Ride of the Week: Volkswagen Confirms Its Electric Microbus Is Coming in 2022

Earlier this year, Volkswagen showcased the I.D. Buzz, a fully-electronic concept vehicle based on the famous Volkswagen Microbus from the 1960s. The project was well received, so much so that the German automobile manufacturer has decided to move forward with the concept and bring it into production. If all things go according to plan, the electric Microbus is expected to reach dealerships by 2022, with North America, Europe and Asia as the target markets. Volkswagen CEO of the North American Region Hinrich J. Woebcken said in a written statement that the vehicle brings more to the table than just nostalgia.

We are delighted that our parent company has taken the decision to produce the I.D. BUZZ. This vehicle is the perfect balance between emotion, usability and sustainability, while also showcasing our technological leadership. The high seating position, cargo capacity, overall versatility and all-wheel drive option packaged into such an appealing design is just what our customers want from us. And it’s the perfect fit for the zero-emissions American lifestyle.

On top of this, Woebcken said that the company is planning on releasing a cargo version of the I.D. Buzz, allowing the zero-emission vehicle to be used for work purposes. Because electric components take up less space than their gas-powered counterparts, the I.D. Buzz will be built with even more space for passengers than the original. ”The vehicle looks like a compact commercial van on the outside, even though it offers the generous interior space of a large SUV,” explains Volkswagen CEO Hubert Diess. According to reports, the Buzz I.D. will also be capable of level 3 autonomous driving.

Ride of the Week: BMW Z4 Concept

Thanks to leaked images ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, we have our first look at the new BMW Z4 Concept. Slated to launch next year as a 2019 model, the two-seater roadster is an aggressive looking beast. An immediate eye-catcher, the front features stacked headlights and a grill and air intakes that look like a shark and a bull (think Lamborghini) mated and produced an unbelievably good looking offspring. Along the sides of the car, the lines are unique and bold, guiding the eye to the rear where the taillights look similar to the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid. To give the Z4 its aggressive stance, 20-inch wheels are wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

As is the case with many luxury vehicles nowadays, carbon fiber highlights in the form of a front and rear diffuser and front spoiler with Z4 lettering grace the car. Contrasting all the carbon fiber goodies is an Energetic Orange paint job which is part of the BMW Frozen (matte) paint line. For the interior, the driver’s side is swathed in black leather while orange suede covers the passenger side. A hidden set of headrests and a futuristic dash bring everything together.

Stay tuned for the official unveil of the BMW Z4 and let us know if you’d change anything on the concept.

Ride of the Week: 1969 Dodge Charger ‘GENERAL LEE’

There’s a fairly short list of classic TV cars, but none of them are perhaps as iconic as the ‘General Lee’ from The Dukes of Hazzard. Well, now one of those very cars – a 1969 Dodge Charger – which was owned by actor John Schneider (better known as ‘Bo Duke’) is headed to auction, courtesy of Mecum.

Loaded with a 7.2-liter RB V8 engine (which once had a brake-horsepower rating of 375) mated to an automatic transmission, this is the ultimate nostalgia-inducing retro car for fans of both television and American Muscle. And it’s not just a slick paint job and a notable owner, either – as both the driver’s side sun visor and bottom of the hood have been signed by the cast and crew of the classic TV show. So whether you’re into awesome old-school autos or you’re just looking for the ideal car on which to slide across the hood – you might want to consider putting a bid down on this one when it hits the block at Mecum’s Las Vegas auction later this year.

Ride of the Week: The Jaguar XJR575 Sedan

The new flagship of the XJ range, the Jaguar XJR575 Sedan is named for the output of its 5.0L supercharged V8. When combined with the electronic active differential to help control the delivery of all that power and maximize traction, the four-door moves from a standstill to 62 mph in just 4.4 seconds and hits its top speed of 186 in an equally impressive 44 seconds. The interior also sees upgrades in the form of a larger touchscreen, 4G Wifi, and diamond-quilted seating, while the exterior — available in two exclusive colors — gets a custom rear spoiler, side sills, front bumper, and air intakes, as well as 20-inch Farallon glossy black wheels.

New Research Considers Skateboarding an Important Mode of Transportation

As I began skateboarding to work, I found that I wasn’t allowed to skateboard on the sidewalks, the streets or the newly constructed Riverwalk in the City of Tampa. Skateboarding was pretty much banned in the city except for the designated Skate Park that Tampa built solely as consolation. The first offense? A warning. But the second offense? A fine designed to teach you the error of your ways.

That didn’t stop me, nor many of the skaters whom have hopped on a board to skate the city.

However that may be changing….

Now, Fang, a transportation researcher, has made skateboarding a focus of his studies. In his latest paper, published Monday in the journal Transportation, Fang shows how non-motorized transit like skateboards, rollerblades, and ol’ fashioned scooters are already moving large numbers of people — and have the power to do a whole lot more.

When interviewing members of the skater community at UC Davis, he found that skateboards filled a big gap in transportation, smack dab between walking and biking. Basically, skateboards can go almost as fast as a bike on certain terrains. But they’re easier than a bike to store on a jam-packed commuter bus or while at work or school during the day.

That portability makes them an ideal remedy for what urban planners call the the ‘last mile problem’. Since people are unwilling to use public transportation if it means they have to walk a mile to and from the main hubs, other forms of transportation need to be there to cover that final mile more quickly. That could mean biking, hopping on a streetcar, or skateboarding.

But that doesn’t mean skateboarding is popular with police or urban planners.

Most cities in the United States ban skateboards because they don’t like recreational skaters and aren’t even aware skateboarding commuters exist, Fang says. As a result, American skateboarders carry a lot of cultural baggage.

For starters, skateboarding is typically seen as a kid’s activity. While adults see the built environment as something to preserve, teens see sidewalks, park benches, and front stoops as the raw materials for epic stunts. “In most cases, [cities] don’t come out and say why there’s skateboarding regulations,” Fang says. “[But] they talk about property damage or safety… [And] then you get some that are generalizations of skateboarders themselves.” In some cities, Fang says, policy makers have even advocated for skateboard regulations because boarders were reportedly rude to senior citizens — an unusual motivation for urban planning.

Though skateboarding certainly has its roots in recreation, statistics suggest it’s grown beyond its original purpose. Of the 300 combined billion miles people travel in California each year, Fang’s study reports, 48 million of them involved non-motorized vehicles like skateboards. That’s an extremely small piece of an overwhelming pie, but it’s still a ton of miles traveled.

And it’s not just limited to the Golden State: Portland, Oregon, is the biggest city in the United States to embrace skating as part of daily life. The city is rife with bona fide skateboarding commuters and dedicated “skate routes” weaving through downtown.

While it may sound like another Portlandia joke — the perfect anecdote from a city where “young people go to retire” — Fang says more communities should get on board with this eco-friendly mode of transit.

“Skateboarding provides a unique level of convenience that you don’t get with walking or bicycling,” he says. It allows people to go faster than walking, with none of the inconvenience of storing a bike while on the train or at work for the day.

For all its charms, convincing commuters to rely on skateboards won’t be easy. Many people continue to look down on skateboarders and cities policy banning boards get in the way. Plus, in many cities where skateboard travel isn’t well-integrated into urban design, gliding down a street dominated by cars can be dangerous.

But Fang isn’t discouraged. “It probably won’t become as popular as conventional modes of travel,” he says, “but I could see it growing a bit from where it is now.” He sees particular opportunities in places with lots of flat terrain, plenty of bike lanes, and areas with good transit service where people can use skateboards to go that last little bit of the way home. As cities continue to transform in the 21st century, they should open up lots more places like that, setting the stage for a skateboarding renaissance.

And besides, Fang says, skateboarding is just really fun — even if one’s skateboarding chops aren’t exactly up to snuff, a category Fang says he falls into. “[I skate] a little bit and poorly,” he says. “When I was still at my old school, skateboarding was prohibited, so I did it under the cover of darkness.”

If Fang is right, skateboarding might soon be ready to step out of that darkness and into the limelight.

Ride of the Week: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pickup Truck

Don’t panic. What you’re seeing is real — a Mercedes with a pickup bed. Mercedes Benz introduced its luxury X-Class truck at a swank reception in South Africa, but don’t get too excited — you won’t be seeing the X-Class in the US. A joint partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan, Mercedes touts the X-Class as “the first pickup from a premium manufacturer.” With all-wheel drive, a premium interior, a bed, and even an optional manual transmission, the X-Class checks all the truck boxes — although it’s certainly no Unimog. The X-Class comes to Europe in November 2017.

Ride of the Week: The 2018 Volkwagen Arteon

Just like that, Volkswagen is hopping on the Geneva hype train in unveiling their all new Arteon five-seater that head designer Klaus Bischoff claims, “…combines the design elements of a classic sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback.” Sounds like a winning combination to us, and after looking at the initial images of this thing, it looks like one too.

Featured under the hood of this ride are several turbocharged engine options with outputs up to 276 horsepower. It’s also slated to be built upon their MBQ platform, which comes standard on other offerings including the Golf and the new Atlas SUV. 4Motion all-wheel drive will come standard with these as well, as will as a set of LED headlights, a newly designed front end, and upgraded Discover Pro infotainment system with gesture control. The ride will also be made available with a diesel engine for those looking to up their fuel efficiency. They’re set to go on sale in Europe this June. No word on pricing just yet.

Tesla Will Roll Out Its First Mass-Market Electric Car Earlier Than Expected

Elon Musk isn’t afraid to think outside the box. Sometimes that is a good thing, like solar roof tiles that could become the norm. Sometimes it’s a very bad thing, like thinking free frozen yogurt is as good as a union. However, between the company’s cars, hyperloops, and trips to Mars, Musk and Tesla’s visions of the future have been rather expensive. Musk will try to change that this week when the Model 3, Tesla’s first mass-market car, launches.

The first Model 3, which will cost about $35,000 — still steep for the average car-buyer, but it’s a start — will roll off the line Friday, and Musk says production will steadily increase with a goal of hitting 20,000 a month by the end of the year. In comparison, in 2016 Tesla produced some 85,000 cars though with a price tag averaging nearly three times the cost of the Model 3 for its other cars.

Musk, however, appears to be betting big on the Model 3. The company built a $5 billion dollar factory in Nevada to produce the car’s batteries and is considering opening a plant in California. Earlier this year, the company raised over $1 billion through stock offerings and debt to offset recent quarterly losses. Investors so far seem to be buying in: Tesla shares are way up this year, leaving the company with higher valuations than traditional car-makers like General Motors and Ford.

The Mastercraft X22 Speedboat Is An Ideal Craft For A Fun Day On The Water

Capable of carrying up to 16 people and making sizable waves, the Mastercraft X22 Speedboat is an ideal craft for a fun day on the water. Its award-winning Surf System creates multiple zones of waves perfect for surfing, water skiing, and wakeboarding. Its innovative dual-screen interface adapts to the current usage mode — drive, tow, or chill — and gives you ample space to display maps, camera feeds — including from the onboard GoPros — and music controls for the Klipsch audio system. Whether you’re seated in the forward lounge, cockpit backrest, or being pulled behind the 22-foot vessel, you’ll appreciate the power of the three available GM-derived V8 engines.

Ride of the Week: Aston Martin Announces Production Of Its First All-Electric Car

No longer a concept, Aston Martin announced that it will be taking the RapidE all-electric super sedan into production. Limited to 155 vehicles, the RapidE will be the first all-electric Aston Martin, which we imagine will serve as the groundwork for the company’s future in electric mobility. The car will be based on the upcoming Rapide AMR and will feature a powertrain that will be developed in collaboration with the technology division of Williams F1, Williams Advanced Engineering. No specs on the powertrain have been revealed, but we imagine it will be a worthy alternative to their signature 6.0L V-12.