Last week, we saw the product images of the Winter 2017 LEGO Speed Champions sets and today we now have the box art images courtesy of an anonymous reader. Again, we have images of five of the sets with the Mercedes Pit Stop (75880) being a store exclusive so no images of that set yet. This wave should be in stores late February/early March.
Amazon isn’t at CES in any formal capacity, but once again, it seems to be everywhere thanks to Alexa. Since opening up its voice assistant to other companies’ products, we’ve seen it put in all types of gadgets and gain some strange integrations. And at CES this week, the continuation of that is one of the biggest trends we’ve seen.
Here are the highlights:
Alexa built in
These products include a microphone and speakers, so you can talk directly to them to interact with Alexa — no Echo required.
That’s (most of) what we’ve spotted so far, but there’s likely to be more out there already and more to come. GeekWire reports that Alexa is now past 7,000 “skills” — Amazon’s name for integrations — more than doubling its total from September. In June, it had only 1,000 integrations.
Clearly, companies are interested. The question now may be: with such a wide variety of integrations and varying product qualities, can Amazon keep it all together in a way consumers continue to respect?
If you have three friends and you all need to get somewhere really quickly, perhaps the Bentley Continental Supersports is the car for you. It’s the fastest accelerating Bentley ever, and the fastest four-seat car ever built. 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 209 mph is enough to snap anyone’s head back, all thanks to a massive six-liter twin-turbo W12 engine that puts out 700 horsepower and 750 lb-ft of torque. There’s a convertible version, too, though removing the roof slows things down slightly — it can do 0-60 in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 205 mph.
The Verge got a look at the car in an alley behind a Detroit art galley, a literal breath of fresh (frigid) air from the sterile environs of the show floor. It’s outrageous but dignified, full of angles and muscle and splitters. It’s ready to pounce but still oozing with Bentley-ness. It’s everything that a Grand Tourer should be: a long-distance cruiser with the oomph to outrun anyone you’re likely to run into, while still keeping you more comfortable than should be possible at triple-digit speeds.
Bentley says deliveries of the Continental Supersports will begin this fall, with the US limited to just 250 units. Pricing was not disclosed, but the standard Continental starts around $200,000.
BMW today unveiled what it called a “glimpse into the mid-future” for the interior of its cars. It’s called the BMW i Inside Future sculpture, and it’s what BMW thinks you might be sitting in after 2020. It’s got comfy seats, a futuristic control system called HoloActive Touch, and the ability for each passenger to watch their own videos or listen to music without bothering everyone else in the car.
These concept designs are important because the way we ride in cars will be changing over the next decade. Instead of driving everywhere, new cars will be able to drive us around while we read a book, take a nap, or (for many of us, sadly) get some work done. BMW calls it a “living space for comfort-focused, permanently connected users.”
I’m not sure about all that, but it looks like something out of an ultra-modern furniture catalog. There are even books under the back seats! Sold.
If you still haven’t been able to find Fujifilm’s excellent X-T2 in stock, or if the equally wonderful (and my personal favorite) X-Pro2 is yet to persuade you of its charms, perhaps these new variants will tip you over the purchasing edge. Fujifilm is launching “Graphite” — gunmetal gray / silver, basically — models of each camera; it did the same thing with the X-T1, but this is the first time an X-Pro has been available in anything other than all black.
The graphite X-Pro2 will be available in a $1,799.95 kit with a matching 23mm f/2 weather-resistant lens and hood kit, while the X-T2 body will be sold alone for a somewhat eye-watering $2,299.95. Both are coming late January in the US.
It feels like we just got the seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf family here in America, but VW is already giving it some major updates. You’ll need a keen eye to spot those differences on the outside, but there are some big changes in the cabin and under the hood. Also, more power for our beloved GTI version.
The MK7 Golf family has been on sale in Europe since 2013, and today VW has revealed the European 2017 models; we will see most of these variants here as 2018 vehicles.
Obviously missing from the Golf engine lineup is the 2.0-liter TDI motor. What will be available is a 1.5-liter turbo in the Golf and the 2.0 liter TSI unit for the GTI. The 1.5 turbo makes 145 horsepower.
But the GTI gets some notable improvements. Power is up from 210 HP to 227 HP, and the Performance Package goes from 230 HP to 245 HP. That’s pretty excellent.
On the outside things get a little sharper as it looks the new LED lights are concentrating really hard on something.
The biggest upgrade on the new car is the fully digital “Active Info Display” instrumentation panel and its huge infotainment screen.
You will recognize the display unit as similar to the one in the current Audi A4. Active Info Display is will be available across all Golf variants as an upgrade over the traditional analog instrument panel.
The center stack unit is now a giant 9.2 inches. For the first time ever on a Volkswagen model, you can get gesture control on what VW calls the “Discover Pro” system, only available on the fully loaded models.
The upgraded infotainment units feature high-definition graphics with customizable colors and the navigation view will be available in both 2D and 3D.
As of now, we are not sure which specific features will make it stateside, as these upgrades are for European spec vehicles. Last time around, VW gave us a smaller infotainment compared to across the pond, so it’s possible some of the advanced systems and upgrades may not be available to us. But seeing as how these are key updates and the car market is increasingly tech-driven, our chances may be good.
Over the course of his candidacy, President-elect Donald Trump has scorned automakers—particularly Ford— who “send jobs elsewhere” by building plants outside of the U.S. Now that Trump will be the next president, the industry is concerned about its copious investments outside of the U.S.
Upon Trump’s election, shares for some automakers and suppliers like Fiat Chrysler, GM and Delphi—all of which have big operations in Mexico—dropped, as investors began to fear ramifications of Trump’s proposed policies that will supposedly emphasize manufacturing in the U.S. instead.
In particular, much of the concern revolves around Trump’s proposed tariff for trade between the U.S. and Mexico, a tariff which a senior economist at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association trade group said “add $5,000 to a $15,000 car,” according to The Detroit News.
So that little Cuautitlán-built Fiesta in the picture above, for example could become a $20,000 car.
Trump told the newspaper during his visit to Flint in September the rationale behind his proposed policies, saying he was unhappy with Ford, who had just announced it would shift all small-car production to Mexico. The President-elect said:
We shouldn’t allow it to happen…They’ll make their cars, they’ll employ thousands and thousands of people not from this country and they’ll sell the cars right through our border. No tax, no nothing and we’ll have nothing but more unemployment in Flint and in Michigan. It’s horrible.
But it’s not just Ford. The Center for Automotive Research says the Big Three have all invested over $25 billion in operations Mexico.
The question is: are we really going to be dropping 20 large on small cars after Trump becomes president? The paper says not necessarily, speaking with analysts who think Trump will “ease his stance on trade after taking office.”
Even if he doesn’t ease up, though, the site quotes auto analyst Efraim Levy from CFRA Research, who told investors:
Even with some potential tariff costs to automakers, we believe GM and Ford will have time to flex production and regional sales to mitigate the impact
On top of that, some strategists told the news site Trump’s plan to repeal NAFTA is going to be very difficult, and may not even be possible within his term considering how important it is for American companies, as the U.S. sells more goods to Mexico than many other countries combined according to the site.
Trump also mentioned a 45 percent tariff for cars exported from China to the U.S., a move that could not only hurt companies now building vehicles there, but could also hurt American automakers’ penetration into the Chinese emerging automotive marketplace.
So will the new administration impose a tariff? Will it be as high as Trump has proposed? Will automakers be able to “flex production” to soften the blow? How would proposed tariffs with China affect U.S automakers’ inroads in that marketplace?
Nobody knows the answers yet, and The Detroit News says that may lead automakers to follow a “wait-and-see approach” before making any further major investments.
But even if I can’t answer many of these questions, I can say the next four years are going to mean a serious reevaluation of strategy—and the status quo—among automakers.