Can Your Rooftop Cargo Box Withstand Porsche-Like Speeds, Track Use?

Can Your Rooftop Cargo Box Withstand Porsche-Like Speeds, Track Use?

Created in collaboration with Porsche Design, a newly developed performance roof box from Porsche Tequipment is now available for customers to purchase at Porsche dealers. How can a roof box find itself categorized as “high performance?” Well, it is tested at speeds up to 200 kph, or approximately 125 mph, meaning it has a high-speed designation that should be perfect for dry lakebed runs, autobahn blasts, or flagrantly illegal speeding here in America.

Based on the “form follows function” design principle, the curvy roof box features a Porsche logo at the rear, two side blades, and has customizable options. The side blades are available in high gloss black and three additional popular colors from the Porsche model range, including Dolomite Silver Metallic. Moreover, customers can order the roof box primed or finished in a matching Porsche paint color.

Though digital is king when it comes to design, the Porsche development team relied on physical prototypes to test in a controlled wind tunnel. These prototypes helped designers evaluate whether the roof box could achieve the desired effect in three dimensions, which allowed them to optimize the design.

Porsche developed the performance roof box by subjecting it through a comprehensive trial and test program using the Taycan Cross Turismo, with other models to follow later. The program included endurance testing at the Porsche Development Center in Weissach, Germany, and aerodynamics and noise level tests through a wind tunnel.

Maximum speed and controllability (for the vehicle the box is mounted to) were the main focus of development, and so mounted on the Taycan Gran Turismo, the roof box underwent testing for thousands of kilometers on several tracks. The roof box also had to prove its ability to withstand challenging conditions on rough roads.

The innovative roof box opens from both sides for easy loading, offers convenient installation by way of a quick-fastening system, and has a maximum load of up to 75 kg (165 pounds). It includes three securing straps, a protective cover with the Porsche logo, two sets of gloves, and a Porsche Crest sticker. With a 400-liter capacity, action sports enthusiasts can fit at least three snowboards or five pairs of skis.

Designed for customers who wanted to carry extra luggage at higher speeds, Porsche emphasized simple handling and a high degree of everyday usability—as is typical of Porsche products.

Musk boosts his brand on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Billionaire Elon Musk dropped a surprise early in his hotly anticipated turn as host of “Saturday Night Live,” saying in his monologue that he “is the first person with Asperger’s” to host the show, before clowning through skits for the first global livestream of the NBCUniversal comedy show.

Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc. and one of the world’s richest individuals, opened his monologue by telling an audience in more than 100 countries he is “the first person with Asperger’s to host SNL. At least the first to admit it.” The billionaire made light of his tendency to speak in a monotone, adding “I’m pretty good at running human in emulation mode.”

Asperger’s syndrome is a condition on the autism spectrum that is associated with difficulty in social interaction, and sometimes is referred to as high functioning autism.

Comedian and Saturday Night Live alumni Dan Aykroyd has spoken in interviews about being diagnosed with a mild form of Asperger’s. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 2003.

Many had wondered how Musk would handle himself during a live comedy show. The answer was that he, and the show’s writers, sought to soften the rough edges of Musk’s public persona. Throughout the show, Musk gently poked fun at himself, including his penchant for provocative tweets and the time he smoked a joint on a podcast.’s

“To anyone I’ve offended I just want to say, I reinvented electric cars and I’m sending people to Mars on a rocket ship. Did you think I would be a chill, normal dude?”

Musk’s mother, Maye, joined him on stage and the two made a joke about Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency Musk has touted. Cryptocurrency jokes popped up throughout the show. In one sketch, Musk was cast as a bow-tie wearing cryptocurrency expert on the show’s Weekend Update segment. 

Musk was most convincing playing a version of himself as head of SpaceX dealing with an emergency on a Martian colony. The crisis had a happy ending, until it didn’t.

In the end, Musk will keep his day jobs. Still, the “Saturday Night Live” appearance offered plenty of synergies with his real gigs as “technoking” and the head of Tesla, rocket launch company SpaceX and tunnel development firm the Boring Co.

Musk got days of attention across all forms of media ahead of the show, and shared the spotlight with a prototype of Tesla’s futuristic Cybertruck that Tesla brought to Manhattan on Friday. Video of the hulking, angular pickup prowling Manhattan streets blew up on social media.

During the show, a Tesla supercharger made an incongruous cameo appearance in a skit set in an old West saloon. Musk played a gunslinger who had developed an electric horse, and advocated tunneling through the earth to escape a shootout.

Musk often boasts that Tesla doesn’t spend billions on advertising the way established automakers do. He doesn’t have to so long as he has access to platforms like Twitter or “Saturday Night Live.”

Musk’s appearance also boosted NBCUniversal. The media company used Musk’s global celebrity — and the controversy surrounding his appearance on a stage normally reserved for film stars or professional comedians — to get attention for launching the “Saturday Night Live” franchise beyond the confines of broadcast television. The company said Saturday’s show was streamed live via Alphabet Inc’s YouTube to more than 100 countries.

Changing Your ’80s or ’90s Ride’s Oil This Weekend? Motul Has Rad Options

Changing Your ’80s or ’90s Ride’s Oil This Weekend? Motul Has Rad Options

Unless you’ve been cut off from the internet or spent the previous few years under a large rock, you’re probably aware that ’80s and ’90s-vintage cars are red-hot. These rad-era rides were on the posters on recently minted adults’ walls when they were kids, and those recently minted adults now have the cash to go out and buy the Toyota Supras, Ferrari 355s, and old Mercedes-Benzes they grew up worshipping. The nostalgia can run thick for those who manage to snag their dream ride —perhaps thicker than oil. So it seems fitting that the oil they put in their engines drips with the same hazy nostalgia, right?

Enter Motul’s new line of classic engine oils, which are geared toward cars of a certain age (and beyond). While not limited to “emerging collector car markets”, such as those covering the 1980s and 1990s alone, Motul’s classic oils are decade-themed for specific engine types and various technological developments over the years.

For example, the Modern Classic Eighties 10W-40 blend caters to the decade’s forced-induction engine, while the Modern Classic Nineties 10W-30 is formulated for “the demands of high-revving engines with more modern valvetrains.”

Motul has blends for the 1970s, too, made for engines with flat tappet cams, and a 20W-50 oil for those same cams, as well as high-lift cams from hot rods and muscle cars of the 1950s and 1960s. Got something even older? Good for you. Motul also has that covered by way of its pre-1950-spec SAE 30 and 50 straight-weight oils that work with gasoline and diesel engines. Such backward-facing oils are becoming more of a thing lately—Porsche even sells its own line of classic oils for older 911 models.

You can check out Motul’s full lineup of oils at its website, but we’ll end on perhaps our favorite part about the brand’s era-specific offerings: The cans. Motul has developed an array of sweet retro designs and photographed each can next to period vehicles. So, you may not yet have that classic car that starred in a poster on your childhood bedroom wall, but now you can make a poster starring those same cars and some cans of oil. Or, you know, just buy a few cans of this stuff and show ’em off in your garage, on a shelf, or wherever, because—in our eyes—they’re that cool.

Despite setbacks, Volkswagen Group brands are ready to robo

Volkswagen Group’s ambitions in highly automated and autonomous vehicles have been cooled by setbacks.

Those included premium subsidiary Audi abandoning plans to turn on Level 3 conditional autonomy in the A8 flagship sedan and the group’s inability to create a standard for the technology together with partners.

In addition, rivals such as Tesla, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are pressing ahead with much greater speed than Europe’s largest automaker.

Honda said in March that in Japan, it will sell a limited batch of its flagship Legend sedan equipped with Sensing Elite Level 3 autonomous driving technology that enables vehicles to navigate congested highways.

When Traffic Jam Pilot is activated in the system, a driver can watch movies or use the navigation on the screen, helping to mitigate fatigue and stress when driving in heavy traffic, Honda said in a statement.

Mercedes hopes to follow Honda sometime in the second half of 2021 with an eyes-off Level 3 system in the S-Class flagship sedan. In addition, sources say Mercedes is likely to eventually include the solution in the full-electric EQS.

Meanwhile, BMW is expected to offer a similar system in its iX electric crossover, although it has backed away from including it when the vehicle launches in November.

To avoid being left behind, VW Group invested in self-driving startup Argo AI together with Ford Motor Co. last year.

Today, the group is following a two-track approach for the technology: Audi will concentrate on solutions for private vehicles with VW Group’s vehicle software unit, Cariad, and VW brand’s light commercial vehicles business will develop a derivative of the ID Buzz electric van for robotaxi fleets. The self-driving Buzz will utilize the technology developed by Argo AI.

Here is a breakdown of where the group’s brands stand in their automated driving efforts.

When it launched in 2017, the fourth-generation A8 luxury sedan was touted to be the world’s first car that would have Level 3 capabilities, promising a Traffic Jam Pilot that could assume full control of the vehicle under certain conditions on the highway. That didn’t happen because of regulatory and legal concerns. Audi has since avoided announcing any ambitious timetable for a technology it once hoped to lead.

Last year, Audi introduced its Project Artemis strategy to focus on new technologies for electric and highly automated driving. Under that initiative, VW plans to build its own software stack for vehicles starting in 2024.

The first Artemis car — code-named Landjet — will be assembled at a factory in Hanover, Germany, before the technology is scaled up two years later with a more affordable VW-branded electric car out of Wolfsburg, Germany.

When the Artemis initiative was launched last May, Audi indicated the car would feature advanced technologies, including an undefined level of highly automated driving, when it debuted in 2024.

Audi CEO Markus Duesmann says the vehicle will offer an operating system with the software foundation required for such an intelligent vehicle, but he stopped short of promising to bring the capability in the Landjet — at least when it first launches.

“We use new technologies responsibly. This means that we will only roll out fully automated driving functions when they are sufficiently tested and safe,” he told reporters at the automaker’s annual results conference in March.

The light commercial vehicles team plans to begin field-testing the Argo AI self-driving system on public streets in Munich this year.

In 2022, the ID Buzz will go into series production in Hanover. At that point, VW will start testing “closed user groups,” likely with help from VW Group’s mobility service provider, Moia.

“This will intensify in 2023,” VW Group Digital Car & Services board member Christian Senger told reporters in March.

Development of the robotaxi service is part of the group’s five-year investment of €27 billion ($32.4 billion) in digital applications that include automated and autonomous driving. The group has doubled its planned expenditure in software to cut into Tesla’s lead.

To take advantage of the potential offered by autonomous driving, VW’s vans business has bundled its mobility-as-a-service passenger operation and its transport-as-a-service cargo operation into a new unit with about 100 employees, excluding people who perform development work for the division.

Eventually, the unit will report financial figures; it is expected to make a material contribution to revenue and earnings in the midterm.

“In the beginning, however, there will be considerable investment costs,” VW Commercial Vehicles CEO Carsten Intra said in March.

The core VW brand said it aims to democratize automated driving functions for private car owners. This should begin with the Trinity, a technological flagship to be built in Wolfsburg and launched in 2026.

The car will be designed with Level 4 full autonomous driving in mind because of its neural network that is capable of learning. (This is reminiscent of Tesla, which is already working on a supercomputer called Dojo designed to train neural networks.)

But with development of the Trinity only just beginning and the legal framework in most jurisdictions still quite vague, VW is only going so far as to promise Level 2 Plus autonomy. This is essentially a hands-off system that should mimic highly automated driving, with the distinction that liability is not transferred to the manufacturer from the driver.

The luxury brand is mulling when and how it might offer a Level 3 system.

Despite an affluent customer group that could easily afford the technology, the sports car maker can take a wait-and-see approach because people who buy its vehicles like to do the driving themselves.

Nevertheless, development chief Michael Steiner said it would be sensible to consider features such as Traffic Jam Pilot to take over in stop-and-go traffic, when there is no driving experience to preserve.

Another option is to offer automated valet parking, in which a driver exits a vehicle at the entrance of a parking garage and the vehicle steers itself into a space.

“It’s not priority No. 1, but we do want to be a fast follower and plan to offer such a system once the conditions are financially reasonable,” Steiner told Automotive News Europe.

He declined to provide a year when the solution would debut or hint at the model that would get it. “We want to convince people with our products,” Steiner said, “not our announcements.”

The Genesis G70 Wagon Will Shooting Brake Your Heart

The Genesis G70 Wagon Will Shooting Brake Your Heart

This week, Genesis—the fairly-newly-minted luxury brand from Hyundai—announced it will start selling their wares in Europe starting this summer, and today their social media accounts teased the camouflaged derriere of a wagon version of the G70 sport sedan.

Naturally, we have no hope of getting this car in North America, because SUVs are where the money is. “We have lots of exciting new products coming to the US this year, including the GV70 SUV, new G70, and more,” said a Genesis representative, increasing our adrenaline flow before shattering our dreams with: “I can definitely confirm that the G70 shooting brake will not be coming to the US at this time.”

Not that we really have reason to be surprised or upset, because although thousands of MotorTrend readers and car enthusiasts love station wagons, the great unwashed car-buying masses don’t. Crossovers and SUVs are where the market and the money are. (Silly rabbit, wagons are for Europeans!)

Still, when you consider that the G70 is (or, at least until 2022, was) offered with a manual transmission… and Genesis is most likely offering not just a G70 wagon, but a stick-shift G70 wagon to foreigners across the Atlantic, well, it’s like lemon juice on an open scab. Heck, we only have to wait 25 years to import one of these long-roof G70s, right? 2046 isn’t that far away…

Regardless, we have to admire Genesis for making a G70 wagon, even if it is only for foreign shores: It shows an admirable commitment to giving the European market what it wants. (Parent company Hyundai already makes the I30 premium hatchback there, which is a pretty darn decent Golf clone.) Also, kudos to Genesis for marching into Europe so soon. It wasn’t until 2008 that Infiniti went to Europe, ten years after the brand’s inception, and after failing spectacularly, it pulled the plug last year. Let’s hope Genesis does better—maybe the wagon will help. And maybe, just maybe, it someday will make it to our shores.

Carvana makes reconditioning gains

Carvana has been dogged by production woes since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic but showed signs of improvement in that area — turning around vehicles for sale — in the first quarter as it reported higher revenue and a narrower net loss.

Production for the online used-vehicle retailer means getting used cars and trucks sale-ready: receiving, inspecting and reconditioning them.

Carvana added staff to its reconditioning facilities during the first quarter and improved weekly average vehicle production by 26 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2020. The improvement has continued — Carvana’s weekly production rate was 51 percent higher in April and early May than in last year’s fourth quarter.

But the retailer’s average available inventory for sale was down 27 percent in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter.

Carvana has struggled with low inventory — and keeping pace with consumer demand — for nearly a year. The company stopped acquiring vehicles in March 2020 early in the coronavirus pandemic and saw sales fall off sharply in April before starting to recover later that month. By the end of that quarter, Carvana’s inventory had fallen to its lowest level in almost two years.

The company is still “just trying to catch up,” CEO Ernie Garcia said in a conference call with analysts and investors last week after Carvana reported earnings.

Carvana is now scaling its production capacity to meet the booming demand. It opened its 12th inspection and reconditioning center, near Birmingham, Ala., during the first quarter of 2021, giving the retailer annual production capacity of more than 680,000 vehicles. It plans to open one more such facility this year, and eight more in 2022. That would bring its capacity to 1.25 million vehicles annually by the end of next year.

While the used-vehicle market has seen “some impacts” from the microchip shortage that is constraining new-vehicle production, Garcia said, he does not see it as a primary driver of how business in the used market will play out during the next six to 12 months.

With its production capacity plans, Carvana remains focused on the long term and its goal of ultimately selling 2 million cars or more a year. Carvana retailed 92,457 vehicles in the first quarter, a 76 percent gain from a year earlier.

“Those are big investments in our future that are kind of being made with a much longer lens than the current chip shortages that we’re seeing today,” Garcia said.

Ultimately, Garcia is aiming for Carvana to become the industry’s “largest, most-profitable automotive retailer.”

It still has a long way to go.

The online seller has yet to turn a profit though its losses are shrinking. It reported a net loss of $82 million in the first quarter, better than its loss of $184 million in the first quarter of 2020.

But the company is growing fast and expanding per-vehicle profitability. In the first quarter, revenue doubled to $2.25 billion, and gross profit per vehicle rose 38 percent to $3,656.

Online competition is increasing, both from other online upstarts and traditional retailers getting more heavily into e-commerce — especially during the pandemic. But that’s to be expected, Garcia said, pointing to Carvana’s own rapid growth since its inception eight years ago.

He also noted that the used-vehicle market is large, with about 40 million vehicles typically sold annually. And it’s very fragmented, with the largest retailer, CarMax, commanding just 2 percent of the market.

There are still tens of thousands of competitors in the market, he added.

“But those tens of thousands of players are … providing customers with a very similar experience to one another,” Garcia said. “And when you start to look at kind of differentiated experiences, there are very, very few players that really have the capacity to make the investments in time, energy and money that are necessary to build an e-commerce platform, and we’re way ahead there.”