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Ford to become EV brand in Europe, invest $1B in main German plant

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Planned upgrades to Ford plant in Cologne, Germany

Ford on Wednesday announced major changes to its operations in Europe. Key among these will be a switch to an full-electric passenger vehicle lineup by 2030.

Ford’s sole electric vehicle currently on sale in Europe is the Mustang Mach-E, but the automaker estimates that by as early as 2026 its full lineup will consist purely of plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, and other types of zero-emission capable vehicles.

Part of the plan is to introduce EVs tailored to the European market. The first of these is due in 2023 and will be built at Ford’s plant in Cologne, Germany. The site is where Ford’s European headquarters is located, and it’s set to receive a $1 billion upgrade to prepare it for EV production. The plant currently builds the Fiesta subcompact.

Planned upgrades to Ford plant in Cologne, Germany

The European-built EV is expected to be based on Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform. Recall, Ford in 2019 entered a deal with VW Group to use the MEB platform for a European-built EV due in 2023. The automaker also said at the time it was considering a second EV based on the platform. Currently found in the VW ID.3 and ID.4, the MEB platform will eventually underpin dozens of models across multiple brands.

The investment in the Cologne plant is part of Ford’s $22 billion global investment in EVs covering the period 2016-2025, which was announced by the automaker earlier in February. Part of the funds will also go toward developing an electric version of Ford’s Transit van, which is popular with commercial customers in Europe.

Ford’s announcement of its plans for Europe comes after the automaker announced a strong return to profit in the region. Ford earlier in Feb. said it generated an operating profit of $414 million in the fourth quarter of 2020 in Europe, up from $21 million in the fourth quarter of 2019. This was thanks in part to a major restructuring initiated in 2019 that included 12,000 job cuts across Europe but primarily in Germany.

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Autos

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge, 2021 Porsche Taycan, 2021 Honda Legend: This Week’s Top Photos

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2021 Aston Martin AMR21 Formula One race car

By 2030, Volvo will have a fully electric lineup and an online sales model just like Tesla. However, we won’t have to wait until then for new electric vehicles from the Swedish brand as it will already have seven available by the middle of the decade. One of the seven was revealed this week in the form of the 2022 C40 Recharge.

2021 Aston Martin AMR21 Formula One race car

Aston Martin is returning to Formula One for the first time since 1960 and has a multiple world champion signed as a driver. We’re talking about Sebastian Vettel, who will be driving the new Aston Martin AMR21 together with Lance Stroll.

2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

2021 Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Porsche this week launched its first soft-roader wagon in the form of the 2021 Taycan Cross Turismo. It reaches dealerships this summer and will cost you only about $1,500 more than the equivalent Taycan sedan.

Ferrari Special Series test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Ferrari Special Series test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

One of the cars we spied this week is likely to be the successor to the LaFerrari. It’s also likely to be the car Ferrari enters in the new Le Mans Hypercar class of the World Endurance Championship in 2023.

2023 Maserati GranTurismo test mule spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Maserati GranTurismo test mule spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Another upcoming vehicle we spied this week was the next-generation Maserati GranTurismo due on sale next year. Maserati is testing the new mechanical package under the makeshift body of an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio to keep prying eyes away.

2021 Honda Legend (Japanese spec)

2021 Honda Legend (Japanese spec)

This week we learned that the Acura RLX is alive and well in Japan, only it’s known as a Honda Legend over there. The latest version sports some new electronic driver-assist features rated at Level 3 on the SAE scale of self-driving capability.

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 008 “Mini Boot”

Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus 008 “Mini Boot”

America’s Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus provided an update on its 008. The 008 is a kit car that’s best described as a jacked up, off-road-ready version of SCG’s 004 supercar.

2020 Audi SQ8

2020 Audi SQ8

And finally, we had a chance to test the 2020 Audi SQ8. The Lamborghini Urus’ German cousin delivers performance and utility in a no compromise, understated package.

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Learn about Porsche’s legendary “Moby Dick” 935/78

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Porsche 935/78

Porsche has built many legendary race cars over the decades, but the 935/78 “Moby Dick” still stands out. So much so that Porsche devoted an entire video in its “Top Five” YouTube series to the car. You could say it’s a whale of a tale.

The 935/78 got its nickname from its long tail, a testament to the liberal rules in sports car racing at the time. While the 935 was based on the 911, engineers had significant freedom to alter its shape for better aerodynamics. The 935/78 also had a longer nose than other versions of the 935, with the 911’s trademark round headlights replaced by square units lower in the front fascia.

While the rules allowed for extensive modifications to the bodywork, they were more restrictive when it came to the engine. Porsche wanted the 3.2-liter flat-6 to be water cooled, but was forced to stick with air cooling, as in the 911 road cars of the period.

 

Porsche 935/78

While it’s an icon today, the 935/78 wasn’t a very successful race car. It only won a single race—the 1978 6 Hours of Silverstone. The single 935/78 built only raced during the 1978 season, but other versions of the 935 raced prolifically, with many teams continuing to develop their cars independent of the Porsche factory.

The 935/78 may not have been a success on the track, but its design made it a legend. Porsche even launched a tribute version in 2018, based on the 991-generation 911 GT2 RS. Unlike the original, the modern 935 was not homologated for racing, although filmmaker and Porsche fanatic Jeff Zwart ran one at the 2020 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

For more Porsche lore, check out the “Top Five” videos for the 959 Paris-Dakar. Porsche also put together top-five lists of rally cars and secret prototypes.

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2021 24 Hours of Le Mans delayed until mid-August

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No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

Organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans announced Thursday that this year’s running of the French endurance classic has been delayed until the weekend starting August 21.

The race, which serves as the highlight event of the World Endurance Championship, was originally scheduled to run the weekend starting June 12.

The organizers decided to delay the race as by the August date there is a better chance a public audience will be allowed to attend.

Last year’s race was held without spectators and sticking to the original June date for this year’s race would likely have meant another year without the public, based on the current outlook for Covid-19 restrictions in France.

No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE race car at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans

“Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable,” Pierre Fillon, president of race organizer ACO, said in a statement. “We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season.”

While the Le Mans race has lacked some excitement in recent years due to Toyota being the only automaker in the premier LMP1 class, things will heat up this year with the new Le Mans Hypercar class replacing LMP1 as the top class.

In LMH, Toyota will go up against America’s Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and Germany’s ByKolles this year. Peugeot is set to join the fray most likely in 2022 and Ferrari has said it will be there in 2023. Porsche will also be there in 2023, albeit in the separate LMDh class sanctioned by IMSA.

Pre-season testing for the 2021 WEC season is scheduled for March 30-31 at Portugal’s Portimao racetrack. The opening round will be held on April 4, also at Portimao.

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