• Honda Project 2&4 Concept to evolve

    September 27, 2015

    Typically, show cars as radical as Honda’s Project 2&4 Concept make a big splash at auto shows and then fade into the shadows, never to be seen again. However, a new report out of the UK suggests that Honda may not be done with its half-motorcycle, half-race car Frankenstein just yet.

    In an interview with Top Gear, Honda motorcycle designer Martin Petersson told the magazine, “There will be a next step. It’s been too positive for us to go and complete this project in a basement somewhere.”

    Petersson also revealed that, like a motorcycle, the Project 2&4 was designed from the inside out, rather than following the typical automobile design process in which an exterior is penned first. That is likely why the 2&4, a collaboration between Honda’s motorcycle and car design teams, looks so raw.

    The Project 2&4, which had its first public showing at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, is single-seater powered by a 1.0-liter V4 from a MotoGP race bike. Detuned for street use, it still produces over 215 horsepower. The body weighs less than 900 pounds and was inspired by Honda’s 1965 Formula One car that won the Grand Prix of Mexico.

    Some outlets have speculated that it could yield a production model based on Petersson’s comments. Petersson, for his part, admitted there wasn’t a clear direction on its future: “The question is what that next step is.” However, he offered this retort: “The company slogan is ‘The Power of Dreams’. If we don’t believe in it I might as well not go to work, right?”

    Live images by Ronan Glon.

  • Winterkorn to receive at least $32 million in VW exit

    September 27, 2015

    Ex-Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will receive a $32 million pension after resigning his post this week.

    Winterkorn had stepped down on Wednesday amidst one of the largest scandals to rock the automotive world in recent memory, in which 11 million diesel-powered Volkswagen and Audi models were revealed to have been intentionally cheating emissions tests since at least 2009.

    According to Bloomberg, the company’s annual report shows that Winterkorn had amassed a pension worth $32 million for his career at the disgraced automaker, which began when he was hired as head of Group Quality Assurance in 1993 and saw him promoted to CEO in 2007.

    Winterkorn could also earn a second payout of several million more, described as “two years of renumeration”, depending on how the company’s supervisory board rules regarding his departure. This severance is made possible if the supervisory board ends Winterkorn’s contract before it’s up. However, if it is determined that the contract is terminated for reasons he is responsible for, then Winterkorn loses that severance.

    However, the supervisory board has already released a statement recognizing that Winterkorn “had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions data” and that is “has great respect for Chairman Professor Dr. Winterkorn’s offer to resign his position and to ask that his employment agreement be terminated.”

    The Bloomberg report also notes that Winterkorn was Germany’s second-highest paid CEO last year.

  • Next Rolls-Royce Phantom to get aluminum platform?

    September 27, 2015

    BMW-owned Rolls-Royce is preparing to introduce an all-new flagship sedan, and a recent report gives us a better idea of what we can expect from it when it arrives.

    Rolls’ next sedan will be just as big as the 12-year old Phantom that it will replace, but it will be much lighter because it will ride on a new modular platform crafted largely out of aluminum. While both short- and long-wheelbase versions of the still nameless range-topper will be offered, the convertible and the coupe models will be axed due to a relative lack of demand.

    A V12 engine designed with input from BMW will be the only unit available at launch, and we hear that a gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid variant could be added to the lineup a little later in the production run. Anything smaller than a twelve-cylinder has been ruled out at this point.

    Automobile Magazine reports that the sedan will get a more modern and imposing look characterized by a taller front end with rectangular headlights and more striking C-pillars. However, its overall design will be more of an evolution than a revolution, and it will still be instantly recognizable as a member of the prestigious Rolls-Royce family.

    Rolls-Royce’s next flagship sedan is tentatively scheduled to make its public debut at a major auto show next year, and it will go on sale in time for the 2018 model year. When it lands, it will carry a base price of approximately $400,000.

    Note: One-off Rolls-Royce Phantom Serenity pictured.

  • Rolls-Royce introduces Wraith – History of Rugby

    September 27, 2015

    Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke Design Studio has introduced a new one-off model called Wraith – History of Rugby. The coupe’s launch coincides with the rugby world cup that is currently taking place in eleven cities across England.

    The History of Rugby was designed and built as a homage to William Webb Ellis, the man who allegedly invented rugby in 1823. As Rolls-Royce tells it, “with a fine disregard for the rules of [soccer] as played in his time, [Ellis] first took the ball in his arms and ran with it.”

    The coupe gets an English White paint job that matches the color of the British team’s jersey, a subtle deep green stripe right below the belt line and a decorative rose — the symbol of the British team — on both fenders. It rides on 21-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.

    The interior has been spruced up with piano black trim on the top of the dashboard and on the steering wheel, seats upholstered in an off-white leather called Seashell and rose emblems embroidered into the headrests. Model-specific sill plates round out the updates.

    Rolls-Royce has not made any mechanical modification to the History of Rugby, meaning the sport-inspired coupe is powered by a twin-turbocharged 6.6-liter V12 engine that makes 624 horsepower and 590 lb-ft. of torque. The twelve-cylinder sends the 5,200-pound Wraith from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.

    What the future holds for the Rolls-Royce Wraith – History of Rugby is anyone’s guess at this point. However, envious rugby aficionados who aren’t the lucky new owner of this custom-built model are invited to pick up one of the limited-edition balls that Gilbert has manufactured using the same Seashell and Hotspur Red leather that’s found in the cockpit.