Hollywood

Porsche teams up with Lucasfilm to design a new Star Wars spacecraft

Porsche and Star Wars are teaming up to create a new spacecraf that will make its premiere at the movie's red carpet debut.

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Car brand partnerships are nothing new for Luke and Leia. Nissan has been capitalizing on the popularity of the Star Wars franchise to help market their Rogue SUV, next-gen Safety Shield 360 driver assistance and safety technology, and redesigned Altima sedan. Now, Porsche is stepping onto the red carpet, designing a new spacecraft that will be seen in promotional appearances for forthcoming "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker."

This isn't just another spacecraft. This one is infused with design DNA that is apparent in modern Porsche models.

Porsche Star Wars spacecraft Doug Chiang, Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Lucasfilm, Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche, sketch ideas for the new spacecraft.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

"Developing a spacecraft with clear Porsche design DNA is exiting and challenging," says Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche at Porsche AG. "Even though they do not seem to share many elements at first glance, both worlds have a similar design philosophy. The close collaboration with the Star Wars design team inspires and fascinates us – I'm sure that both sides can draw major benefits from this exchange."

Teams in Stuttgart and San Francisco are working together to design the spacecraft and create the physical model in time to make it red carpet ready for the movie's premiere in December.

Porsche Star Wars spacecraft Doug Chiang, Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Lucasfilm, Michael Mauer, Vice President Style Porsche view sketch proposals for the new venture.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

"The worldwide appeal of the Star Wars and Porsche brands is shaped decisively by their iconic designs," says Doug Chiang, Vice President and Executive Creative Director of Lucasfilm and responsible for overseeing all designs for the Star Wars franchise. "We are bringing together two worlds with this project: the exotic film design of a galaxy far, far away and the precision work that goes into developing emotive Porsche sports cars. This collaboration promises to produce an innovative design that will blend the best of both brands to create an exciting new starship worthy of Porsche and Star Wars."

Porsche's first all-electric car, the 2020 Taycan, will appear alongside the spacecraft on the red carpet at the premiere. Deliveries to U.S. customers will begin around the same time.

BMW owners can use their smartphone instead of a traditional key fob.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW will introduce the second generation of its Digital Key this winter, ushering in a smarter, safer way for owners to connect with their luxury vehicles.

From their smartphone, BMW owners were able to lock and unlock the vehicle, start the engine and share the key with others using the BMW Digital Key as part of BMW Connected on the smartphone.

The next-gen system (2.0) will use a security chip that works separately from the smartphone operating system. This chip can be used even if a smartphone has run out of battery. This system arrives in vehicles later this year.

BMW Digital Key 2.0 3.0 Users will soon be able to take advantage of more safety and security features.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW isn't stopping there. They have already announced plans for Digital Key 3.0, which include the implementation of ultra-wideband-based technology. The automaker says that this technology will, "offer maximum anti-theft protection and enable precise localization between the device and the vehicle. As a result, the mobile phone must no longer be held directly up to the door handle to unlock the car, but can conveniently be left in the pocket."

In 2017 BMW Group joined the Car Connectivity Consortium, which is working to establish cross-industry, standardized technologies and security standards. Representatives from smart device creators and other automobile manufacturers are also a part of the organization.

"Our customers want cross-vendor interoperability. Standardization is the only way to achieve this; proprietary solutions are no longer beneficial," said Dr. Olaf Müller, head of Development Digital Access Systems at the BMW Group.

The Voyager has made its return to the FCA lineup for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

The Voyager has returned. In June, FCA quiet revealed the Voyager during a press event at their Chelsea Proving Grounds, immediately allowing first drives and answering questions.

What is the 2020 Chrysler Voyager and why does it matter?

First, let's take a step back. Way back. And overseas.

Up until 2001, Chrysler had never sold the Voyager in the U.S. Starting in 1988, it was sold in Europe, having been rebadged from the Dodge Caravan name in the U.S. The automaker also sold a variant of the Caravan to U.S. customers dubbed the Plymouth Voyager. When Plymouth folded in 2001, a short-wheelbase version of Plymouth's minivan was sold under the Chrysler Voyager name but after two model years, it gave up the ghost.

2005 Chrysler Town & Country The new 2005 Chrysler Town and Country Minivan with the new "Stow 'N Go" feature is shown to the media at DaimlerChrysler headquarters December 8, 2003 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. The minivan-first feature allows owners to fold second and third-row seats into the floor with one-hand operation. Photo by Getty Images

There were then several evolutions in the minivan name and design, most notably the Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country, which kept the minivan legacy started by the 1936 Stout Scarab alive.

Then Chrysler decided to switch things up and they ditched the Town & Country for the Pacifica, a completely different and thoroughly modern take on the minivan, starting in 2017. However, Dodge continued to sell its aging minivan, the Grand Caravan.

Since the Pacifica reveal, the Grand Caravan has been a mostly stagnant model. It doesn't have most of the safety features or high-tech equipment that the Pacifica has, nor is it as nice on the inside or fuel efficient.

Because it hasn't drastically changed in so long, FCA has not had to make significant investments to its production line to keep up with the evolution, or pay for things like new molds to be constructed. This makes the Grand Caravan relatively cheap to produce.

2012 Dodge Grand Caravan The Dodge Grand Caravan on the assembly line at the Chrysler Windsor Assembly plant January 18, 2011 in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Photo by Getty Images

In turn, the model continues to be the cheapest minivan customers can buy. And they're still buying it. In droves. The Dodge Grand Caravan outsold the Honda Odyssey in the third quarter of 2019 with 27,456 units, sitting atop its segment in sales. Chrysler only sold 21,697 Pacificas during the same period.

However, these times they are a changing. FCA is looking to modernize its lineup without losing those Grand Caravan customers. That's where the 2020 Chrysler Voyager comes in.

On the outside and inside, the Voyager is really just a Pacifica with another name. However, this version is more downmarket than the traditional Pacifica, with more economical materials and finishes. It is still much, much nicer than the Grand Caravan, and has many of the modern safety features the Pacifica has that the Grand Caravan does not. Safety is a top concern for families when they're looking to purchase a new vehicle according to Cars.com research.

The 2020 Dodge Grand Caravan starts at $27,040. The 2020 Chrysler Voyager undercuts that, coming in with a starting MSRP of $26,985. Chrysler sells the 2020 Pacifica with a starting price of $33,495.

2020 Chrysler Voyager

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

The Chrysler Voyager is a new addition to the FCA lineup for the 2020 model year.


It's safe to say that the Voyager is designed to be on its way to replacing the Grand Caravan. That's why it matters. It's a Band-Aid solution that gets FCA out of having to invest in designing and producing a completely new vehicle while still driving customers to their dealerships.