the biden administration had hinted that it would unveil an infrastructure spending plan this week, but (transportation secretary pete buttigieg's media tour notwithstanding) it now looks as though the official plan will be announced next week instead. two things we've been assured the plan won't include: an increase in the federal gas tax and a ban on the sale of gas vehicles after 2035.
this week in sheetmetal
this weekend marks the start of the annual easter jeep safari in moab, utah, and as usual, jeep has developed a handful of concepts for the occasion. this year these range from ev to restomod, and some will showcase mopar accessories. the only bad news is that you're probably not in utah to see them in the flesh.
bmw showed the alpina-tuned version of the 8-series gran coupe, which will have 612 horsepower from a twin-turbo 4.4-liter v-8 engine and model-specific paint colors and interior trim pieces. bmw says it'll get to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, but we think it'll be even quicker.
with all the attention on evs, it's easy to forget that there are still 12-cylinder engines on the market. but the new bentley continental gt speed is a perfect reminder. it's powered by a 650-hp w-12 engine, and bentley says it'll do zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and will handle like a dream, thanks to rear-wheel steering and a new torque vectoring system.
if you're anxiously awaiting the unveiling of the production version of the nissan 400z, wait no more. images posted (then deleted) on instagram this week seem to show the car in its full glory, and it looks essentially identical to the prototype car we saw last fall.
the national highway traffic safety administration (nhtsa) is working on updated guidance for vehicle cybersecurity in the hope of protecting our increasingly connected new cars from hackers, the first update to the administration's guidance on the topic since 2016. the potential that modern cars could be vulnerable to digital attacks has been part of the conversation around connected vehicles at least since wired ran an article detailing the hack of a moving jeep in 2015. automotive cybersecurity is a concern for governments, too. last week china banned teslas from military complexes for fear that data from the cars' many cameras would be transmitted back to the united states.
meanwhile, dodge has hit on a relatively low-tech way to keep wanna-be joyriders out of the brand's theft-prone challengers and chargers. dodge is offering an update for 2015 and newer models of the two cars that would require the driver to enter a four-digit pass code to access a car's full capabilities. without the code, the cars will be limited to 3 horsepower.
what global supply chain?
there was yet another snafu in the global supply chain this week when a massive container ship got lodged crosswise in the suez canal as a result of heavy winds. crews are working to free the ship, but in the meantime congestion is increasing at both ends of the canal and some ships are being rerouted around africa. if it lasts much longer, there could be a significant impact on trade between europe and asia, including trade of the semiconductors that are already in short supply.
speaking of those semiconductors, a fire at a semiconductor factory in japan could further shrink the available supply. the chip maker's parent company, renesas, said it will take at least a month for the factory to get back online, though other factories in the company's portfolio may be able to ramp up production to compensate.
ford announced it will idle production of the f-150 at its plant in dearborn, michigan, this weekend, in a sign that the company has run out of ways to insulate its most profitable vehicle from the effects of the chip shortage. gm says it will extend shutdowns at two plants and cut production at a third due to the ongoing shortage.
winter's not over yet (at least not in our part of the world), so if you find yourself rained or snowed out of plein air activities, turn to our guide to the best car-centric streaming content.
the wall street journal asked this week whether evs really are better for the environment. the piece is full of interesting, thoughtful infographics, but if you'll permit us to spoil the ending: yes, evs really are better for the environment.
in a shocking—but also totally not shocking—display of nimbyism, a group of residents at a new luxury apartment building in austin are attempting to disband their neighborhood's longstanding weekly car shows. read about it in texas monthly.