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Handsome redesign coming for compact crossover

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2023 BMW X1 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The BMW X1 is already one of the better looking options in the compact crossover segment, and it looks like designers will up the wow factor for the next-generation model.

Fresh prototypes for the redesigned X1 have been spotted, revealing some of the new styling themes. The testers are still at a relatively early stage judging by their makeshift lights and interior elements, which makes sense as the new X1 is only due as a 2023 model. This means the showroom appearance should be in the second half of 2022, at the earliest.

Even at this stage in the development we can already see the redesigned X1 will take on a bolder, more brutish look than the current model thanks to the wide, shark nose grille. The rest of the design looks to be an evolution of the current model, though the signature Hofmeister kink looks to be more vertical, which should further accentuate the design’s toughness.

2023 BMW X1 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The platform is BMW Group’s latest front-wheel-drive architecture designed for compact cars, known as FAAR. The platform made its debut in 2019 in a redesigned 1-Series hatchback sold overseas and has since appeared in the 2-Series Gran Coupe launched for 2020.

The FAAR platform is an update of the UKL platform underpinning the current X1. The biggest change is the option for battery-electric powertrains. Yes, an electric X1 likely to be badged an iX1 is in the works. It’s one of at least 13 battery-electric models BMW Group will offer across its brands by the end of 2023.

Other powertrain options should carry over from the current X1, meaning a series of 1.5-liter inline-3 and 2.0-liter inline-4 engines, all of them turbocharged. Mild-hybrid technology will likely become a standard feature, and a plug-in hybrid setup utilizing the 1.5-liter engine will likely be on offer again. We don’t get the current plug-in hybrid X1 but the next-generation version might be available locally.

2023 BMW X1 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 BMW X1 spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Drive will be to the front-wheels as standard and all-wheel drive will be available. The sole transmission is likely to be an 8-speed automatic.

Don’t hold your breath for an X1 M from BMW M, but something along the lines of the 302-horsepower X2 M35i is possible. It will make a great alternative to the new GLA35 and GLB35 from Mercedes-Benz AMG.

Stay tuned for updates as development continues.

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2021 Acura TLX Type S to make public debut as pace car

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No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 DPi at the 2021 24 Hours of Daytona

Acura’s redesigned 2021 TLX has been out for a while but the version performance fans are waiting for, the TLX Type S, is yet to land in showrooms.

It arrives in late May but the public will get to see the car for the first time during the Mid-Ohio round of the 2021 WeatherTech Sports Car Championship on this weekend in Lexington, Ohio. This year’s race is officially known as the Acura Sports Car Challenge Presented by the TLX Type S.

The TLX Type S will serve as the official pace car throughout the weekend, and will be decked out in the Tiger Eye Pearl gold paint finish exclusive to the performance sedan.

There will be Acuras competing on the track as well. ARX-05 prototype racers will be competing in the DPi class and NSX GT3 Evos will be in the GTD class.

No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 DPi at the 2021 24 Hours of Daytona

Acura has already seen a lot of success in this year’s WeatherTech Sports Car Championship season. Recall, the Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 scored an outright win at the 24 Hours of Daytona.

And last season Acura took home the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Drivers’, Manufacturers’ and Teams’ titles in both the DPi and GTD classes.

While not as fast as Acura’s race cars, the TLX Type S should still be plenty quick thanks to a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 coupled with sport-tuned suspension and powerful Brembo brakes. Peak output of 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque will ensure the car is the quickest Type S to date.

Pricing information will be announced closer to the market launch but Acura said to expect a starting figure in the low $50,000 bracket.

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Fisker and Foxconn to build sub-$30,000 EV in US

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Teaser sketch for Fisker electric vehicle being developed with Foxconn

Fisker in February announced it would work with Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn to realize an affordable, mass-produced electric vehicle for launch in late 2023.

On Thursday, the two companies provided an update on the plans, including confirmation the vehicle, code-named Project Pear, will be built in the United States and have a price tag of less than $30,000, before incentives. A specific site for production is still under evaluation.

The vehicle’s code name is an acronym for “Personal Electric Automotive Revolution,” and Fisker is looking to build as many as 250,000 units annually for global sale, with the company planning production in other countries should demand reach those levels.

Fisker said the exterior design of the vehicle is locked in, and supply chains for vital components such as chips already addressed. The next key stage is developing a lightweight platform, code-named FP28. The FP28 will be related to the modular EV platform Foxconn unveiled in 2020.

Teaser sketch for Fisker electric vehicle being developed with Foxconn

By relying heavily on information technology, the two companies are looking to go from initial R&D to production within the space of 24 months, or about half the traditional time it takes to launch a new vehicle.

“We created our company to disrupt every convention in the auto industry,” Henrik Fisker, chairman and CEO of Fisker, said in a statement. “We will create a vehicle that crosses social borders, while offering a combination of advanced technology, desirable design, innovation and value for money, while delivering on our commitment to create the world’s most sustainable vehicles.”

Project Pear will be the second electric vehicle from Fisker. The first will be the Ocean crossover that Fisker has tapped Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr to build. The Ocean is being developed on a platform supplied by Magna and will start production at Magna’s plant in Graz, Austria, in late 2022. A production-ready prototype will be shown in November at the 2021 Los Angeles Auto Show.

There could be even more Fisker vehicles arriving in quick succession. The company in January showed an image of a lifestyle pickup truck, and in the past has hinted at a coupe-like crossover, as well as a super sedan based on a 2018 concept.

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Hyundai announces $7.4B investment in US for EV production, future mobility

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Hyundai announces Ioniq brand dedicated to EVs

Hyundai Motor Group, which covers the Hyundai, Genesis and Kia brands, on Thursday announced a $7.4 billion investment in the United States through 2025.

The bulk of the investment is to add production of electric vehicles to HMG’s existing production network in the U.S., with the first EV due to start production here in 2022.

HMG said the first EV will be made at Hyundai’s plant in Montgomery, Alabama, currently home to Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe and Tucson production. The recently revealed Santa Cruz pickup truck will also be built at the plant.

EVs are also expected to be built at Kia’s plant in Westpoint, Georgia, though details are yet to be finalized.

HMG said it will finalize plans for further EV production in the U.S. pending marketing conditions and the outcome of government policy toward promoting EVs. The Biden administration in March announced an infrastructure plan that earmarked $174 billion for the promotion of EVs, including potentially investing in charging stations and offering consumer rebates for U.S.-built vehicles.

Hyundai announces Ioniq brand dedicated to EVs

Hyundai already offers the Kona and Ioniq Electric in the U.S., and will start sales of the recently revealed Ioniq 5 crossover this fall. An Ioniq 6 sedan and Ioniq 7 large crossover are also planned. Kia offers the Niro EV here, and will bring the recently revealed EV6 crossover next year.

In addition to EVs, HMG’s new investment will also allocate funds for development of hydrogen infrastructure. Part of this will be used to advance hydrogen fueling and fuel-cell powertrains for transport trucks. Hyundai is working closely with truck powertrain expert Cummins in this area.

Finally, HMG will also make investments in new mobility technologies, specifically self-driving cars and flying taxis.

In the area of self-driving cars, HMG and automotive supplier Aptiv in 2020 established the Motional self-driving technology company. Motional is currently testing prototypes, primarily in Nevada, and aims to have its first commercial self-driving taxi service up and running in 2023.

As for flying taxis, HMG in 2019 established an Urban Air Mobility division and predicts it will have a commercial service in operation by 2028. With the new investment, HMG will establish an Urban Air Mobility business based in Washington, D.C.

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