Le Mans Garage 56 drivers named, iPhone’s false alarms, Ford cuts Mach-E prices

Hendrick Motorsports

Drivers named for GM’s Garage 56 Le Mans entry

Intake: A press conference that was part of the Rolex 24 at Daytona weekend addressed the all-star driver lineup for the Chevrolet Camaro that GM, NASCAR, and Hendrick Motorsports are entering in the 100th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This entirely reworked NASCAR Cup Camaro will run in a class called Garage 56, a slot Le Mans organizers use to enter an exhibition vehicle demonstrating unfamiliar technology. The drivers will be NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson, veteran road racer Mike Rockenfeller, and former Formula 1 champion Jensen Button. Johnson was not a huge surprise, because he has wanted to compete at Le Mans for years, and Rockenfeller has been doing most of the testing of the Camaro, but 2009 F1 champ Button was a shocker. “As a lifelong racing fan, I have always dreamed of racing certain cars, with and against certain drivers and competing in certain events,” Button said. “In June, a number of those dreams will come true.” The trio will be testing the car at Daytona International Speedway tomorrow and Wednesday.

Exhaust: Not since the wacky DeltaWing debuted at Le Mans in 2012 will a Garage 56 entry get this level of attention. — Steven Cole Smith

Renault to electrify classic 4, 5, and Twingo

Intake: It’s not enough that Renault is launching new electric cars wearing the iconic R4 and R5 badges; the French firm is now offering kits to transform its classics to battery power. Unveiled at the Rétromobile showcase in Paris is a retrofit system for the Renault 4, 5 (Le Car), and the first-generation Twingo, which costs €11,900 ($12,950) including installation and replaces the internal-combustion engine with a 48-kW brushless synchronous motor and a 10.7-kWh battery pack. The original transmission is kept, so the classic experience of rowing your own gears is maintained. Developed and fitted by partner company R-FIT, the conversion’s drawback is range. You’ll likely only get 50 miles from a full charge and the kit isn’t compatible with rapid charging systems, so juicing up an empty battery would take over three hours.

“We are overjoyed about launching these electric retrofit kits that will enable people who love their classic cars and young people to drive in France in our iconic Renault 4, Renault 5, and Twingo, powered by electricity,” said Hugues Portron, director of The Originals Renault collection. “In addition to the circular economy created by these new electric engine fits, the electric retrofit kits offer a solution that combines the pleasure of driving with savings and reliability without taking anything away from the style and the original designs of these well-loved timeless classics.”

Exhaust: Only last week, Toyota showed a pair of zero-emission AE86 coupes converted to run on hydrogen or battery power. The plus side of OEMs getting in on the trend for electrifying older models is that the OEM conversions should, at least, come with some factory assurances. The Renault kits are supplied with a two-year warranty and have passed safety tests, providing peace of mind to owners contemplating making the switch. — Nik Berg

U.K. exhaust company takes aim at “modern classics”

Intake: Some of our “modern classics” are getting a bit long in the tooth when it comes to their exhaust systems, which likely need replacing. Rather than go straight OEM, allow us to present Milltek Sport, which has developed bespoke new OEM+ systems for the latest crop of classic performance heroes, including the Audi TT, Honda Integra Type R, Mini Cooper S, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (VII/VIII), Volkswagen Golf R32, and Audi RS4 (B5/B7). “These cars are now passing their twentieth birthday and will soon be considered as classics in their own right. A Milltek Sport Classic system offers the perfect balance of OEM+ design, superior quality and enhanced performance and sound,” said Steve Pound, managing director of Milltek. The company says that while some customers choose larger bore, race-inspired exhaust systems, many customers choose an upgraded item that emulates the original factory design.

Exhaust: We’ve seen Milltek products and have been impressed by their style and quality. — SCS 

Nissan all-wheel-drive system could be an industry leader

Nissan Ariya front three quarter driving action

Intake: “When cruising along at 40 mph on a sheet of super-slick ice, it pays to have an ultra-responsive vehicle stability system that won’t skate you right off the road,” is how Automotive News introduces its Japanese test of the new e-40rce system Nissan will be using on its all-electric Ariya. E-4orce “combines all computations in one electronic control unit for faster reaction and more precise power adjustment.” It then channels the signal to two sets of electric motors—one for the front axle, the other for the rear. The setup allows for a wide band of power splitting, delivering up to 100 percent to the front axle and up to 100 percent to the rear. The system then blends that power distribution with independent braking control on the right and left sides. On an icy frozen lake bed, “An e-4orce-equipped Ariya sprung quickly off the start with zero slippage, braked with ease in an unwavering beeline, and proved nearly impossible to fishtail on an icy skid pad.”

Exhaust: Nissan’s e-4orce is just one of such systems being offered on this next generation of electric vehicles. The new crop of stability-control systems should definitely be on a buyer’s radar. — SCS

More false alarms from iPhone 14 Crash Detection system

Apple crash detection

Intake: According to 9to5mac.com, the iPhone 14’s Crash Detection system, designed to inform authorities if the owner has been involved in a serious car crash, has caused the fire department of the Kita-Alps, Nagano, in Japan to report 134 false calls between December 16 and January 23, “mainly” from the iPhone 14 Crash Detection system incorrectly triggering as the phones’ owners go down the ski slopes. The site quotes Apple, describing what the Crash Detection system responds to—sudden speed shifts, abrupt changes in direction, cabin pressure changes, and loud sound levels—and the sensors it uses: “A new high g-force accelerometer senses extreme accelerations or decelerations up to 256 gs […] A high dynamic range gyroscope monitors drastic changes in a car’s orientation […] The barometer can detect pressure changes caused by deploying airbags […] While you’re driving, the microphone identifies the extreme sound levels of a collision.” This array is causing false triggers when users are riding on roller coasters, and when they’re skiing and snowboarding, says the New York Post.

Exhaust: Crash Detection is a feature on all iPhone 14 models, as well as the Apple Watch Series 8, second-gen Apple Watch SE, and Apple Watch Ultra. Apple is reportedly working on the problem. — SCS

Alfa wants a big vehicle for the U.S.

Alfa Romeo Tonale side rear
Alfa Romeo

Intake: Alfa Romeo is working on a new large “E-segment” fully-electric vehicle to expand in the U.S., CEO Jean-Philippe Imparato said. “We will have to be in the E-segment in North America,” Imparato told Automotive News on the sidelines of the launch of the Tonale compact crossover in Japan. “We are working on that.” The brand’s U.S. lineup tops out with a D-segment entry in the Giulia sedan.

Exhaust: Alfa definitely needs more inventory if it wants to make a serious play for the U.S. The Italian brand has pledged to go all-electric by 2027. — SCS 

Read next Up next: Pro racer Josh Pierson began driving at age 2


    The Camaro could be a big deal in the future. This car could help bring about an affordable coupe class that could race at Lemans. Daytona in the 500 and 24, Sebring, Bathurst and more.

    We already have these cars on two continents. and more could be added. Other brands could be brought in too. Imagine a world line up at the 500 in Daytona? The best American and Australian drivers in Europe.

    With the ever increasing cost of racing these cars could really be a benefit and fill out fields if the economy keeps crashing.

    Daytona 24 had a good field this year but if you are a true fan you know these fields ebb and flow in the GTP cars. I was there and witnessed the Crash of IMSA after the MFGs pulled out in the early 90’s.

    As for the Mach E it is old news today. Like a I phone X no one wants old tech. Is this how EV models will go? Could be.

    As for the Mini. I have a friend now dealing with a converter issue. The car is affordable but the converter took a crap and with the Core charge it is $4,000. His exhaust is holding up but the Converter is the problem. Cheaper universals will not work more than a few days and set another code.

    As for my Pontiac it is stainless from the manifolds to the tail pipe tips and clamps. No problems in near 40 years and I still get asked if my V6 is a V8.

    No matter what car you have do yourself a favor and only replace with a new stainless exhaust. I see too many people take of perfectly good stainless for mild steel that rust out in 4 years.

    Poor Alfa. Their reliability issues here have been a big problem and are scaring people from buying their vehicles. I don’t think Alfa will ever do well here in the USA.

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