Car News

Stuff We Missed: Porsche’s LeMans Return, Ferrari CEO Resigns, Hyundai Buys Into Boston Dynamics

The final month of the year has been occupied by work, video games and sleep. As a result, we missed out some interesting business-ey news that we’re going to catch up on in our latest news series:

Porsche’s working on a new LeMans winner

Endurance racing has various categories of racecars, hence the difference between overall victory and class victory. For many years now, LeMans has been won by the LMP1 (prototype) category of car with domination from the likes of Audi, Porsche and now Toyota. Porsche pulled out of the top class in 2017 but the upcoming rule changes in WEC and North America’s IMSA series will create a new top class called LMDh (hybrid prototypes). These cars are to weigh around 1,000kg and have a power output of 680hp. Porsche Motorsport has now got the green light from the company’s Executive Board to begin work on its LMDh contender. 

Wondering why Porsche is keen to get back into the expensive business of racing at the top? Well, the new LMDh category focuses on high cost-efficiency. The cars are based on an upgraded LMP2 chassis, and the spec for the hybrid system including the control electronics is standardised. Chassis from four different manufacturers are available. Each brand is free to select the concept for the combustion engine and the body design within the framework of the regulations. 

We’re looking forward to seeing which other carmakers (likely German) will join the LMDh series and we’ve got plenty of time till then.

Ferrari To Be Under New Management

Louis Camilleri

The Italian outfit was being run by Louis Camilleri since the passing of long time CEO Sergio Marchionne in 2018. Now, the chief executive has resigned from his post citing personal reasons. He has also stepped down from his position as chairman of Phillip Morris which is a major sponsor for Ferrari. Reports stated that Camilleri was also recovering from COVID-19 prior to his announcement. Until a successor is named, the luxury brand has Chairman John Elkann at the helm.

John Elkann

It’s been a good couple of years for Ferrari, before the pandemic of course. The brand launched a slew of products since then such as the F8 Tributo, Roma and SF90 Stradale and that’s without counting the convertible versions of the F8, SF90 or the 812. Ferrari is expected to join the SUV market soon and the company’s new leader will have to get that right, as well as help its Formula 1 team recover from an embarrassing 2020 season.

Hyundai Acquires Majority Control In Boston Dynamics

For those unfamiliar with the name Boston Dynamics, it is one of the world’s leaders in robotics technologies. Boston Dynamics is currently valued at USD 1.1 billion and Hyundai Motor Group has now acquired an 80% stake in it.

They are the ones who sometimes go viral online with videos which showcase humanoid or animal-based robots that tackle the surprisingly complex task of walking on uneven surfaces. The companies most recent internet phenomenon was the Spot the robodog which is a highly intelligent machine that can walk like a dog, traverse uneven surfaces and most importantly: it can get up by itself if it falls over.

The acquisition is said to mark a step forward for the Korean carmaker towards smart mobility solutions. This deal is expected to allow Hyundai Motor Group and Boston Dynamics to leverage each other’s respective strengths such as manufacturing, logistics, automatic and construction. On top of that, Hyundai plans to expand its presence into the humanoid robot market with an aim to develop bots for sophisticated services such as caregiving for hospital patients. This deal is still pending certain approvals and such but it should be completed by June 2021. We expect prototypes and pre-production concepts of self-driving Hyundai cars by 2022.

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