Volkswagen used its former World Touring Car Championship entry, the combustion-engined Golf TCR, as a platform to test the electric drivetrain in the hardcore ID.R electric race car that debuted in 2018. It's possible the German automaker has brought that prototype out of the shadows as the e-Performance Golf R concept, shown ahead of this weekend's ice races in Zell am See, Austria. The company hasn't released any specs yet, so we can't be sure how much of the ID.R's twin-motor, 671-horsepower electric drivetrain is at work in the e-Performance Golf R. Execs have been talking up what the first EV to get the R badge means, though. Motorsport honcho Sven Smeets said of the VW electric cars on show over the weekend will "offer a view of the future,” the automaker claiming the sporty EV "serves as an ambassador for future performance cars for Volkswagen R."

From the side, the concept looks no different to the Golf GTI TCR; same jutting front splitter and intake strakes, same punched-out wheel arches and wide wing hanging well off the back. Even the roll cage and lightweight, twin-spoke wheels have carried over. At some point during the weekend, those tires will need to be swapped out for dedicated ice-racing hoops fitted with about 400, seven-millimeter studs called Sweden Spikes.

A VW board member has already said, "If there is a future for R it must be electric," and theories abound as to how the e-Performance Golf R will translate into a series-specific electric race car. Consensus for the moment is that whatever comes won't have the Golf name attached, since the ID brand carries the torch for VW's EV aspirations. An ID.R has been mooted, but isn't expected to show before 2024. Before then, suggestions are that VW could run a prototype ID.3 in the coming electric touring car championship where Seat has committed a four-motor, 670-hp E-Cupra, or work up an ID.4 to contest next year's Extreme E off-road series. There will also be support for customer teams racing MEB-based cars.

The brand promises to tell us more this weekend during what it might consider an in-house event. Winter racing at Zell am See ran for almost 40 years in the 20th century, then ended in 1974. Ferdinand Porsche, the grandson of Porsche's founder, also named Ferdinand Porsche, led a group that restarted the ice racing weekend last year. Along with the e-Performance Golf R concept, VW will also have an ID.R on display, and will enter a T-Roc R, the vintage 1302 S “Salzburg” Beetle rally car, and a Beetle R that won the U.S. Rallycross championship five times in a row, while Bentley will be there showing off its new Continental GT W12 ice racer.

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2020 Jeep Gladiator

Marc UrbanoCar and Driver

    Customers looking to buy a 2020 Jeep Gladiator could get one at up to a $9000 discount because of dealer incentives and rebates, CarsDirect reports. A nationwide $2000 dealer discount is available on all trims except the highest-level Rubicon through February 3.

    C/D gave the Jeep Gladiator, an all-new nameplate this year, our highest honor: a 10Best award. We called it "a convertible pickup wagon dreamed up in the vein of an 83-function Swiss army knife for the road."

    At our local Jeep dealership in Saline, Michigan, the 2020 Gladiator Sport S, which starts at $38,240, are for sale with as much as $7000 in discounts. In some parts of the country, including this dealer in Northern California, discounts have approached up to $9000. The Gladiator is cheap to lease in California, too. One is listed at $259 for 36 months with $3970 at signing, or $369 per month, according to Cars Direct.

    Last summer, shortly after Gladiators started arriving on dealer lots, they were being marked up by as much as $20,000. The now cheap Sport S trim on smaller tires were listed at up to $70,000, and the base Sport trim listed in the $50,000s.

    General Motors confirmed it's bringing the Hummer nameplate back on an electric, GMC-badged pickup by publishing a dark photo of its front end. The battery-powered drivetrain under the sheetmetal represents a tectonic shift, but we noticed another flagrant break with tradition: it wears six slot-like inserts instead of seven like on every previous Hummer and countless Jeeps. Adding an extra slot wouldn't have landed GMC in hot water.

    The seven-slot grille has historically been associated with Jeep, and the company proved it's willing to go to significant lengths to ensure another automaker — especially one it perceives as a rival — doesn't use it. Parent company Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) bitterly sued Mahindra over the Roxor's design, including its five-slot grille, and won in 2019, forcing the Indian firm to unveil a redesigned side-by-side for the 2020 model year.

    And yet, stylists would have very likely been able to get away with it on the Hummer. While General Motors owns Hummer, the brand traces its ancestry to 1970, when American Motors Corporation (AMC) purchased Jeep from Kaiser and changed the name of its General Products Division to AM General Corp. The division manufactured the rear-wheel drive, CJ-based DJ for the United States Postal Service and began developing the Humvee in 1979.

    Jeep and AM General went their separate ways when Renault began investing in AMC. Foreign companies weren't allowed to own defense contractors, and AMC had more to gain by gradually selling out to Renault than by keeping AM General, so it divested the division to LTV Corporation in 1983. Humvee production started shortly after, but no one protested its seven-slot grille because there was no risk of it stealing sales from a comparable Jeep model. It was manufactured exclusively for the U.S. Army, and civilian sales weren't planned.

    The original civilian Hummer released in 1992 must have raised more than a few eyebrows but, here again, it didn't directly compete with one of Jeep's off-roaders, so no one complained. It was huge, correspondingly expensive, and its portal axles made the YJ-generation Wrangler wet its pants. It's the H2 concept (pictured above) unveiled at the 2000 Detroit Auto Show that set off alarm bells in Auburn Hills. DaimlerChrysler's lawyers counted the slots in the chrome-plated insert that dominated its front end and shuddered when they reached seven.

    They prepared for war without realizing the lawyers representing Hummer were also gearing up for a legal battle. In March 2001, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors sued each other 11 minutes apart in two separate courts over the H2's grille design. The salvo of accusations quickly spread outside of the courtrooms.

    "We believe General Motors is targeting Jeep vehicle customers who are interested in rugged, go-anywhere, do-anything vehicles," DaimlerChrysler spokesman Jay Cooney told Utah's Deseret News in 2001. "Any 10-year-old can tell the difference with or without the grilles. It's sort of like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger looks just like Mr. Rogers because both of them have nice smiles," replied General Motors spokesman Brian Akre.

    The production version of the H2 concept reached American showrooms in the midst of the legal battle and it sold reasonably well during its first few months on the market. It was much bigger and far more expensive than the Grand Cherokee, so Hummer didn't have a slice of Jeep's hard-earned market share in its crosshairs, but rumors of a smaller model named H3 were already making headlines; the stakes were higher than before. 

    In November 2002, the 7th United States District Court of Appeals ruled in Hummer's favor, and cited its common heritage with Jeep as one of the facts that helped it make this decision. It also argued Jeep waited too long to take the grille to court; it should have sued when the Humvee and the original Hummer (which had become the H1 by that point) respectively entered production. General Motors expanded the Hummer range as planned.

     

    The smaller H3 went on sale for the 2006 model year with a seven-slot grille, and the production version of the HX concept (shown above) that should have tussled with the Wrangler in Moab starting in about 2010 would have undoubtedly worn the same styling cue. There was nothing Jeep could have done about it because General Motors fought hard for the right to build trucks with seven slots between the headlights. So, why will the GMC Hummer arrive in late 2021 with what looks like six slots? We can think of several plausible answers.

    The born-again Hummer doesn't have actual grille slots. Its front end wears vertical trim that chops up a thin, horizontal light bar in six pieces. The Hummer name has six letters in it, so it's easy to speculate that's why stylists split the bar into six chunks. Though seven pieces of chrome-like trim separate the letters, which creates a discreet visual link between the new Hummer and its predecessors.

    Or maybe General Motors took a less belligerent approach to drawing the Hummer's front end. It's already opening an old wound by rekindling a merciless rivalry, even if Hummer will remain dead as a brand, so there's little sense in driving the point home by pouring seven grains of salt in it.

    As one of the biggest events in the United States and one of the largest sporting events in the world, the Super Bowl will always be regarded as a potential target of attack. No security cost is seen as too overboard, which is how Hard Rock Stadium ended up with gigantic X-ray machines to screen incoming trucks and other vehicles. The mobile scanners, which are attached to commercial Ford trucks, were recently captured in action by WPLG in Florida. 

    To be clear, there is no known plot or information that suggests any tangible plan to attack Super Bowl LIV, which will be played this Sunday, February 2, in Miami. According to WPLG, however, federal and state authorities sent out a joint assessment warning that discussed foreign and domestic terror attacks. It also pointed out heightened awareness due to recent tensions with Iran. Again, this is just a warning, and all security, which has been in the planning for 18 months, is preventative.

    Although this type of technology is not new, as these types of machines have been used for border control and cargo screening for many years, the device is not cheap. According to WPLG, each unit costs approximately $1.2 million. 

    The million-dollar trucks will be put through their paces, as every single truck and vehicle that comes into the area will need to be scanned. Similar to waiting in line at the airport, each vehicle will be checked before entering Hard Rock Stadium. The mobile scanner drives over a vehicle, and the image is processed and displayed within seconds. If the operators notice any sort of anomalies, the vehicle will be checked further. Additionally, several other safety measures such as K-9 units will be on hand, as well. 

    For more information on the security surrounding the game, head to WPLG.

    Overview

    A car windshield protects passengers from rushing wind and dangerous debris, but the McLaren Elva eliminates that barrier to provide the purest driving experience possible. The automaker also includes an innovative feature that directs air up and over this topless beauty to help shield passengers from the elements. Still, the Elva's main mission is driver immersion. That's helped by the hypercar's mid-mounted 804-hp twin-turbo V-8 that exhales through four exhaust barrels. Combine that with a lightweight carbon-fiber construction, and this McLaren is expected to rank among the quickest cars on the market. Regardless of performance posturing, the 2020 Elva is a breathtaking creation that competes with windscreen-less exotics such as the Ferrari Monza and Aston Martin V12 Speedster.

    What's New for 2020?

    The 2020 McLaren Elva is a limited-production model inspired by race cars that were designed by the legendary Bruce McLaren in the late '60s. It's also the latest member to join the company's exclusive Ultimate Series, which includes legends such as the McLaren P1 and more recent sensations such as the Speedtail.

    Pricing and Which One to Buy

      Even if you're among the excessively rich folk who can afford the Elva's seven-figure price, McLaren will build only 399 examples. Those who are lucky enough to acquire one can then proceed to customize it through the company's MSO Division. The most sensational of these bespoke options include a 24-karat-gold heat shield for the engine compartment.

      Engine, Transmission, and Performance

      Its wild and unconventional design can easily distract from the Elva's remarkable performance credentials. This includes its twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 that produces 804 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque. The engine hooks up to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that powers the rear wheels. McLaren claims the Elva will accelerate from zero to 62 mph in less than three seconds and from zero to 124 mph in just 6.7 seconds. For added context, that latter number makes the Elva quicker than the track-focused Senna. The Elva also is reported to be the company's lightest road car ever, but likely not lighter than icons such as the McLaren F1. While our extensive tests have proved time and time again that anything wearing Bruce McLaren's namesake will excite the senses, we won't know how the Elva stacks up until we can experience it ourselves.

      Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

      Neither McLaren nor the government (read: EPA) have released fuel-economy ratings for the turbo V-8 that powers the rear-drive Elva. Still, even if it turns out that this topless hypercar is the least efficient vehicle on the planet, those who can afford to own one are probably not concerned with single-digit EPA ratings or real-world mpg.

      Interior, Comfort, and Cargo

      The outside and inside of the Elva are seamlessly connected. Not having a roof—let alone a windshield—will do that. The integrated appearance also can be attributed to how the exterior bodywork extends into the upper dashboard and door panels. Apart from the obligatory central infotainment screen, the Elva's interior design is uncomplicated. McLaren wisely keeps the flat-bottomed steering wheel free of buttons, and the binnacle that houses the fully digital gauge cluster is connected to the steering column, so the entire unit moves together. A series of climate-control vents are located below the beltline, presumably to maximize hot and cold air flow. These face a pair of supportive-looking seats for the driver and passenger. They're the ones who benefit from the Elva's neatest trick, which uses natural airflow and a front-mounted deflector to direct air up and over the cockpit. McLaren calls it Active Air Management, and the system automatically adjusts based on how fast the car is traveling. The company will also offer a fixed windshield to comply with certain state laws and pacify those who can't help but diminish the whole experience.

      Infotainment and Connectivity

      A floating tabletlike touchscreen sprouts from the center of the Elva's dashboard, with controls for the climate settings and audio system—if so equipped. While McLaren doesn't supply a standard stereo, one can be fitted into the cabin at no cost. The speakers are installed behind both headrests to make sure the music is as close to the passengers' ears as possible, because the Elva's thundering exhaust and inevitable wind noise will surely be distracting.

      Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

      The 2020 Elva hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Likewise, it doesn't bother with common driver-assistance technology such as automated emergency braking and lane-keeping assist. After all, McLaren is more concerned with enriching the driving experience than sanitizing it.

      Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

      McLaren supplies standard warranty coverage that lasts for three years without any mileage restriction. While the company doesn't provide any complimentary maintenance, it does offer extended plans that last up to 12 years with a limit of 12,000 miles per year.

        Transcript: 360 degree helicopter mover. Typhoon by Tiger Tugs is an omnidirectional helicopter mover. Designed to move choppers in tight spaces for quick storage and deployment, it’s operated by a wireless remote control and can rotate and move sideways. Tiger Tugs plans on creating a Typhoon with the ability to carry 10,000 lbs.

          Alpine's mid-engine sports car, the A110, now has a rally concept variant called the SportsX that's meant to pay homage to the A110's rally success in the 1970s. It's raised almost two and a half inches, is just over three inches wider, and looks ready to tackle any rally course.

          The SportsX concept is based on the compelling A110 mid-engine sports car that we won't get here in the U.S. The standard A110 is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four making 248 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, and it's likely this one-off has the same engine. The standard A110 is 164.5 inches long, 70.8 inches wide, and 49.3 inches high, which makes it slightly smaller than the Subaru BRZ. But the SportsX rally concept is wider and taller than the standard A110, so you could rally the hell out of it.

          This concept has an updated, more rugged fascia, underbody protection, and a white and black two-tone paint job. And, since it's meant to be a rally car and honor the automaker's win at the 1973 Monte Carlo Rally, it's equipped with big Michelin Primacy tires—and has skis on it.

          Unfortunately, Renault said that there's no plan for this thing to go into production. It'll just be an awesome one-off rally car to drool over for now, but we think Renault really ought to add an off-road-spec A110 to the mid-engine sports car's lineup.

          The Nissan Ariya concept.

          YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan is planning aggressive cost cuts to deal with an unexpected slump in sales as the expansionist strategy it inherited from fugitive former Chairman Carlos Ghosn flounders, four people familiar with the plans said.

          Japan's second biggest carmaker is set to eliminate at least 4,300 white-collar jobs and shut two manufacturing sites as part of broader plans to add at least 480 billion yen ($4.4 billion) to its bottom line by 2023, two of the people told Reuters.

          The moves come on top of a turnaround plan unveiled in July and are likely to include cutting Nissan's range of cars and the array of product options and trims in each line, slashing jobs mostly at head offices in the United States and Europe, and reducing advertising and marketing budgets, they said.

          "The situation is dire. It's do or die," a person close to Nissan's senior management and the company's board told Reuters.

          Most of the planned cuts and measures to enhance efficiency were presented to Nissan's board in November and received its general blessing, two sources said.

          A Nissan spokeswoman declined to comment on new restructuring measures or the view that weaker-than-expected sales were the catalyst for a global overhaul.

          Under Ghosn, Nissan embarked on a global expansion, boosting capacity to add new models, driving more decidedly into markets such as India, Russia, South Africa and southeast Asia and spending heavily on promotions and marketing to hit targets.

          Now, many of those models are missing sales goals, and executives at Nissan's Yokohama headquarters estimate up to 40% of its global manufacturing capacity is unused, or under-used.

          Some executives are worried Nissan, part of an alliance with Renault and Mitsubishi, could post another loss at its carmaking business in the last quarter of 2019 — and possibly for all its operations in the fiscal year ending in March.

          One source said that would most likely hinge on whether Nissan books big restructuring expenses in its current financial year, or waits until the year ending in March 2021.

          Reuters spoke to nine people familiar with Nissan's plans. All declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the subject.

          Missed targets

          In July, Nissan said it would cut 12,500 jobs from 14 sites around the world, from the United Kingdom to Spain, Mexico, Japan, India and Indonesia — and reduce its model range by 10%.

          At the time, Nissan officials told Reuters that meant shutting one production line at each plant.

          Now, Nissan is considering shutting two plants permanently, on top of the reductions at the 14 other sites, people close to Nissan's management and board with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. They didn't say which two new sites were at risk.

          People familiar with the plans said the axe was also likely to fall at Nissan's North American head office in Tennessee and its European headquarters in Geneva, as they were bloated with high-spending sales and marketing staff.

          One source with direct knowledge of the turnaround plan said Nissan's marketing teams globally gobble up nearly 1 trillion yen a year, or about 45% of Nissan's annual fixed costs of 2.1 trillion.

          Nissan had been saddled with the excess, "thanks to (Ghosn's) highly aggressive, expansionist volume goals, which we failed to achieve," the source said.

          A spokeswoman for Ghosn said he declined to comment for this story.

          Ghosn told a news conference in Beirut on Jan. 8 that Nissan's poor performance since 2017 was down to Hiroto Saikawa, who formally took over from him as Nissan CEO in April 2017.

          "He was CEO and he was responsible for it," Ghosn said.

          In addition to cuts in Nissan's fixed costs, managers are also considering plans to kill off unprofitable models, accelerate the pace of new product development and reduce the average age of its lineup to 2½ years, down from 5 now.

          The new plans aim to add 480 billion yen to Nissan's bottom line by the end of March 2023, with 300 billion from cuts in fixed costs and 180 billion from an array of cars to be launched in the next three years, people familiar with the matter said.

          Nissan is aiming to achieve an operating margin of 6% on revenue of 14.5 trillion yen by March 2023, compared with 3.0% from 13.0 trillion forecast for the year ending in March 2020, according to plans announced in July.

          But since July, Nissan's operating performance has worsened by more than expected, making it likely its new management team will have to find savings significantly above the 480 billion yen currently envisaged to hit its targets, three sources said.

          'Phase Two'

          To be sure, Nissan has plenty of cash in its coffers to cope with setbacks. According to quarterly results, it had 1.14 trillion yen in net cash at the end of September.

          Still, sources said Nissan was no longer adding freshly generated cash to its war chest, mainly because of its high fixed costs and the sales slide. Furthermore, it has expensive car launches in the next few years that could eat into reserves.

          "Even if we had one trillion yen in cash, that could be depleted in no time if we didn't pay attention," a person close to Nissan management told Reuters.

          Three of the people said the collapse in Nissan sales around the world was a major factor in forcing the company to consider restructuring above and beyond the measures outlined in July.

          They said Nissan's global sales would likely fall to 5 million vehicles, or slightly above, way short of its sales goal of 5.5 million for its current financial year.

          The worse-than-expected downturn, which has forced Nissan to spend more on promotions to cushion the fallout, has created additional urgency to take more drastic steps, sources said.

          Of particular concern is the U.S. market, where sales fell 10% in 2019, and the continued sluggishness of the Chinese market, which left Nissan's sales volumes down 1.1% from 2018.

          One especially troublesome issue for Nissan has been its sales efficiency. In 2018, it had 69 models and sold 5.2 million vehicles — or 75,000 on average per model line — and it was planning to expand its lineup to 73 by the end of 2022.

          Now, it is aiming to cut its range to 62 and boost average sales per line to 87,000, the equivalent of Toyota's average last year, according to calculations and forecasts by the team formulating Nissan's recovery plan.

          "We thought by now we would be selling 6 million cars a year. But the truth of the matter is our selling ability is about just north of 5 million," one source said.

          Open road?

          People familiar with Nissan's internal discussions said there was even some concern the new measures being considered, known as "Phase Two" cuts, might not be enough to achieve its three-year turnaround goals if sales don't recover fast enough.

          "Those Phase Two measures will most likely fall short," said one person familiar with restructuring plans, making a point echoed by several people close to the management team and board.

          To make matters worse, the restructuring efforts have been disrupted by the political turmoil following Ghosn's departure in 2018, his flight from Japan in December and subsequent accusations against former colleagues at Nissan.

          According to five sources, the upheaval rattled Nissan's top management team so much that it paralyzed their ability to execute many of the planned restructuring moves smoothly.

          The latest turmoil lasted from December to mid-January, when the board curbed the influence of "anti-alliance" forces sabotaging the plans, two sources said, declining to elaborate.

          Nissan's new CEO Makoto Uchida took the reins at the start of December with Ashwani Gupta, who has worked at Mitsubishi, Nissan and Renault, as chief operating officer.

          "Whoever the action was aimed at, the upshot is that Gupta is now completely freed from pressures from those anti-alliance forces to carry out all the planned turnaround measures," one of the people said. "He should do so without hesitation as the board has cleared the way."

          Related Video:

          The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile was pulled over in Waukesha, Wis., recently after it failed to move out of the lane closest to a stopped emergency vehicle, which is the law in Wisconsin and just a good driving practice anywhere. The Waukesha County Sheriff office then publicly shamed the enormous hot dog on Twitter along with some instructive driving safety hashtags. Apparently, the driver was given a verbal warning. 

          I will now cease writing this as a serious news piece and turn it over to a screenshot of our office Slack feed ...

          That's it. That's the article. 

          (OK, besides this. If you got any puns we missed, well, that's what the comments are for. Fire away!) 

          What really happened on that fateful day with the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?

          The driver of the #Wienermobile was stopped & given a verbal warning by a @WaukeshaSheriff for not following the Move Over Law (2001 WI Act 15, WI Statute 346.072)#MoveOver #SlowDown #Wienermobile pic.twitter.com/KHbt9z803X

          — Waukesha County Sheriff (@WaukeshaSheriff) January 27, 2020