Drive Wire: May 20, 2016

Self-driving Alfas, a Wrangler recall, compact Volvos, a bomber bike, and sand skiing.

Hey guys, it’s Marisa Hunter and this is Drive Wire for Friday, May 20th.

Although the Alfa Romeo Giulia has still yet to hit production, the Italian automaker is now claiming the new Giulia sedan will come equipped with self-driving technology. The system will allow drivers to travel at highway speeds nearly input-free, much like the system used in the Tesla Model S. It’s an interesting move from a company whose reputation in the US at least is based on elemental, simple motoring, not necessarily technological innovation. Also, Alfas in North America are fighting against a perception of quirkiness, if not outright unreliability, so a high-tech approach with a new sports sedan is a bold task. Either way, we’re looking forward to the undeniably sexy Giulia’s super-sexy launch, still slated for later this year.

The Jeep Wrangler is being faced with an airbag recall. The notice affects almost 400,000 Jeep Wranglers from model years 2007 through 2014. Evidently, accumulation of dust and dirt in the steering wheel could prevent the airbag from deploying correctly. In other words, Hamptonites, you’re fine, but rock crawlers might want to get their Jeeps checked out. Happily, no injuries have been reported from the issue, but Wrangler owners should stand by for possible notification from their dealers.  

Volvo has released pics of two new compact concepts and as the overused phrase goes, good things come in small packages. The new cars are the XC40 crossover and the S40 sedan, both based on Volvo’s compact modular architecture platform. The 40 series looks to be front-wheel drive, with power expected to come from three and four-cylinder engines. A T5 twin-engine plug-in hybrid is also planned. We think the chiseled little cars look quite good, and we’re excited to see the first Volvo compacts since the neat little C30 left us in 2012. The XC40, S40, and possibly a V40 hatchback are all slated to arrive in 2019. 

When a company names a mountain bike after a bomber, there’s some obligation to produce a ridiculous ride. Fortunately, the Stealth B-52 electric bike doesn’t disappoint. Hitting a top speed of 50 miles per hour and a range of 50 miles, riders are bound to shave a couple layers off the next trail they ride. It even has regenerative braking to extend your range in proportion to your sense of self-preservation. Check it out at stealthelectricbikes.com.

For today’s ridiculous video, we have more of the latest trend in skis and snowboards - that is, not waiting around for snow. Check out what these riders can do on the big sands dunes of Peru and imagine a future where being cold on the slopes is completely optional. Then remember how sandy the wipeouts will be. Maybe we’ll stick with the cold stuff.

That’s it for today’s edition of Drive Wire. For more, be sure to come back to thedrive.com, and follow us @thedrive on all your favorite social media platforms.