Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E gets its official EPA range

Ford's new battery-electric Mustang Mach-E starts reaching customers in the next few weeks.

Enlarge / Ford’s new battery-electric Mustang Mach-E starts reaching customers in the next few weeks. (credit: Ford)

In the old days, people used to flaunt their 0-60mph times. But the instant torque of electric motors means that even sedate-looking electric vehicles will embarrass a 1960s muscle car off the line when the traffic light goes green. Today, range is king—the contemporary measurement of choice is how far your whip can go on a single charge. And on Monday, Ford revealed that its new Mustang Mach-E electric vehicle has met its range goals.

The Mustang Mach-E is available with either a 75.7kWh or 98.9kWh battery pack (although that is total capacity, rather than usable). Additionally, the Mach-E can be equipped with a single motor driving the rear wheels or separate electric motors for each axle. Accordingly, the US Environmental Protection Agency has looked at the data and has certified the four variants as follows:

  • Standard-range rear wheel drive: 230 miles (370km)
  • Extended-range rear wheel drive: 300 miles (483km)
  • Standard-range all wheel drive: 211 miles (340km)
  • Extended-range all wheel drive: 270 miles (435km)

Deliveries of the Mustang Mach-E are scheduled to begin in December.

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#cars, #epa, #ford-mustang-mach-e


Four Ars staffers bought electric cars recently—here’s what we got

Our electric 2019 Kia Niro.

Enlarge / Our electric 2019 Kia Niro. (credit: Timothy B. Lee / Ars Technica)

On Friday the 13th my wife and I went to a Kia dealership to take delivery of a Kia Niro. Taking one of the last 2019 Niros on the lot, we paid $32,900 for a car that lists for $41,000. Even better, when we file our taxes next spring, we’ll get a $7,500 credit from Uncle Sam. So the after-tax cost will be just $25,400.

The options for electric vehicles have gotten dramatically better since we last went car shopping in 2017. I wanted to buy an electric vehicle back then too, but the pickings were slim. Tesla’s Model S and Model X were way out of our budget. My wife declared the Chevy Bolt and Prius’s plug-in hybrids to be too funny looking. The Nissan Leaf was then rated at 107 miles of range—far too little for road trips.

We test-drove Ford’s C-MAX plug-in hybrid in 2017, but the plug-in feature seemed like an afterthought. The car had extra batteries stacked in the rear cargo area, leaving little room for cargo. So we settled for a Subaru Impreza with an internal combustion engine. Cost: $25,200.

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People asked for a Mazda 3 with more power: The 2021 Mazda 3 Turbo review

Not everyone enjoys driving, and not every car is enjoyable to drive. And that’s fine—and more reason to take the bus for those journeys that are more like a chore. But some of us do take pleasure from the act, and some car companies cater to that. And I don’t mean unobtainable supercars, either; there are still mainstream OEMs building affordable cars that appeal to enthusiasts. Like Mazda, for example.

All it took was a couple of hours at the beginning of last year—half of it in Los Angeles’ afternoon traffic—to realize that the new Mazda 3 stood out from the pack. It was the first car to use Mazda’s new Skyactiv vehicle architecture, and despite Internet grumblings about the rear suspension design, it was a car that felt supple on the road, with a linearity between control input and car reaction that is all too rare in this day and age.

Driving the CX-30 crossover later that year proved it was no flash in the pan, a fact further confirmed when both the 3 and CX-30 were finalists for the 2019 World Car of the Year award (where they came in as runners-up to the Kia Telluride). But car enthusiasts can always find something to complain about, and one thing they’ve wanted from the Mazda 3 is more power. And so, for model year 2021, you can now get one with a turbo. It starts at $29,900, and it’s called the Mazda 3 Turbo.

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#cars, #first-drive, #mazda-3-turbo


A luxury crossover with a mainstream price? The 2021 Toyota Venza

After dragging my better half to a lot of car races over the years, it was an easy yes when she asked if we might visit the Baseball Hall of Fame a few weeks ago. She is as big a fan of baseball as I am of motor racing, and her beloved Washington Nationals were being celebrated for having won the World Series, after all. Sure Cooperstown, New York, does indeed lie nearly 6.5 hours north-northeast from where I write this. But I quite like driving, and a 13-hour round trip is a better way than most to get to know a car.

But which car? As luck would have it, my calendar was double-booked that week. In the red corner, a 2021 Porsche 718 Boxster GTS with a revvy 4.0L naturally aspirated engine, manual transmission, and fixed carbon fiber bucket seats. In the pearl-white corner, a 2021 Toyota Venza with cooled and heated seats, adaptive cruise control, and a hybrid powertrain capable of a combined 39mpg (6l/100km). You’ll be able to read about how addictive that Porsche was in the near future, but obviously it was the wrong tool for this particular job.

So after checking with the nice people at Toyota to make sure they were OK with me adding 750 miles (1,207km) to their new crossover—they were—the day booked off work, and with all the forms filled in to satisfy New York’s public health people, we were all set.

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#baseball-hall-of-fame, #cars, #hybrid, #road-trip, #toyota-venza


Nikola soars as clueless investors mistake month-old GM website for new

GM CEO Mary Barra.

Enlarge / GM CEO Mary Barra. (credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Nikola stock rose 15 percent on Wednesday after confused investors apparently mistook a month-old GM website for a brand-new announcement about the companies’ pending agreement. The stock is up another 7 percent as I write this on Thursday morning.

Shortly before 10am ET on Wednesday, people began sharing links to this GM page on social media.

“We signed an agreement with Nikola to engineer and manufacture the Nikola Badger,” the GM page said. Nikola’s stock price soared from $22.23 at 9:30am to $24.94 at 10am—a 12-percent jump in 30 minutes.

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#cars, #gm, #mary-barra, #nikola


Chargepoint’s charging app now works with Apple CarPlay

It’s fair to say I got excited when Apple first revealed its plan to let users cast iOS apps to a car’s infotainment screen via CarPlay. But it’s also fair to say that four years after it first arrived in the wild, CarPlay still feels pretty spartan.

A lot of that is down to the categories of apps that Apple will allow crossing the phone-car barrier. To begin with, this feature was limited to audio playback apps like Spotify or Audible. The list of permissible apps remained heavily locked down until earlier this year with the release of iOS 14, which opened up your infotainment screen to parking, takeout, and EV charging apps. And ChargePoint is one of the first charging networks to take advantage of it.

Like always with CarPlay, the ChargePoint app runs on your phone, casting a second screen to the infotainment display. As you can see from the screenshots, the app will show you nearby chargers on a map, let you query what kinds of chargers they are, and then navigate you there, all powered by Apple Maps. The app also allows you to authenticate and begin charging once you’re at the charger.

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#apple-carplay, #cars, #chargepoint


DHL is deploying electric class 8 trucks in Los Angeles

An electric DHL class 8 truck on a bridge in Los Angeles

Enlarge / This BYD Class 8 truck, capable of hauling a combined 82,000 lbs, is yellow, but it’s also green. (credit: BYD)

DHL’s deliveries in the Los Angeles area are going to get a little greener in time for the holiday rush. The international courier company is deploying four Class 8 trucks to the city, built for it by BYD Motors, which it will use to haul cargo between its hub at Los Angeles International Airport and its local service centers.

“By implementing these electric trucks, we will prevent more than 300 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere per year, as we continue to grow and enhance our clean pick-up and delivery solutions,” said Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express US.

“The introduction of these efficient electric trucks is a huge step forward, not only toward achieving our own clean transport goals, but also California’s ambitious goals on the adoption of zero-emission vehicles,” Hewitt said.

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#byd, #cars, #class-8-truck, #dhl, #electric-trucks


S&P 500 adds Tesla, sending stock price soaring

S&P 500 adds Tesla, sending stock price soaring

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson vs Disney)

Tesla will finally be added to the S&P 500 Index, the committee responsible for the index announced after markets closed on Monday. The change will take effect on December 21.

Tesla’s stock price jumped 13 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday. As I write this just before noon on Tuesday, Tesla’s stock has given back some of those gains and is up about 7 percent from Thursday’s close.

People have trillions of dollars in index funds that track the S&P 500 index. This means that when a stock is added to the S&P 500, fund managers have to add it to their portfolios, pushing up the stock price.

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#cars, #elon-musk, #sp-500, #tesla


After 12,523 replacements, Feds investigate Tesla Media Control Unit failures

The Telsa logo superimposed on top of a white brick wall

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Gitlin)

Is one of Tesla’s infotainment systems defective by design? That’s a question the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hopes to answer. It has started an engineering analysis after hundreds of customer complaints of bricked systems resulted in a preliminary investigation in June.

NHTSA thinks it knows what the problem is: an 8GB eMMC NAND flash memory chip—an SD card in other words—with a finite number of write cycles, fitted to its Media Control Unit. The MCU regularly writes logs to this chip and, within three or four years, reaches the lifetime number of cycles. At this point the touchscreen dies, taking with it functions like the car’s backup camera, the ability to defog the windows, and also the audible alerts and chimes for the driver aids and turn signals.

After the regulator’s Office of Defects Investigation received 537 complaints, it asked Tesla if it knew of any more problems with the Nvidia Tegra 3-based system, which is fitted to approximately 158,000 Models S (2012-2018) and X (2016-2018). Tesla did, handing over 2,399 complaints and field reports, 7,777 warranty claims, and 4,746 non-warranty claims.

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#cars, #infotainment, #nand-flash-storage, #nhtsa, #recall, #tesla


Seamless car charging comes to Electrify America with Plug&Charge

A black Porsche Taycan plugged into a sleek-looking charger

Enlarge / Charging a MY2021 Taycan at an Electrify America station (not pictured) will be as easy as plugging it in. (credit: Porsche)

Fast charging your electric vehicle at an Electrify America station just got a lot more seamless—at least for some electric vehicles. That’s because the company has now implemented Plug&Charge, the user-friendly name for the ISO 15118 standard that enables an electric car to talk to the charger and handle authentication and billing.

If you ask any analyst, they’ll tell you that Tesla’s Supercharger network is one of the company’s most valuable assets. For one thing, they’re everywhere in the United States, enabling the kinds of road trips that always come up as an excuse as to why electric cars can’t work. But it’s not just the coverage—a Supercharger is effortless to use. You turn up and plug your car in, and it does the rest. Your Tesla tells the Supercharger who you are and whether you have to pay, and it deals with any billing. The whole arrangement really is delightfully easy.

Fast charging a non-Tesla EV is invariably a less seamless experience. You can carry a dongle on your keys, or use an app or your phone to authenticate with the charger. But in my experience, sometimes neither of those work, and you end up having to call the phone number on the side of the big humming box and ask them to turn it on for you from their side. Even when it does work smoothly, there’s still some faffing about, poking a touchscreen that may not be the world’s most responsive.

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#cars, #electrify-america, #ford-mustang-mach-e, #iso-15118, #lucid-air, #plugcharge, #porsche-taycan


Chevrolet recalls the Bolt EV after 5 confirmed battery fires

Someone about to plug a DC fast charger into a Chevrolet Bolt EV.

Enlarge / For now, it’s time to unplug when you get to 90-percent state of charge.

In October, news broke that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had opened an investigation of the Chevrolet Bolt EV due to potential battery fires while charging. On Friday, Chevrolet announced a recall affecting all model year 2017 and 2018 Bolt EVs, as well as certain MY2019 Bolt EVs.

The problem involves battery packs containing cells made at LG Chem’s factory in Ochang, Korea. Chevrolet says that, working with NHTSA, it confirmed a total of five Bolt EV fires caused by this issue, which occurred when charging the cars’ battery packs to full capacity.

Affected owners should contact their local Chevrolet dealer to schedule the software fix, which is available later this week. (You can check NHTSA’s database to see if your vehicle identification number is included.) The update will prevent the battery from charging beyond 90 percent, and Chevrolet says it will have a permanent fix that restores the battery’s ability to use 100 percent of its state of charge as soon as possible after January 1, 2021.

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#cars, #chevrolet-bolt-ev, #recall


The iX is BMW’s new flagship electric vehicle

A little over two years ago, we got our first look at BMW’s next-generation battery-electric vehicle architecture. Concept has now moved into the realm of reality with the official unveiling of the BMW iX. Set for a US launch in early 2022, the iX uses BMW’s fifth-generation electric powertrain, with two electric motors capable of producing a combined 500hp (368kW) to propel the SUV from 0 to 100km/h (62mph) in under five seconds.

Despite the lack of an internal combustion engine, the iX looks unmistakably like a BMW, massive black grille and all. It’s roughly the same size as the X5, but there are a couple of interesting design choices that make it stand apart from its SUV brethren. First off is the hood—or lack thereof. Unlike just about every other BEV on the market, there’s no frunk. As a matter of fact, there’s not even a hood to open. This curious design choice means that you add windshield wiper fluid by pressing down on the roundel badge above the grille, which pops open to reveal the fluid container. The grille itself is completely closed off, with lidar, camera, and radar tucked behind a translucent surface underneath the grille.

The other odd choice is a hexagonal steering wheel. BMW claims it makes getting in and out of the iX easier while providing a better view of the dashboard display, but I’m not sold on the concept. The steering wheel isn’t the only difference between the iX and X1-7 cockpits. Instead of having separate displays for the instrument panel and infotainment panel, BMW has combined the two into what appears to be a single massive display that is angled toward the driver. The 14.9-inch infotainment display can be controlled by touch in addition to the usual center console dial.

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#bmw, #cars, #ix, #suv, #vision-inext


Honda to mass-produce Level 3 autonomous cars by March

Honda claims it will be the first automaker to mass-produce vehicles with autonomous capabilities that meet SAE Level 3 standards, with plans to begin producing and selling a version of its Honda Legend luxury sedan with fully approved automated driving equipment in Japan from next March. Honda announced the news via press release (via Reuters) and this follows the approval by the Japanese government of the company’s ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ autonomous tech, which for the first time will allow drivers to actually take their eyes off the road while it’s engaged.

Honda’s Pro Pilot Assist is the feature that predates this forthcoming one, but it’s a Level 2 feature per the SAE scale, which means that while it can automatically control both speed and steering, drivers behind the wheel have to be constantly ready to take over manual control should the system require it. SAE Level 3 is the first that falls under a categorization that most experts feels qualifies as actually autonomous – wherein a driver can fully allow their vehicle to take over control. Level 3 still requires that a driver be able to take over driving when the system requests, while Levels 4 and 5 have no such requirement.

Tesla has also launched its own ‘full self-driving’ feature in its vehicles in a beta program that it’s expanding to more drivers gradually, but critics suggest that despite it’s name, it’s not actually a fully autonomous system, and it isn’t yet classified as such according to regulations. Honda’s launch of its Level 3 Legend in March 2021 will be one watched by regulators and ordinary drivers alike around the world as one of the first true tests of a mass-produced and regulator-approved autonomous vehicle system.

#artificial-intelligence, #automation, #automotive, #cars, #driver, #driving, #emerging-technologies, #honda, #japan, #japanese-government, #legend, #pilot, #robotics, #self-driving-car, #tc, #tesla, #transport, #transportation


BMW announces the iX, its next-gen electric flagship

At its (virtual) NextGen 2020 event, BMW today announced that the BMW iX, its new all-electric flagship previously known as the iNext, will launch at the end of 2021. Based on BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, the iX will get a new look — and new kidney grille design — but its dimensions will be similar to the existing X5 or X6 SUVs. The company promises about 300 miles of range and 0-60 mph times of just under five seconds.

BMW has not released any pricing for the iX yet. Rumors earlier this year pegged it at close to $100,000.

The company says it will have more than a million electrified cars on roads by the end of 2021. Right now, about 13% of all BMW and MINI models registered in Europe are either all-electric or plug-in hybrids, and the expectation is that by 2030, that number will increase to 50%.

Image Credits: BMW

Coming next year, that lineup will include a number of new additions to the company’s electrified fleet, but the iX is clearly the focus here, though the next-generation eDrive system will also feature in the 2021 i4, for example, and BMW is experimenting with a 5-Series model that features three of these new motors for a maximum power output of 720 hp (we’re still talking about a company that made its name by combining performance and luxury, after all).

Image Credits: BMW

With DC fast charging at up to 200 kW, the iX should be able to charge from 10 to 80% in about 40 minutes. A 10-minute top-off at a fast-charging station should be enough for about 75 miles. For the most part, that’s in line with comparable electric cars, though Tesla’s V3 Supercharging promises somewhat faster recharge times and others can charge at more than 200 kW.

In addition to being BMW’s electric flagship, the iNext/iX unsurprisingly also showcases the company’s latest technology innovations. That’s obviously no surprise, given that BMW has used various iterations of its iNext concept car to think about how to best integrate new technologies into its next-generation of vehicles.

Image Credits: BMW

For the iX, these include all the standard driver assistance systems you’d expect today (though details there are scarce), a head-up display and large screens with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch control display. But what’s maybe even more interesting here is the company’s over philosophy which the company describes as “shy tech.”

“Shy tech refers to technology that remains largely in the background and only reveals its functions when they are being used,” the company says in today’s announcement. “On entry into the car, the function in question is the electrically powered door locks. The interior welcomes the occupants of all five seats with a luxurious lounge-style ambience, and provides the space required to explore new ways of using time spent inside the car.”

For the most part, the user interface also strips away all distractions to allow the driver to focus on the road.

Image Credits: BMW

It’s no secret that BMW would like to — at some point — allow drivers to lounge in their self-driving cars. BMW hasn’t talked about the car’s driver assistant features yet, so that future hasn’t quite arrived just yet, but the company argues that by leaving out the usual center tunnel, it can provide a more “airy and specious feel” that “accentuates the lounge-style ambience and long-distance comfort provided by the interior.”

Image Credits: BMW

In many ways, the iX is the current apotheosis of BMW’s electric ambitions, and it is worth noting that, unlike others, the company is keeping a lot of the development in-house. That includes its Dingolfing plant, but as the company noted today, it is also developing its own battery cells and a new pilot plant for building its batteries near Munich should open in 2022. “This pilot plant will make BMW the first carmaker to cover the entire process chain for electric driving in-house,” BMW argues.

Image Credits: BMW

This wouldn’t be a major tech launch if it didn’t also feature a 5G aspect and indeed, the iX will feature built-in 5G connectivity, which should make it among the first — if not the first — 5G-enabled production car. Ideally, that means higher bandwidth and lower latency when the car needs to connect to the BMW cloud. But as we’ve all learned from recent phone launches, 5G is currently more of a buzzword than game-changing technology. What’s maybe more important here is that it may enable new C-V2X (Cellular Vehicle to Everything) solutions that will allow vehicles to communicate with each other and nearby smartphones — even without a mobile network.

Image Credits: BMW

#5g, #automotive, #bmw, #bmw-i, #cars, #driver, #electric-car, #electric-vehicles, #europe, #tc, #tesla


Nikola has $900 million in the bank, lost $117 million last quarter

The Nikola Tre semi truck.

Enlarge / The Nikola Tre semi truck. (credit: Nikola)

Electric truckmaker Nikola was widely ridiculed in September when a short-selling firm revealed that its first truck, the Nikola One, never worked. A promotional video of the truck “in motion” actually showed the vehicle rolling down a hill.

But the company’s latest quarterly financial results, released Monday, show that Nikola has something it didn’t have in 2016: truckloads of cash. Specifically, Nikola has $900 million in the bank—most of it raised when the company went public back in June.

Nikola says it spent $117 million in the third quarter of 2020 while bringing in no revenue. The losses were smaller than some analysts had expected, and investors reacted positively to the results, sending Nikola’s stock price up by 2 percent in after-hours trading.

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#cars, #electric-trucks, #hydrogen-trucks, #nikola, #trevor-milton


Carmakers want to ditch battery packs, use auto bodies for energy storage

A stylized image of an automobile.

Enlarge (credit: Viaframe / Getty Images)

Elon Musk made a lot of promises during Tesla’s Battery Day last September. Soon, he said, the company would have a car that runs on batteries with pure silicon anodes to boost their performance and reduced cobalt in the cathodes to lower their price. Its battery pack will be integrated into the chassis so that it provides mechanical support in addition to energy, a design that Musk claimed will reduce the car’s weight by 10 percent and improve its mileage by even more. He hailed Tesla’s structural battery as a “revolution” in engineering—but for some battery researchers, Musk’s future looked a lot like the past.

“He’s essentially doing something that we did 10 years ago,” says Emile Greenhalgh, a materials scientist at Imperial College London and the engineering chair in emerging technologies at the Royal Academy. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on structural batteries, an approach to energy storage that erases the boundary between the battery and the object it powers. “What we’re doing is going beyond what Elon Musk has been talking about,” Greenhalgh says. “There are no embedded batteries. The material itself is the energy storage device.”

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#batteries, #cars, #evs, #li-ion, #science, #zinc


Weekend eye candy: the new supercar exhibit at the Petersen Museum

Identifying the world’s first supercar is harder than it sounds. The problem—to me at least—is that there’s no universally agreed-upon definition of what a supercar actually is. If you’d asked me yesterday I’d have probably said Lamborghini, when it introduced the Miura in 1966.

Its body was dramatically styled by Gandini, writing checks that the mid-mounted V12 could definitely cash, sending notice to establishment names like Ferrari that the game had been changed forever. But my answer might be 50 years too late, according a new exhibit at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

It’s called Supercars: A Century of Spectacle and Speed, and our friends at the museum—which was just named Museum of the year by The Historic Motoring Awards—were kind enough to send over photos of some of the cars in the new exhibit. And that’s as much excuse as I need to put together a gallery to give people something to click through this fine November Saturday.

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#cars, #ferrari-288-gto, #ferrari-enzo, #ferrari-f40, #jaguar-xj220, #jaguar-xkss, #lamborghini-countach, #lamborghini-miura, #mclaren-f1, #mercer-raceabout, #supercars, #the-petersen-museum


Bentley will ditch internal combustion engines by 2030

The Bentley EXP 100 GT concept car

Enlarge / For its centenary in 2019 the company built the EXP 100 GT concept car to think through ideas for an all-electric Bentley. (credit: Bentley)

Time is starting to run out for vehicles powered purely by internal combustion engines, and the auto industry knows it. This week Bentley, that bastion of British luxury, became the latest OEM to set a date for that happening—the year 2030. As the company moves into its second century, it has revealed a new plan called “Beyond 100” that it says will “reinvent every aspect of its business to become an end-to-end carbon neutral organization.

Bentley already introduced a plug-in hybrid EV version of the Bentayga SUV and next year it plans to add another pair of PHEVs to its roster—presumably the Continental GT coupe and Flying Spur sedan. In 2025, the company plans to introduce a battery electric vehicle; Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark told Autoweek that “you’ve got to pick a point in time where battery power density, especially for bigger cars, is the liberator for us. We’ve always said that the mid-2020s is the time when you can expect to see 120-plus kilowatt-hour batteries coming through the supply chain.”

2025 will also be the last year you’ll be able to buy a Bentley that doesn’t plug in, because in 2026 the brand is dropping everything other than PHEVs and BEVs. In 2030, those PHEVs will be gone, too, leaving just BEVs to wear the winged B badge with pride. Along the way, Bentley is also pledging to reduce its factory’s environmental impact and go plastic neutral.

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#battery-electric-vehicles, #bentley, #bentley-bentayga-hybrid, #cars


The electric Volvo XC40 Recharge: First drive impressions

After what seems like years of waiting, a bevy of new battery electric vehicles are about to go on sale here in the US. Ford is readying the Mustang Mach-E. Volkswagen is putting the finishing touches to the ID.4. And last month in Ghent, Belgium, Volvo started production of the XC40 Recharge. It’s an all-electric version of its popular XC40 crossover, one that shares its powertrain technology and Android Automotive operating system with the Polestar 2.

US deliveries remain a few weeks away, so a proper first drive, where we spend a day with a new car like we did with the Polestar 2 this summer, will have to wait a little longer. But earlier this week, I got a chance to spend a little time with a pre-production example that Volvo made available to those of us who serve as jurors for the World Car Awards. The roads of Manassas, Virginia were my playground, and there was no PR minder, just a request to bring it back after an hour. Here’s what I learned.

From the outside, the XC40 Recharge looks a lot like any other Volvo XC40—the easiest giveaway that you’re looking at an all-electric version is the blanked-off front that does better things for one’s drag coefficient than an open grille. From the driver’s seat, there are a few more clues. The 12.3-inch main instrument display has a different theme from other Volvos, including an attractive new full-screen map mode. In the center stack, the infotainment screen has grown from 9 inches to 11.2 inches, and although the tile-based UI looks pretty similar to Volvos running Sensus, it’s now running Android Automotive. Google’s voice recognition means it understands most of the questions you ask it, and the Google Maps-powered navigation app is smart enough to know your battery state of charge so it can direct you to charging if needed en route.

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#battery-electric-vehicle, #cars, #volvo-xc40-recharge


Connected cars must be open to third parties, say Massachusetts voters

A man operates a notebook computer over the open engine of a car.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images / Aurich Lawson)

On Tuesday, voters in Massachusetts chose, by an overwhelming majority, to extend the state’s automotive “right to repair” law to cover connected-car platforms and telematics services. As a result, the state will require that from 2022, all new telematics-equipped vehicles be accessible via a standardized open-data platform that allows owners and third-party repair shops to access vehicle data from mobile devices.

Massachusetts’ automotive “right to repair” law was the first in the nation when originally passed in 2013. The aim was to fight the growing problem of automakers restricting their proprietary diagnostics tools to anyone other than official franchised dealer networks. When the law came into effect in 2018, it required that every vehicle sold in the state has a “non-proprietary vehicle interface device” for accessing mechanical data.

But the automotive industry is rapidly going wireless when it comes to getting data out of cars. Almost every new car sold in the United States in 2020 is fitted with an onboard cellular modem, and every OEM has invested in cloud infrastructure, promising benefits like vehicles that know when to ask for preventative maintenance servicing. Those cloud platforms have been guarded by the automakers, some of whom smell dollars in all that data.

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#cars, #connected-cars, #massachusetts, #policy, #right-to-repair, #telematics


The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country: How to ruin a station wagon

The station wagon was once the most on-trend form factor for family vehicles, yet by the middle of the 1980s the venerable wagon had become an embarrassing mom-mobile. Instead, everyone wanted the new hotness called a minivan, which not only looked a bit like that new hand-held vacuum cleaner that everyone just bought, but also offered greater utility for the parent-driver. Eventually the minivan was also painted with the uncool mom aura, and the market moved to SUVs.

Now, some 40 years after its zenith, time has almost run out on the station wagon. A handful of OEMs still pander to the wagoncurious, though, notably those stylish Swedes at Volvo. The company’s two most handsome products right now are arguably the V90 and V60 wagons, which both somehow fuse a hint of muscle car to traditional two-box shape. But those aren’t the only station wagons on the brand’s roster, because there are the Cross Country models. The idea takes the station wagon, then adds a couple of inches of ride height, giving it the ability to better traverse unpaved roads—cross country, you see?

I tested the V90 Cross Country three years ago, and today it’s the turn of the V60 Cross Country. Specifically, the $45,450 V60 Cross Country T5 AWD. You can distinguish it from the regular V60 by the fact that the Cross Country rides a couple of inches higher up, and it is adorned with raw plastic bumpers around its bottom edges, the better to cope with spending time on gravel. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but this eye beholds that those two little tweaks do the looks of this midsize wagon no favors.

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#cars, #station-wagon, #suv, #volvo-v60-cross-country


Tesla raises “full self-driving” price from $8,000 to $10,000

Interior of Tesla's Model 3.

Enlarge / Interior of Tesla’s Model 3. (credit: Tesla)

Tesla is wasting no time cashing in on excitement over the company’s forthcoming “full self-driving” software release, which was released in beta form to a small number of customers last week. Tesla has now raised the price of the FSD upgrade from $8,000 to $10,000.

Tesla has tinkered with pricing for the full self-driving package repeatedly over the last two years. In 2018, the package cost $3,000 at vehicle purchase time or $4,000 when purchased later. In 2019, Tesla briefly cut the price to $2,000, angering customers who had paid higher prices. Then Tesla revamped its price structure, making basic Autopilot features standard and raising the FSD package price to $5,000. Tesla subsequently raised the price to $6,000, $7,000, and then $8,000.

Musk has long warned customers to expect the price of the full self-driving technology to continue rising. “If you buy a Tesla today, I believe you are buying an appreciating asset—not a depreciating asset,” Musk said in a 2019 podcast episode.

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


Tesla is now beta-testing self-driving software on public roads

Two cars nearly collide in a parking lot.

Enlarge / YouTuber Brandon M captured this drone footage of his Tesla steering toward a parked car. “Oh Jeeeesus,” he said as he grabbed the steering wheel. (credit: Brandon M)

Last week, Tesla released an early version of its long-awaited “full self-driving” software to a limited number of customers. It was arguably Tesla’s biggest Autopilot update ever. The software enables Tesla vehicles to autonomously navigate the vast majority of common roadway situations and complete many trips from start to finish.

Tesla considers it to be beta software and says it’s not intended for fully autonomous operation. Drivers are expected to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times.

To understand the new software, I watched more than three hours of driving footage from three Tesla owners who got the FSD update. These YouTube videos underscored how important it is for drivers to actively supervise Tesla’s new software. Over the course of three hours, the drivers took control more than a dozen times, including at least two cases when the car seemed to be on the verge of crashing into another vehicle.

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Chevrolet readies an electric crate motor for homebuilt EV hotrods

I don’t know about you, but I am totally here for the growing trend of putting electric propulsion in classic cars. Much of the pioneering work has been done by small aftermarket shops: Zelectric and EV West in California, Electric Classic Cars in the UK, and so on. But increasingly, OEMs are giving it a go as well. For a while, Jaguar was preparing to sell a (very expensive) conversion kit for its XKE-engined cars, although sadly that has been cancelled. Volkswagen has been working with eClassics on an electric conversion of the Type 1 bus. And here in the US, the annual SEMA show has featured some factory-blessed high voltage hot rods for the last couple of years.

SEMA is going virtual this year, and one of the cars that Chevrolet will show off will be a 1977 K5 Blazer—called the Blazer-E—that previews the company’s new eCrate aftermarket powertrain. The build team traded the Blazer’s huge 6.6L V8, with its meagre 175hp (130kW), for the 200hp (150kW) motor from the Bolt EV, which connects to the Blazer’s four-wheel drive system via a four-speed auto that replaces the original three-speed transmission.

The fuel tank and exhaust also went in the recycling bin, and a 60kWh lithium-ion battery pack was mounted in the Blazer’s cargo area. This is also from the Bolt EV and includes all the wiring and power electronics one needs to manage a modern battery EV powertrain.

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The 2020 Genesis G90—a good luxury sedan from an alternate dimension

When Genesis was spun out as its own brand, the G90 luxury sedan was chosen to lead the way. A flagship sedan makes sense when the point was to show that Korea could mix it alongside the Germans. And the G90 did that, feeling solid and over-engineered. Now the big car has had its midlife makeover, gaining a whopping new grille and some other distinctive styling details that better align the G90 with Genesis’ design language. It has also received a bit of a tech upgrade, with some new advanced driver assistance systems.

And yet, despite the car’s competence it felt out of step, like it belongs to a reality close to ours but subtly different. In this alternate universe, there’s no climate change, and so the naturally aspirated V8 in the $76,695 G90 5.0L Ultimate still makes plenty of sense. Its 420hp (313kW) and 383lb-ft (519Nm) is more than enough to move the big rear-wheel drive sedan via an in-house eight-speed automatic transmission. And it’s only 1 mile per gallon more thirsty than the twin-turbo V6 version we tested last time, at 24mpg (9.8l/100km) on the highway and 17mpg (13.8l/100km) in the city.

Just as importantly, in this alternate timeline, the SUV never reached ascendancy. Instead, executives still flock to the sedan as their preferred form of conveyance, and the G90’s newly sharpened jawline offers a more classic look alongside the power bulges of a BMW 7 Series or the crisp folds and creases of an Audi A8. The high points are the intricately detailed headlights, a new family look for the Genesis range, and the 19-inch alloy wheels that go from flat disc to G-Matrix crisscross pattern to tire, seemingly skipping the rim altogether.

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#car-review, #cars, #genesis-g90


Consumer Reports: Tesla Autopilot a “distant second” to GM Super Cruise

The dashboard of the 2021 Cadillac CT4-V.

Enlarge / Super Cruise will be available on the 2021 Cadillac CT4-V. (credit: Cadillac)

Cadillac Super Cruise has retained its title as the best driver assistance system on the market, Consumer Reports declared in a new ranking. Super Cruise also won CR’s last ranking in 2018. While Super Cruise started out as a Cadillac-only feature, GM is planning to bring it to 22 vehicles by 2023.

Tesla’s Autopilot came in second place—a “distant second” according to Consumer Reports. The group says it saw “minor improvements in lane keeping performance” from Tesla’s offering since the system was last evaluated in 2018.

Those minor improvements were enough for Autopilot to get the top spot in the “lane keeping and performance” category of CR’s report. CR ranked Autopilot 9/10 for performance, while Super Cruise scored 8/10. Tesla also got top marks for Autopilot’s ease of use.

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#adas, #cadillac-super-cruise, #cars, #consumer-reports, #tesla-autopilot


Ford is making new Broncos; mockumentary John Bronco has its ideal pitchman

The trailer for Hulu’s John Bronco.

John Bronco—Hulu’s new sub-40-minute mockumentary about a “lost” “Ford pitchman”—is a good idea, well-executed. What if you took the competent-idiot Southern charm of Justified‘s Boyd Crowder, but, instead of an Appalachian criminal, made the character the unlikely pitchman for a beloved classic SUV, who oozes over-the-top marketable machismo a la the Marlboro Man? And… what if you can get Walton Goggins himself to play the S.O.B? To call that comedic premise excellent, well, “It’d be like saying, ‘I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter is just margarine…’ which I guess it is,” as one interviewee describes Bronco.

In case the title alone doesn’t explain the premise: sometime around the 1960s, Ford had a rugged SUV, called the Bronco, lined up for the masses. But it needed a way to sell this new contraption. The company decided it would enter a prototype of the vehicle in the Baja 1000, a famed off-road race. It needed someone tough enough to handle this beast of a vehicle and course, so it sought out whoever seemed to be the most rugged guy in the region—a rodeo champ named John Bronco. John Bronco chronicles the (to be clear, fictional) man’s rise, fall, and disappearance before trying to figure out where the legendary ad icon is now.

The team behind John Bronco—Director Jake Szymanski (HBO’s Tour de Pharmacy) and producer Marc Gilbar—started on the idea in 2019 but ultimately timed the project for maximum impact when they learned Ford had real-life plans to relaunch the iconic Bronco late this summer. According to The Ringer, the team met directly with Ford and earned access to the company’s marketing archives, which get mined thoroughly for aesthetic and pseudo-accuracy in the film. For instance: if you, too, were also born after the mid-1980s, maybe it’d be surprising to learn Doug Flutie had enough of a Q score to actually hawk cars for Ford in 1985 (though the original ad does not seem to end in tragedy).

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#cars, #gaming-culture


Lamborghini’s Huracán Evo RWD is made for maximum fun, not lap times

“Hang back for a second so I can show you the course,” Dean DiGiacomo says over the radio as we approach the skid pad in a pair of 610hp (455kW), Skittle-colored Huracáns.

A professional racer and the chief instructor for Lamborghini’s various performance schools—which range from customer track days to an intensive training programs for the automaker’s Super Trofeo wheel-to-wheel racing series—DiGiacomo takes a moment to explain the vehicle settings I’ll need to select before he sets off on a demonstration pass.

The matte purple machine arcs gracefully from one cone of the figure eight to the next, V10 wailing as it turns rubber into smoke. Before I know it, DiGiacomo is already back in the pit area and it’s my turn to give it a go. “Now, do it just like that,” a photographer says to me with a knowing grin. We share a laugh. But how hard can it be, right?

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#car-review, #cars, #lamborghini-huracan-evo, #lamborghini-huracan-evo-rwd


Why is everyone building an electric pickup truck?

The electric pickup trucks are here. Or almost here, at least.

General Motors dropped a pretty penny to debut its new electric Hummer during the World Series on Tuesday, with a two minute, 15 second ad that took up an entire commercial break. But you won’t be able to drive the $112,595 truck off the lot until at least next fall. Tesla staged a smashing reveal for its Cybertruck pickup nearly a year ago, but it hasn’t yet built the factory in Texas that will make the thing—reservation holders can probably expect their truck late next year. Other contenders on the horizon include the Rivian R1T, which, after delays, should show up around June; the Lordstown Endurance(sometime in 2021); the Bollinger B2 (probably next year); the Ford F-150 EV(due mid-2022); and the Nikola Badger (thanks to the company’s leadership troubles, who knows). The competition for the hearts and minds of the American electric pickup truck buyer is bound to be intense.

Here’s the problem: No one knows who that American electric pickup buyer is. “It’s not like people have been asking for this,” says Jessica Caldwell, the executive director of insights at Edmunds. “I don’t think people have been sitting around and thinking, ‘You now what I need? A pickup with an electric motor.’”

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The 2020 Polaris Slingshot—still a conversation starter on three wheels

The Polaris Slingshot was definitely the most unusual vehicle I reviewed last year. Classified as a motorcycle, this three-wheeler looked like nothing else on the roads. In fact, it would be hard to draw more attention without the help of some sirens and a bullhorn. For 2020, Polaris has substantially revised the Slingshot. Well, on the inside, that is. There’s an all-new four-cylinder engine, unique to the vehicle, and an optional automated gearbox for those who want three wheels but only two pedals. But it still looks like nothing else on the road, and as I discovered over the course of a few days, it still isn’t the vehicle for you if you want to blend in.

Instead of using a 2.4L Ecotec engine from General Motors, Polaris decided to create its own in-house. It’s a 2.0L four-cylinder design called the ProStar, and in addition to being smaller than the old engine, it’s also about 65lbs (30kg) lighter thanks to an aluminum block. It’s also more powerful, and it likes to rev, too. In SL-spec, it makes 177hp (132kW) at a heady 8,500rpm; we tested the Slingshot R which packs 203hp (151kW) at 8,250rpm. Both SL (120lb-ft/163Nm) and R (144lb-ft/195Nm) are less torquey than the old Ecotec (166lb-ft/225Nm), although that never felt like a problem as there’s just that single 20-inch rear tire with which to apply it.

The other major new addition is the AutoDrive automated manual transmission, something the company says has been its most common request from potential customers. It’s a five-speed with a hydraulically activated clutch and is the only gearbox available for the $26,499 Slingshot SL. The R offers buyers the choice of AutoDrive ($32,699) or a conventional three-pedal manual option ($30,999). Polaris says that AutoDrive only weighs about 14lbs (6.3kg) more than the regular manual, and at 1,645lbs (746kg) the 2020 Slingshot R is about 100lbs (45kg) lighter than a 2019 model.

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#cars, #polaris-slingshot, #review


Tesla made $331 million profit in Q3 2020

A Tesla logo superimposed over a mess of numbers and figures.

Enlarge (credit: Tesla / Aurich Lawson)

On Wednesday, Tesla published its financial results for the third quarter of 2020. The company says it ended Q3 2020 with a GAAP profit of $331 million, the fifth profitable quarter in a row for the US automaker. Despite the pandemic, it’s a strong improvement on Q3 2019.

Tesla ends Q3 2020 with a positive free cash flow of $1.4 billion and $14.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents. Tesla says in its presentation to investors that Q3 was marked by substantial growth in vehicle deliveries, which counteracted a decrease in the average selling price as the company sells fewer and fewer Models S and X and sells more and more Models 3 and Y. Regulatory credits accounted for $397 million of its revenues, and the company had to pay out $280 million in stock-based compensation for CEO Elon Musk after the company reached certain milestones.

The automaker had already released data on its Q3 deliveries earlier in October, but to reiterate, it made 16,992 Models S and X, delivering 15,725 of the same. Models 3 and Y production clocked in at 128,044; in total, it delivered 124,318 of these vehicles during the three months in question. Impressively, total deliveries are up 54 percent quarter-on-quarter and 44 percent year-on-year. In total, the company’s automotive business brought in $7.6 billion in revenue.

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#cars, #tesla, #tesla-earnings


American excess is back with the 1,000hp 2022 GMC Hummer EV truck

On Tuesday night, and after a long teaser campaign that included a Super Bowl advert, GMC introduced its new Hummer EV to the world. The Hummer EV is the first of a promised onslaught of new electric vehicles from General Motors, but for real, unlike the last time GM promised such a thing. It’s also the company’s first battery electric vehicle since the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and it represents a complete volte-face for the automaker.

After all, if an affordable, compact, efficient BEV won’t find favor with American consumers, maybe a 1,000hp (745kW) super truck with a 0-60mph time of three seconds will do the trick. Oh, and a $112,595 price tag, at least to begin with.

And this one is big: 216.8 inches (5,507mm) long, making it slightly shorter than the Escalade that you all hate. It’s 86.7 inches wide (2,201mm) without counting the mirrors, or 93.7 inches (2,380mm) with them included. and we’re pretty sure it’s 81.1 inches (2,060mm) tall. I have no idea about its curb weight in pounds but would guess it starts with a six.

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#cars, #electric-truck, #gmc-hummer-ev, #ultium, #ultium-drive


SSC takes Bugatti’s crown with a new 316mph production car speed record

If you want a car that can go really, really, really fast, forget about ordering that Bugatti and give the people at SSC North America a call. On October 10, racing driver Oliver Webb got behind the wheel of one of SSC’s new Tuatara hypercars and, on a closed stretch of Nevada State Route 160, reached a top speed of 331.15mph (532.93km/h). When averaged with his 301.07mph (484.53km/h) run in the opposite direction, SSC North America set a new world speed record for production vehicles at 316.11mph (508.73km/h).

Until now, the record for the world’s fastest production car belonged to Bugatti, which claimed it in 2019. Andy Wallace was behind the wheel for that attempt, driving a 1,578hp (1,177kW) Bugatti Chiron Super Sport to top speed of 304.77mph (490.48km/h) at Volkswagen’s massive test track in Ehra-Lessien, Germany. The SSC Tuatara packs even more power than the Chiron: 1,750hp (1,305kW) of power on E85, and it all gets sent to just the rear wheels, too. The Tuatara also has a more slippery shape, with a smaller frontal area than the Chiron (1.672m2 vs 2.072m2) and a lower drag coefficient (0.279 vs 0.319).

Those were conscious decisions during the Tuatara’s design—SSC’s founder Jerod Shelby has had his sights on the production speed record for some years now. “My goal was always to beat this record by such a substantial amount that maybe it’s going to stand in for a little while. I felt like that’s what McLaren did back in the late nineties, and they held that record a long time because they just smashed the record. That was my dream in a perfect world,” Shelby said.

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#cars, #hypercar, #land-speed-record, #ssc-north-america, #ssc-tuatara


Cadillac gives the new 2021 Escalade SUV a huge technology upgrade

The Cadillac Escalade augmented reality display

Enlarge / Augmented reality is a standard feature on the new Cadillac Escalade SUV. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

I will admit it; when Cadillac asked if we wanted to spend a day with the new 2021 Escalade, I was in two minds about saying yes. A 6,000lb body-on-frame SUV is about as far from my automotive comfort zone as it’s possible to get with a regular driver’s license. And while there is a choice of gasoline V8 or turbodiesel inline-six, there’s not a sniff of a hybrid option—not even the 48V mild kind, which feels inexcusable in the year 2020.

On the other hand, Cadillac has turned up the technology dial in an effort to regain its crown as the King of Bling. From the driver’s seat you can see 38 inches of OLED screen wrapping around you. The highlight is an augmented reality mode that’s cool enough to tempt you away from navigating by CarPlay or Android Auto and worthy of Ars’ attention on its own.

The body-on-frame light truck is an American speciality. It’s where the domestic automakers make their money, and the new Escalade is built on General Motor’s latest and greatest body-on-frame platform. And I do mean greatest. Our test vehicle was a $105,995 Escalade ESV 4WD Platinum, which stretches out across 226.9 inches (5,766mm), with a 134.1-inch (3.407mm) wheelbase. More than one neighbor remarked on how large it was as it jutted out of my parking space, which luckily is slightly wider than the Escalade’s 81.1 inches (2,059mm). At 76.4 inches (1,942mm) tall, I was grateful for the retractable running boards that emerge when you open a door; if you’re shorter than average, it is a $1,750 option you might want.

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#augmented-reality, #cadillac-escalade, #car-review, #cars, #infotainment


Cruise will soon hit San Francisco with no hands on the wheel

Cruise has been testing its self-driving cars, with safety drivers, in San Francisco for about five years.

Enlarge / Cruise has been testing its self-driving cars, with safety drivers, in San Francisco for about five years. (credit: Andrej Sokolow | Getty Images)

Last week, Waymo, the self-driving-vehicle developer owned by Alphabet, expanded a first-of-its-kind service offering rides to paying passengers around Phoenix—with no one behind the wheel. Videos shared by Waymo and others show its minivans navigating wide, sunny streets with ease.

Now rival Cruise, a General Motors subsidiary, has taken a step toward running its own self-driving-taxi service—on the hilly, winding, pedestrian-swarmed streets of San Francisco. On Thursday, Cruise said the California Department of Motor Vehicles had granted it a permit to test up to five of its modified Chevy Bolts without anyone behind the wheel. In a blog post, Cruise CEO Dan Ammann said truly driverless cars would operate in the city before the end of the year.

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#cars, #cruise, #gm, #self-driving-cars


Nikola stock falls 14 percent after CEO downplays Badger truck plans

A large pickup truck gradually vanishes.

Enlarge / The front half of the Nikola Badger. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Nikola Motor Corporation)

Nikola CEO Mark Russell downplayed the company’s Badger pickup truck in comments to the Financial Times on Thursday.

“The Badger was an interesting and exciting project to some shareholders, but our institutional shareholders are mostly focused on the business plan,” Russell said. “Our core business plan since before we became publicly listed always focused on heavy trucks and hydrogen infrastructure.”

Russell’s comments were published after markets closed on Thursday. Nikola’s stock price plunged on Friday morning and is currently down about 14 percent for the day.

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#badger, #cars, #gm, #nikola, #nikola-badger, #trevor-milton


Red Bull could quit F1 if new engine rules don’t happen

A pair of Formula 1 cars racing in close proximity

Enlarge / Pierre Gasly driving the Alpha Tauri Honda AT01 leads Alexander Albon in his Red Bull Racing RB16 during the F1 Eifel Grand Prix at Nürburgring on October 11, 2020 in Nürburg, Germany. The energy drink company Red Bull may quit the sport with both teams if it cannot find a solution to its engine supply problem. (credit: Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

At the beginning of October, Honda shocked the world of Formula 1 by announcing its decision to quit the sport at the end of 2021. Currently, it supplies a pair of teams—Red Bull Racing and Alpha Tauri—both owned by the Red Bull energy drinks company. Red Bull now has to find a replacement supplier for the fiendishly expensive, insanely complicated hybrid powertrains required by the rules. And it, too, might quit the sport in 2022 if it can’t do that to its satisfaction, a warning issued this week by Red Bull’s sporting director, Helmut Marko. So what the heck is going on?

F1’s hybrid era

The first F1 cars to add an electric motor to their internal combustion engine powertrains took to the track in 2009. These were 80hp (60kW) motor-generator units (MGUs) that could recover kinetic energy from the rear wheels under braking and return it to those same wheels for short bursts of additional power during a lap. However, only four teams adopted this idea—called KERS, for kinetic energy recovery system—during the year, and it was abandoned by mutual consent at the end of that season.

In 2014, the sport adopted its current technical ruleset. The old naturally aspirated 2.4L V8 engines were replaced by new 1.6L turbocharged V6s, now with two mandatory hybrid elements to the power train. In place of KERS, there was an MGU-K (for kinetic), and a new MGU-H (for heat), which captured or deployed energy to the engine’s turbocharger. The new powertrains are hugely powerful, reaching around 1,000hp (746kW) in qualifying trim last year. And they use less fuel than ever: since this article was written in 2016, the V6es have actually now exceeded 50-percent thermal efficiency.

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#cars, #formula-1, #hybrid-powertrains, #red-bull


The technology behind the iPhone lidar may be coming soon to cars

The technology behind the iPhone lidar may be coming soon to cars


At Tuesday’s unveiling of the iPhone 12, Apple touted the capabilities of its new lidar sensor. Apple says lidar will enhance the iPhone’s camera by allowing more rapid focus, especially in low-light situations. And it may enable the creation of a new generation of sophisticated augmented reality apps.

Tuesday’s presentation offered little detail about how the iPhone’s lidar actually works, but this isn’t Apple’s first device with lidar. Apple first introduced the technology with the refreshed iPad in March. And while no one has done a teardown of the iPhone 12 yet, we can learn a lot from recent iPad teardowns.

Lidar works by sending out laser light and measuring how long it takes to bounce back. Because light travels at a constant speed, the round-trip time can be translated into a precise distance estimate. Repeat this process across a two-dimensional grid and the result is a three-dimensional “point cloud” showing the location of objects around a room, street, or other location.

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#apple, #cars, #ibeo, #iphone, #ouster


Tesla to begin production on 7-seat Model Y in November, with deliveries in early December

Elon Musk has shared some updated info about the timeline for the seven-seat version of the Model Y, Tesla’s more affordable electric SUV. The Model Y began deliveries to customers in March of this year in the U.S., but Musk said in June that he anticipated the company would start shipping seven row variants of the vehicle by sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.

A seven-seater Model Y would up the total passenger capacity of the vehicle by two, and we’ve known that it supports such a configuration ever since its official unveiling in 2019. The seven seat version will include a third row, though it isn’t yet entirely clear what that will look like in the vehicle. The larger Model X offers a third row, but there’s less space to work with in the Model Y.

Still, additional seats could be a key addition for anyone looking for a premium, but lower-priced SUV that can handle the whole family – including a couple young kids. And if production sticks to Musk’s timeline, it won’t be long before we start to see the seven seat version of the Model Y on roads. Typically, his timing projections have been overly optimistic, but the Model Y actually started being delivered earlier than anticipated, so maybe these dates will stick.

#automotive, #cars, #elon-musk, #hyperloop, #musk, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-y, #the-boring-company, #transportation, #united-states


Now there’s a cheaper, single-motor version of the Lucid Air EV

The Lucid Air is a stylish and aerodynamic sedan.

Enlarge / The Lucid Air is a stylish and aerodynamic sedan. (credit: Lucid Motors)

When Lucid Motors revealed the final production version of its new electric vehicle in September, the only thing not to like was the price. The specs for the Air Dream Edition were eye-opening: 1,080hp (805kW), zero to 60mph in 2.5 seconds, and a range of 503 miles (810km). But they were matched by the MSRP—$169,000 for this fully loaded hypersedan.

Cheaper versions costing $139,000 (the Air Grand Touring) and $95,000 (the Air Touring) were also announced, and Lucid told us that an entry-level Air would also arrive in due time, at “under $80,000.” (All these prices are before taking into account the $7,500 IRS tax credit or any state incentives.) On Wednesday, it filled in that final blank.

It’s not quite the $60,000 model that was originally on the cards a few years ago, but a regular Lucid Air will be available for $77,400, or $69,900 after the IRS tax credit. For your money, you get a single-motor variant that packs 480hp (359kW) with an estimated EPA range of 406 miles (653km) on a single charge. The biggest catch: you’ll have to wait until 2022 before taking delivery.

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#cars, #lucid-air, #lucid-motors


Feds to investigate the Chevrolet Bolt EV after three fires

A colorful display for a hunk of metal and plastic about the size of two skateboards side-by-side.

Enlarge / This is the 60kWh battery pack found inside a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The front of the pack is to the right of the picture, and the hump to the left are the double-stacked modules that live under the rear seat. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation of the Chevrolet Bolt EV following several reports of vehicle fires. Specifically, NHTSA says it was contacted by two owners reporting that their Bolt EVs had caught fire while parked and unattended. The agency did some digging and turned up a third instance, and on October 9 it opened a preliminary investigation into the scope, frequency, circumstances, and safety consequences of the fires.

In each case, NHTSA says the burn pattern was similar: fire damage was concentrated in the lithium-ion battery compartment (which sits underneath the passenger compartment), with some penetration into the passenger area through the rear seat. The three affected cars span model years 2017-2019.

In one case—a MY 2018 Bolt EV in Belmont, Massachusetts—the vehicle was plugged into a charger in the owner’s driveway when it caught fire. In this case, the residents and their neighbors had to be evacuated by the fire department due to noxious fumes and smoke.

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#cars, #chevrolet-bolt-ev, #electric-car-fire, #nhtsa


Electric car sales triple in race to meet Europe CO2 rules

A Kia Niro EV plugged into a DC fast charger

Enlarge / Kia says the Niro EV can fast-charge at up to 100kW. For some reason it tells chargers it can actually do 150kW, but in practice you might never see more than 77kW. Confusing, eh? (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

One in 10 new cars sold across Europe this year will be electric or plug-in hybrid, triple last year’s sales levels after carmakers rolled out new models to meet emissions rules, according to projections from green policy group Transport & Environment.

The market share of mostly electric cars will rise to 15 percent next year, the group forecasts, as carmakers across the continent race to cut their CO2 levels. The projections are based on sales data for the first half of the year, as well as expected increases as manufacturers scramble to comply with tightening restrictions in 2021.

“Electric car sales are booming thanks to EU emissions standards,” said clean vehicle director Julia Poliscanova. “Next year, one in every seven cars sold in Europe will be a plug-in.”

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Sixty Coinbase employees take buyout offer over “no politics” rule

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong.

Enlarge / Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. (credit: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images)

Sixty Coinbase employees have accepted a buyout offer after CEO Brian Armstrong announced a controversial new policy curbing political activism inside the company. Armstrong disclosed the figure in a Thursday email to employees.

Armstrong announced the new policy last week after a summer when many technology companies faced pressure from their employees to become more outspoken on issues of social justice.

“While I think these efforts are well-intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction, and by creating internal division,” Armstrong wrote in a September 27 blog post. “We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity. I believe most employees don’t want to work in these divisive environments.”

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#cars, #coinbase


Waymo finally launches an actual public, driverless taxi service

Close-up photograph of a hand holding a smartphone.


After covering Waymo for several years, I’ve learned to take the company’s announcements with a grain of salt.

In 2018, for example, Waymo said it would launch a fully driverless commercial service by the end of the year. Waymo did release a service called Waymo One in December 2018, but it came with a couple of huge asterisks: every vehicle had a safety driver, and the service was only open to a small group of people.

But today Waymo finally seems to be launching the taxi service it promised two years ago: one that’s fully driverless and open to the public. Waymo told Ars that the service will initially operate in a 50-square-mile area in the Phoenix suburbs of Chandler, Tempe, and Mesa.

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#cars, #driverless, #phoenix, #self-driving-car, #waymo


Amazon debuts its first fully electric delivery vehicle, created in partnership with Rivian

Amazon has received delivery of its very first, custom-built EV delivery van – a vehicle built through its partnership with electric transportation startup Rivian. The van doesn’t look too different from existing, traditional fuel and hybrid commercial delivery vans (though there are a lot more rounded edges) but most of the innovation is happening in less obvious places.

In a blog post detailing the vehicle, Amazon outlined some of the unique features of its custom vehicle, including sensor-based highway driving and traffic assist features; exterior cameras that can provide a 360-degree view for the driver via a digital display; a larger interior floor space in the cabin to help with drivers getting to and from the cabin compartment; surround tail lights for better braking visibility for other drivers; integrated three-level shelving and a bulkhead cargo compartment separating door; and finally, of course – built-in Alexa voice assistant integration.

Amazon announced a sizeable investment in Rivian in 2019, when it led a $700 million round for the startup EV maker. The e-commerce giant then announced last September that it was ordering 100,000 of the custom-made electric delivery vans. Rivian also intends to build and ship electric pickups and SUVs to consumers, on top of its commercial vehicle plans.

Amazon plans to ramp deployment of its all-electric fleet form here, starting with 10,000 custom vans on roads globally within the next two years, and then expanding to a total fleet size of that full 100,000 order by 2030, the company says. Rivian, meanwhile, says it has begun a pilot production line run of its Illinois factory, and plans to begin delivery of its SUV starting in June 2021, with shipments of its SUV starting next August.

#amazon, #automotive, #cars, #driver, #electric-vehicle, #electric-vehicles, #greentech, #illinois, #rivian, #suv, #tc, #transport, #transportation, #van


Owning an electric car really does save money, Consumer Reports finds

Owning an electric car really does save money, Consumer Reports finds

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

If you bought a Tesla Model 3 instead of a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4, you’d probably save $15,000 over the total lifetime of the vehicle. That’s according to a new analysis from Consumer Reports, which examines the total cost of ownership for electric vehicles—both battery EVs and plug-in hybrid EVs—versus comparable internal combustion engine vehicles.

CR found that much lower maintenance costs and the lower price of electricity compared to gasoline more than offsets the higher purchase price of a new BEV compared to an ICE.

Operating and maintenance costs were calculated using data from annual reliability surveys conducted by CR in 2019 and 2020. Among other data collected, the survey asked CR members to estimate their automotive maintenance and repair costs and driven mileage over the previous 12 months, as well as total mileage of their vehicle. (CR filtered out outliers who drove fewer than 2,000 miles (3,200km) or more than 60,000 miles (96,560km) in 12 months, as well as vehicles with more than $20,000 in maintenance costs or vehicles with more than 200,000 miles (322,000km) on the odometer.)

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#battery-electric-vehicles, #bev, #cars, #consumer-reports, #electric-car, #phev, #plug-in-hybrid-ev, #total-cost-of-ownership


The Honda Civic Type-R is more fun to drive than a supercar

After reviewing the entry-level and middle-ranked Honda Civics, it’s only fair to extend the same courtesy to the apogee of all things Civic—the $37,495 Type-R. It takes the starfighter styling and turns the dial all the way, adding spoilers and wings and vents and scoops. Underneath all those aerodynamic appendages, the mechanical bits have been similarly stimulated, taking friction out here and quickening response times there. It’s Honda’s idea of the world’s best hot hatch, and after a week in the brightly colored, heavily bolstered driver’s seat, I’m inclined to agree.

I didn’t need long behind the wheel before I started kicking myself for waiting until 2020 to make friends with the Type-R. It’s had a few tweaks here and there since Jim Resnick drove it in 2018. The front grille admits more air, and an uprated radiator core makes use of that to reduce coolant temperatures by up to 10˚C. The bigger grille opening led Honda to reprofile one of the two front spoilers to balance out the efficiency, a change you’re unlikely to notice unless you take it off the car and look carefully.

There are some stiffer suspension bushings here and there, and the adaptive dampers react 10 times faster than they used to. The front brakes are now two-piece items, so they weigh less and are more resistant to fade. At its core, the Type-R is still a Civic, so it benefited from the same midlife refresh as its cheaper, more numerous siblings—new front and rear bumpers, better infotainment, and a full suite of advanced driver-assistance systems.

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#car-review, #cars, #honda-civic, #honda-civic-type-r


45 minutes on the road in a prototype Volkswagen ID.4 electric car

In late September, Volkswagen unveiled a new crossover called the ID.4. It’s one of a number of new battery electric vehicles that the automaker has in the works, and the first destined for this side of the Atlantic. Although the order books are now open, the ID.4 is still finishing its final stage of development, and customer cars won’t start arriving on boats until next year. But in advance of that, last week VW let Ars have a quick go in an early pre-production prototype.

It was a much more low-key experience than my last time driving one of VW’s electric prototypes. Then, it was the ID Buggy and an original Manx buggy on a sunny day at Pebble Beach. The bright green prototype had an electronic speed limiter but would breach 25mph while coasting down a slight grade, and we even had a photographer in a chase vehicle to record the event.

This time, I met up with VW at an Electrify America charging station a couple of miles from Dulles International Airport in Virginia. Instead of bright sunshine, there were gray skies and the occasional half-hearted drop of rain. There was no vintage car for comparison, and no chase vehicle. In fact, there was no photo shoot at all—VW asked us to keep it to interior pics only. But there was also no chaperone, just a request to be back within 45 minutes.

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#battery-electric-vehicle, #cars, #electric-crossover, #volkswagen-id-4


2020 Subaru Outback is fan service in the best possible way

The Ascent may be a surprisingly good three-row SUV and the redesigned Forester has been selling well, but the Outback is still Subaru’s best-selling car and its best-known model. The 2020 Outback marks the sixth generation of Subaru’s venerable crossover. If you’re a long-time Subaru owner looking to upgrade, there’s plenty to like here. If you’re new to Subaru, the Outback has some selling points that make it stand out from the crowd of compact crossovers.

On the outside, not a lot has changed for the Outback. With 8.7 inches (22cm) of ground clearance, the Outlook still rocks that classic let’s-go-off-roading-to-the-grocery-store look. Built on Subaru’s global platform, the sixth-generation Outlook looks very similar to the previous year’s model. Unless you’re looking closely at the grille, which has black accents instead of chrome, or the taillights, you’ll be hard-pressed to spot any big differences. The biggest changes come under the hood and inside the cabin.

The 2020 Outlook still comes standard with the naturally aspirated 2.5L boxer engine, but there’s now a turbocharged 2.4L power plant that comes with the XT model we tested. Available in an Outback for the first time since 2009, the turbocharged engine is capable of 260hp (191kW) at 5,600rpm and 277lb-ft (376Nm) of torque at 2,00rpm. The standard, horizontally mounted 2.5L engine sees some modest performance gains from last year: 182hp/134kW and 176lb-ft/237Nm, up from 175hp/129kW and 174lb-ft/235Nm—basically the same as the Forester. What hasn’t changed is an eight-speed Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, which has the same upside (fuel economy) and downside (noise) as always. The entire Outback lineup now comes equipped with paddle-shifters and an eight-speed manual-mode function.

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#cars, #crossover, #outback, #subaru, #suv


After 12 years, Mitsubishi kills the i-MiEV electric car

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, as seen when we tested it in 2011.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV, as seen when we tested it in 2011. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

It must be canceling season in Japan right now. First we found out the shocking news that Honda is withdrawing from Formula 1 at the end of 2021. Now, it’s the turn of the Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle. Nikkei reports that the automaker is calling time on this diminutive battery EV this year, quoting an unnamed executive as saying, “we didn’t have enough money and personnel to continue investing in EV development.”

Unlike the Honda news, the only real surprise here is that the i-MiEV was even still in production. Mitsubishi has only managed to sell 32,000 of them since 2009, and here in the US sales of the i-MiEV ended in 2017.

As it happens, the i-MiEV was the first car I reviewed for Ars Technica, way back in July 2011. The specs were hardly earth-shattering—a 50kW (66hp) electric motor and 16kWh of lithium-ion battery storage, and a range of just 70 miles (112km), which should put all the complaints about the e-tron range into some context. It wasn’t particularly cheap, either: the i-MiEV we tested clocked in at $31,125. (That’s $35,935 in 2020 money.)

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#cars, #mitsubishi-i-miev