• Tesla to take on ride-sharing with autonomous vehicles?

    August 10, 2015

    Tesla is reportedly mulling over its own ride-sharing business, powered by its own autonomous vehicles, going head-to-head against companies like Uber and Lyft.

    The insight came during Tesla’s Q2 earnings call this week, when a Morgan Stanley pointedly asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about recent statements from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick about wanting to purchase every single example of the 500,000 autonomous cars Tesla plans to build by 2020. Would Tesla “cut out the middle man and sell on-demand electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?” Jones asked.

    “That is an insightful question,” Musk replied, after a deafening four-second silence, “I don’t think I should answer it.” However, by not answering the question it seems that Musk already has, implying that he is already considered the possibility of entering the ride-sharing arena.

    Other salient points gleaned from the call include information about the Model X, whose online configurator will go live before the end of the month. The first deliveries of the crossover will take place in early September. Meanwhile, the entry-level premium Model 3 will introduce a new motor. Speaking of autonomous cars, Tesla’s Autopilot, which allows the car to self-drive on the highway and park itself, will begin beta testing August 15 and will be released late September or early October.

  • 2016 Lexus LX spy photos reveal interior and exterior updates

    August 10, 2015

    Photos of the 2016 Lexus LX have leaked ahead of the SUV’s official reveal. The marque’s top-of-the-line SUV has been drastically facelifted for its next refresh.

    Though it is unlikely that the stalwart body-on-frame SUV will receive many mechanical upgrades, images captured in Dubai reveal a significantly altered exterior and interior. It is also no surprise that the Land Cruiser-based luxury SUV was spotted in Dubai, as the UAE is one of the most lucrative markets for Toyota’s flagship sport utilities. The region even offers a 450hp factory supercharged version.

    The most noticeable change is the massive spindle grille that now dominates the front end. Gone is the body-colored bar that used to bisect the opening, and the entire affair is now surrounded in chrome. Headlights too, are now larger, butting up right against the grille and sweeping back further. The lighting systems appear to be LED units accompanied by in-board L-swoosh DRLs.

    From the rear, the bumper areas appear blockier, with reshaped LED L-motif taillights. The wheels have also been redesigned, now with a black or gunmetal (it’s hard to tell behind the plastic covers) finish with polished spokes.

    The interior also sees a major update, with a completely redesigned center console that puts it in line with the rest of the Lexus lineup. The instrument cluster sees a lot more chrome and metal finishes while the steering wheel is now a three-spoke design. The dash is bisected horizontally with lengthwise wood trim and an analog clock as the centerpiece. The new multifunction display looks absolutely gigantic, larger than the screen on the laptop this article is being typed on right now, tucked in its own alcove. Headrest-mounted screens for rear seat passengers likewise have grown considerably in size.

    Expect an official announcement by Lexus shortly.

  • Lamborghini Aventador SV Roadster to debut at Pebble Beach

    August 10, 2015

    Lamborghini has announced the Aventador LP 750-4 Superveloce Roadster will be presented next week during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The convertible will make its debut at The Quail, a Motorsport Gathering.

    Details won’t be published until next week, but spy shots taken on the roads outside of Lamborghini’s Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, factory give us a good idea of what to expect from the SV Roadster. It is fitted with roughly the same body kit as the coupe model that was presented in Geneva last March, but it stands out thanks to a two-piece hard top crafted out of carbon fiber. Tipping the scale at just 26 pounds, the hard top can be conveniently stowed in the trunk.

    Lamborghini is not expected to make any mechanical modifications to the Roadster, meaning that power comes from a Superveloce-sourced naturally-aspirated 6.5-liter V12 engine that makes 750 horsepower at 8,400 rpm and over 500 lb-ft. of torque. Linked to a seven-speed transmission, the hand-built 12-cylinder sends the Roadster from zero to 60 mph in less than three seconds and on to a top speed of roughly 220 mph.

    The Superveloce weighs roughly 3,472 pounds, a figure that makes it just 110 pounds heavier than the coupe but over 100 pounds lighter than the regular-production Aventador Roadster.

    Pricing information hasn’t been published yet, but production will be limited to only 500 examples so it will sell out quickly.

    The SV Roadster won’t be the only new model on display at Pebble Beach. Lamborghini has confirmed plans to unveil a second car during the event, and industry rumors indicate the Raging Bull will unleash an even faster and more exclusive model tentatively called Hyperveloce.

  • VW celebrates 40 years of Polo with special edition model

    August 10, 2015
    Volkswagen is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Polo city car with a limited-edition model. Called Original edition, the commemorative Polo is only offered in Germany.

    Outside, the Original immediately stands out from the regular Polo thanks to a model-specific paint color called Honey Orange Metallic (pictured), though buyers looking to keep a low profile have a palette of more discreet colors to choose from. The list of visual enhancements also includes body-colored mirrors, blacked-out tail lamps and a gloss black grille. 16-inch alloy wheels and “Original” emblems on both fenders wrap up the look.

    Inside, the Polo Original gains black and orange plaid inserts in the seats, aluminum pedal caps and new sill plates. All Original cars come standard with numerous high-tech features including a rear-view camera, automatic A/C, and Volkswagen’s front assist with city emergency braking technology.

    Original buyers can choose from several gasoline- and diesel-burning engines, though the GTI’s 189-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder isn’t available. All engines send power to the front wheels, and many can be ordered with either a manual transmission or a dual-clutch automatic unit controlled by steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.

    Volkswagen will build just 1,000 examples of the Polo Original. On sale now, each one carries a base price of €19,950, a sum that converts to approximately $22,000.