Alfa’s first hybrid arrives, Right to Repair bill lands in House, $1.8M V-12 hypercar sells out

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Alfa Romeo

Meet the first hybrid Alfa Romeo, an SUV with an NFT

Intake: Alfa Romeo has become the first car company to provide an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) to add value to a new car. In the case of the 2023 Tonale compact SUV, the NFT isn’t a piece of digital art but a record of the car’s history that’s stored in the blockchain to keep it secure from hackers. Alfa hopes that this move, combined with improved customer service, extended warranties, and a certified used-car scheme, will improve the brand’s residual values as it attempts to move upmarket.

As for the Tonale itself, the new model retains much of the look of the concept car which debuted at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, which is no bad thing. Its silhouette may be relatively generic but there are some nice touches that pay homage to more traditional Alfas. The body surfacing is inspired by the Duetto Spider, while the distinctive triple-headlamps were previously seen on the Il Mostro SZ and the Brera, and the classic “telephone dial” alloy wheels, have been further developed in 19- and 20-inch sizes. Inside, Alfa is making a big push forward with a fully digital instrument panel and 10.25-inch center touchscreen. The car’s Android OS is preloaded with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and you can specify a Harman Kardon sound system. Among the different display options is a set of digitally rendered analog dials that have been lifted from a GT or GT Junior. Level 2 autonomy will also be offered where market laws allow it.

The Tonale is the first electrified Alfa and in the U.S.A. will be available with a 275-hp plug-in hybrid powertrain. The combustion side is taken care of with a tiny 1.3-liter Multi-Air turbo engine that sends 180 hp to the front wheels via a six-speed torque-converter automatic. The rear wheels, meanwhile, are driven by a 90-kW electric motor powered by a 15.5-kWh battery pack. Alfa claims that it should run for around 40 miles on electricity alone. A two-liter turbo motor with 256 hp that utilizes a mechanical all-wheel drive system and a nine-speed auto will be the first model to arrive in America before 2022 is over.

Exhaust: There’s much to unpack here. First you have the brand’s NFT-driven move to secure future values, which will be rolled out across the rest of the range. Next there’s the electrification of Alfa Romeo, and the Tonale marks just the beginning. Alfa will go on to launch its first full battery-electric vehicle in 2025, and by 2027 it will cease production of ICE cars altogether. 

Improved Racing adds a thermostat to a transmission’s cooling system

improved racing transmission cooler
Improved Racing

Intake: Plenty of ink’s been spilled over the need to get engine oil up to temperature before driving in cold weather, but what about your transmission fluid? Improved Racing sees a market in ensuring owners of General Motor’s six-, eight-, and ten-speed automatic transmissions ability get to the right temperature quicker, aiding in the gearbox’s smoothness and long-term durability. Available in 140- or 160-degree thermostats with asking prices ranging from $199.00 to $234.80, Improved Racing claims the adapter is a “bolt-in” installation to the factory’s transmission cooling system. Even better, this part is made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty, as it can be rebuilt with a kit or buyers can “send it back to us for a rebuild.”

Exhaust: Automatic transmissions often misbehave in cooler weather, something folks will notice if a standalone cooler (i.e. not integrated with the engine’s radiator) is used along with performance upgrades like a shift kit and a looser stall torque convertor. But modern transmissions have modern problems that computers can’t necessarily fix, so bypassing the transmission’s cooling radiator(s) is taking a page from what engines have been doing since the 1930s. Considering the complexity and cost involved in repairing a modern, transmission, this kit is a welcome addition for the enthusiast or long-term vehicle owner.

High Tide trim ushers in new color for Jeep Wrangler

Jeep

Intake: Jeep is celebrating its Jeep Beach 2022 event in Daytona Beach, Florida, with a limited run of 500 Beach Edition Wranglers that are based on the High Tide package that’s new for 2022. The High Tide package starts with the 3.6-liter V-6-powered Sport S trim but adds a 1.5-inch suspension lift to fit 35-inch tires, with 4.56 gearing to match. It also includes a body-color hardtop, rock rails, LED headlights and fog lamps, Gorilla Glass windshield, sand/slush mats, and Mopar’s hinge-gate reinforcement and tire relocator for the spare and wheel flare extensions for proper tire coverage. The first 500 High Tide models will include Beach hood decals in lieu of the High Tide graphics and will be available in the new high-impact color, High Velocity yellow. High Velocity is a $395 option on all Wrangler trims and replaces Hella Yella which was available from 2018 to 2021 model years.

Exhaust: The JL Wrangler has the rare quality of looking good in just about any color and this vibrant yellow is yet another hue that looks great on the boxy brute. Mopar keeps providing enthusiasts with so many ways to option interesting vehicles, the High Tide is just one more way to get loads of off-road ground clearance and sand-centric specifications in one package. 

Right to Repair bill lands in House

Car mechanic using computer in auto repair shop
Getty Images

Intake: Following spats between manufacturers and Right to Repair advocates in individual states, mechanics and DIYers may have cause to rejoice: Their cause is gaining momentum at the federal level. Roughly six months ago, President Biden signed an executive order encouraging the Federal Trade Commission to take action on “unfair anticompetitive restrictions” that limit third-party- or self-repair of vehicles.  Only three days later, the FTC voted unanimously in agreement. Now, U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a senior member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced H.R. 6570, the Right to Equitable and Professional Auto Industry Repair (REPAIR) Act. The bill aims to provide individual owners and independent shops access to vehicle data previously restricted to dealerships and original manufacturers. The bill will build on existing legislation while holding OEMs accountable to share diagnostic data and calling upon the NHTSA to develop guidelines for accessing such information securely.

Exhaust: “Free and fair competition is a core value in the United States,” says Daniel Ingber, vice president of government and legal affairs for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). “Protecting a consumer’s personal choice when purchasing, servicing, repairing, or modifying a motor vehicle is what the REPAIR Act will deliver. As technology continues to reshape the automotive landscape for vehicle safety, convenience, and comfort, Congress needs to enact this important legislation.”

Gordon Murray’s T.33 is a sell-out

Gordon Murray T.33 hypercar front three-quarter
Gordon Murray Automotive/Mark Fagelson

Intake: Gordon Murray Automotive has already sold all 100 examples of its “baby” T.33. The younger sibling to the crazy fan-equipped T.50 attracted deposits for the entire production run within a week of the order books opening. Powered by a lightly detuned version of the normally aspirated Cosworth V-12 developed for the T.50, the T.33 still musters 606 hp. The design is even cleaner than the T.50 with little in the way of obvious aero aids visible, while the interior is a conventional two-seater layout, allowing for left- or right-hand drive, and there’s a paddle-shift transmission offered as an alternative to the standard H-gate manual. The $1.8M (plus tax) price tag was clearly no barrier to the 100 fans who will have to wait until 2024 for the first deliveries.

Exhaust: Well, that didn’t take long, did it? As GMA banks almost $200M of orders in a single week it shows that there’s still an appetite for the analog at the very top end of food chain. Mr Murray, we salute you.

Ram wants your input on the electric 1500

Intake: Though its electric half-ton offering, due in 2024, will arrive rather late to the party, Ram is determined to use that time to its advantage. Today the brand is launching RamRevolution.com, an online hub for information about its upcoming battery-powered pickup that allows you to submit your name and email address to join a list of “insiders” whose input Ram may solicit during development. For a bit of icing on the cake, we also get our first official teaser image of the forthcoming 1500 BEV. 

Exhaust: Electric trucks represent anathema to some, and even though Ram’s “hub” isn’t likely to convert those die-hards, the brand’s willingness to receive input may well attract those who’d like to be convinced of a BEV’s kudos. Who knows—perhaps Ford and Chevrolet will soften the hearts of consumers by the time that Ram arrives in 2024. 

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