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The Friday Five:The Lego Lambo, Hot-to-Touch Ford, and Old Nissans Are New Again Edition

Beverly Braga | May 29, 2020

This past week, we’ve covered new-model previews of the Acura TLX and BMW 5 Series as well as some additions to existing lineups of the Ford Edge and Mini Cooper. Oh, and Tesla lowered its prices…for now.

But that’s not everything that was happening in the automotive space. 

Lamborghini Hybrid Gets the Lego Treatment

The Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 is a hybrid supercar that boasts a V-12 engine and a top speed exceeding 220 mph. And soon, the sports car will be offered at a price available to everyone. The catch? The dream machine will be a 1:8 scale model.

Lego Lamborghini Sian

Lego Technic is the building block toymaker’s line dedicated to recreating complex machines that mimic real-life functions, like gears and axles. Challenging but sometimes pricey, its automotive models include everything from a cherry picker to a Porsche 911 RSR. The latest addition will be the Lamborghini.

Sporting a lime green exterior color and gold wheels, just like one of the real vehicle’s color combinations, the Lego Technic version features scissor-style doors, an 8-speed gearbox, and paddle shifters—all functional. Other true-to-life details include the V-12 engine, rear spoiler, front and rear suspension, and steering wheel with Lamborghini badging. Another unique detail is a replica Lamborghini overnight bag with individual serial number located in the front trunk.

When completed, the vehicle will measure 5 inches tall, 23 inches long, and 9 inches wide. Recommended for ages 18 and older, the Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 model has the highest piece count of any Lego Technic car (3,696) and also the highest price ($379.99). Online sales begin June 1 with in-store availability starting August 1.

Car Thefts Increase During Coronavirus Crisis

Before you dedicate a few hours to work on your newest Lego set, you’d better check on your actual car first. With many Americans limiting travel only for necessities such as groceries and medication, clever thieves have been taking advantage of those idle vehicles. 

A report from the Associated Press notes a year-over-year 63% increase in stolen vehicles in New York City between January 1 and mid-May. Los Angeles experienced almost a 17% increase over the same period. But the rise in vehicle larcenies are not limited to the coasts. Austin, Texas, reported a 50% increase in auto thefts in April compared to last year. 

And while street-parked autos are more likely to be targeted, driveways and even garages are not immune. There are multiple reports nationwide of vehicles being stolen and returned before the owner was aware of the theft. So, perhaps a daily check-in with your car isn’t a terrible thing to add to the lockdown to-do list.

Ford Creates Self-Sanitizing Software for Patrol Vehicles

If you happen to be said car thief and are caught, the good news is the patrol vehicle you’re sitting in could be coronavirus-free due to new technology from Ford. The company has designed new software that can temporarily increase a vehicle’s interior temperature to more than 133 degrees Fahrenheit. After 15 minutes of the excessive heat exposure, viral concentration can be reduced by more than 99% on interior surfaces. 

Ford worked with Ohio State University’s microbiology department to determine the temperature and time span. It conducted software trials on vehicles owned by several law enforcement agencies, including the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Michigan State Police, and Massachusetts State Police. 

The enhanced software technology is available for all 2013-19 model-year Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, purpose-built patrol units based on the Ford Explorer.

Santa Fe Plug-In and Hybrid Models Heading to Europe; Is U.S. Next?

This week, Hyundai released teaser images of the 2021 Santa Fe, which is the brand’s midsize 5-passenger SUV. In association, Hyundai confirmed it is planning upcoming hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Santa Fe. The catch? They’re for Europe. 

Not only would the electrified powertrains be a first for European models but the Santa Fe itself will be the first Hyundai model to use the automaker’s new third-generation global platform. Hyundai completely redesigned the Santa Fe for the 2019 model year, so moving the SUV to a new platform would be highly unusual, but not unprecedented. 

Reportedly, the new Santa Fe goes on sale in the U.S. later this year. While Hyundai Motor America would not comment on the PHEV and hybrid, thanks to a global platform, the vehicles could easily make their way stateside if the market conditions are right. Especially since Hyundai’s production timeline includes offering 44 global electrified models by 2025.

Nissan Announces Global Cost Cutting as Company Teases New Models

When the fiscal year ended on March 31, Nissan reported an annual operational loss—its first in 11 years. On Thursday, the automaker presented a four-year restructuring strategy aimed at achieving an operating profit margin of 5% and a global market share of 6% by the end of fiscal year 2023. Part of that plan includes cuts to the model lineup, production capacity, and other cost savings.

Nissan is going to downsize its lineup 20% from 69 models to 55. Manufacturing plants in Spain and Indonesia are set to close while North American plants will see more consolidation around core models. To further reduce costs, the automaker will share more resources with alliance partners Mitsubishi and Renault. The goal is to cut $2.8 billion from fixed costs.

At the same time, the automaker confirmed plans to introduce 12 new models in the next 18 months and released a preview video showing the vehicles. Included in the teaser are redesigned versions of the Frontier and Z, which have not been significantly redesigned in more than a decade. Other featured vehicles relevant to the U.S. market include refreshed versions of the Armada and Kicks, and redesigned versions of the Pathfinder, Rogue, and Rogue Sport

The Nissan Ariya, an all-electric concept SUV that was unveiled last year, also made the cut for production and is rumored to be the next-generation Murano. Interestingly, Nissan pushed back its target date of one million electrified vehicles on the road from 2022 to 2023.

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