Manual, 300+ hp Integra due in ’23, buy a Batmobile, new motorsports network planned
Finally, Acura builds the Integra we’d hoped for
Intake: Acura has announced a sportier version of the Integra, dubbed the Integra Type S. The Type S will feature the 300-plus-hp, high-revving 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder currently found in the new Civic Type R. A six-speed manual transmission will be the sole gearbox offering—hallelujah—and a limited-slip differential will help the mega-‘Teg claw its way out of corners. In the camouflaged prototype photos, we can see a meaty three-tip exhaust, like that on the Civic Type R. Massive wheels with thin-walled performance rubber shroud chunky braking hardware, and the bodywork sports a small rear diffuser and other aero bits to really enhance the car’s sporting presence. Acura says the new Integra Type S will join the lineup for the 2024 model year. Pricing and other details will be available closer to launch.
Exhaust: If we think of this as Acura’s take on the Honda Civic Type R, one element from the Big H contender is notably absent here: that big rear wing. While the Type S will no doubt be the cream of the crop in the Integra family, if the prototype pictures are true, it sure seems like there’s still room to get even wilder. Is the groundwork being laid for the triumphant return of America’s original Type R? We can only hope! —Nathan Petroelje
French F1 driver Patrick Tambay has passed away
Intake: Patrick Tambay, who won two Grands Prix for Ferrari during the 1980s, has died after a prolonged illness at the age of 73. After beginning his F1 career with the Hong Kong-based Theodore team and driving for McLaren for two seasons, Tambay joined the Scuderia under tragic circumstances, replacing his friend Gilles Villeneuve after his death in the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Teammate and championship leader Didier Pironi subsequently suffered a career-ending crash in practice for the German Grand Prix, so Tambay’s victory that same weekend was all the more remarkable. He dedicated the win to Villeneuve, Pironi, and Enzo Ferrari. Tambay won on Ferrari’s home turf the following year and finished fourth in the driver’s world championship standings. After Ferrari, he spent two years with Renault and a final F1 season with Team Haas. His post-racing career included a spell as a television commentator, followed by success in local politics where he served as deputy mayor of Le Cannet, near Cannes. He remained close to the Villeneuve family and was godfather to 1997 F1 Champion Jacques. Sadly, later in life, he would suffer from Parkinson’s disease—a battle he couldn’t win.
Exhaust: “We are all truly saddened by the news of the passing of Patrick Tambay,” read a Ferrari statement. “He was one of the true stars of the 80s, winning two races with the Scuderia and contributing to winning the manufacturers’ titles in 1982 and 1983.” Our condolences to the Tambay family. —Nik Berg
Wanna buy a Batmobile?
Intake: A flame-throwing Batmobile stunt car could be yours for $1.5 million. Although this example never saw any screen time, it did play a starring role in the Batman Stunt Show at the Six Flags amusement park. While the car is an exact visual replica of the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman, it may not quite have the pace to get a jump on the Joker, as it’s powered by a 48-volt electric system and has a top speed of just 30 mph. More dramatic is the flame-thrower built into the exhaust system and the sliding jet-fighter canopy. The steampunk-styled bodywork is made of fiberglass and the Batmobile rides on independent suspension with airbags. Prospective vigilantes should apply to Classic Auto Mall in Philadelphia.
Exhaust: Wannabe superheroes should be aware that, not only is this Batmobile illegal to drive on the street, it may not actually move under its own power at all. Classic Auto Mall confesses that the batteries haven’t been charged since 1993. “The batmobile is arguably the most recognizable and famous movie car ever, and the cross-generational appeal ranges from young to old,” says Hagerty Senior Information Analyst James Hewitt. “When a car like the Risky Business Porsche 928 sells for $1.98M and looks like any other 928, one can only see a $1.5M instantly-recognizable Batmobile as a wise purchase. And the opportunity is unlikely to come knocking often.” —NB
Cruise set to enter “a large number of markets”
Intake: General Motors has high hopes for Cruise, the autonomous vehicle service that will deliver both packages and people in the near future. “Autonomous vehicles will change people’s lives forever, just as the automobile itself did more than a hundred years ago,” said General Motors President Mark Reuss. Now comes word that Cruise plans to enter a “large number of markets” and scale operations up to “thousands of vehicles” in 2023, Chief Operating Officer Gil West told Reuters. Cruise has announced plans to start offering rides in Austin and Phoenix, in addition to its current base of San Francisco. West said the company plans to expand to more cities in 2023. Up to now, Cruise has operated its limited service in San Francisco with a small fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EVs, Reuters says. Cruise is also working to expand delivery services—Walmart is an investor, and is currently testing Cruise delivery at eight stores in Phoenix. Delivery has “the potential to be a big part of the business,” West said.
Exhaust: The car began testing in San Francisco in 2016 “and is a significant step in the development of self-driving technology,” GM says. It was developed in close collaboration with Cruise Automation and represents “our unique approach to building AVs from the ground up, seamlessly integrating the self-driving system into the vehicle. The Bolt EV is equipped with cameras, radar and LIDAR sensors and has an onboard computer.” Autonomous vehicles are off to a slow start—maybe GM has the right formula to “change the world,” as the company claims. —Steven Cole Smith
Electric car charging’s business model questioned
Intake: A story in the Wall Street Journal states in its headline, “Why America doesn’t have enough EV charging stations.” It goes on to say that the charging network’s build-out “has a chicken-or-egg quality: EV advocates say many drivers will only be comfortable purchasing vehicles if rapid charging is as easy as using a pump at a gas station. Yet businesses interested in offering charging say they can’t make money until more EVs are on the road.” The Inflation Reduction Act “offers expanded federal tax credits to persuade more businesses to add chargers. Budget estimators expect around $1.7 billion in tax credits for chargers or other alternative-fuel equipment to be claimed over a 10-year period. States also are set to distribute $7.5 billion over several years from last year’s infrastructure law to increase the availability of chargers.” But “tension has erupted between businesses such as gas stations, convenience stores and truck stops and utility companies over who gets to sell electricity to drivers and who foots the bill for the costly infrastructure to do so.” The story describes a fight between gas stations and truck stops that want to own and operate the chargers, against “monopoly utility companies” who want those chargers. It’ll be interesting to see who wins. The story is worth reading here.
Exhaust: There are lots of chargers in states like California, where electric cars have taken off, and in communities like Miami where they’re popular. But aside from the 16,000 chargers Tesla has set up for its vehicles, there are only 11,600 chargers in the U.S. where any electric vehicle can charge up, compared to 145,000 gas stations. Potential customers need to know there are chargers available before they are ready to pull the trigger on an electric vehicle, even if they have home charging. —SCS
New motorsports network announced
Intake: A consortium of experienced motorsport broadcast executives are planning to launch a new motorsports TV channel this spring that would “deliver over 400 live events and thousands of hours of the finest motorsports content from around the globe each year,” says the company, Obsession Media. It will partner with Speed Sport, one of the oldest continually operating racing information outlets, pioneered by the late, great Chris Economaki. Ralph Sheheen, a respected writer and broadcaster, is currently at the helm of both Speed Sport and Sprint Car & Midget. “Speed Sport 1 is television by the fans, for the fans, and Chris would’ve loved it,” he said. Also involved: Dan Teitscheid (MTV, ESPN, Disney and MAVTV), and Roger Werner, former CEO of ESPN and Outdoor Channel Holdings. Werner founded Speedvision Network in 1995 before selling it to FOX in 2001, where it became the late, lamented Speed Channel.
Exhaust: Obviously the network won’t air live NASCAR or IndyCar races, but there are plenty of other racing events going on to spread it around. Their biggest challenge may be from pay-per-view, which is gaining in popularity, especially from big events at small oval tracks like the Snowball Derby last Sunday ($49.95 to watch Derrick Thorn lay waste to the field, which included multiple NASCAR stars). —SCS