Monday, July 31, 2017

Bollinger B1 Electric Truck Breaks Cover In NYC

Robert Bollinger says his Bollinger B1 electric truck is the culmination of a lifelong dream. Revealed last week in Manhattan at the Classic Car Club, the Bollinger B1 has all the style and grace of a Quonset hut. Overall, its looks fall somewhere between utilitarian and purposeful. Although it looks like it was carved from a solid block of diamond plate steel, it is actually constructed almost entirely of aluminum.

This is an electric truck with a purpose — to go anywhere, anytime, and haul anything that will fit inside without burning one drop of fossil fuel. It makes no excuses and asks for no special considerations. It’s as tough as a truck can get and there are those who will love it for its straight ahead dedication to getting the job — any job — done right here, right now.
The Bollinger B1 is a sport utility with the emphasis on utility. It is designed for serious off roading with 10″ of suspension travel and dual motors for full time four wheel drive capability. It is half as wide (76.5″) as it is long (150″) and stands more than 6 feet tall. “Rugged” doesn’t begin to describe the B1.
“We are so thrilled to be able to finally take the wraps off of our Bollinger B1 SUT,” said Bollinger Motors‘ founder and CEO, Robert Bollinger. “This is the culmination of what has been a 40-year-long boyhood dream of mine and I couldn’t be more pleased with the vehicle and the incredible team who worked so hard to create it.”
Off roaders will be delighted with its 15.5″ ground clearance, approach angle of 56 degrees, departure angle of 53 degrees, and breakover angle of 33 degrees. They will also appreciate that is has a high strength, low alloy steel rollover structure — just in case. Stopping power is supplied 11.75 inch vented inboard discs and four-piston calipers at each corner. Regenerative braking helps to recharge the battery during deceleration.

With 360 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque, power on demand is guaranteed. 0 to 60 takes just 4.5 seconds and the electric truck has a top speed of 127 miles per hour. It weighs under 4,000 lbs, has a payload of 6,100 lbs and a gross vehicle rating of 10,001 lbs. A unique feature of the B1 is a one square foot opening it the firewall that allows 12′ long boards to be transported completely with the enclosure of the vehicle.
Two batteries will be offered. A 60 kWh pack offers 120 miles of range. A larger 100 kWh battery is good for 200 miles in range. The B1 has a J1772 universal connector for conventional 110V and 220V charging while Level 3 “DC Fast” charging is possible using the CHAdeMO protocol.
Reservations are being accepted now via the Bollinger website with production scheduled to begin in 2018. Pricing has not been announced at this time.

Motor Trend Pours Love On Tesla Model 3

Well, Motor Trend’s fairly early and outspoken love for the Tesla Model S certainly hasn’t hurt its Tesla test drive opportunities. The mainstream auto magazine got yet another super exclusive opportunity to test out the Model 3, this time 36 hours before the final reveal last night.
Tesla Model 3
The entire article may be worth your time to read. I have to admit that I found it a little verbose and flowery for my own taste, but just heading over there to check out the photos is a must. Additionally, there were 4 gems in the article that I found super interesting. They almost seemed hidden in the bushes of the overall story and in the midst of all the details we learned from Tesla in the past 24 hours, so I wanted to pull them out for stronger highlighting, discussion, and future reference.
1. The Model 3 Feels More Spacious Than You’d Expect
“Tesla worked hard to increase interior space, and subjectively it succeeded. For a compact car, the Model 3 feels incredibly light and airy,” Motor Trend Testing Director Kim Reynolds wrote.
This surprisingly light & airy feel is something that I find keeps popping up with electric vehicles designed electric from the ground up, not just the Model 3. This is a highlight of the BMW i3 that we discussed at length in a recent #Electrifying webinar.
When it comes to the Model 3, this is something we also got a hint of from the EV Annex boys last year at the first Model 3 unveiling, and again today during our latest #Electrifying webinar. However, it’s nice to see it confirmed and emphasized by another source — and one that has presumably had the most time with the Tesla Model 3 outside of Tesla’s staff.
As Matt Pressman hinted today and I think Elon hinted last night, the back seats of the Model 3 may even feel more spacious and open than the back seats of the Model S, thanks in part to that supersplendulous windshield it stole from the Model X.
2. Slickest Freakin’ Air Vents In The Business
“Interior air (from subtle vents) is aimed by moving spots around on the display, even dividing the airflow to send it past each ear.”
I imagine this may seem like a small thing to many people, but think about it: how many times have you been irritated by the annoying, undesired direction an air vent was blowing? How many times have you or someone else just not been able to get the air flowing in an ideal way for all the car’s passengers? HOw many times has an air vent blasted you in the eye like a Super Soaker?
This “small” improvement in the Model 3, if it’s as it sounds from Motor Trend‘s reporting, is one of those little things that make Tesla just that much better than the luxury car competition. This is actually one of the things I’m most excited to play with when I finally get my hands on a Model 3!
3. The Frunk, Conceptualized
“Up front, the frunk is precisely sized to hold a carry-on suitcase. ‘If it’s too big here,’ Franz says, ‘you’re going to have to check it.’”
How big the frunk actually is, what it can fit, and what it’s ideal for carrying are all questions that frequently pop into people’s heads and out of their mouths. This description from Kim Reynolds (er, from Franz von Holtzhausen) is super useful for answering those questions. It would also be cool if this claim was legitimately correct — it would be awesome to get into a kerfuffle with a Ryanair suitcase Nazi and be able to tell them, “Nah, you’re wrong, it fit in my frunk.” (You Europeans know what I’m talkin’ about.)
4. Incomparable Driving Experience — A New Era
“What’s blanching, though, is the car’s ride and handling. If anybody was expecting a typical boring electric sedan here, nope. The ride is Alfa Giulia (maybe even Quadrifoglio)–firm, and quickly, I’m carving Stunt Road like a Sochi Olympics giant slalomer, micrometering my swipes at the apexes. I glance at Franz—this OK? “Go for it,” he nods. The Model 3 is so unexpected scalpel-like, I’m sputtering for adjectives. The steering ratio is quick, the effort is light (for me), but there’s enough light tremble against your fingers to hear the cornering negotiations between Stunt Road and these 235/40R19 tires (Continental ProContact RX m+s’s). And to mention body roll is to have already said too much about it. Sure, that battery is low, way down under the floor. But unlike the aluminum Model S, the Tesla Model 3 is composed of steel, too, and this car’s glass ceiling can’t be helping the center of gravity’s height. Nearly-nil body roll? Magic, I’m telling you. Magic. And this is the single-motor, rear-wheel-drive starting point. The already boggled mind boggles further at the mention of Dual Motor and Ludicrous.”
Yeah … ’nuff said.
Though, Reynolds also added a note about the car he drove away after the Model 3 was gone:
“By happenstance, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana had penciled me into a 2.0-liter Alfa Romeo Giulia to get here, and it feels like a wet sponge by comparison.”
All images via Tesla

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Here At Last. Here At Last. The Tesla Model 3 Is Here At Last


At the Tesla Model 3 production vehicle reveal tonight, Tesla shared the official pricing and range of the two versions of the Model 3 initially available to customers. It will come in “Standard” at the base $35,000 price tag, which will feature 220 miles of range. The Standard trim is no slouch and will speed along from 0–60 mph in a mere 5.6 seconds, up to a top speed of 130 miles per hour.
For those with deeper pockets, a “Long Range” model will also be available for an extra $9,000. This trim buys another 90 miles of range for a total of 310 miles of all-electric range. The larger battery pack also means more power can be extracted at one time, resulting in a lower 0–60 mph time of just 5.1 seconds, up to a top speed of 140 miles per hour. These specs were visible from the live webcast that was streamed from Tesla’s homepage at tesla.com.
The specs aren’t going to get any performance nuts overly excited, but they are confirmation that Tesla will deliver a Model 3 with over 300 miles of range at a much lower price point than Model S.
Elon’s mention of a Ludicrous version of Model 3 is yet to be confirmed, with no news of a performance or Ludicrous upgrade option at this point. In fact, no options were confirmed — though, a variety of exterior colors and rim types were visible in the 40 or 50 Model 3s parked next to the stage.
The 310 mile Long Range Model 3 creates another niche market between the base Model 3 and the Model S pricing bracket for buyers who just want a long-range electric vehicle but don’t necessarily need the larger footprint or larger dent in the wallet that comes with Model S. The Long Range Model 3 does, understandably, come with a weight penalty of 265 pounds for the weight of the additional batteries.
The event was underwhelming if anything and under-delivered in terms of the details we were expecting to see, but that was all put to rest as Tesla updated the specs on its website just a few minutes after the event closed. Immediately below are the top-line options, with the full specs on Model 3 at the bottom.
  • Long Range Battery — $9,000
  • Premium Paint Colors — $1,000 (Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, Silver Metallic, Pearl White Multi-Coat, Red Multi-Coat)
  • 19″ Sport Rims — $1,500
  • Premium Upgrades Package — $5,000
    • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout
    • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors
    • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
    • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
    • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
    • LED fog lamps
    • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones
  • Enhanced Autopilot — $5,000
  • Full Self-Driving Capability — $3,000 (requires Enhanced Autopilot)

Model 3

Model 3 is a smaller, simpler, and a more affordable electric car. Designed and built as the world’s first truly mass-market electric vehicle, it is a critical step in Tesla’s mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.
Like every Tesla vehicle, Model 3 combines range, performance, safety, and technology. Intelligent design maximizes interior space to comfortably fit 5 adults and all of their gear. The high-efficiency powertrain provides zero to 60 mph acceleration in as little as 5.1 seconds.
Model 3 is designed to achieve the highest safety ratings in every category. Combined with 220* to 310 miles of range and a starting price of $35,000 before incentives, Model 3 is Tesla’s most affordable vehicle yet.
Model 3 is currently in production, and deliveries to employee reservation holders began on July 28, 2017, at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, CA. Reservations for Model 3 first opened on March 31, 2016, and remain available today.
* EPA estimated range

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Price — $35,000
Standard Battery
  • Range: 220 miles (EPA estimated)
  • Supercharging rate: 130 miles of range per 30 minutes
  • Home charging rate: 30 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 32A)
  • Deliveries begin: Fall 2017
Performance
  • 0–60 mph: 5.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 130 mph
Interior
  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • FM/Internet streaming radio
  • Textile seating
  • Front center console with open storage and two USB ports
Convenience
  • Onboard maps and navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control using the Tesla app
  • Voice-activated controls
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling and media streaming
  • 60/40 split folding rear seat to maximize cargo options
  • Back-up camera
  • Auto dimming rear-view mirror
  • One-touch power windows throughout
  • Power-adjustable side mirrors
  • 12-volt power outlet
Safety
  • Full LED exterior lighting
  • Eight cameras, forward radar and twelve ultrasonic sensors enabling active safety technologies including collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking
  • Six front row and two side curtain airbags
  • Three-point safety belts with belt-reminders for driver and four passengers
  • Two LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) attachments in second row
  • Electronic stability and traction control
  • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic parking brake
  • Child safety locks
  • Anti-theft alarm system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system
Warranty
  • Vehicle: 4 year, 50,000 mile limited warranty
  • Battery warranty: 8 year, 100,000 mile (120,000 mile with Long Range Battery)

OPTIONS

Long Range Battery — $9,000
  • Range: 310 miles
  • Supercharging rate: 170 miles of range per 30 minutes
  • Home charging rate: 37 miles of range per hour (240V outlet, 40A)
  • 0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
  • Top speed: 140 mph
  • Deliveries begin: July 2017
Paint
  • Solid Black: Standard
  • Midnight Silver Metallic: $1,000
  • Deep Blue Metallic: $1,000
  • Silver Metallic: $1,000
  • Pearl White Multi-Coat: $1,000
  • Red Multi-Coat: $1,000
Wheels
  • 18” Aero: Standard
  • 19” Sport: $1,500
Premium Upgrades Package — $5,000
Upgraded interior with additional features and premium materials.
  • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood d├ęcor and two rear USBs
  • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
  • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones
Enhanced Autopilot — $5,000
Model 3 will match speed to traffic conditions, keep within a lane, automatically change lanes, transition from one freeway to another, exit the freeway and self-park at your destination.
Additional features will roll out over time through software updates.
Full Self-Driving Capability — $3,000 (requires Enhanced Autopilot)
In the future, Model 3 will be capable of conducting trips with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.
This feature is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary by jurisdiction.

VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions & Weight
  • Length: 184.8”
  • Width: 72.8” (76.1” with mirrors folded)
  • Height: 56.8”
  • Wheelbase: 113.2”
  • Track (wheel center): 62.2” front and rear
  • Ground clearance: 5.5”
  • Head room, standard: 39.6” front row, 37.7” second row
  • Head room, glass roof: 40.3” front row, 37.7” second row
  • Leg room: 42.7” front row, 35.2” second row
  • Shoulder room: 56.3” front row, 54.0” second row
  • Hip room: 53.4” front row, 52.4” second row
  • Seating capacity: 5 adults
  • Luggage capacity: 15 cubic feet
  • Curb weight:
    • 3549 lbs. (Model 3)
    • 3814 lbs. (Model 3 Long Range)
  • Weight distribution:
    • 47% front, 53% rear (Model 3)
    • 48% front, 52% rear (Model 3 Long Range)
Body
  • Hybrid steel/aluminum body
  • Drag coefficient of 0.23
Chassis
  • Double wishbone, virtual steer axis front suspension with coil over twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
  • Independent multi-link rear suspension with twin-tube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar
  • Variable ratio, speed sensitive electronic power steering
  • Electromechanically boosted four wheel anti-lock disc brakes with electronic brake force distribution
  • 18” Aero or 19” Sport wheels with all-season tires
Standard Accessories
  • 240 volt NEMA 14-50 adapter
  • 120 volt NEMA 5-15 adapter
  • J1772 public charging adapter
  • 20 foot mobile connector with storage bag
Production Projection
On its website, Tesla has added the following graphic and information about the production schedule it expects to follow for the Model 3 and any additional options it adds to it in the future.

Elon Says Gigafactory Will Have Twice The Capacity Of All Other Battery Factories Combined

As part of the Tesla Model 3 production unveiling tonight, Tesla blew our minds with updates in the pre-event webcast. Updates came from across the Tesla manufacturing network live, including from within the Fremont factory itself and way out in Sparks, Nevada, at the Gigafactory. As part of the Gigafactory update, Tesla shared that when it was up and running at full capacity, the Gigafactory would produce more batteries than the rest of the world combined … by a factor of 2!
The update speaks to the work Tesla has done since announcing the Gigafactory and the impressive improvements Tesla has made in manufacturing density. Increasing the number of cells that can be churned out of the Gigafactory without the need for another full factory means less money gushing out of Tesla’s coffers to build walls, floors, and (boring, non-solar) rooftops to produce batteries.
Tesla Gigafactory
When the Gigafactory was first announced, it was shared that it would be able to produce more batteries than the rest of the world could build at the time combined. To have that same news be true 4 years later would be impressive, as the rest of the world has continued to ramp up its battery production capacity. That would be a notable feat in and of itself, but to stay on pace with that and then blow the lid off by a factor of two takes it to a whole new level.
Beyond just being an amazing feat and a great use of capital, the news speaks to just how far ahead Tesla is compared to the rest of the automotive companies in the world (combined). If a massive company like Toyota wanted to produce as many electric vehicles as Tesla, it would first need to source batteries. It could go to every other battery company in the world and start building its own factories but it would still be years behind Tesla … assuming the rest of the battery capacity in the world were even for sale.
Battery production capacity is going to be the bottleneck and the huge balance on which the electrification of the automotive industry will pivot over the next few years. Global battery production capacity will scale up in a massive way, like the world has never seen before. Just as world gasoline prices fluctuate as global production and demand shift, so will global battery pricing. Companies that build their own battery production capacity like Tesla will be insulated from global fluctuations, whereas others will not.
Looking forward, Tesla has announced Gigafactory 2 just outside Buffalo, New York, where the factory formerly known as the SolarCity Gigafactory finds new life and likely a larger footprint as it takes on additional scope for Tesla production in addition to its existing solar panel and solar roof tile capacity.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fat Tire Electric Bicycle Is The Ultimate City Cruiser

The fat tire has transformed the world of bicycles. The big, soft tires roll over bumps and potholes without a whimper of protest. They handle sand and snow with equal ease. Besides that, they just look so darned cool! Slap a set of fat tires on an electric bicycle and you have what may be the ultimate city cruiser.

A year ago, Lithium Cycles started a campaign on Kickstarter to fund manufacture of their Super 73, an electric bicycle with fat tires and an attitude. They expected maybe 50 to 100 people to sign up for the $2,000 bike that retails for $3,000. To their surprise, they raised over half a million dollars as the Super 73 quickly became the darling of clued in, cool people everywhere.  The bikes were all over Instagram and even made an appearance at the NY Fashion Week event.
The new Super 73 Scout is a scaled back version with fewer features but also a lower price. The introductory price is just $995, which is pretty reasonable for an electric bicycle with a 500 watt motor,40 miles of range, and a top speed of 20 miles per hour that looks for all the world like a small motorcycle. After one month, the price will go up to $1,399, so early adopters can get the bike at nearly a 30% discount. It comes with a super bright headlight, taillights that glow when you brake, a small cargo rack, and a display on the handlebars to show speed, range, and other information.
Sean O’Kane writing for The Verge got to test drive on in New York City recently and says. “It was one of the more fun experiences I’ve had on an e-bike. That’s probably because it’s the least like an e-bike of the myriad other options — carving through NYC traffic on the Scout really makes you feel like you’re on a small motorcycle.”
The seat is comfortable and the riding style is more laid back than most bicycle riders are accustomed to. It’s more of a small motorcycle like the popular Honda Ruckus than a Tour de France machine. The riding position actually makes pedaling a bit of a chore, although the company is considering moving the seat back a skoosh to deal with that issue. The Super 73 Scout comes with smooth functioning disc brakes on both wheels that have confidence inspiring stopping power.
The Super 73 Scout offers a cross between the utility of a traditional bicycle and the status conscious  world of personal urban transportation. The bike rack makes it possible to carry some stuff with you while you ride and the battery detaches so you can bring it inside to charge it up. That being said, it may be too bulky and heavy to fit easily into an elevator or lug up stairs.
What is has going for it a a cool factor that easily surpasses most other similarly priced electric bicycle choices available today. Do you need one? Probably not. But you known you want one!

Source and photo credits: The Verge

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Source Tells Teslanomics Tesla Is Using 4416 Cells In Model 3 Battery Packs

Ben Sullins of Teslanomics has created a thriving business by reporting on all things Tesla and doing it in an authoritative fashion. When you get recognized as an authority, people tell you things that they don’t tell others. Right now, Sullins say he has a source that is “very close to Tesla” who is telling him the battery pack in the new Model 3 due out on Friday will use a brand new lithium ion cell format known as 4416. That portion of the latest video begins at about the 14:30 mark.

First a word about nomenclature. Batteries come in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, and voltages. Right now, the Tesla Model S and Model X use so-called 18650 cylindrical cells. Long a staple of the electronics industry, they are 18 millimeters in diameter and 65 millimeters long — sort of the size of a AA battery. Those cells have been provided to Tesla since the beginning by Panasonic.
Tesla began manufacturing so-called 2170 battery cells at the Gigafactory in Nevada last year. They are slightly larger than the 18650 format batteries at 21 millimeters in diameter and 70 millimeters long. Until this point, it was assumed that Tesla would utilize the 2170 cells to make the battery packs for the Model 3. But if Ben Sullins’ source is correct, the Model 3 battery pack will actually used battery cells that are 44 millimeters high and 16 millimeters wide.
A quick scan of battery specifications on Wikipedia shows that size resembles what we normally think of as a 9 volt battery, the kind used most often in smoke detectors. Keep in mind that all this is speculation at this point. Sullins is careful to point out that his information comes from one source only and has not been corroborated in any way. But if his informant is correct, the likelihood is that the Model 3 battery pack is made up of cells that are rectangular instead of round. Otherwise, if they are cylindrical, they are three times bigger in diameter than they are tall.
Regardless of the shape, the new cells are said to have a higher energy density than either the 18650 or the 2170 cells. It’s that higher energy density that may give the Model 3 with a 75 kW battery a range of 315 miles or more. Sullins points out that the Model 3 is not that much smaller and lighter than the Model S 75, which has a range of 249 miles according to the factory. The only way to squeeze out more range with the same size battery would be to increase the energy density of the cells.
Sullins goes on to speculate further that the new cells will be used in updated versions of the Model S and Model X at some time in the future, once there are sufficient Model 3 battery packs available to meet demand. With higher energy density, he believes range for the Model S with a 100 kW battery could exceed 400 miles.
Is any of this true? We simply don’t know. Ben Sullins is a reliable source of Tesla information and he says the person who told him about the 4416 battery cells is someone he has found to be accurate in previous instances. We may know more in a few days when the official Model 3 introduction event takes place and the first 30 owners get their actual cars. Make that 29 owners. Car #1 is going to Elon’s garage.

Toyota Plans Long Range, Fast Charging Electric Car By 2022

Toyota is not giving up on the hydrogen fuel cell technology that powers the Mirai, but is busy working in the background on an all electric car with solid state batteries that offer long range and fast recharging. The plan is to introduce the car, which will be built on an all new chassis, to the Japanese market in 2022. Toyota spokesperson Kayo Doi tells Japanese daily news source Chunichi Shimbun the company will not comment on specific product plans but does intend to commercialize solid state batteries by the early 2020s.

Solid State Batteries Are The Future

No one doubts that solid state batteries are the future. Replacing the liquid electrolyte found in today’s lithium ion batteries will eliminate the risk of fire and explosion associated with current battery technology. That danger, while low, remains a concern for many people considering the purchase of an electric car.
To limit such risks, electric cars today must use sophisticated cooling systems to stabilize the temperature inside battery packs. Such systems add cost, weight, and bulk to the cars. Solid state batteries will not need such elaborate cooling systems, which will help bring down the cost of building an electric car. As an added bonus, they are capable of being recharged in much less time than a conventional lithium ion battery.
Researchers such as John Goodenough have been trying to build a robust, inexpensive solid state battery for decades. Toyota saying it will do so is one thing. Actually doing it is quite another. Israeli startup StoreDot says it has a solid state battery with a range of 300 miles that recharges in 5 minutes. Henrik Fisker claims his new EMotion electric car will go more than 400 miles on a single charge and then recharge in just 9 minutes. That car is set to hit the road in 2019.

New Electric Car Division At Toyota

Toyota created a new partnership last year that combines talent from Toyota Industries Corporation, Aisin Seiki Company, Denso Corporation, and Toyota Motor Company to design an electric car. The slimmed down unit began life with only 4 people — one from each corporatation — in order to trim bureaucratic “noise” and produce quick results.
Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda said at the time, “Over these past few years, which we have positioned for strengthening our planting of seeds for the future, we have taken such measures as establishing the Toyota Research Institute, made Daihatsu a fully owned subsidiary, and have begun work to established an internal company responsible for compact vehicles for emerging markets. The new organizational structure for EVs is a part of this effort. As a venture company that will specialize in its field and embrace speed in its approach to work, it is my hope that it will serve as a pulling force for innovation in the work practices of Toyota and the Toyota Group.”

China Wags The Dog

Stirring words. Now to see how they translate into reality. Toyota, like all major car makers, is focused on the booming automobile market in China. It plans to introduce an electrified version of its C-HR sport utility vehicle using conventional lithium ion batteries there in 2019, spurred in part by the insistence of the Chinese government that at least 10% of the new cars sold in the country be EVs by that date. It also brought its highly imaginative Concept-i to the 2017 CES show in Las Vegas last January.
Toyota’s goal of building electric cars by 2022 is laudable, but a lot of water will have gone under the bridge by that time and the rest of the world’s automakers will not be sitting on their hands in the meantime. It would not be smart to count Toyota out, but their horse for the EV sweepstakes is more than a little late leaving the barn.
Source: Reuters

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tesla Discontinues Model S 75 Base Model, Ramps Up Model 3 Battery Production At Gigafactory

If it seems like there is more news about Tesla than any other car company, that’s only because it’s true. More new new stuff swirls around the Land of Tesla every day than at most companies in a month — or a year! As the Model 3 nears its first public showing later this week, Tesla is making one move designed to further separate the Model S from its lower priced sibling. It is discontinuing the entry level Model S 75 with rear wheel drive.

You can still order the car for September delivery, but you better act fast. Once the factory pulls the plug on that car, every vehicle in the Model  S and Model X lineup will be built with dual motors. The decision means the base price of a Model S will climb to $74,500 — more than double the base price of the Model 3. Only rear wheel drive versions of Tesla’s new midsize car will be available at first, as the factory seeks to limit the number of options available to make production as simple and efficient as possible.
Genscape is a company that tracks hundreds of industrial enterprises using drone videos and other proprietary tracking techniques. You can view footage of the progress at the Tesla Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada in their video. The place is starting to look really huge, as construction continues at a rapid pace. It reports that 1,500 Model 3 battery packs have left the Gigafactory and are on their way to Fremont, California, where they will be installed in Model 3 sedans.



"Genscape has the real-time answers on how effectively Tesla is executing on its ambitious goals. Using an array of patented proprietary monitoring techniques, Genscape is tracking and estimating the daily battery production at the Tesla Gigafactory that is fueling the Model 3 electric vehicle production ramp-up at Tesla’s Fremont Vehicle Plant.
“In addition to monitoring battery pack production, Genscape is also measuring the ramp-up in electric power consumption by the Tesla Gigafactory as construction progresses and additional battery production lines are brought online and tested. Genscape is closely watching ongoing construction progress of the massive modular facility, via daily satellite imagery courtesy of Planet Labs, and making all the real-time information gathered from various independent monitoring sources available to its customers.”
Genscape even knows when those Model 3 battery packs were produced, although how it gets its information is shrouded in secrecy. According to the chart below, production began in February, resumed in April for a week, and really started going strong in June. Presumably, the battery cells produced in those other weeks were used for other purposes, like Tesla’s residential and grid scale battery storage products.

One final note. Elon tweeted that Teslas equipped with Continental’s ContiSportContact 5p tires are filled with a special polyurethane foam that lowers sound levels transmitted from the tires to the interior of the car by 9 dB, further enhancing the hushed serenity Tesla drivers get to enjoy compared to conventional cars.
That’s it for today. Tune in tomorrow for more Tesla news.
Source: Inside EVs

Monday, July 24, 2017

Nissan ProPILOT Level 2 Autonomous Driving System Will Debut On 2018 LEAF

Nissan’s intuitive new ProPILOT Assist is a fresh “hands-on-wheel” Level 2 autonomous driving technology that essentially eases driver workload. While providing steering aid and reducing the need for constant small steering adjustments, Nissan is moving another cautious step towards fully autonomous vehicles.As implied above, the driver’s hands must be on the steering wheel at all time. This is a notable departure from Tesla’s Autopilot, which lets you take your hands off the wheel for a while before warning you to grab hold or get kicked out of Autopilot.
Nissan autonomous driving system
I’ve never met a Nissan LEAF driver who did not love their EV. It is the most sold electric car in history, which may not get it the attention of a Tesla Model S but is still notable and marks Nissan’s leadership in this space. The ProPILOT news is another pioneering move for Nissan.
For the first time on public roads in the US, Nissan recently put media behind the wheel to experience its ProPILOT Assist technology. “ProPILOT Assist reduces the hassle of stop-and-go driving by helping control acceleration, braking, and steering during single-lane highway driving.”
As with all autonomous driving technologies, safety is a key issue and often out front, hand in hand with convenience. Nissan believes it helps lessen drivers’ fatigue, increasing their level of alertness when they need to manage a difficult situation.
“ProPILOT Assist uses a forward-facing camera, forward-facing radar, sensors and electronic control module to help the driver stay in the center of the driving lane and to maintain vehicle speed (set by the driver) or help maintain a gap to the preceding vehicle if the vehicle speed drops below the driver-set speed,” Nissan writes. “It also can slow the vehicle to a complete stop and holds the vehicle during traffic jam conditions.
“Hands-on detection is provided by the system’s steering torque sensor. If the driver only grips the steering system with a light touch, the warning system may activate, alerting the driver to apply more pressure or a tighter grip on the steering wheel.”
The recent ProPILOT Assist autonomous driving system was specifically tuned for US roads and drivers. Nissan Technical Center North America (NTCNA) in Michigan led the development — with more than 50,000 miles on roads across the United States. ProPILOT Assist is a perfect transition for those a bit nervous about self-driving features, as it is a “hands-on” driver assist system.
“Steering assist is canceled in inclement weather if the windshield wipers are in the low or high position (if lane lines can be detected, the system can remain active when the wipers are in the intermittent mode or if the mist function is activated).” As with Cruise Control, lane assistance is also canceled with the driver’s braking. “The driver’s input always takes priority, overriding the system when the steering wheel is turned or the turn signal is operated (steering assistance goes into a temporary standby mode). The system also goes into temporary standby mode when the accelerator pedal is pressed.”
ProPILOT Assist features “two-button” activation. The driver first must push the blue ProPILOT Assist “ON” button, which is integrated into the right-side steering wheel spoke. Step two is to set the Intelligent Cruise Control when the desired speed is reached, as with a normal advanced cruise control system.
“When lane markers are consistently detected, steering assist engages and the steering wheel/lane marker icons on the instrument panel turn green. Both right and left-hand markers need to be detected by the front camera. Steering assist will engage or disengage depending on the visibility or presence of lane markers, though the Intelligent Cruise Control will remain active.”
The driver just presses the resume button or taps the accelerator pedal to resume autonomous driving again if stopped in traffic.
“ProPILOT Assist functionally enhances the ICC system, including stop, hold and start, while the steering assist’s lane centering helps keep the vehicle in the center of the lane,” added Takeshi Yamaguchi, senior vice president, Research, and Development, Nissan Technical Center North America, Nissan North America, Inc.
“Drivers who have experienced ProPILOT Assist always remark about the difference it makes, not realizing how many accelerations, steering and braking inputs they make under normal driving – and how much more enjoyable it is to have ProPILOT Assist help to take care of it for them.”
Nissan’s ProPILOT Assist will be available later this year.
Nissan’s technology will extend 10 more models in Europe, Japan, China, and the United States by 2020 via the Renault-Nissan Alliance.
“Nissan is a technology pioneer and ProPILOT Assist sets a strong, consumer-focused foundation for fully autonomous vehicles of the future,” said Yamaguchi.