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Italdesign and Williams to offer performance electric car development services

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Italdesign and Williams Advanced Engineering EVX platform

Legendary design firm Italdesign and Williams Advanced Engineering, a spinoff of the Williams Formula One team), are partnering on a modular EV platform for low-volume production. The goal is to develop a complete rolling chassis that can support a variety of vehicles, the two companies said in a press release Wednesday.

“We aim to develop vehicle architectures in the GT, sedan, crossover, and convertible markets, fully customizable inside and outside,” Italdesign CTO Antonio Casu said in a statement. “We are targeting business cases that cover different production volumes from an ultra-limited series up to 10,000 units, 500 of which can be built by Italdesign at our facilities in Turin.”

The platform, called EVX, can handle up to 1,000 kw (1,341 hp) of power output, with energy-storage capacity of 104 kwh to 120 kwh, according to Williams. The battery pack can also be expanded to 160 kwh, allowing for up to 621 miles of range (likely as measured on the European testing cycle), according to the company.

The pack was designed in-house by Williams, which has plenty of experience with EV batteries. The company was the original battery supplier for Formula E, and will return to that role for the 2022-2023 season. It also supplies batteries for the ETCR and Extreme E electric race series.

Italdesign and Williams Advanced Engineering EVX platform

Williams designed the battery pack to be part of the vehicle’s structure, mounting front and rear structural elements directly to the carbon-composite battery case. This, along with the design of the side sills, means less reliance on the upper body structure for torsional rigidity and crashworthiness, giving designers more freedom, according to Williams.

The platform can also accommodate different wheelbase lengths, as well as rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Italdesign will pen the bodywork based on client companies’ preferences.

Italdesign and Williams didn’t name any clients, but they aren’t the only companies developing a third-party modular EV platform.

Automotive supplier Magna is supplying its own platform for the Fisker Ocean crossover, while Rivian is using its “skateboard” platform as the basis for Amazon delivery vans and at least one future Ford EV. Even Foxconn—the company that contract manufactures Apple iPhone—hopes to enter the car business with its own platform.

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GTO Engineering Squalo to have bespoke V-12 with 10,000-rpm redline

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GTO Engineering Squalo

British company GTO Engineering has released the first details on the in-house developed V-12 engine that will power its upcoming Squalo sports car.

The Squalo has been styled to resemble a classic Ferrari, specifically the 250 GTO of the 1960s, but there’s nothing classic about the hardware going into it. We’re talking about carbon-fiber body panels, modern suspension and brakes, and a bespoke V-12 that will rev all the way up to 10,000 rpm—yes, higher than a modern Ferrari V-12.

GTO Engineering Squalo

GTO Engineering Squalo

GTO Engineering Squalo

GTO Engineering Squalo

GTO Engineering Squalo

The engine is a marvel on its own. It’s still being developed so GTO Engineering is yet to lock in the final specs, but the company has said to expect an output of more than 460 hp and a weight of less than 364 pounds. The weight is crucial as GTO Engineering has a targeted dry weight for the Squalo of less than 2,200 pounds.

The V-12 features a quad-cam design and 4.0-liter displacement, and will be paired to a manual transmission. The key to the engine’s ability to rev like a motorcycle engine is the use of lightweight parts built using modern materials and modern production techniques. The latter has enabled GTO Engineering to hollow out many parts. This same lightweight ethos also extends to the starter motor, flywheel and clutch.

GTO Engineering Squalo V-12

GTO Engineering Squalo V-12

The engine’s designers also paid attention to packaging to ensure the V-12 is as tightly packed as possible. This is important for weight distribution. GTO Engineering targets a 55/45 front-to-rear weight distribution for the Squalo. The company also targets a low center of gravity and thus the engine will be mounted closer to the firewall and lower to the floor compared to early Ferraris.

Aesthetics have also played a role in the design of the V-12—just look at those trumpets. Specific measures have included remodelling of the front timing case and ancillary drives to make them sleeker, as well as avoiding off-the-shelf parts for items like the distributor caps and main bearing sump assembly in order to develop more aesthetically pleasing designs.

GTO Engineering Squalo V-12

GTO Engineering Squalo V-12

GTO Engineering is building the Squalo’s first prototype chassis, with many parts now going into the tooling phase of production. The first customer examples of the car are due to start deliveries in 2023.

Interestingly, buyers have choice when it comes to sports cars inspired by classic Ferraris. Fellow British company RML Group only on Wednesday announced its own sports car with a design inspired by the Ferrari 250 GT SWB.

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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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