Audi executive has confirmed the axing of the TT from the brand's future line up. Pic:SUPPLIED
Audi executive has confirmed the axing of the TT from the brand's future line up. Pic:SUPPLIED

Do you love your Audi TT? Hug and love it. It’s the last of its breed.

Audi’s brand chair Bram Schot has confirmed that after 20 years in production, the sporty coupe is no more. “The brand has done too much for too long. In the future, money will be spent on key projects [electrification and even fuel cells], and some things must be left behind, in this case, the TT sports car,” he said.

However he also revealed that a new electric hell-raiser is on the cards to fill the TT’s shoes. He wouldn’t be drawn into details but offered enough to fuel speculation that it could be an electric sports car.

“The upcoming car will be a similarly emotive model,” said Schot. 

And why not? The company has been teasing electric sports cars of late. Our money is on the PB18 e-tron concept shown at the 2018 Pebble Beach concurs.

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The future of the mid-engined R8 sports car, meanwhile, remains uncertain. Schot did question if the brand still needs a mid-engine supercar with an internal-combustion engine. Quite likely it will live on for longer considering it’s a niche seller with a relatively small carbon footprint. Or perhaps it may take the hybrid route seeing that makers of its segment peers have already embraced the combination of electric and petrol power.

Launch of carbon tax adds to gloomy outlook for motorists

Variable international oil prices and an equally unpredictable rand-US dollar exchange rate have combined to provide a mixed picture for SA fuel prices in June.

This is according to an Automobile Association (AA), quoting unaudited month-end data released by the Central Energy Fund.

“International oil prices have been up and down in May. The basic petrol price has traded between 740c and 780c a litre, which averages out 19c lower for the month,” the AA says.

The rand was also variable, although it traded in a fairly restricted range between R14.15 and R14.60 to the dollar.

“The rand was about 12c weaker over the month,” the AA said.  “This means that petrol prices will still drop by about 10c a litre. However, the basic diesel price increased slightly, by 2c a litre, so diesel users are looking at an increase of about 14c a litre, with a 9c hike for illuminating paraffin.”

However, the AA says the overall picture may look a little different with the introduction of the carbon tax in June. This will add 9c a litre to the petrol price and 10c to the diesel price.

“In effect this means that petrol will decrease by only 1c a litre, while diesel will increase more significantly by around 24c a litre, notes,” the AA.

The association says any number of issues could affect the fuel price in the second half of the year and advises against relying on fuel price stability in the short to medium term.

“We suspect there may be more economic storms ahead,” it says.

Robot assistants will deliver packages from autonomous cars to your door.
Robot assistants will deliver packages from autonomous cars to your door.

Autonomous delivery Fords could get robotic assistant 

With the age of autonomous cars nearly upon us for transport and delivery applications, Ford believes it’s time for the next step in that space: robot assistants. 

“It’s not always convenient for people to leave their homes to retrieve deliveries or for businesses to run their own delivery services,” says Ken Washington, vice-president, Ford research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer.

“If we can free people up to focus less on the logistics of making deliveries, they can turn their time and effort to things that really need their attention.”

Enter Digit, a two-legged robot designed to approximate the look of a human, and walk like one too.

The lightweight robot is designed with the capability to lift packages that weigh up to 18kg. Digit can go up and down stairs, walk through uneven terrain and even react to being bumped without losing its balance.

The robot, a co-creation of Ford and Agility Robotics, is folded inside a self-driving car and deploys to take a package from the vehicle and carry it to your door. It uses sophisticated software, sensors and stereos cameras for navigational information which it can share with the autonomous delivery vehicle or other robots to help it reach its final destination.

“Whether we are working side by side with robots in our numerous factories around the world or living with them as they help push packages to our door, our primary goal is to ensure they are safe, reliable and capable of working alongside people in intelligent ways,” says Washington.

“Through our collaboration with Agility, we are striving to determine the best way for our self-driving vehicles to co-operate with Digit and understand how this new delivery method can be taken advantage of in the future.”

The other challenge is to appease unions who won’t be wild about the idea of a robot stealing human jobs.

Limited-edition On Her Majesty's Secret Service Aston Martin (left) pays homage to the original car driven by James Bond in the 1969 movie. Pic:SUPPLIED
Limited-edition On Her Majesty's Secret Service Aston Martin (left) pays homage to the original car driven by James Bond in the 1969 movie. Pic:SUPPLIED

Special James Bond edition Aston Martin

Five decades ago , the sixth James Bond film was released. To celebrate the occasion, in 2019 Aston Martin plans to launch a special edition model of the DBS Superleggera inspired by the original DBS featured in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

In 1969 this became the sixth James Bond film to be released, and featured agent 007 behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DBS. Today, thanks to a collaboration with EON Productions, the company behind the James Bond movies, Aston Martin announced that 50 special edition DBS Superleggeras — in the same olive green colour as the original — will be available to mark the occasion.

The On Her Majesty's Secret Service Superleggera is the 21st century version of the 1969 DBS. Instead of being powered by a 60s-era V8, the 2019 model is moved along by a 5.2l twin-turbo V12 generating 533kW – more than double that of the 1969 generation.

To replicate that on the original, the exterior of the Superleggera dons a grille designed with six bright horizontal vanes and commemorative side strakes, and on the inside, the model is trimmed in black leather with grey Alcantara blend details. To further emulate the 1969 DBS, the cockpit has red accents throughout.

The car is priced at £300,007 (R5.6m) with deliveries beginning in the fourth quarter of 2019. Each model will come with a complementary red velvet-lined drinks case, which holds two bottles of champagne and four champagne flutes.