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ACCC delays TPG-Vodafone decision due to lack of information



The date for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to make a decision on the merger between TPG and Vodafone Australia has been pushed out from March 28, to potentially April 11.

In an update on the merger posted on Tuesday, the consumer watchdog said its decision will be delayed.

“Timeline suspended due to delay in receiving information from merger parties,” the ACCC said.

“New provisional decision date is expected to be 11 April 2019. The ACCC will confirm the new provisional decision date when the information from the merger parties is received.”

Last month, the ACCC said in a statement of issues that it had concerns over the proposed merger.

“Our preliminary view is that TPG is currently on track to become the fourth mobile network operator in Australia, and as such it’s likely to be an aggressive competitor,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said at the time.

“We therefore have preliminary concerns that removing TPG as a new independent competitor with its own network, in what is a concentrated market for mobile services, would be likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition.

“If TPG remains separate from Vodafone, it appears likely to need to continue to adopt an aggressive pricing strategy, offering cheap mobile plans with large data allowances. Our preliminary view is the merged TPG-Vodafone would not have the incentive to operate in the same way.”

The ACCC said it would also look into whether removing Vodafone as a fixed broadband competitor would impact competition.

TPG and Vodafone Australia announced in August they would be creating a new entity worth AU$15 billion that would use the TPG moniker.

The new company is slated to have current Vodafone chief Inaki Berroeta serve as CEO and current TPG chief David Teoh serve as chair, as well as book revenue of AU$6 billion, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of AU$1.8 billion, and operating free cash flow of AU$900 million.

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Ford Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition makes crossover EV even faster



Ford is adding a new, even more potent version of its electric crossover, with the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition adding speed and torque to live up to the pony badging. Based on the Mustang Mach-E GT announced at the end of 2019, the Performance Edition package will trim the estimated 0-60 mph time from 3.8 seconds, Ford says, to 3.5 seconds.

With two electric motors – one for the front and one for the rear, for e-AWD – there’ll be the same 480 horsepower or 358 kW of power. Torque, however, will increase: the regular GT gets 600 lb-ft, but the GT Performance Edition will bump that up to 634 lb-ft.

Other changes include 19-inch front brakes with red-painted Brembo calipers, plus different wheels. The Performance Edition gets 20-inch machined-face alloys, with Ebony Black-painted pockets. 245/45R20 Pirelli summer tires are standard on the package, too, as is MagneRide damping. Ride height is lowered by 0.1 inches, to 5.1 inches.

Inside, there are Ford Performance front seats, covered in Performance Gray ActiveX fabric with metallic stitching and Miko perforated reflective inserts. A special aluminum appliqué has been added to the instrument panel, too, and there’ll be Performance Edition GT badging. Ford will offer the same array of exterior Mustang colors on the more potent version.

The downside is a cut in range. Ford is targeting 250 miles from the Mustang Mach-E GT’s 88 kWh battery – official EPA range figures won’t be available until closer to the crossover’s release next year, though the US agency did confirm other 2021 Mustang Mach-E range numbers recently – but the GT Performance Edition is expected to dip to 235 miles.

Obviously just how far you can go on a charge will depend on how you drive it, and it’s likely that those eager for the most powerful of the Mustang Mach-E family won’t so much mind the compromise. As with most of the rest of the variants, the GT Performance Edition will support up to 150 kW DC fast charging. You’ll also be able to add the Ford Drive Assist system, when it’s enabled by the automaker, for hands-free driving on the highway.

Reservations for the Mustang Mach-E GT are already open, with the car expected to begin deliveries late in summer 2021. Those who have already reserved the GT will have the option to add the Performance Edition package when they convert their reservation to a full order; that process is expected to start in the spring of next year. Pricing for the package will be confirmed closer to that point.

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2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series starts at $325,000



We talked about the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series a couple of weeks ago, and we previously said base prices would probably start at around $389,000. As it turns out, the newest and most potent AMG production vehicle will cost less than that.

In its recent press release, Mercedes-AMG has officially announced pricing for its 2021 GT Black Series. It starts at $325,000 (excluding $1,050 destination charges) and will arrive at U.S. dealerships in early 2021. It’s a lot of money for a track-focused GT sports car, but you’re getting a lot of motor (and speed) in return.

Last month, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series became the fastest production vehicle to lap the treacherous Nürburgring Nordschleife. It did it in 6:43.616 on the shorter 12.8-mile rack while completing the entire 12.944-mile route in 6:48.047.

The newest Black Series toppled the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ to claim the crown, not an easy feat given the Lambo had a time of 6:44.97 on the shorter section of the racetrack, and Mercedes-AMG did it in less than ideal driving conditions.

The video says it all. For a starting price of $325,000, you get a hardcore, V8-powered monster GT with the track-conquering fundamentals of a supercar. The GT Black Series has a handcrafted V8 engine developing 720 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The engine sends power to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch AMG-SPEEDSHIFT gearbox.

And with peak torque readily accessible from 2,000 to 6,000 rpm, it accelerates to 60 mph in only 3.1-seconds and breaks the 124-mph barrier in under nine seconds. The top speed is at 202 mph, little wonder why it’s the fastest production car to go around the Nürburgring.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series is the result of critical learning obtained from the brand’s GT3 and GT4 racing cars. It has a larger cooling air intake from the AMG GT race car, and the new carbon-fiber hood with large air vents offer better cooling and more downforce. Meanwhile, the rear axle’s upper and lower wishbones have bearings that resist play to ensure stable handling under higher loads.

Even though the newest GT Black Series is a serious performance contender, the interior has not shed its grand-touring roots. It has AMG performance seats, a microfiber AMG steering wheel, premium Nappa leather and DINAMICA microfiber upholstery, and matte black carbon fiber trim. Also standard is a 12.3-inch instrument display and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen display.

Other performance-related features include a two-piece carbon-fiber rear spoiler (finished in matte black), 19-inch front and 20-inch forged wheels, a carbon-fiber front splitter, and adjustable AMG coilover suspension.

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Bentley adds tweed options for Grand Tourer interiors



Bentley Mulliner has announced that it offers new door trim options in tweed for the Flying Spur, Continental GT, and Bentayga. The new interior options aim to provide Bentley’s bespoke commissioning division customers with more choice when specifying their vehicle. Bentley offers four contemporary tweed patterns aiming to add a high-quality texture to the near-limitless range of customization options offered by the Mulliner Personal Commissioning Guide.

Bentley says by introducing tweed as an option for its complete product range; customers now have the opportunity to choose an even more unique finish for the vehicle interior. Tweed is a tactile woven wool that can finish the doors of the vehicles.

Bentley’s tweed selections are chosen to complement the interior design while providing natural color harmony with many of the leather hides are used in the interior of the hyper luxury vehicles. Cheltenham, one of the tweed options, features countryside greens and offers a more traditional choice for customers. Glen Plaid-Tolsta Beach gets its name from the shores of the rugged Outer Herbridesand has a bold check pattern.

Bentley offers two more subtle and contemporary choices with Charcoal and Sand Herringbone tweed designs to complement dark and light interiors on two and four-door Bentley vehicles. Bentley says that the availability of tweed not only adds to its list of options but helps it on its progress towards the use of sustainable materials and its production.

The automaker says that its new trim option is in line with its Beyond 100 strategy meant to help it become a global leader in sustainable luxury mobility. The tweed Bentley is using is sourced from the Lovat Mill located in the Scottish town of Hawick. The mill is known for going to extraordinary lengths to ensure its tweeds are produced in ethical and environmentally friendly ways.

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