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Coronavirus (almost) killed a northern Russia episode of 'The Grand Tour'

A man on a snowy street in Yakutsk, Siberia, 450 km south of the Arctic Circle, in the former Soviet Union, December 11, 1965.

Photo by Pictorial Parade/Archive Photos/Getty Images

The team of Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond were set to head off on their next grand adventure in mid-March. A new interview between Clarkson and "The Grand Tour" executive editor Andy Wilman pulls back the curtain on that next act, which was cancelled because of COVID-19.

Ahead of any shoot for an episode of "The Grand Tour" the show's production company, Expectation Entertainment, expends hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing. That includes expenditures for finding the shooting, driving, and lodging locations; shipping cars to the location; and paying fixers among other things.

During the chat session, Wilman described how the team was in the thick of it with planning for the latest episode featuring a drive in northern Russia when the first reports of the coronavirus came out. "There's no word in Russian for 'I'll give you refund'," joked Wilman. "It just doesn't exist."

Jeremy Clarkson & Andy Wilman discuss why it takes so bloody long to put a Grand Tour film out www.youtube.com

Soon, the team began hearing about closing borders, not just Russia's, but England's.

They had to make a decision. "We had to call it. It was the right move," Wilman confirmed, jokingly adding later, "The people only want us to do globetrotting and boy have we picked the right moment to do that."

Clarkson says that they will still do the episode, but that there will be another one in-between.

An episode shot in northern Russia would be an extreme climatic change from the last episode the trio filmed in Madagascar. That episode has been held up in the editing process due to social distancing guidelines set forth in England over the last few months.

Most of northern Russia is above the Arctic Circle. It's bordered by the Arctic Ocean and Bearing Sea.

This wouldn't be the first time they've been to the Arctic Circle. In 2007, an episode of "Top Gear" starring Clarkson, May, and Hammond aired and featured the group's successful attempt to be the first people to reach the 1996 position of the North Magnetic Pole (in Canada) in a motor vehicle. It was the first "Top Gear" episode ever aired in high definition and featured Richard Hammond on a dog sled.

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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Musical artist H.E.R. has worked with Honda designers to customize a Civic Type R.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
H.E.R. graced the stage at the 2021 Honda Civic Tour but before that happens, the R&B singer-songwriter has put her stamp on a custom-designed Honda Civic Type R. This one-off is part of a longstanding tradition of Civic Tour headliners designing a custom Civic.

The unique-looking model is a reflection of H.E.R.'s personal values. Nuance, subtlety, and "sharing your heart" are held high. This all starts with the car's exterior where a deep black matte finish washes over the model while chameleon-tinted headlamps and windows, purple brake calipers and nebula painted trim are presented as intriguing highlights.

Designers worked to customize the cabin as well, adding nebula painted accents and special LED interior lighting that changes colors based on music and sound inside the vehicle by featuring custom colors, moods, brightness levels and rotating color patterns, adjustable by a smartphone.

H.E.R. Unveils Custom ‘Honda Civic Type R’ Presented by the 2021 Honda Civic Tour www.youtube.com

"One of the things that drew me toward the Honda Civic Tour was knowing that I'd be able to design my own vehicle, and out of all Civics, I picked the pinnacle Civic Type R," said H.E.R. "Infusing my personality into all aspects of my performances, and also expressing it through my favorite products, is something that I am passionate about. So being able to create and share my custom Honda Civic Type R with my fans is just so special to me."

H.E.R.'s custom Civic Type R joins Honda vehicles designed by past Civic Tour headliners, including Maroon 5, OneRepublic, Demi Lovato, blink-182, Black Eyed Peas, One Direction, Charlie Puth and more.

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