Maserati wants its new MC20 supercar to rekindle that old magic

a red Maserati MC20 in the rain

Enlarge / Maserati’s first mid-engined supercar in nearly two decades strikes a balance between on-track performance and everyday usability. (credit: Cooper Davis for Maserati)

Although the name Maserati is synonymous with exotic performance, the automaker hasn’t unleashed a mid-engined supercar on the world in nearly two decades. In the years since the debut of the limited-production MC12 back in 2004, the company shifted its focus toward sedans and sport-utility vehicles like the Levante to reach a wider audience. Lackadaisical development and a liberal pilfering of the Stellantis parts bin, however, had threatened to dilute the brand.

That all changes with the introduction of the MC20. Developed in Modena, Italy, and built from the ground up on an all-new carbon-fiber monocoque chassis designed to accommodate coupe, convertible, and electric configurations, the MC20 shares very little with the rest of the vehicles in the current Maserati lineup. And thanks in part to its “Nettuno” V6, Maserati’s new 3,300-pound halo car boasts the best power-to-weight ratio in a segment that includes names like Porsche, Lamborghini, and McLaren.

As with the platform, Maserati engineers took a clean-sheet approach when designing MC20’s power plant to create a dry sump engine that’s wholly unique to the brand. The mill uses on-demand twin-combustion technology derived from Formula 1 that places a combustion chamber between the central spark plug and the conventional combustion chamber to improve both performance and efficiency, and the resulting peak output is 621 hp (463 kW) and 538 lb-ft (729 Nm) of torque. Those figures make the engine one of the most power-dense in production today, and that grunt is sent exclusively to the rear wheels through the same Tremec eight-speed dual-clutch transmission used in the C8 Corvette, though it has been dialed in for the requirements of the Maserati V6.

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#car-review, #cars, #maserati, #maserati-mc20, #nettuno, #supercar, #turbulent-jet-ignition

2022 Wagoneer rocks a high-end, vast interior while guzzling hydrocarbons

The 2022 Wagoneer. Uncooperative weather forced us to rely on Stellantis media images for this review.

Enlarge / The 2022 Wagoneer. Uncooperative weather forced us to rely on Stellantis media images for this review. (credit: Stellantis)

Even as the automotive industry charts a course into a mostly electrified future, internal combustion engines still rule the roost in most segments. This includes the full-size SUV segment dominated in the US by the Chevy Tahoe and Ford Explorer. Although Jeep parent Stellantis forecasts having 40 percent of its sales come from BEVs by the end of the decade, it needs to challenge GM and Ford with its own three-row SUV: the all-new Wagoneer.

Starting at $71,845 for the base model, this is not your father’s Jeep Wagoneer. While the grille screams Jeep, that word doesn’t actually appear on this massive SUV. Instead “Wagoneer” appears in numerous spots inside and outside. And it is truly massive—the Grand Wagoneer measures a whopping 215 inches (5,461 mm) from head to tail, a couple of inches longer than the competition from GM and Ford.

To propel this beast of an SUV, Jeep has gone with a 5.7-liter V8 with eTorque (a 48 volt battery-powered motor generator designed to help with performance and fuel economy) and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Although it uses the same box-on-frame design as the Ram pickup truck, the rear-wheel drive Wagoneer’s independent suspension gives it a much smoother ride than the Ram 1500 with its solid rear axle. The upside is nearly 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of towing capacity, surprisingly quick acceleration, and smooth rides on the highway. The downside of this combination of power, weight, and size? Disappointing mileage. The EPA estimates 15 mpg in the city, 20 mpg on the highway, and 17 mpg overall. Our week of late fall driving resulted in just 13.5 mpg. (This is a reminder that it’s not just EVs that lose range in cold weather.)

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#cars, #grand-wagoneer, #jeep, #luxury-suvs, #stellantis, #suv

Meet 2022’s World Rally cars: Much more power, much more sustainable

A brightly colored rally car drives through a rock tunnel

Enlarge / Sébastien Loeb (FRA) and Isabelle Galmiche (FRA) of team M-Sport Ford World Rally Team are seen performing during the World Rally Championship Monte Carlo in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on January 20. (credit: Jaanus Ree/Red Bull Content Pool)

The 2022 World Rally Championship got underway on Thursday with the first night stages of the Monte Carlo Rally. It’s a year of big change in the WRC with the introduction of all-new Rally1 cars—the most powerful vehicles to compete in the sport since the demise of the flame-spitting Group B cars in 1986.

For some time, WRC cars have used turbocharged four-cylinder 1.6 L engines, and that standard continues for Rally1. The engines drive the front and rear wheels via prop shafts and differentials, as you might expect, but there’s no center differential between the front and rear axles, just a fixed 50:50 distribution of torque front to rear.

And the engine isn’t the only thing that sends power and torque to the rear differential; there’s now a hybrid unit behind the fuel tank that has its own shaft to that differential. This is a spec component, supplied to all the teams by Compact Dynamics, a subsidiary of Schaeffler, which worked closely with Audi’s Formula E program.

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#cars, #ford-puma, #hybrid-car, #hyundai-i20-n, #rally1, #rallying, #sebastian-loeb, #sebastian-ogier, #synthetic-fuel, #toyota-gr-yaris, #world-rally-championship

IIHS will rate driver assists like Autopilot and Super Cruise for safety

GM's Super Cruise system is tightly geofenced to divided-lane highways and only operates if the system can determine that the human in the driver's seat is paying attention to the road ahead, ready to respond if there's a problem.

Enlarge / GM’s Super Cruise system is tightly geofenced to divided-lane highways and only operates if the system can determine that the human in the driver’s seat is paying attention to the road ahead, ready to respond if there’s a problem. (credit: General Motors)

On Thursday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that it is creating a rating system for hands-free advanced driver-assistance systems like Tesla’s Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise. Later this year IIHS will issue its first set of ratings, with grading levels of good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Having a good driver-monitoring system will be vital to getting a good grade.

And the institute is not alone. Also on Thursday, Consumer Reports revealed that it, too, will consider the safety of such tech features, adding points if there’s a good driver-monitoring system. CR says that so far, only Super Cruise and Ford’s BlueCruise systems are safe enough to get those extra points. Meanwhile, from model year 2024, CR will start subtracting points for cars that offer partial automation without proper driver monitoring.

“Partial automation systems may make long drives seem like less of a burden, but there is no evidence that they make driving safer,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “In fact, the opposite may be the case if systems lack adequate safeguards.”

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#autopilot, #cars, #iihs, #insurance-institute-of-highway-safety, #partial-automation, #super-cruise

The Bentley Flying Spur Hybrid proves electric motors improve the breed

Bentley's Flying Spur sedan is now available as a plug-in hybrid.

Enlarge / Bentley’s Flying Spur sedan is now available as a plug-in hybrid. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to drive many different vehicles, and one thing has become abundantly clear: electric motors make cars better. They’re highly efficient, and they can recapture energy that would otherwise be wasted under braking. They make massive amounts of torque almost instantly and respond in a fraction of the time it takes an internal combustion engine to take a deep breath. And they do all that in near-silence, which makes them ideally suited to applications in luxury cars.

And cars don’t get much more luxurious than Bentley’s new Flying Spur Hybrid.

This new plug-in hybrid is Bentley’s second PHEV and follows the hybrid version of its Bentayga SUV ahead of the introduction of the brand’s first battery EV in 2025. As in the SUV, a 2.9L V6 gasoline engine sits under the expansive hood, generating 410 hp (306 kW) and 406 lb-ft (550 Nm).

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#bentley-flying-spur, #bentley-flying-spur-hybrid, #cars

Autonomous battery-powered rail cars could steal shipments from truckers

Parallel Systems

Enlarge / Two Parallel Systems rail vehicles transport a container down a test track in Southern California. (credit: Parallel Systems)

For the last 200 years, freight trains haven’t changed much; massive locomotives still move relatively dumb freight cars. Certainly, rail fans could argue that plenty has changed—they’re not wrong!—but from a distance, trains work pretty much the same today as they did in the 1800s.

That may change, though, if three former SpaceX engineers have placed their bets properly. Today, their startup, Parallel Systems, has emerged from stealth mode with a prototype vehicle that promises to bring advances in autonomy and battery technology to the relatively staid world of freight railroads. In the process, they hope to not just electrify existing routes but also bring freight rail service to places that don’t have it today.

Whether their bet pays off will hinge on whether freight railroads and their customers will buy into a new way of operating. Parallel Systems isn’t just taking an existing freight train and swapping its diesel-electric locomotive for a battery version. Instead, it’s taking the traction motors and distributing them to every car on the train. It’s how many electric passenger trains operate, but it’s a system that has been slow to migrate to the freight world.

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#autonomous-train, #cars, #electrification, #freight, #trains

Manslaughter charges follow Tesla driver’s Autopilot red light run

Manslaughter charges follow Tesla driver’s Autopilot red light run

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Prosecutors in California have charged a Tesla driver with two counts of manslaughter as a result of a fatal crash in December 2019. According to the Associated Press, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed that the Autopilot driver-assistance feature was active at the time of the crash. That makes this case notable in that these are the first felony charges to result from a fatal crash involving a partially automated driving system.

The fatal crash took place in Gardena, California, on December 29, 2019. According to reports, the Tesla Model S owned by Kevin Riad exited I-91, failed to stop at a red light, and then collided with a Honda Civic, killing both of that car’s occupants, Gilberto Alcazar Lopez and Maria Guadalupe Nieves-Lopez. Within days, the NHTSA announced it would investigate the incident—one of a growing number of cases involving Tesla Autopilot that the agency is looking into.

The AP reports that no one involved with the case is prepared to talk publicly ahead of a preliminary hearing on February 23, although it notes that Riad pleaded not guilty. The families of both victims are suing Riad and Tesla in separate lawsuits, alleging that Riad was negligent and that Tesla has sold defective vehicles. The cases are expected to reach court in 2023.

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#autopilot, #cars, #tesla, #traffic-deaths

Peugeot thinks its wingless 9X8 race car can win Le Mans

Peugeot's 9X8 seen testing at Aragorn in Spain in late December 2021.

Enlarge / Peugeot’s 9X8 seen testing at Aragorn in Spain in late December 2021. (credit: Peugeot)

With the introduction of the new Hypercar class, Peugeot will try to do something unheard of in more than 50 years—win the 24 Hours of Le Mans without a rear wing. The French automaker raised a few eyebrows when the first pictures of its wingless race car became public last summer, since big rear wings have been part and parcel of racing for decades. But the 9X8 took to the track last month for its first test, and as you can see, it’s still sans aile.

The 9X8 is designed to compete under the new Hypercar rules, which are complicated and unfriendly to the casual fan. Not all Hypercars have to be hybrids, but the 9X8 is. Behind the cockpit and ahead of the rear wheels that it powers is a new 2.6 L Biturbo gasoline V6, good for 500 kW (670hp). Ahead of the driver’s feet, you’ll find a 200 kW (268 hp) electric motor-generator unit. To keep speeds safe, the total output is capped at 500 kW by the 9X8’s electronic brain.

Although the 9X8’s powertrain is all new, it’s not actually Peugeot’s first hybrid endurance racer. That honor goes to the 908 Hybrid4, which was meant to contest Le Mans in 2012. Instead, Peugeot shuttered its racing program early after an economic downturn and layoffs made such side activities untenable.

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#cars, #hypercar, #le-mans, #peugeot-9x8, #racing

Mass. lawmakers want to tweak connected car “right to repair” law

Mass. lawmakers want to tweak connected car “right to repair” law

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images/Aurich Lawson)

Back in 2013, Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to pass a “right to repair” law that required carmakers to sell their proprietary diagnostic tools and software to third-party repair shops. During the 2020 election, the voters of that state voted, three-to-one, in favor of expanding the law to include the connected aspects of new cars.

From model year 2022, any new car sold in the state that features connected car services or telematics capabilities must have a standardized open data platform as a way of accessing those online services. Now, though, two bills seek to tweak the law in the hopes of getting OEMs to comply.

MY2022 cars have been on sale across the country for some months now. However, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy has held off on enforcing the new provisions of the law due to an ongoing federal lawsuit brought by a coalition of automakers who claim that the current law is incompatible with widely accepted cybersecurity practices (a view shared by a horrified-sounding National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

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#cars, #massachusetts, #right-to-repair

Here’s why modern cars feel so lifeless to drive

A person drives a Porsche Taycan on track

Enlarge / The Porsche Taycan is one of the few new cars to exhibit anything we might recognize as steering feel. That wasn’t always the case. (credit: Andrew Hedrick)

In almost every regard, new cars are better than they’ve been at any time in their history. They’re safer than they used to be—though that is less true for women. Powertrains, particularly battery electric ones, are more powerful and more efficient, which helps to compensate for the extra weight of that added safety equipment. Vehicles are far more reliable, at least for their first 100,000 miles, and even cheap cars come with standard equipment that would seem like science fiction to drivers from just a few decades ago.

They ride better; they stop better—so everything’s great, right? The problem is that modern cars almost invariably feel a bit boring to drive. The issue is more acute the longer you’ve been driving, as you might expect, since the cause is technological progression—specifically, power steering.

What happened to steering feel?

For much of the car’s existence, steering was entirely unassisted. The driver turns the wheel connected to a steering column that, through links and pivots and usually a gear, turns the front wheels in either direction. That setup was marvelous for feedback, but it wasn’t great in terms of the effort required to turn the wheel, particularly at lower speeds.

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#cars, #driving, #electric-power-assisted-steering, #hydraulic-power-assisted-steering, #steering

Teen hacker finds bug that lets him control 25+ Teslas remotely

The downside with offering APIs to interact with a car is that someone else's security problem might become your own.

Enlarge / The downside with offering APIs to interact with a car is that someone else’s security problem might become your own. (credit: Getty Images)

A young hacker and IT security researcher found a way to remotely interact with more than 25 Tesla electric vehicles in 13 countries, according to a Twitter thread he posted yesterday.

David Colombo explained in the thread that the flaw was “not a vulnerability in Tesla’s infrastructure. It’s the owner’s faults[sic].” He claimed to be able to disable a car’s remote camera system, unlock doors and open windows, and even begin keyless driving. He could also determine the car’s exact location.

However, Colombo clarified that he could not actually interact with any of the Teslas’ steering, throttle, or brakes, so at least we don’t have to worry about an army of remote-controlled EVs doing a Fate of the Furious reenactment.

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#car-hacking, #cars, #connected-car, #tesla

Volvo shows off the Polestar 3’s sweet new Android Automotive interface

The full Polestar 3 design isn't revealed yet, but Volvo released this camouflaged photo.

Enlarge / The full Polestar 3 design isn’t revealed yet, but Volvo released this camouflaged photo. (credit: Volvo)

Volvo, Qualcomm, Google are teaming up to make car infotainment even more smartphone-like than ever. If Wintel (Windows plus Intel) is the default software+hardware combo of the PC era, then the smartphone equivalent has got to be Android and Qualcomm (Andcom? Qualdroid?). Volvo is bringing this combo to the upcoming Polestar 3 electric SUV, which is due sometime in 2022. We also got a sneak peek at what the new interface would look like.

Volvo’s Polestar 2 was the first to ship Google’s Android Automotive OS in a car. Unlike Android Auto or Apple’s CarPlay, which run on your smartphone, Android Automotive OS has a custom version of Android preinstalled on the car, as the main car infotainment OS. Even if you have an iPhone, your car still runs Android. The Polestar 2 used an x86 chip (an Intel Atom A3900), but now Volvo is pairing a Qualcomm smartphone chip with its Google smartphone OS. The Polestar 3 will ship with Qualcomm’s “Snapdragon Cockpit Platform Gen 3,” and while that sounds unique, it is really just a repackaged smartphone chip with a few extra features.

The integration of cars with computer technology is always tough. Car development takes around five years, which can seem almost incompatible with the development pace of smartphones and computers. That’s still true of the 2022 Polestar 3. Qualcomm’s Gen 3 automotive platform was actually announced back in 2019, but design wins for the platform are just now being announced at CES 2022. Qualcomm says the Gen 3 automotive platform is based on the Snapdragon 820 SoC, an ARM flagship smartphone chip from 2016. You may remember this chip from phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Google Pixel 1. The Polestar 2’s Intel Atom was also from 2016.

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#android, #cars, #polestar, #qualcomm, #tech, #volvo

The Internet loses a car culture gathering place—DriveTribe will close

DriveTribe was set up by the trio of former <em>Top Gear</em> hosts Richard Hammond (L), Jeremy Clarkson (M), and James May (R).

Enlarge / DriveTribe was set up by the trio of former Top Gear hosts Richard Hammond (L), Jeremy Clarkson (M), and James May (R). (credit: DriveTribe)

This week brought sad news for the online car world. DriveTribe, a community platform for automotive enthusiasts, will shut down at the end of January after just five years.

In a post announcing the shutdown, DriveTribe points to the ongoing chip shortage that has caused the new car market to contract, with an associated reduction in marketing budgets at automakers. “This has made for an incredibly difficult operating environment for businesses like ours which are dependent on advertising,” it says.

DriveTribe was created in 2016 by a tech entrepreneur named Ernesto Schmitt, together with car TV personalities Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond. Hammond sold the concept to Clarkson as “like YouPorn, only with cars.”

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#cars, #drivetribe, #james-may, #jeremy-clarkson, #richard-hammond

Maserati will race in Formula E next year

Formula E's 2023 season will see the introduction of the new gen3 race car.

Enlarge / Formula E’s 2023 season will see the introduction of the new gen3 race car. (credit: Sam Bloxham/LAT/Formula E)

The Formula E electric single-seater racing series will see a new manufacturer join its grid next year. The Italian car company Maserati is figuring out its place in an electrified world, with a battery electric coupe, convertible, and SUV on the way—a range within a range called Folgore. And it has decided that an electric racing program would be a perfect accompaniment to that plan.

That’s good news for Formula E, which has seen a number of German OEMs leave in recent seasons, including the 2021 championship-winning Mercedes-EQ team. Maserati is not quite Ferrari—Formula E has never made a secret of its desire to get that brand into the series, something rejected by then-Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne—but it’s certainly the next-best thing. Now, one of the oldest names in racing is returning to single-seater competition with the introduction of the Gen3 car for the 2023 season.

“We are very proud to be back where we belong as protagonists in the world of racing,” said Maserati CEO Davide Grasso. “We have a long history of world-class excellence in competition, and we are ready to drive performance in the future. In the race for more performance, luxury, and innovation, Folgore is irresistible, and it is the purest expression of Maserati. That’s why we decided to go back to racing in the FIA Formula E World Championship, meeting our customers in the city centers of the world, taking the Trident forward into the future.”

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#cars, #formula-e, #maserati

Elon Musk says he’s hiking “full self driving” by another $2,000

The Model Y still includes a steering wheel for Tesla owners who want to drive for themselves.

Enlarge / The Model Y still includes a steering wheel for Tesla owners who want to drive for themselves. (credit: Tesla)

Tesla’s highly controversial “full self driving” feature is getting yet another price increase. CEO Elon Musk used his Twitter feed last Friday to announce the price hike, telling his millions of followers, “Tesla FSD price rising to $12k on Jan 17.”

Price increases have been a fairly constant theme with the driver-assistance system. In the wake of Uber’s well-publicized IPO in 2019, Tesla got ridehailing fever, with Musk claiming that a self-driving Tesla could earn $30,000 a year in income, working the streets while its owner is asleep or at work.

“If you buy a Tesla today, I believe you are buying an appreciating asset—not a depreciating asset,” Musk said. (Although the company’s EVs do command strong prices in the used car market, they are still, in fact, subject to depreciation, according to a search on Autotrader conducted this morning.)

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#cars, #elon-musk, #full-self-driving, #tesla

Volkswagen sets a date for its retro ID Buzz electric van launch

A VW ID Buzz prototype equipped with Argo AI's autonomous driving hardware and software, on the streets of Munich, Germany.

Enlarge / A VW ID Buzz prototype equipped with Argo AI’s autonomous driving hardware and software, on the streets of Munich, Germany. (credit: Argo AI)

This week, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess set a date for the launch of what might be the most eagerly anticipated of VW’s new battery electric vehicles. The retro-styled ID Buzz concept car blew so many socks off when we first saw it in 2017, and we’ll get our first proper look at the production version on March 9, according to Diess’ Twitter feed.

Intentionally or not, Volkswagen’s ID Buzz concept might be the most successful aspect of the company’s post-Dieselgate charm offensive. VW has had to pivot hard into electrification, applying its proven strategy of building many different styles of vehicles from the same family of parts and designs.

Most of those vehicles have been pretty conventional, like the ID.3 hatchbacks that are starting to get thick on the ground in Europe or the designed-with-the-US-in-mind ID.4 crossover. Then there are the less conventional concepts—try as they might, the engineers couldn’t make a business case for the ID Buggy.

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#cars, #electric-vehicle, #id-buzz, #volkswagen, #volkwagen-id-buzz

GM readies Qualcomm-powered Ultra Cruise driver assistance for 2023 launch

A closer look at the hardware inside the Ultra Cruise computer.

Enlarge / A closer look at the hardware inside the Ultra Cruise computer. (credit: General Motors)

General Motors has partnered with Qualcomm to provide the computing power for its next-generation hands-free driver-assistance system. First announced in October 2021, the new system is called Ultra Cruise, and it one-ups the (already very competent) GM Super Cruise in terms of performance and operational design domain.

Whereas Super Cruise is limited to restricted access, divided-lane highways, Ultra Cruise will at first operate on more than 2 million miles of roads in the US and Canada. An Ultra Cruise-equipped car will sense its environment using a mix of lidar, optical cameras, and radar to generate a sensor-fused 360-degree view of the world around it. It will recognize and react to permanent traffic control devices like stop signs and traffic lights, and it will even handle left-turns, albeit with a little driver input.

Like Super Cruise, Ultra Cruise is a driver-assistance system (it falls under the SAE’s level 2), and the human driver is still responsible for providing situational awareness (with a driver-monitoring system making sure that’s happening).

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#adas, #cadillac, #cars, #driver-assist, #general-motors, #super-cruise, #ultra-cruise

Volvo’s 2023 electric SUV will use lidar to drive itself

Volvo Concept Recharge lidar

Enlarge / Volvo’s future SUV will probably resemble something like the Concept Recharge first introduced in June 2021. (credit: Luminar)

Level 3 autonomous driving appears poised to debut in the US as soon as next year.

At the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, Volvo announced that it intends to offer its Ride Pilot feature to customers in California, pending regulatory approval. The automaker has been testing the system in Sweden, and it will begin testing in California later this year. It plans to ship the feature with its forthcoming all-electric SUV, due in 2023.

Volvo chose California because “the climate, traffic conditions, and regulatory framework provide a favorable environment for the introduction of autonomous driving,” the company said.

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#autonomous-driving, #cars, #ces-2022, #level-3, #lidar, #volvo

Chevrolet readies a $30,000 Equinox EV crossover for 2023

General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra confirmed during her 2022 CES keynote address that Chevrolet will launch the Chevrolet Equinox EV in the 2024 model year.

Enlarge / General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra confirmed during her 2022 CES keynote address that Chevrolet will launch the Chevrolet Equinox EV in the 2024 model year.

Chevrolet’s headline news at CES this year was its forthcoming Silverado EV, a truck that—initially at least—will carry a lot of lithium ion, and a six-figure price tag to reflect that. When seen together with the bombastic Hummer EV, it’s easy to get the impression that General Motors’ product planners see the first wave of Ultium battery electric vehicles as just for the well-off.

But GM’s battery platform is modular, and while it can accommodate huge 200 kWh packs to give bluff-faced pickup trucks a potential 400 miles of range, you can also design a car around a six-module battery with 50 kWh. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s the pack we’ll find in another new electric Chevrolet—the Equinox EV—which goes on sale in fall 2023.

The Equinox EV got a brief mention in GM’s CES keynote, and the company isn’t sharing any more details on the crossover right now other than that fall 2023 arrival and the fact that the model will start “around $30,000.”

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#cars, #ces-2022, #chevrolet, #chevrolet-blazer-ev, #chevrolet-equinox-ev, #general-motors, #gm, #ultium, #ultium-drive

Chrysler to go all-electric by 2028, starting with the Airflow in 2025

The Chrysler Airflow Concept front grille

Enlarge / Yes, it has a light bar, just like pretty much every other EV concept. Still, the lit Chrysler badge is tastefully integrated. (credit: Stellantis)

Not much appeared to be happening at Chrysler in the past few years, though that’s about to change. Its parent company, Stellantis, announced yesterday that Chrysler will become its vanguard electric brand. By 2028, the 96-year-old automaker’s entire lineup will be all-electric.

That’s not too much of a stretch. Chrysler only sells two vehicles right now, the decade-old 300C sedan and the Pacifica minivan, which is available as a plug-in hybrid. Today, at the Consumer Electronics Show, the company shared more details on the Airflow, a concept crossover that appears to be close to ready for production—so close, in fact, that the announcement was probably a thinly veiled preview of the company’s first EV due in 2025. 

The Airflow is powered by two 150 kW (201 hp) electric motors, one for each axle, and while Chrysler hasn’t disclosed the size of the battery, it said it is targeting 350–400 miles of range. If the company can achieve that, it would be quite the coup, rivaling the best from Tesla. Good thing it has a few years before it has to deliver.

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#cars, #chrysler, #concept-car, #crossovers, #electric-crossover, #electric-vehicle, #ev, #stellantis

Chevrolet shows off the 2024 Silverado EV, its first electric pickup

A blue Silverado EV

Enlarge / This is Chevrolet’s first electric pickup, the Silverado EV. When it goes on sale in 2023, there will be two versions at first, a work truck and this fully loaded RST First Edition. (credit: Chevrolet)

On Wednesday, during General Motors’ Consumer Electronics Show keynote, the company unveiled its next electric vehicle. We’ve already seen models from a newly revived Hummer and a forthcoming Cadillac SUV, but now it’s Chevrolet’s turn. And it’s an important vehicle for the brand, as this is its first battery-electric pickup truck—the 2024 Silverado EV.

It will be exclusively made in a crew cab configuration, and yes, there’s a big frunk up front where you would normally find an internal combustion engine.

As you might expect, the Silverado EV makes use of GM’s new family of Ultium Drive motors and Ultium batteries, which means it runs on an 800 V electrical architecture. The trucks can pack up to 24 modules of cells, which translates to a whopping 200 kWh of lithium-ion. As a result, Chevy will be able to offer trucks with 400 miles (644 km) of range between charges when equipped with the biggest battery pack.

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#cars, #ces-2022, #chevrolet, #general-motors, #silverado-ev, #ultium, #ultium-drive

Walmart wants to buy 5,000 electric delivery vans from GM’s BrightDrop

A Brightdrop EV600 in Walmart colors outside a Walmart

Enlarge / A BrightDrop EV600 delivery van in Walmart’s livery. The retailer wants to buy 5,000 BrightDrop EVs in total. (credit: BrightDrop)

The electric delivery vehicle startup BrightDrop is on a roll. Set up by General Motors, BrightDrop leveraged the automaker’s investment in its new Ultium battery platform and Ultium Drive electric motors to bring the EV600 delivery van to market in just 20 months—faster than any other vehicle in GM history.

Last month, the company delivered the first five EV600 vans to FedEx, its first customer. Now, FedEx is increasing its order from 500 vans to 2,000 over “the next few years” and has plans to add up to 20,000 more in time.

Now, BrightDrop can add another marquee customer to its books. The retail giant Walmart has signed an agreement with BrightDrop for 5,000 vans, split between the bigger EV600 and smaller EV410 models. (The number indicates the van’s cargo storage in cubic feet.) Walmart will use the electric vans for its InHome delivery service.

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#brightdrop, #cars, #delivery-vehicles, #fedex, #general-motors, #ultium, #walmart

Sony shows off an electric SUV and says company may start selling cars

Sony has followed 2020's Vision-S 01 sedan with this, the Vision-S 02. It's an electric SUV, and the company might well put it into production.

Enlarge / Sony has followed 2020’s Vision-S 01 sedan with this, the Vision-S 02. It’s an electric SUV, and the company might well put it into production. (credit: Sony)

In 2020, Sony surprised the world by unveiling an electric concept car at CES. Called the Vision-S, it was designed to showcase technology from across the breadth of the Japanese technology firm. January 2021 saw CES go entirely virtual for obvious reasons, but that didn’t stop Sony from showing off the Vision-S again. This time, it was a fleet of them, including footage of on-road testing in Austria.

CES in 2022 is mostly virtual—there might be people on the ground in Las Vegas, but I’m certainly not one of them—and Sony’s EV is back once again. And it has brought a friend: an SUV called the Vision-S 02. (This means the sedan is known as the Vision-S 01.)

The Vision-S 02 uses the same EV powertrain as the sedan, which should still mean a pair of 200 kW (268 hp) electric motors, one for each axle. Yet again, Sony has made extensive use of its sensor know-how to endow the Vision-S 02 with a mix of lidar and high-resolution, wide-dynamic-range CMOS optical sensors that give the car a 360-degree view of the world around it. The Vision-S uses that fused sensor data to inform drivers about their driving environment, alerting them to the presence of emergency vehicles and so on.

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#battery-electric-car, #cars, #ces-2022, #sony, #sony-vision-s, #suv

Scientists train goldfish to drive a fish-operated vehicle on land

A photoshopped image shows a goldfish dreaming of a sports car.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

Perhaps the favorite thing I wrote in all of 2019 was about a research study that taught rats to drive, an activity that the rats appeared to enjoy. Today, we have another tale of lab animals learning to drive, but this time the motorists in question weren’t mammals—they were goldfish, who learned how to drive a fish-operated vehicle in a terrestrial environment.

The very first question most people will ask at this point is “Why?” In the driving-rat study from 2019, the researchers were trying to study environmental stress, and driving is an activity that turned out to reduce stress levels in the rats. This study, conducted by Shachar Givon and colleagues at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and published in Behavioral Brain Research, aimed to discover something a little different.

Specifically, the idea was to see if the fishes’ navigation skills are universal and work in extremely unfamiliar environments, a concept known as domain transfer methodology. And you have to admit, driving a tank inside an enclosure in a research lab is a pretty unfamiliar environment for a goldfish.

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#cars, #domain-transfer-methodology, #driving, #fish-operated-vehicle, #goldfish, #science

Ford will boost electric F-150 production to 150,000 trucks per year

Electric F-150 Lightnings on the production line

Enlarge / Electric Ford F-150 Lightnings being built at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. (credit: Ford)

Even without having driven it yet, I feel confident in proclaiming this year’s Ford F-150 Lightning one of the most important new vehicles of 2022. It’s the first battery electric variant of the automaker’s best-selling—and its most quintessentially American—machine, and even before the first trucks reach customers later this year it seems clear Ford has a hit on its hands.

In response to nearly 200,000 reservations on its books, the Blue Oval has decided to increase annual production of the F-150 Lightning. It’s nearly doubling the original production plan at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan and will churn out 150,000 Lightnings a year to meet demand.

A stripped-out F-150 Lightning Pro, aimed at the commercial market, starts at $39,974 for the version with the standard battery pack and 230 miles (370 km) of range, or $49,974 for the 300-mile (482 km) extended-range Lightning Pro.

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#cars, #electric-pickup-truck, #ford-f-150-lightning, #ford-f-150-lightning-pro

Hyundai stops engine development and reassigns engineers to EVs

Hyundai's Namyang R&D center in 2003.

Enlarge / Hyundai’s Namyang R&D center in 2003. (credit: Hyundai)

Last year was challenging for many reasons, but 2021 wasn’t entirely bad. Despite the pandemic and the chip shortage, it was a great year for new battery electric vehicles. So much so that more than half of our top 10 drives of the year were BEVs. That’s good for consumers looking for a new car—assuming they can find one in stock.

End-of-year top 10 lists are extremely subjective, and no one should read too much into them. But if you want proof of the impending extinction of the internal combustion engine, consider this: On December 23, Hyundai Motor Group (parent company of Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis) shuttered its internal combustion engine research and development division, according to The Korea Economic Daily.

Park Chung-kook, the new head of Hyundai’s R&D efforts, explained in an email to Hyundai Motor Group employees that “our own engine development is a great achievement, but we must change the system to create future innovation based on the great asset from the past.”

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#battery-electric-vehicle, #cars, #gasoline, #hyundai-motor-group, #internal-combustion-engine

How leaded fuel was sold for 100 years, despite knowing its health risks

A 1960s Southern California gas station being restored.

Enlarge / A 1960s Southern California gas station being restored. (credit: FarukUlay | Getty Images)

On the frosty morning of Dec. 9, 1921, in Dayton, Ohio, researchers at a General Motors lab poured a new fuel blend into one of their test engines. Immediately, the engine began running more quietly and putting out more power.

The new fuel was tetraethyl lead. With vast profits in sight—and very few public health regulations at the time—General Motors Co. rushed gasoline diluted with tetraethyl lead to market despite the known health risks of lead. They named it “Ethyl” gas.

It has been 100 years since that pivotal day in the development of leaded gasoline. As a historian of media and the environment, I see this anniversary as a time to reflect on the role of public health advocates and environmental journalists in preventing profit-driven tragedy.

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#cars, #gasoline, #leaded-gas, #pollution, #science

Tesla is recalling over 475,000 Model 3 and Model S vehicles

Tesla Model 3

Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Tesla is recalling over 475,000 of its vehicles because of a pair of safety issues. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 356,309 Tesla Model 3s covering model years 2017-2020 are being recalled due to problems with the rearview cameras. The 2017-2020 Model S is the other target with 119,009 of those BEVs due to a problem with the front hood latch. 

For the Model 3, the NHTSA says that the problem comes from a cable harness for the rearview camera, which “may be damaged by the opening and closing of the trunk lid, preventing the rearview camera image from displaying.”

On the Model S, problems with the latch for the front hood may cause the “frunk” to open while the vehicle is in motion and without warning, which would obstruct the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash.”

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Rivian tells buyers of trucks, SUVs with 400-mile range to wait until 2023

A Rivian R1T showing off its off-road capability.

Enlarge / A Rivian R1T showing off its off-road capability. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

With supply chain disruptions messing with the auto industry, it’s an especially challenging time for startups like Rivian. After warning of production challenges due to parts shortages early in December, the Illinois-based electric truck maker on Tuesday told some customers they would need to wait another year, until 2023, for their preorders to be delivered.

The delay affects deliveries of Rivian R1T (truck) and R1S (SUV) models with the Max battery packs, which offer a range of 400 miles on a single charge. Those account for about 20 percent of Rivian preorders, according to an email to customers sent by Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe and posted to Reddit. The rest of the preorders are for vehicles with the Large pack, providing range of around 315 miles.

“In order to serve the largest number of preorder holders, we will be prioritizing building the Adventure Package with Large pack battery during the next year,” wrote Scaringe. “Explore Package preorders and vehicles with a Max pack battery configuration will follow in 2023. In setting our delivery timing, we optimized our build sequence around the build combination that would support us ramping as quickly as possible and therefore have the largest possible positive climate impact.”

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#bevs, #cars, #pickup-trucks, #r1s, #r1t, #rivian

Ars Technica’s top 10 cars, trucks, and SUVs of 2021

Ars Technica’s top 10 cars, trucks, and SUVs of 2021

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Aurich Lawson)

I can barely believe it’s once again that time of year when I sit down and look through everything we drove during the last 12 months to see what stood out. And what a 12 months they’ve been, with a number of highly anticipated new models, including quite a few new battery electric vehicles. In fact, more than half of my top 10 are BEVs, which says good things about ever-expanding consumer options. Read on to find out what impressed in 2021.

1. Hyundai Ioniq 5

(credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

OK, I boxed myself into this corner earlier this month when I wrote a headline proclaiming that the Hyundai Ioniq 5 was the best EV we drove all year. I haven’t changed that opinion in the last week, either. Hyundai’s days of unreliable, poorly made cars are long behind it, and its electric powertrains were already the best of the non-Tesla rest.

Now it has a brand-new 800 V platform for larger, more premium BEVs, and the Ioniq 5 is the first result. It has pin-sharp styling and TARDIS-like levels of interior space, and it rapid-charges in just 18 minutes. And the fully loaded AWD version is still under $55,000 before any tax credits or incentives. Watch this space for a more powerful, sportier Ioniq 5 N.

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#bmw-ix, #car-of-the-year, #cars, #ford-maverick, #ford-mustang-mach-e-gt, #hyundai-ioniq-5, #mazda-cx-30-turbo, #porsche-taycan-4s, #rav4, #rivian-r1t, #toyota-gr-supra, #toyota-rav4-prime, #volkswagen-id-4

NHTSA investigating Tesla over infotainment display gaming feature

<em>Sky Force Reloaded</em> running on a Tesla's central screen while the car is driving down the road.

Enlarge / Sky Force Reloaded running on a Tesla’s central screen while the car is driving down the road. (credit: YouTube / Cf Tesla)

Earlier this month, we covered a software update issued by Tesla that allowed games to be played on the infotainment display while the car was in motion. We pointed out at the time that this new capability would likely draw the attention of state and federal regulators. To no one’s surprise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday announced a formal safety investigation over the update.

According to the NHTSA, the feature has been around since December 2020 for Teslas equipped with “Passenger Play.” Prior to that, games could only be played on the center screen when the vehicle was in park.

The NHTSA’s investigation covers approximately 580,000 Tesla Model S, 3, X, and Y vehicles covering model years 2017 through 2021. The agency said it will be evaluating “aspects of the feature, including the frequency and use scenarios of Tesla ‘Passenger Play.'”

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#autopilot, #cars, #model-3, #model-x, #model-y, #model-s, #nhtsa, #passenger-play, #policy, #tesla

Waze adds EV chargers to its app, joining Google and Apple Maps

Waze adds EV chargers to its app, joining Google and Apple Maps


Waze has released an update that will now allow EV drivers to add charging stations as destinations, just as the app has done with gas stations for years.

Users can search for charging stations or tap icons on the map, and they can also add charging stops long the way.

It’s not clear what took Waze so long. Google, of which Waze is a subsidiary, has let its Maps users search for charging stations since 2018. Starting in last 2019, it has also allowed users to filter stations based on plug type, letting non-Leaf drivers eliminate CHAdeMO chargers. Regardless, the addition is a welcome one if you frequently find yourself turning to Waze to avoid traffic congestion.

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More EVs, hybrids likely to follow revised EPA fuel economy standards

More EVs, hybrids likely to follow revised EPA fuel economy standards

Enlarge (credit: Luke Sharrett via Getty Images)

The Environmental Protection Agency today announced more stringent fuel economy standards that will require passenger vehicles to travel 70 percent farther on a gallon of gasoline.

The Biden administration announced earlier this year that it would be revising the Trump-era standards, which sought to increase fleet average fuel economy 1.5 percent per year through 2026. The new EPA standards will require automakers to improve fuel economy by 5–10 percent annually across their fleets. Five years from now, fuel economy on new vehicle Monroney stickers will average about 40 mpg combined, up from about 25 mpg today.

The move will save car and truck owners more than $1,000 over the lifetime of their vehicles, the agency said, and it will prevent 3.1 billion tons of carbon pollution through 2050. Transportation represents about a third of US carbon emissions. The rule will take effect in 60 days and will apply to model years 2023–2026. 

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#cars, #corporate-average-fuel-efficiency, #electric-vehicles, #epa, #fuel-economy, #hybrid-car

FedEx receives its first electric BrightDrop delivery vans

BrightDrop delivers five of 500 electric light commercial vehicles to FedEx, the first customer to receive the EV600s.

Enlarge / BrightDrop delivers five of 500 electric light commercial vehicles to FedEx, the first customer to receive the EV600s. (credit: FedEx)

At the beginning of the year, General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced that the company was starting a new business. It’s called BrightDrop, and it’s focused on providing electrified products for delivery and logistics businesses. At the time, we also learned that FedEx would be the first customer for BrightDrop’s EV600 electric van. Today, the shipping company accepted the first five (of 500) vehicles, which will start making deliveries in Los Angeles in 2022.

Like other GM brands, BrightDrop is using the automaker’s new 800 V Ultium battery packs and Ultium Drive motors in these new electric vehicles. The EV600 has a 250-mile range (402 km) and a capacity of 600 cubic feet (16,990 L).

“At FedEx, transforming our pickup and delivery fleet to electric vehicles is integral to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals announced earlier this year. This collaborative effort shows how businesses can take action to help usher in a lower-emissions future for all,” said Mitch Jackson, chief sustainability officer at FedEx.

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#battery-electric-vehicle, #brightdrop, #cars, #electric-van, #fedex, #general-motors, #gm, #van

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is the best EV we’ve driven in 2021

A cutting-edge electric car parked on a street.

Enlarge / Hyundai’s striking new Ioniq 5 EV was worth the wait. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

SAN DIEGO—In 2020, Hyundai Motor Group revealed it had developed a new platform, purely for battery electric vehicles. Its smaller, earlier EVs have gotten impressively close to Tesla-levels of powertrain efficiency, and these days the Korean automaker is at or near the head of the class in terms of quality and reliability.

So the excitement was palpable when we learned that this new “Electric-Global Modular Platform” (or E-GMP) was intended for larger, more powerful EVs with either rear- or all-wheel drive, with an 800 V electrical architecture, the ability to fast-charge in 18 minutes, and the ability to power AC devices easily. That excitement only grew when we got our first look at the Hyundai Ioniq 5—the first of those EVs—back in February.

In fact, if I’d been paying more attention at the 2019 Frankfurt Auto Show, I would have seen the Ioniq 5, barely disguised as a concept called the 45. The design team, led by SangYup Lee, channeled some of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s angular and boxy energy into the Ioniq 5’s proportions. The 45 concept is meant to pay homage to a 1974 concept that Giugiaro penned for the Korean brand, but to my eyes, it’s more reminiscent of a 1980s Lancia Delta. Except scaled up by 19 percent.

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#battery-electric-vehicle, #cars, #first-drive, #hyundai, #hyundai-ioniq-5

Electric vehicles ask a lot of their tires—here’s why

Pirelli recently introduced a high load (HL) version of its P Zero performance tire, designed to cope with the greater mass of an electric vehicle.

Enlarge / Pirelli recently introduced a high load (HL) version of its P Zero performance tire, designed to cope with the greater mass of an electric vehicle. (credit: Pirelli)

In the past, we’ve looked at the technology that goes into winter tires—and even what makes a good racing tire. But considering that the majority of our auto coverage at Ars focuses on electric vehicles, it’s time to dig into the specialized tires those EVs have to wear.

“We like to design [the tire] as the car is being designed,” explained Ian Coke, director of quality at Pirelli. That means getting started with the OEM several years before the car is due on sale, when it’s still just a concept being developed. “Or if you’re Tesla, six weeks, because they work in a different way,” he laughed.

“We’re getting to know [Tesla] very well now,” he said, as the Italian tire company develops rubber for the automaker.

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#cars, #electric-vehicle, #pirelli, #tires

Polestar 2 owners will be able to purchase more performance via OTA update

The single-motor version of the Polestar 2 just achieved a 270-mile range rating from the EPA.

Enlarge / The single-motor version of the Polestar 2 just achieved a 270-mile range rating from the EPA. (credit: Polestar)

Perhaps the most paradigm-shifting element of electric vehicles—other than their owners being able to wake up every morning to a car with a full battery—is the way automakers are improving the cars over time via over-the-air (OTA) updates.

Cynics might point out that the approach is borrowed from the tech industry’s practice of releasing a “minimally viable product” and then rolling out new features when they’re ready rather than completing everything first and then selling the product. But the practice proved popular enough when Tesla started doing it that it’s now expected in the EV market.

Earlier this summer, Polestar bumped the range of its dual-motor Polestar 2s, increasing the EPA rating from 233 miles (375 km) to 249 miles (400 km). The Polestar 2 can now also precondition its battery if you set a charger as a navigation destination, and Sirius XM satellite radio was added via an OTA update.

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#cars, #ota-update, #polestar

Porsche builds a sporty red wagon: The 2022 Taycan GTS Sport Turismo

A red Porsche Taycan GTS Sport Turismo next to a solar panel farm

Enlarge / Porsche’s newest electric car variant is the $133,300 Taycan GTS Sport Turismo. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Two weeks ago, we found out how the new Porsche Taycan GTS sedan handles some light track work—quite competently, as it turns out. But as I noted at the time, few Taycan GTSes will ever take part in a track day, so how the car drives on the road is more important .

We didn’t get a road drive in the GTS sedan, but we did get a few hours’ seat time in that car’s new sibling, the $133,300 Taycan GTS Sport Turismo. And for readers who don’t speak fluent Porsche, that means this one is a station wagon.

In fact, this is not even the first battery electric station wagon. I think that honor goes to the Taycan Cross Turismo, which is basically the same bodyshell with the suspension raised a few millimeters, plus some plastic bumper extensions to give it an ersatz off-roader feel. Porsche would say that the Cross Turismo “exemplifies all-weather, all-road capability” and that this new Sport Turismo version is focused entirely on on-road performance.

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#battery-electric-car, #battery-electric-vehicle, #cars, #first-drive, #porsche, #porsche-taycan-gts-sport-turismo

Toyota opens up about its battery EV strategy, shows off new SUVs

An array of Toyota and Lexus EV concepts shown on stage in Tokyo in 2021

Enlarge / Toyota is playing EV catchup, but it’s evidently been busy behind closed doors working on some ideas, as seen above. (credit: Noriaki Mtsuhashi/N-RAK PHOTO AGENCY)

Despite being a pioneer in hybrid cars, Toyota failed to translate that knowledge and experience into a strong battery electric vehicle portfolio. Although the company collaborated with Tesla early in the last decade, it has recently taken to lobbying governments to water down decarbonization strategies rather than churning out BEVs. But that situation looks set to change—at least in terms of the company presenting a stronger lineup of fully electrified products.

On Tuesday in Tokyo, the automaker held a briefing to discuss more details about its BEV plan. “Specifically, we plan to roll out 30 battery EV models by 2030, globally offering a full lineup of battery EVs in the passenger and commercial segments,” said Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

Toyota wants to sell 3.5 million BEVs per year by that date, and it showed off a diverse array of EV concepts, many of which it says should appear as road versions in the next few years.

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#battery-electric-vehicles, #bz4x, #cars, #electrification, #lexus, #toyota

Here’s how much Hyundai’s cool, new Ioniq 5 EV will cost

A slightly grimy Hyundai Ioniq 5 on an unusually wet and gray day in Southern California.

Enlarge / A slightly grimy Hyundai Ioniq 5 on an unusually wet and gray day in Southern California. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

The car I’ve been most excited about in 2021 is the Hyundai Ioniq 5. The Korean automaker has impressed with each new model we’ve tried, and its smaller electric vehicles are some of the few that can rival Tesla in terms of range efficiency.

The Ioniq 5 is the first product from Hyundai Motor Group—which includes Kia and Genesis—to use the new 800 V E-GMP platform, which was designed from the ground up to produce pure battery EVs. I spent a day driving one last week, but I can’t say more about that until later this week. What I can tell you, now that Hyundai has finalized pricing, is how much the Ioniq 5 will cost.

The cheapest way to get an Ioniq 5 will be the 125 kW (168 hp) rear-wheel drive SE Standard Range model with the smaller 58 kWh battery pack. This will cost $39,700 before the IRS 30D tax credit and any local incentives. However, as is nearly always the case with a new car regardless of OEM, if you want the cheapest one, you need to be prepared to wait, as it will only become available in spring 2022. (That is still an improvement over Hyundai’s original plan of not bringing the car to the US at all.)

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#cars, #hyundai-ioniq-5

Toyota owners have to pay $8/mo to keep using their key fob for remote start

Without a subscription, Toyota's RF key fob loses functionality.

Enlarge / Without a subscription, Toyota’s RF key fob loses functionality. (credit: George Frey/Bloomberg)

Automakers keep trying to get a piece of that sweet, sweet subscription income. Now, it’s Toyota’s turn.

Nearly every car company offers some sort of subscription package, and Toyota has one called Remote Connect. The service offers the usual fare, letting owners use an app to remotely lock their doors, for example, or if they own a plug-in vehicle, to precondition the interior. But as some complimentary subscriptions for Remote Connect come to an end, Toyota owners are getting an unexpected surprise—they can no longer use their key fob to remote-start their vehicles.

In terms of technology, this remote-start feature is no different from using the fob to unlock the car. The fobs use a short-range radio transmitter to send the car a signal that is encrypted with rolling codes. The car then decrypts the signal and performs the requested action, whether it’s to lock or unlock the doors, beep the horn, or start the engine. RF key fobs have been around since the 1980s, and GM added a factory-installed remote start option in 2004 (no subscription needed).

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#3g-sunset, #cars, #rf, #subscriptions, #toyota

It’s time for “electronic gravel traps” to save F1 from itself

A painted curb at a race track, with a gravel trap immediately to its left

Enlarge / Track-edging red, white, and green painted curbs at the exit of the Variante Della Roggia chicane next to the gravel trap during practice for the 2012 Italian Grand Prix on the Monza Circuit, Italy.

On Sunday, under floodlights in Abu Dhabi, the 2021 Formula 1 season came to an end. The most electrifying championship fight in many years came down to a last-lap pass after a dominant Lewis Hamilton got caught out on old tires after a very late caution let rival Max Verstappen pit for much fresher rubber.

Partially due to Netflix’s Drive to Survive show, the sport has reached levels of popularity not seen since the 1980s, even here in America, so many people have opinions about the role that F1’s race control officials have had in influencing the title fight.

However, I’m not here today to dissect the confusion of the last five laps. Instead, I have a bee in my bonnet about an incident that could have decided the championship that happened just a third of the way around lap 1.

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#cars, #formula-1, #formula-e, #gravel-traps, #timing-loop, #track-safety

Mercedes-Benz gets world’s first approval for automated driving system

Mercedes-Benz's Drive Pilot system being tested.

Enlarge / Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot system being tested. (credit: Mercedes-Benz)

On Thursday, Mercedes-Benz became the world’s first automaker to gain regulatory approval for a so-called “level 3” self-driving system, perhaps better called a “conditionally automated driving system.” It’s called Drive Pilot, and it debuts next year in the new S-Class and EQS sedans, allowing the cars to drive themselves at up to 37 mph (60 km/h) in heavy traffic on geofenced stretches of highway.

Mercedes-Benz has offered various degrees of driver-assistance systems in the past, combining adaptive cruise control (which regulates the car’s speed) and lane-keeping assist (which tracks lane markers and uses the car’s steering to center it between them), but those were only “level 2” systems, as defined by SAE International. That means that although the car can accelerate, brake, and steer for itself, a human driver is still required to maintain situational awareness.

The new system is true automated driving as opposed to driver assistance. It uses a combination of radar, cameras, lidar, microphones (to detect emergency vehicles), and a moisture sensor, plus the car’s high-accuracy GNSS, which locates the car on an HD map.

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#cars, #conditional-automation, #drive-pilot, #mercedes-benz, #self-driving

Why F1’s switch from 13-inch to 18-inch tires is important

A pair of high-end tires side-by-side on pedastals.

Enlarge / On the left, a 2021-spec 13-inch Formula One tire. To its right, a 2022-spec 18-inch F1 tire. (credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images)

Formula One goes to Abu Dhabi this weekend. When the checkered flag waves and the fireworks fire on Sunday night, it will finish a thrilling season, with either Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen emerging as this year’s champion.

But the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix doesn’t just mark the end of an exciting year’s racing—it also sees the end of an era as the sport prepares for a radical change to its tires. For decades, F1 cars have run on 13-inch wheels, wrapped in tires with high-profile sidewalls. But as part of 2022’s radical technical shakeup, the sport is now joining much of the rest of the racing world as it adopts 18-inch wheels and new, low-profile racing rubber.

There was quite a degree of freedom in wheel size and choice for F1’s first few decades, which might shock those accustomed to the current sport’s rigid and prescriptive rulebook. The move to standard 13-inch wheels happened in the 1980s, at a time when 13-inch wheels were still often fitted to road cars—albeit smaller, cheaper ones.

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#cars, #f1, #formula-1, #pirelli, #racing, #technology-transfer, #tires

Power companies band together for coast-to-coast EV fast-charger network

Power companies band together for coast-to-coast EV fast-charger network

Enlarge (credit: Chevrolet)

It took an act of Congress and $7.5 billion in federal funding, but more than 50 of the nation’s power companies are ready to build a coast-to-coast fast-charging network for electric vehicles.

The proposal so far is light on details. Members of the National Electric Highway Coalition say they serve nearly 120 million customers across 47 states and the District of Columbia. The coalition hasn’t said how many fast chargers it will be installing, but the companies said they would focus first on gaps in existing fast-charging networks along interstate highways.

The group is “committed to investing in and providing the charging infrastructure necessary to facilitate electric vehicle growth and to helping alleviate any remaining customer range anxiety,” said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, which helped build the coalition.

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#cars, #dc-fast-charging, #electric-utilities, #electric-vehicles, #power-companies

You can now play video games on a Tesla screen when the car is in motion

An August video shows a game being played on a Tesla central console while the car is in motion.

When we covered the first video games available on Tesla’s center-console video screen back in 2019, we noted that the feature only worked when the car was parked. Now, though, those Tesla games can apparently be played even when the car is moving, a feature that could run afoul of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guidelines and state laws designed to combat distracted driving.

While the ability to play Tesla games outside of Park is being highlighted in a New York Times report today, the change was seemingly rolled out months ago. A YouTube video from January shows Solitaire being played on a Tesla screen while the car is shifted into Autopilot mode, for instance (though other games appear not to work with Autopilot in the same video).

In another video posted in July, a Tesla owner shows space shoot-em-up Sky Force Reloaded being played while the car is shifted into drive. That video says the new capability was added as an unannounced feature of July’s 2021.12.25.6 firmware update.

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#cars, #distracted-driving, #gaming-culture, #tesla, #video-games

Traffic bounces back in year two of the pandemic, minus the commuters

This became a more common sight in 2021 as drivers returned to the roads.

Enlarge / This became a more common sight in 2021 as drivers returned to the roads. (credit: Getty Images)

As we head towards the end of the second year of a global pandemic, the effect of COVID-19 on road traffic around the world is clear to see. Congestion has begun to return, though not everywhere, and not to 2019 levels. Traffic patterns have changed, too, with more traffic popping up in the middle of the day as commuters continue to stay away from the office. That’s according to the 2021 Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, an annual report prepared by the traffic analytics company.

Here in the US, Chicago and New York are the worst cities for traffic, with their drivers giving up 104 hours and 102 hours of their lives respectively to congestion in 2021. Inrix actually ranks New York as number one in the country due to the higher costs this imposes on the city, despite the fact that Chicagoans spent an extra couple of hours behind the wheel. However, traffic in both cities remains almost 30 percent down from pre-pandemic levels.

Other cities have yet to show as much recovery. Washington DC stands out, with traffic still 65 percent lower than in 2019, which translates to 80 fewer hours in traffic per person.

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#cars, #congestion, #covid-19, #inrix, #road-traffic

Apple AirTags being used by thieves to track high-end cars to steal

Technology that can track stolen property can also be used to track property to steal.

Enlarge / Technology that can track stolen property can also be used to track property to steal. (credit: Getty Images)

When Apple debuted its new AirTag tracker earlier this year, part of our review focused on the privacy implications of the device. We called the device “a rare privacy misstep from Apple.” This week, Canadian police announced that car thieves have been using AirTags to track vehicles they want to steal.

York Regional Police (which serves an area north of Toronto) revealed that it has investigated five incidents in the past three months in which thieves have hidden AirTags on vehicles parked in public. Later, the thieves tracked down their targets to steal the cars at their leisure.

Other Bluetooth-based trackers have been available for some time now, but the ubiquity of Apple devices (which communicate with AirTags via Apple’s Find My app) means it’s generally faster and more accurate to track something remotely via an AirTag than a rival device like a Tile. And while they undoubtedly make it easier for users to recover lost stuff, the tags are being exploited by criminals.

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#apple-airtag, #car-theft, #cars

Tesla announces $1,900 electric quad bike for kids

The Cyberquad for Kids is a $1,900 electric ATV.

Enlarge / The Cyberquad for Kids is a $1,900 electric ATV. (credit: Tesla)

The entry point for Tesla’s range of electric vehicles just got a lot lower. On Thursday, the American automaker announced the Cyberquad for Kids, an angular electric all-terrain vehicle inspired by the company’s 2019 Cybertruck concept. At $1,900, the ATV costs a tiny fraction of the next-cheapest Tesla you can order online.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an ATV from Tesla. When CEO Elon Musk debuted the polarizing pickup, he also showed off an ATV to go with it, albeit one that turned out to be a Yamaha Raptor with a powertrain swap. The Cyberquad for Kids is manufactured for the automaker by Radio Flyer.

As the name suggests, this ATV is a bit smaller. Although Tesla says it’s suitable for anyone ages 8 or older, the Cyberquad for Kids can only accommodate riders of up to 150 lbs (68 kg), so adults might find it too diminutive.

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#all-terrain-vehicle, #atv, #cars, #cybertruck, #radio-flyer, #tesla, #tesla-cyberquad-for-kids

Bus Simulator 21: We should really pay bus drivers more

This is Chinatown in Angel Shores, a substitute for the Bay Area in <em>Bus Simulator 21</em>.

Enlarge / This is Chinatown in Angel Shores, a substitute for the Bay Area in Bus Simulator 21. (credit: Astragorn)

Have you ever had a game you really wanted to love, but it just didn’t work out? For me, Bus Simulator 21 is that game. News of its impending release caught my eye in late summer, and I knew I had to try it. Almost all of my gaming these days involves a handful of racing sims, but the idea of a lower-stress driving experience seemed like an attractive distraction from the world outside.

At this point, any actual bus drivers reading this will be shaking their heads. Because as I have come to learn, driving a bus is pretty stressful.

The conceit of Bus Simulator 21 is extremely straightforward: You manage a transportation company and drive buses across a number of different environments. There are fictional open world environments—one in the US and one in Europe—and real buses, including double-deckers and even fully electric ones.

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#bus-simulator-21, #cars, #gaming-culture