Saturday, December 30, 2017


Sinclair C5 - pedal car
Forgive my rampant fanboyism, but Roman Mars’ 99 Percent Invisible is the reason Podcasts were invented. The show is famous for exploring the hundreds of hours of thought that go into the everyday world around us. From Thomassons to a surprisingly moving piece on a light bulb that never goes out, 99PI gives you a look at that 99% of the world that happens behind the scene- but the show rarely delves into the automotive universe that I tend to occupy. That’s why this 99PI episode about the Sinclair C5 is so exciting!
Funded by electronics giant Sir Clive Sinclair and built in the UK, the Sinclair C5 was a three-wheeled, battery-assisted, recumbent tricycle that Sinclair hoped would drastically reduce congestion and pollution in major cities by cutting back on the need for cars. It was a sort of proto-Twike, if you will, and the company actually built enough of the to warrant a TV commercial.

Sinclair C5 TV Commercial

It was a cool little vehicle, and seems very much in tune with the direction that personal transportation is going. Heck, 99PI even tries to make a case for Elio Motors’ trike being sort of a spiritual successor to the Sinclair C5.
I mean, both Twike and Sinclair actually delivered a number of cars to customers, but they all have three wheels, and 99 Percent Invisible isn’t really a car show. You know what I’m saying?
You can listen to the full 99 Percent Invisible mini-episode about the Sinclair C5 by clicking here. The podcast is at the bottom of their page, and the link has a bunch of great videos and pictures of Sinclair’s little velo for you to peruse while you listen. Check it out, and let us know what you think of 99PI and the Sinclair in the comments. Enjoy!

Source | Images99 Percent Invisiblethe Telegraph.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Volkswagen showed the world it was serious about diesel performance by taking a diesel-powered Audi team to LeMans, where the cars dominated the 24 Hour endurance event for the better part of two decades. Now, well- let’s just say that VW is taking a step back from diesel. You know, because of reasons. Instead, they’re shifting their focus to electric cars. And, to prove they’re serious about that, they’ll be building an all-electric race car. For Pike’s Peak.
“I can emphasize it is the project for 2018,” VW motorsport director Sven Smeets said, in a recent interview with Motorsport. “For the future, we have to do well, and prove the concept is working with an eye to the future in the electric world in motorsport.”
Volkswagen will be joining Honda, Mitsubishi, Rimac, and others in the growing electric class at the historic Hill Climb event. Despite the heavy-hitting nature of its competitors, however, VW wants to do more than show up. VW plans to win. “For us it’s clear when we enter as a works team [it will] always be with cars very closely linked to the product on the road,” Smeets explains. “So, if we can call it e-WRX, it would be one of the first series we could have a proper look at because it would fulfill those requirements.”
Surely, Subaru will have something to say about Smeets’ proposed use of the WRX name- but this is about a race car, not blatant copyright infringement. Here’s hoping VW releases more info. and photos of its Pike’s Peak competitor soon.

Source | Images: VW, via Motorsport

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Toyota RAV4 Electric Car
Volvo has committed to offering an electrified version of every car in its lineup from 2019 onTesla is 100% electric, anyway, showing even more commitment to the coming electric future. And, if there was any doubt left in your mind that it is going to be electric- not CNG, not ethanol, not hydrogen fuel cells, and not even hybrid- that is going to win this war, consider this: Toyota will offer an electric version of every model it sells from 2025.
That’s right. A mere three years after giving up on battery electric vehicles to focus its attention on hybrids and hydrogen, Toyota seems to have done an about-face. USA Today is reporting that “Toyota could become Tesla’s next big headache” after a December 18th announcement from the Japanese automaker that it has plans to offer “an electrified option” for every one of its Toyota and Lexus models.
Sure, the fine print actually reads that “electrified options include all-electric, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell, or hybrid,” but this is from a company that, in 2015, had a head of R&D who said stuff like, “The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.”
That was then, it seems. As for now, it looks like Toyota wants to be a little more “Tesla competitive” in the coming years. At least when it comes to PR, anyway.
What do you guys think? Is the company that spent twenty years leading the hybrid cause to the mainstream finally ready to get behind electric cars, or is this just a shameless grab for attention in a world that has already decided it’s not going to buy into Toyota’s proposed hydrogen future? Let us know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Source | Images
: Toyota, via USA Today and Inside EVs.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas to You!

From all of us to all of you, we wish you a


Be safe everyone and enjoy the food, family and friends.

Saturday, December 23, 2017


When Elon Musk promised to launch “the silliest thing imaginable” into space on the first launch of Space X’ Falcon Heavy rocket back in April, nobody really took him seriously. When rumors surfaced that he’d be launching his personal Tesla Roadster into Mars orbit, even Musk laughed. When pictures surfaced on Reddit of the Midnight Cherry Tesla Roadster mounted on the Falcon’s payload pod last night, though, it signaled that things were about to get weird.

When the Going Gets Weird the Weird Turn Pro

This new Falcon Heavy next-gen rocket should be capable of lifting more than a 140,00 pound payload into low Earth orbit, or a 37,000 payload all the way to Mars. As such, the thing is more than capable of blasting the Tesla into Martian orbit … but, really!?
Ol’ Musky insists that it’s so …

… but I still don’t believe him. Of course, I have a long history of questioning Tesla’ motives. Despite being demonstrably wrong most of the time, though, I still can’t shake the feeling that this is all just a crazy PR stunt. Even if that’s all it is- I have to give Tesla that it’s an effective PR stunt, to be sure! What do you guys think? Do you think he’s actually going to do it? Do you think the car would make it to Mars? How would we know, anyway!? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Source | ImagesReddit, via Gizmodo.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

New NIO ES8 Electric SUV Undercuts Tesla Model X in China

A Chinese automaker has launched an EV SUV that it says offers a 311-mile range for a TeslaModel X-beating price.
NIO was founded three-years ago as NextEV, and this is its first production model. NIO is one of the handful of electric startups that have launched in China since that government introduced more EV incentives to help improve air quality and lower fossil fuel dependence in the country. The company announced the new electric crossover last weekend in Beijing, and it comes with some big claims for a low price.
The ES8 will start at $67,783 (448,000 yuan) when it goes on sale in China. That’s a little more than half the price of the Model X in that country (836,000 yuan). It’s also $20,555 (136,000 yuan) less than a conventional BMW X5 crossover.
For that price, NIO said that the ES8 would deliver seating for seven, a 311-mile range, and 0-60 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds. The ES8 is all-wheel drive with an air suspension and an aluminum body and chassis.
The ES8 will offer in-car connected services. The AI system will allow remote temperature control and driver communication, but can also take photos for you. Not the first car selfie, but it’s high on the list.

The big innovation is a new swappable battery pack.
“Electrification of automobiles provides us an opportunity to change lanes to lead,” said William Li, a founder of NIO. “Our goal is to make charging more handy than refuelling.”
To do that, the company is planning to build more than 1,100 battery swapping stations by 2020. The company said that a swap can be done in a gas-like three minutes. The battery-swap stations can be built and ready to go within a day, according to Li.
In addition to the battery swap stations, the company plans to over more than 1,000 Power Mobile service vehicles that can bring a fresh battery to the user, and will also offer roadside assistance.

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: early owner's first impressions

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid   [photo: owner 'Viking79']
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid [photo: owner 'Viking79']

We only published our first-drive report on the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid last week, and the car is just now showing up at Honda dealers across the country.
But that means the first examples are already been bought and driven.

A couple of readers indicated that they were among the buyers, so we asked for their first impressions.
Lo and behold, a reader known only as "Viking79" pointed us to a page on his personal blog, Cars With Plugs.
It contains a long and thoughtful set of first impressions of his 2017 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid, along with photos.
He already owns a 2012 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, and traded in an old family minivan on the new Clarity Plug-In.
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

In general, Viking's impressions of the plug-in hybrid Clarity match ours.
He views it as a very viable entry in the segment, echoing Honda's positioning of it as a five-seat mid-size sedan that competes against smaller compact hatchbacks.

It's worth reading his entire post, which is comprehensive, but we'll excerpt his conclusions to give you a sense of his review.
This car is a much bigger car [than the Volt], over a foot longer and far more interior space and rear seat room make the Clarity PHEV a much better choice as a people hauler (for more than 2 people). 
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid drive, Napa Valley, Caifornia, Dec 2017
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid drive, Napa Valley, California, Dec 2017

The Volt offers a slightly sportier EV only drive and also provides more information about vehicle efficiency to the driver, offering MPGe ratings, etc.  The Honda was clearly designed to just be driven and not to make the driver think about the details.
I have been very pleased with my purchase of the car, and look forward to driving it for many years. It checked the boxes I wanted in a car, space for 5 with some storage, ability to drive many EV only miles, and good gas efficiency as well.
Viking's assessment of the car correlates with ours, but we remain curious about Honda's intentions for the car.
The company has said numerous times it expects to sell 75,000 Clarity models of all varieties over four years, presumably 2018 through 2021.
The bulk of those will be plug-in hybrids, along with a small number of the hydrogen fuel-cell and 93-mile battery-electric versions.
Even if Honda cracks the code on how to market plug-in hybrids—something no other maker seems to have done—that sounds like an upper bound on the potential market.
Still, at least one early owner is favorably impressed. And for the first time in seven years, the Chevrolet Volt has a strong competitor.

Toyota to Electrify All Its Vehicles by 2025, Introduce 10 EVs by Early 2020s

GM has said it will have 20 EVs by 2023, others are also making big claims, and now formerly reluctant Toyota says it will be in the thick of it too.
Yesterday from Japan, Toyota announced its future plans for the all-electric market. The company will accelerate its development of battery-electric vehicles, culminating with “more than 10” BEV models being available worldwide by the early 2020s. The wave will start in China before expanding to other markets with a gradual introduction in Japan, India, the United States, and Europe.
Remarkably, for all its work and success in the hybrid and plug-in hybrid segments, the company currently does not offer a single EV here in America. The short-lived RAV4 EV came and went like a summer’s breeze, the second generation of which was developed in conjunction with Tesla.
The relationship between Toyota and Tesla officially ended in August 2014 with Tesla’s fulfilment of the battery supply agreement. Based on this cooperation, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Japanese manufacturer work with an experienced EV company again to help acheive their new goals.
Toyota’s electrified vehicle strategy centers on a significant acceleration in the development and launch plans of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), batteryelectric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs).
Also of note, the company stated that every model in the Toyota and Lexus line-up around the world will be available either as a dedicated electrified model or have an electrified option by 2025. This is huge news, given the depth and breadth of Toyota’s passenger car and light-truck offerings around the globe.
Toyota has long advocated that all-electric cars would remain on the fringe due to their relatively low range. This announcement changes that tune and signals a shift in the thinking of management. To help solve the puzzle of EV range, Toyota and Panasonic will start a feasibility study on a joint automotive prismatic battery business.
Their shared goal is to achieve the best automotive prismatic battery in the industry, ultimately contributing to the popularization of electrified vehicles … and no doubt justifying the expense of developing these machines.
The announcement went on to say that by the year 2030, Toyota aims to have sales of more than 5.5 million electrified vehicles, including more than 1 million zero-emission vehicles.
Extensive experience in battery and electric motor development – through hybrids, natch – will give the company a head start on this project. Currently, Toyota is careful to slip the word electric into everything in its Prius line, from the compact Prius c billed as a hybrid-electric to the PriusPrime as a plug-in hybrid electric. The startling Mirai is hyped as a fuel-cell electric vehicle.
Thanks to these machines, and their forebears, Toyota sales of electrified vehicles have reached more than 11 million units worldwide to date.


Lynk & Co.
Volvo and its parent company, Geely, are considering building the millennial-friendly Lynk & Co. branded cars in the US. If the happens, the cars could start being built on Volvo’s South Carolina assembly line by as early as 2019.
That comes from a senior Lynk & Co. official who spoke to Reuters a few days ago. “We have always said our manufacturing footprint will be global, and it will. It’s obvious that we are talking to Volvo to see whether there are opportunities within the small network of Volvo plants” to produce Lynk & Co. cars, said Lynk & Co. Senior Vice President Alain Visser, in a separate interview. He went on to say that Volvo’s South Carolina and Ghent, Belgium plants were “an option we (Geely) are looking at.”
The first Lynk & Co. model to see production is expected to be the 01 compact sport-utility vehicle (SUV) with a starting price of around 24,000 USD. It’s designed on the same platform as, and should be easily manufactured alongside, Volvo Cars’ upcoming XC40 crossover.
You can check out the upcoming Lynk & Co. cars- what we’ve seen of them, anyway- below, then let us know what you think of more Volvo/Geely investment in US manufacturing in the comments section at the bottom of the article.

Lynk & Co. 01 and 02

Source | Images: Lynk & Co., Geely, via CNBC.