Singer reveals All-Terrain Competition Study

Singer Vehicle Design has teamed up with renowned 911 rally specialist Tuthill Porsche to create an homage to Porsche 911/959 Safari rally cars of the 1980s for a long-standing client who wants to go rallying.

The rich client commissioned two machines, one – in Singer’s iconic Parallax White – focused on high-speed desert rallying and a second – in Corsica Red – configured for high-speed, high-grip tarmac events and disciplines. Taking a 964 as a donor vehicle, before being stripped and rebuilt as perfect as possible.

All panels are carbon-fibre with clamshell opening at the front and rear with subtle hints to the cars it’s based on – from an homage to the Rothmans livery under one clamshell to the rear spoiler shaped like that of the 959. The use of carbon fiber allows Singer to reduce overall mass and, for this car, to offset the extra weight of the roll-cage. On each corner, there are double 5-way adjustable dampers with long range travel, meaning every bump no matter how big will be absorbed nicely.

The engine has been tuned, now running a twin-turbo setup with a power output of 450hp using a five-speed sequential dog-box for flatshifting putting the power down to all four wheels.

Inside, the All-terrain Competition Study reflects the demands of off-road racing. FIA specification seats and harnesses sit within a full roll cage. The car is equipped with a race GPS navigation system while both driver and navigator have access to in-seat rehydration systems.

The man who commissioned this fantastic vehicle could have easily wanted to keep it as their own, but he has agreed that the results of the All-terrain Competition Study will be available to others who wish to equip their cars with this off-road capability.

So, if you have a lot of money and want to take your Singer to where roads don’t exist, you now can.

Bugatti Chiron Sport “LES LÉGENDES DU CIEL”

Legends of the sky is a special tribute to a group of racers that were fearless on land as they were in the air. “Bugatti has had close associations with aviation since the company was established more than 110 years ago. Many successful Bugatti racing drivers, such as Albert Divo, Robert Benoist and Bartolomeo ‘Meo’ Costantini, flew for the French Air Force, the French aviator legend Roland Garros privately drove a Bugatti Type 18 to be as fast on the road as in the air,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti.

The Chiron Sport ‘Les Legendes du Ciel’ is limited to 20 models, referencing many features of the historic aircrafts. In addition to the unusual colour of the paintwork, the vehicle includes a special full leather interior with hand-drawn sketches and diamond cut aluminum.

The paintwork on the car is also pretty exceptional in the fact that it is a modern interpretation of the paint often seen on aircraft in 1920s – matt-grey “Gris Serpent” with a gloss white centre stripe. On either side, tricolour in Blue, White and Red decorates the front of the exposed carbon fibre side sills.

Inside, the light brown leather is reminiscent of natural leather in these aircrafts of days gone by. The natural material is contrasted only by aluminum trims, an aluminum inlay with the logo “Les Légendes du Ciel” that can also be found on the headrests as well as the special edition numbering “1 of 20”. 

This special edition is fitted with standard W16 engine with 1,500hp with a limited top speed of 420kmh. The cost of each unit will set back the owner a cool 2.88 million euros.

Ferrari reveals SF90 Spider

Ferrari has cut the roof off its most powerful model – the SF90 Stradale. Now dubbed the SF90 Spider, the plug-in hybrid model comes with a retractable hard top that can retract and deploy in 14 seconds when on the move.

Considered to be 40kg lighter than normal retractable hard tops, and only uses 100 litres of boot space when stowed away versus the traditional 150-200 litres.

As with the rest of the car, it is pretty much the same as the Stradale – a 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8 with 780hp and 800Nm supported by three electric motors bringing the combined figure up to around 1,000hp. Top speed is 211mph and it will hit 62mph in 2.5 seconds.

Lamborghini SCV12: Limited edition hypercar

Lamborghini has revealed its limited edition track-only hypercar – the SCV12. Touted as the most powerful naturally aspirated V12 ever fitted to a Lamborghini model with over 830hp, it packs an old school punch.

Designed by the brand’s in-house Lamborghini Centro Stile and taking the expertise from its race team, Lamborghini Squadra Corse to add some big wings to add aerodynamic efficiency and give it more downforce than a GT3 car.

Just looking at the SCV12, you know it means business, the front bonnet has a double air intake and central rib to direct airflow to the roof scoop. This increases the air pressure in the engine’s intake manifolds increasing the airflow in the engine and in turn cranking up the power figures.

Everywhere you look on this car, each panel has been moulded to be more aerodynamically efficient. Look at the huge front splitter and those lateral flicks and vertical fins and not to mention, the custom built carbon fibre rear wing.

It isn’t just the panels that have been built specifically for the SCV12, the new carbon fibre chassis allows for a greater power-to-weight ratio too. This Lamborghini is only rear wheel drive, which may come as a blessing to some and that monstrous V12 is mated to a six-speed sequential gearbox that forms part of the structure of the chassis by reducing weight and enhancing weight distribution.

If you are lucky enough to purchase one of these limited hypercars, you will form part of an exclusive club. Members will participate in advanced driving programmes at some of the world’s most prestigious circuits, with the technical assistance of Squadra Corse engineers and the special tutoring of Emanuele Pirro, five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Lamborghini Squadra Corse Special Projects Consultant.

Social media is more important than ever for the automotive industry

As the world begins to emerge from its cocoon, many things that were considered normal in February have been turned upside down. People still need to socially distance, and this time of pause has forced people to really think about how they interact with others, companies included. So, how does a car manufacturer sell a relatively large physical object without bringing a person to a dealership? Trends are shifting – not just in car-buying but how consumers interact with the automotive industry. 

It’s quite simple really: by using the power of social media. 

Social media is a strong weapon in a marketer’s arsenal and shouldn’t be something that just gets tacked onto the global marketing campaign as an afterthought. As an active process, primarily at top of the funnel in a company’s marketing mix – it helps increase brand awareness, engagement with people who already own products or are considering products, reinforces the brand’s values and ultimately will sell vehicles. 

Online content is consumed at an enormous rate and most people that a manufacturer wants to target already use social media as one of the 24 research touch-points, 19 of which are digital, in understanding the company, its products and how best it can help them. Adaptly reported that 90% of new vehicle buyers that used social media throughout their decision-making process felt it influenced their final decision.  14.5 hours are spent discovering touch-points when buying a vehicle with nearly nine hours spent researching and shopping online. This is why companies can’t consider social media marketing as an afterthought, using existing assets to just fill the hole. Content should be created to make the most of the platforms where it is going to live – ensuring images, GIFs, videos are created in the right formats and cropped for each platform. The result being less investment in creating assets – essential in the new, lean normal. 

2,311,140 cars were sold last year in the UK, with the industry forking out an average of £1.94 billion on digital ads, both of which were reduced due to the uncertainty of Brexit means it is a crowded market and to stand out, your brand needs to have a positive impact on every one of the consumer’s touch-points during their purchase journey. 

Be Social First 
Television has been a key advertising tactic for the automotive industry for generations with around 50% of all spend going to television ads. It can convey the strong emotional brand images but when viewership is on the downturn, costs to get to those audiences are on the rise, so companies have a choice – increase spend in TV or look elsewhere. By shifting to social, the target audience is already engaged as they are already researching online. It isn’t simply replicating the TV ad on social media – it is creating content that is enhanced by the medium. A 360-degree video of a car’s interior or a dynamic advert giving more information on a product all in one place can do a lot more for awareness and consideration than an expensive TV ad. 

Renault UK used a tactic to reduce its cost per lead by nearly 8X. By using Facebook lead generation ads with a dealership list to push the sale of its new SUV, the Kadjar, consumers could schedule a test drive at their nearest dealer instantaneously. This level of immediacy and capturing people when they are already engaged with the social post was able to reduce the company’s cost per lead by 7.9X.  

Digital Buying 
Dealerships, more than ever, are outmoded places to visit when looking for a car – generally out of the way meaning a potential customer will have to spend a fair chunk of their day just to visit a car and then be greeted to a somewhat intimidating experience where sales people hover around trying to grab a sale. Some companies have realised this is a draconian format and have evolved.

Take Polestar and Tesla as examples. Sales locations are in high footfall areas like shopping malls and it’s more of an immersive experience than a hard sell. People are encouraged to try things out, ask questions and leave with a lasting impression. Granted this is still a brick-and-mortar location but it is a case of going where the audience is, rather than trying to entice them to where you want them to be.

Collecting Cars is a brilliant example – a relatively new company that offers cars for sale through an online auction site, with only limited physical viewings, consignees are asked to send over 100 images so that the vendor can accurately match it to the history and description of the vehicle. 

Social is a two-way street
Traditional advertising was a fairly simple affair – create the ad, publish it and, if everything went to plan, see a surge in purchases. But in this digitally savvy world, companies need to interact and listen to their consumers. They steer market trends – going green and ride sharing, for example – and the earlier an automotive manufacturer implements these changes, the easier it is to lead the conversation. 

This is also the case after the sale, the interaction between consumer and company doesn’t just end there, companies should hyper-target consumers post-purchase with offers for servicing, checks, aftermarket options and, further down the product life cycle, the option to upgrade. 

Social not only lets manufacturers and retailers communicate with consumers away from brick-and-mortar locations, it also keeps that conversation going throughout the purchase cycle. Keep giving your consumer useful, thought-provoking content, show them you care and, in two to three years’ time, when they’re ready to make another purchase, the chances are they’ll come back. Miss out on that opportunity at your peril. Your competitors won’t.

Driverless cars – Who will be to blame?

The Luddites were an interesting bunch. Rioting and protesting in fear of machines taking their jobs in the textile industry which in the end, required the army to suppress. But what the Luddites dreaded eventually came true and technology today is replacing workers around the globe. Now, the automotive network is in a similar situation. On the back of reading a thread on PistonHeads, I’d like to discuss more when, than, if autonomous cars are going to form part of the driving network.

On enthusiast motoring sites, focus is on the driver’s car, occasionally snubbing lower-end models for those where engineers are allowed to show off their prowess. But, even these cars are susceptible to smidgens of new technology, take the Porsche 911 (991) GT3 RS as an example. The first of its kind to ditch the manual gearbox in favour of a 7-speed PDK. In turn, everyday cars are fitted with more and more sensors slowly removing the driver from driving situations, helping to keep the car in lane and keeping a safe distance between it and the lead car in motorway traffic.  I’ll be honest, I am all for these updates as it helps drop insurance premiums due to less incidents.

audi_rs7_autonomous_05Tech showcase
Tesla, Google and Audi have showcased driverless technology over the past few years with the latter proving its autonomous capabilities by letting the RS7 tackle the Hockenheimring and chauffeuring celebrities to the red carpet. Tesla’s autopilot system combines laser cruise control, lane assist and a combination of sensors, radars and cameras to steer you safely to a parking space.

A parade lap on an empty race track is a little different to the school run where children may dart out at any instant. Who is to blame if and when there is an accident? Google’s own test car has had minor incidents at low speeds blaming other drivers over a six-year period racking up over a million miles. There has been one incident involving a bus where the Google car was to blame.

google_car_001Programmed to kill
Before getting behind the wheel, a driver must study endless scenarios and rules. Drivers learn that larger vehicles (buses and lorries) are a lot less likely to give way and drivers in certain makes refrain from using indicators. It all comes with experience. An experienced driver will also manoeuvre a car to avoid hurting a passenger during a crash. But how can you teach that to a driverless car?

Are manufacturers programming cars to minimise the loss of life even it it means sacrificing the driver and passengers? Humans have an innate need to survive so a car that can potentially sacrifice the driver is one that may sway the buying decision. An MIT report states, “people are in favour of cars that sacrifice the occupant to save other lives — as long they don’t have to drive one themselves.”

google_car_002Volvo has joined Google by accepting full liability for accidents of their driverless cars in turn pushing the US government to set up consistent rules across states. In the US, it is illegal to jaywalk making it easier to test autonomous vehicles but here in the UK we aren’t as patient – we bolt across the street expecting the wrath of the angry driver if we leave it a little too late.

Currently, the UK allows for autonomous testing,  ‘providing a test driver is present and takes responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle; and that the vehicle can be used compatibly with road traffic law.’

Summer 2017 will see the Government reviewing and amending domestic regulations to accommodate driverless tech but driverless lorries are being trialled on the M6 later this year.

When the autonomous car takes over from the driver’s car could it mean the road and highway code as we know it could disappear? And will the ethical thinking of the car play a major part in the buying process? These are questions I can’t answer but I am very intrigued to find out.

 

Sources: Gov UKTED TalksGoogleAutocarNextweb, Tech CrunchMIT Technology review, BBC News, Spectator

Xmas idea: Portable charger

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Cars are petrol heads’ pride and joy. However, on many occasions, funding runs low and the problems of car ownership catch up on us. If you find yourself having to perform rolling jump-starts more than you would like, here is the solution.

The Powerall Portable power bank and charger will start your car up to 20 times, but hopefully by then you would have replaced the battery. It doesn’t stop there though; it has two 5V USB ports so you can charge your tech on the go and a LED torch for when you are stumbling around the engine bay in the dark.

Priced at £63 it surely won’t break the bank, and you will be the most famous person at festivals. Get it here and have it delivered in time for xmas.

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