New Model News

South Carolina-built 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 to be the first Alpina SUV sold in the U.S.

A high-performance version fo the BMW X7 is on its way to the U.S.

Photo courtesy of BMW

Alpina has introduced its first SUV for the U.S. market, a superlunary take on the BMW X7. The 2021 BMW Alpina XB7 is slated to be built in South Carolina at the BMW plant alongside the X7.

The SUV has been given the full Alpina treatment from the ground up.

Performance

Photo courtesy of BMW

Powering the model is a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that makes it one of the most powerful SUVs in the world. Alpina's engineering team has upped its power from the 523 horsepower it makes in the X7 to 612 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. Two additional water coolers, an enlarged transmission oil cooler, and a low-temperature cooling system have been installed.

The engine is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission from ZF, which has ensured that it is capable of handling the extra prowess of the vehicle. The steering wheel features Alpina Switch-Tronic wheel-mounted shift buttons.

The XB7 can get from zero to 60 mph in 4 seconds, down half a second from the X7's time. BMW has electronically limited the speedometer to 180 mph.

Drivers get the option of putting the car in Sport, Sport+, Comfort, and Comfort+ modes as well as Normal.

Photo courtesy of BMW

At the rear is a new, stainless-steel Alpina sport exhaust system. It has active exhaust system flaps to deliver a more restrained sound when the driver has chosen the Comfort drive mode. The sound is more clearly pronounced in Sport mode.

The SUV has standard all-wheel drive with an electronically-variable active limited slip differential on the rear axle that works in conjunction with the Alpina two-axle air suspension. This allows the vehicle to be raised 1.6 inches or lowered up to the same amount depending on the drive mode and terrain.

There's also an Alpina dome-bulkhead strut and reinforced torsion struts to make the SUV's body more rigid.

The SUV rides on standard 21-inch wheels and 285/45R21 front and rear tires. Twenty-three-inch wheels are available with 325/3 ZR23 front and rear tires. There are four-piston fixed Brembo brake calipers

Interior Elegance

Photo courtesy of BMW

The list of features and luxury-level appointments is extensive: Merino leather seats, soft-close doors, heated seats, Alcantara Headliner, multicontour seats, a leather instrument panel, three-part panoramic glass sunroof, and LED interior roof lighting.

The SUV also features luxurious touches that have become highlights of Alpina design. There's a crystal glass iDrive Controller that is laser-etched with the Alpina logo, blue illuminated gear selector switch, Alpina production plaque, illuminated Alpina door sills, and an Alpina sport steering wheel hand-finished in Lavalina leather and featuring trademark blue/green stitching. Buyers can choose between Alpina Myrtle wood, piano lacquer, or natural walnut anthracite trim.

As in the X7, there are three rows of seating in the XB7, accommodating up to seven participants. Second-row captain's chairs feature integrated armrests.

For easy storage maneuvering, the SUV can be lowered up to two inches just by pushing a button in the luggage compartment.

Technology

Photo courtesy of BMW

Between the front row seats is a 12.3-inch touch screen display and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display sits in front of the driver.

Each model comes standard with the Driving Assistance Professional Package, which includes blind spot detection, lane departure warning, rear collision warning, frontal collision warning, pedestrian warning with city collision mitigation, rear cross traffic alert, speed limit information, and active cruise control with stop and go. It also has driving assistance tech that is designed to lessen driver weariness.

The SUVs all come with the Parking Assistant Professional package as well, which uses ultrasonic technology to choose a parking spot and then park the model relatively hands free.

The XB7 will go on sale this autumn. Pricing will be announced closer to the model's on-sale date.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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