How Ford Build a New Kind of Engine for Its GT Supercar

When the Ford GT won its class in the famously grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race last year, it wasn’t just a celebration for the team which developed the all new supercar. It was a relief. The victory in the GTE Pro class came 50 years after Ford’s historic 1966 win with the GT40, when the American automaker proved (mostly to spite Ferrari) that it could dominate the track in Europe as well as the US. Marking the golden anniversary of that defining moment with anything less than first place would have been a letdown.

But engineers took a huge gamble in the development of the all new GT: They threw out the V8 engine, the kind of engine it rode to victory in the 1960s, which many believed essential to producing the kind of power necessary to win a race like Le Mans. Instead, they opted for the turbocharged V6 EcoBoost, best known for powering the company’s F-150 pickup truck—not exactly the same use case.

That choice sent them on a mission to double the horsepower read more

McLaren’s Senna Supercar Delivers Wild Performance, Costs a Million Dollars

Usually, when you spend more than a million dollars on something, you get a whole lot of it. A whole lot of diamond necklace, a whole lot of beluga caviar, a whole lot of Instagram followers. But if you’re buying the McLaren Senna, you don’t get much supercar at all.

Named for legendary Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna, McLaren’s latest car is an exercise in million-dollar minimalism. No fancy features. No air conditioning system. No cargo area—just enough room to store two helmets and racing suits, so you’re ready when you arrive at the track. Barely enough leather to cover the seats, dashboard, and side airbags.

Such luxuries are banished from the Senna because they all share a terrible trait: They have mass. And when you’re making what you call “the ultimate road-legal track car,” mass is the enemy. Every ounce dilutes the power of the engine, puts more pressure on the brakes, and makes getting around corners just a little bit tougher.

So what do you get when read more

As the Southern California Fires Rage, a Boeing 747 Joins the Fight

The largest and most destructive fire burning in California continues to grow, consuming dry brush as it races not just through but across the canyons north of Los Angeles. Strong winds and dry conditions mean flames can leap large distances, prompting thousands to evacuate their homes. The Thomas Fire has now spread from Ventura County into Santa Barbara County, burning up 230,000 acres—an area larger than New York City and Boston combined. The out of control blaze is on track to become one of the largest in California history.

So firefighters are using the largest tools they have to tackle it, including one that’s more than 200 feet long, and does its work from just 200 feet above the ground.

“We avoid flying through smoke at all costs, but you can smell the fire 200 miles out, even at 20,000 feet,” says Marcos Valdez, one of the pilots of the Global Supertanker, a Boeing 747 modified to fight the fiercest of fires. The jumbo jet can drop 19,200 gallons of fire retardant read more

When Waze Won’t Help, Palestinians Make Their Own Open Source Maps

If you want to drive the 15 or so miles from Jerusalem to the city of Jericho, in the Palestinian Territories, Google Maps will tell you: “Can’t find a way there.” Waze will issue a warning: “Caution: This destination is in a high risk area or is prohibited to Israelis by law.” If you press “Confirm Drive” nonetheless, the app will direct you, just not all the way.

When you pass from Israel into the West Bank, part of the occupied Palestinian Territories, Waze’s directions simply end. To keep going, you need to change your setting to allow access to “high risk” areas. Even then, GPS coverage tends to be limited.

If you’re set on crossing the often invisible dividing line between Israel and the Palestinian Territories, your best option is to close Waze and open Maps.Me. The Belarus–born, now Russian–owned navigation app pulls from open source mapping and can be downloaded for offline use, a crucial feature in the Territories, read more

Virginia’s I-66 Toll Road Really Should Be the Future of Driving

There are plenty of reasons for outrage coming out of Washington, DC, these days, but this week the divided region found a common enemy. The express lanes on Interstate 66 near DC, previously reserved for vehicles carrying two or more people, opened up to solo travelers. Except those single-occupancy vehicles have to pay a toll, one that fluctuates according to demand. The world watched, aghast, as tolling prices hit $40 for folks headed into the capital on Tuesday morning.

Yes, that’s a crazy amount of money. But as the nation struggles to pay for its not-so-great infrastructure—and waits on the Trump administration to release a funding plan for our roads, bridges, and transit—this sort of congestion pricing is looking pretty great.

The nice thing about congestion charges isn’t just that they can encourage people to take public transit, or at least to carpool, but that they make drivers pay for their role in creating traffic and spewing greenhouse gases. Forty bucks is a lot read more

In the Los Angeles Fires, Drones Take Off for the First Time

The pictures paint Los Angeles as a hellscape, a land of glowing red fire-fronts racing across hills, whipped along by screaming winds. Plumes of dense gray smoke fill the skies. Ash particles rain down, miles from the blaze. As of Friday afternoon, Southern California was battling blazes in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties, which had destroyed more than 500 structures, and forced over 200,000 people to flee.

The most harrowing images are of the firefighters marching into this madness, clad in their heavy yellow protective gear, lugging hoses, doing their best to protect people and property from the unpredictable flames. When fires grow this large, resources are stretched thin. But the Los Angeles Fire Department has a new tool that could reduce the risk these men and women take on.

“For the first time ever, we’re going to use our drones,” LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said at a news conference on Thursday.

Shortly afterwards, a firefighter, in his shirtsleeves, launched one read more

Jaguar Challenges Tesla, a Corvette Shoots Fire, and More This Week in the Future of Cars

If you want to cheap out on a new shirt—you’re heading, say, to Target instead of Bergdorf Goodman—you probably expect to get a totally fine piece of cloth to hang on your back, and won’t get too upset when it inevitably falls apart. The same, tragically, does not apply to American roads. If you don’t pay what the street is worth, the street is going to be bad, for everyone: potholed, packed with traffic, smoggy, poorly monitored by law enforcement. In San Francisco, local authorities are taking shots at pricing parking and closer what they’re actually worth—and adjusting what you’ll pay based on demand. Accurately pricing something all residents use, whether it’s a parking spot, a toll road, or the air we breathe, won’t solve all our problems, as I wrote this week about SF’s scheme. But it might might cut traffic, and be better for the planet in the long run.

Meanwhile, Jack Stewart sums up his trip to the LA read more

How to Design Around the Airport Identity Crisis

If you think you know how to complain about airports, just listen to Benjamin Bratton’s beatnik spoken-word fugue of polysyllables. “The airport is where the birth pangs of the Stack, the armature of planetary computation, are felt most viscerally,” the philosopher said at a fancy conference on airport architecture in Los Angeles a few weeks back. “Long ago, the ceremonial interface to the city may have been a gateway or bridge…. Now the airport is the interface to the city and nation-state.”

It’s an entry point marked by “the flattening affectless provisionality of boarding-lounge culture” and “that omnipresent media-and-candy matrix” built inside “this critical cohabitation of security and entertainment…. It is where police deep-scan your person while blending you a delicious smoothie, without irony or affect.”

Or as a two-bit standup comic might say: Airports, right? I mean.

But seriously, folks. As cities from Singapore to Los Angeles to Kutaisi, Georgia, read more

Saudi Prince Plans a ‘City of the Future.’ Don’t Bet on It

From time immemorial, rulers have built new cities to satisfy everything from security to vanity. Some of those cities crumbled into obsolescence; others blossomed into capitals of legend. The recipe for success remains elusive, but that hasn’t stopped successive generations from trying. And if recent moves are any gauge, the 21st century will see a surge of new and often grandiose plans.

The most recent and among the highest profile comes from the deserts of the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman recently unveiled plans to spend upwards of $500 billion to construct his city of the future, Neom. Like rulers before him, bin Salman’s motives are a mix of vanity and pragmatism. Since the middle of the last century, Saudi Arabia has floated on a sea of oil, and the royal family has accumulated massive wealth. That read more

LA Auto Show Report: 9 Future-y Features Hitting the Road

Each car show has its own personality. Geneva is all about supercars and speed. Paris is about quirk and French flair. Tokyo’s auto unveils are cute and smart, and Detroit still has American muscle covered.

Los Angeles is a city that runs on rubber, so the auto show here is especially relevant to its residents—they want to see how car makers can make their commutes less sucky. Or at least more flashy. And as we start the transition from a world dominated by individually owned vehicles and enter a brave new business model of Mobility as a Service, driving isn’t all about being behind the wheel any more: We’re more likely to be rear-seat passengers in ride-share cars, or even recline in robo taxis. So our favorite features to debut at the LA Auto Show this year are less about horsepower and handling and more about things your car can do for you to make your life better.

01

Cars You Don’t Really Own

The way you buy a car in the future is going to change. Long term, you may choose to just hail a passing autonomous taxi when you need one. Shorter term, car companies are trying to make it easier to sign on the dotted line. Volvo used the introduction of its 2019 XC40 smaller SUV as a chance to also debut Care by Volvo. The idea is that you’d make just one monthly payment (of around $600) to the company to cover the car, your insurance, maintenance, service, and just about anything else except gas. Isn’t that caring? Also, a startup called Fair is talking up its leasing app, which allows drivers to terminate their agreement at any time, instead of committing to 36 months.

Credit: newspress

The way you buy a car in the future is going to change. Long term, you may choose to just hail a passing autonomous taxi when you need one. Shorter term, car companies are trying to make it easier to sign on the dotted line. Volvo used the introduction of its 2019 XC40 smaller SUV as a chance to also debut Care by Volvo. The idea is that you’d make just one monthly payment (of around $600) to the company to cover the car, your insurance, maintenance, service, and just about anything else except gas. Isn’t that caring? Also, a startup called Fair is talking up its leasing app, which allows drivers to terminate their agreement at any time, instead of committing to 36 months.

02

Car Companies That Are Energy Companies

Car companies don’t want to be called that any more. They’re “mobility” or “energy” companies. Tesla in particular has always been big on pushing green energy, and is using its stand at the LA Auto Show to showcase its solar panels and home energy storage batteries as well as its electric cars. Mercedes is also showing a shiny plastic-wrapped home battery about the size of a large microwave. It soaks up energy while the sun shines, so you can see at night. 

Credit: tesla

Car companies don’t want to be called that any more. They’re “mobility” or “energy” companies. Tesla in particular has always been big on pushing green energy, and is using its stand at the LA Auto Show to showcase its solar panels and home energy storage batteries as well as its electric cars. Mercedes is also showing a shiny plastic-wrapped home battery about the size of a large microwave. It soaks up energy while the sun shines, so you can see at night. 

03

A Very Electric Future

Electric cars are very much a thing, and most of the big manufacturers showed a battery-powered concept or production car. VW now has three funky, retro, electric vehicles: the I.D, the I.D Buzz, and now the I.D Crozz SUV. Jaguar showed its I-Pace all-electric concept, due for production soon. And Silicon Valley startup Lucid gave rides in a prototype of its Tesla challenger, the Air, on the streets around the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Credit: LUCID AIR

Electric cars are very much a thing, and most of the big manufacturers showed a battery-powered concept or production car. VW now has three funky, retro, electric vehicles: the I.D, the I.D Buzz, and now the I.D Crozz SUV. Jaguar showed its I-Pace all-electric concept, due for production soon. And Silicon Valley startup Lucid gave rides in a prototype of its Tesla challenger, the Air, on the streets around the Los Angeles Convention Center.

04

Virtual Reality Is Very Real

Experiencing strange visions and seeing floating objects that aren’t really there may not sound ideal when you’re driving, but virtual and augmented reality are making their way into cars and garages. Honda is using, wait for it, HondaLens to walk potential buyers through the features of its new Accord, by making the controls and even the engine float midair in bright colors. Meanwhile, Swiss company WayRay was named the winner of the Automobility LA (the tech trade show attached to the auto show) Automotive Startups Competition for its holographic displays for navigation systems.

Credit: NEWSPRESS

Experiencing strange visions and seeing floating objects that aren’t really there may not sound ideal when you’re driving, but virtual and augmented reality are making their way into cars and garages. Honda is using, wait for it, HondaLens to walk potential buyers through the features of its new Accord, by making the controls and even the engine float midair in bright colors. Meanwhile, Swiss company WayRay was named the winner of the Automobility LA (the tech trade show attached to the auto show) Automotive Startups Competition for its holographic displays for navigation systems.

05

The Money’s in the Merchandise

When you’re driven to work by a robot chauffeur, you’re going to have a lot more time to read the newspaper or learn a language. Or (more realistically) browse social media and consume advertisements. Brands are already figuring out ways to make you notice the businesses around you, with plans to flash up the nearest coffee shop or oil change center on the giant screens that will fill cars. But Nissan is taking crossover promotion to a whole new level with a display, and vehicles, themed around Star Wars ahead of The Last Jedi. Finding your autonomous taxi among all the others will certainly be a lot easier if it’s a TIE Fighter rather than a sedan.

Credit: newspress

When you’re driven to work by a robot chauffeur, you’re going to have a lot more time to read the newspaper or learn a language. Or (more realistically) browse social media and consume advertisements. Brands are already figuring out ways to make you notice the businesses around you, with plans to flash up the nearest coffee shop or oil change center on the giant screens that will fill cars. But Nissan is taking crossover promotion to a whole new level with a display, and vehicles, themed around Star Wars ahead of The Last Jedi. Finding your autonomous taxi among all the others will certainly be a lot easier if it’s a TIE Fighter rather than a sedan.

06

Take the Back Seat—Please!

When you no longer have to drive yourself, the back of the car becomes more important than the driver’s seat. This is already true for people who can afford chauffeurs, particularly in the Chinese market, but will become increasingly so for everyone else when driverless cars hit the streets. Range Rover is no stranger to luxury, but it pulled out all the stops for the 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography. For just $207,900 you too can have an extended body for more legroom, power rear doors, a fridge, and seats with calf warmers and a hot stone massage function. The adults will be fighting with the kids for a seat in the back.

Credit: Range rover

When you no longer have to drive yourself, the back of the car becomes more important than the driver’s seat. This is already true for people who can afford chauffeurs, particularly in the Chinese market, but will become increasingly so for everyone else when driverless cars hit the streets. Range Rover is no stranger to luxury, but it pulled out all the stops for the 2018 Range Rover SVAutobiography. For just $207,900 you too can have an extended body for more legroom, power rear doors, a fridge, and seats with calf warmers and a hot stone massage function. The adults will be fighting with the kids for a seat in the back.

07

Apocalypse Survival Sells

At the other end of the scale from the Range Rover is the Jeep Wrangler and its utilitarian image. Sure, neither one is likely to leave the asphalt in the hands of most customers, but Jeep would like drivers to feel like they have the option. At the same time it has tweaked the suspension for better road manners and added sound insulation, as well as as much tech as could fit into the cabin—parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The ability to head into the wilderness and escape an apocalypse is on display at Ford too, which has a “Baja-Forged Adventurer” version of its Expedition SUV, with high suspension, roof bars, and lots and lots of lights.

Credit: jeep

At the other end of the scale from the Range Rover is the Jeep Wrangler and its utilitarian image. Sure, neither one is likely to leave the asphalt in the hands of most customers, but Jeep would like drivers to feel like they have the option. At the same time it has tweaked the suspension for better road manners and added sound insulation, as well as as much tech as could fit into the cabin—parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, even Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The ability to head into the wilderness and escape an apocalypse is on display at Ford too, which has a “Baja-Forged Adventurer” version of its Expedition SUV, with high suspension, roof bars, and lots and lots of lights.

08

There’s Not Always a Need for Speed …

REDS is a new design from famed former BMW designer Chris Bangle. The upright, boxy vehicle with tiny wheels will be made by Chinese company Redspace. Instead of being sleek and aerodynamic for high-speed travel, the car is designed for stop-start (mostly stop) city driving, with a focus on interior space. Its design looks radical, but it makes sense in congested Chinese metropolises, and it hints at future car design where priorities shift from a spirited driving dynamics to a relaxed passenger experience.

Credit: newspress

REDS is a new design from famed former BMW designer Chris Bangle. The upright, boxy vehicle with tiny wheels will be made by Chinese company Redspace. Instead of being sleek and aerodynamic for high-speed travel, the car is designed for stop-start (mostly stop) city driving, with a focus on interior space. Its design looks radical, but it makes sense in congested Chinese metropolises, and it hints at future car design where priorities shift from a spirited driving dynamics to a relaxed passenger experience.

09

… But There’s Always a Need for Better Gas Engines

Despite the focus on electrics, the majority of cars at the LA Auto Show are still gas powered, and manufacturers showcased their latest cunning tricks for making them more efficient. Infiniti’s QX50 crossover SUV features the world’s first variable compression ratio engine. It’s incredibly complex, but offers a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. Expect to see more innovation in internal combustion engines, as auto makers fight to keep them relevant and emission-restriction-meeting before they’re ready for the electric switchover. 

Credit: infiniti

Despite the focus on electrics, the majority of cars at the LA Auto Show are still gas powered, and manufacturers showcased their latest cunning tricks for making them more efficient. Infiniti’s QX50 crossover SUV features the world’s first variable compression ratio engine. It’s incredibly complex, but offers a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency. Expect to see more innovation in internal combustion engines, as auto makers fight to keep them relevant and emission-restriction-meeting before they’re ready for the electric switchover. 

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