Cars

BMW’s All-Electric i4 Sedan Is Officially in Production

BMW’s All-Electric i4 Sedan Is Officially in Production

BMW’s electrification efforts just took a giant step forward.

The first production-series i4 sedans started rolling off the line at the company’s main manufacturing facility in Munich late last week. Not only does this suggest deliveries of the all-electric four-door can begin soon, but it’s also a sign that the marque is prepared for the future.

It may not be as hyped as the Mercedes-Benz EQS or Lucid Air, but the i4 is one of the more important BMWs in recent memory. The athletic sedan, which looks like a more imposing version of the current-gen M4 sports coupé, is at the heart of the company’s electrification push. It seems well-suited for the role, as its dual-motor powertrain will be able to generate up to 530 hp, 33 more than the current range-topping M4 Competition. Its estimated 300-mile range may not be able to compete with the likes of the Air or Tesla Model S Plaid, but it should be more than enough for most, even those who intend to drive the vehicle daily.

2022 BMW i4 sedan 

BMW

Some automakers have built entirely new factories for EV production, but BMW will instead use a facility it’s been using for nearly a century. Although 90 percent of the plant’s existing machinery could be used to build the vehicle, around $230 million worth of upgrades were necessary, including a new fully automated battery assembly system, according to a press release. Thanks to these changes, the factory is flexible enough to handle production of the i4, as well as combustion-powered and hybrid vehicles like the BMW 3 Series Sedan and Touring, the BMW M3 and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
“For the plant and team, the launch of the BMW i4 is a milestone on the road to electric mobility,” BMW board member Milan Nedeljković said in a statement. “By 2023 more than half of all vehicles from our Munich facility will have an electrified drive. The majority will be fully electric. So Munich goes fully electric.”

A freshly built BMW i4 

BMW

Earlier this spring, BMW said it expected deliveries of the i4 to begin before the end of the year and this news suggests it may actually be able to deliver on this promise. The vehicle is available to pre-order now, through the BMW website. It’s available in two versions: the standard eDrive40 model, which starts at $55,400, and the high-performance M50 model, which starts at $65,900.

It looks like the brand’s electrified future is finally upon us.

Car of the Week: Own a Concours-Quality Mercedes-Benz 280 SL Restored by Bechtel

Car of the Week: Own a Concours-Quality Mercedes-Benz 280 SL Restored by Bechtel

I remember buying the 1969 June edition of Road & Track off the newsstand, back when such places were the only source of information for young car enthusiasts. The issue compared four luxury GTs: a Porsche 911T, a Jaguar E-Type, a Chevrolet Corvette and a Mercedes-Benz 280 SL. At the time, these were the cars to beat, each with a distinct look, personality and performance profile. As my car-know-it-all buddies and I poured over the magazine during ninth-grade homeroom, we expressed definite opinions as to the merits of each contender.

I liked the Porsche, most wanted the Corvette, the Jag got a vote or two and the Mercedes . . . well, it didn’t register any interest in kids enamored of sporty cars with long hoods and swoopy fastbacks. Come to think of it, the Road & Track editors were a bit bewildered too. “Generalizing about its qualities,” they said of the 280 SL, “it was the most comfortable, offered the least performance, had the busiest engine and the largest price tag.”

A 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL restored by Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors. 

Photo: Courtesy of Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors.

In the intervening fifty-plus years since that review, those observations mostly ring true, but in an age where an old car’s performance can’t remotely compare to the even the cheapest modern grocery getter, such things as zero-to-60 mph times are mostly irrelevant. And so the SL becomes a very interesting car, indeed.
Built like the proverbial German pillbox, the satisfaction of just closing its doors is sufficient reason to own the vehicle. The 280 SL was the last iteration of the model commonly called the “Pagoda,” so named for the concave roof of the removable hardtop that, when stored in the owner’s garage, allowed the car to become a handsome convertible.

The fabric top can be stowed and replaced with the fitted aluminum hardtop roof, from which the nickname “Pagoda” is derived. 

Photo: Courtesy of Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors.

The Pagoda was introduced in 1963 after the 300 SL and 190 SL had ceased production. It started life as the 230 SL, which was made through 1967, becoming the 250 SL through 1968. That car’s 2.5-liter displacement was accompanied by a more robust engine, using a seven-bearing crankshaft instead of one with only four main bearings. The 280 SL was built from 1968, with almost 24,000 examples made through 1971, more than half coming to the US. The 2.8-liter, SOHC inline-six had mechanical fuel injection and developed 180 bhp at 5,700 rpm. A four-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission were available.

The Cognac leather interior and square-weave carpeting are luxurious yet understated. 

Photo: Courtesy of Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors.

Properly restoring a 280 SL can be an expensive proposition, as the cars, while simple in appearance, are fastidiously made and require equally fastidious attention to detail when being rebuilt from the ground up. But there’s a demand, as it’s a model which, thanks to its classic good looks, comfort, friendly driving manners and ease of ownership, is an international favorite among collectors of 1960s-era GTs and sports cars.
Based in Böblingen, Germany, Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors (the outfit that created the tribute car to the famed “Red Pig” 300 SEL racer we’ve reported on previously) offers a restoration program specifically for the 280 SL. And the 1969 example featured here is proof of the restoration house’s exemplary work.

From above, the 280 SL is as simple, geometric and masterfully designed as a piece of Bauhaus architecture. 

Photo: Courtesy of Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors.

A nifty configurator on the Bechtel website lets prospective owners build their dream SL, selecting from a palette of original Mercedes-Benz colors. It’s no secret that Mercedes offered some of the tastiest paint schemes of the era, as sophisticated and rich-looking as the vehicles themselves. A choice of interiors and accessories can be combined to create a one-of-one 280 SL. Prices for a complete car start at $285,000, with commissions requiring six to eight months until fruition and three to four weeks for shipping Stateside.

Learn more about Robb Report’s 2022 Car of the Year events taking place in Napa Valley here and in Boca Raton here.

First Drive: Bentley’s 12-Cylinder Continental GT Delivers Old-School, High-Octane Athleticism

First Drive: Bentley’s 12-Cylinder Continental GT Delivers Old-School, High-Octane Athleticism

Though Bentley has long leaned into its Art Deco–era reputation forged by large-displacement, Le Mans—winning racers, the 102-year-old British automaker seems amped about its electric future, having committed to a gas-free lineup in a scant nine years. But its fuel lines aren’t empty quite yet. The newest Continental GT variant, with its dozen gas-combusting cylinders and scripted “Speed” badge, is a full-throated endorsement of the old ways. But the burning question is, with hybrid and battery-powered Bentleys just around the corner, does this grand tourer feel as momentous as it should?

Sicily’s craggy back roads help highlight the marque’s longstanding calling cards of towering torque and an imperturbable ride, but the eye-opener comes when hauling the two-and-a-half-ton coupe around an abandoned military base converted into a makeshift autocross course: Somehow, despite the boat anchor of a power plant stuffed under the hood and enough soundproofing to mute an AC/DC concert, you can chuck the posh two-plus-two into corners like a WRC rally car. Keep your hands quick and your foot heavy and the GT Speed flashes its rambunctious side, kicking its tail out and sliding through corners with surprising grace. Complementing the spicier handling—and mocking the politely indicated braking zones—are the Continental’s debut of carbon-ceramic stoppers.

Though the last-generation Continental GT Supersports produced more power, the new Speed has been christened the most dynamically capable model in Bentley’s history. The 6.0-liter W-12 filling the capacious engine bay has 650 hp and 664 ft lbs of torque on tap, but more importantly the chassis has been heavily massaged, starting with Bentley’s first electronic limited-slip rear differential. The hardware and software work in tandem to increase nimbleness and stability, with a little help from the new four-wheel steering, which has been tuned to minimize the turning radius by pitching the rear wheels up to four degrees in the opposite direction of the front set. Clever stuff.

With substantial chassis refinements and four-wheel steering, the 605 hp Continental GT Speed is disarmingly agile. 

Bentley

Revised power distribution gives the car a more rearward bias to avoid the dreaded plowing effect of understeer, and the reprogrammed air suspension offers greater range between comfort and stiffness, depending on the selected drive mode and road conditions. But despite all the high-tech goodies employed in the quest for speed, this new GT variant doesn’t flaunt the fixed spoiler and carbon-fiber seats of earlier Supersports models. Instead, its clean, muscular lines and Alcantara-and-hide-lined interior—featuring a range of textures, from lustrous veneers to aluminum finishes—present a more subdued elegance that recalls the golden age of motoring.

The 2022 Continental GT Speed is less snorty supercar, more an amplification of the well-honed grand-touring formula. And while it may not prove to be Bentley’s finale for internal combustion, this unapologetic 12-cylinder, with its old-school, high-octane athleticism and stately sheet metal, seems designed to deliver a very future-looking message, indeed: You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.

Watch: Pinanfarina Shows Off the All-Electric Sedan It Designed With Foxconn

Watch: Pinanfarina Shows Off the All-Electric Sedan It Designed With Foxconn

Earlier this week, Apple manufacturer Foxconn announced it was getting into the car business with a new line of electric cars. The EV line is called Foxtron, and the most promising of the trio is the Model E luxury sedan designed by Pininfarina. Now, the legendary Italian coachbuilder is sharing a guided video tour of the upcoming battery-powered saloon, led by the brand’s chief creative officer Kevin Rice. And, while we still have plenty of questions, we’re even more intrigued by the EV than before.

At a glance, the Foxtron Model E doesn’t look entirely dissimilar from Lucid’s eagerly anticipated debut EV, the Air. Both sedans feature a design that’s at once sleek and commanding, though Foxconn’s car—in true Pininfarina fashion—has even smoother lines and curves. Where the Model E really separates itself, though, is its lighting package. In addition to its ultra-bright headlamp strip and taillights, the vehicle’s front, sides and rear feature smart surfaces that help it communicate with the outside world. Thanks to these integrated light-up panels, your car will indicate when it’s turning, greet you as you open your door and alert pedestrians when it’s safe to pass. It’s a feature that’s both cool and useful.

The Foxtron Model E’s smart surfaces at work 

Pininfarina/YouTube

Rice also took time to go over what to expect from its spacious interior. It may not be revolutionary—unlike what we’ve seen from the Mercedes-Benz EQS and its 57-inch “hyperscreen”—but it does look sophisticated, with leather upholstery, metal accents and ambient lighting all complementing each other. In the front, a large display panel extends from the driver-side door to the middle of the dashboard. In addition to housing the vehicle’s facial recognition safety feature, it appears that it will also include a digital gauge cluster as well as a large screen for infotainment purposes. Unfortunately, Rice didn’t say anything about the rear-seat “dedicated mobile office” that Foxconn teased on Monday.

Inside the Foxtron Model E 

Pininfarina/YouTube

From the video footage, the Model E looks every bit the part of a luxury sedan. If Foxconn can also deliver the performance specs it’s promised—750 hp, sub-three second 0 to 62 mph time and a 466-mile range—it might be able to compete with cars like the Air, EQS and, the current industry leader, the Tesla Model S. Whether Apple will someday trust Foxconn to design the first Apple EV is an open question.

This Rare $24.3 Million California License Plate Could Soon Be the Most Expensive Ever Sold

This Rare $24.3 Million California License Plate Could Soon Be the Most Expensive Ever Sold

And you thought buying a brand-new supercar was expensive.

An extremely rare license plate with the letters “MM” on it is currently up for sale in the state of California for $24.3 million. And because it’s still 2021, you aren’t just buying the plate, you’re also buying its matching one-of-a-kind NFT.
There are over 35,000,000 registered vehicles in the state of California, each of which has its own unique license plate with anywhere from two to seven characters. Of these, two-character plates are the rarest, especially two-character repeating plates like “MM,” according to the “MM” plate website (h/t DuPont Registry). There are only 35 two-letter plates, making this license plate literally one in a million.

The “MM” license plate NFT 

MMPlate.com

If you’re wondering if the buyer will even be able to use the plate, the answer is yes, but only because of a relatively recent change to the state’s Special Interest License Plate Application. In 2017, the California DMV updated Form Reg17 to include the option to “release interest to a new owner.” Before that change, the plate could only be transferred to another of the original owner’s vehicles, but now it can be sold and the buyer can use and register it on their own vehicle.
The “MM” license plate is currently available for purchase on OpenSea, a popular digital art auction space, for 5,888 ether, which is the equivalent of $24.3 million. That’s because you’re not just buying the plate and the right to transfer it to your own vehicle, you’re buying its matching non-fungible token. Why an NFT? Because both the plate and digital artwork are both completely unique. The token also acts as a proof of authenticity and ownership, with its QR code ID number both inscribed on the back of the plate.

The NFT’s QR code and Token ID are inscribed on the back of the “MM” license plate 

MMPlate.com

“Just like NFTs, license plates are exclusive by nature, always 1 of 1,” the OpenSea listing says. “The pairing of these two rarities was inevitable. This minting has established provenance, and hopes to inspire an entire community around an aftermarket buying/selling desirable license plate configurations.”
It remains to be seen if someone will bite and spend the cash on “MM,” but if they do, they will be able to claim ownership of the world’s most expensive license plate. Currently, that honor belongs to an Abu Dhabi license plate with the number “1” which sold for $14.3 million in 2009. The most expensive one in the US is a Delaware plate with the number “11” that sold for $675,000 the year before.

EVs Are the Future, but Are They Really All That Eco-Friendly?

EVs Are the Future, but Are They Really All That Eco-Friendly?

It’s official: The singular reign of the gas engine has ended, usurped by the electric vehicle (EV). Hundreds of new EVs are coming to market in the next four years courtesy of more than 15 carmakers. And even the likes of Bentley and Rolls-Royce have made grand pronouncements of full electrification of their fleets by 2030.

Just how surprising is this turn of events? Imagine telling yourself a decade ago that GM would bring back the Hummer . . . as an EV. Or that every new hypercar worthy of its specs will be at least partly electrified.

Naysayers, though, may also point to a vehicle like the Hummer and ask: Just how green can a 9,000-pound SUV be? Its batteries demand hard-to-source materials such as lithium and cobalt. And electricity comes with an environmental price if it is derived from a coal plant.

To get at that answer, we did a deep dive into the many issues that will eventually answer the question of whether EVs will be as green as we hope. Will they be an environmental panacea, or is this just an elaborate game of bait and switch?

The 2022 GMC Hummer EV Edition 1 

Courtesy of GMC.

Mining the Raw Materials for Batteries
The major difference between an EV and an internal combustion engine (ICE) is, of course, the battery. So let’s start there. Most of the parts in a gasoline power train are easy to source. The opposite is true for lithium-ion battery packs, the common energy source for current EVs. Batteries are comprised of materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese and iron, which must be mined. Of those, lithium and cobalt are relatively rare.
Cobalt is primarily mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by China and Australia. The Congo regularly sees serious environmental, human and political-rights issues. Processing lithium from brine, meanwhile, can use some 1,900 tons of water to make one ton of lithium, at least according to the science and technology journal Nature. And it’s often sourced from arid locales in Chile and Bolivia, seriously impacting water tables.

The evaporation of Bolivia’s Lake Poopó is blamed in part on pollution from mining, at least by many environmentalists. 

Photo by Juan Karita/AP Photo.

“No reasonable EV advocate would pretend that there aren’t environmental issues—or even human-rights issues,” says Chelsea Sexton, an EV industry expert who has been working in the space for decades. “But let’s not pretend the sourcing of petroleum is without issues either,” she adds. “We must be working better on all sides, but we can’t let the fact that it’s not perfect stop us from moving forward.” Sexton is now assisting with President Biden’s loan and tax credit DOE program to help the US auto industry continue to invest in EVs and infrastructure.

As volumes increase, so does the environmental oversight by the industry in general, according to Eric Bach, chief engineer and senior vice president of product for Lucid Motors. “In the beginning of electrification, there was less emphasis on making sure the supply chain for batteries met ethical standards or about the CO2 and pollution that comes with production,” he says. “As the volumes have gone up, and will continue to go up, the industry of battery manufacturers has acknowledged that it must take dramatic measures to make sure it is a clean industry.”
To carmakers like Lucid—a new OEM that will only produce EVs—the life-to-death cycle of batteries is of great importance, and Lucid’s singular focus allows the company to exert influence on the industry. Bach also notes that LG and Samsung have both taken initiatives to ensure that battery manufacturing becomes carbon neutral, as the industry realizes that it’s in its own best interests to do better. “It’s a big topic on the boards and a focus of the industry to get cleaner and cleaner every single year.”

US President Joe Biden signs an executive order for the increased production of electric vehicles. 

Photo by Susan Walsh/AP Photo.

Materials such as cobalt are also incredibly expensive—some $45,000 a ton—and engineers are continuously tweaking battery chemistry to minimize, or even eliminate, certain elements. One possibility is a new, solid-state battery that replaces many of the rarer materials with nontoxic and easily replaceable solid material such as advanced ceramics. BMW has spoken extensively of using the technology. Volkswagen and Tesla, meanwhile, are looking at replacing rare cobalt with manganese in their batteries. New-age battery technology will be iterative, but just as gasoline engines have continuously evolved, so too will battery tech.
Analysis: Mining in remote countries around the world has led to serious issues, but as more visibility is oncoming with major involvement by OEMs, expect the standards to get better, and that, hopefully, we’ll see less need of scarce materials as battery chemistry continues to evolve.

Assembling battery packs at a Sunwoda Electric Vehicle Battery factory in China 

Photo by Xu Congun/FeatureChina/AP Images.

Using Dirty Electricity to Power EVs
When it comes to actual efficiency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states, “EVs convert over 77 percent of the electrical energy from the grid to power at the wheels. Conventional gasoline vehicles only convert about 12-30 percent of the energy stored in gasoline to power at the wheels.” EVs are clearly a more efficient use of stored energy.
“The counterargument to EVs is that if you power an electric car on a coal plant, you’re not doing the world a lot of good,” acknowledges Lucid’s Bach. “The method of power generation is a big factor and a matter of continued discussion.”
However, the striking reality is that America’s energy grid is getting cleaner every year, using less coal than ever before. The Union of Concerned Scientists, a national nonprofit that originated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that emissions rates from US power plants fell more than 5 percent between 2016 and 2018 as a result of natural gas, wind farms and solar. It states that electricity derived from coal plants has dropped from 45 percent to 28 percent in the past 10 years.

The Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant in Glenrock, Wyo. 

Photo by J. David Ake/AP Photo.

The organization offers a chart on its site that shows the relative efficiency of driving an EV versus a regular gasoline vehicle by region of the US, comparing factors such as oil extraction, fuel-pipe emissions and emissions from coal plants powering EVs. Looking at the map, some parts of the country, those that use less coal, are clearly more beneficial than others.
For instance, in California, you’d need to drive an ICE that achieves 122 miles per gallon to be as efficient as an EV. However, within one of the dirtiest grids, located in the upper Midwest, you’d only need a gas vehicle with 39 mpg to equal an EV. Nonetheless, the average gas car sees only 31 mpg today, and a truck only 21 mpg.

The new battery-powered Mercedes-AMG EQS 53 introduced at the 2021 IAA Mobility show in Munich 

Photo by Sven Hoppe/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.

“The dirtiest day of an EV’s life cycle is the day you drive it home,” says Sexton, referencing how the grid gets greener all the time. (For an even deeper dive into analytics, the truly curious can go to Argonne National Laboratory’s GREET system, an analytical tool that simulates emissions from countless scenarios. Playing around with the platforms shows that EVs trump gas cars environmentally in pretty much all cases.)

“Every time the grid gets cleaner, so does the electric car,” says John Voelcker, the former editor-in-chief of Green Car Reports and a highly regarded industry analyst. “In places like the West Coast, you will see well over 100 miles per gallon equivalency. No gasoline-burning car that will ever be built will be as low emission and low carbon as an EV charged on one of those grids.”
Analysis: EVs are clearly cleaner, even when charged via coal-powered plants.

Examples of the ubiquitous Tesla plugging into the EV power grid 

Photo: Courtesy of Tesla.

What Happens to the Batteries Later?
Some day in the future, we will be facing another issue: an influx of used lithium-ion batteries. Marques such as Lucid are already mulling over what happens to those batteries, and the current consensus is that they will take two approaches.
The first solution will be to simply use the batteries for energy storage—a second life. The other is to recycle them. Both have obvious upsides. The question may be more of economics and sound business. The second-life approach has obvious appeal. A used battery pack is estimated to retain some 70 percent of its charging capacity. These batteries could be resold to be used in home storage or to maintain a micro-grid system—ever more important in places like California, where wildfires have forced large-scale electrical shutdowns.
The question, says experts like Sexton, is whether it will be cost effective to sell used batteries as prices for new batteries continue to fall. A homeowner may be less inclined to buy a used battery without being assured of its efficacy.
“Second-life batteries aren’t a technical question but an economic question,” she says. “I love the idea, but whether the economics make sense remains to be seen as battery costs have dropped 90 percent in the last decade. It may be cheaper to buy new lithium than recycle an old Leaf, or something like that.”

Not just for cars anymore: Tesla’s lithium-ion battery systems can also help charge your home. 

Tesla

The second option is a burgeoning new business: recycling battery packs. As of now, it’s limited in scope, as most EVs are still on the road. Voelcker says that the battery packs on initial EVs like the Leaf have lasted longer than expected.

“Clearly, the degree to which dead batteries can be separated out and reused will lessen the amount we have to mine for new materials,” mentions Voelcker. The success of the endeavor may also turn on economics. “Will batteries made out of recycled materials be cheaper than batteries made out of virgin materials?” he asks. Voelcker notes that with volumes of used EV batteries still so low, there is no definitive answer.
Yet, as Ajay Kochhar, president and CEO at Li-Cycle points out, materials like cobalt, nickel and aluminum can be reused repeatedly. Li-Cycle, founded in 2016, is one of the first battery-specific recycling firms, with refining plants based in Canada and the US.
“To our dismay, we were finding that batteries were being handled like waste, and materials like lithium were being lost,” says Kochhar, who adds that the company’s refining process is carbon-neutral, and a vast majority of the materials can be recycled and reused. Kochhar also acknowledges that volumes are still relatively low, and it will be a long-term process.

A recycling system for lithium-ion batteries at Redux Recycling GmbH in Germany 

Photo by Carmen Jaspersen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images.

“Even when it comes to cost, this is a virtuous cycle,” Kochhar says. “The battery is the most expensive part of the vehicle, and within the battery, the raw materials are typically 65 percent of cost. Battery prices have fallen in magnitude as we experience economies of scale. But at some point, you’re going to reach a limit, and that limit is materials.” In May, the company signed a deal with Ultium Cells, a collaboration between GM and LG Energy Solutions, too, as its official announcement stated, “recover the raw materials contained in the scrap.”
Final analysis (for now): EVs are clearly more efficient. But questions of mining and eventual recycling or secondary use are up in the air. Yet, as Voelcker says: “Yes, mining has environmental concerns we need to be aware of. But in a carbon analysis, mile for mile, EVs always win, even if they are recharged entirely on coal.”

Learn more about Robb Report’s 2022 Car of the Year events taking place in Napa Valley here and in Boca Raton here.

The Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance Is Back to Benefit the Miracle Flights Charity

The Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance Is Back to Benefit the Miracle Flights Charity

It’s nice to see automotive concours events back (almost) in full swing, each of us having been deprived of enjoying beautiful collector cars arrayed in tranquil outdoor settings for more than a year. There’s one aspect of a concours, however, that receives far less attention than the vehicles themselves, and that would be the worthwhile charity organizations for whom donations abruptly stopped with the temporary cessation of these shows.

The fundraising has fired up again, though, as this year marks the return of the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance, founded by Stuart Sobek in 2019, which is back for its second running with more than 100 automobiles ready to be showcased. Presented by Towbin Motorcars of Las Vegas, the exhibition benefits Miracle Flights, a national nonprofit established in 1985. Based in Las Vegas, the organization provides free air transportation to children and adults who need help reaching specialized medical care far from home. The setback to commercial air travel during the pandemic was substantial, yet the need for medical air transportation didn’t diminish. Throughout this time, Miracle Flights supported patients and families across the United States with more than 600 lifesaving flights every month, thanks to the generosity of donors nationwide.

Cadillac will be the featured marque at this year’s exhibition. 

Photo: Courtesy of the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance.

The 2021 Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance is preceded by two days of preshow festivities before the main event is held on October 23 at the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin. The facility’s playing field will set the stage for cars displayed from notable private collections and museums across the country. In 2019, for example, the one-and-only 1938 Hispano-Suiza Dubonnet Xenia (opening image) was a prized entry.

A Chanel handbag would be right at home in this Spyker C8 entry. 

Photo: Courtesy of the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance.

Visitors to the Las Vegas Concours will be able to see the automobiles up close, as well as having the opportunity to get a bird’s-eye view from the stadium seats. With fins aplenty, this year’s featured marque is Cadillac, while 14 other judged classes include Pre-1916 and Vintage, American and European Classics to 1948, Prewar Sports, Auburn Cord Duesenberg, Postwar Sports and Racing, and Supercars 1971 to 1990.

Judging a classic at the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance. 

Photo: Courtesy of the Las Vegas Concours d’Elegance.

Among the prestigious accolades bestowed are the Helene Awards, honoring the achievements of specific individuals, and the Best in Show given to the collector car deemed most desirable. A final highlight is the closing day Tour d’Elegance, where many of the iconic four-wheelers parade on the Las Vegas Strip.

Learn more about Robb Report’s 2022 Car of the Year events taking place in Napa Valley here and in Boca Raton here.

An iPhone Maker Just Debuted a Luxury EV Sedan Concept Designed by Pininfarina

An iPhone Maker Just Debuted a Luxury EV Sedan Concept Designed by Pininfarina

Foxconn wants to join the electric revolution.

The Taiwanese tech company, which is best known for manufacturing the Apple iPhone, announced official plans to get into the electric car business on Monday. And to show just how serious the company is about its surprising pivot, it unveiled three battery-powered prototypes: a luxury sedan, a crossover SUV and a bus.

As is the case with its most famous product, it doesn’t sound like Foxconn plans to sell EVs itself. They will instead be released under the “Foxtron” brand in partnership with other automakers, like Taiwan’s Yulon Motor Group, which built the prototypes on display Monday, according to a press release. It would seem that Foxconn’s real focus is on the platforms on which the vehicles are built. The company is promising some pretty big things from its all-new electric architecture, too, like 400-plus mile range and lightning-quick acceleration.

Foxtron Model C SUV 

Foxconn

Perhaps the most intriguing of the trio us the Model E luxury sedan. The commanding four-door has a sleek design courtesy of longtime-Ferrari partner Pininfarina and a brutish powertrain. It’s unclear how many motors it will feature, but the tech company promises it will be capable of delivering 750 hp, launching from 0 to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds and have an impressive 466-mile range. Those figures would put the Model E in the same league as the more powerful versions of the Lucid Air, Tesla Model S and Mercedes-Benz EQS.
Interestingly, the sedan does promise one novel amenity that those cars don’t. The company claims that the rear seating area can be transformed into a “dedicated mobile office.” There were no further details about what this will entail—and Foxconn did not respond to a request for elaboration from Robb Report—but it promises the vehicle will seamlessly connect with your mobile devices, something that could come in very useful for those whose jobs require constant connection, even while on the road. Other tech-oriented features include “smart windows” and doors that unlock via facial recognition.

Foxtron Model T bus 

Foxconn

Like nearly every company looking to get into the EV game, Foxconn also intends to roll out a crossover SUV. The Model C features just as much interior space as the Model E, including seating for seven, despite its smaller size. It’s unclear how powerful it will be, but the company says the car will be able to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds and travel 434 miles on a single charge. Meanwhile, the Model T—which we have to assume will have to undergo a name change if it’s ever released stateside—is a large bus that will be able to carry a full load of passengers 250 miles without stopping.

No release dates were announced for the Foxtron line of EVs, but it would seem Foxconn is ready to get to work. Last month, it acquired EV startup Lordstown Motor’s Ohio factory, according to CNET Roadshow. And earlier this summer, the company also bought its own semi-conductor chip plant. We’ll soon find out whether phones or electric cars make for better business.

A One-of-a-Kind Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe Could Fetch up to $3.4 Million at Auction

A One-of-a-Kind Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe Could Fetch up to $3.4 Million at Auction

Ferraris don’t come much rarer than the LaFerrari. Still, an example going up for auction in the UK next month is a true one of a kind.

That’s because the 2016 model scheduled to hit the block as part of RM Sotheby’s upcoming London sale is the only version of the gorgeous coupé to feature a Vinaccia exterior over a Pelle Chiodi Di Garofano interior.

Of course, even without that one-of-a-kind livery, this barely touched example of the Prancing Horse’s 1-of-499 hybrid would be worthy of your attention. Introduced in 2013, the limited-run LaFerrari was the marque’s first attempt at a hybrid. Because this is Ferrari we’re talking about, its supplementary electric motor is paired with something truly special—a 6.3-liter 789 hp V-12 (it’s actually the last of the brand’s mid-engine models to sport a 12-cylinder engine). Mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, this setup was capable of churning out a combined 950 horses and 664 ft lbs of twist, making it the company’s most powerful road car until the SF90 Stradale was debuted in 2019.

2016 Ferrari LaFerrari 

RM Sotheby’s

This particular example features a special-order livery. It pairs Vinaccia (a deep red wine) finish with a Pelle Chiodi Di Garofano (or dark tan) leather wrapped interior. The bespoke combo is said to match two other Ferraris in its original owner’s collection. Despite this, they parted ways with the hybrid hypercar after just two years. It was then exported to the UK, where it has lived a life of rest and relaxation. In the five years since it rolled off the line, it has totaled just 918 miles, and has been well maintained. If that somehow isn’t enough to whet your appetite, the car also comes with a set of matching luggage.

Inside the 2016 Ferrari LaFerrari 

RM Sotheby’s

If you want to get behind the wheel of this LaFerrari, be prepared to spend big on Nov. 6. RM Sotheby’s presale estimates for the car come in between $3 million and $3.4 million—more than double what it cost brand new. Considering that an example of its convertible Aperta variant is the most expensive 21st century car to sell at auction, though, we wouldn’t be surprised if it goes for north of that.
Check out more photos of the Vinaccia LaFerrari below:

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s

Tesla Sold 66% of All Registered EVs This Year

Tesla Sold 66% of All Registered EVs This Year

It’s lonely at the top, but we have a feeling that’s just the way that Tesla likes it.

The rest of the auto industry may have finally embraced electrification, but Tesla still reigns supreme over the EV market. Through the first eight months of 2021, the marque’s battery-powered cars and SUVs made up nearly two thirds of those registered in the US.

According to new data from Experian (h/t Inside EVs), 294,218 electric vehicles were sold between January and August. That number only accounts for 2.7 percent of total automobile sales, but represents a 114 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020. And 194,165 of those vehicles were Teslas. That number represents 66 percent of all EVs registered in that time and a 79 percent increase when compared to the same period last year.

Considering its market dominance, it comes as little surprise that three of Teslas four models are among the top 10 EVs sold in the US so far this year. First, by a considerable margin, was the Model Y compact crossover (pictured at top): 105,445 of the electric SUVs have been registered in 2021. That number is actually larger than the sum total of non-Tesla EVs sold during this same period (100,053 units). The Model Y is followed closely by the Model 3 sedan, which has sold 80,681 units through August.

Tesla Model 3 

Tesla

The rest of the top 10 is rounded out by the Chevrolet Bolt (22,799), Ford Mustang Mach-E (15,938), Volkswagen ID.4 (10,685), Nissan Leaf (10,238), Hyundai Kona (7,349), Porsche Taycan (6,822), Tesla Model S (6,212) and Audi e-tron (5,612). Sitting just outside of the top 10 is the Tesla Model X (1,827). While sales for the company’s top two EVs are booming, the other models both saw a drop in registrations—24 percent for the Model S, 84 percent for the Model X.
More surprising than Tesla’s EV dominance is how the marque fares against the total sales numbers for more traditional brands. While it currently trails premium names like BMW (236,247) and Lexus (222,956) by a fair amount, the automaker is only slightly behind Mercedes-Benz (198,703). The difference is close enough that it’s not hard to envision Tesla actually outselling the German luxury marque by year’s end. Of course, Mercedes’s eagerly anticipated new flagship EV that might have something to say about that.

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