McLaren and BMW Are Teaming Up to Develop New Engine Technology

Details are scarce, but BMW and McLaren will partner up yet again—this time in designing and developing new engine technology. According to McLaren, the technology the two are developing is aimed at increasing power output per liter beyond what's currently possible, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions.

McLaren automotive is at the helm of this project, but it's partly funded by the U.K. Government's Advanced Propulsion Centre, a research center that focuses on low carbon emission propulsion technology. Aside from BMW Group, other partners include Grainger, Worrall (for lightweight casting technology) Ricardo (McLaren's current manufacturing partner) Lentus Composites, and the University of Bath.

Mike Flewitt, McLaren's new CEO, mentioned: "This is an exciting project that plays to the strengths of all partners. McLaren Automotive has an exceptional reputation for building the world’s finest engines, as showcased by our M838T and its previous category wins in the International Engine of the Year awards."

Of course, this isn't the first time McLaren and BMW have worked together. The last time the two European automakers joined forces resulted in one of the most legendary supercars the world has seen, the McLaren F1—BMW supplied the engine that powered it, the S70/2. The precedent is there, so this rekindled partnership will hopefully produce something special.

New Lamborghini Is Possibly In The Cards

Lamborghini CEO Stefano Domenicali wants the Italian automaker to base its future cars on a single platform, according to an interview with Motoring. This leaves the distinct possibility of a new, smaller performance car coming into the mix.

Before that happens, though, Domenicali wants to make sure the upcoming Urus "Super SUV" is a success. He said, "...so far we need to make sure the third model [the Urus] will be stable enough to think about a fourth model."

The two models in Lambo's lineup—the Aventador and Huracan— share very little in common, but that's just how the automaker has been building cars. The one at a time philosophy is costly—the development costs alone are astronomical, not to mention no interchangeability of parts—and as any CEO knows, being frugal is important when it comes to getting a new car on the map.

It's a move torn McLaren's playbook—using interchangeable parts, adaptable and tunable powertrains based off one unit—and in their comparatively small time making road-going cars, it's been working well. The company reported enormous growth in 2016.

The move to a modular platform likely won't happen until at least 2020 or 2022, Domenicali mentioned. Before Lamborghini die-hards scream heresy, though, the CEO wants to make it clear each new car, despite being based on the same platform, will be "distinctive."

Tesla’s Autopilot Could Be Fully Autonomous in 3 Months, Elon Musk Says

It's only a matter of time until Teslas become fully autonomous—three to six months, according to CEO Elon Musk.

That's the timeline that Musk gave on Twitter when asked, "At what point will 'Full Self-Driving Capability' features noticeably depart from 'Enhanced Autopilot' features?"

Over the last few weeks, Tesla vehicles equipped with its second-generation hardware package have been receiving updates that bring it in line with the Autopilot features enjoyed by owners of vehicles that have the original system.

The first hardware package for Tesla vehicles included just one camera, a radar, and four sensors. However, all new Tesla vehicles sold after October 2016 are equipped with a radar, eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and upgraded computing capabilities that it uses to support "Enhanced Autopilot," a $5,000 option.

Tesla is still closing the gap between Autopilot and Enhanced Autopilot functionality, but over time the latter will become more sophisticated, and eventually surpass the original Autopilot by enabling Teslas to drive themselves.

That timeline appears to be sooner rather than later. Within six months Enhanced Autopilot may evolve into full autonomy, according to Musk. That puts it years ahead of other manufacturers who have announced their intentions to introduce self-driving vehicles to the public.

On its Web site, Tesla discloses that Enhanced Autopilot features would be subject to regulatory approval, and it's not clear if all owners will be allowed to use the full potential of this feature.

California and Nevada have strict rules governing fully autonomous vehicles that may limit how much driving owners can cede to the vehicle, according to Bryant Walker Smith, who is an assistant professor at University of South Carolina law school and a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation. However, other states may be more lenient about letting Teslas drive in full autonomy mode.

"Much of state law is ambiguous, which means that governments inclined toward these technologies could interpret those laws in a favorable way while governments disinclined toward these technologies could interpret those laws in the opposite direction," explained Smith in an email to The Drive. "Interestingly, high automation most clearly runs afoul of the law in states like California and Nevada that enacted more explicitly restrict laws specific to automated driving."

However, even if states disallow owners to fully engage autonomous functionality in their vehicles, these improvements will still make vehicles safer, Musk noted on Twitter.

2025 Fuel Economy Standards Set by EPA

It's no secret that the EPA is tough on automakers. Honestly, they have to be. In order to continue on the increase of vehicles on the road while still maintaining the environment, change has to be made. The agency recently announced the standards for average fuel economy in 2025, jumping the gun and doing so before their April deadline.

More than likely, this will cause quite the stir for manufacturers. Despite the decided figures being slightly lower than expected, many feel that it will be exceedingly difficult to meet requirements without costing a lot more in production. Originally, the intended average fuel economy for 2025 was 54.5 MPG; however, due to the leap in large vehicle sales, it's been relaxed to 50 MPG and 52.6 MPG.

When looking at current numbers, it's clear that these figures won't be easy to achieve. Trucks and SUVs are still stuck in the low to mid 20's, meaning that they are expected to double their efficiency in the next 8 years. This is the major concern for many automakers as they have to do so while keeping production and sales costs comparably low to today.

While this is good news for cleaner air and environments, the standards are going to take a considerable toll on the development of other technologies. We're sure the money and time will still be spent on autonomous developments -- there's no doubt. But aside from that, it will distract manufacturers from working on diverse projects ranging from convenience features to performance. If anything, this only reinforces the promotion behind electrification, a catch all that satisfies most needs for the EPA and manufacturers alike.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in the release "“My decision today rests on the technical record created by over eight years of research, hundreds of published reports including an independent review by the National Academy of Sciences, hundreds of stakeholder meetings, and multiple opportunities for the public and the industry to provide input".

So what do you think? Is this a reasonable (and attainable) goal for the next eight years? Will it spell trouble for automakers who must now dump even more finances into efficiency? It's hard to tell right now. We see how much technology advances every year, let alone how much it can change in the next eight. Regardless, this is an interesting development that could switch up the automotive landscape.

FCA Allegedly Caught Cheating Emissions by EPA

As soon as one emissions scandal comes to a head, another begins. We've followed VW's Dieselgate since the bomb dropped more than a year ago, seeing fines stack up and indictments being made. As it turns out, though, they may not be the only ones who used a bit of tomfoolery with the EPA. The federal agency has now accused FCA of using emission cheating devices in their light duty EcoDiesel V6 engines, affecting the Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee models with the powerplant.

The EPA has stated that the auto giant violated the Clean Air Act by fitting these engines with equipment that allows excessive NOx emissions -- without telling them. That's the big no-no in this case. Regulations do allow for manufacturers to install such systems, but they must them disclose them with the agency. FCA denies such allegations, stating that their products "meet the applicable requirements".

A further announcement was made by the manufacturer, saying "FCA US looks forward to the opportunity to meet with the EPA’s enforcement division and representatives of the new administration to demonstrate that FCA US’s emissions control strategies are properly justified and thus are not ‘defeat devices’ under applicable regulations and to resolve this matter expeditiously,”

This investigation will affect ~104,000 Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Cherokees sold with the EcoDiesel engine. FCA has market their 3.0L V6 diesels as a selling point for fuel economy, promising better MPG while still maintaining a load of work capabilities. The engine has been on the market since 2014.

Initially, this is a similar situation that Volkswagen faced in their ongoing headache. "Cheat devices" were implicated in their case, leading to an astronomical amount of legal and buyback/repair fees. The dust is beginning to settle for the German manufacturer, but programs have just begun in order to make things right with their customers. A recent development resulted in the prosecution of 6 former VW executives.

The EPA is still looking into the case to determine legality. If their investigation comes back clear, than FCA can breathe a sigh of relief. But if not, they may be in a for a whirlwind that can last a long time -- just ask VW.

Carl Edwards Retires From NASCAR and the Feds Indict More VW Execs: The Evening Rush

The Evening Rush is your daily roundup of auto, gear, and lifestyle news, all in one place. Less time searching, more time driving. Motor on.

Automotive

The swift hand of justice is descending upon Volkswagen this week, as the Department of Justice indicted six high level VW executives. All employees will be charged with attempting to defraud the US government. This is on top of the $4.3 billion plea deal VW is negotiating with the US government.

Carl Edwards has officially retired from NASCAR. Although he did not explicitly indicate retiring entirely, the 37-year-old racer says his stock car driving days are behind him. With 445 career starts and 28 wins over 20 years, it isn’t surprising to hear that Edwards wants to step away. As he made clear in his press conference, he is sick of thinking about racing 24/7, and wants to dedicate his time to the people he cares about. Right on, man.

In typical Tesla fashion, the company has announced they'll be powering their Nevada Gigafactory with a 70-megawatt solar farm on the roof of their facility. Supplying enough power to run the facility (and then some), Tesla will story any extra energy in Powerpacks for later use. This makes the Gigafactory the largest rooftop solar farm in the world as well.

Gear

If you listen to podcasts, read subway ads or have right-hand ads on your computer, you've probably seen Casper mattresses. Well, the hype is true, they are extremely comfortable and somewhat affordable. Do your canine friend a favor and share the same luxuries with him by purchasing a Casper dog bed. Think of it this way, if he is in a deep sleep, he won’t be chewing your driving shoes.

Yeti has continued to step up their Rambler game with a soon-to-be-released gallon jug. You can store everything from coffee to beer to water in these puppies, keeping your beverage of choice the exact temperature you want thanks to 18/8 kitchen-grade steel covering the double-walled vacuum body.

Lifestyle

Spontaneous outings rock, and should be embraced by everyone. The idea of a spontaneous picnic along a favorite trail or back road cruise brings a smile to my face. If you're like me, you'd rather not be sitting in the dirt on your next adventure, so invest in a set of four Best Made Co camping stools on steep discount.

There are still tickets available for the Lime Rock Park winter autocross. Bring your own car to Lime Rock’s snow-covered autocross course and learn how to control your vehicle during heavy snow conditions. Once you hone your skills, have a blast sliding around the course.

Diesel-Powered Unmanned Aircraft Sets New Endurance World Record

Vanilla Aircraft is taking a victory lap. The Falls Church, Virginia-based firm has announced that it successfully set an unmanned aerial vehicle record late last year, when its diesel-fed VA001 completed a 56-hour flight. The feat has now been certified by the National Aeronautic Association, officially on the books as the longest unrefueled flight for a combustion-powered, unmanned craft in the 100 to 1,102-pound weight class. The craziest part? VA001 landed carrying a half-tank of fuel.

Blame the weather. VA001 took off November 30th from New Mexico State University’s Unmanned Air Systems Flight Test Center, with an intended flight time of 120 hours. Employing a fixed, 36-foot wingspan, the craft carried a 20-pound payload, cruising at an average of 65.6 mph, at altitudes between 6,500 to 7,500 feet. Then an impending ice storm forced early landing. But Vanilla claims that, when the propeller-driven craft touched down, on December 2nd, it still had enough JP8 diesel in the tank for another 90 hours of flight time.

Friends, this is why we pay taxes. VA001, which made its maiden flight in 2015, was backed by the Department of Defense's Rapid Reaction Technology Office via U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Naval Air System Command. NASA also provided multispectral imaging to test agricultural sensing capabilities. Consider it money well-spent: VA001 should be a boon in military application, and Vanilla is hoping to offer a commercial version for agriculture and survey operations. The company’s CEO, retired Navy Rear Adm. Timothy Heely, calls the project “an unprecedented coordination among civil, defence, academic, and private industry to bring a heretofore only imagined capability to reality.”

One record in the books, expect another attempt at the full 120-hour flight sometime soon. In the meantime, Vanilla is continuing to develop VA001 toward its ultimate goal: 10 days, unrefueled, carrying a 30-pound payload at 15,000 feet.

Honda’s NeuV CES Concept Wants to Help Its Owners Earn Money

Privately-owned vehicles sit idle 96 percent of the time, according to Honda. So to help people maximize their investment, the automaker is introducing the NeuV—an autonomous vehicle concept specifically designed for car-sharing.

One benefit of connected and autonomous cars is that cars will be eventually able act as driverless taxis that could create a revenue stream for the vehicle's owner, said Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, president & CEO of Honda research and development. This puts power back into the hands of the car owner, enabling them to become not just an Uber driver, but a ride-sharing company like Uber itself. In addition, when the car isn't being used to shuttle strangers around, it can even be used to make money off the electric company, selling power back to utility providers when demand is high.

"We designed NeuV to become more valuable to the owner by optimizing and monetizing the vehicle's down time," Mike Tsay, principal designer of Honda R&D Americas, said.

Beyond car sharing, NeuV is also capable of learning from its drivers—and to some degree, even understanding them. Matsumoto said that the concept car will be able to detect the occupant's emotions and make recommendations and decisions based on previous choices.

Making autonomous car sharing a reality is going to take cooperation, Matsumoto continued; Honda's partnership with Waymo is one of the strategic partnerships that the company is securing, and the automaker is actively looking for others.

Cooperation is a common theme for the company at CES, and even its NeuV needs to work with other vehicles on the road. Honda demonstrated its "Safe Swarm" concept that leverages V2V communication to facilitate smooth, collision-free traffic flow.

7 Used Military Vehicles You Can Buy*

Have you ever said to yourself, “Boy, I wish I owned a fleet of military-grade vehicles"? Well, lucky for you, the US-of-A is flush with retired military hardware—and it's selling them to the general public! You might think a 1986 AM General M923A1 would look a little odd cruising down the street next to a Toyota Camry, but our motto is "waste not, want not."

That in mind, we've combed through auction listings around the country to find a few of the raddest retirees on sale. Sure we can only admire the 1033 Program vehicles—offered only to certain law enforcement agencies because they're often heavily armored and combat-prepped for prime time—but there are tons (literally, tons) of cool support vehicles waiting to find new homes. Our seven recommendations:

1. AM General Humvee

My, how time flies. The AM General Humvee entered service way back in 1984, the year after Michael Jackson's Thriller was released. Now that the Department of Defense is trying to replace this old warhorse, there are plenty just waiting to be picked up by serious off-roaders and urban alpha males. Equipped with a 6.5L diesel engine with 185 hp and 330lb-ft of torque, 16 inches of ground clearance, and impossibly steep approach angles, it's fair to say that this thing can go anywhere you'd ask it to.
Auction price: $6,000

2. BMY M923A2 5-Ton 6x6

Forget the expensive trailer for your track car—just get a long, long ramp and toss it in the back of a retired BMY M923A2 5-Ton 6x6 van truck. These puppies were powered by 8.3-Liter Cummins inline-six engines that cranked out 240 hp and 685 lb-ft of torque. With numbers like that—and the ability to hold a payload of 10,000 lbs—these military warriors are capable of bringing your track-day special—or off-roader—wherever your heart desires. If you're really trying to be adventurous, just convert the long wheelbase version into an off-road mobile home. It'd be impressive, but quite possibly the most impressive part of this truck is the price tag.
Auctionprice:$4,000

3. 2009 Freightliner M916A3 6x6 Tractor

Car enthusiasts often have a weird obsession with tractor trailers. Whether it's the astronomical number of gears, impressive towing capacity, or mine-trumps-yours size, the desire to drive one is always there, bubbling in the background. Well, the time has come; although this truck comes equipped with a civilized seven-speed automatic Allison transmission, you'll quickly overlook that unfortunate detail due to the scant 2,674 miles on the odometer—and the 12.7L Detroit Diesel engine.
Auctionprice: $18,000

4. Stevenson M1079 LMTV 4x4 Van Truck

People spend north of $500,000 on luxury off-road campers. There's something you want out there, from utilitarian simplicity to bespoke builders using artisanal woods and humanely treated leathers. And they're all spendy. Rather than setting a pile of cash on fire, consider spending $13,000 on a diesel off-roader like this M1079. Hell, spend $20,000 on upgrades and you'll still come up $467,000 less than the schmuck with a mortgage on his ride.
Auctionprice:$13,000

5. 1984 Chevrolet D10 Blazer 4x4

Nothing screams ‘Murica more than an olive-drab, 1980s diesel Blazer. It’s loud, boxy, inefficient, and inarguably glorious. The 6.2L diesel V-8 was built to last, and will happily guide you through years of shenanigans. With 160 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque, you aren’t going to win any races, but you're too cool to enter a race, aren't you?
Auctionprice: $800

6. 1985 Oshkosh AS 32P-19 4x4 Fire Truck

When we were six (or 26), we glued our faces to the window when they passed. Now, you can own one. Thanks to the auction site Gov Planet, you can own a fire truck equipped with working water cannons. Sure, the Oshkosh may be a little large, and a lot impractical, but no one can argue with the fact that you are the proud owner of a fire truck.
Auctionprice: $4,000

7. 2009 Chevrolet Suburban LT 2500

Unfortunately, the coveted Suburban 2500 was not available to the general public while in production. New models were restricted to government agencies and municipal services. But you can often find these gems gracing auction sites or used car lots around the country. Rather than using the 5.3L V-8 you find in the Suburban, these beefed-up SUVs use a 6.0L V-8 good for 352 hp and 382 lb-ft of torque. Although those are more or less the power outputs of the current Suburban, the heavy-duty alternator and enhanced suspension means a truck like this one should handily outlast its little brother.
Auctionprice: $5,000