The Price Is Right

2020 Audi SQ8 will set you back at least $89,000 and give you access to 500 hp, animated headlights

The 2020 Audi SQ8 is not the automaker's top expression of SUV sport refinement (that's the RS Q8), but its darn close. The two-row SUV capitalizes on the technology and engaging drive the SUV offered in the Q8 model, and gives it the power boost the model was so desperately needing.

If you find yourself needing a new SQ8, you'll want to be prepared for the high price tag. It starts at $89,000 and has a top-tier model starting price of $94,500. Those prices exclude a $995 delivery fee that applies to all SQ8s.

The SUV is powered by a robust 4.0-liter V8 that generates up to 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard. Torque-vectoring all-wheel drive is offered as part of the Sport Package.

The exterior and interior of the model feature S model design elements include badging and blacked out trim. The model has Audi's signature Singleframe grille as well as frameless doors. There are pronounced wheel arches and an inclined C-pillars. At the back are a diffuser and quad exhaust outlets.

The SQ8 comes standard with LED headlights, LED taillights, and dynamic turn signals. Buyers can upgrade to HD Matrix-design LED headlights with full LED taillights. When equipped with the available HD-Matrix design headlights, fast-moving light animations play in the headlights and taillights when the vehicle is locked and unlocked.

Audi has equipped the model with standard 21-inch 10-V-spoke S-design wheels with all-seasonn tires.

It's available with a Sport Package, which ups the ante with active roll stabilization, an all-wheel drive sport differential, and red brake calipers.

Opting for the Black-Optic Package gives the car 22-inch Audi Sport 5-V-spoke anthracite wheels with all season tires, and black exterior accents that complement the mirror caps, roof rails and Singleframe grille.

The long list of standard features includes: two touch screens in the center stack (a 10.1-inch and an 8.4-inch) to control comfort and convenience features; perforated, heated and ventilated Valcona leather S sport seats with diamond stitching; Aluminum Spectrum interior trim; quad-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hot spot; wireless Apple CarPlay; wireless Android Auto; internet music streaming; a panoramic sunroof; wireless charging; a Bang & Olufsen Premium 3D audio system; .and 12.3-inch driver information display.

A 19-speaker sound system and head up display are available.

It's a five-seater that has available leather, massaging front seats functions; heated rear seats; additional interior leather color options including black, Rotor Gray and Arras Red; and the added choice of Gray Oak high-gloss wood or Carbon Vector interior trim.

The SQ8 has standard seating for five passengers. The rear seats feature 40/20/40 spit functionality.

Audi has equipped the model with the latest standard and available technology including adaptive cruise control, Audi pre sense, an overhead camera with 360-degree view and pedestrian and cyclist detection, cross traffic alert with braking, turn warning with assist, traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring, rear crash alert and assist, and safe exit warning.

The 2020 Audi SQ will arrive at dealerships this spring.

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NXP Semiconductors has two chip plants in Texas that were effected by Winter Storm Uri.

Photo courtesy of NXP Semiconductors N.V.

The effects of Winter Storm Uri are still being felt across Texas and it's impacting the auto industry. Reporting by Reuters tells that chipmakers, like Samsung Electronics, are still weeks away from resuming normal operations in Texas.

Traditionally, this sort of production slowdown wouldn't much impact the industry. There would typically be enough dealership and inventory and automaker back stock to make up for many, if not all of the shortages for a short period of time. However, COVID-19 has put a strain on the chipmaking industry and is already slowing production, limiting sales, and hurting automaker bottom lines.

There's also been increased demand for semiconductor chips as sales of laptops, gaming consoles, and other entertainment and exercise equipment soared as coronavirus-related lockdowns changed lifestyles globally.

Ford and General Motors have both said that their 2021 sales and profits will be hit hard by the shortage. Additional analysis by Reuters says that Toyota has enough inventory to last four months while Hyundai and Kia, which share common ownership, purchased a stockpile of chips when production was going full steam in late December and are thus far unaffected.

Samsung and NXP Semiconductors shut their factories in Texas last month when Winter Storm Uri took hold. Like Lone Star State households, Texas businesses lost access to electricity, natural gas, and water.

Samsung's logic chip plant is located in Austin. It began operating 2017 and makes chips using Samsung's 14-nanometer, 28-nm and 32-nm chip production technologies. The facility is Samsung's biggest logic chip production facility outside of South Korea, where the company is headquartered. The company also has a NAND flash chip facility in Austin.

NXP's plants are also in Austin where the company has its corporate headquarters. While there are nine other NXP offices in the U.S., there are no other manufacturing sites.

Edward Latson, CEO of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, told Reuters that chipmakers now have the power, water and gas they need to operate, but they need time to restart tools and clean the factories. He characterized the process as being slow and "very expensive".

The one month of lost production is most likely to hit automakers hardest five months down the road, in the third quarter.

Many analysts had been predicting an uptick in new vehicle sales for 2021 after car sales rallied in the fourth quarter of 2020. However, these chip shortages are deeply impacting those sales predictions.

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The Volvo C40 Recharge is a couple-like version of the XC40.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

Earlier this week, Volvo announced that it is going all-in on electric vehicles by 2030. Now it's showing off its latest model, a take on the XC40 Recharge - the 2022 Volvo C40 Recharge.

Taking a note from the Audi playbook, the C40 Recharge is a sloped roof version of the XC40 Recharge. It has sleeker design than its predecessor even though they both ride on the same platform. The face of the model shows off a new design path for Volvo and has headlights with state-of-the-art pixel technology, something also on the Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Volvo has given the car an electric powertrain that consists of two electric motors, one on the front axle and one at the back, which are powered by a 78-kilowatt-hour battery that can be charged to 80 percent in 40 minutes. It has an expected range of 260 miles.

2022 Volvo C40 Recharge

Photo courtesy of Volvo Car USA

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The C40 Recharge offers a high seating position and is available in a large range of color ways. It is the first Volvo model to be completely leather-free. Volvo has given the model its infotainment system, which runs on Android technology. Apps such as Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store are built in. The tech allows for over-the-air updates.

Volvo will only sell the C40 Recharge online and it will come with a care package.

"The C40 Recharge represents the future of Volvo and shows where we are going," said Henrik Green, chief technology officer. "It is fully electric, offered online only with a convenient care package and will be available for quick delivery. Getting a new Volvo was never this attractive."

The XC40 was Volvo's first all-electric car. Volvo promises additional electric models are on their way in the coming years. The automaker predicts that by 2025, 50 percent of its global sales volume will consist of fully electric cars. The rest will be hybrids. To achieve this, Volvo is expected to lean heavily on the Asian and European markets where EVs are more popular with buyers due to government regulation.

The C40 Recharge will go in production this fall and will be built alongside the XC40 Recharge at the Volvo Cars manufacturing plant in Ghent, Belgium.

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