Nissan is out here tooting its horn about the production of the three millionth Nissan Qashqai in the U.K. Everyone outside of the U.K. is asking, what the heck is a Qashqai and who is in charge of naming things at Nissan? Well, the Qashqai is a compact crossover SUV. Over there they call it the Qashqai, in Japan and Australia they used to call it the Dualis, and in the U.S. it’s the Rogue Sport. The name is Iranian and it translates loosely in English to “A horse with a white forehead.” Which brings me back to my original question, who is in charge of naming things at Nissan?
It only took a little over a decade for Nissan to pump out three million of these Qashqais from Nissan’s Sunderland Plant. This year alone the plant produced a record 346,856 units of the crossover, with 265,520 of those sold in Europe. The sales helped Nissan post its best ever full-year of European sales, with 762,574 vehicles sold across Datsun and Nissan models.
The Qashqai is a big part of the European success story. It is the single most successful model in Europe in the history of Nissan. The latest refresh in 2014 has helped it win more than 80 awards from various outlets including 19 “Car of the Year” titles. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay twenty bucks to hear somebody try to pronounce Qashqai in a Cockney accent.
Cheering the record production number Paul Wilcox, chairman of Nissan Europe said, "2017 was another record-breaking year for Nissan Europe, and 2018 has started the same way. The Qashqai's achievement of reaching 3,000,000 vehicles produced in 10 years is a significant milestone, while the October launch of the new and eagerly awaited Nissan LEAF has seen record-breaking pre-orders of one every 10 minutes."
Cheers to Nissan managing to sell three million units of a car no one can pronounce. Seriously, who?
There has been plenty of excitement for car enthusiasts down south—first with Arizona car week and more recently Florida’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. In the northeast, Philadelphia is having its own international car show to help bolster the region's activity as January comes to a close.
Though arguably not the most well-known of the bunch, the Philadelphia Auto Show, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, hosted an impressive assortment.
The event, which is sponsored by State Farm, showcased the typical offering of Jeep, Toyota, Hyundai, Ford, Subaru, and Nissan models, followed by a luxury section including Lamborghini, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche and McLaren vehicles.
Customers could sit in the vehicles, pose for pictures and even test-drive certain Toyotas, Kias, Mazdas, and BMWs.
Featured models were the 2019 Subaru Ascent, the 2019 Ram 1500, the 2018 Aston Martin DB11, the Bugatti Chiron, the 2018 Genesis G90 and the 2018 McLaren 720S.
Morgane Wojtowicz, a representative for RDS Automotive Group in Philadelphia, helped run and organize the McLaren booth while talking with customers about the storied brand. Having attended the show last year as a guest, Wojtowicz was eager to educate others as a member of the staff in 2018. “I remember thinking how cool it would be to have a pass and be able to stand next to these amazing cars,” she told The Drive.
Wojtowicz said that the show’s diverse offering and the customer engagement made it a success.
“Overall, it was a great turnout and I got to talk to many different people and answer their questions about the cars we had on display,” Wojtowicz said. “McLarens are some of the best cars out there and I am truly in love with the brand and so passionate about it so I love informing people about the cars.”
The Philadelphia Auto Show began in 1902 and is sponsored by the Automotive Dealers Association of Greater Philadelphia. The show, which costs $14 to enter, will continue at the convention center until February 4.
“It is a great opportunity for anyone to be able to look at exotic cars they have never seen before,” Wojtowicz said.
The U.S. military’s latest test of its Standard Missile 3 Block IIA ballistic missile interceptor has reportedly failed. So far, it’s unclear what happened, and the weapon is still in development, but it does come amid months of escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea and reports that authorities in Pyongyang are planning a parade with hundreds of ballistic missiles, likely in no small part to dissuade the U.S. government from considering a limited "bloody nose" strike.
CNN was first to report the apparent failure on Jan. 31, 2018. The test launch would be the fifth for the weapon, commonly referred to as the SM-3 Block IIA, and the third in which it attempted to actually intercept another missile. The last such experiment, which occurred in June 2017, also failed, but this was because a U.S. Navy sailor accidentally triggered the missile’s self-destruct function. Another SM-3 Block IIA had successfully knocked down a target for the first time four months earlier. The U.S. military plans to eventually add the weapons to the Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and install them at fixed Aegis Ashore sites in Europe. Japan is a major partner in the program and plans to equip its own warships with the weapon and establish land-based Aegis Ashore facilities within its territory.
“The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors manning the Aegis Ashore Missile Defense Test Complex (AAMDTC) conducted a live-fire missile flight test using a Standard-Missile (SM)-3 Block IIA missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility, Kauai, Hawaii, Wednesday morning,” Mark Wright, a spokesperson for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA), told CNN. The organization has so far refused to confirm or deny reports that the test was unsuccessful.
According to CNN, this was a deliberate decision made specifically in light of heightened tensions with North Korea. The U.S. military plans for the SM-3 Block IIA to be a critical part of its overall ballistic missile defense shield, which is primarily focused on defeating threats from smaller opponents, such as North Korea and Iran. The United States says its systems are not intended to negate the strategic deterrent capabilities of potential near-peer opponents, such as Russia or China.
Officials: US missile defense test failed in Hawaii early Weds. Pentagon not publicly acknowledging key ballistic missile defense test failure & officials tell @barbarastarrcnn there is a decision to not talk about it, in part because of sensitivities surrounding North Korea.
Though MDA only expected earlier versions of the SM-3 to take on medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, the Block IIA missile could eventually provide another, if more limited defensive option against higher- and faster-flying ICBMs in certain circusmstances. The War Zone has previously examined the missiles capabilities and potential limitations in depth here.
Missile defense is a complicated endeavor overall and failures are not uncommon. Whether they're successful or not, these test launches are necessary in order to gather important data to further improve the weapon.
The development of SM-3 Block IIA has taken on new significance in light of the rapid progress North Korea has made in its ballistic missile program, specifically the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). In November 2017, the North Koreans revealed their Hwasong-15 ICBM, which could potential carry a nuclear warhead to any point in the continental United States.
So it’s not necessarily surprising that MDA might be disinclined to report another failure, regardless of the cause, which it might not even fully understand yet. Japan could also be concerned about what message publicly announcing even the basic details surrounding the failure might send to North Korea or other potential adversaries, too.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula already looks set to become more politically and militarily complicated. Also on Jan. 31, 2018, CNN reported, citing anonymous sources, that a North Korean parade in February 2018 would feature hundreds of this class of weapons, including dozens of Hwasong-15s, “to scare the hell out of the Americans.”
The new date, February 8th, conveniently happens to be the day before the 2018 Winter Olympics start in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang. Both Koreas will march in the open ceremony together in a gesture seen as an attempt de-escalate tensions, but which critics have warned is a way for authorities in Pyongyang to drive a wedge between officials in Seoul and their American counterparts, who have continually advocated for a tough stance toward North Korea.
In deference to their South Korean allies, the United States has agreed to push back major annual bilateral defensive military exercises, which North Korea routinely claims are actually preparations for a northward invasion. In light of that development, officials in Pyongyang reiterated a common demand for South Korea to end the drills permanently.
But with reports about the SM-3 Block IIA’s failure already leaking out, it’s not clear if MDA’s decision not to discuss the matter publicly will have the intended impact. The U.S. government is unlikely to rely on open reports in the press to reassure its Japanese and South Korean allies about the progress of the program and its commitment to defending them against North Korean threats. North Korea is still likely to at least use the incident for propaganda purposes, regardless of the facts, as well.
And the actual effectiveness of America’s existing ballistic missile defenses is an important part of the growing debate about a potential “bloody nose” strike against North Korea. President Donald Trump again referred to what his administration called a "campaign of maximum pressure," which reportedly includes various military options, during his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30, 2018.
"North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland," Trump told the assembled lawmakers and guests on Capitol Hill. "We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from ever happening. Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation."
Below is video MDA released from the successful test of the SM-3 Block IIA in February 2017.
Also on Jan. 30, 2018, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Air Force General Paul Selva offered some additional details on possible plans for a military operation against North Korea. The senior officer suggested that it might be possible to neutralize "most" of the country's nuclear-capable ballistic missile capability by striking at its associated infrastructure.
"Remember, missile infrastructure is not just the missiles," Selva told reporters in during a round table discussion in Washington, D.C. "If you're the poor sergeant that has to go out and launch the missile, and I blow up your barracks, you're not available to go do your job."
He also said the U.S. government believed that the North Koreans had not yet finished development of the terminal guidance and re-entry vehicle technology for a fully-functional nuclear-capable ICBM. The general acknowledged that they could have done so, but not yet demonstrated it publicly, but insisted that this possibility was remote.
"It is possible, although I think unlikely, that he has found a way to do the test without us knowing," Selva said. "But I can't envision what that test would look like, where he would be convinced that he has those components at a reliable-enough level of performance to declare that he's ready."
U.S. officials do appear to be in agreement that North Korea won't lack this capability for long. "We talk about him [Kim Jong-un] having the ability to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States in a matter of a handful of months," Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo told the BBC in an interview, adding that there was a good understanding of North Korean ballistic missile capabilities within the American Intelligence Community and among its foreign partners.
If the United States did decide to go ahead with a punitive strike against North Korea, it would almost certainly provoke a massive North Korean retaliatory attack against the United States and its East Asian allies, which could involve ballistic missiles, conventional artillery, and other conventional and asymmetric capabilities. With this in mind, its highly debatable that the U.S. military would be able to keep a small strike against Kim Jong-un's regime from rapidly escalating.
With years of talk of "decapitating" his regime from American and South Korean officials, its not clear he would ever be convinced any American strike would be limited in scope. It is not hard to imagine Kim Jong-un ordering a launch with a less-than-fully reliable nuclear-tipped ICBM, or even completely untested weapon, in a crisis where he believes the survival of his regime is at stake.
"If we believe that Kim is undeterrable without such a strike, how can we also believe that a strike will deter him from responding in kind?" Victor Cha, a professor at The Georgetown University and a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank, wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post on Jan. 30, 2018. "And if Kim is unpredictable, impulsive and bordering on irrational, how can we control the escalation ladder, which is premised on an adversary’s rational understanding of signals and deterrence?"
The Trump administration had been considering Cha as a candidate for Ambassador to South Korea, but has since dropped that plan after the academic and former adviser to President George W. Bush on North Korea voiced these same concerns in private. It seems that other senior U.S. leaders have similar concerns, though.
“There’s plans out there that have been developed over the years [for military action on the Korean Peninsula],” U.S. Marine Corps Commandant General Robert told a gathering at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C. think tank, on Jan. 25, 2018. “If it were to go down, I am not sure it’s going to go down the way we planned it."
"It never does," he continued. "It would not be good for anybody.”
At the same time, though, there has been an almost worrying overconfidence from the highest levels of the U.S. government about the ability to ward off incoming ballistic missiles in such a scenario. The concern here is is that some American officials might feel there is a good enough chance able to escape a North Korean response to make the idea of punitive strike more viable.
The War Zone’s own Tyler Rogoway recently wrote a detailed dissection of the myths and realities of present missile defense capabilities, finding the truth lies somewhere in middle. The last SM-3 Block IIA failure doesn't indicate the program is failing, but it does underscore how difficult this this technology is to develop and how it would be foolish to rely on it in its present state as part of the planning for any military action against North Korea.
Japan has become a hotspot of various drone-related activity in the past few months. In October, we witnessed Chinese drone-manufacturer DJI open an indoor drone arena in Tokyo. A few months later, there was serious consideration given to implementing unmanned aerial vehicles in combatting unhealthy overtime hours. Most recently, a new drone-centric museum was opened in the city of Osaka, which hopes to educate visitors on the history of UAVs while allowing them to experience these aerial products for themselves.
According to The Japan Times, Drone Museum Horie which was inaugurated in December is the nation’s first. While there is a strong collection of UAVs on display, visitors can also actually purchase them, as well as test-fly them on site. As far as museums go, that’s pretty damn exciting, and something other museums should take note of—why can’t I take that Renoir piece home and see how it looks on my wall? Is it really that much to ask, MOMA?
Regarding the actual history of drones, there’s a chronological throughline of sorts. There are reportedly 16 types of UAVs from across the globe on display, ranging from industrial drones produced in New Zealand in 2011 to the most modern UAVs capable of live streaming footage to your smartphone. The span of technology is viscerally palpable, as you’d see a mini-drone weighing 0.6 ounces (18 grams) in the same building as an enormous agriculture-focused UAV that sports a 10-liter tank. In other words, the simple visuals alone, and the evolution of a UAVs aesthetic, can teach visitors how far we’ve collectively come. “There are not many places in Japan where people can see and touch drones. We hope to promote them form the Kansai region,” said an official of Skyasky Co., the drone pilot school that currently manages the Drone Museum Horie.
Visitors can engage with and experience drones for themselves, including UAVs that respond to hand gestures, which is likely an impressive first encounter for most. According to The Japan Times, the building is two stories tall with ceilings high enough to provide room for first-time drone users. Additionally, there are lectures and lessons planned for the future, during which visitors can learn how to fly and where doing so is illegal. The cherry on top? Entry to the Drone Museum Horie is free. “I hope people will stop by freely since it is located in Minamihorie - a hub of fancy cafes and boutiques - and become more familiar with drones,” explained head of the museum, Mei Watanabe. If you’re anywhere near Osaka, I’d highly suggest making your way over to the Drone Museum Horie.
What’s your dream car? The cars that come to mind are typically Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, McLaren’s, Pagani’s and other exotics. But the reality is when it comes to everyday people, their answers are much more pedestrian. Automotive company Gold Eagle conducted a survey, asking people about their dream cars. They surveyed 2,000 people and the results are surprising.
The top five dreams cars, in order, are the Ford Mustang, Tesla Model S, Jeep Wrangler, Chevy Corvette, and Chevy Camaro. I know what you’re thinking, did they survey a Kindergarten class? I’m surprised a fire truck didn’t make the list. Seriously people, if these are your dream cars, go out and buy them! You can find Mustangs for under $10,000 with enough power to spin-out leaving your local “Cars and Coffee” event. But I digress…
The survey showed that the number one dream car for women wasn’t something sexy and sporty but rather the fun and utilitarian Jeep Wrangler. And on the guys’ side, it was the Model S which took top honors. When you break it down by generation, the millennials predictably also liked the Tesla. Equally as predictable, the baby boomers were big fans of the Corvette. What about those Gen Xers in the middle? Well, they chose the Camaro.
They also offered up a breakdown of a favorite car by region. The Mustang was the favorite in the Midwest and in the Southeast. The Pacific, Southwest, and Northeast all chose the Tesla. Those rugged folks from the Mountain region preferred the world’s best luxury SUV, the Range Rover.
The survey didn’t stop at dream cars, Gold Eagle also asked respondents questions about why they bought their most expensive car and how often they get a new car. It turned out that most people bought their most expensive cars for comfort and convenience, and because they needed it for work. About 39 percent of the respondents said they get a new car every 4 to 6 years.
Gold Eagle put the survey results together for me in a nice collage. There are a few more insights they’ve shared on their blog.
Formula 1 will not feature "grid girl" promotional models for the 2018 season onward, ending a longtime motorsport tradition. The change was announced Wednesday through the sport's website.
“Over the last year we have looked at a number of areas which we felt needed updating so as to be more in tune with our vision for this great sport," stated Liberty Media's Sean Bratches.
"While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 Grands Prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms. We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”
This decision arrived after Liberty Media began a reinvestigation of the value added by grid girls to the sport with BBC reporting that the decision has been stewing since at least mid-December. Reactions are mixed with traditionalist fans taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the change and even former grid girls speaking out in favor of the tradition.
Some have suggested the use of children as banner-bearers in lieu of professional models—something we at The Drive can get behind. An impressionable child is more likely to develop a lifelong interest in the sport from such an opportunity than an adult with decades of life behind them. Call them grid kids if you want the name to rhyme, too.
Oh, how quickly things can change. Just this week, we reported that the new Ford GT accidentally broke a lap record at Virginia International Raceway, lapping the track in 2 minutes and 38.62 seconds. Then Wednesday, Chevrolet reported its new 2019 Corvette ZR1 has beaten that blisteringly-fast lap time by more than a second.
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 blasted around the 4.1-mile Grand Course West circuit in 2:37.25, making it the fastest production car ever to turn a wheel at VIR. The 'Vette set this record earlier this month while General Motors was performing validation tests there. These tests consisted of 24 hours total)of track driving for the ZR1, with engineers collecting information the entire time. Vehicle dynamics engineer Jim Mero set the ridiculous lap time while he was behind the wheel.
For the record run, Chevy only modified the record-setting car with track seats, five-point racing harnesses, and a harness bar. It was also equipped with the ZR1's new eight-speed automatic gearbox and ZTK Performance package. This $2,995 option features Magnetic Ride Control, front splitter, adjustable carbon fiber rear wing, and grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
This announcement could not have come at a better time, as it thoroughly embarrasses the Ford GT—a track-focused $400,000 supercar that's nearly impossible to buy. The 755-horsepower ZR1 is a bargain compared to Ford's offering, with a retail price of $119,995. Chevy is touting the new Corvette ZR1 as a true supercar-killer, a track monster for half the price of its competition.
The fact that this car set a record with an engineer instead of a test driver (unlike Ford, who used racing driver Billy Johnson) to shatter the VIR record is proof of its abilities on the track. “On the racetrack, the ZR1 can compete with any supercar—at any price," said Mark Reuss, executive vice president global product development, purchasing and supply chain.
The 2019 ZR1 is shaping up to be America's Lamborghini Huracán Performante, sniping track records from cars hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive. Like the Performante, the Corvette's next move will be to take on the Nurburgring, and we wouldn't be surprised if it shattered records there, too.
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 blasted around the 4.1-mile Grand Course West circuit in 2:37.25, making it the fastest production car at VIR. The ‘Vette set this record earlier this month while General Motors was performing validation tests there. These tests consisted of 24 hours (total) of track driving for the ZR1 with engineers collecting information the entire time, and vehicle dynamics engineer Jim Mero set this ridiculous lap time while he was behind the wheel.
For the record run, Chevy only modified the record-setting car with track seats, five-point racing harnesses, and a harness bar. It was also equipped with the ZR1’s new eight-speed automatic gearbox and ZTK Performance package. This $2,995 option features Magnetic Ride Control, front splitter, adjustable carbon fiber rear wing, and grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
This announcement could not have come at a better time, as it embarrasses the Ford GT, a track-focused $400,000 supercar that’s nearly impossible to buy. The 750-horsepower ZR1 is a bargain compared to Ford’s offering, with a retail price of $119,995. Chevy is touting the new Corvette ZR1 as a true supercar-killer, a track monster for half the price of its competition.
The fact that this car set a record with an engineer instead of a test driver (unlike Ford, who used racing driver Billy Johnson) to shatter the VIR record is proof of its abilities on the track. “On the racetrack, the ZR1 can compete with any supercar — at any price,” said Mark Reuss, executive vice president global product development, purchasing and supply chain.
The 2019 ZR1 is shaping up to be America’s Huracán Performante, sniping track records from cars hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive. Like the Performante, the Corvette’s next move will be to take on the Nurburgring, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it shattered records there, too.
With the 2018 Formula One campaign less than two months away, it's a perfect time to analyze how different teams will be gearing up for the 21-race season. Of course, this will vary depending on the size of their yearly operating budgets, which is greatly influenced by the amount of money they get from the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).
This video created byWTF1 sheds some light on how the billionaire purse is distributed across the participating teams, and who gets what and for what reasons. As expected, the team that clinches the Constructors' Championship and wins the most races tends to earn more than the others, but that isn't always the case.
According to the video, all teams that have participated in the championship for a minimum of three seasons get a royalty payment of $36 million, which means the boys and girls at Haas F1 are out of luck until the end of 2018. Furthermore, teams receive prize money based on the previous season's performance, which means Mercedes-AMG Petronas received a whopping $61 million in 2017 solely for winning the world championship the year prior—and that's before other bonuses which tacked on an additional $100 million and some change.
Of course, F1 is known for their politics and certain "bonuses" reflect that. Take for example the Long Standing Team (LST) bonus, which awarded Ferrari and only Ferrari a total of $68 million simply for being in F1 longer than anyone else. Perhaps Vettel and Raikkonen see this as job security.
In case you're not up to speed, the FIA makes its money from monetizing the circus' commercial licenses like TV rights, merchandise licensing, ticket revenue, and participating fees from all the race venues they visit (except Monaco). This money is then distributed over the winter per the regulations, which as you can see, can be a bit questionable.
Once it's all said and done, the highest earning team made almost 10 times the amount of the lowest earning team in 2017. The more you know!
Those of you holding out to be the "Queen of the Rec Center Parking Lot," your day is finally here. Acura announced that the 2018 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid will begin arriving at your local Acura dealership Feb. 1. One of the highlights of the new models is an upgraded user interface with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. This new, upgraded user interface is redesigned with dual-screens. There’s also a new seven-inch touchscreen that claims to have 30 percent faster response times. Because, after all, what cars need is more screens and more displays to play with while you're driving.
The car also comes standard with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety features and driver-assist technology. It’s got all the goodies we’ve come to expect from Acura like lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, helping to keep those soccer moms safe while they're reaching for their coffee.
Of course, the main distinction of the Sport Hybrid from the rest of the available trims comes through the high-tech powertrain. The Sport Hybrid comes with Acura’s signature three-motor Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system it shares with the NSX supercar and the RLX Sport Hybrid. Primary power comes from the 3.0-liter V-6 i-VTEC engine. Total output is rated at 321-horsepower with 289 pound-feet of torque which will make it quick, but no match for Mrs. Rodgers and her Tesla Model X.
The new Sport Hybrid is only $1,500 more than the baseline MDX SH-AWD. It comes with a unique interior trim, stainless steel sport pedals, and wood interior accents. Then there are two model grades for the Sport Hybrid. You can either get the Technology Package or the Advance Package. The Technology Package includes seating for seven while the Advance Package features second-row captain’s chairs and a large second-row center console in place of a three-person bench seat.
The MDX Sport Hybrid with Technology Package starts at $53,095, including a $995 destination charge. The Advance Package pushes up the price tag to $59,145. Acura claims that the MDX is America’s all-time best-selling three-row luxury SUV.