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2021 Porsche 911 GT3 to debut Feb. 16 with over 500 hp, available manual

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2021 Porsche 911 GT3 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full year since Porsche first sneaked a peek at its new 911 GT3 based on the 992-generation 911, though the past 12 months haven’t exactly been normal.

The good news is that the reveal is almost here. Porsche plans to livestream the reveal of the “youngest member of the Porsche 911 GT family” on February 16, starting at 9 am EST. You can tune in for the livestream at this link.

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Porsche hasn’t said that the reveal is for the 911 GT3 but a teaser shot shows the rear wing with “swan neck” struts that we know from prototypes are destined for the car. Downforce is expected to be up 50% compared to the 991-generation 911 GT3, with drag also reduced. A more aggressive version of the wild rear wing design features on the related 911 GT3 Cup race car that was unveiled last December.

Andreas Preuninger, who is responsible for the development of Porsche’s GT cars, is also confirmed for the livestream, together with Frank-Steffen Walliser, who is in charge of Porsche’s 718 and 911 lines.

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car

Preuninger has already given us a lot of the details for the new track star and purists can take a sigh of relief. It’s going to be available with a manual transmission, come powered by a naturally aspirated flat-6 that revs to the high heavens, and weigh less than the 991 GT3 despite a bigger footprint.

And in an interview with Car and Driver published last November, Preuninger said buyers will be able to choose between a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission (note, not an 8-speed like in other 992 911s). Those who are unhappy with the more pedestrian 911’s Braun electric razor-like gear selector nub will be pleased to hear a proper shift lever will be placed on the center console for the dual-clutch-equipped GT3s.

Andreas Preuninger

Andreas Preuninger

The engine will be a 4.0-liter naturally aspirated flat-6 with over 500 hp and a 9,000 rpm redline. Center-mounted exhaust pipes will sing the song of Porsche’s people with slightly larger tips than before. The engine will not feature electronically controlled mounts as they were deemed both unnecessary and to be extra weight.

Speaking of weight, the car will be 3,152 pounds wet. To get weight down the engineers replaced more metal parts with lighter carbon-fiber, such as the hood. Steel brake rotors measuring 408 millimeters in the front and 380 mm in the rear. Despite being larger than the 991 GT3’s brakes, the new brakes didn’t add much weight, according to Preuninger. It’s likely carbon-ceramic brake rotors will be on the options list.

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

For the first time in the 911 GT3s history there’s a double wishbone front axle. It’s a completely new setup compared to the previous 991 GT3 and also features on the 992 GT3 Cup race car. As for the rear suspension, not one part is shared with the other 911 models on sale today, according to Preuninger.

The center-lock wheels are larger than before with 20s in the front and 21s in the rear. The staggered Michelin tire setup features 315s in the back and 255s in the front. Track-focused Cup R tires will be an option, according to Preuninger.

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

A Touring model sans the agressive rear wing will arrive later after the standard GT3 arrives, according to Preuninger, and we’ve also spotted the more hardcore RS variant out testing.

Stay tuned for the reveal of the new 911 GT3 in just over a week.

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Autos

Toyota begins construction of its smart city

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Toyota's Woven City

Just before the coronavirus pandemic hit, at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, Toyota announced an ambitious plan to build an entire city in Japan as a showcase for futuristic tech. Despite everything that’s happened since that announcement, Toyota is still going ahead with this scheme.

Toyota held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project, dubbed Woven City, Tuesday at a construction site adjacent to one of its former factories. The automaker didn’t give any other updates on construction, or on its efforts to recruit people to live in the city.

Woven City will be built from the ground up on 175 acres of land at the base of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji. At its CES 2020 press conference, Toyota said the city would allow for testing and development of autonomous vehicles, robotics, smart-home systems, and other future tech in a real-world environment.

The name Woven City comes from the use of designated streets for three types of traffic: faster vehicles, mixed usage for lower-speed personal mobility devices (such as scooters), and pedestrians, as well as pedestrian-only zones. There will also be one underground road to transport goods, according to Toyota. The name also refers to Toyota’s roots in the textile industry.

Toyota’s Woven City

Toyota previously said it would deploy working versions of its e-Palette and LQ concepts in Woven City, plus an assortment of scooters and mobility aids for the pedestrian-only areas. The e-Palette is a reconfigurable box-shaped autonomous vehicle designed for both ride-sharing and delivery services, while the LQ is a small hatchback with an AI interface and some degree of autonomous-driving capability.

Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, whose team designed Google’s Mountain View headquarters, was commissioned to design the city, which will be built from sustainable materials and powered by renewable energy, including hydrogen fuel cells (a Toyota favorite) and rooftop solar panels.

Toyota also previously said homes would have robots and sensors to monitor occupants’ health, and that all buildings, vehicles, and people would be connected through a citywide network managed by AI.

Initially, Woven City will have just 360 residents, mostly older adults, families with young children and inventors. Toyota plans to eventually house more than 2,000 people, including some of its own employees, in the futuristic city.

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Tesla won’t maintain growth as industry catches up

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Incoming BMW CEO Oliver Zipse

Tesla humbled the established German luxury automakers by leading the way for electric cars, but the rest of the industry is catching up, BMW’s chief executive believes.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Tesla’s 2020 deliveries were up nearly 36% from 2019, at just under 500,000 cars, the automaker said in its year-end financial results call. Tesla is also expanding, with new factories in Germany and Texas scheduled to come online, alongside its existing California and China plants, in 2021.

“It won’t be easy for Tesla to continue at that speed because the rest of the industry is moving ahead big time,” BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told Bloomberg Monday during the DLD All Stars tech conference, a gathering of tech visionaries.

Established automakers were not prepared for the Tesla Model S when it launched in 2012, and they are still struggling to match Tesla, which is now planning to launch a version of the Model S with more than 500 miles of range. Most German luxury brands are just beginning to roll out high-volume EVs and they are struggling to hit 300 miles of range.

Incoming BMW CEO Oliver Zipse

The Texas factory will build the Cybertruck, targeting the most popular vehicle segment in the U.S., and CEO Elon Musk has teased an entry-level $25,000 EV as well.

However, German automakers are finally beginning to ramp up production of EVs. BMW has several new models in the works, including the iX SUV, i4 sedan, and an electric version of the next-generation 7-Series. They’ll join the iX3 (which isn’t sold in the U.S.) and Mini Cooper SE, both of which debuted last year. The automaker plans to launch 25 electrified models by 2023, with more than half all-electric.

Mercedes-Benz plans to have eight EVs under its new EQ sub-brand by 2022. That includes the EQC crossover and EQV minivan already on sale in Europe, the upcoming EQA and EQB compact crossovers, as well as larger EQE and EQS models—each in sedan an SUV body styles. The EQS sedan starts production in Sindelfingen, Germany, later this year, while the SUV version, along with the EQE SUV, will be built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, starting in 2022.

The Volkswagen Group may already be ahead of Tesla in Europe at least. It sold more EVs than Tesla in that market last year, and delivered 231,600 globally—more than triple its 2019 total. VW is adding the ID.4 crossover to its lineup in both Europe and the U.S. this year. Audi will get its own version, dubbed Q4 E-Tron, along with the Porsche Taycan-based E-Tron GT this year.

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None of Jaguar’s current model lines will remain after EV transformation

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Thierry Bollore

Jaguar Land Rover CEO Thierry Bollore last week made the shock announcement that Jaguar’s full lineup will consist exclusively of electric vehicles as soon as 2025.

But the automaker doesn’t plan to simply redesign current models like the XF sedan and F-Pace crossover with battery-electric power. Instead, it plans a full reboot that will see new model lines introduced and the lineup likely pruned.

The reboot could also see the Jaguar brand repositioned as a more premium offering. Citing people familiar with Bollore’s plans, Automotive News (subscription required) reported this week that Jaguar will ditch the premium market dominated by the German brands and target the luxury market where brands like Aston Martin, Bentley and Maserati operate.

Thierry Bollore

The claim is backed by comments made by Bollore in a press conference following last week’s announcement, where he said, “we will reposition completely the Jaguar brand.” He also said in the conference that the repositioning is why plans for an electric XJ originally due in 2020 have been scrapped.

Key to the repositioning will be the development of a battery-electric platform exclusive to Jaguar. Land Rover will have two platforms of its own, both of them designed to support hybrid and battery-electric vehicles.

At this point Jaguar doesn’t have much to lose with a reboot. Last year it managed to sell slightly more than 100,000 vehicles. That’s only one fifth of what Tesla sold, despite Jaguar having two more model lines.

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