Aftermarket diesel exhaust companies to pay $1.6M fine, Alonso to Aston F1, MG teases EV roadster

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EPA levies fines on diesel exhaust companies

Intake: Red Deer Exhaust Inc. and Thunder Diesel & Performance Company are on the hook for a $1.6 million fine and must stop selling products that bypass vehicle emissions control systems in violation of EPA regulations, following a 2018 investigation. Red Deer, based in Alberta, Canada, manufactured the parts (notably the Flo~Pro Performance Exhaust) and Thunder Diesel, in Mountain Home, Arkansas, distributed them in the U.S.  The defeat device products they sold, more than 100,000 per year, were prohibited by the Clean Air Act and caused the vehicles to emit excess pollution. “Defeat devices violate Clean Air Act emissions requirements meant to protect public health and the environment, as well as vulnerable communities that are disproportionately impacted by air pollution,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement ensures that Flo~Pro will stop the sale of all defeat devices in the U.S. and is the latest reminder that the Department of Justice will hold the aftermarket automotive parts industry accountable for violations of federal anti-pollution laws.”

Exhaust: Thunder Diesel is no longer selling the defeat devices and is no longer in the aftermarket parts business at all; otherwise, the penalty levied by the U.S. government would have been even larger. These companies aren’t alone, as the EPA has been going after parts manufacturers that sell products that defeat or bypass emissions equipment—particularly diesel pickups. As much as we love to modify cars and trucks, emissions laws have made air quality so much better. Flouting those laws makes automotive enthusiasts as a group look bad, and from a health and safety standpoint we’re all better off without excess diesel fumes in the air. —Brandan Gillogly

Aston Martin to unveil two new models at Pebble Beach

Aston Martin new badge 2022
Aston Martin

Intake: Aston Martin will reveal a brace of British sports cars at its Club 1913 on Pebble Beach Golf Links during Monterey Car Week. First, the wraps will come off a limited edition car built by Aston’s Q Division to celebrate its tenth anniversary and simultaneously celebrate Bentley’s record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It “encapsulates the brand’s winning track bloodline,” says Aston Martin. The second car will be a “new truly thrilling performance focused model which continues the high-octane emotion and intense driving pleasure defined by breath-taking new models such as the DBX707, V12 Vantage, and the uncompromising Aston Martin Valkyrie.” All will be revealed on August 19, and Aston Martin will also show the Valhalla with an updated interior design as well as the DBX707. It will also be the first major showcase for the company’s new logo and branding.

Exhaust: We don’t know what model the Q-car will be based on, but we rather suspect this will take a similar approach to the recent 007 editions, and therefore be a largely cosmetic treatment for an existing car. As for the new model, our money is on a V12 Vantage Roadster. Another good reason to visit Car Week, as if anybody needed one. —Nik Berg

Fernando Alonso to replace retiring Vettel at Aston Martin F1

Fernando Alonso of Alpine F1 portrait 2022
Marco Canoniero/LightRocket/Getty Images

Intake: Well, that didn’t take long: Aston Martin filled the seat vacated last week by the retiring Sebastian Vettel with another tousled-hair Formula 1 driver, Fernando Alonso. It’s a surprise but not a shock; Alonso has spoken previously with Canadian zillionaire Lawrence Stroll, the team owner and father of the other driver on the Aston roster, Lance Stroll.

Exhaust: The team strategy has always been about making Lance a better driver by pairing him with a veteran, and with Alonso on board Lance’s tutor goes from excellent to also excellent. Alonso just turned 41, and while this is a nice birthday present for him, it’s probably safe to say he has already figured his retirement into the Stroll package. He has 32 wins but none since 2013, and it may be unlikely he’ll get another, but like Vettel, he keeps Aston Martin’s name in the mix. Alonso’s departure from Alpine is an unexpected blow to the team, but easing the pain is the fact that Oscar Piastri waiting in the wings. With a little luck, Piastri is expected to be a star, and sliding into Alonso’s still-warm seat, if that happens, should accelerate his learning curve. —Steven Cole Smith

New MG roadster teased as it nears production

Intake: The MG Cyberster concept is edging closer to the road. When it arrives it will be the brand’s first sports car since being taken over by China’s SAIC and, understandably, the marketeers are quite excited so have titled a teaser video Return of the Legend. Unlike every previous MG roadster, this one will be all-electric albeit no less useable than its ancestors. The original concept was claimed to be able hit 62 mph in less than three seconds and yet still return a range of 500 miles on a full charge. Technical details haven’t been revealed, but the video does show a few changes to the design in readiness for production. The concept’s speedster styling has been tweaked and the car now appears to have a more conventional folding fabric roof, the wheels look smaller and the car looks to ride a bit higher as well. However, the scissor doors look to be staying and so does the yoke-style steering. There’s no confirmed launch date yet, but at this rate of progress we should expect to see it in 2023.

Exhaust: MG’s recent efforts in hatchbacks, sedans, and SUVs have been capable, if unexciting, but this shows the brand’s ambition—remember it wasn’t long ago that Kia and Hyundai were in the same boat, and now look at them. This may not convince the die-hard Teslarati to cancel their deposits for the much-delayed Roadster, but the MG’s adventurous styling and promised performance might just fit the bill for anyone else who fancies some open-air Euro EV fun. —NB

Toyota Gazoo Racing posts 2023 GR Cup season schedule

2022 GR86 Test Carolina Motorsports Park GR Cup

Intake: Yesterday, Toyota Gazoo Racing North America (TGRNA) unveiled its 2023 GR Cup schedule—a 14-race romp though the United States most iconic road courses (and one street course). International sports car racing sanctioning body SRO will oversee the seven dates, which will feature two races per weekend. The single-make series comprised completely of GR86 race cars, will open its inaugural season in March at Sonoma Raceway and end in October at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October. If you’re a road racing diehard, you’ll find this schedule familiar; GR Cup will run as a support series to SRO’s Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS. Should you decide to attend, you’ll be treated to a bevy of SRO action, which includes its three other GT and TC undercards. TGRNA also announced the purses for the 2023 season. The group will award the top-eight finishers, up to $12,000 for the race winner, and 50,000 big ones for the season champion.

Exhaust: Toyota GR and SRO were smart to include GR Cup in SRO race weekends. There, the captive audience—who most-likely showed up to watch the wide-bodied sports cars in the GT World Challenge series—will be in attendance for the Toyota spec series. The run class will perform in front of an especially packed house when they invade Nashville for IndyCar’s Music City GP weekend. Should the series feature a decent car count, look for GR Cup to make waves early on. Spec Miata racing, especially at large tracks, always brings good spectators, what with bump drafting and frequent passing among a swarm of four-cylinder fury. We will see in March, at Sonoma. — Cameron Neveu

Mazda gets dirty with CX-50 Meridian Edition

Intake: Mazda has unveiled a more trail-ready version of its new CX-50 crossover, dubbed the Meridian Edition. The Meridian Edition slots just above the $38,425 CX-50 2.5 Turbo, ringing the register for $41,225. Opt for the package, and you’ll get 18-inch black alloy wheels and narrower 225 section-width Falken all-terrain tires, a new headlight garnish, a matte-black hood graphic, black wheel locks and lug nuts, and side rocker panels for added off-road protection. Spring for the Meridian-exclusive Apex Package ($1235) on top of that, and you’ll score roof-mounted black crossbars, a roof platform for mounting extra adventure gear, and front and rear splash guards. Mazda’s Polymetal Gray or Zircon Sand are the only paint choices here, and the only interior shade offered on the Meridian Edition is the new Terracotta leather with black interior accents. All Meridian Edition CX-50s will utilize Mazda’s 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, good for 256 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque on 93 octane gas or 227 hp and 310 lb-ft on regular 87 octane fuel. Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel drive is also standard here, as is the familiar six-speed automatic.

If the prospect of a sturdy roof rack is enticing but you don’t need that burlier rubber, the Meridian Choice package ($1899 dealer-installed) will offer those crossbars, roof platform, rocker protection, splash guards, black lug nuts, and the matte black hood graphic for whichever CX-50 trim level you choose. All trim levels of the Mazda CX-50 will jump $750 out the door, meaning the cheapest way into the svelte new crossover is now $28,825 including destination for the CX-50 2.5 S.

Exhaust: Our first-look review of this new ute showed that Mazda is off to a great start courting a more rugged, more practically minded buyer than before. (Those interested in optimal handling and a fuss-free interior can still get the delightful CX-5.) The Meridian Package will seek to build on that momentum, offering an even more trail-ready machine that looks fantastic to boot. The competition have all begun spinning up tire and graphics combos for their mid-sizers (hello, Honda Passport TrailSport), so why shouldn’t the CX-50 take advantage? Expect this to be a very popular package that we imagine will help pad Mazda’s margins. — Nathan Petroelje

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