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Lewis Hamilton’s supercar collection sits undriven

Six-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has a collection of supercars worth millions of dollars but he no longer drives any of them.

The Mercedes driver, announced this week as the new owner of a team in the electric off-road Extreme E series starting up next year, told reporters he was doing his best to be environmentally friendly.

“It’s difficult because there are people (who say) like ‘yeah, but you race a Formula One car around every weekend’,” the 35-year-old Briton said on Thursday at the Tuscan Grand Prix at Italy’s Mugello circuit.

“Some of it’s education because not everyone knows the footprint that our sport currently has and what we’re doing in terms of trying to improve that. But I’m making a lot of changes in my personal life.

“I don’t drive any of the cars that I own anymore. I only drive my (electric Mercedes) EQC.”

Formula One issued a sustainability plan last year with the aim of achieving a net zero-carbon footprint for the sport by 2030. It has also promised that all Formula One events would be sustainable by 2025.

Hamilton, a vegan, said he also drove a Smart car and requested to be collected from airports in electric vehicles. He has sold his private jet.

According to media reports, he owns a Ferrari LaFerrari, Pagani Zonda, McLaren P1 and 1960s Shelby Cobra among other cars.

The championship leader said he was impressed by Extreme E’s aims and goals, with each team crew having a mandatory female driver.

The races will be held in some of the most remote and harsh environments including the Brazilian rain forest, Greenland, Saudi Arabian deserts and mountains of Nepal to highlight global warming.

There will be no spectators but races will be broadcast on TV and social media, with cars transported around the world on a boat that doubles as a floating paddock.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ed Osmond)

Lucid Air and Maserati MC20 unveiled | Autoblog Podcast #644

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Associate Editor Byron Hurd. Before they get to the juicy news of the week, they chat about the cars they’ve been driving, including a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, Audi A6 Allroad, Mazda CX-9 and Kia Niro. It’s been a busy week in the news department, with GM investing in Nikola, Lucid Motors launching the Air electric sedan, Maserati unveiling the MC20 mid-engined supercar and a farewell to the Lexus GS. Then they talk about having a newfound respect for the Fox Body Mustang and the Mazda CX-9.

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2023 Maserati MC20 Folgore planned with three-motor electric powertrain

Maserati’s first new model of the 2020s, the MC20, strays from the path that’s leading carmakers towards electrified and connected vehicles. The brand is nonetheless headed in this direction, and Autoblog can reveal it’s planning to release a range of battery-powered cars called Folgore, a name which means thunder in Italian.

Developed in-house, the 800-volt Folgore powertrain consists of one electric motor mounted over the front axle, and two electric motors installed over the rear axle. Sandro Bernardini, the man responsible for the second-generation GranTurismo, told us this configuration is not going to be reserved for high-performance, high-end cars. It will be the norm. And, although the rear motors are bolted into a single unit that’s about the size of a modern four-cylinder engine, there is no mechanical connection between them, meaning Maserati’s electric models will benefit from true torque vectoring. Ditching gasoline isn’t an excuse to stop chasing performance.

As we’ve previously reported, Maserati’s first series-produced battery-powered model will be the next GranTurismo, which is tentatively due out in 2021. Motorists who don’t want or need an electric car will be able to order the coupe with a version of the 3.0-liter Nettuno V6 engine that powers the recently-unveiled MC20. Speaking of, the mid-engined coupe will become a mid-motored, zero-emissions coupe a little bit later in its production run. It was developed with both electricity and gasoline in mind from the get-go.

Bernardini couldn’t share concrete technical specifications, but he noted his team is designing the powertrain to achieve maximum range. Engineers notably went to significant lengths to make the motors smaller, lighter, and more efficient, we’re told, and the technology will be compatible with 300-kilowatt fast-charging. While performance details are also under wraps, Autoblog learned the electric version of the MC20 will “absolutely be more powerful” than its 621-horsepower gasoline-burning counterpart. It will be heavier, too, but the power hike will more than make up for the weight gain, and its handling won’t be adversely affected.

Chassis mock-ups confirm the MC20 Folgore will share its basic underpinnings (including its carbon fiber tub and its subframes) with the gasoline-powered model. Its front motor will occupy the space normally reserved for the frunk, while its rear motor will slot neatly between the two wheels. Maserati is putting the lithium-ion battery pack directly behind the firewall for weight distribution reasons; it will be the heaviest part of the car, after all.

Does an electric MC20 need a low-mounted grille, or air vents chiseled into the rear end? Not necessarily.

“Going electric is the next logical step. We are trying to avoid unnecessary air openings and air outlets, in contrast to some of our competitors that seem to depend on them to convey a message. In our case, it’s about the purity of the body. We can further purify the car by reducing the amount of air intakes and air outlets, which will help us tell the design story even better,” explained Maserati head of design Klaus Busse in an interview with Autoblog.

Francesco Tonon, the head of Maserati’s product planning team, told us the MC20 Folgore will make its debut by 2022, and its debut is penciled in after the Spyder-badged convertible model’s. When it arrives, it will join the aforementioned second-generation GranTurismo and a new SUV positioned below the Levante in Maserati’s family of electric models. Production will take place in Modena, Italy, on the same assembly line that began making the gasoline-powered MC20 in September 2020.

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Henrik Fisker interview, and driving the Polestar 2 | Autoblog Podcast #643

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder. They’ve been driving the updated 2021 Honda Odyssey, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and the new Polestar 2 electric sedan. After reviewing those, they talk about how the Chrysler 300 appears to be withering on the vine. Next, they take time to talk to legendary automotive designer and eponymous Chairman & CEO of Fisker Inc., Mr. Henrik Fisker himself, about jeans, horses and, of course, electric cars. Finally, they help a listener pick a $100,000 supercar in the “Spend My Money” segment.

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This is McLaren’s new carbon fiber tub it will use for future hybrid supercars

Look! It’s a big hunk of carbon fiber! Specifically, it’s McLaren’s new hunk of carbon fiber, and it’s high tech to the max. McLaren says this new structure will be the basis of all hybrid supercars it produces in the future, with the first of those launching in 2021.

There’s no fancy name for the new architecture yet. “MonoCell” was McLaren’s name for the previous chassis, and it was introduced for the 12C many years ago. The new chassis is a clean sheet redesign that was designed “specifically to accommodate new hybrid powertrains.” McLaren developed it in-house at its Composites Technology Center. The chassis are molded and put together at this tech center, then transported 173 miles to McLaren’s production facility in Woking, Surrey. Once there, the rest of the vehicle is assembled around it.

McLaren boasts of “world-first processes” that allow them to strip out excess mass while also improving safety attributes, but specific details are still light on the ground.

“This new, ultra-lightweight carbon fibre chassis boasts greater structural integrity and higher levels of quality than ever before with our new MCTC facility quickly becoming recognized as a global center of excellence in composite materials science and manufacturing,” says Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren.

If you were curious about how McLaren goes about making the carbon fiber tub, it’s included a convenient flow chart to follow. We’ve pasted it below.

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What’s hiding beneath this mystery BMW M8 mule?

Spy photos of a mystery BMW M8 mule being tested at the Nürburgring could be our first glance at BMW’s rumored 600-horsepower plug-in hybrid. The demise of BMW’s mid-engine i8 plug-in hybrid with no news of a direct replacement led us to wonder what BMW really has in store for the future of the formula, but if this early prototype is anything to go on, it may be alive and well. We’re not sure what BMW plans to call its next round of all-electric and plug-in variants, but whatever it ends up being called, the prospect is certainly fascinating. 

Let’s start with what we’re looking at. At first glance, this appears to be a fairly run-of-the-mill BMW M8 with some camouflage over the front and rear, which is about what you’d expect to see from a company that is likely developing alternative bodywork for a mid-cycle update or a new appearance package. Looking more closely, however, we see the strategic tinting of the rear window glass along with very obvious air intake vents where the rear side windows should be. Translation? There’s something back there that 1) needs air flow and 2) BMW doesn’t want us to see. 

To further grease the skids, our spies tell us that the engine in this car did not sound anything like the V8 found under the hood of either the BMW M8 or its racing variant, the M8 GTE, which carries over the former’s front-engine layout. In fact, the spy even referred to the sound as “unusual,” which could just be good salesmanship, but the fact of the matter remains that whatever is under there, it’s not from an M8, or any other 8 Series derivative currently known to us. 

Conveniently, all of the things that make this an unlikely M8 variant, from the mid-engine layout to the unconventional exhaust note, make a compelling case for it as a revival of BMW’s plug-in flagship. Even the wheels appear strikingly similar to those on the BMW Vision M Next concept the company showed at Frankfurt last year, which was said to be a plug-in hybrid with a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine making 600 horsepower. BMW claimed it could do 0-62 mph in 3.0 seconds with a top speed of 186 mph and boasting 62 miles of all-electric range. 

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Hyperion unveils XP-1 hydrogen fuel cell supercar

Did you hear that? It didn’t sound like much, did it? Pretty quiet. Did you feel it? Just a whiff of passing vapor? Either that’s the emissions of a fuel cell supercar, or a big entrepreneurial dream not long for this world. When you see it, though, it’s hard to miss. That’s the Hyperion XP-1, which, after a little teasing, was officially revealed in the video above.

We don’t have a lot of details yet. Hyperion says the hydrogen hypercar can travel 1,000 miles between refueling — a process that takes mere minutes — and that it’ll do 0-60 miles per hour in a blistering 2.2 seconds. Its side aero elements not only help provide high-speed cornering stability, but they house solar panels, “which can articulate to follow the trajectory of the sun.” Hyperion, which also has aerospace and energy arms in addition to its automotive business, plans to produce the XP-1 in the U.S. starting in 2022.

Sure, I was a little flippant in my lede with the vaporware insinuation. We’ve seen a lot of high-tech, green cars come and go without making much of a splash or nary a ripple in the marketplace. We’ve seen it go the other way, too, and we’re still waiting on sure signs of success from others. Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris called the XP-1, in part, “an educational tool for the masses.” He added, “Aerospace engineers have long understood the advantages of hydrogen as the most abundant, lightest element in the universe and now, with this vehicle, consumers will experience its extraordinary value proposition. This is only the beginning of what can be achieved with hydrogen as an energy storage medium. The potential of this fuel is limitless and will revolutionize the energy sector.”

It’s easy (maybe even lazy) to be dismissive of hydrogen with all the gains battery electric vehicles are making, but I still believe hydrogen has a place in the green energy ecosystem, and I’m not alone. Look at Toyota, Hyundai, even a number of countries that see a big future for it in their economies. It currently has its challenges (and listen to our Green Episode of the Autoblog Podcast for more about that) but also plenty of promise, if you know how to look at it. Furthermore, Hyperion says it has a “plan to revolutionize the hydrogen refueling industry.” If that’s the case, it gives the XP-1 — and hydrogen cars in general — a better shot at success.

Anyway, check out the cool fuel cell car from Hyperion in the video and photos above, and debate about it — and about hydrogen — in the comments.

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Driving the McLaren GT, Audi S7 and Vintage Electric Cafe bicycle | Autoblog Podcast #639

In this week’s Autoblog Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore is joined by West Coast Editor James Riswick and Road Test Editor Zac Palmer. This week, they’ve been having some fun in the McLaren GT and the Toyota 86 GT. James has spent some time with the very lovely Vintage Electric Cafe e-bike. They’ve also been driving the Ford Ranger and Audi S7. In the news, Ford gets new leadership, and Micro Machines are back, baby!

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Hybrid Sián Roadster becomes Lamborghini’s most powerful convertible

Lamborghini chopped off the Sián’s top to create its most powerful convertible model to date. The limited-edition Sián Roadster features an innovative hybrid powertrain and a wide panoply of customization options.

Viewed from the front, the Roadster is nearly identical to the Sián coupe introduced at the 2019 edition of the Frankfurt auto show. Its long, low nose wears a carbon fiber splitter and Y-shaped LED headlights. It’s the same story out back, where the shape of the lights again draws a subtle parallel between the Sián and the Countach built between 1974 and 1990. The engine remains visible through a horizontal wings made with carbon fiber, but they’re flanked by deep scoops that start right behind the occupants and flow into a set of air vents.

Surprisingly, the Roadster is just as aerodynamic as the coupe. Autoblog learned it will not come with any kind of roof.

Technology reigns supreme in the cabin. The driver sits in front of a digital, configurable instrument cluster, and a touchscreen integrated into the slanted center stack displays the infotainment system Lamborghini designed in-house. The air vents are 3D-printed, and buyers can customize them by adding their initials. Nearly every part of the interior can be personalized, including the upholstery and the type of the materials used to make trim pieces.

Mitja Borkert, the head of Lamborghini’s design department, previously promised no two examples of the Sián coupe will be identical. It’s reasonable to assume that every Roadster will be equally unique.

The Sián lost its top without losing any of its mechanical panache. The Roadster is identical to the coupe, meaning it’s equipped with Lamborghini’s first production-bound hybrid system. The powertrain consists of a mid-mounted, naturally-aspirated V12 engine and an electric motor integrated into the transmission. It draws electricity from a supercapacitor to inject 34 horses into the driveline, bringing the setup’s total output to 819 horsepower. Lamborghini quotes a 2.9-second sprint from zero to 62 mph, and a 217-mph top speed.

Using a supercapacitor instead of a lithium-ion battery pack is not the easiest or cheapest way to build a hybrid, but engineers claim it’s the best solution. It’s three times more powerful than a battery with a comparable weight; put another way, it’s three times lighter than one with a similar power output. It stores enough electricity to let the motor power the Sián at ultra-low speeds, like when parking or backing up. More important, the jolt of electricity it sends to the wheels ensures the car continues to accelerate even when the transmission is changing gears.

Engineers found ingenious ways to cool the drivetrain. For example, the cooling vanes integrated into the rear end are made with a patented material that reacts to heat. They gradually rotate open as the exhaust gets hotter.

Lamborghini will make 19 examples of the Sián Roadster, and they’re all spoken for. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the coupe model (which is sold out, too) allegedly starts at $2 million before options. Enthusiasts who want to add the Sián to their collection will need to wait until a used example comes up for sale. In the meantime, they can pick up a 23-inch long, 3,696-piece Lego Technic replica, or they can spend $3 million on one of the 63 Sián-inspired, 4,000-horsepower yachts an Italian shipbuilder named Tecnomar will launch starting in 2021.

2020 is the wrong year to launch a car, but Czinger is moving full speed ahead

Los Angeles-based startup Czinger has remained relatively quiet since it unveiled the 21C, a 3D-printed plug-in hybrid hypercar, in February. Its plans to present the model at the 2020 Geneva auto show were derailed when the event was canceled, and it decelerated its operations to comply with California’s COVID-19-related lockdowns, but work never stopped behind the scenes. We caught up with the brand to get a better idea of where it stands.

Jens Sverdrup, the young brand’s chief commercial officer, told Autoblog engineers began testing prototypes on the road and on the track in August 2019. “This is not one of these stories where you see new companies coming out with a mockup or a computer rendering; we have fully functioning cars, and we’ve spent a significant amount of money on them,” he said. Testing abruptly stopped in the spring, fine-tuning a 1,233-horsepower car wasn’t considered an essential activity, but the data gathered in late 2019 and in early 2020 was encouraging.

“We know enough about the car’s performance to say our numbers are conservative,” he explained. “We have a lot of work to do in the area of refinement, but we haven’t experienced any major issues. Our car is well designed and well thought-out. We have test rigs, so the chassis had gone through [about 280,000 miles] of testing before we even started test-driving the car,” he added. Building a car that goes really fast in a straight line and around a bend is relatively easy compared to making it comfortable and docile to drive around town. Czinger wants the 21C to tick the speed and refinement boxes, because the market for bludgeon-like supercars no longer exists.

On-road testing stopped, but development continued. Czinger’s engineers didn’t spend the lock-down period playing Mario Kart on the Wii. Sverdrup revealed the company’s research and development department made several small changes, like improving the 21C’s downforce and shedding weight. It’s too early to tell how these tweaks will affect the car’s zero-to-60-mph time, which is pegged at 1.9 seconds, or its 268-mph top speed. However, he stressed the firm funds product development on its own instead of using deposits to pay for it.

“We’ve not been chasing deposits to fund our R&D. This approach makes us very different from many of the other brands we tend to be compared to. It feels really good not to [rely on deposits]. It means we believe in what we’re doing, we’re not fishing for interest, and we’re committed to doing this. We’ve invested the money up front; this is serious,” he noted.

Czinger should have shown the 21C in motion for the first time at the 2020 edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and it had invited a handful of journalists to take it for a spin, but the event was canceled. What’s next depends largely on the pandemic’s evolution, and whether lock-downs are once again enforced around the world. Production likely won’t start in 2021 as planned, Sverdrup told Autoblog 2022 is more likely, and the delay was inevitable considering the circumstances. Rivian — which has the keys to Amazon’s bottomless purse — had to push back R1T and R1S production until 2021 for the same reason, and even established companies like Chevrolet are struggling to deliver products on time. It won’t have time to build every 2020 Corvette ordered.

2020 is the wrong year to launch a car, or really anything that’s not a vaccine or a mask. Czinger takes comfort in the fact that most of the enthusiasts and potential customers who have seen the 21C so far have liked it.

“Response to the 21C has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve seen some skepticism, of course. We’re a new brand. It’s up to us to be consistent, prove ourselves, and keep pushing to deliver good cars,” Sverdrup stated with a dose of realism we’ve rarely heard echoing through the automotive industry’s start-up corner.

Czinger will cap 21C production at 80 examples, but it doesn’t plan to stop there. It’s in the process of recruiting dealers, and they wouldn’t be doing that simply to sell 80 cars. While Sverdrup stopped short of telling us what’s next, he confirmed there are follow-up models in the pipeline. All will be quick, light, and exclusive, though some will be positioned below the 21C, which carries a base price of $1.7 million. “It’s not hypercar pricing, but it’s also not the Ford Mustang,” Sverdrup said.

And, regardless of what the company builds next, it will be manufactured using a 3D-printing technique developed in-house. It saves a tremendous amount of time and money by eliminating the need to design and manufacture tooling before launching production of, say, a suspension arm.

“It’s the future,” Sverdrup said. “I would be very surprised if, in 20 years, this is not the way cars are built.”

McLaren Sports Series model with V6 hybrid delayed to 2021

In the middle of May, the McLaren Group began the hunt for up to $335 million to endure the downturn caused by the coronavirus, with the conglomerate ready to put every sacred asset on the block for collateral. A few days later, McLaren CEO Mike Flewitt told Automotive News Europe, “This will have cost us probably two years. [In] 2020, we’re going to do very little. I think it’ll take us the whole of ’21 to climb back [to] where we are.” Even though the Woking firm had already moved to cut supply in anticipation of lower sales, a 67% sales drop in Q1 this year led to McLaren laying off 1,200 employees — a quarter of the workforce — across Automotive, Racing, and Applied Technologies divisions. Another casualty of current events is the timeline for the anticipated plug-in hybrid model reported to replace the 570S in the entry-level Sports Series tier. Chatter had suggested McLaren would debut the car this summer and begin deliveries in some markets before the year ended. But Evo magazine reports the coupe will be on the tardy list, a company spokesperson telling PistonHeads the schedule has slid back “a handful of months.”

The PHEV represents a big step, being a volume model built on a brand new platform, powered by a brand new engine at the heart of a brand new powertrain. The twin-turbocharged V6 said to sit behind the cockpit inaugurates a life beyond the small-displacement V8 that has powered every McLaren Automotive product since a 3.8-liter twin-turbo unit entered service in the MP4-12C. We don’t know much about the V6, but spy shots appear to show that it will rev 500 rpm higher than the V8, to 8,000 rpm, and its peak output with electrical assistance will exceed the 570 horsepower in the 570S. The plug-in hybrid component contributes an Electric driving mode to Comfort and Sport modes, the powertrain supposedly able to go 21 miles on battery power. As for looks, the compact body seems to crib from the 720 S in front, the GT in the midsection, and add a lot of cooling apertures in the rear.

The “little” that Flewitt said McLaren would do this year means focusing on the Elva roadster, 765LT, and Speedtail. A spokesperson said testing and development have resumed, and “dealers are [also] already opening for appointments.” Since we’re still not halfway through 2020, it’s hard to imagine what anything will look like when — hell, if — the dust settles. It’s good bet, though, that McLaren could need to recalibrate the two dozen or so remaining models in its Track 25 strategy that envisions 18 new models by 2025.

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Lotus Evija’s wild aero setup is detailed by chief aerodynamicist

The Lotus Evija is a car of firsts for Lotus. To that end, the company has spent a lot of time talking over the details. Today, we get to learn about the wild shape’s aerodynamics and what Lotus engineers were trying to accomplish. Richard Hill, chief aerodynamicist for Lotus takes a dive into all the details, and the video at the top of this post offers a great visual.

“Most cars have to punch a hole in the air, to get through using brute force, but the Evija is unique because of its porosity,” Hill says. “The car literally ‘breathes’ the air. The front acts like a mouth; it ingests the air, sucks every kilogram of value from it – in this case, the downforce – then exhales it through that dramatic rear end.”

We can see what Hill means as we look at the Evija in photos. Instead of a regular front bumper, this one has pass-throughs that direct the air back into the side of the car. Lotus hasn’t released the all-important coefficient of drag figure yet, but we have to imagine it’s very low. The front splitter (below, left) is responsible for a few different things.

The opening in the center takes in air to cool the battery pack that is mounted behind the seats. Then, the outer section of the splitter channels the air to the “e-axle” for cooling of the electrical components. And finally, it also produces downforce. 

There are a couple more tunnels for air to pass through in the rear. These “holes” are likely the most distinctive design feature, especially when accentuated with the LED taillights. Hill says that these are also fully functional and help to reduce drag.

“They feed the wake rearward to help cut drag,” Hill says. “Think of it this way; without them the Evija would be like a parachute but with them it’s a butterfly net, and they make the car unique in the hypercar world.”

On top of all these porous body structures, there are pieces that move. The rear wing can elevate upward from its flush body position and deploy into clean air above, creating more downforce. And then there’s an F1-style drag reduction system. This uses a horizontal plane that deploys from the car to make it slipperier through air.

The final big piece of this puzzle is the underbody sculpting that directs air into the massive rear diffuser. This causes an upwash of air, in turn creating a massive amount of downforce. Hill sums it up quite nicely.

“It’s about keeping the airflow low and flat at the front and guiding it through the body to emerge high at the rear,” Hill says. “Put simply, it transforms the whole car into an inverted wing to produce that all-important dynamic downforce.”

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McLaren Speedtail reveals its hybrid powertrain secrets, and of course it’s impressive

Until now, McLaren has been keeping secrets about its three-seat Speedtail hypercar. We’ve known it’s packing a hybrid powertrain that produces a combined 1,055 horsepower and 848 pound-feet of torque, but that’s about it. Today, McLaren is spilling the beans, and what impressive beans they are.

The combustion engine is a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, rated for 747 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque on its own. Its output is nearly identical to that of the 765LT (rated for 755 horsepower and 590 pound-feet). And yes, the two are both equipped with McLaren’t M840T engines. However, the Speedtail’s hybrid powertrain is named M840TQ, since it features an electric motor to help it along.

And help the Speedtail along it does. McLaren says the single electric motor generates 308 horsepower on its own, which is an astounding figure for its application. The tech on display here is derived from Formula E, and McLaren is claiming it’s the “highest performing installation — including cooling and integration — of any electric motor currently in use in a production road car.” 

McLaren is also bragging about its new battery unit. It’s a 1.647-kilowatt-hour (mighty precise there, McLaren) cylindrical-shaped unit that’s “arranged in a unique way.” What way? McLaren doesn’t say. However, it’s an extremely compact unit, and McLaren claims it’s able to provide the best power-to-weight ratio of any high-voltage battery available today. It says the power density of the battery is four times that of the McLaren P1, the company’s only other hybrid vehicle

As for the cooling system, it’s also state-of-the-art. McLaren says the cells are “thermally controlled by a dielectrical cooling system and permanently immersed in a lightweight, electrically insulative oil which quickly transfers heat away from the cells.” This cooling technology is also being claimed as a first in a production road car. The benefit? It’s highly efficient, and will “allow the cells to run harder and for longer.” All of this is great news for future hybrid McLaren supercars, which are coming soon.

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Ferrari SF90 Stradale Spider spied out testing for the first time

The Ferrari SF90 Stradale is the most powerful and most tech-forward road car to come out of Maranello ever. It’s a plug-in hybrid that puts out a combined 986 horsepower between the boosted V8 and three electric motors. So, of course it’s getting a convertible variant.

These spy shots are our first look at what is likely the SF90 Spider. It’s not exactly clear that this heavily covered up Ferrari is a convertible at a glance. However, the shark fin antenna has been moved from the roof to the rear deck, indicating to us that it might not work on the roof anymore. The bump for the new location is around where we’d expect the engine cover to be. As for the rest of the car, Ferrari does a hell of a job making this supercar look like a shapeless blob. The dual exhaust exits in the same place as the coupe, mounted high up on the rear fascia. Its big, scalloped side air intakes are also semi-visible.

We can’t see the taillights, but Ferrari has left part of the headlight element uncovered. These closely resemble the look of the standard SF90 Stradale. They’re relatively small, horizontal in shape and have small, powerful-looking LED beams.

Expect the Spider to be nearly as quick as the coupe that’s rated to go 0-62 mph in just 2.5 seconds. The all-wheel drive Ferrari is equipped with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Ferrari estimates an electric range of 15.5 miles when the battery is fully charged, so it’ll only be useful for short trips. Deliveries for the coupe are expected to begin this year. We haven’t heard any hard timing for a convertible yet, but expect a reveal sometime in the next year or two.

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Czinger 21C comes in 1,331-hp widebody version, too

Two months after Czinger introduced its 21C tandem-seater hypercar in regular and track-focused trims, there’s already another variant on the table. Jens Sverdrup, the company’s chief commercial officer, told Pistonheads that Czinger wanted to have a widebody derivative with a higher output ready for the Geneva Motor Show, but that didn’t happen. Sverdrup detailed the new version, explaining that engineers tweaked the 2.9-liter twin-turbo V8 and the twin high-power electric motors to increase output by an extra 98 horsepower, from 1,233 hp to 1,331, without increasing the weight of the 992-pound entire hybrid powertrain. This makes what was already the most power-dense V8 engine in the world even more power-dense. The widebody component shows itself in new bodywork over a wider track and wider tires, and it gets its own chassis tune. Said Sverdrup, “Anybody who buys one of our 80 21Cs can tick for a widebody version on the options list, giving them a hypercar that might not be the best for narrow Scottish or Welsh roads, but will definitely be great for the race track.”

Czinger’s spending the time before deliveries begin in 2021 honing engine characteristics to ensure tractability throughout the V8’s 11,000-rpm rev range. We’ve been promised a coupe that’s tame around town, Sverdrup saying, “With the hybrid system you can lean more on the batteries at low revs for more refinement at low speed.” Get above 6,000 rpm, however, and it apparently sounds like “an old F1 engine.”

The California company’s vision for life after the 21C is also in the works, with three models slated to launch starting in 2023. These could be more practical than the opening act, adopting 21C philosophies from the powertrain to the build, and continuing the push toward synthetic fuels. With Czinger backed in part by 3D-printer Divergent 3D and Hong Kong venture capital, engineers are already considering how to design a monocoque with built-in cavities for wiring and fluids, and “complex internal structures that enhance crash safety.” 

The 80 planned builds for the 21C should keep the company busy for the next few years, each car said to take 3,000 to 4,000 man-hours to print and assemble. As for the question of whether Czinger will be around that long, of course, one never knows, but the company supposedly has funding for the next three projects already and, unusual in this space especially, Czinger isn’t asking for deposits for the 21C in order to pay for production. Seeing the dealer network is planned to include “20 established supercar sellers in Europe” by the end of this year, further insight into what’s ahead shouldn’t be long in coming.

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McLaren hybrid sports series prototype spied, possible 570S successor

McLaren has repeatedly said it plans to go hybrid with all of its vehicles in the future. The latest rumors out of Britain point at plans to reveal the first of this new hybrid lineup sometime this year. This heavily camouflaged prototype could be the one we’re waiting for — it even says “hybrid prototype” on the side sill.

Its size and general shape means it’s likely part of McLaren’s Sports Series. The camo does an excellent job of disguising what the sheetmetal underneath looks like. If we had to guess, this car looks like it’d be a replacement for the 570S model. Assuming we’re right about that, it’s probably hiding McLaren’s yet-to-be-revealed twin-turbo V6 engine. Add the electric power into the equation, and it’s likely going to be making much more combined power than the twin-turbo V8 is able to produce on its own now. McLaren’s hybrids are also rumored to be of the plug-in variety, capable of driving about 20 miles off electric power.

The camouflage over top of the engine bay appears to be tented, and it looks a bit like the McLaren GT because of it with the gently sloping line to the back. We don’t even get to see how large the side air intakes are since McLaren has covered these up quite well, too. The high-mounted dual exhaust has us giddy. Its placement reminds us of the 720S exhaust pipes. Under all that is a giant diffuser and wide rubber pushed to the edges of the car.

Last we heard, McLaren was going to release a hybrid model this year, and it would go on sale in 2021. We wouldn’t be surprised if these targets are pushed back due to delays stemming from the coronavirus.

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2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo has the biggest price discount in America

Right now, buyers of the 2020 Lamborghini Huracan Evo are paying an average of $248,000 to drive the brand-new supercar off the dealer lot. That’s a hefty chunk of change, but it represents $16,269 off the car’s average $264,969 retail price, according to data provided to Autoblog by Truecar. That’s the largest discount in America on a new vehicle for the month of April, 2020 when judged by the dollar amount in savings off the sticker.

It’s not all that uncommon to see a lot of money taken off the sticker price of expensive luxury cars. This month, right behind the Lamborghini sits the 2019 BMW 8 Series with a few bucks shy of $11,000 in savings, which is hardly surprising. Though it’s a very sleek and entertaining car in some of its various incarnations, it hasn’t exactly proven to be a hot seller for the German automaker. The fact that there are a total of 15 (!) possible configurations probably doesn’t help. Two other BMWs, the 2020 7 Series ($10,164 in savings) and the 2019 i8 ($10,145) are also on the top 10 biggest discounts list.

In between that BMW sandwich are the 2019 and 2020 editions of the Acura NSX. It doesn’t really matter which one a buyer chooses to drive off the lot, either way lopping off more than $10,000 off the sticker price means the electrified supercar will cost just under $150k.

For a look at the best new car deals in America based on the percentage discount off their suggested asking prices, check out our monthly recap here. And when you’re ready to buy, click here for the Autoblog Smart Buy program, which brings you a hassle-free buying experience with over 9,000 Certified Dealers nationwide.

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Koenigsegg Gemera and Jesko Absolut strut on the supercar maker’s runway

The world seems like a pretty terrible place right now, but there are good things in it, like the two monster Koenigsegg supercars the company revealed a month ago. The Koenigsegg Gemera four-door supercar and the Jesko Absolut high-speed hypercar were showstoppers from the Geneva Motor Show that didn’t happen. And now Koenigsegg released more photos of each at the airfield where its headquarters is located.

Leading the galleries is the Gemera, the newest of the two cars. Besides its unusual shape, a result of having four seats all suitable for adults but still just two doors, it has remarkable technology backing it up. It’s a plug-in hybrid using three electric motors and a turbocharged three-cylinder engine with no camshafts. And it makes a total of 1,700 horsepower. It even has heated and cooled cupholders for each passenger. It’s brilliantly outrageous.

The Jesko Absolut is also wild. It’s aiming to be the fastest car in the world, which would mean a top speed in the 300-mph range. It has potential with the same 1,600-horsepower twin-turbo V8 from the regular Jesko, but is more aerodynamic by losing the rear wing and other drag reductions. It also gets the nifty automatic transmission that can shift to any gear immediately, even out of sequence.

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GFG Style evolves Giugiaro design in the Bandini Dora and Vision 2030 Desert Raid

Fabrizio and Giorgetto Giugiaro, the father-son duo who paired up to create automotive company GFG Style, have been swept up in the wave of the times and gone all-in on electric. In the past four months, GFG Style unveiled three new concept vehicles, all of which use batteries and electric motors for propulsion. The Vision 2030 and Vision 2030 Desert Raid offer new perspectives on off-road-ready supercars, and the Bandini Dora evokes Italian history in a stylish barchetta.

GFG Style started in 2015 and has been hard at work envisioning the future of the automobile. Since opening its doors, the design and consultation firm has crafted seven concept cars, including the Kangaroo, an electric all-terrain supercar that was one of the coolest and most interesting vehicles at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. It seems Fabrizio and Giorgetto couldn’t get the core conceptual nature of the Kangaroo out of their minds, as they debuted another all-terrain EV called the Vision 2030 in November 2019 at the Riyadh Motor Show in Saudi Arabia.

Vision 2030

Pegged as a zero-emission all-wheel-drive hypercar designed for Saudi Arabian roads, the Vision 2030 is named after Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to help the country diversify its core businesses and move away from an independence on oil. “Saudi Arabia asked us to design a model that would perfectly adapt to their region, made up of completely new and decidedly wide roads, but also of deserts with dunes and rough terrains,” Fabrizio said in a press release. Fabrizio continued that the point of the car was a design study in wheels and suspension, which largely dictated the shape of the carbon fiber and aluminum car.

To accommodate the multiple types of terrain, the car’s suspension automatically adjusts based on driving conditions. The Vision 2030 also offers three driving modes, Race, Road and Off-Road, which change the ground clearance between 5.5 to 8.7 inches. Inside, six different digital screens ensure the car is properly connected and the driver is properly informed.

GFG Style says the two-seater Vision 2030 has a 90-kWh battery pack and a single-charge electric range of more than 280 miles. It makes a claimed 510 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-62-mph sprint in 3.8 seconds. 

Vision 2030 Desert Raid

The Desert Raid is one of two concepts that were originally intended to debut at the 2020 Geneva Motor Show before it was canceled due to precautions surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. As indicated by the name, the Desert Raid is an alternate variation of the Vision 2030. GFG Style says the Desert Raid underlines “the true capacity of this project: not to become a hypercar but a hyperSUV.” 

The Desert Raid has the same battery, power, and general performance specifications as the Vision 2030, as they share the same electric powertrain setup. The bodywork, save for the rear, is also the same, but small tweaks make this vehicle specialized for off-roading. Whereas the Vision 2030 had multiple driving modes, this version only has one setup skewed toward handling rough terrain. Thus, it remains at 8.7 inches of ground clearance at all times. It also has a wider track, smaller wheels, new carbon fiber mudguards, and a visible spare tire integrated into the top rear portion of the car. 

Bandini Dora

The second prototype meant for Geneva is the Bandini Dora. Like the other prototypes, it has a space frame aluminum chassis, carbon fiber bodywork, and a 90-kWh battery pack that provides a claimed range of more than 280 miles per full charge. Compared to the Vision 2030 cars, however, the Dora is slightly more amped up. Two electric motors, one on each axle, account for 536 horsepower and 502 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with all-wheel drive, the Dora has a claimed 0-62-mph time of 3.3 seconds.

Riding on 21-inch wheels, the Dora is the work of a collaboration with Bandini, an Italian manufacturer founded by Ilario Bandini that originally ran from 1946 until 1992. The company was resurrected as Bandini Automobili s.r.l, thanks to Ilario’s great grandson Michele, and this car is meant to be an ode to Bandini barchetta race cars of decades past. GFG Style’s Geneva stand was planned to include a Bandini 750 Sport Internazionale from the Mille Miglia Museum.

The Bandini Dora is an open-top two-seater, but its clever design is unlike anything of the past or present. Look closely, and the lines reveal that the windshield and encapsulated cockpit are entirely separate from the car’s roof arches. This was the result of blending old design with new safety standards.

“Today, it is difficult to conceive a Barchetta without considering the evolution there has been in the car concerning safety,” Giugiaro was quoted in the press release. “Inspired by the Halo of Formula One, we thought about creating a car that had a clean windshield as it used to be used with no reinforcements, thus being as linear and light as possible. To solve this need, I thought of an out-and-out superstructure that would integrate into the style with an accentuated structural and protective function for both the driver and passenger.” 

To properly appreciate the affect this design has on the car, it must be looked at from all angles. The prominent lines extends from the front bumper, curve over the front wheels, and swoop inward toward the rear to become part of the active aerodynamics. Because they don’t connect with the glass at any point, they creates all types of negative spaces, intersections, and design features that you just don’t see on normal cars. From the front, it almost looks as if one car has overtaken another car that lives beneath it.

For now, all three vehicles are just prototypes. The video below shows a press conference in which GFG Style announced the new designs.

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The Apex AP-0 is a 649-hp EV that weighs 2,645 pounds

Apex Motors sounds like a brand new name in the game, but the Hong-Kong-based company’s been around for more a few years and through a few transformations. In 2015 a maverick outfit of car designers banded together under the name Elemental to reveal the RP1, powered by 1.0-liter and 2.0-liter EcoBoost engines. By 2017, the 1,278-pound coupe could produce 2,205 pounds of downforce and was running Goodwood. By 2019, the Elemental RP1 had turned into the even-more-evolved Apex AP1, putting out 400 hp from a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder and blitzing from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds.

The brand new AP-0 is the follow-up. As the naming scheme suggests, it takes the top spot in the lineup ahead of the AP-1 by having battery-electric power, a single electric motor turning the rear axles with 649-hp and 427 pound-feet of torque, a 320-mile range on the WLTP cycle, and a 0-60 time of 2.3 seconds. Top speed is 190 mph.

Just as remarkable, and even more unusual for an EV, the whole package weighs 2,645 pounds. Compared to a McLaren 720S, the AP-0 is 4.5 inches shorter but 3.4 inches wider, and while the Apex gives up 61 hp and 131 lb-ft to the Englishman, the AP-0 weighs almost 500 pounds less than the 720S. Compared to performance EVs, the Apex weighs about 1,380 pounds less than a Tesla Model 3 Performance, 1,700 pounds less than a Rimac Concept 2, and almost 2,500 pounds less than a Porsche Taycan Turbo S.

The Apex packs a floor-mounted, 90-kWh lithium-ion battery that consumes 1,213 pounds of its curb weight. When plugged into the right CCS charger, the pack can refill 80% of its charge in 15 minutes; on a standard Type 2 charger, filling up from empty takes eight hours.

The chassis and bodywork is entirely carbon fiber, a central carbon tub and modular spaceframes laid on a rigid carbon spine connect the front to the rear. Outside, the Le Mans-like fin houses a retractable LIDAR system up front and a cross-shaped taillight in back. Built as a road-legal racer for gearheads and sitting just 3.7 inches off the ground, there’s an adjustable pushrod suspension with automatic ride-height adjustment, 14-inch carbon ceramic rotors with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston in the rear, and a pair of 19-inch center-lock wheels up front paired with 20-inchers in back. 

Behind gullwing doors, the carbon, aluminum, and leather interior makes every occupant feel like a racer with a single-seater-style, reclined and feet-up seating position. Three displays for the driver sit atop the instrument panel behind a square steering wheel. To help drivers make the most of track days, Apex says the AP-0 can “gamify the way drivers can learn new racetracks and deliver the ultimate immersive racing experience” through augmented reality projection. The software-based “instructor” can be improved through over-the-air updates. To ensure the instructor knows what it’s talking about, Apex said it wants to build an FIA-approved race track, followed by a racing academy, around its Hong Kong HQ. 

The ambitions only begin there. When off the track, that LIDAR unit is intended to provide Level 3 autonomous capability at launch, with the company saying Level 4 potential is already built in. More handily, the AP-0 will come with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. That’s all down the way, though, the AP-0 not scheduled to enter production until the latter half of 2022, costing around $195,000 for U.S. buyers. If all goes well from here to there, Apex plans to build up to 500 units per year in Britain, what it calls its second home, on the way to introducing a wider lineup of offerings.

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