Renault Reveals Hydrogen Cell Prototype SUV

Renault recently revealed a prototype of a hydrogen fuel cell driven SUV in a race to catch up with its rivals.

Renault named the vehicle Scenic Vision and stated that it would not be commercially available until sometime in the 2030s. However, a fully electric version will be out by 2024, according to the automaker.

Both contemporary electric cars and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles employ an electric motor. In the case of the fuel cell vehicle the difference is the electricity is produced through using hydrogen, which enhances the range of the battery.

A 16kW fuel cell would extend the car’s range to 800km without recharging. The battery will be twice as light. The result will be a 75% reduction in its carbon footprint compared to a typical  electric model, according to Renault.

Renault’s prototype Scenic Vision comes as the automaker pushes into the future with plants to split its business into an electric arm and a combustion arm.

Rolls-Royce Phantom Gets Cosmetic Upgrades

The Rolls-Royce Phantom, the carmakers range-topping model, with a slew of subtle tweaks meant to keep it competitive against opponents from Mercedes-Maybach and Bentley.

The most obvious changes include a somewhat reworked front grill. It features a more majestic badge and a darker finish as well as the emblem being illuminated, as it is on the Rolls-Royce Ghost.

Now there is a polished horizontal line between the daytime-running lights which gives the car an added assertive modernity which reflects its driver-focused spirit, from a statement from Rolls-Royce.

The Phantom’s nighttime presence has been heightened with an upgrade to its headlights, laser cut star shaped motifs.

New stainless-steel wheels with triangular details increase its modern look, however 1920’s disc wheels are also available for a more classic tone.

A thicker steering wheel has been fitted inside, but the rest of the cabin remains the same.

A new silver white interior color scheme is available, Rolls-Royce calls it Phantom Plantio. This styling includes leather front seats and bamboo-derived upholstery for the back seats.

The specs on the Phantom remain unchanged. The Rolls-Royce Phantom still employs a twin-turbocharged 6.75 liter V12 engine.


New Ferrari One-Off: SP48 Unica

The F8 Tributo, a mid-range engine supercar, as been reimagined by creator Ferrari to birth the SP48 Unica for a long-time customer.

After last years V12 BR20, the SP48 is Ferrari’s latest entry into their extra exclusive One-Off series and burrows the Tributo’s 710bhp twin-turbo V8 engine.

The Unica was created by the Ferrari Styling Center. The car has an angular front end and a windowless, bold rear and wraparound light bar. The Unica has several major style differences including new headlights and relocated cooling vents for the brakes.

The SP48 was named as such by Ferrari because it is the automaker’s forty-eighth special project car. Its design is intended to look simultaneously new and recognizable as the child of the Tributo.

The interior of the Unica, however, owes its lineage to the F8, with which the creators used a generous measure of Alcantara upholstery and carbonfiber trim embellishments. Ferrari stated that the styling reflects the SP48 Unica’s aggressive, sporty and sleek character.

They also stated that the SP48 Unica is a success in its goal at transforming an existing vehicle to something unique yet paying deference to the company’s values of passion and innovation.”

New Dog Teaches Old Car Plant New Tricks

The VanDyke Ford Transmission Plant will be welcoming a strange visitor this August. A 70lbs robot, dog like in appearance, nicknamed Fluffy will spend two days at the Macomb County plant.

Fluffy’s job in those two workdays will be to conduct a laser scan on a section of the plant floor. Scans like these are performed before retooling. If the experiment is successful, Ford will consider more frequent scans. This would allow Ford to prepare rolling out new vehicles sooner which in the modern competitive market could be a real advantage.

Ford is leasing Fluffy and his buddy Spot (a similar robot) from Boston Dynamics for one year. No one would say what the cost was but Ford did state it would cost less than a typical scan which runs the automaker $300,000 apiece. Boston Dynamics list the purchase price of such a robot at $74,500

While Spot won’t be joining Fluffy, a third round robot named Scouter will be. Scouter’s job is to give Fluffy a ride to save its energy.

Fluffy and his five cameras have proven skillful in many situations. For example, it has no problem navigating steps and can pick it self up if it falls. Fluffy is pretty maneuverable, which is why it is so versatile. It is controlled by a gaming-like set of joy sticks.

New Player in Passenger Van Market

European car maker Citroën is going the small market for EV passenger vans with its all electric Spacetourer model.

The e-Spacetourer, up to 9 passengers, features an electric motor which puts out 134bhp and 192lb ft of torque. This replaces the original’s diesel engine. The e-Spacetourer employs a 50kWh battery pack. This gives it a WLTP-certified range of 143 miles and a top speed of 80mph.

The eSpacetourer also includes three driving modes to increase range. Its “Eco” mode drops the output significantly to 80bhp as well as the air-conditioner’s power draw. The “Normal” setting increases power to the mid-range of 107bhp. The “Power” setting give out the full 134bhp.

Citroën says the battery pack, with its under-floor position, takes up no space from the inside of the medium length Spacetourer (4.95m). The battery is has an 8-year, 100k mile warranty.

The e-Spacetourer comes standard with a Type 2 home charger with an 7.4kW wall box has an option The van can also rapid charge up to 100kW. This rapid charge can take the battery from zero to 80% in just 30 minutes.

Integra 2023

Many are celebrating the return of the this famous namesake to the Acura stable. The Integra prototype is painted in Indy Yellow Pearl that the Acura NSX sports. The prototype, many believe, is probably a strong indicator of what the exterior design of the 2023 Acura Integra will look like. Acura stated it will be priced in the $30,000 range.

Taking its spirit from past Integras the 2023 Integra will be a entry level performance model for the Acura lineup. The original helped launch the Acura brand in 1986. The 2023 Integra will be a premium compact sports car with a unique five-door design and a so-called “fun to drive spirit.”

This will be the first ever Integra to come from the factory already turbocharged, hoping to excite a new generation of enthusiast sports car drivers. It will be available in a six-speed manual transmission and limited slip differential as well as a VTEC® 1.5 liter engine.

The new Integra was designed in Japan. Its bold exterior will feature a grammatically sloping roofline and liftback tailgate. This will give it a very coupe-like look on the road. It will also include trademarkers like the Integra name embossed under the driver-side headlight and passenger-side taillight.

New Tech Used in Testing

Volvo is using development tools and hardware from the gaming world as part of new research intended to improve self-driving car safety.

Volvo is using a mix of VR hardware and the Unity real-time rendering software in driveable test cars. These models are being run on a closed test tracks to safely simulate real world driving scenarios.

This new project is an arm of a partnership between Volvo and the Finnish VR hardware company Varjo. Last year they made it possible to drive a real car with a mixed reality headset.

The project members have added a full body haptic suit. This allows for precise motion tracking. The suit can also cause muscle restriction in the wearer as they would experience in a real emergency stop.

This hardware has been incorporated into a group of XC90 SUVs and stationary simulators. In the actual vehicles overlays a virtual images on top of the real world. So, the system can simulate an animal crossing the road.

The project is only in the early stages and hasn’t yet produce findings that will be used in production cars.

Jeep Rolls Out PHEV Grand Cherokee in UK

Soon in the UK, the new flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee will be made available for pre-orders. It will exclusively be available as a 375bhp plug-in hybrid and plays a central role in the automaker’s promised to go all-electric in Europe.

Jeep had previously released PHEV models in Europe the 4xe versions of the Jeep Renegade and Jeep Compass. The new arrival arrives as the flagship on a wave of change and ambition as Jeep strengthens its European presence and electrifies its lineup.

Excepting Italy, Jeep will no longer sell combustion models in Europe this year. In the build up to pure electric, Jeep will be offering 4xe-badged plug-ins and mild hybrids. Their goal is to add a pure-electric model in every big SUV segment by 2025, according to Jeep CEO.

In Italy where the Compass and Renegade are made Jeep is already the best-selling low-emission brand. The Wrangler 4xe is supposedly their best-selling PHEV in the US market and accounts for a quarter of their sales in the US.


Tesla’s Continuing Self-Driving Safety Issues

Recently the U.S. safety regulator stated that they are reviewing the consumer complaints about Tesla vehicles that are braking unnecessarily. This is just one item on a long list of recent issues being scrutinized by regulators about Tesla’s vehicle safety.

Elon Musk, this past May, stated that subtracting a radar sensor from the partially automated driving system would fix the phantom braking issue, an issue Tesla owners have been long complaining about.

According to the Washington Post Tesla owners who are reporting the phantom braking issue to the Highway Traffic Safety Administration hiked to 107 complaints in the past three months. Which is way up from the 34 complaints they received in the 22 months preceding this one.

The NHTSA stated that they are aware of the complaints about the problems with forward collision avoidance and they are reviewing the issue through their risk-based assessment process. The also stated that if the data warrants it, they will take immediate action.

This past October Tesla recalled almost 12,000 vehicles over beta software that caused unneeded braking and false collision warnings. The NHTSA also has been investigating the company’s driving assistant system over crashes with emergency vehicles and the option which allowed games to be played on the infotainment screen while the vehicle was driving. Tesla later subtracted this feature.

More recently Tesla recalled 53,822 vehicles in the US over concerns with the full self-driving beta software.


Renault Supports Halt on Deep-Sea Rare Metals Mining

In a surprising announcement Renault has backed a cessation of deep-sea mining. The company said it was committed to excluding seabed metals from its supply chain in a blow to the newly established deep sea mining industry.

French President Emmanuel Macron had, late last year, toted deep seabed exploration as a priority investment for his country saying that gaining access to special metals and understanding better those deep-sea ecosystems would be a boon for his country.

Ironically, the French government is a top Renault share holder owning 15.01% of the company.

The decision of Renault’s is only adding pressure to the infant deep-sea mining industry whose focus is mining for battery metals like manganese, nickel and cobalt. These would come from potato-sized nodules found on the seabed.

The Metals Company, UK Seabed Resources (the UK arm of Lockheed Martin) and GSR are some of the more well-known companies who hold licenses to explore the deep sea. All of them hope to some day sell these metals to automakers.

Renault made another announcement about its support of the moratorium stating that their decision was in alignment with that of the French government because both of them are interested in investing in sustainable solutions of extracting metals from these delicate ecosystems.

On the other hand President Macron stopped just short of supporting seabed mining in his comments—this was a nod to the controversy surrounding the subject as many experts are concerned that undiscovered species could be wiped out by the mining if these ecosystems are explored before mining begins.