$290K Grand Wagoneer restomod, $4M Michigan dyno for EVs, Honda’s electric moto onslaught

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Stellantis | Jeep

Alabama shop will EV-swap your Grand Wagoneer for $290K

Intake: The Ghost Garage, a new company made up of engineering specialists from Osirius Group, is now taking orders for its first project, an EV-converted Jeep Grand Wagoneer SJ. Tim Smith, co-founder of The Ghost Garage said, “A new generation of buyers are entering the classic vehicle market and looking for a blend of tradition and technology. The Ghost Garage was conceived to break through the hobby-shop approach to restomods by offering the levels of quality and efficiency associated with luxury automotive brands.” Using 1989-1991 Jeep Grand Wagoneer donors, Ghost Garage will convert the pushrod V-8 powertrain to battery-electric propulsion and update the interior and chassis, promising a more luxurious experience and a 250-mile range. Orders are open now, with the first deliveries set for the summer of 2023. MSRP will start at $29o,000. “The Ghost Garage was created to enable world-class quality restomod vehicles to be accessible to a much wider audience,” added Smith. “We want restomod vehicles to be a credible, reliable, and desirable alternative to a mainstream production vehicle.”

Exhaust: The Wagoneer has become a highly collectible 4×4 and its desirability makes it a great choice for a company hoping to secure deep-pocketed customers. That said, customers willing to spend that kind of money on a restomod might already have a preferred builder in mind, and Ghost Garage doesn’t have a reputation in the high-end custom market. The first few models to roll out of Ghost Garage will tell the tale, and we’ll have to wait and see until next summer whether the shop—and its product—can deliver. —Brandan Gillogly

Rail strike averted as tentative agreement reached

Intake: With the deadline to avoid a freight railroad strike set for Friday morning, the Labor Department says a tentative agreement has been reached between the railroads and union workers. The unions weren’t allowed to strike before Friday under the federal law that governs railroad contract talks. According to the Association of American Railroads, the new contracts provide rail workers a 24 percent wage increase during the five-year period from 2020 through 2024, including an immediate payout on average of $11,000 upon ratification. U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh tweeted news of the tentative agreement, “following more than 20 consecutive hours of negotiations.”

Exhaust: That sigh of relief you just heard came from … everybody. Most Americans are already struggling with the lasting financial effects of the 2020–21 COVID-19 shutdown and the current 8.3 percent inflation rate. Shutting down the railroad for any length of time would have been disastrous to the supply chain and, in turn, the economy. Cheers to getting it done. —Jeff Peek

Honda’s new, sixth-gen CR-V starts above $30K

2023 Honda CR-V Sport off-road hybrid
Honda

Intake: The best-selling Honda in the U.S. is getting an overhaul for 2023, but you’ll pay more for CR-V’s handsome sheetmetal and tastefully modern interior. There are four trims instead of eight: All you have to remember is EX, Sport, EX-L, and Sport Touring, and make a note whether you want front wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The EX and EX-L are the combustion-only models, their turbocharged, 1.5-liter, 23/34 mpg four-pots carrying over from 2022. The former starts at $32,335, destination included, bringing the CR-V entry point above $30K for the first time. 

Sport and Sport Touring are the two hybrid options, each with 247 lb-ft of torque instead of the outgoing hybrid’s 232. (No change in horsepower.) The most fuel-efficient of the lot is the front-drive Sport, for $33,695, which earns an EPA rating of 43 mpg highway, 36 city, and 40 combined. That’s improved on all counts from the 2022 hybrid model: 40/35/38. Even better, the cheapest hybrid CR-V only costs $1900 more than its 2022 relative. If you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of efficiency for rugged looks and AWD, Honda would like to present the Sport Touring, available only with four driven wheels. It’s the range-topping model, starting just below $40K with destination.  

Exhaust: However uncommon it was for customers to spec a 2022-or-older CR-V under $30K, as of 2023 Honda is giving up ground to the slew of competitors that start below 30 large: Toyota’s RAV4, VW’s Tiguan, Mazda’s CX-5 and CX-50, the Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. Will the CR-V deliver on this slightly-more-premium image? —Grace Houghton

MAHLE wants $4M Michigan dyno to streamline EV development

mahle electric ev vehicle dyno plymouth michigan 2022
MAHLE Powertrain | Picasa

Intake: MAHLE Powertrain is dropping $4 million on a new powertrain dynamometer facility in Plymouth, Michigan, “aimed at accelerating vehicle development as manufacturers continue the shift towards electrified vehicles.” The sophisticated dyno is capable of supporting full powertrain development, from the testing and calibration of individual drive components to the complete driveline systems of complex four-wheel-drive vehicles. MAHLE claims the new facility is unique in North America in handling the demands of even the highest performance light- and heavy-duty hybrid and electric vehicles. It will enable Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) technology assessments, U.S. and European emissions testing capability, and drivability development testing all on the same testbed. It should be operational in the third quarter of 2022.

Exhaust: So what does this mean? “Crucially, this means we are able to conduct a significant amount of development and validation work without requiring a large number of prototype vehicles to be built by the manufacturer,” said Hugh Blaxill, managing director for MAHLE Powertrain. “By enabling the early assessment of various powertrain layouts and allowing testing to be conducted before a completed chassis is available, the new facility will help manufacturers to significantly shorten the overall development cycle,” MAHLE said. Love it or not, just one more important step towards our electrified future. —Steven Cole Smith

Vintage motorsports gathering Velocity Invitational welcomes McLaren, DirtFish

Intake: Velocity Invitational is fast approaching. Soon, the rolling foothills of Salinas, California will be alive with the sounds of race cars and the paddock at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will be packed full of top-tier vintage metal. In addition to the typical gamut of mouth-watering old school rides, this year’s gathering will feature two special—and drastically different—collections of featured vehicles. First, McLaren Racing promises to bring the 1996 McLaren F1 GT12R that competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and an impressive fleet of Formula 1 cars, including Ayrton Senna’s 1990 Championship winning car and Alain Prost’s MP4/2B-3. Joining the Mighty Mac, Seattle-based DirtFish Rally School will bring six of the most historic rally racers, from the face-melting Group B Lancia Rally 037 to the world-dominating Peugeot 206 WRC. For more info on the event, visit VelocityInvitational.com. See you there October 14-16.

Exhaust: Velocity Invitational is quickly becoming a destination for those who enjoy vintage motorsports. Organizers will look to build on the success of last year’s inaugural gathering (gallery below) with what appears to be increased car count. And participation from McLaren and DirtFish will only bolster the upper crust affair. Not often do you have the opportunity to watch dominant Formula 1 cars of days past and Group B buzz bombs at the same track. We can only hope that the off-roaders will dip their tires into the runoff sand at Laguna Seca. Zanardi line, anyone? —Cameron Neveu

Honda lays out plan to bring EV motorcycles to the world

Honda

Intake: Battery-electric vehicles are all the talk right now, and many companies are working hard to ramp up production of many different types of machines. Honda’s motorcycle division is no different and has just announced its global plan to launch “10 or more” EV models by 2025. The plan starts with small machines like electric bicycles and mopeds which suit the Asian markets before progressing to larger bikes, likely to allow Honda to capitalize on lessons learned from the smaller offerings. The U.S. won’t see anything targeted at it until 2024–25, when Honda rolls out that second category, since those larger machines better suit our uses and roadways.

Exhaust: Honda is the largest producer of motorcycles in the world by a huge margin, and this big push comes relatively late compared to the likes of conservative Harley Davidson, which brought the Livewire out in 2019. Honda’s plan is level-headed and appears to have reasonable milestones, especially for a brand of its size. We have no doubt these models will appear and are anxious to see how they integrate into an ever-changing market.—Kyle Smith

Honda
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