Toyota patents EV “pseudo-clutch,” DeLorean’s Italian job, print your own Maverick cupholders

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manifold toyota pseudo clutch lead
Toyota

Toyota patents a “pseudo clutch” … and that’s an apt name

Intake: The path toward electrification is very much in progress, and for enthusiast that so far means further lamenting the loss of user-controlled manual transmissions. Toyota’s latest patent filing is an attempt to retain the driver engagement of the manual transmission but without much mechanical complexity beyond a third pedal and shifter. The core of the design is a computer which would change the torque output or characteristics of the electric motor based on the drivers “gear selection.”

Exhaust: We hate to rain on this well-meaning parade, but the flat torque curve of an electric motor does not require the changing of gears to optimize the motor’s output at a given speed, so cynics will rightly judge this system as not much more than pandering to enthusiasts. If Toyota deserves any small kudos, it’s for calling this system what it is: Fake. This is only a patent, so it doesn’t exist yet, and with any luck it will stay that way.

toyota ev manual patent pseudo clutch transmission
United States Patent and Trademark Office | Toyota

Finally, the front-engined Aston Martins are getting touchscreens

Aston Martin Vantage mule spy shot front three-quarter
A seriously mean-looking Vantage prototype was spotted on the Nürburgring in August of 2021. Will Aston’s smallest offering gain a V-12? We can only hope. CarPix

Intake: Shapely though they may be, few have called the front-engined sports car lineup from Aston Martin—consisting of the raucous Vantage, the sleek DB11, and the godfather DBS—high-tech. Speaking with Autocar, Aston chairman Lawrence Stroll indicates that is about to change. Stroll confirms that the madeover cars will get touchscreens to replace an aging Mercedes-Benz-sourced trackpad system. Elsewhere, the trio of engine-first cars will get updated suspension, uprated versions of Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8, and possibly new gearboxes. “You’ll be very impressed with the all-new front-engines next year,” Stroll tells Autocar. “There’s no similarity at all to the current cars.”

Exhaust: While the powertrain news is certainly noteworthy, we’re most excited to see these new interiors, which are currently a major pitfall of the three front-engined models. Under the technical partnership with Mercedes, Aston was granted the ability to utilize the Mercedes-Benz infotainment system, but only after the tech had already been in a Silver Star vehicle for three years. Stroll puts it best: “How can you have an Aston Martin that sells for £150,000 with three-year-old technology? It is a silly thing the previous management agreed to.”

2022 will see DeLorean get back to the future with Italian flair

Intake: ItalDesign and Delorean Motor Company have put a 2022 date on their retro-inspired collaboration. For those keeping track of DeLorean’s two-pronged return, this project is inspired by the original stainless-steel wedge but distinct from the planned (and repeatedly delayed) run of “new” DMC-12s that will be produced under the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Act (LVMVA). In a video taglined “The future was never promised,” we see a silhouette of those famous gullwing doors in action. Perhaps more importantly, the social media posts that accompany the video use the hashtag #ElectricVehicle, which all but confirms that the new ItalDesign-DeLorean project will be battery-powered. Here’s what James Espey, vice president of DeLorean Motor Company, told us in January of 2021: “Those [LVMVA] regulations stipulate that a vehicle must resemble a vehicle made at least 25 years ago,” says Espey. “I would not expect a Italdesign project to fall under that criteria, should one be produced in any way—whether strictly a concept vehicle, or one with some plan for production.”

Exhaust: We’re not entirely sure what’s in this for ItalDesign, or how closely the final concept will adhere to the original Back to the Future icon beyond those top-hinged doors. If recent history has told us anything, though, what’s old is new again—whether that’s live-action remakes of animated Disney classics or the return of the Ford Bronco. We can’t wait to see what ItalDesign and DeLorean have concocted. 

Would you go double Dutch on a pair of Lotus concept cars?

Intake: A duo of one-off Lotus concept cars has surfaced at a dealer in the Netherlands. Metropole Classics in Druten is selling the M200 speedster and Etna show cars for €125,000 ($142,000) apiece. Of the pair it’s the Etna which is most significant as it set out great ambitions for the British sports car brand when it was revealed at the 1984 Birmingham International Motor Show. Designed by Giugiaro, the lower half of the car resembled the Esprit, but the plexiglass canopy was unique. So, too was the promised V-8 engine, active suspension, anti-lock braking system, and traction control. Although the show car wasn’t equipped with any of the fancy technology, it did have an operational prototype four-liter V-8, and, after being sold to a private owner, the car was made operational.

The M200 made its debut at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show and was a first chance for Julian Thompson to show his ideas for Lotus design direction. Working with the M100 Elan production car, Thompson turned the controversial front-wheel-drive Lotus into a chopped speedster with individual cockpit openings for driver and passenger, fixed headlights and a massive rear wing. It, too functions, with the original Isuzu four-cylinder motor transversely-mounted under the hood.

Exhaust: This is an incredibly rare opportunity to buy a piece of Lotus’ past future. Most significant is the Etna’s in-house quad-cam V-8, made from two of the company’s 907 heads fitted to a new V-8 block. While the Etna itself died when GM took over Lotus after Colin Chapman’s death, the V-8 gave the Esprit a new lease of life.

Ford publishes the CAD files you need to 3D-print Maverick accessories

Intake: Thanks to recently published CAD files for the Maverick’s center console and under-seat storage area, Ford both allows and encourages owners to make accessories to help the trucklet address specific needs that the factory can’t possibly satisfy. Called the Ford Integrated Tether System (FITS), a series of slots in the Maverick’s rear passenger compartment accommodate the 3D-printed add-ons of your choice. For those without the printer, knowledge, or time, Ford also offers a package of five pre-made items in its accessories catalog, including a cup holder, phone cord organizer, bag hooks, storage bin, and dividers for the under-seat storage area. The asking price is $50, with an extra $10 for dealer installation if you’re really that busy.

Exhaust: Open sourcing has been a big deal in software for years, be it Android mobile or Ford’s very own EEC-IV fuel-injection system from the 1980s. It’s great to see the Maverick taking the concept to the next level, ensuring everyone can participate in Maker Culture. But if you aren’t inclined to do it yourself, this traditional option from Ford accessories still has you covered.

 

Price on all Ford F-150 trims increases by at least $1500

Ford 2021 F-150
Ford

Intake: A leaked dealer memo has revealed that starting February 15, the MSRP on all Ford F-150s will increase by at least $1500. The mid-year price hike affected many Ford models, but F-150 went up the most. The biggest price increase in the Ford lineup is the F-150 Raptor, which saw a $3300 increase. This is in addition to a price hike that came at the end of December that had all but the base F-150 XL add $880 to the window sticker.

Exhaust: The ongoing chip shortages and global inflation have led to high dealer markups and an increase in used car prices. It was inevitable that the actual MSRPs would rise as well. Hopefully, domestic semiconductor manufacturing can soon be online to help avoid production bottlenecks in the future.

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