Auto Industry News: BMW Debuts Self-Driving Motorcycle, Handbrake Phasing Out, Wrangler Diesel on the Horizon, and Racing World Says Goodbye to Sprint Car Legend Greg Hodnett

This week’s Auto Industry News is all about embracing change — in every sense of the word. BMW makes an ill-advised attempt at autonomy, introducing the self-driving motorcycle. The handbrake is quickly becoming an automotive relic. Jeep is looking toward the future by finally giving its fan base what it wants—a Wrangler diesel. And Porsche has simply had enough of pretending to be something it is not. Additionally, the racing world faced a sad shock with the passing of racer Greg Hodnett.

The Self-Driving Motorcycle You Never Dreamed Of

Here’s an…uhh… interesting piece of driving technology. BMW has developed a self-driving motorcycle. It can brake, accelerate, and “recognize turns.” Which means that the potential driver does what, exactly? The only way we see this benefiting anyone is if the owner has a disability that keeps them from full use of the bike otherwise. And to be sure, BMW isn’t developing anything for the sake of inclusion.

We’ve seen this sort of innovation teased before, but never this extreme. We thought half the fun of buying a motorcycle was in convincing your spouse that the increased likelihood of death pales in comparison to the freedom of taking your chopper out on the open road. Doesn’t a self-driving motorcycle defeat the purpose? Now it’s “Don’t worry, honey. The computer is a great driver.” Yikes. Next.

Handbrake Is Fading Quickly

According to a study performed by the automotive site CarGurus, the death of the handbrake is nigh. The site’s UK conglomerate concluded that only 37 percent of cars sold in England come with one. And while the electronic handbrake has made its mark on driving society, that doesn’t make it any more cool.

Imagine FF 14: Addressing Dangerous Fast and Furious Behavior in a Modern Society, where instead of ripping the handbrake and drifting into a dark alley, Vin Diesel instead pushes an electronic button and safely slows down, then quietly navigates to the alternate route. So no, safety isn’t sexy, and there’s no acquiring for taste. But it’s interesting that Suzuki and Dacia are the only manufacturers in the UK that still have a handbrake in every vehicle. Porsche, Audi, Mercedes and several other luxury producers have phased them out entirely.

Wrangler Diesel Takes Another Step

The moment that the Jeep faithful have been waiting for is *almost* here. The Wrangler diesel option is nearly ready for pre-order, and it’s projected to get off to a hot start. With the 2020 Bronco breathing down its neck, Jeep stepped its game up yet again, offering a 3.6-liter V6 equipped with the eTorque mild-hybrid option OR a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6. The diesel option is expected for the four-door Unlimited Sport, Rubicon, and Sahara.

According to the dedicated enthusiasts at JLWranglerForums, there are three new order codes (22, 25, and 26) appearing in the system. And the latter corresponds to the aforementioned V6 diesel paired with the 8HP75 eight-speed automatic transmission. While there is no official date for the availability of the order, this is HUGE news for the Wrangler community.

Porsche Focuses on Petrol & Electric Future

While Jeep is out here ushering in a new era of diesel technology, Porsche has officially put the kibosh on all diesel production. Following the emissions scandal that has trailed parent company VW for years, Porsche says that it will shift its attention to petrol, electric, and hybrid cars instead. “We as a sports car manufacturer, however, for whom diesel has always played a secondary role, have come to the conclusion that we would like our future to be diesel-free,” CEO Oliver Blume said.

It should be noted that Porsche does not have a rich history in diesel. They merely dabbled, starting only ten years ago. In fact, the likely first car Porsche ever made was an electric buggy in 1898, so the move actually gets in touch with the company’s roots.

Around the Circuit

Greg Hodnett, a legend in the sprint car circuit, passed away last week in a rollover crash. On, Thursday, at Baps Motor Speedway in York, Pennsylvania, Hodnett lost control coming around a turn before slamming into the Turn One wall. Medical officials believe he died on impact.

Dirt track racers rarely receive the love and adoration of other motorsports, but the most popular pros know that Greg Hodnett was a racer’s racer. His death prompted a statement from NASCAR standout Kyle Larson, who called him “one of the best to ever strap into a sprint car.” Hodnett, who competed in the World of Outlaws, won 20 races over the span of his career that began back in 1993. He was 49 years old.

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