Commuinty

World's fastest car hits 316 mph, inspires $316,000 donation to support military families

The SCC Tautara is now the world's fastest car.

Photo courtesy of SCC North America

He's an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and car enthusiast. He's also the new King of Speed. Dr. Larry Caplin's SSC Tuatara recently became the fastest production car ever with a set of of records during an October 10 event in Pahrump, Nevada along a seven-mile stretch of State Route 160.

With professional racing driver Oliver Webb at the wheel, the Tuatara hit an average of 316.11 mph following two consecutive high-speed test runs. To comply with test regulations, the car traveled first in one direction down the road clocking 301.07 mph then turned around and went the other direction on the same road getting to 331.15 mph, consecutively, within one hour.

SCC Tautara Shelby Webb sign Jerod Shelby, CEO of SSC (left) and driver Oliver Webb (right) celebrate the car's record.Photo courtesy of SCC North America

The times were then averaged. Officials were on site to verify all world record criteria was met and even reviewed Dewetron GPS measurements, which tracked the speed runs using 15 satellites. The Tuatara earned the title of the "Fastest Production Vehicle".

The car also earned three other titles: "Fastest Flying Mile on a Public Road" at 313.12 mph, "Fastest Flying Kilometer on a Public Road" at 321.35 mph (517.16 km/h), and "Highest Speed Achieved on a Public Road" at 331.15 mph.

Caplin is celebrating the milestone by donating community programs that support children, youth, and military families worldwide. His $316,000 donations will support health and wellness programs in underserved schools, provide college scholarships to first-generation students, and help military communities and families nationwide.

Larry Caplin SCC Tautara record car Dr. Larry Caplin celebrates the record set by his car.Photo courtesy of Dr. Larry Caplin

"I am beyond thrilled to own the World's fastest car because it's another opportunity to shine a light on important issues that support local communities and serve military families," said Caplin. "Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be the owner of a historic vehicle, but I recognize that I have a responsibility to use this opportunity to help those who need support in a tangible way."

SSC North America is producing 100 SSC Tuatara hypercars. High-speed,high-downforce, and track versions are now available to customers.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Chevrolet Suburban is just one of the models caught up in the recall.

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

No automaker wants to have to recall its vehicles. But, they do so willingly (most of the time) in order to prevent a larger problem from presenting itself. Sometimes the repairs are immediately needed, like when there's an imminent fire risk, while other times they seem like they can be put off a bit, like when a sticker needs to be replaced on a door jamb. No matter the recall, buyers should act as soon as they receive notice of a recall on their vehicle.

Today, it was announced that approximately 7 million SUVs and trucks would be part of a recall regarding Takata airbag inflators. GM has been fighting the recall for four years.

In a statement, General Motors said:

"The safety and trust of those who drive our vehicles is at the forefront of everything we do at General Motors. Although we believe a recall of these vehicles is not warranted based on the factual and scientific record, NHTSA has directed that we replace the airbag inflators in the vehicles in question. Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA's position. However, we will abide by NHTSA's decision and begin taking the necessary steps."

The recall is part of a larger Takata airbag recall that has affected over 60 million Takata air bag inflators in tens of millions of vehicles in the United States alone.

To date, 18 people have been killed by rupturing Takata inflators in the U.S. The inflators have also caused hundreds of injuries, including lacerations and other serious injuries to occupants' face, neck, and chest areas.

The Takata airbag recall was initiated in 2015 when the company entered into a Consent Order with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recognizing there was an issue with inflators installed in vehicles across 12 different automakers. A Coordinated Remedy was initiated that prioritized and phased the Takata recalls by vehicles most at risk to least at risk.

The automaker has been fighting the recall since shortly after the defect information report (DIR) was submitted, in May 2016. At that time, GM asked that the NHTSA defer its decision on the inconsequentiality of the inflators used by the company until GM was able to complete its testing and engineering analysis in August 2017. That request was granted due to the extraordinary circumstances of the recall.

GM and the NHTSA went back and forth with testing results and clarifications through 2018. A second DIR was filed by Takata in 2017, which triggered another filing by GM, this time a petition for exemption. The process repeated in 2018 and 2019, with GM looking to exempt all but a few of their models from the recall.

Those vehicles are "GMT900" models that contain "SPI YP" and "PSPI-L YD" inflator variants. The GMT900 is a General Motors-specific platform that underpins a number of light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks and SUVs including: Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, GMC Sierra 2500/3500, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Avalanche, GMC Yukon, GMC Yukon XL, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac Escalade ESV, and Cadillac Escalade EXT. The petition involves approximately 5.9 million model year 2007–2014 vehicles.

GM undertook a number of weathering, aging, and safety tests as part of its research into the recall. Those results were then submitted to the NHTSA.

According to the filing released this week regarding the petitions, a manufacturer does not have a "statutory obligation to conduct a recall for a defect unless and until it 'learns the vehicle or equipment contains a defect and decides in good faith that the defect is related to motor vehicle safety,' or NHTSA orders a recall by making a 'final decision that a motor vehicle or replacement equipment contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety.'"

It is because of this, that the NHTSA says that, "a manufacturer bears a heavy burden in petitioning NHTSA to determine that a defect related to motor vehicle safety (which necessarily involves an unreasonable risk of an accident, or death or injury in an accident) is nevertheless inconsequential to motor vehicle safety. In accordance with the plain meaning of 'inconsequential,' the manufacturer must show that a risk posed by a defect is not important or capable of being ignored."

GM was up against a steep hill to begin with. Of the three known occasions in which the NHTSA has previously considered petitions contending that a defect is inconsequential to motor vehicle safety, the Agency has granted only one of the petitions. That action occurred nearly three decades ago, in what the Agency refers to as "a vastly different set of circumstances".

GM submitted thousands of pages of research and context to the NHTSA in support of their case as well as supporting testimony from an engineer who is an expert in airbag construction and safety.

Despite the efforts, the NHTSA determined that GM has not demonstrated that the defect is inconsequential to safety in the GMT900 vehicles. A number of reasons were given for the determination including that GM was unable to identify how the unique construction of the inflators in their vehicles made them less prone to rupture, how solar-insulating glass in the large cabin of the vehicles was decreasing the environmental impact on the inflators, and the small sample size of the inflators tested (just 0.07 percent of the total GMT900 population). GM also argued that replacing the inflators exposed owners to risk due to the possibility of improper dealership installation of the replacement inflator.

In its final decision, the NHTA said,

"The defect here poses an unsafe condition caused by the degradation of an important component of a safety device that is designed to protect vehicle occupants in crashes. Instead of protecting occupants, this propellant degradation can lead to an uncontrolled explosion of the inflator and propel sharp metal fragments toward occupants in a manner that can cause serious injury, including lacerations to the face, neck and chest, and even death. This unsafe condition—hidden in an air bag module—is not discernible even by a diligent vehicle owner, let alone an average owner.

"Moreover, nineteen manufacturers (including GM for other populations of their vehicles) have conducted similar recalls of other non-desiccated PSAN inflators. NHTSA has been offered no persuasive reason to think that without a recall, even if current owners are aware of the defect and instant petition, subsequent owners of vehicles equipped with GMT900 air bag inflators would be made aware of the issue.226 This is not the type of defect for which notice alone enables an owner to avoid the safety risk. A remedy is required."

Within 30 days of the date of this decision (November 20, 2020), GM shall submit to NHTSA a proposed schedule for the notification of GMT900 vehicle owners and the launch of a remedy required to fulfill those obligations.

To find out if your vehicle is part of a recall, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls.

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The Mercedes-Maybach S-Class elevates the luxury marque to new heights.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The formula for every Mercedes-Maybach S-Class is simple. Take a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and elevate it to a bonkers level. Make it lush and plush, and suitable to use as an executive's limousine. That's exactly what Mercedes has done with the 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The car starts with a stretch. Its wheelbase is seven inches longer than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. All that stretching benefits rear seat occupants the most. But that's not all the perks for back seat riders. Long day at the office? Not a problem. The cabin has been upgraded to include new comfort features like a calf rest massage function and neck/shoulder heating.

Mercedes-Maybach S-Class The model gets a unique front grille.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

This Mercedes is also differentiated from the rest of the S-Class at its face with a unique Mercedes-Maybach grille, complete with vertical chrome pinstripes. The new Mercedes-Maybach GLS received a similar treatment. At its sides, an admirer can see that the rear doors are wider and C-pillars feature a fixed quarter light as well as the Maybach brand logo. Adaptive rear lighting makes its debut on the model.

Buyers can request their chauffeur-ready car with a two-tone paint finish. The two paint colors are divided by a coachline that is applied by hand. Rolls-Royce offers a similar scheme.

The car's electrified engine is a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that delivers 496 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. That's less on-paper power than the previous version of the model offered, but the electric boost off the line should make up for that, and make the vehicle more fuel efficient. Motor1.com has confirmed that an all-wheel-drive, V12-powered Maybach S-Class will be part of the lineup when it goes on sale.

Rear-wheel steering makes the car more maneuverable than its dimensions may have lead you to believe. A variety of wheel designs are available including 20-inch monolocks and 21-inchers.

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S580

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Buyers can upgrade from the initial Mercedes-Maybach to add electrically operated comfort rear doors. This features allows for the doors to be opened with little force, even when the car is parked on a grade. Rear doors can also be operated from the driver's seat - an important function for those looking to be driven in their car rather than getting behind the wheel.

The cabin of the S-Class is as well-appointed as you may imagine it should be. Authentic materials featured alongside alluring color schemes are standard for the model.

It features high-quality wood surrounds on the sesatbacks of the front seats. Adding the Executive Rear Seat Plus package adds a similar area of trim between the two rear passengers. A seat belt extender has been integrated into the backrest of the Executive seat.

This Mercedes builds on the traditional S-Class's two standard infotainment screens and ups the number to five. In the middle of the car is a 12.8-inch display. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Two 11.6-inch screens are on the rear setbacks, and a removable tablet is stowed in the rear center console.

The car utilizes active noise cancelling technology to keep the cabin of the luxury sedan serene. To add in music, buyers can activate the S-Class's standard Burmester High-End 4D Surround Sound system.

Heated, cooling, and multi contour seats are available for each passenger. There's a calf massager for when rear seat passengers need a little extra TLC and a beverage chiller that is located in the center rear of the back console. Custom champagne flutes are available, natch.

The 2021 Mercedes-Maybach S580 will arrive at U.S. dealerships in mid-2021.

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