Land Rover executives unveiled the latest iteration of the company's renowned flagship on Tuesday, showing off a strikingly well-appointed 5th generation SUV that's also surprisingly friendly to the environment, if not your budget.
The company's emphasis on modernism is on full display with the 2023 Range Rover's exterior. A gently sloping roofline contrasted against a rising sill line as well as other classic design details are joined by state-of-the-art amenities like retractable exterior door handles to help improve the vehicle's aerodynamic performance by nearly 12 percent compared to its previous iterations. The entire vehicle is built on Land Rover's new MLA-Flex architecture allowing for 11.6 inches of ground clearance and fording through more than 35 inches of water.
An electronic air suspension, which debuted on the Range Rover back in 1992, will keep random road divots from detracting from the drive while the new Dynamic Response Pro system will electronically negate body roll during high speed cornering. Coolest of all, the 2023 Range Rover will offer 4-wheel steering, enabling the rear wheels to turn up to 7 degrees to help maintain stability while cornering as well as reducing the Range Rover's low-speed turning radius to rival that of a Honda Civic.
In terms of powertrains, the new Range Rover offers a slew of options. The base models will come with a 48V mild-hybrid 3.0L Turbocharged I6 — turning out 395 hp and 406 ft-lbs of torque — standard. Above that, a 523 hp (553 ft-lbs of torque) 4.4L Twin Turbo V8 is available as well. By the time the Range Rover hits US shores in 2023, Land Rover expects to offer it with an optional 434 hp plug-in hybrid engine capable of travelling up to 62 miles on electric power alone using its 38.2 kWh battery. And, come 2024, Land Rover has announced plans to offer its flagship with an all-electric drivetrain.
But the luxury shown off during Tuesday's livestream comes at a price. A very steep price. The entry level P400 SE starts at $104,000 ($110,000 if you opt for the 7 seater variant) and climes to a whopping $163,500 for the P530 First Edition with the long wheelbase. Preorders for the new Range Rover are already open and deliveries are expected to begin next spring.
The Senate Commerce Committee just wrapped up another three-hour hearing about social media’s effect on children and teens. But the latest hearing was different from previous ones in an important way: it featured representatives from TikTok, Youtube and Snap.
Though the three apps are some of the most popular apps among teens and younger users, all three have gotten less attention from lawmakers than Facebook and even Twitter. It was the first time TikTok and Snap had appeared at such a hearing. All three companies tried to head off criticism by drawing distinctions between their platforms and Facebook, which has recently drawn comparisons to tobacco companies. And each company promised new features to ramp up parental controls and other child protections on their service.
YouTube VP Leslie Miller said the company was working on a new feature that would allow parents to “choose a locked default autoplay setting” in the YouTube Kids app, in addition to other new parental controls. She didn’t provide further detail, but said it would launch “in the coming months.”
Snap also said it was working on new features for parents, with Jennifer Stout, the company’s VP of Global Public Policy, saying the features would be “rolling out very soon.” She said the update would allow parents to view information about how their children are using Snapchat, such as who they spend the most time chatting with and what their privacy and location settings are.
TikTok said it would add additional controls to allow parents and children to better customize their feeds, but was light on specifics. “We're investing in new ways for our community to enjoy content based on age appropriateness or family comfort,” said Michael Beckerman, the company’s VP of Public Policy, “We're developing more features that empower people to shape and customize their experience in the app.”
But the senators of the Commerce Committee seemed unimpressed by these promises. Throughout the hearing, they pushed the companies on issues like algorithmically-boosted content about and self harm on YouTube and TikTok. Snap’s Stout was pushed on what the company is doing to stop on its platform.
Several Republican senators also pushed Beckerman on TikTok’s ties to Chinese parent company ByteDance, and how it handles US user data. In one particularly memorable exchange, Senator Ted Cruz said Beckerman was dodging questions about TikTok’s affiliation with a company called Beijing ByteDance Technology, which reportedly to the Chinese government. Beckerman also deflected questions about what data TikTok collects by saying Facebook and Instagram collect more data about users than TikTok does.
Though Facebook wasn’t officially part of the hearing, disclosures from whistleblower Frances Haugen were referenced several times. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who at a previous hearing said Facebook and other companies were facing a “big tobacco moment,” said that “tech is not irredeemably bad like big tobacco.”
But he said that the companies need to do much more than prove they are “different” from Facebook. “I understand from your testimony that your defense is ‘we’re not Facebook,’” he said. “Being different from Facebook is not a defense. That bar is in the gutter. It's not a defense to say that you are different.”
GM is close to launching a new wave of electric vehicles, and it's making sure the charging infrastructure is in place to keep those EVs on the road. The automaker has launched a community charging initiative that will install as many as 40,000 Level 2 charging stations across North America. The program will give dealers up to 10 chargers they can place at "key locations" in their neighborhoods, such as apartments, colleges and businesses. The units won't be limited to GM EV drivers.
These chargers will also be available to buy directly both through dealerships and online. GM ultimately plans three chargers, including a basic 11.5kW/48-amp model, a "premium" version of that charger (with touchscreen and camera) and a more powerful 19.2kW/80-amp model. The community effort starts in 2022 and is part of a larger $750 million investment through Ultium Charge 360.
Level 2 charging isn't very fast. This is more like a wall charger you'd buy for your home (where overnight charging is fine) than a speedy option like a Tesla Supercharger or Electrify America's fast stations. The distribution also isn't quite as good as it sounds. Dealers may want to install multiple stations in one location to minimize queuing.
This could still be welcome news. Many charging network expansions focus on high-powered chargers intended for long-distance trips. GM's community program caters more to daily driving, where you might just need top-ups. It could be particularly useful for some apartments, though. Residents in those buildings rarely have options to recharge at home, and this might make EVs practical without foisting expenses on building owners and tenants.