Britain’s auto industry, which is worth an estimated $100 billion, was at the forefront of Brexit fears even before sales and production numbers dropped.

Cars made in Britain get nearly 60% of their parts from outside the U.K. — mostly from the EU — and about 55% of those cars are sold back into the EU. Any new tariffs resulting from Brexit would seriously hurt the profitability of domestic automakers.

Industry executives are facing key decisions on investment and production in the U.K. They may feel compelled to make new models in the EU, rather than risk facing new tariffs on exports (and imported parts) after Brexit.

The industry has received one boost in recent weeks. BMW (BMWYY) announced in late July that it will produce new electric Minis at an existing factory in Oxford, England that employs 4,200 workers.

 

Ford will create new brand to make electric cars in China

Ford will create new brand to make electric cars in China

Ford wants to crack the world’s largest auto market with fully electric vehicles sold under a new brand.

The company announced plans on Tuesday to form a new joint venture with Anhui Zotye Automobile Co., a Chinese brand that specializes in all-electric vehicles.

Ford and Zotye are exploring a 50:50 partnership to produce a line of electric vehicles. Ford (F)said the cars would be sold under a new brand, but did not offer additional details.

The move coincides with a major push for more electric cars by the Chinese government, which is trying to reduce pollution in major cities. Beijing is offering incentives to encourage the sale of cleaner vehicles.

China already accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency. Zotye, which does not produce gas or diesel cars, sold more than 16,000 electric vehicles through July this year — a 56% increase from the same period in 2016.

Bill Russo, managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Company, said Ford is the first global automaker to partner with a local firm that exclusively produces electric cars.

“Multinationals have been playing a bit of wait and see in China,” he said. “Now, Ford is convinced they need to be in the game.”

But Ford is not the only major international automaker trying to increase electric vehicle sales in China.

Earlier this month, General Motors (GM) started selling a tiny electric car in China that costs about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives.

The vehicle — the Baojun E100 — is made in China by a joint venture between GM and China’s SAIC and Wuling Motors.

In June, Volkswagen (VLKAF) finalized a joint venture with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile (JAC Motor) to produce electric vehicles.

GM is selling a $5,000 electric car in China

General Motors will start selling a tiny electric car in China this week that will cost about $5,300 after national and local electric vehicle incentives, according to GM.

For that sort of price, the Baojun E100 is no Cadillac, of course. The two-seat car’s wheelbase — the distance from the center of the front wheels to the center of the rear wheels — is just 63 inches. That’s about 10 inches shorter than Daimler’s (DDAIF) Smart ForTwo, a car that is already remarkable for its stubby proportions.

Prices for the car start at RMB 93,900, or about $14,000, before incentives.

The E100, which is Baojun’s first electric car, is powered by a single 39-horsepower electric motor and has a top speed of 62 miles an hour. The E100 can drive about 96 miles on a fully charged battery, according to GM (GM).

baojun 100
The Baojun E100 has a top speed of 100 kilometers an hour, or 62 miles an hour.

The E100 does offer some amenities, such as an entertainment system with a 7-inch screen and built-in WiFi. All versions of the car will have parking sensors and pedestrian alert systems among other safety features. High-end models are available with a touchpad and keyless entry.

India to sell only electric cars by 2030

Baojun is a mass-market car brand from General Motors’ SAIC-GM-Wuling joint venture in China. It’s China’s eighth most popular car brand, according to data from LMC Automotive, ranking below brands like Volkswagen, Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC) and Buick.

baojun 100
The Baojun E100 is even smaller than a Smart ForTwo.

More than 5,000 people have already registered to buy the first 200 vehicles, according to GM. Another 500 vehicles will be made available this week, and buyers will be chosen on a first-come-first-served basis, a GM spokerson said. Sales will initially be limited to the Guanxi region of southern China, but GM plans to sell the car more widely in China. A GM spokesperson declined to say exactly how many it expects to sell.

China is the largest automotive market in the world, and its government is making a big push for electric cars. Already, China accounts for 40% of all electric cars sold worldwide, according to the International Energy Agency.