BMW adds EVs to new 5 Series, Ford to keep AM radio, CA wants EPA approval to ban engines
BMW’s eighth-gen 5 Series brings two new EVs
Intake: BMW has revealed the new eighth-generation 5 Series, and part of the package is the premiere of two all-electric models, each dubbed i5. There are two variants: the i5 M60 xDrive model has 590 hp and can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, with an estimated 256-mile range. The i5 eDrive 40 has 335 hp, and an estimated 295-mile range. The i5 M60 xDrive starts at $85,095 including shipping. The i5 eDrive 40 starts at $67,795. There are three other gas-powered 5 Series models: The 530i, the 530i xDrive, both four-cylinder models, and the straight-six-powered 540i xDrive. Coming to the U.S. in 2024 will be a plug-in hybrid system.
Exhaust: New features for these 2023 model year BMWs include the Highway Assistant, which allows “attentive hands-free driving at up to 85 mph.” And there’s the “World-first Active Lane Change with eye activation.” The global market launch of BMW’s new 5 Series will begin in October 2023. The new model has grown in length by 3.4 inches, in width by 1.3, and in height by 1.4. The wheelbase has been increased by nearly an inch to 117.9, a change which should improve passenger comfort, especially in the rear. —Steven Cole Smith
Aston Martin will get Honda power in new F1 deal
Intake: Honda will return to the Formula 1 grid in full strength as of 2026, when the Japanese company will supply powertrains for Aston Martin’s race cars. F1’s new engine regulations have tempted Honda back again, even though it could be argued that the firm never really left. Honda officially pulled out at the end of 2021, despite Max Verstappen winning the Drivers’ World Championship for Red Bull, and is still involved in supporting the energy drinks-driven team through 2025. From 2026, however, Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) will again offer full factory support to an F1 team. “In this project, HRC will design, develop, and manufacture the power unit and supply it to Aston. Aston will design, develop, and manufacture the chassis and other components,” said HRC President Koji Watanabe.
Exhaust: Why the U-turn? It’s all down to the more sustainable racing regulations that come into force in 2026. These rules shift the balance of F1’s hybrid setup, mandating an even 50:50 split between the power produced by the internal combustion engine (ICE) and the electric motors. The ICE unit will also be powered by 100 percent sustainable fuel. “This decision was made largely in pursuit of Honda’s goal of carbon neutrality, as the 2026 F1 regulations will demand the usage of electric power and other [sustainable sources] more than three times than the current regulations,” explains Watanabe. — Nik Berg
Ford backtracks, won’t kill AM radio
Intake: In a tweet, Ford CEO Jim Farley announced that the company will keep AM radio in all 2024 Ford and Lincoln models and restore it on two electric vehicles via a software update. Farley said the decision was made after speaking with “policy leaders” about the need for AM radio “as a part of the emergency alert system.” The company removed AM radio from the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning and planned to discontinue it on future products. “Customers can currently listen to AM radio content in a variety of ways in our vehicles—including via streaming—and we will continue to innovate to deliver even better in-vehicle entertainment and emergency notification options in the future,” he said.
Exhaust: Farley’s move comes a week after a group of bipartisan federal legislators introduced a bill to bar carmakers from eliminating AM broadcast radio on new cars and light trucks, citing safety concerns. The bill would direct NHTSA to issue regulations to mandate AM radio in new vehicles without additional charge. U.S. Senator Edward Markey, one of the sponsors of the bill, on praised Ford’s reversal. “AM radio is more than just an essential safety feature—it’s a free, accessible source for anyone to listen to music, news, sports and entertainment.” —SCS
Designed by F1 champ, new electric superbike will cost $87,000
Intake: Two-time Formula 1 champion Mika Häkkinen has partnered with Verge to create an electric luxury superbike that will be limited to just 100 units. A motor is located in the very futuristic-looking, hubless rear wheel, an arrangement that all but eliminates the drivetrain. Power is held in a 20-kWh battery that can be fast-charged in just 35 minutes and provides almost 220 miles of range. A full suite of riders aids include ABS, traction control, and customizable rider modes. Verge has a U.S. base of operations in San Francisco, California, but has yet to open a dealer location.
Exhaust: New electric motorcycles seem to be popping up from just about everywhere, and are currently targeted at well-heeled buyers. A startup with this price tag likely won’t have trouble finding buyers with a name like Häkkinen on board. Even with the bikes impressive specs, Verge may find this bike a tough to sell without a single U.S. dealer. — Kyle Smith
Mercedes-Maybach goes dark with Night Series design package
Intake: Mercedes-Maybach has announced a new design package for its high-end models called the Night Series. The Night Series package is available on the 2024 Maybach S-Class, the GLS SUV, and the EQS electric SUV. It brings dark chrome styling elements with rose gold details, as well as an extravagant new wheel design and plenty of herringbone interior accents. The cars will still wear Maybach’s distinctive two-tone paint job, with silver up top. The double-M emblem is shot-gunned all over the vehicles, from the grilles to the fancy wheels. The Night Series package will be made available later this year immediately following the debut of the 2024 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class and the EQS electric SUV. The package will be made available for the GLS SUV early next year.
Exhaust: Once a relatively quiet form of ultra-luxury, Maybach is becoming quite shouty. It’s not our cup of tea, but the Maybach folks wouldn’t release a bold package like this without some data suggesting customers will love it. — Nathan Petroelje
NHTSA proposes pedestrian crash tests
Intake: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed updates to its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) to include pedestrian crashworthiness tests, according to Automotive News. The updates would add tests to measure pedestrian protection in a vehicle collision, plus test the ability of advanced driver-assistance systems to prevent such a collision, according to NHTSA’s request for public comment issued Monday. “These proposed updates to NCAP are an important step in addressing the crisis of roadway deaths in America,” NHTSA chief counsel Ann Carlson said in a statement. “Vehicles must be designed to protect their occupants while increasing safety for those outside the vehicle, too.”
Exhaust: Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise in the U.S. in recent years, a trend blamed on worsening driving behaviors since the pandemic. Drivers struck and killed 3434 people in the first six months of 2022, the most recent data available. That amounted to an average of 19 fatalities per day. —SCS
California seeks EPA approval for ICE ban
Intake: According to an exclusive by Reuters, California is asking the Biden administration for permission to implement limits on ICE engine emissions, ending with a complete ban on gas-powered cars and trucks by 2035, “a landmark move that could speed the end of gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a letter seen by Reuters.” The California Air Resources Board, which approved the plan in August, asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to approve a waiver under the Clean Air Act to implement its new rules that set yearly rising zero emission vehicle rules starting in 2026 and would end the sales of vehicles only powered by gasoline by 2035.
Exhaust: If California gets its way, only electric and hybrid vehicles could be sold in the state starting in 2035. The Biden administration has repeatedly refused to endorse setting a date to phase out the sale of gasoline-only vehicles. In the EPA approves the request, it’s likely that other states—including Rhode Island, Washington, Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, New York, and Massachusetts—may follow suit. —SCS