• Bentley working on $1.5M hypercar?

    September 22, 2015
    Bentley is reportedly considering an exclusive hypercar to celebrate the brand’s 100th birthday.

    “Our centenary would be a good time to create a new limited series car,” chief executive Wolfgang Dürheimer recently told TopGear. “Yes, I could imagine there is space for a Bentley at around £1m (~$1.54 million USD).”

    The company will be expecting the forthcoming Bentayga SUV to drive growth numbers, but Dürheimer is already talking about more limited-production models to help build the brand.

    “The question is, do we build the standard car you would expect in that segment?” he asked. “Or do we go with lots of carbon fibre and lightweight components? Now that would be a car we could take to the big guns.”

    Additional details are unclear, but TopGear speculates that Dürheimer may draw from his experience at the helm of Bugatti and as R&D head at Porsche, where he successfully brought the flagship 918 Spyder to market.

    A report circulating in 2012 suggested Bentley was working on a spiritual successor to the one-off W16-powered Hunaudières concept that first appeared in 1999 at the Geneva Motor Show. The mystery halo car was expected to be the most powerful and expensive in the company’s lineup. It is unclear if the latest report is referencing the same model, which may have been only temporarily shelved while Bentley focused on Bentayga development.

    Bentley will celebrate its centenary in 2019, giving the company a bit of time to finalize its decision to build a new hyper car.

  • GM teases 2017 Buick LaCrosse ahead of LA debut

    September 22, 2015

    General Motors has released its first teaser image for the 2017 Buick LaCrosse.

    The grille shot reveals styling cues borrowed from the Avenir, a concept revealed in Detroit as a future design direction for the sedan. Both share a chrome wing that emanates from the tri-shield logo in the center of the grille and visually connects to the crease above the headlight.

    The Avenir introduced a sculpted design that draws inspiration from the 1954 Wildcat II concept. It is unclear if the next-generation production LaCrosse will closely follow other design features from the concept, such as a long hood and tapered rear end.

    “The Avenir concept shattered expectations of what a Buick could be and the 2017 LaCrosse promises to do the same,” said Buick VP Duncan Aldred. “Its expressive design represents a break from convention and highlights the progressiveness in all new Buick models.”

    The LaCrosse will be built upon an all-new chassis that is both stronger and lighter than the current model. It promises to bring a more dynamic driving experience, with five-link rear suspension for a more responsive ride. Despite the handling improvements, GM claims it will take “Buick’s signature quietness to a new threshold.”

    Additional details will likely be announced ahead of the 2017 LaCrosse’s formal debut in November at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

    Live images by Brian Williams.

  • NHTSA head on VW, GM: ‘We’re questioning everything now’

    September 22, 2015
    Following General Motors’ $900 million ignition-switch settlement and amid Volkswagen’s growing diesel-emissions crisis, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head Mark Rosekind has called for increased industry-wide scrutiny of safety issues.

    “We’re questioning everything now. You have to question all assumptions,” he said during a speech at an Automotive Industry Action Group conference this week, as quoted by Detroit News. “You have to question every assumption when information is provided. It’s a very different place to start.”

    Rosekind warns that being too ‘reactive’ is dangerous. Instead, he argues that government agencies should be more proactive in uncovering wrongdoing, particularly in cases that could have broader implications across the industry.

    “Every time we have an individual automaker, OEM or supplier that we find an issue, your first question has to be, ‘How extensive is it through the whole industry?’” he noted. “You don’t know if it was a unique case or other people doing it.”

    The Environmental Protection Agency will be handling a wider investigation of the VW emissions trick to determine if other companies may be guilty of similar behavior, but the NHTSA will be closely following the inquiry to determine if the alleged cheating extends to any safety issues.

  • BAC Mono Marine single-seater launches from super yachts

    September 22, 2015
    BAC has adapted its Mono single-seat sports car to easily launch from from the cargo hold of a super-yacht.

    The Mono Marine Edition ships with a carbon-fiber crane arm, allowing the 1,278-pound car to be transported on most large yachts. Several lift points built into the chassis further streamline the launch process and help secure the car on a helipad if necessary.

    The car is delivered in an environmentally-controlled container system, with temperature and humidity controls, to help protect against the salty marine conditions. If a rogue wave happens to wash the deck when the car isn’t in a container, an anti-corrosive coating provides an additional layer of protection for all sensitive components.

    Buyers can completely customize the Mono, choosing an exterior paint color that matches their vessel. The car is powered by a 2.5-liter Mountune engine with 305 horsepower.

    Build at BAC’s new dedicated factory in Liverpool at a rate of four units per month, the Mono Marine Edition is currently available to order for £500,000 (~$768,500 USD).

  • VW chief Winterkorn to be fired over emissions fiasco?

    September 22, 2015
    Volkswagen may already be preparing to oust its chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, as the diesel-emissions crisis continues to grow.

    A report in Germany’s Tagesspiegel newspaper, spotted by Reuters, suggests VW’s board on Friday will decide to move forward with a tentative plan to replace Winterkorn with Porsche head Matthias Mueller.

    The automaker has denied the report, however the severity of the scandal is widely expected to result in high-level firings. Although nobody is known to have been killed by the emissions-cheating software, it is unique in its egregious and intentional violation of US law. It is unlikely that such a program was implemented without the knowledge and approval of upper-level management.

    Winterkorn’s leadership was already put into question earlier this year in a public spat with former chairman Ferdinand Piech. The chief executive kept his job, though one of his subordinates, former CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch, was promoted to succeed Piech as chairman.

    The US Department of Justice just weeks ago promised to prosecute more executives for white-collar crimes, backtracking on the light-handed approach under former Attorney General Eric Holder. The government could consequently bring indictments against VW executives or lower workers if investigators uncover enough evidence of a conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.