Just Car Blog
|Quick Drive In A Tesla Model S Envisions the Future for Us||
By now you probably know all there is to know about the new Tesla Model S. You’ve read that the top-end P85+ (performance-plus 416hp/443 lb-ft of torque) trim has the ability to reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and top out at 130 mph. You’ve heard all about the cruising range of 300+ miles on a single charge. Sure, I’ve heard it all before as well, and it sounds pretty good until you reach the part about the car costing $100k (Starting Prices – Model S 60 kWh $62K, 85 kWh $72K, 85 kWh Performance $85K). Even with the tax refund, that is still a ton of cash. Is the car that good? Well, after spending a while behind the wheel of the new Tesla Model S P85+ we are surely impressed and almost ready take advantage of the Tesla financing and bring one home.
The new Tesla Model S is a marvel in itself despite all of the naysayers and critics with a negative opinion. The Model S does exactly what it is advertised to do – provide transportation in a 100% electric vehicle ranking to be the safest on the road with impeccable performance wrapped up in a luxury sedan package. The interior of the new Model S is a slightly lower grade than those we expect from the likings of our prided luxury brands in America, but still acceptable for such a vehicle. As far as the fully-electric drivetrain goes, it is simply a thrill ride in the confines of a heavy sedan that emulates a much lighter platform to the driver. Instant torque is almost like an addictive drug, you must have more of it, and more of it is given at the press of the firm ‘gas’ pedal (accelerator pedal for those who want to be technical about it). Deceleration is unlike any other vehicle in the default regenerative braking/deceleration mode. One could literally avoid use of the brake pedal altogether and just use the natural deceleration of the ‘gas’ pedal in place of a brake because it is just that aggressive, which is why the LED brake lights automatically come on when letting off of the pedal.
I won’t bore you with all of the Model S statistics or get into a discussion on the recent headline news stories featuring blown out of proportion accidents in which all occupants walked away unharmed. All of that has been covered in abundance. What I will tell you, is that there is a future in electric vehicle technology. The amazement you get driving such a vehicle could help boost our country into a time when we finally begin to wean off our oil consumption. Of course, I like a big V8 engine as much as the next guy and nothing will ever replace the sound of a whistling supercharger or the angry exhaust of a gas powered muscle car as far as I am concerned. However, Tesla, with the visionary Elon Musk at the helm, has created a remarkable product with the Model S. This electrifying luxury-sports sedan is well deserved of a serious look for those who only speculate, criticize and meander the Internet full of misinformed information. The Tesla Model S exhibits a gateway to our future and things can only get better.
During my short time driving the new Tesla Model S I was able to envision a time where 95% of all the US population is able to visit a nearby supercharger station and recharge their Tesla Model S (or other new Tesla vehicles) and travel to whatever destination in the USA they choose without that nagging range anxiety in the back of your mind. Furthermore, we can now move a little closer to a day when electric powered vehicles, or another alternative fuel powered vehicle, takes the primary place as our main mode of local transportation. The Model S is, after all, an American made product and instead of continually criticizing the forward-thinking movements of such a company, we should stand behind it a bit more for the sake of our next generation of enthusiasts and every-day consumers.
|2013 Mitsubishi i-MEV SE Electric Review & Test Drive||
The Mitsubishi i-MEV electric four-seat sedan is a fully electric-powered automobile that will give consumers looking to save money on gas and save the environment from harmful emissions is here now in the U.S. First introduced in 2013, but already marketed around the world, the Mitsubishi i-MEV is ready to transform thoughtful consumers here in America.
Highly efficient, lightweight yet powerful, and proven to be reliable to the extreme, the electric powertrain that provides the motive force for the new i-MEV is a paragon of engineering excellence and is an evolution of the Japanese auto manufacturer’s highly developed electric motors and accompanying transmissions that have powered the company’s groundbreaking 100% battery-powered electric vehicles through its rich history.
Weighing all of 108 lbs. the electric motor powering the Mitsubishi I features numerous high-tech elements that aid in the area of efficiency, performance and reliability. Adoption of a synchronous permanent magnetic motor design helps reduce weight and makes for an electric motor of more compact dimensions. Electric motor reliability is also improved through the use of an advanced neodymium magnet-far and away the strongest type of permanent magnet for use in an electric motor. Also adding to the electric motor’s durability and efficiency are a highly-effective water-cooling system along with a high-performance casing that is not only dust resistant but also completely waterproof. Noise, vibration and harshness produced by the electric motor have been all but eliminated thanks to computer-aided design and analysis. As a result, the electric motor in the i-MEV is completely maintenance-free and backed by a 5-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. The electric motor produces 49 kW at 3,000 to 6,000rpm and 145ft.lb. of torque from 1-300rpm. Because all of the 145ft.lb. of torque are available at any rpm, standing start acceleration is ideal for stop-and-go urban driving. Maximum rotation speed of the electric motor is 9,000rpm. Because of the single fixed speed transmission-occupants inside will never experience the sort of momentary hesitation that occurs in a manual or automatic transmission with multiple gears. Compact in size and weight yet offering excellent performance and refined operation, the fixed gear ratio transmission of i-MEV is engineered to make the most of the electric motor’s high toque output and a wider power band. The 7.065 gear ratio has been selected for use as research and testing has determined this to be the best ratio for optimum dynamic performance from the electric motor. This fixed gear ratio, along with a simplified two-stage parallel shaft reduction and a conventional differential unit, distribute motor torque to the vehicle’s rear wheels. Strong yet sturdy, this remarkable transmission measures less than 7-inches in length and weighs less than 42lbs. when mated to the electric motor, the combined transmission/motor measures less than 19 inches long and weighs only 143 lbs.-a fraction of the weight of the typical internal combustion engine and transmission pairing. It is smooth and quiet as you quickly increase speed on the road.
The Motor Control Unit (MCU) is a critical component of a 100% electric-powered vehicle as it manages and regulates the electrical power supply to the electric motor to generate the necessary level of torque to power the vehicle by converting the battery packs DC voltage into three-phase AC. Conversely, the MCU is responsible managing the electrical energy that is produced by the regenerative braking system and is fed back into the lithium-ion battery pack. The battery pack is located beneath the vehicle sub-floor to maximize interior space, improve the center of gravity for stable handling performance and to keep passengers away from high voltage.
Compact in size yet amazingly space efficient and structurally sound, the North American spec Mitsubishi I 100% electric powered vehicle is based on a platform that has served tens of thousands of consumers well in markets around the world. The North American spec I is both wider and longer than the others. While much of its additional length (145 inches overall-an increase of nearly 8 inches) can be attributed to the accommodation of larger bumpers front and rear, the vehicle’s interior cabin width has grown by about 4.5 inches than the others, making a noticeably increased amount of elbow room for both the vehicle’s front and rear occupants.
Giving those occupants and driver a robust, comfortable and compliant ride is the MacPherson strut front and 3-link De-Dion type rear setup. The vehicle’s pull straight-line stability has been improved by increasing both the caster angle and caster trail while decreasing the amount of kingpin offset when compared to the European version. Already proven and well-sorted design, the 3-link De-Dion rear is shared by both the North American and European Mitsubishi electric vehicles and has been modified slightly for the U.S.-spec car to accept wider tires. Every North American specs i-MEV is equipped with a specially-designed set of low rolling resistance tires that feature a unique tread pattern. Manufactured by Dunlop Tires, the vehicle has been fitted with Enesave O1W/S-145/65R15 inch front and 175/60R15 inch tires in the rear.
When steering the new Mitsubishi i-MEV you might think that you are driving a gasoline powered vehicle. Mitsubishi engineers spent a great deal of time and effort in developing a pinion-driven Electric Power Steering (EPS) system that is complemented by technologically-advanced EPS+ software that communicates well with you, enabling a natural and nimble degree of steering feel whether making a tight cornering maneuver at low speed or negotiating a sweeping bend at a fast speed. With its low center of gravity as well as the design with the wheels pushed to the corners, the i-MEV offers an excellent degree of composure and surprisingly athletic handling I didn’t expect. Also, like a gasoline-powered electric hybrid, the motor of the car shuts down when the vehicle comes to a complete stop at an intersection, stop-and-go traffic or traffic signal.
When developing the braking system for i-MEV’s breakthrough electric vehicle, engineers paid particular attention to making sure that the system would offer you a very good braking feel rather than an odd and artificial sensation when applying the brakes. All of the car’s brakes feature ABS, EBD, BA, Traction Control and Active Stability Control to give me the same safety features found on today’s modern sedans. Unique to the braking system’s design is that this brake assist mechanism is integrated directly into the brake booster. This greatly enhances vehicle safety in panic braking because when the system detects that when I am depressing the brake pedal in a quick and abrupt manner, the brake booster and the brake assist mechanism reach full power instantaneously without the additional force required from my foot as is the case with a conventional hydraulic braking system. Another distinctive design element to the braking system is an electric brake vacuum pump as the power source of the vacuum brake booster that takes the place of the design common in internal combustion engine powered vehicles-one that relies on intake manifold vacuum pressure to power a brake booster. The electric brake vacuum pump does not operate full-time but activates on-demand when necessary. The brake feel is always linear, smooth and powerful as you put more pressure on the brake pedal.
There are two models available for i-MEV, the entry-level ES and the premium SE version (which I tested). Standard in both is the driver’s gauge cluster, handy new pocket storage bins, utilization of new environmentally-friendly materials and the adoption of Mitsubishi’s convenient MIEV remote system as standard while offering upscale options including 7-inch LCD HDD navigation with FUSE Handsfree Link System that allows the operation of an iPod docked via USB input or a Bluetooth enabled cell phone simply by voice commands. The center console on the SE trim level is a center stack that is now colored in deep, rich ebony hue. The trio of HVAC control dials-now done up in bright silver-contrast against their black background. Other stylish accents include bright silver-color rings for the main gauge face on the instrument cluster. I also enjoyed the full leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, new door trim with cloth inserts and upgrade seating surface material. Other standard equipment in the SE package include power windows/door locks, power-remote sideview mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror, A/C, premium audio system with 8-speakers, grab handles, overhead map light, variable-speed wipers/washer, and floor mats front/rear.
Standard safety systems include four-3-point safety belts with front pretensioners/load limiters, a rigid occupant safety cell platform with front/rear/side energy-absorbing sections, front dual-stage airbags, front seat-mounted impact airbags, roof-mounted curtain side-impact airbags, LATCH system for child seats, Tire Pressure Monitoring System and an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System to warn pedestrians of your advancing vehicle.
The new 2013 Mitsubishi i-MEV gets about 62 miles on the road but that also depends on how you drive and what accessories are in use. The manufacturer’s retail price starts at $29,125.00. If you are looking for a full electric vehicle because you drive up to just 60 miles per day than look at the new i-MEV.
Finally, there are three ways to recharge the car. The level 1 is an onboard charging system that allows you to charge the car in a variety of locations. The portable charging cable plugs into a standard 120V/15-amp dedicated household outlet, protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter. It takes about 22-hours to charge. The level 2 is a fast, convenient home charging system. Developed by Eaton, the 240V outlet gives you a charge in just 7-hours and can be installed in your garage. The level 3 charging system is an optional quick-charger port so you can plug in, grab a cup of coffee, and be 80% charged in just ½ hour. See your Mitsubishi dealer for more details about the car to answer any questions.
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ
|The all-electric BMW i3: Video||
Redefining urban mobility means thinking far beyond environmentally conscious and agile driving. The result: With its visionary design, the all-electric BMW i3 design defines the automobile of tomorrow. Its innovative eDrive transmission was designed in the scope of the BMW EfficientDynamics technology and is not only emission-free, but also offers an incomparable and nearly silent driving experience. The intelligent ConnectedDrive Services bring you conveniently to your destination.
Worldwide debut of the all-new BMW i3.
The Ultimate Driving Machine in a new era of Individual Urban Mobility
Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – BMW today introduced the all-new BMW i3 electric car, constructed in a revolutionary way from next-generation materials. The BMW i3 will go on sale in the US market in the second quarter of 2014, and starts with a base MSRP of $41,350, before any federal or state incentives, and before Destination & Handling fee (currently $925).
1. Highlights & Quick-References: The All-New BMW i3.
2. The Ultimate Driving Machine: Driving Dynamics Worthy of BMW.
3. The Future of Urban Mobility
4. Design. Aesthetic Appeal with Elegant, Renewable Interior.
5. Explore the Worlds (Vehicle Trim Levels).
6. BMW ConnectedDrive. Mobility services and new driver assistance.
7. 360 Electric. Support and Convenience for Electric Mobility.
8. Safety: Always a true BMW.
1. Highlights: The All-New BMW i3:
The new all-electric BMW i3 is a landmark in BMW’s mission to provide a completely sustainable, electric vehicle that still stays true to the Ultimate Driving Machine moniker. The BMW i3 is the first product of the new BMW i sub-brand, and is a truly purpose built electric car. It’s a new era for electro mobility at BMW.
The vehicle concept behind the BMW i3 was designed from the outset to incorporate an all-electric drive system. This has numerous advantages over “conversion” vehicles, in which the original combustion engine is swapped for an electric motor. The engineers can design whatever works best, in terms of construction, dimensions and configuration of the electric drive system’s components. The car’s development is dictated by the characteristics designed into the car by the development team and not by the constraints imposed by a pre-existing vehicle design. For example, the space in a conversion vehicle set aside for the fuel tank or exhaust system cannot be used. In the BMW i3 there is no need for this kind of compromise.
This leads to the LifeDrive architecture concept, which was purpose-built specifically for the BMW i3. It is comprised of two modules; the Life Module, and the Drive Module. Think of the Life Module as the passenger cabin, or greenhouse. It is the first-ever mass produced Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) passenger cell in the automotive business, and is a big factor in the cars efficiency. Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic is equally as strong as steel, while being 50% lighter, and 30% lighter than aluminum. The result is an electric car that weighs about 2,700 lbs (preliminary US figures).
Due to the lightweight, high tensile strength of CFRP, the passenger cell has added protection, and the battery has less work to do, which allows for the use of a smaller, lighter battery that saves even more weight, reduces charging time and increases range. The light weight design of the Life Module also lowers the BMW i3′s center of gravity, making it a more engaging and dynamic car to drive.
The Drive Module, which is constructed out of 100% aluminum, consists of the 22-kWh, 450 lb. lithium-ion battery, electric drive train, MacPherson strut and 5-link rear suspension system and structural and crash components. The battery mounted in the rear, close to the drive wheels, gives impressive performance characteristics while also providing better traction.
Another benefit of the LifeDrive architecture concept is that there is no space-consuming transmission tunnel running through the center of the car, like in most internal combustion powered cars, because of the separate Drive Module. This gives the BMW i3 the interior space of the BMW 3 Series, while only having the footprint of the much smaller BMW 1 Series.
Even the vehicle’s key is sustainably manufactured. The source material of the new bio-polymer key is based on castor oil pressed from castor seeds. The owner’s manual is also made from renewable resources.
The interior is made using high quality renewable sources and recycled materials. The BMW i3 has the Next Premium interior, which blends sustainable resources with a premium feel for the same interior quality as the BMW 5 Series Sedan. 25% of the plastics in the interior and 25% of the thermoplastic parts on the exterior are made from either recycled materials or renewable sources.
According to studies carried out as part of BMW’s Project i, involving more than 1,000 participants and conducted over some 12.5 million miles, it was revealed that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles. The BMW i3 will be able to travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge. This can be increased by up to approximately 12% in ECO PRO mode and by the same amount again in ECO PRO+ mode. It is able to recharge in only 3 hours with the use of a 220V Level 2, 32-amp J1772 charger. The SAE DC Combo Fast Charging, which charges the BMW i3 up to 80% in 20 minutes, and 100% in 30, can be had as an option.
In order to reduce range anxiety, a rear-mounted 650cc, 34 hp, two-cylinder, gasoline-powered Range Extender generator is available, which roughly doubles the vehicle’s range. When the battery gets to a certain level, the Range Extender starts and maintains the battery’s current state of charge. The Range Extender never directly drives the vehicle’s wheels. The Range Extender adds roughly 330 lbs. to the vehicle curb weight and has a fuel capacity of 2.4 gallons.
Since 1999 according to the DOE, average gasoline prices in America have increased from approximately $1.136 to $3.618, or about a 218%. In the same time, the pricing of electricity has increased from 6.6 cents to 9.9 cents, a change of only 50%, making electricity a far more attractive commodity from a pricing standpoint.
BMW i3 Quick-Reference Highlights.
– Pricing (before federal or local incentives) starts at $41,350; $45,200 for Range Extender model. Destination & Handling Fee not included.
– On Sale: Q2 of 2014 in the USA.
– BMW’s 360 Electric electro mobility services.
– BMW i Remote app, which connects with the car.
– BMW Navigation is standard.
– BMW Intelligent Emergency Call (‘eCall”), Anti theft alarm and Rear Parking Distance Control are standard.
– 170-hp, 184 lb-ft hybrid-synchronous electric motor with max. revs of 11,400 rpm.
– 80-100 mile real-world EV range.
– 22-kWh lithium-ion battery, which weighs 450 lbs.
– 650cc gasoline powered Range Extender optional; holds charge, doesn’t power wheels.
– 0-30mph in 3.5 seconds, 0-60mph in approximately 7.0 seconds (preliminary).
– Top speed of 93 mph, electronically limited to preserve efficiency.
– BMW’s signature, near-perfect 50-50 weight distribution.
– Ultra-tight turning radius (32.3 ft), which is ideal for city driving.
– Macpherson strut front and 5-link rear suspension set up.
– Single Pedal Driving Concept with Brake Energy Regeneration, which feeds power back into battery.
– 3 drive modes: Comfort, ECO PRO and ECO PRO+.
– 3 hour 220 V @32 amps charging time.
– Optional SAE DC Combo Fast Charging allows for 80% charge in 20mins; 100% in 30 mins.
Chassis and Body.
– Purpose built construction. World’s first mass-produced CFRP-constructed electric vehicle.
– Built on innovative LifeDrive architecture composed of two parts: Life Module and Drive Module.
– Life Module is essentially the cabin, constructed from Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP).
– Drive Module is where all of the powertrain components are housed.
– Drive Module is made from 100% aluminum.
– Magnesium cross-member for instrument panel saves 20% weight vs. steel.
– BMW 1 Series external footprint with BMW 3 Series interior space.
– Adaptive Full LED headlights and LED taillights (standard in US market).
– Weighs in at roughly 2,700 lbs.
– No space-consuming transmission tunnel dividing car’s interior.
– Pillar-less design with rear coach doors allow for easy entry and exit to rear seats.
– Driver-oriented super-ergonomic controls.
– Three vehicle Worlds (trim levels): Mega (standard in US), Giga, and Tera.
– Standard 19-inch light alloy wheels with unique 155/70 all-season tires. 20-inch light alloy wheels optional.
– No transmission tunnel and low console allows for Slide-through Experience, which benefits urban driving by the ability to exit from the passenger side.
– Made with sustainable, renewable materials.
+ Instrument panel surround and door trim use fibers from Kenaf plant.
+ Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof panel is made partially with recycled CFRP from manufacturing process of other components
+ 25% of plastic used in interior comprised of recycled materials.
– Dashboard wood trim crafted from responsibly-forested eucalyptus.
– CFRP components are sustainably produced in Moses Lake, WA, USA, where the factory uses hydroelectric power.
– The Leipzig, Germany assembly plant uses wind-generated electricity.
– Olive-leaf extract is used to tan interior leather surfaces.
2. The Ultimate Drive Machine®.
BMW makes the Ultimate Driving Machine, and that holds true for the BMW i3. The hybrid synchronous electric motor, which weighs only 110 lbs., is developed and produced specially by the BMW Group for use in the BMW i3, with maximum revs of 11,400 rpm, generates an output of 170 hp and outputs maximum torque of 184 lb-ft on tap from the moment the car pulls away. That’s propels the 2,700 lb car from 0-30mph in 3.5 seconds, 0-60mph in approximately 7.2 seconds, and to an electronically limited top speed of 93 mph (preliminary USA figures). Much like engine braking with a manual transmission, but even more effective, the accelerator pedal also acts as a brake when the driver lifts off the accelerator.
The BMW i3 features Brake Energy Regeneration, which, when the driver lifts off, the motor acts as a generator and converts the kinetic energy into electricity, which is fed back into the battery for a range gain. This Regeneration is speed-sensitive, which means that the car “coasts” for added efficiency at high speeds, and generates the strong braking effect at lower speeds.
The BMW i3′s accelerator pedal has a distinct “neutral” position. Rather than switching straight to energy Regeneration when the driver eases off the accelerator, the electric motor uses zero torque control to separate from the drivetrain and deploy only the available kinetic energy for propulsion. In this mode, the BMW i3 cruises using virtually no energy at all. This is another way anticipatory driving can preserve energy and increase the car’s range.
The impressive electric motor, small turning circle of 32.3 feet, – a major benefit to driving in the city – BMW’s near-perfect 50-50 weight distribution, precise electric power steering and the stable suspension set-up help to make the i3 as satisfying to drive as every other BMW.
The BMW i3′s tires are a unique 155/70/19 size on 19-inch light-alloy wheels, but the contact patch is the same of that of a more conventional 16-inch tire. To improve efficiency, they have low rolling resistance, and the narrow section width is a key factor in the BMW i3′s super-tight turning radius.
The BMW i3 uses the BMW eDrive rear-wheel drive powertrain previously found on the BMW ActiveE. eDrive offers driving dynamics worthy of the Ultimate Driving Machine name and offers zero tailpipe emission driving. Beyond the traditional immediacy of response offered by electric motors when pulling away, power development in the BMW i3 also remains unbroken through higher speeds. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission, allowing the BMW i3 to accelerate with an uninterrupted flow of power up to its top speed.
3. City Friendly: The Future of Urban Mobility.
The BMW i3 marks the introduction of a new type of megacity vehicle. Its small size allows it to easily maneuver and park on city streets, while the car’s short front and rear overhangs make parking in tight spaces much easier. Its sharp turning radius and nimble handling are the perfect match for city driving. In the front, the Slide Through Experience allows the driver to slide through the car and exit on the passenger side, to avoid exiting into a busy city street. This is made possible because of the absence of the transmission tunnel. The coach doors make getting into and out of the car much more practical by eliminating the B pillar and creating one large opening to enter and exit.
Not having to fill up on gas is a big advantage while living in the city due to the lack of gas stations. Since electricity is so readily available, recharging is possible almost anywhere, and practically gives the BMW i3 unlimited range due to being able to charge at any and every stop.
Emission-free driving is also a plus in the city. Cities are so congested with cars idling at red lights or stop and go traffic, so having a car that runs on electricity that doesn’t pollute is another way that the BMW i3 benefits the environment, and its owner.
On a similar note, the navigation system can take traffic conditions into consideration and help route around any areas of large congestion, which is a huge benefit when living in a city with a lot of traffic. It can help maximize efficiency and cut down commute times in order to save you time.
The same navigation system also remembers the owners driving style and can judge by that and the amount of charge left if a route is too long or if a recharge is necessary for the return journey.
4. Design: Aesthetic Appeal with Elegant, Renewable Interior.
The BMW i3 is stretching the definitive envelope of what a conventional car can be and how it should look. Its striking appearance is unique to the BMW i sub-brand while still remaining unmistakably a BMW.
The front end has a clear and simple design. BMW’s iconic kidney grilles headlines the front end with the BMW i blue background. Under the kidney grille, silver layers sculpt the front apron. Contrasting black surfaces identify the functional load compartment under the hood and air inlets. Aerodynamic Air Curtains give an aggressive appearance to the BMW i3, while also helping to increase the range by minimizing air resistance and drag. U-shaped, LED headlights, give a fresh take on the BMW light design and give the car character.
At the rear end, the large rear window gives great visibility and easy access to the trunk. The roof lines are optimized to give as much interior space as possible. The LED U-shaped taillights are housed in the rear window and appear to be floating there.
The rear diffuser is the lowest point on the car and lends to its aerodynamics. Outlined in blue (not available with Solar Orange Metallic exterior color), the diffuser is shaped to show the BMW i3′s powerful stance.
Thanks to its LifeDrive architecture, the BMW i3 is a new canvas for BMW interior designers. There is no center tunnel taking up space, which creates an open, roomy cabin. The front and rear bench seats allow for easy movement inside the vehicle and even allow the driver to exit through the passenger door if necessary.
All driving controls are ergonomically placed for easy access to the driver. The instrument panel stretches through the whole interior from the air vents next to the steering wheel to just before the passenger door. It encompasses the radio and climate controls as well. The freestanding steering column is a distinctive element in the light interior. All of the driving controls, such as the instrument cluster, start/stop button and gear shift selector can be found there.
The interior, which is put together using a technique known as layering, – which is the utilization of space through the structuring of lines and surfaces into layers – features Next Premium. It is made of high quality renewable raw materials, in the name of sustainability. The driver’s seat is located in a semi-command driving position, set-up higher for a better view of the road. Certain parts of the instrument panel and door panels are made using southern Asia’s Kenaf plant natural fibers to save about 10% weight, while the interior leather is tanned using a natural process that uses olive leaf extract to provide protection against fading and wear while giving a unique look.
Using a magnesium supporting structure for the instrument panel saves weight in two ways. Superior material attributes over conventional sheet steel results in a weight reduction of 20%. Also, the high composite rigidity of the magnesium supporting structure allows a reduction in components and lowers weight by a further 10%.
The wood trim used in the dashboard is crafted from eucalyptus which is grown in Europe and certified as 100% sourced from responsible forestry. As the eucalyptus ages, it darkens and changes color. The location of the crafting was selected carefully to ensure short delivery routes to the production stages.
The Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP), which is produced near Moses Lake, Washington, is made primarily with the use of hydroelectric power, harvested nearby. This is done to minimize the effect that BMW i3 production has on the environment. Since more than 10% of the carbon fiber needed to manufacture the BMW i3 is made from recycled materials, it is another way the BMW i3 is completely sustainable. The roof is made of CFRP scraps to help recycle left over material from other parts.
5. Explore the World: Vehicle Trim Levels.
Due to the unfamiliarity of electric mobility technology in the United States, buying an EV can be a daunting experience for the average customer. BMW sought to make this process as simple as possible in the new BMW i3. The BMW i3 comes in three different worlds: Mega, Giga and Tera, all of which come equipped with a very high level of standard equipment.
The base Mega World comes standard with 19-inch extra-efficient forged aluminum wheels, BMW Navigation, BMW ConnectedDrive with eCall, the BMW i Remote, an alarm, 7.4 kW on board charger and LED headlights, DRLs and tail lights. The interior is donned in bright, lightweight Sensatec and sustainable cloth, which is made from recycled materials. It also features a leather trimmed steering wheel and grained dash trim.
The next level, Giga World, has all the features of the Mega World but with the addition of distinct Giga-specific 19-inch wheels and an interior wrapped in leather and wool cloth. A universal garage door opener is included for easy access to the i3′s BMW i Charging Station, which is usually mounted in the garage. It also has Comfort Access, a sunroof, and satellite radio. The leather-trimmed steering wears contrasting stitching to give a classy, sporty look.
The top-of-the-line Tera World, adds unique 19-inch wheels, a luxurious full leather, olive leaf-tanned interior, with textile accents and contrasting stitching, and anthracite floors mats.
Available for every world is the Technology and Driving assist, and the Parking assist packages. The Technology and Driving Assist package adds a host of convenience and safety technologies to the BMW i3. It includes the wide-screen Navigation Professional with advanced real-time traffic and the new touch pad, Traffic Jam Assist, BMW Assist with Enhanced Bluetooth and USB with BMW Apps, Online Information services, Deceleration Assistant, ACC Stop & Go, Speed Limit info, BMW ConnectedDrive services, Forward Collision Warning, Pedestrian Protection and City Collision Mitigation. The Parking Assist package is ideal for living in the city and includes a rearview camera, Park Assistant, which helps take advantage of tight parallel parking opportunities, and Front Auto Park Distance Control.
The BMW i3 full options list for USA will be released Fall 2013.
6. BMW ConnectedDrive. Mobility services and new driver assistance systems.
BMW ConnectedDrive is the interface between the customer, their car, 360 Electric, and the Premium Mobility Service. Connected mobility is the embodiment of an individual, sustainable, efficient and convenient form of urban mobility. It is a crucial part of the BMW i and urban lifestyle.
An embedded SIM card in the BMW i3 is the key that unlocks the BMW ConnectedDrive services, available to the new electric model. A feature of BMW ConnectedDrive is BMW i Navigation, which can search for a nearby charging station, which should give the driver piece of mind, knowing that there is a station nearby. It can also give a real world range estimate and visualization of the estimate with the SpiderMap, Real Time Traffic Information and plan a route that avoids the traffic as best as possible.
The customer has access to personal assistance from a BMW ConnectedDrive agent at any time of the day or night. Concierge Service can help answer almost any of the driver’s questions. They can recommend restaurants, give information on destinations or guide the driver to the nearest charging station, among other things.
In the unfortunate situation when an accident occurs, Intelligent Emergency Call (“eCall”) sends information like location, number of front-seat occupants, and even crash severity data to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Center, which quickly informs the appropriate 911-dispatch center.
BMW ConnectedDrive can also connect directly with your iPhone with an original Apple cable that connects to the car and built-in BMW Apps.
The optionally available Driving Assistant Plus for the BMW i3 comprises Collision Warning with brake priming function, which is activated at speeds up to about 35 mph (60 km/h) and is able to respond to both moving and stationary vehicles ahead, as well as to pedestrians. It also comes with Active Cruise Control including Stop & Go function. In addition to visual and audible warnings, the system is capable of braking the vehicle by itself, if required, with up to maximum stopping power. The Parking Assistant can also be found on the option list and performs the steering maneuvers at the same time as controlling accelerator, brake and gear selection, enabling fully automated parallel parking. Another handy optional extra is the Traffic Jam Assistant that allows drivers to delegate the tasks of pulling away, braking and steering to keep the vehicle in lane. Meanwhile, the Speed Limit Info system is also offered.
7. 360 Electric: Support and Convenience for Electric Mobility.
Electric cars differ drastically from their gas-powered counterparts, and the 360 Electric features further that differential. All of the 360 Electric features help to ensure convenient electro mobility in most situations.
If the BMW i3 buyer has a private parking space at their home, BMW i will offer a home charging station, which includes a BMW i charging station for convenient charging. They will even send a representative to install it to any specific need. 360 Electric will also help with public charging by locating the nearest station.
As part of 360 Electric, the BMW i Remote app links to your car and can monitor its battery level, charging status and other charging-related functions, such as heating and air conditioning. The app can also give the cars location, lock or unlock the doors, honk the horn, or flash the lights.
Before driving away in the BMW i3, it is recommended to precondition that battery to the preferred operating temperature of between 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit to optimize range. Battery temperature may be monitored through the iDrive system. The battery liquid cooling system keeps the battery at the ideal operating temperature which increases performance and life expectancy. Battery condition is controlled and operated in harmony by the intelligent energy management system. This, combined with Brake Energy Regeneration system extends the vehicle’s range while enhancing its performance.
The Range Assistant is engaged both for route planning and during journeys already under way. Topographical mapping technology helps find the most efficient route to your destination by calculating distance, elevation and other factors, in order to get the best range from your BMW i3. If the destination is beyond the cars range, it can suggest switching to ECO PRO or ECO PRO+ to get more from the battery’s charge.
In the unlikely circumstance of a breakdown, the BMW Assist Safety Plan provides contact with a Response Specialist at the touch of a button.
BMW Assist also introduces Navigation services specially-developed to enhance electric mobility alongside familiar features including the Concierge Services information facility and the intelligent BMW Assist eCall. Moreover, drivers may use the BMW i Remote app to share information with their car using a smartphone. The pedestrian navigation function guides the driver from parking place to their final destination and back.
8. Safety: Always a true BMW.
From an efficiency standpoint, the body of the BMW i3 needs to be not only strong but, above all, light. However, from a safety point of view, it has to be not only light but, above all, strong. This apparent conflict of interests highlights the engineers’ pioneering work in developing the vehicle architecture of the BMW i3. Here, there is no contradiction between lightweight construction and safety. Quite the opposite, in fact: the LifeDrive concept of the BMW i3, with its combination of aluminum and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP), is on a par with other structures and even performs better in some areas of crash testing despite its lightweight design. The use of CFRP essentially allows the construction of extremely lightweight bodies. Moreover, CFRP possesses an impressive ability to absorb energy and is extremely damage-tolerant. CFRP is the lightest material that can be used in the construction of car bodies without compromising on safety.
The LifeDrive concept is based around two horizontally separate independent modules. The Drive module – the aluminum chassis – gives the car its high-strength foundations and integrates the battery and drive system into a single structure. The Life module, meanwhile, consists principally of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger compartment made from CFRP. With this innovative concept, the BMW Group takes the combination of lightweight design, vehicle architecture and crash safety to an entirely new dimension.
LifeDrive module offers tremendous safety.
The crash requirements in automotive manufacture are very strict. Numerous impact criteria stipulated by the stringent guidelines of global consumer protection organizations and legislators have to be taken into account. During the development of the BMW i3 concept, there was close consultation with the international crash test institutes on the innovative car body and safety concept of the BMW i models.
The high-strength passenger compartment teams up with the intelligent distribution of forces within the LifeDrive module to provide the cornerstones for optimum occupant protection. Even after the structurally-debilitating offset front crash at 64 km/h (40 mph), the extremely rigid material maintains an intact survival space for passengers. The crash-activated aluminum structures at the front and rear end of the Drive module provide additional safety, so that less body deformation occurs compared with comparable steel bodies. Furthermore, the “cocoon effect” of the CFRP car body ensures that the doors can be opened without any problem and the interior remains largely free of any intrusions.
Even rescue scenarios have been worked through and checked. In standard cutting tests, the process of rescuing occupants from a BMW i3 involved in an accident was comparable to that for a conventional vehicle. In some respects, indeed, it was more straightforward since the lighter components can be more easily cut than high-strength steels, for example.
Impressive rigidity, combined with its ability to absorb an enormous amount of energy, makes CFRP extremely damage-tolerant. Even at high impact speeds it displays barely any deformation. As in a Formula One cockpit, this exceptionally stiff material provides an extremely strong survival space. Furthermore, the body remains intact in a front or rear-on impact, and the doors still open without a problem after a crash.
In its dry, resin-free state CFRP can be worked almost like a textile, and as such allows a high degree of flexibility in how it is shaped. The composite only gains its rigid, final form after the resin injected into the lattice has hardened. This makes it at least as durable as steel, but it is much more lightweight.
The high tear resistance along the length of the fibers also allows CFRP components to be given a high-strength design by following their direction of loading. To this end, the fibers are arranged within the component according to their load characteristics. By overlaying the fiber alignment, components can also be strengthened against load in several different directions. In this way, the components can be given a significantly more efficient and effective design than is possible with any other material that is equally durable in all directions – such as metal. This, in turn, allows further reductions in terms of both material use and weight, leading to another new wave of savings potential. The lower accelerated mass in the event of a crash means that energy-absorbing structures can be scaled back, cutting the weight of the vehicle.
Superior protection in a side impact.
The ability of CFRP to absorb energy is truly extraordinary. Pole impacts and side-on collisions both highlight the impressive safety-enhancing properties of CFRP. Despite the heavy, in some cases concentrated forces, the material barely sustains a dent, and passengers enjoy nearly unbeatable protection. All of which makes CFRP perfectly suited for use in a vehicle’s flanks, where every centimeter of undamaged interior is invaluable. However, there are limits to what CFRP can endure. If the forces applied go beyond the limits of the material’s strength, the composite of fibers breaks up into its individual components in a controlled process.
In the Euro NCAP side impact test, in which a pole strikes the side of the vehicle dead-center at 32 km/h (20 mph), the carbon fiber composite also demonstrates its extraordinary energy-absorbing capacity. The Life module absorbs the entire impact with minimal deformation, guaranteeing optimum passenger protection. Even as CFRP dissipates energy, danger to passengers or other road users is substantially mitigated.
The best of both worlds: combining aluminum and CFRP.
The new Drive module has also been carefully designed and structured with these exacting crash requirements in mind. Crash-active aluminum structures in the front and rear sections of the vehicle provide additional safety. In a front or rear-on collision, these absorb a large proportion of the energy generated. The battery, meanwhile, is mounted in the underbody section of the car to give it the best possible degree of protection. Statistically, this is the area that absorbs the least energy in the event of a crash, and the vehicle shows barely any deformation here as a result. Moreover, positioning the battery in the underbody allows the BMW Group development engineers to give the vehicle an ideal low center of gravity, which makes it extremely agile and unlikely to roll over.
The high-voltage battery also benefits from the excellent deformation properties of the CFRP Life module. In the side crash test, the pole does not penetrate as far as the battery. The mix of materials used and the intelligent power distribution in the LifeDrive module ensure that the high-voltage battery is optimally protected even in the side sill area.
All in all, the high-strength CFRP passenger cell teams up with the intelligent distribution of forces in the LifeDrive module to lay the foundations for optimum occupant protection.
In the unfortunate situation when an accident occurs, Intelligent Emergency Call (“eCall”) sends information like location, number of front-seat occupants, and even crash severity data to the BMW ConnectedDrive Call Center, which quickly informs the appropriate 911-dispatch center.
Lithium-ion batteries are safe even in the event of a fire.
Safety is a key criterion in the development of the BMW i models. A range of systems and measures have been implemented in the vehicle that ensure safety in normal operation and in the event of accidental fires. The high-voltage system is designed to cope with accidents beyond the legal requirements, with the high-voltage battery including features that ensure its safe reaction even in situations such as this.
The latest series of tests conducted by the renowned DEKRA E-Mobility Competence Center were extremely extensive – ranging from how a car might catch fire, how the flames might spread and what would be required to extinguish the fire, to the pollution caused by run-off of the water used for fighting the fire. The experts concluded that electric and hybrid cars with lithium-ion drive system batteries are at least as safe as vehicles with conventional drive systems in the event of fire.
To ensure maximum safety in such a crash scenario, the high-voltage battery is disconnected from the high-voltage system and the connected components discharged when the passenger restraint systems are triggered. This safely prevents the possibility of a short circuit, which could lead to electric shocks or cause a fire.
|How Tesla Motors Builds Electric Cars: Video||
Surprisingly to some, Tesla is the first successful American automobile start-up in more than 90 years. After taking that into consideration, the new Tesla Model S 100% electric luxury sedan can be considered a true American marvel that has the market’s best battery range at 265 miles. Tesla is on track to build 20,000 at the production facility this year alone. The exclusive video below gives us a glimpse of where and how the new Model S is built.
|2013 Chevrolet Volt Quick Driving Impressions||
The new 2013 Chevrolet Volt carries on its efficient duties with the addition of a few new features that add to its versatile and innovative electrified platform. The new 2013 Volt also continues its substantial compliance on the road much like any other midsized or compact sedan virtually streamlining its electric powertrain and gasoline engine generator.
The public has learned much about the Chevy Volt recently where its image is getting more polished each year with slight improvements. The saying goes that it can only get better and Chevrolet has done just that, made the Volt even better even when pitted against its mainstream competition.
The 2013 Chevrolet Volt receives a new Hold feature adding to the Sport, Normal and Mountain drive modes. The new Hold feature basically holds the battery charge and only utilizes power generated from the 1.4-liter gasoline engine stored in a temporary battery buffer. Essentially, using the Hold feature will allow you to retain all of the wall-charged energy in the new 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Previous year Volts included just a 16.0 kWh battery. The new slightly higher capacity boosts the range to an average of 38 total miles solely on a full electric charge. Adding to the total range is the Volt’s ability to utilize the batteries hi-tech-controlled buffer where power is generated from its gasoline engine fed by a 9.3 gallon gas tank.
My drive in the new 2013 Chevrolet Volt consisted of a nice mix of highway and densely populated city driving with relatively light traffic. I was able to muster out a total of 43 miles from a fully-charged battery. In all 43 miles I used the air-conditioner and lights as my drive approached sunset. The normal drive mode was used about half of my drive while the other half sport drive mode appeased me most. I took special note to the sport mode advancing the throttle position for a bit more response, something enthusiasts would take pleasure in. The over-night charge (est. 10.5 hours) before my drive used the one of the new selectable charge modes in the faster 12 amps mode vs. the reduced 8 amps mode. Of course using the updated 120-volt wall-charger I noticed a much cooler plug when compared to my review of the 2012 and 2011 model-year Volts.
Some have demonstrated more than 50 miles on a single full charge in the new Volt exclusively using the battery charge capacity. General Motors claims users will see on average of 38 miles on a full charge. As you can imagine, that figure can sway greatly dependent on driving conditions and usage of power accessories such as the climate control. After depleting the battery charge, or using the hold feature exclusively, you will expect to get an average of 37 mpg. I saw just that during my drive with my best figure being 45 mpg and worst coming in at 32 mpg. The 32 mpg figure was due to driving up a few tall bridges and driving ‘slightly above’ posted interstate speed limits. Amazingly, there is a exponential diminishing return when you start to approach 80 mph and eventually topping out at the Volt’s 101 mph electronically controlled top speed. Of course, I found its top speed while on a closed course I was able to use for half an hour. What an experience having this extended range electric vehicle out on a closed course.
The ride quality of the new 2013 Chevy Volt seemed to be a bit more compliant than previous years. I attempted to find additional information on any spring rate or damper changes but could not confirm any definitive data. With that said, the 2013 Chevy Volt rides great for its weight and feels well-balanced. Though, the ultra-efficient low-rolling-resistant tires are prone to screeching at any moderate to hard turn-in exhibiting an abundance of understeer at the mercy of stability control working overtime.
The instant torque from the electric motor, a full 273 ft-lbs. available from a start, really makes the Volt come to life especially in the mix of heavy traffic and highway cruising. Over-all power produced from the electric motor is only 149 horsepower but really rests on its torque figure to get things in motion. You may not win many drag races but you sure can get a jump off of the line and out of the hole with ease having an all-electric platform to propel the vehicle.
Concluding the new features added for the 2013 Volt is a new lane-departure and forward collision warning system. Of course potential California Volt owners can now rejoice due to the Volt receiving a low-emissions package so they may legally travel in the carpool lanes no matter how many occupants are in the vehicle.
The new 2013 Chevrolet Volt is a factual marvel no matter how you want to slice its innovative drivetrain, complex vehicle management programming all combined to make it a seamless driving experience. The lofty initial pricetag starting at $39,149 before the $7,500 tax credit is probably one of the unattractive aspects of the Volt. Though, adding in the tax credit makes all of the difference in the world for the true economical-minded. With that in mind, the Volt, for some, could very well be a good value and foundational emergence into the future of what is to come from extended –range electric and alternative power vehicles. The as-tested price of my loaded test vehicle came in at $45,540 including a $850 destination charge. Still, a definite a winner in my book… after the tax credit.
Copyright: 2013 AutomotiveAddicts.com
- Price: Base Volt $39,145 As-Tested $45,540 *without $7,500 federal tax credit
- Engine/Motor: 1.4-liter 4-cylinder (acting generator) & 2-motor electric – 149 horsepower 273 pounds-feet torque (instantaneous)
- Drive: FWD (Front-Wheel-Drive)
- Wheelbase: 105.7in.
- Total length: 177.1in.
- Total width: 70.4in.
- Total height: 56.6in.
- Track: f/r-61.2/62.1in.
- Headroom: f/r-37.8/36.0in.
- Legroom: f/r-42.1/34.1in.
- MPG est.: 95 mpg city/93 mpg highway – *all contingent on a charged battery – AutomotiveAddicts.com fully-depleted battery estimates: 41 mpg city/37 mpg highway
- Fuel tank: 9.3 gallons
- 0-60mph: 8.9 seconds
- EPA cargo volume: 10.6 cu.ft.
- Curb Weight: 3,781
|Tesla Model S Gets Praise from Consumer Reports with 99 out of 100 Evaluation Score||
Consumer Reports is known for being brutally honest about automobiles, sometimes to the point of forcing an automaker to make an immediate change to their vehicle or pull out all their stops to introduce a much better next-gen model. Entering into the testing and rating of an all-new electric vehicle is a completely different task to tackle, but as it turns out, Consumer Reports has given the all-new Tesla Model S an impressive 99 out of 100 score, their highest evaluation score.
A lot is not known by the general public about the new Tesla Model S but that is about to turn around as Consumer Reports releases their test scores on the new purpose-built all-electric luxury sedan. CR claims that the Model S excels in just about every test criteria when pitted against petrol-burning competition. Even in the electric car realm, there is nothing else like it that can tout a 200+ mile range on a single charge. Not to mention, the long list of techno-gadgets and iPad-like central 17-inch touch screen.
As Americans, we really take pride in that the Tesla is a relatively new American car company taking things on with a different approach that is actually working for them. We welcome you to check out the CR video on the Tesla Model S below and watch as they drift this electrified luxury sedan around a track.
|Detroit Electric Announces New Battery-Powered Sports Car||
Calling itself the “fourth automaker born out of Detroit,” startup electric car manufacturer Detroit Electric has just announced that it will be showing a two-seat electric sports car at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, and that it will begin customer deliveries in limited markets by the end of August.
Those are ambitious plans for a conventional automaker, let alone one dedicated to battery-electric power. Detroit Electric, however, isn’t exactly a new company; the original (which more or less folded in 1939) was one of the most successful electric car manufacturers of the early 20th century, and the brand has been working on a modern vehicle since being reborn in 2008.
The man behind Detroit Electric is Albert Lam, who was formerly head of the Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars of England (which explains why the teaser image looks so much like a Lotus). Lam also spent time leading divisions of Apple and Sun Microsystems, so he’s well-versed in both the automotive and technology sides of the business.
Detroit Electric’s plans don’t end with a single two-seater, either. By the end of 2014, it plans to launch two other “high-performance” electric vehicles. We’re a bit skeptical that no details are being provided on a car set for unveiling in just one month, and reportedly bound for production in just 150 days, but we’re willing to cut Detroit Electric some slack. After all, who doesn’t like an underdog?
The firm’s CEO, Don Graunstadt, is equally bullish on the startup automaker’s future, saying, “We are proud to become the fourth car manufacturer born out of Detroit, and the first to manufacture a pure electric sports car from Michigan. We are committed to doing our part for this great revival of Detroit through innovation, entrepreneurship and determination – what we like to call ‘Detroit 2.0′. Our investors and management team are thankful to the State of Michigan for the help provided in allowing Detroit Electric to carry on the legacy that began in Michigan so many years ago.”
Can Detroit Electric meet its highly-ambitious goals for new product launches? Can the firm succeed where others have struggled or failed? Will electric sports cars become a viable business in the near future? We’re asking these questions ourselves, and we’d love to hear your take on things.
|Tesla Predicts Q1 2013 Profitability||
Despite the financial woes of extended-range electric automaker Fisker, things look much brighter at battery-electric automaker Tesla. It’s recent run-in with potentially flawed reporting in The New York Times aside, Tesla has reduced its quarterly losses, ramped up production of its Model S sedan and established plans to grow its retail store network in 2013.
It’s made money from its work on the Toyota RAV4 EV and the Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV, which contributed some $12 million to the bottom line in the fourth quarter. Moving forward, Elon Musk predicts that, barring a “force majeure event” (such as an earthquake or civil war), Tesla will be slightly profitable in the first quarter of 2013 and beyond.
Adding to Musk’s confidence are some 6,000 Model S reservations received in the fourth quarter, more than doubling the 2,900 booked in the third quarter. The jump in sales was attributed to multiple factors, including several car-of-the-year awards, a planned end-of-year price increase and the launch of a marketing campaign in Europe.
Tesla currently has 32 retails stores around the globe, but plans on opening as many as 20 more this year. Half of the new retail outlets will be opened in Europe and Asia, as Tesla plans a big push into these growing markets by year end.
To help address the issue of “range anxiety” and continue U.S. sales growth, Tesla is planning expansion of its Supercharger quick-charge network on the East and West coasts throughout the year.
Musk calls 2012 “the year of the Model S,” and all signs are currently indicating that 2013 could turn out to be the “year of Tesla.” Here’s wishing them the best.
|To Combat Slowing Sales, Nissan Slashes Leaf Pricing||
While automotive news was flowing in a steady stream from the Detroit Auto Show, Nissan managed to slip a quiet update under the radar. It’s no secret that sales of its Leaf electric car haven’t exactly met expectations, so Nissan is doing the prudent thing: it’s slashing the Leaf’s starting price.
Thanks to a newly-created Leaf S trim, as well as a shift to lower-cost U.S. assembly, Nissan is selling its electric car at a starting price of just $28,800. That’s $6,000, or 18-percent, less than the Leaf’s point of entry last year. Factor in federal and state tax credits, and Nissan points out that the Leaf could ultimately cost as little as $18,800, putting it in the same price bracket as comparable gasoline-powered vehicles.
Nissan has reduced Leaf pricing on other trims as well, so customers shopping for higher content levels will save money, too. A 2012 Leaf SV was priced from $35,200 (sans destination), while the 2013 Leaf SV begins at just $31,820 (also excluding destination. The range-topping Leaf SL cost $37,250 last year, but this year’s price is dropped to $34,840.
Will that be enough to boost sales? We suppose that answer is tied to the cost of gasoline and the amount of consumer disposable income for a second (or third) vehicle. We don’t know of anyone who’d buy a Leaf as a primary vehicle, since its limited range and long charging times are an issue for most consumers. Still, as a daily commuter (for those with short to moderate commutes), the Leaf makes some sense. Is it now priced attractively enough for consumers to agree? Nissan hopes the answer is yes.
|2014 Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Debuts In Detroit||
Like the idea of the Chevrolet Volt extended range electric sedan, but want something with a bit more luxury and presence? Your wait will soon be over, as Cadillac is debuting its own version of the GM Voltec drivetrain at this week’s Detroit Auto Show.
Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR is essentially an electric car. When its 16.5 kWh battery pack is depleted, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine starts up to power a range-extending generator. Like the Volt, range on batteries alone is an estimated 35 miles, condition-dependent. Since Cadillac is expected to deliver better performance, the rated output of the ELR’s drivetrain is upped to 207 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, up from 149 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in the Volt.
Cadillac has yet to publish performance numbers, but we expect the ELR will be quicker than the Volt’s 9.2 seconds for the run from 0-60 mph. It’s likely that the top speed will be raised above the Volts 100 mph, too, but performance really isn’t the raison d’etre behind the ELR: style is.
Outside, the ELR carries on the angular styling of the ATS, CTS and XTS models, but manages to spin it in an even more modern interpretation. Sure, the trademark vertical head lamp and tail lamp elements (used in Cadillac design since 1948) are there, but there’s no denying that the ELR looks like it just rolled out of some time warp, from a few decades in the future.
Inside, the cabin is a blend of the traditional and the high-tech. Sure, there’s plenty of leather, wood and microfiber to satisfy your senses, but there’s also a heavy infusion of technology. The ELR gets a version of Cadillac’s CUE infotainment system, which recognizes voice commands as well as gestures. The car also serves up four driving modes, including Sport and Tour (which are self-explanatory), Mountain (which fires up the generator to ensure sufficient power when needed) and Hold (which runs the car in generator mode to preserve battery power for later use).
The Hold mode is designed for drivers who mix city and highway driving on their daily commute. Highway miles quickly consume battery charge, so the ELR (and the Volt) are best run on battery power in an urban environment, and on generator power on the highway.
Cadillac has yet to announce ELR pricing, as the car is still roughly a year away from launch. If all goes as planned, production will begin at GM’s Hamtramck plant in late 2013.
Combining electric propulsion with a performance orientation is a delicate balance. Tesla managed to pull it off to some success. Audi has toyed with the idea with its E-Tron concepts. And some have been experimenting with bringing F1′s KERS regenerative braking system to road-going sports cars.
Just a few weeks ago at the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda showed off a tempting little package called the EV-STER. The concept spoke of a zippy little ride around town, all on electric power. Now, reports are indicating that, based on positive feedback from the show, Honda has already decided to green-light the project and put it into production. Sources suggest it will be ready sometime in the new year ahead, and could offer a more conventional gasoline engine in addition to the electric powertrain.
Of course none of this is to say that Honda would bring the production EV-STER to the North American market, but we’ll be excited if it gets built at all.
|Report: Chevrolet Volt Sales Triple in 2012||
The Chevy Volt has undoubtedly had a slow start in terms of sales – only moving 7,671 units in 2011. While it is still evident of slow but steady economic recovery, consumers are starting to catch onto what the new Chevy Volt really has to offer and have tripled sales accounting for GM selling 23,461 Volts in 2012.
The Chevrolet Volt, commonly misrepresented as a hybrid similar to the Toyota Prius, is actually an electric-powered vehicle that happens to utilize a gasoline engine acting as a generator to recharge its electric motor battery.
The Chevy Volt remains to be one of Chevrolet’s lowest-selling cars beating out the 14,000 Corvettes sold last year by just over 9,000 units. Moreover, the Volt outsold the Nissan Leaf in 2012 where Nissan only managed to move 9,800 units, a minuscule increase of just 1.5% from 2011. The Nissan Leaf is the Volts nearest competitor, which at one time in 2011 outsold the Volt.
The biggest factor contributing to the increase in Volt sales throughout 2012 was its increased popularity in California, which tends to suffer from a massively crowded road grid. The Volt, due to some minor engineering tweaks, is now eligible for California’s carpool lane stickers for the first time.
Of course the negative press from sources reporting on a fire case well after an accident and GM voluntarily recalling the cars to fix the potential issue did not help matters. In the end, it was found that even before the recall the Volt did not pose any greater fire risk than other cars on the road today.
“More than half of all Volt sales are in California,” said Alec Guitierrez, an analyst with Kelley Blue Book. GM also claims that the care has been catching on in other markets, such as Chicago and Michigan.
Price point of the Volt due to new incentives bringing some payments down to as low as $289 a month have contributed to the Volts sales increase. Additionally, the $7,500 tax credit is also an enticing figure even if the car price starts at nearly $40,000.
Ownership of the Chevy Volt has been easy on pocket books where owners have claimed paying just pennies to keep it going and virtually reaching triple digit gas mileage numbers.
The Chevrolet Volt can drive on average 38 miles on full plug-in-electric power according to EPA estimates before the gasoline engine switches on to generate power for the electric powertrain, essentially extending the range.
[source: CNN Money]
|Cadillac To Reveal 2014 ELR At Detroit Auto Show||
Cadillac will become the next General Motors brand to introduce an extended-range electric car on the Volt platform when it debuts the 2014 Cadillac ELR at next month’s Detroit Auto Show. The Cadillac ELR will be positioned as an upscale alternative to existing Volt models from Chevrolet, Holden and Opel.
Based on the Cadillac Converj concept, the ELR will rely on lithium-ion batteries and an electric motor for propulsion. When the batteries are depleted, a gasoline-powered engine will fire up to power a generator, giving the car virtually unlimited range. Though Cadillac isn’t giving specifics, it’s likely the ELR will match or beat the Volt’s EPA-estimated 38 mile range.
Expect a more spirited performance from the Cadillac ELR as well. The Volt can run from 0-60 mph in 8.5 seconds, which is respectable considering its primary mission is saving fuel. The ELR likely won’t be that much quicker, but it’s reasonable to expect a sub eight second time.
Pricing remains the big mystery, since the Volt’s price tag has always been a barrier to more widespread sales. If luxury-brand Cadillac gets too optimistic with the ELR’s sticker, we seriously doubt it will be the success that GM needs it to be. We’ll find out soon enough.
|Bizarre Smart Forjeremy To See Limited Production: Video||
If there was an award for the “strangest concept debuted at a major auto show,” Smart’s Forjeremy would take the award, hands down. The work of designer Jeremy Scott, the car’s most obvious feature are the hollow fiberglass wings protruding from the car’s C-pillars.
Based on the electric version of the Smart Fortwo, the Forjeremy concept also features airplane propeller-inspired wheels, chrome plated details to remind drivers of a 1950’s blender, a quilted white leather interior and “eyebrows” to accent the front headlights.
Though we have a hard time imagining that anyone would voluntarily be seen behind the wheel of the Forjeremy, Left Lane News says that a limited production run is planned for 2013. Let’s just hope that they don’t put one into the press fleet.
|Jay Leno Gets Electrified Driving 2013 Tesla Model S: Video||
As you would expect, Jay Leno gets his hands on just about every sports car or semi-interesting vehicle to hit the automotive market. With that said, what is poised to be the most ‘attractive’ electric car offering yet, Jay gets to give us a run-down of the new Tesla Model S fully-electric luxury sedan in the latest Jay Leno’s Garage video.
As many journalists and automotive outlets get to review the new Tesla Model S, we get to have a slightly different perspective from Jay and Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen of the new 300-mile range and sleek-looking electrified luxury sedan made in America. Enjoy!