Lexus has just launched its new flagship. The 2022 LX 600 is the brand’s body-on-frame full-size SUV, offering legendary off-road capability along with new levels of luxury. The next-generation LX uses an all-new platform that boosts rigidity but cuts weight. Power comes from a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 and the SUV gets a 10-speed automatic. It uses the all-new infotainment interface first found in the new NX, here getting both an upper and lower screen to give drivers more customization. Also new for the LX 600 will be F Sport and VIP Executive trim grades. The former will add the mesh grille and stylish interior upgrades F Sport is known for (along with a Torsen limited-slip rear diff) while the latter will get fold-down middle-row seats with special headrests, rear sunshades, and a specially revised air conditioning system. This is the one for being driven in. Expect the new LX at dealers in Canada in Q1 of 2022.

Acura has confirmed that the rebirth of its Integra will come with a six-speed manual gearbox. The news was revealed in a clip posted to social media that showed the various gearshifts found in the original models of the Integra before giving us the latest. It also comes with a look at the center console of the Integra, and while we can’t glean much from the small view, we can see that the console looks significantly different from that of the standard-transmission Honda Civic.

Lucid Motors, who build the Lucid Air luxury EV, have just announced Canadian pricing for the vehicle along with the opening of the company’s first Canadian showroom. The Lucid Air Pure, offering 480 hp and a projected 653 km range, starts from $105,000 in Canada. The top end of the range is the Lucid Air Dream Edition, with both the 933 hp, 836 km Range and 1,111 hp and 758 km Performance versions of that model priced at $229,000. The first showroom opened last weekend in Vancouver, the company’s first outside of the U.S. A second studio in Toronto is expected to open next year.

The Canadian International Auto Show is back on, after skipping last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Toronto show is planned to run February 18th through the 27th, according to the show’s site. What vehicles will be revealed at the event has yet to be announced.

Auto Show

Canadian International Autoshow 2020: Day Two

Stellantis has announced that it will be reducing the Windsor Assembly Plant to just one shift starting next spring. The automaker said that the change was a response to “significant headwinds such as the persisting semiconductor shortage and the extended effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” across the industry. Unifor Local 444, which represents the factory’s hourly workers, said the change would happen April 17th. The plant had been closed for much of the year as Stellantis shuffled production related to the microchip shortage. In a statement, the automaker said that it “reaffirms its WAP investment commitment outlined in the 2020 Collective Agreement of up to $1.5 billion.”

Stellantis

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When I was a kid growing up in Mississauga, the walls of my bedroom were plastered with posters of cars and model vehicles lined the shelves of my bookcase. Prized among all the different makes and models were the four-wheeled creations of Lamborghini, a small automaker from the village of Sant ’Agata Bolognese in Italy.

The cars it produced were the stuff of dreams. Lamborghini single-handedly defined the term “supercar” by challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries of automotive design. One of its first creations to inspire the public was the sultry Lamborghini Miura, with its 12-cylinder engine mounted behind the driver. It became the world’s first example of a mid-engine sports car, essentially establishing the supercar template to this day.

When its Countach debuted in 1969, it set the car world on fire again. With its wedge shape, knife-edge creases, and impossibly low roofline, its otherworldly profile was more UFO than automobile. Nearly every Lamborghini made since then, including the new Huracán STO, owes its form to the Countach.

As a kid, the closest I could get to one of these cars were my posters and models. I played with those cars, imagining what it might have been like to sit in the driver’s seat. To smell the leather. To feel the steering wheel in my hands. At night, I would lay in bed under the sheets pretending I was in the cockpit of a supercar, shifting gears while working the imaginary clutch. It was the start of an obsession with Lamborghini.

Then came video games. There were many racing games I played on my PC, but one, in particular, changed everything for me because it used real cars. Exotic cars. And yes, it had a Lamborghini. It was “The Need for Speed”.

The folks behind Road and Track magazine were consulted during the production of the game, and they really ensured the cars came to life. They didn’t just look like the real thing, they sounded like it and each had its own distinct characteristics.

Playing “The Need for Speed”, was a big upgrade from the cockpit under my covers. I spent days and nights flying down canyon roads and up mountain passes until I learned the ins and outs of all those digital tracks. In my mind, I felt I had actually driven all those cars. The satisfaction was real.

As an automotive writer, I get the opportunity to drive all makes and models of cars today, from the humble Nissan Micra to a track-ready Porsche 911 GT3. It has softened some of my enthusiasm for some vehicles, but a handful still manage to stir my soul and enthusiastically rekindle my childhood obsession.

The new Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Omologato (STO) is one of those cars. And, when I learned I would get a chance to sit behind its steering wheel, I returned to my 12-year-old self. Objectivity be damned.

2021 Lamborghini Huracan STO

Seeing the Lamborghini Huracán STO, a mid-engine sports car comprised mostly of carbon-fibre and composite material, in real life, it looks fast sitting still. A “regular” Huracán parked next to it, likely on purpose, appears boring in comparison and I totally missed it until I looked at the pictures I had taken of the STO with my phone when I got home.

Nearly every body panel on the 2021 Huracán STO has been changed, tweaked to cheat the wind. It is the most hardcore version of the Huracán to date. It’s all function over form, too, according to Lamborghini, but looking at it draped in a matte red finish it called Rosso Pyra, all I see is pure theatre. As the Lamborghini representative does the obligatory walk around, filling me in with the finer details of this special build, I’m trying to put on my best poker face. All I want is those keys.

2021 Lamborghini Huracan STO

Once in the surprisingly comfortable driver’s seat, all I have to do is depress the brake pedal, push the start button, and the 5.2-L V10 rip-snorts to life with a loud bark that quickly settles into a purposeful idle. To put it into drive you pull the right paddle towards you.

Being just north of six feet tall, I fit just fine, although I do have to dip my head every so often to see traffic lights because of its low roof. Such is the price you pay for such an aerodynamic design. Visibility out the back is non-existent.

It’s an easy car to drive around the city, but that’s about the only thing it shares with 99 per cent of the other cars on the road. The sound streaming from the exhaust pipes is gruff and intoxicating, rising to a banshee wail as you climb up the rev range.

And it gets attention. Even at 9:30 a.m., children on the street point and jump up and down with glee as they see me drive past, while adults quickly and excitedly whip out their phones so they can snap a pic.

2021 Lamborghini Huracan STO

Controlling the vehicle in a video game is one thing but driving the Huracan STO is fantasy realized. It‘s as exciting as those games were when I was 12. More unexpected, though, as I maneuvered through the city streets, was how I realized how well the video game companies, even with decades old technology, managed to capture the essence of driving an exotic car.

At nearly half a million dollars (that was the value of the model I got to take for a spin), the Lamborghini Huracán STO is less about transport and more about the experience. It can take you to another place and time. It can make even adults feel like children again, even without driving it. That’s a special thing indeed.

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Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.

When the crew at Kia unleashed the boxy Telluride SUV in North American markets a couple of years ago, the model quickly gained a lot of friends. Journalists levied many column inches of praise on it, while consumers voted with their wallets and quickly made the Telluride a common sight in both middle-class and affluent driveways. Perhaps it’s the lantern-jaw styling, maybe it’s the well-executed interior; whatever the reason, Kia has a hit on its hands.

Regardless of trim, the Telluride is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 engine making 291 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque. Connected to an eight-speed automatic, the powertrain has plenty of guts and never feels strung-out like some of its turbocharged competitors with small displacement four-cylinder engines. All-wheel drive is part of the deal.

The only paint choice which does not cost extra is the Ebony Black shade shown here, with all others dinging your wallet for at least $250. We will say that darker shades match the Telluride’s lines quite nicely and permit the shiny T E L L U R I D E billboard on the leading edge of its hood to pop with some authority. Ground clearance and interior dimensions are equal across the board, as well.

Speaking of the latter, many customers – and journos – cite the Telluride’s interior as a major reason for its success. The base EX, priced at $46,495, can seat eight passengers across its three rows, with the Way Back flipping and folding out of sight to open up cargo space. Those seats are synthetic leather (read: fake) at this price, so make sure to sample the SX trim – which is $5,000 dearer – to make sure you can live with the fake stuff. In our experience, the entry-level seats pass muster.

Tri-zone climate control is standard even on the least-expensive Telluride, helping preserve the peace between warring factions. Of no less importance is the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system which includes navigation, USB ports for all hands in every row, and a wireless charger for those up front. That rear liftgate is power operated, LED lamps pepper the interior, and the front seats are heated (as is the steering wheel).

2022 Kia Telluride

What We’d Choose

So, what does one get for their cash should they choose to make the $5,000 walk to the next-level SX? Ventilated front seats are a big draw; in fact, seating itself is more premium thanks to real leather (if that matters to you) plus memory settings and passenger-side power assists. Retractable sunshades on the rear side doors help the little ones, and a Harman Kardon audio system belts out tunes with vigour. Snazzier digital gauges, ambient lighting, and 360-degree cameras round out the extras.

Is that level of kit worth $5,000 (or approximately $100 per month)? Only individual shoppers can answer that question. However, no matter which Telluride is selected, families will find themselves in command of a good-looking SUV that’s finding sales success across Canada. Just be sure to select a different colour than the neighbours – even if it does cost $250 extra.

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I was writing a story several weeks ago about Rudy Bartling, one of the post-war German immigrants who came to Canada, took out citizenship, and made us proud on the race tracks of the world, when I learned that Rainer Brezinka of the Deutcher Automobil Club had also died. He was 85.

I was shocked. First, because with Rainer’s passing, all of that “old gang” – Klaus Bartels, Horst Kroll, Ludwig Heimrath, Horst Petermann, Fritz Hochreuter, Roman Pechmann and probably more, were all gone. An entire generation of German-Canadian racers had passed. Second, Rainer had suffered several strokes and been in long-term care for years. He died in July 2020, but his death only became public recently. How quickly you can be forgotten.

In addition to racing his beloved Porsches, starting in 1967 and competing through 2000 in the 24 Hours of Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring (often with Bartling), Six Hours of  Mosport and Six Hours of the Glen, he was active over the years in administration with the DAC, serving as president in 1979-80 and ’87-‘88.

He raced in the Can-Am Challenge Cup in the glory years of that class, 1970 to 1971, racing a McLaren M-6n while continuing to drive his Porsches – 904, 906, 908, 910, 914-6 and 911 – in other events. He had a terrible accident at Road Atlanta where he was badly burned.

I wish to thank racing historian John Wright and Mike Nilson of the DAC for information contained in this item.

Returning to Rudy Bartling for a moment, I had written that he raced for years without injury but had tripped over a tree root at CTMP (Mosport) and required hospitalization. Shortly after that appeared on wheels.ca., I received a letter from Rick Creuzburg, who knew Rudy well. He wrote:

“Rudy did have one debilitating racing injury he told me of. Once, while testing Klaus Bytzek’s GT1 Porsche (I think, at Daytona), the car caught on fire and for a period of time he was stuck in the car breathing heavily a combination of smoke and fire retardant. This incident scarred his lungs and more or less put a finish to his endurance racing. He said it was a real hinderance to him.

“Anyway, sad to lose Rudy. He was my hero.”

NASCAR 

Kyle Larson is the hottest driver on the continent. He wins just about every NASCAR Cup race he runs these days, plus every sprint car race. I swear that if you put him in an Indy car, he‘d be running away with those races too.

He won the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday, followed across the line by William Byron and Christopher Bell. Brad Keselowski finished fourth and Kevin Harvick was fifth. The seven remaining Cup contenders have three races remaining to book a ticket, as Larson did Sunday.

For a full story, plus results, please click here

Kyle Larson wins Texas to qualify for NASCAR Cup Series final | Fox News

There has been quite a feud going on for awhile between Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick. It reminds me of the Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth feud in 2015. Back in 2013, when the first NASCAR trucks race was held at CTMP, it ended with Chase Elliott knocking Ty Dillon into the wall. At the media conference afterward, Bill Elliott, Chase’s father, was asked about a potential feud and said that NASCAR would only let something go on for so long before putting a stop to it. That happened in 2015 when Kenseth deliberately wrecked Logano. He was made to sit out two races and put on probation for six months, later shortened on appeal. Now we have this Elliott and Harvick nonsense. Earlier this week, NASCAR gave both drivers a strict warning. We’ll see how strict as the playoffs roll along.

John Hunter Nemechek, who announced this week an extension of his trucks contract with Kyle Busch Racing, won the Xfinity Series race at Texas Saturday while making a rare appearance driving for Joe Gibs Racing. And he overcame a large penalty, resulting in him being sent to the back of the field. But he battled his way back to win. Daniel Hemrick was second and Noah Gragson was third. Canadian Alex Labbe finished 16th.

Second-generation family owner of Speedway Motors, a Nebraska-based manufacturer, retailer and distributor of auto parts and racing products, Jason Smith, has died of cancer at age 60.

Andrew Ranger, three-time NASCAR Canada champion, reported at the weekend that his house was robbed. Taken, among other things, was a special NASCAR champions ring and a fur coat plus special bottles of Okanagan Valley wine. Andrew asks that you notify him on social media or the police. The property was taken from his house on Shawinigan Lake, Que.

FORMULA ONE 

Formula One has unveiled its 2022 season schedule and there are some differences. Chief among them: 23 races instead of 22, starting in mid-March in Bahrain and finishing in mid-November at Abu Dhabi; the Grand Prix of Canada will be held on June 18, mid-way between Azerbaijan (June 12) and Britain (July 3), and a new Grand Prix, this one in Miami, making it a third race in North America – two in the U.S. as well as Canada. Click here for the complete schedule.

F1 schedule 2022: Formula 1 announces 23-race calendar for 2022 | Formula 1®

A few observations:

I suggest Miami is a strange selection. Indianapolis or Watkins Glen would be preferable. Both communities welcome auto racing. Miami was finally approved but not without a fight. Plus, it’s a race in a parking lot. They stink. As well, both U.S. races are in the southeast. Austin, I suppose, could be considered central by some but not in my books. Why not Austin and somewhere on the West Coast? F1 doesn’t seem to want to go north.

The 23 races – the longest schedule in F1 history – have been scheduled as insurance. COVID is still not over and is ready to rear its ugly head at any time. China is not on the ’22 schedule because the virus is still out of control there. If they have to cancel a race or two, F1 will still have enough to take up the slack.

The “late” Canadian GP – it’s usually around the 6th or the 13th – is good for our country. My theory on climate change is that autumn now goes longer and there’s a late spring. In other words, there’s been a shift; otherwise, things are pretty much the same. So, having the GP later in June means it will be warmer. Less chance of rain. Etc.

George Russell has been named to replace Valtteri Bottas, which means Mercedes will still be the cream of the crop with Lewis Hamilton the captain. Max Verstappen heads up Red Bull and Sergio (Checo) Perez will continue as his partner. The rest of the field will be pretty much the same. A star – a Schumacher or Hamilton – doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

The rumour that has Michael Andretti purchasing a majority share in the Sauber F1 team just won’t go away. Michael has said that he doesn’t have the money and can’t afford it but he’s surrounded by money men, some of whom have access to more. So, you never know.

NHRA 

I guess the big news is the Tony Stewart NHRA team. They say a well-known racer’s smartest move was marrying a woman who came from money. He established himself as a driver and team owner and then divorced her. I know people who think Leah (Pruett) Pritchett has pulled something similar. Her fiancé, our friend Tony Stewart, has spent a fortune on one top fuel car for his sweetie starting in 2022 and a Funny Car for Matt Hagan. She’s 33 and he’s nearly 50. Sounds like me.

Meantime, in the Thunder Valley Nationals held this weekend at Bristol Dragway, Mike Salinas won in Top Fuel, Alexis Dejoria won the Funny Car class and Angelle Sampey won in Pro Stock.

Racing Roundup

AUTUMN COLOURS 

Peterborough Speedway’s annual Autumn Colours Classic was held Friday through Sunday over Thanksgiving weekend. The 167-lap Pro Late Model feature was won by Ryan Kimball. Conner James finished second and Danny Benedict was third, following a close battle near the end between those three and J.R. Fitzpatrick.

Andy Kamrath won the OSCAAR Modified feature, followed by Fitzpatrick and A.J. Emms. T.J. Edwards was the season champion. The OSCAAR Hot Rod feature was won by Jaeger McMaster,

Other racing: The Super Stock feature was won by Mark Gordon; the Legend feature was won by Matt Haufe and Eric Yorke won the Mini Stock feature.

The Bone Stock feature was won by Steve Finnegan Jr., the Pro Sprint feature went to James Stanley and the Outlaw Midget feature was won by Jessica James.

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For decades, police departments all over have made efforts to show the general public a more friendly face than what the enforcement role often portrays. From the days of a beat cop who would interact daily with residents and business owners, this type of community police work evolved into regular appearances at auto shows, home shows and other similar events. The formula was pretty simple: set up a booth, man it with affable officers who not only did the standard meet and greet, but answered all manner of questions, essentially becoming a friendly educational resource

.

The arrival of the Covid era changed all that. No longer were there opportunities to go out and meet the public face to face. Like many other organizations, Toronto Police Service needed to find a new way to do certain parts of their work. How does a police force reach out to the public during a pandemic? Almost accidentally, they found their solution in the form of PC Sean Shapiro.

An admitted tech nerd, Shapiro is also a lifelong motorcycle enthusiast who understands the role that motorized vehicles play in the joy of living for so many people.

Like many two wheeled enthusiasts of a certain age, PC Shapiro came by his love of motorcycles thanks to a childhood ride-on toy and watching the hit TV show CHIPS, about the adventures of a pair of California Highway Patrol officers who rode motorcycles.

As a sixteen year old, Shapiro graduated from a push bike to a Honda Hawk 400, bought in a partnership with a buddy, despite the concerns of Mom. Next up came a slightly more racy Kawasaki GPZ 550 and then an even more powerful Yamaha 11 Special. From there, Shapiro returned to Kawasaki in the form of a Vulcan 1500 D2, suitable for his 6’ 5” frame before acquiring the Honda Valkyrie Interstate that he now owns.

Shapiro

As often happens to even the best of riders, bad luck caught up with Shapiro as he was returning to the station near the end of his shift. As the officer slowed to move into the left turn lane, a Lexus appeared from behind a parked panel van and made contact with the motorcycle and rider. Although a low speed crash, the injuries put Shapiro on the sidelines for some time and are still a source of pain several years later.

In his previous career, Shapiro had worked with computers, web design and photography. Upon his return to work, the officer wasn’t ready to go back on the front lines, but with his skill set it made sense for him to take on a back end role in redeveloping the force’s website. That role evolved into a plan to increase Toronto Police’s presence online, but always with Shapiro as the techie guy behind the camera, never in front of it. The problem was that nobody else on the force had any interest in being on camera.

One day, while on the scene of an accident, the Sergeant in charge of media was tongue tied and suggested that maybe Shapiro should have a go at giving the report. That was his last day behind the camera.

Shapiro

“It was never my intention to be in front of the camera” Shapiro says, “But nobody else wants to be on camera. By process of elimination, I am the only guy standing in front of it.”

Two years ago, while in a meeting, Superintendent Scott Baptist asked “why aren’t we on TikTok?” At the time, everyone was using the platform to dance and lip sync, so the question wasn’t really taken very seriously. Not until a trio posted a video of themselves skateboarding on the Gardiner Expressway in the Spring of 2020. Shapiro immediately set up an account, @TrafficServices in order to monitor the situation and be able to make comment.

Having a bunch of video on hand which had been produced for the Arrive Alive program, that featured officers answering questions about impaired driving, Shapiro decided to post them to the account and see what happened. The response was instant and before long they were creating content specifically for the platform. One day not long after, Shapiro decided to go live and it has just taken off from there.

When I spoke with Shapiro a couple of weeks ago, he said “I never thought it would get this big. We’re at 179,000 followers. I was thrilled, and I mean thrilled, when we passed 18,000, because 18,000 is where our Twitter account is and I thought that was big”. As I am writing this, it is up to 181.2K!

Shapiro

Even watching the live Q & A style videos casually, it is readily apparent that there are a lot of folks out there who are looking for the “secret menu” of traffic policing. When someone says “I know the limit is 100 KM/H, but isn’t it alright to go 115?”, something really interesting has been happening. Other users are chiming in using common sense with statements like “You do know that he’s a cop, right? You realize he can’t give you permission to speed, right?” The community of followers has become sort of self moderating, with users often saying things that Shapiro can’t say in his professional role.

Shapiro says that while they don’t rank the questions asked, there are most definitely some that are asked more frequently than others. One of the most common questions is regarding the legality of window tint on a vehicle. “How dark can I go?” “Can I have under glow” is another frequent flyer. Of course how much can I speed is a popular question, but he also receives a lot of inquiries about how slow can someone drive without getting a ticket.

Another topic which Shapiro points out is a tough one is modifications

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Electric vehicles have been on fire in the news recently, quite literally. From Teslas igniting while in motion, to an $800 million recall on Chevrolet Bolt EVs due to cases of spontaneous combustion from battery defects, EVs are currently capturing attention for all the wrong reasons.

This is clearly problematic during an industry push toward electrification, with consumer confidence and automaker profits taking hits. But as far as first responders are concerned, EVs don’t create any additional risk to the public when compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Despite the news coverage, EVs are not to be feared according to Andrew Klock, emerging issues lead manager for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a global non-profit dedicated to eliminating loss due to fire.

Klock said these fires tend to attract attention because of the novelty of electric vehicles, but EVs are not inherently any more dangerous — or more likely to ignite — than their ICE counterparts.

“Every three minutes in the United States, according to NFPA records, there is an ICE fire,” Klock said.

Canadian data was not provided by NFPA, but according to Statistics Canada, 6,056 vehicle fires took place in this country in 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are published. Plug-in electric vehicles were less than 0.3 percent of the market at that time.

“You don’t hear about any of those fires on the news,” Klock said. “But if any electric vehicles catch on fire, you’re probably going to hear about it.”

Klock was directly responsible for developing the NFPA’s electric and hybrid vehicle fire suppression training for first responders, which is offered across North America. The programs includes fire departments across Canada at no cost through a partnership with the Council of Canadian Fire Marshalls and Fire Commissioners.

Ev Battery

EV fires are getting a bad reputation for being difficult to fully extinguish, and reigniting hours later. But Klock says trying to fight EV battery fires with traditional techniques will be unsuccessful, and the key is using a different approach.

“We learned through our testing that if you keep water on one part of the battery for an extended period of time and cool that part of the battery, and then move on, you can effectively put the fire out,” Klock said. “If you just put water all over the battery, going from side to side, the other side will reignite because it’s still hot.”

Foam is not recommended for putting out battery fires, he added.

“Foam acts as a blanket that stops oxygen from getting to the fire and smothers it, but in this case the fire is being chemically generated from inside the batteries,” Klock explained. “So, foam isn’t anywhere near as effective as in a gasoline fire.”

The upshot of this is that EV fires are manageable, they just take more time and more water than ICE fires. Estimates of the water used for EV fires ranges anywhere from 10 to 40 times more, or as much as 180,000 litres for one vehicle, according to some reports. In urban environments, where firefighters have access to city hydrants, this is less of a concern (though there is an environmental impact, which is a different discussion). However, in areas where water is harder to come by, this becomes much more challenging.

Firefighter Firefighter

“If you’re in a rural setting or a suburban setting that may not have fire hydrants or access to unlimited water, sometimes the best bet is just to protect exposures and let it go until you’ve got adequate and suitable resources to put that fire out,” said Shayne Mintz, the NFPA’s Canadian regional director.

Letting the car burn itself out and considering the battery a no-go zone is Toronto Fire’s approach, according to John Davidson, the department’s division chief for technical operations. Davidson said firefighters have been undergoing EV fire training since the earliest hybrids hit the streets, one aspect of which is learning to identify battery-powered vehicles so they can be handled accordingly.

Brampton, Ont.’s fire department is also ramping up specialized training and changing their response protocols to prepare for more water use and offer safety guidance for towing operators. But the department is also demonstrating its own confidence in the technology: it will become the first municipality in Ontario to use an electric emergency response vehicle when a Rosenbauer RT joins its fire truck fleet late next year.

As far as risks around electric vehicles are concerned, Davidson said fires are less of a concern to first responders than locating batteries and high-voltage cabling for situations such as cutting and extrication. This is becoming easier as the locations of these elements become more standardized, but automakers can change specifications without warning, he said.

Fire Truck

“I could have individuals read the emergency response guide and say the orange (high-voltage) cabling should be up through the centre console, (and the automaker) might have changed that but they didn’t update the response guide,” Davidson said. “There’s the other curve ball that’s thrown to us in the emergency industry. … It’s not like we can Google it on the side of the highway.”

The post EVs create new challenges for first responders, but they’re nothing to fear appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Automakers usually advertise the quickest charge times for their electric vehicles, achieved using an expensive and hard-to-come-by 400-volt Level 3 DC fast charger.

But that’s not what you have at home. Not even close.

Plugging in to a normal 120-volt wall outlet means you get the slowest charging rate. Instead of the advertised quickest rate of 38 minutes for a Ford Mustang Mach-E, you’re looking at days. That’s not much of an incentive for EV ownership.

While there are now more than 6,000 public charging stations nationwide, according to Natural Resources Canada, EV owners will need to charge their vehicles mostly at home.

One solution is to purchase a Level 2 charging station, which can be hard-wired into the electrical panel or plugged into a 240-volt outlet, such as the outlet used for a drying machine.

A Level 2 station cuts the charge time for that Mach-E to around 10 hours, according to Ford. The time may not be ideal, but it does mean the vehicle can be fully charged overnight in the driveway.

Know the costs

Buying and installing a Level 2 charging station costs about $1,500 to $2,000, according to Cara Clairman, CEO of the Toronto-based non-profit Plug ’n Drive, which educates Canadian consumers about the benefits of EVs.

“The install costs depend on how far your outlet is from your (electrical) panel. If your plug is really close to the panel, it’s going to be cheap. If it’s far away to the garage or the spot you want to put the charger, it’s going to cost a little bit more. What we see is it costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000, $1,200 to install and then the charger on top of that. That’s another $500 or $600.”

Charger cost depends on its features. For example, so-called smart chargers have apps that allow the charger to be controlled remotely from a cellphone or other Bluetooth device. As well, lower priced units usually have lower amp ratings — current flow — which means a slower charge rate.

The chargers for sale on Plug ’n Drive’s website range from $750 for a 30-amp unit, to about $1,200 for a 48-amp unit.

Know your savings

While as much as $2,000 is a lot upfront, that can be quickly recouped in government rebates — depending where you live — and fuel savings.

For example, according to ChargeLab.co, the government of Yukon will rebate 50 per cent of the total install costs of a home charger, up to $750. Likewise, the government of Quebec will rebate 50 per cent of the cost, up to $500. Some local municipalities even offer incentives.

But the big savings come by way of reduced fuel costs over time.

“On average, here in Ontario, electricity is about one quarter the price of (gasoline),” said Clairman.

“In Quebec, it’s more like a fifth or a sixth. Manitoba, about a sixth. So it depends what province you’re in, how cheap your electricity is, but it’s significantly cheaper. So if you’re paying $1.20 a litre (for gasoline), I’m paying less than the equivalent of 30 cents a litre for my electricity.”

Location

Given Canadian winters, mounting the charging station in the garage will be a desirable option. Top-brand chargers are rated for indoor and outdoor use, however, which would serve car ports.

GM fast charge

The new EVgo fast charging stations will offer 100-350-kilowatt capabilities to meet the needs of an increasingly powerful set of EVs coming to market.

EV Charging

Level 2 charging wands will work with any make and model of EV, except for Teslas, which have a unique connector. Adapters are available for Teslas, however.

Mindset

Last but not least, EV ownership requires a reset of old habits.

Since charging time is a factor — versus the short time it takes to refuel a vehicle with gasoline — drivers should attempt to keep the vehicle on the charger when it’s not being driven. It’s a habit akin to cellphone charging, which ensures maximum available range for the next time the vehicle is driven.

GM Fast Charge

General Motors to collaborate with EVgo, ChargePoint and Greenlots to enhance the charging experience for customers

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Every week, we take your questions about what is going on under the hood of your vehicle and pose them to a knowledgeable mechanic in the Greater Toronto Area. In today’s column we discuss problems with the Nissan Versa’s hatch release.

Dear Ask a Mechanic,  

I have a 2010 Nissan Versa and the hatch (trunk) release doesn’t work. There is no release inside the cabin. There are a few suggestions online but those result in the hatch being permanently open. Is there a more appropriate, reasonable fix? – Looking for answers

Zafar Habib, co-owner of Scarborough’s Humble Autohaus, said a couple of possible options come to mind: the first involves folding and taking out the back seat. This will allow the driver to remove the cover from the tailgate, exposing the latch handle that can be pulled to manually open the hatch. The second option would be to replace the button that pushes the hatch open. Most of the time, the issue is that the button is stuck.

Replacing the button is preferable for anyone who wants easy access to the hatch. The process to replace the button isn’t costly or time consuming. The situation may be further complicated depending on the way the circuit for the button is grounded in most Versas. In order for the tailgate to be effectively locked, the circuit is grounded in the unlock position in a latch on one of the front doors. If the lock position switch inside the door has gone bad, the only fix would be to replace the affected part. Habib suggests having a professional examine the issue instead of going online for answers.

Ask a Mechanic is written by Nida Zafar, a reporter who grew up in a house full of mechanics in Scarborough, and occasionally poses your questions to her dad or brother. You can send your questions to wheels@thestar.ca. These answers are for informational purposes only. Please consult a certified mechanic before having any work done to your vehicle.

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Female drag racer, Indigenous role model named to motorsport Hall

The Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame will induct 16 new members during a special ceremony next February. Last week, I published mini-profiles of the first eight – I put them in alphabetical order – and today I will present the remaining eight. Last week, I concluded with Graham, Brian. This week, I continue with Graham, John.

JOHN GRAHAM. John was a racing driver (he finished first in class in the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans, co-driving with Scott Maxwell and the late Greg Wilkens) and a promoter (he was the first to push for Molson to sponsor an Indy car race, which would have been held at Downsview). In additional to Le Mans, he had podium finishes at Daytona, Sebring, Petit Le Mans (2), Sears Point – where he also won the pole in his class – Mosport, Spa, Mt. Fuji and Adelaide.  He also raced in the NASCAR Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series and the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally.  His most successful promotion was the Moosehead Grand Prix in Halifax, which ran for five years. A master at finding sponsorship, he convinced Gordon Lightfoot to sponsor him in 1986, the last year of the Can-Am Series.

COLIN HINE. Colin Hine has been involved with motorsports as a driver, team owner and team manager, engine builder, chassis distributor in circuit racing, rally racing, and karting for 59 years in England and Canada. Since he moved to Canada in 1975, he has owned and operated Colin Hine Racing and won national championships in both rally and road racing. Some of his drivers have included world-class drivers like Scott Goodyear, Paul Tracy, Walter Boyce, Ron Fellows, Stig Blomqvist, Willy T. Ribbs, Jean-Paul Perusse and Bob Armstrong. After running a racing business and doing what was needed to help young drivers, Colin then became a race official for multiple IMSA series in Canada and the United States. In that role, he trained new officials in the role of technical inspector/scrutineer.

JIM MARTYN. Not only was he the Voice of Mosport (now Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) for many years, he was also the Voice of the American Le Mans Series (he travelled the continent announcing their races) and one of the voices of Radio Le Mans. In short, the late Jim Martyn could do it all. When it’s said he was one of the voices of Radio Le Mans, he was the announcer selected by ALMS owner Dr. Don Panoz to put together and train a team to broadcast the world’s most famous endurance race. Jim nearly lost his life in the early 2000s at Le Mans when he pulled out of a track access road into the sun and was hit by a transport truck. He survived but the shock had a negative effect on his life and career. In later years, he worked for General Motors at auto shows and was a volunteer announcer at karting events.

KANDY MITTON. A Maritime radio and television personality, Kandy Mittton is an administrator and drag-racing competitor. When the Atlantic Drag Racing Association was formed in 1998, Kandy volunteered as secretary/treasurer and held that job for 10 years before stepping down to race. She was the first woman to win the ADRA championship and the first woman to win Super Pro drag races in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. She raced at Lebanon Valley, N.Y., in September and went seven rounds, making it to the quarterfinals before being eliminated. She was host of a TV series called “2Fast4U” where students from 13 high schools built drag cars over the winter and held a runoff at Miramichi Dragway every 24th of May weekend to determine who was best.

FRANK ORR. As comfortable talking to Jackie Stewart as he was Dave Keon, the late Toronto Star sportswriter was best known as a hockey writer. But he had a similar impact covering motorsports, including Canada’s first Indy car and Formula One races in 1967. Orr also covered the Can-Am series, which became the leading North American road racing championship. As well as races, he chronicled the careers of drivers such as Paul Tracy, Greg Moore, Ron Fellows and Jacques Villeneuve — all of whom went on to become Canadian Motorsport Hall of Famers. With Canada entering something of a golden era in auto racing in the 1990s, Orr’s writing became a fixture in the Star’s Wheels section. He wrote more than 30 books, including three on racing, the best-known being “Five Minutes to Green,” about George Eaton.

HOWIE SCANNELL. According to his biographer, Rick Sharples, Howie (Scooter) Scannel started racing in the mid-1950s and numbered his first car 41, which was the reversed number (14) of his hero, Hall of Fame member Wally Branston. His first night out, at Pinecrest Speedway, he crashed and broke his nose. He was not discouraged. Over his career, he drove jalopies, stock cars, B Modifieds, Super Modifieds and Late Models. He raced at the CNE Speedway, Pinecrest, Cayuga, Delaware, Flamboro, Nillestown, Bridgeport, Barrie, Oswego and tracks in Florida, winning races and some championships along the way. He was a fan first but he wanted to race, not watch. Since retiring, he’s been involved in the stock-car racing careers of his son and grandson, while also coaching young go-kart racers.

GLENN STYRES. In the backyard of his family home on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, Glenn Styres built a 3/8-mile clay speedway where he races sprint cars and promotes races for others. The World of Outlaw Sprint Car Series, which races all over North America more than 80 times a season, named him Promoter of the Year, not just once but twice. A sprint car champion himself, Glenn is also a public figure and role model in the Indigenous Community. Styres has brought major networks to auto racing, including the APTN Network, which is currently airing the Friday Night Thunder Series that takes viewers inside his Ohsweken Speedway. He’s a personal friend of Tony Stewart’s and a sponsor of NASCAR star Kyle Larson’s sprint car program.

BILL ZARDO, SR. During a 40-year career, Bill Zardo took Canadian stock car racing to new heights, while demonstrating hard work, dedication and commendable sportsmanship. Born in Brampton in 1942, Bill got hooked on the sport in 1960 while helping his longtime friend Jim Halahan at Pinecrest Speedway. In 1981, Zardo went racing in the CASCAR No. 7 Lights Series and won his first CASCAR Super Late Model Series championship. Zardo was arguably the No. 1 stock car racer of the 1980s but that wasn’t enough for him. He set his sights on making a splash on the international circuit in the 1990s, and started racing on the American Canadian Tour.  He achieved his goal by winning the Flexmor Super Late Model title in 1996 when he was 54. He was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

Bill Zardo

The post Sprint car star, Voice of Mosport among 16 named to Hall  appeared first on WHEELS.ca.

Frank Huang’s two-vehicle family always included an SUV and a sedan. Pre-pandemic, Huang drove a 2017 Camry Hybrid for his frequent commutes between his Oakville home, his office in Kitchener-Waterloo, and client visits in Toronto. While Huang currently works from home, he replaced his sedan with a 2021 model leased from Oakville Toyota earlier this year.

Admitting that he upgrades his daily car every few years, Huang always seeks the latest safety features, improvements in fuel efficiency, reliability, and technology. Thanks to its comfort and fuel efficiency, he’s been using the Camry for longer family road trips – something he formerly designated to the SUV. Frank tells us why he loves his 2021 Camry Hybrid.

“There’s a lot of features I like,” said Huang. “It’s fuel efficient (which has improved from 6.3 to 4.8 litres per 100 kilometers). One tank of gas drives over 900 kilometers, so it’s great for long drives. [My wife, Karen and I] try to be more sustainable, and do every little bit we can.

“What I love about these hybrids is that they have a lot of the tech. Even on long distance trips it kind of drives itself because it has adaptive cruise control. I literally put my hands on the steering wheel and the system allows me to maintain distance with the vehicle on the highway, and keeps me in my lane. It can stop and go as needed; I just set the target speed. I don’t have to think about it too much,” said. Huang.

A firm subscriber of leasing his hybrids, Huang confessed he wants to upgrade to a fully electric vehicle when the industry has matured.

“I use this analogy: It’s like having a cellphone these days and not wanting to keep it more than three years. The hardware gets old, the tech is dated, and you want to refresh, right? The software now is ramping up even in cars, which is interesting for me to see because I’m also in software. But I tend not to go for the bleeding edge, because I don’t need to be the one that ends up ironing out the bugs. I’m more interested in using reliable tech.

“Plus, I get positive equity when I swap into a new lease, so I get a pretty good deal. And I’m in that new car again with the latest tech, safety features, and quality. I just like to keep things simple. I think electric vehicles are worth considering but with the hybrid, I don’t have to plan my route. An electric car you have to plan in your [charging] stations for travel, and that’s too much work personally. So in another couple of years when it becomes more widely adopted, and people are all driving electric cars we will pivot to that. But for now, I think gas is still quite convenient. As long as it’s efficient, that’s what I’m aiming for.

“I like Toyota. I think for the value, you get a lot. I’m not willing to pay for a brand. I just don’t see the point. In premium vehicles you might get nicer interiors by default and then everything else is an add-on. For cars like the Toyota, they start off with a very humble interior but it pretty much comes with everything else, like the highest safety standards. It’s super reliable, fuel efficient, and has a good amount of tech without splurging on the most expensive car. Toyota was the first [to mass produce] the hybrid [(Prius)], so it’s kind of like they’re the leader in hybrid.

“I like the quality; with Toyotas, I hardly do anything to them. [Laughs] I do, maybe, two to three oil changes in a year. My maintenance is like 300 bucks. So if you think about that, the cost of ownership is relatively low.”

Renée S. Suen is a Toronto-based lifestyle writer/photographer and a freelance contributor for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rssuen

This article was edited for space and clarity. Want to be featured in Why I Love My Vehicle? email us at wheels@thestar.ca.

A CLOSER LOOK: 2021 Toyota Camry Hybrid LE

ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL

“Long distance driving is a lot less tiring with this feature. We’ve driven to Montreal and back, and the five- to six-hour trip was made a whole lot easier. Your hands are still on the wheel – it warns you if your hands aren’t on the wheel – so you’re still in control but you can focus on a conversation because the car does a lot so that you feel safe.”

TOYOTA SAFETY SENSE

“It warns you if you’re kind of touching the lane. If I’m backing up, I know if someone’s coming from my left or right. If someone’s walking behind my car, the car will actually try to break. It’s also got auto high beam, so if I’m driving and there’s not a lot of light, the high beam turns on automatically to give you more visibility because it can detect how much light’s around.”

APPLE CARPLAY

“It includes Apple CarPlay by default. I’m an Apple user and this allows me to connect to my device and I can have everything I need on display. It feels like a huge upgrade and allows me, just on the navigation side of things, to use apps that I prefer. Sometimes I use Waze, which gives me traffic situation updates quite accurately. But I also like to use Google Maps if I don’t want to know every detail about my trip. I also use Spotify quite a bit for music.”

The vehicle was provided to the writer by the automaker. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to approval.

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