Saturday, May 30, 2015

PSC Motors Announces 1,700 HP SP-200 SIN Hybrid Hypercar

Las Vegas may not be a traditional motor city in the same vein as Detroit, but anyone who has spent even ten minutes on the Strip knows that there’s no shortage of cool cars in Sin City. PSC Motors has chosen Vegas as its home, and the little-known company wants to challenge the likes of Koenigsegg with a 1,700 horsepower plug-in hybrid called the SP-200 SIN, reports AutoCar.
psc-motors-1How does one generate that much power? For PSC Motors, the solution is a naturally-aspirated 9.0 liter V8 of unknown origin backed by a eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. When combined with a rear-mounted electric motor, total output is rated at 1,700 horsepower, according to PSC. That would make it amongst the most powerful street-legal cars ever built, if indeed it actually gets built.
The SP-200 SIN is aiming for a P85D-beating 2.8 second sprint from 0 to 60 MPH, a 280 MPH top speed, and a 30-mile all-electric driving range. Curb weight is said to be around 1,400kgs/3,086lbs thanks to a carbon-composite and aluminum body, and production will be limited to just 35 miles. No price is stated, because of the whole “If you have to ask…” thing, but PSC Motors CEO Antonio Calva does say that the company first began five years ago.
With the big reveal slated for sometime next month, we’ll find out pretty soon whether this is real contender to cars like the Koenigsegg Regera, or just more puff-piece vaporware.

2016 Nissan LEAF May Get 25% Bigger Battery, 105 Mile Range

2015_nissan_leaf_26 (1)
We’re now almost halfway through 2015, but we haven’t heard all that much regarding to second-generation Nissan LEAF, and we may not for some time. According to InsideEVs though, the current-generation Nissan LEAF could get a 30 kWh battery pack on high-end models, offering up to 105 miles of driving range per charge.
InsideEVs cites two unspecified dealerships as confirming that this fall, the 2016 Nissan LEAF will come to market with a 30 kWh battery, which is 25% larger than the 24 kWh pack currently used. This battery will up driving range to as much as 105 miles per charge on the EPA testing method, up from just 73 miles right now. The base model S trim will still have the 24 kWh pack, but the SV and SL packages will benefit not just from the 6.6 kw fast charger, but the bigger battery as well, and SL trims have a CHaDEMO quick-charge port as well.
With 105 miles per charge, the 2016 Nissan LEAF would have the most driving range of any EV not built by Tesla Motors, and hopefully help Nissan boost slipping sales. While 2014 was a watershed year for LEAF sales, 2015 has is off to a much slower start thanks to new competitors like the 2016 Chevy Volt, BMW i3, and Kia Soul EV. There are also other implications of this move though.
Generally speaking, automakers don’t make big upgrades like this if a vehicle is nearing replacement soon. While many had assumed that the 2016 Nissan LEAF would be the last before the next-gen debuted, what if this move is meant to extend the production lifecycle of the current model? The next-gen LEAF may not be ready for its big debut, prompting Nissan to offer this placeholder upgrade instead. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has gone on the record as saying the next LEAF will offer at least 150 miles of range per charge, and maybe up to 250. But if the replacement model isn’t ready yet, then Nissan may have to stretch the first-generation’s life longer than intended.
On the other hand, perhaps Nissan is merely testing the waters and seeing how consumers respond to having battery size options. Tesla has offered this option from the get-go, and maybe Nissan is moving away from its one-battery-fits-all philosophy.
I will say this; a 105 mile driving range for the LEAF makes it a much more tempting, and practical, transportation solution. I’d wager I could do 99% of my daily driving with 105 miles of driving range at my disposal. Could you?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Audi Q6 E-Tron With 300+ Mile Range Confirmed

The Audi Q6 E-Tron has been confirmed for production, starting in 2018. That announcement came last week at the company’s annual meeting. The Q6 E-Tron will slot in between the company’s Q5 and Q7 SUV offerings.
Very few details have been released yet, but we do know that Audi’s head of engineering, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, has promised that it will not look like any other Audi that has come before. The closest guess is that it will resemble the Prologue Allroad concept the company unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show.  The Prologue design language has also been highlighted in the Prologue Avant and Prologue Coupe concepts. The Q6 E-Tron will share its platform with the 2016 Q7 e-tron and upcoming 2017 Volkswagen Cross-Blue SUV.
The Q6 may be offered with gasoline and diesel engines as well as plug in hybrid variants, according to the folks at Transport Evolved. But the biggest news is that the E-Tron version will have approximately 310 miles of all electric range. It’s closest competitor, of course, will be the much anticipated Tesla Model X. But industry observers think the Model X, which will be heavier than the Model S it is based on, will have “only” 200 miles of range. In the world of electric cars, range is as critical to sales as cubic inches were back when great thumping V-8 engines ruled the road.
Audi will not have a system of dedicated charging stations like the Tesla SuperCharger network that offers drivers free electricity for life, but it is known to be working on wireless recharging technology that will eliminate the need to plug in its car entirely.
Will the Q6 E-Tron be able to compete with the Model X on price and features? We don’t know the answer to that question yet, since no details about either car have been released. The only thing we know for sure is that while Tesla has been struggling to get production of the Model X started, the rest of the world’s auto makers have been hard at work preparing their own electric SUV models to compete with it.

Deliveries of the 500 HP BYD Tang Plug-In SUV Begin in July

BYD is one of China’s most ambitious automakers, not only moving beyond China’s borders to sell its vehicles, but going all-in with plug-in car technology. One of the most anticipated plug-in cars of 2015 is the BYD Tang, a 500 horsepower plug-in SUV that is slated to arrive at dealerships this July, reports CarNewsChina. While the $48,360 base price might seem like a lot to swallow, buyers in China will benefit from a slew of incentives designed to make plug-ins more appealing.
2016-byd-tang-plug-in-hybrid-1The BYD Tang is the first of the automaker’s second-generation plug-in cars, often referred to as the 5-4-2; 0 to 60 MPH in under 5 seconds, 4-wheel drive, and less than 2 liters of fuel consumption per 100 km. Motivation comes from a pair of 150 horsepower electric motors, joined by a 2.0 liter turbo engine making a combined 505 horsepower and 530 lb-ft of torque.
Maximum electric driving range is rated at 50 miles per charge, comparable to the 2016 Chevy Volt. The Tang Ultimate Edition will push the envelope even farther, offering a 0 to 60 MPH sprint of just 4.4 seconds, rivaling the once-dominant Tesla P85+ (but not the AWD P85D). Speaking of Tesla, BYD is planning a Gigafactory of its own as it strives to stay competitive with Musk.
While the $48,000 price tag is pretty hefty, incentives could bring the cost down to about $35,000. Even in America, the federal tax rebate would bring the cost to just over $40,000, not that far out of line for your typical well-appointed SUV. The interior looks plush and techie enough without being overwhelming, the Tang’s exterior aesthetics would like right at home on America’s roads, and it’ll have plenty of passing power to play with.
If BYD is planning to invade America, the Tang should lead the way.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Before A123 bankruptcy, CTO was making $300k a month

Earlier this year battery maker A123 Systems sued Apple, alleging that Apple was "systematically hiring away A123's high tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123." The Apple employee said to be responsible for the poaching is Mujeeb Ijaz, who was himself an A123 employee until being stolen away by Apple.

Ijaz held more than one position at A123 during his time there, being Chief Technology Officer for the company and the president of A123 Venture Technologies. The venture tech group focused on "materials research, cell product development, and advanced concepts," including the development of lithium-ion batteries for energy recovery systems used in Formula One that would have "unparalleled power density."

Court documents pertaining to the lawsuit reveal that Ijaz was making $294,000 per month at A123. If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is a lot, outside of the the executive leadership arena. The two companies have settled the lawsuit with Apple paying A123 an undisclosed settlement, but the key here is that if anyone has any doubt that Apple is doing something serious with big batteries, like, oh, building an electric car and who knows what else, then this should silence it.

Tesla trying out pop-up stores

Tesla keeps fighting nationwide for the right to sell its vehicles directly to customers with some success and failure. If you take a vacation this summer, you might see the company selling the Model S in some new, very temporary locations, though. The luxury EV maker is following wealthy potential buyers during the warm weather to create pop-up stores to lure them into the brand.

According to Fortunethese mobile stores are housed in two shipping containers, and the whole thing takes just a few hours to set up. A neutral gray and bright red paint scheme gives the structure a high-end feeling, and the Model S that's parked inside at least introduces more people to the brand, if not spurs some sales.

Tesla has been moving three of these sites around Europe to engage buyers, and the first of these pop-ups already set up shop in Santa Barbara, CA, over Memorial Day weekend, according to Fortune. The next one heads to the Hamptons in New York. Tesla isn't talking about any of the other future locales, but it's certainly something to keep an eye out for during a summer road trip.

Electric-Car Future Is Coming, Just More Slowly Than Predicted: Consensus

BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging
BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf electric cars using Combined Charging System (CCS) DC fast charging

It's been no secret that President Obama's goal of 1 million plug-in electric cars on U.S. roads won't be met by the end of this year.
That's the goal he announced on the campaign trail toward winning his first term in 2008.

The actual number is likely to be perhaps 400,000 or so; the 1-million goal may not be met until 2018 or later.

Every now and then, a reporter notices this fact, and an article or video segment appears to point this out.
Last week, for instance, Bloomberg published an article whose title suggested it might be broadly unsympathetic to the idea that electric cars will grow in number.
President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt
President Obama inspects the 2011 Chevrolet Volt

But despite that title--"Obama Scales Back Overly Ambitious Goals For Electric-Car Use"--the article came to roughly the same conclusion that most savvy industry analysts and observers have.
That is, sales of plug-in electric cars in the U.S. (and around the world) will grow as battery costs fall steadily
At the same time, gasoline-vehicle prices will be rising to cover the increasing costs of technology that lets them use less fuel, to keep their makers in compliance with steadily higher corporate average fuel economy rules through 2025.
Bloomberg reporter Jeff Green includes in his piece a quotation from Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign--which lobbies for regulations that require more-efficient vehicles.
“The ground is being laid for an electric car future,” Becker told him. “But it’s not an electric car present.”
Many observers, including this author, feel that the true "hockey stick" upswing in sales of plug-in cars won't come until they are roughly price competitive with gasoline vehicles in the same segment.
2015 Nissan Leaf
2015 Nissan Leaf

That is, when the base price of a Nissan Leaf is within $1,000 to $2,500 the price of, say, a Nissan Sentra or Altima, then the electric car will get far more attention from average buyers.
The prices needn't be identical, but close enough where they're a viable increase for that buyer--perhaps equivalent to the difference between the base model and the highest trim level of any given car.
At that point, the more cost-conscious member of the couple will be far more receptive to the idea that cars running on grid power cost one-fifth to one-third as much per mile as even the moreefficient gasoline cars.
Major technology innovations or major transitions customarily go through a cycle of excitement, over-promising, hype, missed expectations, disappointment, and general public disinterest before they start to permeate everyday life.
Think, most recently, of the mid-1990s advent of the Internet.
But the same applies to railroads, automobiles, and many other advances that are now part of our everyday lives.
Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery pack in rolling chassis [photo: Martin Gillet via Flickr]
Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery pack in rolling chassis [photo: Martin Gillet via Flickr]
With battery costs historically falling at 7 percent a year--while a gasoline vehicle will rise $3,000 (in real dollars) between 2012 and 2025 to meet CAFE standards, according to the EPA--the higher price of electric cars will decline steadily.
The year at which electric cars begin to enter the mainstream is open to debate, and those debates occur with great intensity.
It is pretty unlikely that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's famous prediction that 10 percent of his company's global production in 2020 would be electric will be met.
But from 2008 through the present, the tone of analysts and industry executives has shifted notably.
2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]
2011 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Tesla Model S [photo: David Noland]
Now, electric cars are an accepted niche in the car market--and virtually every informed observer expects their volumes to grow steadily.
They just won't grow as quickly as the earliest and most enthusiastic proponents expected: then-Senator Barack Obama among them.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ford makes GoDrive car-sharing available to public in London

Ford Motor Company will begin making its London-based GoDrive car-sharing service available to the public. (Earlier post.) The service offers flexible, practical and affordable access to a fleet of cars for one-way journeys with easy parking throughout the city.
The project started as one of more than 25 experiments that form Ford Smart Mobility, Ford’s plan to use technology and innovation to take the company to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. The pilot was called City Driving On-Demand. The application being introduced to the public is called GoDrive.
With the global car-sharing industry expected to exceed US$6 billion (£3.8 billion) by 2020, Ford is introducing GoDrive to target on-demand use and gain insight on emerging mobility trends and customers’ car-sharing habits. Ford is exploring the opportunity for car‑sharing services, working with Londoners to better understand their mobility needs and travel and parking patterns.
Intended to complement existing transport systems for integrated journeys, GoDrive is the only car-sharing service offering one-way trips with guaranteed parking. A pay-as-you-go approach, with pay-by-minute pricing covers congestion fees, insurance and fuel. Drivers use a smartphone app to easily reserve and access a car. Half of the fleet consists of Focus Electric vehicles.
The pilot experiment launched with 100 registered members accessing zero‑emission Focus Electric or fuel-efficient, low-emission Fiesta 1.0-liter EcoBoost models from secure parking hubs near major public transport locations, such as Waterloo and Victoria railway stations. Ford now is inviting 2,000 people to register for a free expanded service offering 50 cars across 20 locations. Ford is offering free membership and a £20 free driving credit to new members who sign up to theGoDrive program.
GoDrive also is notable for its continued evaluation and improvement through structured learning. Features regularly are added to the service based on learnings and customer feedback.
It is estimated that in the UK alone the car-sharing sector will grow by 23% from 2013 to 2025. A recent Ford-commissioned survey of 5,500 commuters in major European cities found that a majority of people consider their journey to work more stressful than their actual jobs, and 80% of Londoners said they are late for work once a month or more due to hold-ups.
Our research tells us that car clubs currently are perceived as inflexible when it comes to booking, time slots and return locations. Features such as one-way journeys and pay-as-you-go extend the number of opportunities that drivers would want to car-share and could prove a game-changer. More drivers are finding GoDrive to be a key service that can potentially empower people living in the city with its flexible approach.
—Alicia Agius, project lead, GoDrive, Ford of Europe
Since its launch earlier this year, feedback on the experiment has been largely positive, with the majority of initial users expressing optimism for the future of Ford in the growing car‑sharing space. Users have cited access to technologies found in Ford’s current model line‑up, such as Ford SYNC and parking assistance features, as a selling point of the project.
Members also highlighted the convenience of a one-charge, pay-as-you-go system that includes the London Congestion Charge, currently £11.50 (US$17.73). Drivers can familiarize themselves with the car during a five-minute grace period free of charge. Running costs are displayed via their app.

With the experiment currently in its beta phase, Ford hopes to build on the initial success and gain further insight into user behavior that will help refine the customer experience. Different weekend and day-hire pricing options, and further on- and off-street parking options will be investigated.
Ford also is exploring car-sharing experiments in Germany, India, and the US that will help the company determine how to best serve global customers as they face new mobility options in the future. Other Ford car-sharing experiments include:
  • Ford Carsharing, Germany. The first manufacturer-backed, nationwide car-sharing program incorporating dealerships, has run for two years and recently expanded to 40 dealers in 67 cities with 135 locations. In partnership with large, multi-partner car-sharing company Flinkster, the service allows Ford Carsharing customers to use about 3,600 Flinkster vehicles, and Flinkster’s 270,000 customers to use the Ford fleet. Starting in 2015, customers can access a vehicle with a smartphone app, rather than a customer card.
  • Share-Car, Bangalore, India. Ford is working with Zoomcar to test a sharing concept that would allow small groups, such as co-workers, apartment dwellers and families, to share a vehicle among multiple drivers. The approach helps consumers who can’t afford a car but want the benefits of owning one. The pilot program is expected to expand to two more communities later this year.
  • Car Swap, Dearborn, US. An experiment using Ford-owned fleet vehicles. Participating Ford employees use a mobile app that allows them to search for a vehicle that meets their needs and negotiate terms of the swap. The experiment will provide an in-depth understanding of how Ford can help make car swapping easier.
  • Dynamic Shuttle, New York and London. Exploring a shareable service that will offer point-to-point pick-up and drop-off on-demand. The experiment aims to better understand the social dynamics and routing requirements of shared transportation for city dwellers.

GM to invest $1.2B in full-size truck plant

General Motors is investing $1.2 billion in its full-size pickup truck plant in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, for upgrades and technology that will improve the plant’s competitiveness in assembling high-quality light- and heavy-duty models.
Construction of the new pre-treat, electro-coat paint operation and sealing facility, expanded body shop, expanded and new material sequencing centers, and upgraded general assembly area is expected to begin in June and take several years to complete. Full-size truck production schedules will be unaffected by the construction.
The investment includes a number of technological and environmental upgrades:
  • New pre-treatment facility featuring thin-film paint pretreatment
  • E-coat paint customized to each vehicle style, resulting in superior coverage and curability
  • GM-patented radiant tube ovens for exceptional paint finish and lower energy use
  • New equipment that accommodates the many variations of the truck cab and box being placed on the chassis
  • New skillet conveyance systems for instrument panel assembly intended to improve worker ergonomics, leading to better product quality.
Fort Wayne Assembly began building light-duty trucks in 1986. Today, it is a three-shift operation with approximately 3,800 employees who build light- and heavy-duty regular and double cab full-size trucks.
The investments in Fort Wayne are part of the $5.4 billion that GM said on 30 April it would invest in US facilities over the next three years.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Tesla PowerWall Sells Out Through 2016, Brings In $800 Million

When Elon Musk unveiled the Tesla PowerWall last week, it unleashed a tidal wave of orders — so many, in fact, that filling them all will take well into 2016. Assuming all those orders get completed, they will bring in $800,00,00 in new business for  Tesla, says Engadget.
Why would they not all be completed? Frankly, because many people have no idea what they are signing up for. Some analysts call it “The Prius Effect.” Once we think someone else is getting some cool, new technological bauble, we want one too. Let’s see if we can gain a little clarity here.
The Tesla PowerWall comes in two configurations. The 7 kilowatt-hour kWh model is intended for daily use. Tesla’s corporate cousin, SolarCity has made the decision not to offer the 7 kWh unit to its home solar customers. It “doesn’t really make financial sense,” says spokeman Jonathan Bass. That’s because customers are better off selling any excess solar power to the local utility and getting paid for it that using that power to charge their PowerWall. The economics of an average home with rooftop solar “are not significantly enhanced by including the Tesla battery,” according to an analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The larger version is a 10 kWh model that is not intended for daily use. In fact, it is designed for no more than 50 discharge cycles a year, according to  Bloomberg News. That’s the unit SolarCity will be offering customers. “Our residential offering is battery backup,” Bass said in an e-mail. A backup battery in the basement seems very cool, but in fact, it is only rated for 2 kilowatts of continuous power and even then only for a few hours. That’s barely enough to power a toaster or a few small window air conditioners. It it not anywhere near enough for people to fire their electricity provider and move completely off the grid.
In order to meet the energy needs of a typical American household, 8 or 9 PowerWall units would have to be linked together. Since the deposit on each one is $5,000, the homeowner would need to spend $45,000 to get the same back up power available from a this $3,600 generator Home Depot sells, says Bloomberg. Even Elon Musk admits storing residential power with the Powerwall is more expensive than grid power, but he says, “that doesn’t mean people won’t buy it.” Adds Brian Warshay, an energy and technology analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, “It’s a luxury good—really cool to have—but I don’t see an economic argument” for it.
What’s the good news about the Tesla PowerWall? Simply this. At current prices, it means Tesla has lowered the cost of batteries to $250 per kWh. That’s something the “experts” said wouldn’t happen until 2020. And when the GigaFactory begins production in 2016, costs should drop another 30%. That will give Tesla a huge economic advantage in the marketplace versus other battery makers.
When the price of the PowerWall drops another 30%, or even more, then it will make sense to get one for your home. In 10 years, in-home battery backup systems will be as common as refrigerators and washing machines — and cost just about as much.

Cadillac and Shanghai OnStar show 4G LTE, CarLife app and Apple Watch app

At CES Asia, which opened today in Shanghai, Cadillac and GM’s Shanghai OnStar joint venture are showing China’s first automotive 4G LTE telematics service along with the CarLife app; the My Cadillac app; and an Apple Watch app.
Later this year, Cadillac will become the initial vehicle brand in China to offer 4G LTE telematics service. Shanghai OnStar’s partnership with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless telecom carrier, will support a fast, stable, reliable, safe and convenient telematics network.
Cadillac is also taking advantage of CES Asia to introduce the CarLife app, which will begin appearing in Cadillac models in China in 2015. The technology projects vehicle service information from a user’s smartphone onto the vehicle’s touch screen. It supports various mobile device operating systems, including Android and iOS.
In addition, CES Asia visitors can experience the MyCadillac app for smartphones and an Apple Watch equipped with the OnStar app. The technology allows users to lock and unlock vehicle doors, remotely start their engine, flash their headlights and sound their horn, locate parking spots and access real-time information about vehicle systems.

Audi showcasing R8 e-tron piloted driving EV at CES Asia; piloted driving Audi A7 Sportback

At CES Asia 2015 in Shanghai, Audi is showcasing a piloted driving technology study version of its new R8 e-tron battery-electric sports car, introduced earlier this year at the Geneva show. Audi is also featuring a piloted driving version of its A7 Sportback.
The R8 e-tron—340 kW (456 hp) of power, acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds, and a driving range of 450 km (280 miles)—is based on the multi-material Space Frame of the second-generation production R8. The piloted driving technology study integrates a range of future technologies for lightweight design, high-performance drive systems and functions for piloted driving.
Piloted driving in China: the Audi strategy. Audi so far has focused its developments in piloted driving on the US and Europe. Chinese road traffic poses its own special challenges for automated driving functions, the company said. This is attributable in part to differences in driving behavior, but it is also due to the structure of the road network, in which urban freeways and regular streets are laid out directly above one another over long distances.
To offer driver assistance systems that are appealing to Chinese drivers as well, Audi launched a project at its R&D Center in Beijing in cooperation with Tongji University in Shanghai. The researchers developed solutions for specific local driving situations in China. The project is part of a strategy for solving specific local challenges and testing them in local road traffic. Audi has been successfully pursuing this strategy in the US for many years. The brand’s appearance at CES Asia represents the initial results of the company’s collaboration in China.
R8 e-tron piloted driving. The R8 e-tron rear car body module is made of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) integrating the luggage compartment, which extends the frame structure. The walls of the luggage compartment shell are corrugated, so that they can absorb extreme amounts of energy with little material weight in case of a rear-end collision.
Due to specific modifications made to the outer shell and wheels, the Audi R8 e-tron piloted driving attains a low Cd value of 0.28. Its front end and sideblades feature e-tron specific lighting solutions.
The T-shaped 92 kWh battery pack (up from 49 kWh in the first generation) is structurally integrated into the center tunnel and behind the occupant cell; its low center of gravity further boosts the already excellent driving dynamics of the R8 e-tron piloted driving. The high-voltage battery is based on a new lithium-ion technology that has, for the first time, been specifically designed for the drive system of an all-electric vehicle, Audi says.
Although the pack energy capacity has grown from 49 kWh to approximately 92 kWh, the vehicle packaging is the same, due to optimized space utilization and improved battery cell technology. Audi produces the high-voltage battery itself.
The R8 e-tron piloted driving achieves an electric range of 450 kilometers (279.6 mi) instead of a previous 215 kilometers (133.6 mi) due to an increase in its energy density from 84 Wh/kg to 154 Wh/kg and several other modifications. The high-performance sports car has the Combined Charging System (CCS) on board, which allows charging with direct and alternating current. With this system, the customer can charge the large battery in significantly less than two hours.
The two electric motors each output 170 kW of power and 460 N·m (339.3 lb-ft) of torque to the rear axle. The R8 e-tron’s electronically-governed top speed is 210 km/h (130.5 mph) or 250 km/h (155.3 mph), depending on the car’s tires. Intelligent energy management and an electromechanical brake system enable high energy recuperation rates. Targeted torque vectoring—needs-based distribution of power transmission between the rear wheels—ensures maximum stability and dynamism.
The R8 e-tron piloted driving technical study is equipped with all of the functions of piloted driving. Data is acquired from the interplay of an array of sensors: a new type of laser scanner, several video cameras, ultrasonic sensors and radar sensors at the front and rear. Based on signals from these sources, the central driver assistance control unit (zFAS) computes a comprehensive picture of the vehicle’s environment.
Audi can build the R8 e-tron in handcrafted quality to meet special customer requests. The company uses its high-performance electric sports car primarily as a high-tech mobile laboratory.
Piloted driving Audi A7 Sportback. Journalists at CES Asia can ride along in the piloted driving Audi A7 Sportback prototype over an approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) route through Shanghai that starts and ends near the trade fair site.
The test vehicle utilizes various production and near-production sensors. The long-range radar sensors of the adaptive cruise control (ACC) system monitor the zones in front of the car. A near-production laser scanner is mounted in the Singleframe grille. The sensors provide redundant information on stationary and moving objects they detect during the piloted drive. A high-resolution video camera by partner Mobileye, a prototype for a future generation of such devices, offers a wide-angle view in front of the car.
The function for piloted driving in traffic jams, which Audi is currently developing, is based on radar-supported adaptive cruise control (ACC) including traffic jam assist that will launch on the market in the new Q7. The system offers relief to drivers in dense highway traffic by handling steering tasks between 0 and 60 km/h (37.3 mph), and it accelerates and brakes autonomously. When the traffic jam pilot reaches its specified limits, such as when the traffic jam resolves itself, or the end of a divided highway is reached, the system prompts the driver to take control of the vehicle again. If the driver does not do this, the system safely brings the car to a stop.
In the future system for piloted driving, the radar sensors will remain an important component of the sensor array. They will acquire information from the zone in front of the car as they do today. A video camera with a wide angle lens detects the lane markings as well as pedestrians and objects, such as other vehicles and guard rails. Up to twelve ultrasonic sensors are used to monitor the immediate space around the car.
A new member of the sensor array is the laser scanner – it delivers highly precise data on objects at a distance of up to 80 meters (262.5 ft). Its laser diode emits nearly 100,000 infrared light pulses per second that are invisible to the human eye.
The control unit computes a surroundings profile from the light reflections. The laser scanner covers a range of 145 degrees on four vertical levels. Because of its wide aperture angle, it can detect vehicles that are merging in front of the car very early on. It also operates in the dark without any limitations. It can detect any objects – including those that exhibit a uniform pattern, such as fences, or objects that do not have any visible texture such as white walls.
Piloted driving related to parking. Piloted parking from Audi will let drivers exit the vehicle and conveniently control the car remotely with the remote key fob or a smartphone. To acquire information about the environment, the system utilizes twelve ultrasonic sensors, four top view cameras and a laser scanner. This produces redundant verification of the parking process.
The parking pilot offers the piloted parking function to the driver when the environmental sensors detect a suitable parking space or a garage. When drivers get out of the car, they only need to press the relevant button on their key fob or smartphone to initiate the process. Drivers are still responsible for the entire parking process until the car is stopped. The system requires that the vehicle key be located in the immediate vicinity of the car, so that the driver can evaluate the situation at all times.
If the on-board sensors detect obstacles in the driving corridor during piloted parking, the parking process is stopped immediately. Central locking is in the locked state throughout the piloted parking process. When the parking position is reached, the engine is shut off, and the car is secured against rolling. The driver gets a confirmation message. Retrieving the car from the garage or parking space is just as easy.
In 2013, Audi demonstrated piloted parking in its full functionality for the first time. The car was parked at the entrance of a parking structure, and the parking process was activated by smartphone. The driver could later use an app to retrieve the vehicle or schedule a specific time for the vehicle to be available at the exit.