Lamborghini Murcielago’s Designer to Pen Hyundai’s ‘Exotic’ Halo Car

Hyundai announced Monday that its design center's executive vice president Luc Donckerwolke will replace Peter Schreyer as chief design officer for Hyundai. This will give Donckerwolke creative control of the design direction of the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands.

Donckerwolke—designer of the Lamborghini Murcielago—will be at the helm for design of Hyundai's "exotic" sports car project, whose existence was reportedly confirmed by Thomas Schemera to a Dutch publication Thursday.

"Behind the scenes, we are working hard on a 'halo model'—as a flagship model for the N brand," Schemera said in an interview with AutoRAI. "This is going to be a great machine, something nobody expects from Hyundai, something really exotic."

Donckerwolke himself confirmed the car in January, when Yang Woong Chul, Hyundai's vice president of research and development, stated that the unnamed supercar will be primarily propelled by electricity, though it will still have an onboard internal combustion engine. Schemera was unsure whether the vehicle would be a limited-run product or not.

"Whether it will be a limited edition or not, we can unfortunately neither confirm nor deny. In any case, it will be a car in the super sports segment. Think of the Hyundai RM16 and you have a bit of an idea of what is possible," concluded Schemera.

Hyundai's RM16 N was a Veloster-based, mid-engined sports hatchback showcased in 2016, related closely to the RN30 concept (seen above). Sightings of roughly Veloster-shaped test mules with mid-mounted engines have continued through 2018; one such vehicle was filmed testing at the Nürburgring in June.

How much a mid-engined Veloster or similar model and Hyundai's unnamed supercar have in common is uncertain. Given Hyundai's confirmation that the car will be an N-branded model, however, we can count the Genesis Essentia (which the automaker hopes to produce) out of the equation.

LA Is Trying to Fix its Prostitution Problem by Banning Right Turns at Night—and it Might be Working

Stand on the corner of Marathon Street and Western Avenue, a few miles west of downtown Los Angeles, and you'll see two signs. The first, instantly recognizable, is the giant, gleaming HOLLYWOOD perched on a nearby hillside. The second, bolted just out of reach on a street lamp, reads: NO RIGHT TURNS 12 MIDNIGHT TO 7AM NIGHTLY.

The former is iconic, a shorthand for strangled ambition as much as wild fame; the latter is the manifestation of an obscure local traffic law. But the story of that traffic sign—the only one of its kind in the country—is as dark and seedy as anything dreamed up by Otto Preminger or Billy Wilder.

The Corner

North Western Avenue, one of roughly a billion streets in LA's concrete quilt, runs just five miles, from I-10 up to the wrinkled edge of the Hollywood Hills, crossing Koreatown and East Hollywood in between. By day it's a working roadway lined with anonymous strip malls and auto body shops. But at night, even in our on-demand age of hookup apps and "Uber for escorts" start-ups, North Western is home to one of the biggest street-prostitution corridors in the country. This is where Los Angeles is trying to fight back in a unique and bizarre way: by banning right turns onto residential streets at night.

Perhaps it's no surprise that streetwalking persists here. The city's proximity to the border makes it a major hub for human trafficking, the city's inexorable relationship with the car means most Johns have a means of conveyance, and even though it's the most populous county in America, its endless street grid offers countless dark alleys and unwatched corners. Add in the same housing crisis that has decimated many other metropolises—plus Hollywood's appetite for dashing dreams and stranding the dreamers—and you're left with a perfect storm of desperation and predation.

But the situation here is remarkably bad. The corner of Marathon and Western is just a 20 minute-drive to downtown and thirty to the beach on a good day, and just ten minutes from the artisanal boutiques and yoga studios in pricey neighborhoods like Los Feliz and Silver Lake. It's also where, in October, police made five separate arrests of men attempting to solicit a prostitute in a single night.

That a problem of this magnitude could be brought to heel with an obscure traffic fix—that is, making it illegal to make a right turn, off a main road, at night—seems bizarre. It seems like something that would be unpopular with residents, not to mention completely off the mark as a fix; a weird sort of butterfly-effect legislating.

Mayor Eric Garcetti's office, when contacted, was unaware the signs existed. But working the rolodex of local-government bureaucracy introduced current and former officials who were adamant that the peculiar traffic violation has been an important tool for reducing the flow of Johns into the area. A look at the data shows they might actually be right—but, as always, the truth is more complicated than a set of numbers.

Down on Main Street

Tom LaBonge has seen the city through some rough patches during his sixty-odd years, but even he was surprised at how street prostitution surged at the beginning of the decade—2011 wasn't quite as bad as the mid-Seventies, but it came close. By that point, LaBonge was a city councilman representing Los Angeles's 4th District, which encompasses a large chunk of Western Ave.

Each night, as the side streets slid into shadow, women emerged and cars slowed and a quick, frictive commerce ensued. LaBonge's office fielded hundreds of complaints from residents. It wasn't just that people out walking their dogs or taking their children to school early in the morning confronted a barrage of four-wheeled peep shows. The trash left behind—used condoms, litter, needles—had a rotting effect on the neighborhood.

Graying, genial and deep-voiced, LaBonge earned the nickname "Mr. Los Angeles" over his four decades in local government. He talks about the city like the mayor of a small Midwestern town: proud, knowing, always hunting for connections. He retired in 2015, term-limited but still tireless. He cares deeply about clean streets.

"It’s about respect for the neighborhood," he said as we drove up Western in his black Ford Escape. "The 'Broken Windows' theory got kind of thrown out because it got too aggressive in a lot of ways. But to me, it really is about the physical appearance of the neighborhood. If it looks like shit, it will be like shit."

Skid Row is one of LA's most despondent areas, a notorious downtown neighborhood that's been neglected for decades and shows every second of it, home one of the largest homeless populations in the country—more than 5,000 people camped out in less than half a square mile. To stop Western Ave from becoming an unofficial containment zone for prostitution, LaBonge turned to the Los Angeles Police Department's Olympic Division, whose vice squads were already working around the clock to keep up with a "never-ending supply" of workers, clients, and pimps.

To the local politicians, the residents, and the media, it looked like a losing battle. But LAPD Officer Joseph Pelayo had seen this all before.

Turning the Corner

In California, both the buying and selling of sex are illegal under the same law: Penal Code 647(b). This code also states that no services need be exchanged or agreed upon for police to arrest someone; an offer or request is enough. There's another statute that targets loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, and getting caught in the act considerably ups the ante for both parties, but 647(b) is the main tool the LAPD uses to arrest both sex workers and would-be customers.

Pelayo worked vice in Hollywood back in the late Nineties. He spent a lot of time on Sunset Boulevard—another one of the city's "major tracts" for street prostitution, as he puts it—walking the beat and getting to know the area's frequent fliers. With the problem at a high-profile low point (remember Hugh Grant?), Los Angeles first tinkered with traffic-based policing, banning left- and right turns from Sunset onto side streets at night.

The idea was to discourage people from picking up a prostitute and pulling into a residential neighborhood to transact business. There's another layer here, too, according to Pelayo, who said the law gave police probable cause for a traffic stop, since plenty of people at first ignored the signs. He added that such violations are especially useful for regular patrol officers, who might not have the training or experience to spot the signs of a potential sex-work transaction.

"We used to stop cars all the time with the signs in Hollywood. The majority of the time it was residents, but now and again we’d hit someone who picked up a prostitute and catch them in the act," he told me. "Now, they’re probably not going to stop somebody by themselves. This is more if they see someone pick someone up on the main street and turn off of it, to add to the probable cause for a stop."

More to the point, Pelayo said, it worked: arrests went up and activity went down. Now the Senior Lead Officer of LAPD's Olympic Division, he acknowledged that it might seem like an strange tactic to some, and that not all residents were thrilled with driving an extra minute or two out of their way to make a legal turn. But neither fact dissuaded him when LaBonge's office came calling.

"I remember, I drove right over there to take a picture of the signs to show Tom LaBonge," he chuckled. "I said, 'We need to put these up. This is what we need.'"

In Search of a Happy Ending

In early 2012, with prostitution on Western at a peak, LaBonge's office and the LAPD hosted two community meetings where they presented a variety of ideas for turning the tide, including the prohibition of right turns at night for a mile-long chunk of Western. A local news blog reported the "overwhelming majority" of attendees supported the idea. After churning through all the requisite municipal machinations—traffic studies, council motions, a formal request for funding—the signs were installed by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation a few months later.

The data shows arrests for prostitution along Western soared in response: 707 in 2012, compared to 401 a year prior, and just 277 in 2010. The numbers dropped a bit over the next few years, but enforcement barely slowed. It wasn't until 2017 that arrests fell to pre-2010 levels. (It should be noted that those figures don't definitively prove the overall efficacy of the signs, since the raw numbers don't indicate whether an illegal turn was involved in individual arrests, and the signs were just one part of a multi-prong policing approach.)

Pelayo believes the signs were effective. He points to how the right-turn prohibition has since spread to most of Western from the original one-mile stretch, as well as other troubled parts of the city. But he also acknowledges that an inventive moving violation simply treats the symptoms of prostitution, not the cause.

"It’s worked, and it hasn’t worked. It’s worked in the sense that that activity went away for a bit, but it’s since come back somewhat. It also just goes elsewhere—you get strict in one area, and it goes a couple miles south," he said.

"Still, it used to be really bad. It was so bad, you could just drive down the street and watch all the activity."

LaBonge agrees that things have improved markedly along Western (the occasional five-collar night notwithstanding). He also noted that the signs have stopped random people from cutting through sleeping neighborhoods on a GPS-directed shortcut.

Still, the success rings somewhat hollow.

The Show Goes On

On the surface, Pelayo's description of how these traffic signs spread is proof of concept: officials watched the prostitution numbers drop in the trial area along Western, then looked to replicate that success. But in an age where sex is increasingly bought and sold online, Western Avenue can be seen as less a victory and more a stalemate. Street prostitution remains rampant elsewhere, especially in farther-flung tracts and under-policed areas like Compton and South Central. There's been no talk of expanding the no-right-turn law in any significant way. Out of sight, out of mind.

Rather than a turning point in LA's war on street-level prostitution, these signs represent an uneasy truce with a perniciously adaptive underworld. They're not without benefit—especially for residents—but absent the real work of addressing the larger systemic issues at play, it's little more than a band-aid: quick, cheap, and wholly superficial.

Weaponizing a quirky no-right-turn law in the battle against streetwalking is an inventive and canny tactic, but human ingenuity will always play catch-up to human desire, and prostitution is the world's oldest profession for a reason. The sad truth is that this kind of enforcement literally kicks the problem down the road for some other precinct to deal with. Faced with such an impediment, the seedy, undesirable traffic—and the trafficked, and the traffickers—simply finds another route: down the road, across the street, and ever deeper into the night.

USMC Wants Truck-Mounted Plasma Weapon To Temporarily Blind, Deafen, And Even Yell At People

The U.S. Marine Corps is pushing ahead with research and development into laser-induced-plasma less-than-lethal weapons that can temporarily blind and deafen individuals, produce painful burning sensations on their skin through clothing, and even blast out verbal warnings and commands at them from hundreds of yards away. Now, the service is interested to know if the same system can also function as a secure communications device or a sensor to warn friendly forces to incoming missiles or other projectiles and be compact enough to fit on a small truck.

On Oct. 24, 2018, the Marines closed their call for proposals for such a system as part of what is formally known as the Scalable Compact Ultra-short Pulse Laser Systems (SCULPS) program. In March 2018, the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD), the Pentagon’s top less-than-lethal weapon program office, which the Marine Corps leads, demonstrated a similar experimental Non-Lethal Laser Induced Plasma Effects (NL LIPE) system at the Directed Energy to DC Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

“Past efforts to develop USPL [Ultra-Short Pulse Laser] weapon systems that generate scalable laser induced plasma effects (LIPE) have shown some promise, but these efforts were not able to achieve the desired effects at the required range,” the notice on the U.S. government’s Small Business Innovation Research program website explained. “The developed system was cumbersome and not feasible to be integrated on a small tactical vehicle.”

At a range of nearly 100 feet, the NL LIPE system was able to create flashes of light as bright as two million candela, thousands of times brighter than a typical household light bulb, according to the contracting announcement. At that same distance, it could generate blasts of disorienting sound up to 147 decibels, which is around as loud as a gun going off or a jet engine running, and produce “a sufficient level of thermal discomfort on human skin.”

The video below shows tests of earlier Non-Lethal Laser Induced Plasma Effects (NL LIPE) systems.

Experiments have proved in principle that laser-induced-plasma might be able to create verbal announcements, as well. Unfortunately, the prototypes failed to actually issue intelligible commands at the desired range of almost 330 feet.

Laser-induced-plasma systems work by using a short-pulse laser that shoots out bursts of fast-moving amplified light. This produces the plasma, an electrified gas field that has properties that are distinct from matter in the typical gas, liquid, and solid states. When you hit that plasma with a second small laser you can generate light, sound, and heat. In theory, if you can tweak the frequencies of the light, you can make the lasers pump out specific wavelengths of noise and potentially mimic human speech.

Under the SCULPS program, the Marines and the JNLWD are looking for assistance in improving on these previous experiments and getting closer to a viable less-than-lethal weapon system. At the Directed Energy to DC Exhibition, David Law, head of the JNLWD’s technology division, told multiple outlets that the goal was to have a practical prototype ready within five years. Law was named as the main point of contact for SCULPS.

The Marine Corps' new requirements are for a system that can produce between six and eight million candela of light and blasts of noise at 165 decibels or more out to ranges of nearly 110 yards. The service also wants it to be able to generate the burning sensation even through typical clothing rather than just on exposed skin.

The Marines still want to be able to issue short verbal commands, such as “get out,” at distances between 110 and 1,110 yards, too. The complete system, including any equipment necessary to keep the lasers and their power sources cool, has to be small enough to fit inside a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle or a Humvee.

A Marine Corps Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

The SCULPS notice also specifically calls for looking into whether the less-than-lethal weapons can function in other roles. The two additional capabilities the announcement specifically identified were secure communications and “incoming object detection.”

Back in March 2018, we at The War Zone had already raised the possibility that the NL LIPE prototype might have a secondary use as a long-range covert communications tool. The ability to send verbal instructions to personnel at a specific location without a radio could be immensely valuable in a day and age where potential near-peer opponents, such as Russia and China, and smaller nation-states are developing and fielding robust communication jamming and other electronic warfare capabilities.

Laser-based communication by itself is already well understood and is in use, especially in space-based applications. As such, the system might be able to act as a communication node even if the more complex “talking plasma” functionality doesn’t work out in the end.

It’s less clear how the bursts of plasma could help spot incoming projectiles. It is possible that they could act in the same fashion as a small radar, with the full system recording the light or sound waves bouncing off objects in the distance and displaying their relative position to personnel on a handheld device or a screen mounted inside a vehicle.

The potential benefits of a laser-induced-plasma system are clear and even just in a less-than-lethal capacity it could replace a number of different weapons that the U.S. military uses today. These include including temporarily blinding laser "dazzlers", acoustic hailing devices, and high-powered microwave “pain rays.” The plasma-based systems also offer the ability to focus the beam on a very small space, even just a single individual, reducing the impact on friendly personnel or other bystanders. Existing systems have much broader areas of effect.

The potential for the system to perform other missions only makes the technology more attractive both to the U.S. military and law enforcement groups. The Marine Corps’ contracting notice indicates that the third and final phase would explore installing working prototypes onto various types of vehicles, watercraft, and even unmanned aircraft.

A drone carrying one of these laser-induced-plasma weapons could be particularly effective as a psychological warfare tool, something else we at The War Zone have noted before. The ability to project disconcerting or disorienting sounds and flashes of light, or even bizarre messages out of thin air, could demoralize or distract hostile forces, or even specific targets, such as leaders of terrorist groups. They might even think they’re going crazy.

Depending on how powerful the output of the lasers are, they may also be able to produce actual physical damage to enemy equipment, especially optics on vehicles, aircraft, and missiles, or cause injuries among enemy personnel. The Small Business Innovation Research program notice makes it clear that this technology is still more experimental than practical, so more roles may become apparent as time goes on.

There are still hurdles that the Marines will need to overcome. Lasers, by their nature, have a tendency to become defuse over extended ranges and lose power and focus in the process. Any laser-based directed energy weapon is still going to need a straight line-of-sight to the target, too.

Less-than-lethal directed energy weapons have long been a lightning rod for controversy, as well. Though there is no conclusive evidence of these risks, there is a running concern that fluctuations in power in order to achieve non-lethal effects at extended distances could inadvertently cause harmful impacts at closer ranges for anyone unfortunate enough to pass in front of the beam of energy.

But the potential benefits and varied capabilities that a single SCULPS system might be able to provide are clearly significant enough for the Marines to keep pushing ahead with the project.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Watch This Bird Take out a Motorcycle Rider Going 115 MPH

As seen from the perspective of an onboard bike cam, two motorcyclists had a dangerous run-in with some flying hazards at the Phillip Island track in Australia. This is the last kind of wildlife encounter you’d want as a rider.

The Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit is recognized as being one heck of a track, but it’s also known for having a large number of birds that hang around. To be fair to the birds, the circuit is coastal and has a pond in the middle of it, so if they don't want waterfowl around, they are sending some seriously mixed messages. However, these two riders probably didn’t think there was much of a possibility of taking a blow from what appears to be two giant geese heading straight towards them.

The first rider gets smacked by the bird, which sends him into major speed wobbles when his balance is thrown off. While the rider behind him was lucky enough to not get hit by bird number two, his luck ran out when he failed to dodge the rider up front who was exiting the pavement.

Per the video, they are going about 114 miles per hour when the bird flew in, and rider two only managed to slow down by 10 mph when his wheel tapped the front bike and sent him into a spill. While the first rider might have fallen after he left the view of the camera, he was surprisingly still on two wheels when we got the last glance of his bike.

Even though there’s no word about injuries after the accident, we’ll just assume everything ended okay for both riders since the handlebar footage made its way onto the internet.

Hyundai and Kia Developing Solar Panel Roofs for Electric, Internal Combustion Engines

Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors announced in a press release Wednesday that they are working together on solar charging technology for integration into hybrid, electric, and internal combustion vehicles. Hyundai plans to roll out this feature in three generations, with the first coming in 2019. The technology will improve fuel economy and range on equipped cars, reducing emissions in the process.

“It is an exciting development for us, designing a technology for vehicle owners to help them shift from being energy users to being energy producers,” said Jeong-Gil Park, executive vice president of the engineering and design division of Hyundai Motor Group.

Generation one will be made for PHEVs, the second generation of tech will be made for internal combustion engines, and the third generation will be made for EVs.

The first generation of the technology will be "created out of a structure of silicon solar panels that are integrated into a standard car roof," described Hyundai. As the hybrid car is parked, this roof will have the ability to charge 30 percent to 60 percent of its battery during the course of a day, depending on current weather conditions.

Generation two will be a semi-transparent solar panel embedded into the panoramic sunroof of internal combustion engine vehicles. This system is meant to charge the car's 12-volt battery. The addition of solar panels will allow the car to rely less on the typical alternator charging system, taking stress off of the engine and improving fuel efficiency as a result.

In its release, Hyundai Motor Group doesn't have much to say about the third generation of the technology, other than it "is currently in testing," and it will be applied to the roofs and hoods of future EVs to provide them with a source of clean energy.

“In the future, we expect to see many different types of electricity-generating technologies integrated into our vehicles. The solar roof is the first of these technologies, and will mean that automobiles no longer passively consume energy, but will begin to produce it actively,” stated Park.

In the fight to reduce emissions, it's imperative not only for companies to manufacture more efficient cars, but also to power them through renewable sources, such as hydrogen cells, wind power, and solar energy. If the third generation of this technology makes it into production, it could put Hyundai and Kia a step closer to creating a true zero-emissions vehicle.

Halloween Havoc: 6 Massively Powerful Cars That Are Fast as Hell

Despite being safer than the death machines of yesteryear, there are still plenty of high-horsepower cars on the market today that have the ability to put you between a rock and a tree hard place if you aren't careful. Power figures nearing closer and closer to the four-figure mark mean that it's easier than ever to hit high speeds without a second thought, which doesn't always work to the driver's advantage. To commemorate these admirable hunks of metal with more focus on performance than sanity, we've compiled a list of six cars that can easily be qualified as too much to handle for the average Joe—all with a Halloween theme.

2019 Jaguar F-Type SVR (575 HP, 200 MPH Top Speed)

Although this Brit isn't the most powerful on our list, it may provide the best case of sensory overload. A blown 5.0-liter V-8 sits far at the front of the vehicle while the driver is tossed towards the back, just over the rear wheels. The engine's absurdly loud growl initiates the terror while the supercharger's whine keeps everyone on their toes, all the way to that coveted 200-mph mark. Pair that with an intimidating front fascia and wide rear arches, and the Jag finds itself among the meanest kitties on our list.

2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat (707 HP, 203 MPH Top Speed)

Not only is the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat bent on blasting its driver to warp speed, it's also got four doors to scare the Hades out of the entire family. Using Mopar's venerable 6.2L V-8 with an angry supercharger in tow, this year's model has its top speed increased from 199 mph to 203 mph. This kind of oomph encourages tomfoolery like little else, and with a name like Hellcat, how could it not be at the tip of your tongue this time of year?

2019 Porsche 911 GT2 RS (700 HP, 211 MPH Top Speed)

The current generation 911 GT2 RS is blazingly fast around any race track, but don't forget its widow-making heritage that can be traced back to the original Porsche 930 Turbo. The Stuttgart automaker opted to make this variant of its fabled nine-elfer in rear-wheel-drive only, meaning that you've only got that much control over its monstrously potent 3.8L, twin-turbo flat-six engine. Watching professionals handle this thing on the Nordschleife may instill a bit of superficial confidence, but if you hop in thinking you can tame it with ease, you're sure to be humbled—and quick.

2019 Ferrari 488 Pista (710 HP, 211 MPH Top Speed)

The Prancing Horse with turbocharged amidships fury is danger wrapped in an elegant package. Though it may seem like a standard luxury supercar, the Pista takes everything we loved about the 488 GTB and strikes a line through it with new, more impressive figures drawn alongside. It goes like stink and drives like a treat, but be careful not to be tricked by its inviting persona. Don't worry, though, as it's mainly built for those with the equivalent of a federal reserve in their back pocket: the 2019 Ferrari 488 Pista has a base price of $350,050.

2019 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 (755 HP, 212 MPH Top Speed)

For those who thought the old king-of-the-hill Z06 'Vette was looney, Chevy rolled out another two-door supercar killer with 100 more horsepower and wicked styling. The 2019 Corvette ZR1 has been touted as one of the most raucous cars to hit the market this year, and since it's also got racecar-inspired aerodynamics to carry major velocity into the corners, it demands the pilot's undivided attention. Plus, the fact that it comes in Jack-O-Lantern Orange seems fittingly festive.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon (840 HP, 168 MPH Top Speed)

This one just had to top the charts. It's got more horsepower than any other American-built production car, it goes from 0 to 60 mph as fast as the million dollar exotics, and its quarter-mile time of 9.65 seconds is unmatched by the rest of the world. Even though it's got the lowest top speed on the list, all of its twist from the heavily-supercharged 6.2L V-8 is used for acceleration and helps it demolish the drag strip time and time again. You might try, but you won't find a more devilish muscle car than the Challenger SRT Demon.

Watch This Visor Cam Footage of IndyCar’s Initial Test at Circuit of the Americas

On Monday, IndyCar held a tire test with Firestone at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, where it will race for the first time in 2019.

Andretti Autosport-Honda's Alexander Rossi, an unspecified Carlin Racing-Chevrolet driver, and AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet's Tony Kanaan took part in the test. Footage from a camera mounted to Kanaan's helmet was published by IndyCar's Twitter feed on the Tuesday following the running.

When IndyCar races at COTA in March, it will be the second premiere open-wheel racing series to do so. Formula 1 has held its United States Grand Prix at COTA every Autumn since 2012, and both series' status as some of the fastest racing cars in the world tempt comparison. Lap times for F1 cars at this year's USGP dipped into the 1:32 range, and according to the writer of an IndyCar news site, recorded lap times for IndyCar were within 10 seconds of the mark.

As the drivers for the tire test were experimenting with varying tire compounds and power levels, all familiar with IndyCar's pace around COTA have agreed not to publicize official lap times. Odds are that as drivers familiarize themselves with COTA and the track rubbers in over a race weekend, lap times could approach those of F1. Rossi gushed of his experience at the test in an interview following the event.

"I had a smile on my face for the entire 90 laps and the package is great," Rossi told Motorsport. "It's challenging, it's technical, but there's also a lot of high-speed corners. It's a perfect circuit for us."

"From Turn 1 to Turn 9 is just mega. The first bit of it is pretty close to flat and each one subsequently gets tighter so you kind of decelerate as you go through them and if you're a little bit off on the first one, you pay a big penalty six corners later! So it's definitely a drivers' track."

Rossi raced the 2015 USGP with now-defunct F1 team Manor-Marussia, but had difficulty comparing his F1 experience at COTA with his IndyCar drive, attributable in part to the monsoon-like conditions of the Grand Prix.

"In 2015 in the Marussia, the whole time it was wet, and in 2013 driving for Caterham as test driver I did one free practice in the dry," said Rossi. "But I honestly don't remember too much about that."

GM Could Be Shifting Toward Electric Sooner Than Expected

General Motors is expected to announce changes to its electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid plans. The news comes less than a week after GM's CEO Mary Barra advocated for a national electric vehicle mandate that automakers be required to produce more EVs and PHEVs by 2021. Last fall GM announced its plans to have 20 different EV models ready for 2023, putting it on a path to rapid change.

One of the big factors in this transition is the Hamtramck plant that GM uses to build the Volt plug-in hybrid. The plant is also used for the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Cadillac CT6, which last year, The Drive reported are the models GM considered cutting from its lineup as Americans have switched to a desire for crossovers, trucks, and SUVs. This plant could be revamped for the crossover model that is expected to use the Voltec powertrain Chevrolet currently uses exclusively in the Volt.

The Bolt EV has had strong sales and General Motors has planned to expand production of its first mass market EV as demand has grown globally for the model. The Bolt sales dropped earlier this year due to production shortages of the vehicle. The Bolt is in a competitive section of the EV market with rivals from Hyundai, Nissan, and Tesla expected to enter the $35,000 range in the upcoming months.

Chevrolet recently revealed an electric COPO Camaro drag racer at the 2018 SEMA Show highlighting the potential for an electric version of GM's entry level performance car. The eCOPO Camaro uses an 800 volt battery pack going to two electric motors, giving the electrified drag racer an expected quarter mile time less than 9 seconds.

2019 Hennessey Ford F-150 VelociRaptor Ditches the EcoBoost, Boasts Supercharged Coyote V-8

Hennessey Performance used the 2018 SEMA show as the perfect time to show off what happens when it gets its hands on a 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor. The Texas tuning house took the specialty vehicle and turned it into an even better machine, giving it back the V-8 we all loved, strapping on a big ol' supercharger, and branding it the VelociRaptor.

The Ford F-150 Raptor is an extremely off-road capable, high-performance truck. While there haven’t been many complaints about the factory specs of the machine, one disappointment for many was the replacement of the V-8 under the hood. While the 450-horsepower V-6 EcoBoost engine is more than enough to get the job done, many just feel like it’s not a good fit for the second-generation of the supertruck.

For people wanting the V-8 growl back in their Raptor, the Hennessey-made pickup offers that and then some. The EcoBoost engine has been plucked out, and a blown 5.0-liter V-8 turns the output up to 758 hp. A 2.9-liter supercharger allows the engine to reach the higher output, and Ford's 10-speed automatic transmission sends the power to the tires.

Other performance upgrades include a high-flow induction system, a complete fuel system upgrade, a stainless steel catback exhaust, and custom tuning, to name a few modifications. The Stage 2 suspension gives the truck a 6-inch lift and it rolls on 20-inch alloy wheels that are wrapped in meaty 37-inch BFGoodrich off-road tires. Both front and rear bumpers have been swapped out for the Hennessey versions, and exterior lighting is upgraded up front.

Hennessey promises that the supercharged truck will sprint to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, and can cover the quarter-mile in 12.2-seconds at 115 mph. Only 100 of the 2019 Hennessey VelociRaptor trucks are going to be made, and one will run you $147,950 to bring home.

Jeep ‘Scrambler’ Pickup Truck to Debut at LA Auto Show in November: Report

The Jeep pickup truck is coming! The Jeep pickup truck is coming! While we've long suspected the midsize truck will debut at the LA Auto Show, we now have confirmation from the auto show itself that the truck will debut at the Los Angeles Convention Center in just a couple of weeks.

In a press release, the LA Auto Show touts the more than 60 vehicles set to debut during media days. According to the release, the show will have "an all-new vehicle from Hyundai and a pickup truck from Jeep." (Emphasis ours)

The show doesn't provide any more details, but we do know quite a bit about the new Jeep pickup. For one, it'll be built alongside the JL Wrangler in Toledo. In fact, Jeep Cherokee production was moved away from the Toledo plant to make room for the Wrangler expansion. The JK Wrangler remained in production while everything was getting sorted for this new product.

Presumably, the new pickup will be called "Scrambler." The classic Scrambler had a usable, small utility bed. Fiat Chrysler's history of resurrecting classic names for products is also a strong indicator that the name will come back to life with the new truck. When it does hit the streets, the new model will compete with the likes of the new Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, Honda Ridgeline, and Nissan Frontier.

Beyond that, we don't know much. Heck, we're not even sure what it looks like, though spy shots have given us a pretty good idea of the overall shape. Even the rendering used in this piece isn't confirmed to be authentic.

Jeep itself isn't fessing up, either. FCA declined to comment when approached by The Drive.

We'll know whether or not soon enough, though. The LA Auto Show, also called Automobility LA, has press conferences starting on Wednesday, Nov. 28.