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Stellantis and Foxconn forming partnership to produce connected electric cars

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Stellantis and Foxconn, the Taiwanese firm best known for contract manufacturing the Apple iPhone, appear ready to announce a partnership to produce electric cars.

Reuters first reported the news Monday, and Stellantis later announced a joint press conference with Foxconn, to be held Tuesday.

The partnership follows a deal announced last year between Foxconn and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), before the automaker finalized its merged with PSA Group to form Stellantis. That deal, which called for a joint venture to manufacture electric cars for the Chinese market, was put on hold due to the merger, according to Reuters.

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Foxconn appears eager to expand from manufacturing smartphones to manufacturing electric cars. The company unveiled its own modular EV platform in October 2020. Dubbed MIH, it features in-house-developed hardware and software, and is designed for both car and SUV body styles, Foxconn said at the time.

Earlier this year, Foxconn also entered into a joint venture with Fisker Inc. to build a sub-$30,000 EV, with a target launch date of 2023. The two companies have said this EV, codenamed Project Pear, will be built in the United States. However, Fisker’s first model—the Ocean crossover—will be built at Magna’s factory in Graz, Austria, using a platform designed by that company.

Foxconn has also invested in some Chinese automakers. It invested $350 million in Xpeng in 2018, and invested in troubled EV startup Byton earlier this year. Byton started pre-production of its M-Byte crossover in April 2020, but progress stalled due to cash shortages. The two companies said in January that the new goal is to start deliveries in the first quarter of 2022.

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Pearl Yellow 2012 Lexus LFA with 72 miles never left dealership, for sale on Bring A Trailer

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2012 Lexus LFA (Photo via Bring a Trailer)

The 2012 Lexus LFA went out of production almost a decade ago, but a like-new example that never left the dealership is up for grabs on Bring a Trailer.com.

The car was delivered to Arlington Lexus in Palatine, Illinois, and was purchased by the owner of the dealership, according to the listing. However, it spent most of the last nine years on display in the dealership’s showroom, and now has just 72 miles on the odometer, the listing said.

That’s not unusual, as several dealerships held onto LFAs as display items to drive showroom traffic. While LFA production ended in December 2012, and the final car reached the U.S. States in February 2013, five brand-new, unregistered cars remained available as of January 2020.

The carbon-fiber-bodied LFA was meant as a halo car for Lexus, giving the brand more prestige and using some of parent Toyota’s Formula One experience to do it.

2012 Lexus LFA (Photo via Bring a Trailer)

The engine is a 5.2-liter V-10 that makes 552 hp and 334 lb-ft of torque, with a 9,000-rpm redline. The high-revving engine is coupled to a 6-speed single-clutch automated manual transmission.

Despite that glorious V-10, the idea of a Lexus supercar proved hard for people to understand. The $375,000 base price also seemed outlandish compared to the rest of the Lexus lineup. That might explain why Lexus had trouble selling even the small 500-unit production run.

This car is one of five produced for the U.S. market in Pearl Yellow, according to the listing. Less than 200 cars were imported to the U.S., though sources differ on the exact number.

The current bid of $630,000 (at the time of publication) dwarfs the original purchase price, but isn’t out of line with other recent LFA sales. A silver LFA sold for $720,000 at an auction earlier this year, while a brown LFA was listed for sale at a dealership in January with a $680,000 asking price.

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Electric Volvo XC90 successor to be revealed in 2022 with lidar and advanced driver-assist tech

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Sensor suite for electric Volvo XC90 successor

An all-electric successor to the Volvo XC90 will be revealed in 2022, the automaker confirmed Thursday.  In addition to an electric powertrain, Volvo’s next flagship SUV will feature new sensors and computers, enabling more advanced driver-assistance technology.

The XC90 successor will get Luminar lidar and a higher-performance computer using the Nvidia Drive Orin chip as standard equipment, a Volvo press release said. Volvo previously confirmed plans to integrate roof-mounted lidar sensors from Luminar, which the automaker has been funding since 2018.

Lidar, which is similar to radar but uses light waves instead of radio waves to detect objects, is considered by most automakers and tech companies to be crucial to self-driving cars. Most prototype self-driving cars currently testing on public roads use lidar as part of a trifecta of sensors, along with radar and cameras.

Information from lidar and other sensors will be managed by the new Nvidia chip. The XC90 successor will also get backups for key functions like steering and braking, making it “hardware ready for safe unsupervised autonomous driving once available,” Volvo said.

 

Sensor suite for electric Volvo XC90 successor

The hardware will work with new software developed in-house to enable a feature called Highway Pilot, which will allow for “autonomous driving” on highways, Volvo said. However, it will only be activated “when verified safe and legally allowed for individual geographic locations and conditions.”

That sounds similar to Audi’s Traffic Jam Pilot feature, designed to enable highway driving with minimal human involvement. Audi began adding lidar sensors to some models a few years ago in anticipation of the rollout of Traffic Jam Pilot, but canceled the feature due to regulatory and liability concerns.

Volvo believes its driver-assist tech will get smarter over time, thanks in part to over-the-air software updates. Systems will gradually become more capable, making them able to intervene in more situations, according to Volvo.

New Volvo XC90’s modular SPA platform

New Volvo XC90’s modular SPA platform

The XC90 successor will be based on Volvo’s new SPA2 architecture, which replaces the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform that underpins the current-generation XC90 and several other Volvo models. The platform will use different central floors for EVs versus gas-powered vehicles. Volvo is also expected to launch an SUV coupe version, possibly called XC100 Recharge.

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2021 Hennessey Mammoth 1000 is a 1,000-plus-hp Ram 1500 TRX, and it’s ready to hit the plains

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2021 Hennessey Mammoth 1000 TRX

The 2021 Ram 1500 TRX is a vehicle that’s hardly lacking in performance, but that’s never stopped the folks at Hennessey Performance Engineering from turning up the volume.

Hennessey in January announced a turnkey version that sees the super truck’s output dialed to a staggering 1,012 horsepower and 969 pound-feet of torque, and on Wednesday the first 20 examples were shown off at the company’s plant in Sealy, Texas.

With so much oomph, Hennessey estimates its modified 1500 TRX, aptly named the Mammoth 1000 TRX, will rocket to 60 mph from rest in 3.2 seconds and pass the quarter-mile in 11.4 seconds at over 120 mph. Remember, this is a full-size, off-road-rated truck we’re talking about.

In comparison, the stock 1500 TRX comes with 702 hp and 650 lb and, according to Ram, will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds and run the quarter-mile in 12.9 seconds. Sure that is potent, but Ford is working on a new V-8-powered F-150 Raptor R for 2022 that’s rumored to come with the 760-hp supercharged V-8 of the Mustang Shelby GT500. In other words, any 1500 TRX owner planning to visit the drag strip may want to consider some of Hennessey’s upgrades.

For the Mammoth 1000 TRX, the list of upgrades include a custom 2.65-liter supercharger for the Hellcat 6.2-liter V-8, plus pulley upgrades, a high-flow intake, stainless-steel headers, high-flow exhaust piping (including the catalytic converter), and recalibrated engine management. The 1500 TRX’s 8-speed automatic and four-wheel-drive system also form part of the package.

Also included in the standard package is Hennessey’s Stage 1 off-road package. This adds, among other items, a custom front bumper with LED lights, custom 20-inch wheels with 35-inch off-road tires, a lift kit and a front suspension leveling kit. For serious off-roaders, there’s a Stage 2 package that adds all of the goodies of the Stage 1 package along with 37-inch off-road tires and electronic fold-out steps.

2021 Hennessey Mammoth 1000 TRX

Naturally, the vehicle is also tested on the dyno to make sure its delivering the promised power reliably and consistently. A 2-year/24,000-mile limited warranty is included.

Pricing for the Mammoth 1000 TRX starts at $135,350, and Hennessey plans to build just 200 of them for 2021. More than half of the build slots have already been claimed. Orders can be placed through Hennessey or at select Ram dealers.

Hennessey is also offering up an SUV conversion with third-row seats. This model is limited to 20 units, each priced from $375,000. All prices mentioned include the $71,890 cost of the donor 1500 TRX.

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