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The Autoweek Dispatch, 6/12/20: Things Are Opening up

Autoweek logo Autoweek 6/12/2020 Wes Raynal
a car parked in a parking lot: Subaru is updating its Crosstrek and NASCAR begins filling us in on scheduling details. And the rumor that Ferrari is considering racing in IndyCar won't die. © Autoweek Subaru is updating its Crosstrek and NASCAR begins filling us in on scheduling details. And the rumor that Ferrari is considering racing in IndyCar won't die.

Semi-lockdown, week four: Subaru is updating its Crosstrek and NASCAR begins filling us in on some scheduling details. And the rumor that just won’t die: Ferrari is considering racing in IndyCar. Here’s what’s happening in the car world:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“I’m pleased to report that we will be introducing the Endurance at a Lordstown Motors company meeting the week of June 22, which we will be filming and releasing to the public before the month is up. It’s not how we’d envisioned unveiling the Endurance, but in the absence of being able to gather a large crowd to see it in person, this is the next best thing.”

—Steve Burns, Lordstown Motors Co. CEO, commenting on launching the Lordstown Endurance EV pickup. The truck should be available January 2021. If Lordstown can pull off that target it should beat to market Ford, GMC-Hummer and Rivian.

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

No question it’s been a crazy few months for Aston Martin, most recently with CEO Andy Palmer getting bounced and AMG boss Tobias Moers replacing him. Moers’ hiring sparks visions of Mercedes one day owning Aston outright. Given Benz already supplies V8 engines and electrical systems to Aston it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Aston’s sales have tanked, it’s losing a ton of money and like other automakers the British company had to stop production due to COVID-19. Canadian Lawrence Stroll’s $660 million cash infusion is basically what’s keeping the company alive.

What happened to Palmer—why’d he get bounced? We made a few calls to Aston sources and the consensus seems to be that Palmer’s dizzying plans for EVs, hypercars, Zagato this and Superleggara that were stretching R&D budgets too much and spreading people too thin. The DBX crossover is probably going to sell well at least at first but is clearly late to the party.

Meanwhile under Moers AMG sales more than quadrupled from 2013 until now. Can he do the same at Aston? We’ll have the full story next week.

RACING LINES

A Ferrari source once again told Autoweek the Italian automaker is at least considering adding IndyCar to its racing portfolio, using some savings from F1’s proposed $145 million budget cap. Ferrari’s is more than twice that, and IndyCar could be a way to prevent any layoffs that might come with the cap. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto says IndyCar would be a great challenge and also an opportunity, and our source confirmed IndyCar is an option. IndyCar owner Roger Penske says he is “looking at potentially adding other manufacturers. You’ve probably heard it. There have been discussions with Ferrari.”

Here’s something we figured happened years ago, or at least should have: NASCAR announced that effective immediately it is banning the Confederate flag from its races and properties amid nationwide protesting after George Floyd was killed while in Minneapolis police custody. The move officially distances the sanctioning body from a divisive symbol tied to racism. The flag has been a common sight at racetracks across the country, but primarily in the Deep South, where NASCAR was born.

NASCAR also said it is taking a conservative approach to reopening tracks to fans. The June 21 Talladega race will allow up to 5,000 guests with limited motor home camping spots available outside the track along the backstretch. Ticketing was open on a first-come, first-served basis to fans who had previously purchased tickets or reserved camping spots for the originally scheduled April 26 event. Talladega is happening a week after the Homestead-Miami Speedway Cup race, featuring up to 1,000 military and essential workers in its grandstands. The rest of the schedule is still being worked out in terms of how many fans will be allowed in, if any.

CAR NEWS AND NOTES

Updates to Subaru’s 2021 Crosstrek include a new 2.5-liter boxer-four making 182 hp and 176 lb-ft for Sport and Limited trims. Base and Premium versions stick with the 152-hp, 145-lb-ft 2.0-liter boxer-four. All come standard with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. While you can still get Base and Premium models with a stick shift, Limited and Sport trims only offer a CVT.

More details are coming out on the now-finalized agreement Volkswagen and Ford signed last year to work on several commercial vehicles. There’s going to be a new Ford-badged EV based on VW’s Modular Electric Drive platform also underpinning a range of ID vehicles and VW gets a Ranger-based pickup out of the deal. In addition, Ford and VW will share a Ford-developed 1-ton cargo van, a new VW-developed small van and a Ranger-based, next-gen VW Amarok pickup for foreign markets.

WHAT WE’RE DRIVING

Former NCAA lacrosse ref turned Autoweek West Coast editor Mark Vaughn’s driving opportunities have taken a decidedly Italian turn lately, with both a Maserati Levante Trofeo and a Ducati Panigale V2. The Maserati uses a Ferrari-built V8 cranking out 590 hp. Exactly what a crossover needs! Of the Ducati Vauhgn says you’ll either think it’s the most beautiful motorcycle you’ve ever seen and fall in love with it at first sight, or you’ll dismiss it as underpowered and overpriced. Differing opinions are healthy!

Digital boss Andy Stoy escaped quarantine in Toyota’s 2020 Tacoma TRD Off Road—it arrived just in time for Stoy, with his family chomping at the bit to just get out of the house, to head to the top of Michigan’s thumb to pick up a 5-month-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever. The pup has since been saddled with the aspirational name Winston. Stoy reports the 2020 Tacoma is thus forever burned into his family's collective consciousness as both a symbol of post-quarantine freedom and literal puppy love.

MOSTLY ODDS, SOME ENDS

Father’s Day is June 21 (don’t forget, kids!) and we’ve assembled a terrific package to celebrate! We have a few fantastic gift guides, a gallery of both old and new cars you could buy the old man (hint hint) and a list of excellent books he might like. Get shopping!!

LISTEN UP

This week on the "Autoweek Podcast" Wes Raynal and Jake Lingeman talk about the Mazda 3 possibly getting a turbo-four and also discuss the new Batmobile for the upcoming movie The Batman, scheduled to launch Oct. 1, 2021. Then Mike Pryson and Joey Barnes hopped on to talk IndyCar’s return to racing at the Texas Motor Speedway. Barnes discusses his experience at the race and what it was like without any fans in the stands. Tune in here, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever podcasts are played.

WHAT’S AHEAD

As always we’re going to be around all weekend monitoring and reporting on all the latest that automakers and sanctioning bodies are up to, and we’ll continually update the site as things happen. You’ll know what’s new when we do. Check back often!

Thanks for reading Autoweek and please stay safe.


Gallery: Ferrari F8 Tributo on the Roads of L.A. (Autoweek)

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