Posts with «automotive industry» label

Tesla opens Model Y pre-orders in the UK for early 2022 delivery

Tesla will soon bring the Model Y to the UK. The company has opened pre-orders for the EV in the country, with deliveries expected to start in early 2022, according to an email to customers spotted by Elektrek.

The original plan was to start Model Y deliveries in Europe after Tesla started making them at its Berlin Gigafactory. However, Tesla has brought Model Y EVs from its Shanghai production facility to some European markets.

Most countries in Europe drive on the right, but the UK and Ireland stick to the left, so the steering wheel is generally on the right there. Gigafactory Berlin is supposed to start making Model Ys as soon as next month. Still, it's unclear whether Tesla will make Model Ys for the UK there or ship them from China.

The Model Y starts at £54,990 for the Long Range All-Wheel-Drive model and £64,990 for a Performance one, according to Tesla's configurator. Enhanced Autopilot costs £3,400 and the Full Self-Driving Capability add-on is £6,800, but that feature is in beta.

Volvo reveals its first vehicle made of fossil-free steel

A few months ago, Volvo teamed up with Swedish steel producer SSAB to develop a type of steel it can use for its vehicles that doesn't use fossil fuels. Now, the automaker has revealed what it says is the world's first vehicle made of fossil-free steel: A four wheeled fully electric load carrier made for quarrying and mining. In addition to having no greenhouse gas emission, it's also autonomous and can follow a pre-programmed route to transport materials at a job site.

SSAB produces fossil-free steel by replacing the coal used during the manufacturing process with hydrogen from electrolysis. As Forbes notes, though, the whole vehicle isn't exactly fossil-free, since the steel used for its components provided by third-party suppliers, such as its electric motor, were made using traditional means. Still, Volvo Group CTO Lars Stenqvist told the publication that "majority of the steel" in the vehicle is fossil free. He said three tons of the carrier's 8.2-ton weight is made of green steel from SSAB, and those eight tons include other heavy components like the vehicle's tires.

Volvo plans to start a small-scale production for the vehicle next year and to scale up production, depending on the availability of steel from SSAB. The Swedish manufacturer is hoping to start mass-producing its fossil-free steel in 2026, so we may see more Volvo vehicles made using the material by that time.

Martin Lundstedt, President and CEO Volvo Group, said in a statement:

"This initiative with SSAB sets the benchmark for a fossil-free future. Just as the nations of the world come together at COP26 to address climate change, so too must organizations and industries work in collaboration to develop innovative new solutions for a greenhouse gas emission free future. Volvo Group is committed to pioneering partnerships such as this with SSAB to develop attractive, safe and efficient new vehicles and machines that pave the way for a more sustainable transport and infrastructure system adopted for the future."

VanMoof's fastest e-bike yet tops out at 31 MPH

E-bike maker VanMoof is looking to help riders get from A to B more swiftly with its first high-speed model. The VanMoof V is the company’s first hyperbike, which will be able to hit a top speed of 31 MPH (50 km/h).

VanMoof is pitching this as a car replacement for city life and longer commutes. The VanMoof V will have two-wheel drive, thicker tires, a new frame design and front and rear suspension, which could make lengthier trips more comfortable. Other features include intelligent motor control, VanMoof's Turbo Boost, a Kick Lock for keyless locking, automatic gear shifting and measures to combat theft.

Details about the e-bike's range haven't been revealed, but VanMoof noted the battery has a 700 wH capacity. The VanMoof S3 has a 504 Wh battery capacity and a promised range of 60-150 km (37-93 miles). The company sells a PowerBank accessory that can increase the range, but it's unclear whether that device will be compatible with the VanMoof V.


Speed limits vary across cities and counties, and the e-bike will have matching integrated speed settings. As it develops the VanMoof V, the company plans to work with lawmakers and local governments on e-bike rules, including geofencing and speed regulations.

VanMoof plans to start deliveries of the hyperbike in late 2022. The VanMoof V costs $3,498/£3,498/€3,498. The company is offering invite-only reservations for $20/£20/€20 starting today, with its current customers getting first dibs. Alternatively, you can join a waitlist on the VanMoof website. Reservation codes will be sent out periodically.

Roving bands of Ford ‘Charge Angels’ will repair EV charging stations

With the F-150 Lightning set to debut early next year, Ford plans to employ a group of “Charge Angels” to ensure owners of its EVs can find reliable charging when they need it. In an interview with Automotive News, Ford EV lead Darren Palmer said technicians in specially-equipped Mustang Mach-Es will travel the US to test out charging stations where connected vehicle data and “angry social media posts” indicate they may not be working properly.

“All they’ll do all day long is go and check them to see where they fail and why,” Palmer told the outlet. “There are a lot of plugs out there, but some of them are old and they don’t have the quality or reliability we want. Over 99.5 percent of customers go into a charger and get a charge. We’re pleased about that. But a number less than that get a charge the first time they charge.”

The company is reportedly finalizing the details of the program but hopes to have the first group of Charge Angels out on the road by the end of the year. Either way, it’s a smart move for an automaker that has a network of approximately 63,000 chargers across the US but ultimately depends on companies like Electrify America and ChargePoint for that infrastructure.

GM begins replacing recalled Chevy Bolt batteries

Following multiple production delays, the latest Chevy Bolt EV recall is officially underway. Per Ars Technica, GM has started replacing the battery packs of affected vehicles. The automaker is reaching out to Bolt owners with cars manufactured “during specific build timeframes” first. Once you get your EV to a Chevy dealership, the replacement process should take approximately two days. Each new pack comes with an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty.

Replacing the battery of every Chevy Bolt manufactured between 2017 and 2019 is expected to cost GM more than $1.8 billion. The fault that led to the fires that necessitated the recall stemmed from a pair of related issues. A problem with the original manufacturing process could cause the battery anodes in affected cars to tear and cathode-anode separators to fold. If both defects came up in the same battery, it would have a higher chance of catching fire.

"LG has implemented new manufacturing processes and has worked with GM to review and enhance its quality assurance programs to provide confidence in its batteries moving forward," GM said last month when it first detailed how it would go about replacing batteries. “LG will institute these new processes in other facilities that will provide cells to GM in the future.” 

GM will also start rolling out new diagnostic software in November for all Bolt EVs. The company says the firmware will help it prioritize the cars that need service sooner.

'Forza Horizon 5' hands-on: A Ford Bronco fever dream in the desert

Bronco. Every. Time.

This has been my motto while playing the preview build of Forza Horizon 5, the latest iteration of Playground Games’ open-world racing series. Horizon is the chill, microdosing cousin of Forza Motorsport, with festival vibes, ridiculous race tracks set in lush environments, and, of course, a virtual garage full of gorgeous vehicles.

Playground Games

Horizon 5 takes place in a fictionalized Mexico, which makes it the perfect stomping ground for the 2021 Ford Bronco, an SUV that I’ve been drooling over for more than a year in real life. It’s the first new model in 25 years, it’s styled after the first-generation Bronco that Ford rolled out in 1965, and, best of all, it comes in a cactus gray colorway. However, for a multitude of reasons — the global chip shortage, supply-chain slowdowns and the sheer expense of it all — I’m not likely to get my feet on the pedals of a new Bronco any time soon. That’s where Horizon 5 comes in.

Horizon 5 begins with a yellow Bronco Badlands strapped to the floor of a plane, ramp lowered behind it with clear sky soaring by. Starting the game drops the vehicle out of the plane, parachuting you onto the rim of a snow-capped volcano. Immediately, you’re driving at high speeds, following a trail down the fiery mountain and getting a feel for the Bronco. It moves like a heavy piece of machinery, tilting on quick turns and cannonballing down the road, sturdy yet sensitive. (The obligatory, “I like my partners the way I like my SUVs” goes here.)

And then the next car drops from the sky — a zippy 2020 Corvette Stingray Coupe that drives much differently than the Bronco, turning on a dime and floating over the road. After a few minutes with that, a 1989 Porsche 911 Desert Flyer parachutes past a herd of flamingos, zooming down forest trails with fantastic handling. Finally, the Mercedes-AMG One, a superfast hybrid sports car, finishes the ride by racing an airplane.

Playground Games

Each of the starting vehicles has its own sensibilities and strengths. They all finally land at the Horizon Festival, a massive music and racing extravaganza held in the Mexico desert. This is the main hub of the game, and it’s a party atmosphere filled with bright pink signs, crowds of cheering fans and a ceaseless barrage of fireworks, confetti and hot air balloons.

This is where you’re given the chance to pick a vehicle for the first time, and it’s the origin of my Horizon 5 mantra: Bronco. Every. Time.

It’s not that the Bronco is the fastest or smoothest vehicle in the game, but it feels right rolling through the rugged desert landscape. It’s the vehicle I want to be driving in real life, and it’s incredibly satisfying to maneuver it up winding mountain roads, along charming city streets and into the heart of massive dust storms.

To be fair, I don’t actually pick the Bronco every time — there are some races that the SUV simply can’t win, given its top speed and wide turns, and for these I’ll happily use one of the sports cars. But when it comes to exploring, I’m all about the Bronco.

That said, all of the vehicles in Horizon 5 are magic. They get cracks in the windows and dents in the doors, but they’re truly indestructible and no matter how many backflips they do, they always land tires-down. Plus, if you mess up a turn or run into an immovable object, you’re able to rewind time. In the end, Horizon 5 is a cactus-lined fever dream of racing, leaping and crashing, and then resetting and doing it all again.

The preview includes the first 90 minutes or so of Horizon 5, offering a world map with a handful of races to complete and bonuses to earn by driving around and smashing up the environment. There are multiple layers of customization in the game, from character creation and accessorizing, to vehicle designs and purchases. The preview ends as you unlock your first house of the game, a beautiful pink casita surrounded by cacti and mountains.

I’m playing Horizon 5 on Xbox Series S, the mid-range platform for this title. It’s heading to PC, Xbox Series X and S, and the Xbox One family of consoles, and the main difference among these platforms will be graphical fidelity and loading times. Xbox One players will see loading screens, while PC and Series players won’t, since those platforms can take advantage of SSDs. There’s also no raytracing on the Xbox One versions.

On Series S, Horizon 5 runs smoothly and looks beautiful so far, maxing out at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and 60fps without raytracing. The final version will be capped at 30fps with raytracing, but this feature wasn’t live in the Series S preview build. Playground Games promises the raytracing mode will be in the Series S edition at launch. Even without the boost, Horizon 5 is a treat to look at, with four distinct biomes, dynamic weather and seasons, and dense, lived-in environments.

After more than a year of restricted travel and stay-at-home orders across the globe, Horizon 5 is a delightful, easygoing escape. It’s lighthearted yet intensely detailed, with realistic environments and vehicles, and it offers whatever type of challenge you want. There are multiple difficulty settings for each race, but there’s also the option to just ride around, drive up the side of a volcano or cruise along the beach. Horizon 5 is the escape I need right now, and bonus, I get to do it in the Bronco of my dreams.

Forza Horizon 5 is due out on November 9th and it’ll be included in Xbox Game Pass.

Ford's Mach-E GT is an American muscle car for the 21st century

Sunlight filters down through towering pines, dappling the “grabber blue” skin of my Ford Mach-E GT as it gallops along Highway 1, heedless trivialities like “defensive driving technique” and “speed limits.” Irma Thomas is crooning through the 9-speaker Bang and Olufsen sound system, her rendition of Time is On My Side a stark contrast to the simulated auditory roar of the GT’s twin permanent-magnet motors as the accelerator pedal slaps against the floorboard. Pouring on speed, I finally see what all the Mach-E fuss was about.

Ok so here’s the part of the story where I eat a big plate of crow. When I reviewed the Mach-E base model back in February I found it to be a perfectly serviceable EV, but more akin to similarly-shaped electric SUVs like the Kia Niro or the Volkswagen ID.4 than the venerated muscle cars I hung posters of in my childhood bedroom. Sure, the pony I drove had plenty of get-up-and-go — EVs are torquey that way — but it never rumbled the depths of my bowels like a naturally aspirated 4-barrel V8 could. The Mach-E GT does. Switch over to the performance-forward Unbridled power management mode — or Unbridled Extend, which optimizes traction and stability control and is great for lapping ICE owners on track day — and the Mach-E GT will haul more ass than a secret lab overflowing with butt monsters. Stomp on the gas in the 480 horsepower, 600 ft-pound torque GT and this thing will loosen your fillings. Do so in the uber-torqued GT Performance edition and you’re liable to swallow a few teeth.


It won’t be difficult to spot the GT and Performance editions on the street. I mean, if the prominent GT badge on the rear liftgate and illuminated Mustang icon on the front grille don’t give it away, both iterations sit about 10 mm lower than the base model and have added styling on the front facia. You’ll also be able to spot them via their wheels as both the GT and the Performance sport unique 20-inch rims (as opposed to the 18s and 19s offered on the base) rocking 245/45R20 Continental all-season tires and fire engine red Brembo brake calipers. On the interior, however, the GT is practically identical to the base model, save for the seats which offer added cushioning and lateral support as there is a better than not chance you’re going to get sideways within the first week of owning one.

As for driving performance, I’m a bit torn. Nostalgia, as I’ve explained previously, is a hell of a drug and my fondest automotive memories stem from tearing up San Francisco’s streets in a 65 outfitted with a drag racing suspension and a T-10 3-speed, which has deeply biased my understanding of what to expect from the Mach-E. It is, honestly, difficult to reconcile in my head that the Mustang is now an SUV and, despite its overwhelming power, still largely drives like one. Give me a straight shot like, say, that length of highway 101 running through Silva Island towards Larkspur and the GT can, will, and very much did beat the pants off of any Tesla on the freeway as well as one overly confident, tailgating Supra.


The tight, twisting turns of Highway 1, especially the un-railed cliffside sections where a mistimed tap of the accelerator would fly you clear off a 100-plus foot drop, were a different matter entirely. You can feel the understeer, despite it being an AWD, as well as the GT’s 4,600 pounds of curb weight through hairpin turns. But again it’s an SUV, that’s to be expected — even from one with a sub-4 0-60. The GT’s MagneRide suspension — which leverages magneto-rheological fluid to stiffen the ride on demand — shined through during those slaloming sections. Even though the wide-bodied GT wallows like a pig in mud through sharp curves, not once did I have to fight the vehicle’s body roll when entering turns.

The GT starts at $59,900, boasts 480 peak horsepower, 600 lb.-ft. of torque with a 0-60 mph time of 3.8 seconds and an estimated 270 mile range. The GT Performance edition, on the other hand, starts at $64,900, with the same amount of horsepower but a full 634 lb.-ft. of torque and a 3.5 second 0-60 and 260 miles of range. Those figures put the Mach-E GT on par with the Chevy Bolt and VW ID.4 in terms of drivable distance, though the Mustang outclasses them both in terms of driving excitement.


Range anxiety wasn’t much of a concern during my test drive thanks to the Mach-E’s connected navigation system which continually monitors the vehicle’s battery levels and points out available charging stations along the drive route. What’s more, Ford is offering two years of complimentary use of its Blue Oval Charge Network. For those drivers who wish to do their charging at home, Ford’s Connected Charging station can add 30 miles per charging hour on a 240V outlet while the included mobile charging cord can impart 20 miles of range per hour using a similar 240V outlet.

Deliveries for both the GT and the GT Performance edition have already begun.

Kia’s Sorento plug-in hybrid is racing in the 1,500-mile Rebelle Rally

This week, the 2021 Rebelle Rally kicked off with participants in the all-female race embarking on a 1,500-mile trek across the deserts of Nevada and California. Hyundai’s Kia is fielding two modified Sorento plug-in hybrids as part of the event. In the spirit of the rally, the automaker asked LGE-CTS Motorsports, a female-owned shop in Southern California, to make the two vehicles race-ready.

Each one features underbody armor to protect its vulnerable internal components. Additionally, the shop fitted both Sorentos with bumper guards, skid plates and 1-inch spacers to elevate them just a bit higher off the ground. They’re riding on 17-inch KMC matte black wheels fitted with Hankook Dynapro AT2 tires. For carrying equipment, LGE-CTS removed the rear seats to make room for an interior cargo mounting system and added roof racks. Notably, the shop didn’t modify the powertrain of either PHEV.

We’re starting to see more and more electric vehicles take part in endurance races like the Rebelle Rally. At the end of April, Volkswagen’s ID.4 SUV took part in the Mexican 1000 Rally. The company’s Audi division is also getting ready to race a custom-built PHEV at the Dakar Rally at the start of next year. At this rate, it feels like it's only a matter of time before they become a more common sight at endurance races.

Three classic Grand Theft Auto games will be re-released on modern platforms

One of the worst-kept secrets in the gaming world has been confirmed: Rockstar Games is re-releasing three more Grand Theft Auto games. The bundle includes Grand Theft Auto III, GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas.

The clunkily named Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy — The Definitive Edition is coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC later this year. The bundle will also land on iOS and Android in the first half of 2022.

— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) October 8, 2021

Rockstar says the revamped games will have upgraded visuals and "modern gameplay enhancements" while retaining the look and feel of the originals. More details about the changes will be revealed in the coming weeks. Although all three games are classics, their visuals perhaps don't hold up too well in 2021. Updated graphics might make them worth revisiting, while some fans will appreciate being able to play them on Switch.

Meanwhile, Rockstar will remove the original versions of GTA III, Vice City and San Andreas from digital storefronts starting next week. You'll still be able to download the games if you bought them previously.

Elsewhere, the publisher plans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of GTA III later this month (sorry, it is that old). Some special events and commemorative gear are coming to GTA Online this fall.

The PS2-era games aren't the only GTA titles that Rockstar is reworking. An expanded and enhanced version of Grand Theft Auto V is coming to PS5 and Xbox Series X/S in March.

Google Maps adds a dedicated 'lite' navigation mode for cyclists

Google Maps has included cycling directions for years now, but not a dedicated navigation mode for those who like to travel from place to place on two wheels. That’s changing in the coming months with the introduction of a feature called lite navigation. Taking the turn-by-turn functionality that Maps is known for, the tool allows you to see important details about your current trip without the need to keep your phone’s screen turned on. You also don’t need to enter the full turn-by-turn interface to use the feature. At a glance, it will also allow you to see your current ETA and any changes in elevation.

Google announced the introduction of lite navigation as part of a broader effort related to sustainability. So as you might imagine, it’s not the only cycling-related announcement the company had. It also shared that information related to bike and scooter sharing is available in 300 cities globally.


For those that still depend on their car, eco-friendly car routing, which Google announced at the end of March, is now available in the US. With today’s rollout, Maps will display the most fuel-efficient route you can take to a destination, in addition to the fastest one as it has always done. The tool will also display your relative fuel savings should you decide to follow the more efficient route. Google estimates the feature may help prevent as much as 1 million tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere. That’s about the equivalent of removing 200,000 cars from the road. The company expects to roll out eco-friendly routing to European countries sometime in 2022.