McLaren denies Apple takeover rumours

Reports that tech giant Apple is in takeover talks with McLaren are wide of the mark according to McLaren

2016-09-22 06:30

A McLaren spokesperson has denied reports that the British supercar brand is in talks with Apple over a potential takeover. "We are not in discussion with Apple in respect of any potential investment", he said. 

Earlier online reports had suggested that Apple was looking at placing a bold takeover bid for British supercar maker McLaren. The global tech giant was apparently considering a “full takeover” or a “strategic investment” of McLaren and its subsidiaries – in a story attributed to several people close to the British brand.

The makers of iPhone, MacBook and iPad have been working on a self-driving electric car for a number of years, but was recently said to be scaling back on research and development in this area.

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In recent months Apple has lost several key employees, many of which were said to have been working closely on the EV project. Online speculation since their departure has hinted at Apple changing tack by focussing its efforts on the internal systems required to power and run an autonomous car, rather than manufacturing the vehicle outright.

Earlier this year, Apple hired ex-Tesla exec Chris Porritt to oversee its ‘special projects’ division. This was presumed to include the forthcoming Apple Car, though news and rumours of ‘Project Titan’ have since died down. Apple was also rumoured to be in talks with BMW and Mercedes, but this is the first mention of McLaren. Apple could be looking to the British-based engineers for expertise in everything from lightweight materials, to computer technology and electric motors.

Apple’s vision for a self-driving electric vehicle is – of course – at odds with McLaren’s driver focused supercars. However, the bid was said to include McLaren’s Applied Technologies Group, which supplies extensive electronics expertise to the brand’s Formula 1 team, as well as elsewhere in high-level motorsport.

The denial from McLaren does not mean that talks have never taken place but we'll update this story with further information as soon as it becomes available.

Do you think Apple buying McLaren would be a wise move? Let us know in the comments below…

Richard Ingram
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New 2018 Audi S7 spotted at the Nurburgring

Audi's next-generation S7 four-door coupe powers round the German racetrack in disguise ahead of release in 2018

2016-09-22 08:00

After we spotted the new Audi A7 testing for the first time last month, it seems the hot S7 is hitting the road too,  getting ready for its release in 2018.

We can see that, like with the standard A7, the design of the performance version takes an evolutionary step on from the current car instead of rewriting the rulebook. The curvy roofline and muscular profile is largely the same, although a more prominent front grille is evident. In typically subtle Audi style, only the quad tailpipes and larger wheels give the car away as the hotter S7.

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Like most of the new Audis, it's the interior that's expected to take the biggest leap forward. We won't see the brand's next-generation Virtual Dashboard until the new Audi A8 launches this year, but the A7 and S7 are expected to utilise much of that car's tech, including haptic feedback for the touchscreen system.

Very little is known about what we can expect from under the skin, but the A7 should switch over to Audi's new MLB Evo platform, bringing improvements in interior space but also a lighter kerbweight. As a result, it's probable the S7 could move from the twin-turbocharged V8 to the 2.9-litre V6 engine that will debut in the R8 next year. Power could approach 500bhp as a result of this.

Are you looking forward to the Audi S7's arrival? Let us know in the comments...

Lawrence Allan
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All-electric Volkswagen e-Crafter van coming in 2017

New Volkswagen Crafter van will offer more than 120-mile range and is on display at the IAA Comercial Vehicles show in Hannover

2016-09-22 07:45

As part of Volkswagen’s ongoing commitment to electric vehicles, the first concept of the VW e-Crafter van has gone on show at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show. It’s a fully electric version of VW’s latest large panel van, and the company claims production models will be with the first customers at the start of 2017.

The concept doesn’t give away any cargo space to accommodate its electric powertrain – overall interior dimensions are identical to the Crafter diesel models. This is because the battery system is mounted underneath the cargo floor – allowing for a cargo space of 11.3 cubic metres. Maximum payload is 1,709kg – competitive, though nowhere near the highest in the large panel van class.

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The e-Crafter claims to offer over 120 miles of range in its current form – though they won’t be fast miles, as the van’s top speed is just 50mph. That comes courtesy of a 134bhp electric motor with 290Nm of torque.

Volkswagen to show new electric concept at Paris Motor Show

Volkswagen claims that the e-Crafter is set up ready for improvements in battery tech – as the capacity of batteries advances, future models could benefit from a range of over 250 miles.

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Inside the load area, the e-Crafter is set up ready for inner-city drop-offs, with a ProSafe load-lashing system, Flex-Rack setup and Globelyst shelving system. There’s even a service station to charge electric bicycles. On the outside, the van gets the same C-shaped daytime running lights as the rest of Volkswagen’s electric range, as well as a special Reef Blue paint scheme. This is carried over to the inside where the seats are decorated with black and blue trim.

Volkswagen says that customers should have the first models of the Volkswagen e-Crafter by early 2017. It’s not known what the specs of the final vehicle will be, but there could be a top speed increase in order to allow the e-Crafter to keep up with faster traffic.

Would you buy an all-electric van for inner-city work? Let us know in the comments below...

Tom Wiltshire
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Alfa Romeo shows warmed-up Giulia Veloce before Paris debut

Executive saloon is a halfway house between basic cars and bonkers Quadrifoglio models. It offers improved performance plus four-wheel-drive

2016-09-21 15:00

Alfa Romeo’s saloon cars ought to have performance to match their stunning looks, so buyers may have been disappointed to find the new Giulia didn’t have anything in between the sub-200bhp cooking models and the crazy 503bhp Quadrifoglio version. Alfa is getting ready to remedy this, though, with the new Giulia Veloce, which will go on display at the Paris Motor Show with two new engine options. Unfortunately, it looks unlikely that this car will come to the UK.

The Giulia Veloce will be available with a choice of petrol or diesel power. The 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol pushes out 276bhp – putting it well ahead of the 197bhp version in the standard car. This petrol engine will be available across the Giulia range in the US, but in Europe it will be confined to the Veloce models.

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The 2.2-litre diesel is less powerful, with 207bhp – but that’s still quite an upgrade over the maximum of 178bhp available in the standard car. The diesel unsurprisingly offers more torque, though – with 470Nm, compared to 400Nm in the petrol.

Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, but bigger news is the addition of a new four-wheel-drive system which Alfa is calling Q4. The system behaves like the standard rear-wheel-drive car most of the time but if the car loses traction, up to 60% of the engine’s power can be transferred to the front wheels through a dedicated transfer case.

Paris Motor Show 2016: preview

Alfa Romeo claims this new system will give the Giulia class-leading body control in the bends, but won’t negatively affect fuel economy – the added weight over the two-wheel drive car is just 60kg.

Styling-wise, the Giulia Veloce marks itself out from the crowd thanks to tweaks over the standard car. Unique bumpers front and rear mate with glossy black trim, while inside sees black leather sports seats and aluminium inserts on the dashboard, centre console and door panels. A new colour will also be shown off – the stunning Blue Misano in these pictures.

If Alfa did have a change of heart and decided to offer the car to the UK market in its current form, it would compete with the likes of the BMW 3 Series xDrive and the Jaguar XE AWD. The Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce will go on display at the Paris Motor Show alongside similarly restyled models of the Giulietta and Mito.

What do you think of the Alfa Romeo Giulia Veloce? Let us know in the comments below...

Tom Wiltshire
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Nissan Navara EnGuard Concept is ultimate rescue truck

Nissan Navara EnGuard Concept front side

Nissan reveals Navara-based emergency rescue concept car at Hannover Motor Show, with portable EV battery power

2016-09-21 12:45

Pick-ups are all about versatility, but Nissan is looking to save lives rather than lug loads with a new Nissan Navara concept. The' EnGuard' emergency rescue concept is has debuted at this year's Hannover Motor Show. 

Based on a standard double-cab Navara, the EnGuard concept is designed to showcase both the pick-up's all-terrain ability and a new life-saving vehicle platform. With a ride height boosted by 50mm, wider tracks front and rear, adjustable suspension, bespoke bodywork and 285-profile off-road tyres, it's designed to drive across the harshest terrain. An air intake snorkel even lets it wade through deep rivers. 

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But it's not just about mud plugging, as the Navara EnGuard also features a kitted-out loadbay to make it an all-purpose rescue machine. Two pull-out fibreglass trays carry items such as a resuscitation kit, oxygen tanks, life jackets and even a axe. There's a state-of-the-art DJI Phantom rescue drone fitted in as well, which can fly about and relay images to a rescue team. 

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Dominating the load bed are a pair of heavy duty battery packs. The 2kW units feature seven battery modules (straight out of the Nissan Leaf EV) inside a weather-proof aluminium housing. They're designed to act as more efficient generators, operating heavy lifting or specialist cutting equipment, or powering search lights and heat sources.

The roof is 136mm higher than a standard Navara, accomodating a 360-degree lighting rig with emergency strobe lights. While the concept is designed purely to showcase new technology, Nissan LCV Vice President Phillippe Guerin-Boutard claims it could have real-world uses in future.

"The Navara EnGuard Concept opens a new chapter in the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, featuring our commitment to zero fatalities and zero emissions. Our prototype EV portable battery pack reveals how Nissan will integrate its world-renowned EV battery technology and expertise into new sectors in the future.” 

What do you think fo the Nissan Navara EnGuard Concept? Let us know in the comments section below...

Lawrence Allan
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