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