• Jaguar F-Pace to support Team Sky at Tour de France

    July 1, 2015
    Living up to its name, Jaguar has announced that a prototype version of its upcoming F-Pace utility vehicle will set the pace for Team Sky during the start of this weekend’s Tour de France.
    Acting as Team Sky’s support vehicle, the F-Pace prototype will be responsible for transporting a crew that will include the Team Sky Sports Director, doctor, mechanic and another senior team member. The F-Pace will support rider Chris Froome through the first 21 stages of the race.

    Although the F-Pace’s main role will be that of a support vehicle, Jaguar is also using the event as part of its final shakedown testing of the crossover. In order to keep some secrecy, the prototype F-Pace will be covered in light camouflage.

    Jaguar will officially unveil the F-Pace at the Frankfurt Motor Show this fall. Sales are slated to begin in 2016.

    Exact details remain scarce, but it is believed that the F-Pace will be offered with a supercharged V6. A V8-powered model could also be offered as a range-topper. An all-electric drivetrain for the F-Pace is also in the works.

  • Jaguar Land Rover exec dismisses autonomous vehicles

    July 1, 2015
    A Jaguar Land Rover executive has flatly rejected fully autonomous vehicles as future products for the company.
    The British automaker has been working on advanced driver-assistance technology that monitors brainwaves or allows an SUV to be remotely operated over rough terrain via a smartphone, however JLR research-and-development head Wolfgang Epple suggests the company will not develop vehicles that completely eliminate the driver’s traditional role.

    “We don’t consider customers cargo,” the executive recently told reporters, as quoted by Automotive News. “We don’t want to build a robot that delivers the cargo from A to B.”

    Epple argues that drivers will prefer to still be in control of the vehicle, though he acknowledges the benefits to semi-autonomous technology that is currently under development by JLR and rivals.

    “People want to use the emotional side of the brain and autonomous driving does not generate that experience,” he added. “Very smart and safe autonomous vehicles will appear. They will have cognitive abilities and they will make decisions. But ultimately it’s you the driver that makes that decision.”

    The company expects its remote-control technology and other semi-autonomous features, such as self-parking, to be available on the market by the end of the decade.

  • FCA invests $280M to expand Jeep production in India

    July 1, 2015
    Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has announced plans to establish a Jeep production line in India.
    The company will spend $280 million on the joint-venture project, which involves Indian automaker Tata Motors Limited. The funds will be used to establish a Jeep production line at Fiat-Tata’s existing factory in Ranjangaon.

    “Today marks an important step as we continue to expand the availability of Jeep products around the world,” said FCA chief Sergio Marchionne. “Establishing Jeep production in India will give us the opportunity to offer even more people the chance to experience the freedom and adventure that can come from behind the wheel of a Jeep vehicle.”

    Chrysler began building a Jeep sales network in India late in 2013, however the company later stalled the plans until 2015. The Wrangler and Cherokee are expected to be the first models to arrive in the market, and the Renegade is viewed as another potential candidate.

    The company has not specified which model will roll off the Ranjangaon assembly lines, though production is promised to begin in the second quarter of 2017. Ranjangaon will be the fourth plant outside the US to build Jeep vehicles, following Italy and Brazil. The company also plans to establish a manufacturing presence in China by the fourth quarter of this year.

  • Subaru introduces limited-edition BRZ tS in Japan

    July 1, 2015

    Subaru has introduced the limited-edition BRZ tS in its home country of Japan.
    The tS gains a long list of STI-designed components designed to improve handling. The modifications include stiffer suspension components on both axles, large-diameter half-shafts, a V-shaped brace in the engine bay and a less intrusive Vehicle Dynamics Control. The coupe also gains bigger Brembo brakes on all four corners.

    Visually, Subaru has added new bumpers with cherry red accents and black 18-inch alloys wrapped by Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Buyers can choose from Sunrise Yellow, WR Blue Pearl, Crystal White Pearl and Crystal Black Silica.

    The updates continue in the cabin with a model-specific instrument cluster, faux carbon fiber trim on the dashboard and Recaro bucket seats upholstered in a two-tone combination of leather and Alcantara. Each tS ships with a numbered plaque on the dashboard.

    Mechanically, the tS is standard BRZ fare. Power comes from a 2.0-liter flat-four engine that sends 200 horsepower and 151 lb-ft. of torque to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic unit.

    Just 300 examples of the Subaru BRZ tS will be built (including a maximum of 100 cars finished in Sunrise Yellow), and the coupe will only be sold in Japan. There’s currently no indication that a similar package will be offered in the United States, but that could change as Subaru recently promised that more STI-tuned models will make their way to our shores in the coming years.

  • MD-based firm launches line of carbon fiber supercar bodies

    July 1, 2015
    A Maryland-based company called Vitesse | AuDessus has introduced a new line of custom-built carbon fiber bodies for German, Italian and British supercars.
    The bodies are made using pure carbon fiber that is laid out, cured and finished by hand. Buyers can select one of several different types of weaves, and they can choose to have the body painted just about any color or simply left bare and clear-coated.

    Customers are encouraged to participate in the conversion process, and Vitesse | AuDessus provides them with a long list of visual aids including samples of the different types of carbon fiber and realistic 3D renderings of what the finished car will look like. The body can be an exact replica of an OEM unit, a wild one-off or anything in between.

    Vitesse | AuDessus currently makes bodies for the Ferrari LaFerrari, the Lamborghini Aventador, the Ferrari 458, the Bugatti Veyron as well as a handful of McLaren, Bentley and Aston Martin models.

    Done entirely by hand, the conversion costs anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000 and it can take up to two weeks depending on the model and the scope of the modifications. The parts removed during the process are returned to customers in good condition, meaning the carbon fiber-bodied car can be converted back to stock if necessary.