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Mid-life facelift may see Maybach rival introduced

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2022 Audi A8 facelift spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Audi’s fourth-generation A8 is about to come in for a round of updates, as evidenced by camouflaged prototypes spotted in the wild.

The current A8 arrived for the 2019 model year. This updated version is expected to debut late this year or early next as a 2022 model.

The A8 isn’t a big seller for Audi, with the U.S. sales figure in 2020 coming in at just 2,406 units. Even the pre-pandemic total in 2019 was only slightly better at 2,963 units. As a result, Audi is unlikely to invest big on major updates for the A8. The prototypes point to new headlights, new internals in the taillights, and revised fascias at both ends.

There aren’t any shots showing the interior but we can expect some updates here as well. A new infotainment system is possible to match the more advanced systems offered in newer vehicles like the latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Cadillac Escalade, both of which offer large curved displays.

2022 Audi A8 facelift spy shots – Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

The current powertrain lineup should carry over. In the U.S. this means V-6, V-8 and W-12 options, plus a V-6-based plug-in hybrid option. Don’t look for a battery-electric powertrain to be added, at least with this generation of the A8.

Similar updates should feature on the sporty S8 variant. The current S8 makes 563 hp from a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8, and even more performance could be offered if Audi adds a new S8 Plus variant like it did with the previous-generation S8.

Speaking of variants, Audi in 2019 hinted at a more luxurious version of the A8 that could possibly go up against the Maybach S-Class and new Rolls-Royce Ghost. There are rumors this flagship variant could use the Horch name, borrowed from Audi founder August Horch who used the name for a separate car brand before he went on to establish Audi.

Audi also looks to be developing a flagship SUV that may end up wearing a Q9 badge. An early tester for the vehicle was spotted in March.

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Autos

Apple reportedly close to picking LG, Magna for car project

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LG Magna e-Powertrain

Apple [NSDQ:AAPL] may turn to a partnership between electronics giant LG and automotive supplier Magna International for help in developing a car, The Korea Times reported on Tuesday.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, the Korean newspaper reported that Apple is “very near” to signing an agreement with a joint venture between LG and Manga for the supply of electric powertrains for the car.

Known as LG Magna e-Powertrain, the $1 billion joint venture combines LG’s expertise in components for electric vehicles (the company has already supplied components for EVs from Chevrolet and Jaguar) with Magna’s expertise in powertrain development and vehicle manufacturing. It was only established last December so Apple may be among its first customers.

Apple at present is reportedly seeking powertrains for vehicles to be used for market evaluation purposes only, however. As a result, the monetary volume of the partnership won’t be significant, a separate source told The Korea Times.

Apple is still quiet on whether or not it actually plans to launch car. However there are have been reports the company has talked with established automakers about signing them as contract manufacturers for a car. The company has also been filing multiple patents in recent years related to cars and driving.

LG Magna e-Powertrain

In January, Hyundai Motor Group confirmed it was in talks with Apple about building a car for the company, but those talks came to an end the following month without an agreement being reached.

Apple of course could still reach an agreement with another automaker. Even Foxconn, which manufactures the iPhone for Apple, could be an option. It teamed up in January with Geely to form a joint venture that will contract manufacture cars. Foxconn also last fall unveiled its own modular EV platform.

Magna, too, could be an option as it has a contract manufacturing company in Austria. Called Magna Steyr, the company has built multiple cars for various automakers and has also developed a modular EV platform which already has already been picked by Fisker for its upcoming Ocean crossover. Magna will also build the Fisker Ocean.

In March, Magna CEO Swamy Kotagiri said he was open to establishing a new contract manufacturing business in North America to build cars, including potentially a car from Apple.

Apple is thought to be readying its car for a reveal in 2024. It may not be something sold directly to the public, however. In February, a report claimed the car will be a self-driving vehicle designed for “last mile” trips, suggesting it will be some sort of autonomous shuttle or delivery van.

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Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition to deliver quicker turbo spooling, snappier revs

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Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

The Nissan GT-R may be old, but it still delivers supercar performance and Nissan keeps coming up with ways to keep it fresh. On Tuesday, Nissan unveiled the latest update for the GT-R in the form of the GT-R Nismo Special Edition. This model will get an exclusive paint color, unique wheels, revised engine internals, and the automaker’s new logo. It’s the small things that will add up to make the Special Edition special car for enthusiasts.

The GT-R Nismo Special Edition will be easy to spot thanks to Nismo-exclusive Stealth Gray paint and edition-specific 20-inch Ray’s forged alloy wheels with red accents. The carbon-fiber hood is clear coated but not painted to expose the fiber’s weave. The trunk lid and wheel center caps feature the new Nissan logo.

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Nissan GT-R Nismo Special Edition

Like other GT-R models, the Special Edition model features a hand-built twin-turbo 3.8-liter V-6 that makes 600 hp and 481 lb-ft of torque and sends it to all four wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. However, the Special Edition’s engine internals have been upgraded with weight-balanced parts and tighter tolerances for the piston rings, connecting rods, crankshaft, and valve gear components. These changes create snappier engine revving and quicker turbo spooling, according to Nissan. Each engine bears a build plate with the builder’s name on it, and the plates on the Special Edition cars will be created in an exclusive color.

Inside the Special Edition is the standard GT-R Nismo interior featuring sport bucket seats covered in black leather and red synthetic suede. The door grab handles and gear selector feature red leather accents, while the dashboard is covered in black synthetic suede.

Nissan said a limited number of the GT-R Nismo Special Edition cars will arrive in the U.S this fall but wouldn’t comment on how many. The company also hasn’t announced the price or model year for the GT-R Nisom Special Edition.

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Domino’s launches autonomous pizza delivery with self-driving robot car

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Nuro and Domino's autonomous pizza delivery

Domino’s and startup Nuro are launching an autonomous pizza-delivery service in Houston this week. Certain customers will have the option to get their pizza delivered by the Nuro R2 self-driving delivery vehicle.

The self-driving option is only available to customers who place a prepaid order through Domino’s website on certain days and times from the pizza chain’s Woodland Heights location, according to a press release. Customers who opt for robotic delivery will get text messages to track the vehicle, and a PIN to retrieve their pizza from its built-in storage boxes.

Domino’s and Nuro announced plans for Houston autonomous pizza deliveries in June 2019, a few months after Nuro began handling food deliveries for Kroger grocery stores in the city. Prior to that, Domino’s partnered with Ford on a pilot program using the automaker’s prototype self-driving cars.

 

Nuro and Domino’s autonomous pizza delivery

Those cars were modified Ford Fusion sedans, but the Nuro R2 was designed from the ground up as an autonomous delivery vehicle. It doesn’t have space for a driver, and it’s very narrow, giving it more buffer space around pedestrians and other vehicles when traveling in lanes meant for full-size cars. The startup claims this lessens the chance of a collision.

Founded by ex-Google self-driving car engineers, Nuro also operates delivery services in Arizona and California. It’s one of multiple companies looking to use autonomous vehicles for short delivery runs, which may be a lower barrier for the technology. Unlike much-discussed autonomous ride-sharing, driverless and riderless deliveries don’t require potentially apprehensive members of the public to ride in self-driving vehicles.

The day before Domino’s and Nuro announced the start of Houston autonomous pizza deliveries, Intel-owned tech firm Mobileye announced plans to launch its own delivery service in partnership with Udelv, a startup that’s testing self-driving delivery vans in some U.S. cities. Mobileye, which markets its own sensor suite and computer-vision software for self-driving cars, plans to launch the service in 2023, and wants to put 35,000 vehicles in operation by 2028, according to The Verge.

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