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Porsche testing synthetic fuel in race conditions

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2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car

Porsche will continue its synthetic-fuel development program with tests in race conditions, the automaker announced Thursday via press release.

Synthetic fuel, which Porsche believes will produce lower levels of carbon emissions than conventional gasoline, will be tested in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup race series during the 2021 and 2022 seasons, in partnership with series sponsor ExxonMobil.

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is a one-make race series using a specially prepared version of the 911 GT3. Supercup is international, but Porsche also runs regional Carrera Cup series in Europe, Asia, and North America using the same specification of car.

The first on-track testing testing of the fuel—dubbed Esso Renewable Racing Fuel, using one of ExxonMobil’s other brands—took place March 30 at the Zandvoort circuit in the Netherlands, Porsche said.

2021 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race car

The fuel is sourced from the Haru One pilot plant in Chile that Porsche announced late last year. The plant uses wind-generated electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then combined with atmospheric carbon dioxide to produce methanol, which in turn forms the basis for synthetic fuel.

Porsche expects the plant to produce 130,000 liters (34,340 gallons) of fuel in 2022. Most of the fuel will go to Porsche, which plans to use it in the Supercup race series throughout 2022. At that point, Porsche plans to begin testing a second iteration of the Esso Renewable Racing Fuel, which the automaker claims will achieve an 85% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to current fuels.

While it continues to push ahead with electric cars, Porsche has become quite bullish on synthetic fuels. Dr. Frank Walliser, Porsche vice president of GT cars and motorsport, said in February that synthetic-fueled cars could have lower overall emissions than EVs (once emissions from manufacturing are factored in), and said all of Porsche’s current internal-combustion engines could use synthetic fuel without modifications. The automaker has also floated synthetic fuels as a way to keep classic cars on the road in the face of tougher emissions standards.

“The electrification of vehicles is the highest priority for us,” Michael Steiner, Porsche board member for research and development, said in a statement. “(Synthetic fuels) are a good complement to our powertrain strategy.”

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Autos

Will renewable fuel power Bentley to a Pikes Peak hat trick?

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Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak

Bentley has set records at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb with its Bentayga SUV and Continental GT coupe, but now it’s going for a hat trick, this time using renewable fuel.

A Bentley Continental GT3 race car modified to run on renewable fuel will race at the 2021 Pikes Peak hill climb, scheduled for June 27, Bentley announced Monday in a press release. Driver Rhys Millen will aim for the Time Attack 1 record, to go with the production SUV record achieved with the Bentayga in 2018, and the production car record scored with the Continental GT in 2019.

Bentley didn’t provide much detail on the fuel it planned to use, but claimed blends currently being tested could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% compared to conventional gasoline or diesel.

The Continental GT3 that will be used at Pikes Peak is a modified version of a car raced in the popular GT3 category before Bentley’s exit at the end of 2020. Bentley plans to work with two race teams—United Kingdom-based Fastr and United States-based K-Pax Racing—to run Pikes Peak, with technical assistance from U.K. firm M-Sport.

Bentley Continental GT3 Pikes Peak

Itself a modified version of the Continental GT road car, the GT3 will get additional modifications for Pikes Peak, including the largest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley and an equally massive rear diffuser and two-plane front splitter. Power comes from the same twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 used in the road car, but it’s modified to run on renewable fuel and produce adequate power at Pikes Peak’s high altitude (the starting line is at 9,300 feet above sea level and the finish line is at 14,100 feet).

Bentley plans to begin testing the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak race car in the U.K. before shipping it to the U.S. for high-altitude testing. A progress report will be released in May, ahead of the running of the hill climb in June.

Bentley isn’t the only automaker investigating alternatives to conventional fossil fuels. Porsche is testing synthetic fuel made using methanol in its own race cars, and is working with multiple partners on a pilot plant in Chile to produce the fuel.

If all goes according to plan, though, renewable fuel will have a fairly short useful life in new Bentley road cars. Bentley plans to launch its first electric car in 2025, and go all-electric by 2030.

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Ford dealers reportedly opt to build 100 standalone Bronco stores

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2021 Ford Bronco

About 100 Ford dealers are planning to open standalone showrooms for the Bronco, according to a Sunday Automotive News report.

Automakers sometimes ask dealers to carve out additional space for new brands or sub-brands, as was the case with Hyundai and Genesis. However, in this case the idea for standalone “Bronco Stores” alongside existing Ford and Lincoln showrooms originated with dealers, according to the report.

Ford has signed on to the idea. Bronco-only showrooms are optional, Ford United States sales boss Andrew Frick told Automotive News, although dealers that opt in will get “slightly increased allocations” of the SUVs.

2021 Ford Bronco

Ford has no corporate template for the Bronco stores, just three general configurations, which is unusual for a showroom remodel. Dealers can opt for a completely separate showroom, an expansion of an existing space, or a smaller display within a showroom.

Renderings shown at an October 2020 Ford national dealer meeting showed an outdoorsy theme appropriate for the Bronco. The showrooms will also have Bronco branding, rather than the ubiquitous Blue Oval, according to the report. That aligns nicely with Ford’s plan to market Bronco as a sub-brand, which is also why the automaker has both the standard Bronco and the Bronco Sport in its lineup.

While dealers are eager to start selling the Bronco, they may have to wait. The SUV’s launch has already been delayed to due to coronavirus-related supplier issues. The 2021 Ford Bronco will now launch this summer, and the manual-transmission Sasquatch package has been pushed back from the 2021 model year to the 2022 model year.

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Maxlider Brothers ready to build your dream Bronco 6×6

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2021 Ford Bronco 6x6 conversion - Photo credit: Innov8 Design Lab/Maxlider Brothers Customs

It was only a matter of time.

Vehicle customizer Maxlider Brothers Customs has announced plans to build a 6×6 version of the modern Ford Bronco due to start deliveries this summer.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz AMG launched the G63 6×6 back in 2013, multiple tuning firms have attempted to mimic the success (and notoriety) of that vehicle by offering 6×6 conversions of other rugged SUVs and pickup trucks. The list includes the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F-150 Raptor, Jeep Gladiator/Wrangler, Land Rover Defender, Ram 1500 TRX, and more.

2021 Ford Bronco 6×6 conversion – Photo credit: Innov8 Design Lab/Maxlider Brothers Customs

Now we can add the Bronco. First spotted by Motor1, Maxlider over the weekend posted to its Facebook page computer-generated renderings of its planned Bronco 6×6. Together with the renderings, the company said it is now accepting orders with a view to delivering the first vehicles in 2022. The price tag? An insane $399,000.

Maxlider offers a full range of upgrades for the Bronco, though the Bloomington, Illinois-based company hasn’t mentioned what exactly it plans to include on its Bronco 6×6. The obvious upgrades include the BFGoodrich all-terrain tires (including a full-size spare), raised suspension, fender flares, brush guard, and roof rack with off-road lights. Naturally, there’s also an extended frame supporting the additional axle and differential.

Considering the next Ford Ranger will share the same updated T6 body-on-frame platform found in the Bronco, there’s a good chance Maxlider will be able to handle a 6×6 conversion of the new pickup truck. The new Ranger is due for a reveal later this year as a 2022 model.

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