Wednesday, April 30, 2014

100th Tesla Supercharger Installed…In New Jersey, No Less


Last week Tesla installed its 100th Supercharger charging station in the state of New Jersey, while promising this is just the beginning. The 100th Supercharger was installed in New Jersey, which last month banned Tesla’s direct sales model. Coincidence? Irony? It’s something, that’s for sure.
In relatively short order, Tesla has installed 86 Superchargers across North America, and another 14 in Europe to reach the magic 100 number. Superchargers now allow Tesla Model S owners to drive to every corner of the country without spending a single penny on fuel costs, and Tesla claims that by the end of next year, 98% of the U.S. population will be within the range of a Supercharger station.
But this is only the beginning, as Tesla is planning rapid expansion of its nascent European network, which is focused mostly on Scandinavia and Central Europe. Then its on to China, where the lack of charging infrastructure has seriously hampered electric car sales. It will still be years before these three major markets are fully connected, but the effects of the Supercharger stations can already be felt by Tesla owners and the environment.
According to Tesla, Superchargers have offput over 570,000 gallons of gasoline, saving owners an estimated $2.3 million in fuel costs alone. Tesla Superchargers have recharged more than 14 million miles of range, enough to go around the Earth 573 times, and in the past week more than 5,000 Teslas have plugged into a Supercharger.
Now imagine what that number will be if Tesla sells 250,000 cars a year instead of 25,000. The Tesla Model E can’t come soon enough.

Source: Tesla Motors

MINI Paceman Adventure Pickup Is Just A Tease


MINI could bring all-new meaning to the term “small truck” should it carry the MINI Paceman Adventure concept through to production. That’s probably not going to happen to be honest, but this excellent concept would prove infinitely useful with its tiny truck bed and implied efficiency.
By lopping off the back-top half of a MINI Paceman, engineers have created a unique utilitarian design with off-the-beaten-path driving in mind. Strap a spare tire to the roof, add on a light bar, install an off-road friendly suspension, and you’re just an air snorkel away from the Paceman Adventure.
Just don’t expect MINI to take this concept into consideration for production. Built by BMW students and instructors at factories in Munich and Dingolfing, there are no plans to put the Paceman Adventure into production.
That’s a real shame, be because a genuine MINI pickup could be endlessly useful. What a tease this concept turned out to be.


Source: BMW

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive priced at $41,450 for US; 85-mile range

The MY14 B-Class Electric Drive. Click to enlarge.
The Mercedes-Benz MY14 B-Class Electric Drive—the first electric offering for the brand in the United States—is priced at $41,450, excluding $925 destination and delivery. Customers may be eligible for federal tax credits (which run up to $7,500) or state/local tax credits. The MY14 B-Class Electric Vehicle will be available beginning in mid-July to dealers in California; Connecticut; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Jersey; New York; Oregon; Rhode Island; and Vermont. 50-state availability will be announced in 2015.
All B-Class Electric Drive vehicles will be covered by Battery Coverage Plus which includes 8-year, 100,000 mile battery coverage, coverage for defects, coverage for capacity, no cost annual maintenance, and Roadside Assistance.
The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is based on the conventionally powered B-Class, for which the current generation has become a top seller since being launched in many countries in 2011. Since the launch of the first B-Class version in 2005, Mercedes-Benz sold more than 1 million units.
Click to enlarge.
Mercedes-Benz has collaborated with Telsa Motors to develop the electric B-Class. The new Mercedes-Benz EV features a Tesla drive system equipped with an electric motor generating 177 hp (132 kW) and a 28 kWh lithium-ion battery. Maximum torque is 251 lb-ft (340 N·m)—approximately equivalent to the torque from a modern three-liter gasoline engine. The electrically driven B-Class accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 7.9 seconds.
In the interests of optimizing range, the top speed is electronically limited to 100 mph (161 km/h). Range is an estimated 85 miles (137 km).

The B Class Electric Drive features a full regenerative mode (D-), normal drive (D), and coasting (D+) feature. The “D Auto” feature features radar-based recuperation, which adjusts speeds depending on traffic in front of the vehicle.
The lithium-ion battery is housed in the “Energy Space” in the underfloor of the vehicle. Charging time for 60 miles worth of electricity is 2 hours with a Level 2 Charger (40 Amp); a complete charge will take 3.5 hours.
In terms of information and communication systems, the electric B-Class offers customary Mercedes-Benz levels of comfort and functionality. The standard equipment package includes a head unit with 5.8 in (14.7 cm) color display, twin tuner and MP3-compatible CD player as well as USB port. The Becker MAP PILOT is the standard navigation system while the COMAND multimedia system with internet access, navigation and LINGUATRONIC voice control is also optionally available.
The instrumentation of the B-Class Electric Drive is rounded off by functions that are specific to electric vehicles. A Vehicle Homepage allows remote interaction and remote configuration of the vehicle. The driver can use his or her PC or smartphone to access the vehicle via the internet. It is possible, for example, to determine the current state of charge of the lithium-ion battery or show the vehicle’s current range on a map.
In addition, the planned route can be displayed, showing where the vehicle can be recharged along the way, should this prove necessary. The range of connected services is rounded off by a feature that allows individually timed pre-heating or cooling of the vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz has equipped this electric car with the radar-based collision warning system COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST with adaptive Brake Assist as standard. This assistance system gives the driver a visual and audible warning of detected obstacles, prepares them for braking action and assists them with the braking process as the situation requires. In this way, it significantly reduces the danger of a rear-end collision. Additional cutting-edge driver assistance systems are also available, including Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Active Parking Assist.

College Students Compete To Make Camaros More Efficient


GM is donating 16 Chevrolet Camaros to the EcoCar Challenge, throwing a twist into the tradition of modifying American muscle machines. Instead of making these Camaros go faster, 16 college teams will compete over the next four years attempting to minimize the Camaro’s environmental impact without sacrificing its performance or iconic image.
The EcoCar3 Challenge is a four year engineering course that includes 16 teams from the likes of Penn State and Wayne State Universaity. The teams must strive to balance fuel economy and performance in their new Camaros, and nw for the challenge are cost constraints, as well as calling for greater degrees of innovation. While not known for their efficiency or green credentials, Camaros have been converted using environmentally-friendly methods before.The winner of the three-year EcoCar2 Challenge was Penn State, which turned a donated Chevy Malibu into an E85-burning plug-in hybrid.
Basically, a slighty-bigger Chevy Volt that prefers corn to petrol. Cool stuff, right? All I ever built in college was a bunch of bad habits and a pile of debt.
The program is a major driver of engineering talent into the arms of GM, which has hired some 100 student competitors from past EcoCar challenges. While the article doesn’t specifiy, it’s safe to assume these are base model Camaro V6 vehicles, rather than the gas-guzzling Camaro SS, which would present a whole ‘nother set of challenges.
There, I just found the theme for the EcoCar4 Challenge; a 400 horsepower Camaro SS that can get 40 MPG on the highway.

Rimac Secures Investors To Build Concept_One Electric Supercar


Two high-profile investors put their money behind the 1,088 horsepower Rimac Concept_One electric supercar, bringing this quiet riot closer to production. Want one? All you’ll need is a million bucks and a place on the growing waiting list.
Better hurry though, as production of the Concept_One will be limited to just 88 examples, and you can bet investor Frank Kanayet Yepes has already signed on to get his. Yepes, a South American businessman with Croation origins, has also invested in the all-electric Formula E Championship despite making his millions in the oil and gas industry. Maybe this is his way of making up for a lifetime of working for Big Oil?
Nah. The owner of an uber-rare Ferrari 599XX (1 of 33, not even street legal!) probably just really loves fast, cool, high-tech cars, and there are few cars cooler than this Ferrari-crushing EV.
The other investor is Sinocop Resources, a minerals and metals company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Sinocop has reportedly signed a non-binding agreement to take a 10% stake in Rimac, which is more than just one electric supercar. Founder Mate Rimac has built what he claims is the world’s quickest electric car, a custom BMW M3, and the Rimac-designed Greyp is an electric bicycle with grand ambitions of its own. As for the Concept_One, production is slated to begin next year…and it looks like it might actually happen.
With this newfound investment, Rimac plans to double the development team by the end of the year, though the company will go beyond million-dollar supercars and glossy electric bikes. Rimac wants to build and sell proprietary electric power systems in the burgeoning EV market, though building a dedicated line of electric vehicles remains priority one.
Could this be the beginnings of a Croatian Tesla?

Source: Tech EU via Motor Authority

eBay Motors Is Giving Away A Tesla Model S


In yet another sign that Tesla has taken the motoring world by storm, eBay Motors is giving away a brand new Tesla Model S in an electrifying giveaway. It’s your best bet yet to win one of the best cars ever built, and all you have to do is upload pictures of your current ride for a chance to win.
The eBay Garage Electrifying Giveaway will give one grand prize winner an all-new Tesla Model S with an approximate retail value of $102,000, implying the winner will be getting a well-appointed ride rather than just a base 60 kWh variant. Ten second prizes of $100 eBay gift cards are also up for grabs, but that’s a far cry from the ultimate electric vehicle, which is replacing muscle cars as popular giveaway prize.
I have to be honest reader, I briefly debated not sharing this story with you to increase my odds of winning. How selfish would that be though? Instead, I’m here to tell you that you have until May 16th to enter, and you can increase your odds of winning by uploading pictures of your current ride to your eBay Garage profile. So unless you’re Jay Z or equally well-off, like me your only chance to own a Tesla Model S is to win one.
The winners will be picked on May 27th, three days after my wedding. A Tesla Model S would be a hell of a wedding present, though I’m already ecstatic with my new Ninja crockpot. It’s no Tesla Model S, but it is all electric! In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that somehow my entry is the one plucked from the many thousands of entries. Because who doesn’t want a Tesla?

Source: eBay Motors

Monday, April 28, 2014

BYD Denza Finally Debuts In Production Guise

Born from a union of Germany’s Daimler and China’s BYD, the importance of the BYD Denza to China’s EV future cannot be understated. The nearly $60,000 Denza may not be pretty, and its range may not be all that impressive, and it could take more than a day to fully charge but…uh…yeah, why am I impressed with this car again?
Oh right. I’m not. Granted, the 15 to 180 miles of rated driving range is about twice that of the Nissan Leaf, but those numbers can be fudged depending on the testing cycle and favorable conditions. What can’t possibly be sugarcoated is the 15 hours it takes to recharged the Denza from a public charging network that has yet to be built. Want to plug it in at home? Prepare to wait as long as 32 hours for a full battery. Even if you only need a half-charge, you’re talking about 16 hours just to top off.
Just a reminder, this is a $60,000 vehicle built by the owners of Mercedes and one of Warren Buffett’s darling green investments. Really? This is the best they can do?
While government subsidies could whack as much as $19,000 off the MSRP, even the most devout EV advocate has to admit that this vehicle is all but impractical for the lives of everybody but shut-ins. With the Tesla Model S beginning sales through its Hong Kong store last week, methinks this overpriced BYD EV is DOA.
Maybe they should stick to hybrids instead.


Source: Automotive News

Is Tesla building a new skunkworks facility in Lathrop, California?

Tesla Motors has a secret. The California automaker has leased, and is now renovating, a 431,000-square foot former Daimler-Chrysler distribution facility in Lathrop, CA, but is not saying exactly what it will be using the space for. At least, not yet.

Interior shot of Tesla's new leased space in Lathrop, CA.About an hour's drive east from its Fremont, CA factory, the property is located just off the north-to-south Interstate 5 (I-5) and has extra acreage to expand the building by another 124,980 sq-ft, if needed. Designed to handle a lot of shipping in and out, one side of the structure is gifted with 32 truck docking bays.

With no official word on the type of activities that are planned for the facility, it is only natural that we would want to speculate a bit. There is one clue out there that can aid our hypothesizing. The job section of the company's website lists a number of openings that would indicate manufacturing of some sort is intended for the space.

We'll go ahead and rule out serial vehicle production, since the Fremont space still has ample room for that activity to handle the upcoming Model X and the more affordable future vehicle. It's far too small to be a battery gigafactory, so could it be instead a kilofactory ? Probably not. Of course, it could just be a new site for producing components for the Fremont production lines, but that doesn't sound nearly as exciting. It also doesn't seem to be worthy of secrecy. The coolest – though not necessarily most accurate – thing we can come up with is a skunkworks. A secret lair where new concepts are conceived and developed away from the prying eyes of the public. Yeah, we'll go with that.

When we contacted Tesla for clues about the facility's purpose we got a boilerplate response, though interestingly, they might have thrown us another mysterious bone in the process. And we quote, "Tesla is continuing to invest and create jobs in California as part of our ongoing infrastructure expansion. In the last two months, we have signed leases for more than 625,000 square feet of Californian real estate, independent of sales and service centers. These recent investments reinforce our commitment to California and will help us continue to bring compelling electric vehicles to market at affordable prices."

With a 194,00-sq ft discrepancy between the known Lathrop acquisition and the numbers given by the automaker, it seems that may be yet another decent-sized unknown building in the mix. It's all enough to boggle our easily-beboggled minds so, to paraphrase a certain Tom Waits, we ask you, dear reader, what's he building in there?
News Source: Manteca Bulletin, Tesla

Geely shows Emgrand Cross PHEV concept with 31-mile range

Still officially a concept, Geely showed off the Emgrand Cross Concept PHEV (plug-in hybrid) at the Beijing Auto Show recently. Those in the know say that the car looks production-ready, but Geely isn't talking about this show car's future.

So, it's no surprise that official details for the Emgrand Cross PHEV are scarce, but reports say it will be able to hit 62 miles per hour in ten seconds and a top speed of 118 miles per hour. The plug-in hybrid could also be powered by a 54 horsepower electric motor and an 88 horsepower, 1.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine. Electric range is supposed to be around 31 miles.

A focus on plug-in hybrids makes sense for Geely given that one of the companies it owns, Volvo, is moving big into PHEVs, especially for the US. Volvo said in 2012 that it would be transferring technology to Geely, but we don't know if the "technological cooperation agreements" signed by the two companies included any powertrain details.
Image Credit: Newspress

Sunday, April 27, 2014

1905 Woods Electric Coupe- a Chicago Original

1905 Woods Electric Car

As the recent 1898 Porsche barn-find pointed out, electric and hybrid cars have been around for a long, long time. What many people, even “car people”, may not know, however, is that there were nearly five hundred carmakers trying to dominate the market in the early days of the twentieth century- and many of them were EV specialists. Take, for example, this gorgeous 1905 coupe built by Chicago’s Woods Motor Vehicle Company.
The guys at ConceptCarz found this fantastic example of the breed at a Hershey, PA auto auction back in 2010. They were able to dig up some of the early EV’s interesting history as it crossed the auction block, which we’ve shared, below …

1905 Woods Electric Chicago Coupe
1905 Woods Electric RM Auctions
The Woods Motor Vehicle Company was organized in Chicago in 1899. From the beginning, the company was destined for success as it had considerable financial backing, including $10 million in capital stock. The list of wealthy backers included a number of Standard Oil executives and wealthy men from Toronto, Canada. New York’s August Belmont, the American financier and builder of the famed Belmont Park racetrack, was another.
The company purchased the patents of Clinton E. Woods in hopes of challenging the electric-vehicle dominance of the East Coast-based Electric Vehicle Company. Woods had been designing electric vehicles since 1897 and was hired as superintended of the new company bearing his name, but was quickly ‘eased’ out of the company and returned to designing and manufacturing his owned designs by 1901. His operations soon went into receivership. His next venture was as an automobile dealer.
The Woods Motor Vehicle Company produced high quality and expensive vehicles, with many prices in the $3,000 range – a considerable sum for the era. They offered an extensive line of electric vehicles with wheelbase sizes ranging from 69-inches to 86-inches. The company would remain in production through 1918, when the company faded from existence as gasoline-powered automobiles began to dominate the marketplace.
This vehicle is a Style 214A Queen Victoria Brougham Electric that has a wheelbase size of 73-inches. It is believed to be the only surviving example. It is equipped with a removable cap for open-air touring and has seating for two passengers.
… you can see several more high-resolution photos of this classic, all-original Woods Electric EV over at the ConceptCarz website, but I’ve picked a few of my favorite shots to share of the ultra-rare survivor, here. Enjoy!


Source | More PhotosConceptCarz, via EVObsession.

Honda Concept B is the New CRX the CR-Z Should Have Been

Honda Concept B at Beijing 2014

Earlier this week, Honda introduced the world to its new Concept B. It’s a sporty little four door coupe in the currently-fashionable Mercedes CLS/Volkswagen CC/Audi A7/BMW Gran Coupe mould, and- being based on the new Honda Fit’s mechanical bits- it promises to punch well above its weight in terms of driving fun.
Of course, Honda has no plans to bring the thing to the US.
That’s the way things usually go with next-level awesome stuff from Honda. They listen to what enthusiasts want, build it, then refuse to sell it in the US- and it doesn’t matter if that awesome thing is a sporty electric convertible or a sikk, big-engine power cruiser …

Oh, yes.

… if it’s making the dollar bills in your pocket burst into flames (like the retro-tastic Honda CB1300 Super Bol D’or, above) you probably can’t buy it here in the US.
Honda expects to have a production version of the actually-kinda-looks-like-an-Insight Honda Concept B on sale in China in time for the 2016 model year, leaving the North American-built Fit to be the playful Honda of choice here in the ‘States. For those looking for a sporty Veloster alternative or new-age CRX, however, you won’t find it the Honda store. For now.


Source | More PhotosPaul Tan.

BMW i3 Configurator Goes Live With A World Of Different Trims


The BMW i3 configurator has finally gone live, giving eager Bimmer fans a chance to build and price the i3 of their dreams. Just don’t expect traditional “trim” packages. Instead, the i3 offers buyers a world of options with the Mega World, Giga World, and Tera World option packages. Ya, I know, weird right?
It wouldn’t be so bad if they just called it the Mega, Giga, or Tera if you ask me, but I guess you could consider the interior of your car as its own little world. Regardless, the BMW i3 starts at $41,350 in Mega layout, while jumping up to the Giga adds $1,700, leather-and-wool seats, and 19-inch wheels. The tiop-tier Tera World will leave your wallet $2,700 lighter, given you even nicer 19-inch wheels, and add real leather interior.
There are so, so many options though that you can easily add another $15,000 in options to the BMW i3. Some of the option highlights include;
  • $1,300 20-inch Rims
  • $700 DC Fast Charging Station
  • $800 Harman Kardon Sound System
  • $350 Heated Seats
  • $3,950 Range Extender
All told, it isn’t difficult to bring the total price over $50,000, though the $,7500 tax rebate for electric vehicles will help soften the blow. BMW is also offering a unique lease plan to attract younger buyers. With an eye towards aspiratantional Millennials and Gen X-ers, the i3 has built up plenty of anticipation among the BMW faithful and EV enthusiasts. Let’s hope the final product delivers as promised.

Source: Autoblog

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Roomier Ford Escort Could Come To America


Could the Ford Escort return to American shores? Ford CEO Alan Mulally thinks so, as the extra-roomy compact was designed for China, but could come here. It’s all a part of the One Ford plan, though where the Escort would fit remains an unanswered question.
The Ford Escort is about the same size as the Ford Focus (because it’s based on a Focus), but with additional backseat legroom to appeal to Chinese consumers. Designed by teams based in China for the local market. Mulally said that the Escort would likely migrate to other markets including, eventually, America.
So where would the Escort fit, exactly? It could be slotted between the Fusion and the Focus, or perhaps just rebadged as a different variation of the Focus, which isn’t much of a stretch since the share platforms. With extra room, it could make a fine livery replacement for those companies now ready to fill their fleets with Ford Transit Connect taxi vans. Along the same vein, it could be sold only as a fleet-only vehicle to help Ford regain market share lost with the retirement of the Crown Victoria.
Then again, adding the Escort to America’s lineup might just crowd out other cars, like the Focus and Fusion. Perhaps this is one Ford that can stay overseas.


Source: Automotive News

Old Trucks Get Their Groove Back In West Virginia


The classic car has a special place in many gear heads’ hearts. I mean, who doesn’t feel a sense of American pride thinking about Steve McQueen racing his Mustang through San Francisco or the Cadillac Eldorado in “Smokey in the Bandits”? It’s just too bad that driving these older models comes with oodles of environmental problems. That’s why it’s wonderful to see some old, diesel trucks finding a useful home at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, West Virginia.
Like optical telescopes which need dark areas in order to operate properly, radio telescopes need shelter from electromagnetic interference. This is because weak cosmic signals can be easily masked by terrestrial radio waves. The NRAO, for example, is located in a quiet zone surrounded by national forests and the mountainous terrain of West Virginia.
To protect the zone from any interference, NRAO Regulations require visitors to limit motorized traffic to diesel vehicles. Electric spark plugs and computer chips inside modern, gasoline-powered cars interfere with the radio. Visitors can’t even use new diesel cars because the door chimes, seatbelt buzzers, and computer-controlled engine management systems are also problematic. 
But old diesels don’t have the same problem. They use glow plugs instead of spark plugs and mechanical fuel injection instead of electronic injection. In other words, they’re actually good for the environment around a radio telescope because they don’t interfere with its sensitive signals.
Some of the old trucks seen around NRAO include Chevrolet Suburbans, pickups, and even some diesel-powered Checker Marathons. (Remember those?!) They range in age from 30 to 45 years old, and come complete with nostalgia-worthy features like blue vinyl seats and manual windows. While they may not be the classic Mustangs and Cadillacs of your dreams, at least these old trucks seem to be getting plenty of use.

Source | Image: