Toyota Wins Le Mans 24h With Fernando Alonso

Toyota finally broke its long-standing Le Mans 24 Hours curse by claiming a dominant victory in the 86th running of the event with the #8 car shared by Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.

The two TS050 Hybrids were a class apart from their LMP1 rivals, with the battle for the win quickly boiling down to a two-way battle between the Toyotas.

It was a see saw battle between the #8 machine and the #7 of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez for the majority of the distance, with a rapid night stint by Alonso helping to ease the effects of a 60s stop-and-go penalty earned by Buemi for speeding in a slow zone.

Aussie driver Matt Campbell in just his second year of international competition with Porsche, was handed his Le Mans debut with a seat in the Dempsey-Proton 911 RSR alongside Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer. The trio dominated the GTE-Am class for the majority of the race, with their #77 Porsche beating the #53 Ferrari by a little under two minutes.

Daimler To Recall 238,000 Diesel Vehicle Over Use Of Defeat Devices

The German government has ordered car manufacturer Daimler to recall 238,000 vehicles in Germany after they were found to be fitted with illegal software that masks diesel emissions.

Across Europe a total of 774,000 diesel vehicles could contain ‘defeat devices’ and Daimler said it would recall them all.

In an official statement, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt–(KBA) said it had ordered Mercedes to immediately recall selected Vito, C-Class and GLC models in Germany:

Among the models said to be affected are the Vito 119 CDI, C220d and GLC 220d.

The KBA has not indicated the age of the cars involved, although officials suggest they include latest-generation models with Euro 6 emissions certification.

Mitsubishi Motors Thailand Marks Five Million Units Production Milestone

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced that Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd. (MMTh), its exclusive producer and distributor in Thailand, has marked five million vehicles produced at the facility in Laem Chabang. The landmark vehicle was a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport.

The event was graced by Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand; His Excellency Shiro Sadoshima, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan; Osamu Masuko, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and BOI’s Honorary Investment Advisor. Other VIP guests, business partners and employees were also in attendance.

During his address, Somkid Jatusripitak congratulated Mitsubishi Motors for the successful collaboration between the automaker and the Thai government.

He said, “Mitsubishi Motors Thailand’s milestone today underlines the role of the automotive industry as one of Thailand’s growth engines. The company’s commitment to Thailand, and its leadership in sustainable practices is initiative that will help us achieve our national economic goals.”

Also speaking at the ceremony was Osamu Masuko, CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. He expressed his gratitude for the support and cooperation from the Thai government, and explained: “We have always had the confidence in Thailand’s potential for domestic market growth. Its long-term policies to grow the automotive industry also a positive sign for our business.”

MMTh’s facilities at Laem Chabang are the biggest outside Japan, capable of producing 424,000 vehicles a year with exports going to more than 120 countries. The output supports the company’s growth in the ASEAN region as well as internationally.

Meanwhile, Morikazu Chokki, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors (Thailand) Co., Ltd. said during the ceremony, “We will continue to pioneer new segments and technology. We will innovate and enhance hard and soft technology into human-centric packages, and deliver versatility, driving confidence and functionality. This forms the basis of our global tagline ‘Drive your Ambition’ and is our commitment to our drivers.”

Mitsubishi Motors started its operations in Thailand in 1961 and achieved its first million-unit production in 2003. The second million followed in 2010 and after just three years, MMTh hit the third million in 2013. As demand increased, the four-million mark was reached in 2015.

Out of the five million vehicles, 3.7 million were for export markets in more than 120 countries worldwide. In 2016, Mitsubishi Motors Thailand celebrated its third-million export vehicle.

Aussies In Top Two Motor Racing Wins

Australia’s own racing drivers won two of the most prestigious motor racing events this weekend with Daniel Ricciardo snatching the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix while down on power for more than 50 laps of the unforgiving street circuit. Ricciardo had started from pole after smashing the circuit record in final qualifying. Sebastian Vettel was next nearly eight seconds behind followed by Lewis Hamilton in third spot.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Will Power won his first career Indianapolis 500 after taking the lead from Stefan Wilson with less than five laps to go. Power started third on the front row and ran out front most of the race.

Danica Patrick’s professional driving career ended after crashing out on Lap 67. Patrick started the race seventh and ran inside the top 16 before getting loose and hitting the wall. The 36-year-old was able to climb out of the car under her own power before making a visit to the medical centre.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio And Giulia Achieve Highest Occupant Protection Scores

The latest independent safety assessments from vehicle safety authority, ANCAP, have revealed two top performers with the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio equalling the highest scores recorded to date in the area of Adult Occupant Protection.

The Giulia mid-sized sedan recorded a score of 98 per cent, closely followed by the brand’s medium SUV offering, the Stelvio, scoring 97 per cent.1

Both Alfa Romeo models achieved a 5 star ANCAP safety rating with good performance across all four key areas of assessment. This rating applies to all 2.0 litre petrol and 2.2 litre diesel Giulia and Stelvio variants.

“These are impressive scores which reflect the effort the brand has put into designing vehicles to keep occupants safe,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, James Goodwin.

“With Adult Occupant Protection we look at how a vehicle performs structurally across a range of destructive crash tests, but also how well the restraint systems work to minimise injury. Low speed autonomous
emergency braking also forms part of this, with both Alfa Romeo models performing well.”

The Citroen C3, which was subject to the same broad range of tests, fell just shy of today’s safety expectation due to its inability to actively detect and prevent pedestrian contact combined with head injury risk.

“Unfortunately the C3 falls down in the Pedestrian Protection aspects of our assessment,” Mr Goodwin said.

“We may not all be drivers, but we are all pedestrians so it is important the design and specification of a vehicle considers the safety of those inside as well as outside the vehicle.”

The Citroen C3 scored 59 per cent for Pedestrian Protection, limiting its overall ANCAP safety rating to 4 stars.

These scores equal those achieved by the Volvo XC60 (98%) and Volvo XC90 (97%).

Nissan Confirms Withdrawal From The Supercars

Nissan Australia has confirmed that the 2018 Supercars Championship will be its last, exiting the series at season’s end.

Joining V8 Supercars with Kelly Racing at the start of 2013, the current contract with the team finishes at the end of 2018.

During its time in the series, Nissan has enjoyed a strong relationship with Kelly Racing and invested considerably to the motorsport programme both on and off the track.

“Nissan has decided to exit the Supercars Championship in order to concentrate on the interests and needs of our current and future customers,” said Stephen Lester, Nissan Australia’s managing director.

“We have obviously been talking to the Kellys for some time and making the announcement now suits both parties.

Maintaining its commitment to the team this year, Nissan Australia hopes to celebrate some strong results over the remainder of the 2018 Supercars Championship.

HAVAL Shines At Beijing Motor Show

HAVAL has unveiled a raft of new vehicles boasting engine technologies at Auto China 2018 in Beijing, designed to further increase the performance potential of China’s leading SUV brand.

The company showed off its new H4 and H6 SUVs, powered by the company’s upgraded 1.5-litre turbocharged four, boasting new Continuous Variable Valve Lift technology which has increased power from 110kW to 124, torque from 210Nm to 285 and slashed fuel economy by 8 per cent.

Designed to meet Euro VI emissions standards, the new 1.5-litre engine is matched to an all-new seven speed dual clutch transmission (7DCT) developed and produced by HAVAL. It represents the first time an independent Chinese manufacturer has developed its own DCT.

The updated H6 boasts new styling, with a new five-bar grille and LED headlamps. Inside, new seats with improved ergonomics have been added, as well a larger panoramic sunroof. The new H6 boasts the latest safety technology, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking. It also features a 360-degree camera and semi-automatic self-parking.

The all-new H4 is based on the HR-02 concept shown at Auto China 2016. Measuring 4420mm long by 1845mm wide and 1695mm high, the new H4 rides on a 2660mm wheelbase.

Inside, the new H4 features an all-new high-tech interior, including a floating 12-inch screen, LCD instrument panel and keyboard-style switchgear.

It comes equipped with a 360-degree vision system, lane departure warning, lane change assist, tyre pressure monitoring and front and rear parking sensors.

It also features the new HAVAL Connected telematics system, which can be used for smartphone mirroring, emergency rescue, security monitoring and remote vehicle diagnosis.

HAVAL used the show to unveil its first fully autonomous pure electric SUV.

Branded under the company’s luxury arm, the WEY X will offer L5 autonomous driving performance. This means the artificial intelligence system in the WEY X will mirror that of a highly trained human driver, in scenarios including dirt roads and bad weather.

WEY X follows in the footsteps of the pure electric XEV concept unveiled at the 2017 International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt.

The 2018 iteration blends seamlessly with existing vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) technology in a fully integrated transportation network. Combined with the latest autonomous driving expertise, the WEY X identifies and predicts potential risks in advance to minimise the potential for accidents.

Engineers have replaced traditional keys and buttons in the WEY X with a full biometric identification system. Each registered user can create their own individual set-up, including seats, music preferences and preferred navigation information.

The company’s newest brand – Ora – was officially launched at the show. Ora will be dedicated to the development and manufacture of pure electric vehicles.

Two concept vehicles were displayed at the show – the Ora R1 and Ora R2. Both electric minicars are built on a new platform dubbed ‘ME’, which incorporates maximum wheelbase in a small compact package.

The Ora R1 concept adopts an angular design, offset by round headlights and a blue/white colour combination.

The R2 concept car is larger, with a headlight integrated with the grille. The underside of the bumper is sleek and the A pillars are painted black to help form a “C” shape. Concealed door handles helps reduce wind resistance and adds to the overall ‘science-fiction’ look.

Both concept vehicles include intelligent communication features including mobile phone access, vehicle networking and owner identification.

Initially designed for domestic consumption only, the Ora range of production EVs are expected to go on sale later this year.

HAVAL also released details of its electric motor development, which to date has seen a 60 million dollar investment. The company has built a new research centre measuring almost 6000 square metres at its headquarters in Baoding, housing 19 electronic powertrain labs and six plug-in hybrid powertrain labs.

A new production line has been set up to build electronic motors and controlling units, with a total capacity of 300,000 units annually.

In addition, the company has employed 420 engineers to work on new energy vehicles, developing hybrid and EV control unit software. The first application of this work will be the new WEY P8 plug-in electric hybrid.

HAVAL also released details of its i-Pilot smart driving system, being developed collaboratively by engineers from the R&D centres in North America, China and India. It has already achieved an L3 autonomous driving level.

The system is currently undergoing road testing with an expected production start date of 2020, built initially for operation on main highways in China. It will be able to autonomously handle unique conditions such as roadworks and traffic jams.

i-Pilot 2.0 is being simultaneously developed, for unmanned driving in specific urban conditions. It can be used to support new functions including car sharing remote control via mobile telephones.

In 2023, i-Pilot 3.0 will be introduced to take advantage of increased development in V2X (vehicle to vehicle and vehicle to infrastructure) technology.

The program will culminate in 2025 with i-Pilot 4.0 that will offer a full L5 autonomous driving experience. This is designed to ensure the HAVAL SUV can fully achieve autonomous driving under normal road conditions, with no driver intervention required.

HAVAL also released details of a new strategic cooperation memorandum with Baidu, the Chinese IT giant.

The two companies will carry out strategic cooperation into vehicle internet connectivity, autonomous driving, car sharing and big data to increase intelligent vehicle technology.

Ricciardo Wins F1 In Shanghai

Daniel Ricciardo won the Chinese Grand Prix after championship leader Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen collided during a thrilling race.

Ricciardo started from sixth place, taking advantage of an excellent pit stop strategy to chase his rivals, hauling in Lewis Hamilton, Valterri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel with amazing manoeuvres under brakes.

Valtteri Bottas aiming for victory after Ferrari made an error which allowed Bottas to move ahead of Vettel during their pit stop.

The race shifted when the safety car was deployed following a collision between the Toro Rosso pair of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly on the 31st lap.

Ricciardo and Verstappen diverted to the pits to strap on fresh tires which paid off for Ricciardo as he passed Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Vettel and finally Bottas for a big win.

Verstappen, who was ahead of Ricciardo, ruined his chance of victory, when he ran off road while attempting to make his way past Hamilton and then later struck Vettel.

The collision caused Vettel to finish in eighth place which allowed Hamilton to reach fourth after Verstappen received a 10-second penalty.

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso overtook Vettel for seventh place on the penultimate lap.

“I don’t seem to win boring races,” Ricciardo said after claiming victory. “That was unexpected. It was hectic. I heard the safety car call a turn 14 and they said we are going to stop. It happened very quickly, but it was a decisive, winning move.”

Mazda And Toyota Establish Joint-Venture Company

Mazda Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation have established their new joint-venture company “Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A., Inc.” (MTMUS) that will produce vehicles in Huntsville, Alabama starting in 2021.

The new plant will have the capacity to produce 150,000 units of Mazda’s crossover model that will be newly introduced to the North American market and 150,000 units of the Toyota Corolla. The facility is expected to create up to 4,000 jobs. Toyota and Mazda are investing $1.6 billion towards this project with equal funding contributions.

“We hope to make MTMUS a plant that will hold a special place in the heart of the local community for many, many years,” said Mazda’s Executive Officer Masashi Aihara, who will serve as President of MTMUS. “By combining the best of our technologies and corporate cultures, Mazda and Toyota will not only produce high-quality cars but also create a plant employees will be proud to work at and contribute to the further development of the local economy and the automotive industry. We hope that cars made at the new plant will enrich the lives of their owners and become much more than just a means of transportation.”

“The new plant, which will be Toyota’s 11th manufacturing facility in the U.S., not only represents our continuous commitment in this country, but also is a key factor in improving our competitiveness of manufacturing in the U.S.,” said Hironori Kagohashi, executive general manager of Toyota and MTMUS’s Executive Vice President. “We are committed to realizing a highly competitive plant and producing vehicles with the best quality for customers by combining Toyota and Mazda’s manufacturing expertise and leveraging the joint venture’s synergies. Based on this competitiveness, we will make every effort to becoming a best-in-town plant that will be loved by our hometown,” he added.

In collaboration with the state of Alabama and the city of Huntsville, MTMUS will soon begin land preparation for the new plant, and the full-scale construction of the plant is expected to start in 2019.

Axalta Named Official Paint Partner Of NASCAR

NASCAR and Axalta (NYSE: AXTA), announced a multi-year agreement making Axalta, once again, the “Official Paint Partner of NASCAR.”

“Our affiliation with NASCAR runs deep,” said Charles Shaver, Chairman and CEO, Axalta. “We were the Official Finish for nearly 20 years before taking some time to strategically develop our program. Today, with this new agreement, we can grow our reach and leverage partnerships throughout the sport for business development opportunities with like minded companies who need or use coatings. Motorsports represents all the things we see in ourselves; team work, high performance, a drive to be better, and winning!”

As part of the partnership, Axalta joins the NASCAR Fuel for Business Council®, bringing together an exclusive group of more than 50 Official NASCAR Partners to buy and sell products and services from one another. Axalta develops, manufactures and supplies coatings to nearly anything with wheels, along with thousands of industrial applications that exist throughout the world. Nearly anything that needs paint for protection, weatherability, durability or an enhanced appearance will have use for Axalta’s highly engineered products.“

Axalta is a category leader and we’re pleased to welcome them back to our diverse portfolio of Official Partners,” said Daryl Wolfe, Chief Sales and Partnership Officer, NASCAR and ISC. “This new agreement is largely in place due to the strong return on investment Axalta receives in the sport. This partnership will further complement that integrated approach and drive business for years to come.”

Axalta has a long tradition of excellence in NASCAR, dating back to 1992 when it sponsored a 21-year-old rookie from California, Jeff Gordon. In 2016, Axalta became the fifth Founding Partner at Daytona International Speedway’s (DIS) new motorsports stadium, receiving 32,000 square feet of branding and engagement opportunities in the Center Injector. Additionally, the brand serves as a primary sponsor with Hendrick Motorsports, a partnership that has been in place for more than a quarter century.

Axalta’s relationship with the sanctioning body dates to 1996, when it became an Official Partner, a partnership that spanned 17 years.