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Daimler and Volvo team on hydrogen trucks – and the stakes are high

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Volvo and Mercedes-parent Daimler have inked a deal on a new hydrogen truck joint venture, building fuel-cell powered haulage and buses for greener transportation. The 50-50 project will see Volvo Group spend around $650 million to jump in, while Daimler contributes its existing work on fuel-cells.

Fuel-cells combine hydrogen and oxygen in a complex sandwich of other chemicals, producing electricity that can be used to power a vehicle’s motor. In the process, the only byproduct is pure water, rather than the usual smog expected from traditional gas or diesel trucks.

Daimler has been working on hydrogen-powered vehicles for some years now, in part under the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Cell GmbH business. That will be shifted to Daimler Trucks, along with all of the company’s other fuel-cell endeavors. The joint venture will go on to operate as an independent and autonomous entity – its name yet to be announced – distinct from both Daimler and Volvo.

“Joining forces will decrease development costs for both companies and accelerate the market introduction of fuel cell systems in products used for heavy-duty transport and demanding long-haul applications,” the two automakers said today of the collaboration. “In the context of the current economic downturn cooperation has become even more necessary in order to meet the Green Deal objectives within a feasible time-frame.”

The European Green Deal targets both sustainable transport and carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050, an aggressive challenge considering the traditional appetites for petrochemicals in the transportation business. While hydrogen has seen some movement as an alternative fuel in passenger vehicles, it has generally been limited by public access to refueling facilities. In the US, for example, Toyota and Honda offer fuel-cell vehicles, but only in very limited markets where infrastructure is available.

Heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks and buses, however, represent a different possibility. For a start they can accommodate significantly larger fuel tanks, thus ensuring sufficient hydrogen for longer journeys. Since refueling a hydrogen vehicle takes roughly the same amount of time as a gasoline counterpart, topping up those tanks could be far faster than recharging the batteries of an electric truck or bus with comparable range.

Those possibilities mean Daimler and Volvo aren’t the only companies looking to hydrogen in the category. Back in March, for example, Toyota announced it was working on a heavy-duty fuel-cell truck that would have hundreds of miles of range with zero emissions. That’s intended for the Japanese market, however.

Daimler and Volvo’s target is series production of heavy-duty fuel-cell vehicles in the second half of this decade. The two firms are also leaving the option open for other hydrogen-fueled possibilities, both automotive and non-automotive. Assuming all goes to plan, the joint venture will be settled before the end of this year.

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2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series confirmed: What we know of this Super SUV

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Cadillac’s most lavish model is about to get a sports upgrade, with the 2023 Escalade V-Series marking the first time the SUV has worn the badge. While already notorious for its scale, luxury cabin, and general excess, the V-Series flavor of Escalade will add performance to that mix.

Source: Cadillac

Full details of the 2023 Escalade V-Series won’t be shared until spring of this year, Cadillac has warned. These newly-released photos, meanwhile, show the pre-production form of the SUV. Still, it gives us plenty to go on, as does the trajectory of the V-Series line in general.

For Cadillac, V-Series is more than just speed

You can’t accuse Cadillac of underplaying just what a V-badged model can do. “With nearly two decades of racing-inspired prowess,” the automaker promises, “the V-Series designation is reserved for vehicles that encompass the peak of Cadillac performance, bold, distinguished design, and innovative technology.”

The route from V-Series’ founding in 2003 to today has seen a few big changes along the way. Initially intended as a way for Cadillac to compete with Mercedes-AMG and BMW’s M division, it debuted with the 2004 Cadillac CTS-V sports sedan. That managed to score a role in the original Matrix movie series, (specifically The Matrix Reloaded, released in 2003), helping secure the green-light for the second-generation V Series in 2009.

Cadillac stuck with a familiar strategy: big, high-horsepower V8 engines, paired with its Magnetic Ride Control system for a sedan that could flick from luxury cruiser to track hero at the push of a button. By the time the ATS-V arrived in 2015, however, the criteria had expanded. Smaller and more affordable than the third-generation CTS-V – which got the Corvette C7’s 6.2-liter LT4 V8 to play with – the ATS-V packed a twin-turbo V6.

Beyond that, Cadillac attempted to replicate what BMW and Mercedes had achieved, expanding “V” as a broader badge to indicate a more sporting – though not necessarily the most sporting – iteration of a regular model. It tried, and abandoned, the V-Sport trim, and has most recently settled on “V” badged models as being entry-level performance options. The CT5-V and CT4-V are the current examples of that.

Source: DW Burnett / Cadillac

Meanwhile, a new Blackwing designation flags the most extreme examples of V-Series performance. Initially referring to Cadillac’s new Blackwing engine, but since expanded, the trim has so far appeared on the CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing, each produced in limited number.

What we expect from the 2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

For the 2023 Escalade V-Series, the expectation is an evolution in performance rather than the outright leap that Blackwing badging would indicate. The current Escalade – now in its fifth-generation – already features a V8 engine as standard. That’s 6.2-liters in size and offers 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. A 10-speed automatic is standard.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

They’re not small numbers, but then again the Escalade is not a small SUV. One possibility for an upgrade is the V8 from the CT5-V Blackwing, supercharged and with upwards of 600 horsepower on tap. Cadillac would obviously need to upgrade other components such as the brakes to balance that uptick in power, though Magnetic Ride suspension is already available on the SUV in its current form.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

To better distinguish the V-Series truck visually, Cadillac has given it a moody makeover. The grille switches to black mesh, and most of the chrome has been deleted in favor of gloss-black trim. The bumpers front and rear, and the side sills, have been tweaked, and of course there are vast blacked-out wheels, too.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

For the inside, Cadillac is playing it even more coy. A single image previews the “V” badging on the steering wheel, though we’d expect a fair amount of carbon fiber and Alcantara to feature, based on the other V-Series cars. The Escalade already offers a huge, curved dashboard display and plenty of space across three rows, not to mention a whole host of toys to play with.

2023 Cadillac Escalade V-Series

Source: Cadillac

As for 2023 Escalade V-Series pricing, there too Cadillac is saving full details. The current model spirals up to over $109k for the standard-length 4WD Sport Platinum trim, and that’s before you head into the options list. A six-figure V-Series is basically guaranteed, then, as Cadillac takes on well-esteemed (and well-equipped) performance SUVs from its German rivals.

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Brabus 800 Adventure XLP Superblack is taking it to the extreme

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Renowned Mercedes-Benz tuning house Brabus has unleashed its latest creation based on the Mercedes-AMG G63 sport-luxury SUV. It’s the newest variant of the 800 Adventure XLP Superblack, a go-anywhere pickup truck hiding a mighty powerful V8 engine under the hood.

Images: Brabus GmbH
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This Airstream eStream concept is an electric camper with an innovative twist

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Thor Industries, maker of the Airstream and other popular RVs, recently unveiled the eStream electric camper concept. It’s essentially a hi-tech Airstream travel trailer with some nifty innovations hiding underneath.

Images: Thor Industries
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