Posts with «automotive industry» label

US Army starts testing a modified version of Canoo’s electric pickup truck

Earlier this year, electric vehicle startup Canoo warned it was running low on cash. Since then, the company’s prospects have taken a turn for the better. Over the span of two days in July, Canoo announced separate agreements to provide Walmart with 4,500 EVs and the US Army with a test vehicle. This week, the company shared an update on its Pentagon contract, announcing it had delivered a prototype of its new Light Tactical Vehicle to the army.

The LTV looks like a modified version of Canoo’s pickup truck. According to the company, it incorporated carbon Kevlar to make the vehicle more durable without increasing its weight. The LTV can be converted from a pickup to a flatbed truck, allowing it to carry construction material and tactical equipment. It even includes a stealth configuration. Canoo says the all-wheel drive LTV can produce up to 600 horsepower. It also features air springs, a raised suspension system and 32-inch tires to make it fit for traversing difficult terrain.

The US military is among the biggest polluters on the planet. It has a larger carbon footprint than about 140 nations, including first-world countries like Sweden and Denmark. At the start of 2022, the Defense Department announced a net-zero emissions plan that, among other tactics, called for the army to electrify its combat and support vehicles. While there's no guarantee Canoo will be part of that initiative, securing the US Army as a customer would be a significant boon for the startup.  

Tesla finally delivers its first production Semi

Five years after CEO Elon Musk officially unveiled his Semi, Tesla’s electrified tractor trailer, the company delivered its first official production vehicle to Pepsi on Thursday during its "Semi Delivery Event" held at Tesla's Nevada Gigafactory. The beverage maker has ordered 100 of the vehicles in total.

First shown off in 2017, the Tesla Semi originally was set to retail for $150,000 and $180,000 for the 300- and 500-mile versions, respectively. Those prices are significantly higher than the $60k a standard diesel cab runs but Tesla estimates that its vehicles can operate 20 percent more efficiently (2kWh per mile, Musk revealed Thursday), and save up to $250,000 over the million-mile life of the Semi.

Tesla Semi driving 500 miles, fully loaded, on a single charge

— Tesla (@Tesla) December 2, 2022

Each rig is “designed like a bullet,” Musk said at the vehicle’s unveiling, and would come equipped with a massive 1MW battery pack. This reportedly offers a 20-second 0-60, which is impressive given that these vehicles are towing up to 80,000 pounds at a time, and a spent-to-80 percent charge time of just 30 minutes. The Semis are also outfitted with Enhanced Autopilot capabilities, as well as jackknife-mitigation systems, blind-spot sensors and data-logging for fleet management.

As reservations opened in 2017, Musk said at the time, deliveries would begin two short years later, in 2019. By April 2020, Tesla had officially pushed that delivery date back to 2021, citing production delays and supply chain issues brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, just two months after that, in May of 2020, Musk sent a company-wide email reading, “It’s time to go all out and bring the Tesla Semi to volume production. It’s been in limited production so far, which has allowed us to improve many aspects of the design,” as seen by CNBC. In the same email he confirmed that production would take place in Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory.

Cut to July, 2021, and the new delivery date has been pushed again, this time to 2022, citing both the ongoing global processor shortage and its own pandemic-limited battery production capability for the new 4680 style cells as contributing factors.

“We believe we remain on track to build our first Model Y vehicles in Berlin and Austin in 2021,” Musk said during the company’s Q2, 2021 investor call. “The pace of the respective production ramps will be influenced by the successful introduction of many new product and manufacturing technologies, ongoing supply-chain-related challenges and regional permitting.”

“To better focus on these factories, and due to the limited availability of battery cells and global supply chain challenges, we have shifted the launch of the Semi truck program to 2022,” he continued. Beginning in May of this year, Tesla started actively taking reservations again for a $20,000 deposit. "And first deliveries are now," Musk said on Thursday before welcoming Kirk Tanner, CEO PepsiCo Beverages North America, and Steven Williams, CEO PepsiCo Foods North America, on stage for high fives and handshakes.

Tesla is reportedly redesigning the Model 3 to cut production costs

Tesla is working on a redesign of the Model 3 codenamed “Highland,” according to Reuters. The company’s goal is to reportedly reduce the complexity and number of components required to produce the sedan. The redesign could include changes to the car’s exterior and powertrain performance. The project is also said to build on the revamp of the 2021 Model S. However, it's unknown if the redesigned Model 3 will feature the controversial steering yoke found in its more expensive sibling.

Reuters reports Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory will begin producing the new Model 3 sometime during the third quarter of 2023. The company’s Fremont plant will also make the redesigned sedan. It’s unclear how much Tesla expects to save on the new Model 3, nor whether the company will pass on the cost savings to consumers. Tesla currently makes a profit of about $9,500 for every car it produces. Reuters also makes no mention of whether the refresh will feature the automaker’s next-generation 4680 battery cells. In 2020, Elon Musk said the new battery design would enable Tesla to produce a $25,000 electric car within three years.

It's safe to assume that even if the 2023 timeline is accurate, it could be subject to change. Reuters hasn’t had the best track record with its Tesla reporting recently, and it’s not like the company is great about sticking to deadlines either. When the automaker first announced the Cybertruck, for example, Elon Musk said volume production would start in 2021. That date first slipped to 2022 and then 2023.

Tesla recalls 321,000 Model 3 and Model Y cars over rear light issue

Tesla is recalling more than 321,000 vehicles over a software issue that causes the tail lights on some cars not to work properly. The automaker announced the action on Saturday in a National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration filing (PDF) spotted by Reuters. The recall covers 2023 Model 3 and 2020 to 2023 Model Y vehicles manufactured for US customers.

“In rare instances, taillamps on one or both sides of affected vehicles may intermittently illuminate due to a firmware anomaly that may cause false fault detections during the vehicle wake up process,” the NHTSA notice states. “Brake lamps, backup lamps and turn signal lamps are not affected by this condition and continue to operate as designed.”

Tesla will release a software update to address the issue. The company hasn’t had reports of any crashes or injuries related to the bug. The automaker became aware of the problem in late October. In a separate announcement the day before, Tesla recalled about 30,000 due to an issue that can cause the front passenger airbag in Model X vehicles to deploy incorrectly in some situations.

As of this year, Tesla has so far issued 19 recalls in the US. Earlier this month, the company recalled 40,186 Model S and Model X vehicles over a software issue that could cut power steering assistance to vehicles going over potholes. Before that, the company recalled more than a million vehicles over windows that weren't working properly.

Tesla recalls 30,000 Model X cars due to faulty airbag behavior

Tesla has issued a recall for 29,348 Model X vehicles, because their airbag might deploy incorrectly in some situations. This recall affects 2021 to 2023 Model X cars manufactured for customers in the US. According to the recall notice (PDF) published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the restraint control module calibration on those specific vehicles could cause the frontal passenger airbag to deploy "in an unintended configuration during certain low-speed collision events."

While the notice didn't illustrate the airbag's "unintended configuration," it said that it would result in noncompliance of the law when a child around three to six years old is seating in the front passenger seat without a seatbelt and out of position. Reuters notes Tesla's shares fell by 3 percent after the recall was published, leading to its lowest in nearly two years, but it's worth noting that the company says it's not aware of any "warranty claims, field reports, crashes, injuries, or deaths related to this condition."

Earlier this month, Tesla also recalled 40,168 Model S and Model X vehicles over a software defect that could potentially cut power steering assistance due to potholes and other bumps on the road. And in September, it issued a recall for over a million vehicles because their window automatic reversal system could malfunction and pinch the driver or passenger. 

Like those other recalls, though, owners don't have to turn their vehicles in or go anywhere for a fix at all. The issue can be fixed by an over-the-air firmware update, which the automaker will roll out to all affected vehicles. 

Fisker starts production of its electric Ocean SUV

After years of buildup, Fisker has finally started building its ambitious electric Ocean SUV in Austria. The company pledged to start production by the end of 2022, so it has met that target with around six weeks to spare.

If you didn't lock in a pre-order for the EV swiftly, you may still be in for quite a wait before you get your hands on the Ocean. Fisker will ramp up production gradually. It plans to build more than 300 units in the first quarter of 2023, increasing to more than 8,000 the following quarter. For Q3, the aim is to make more than 15,000 units. All told, Fisker expects to assemble around 42,400 units in 2023.

Two of the Ocean trims have sold out in the US for 2023 and the company has received more than 63,000 reservations in total. The limited-edition Ocean One trim, which is based on the high-end Ocean Extreme, required a $5,000 deposit and sold out within 30 days earlier this year. Fisker will crank out 5,000 units of the Ocean One before moving on to other variants.

Peter Reiter Photography

The Ocean Extreme, which starts at $68,999, is capable of traveling 350 miles on a single charge, according to Fisker. The SUV boasts what the company claims is the first digital radar system as a safety feature. The Ocean Extreme has dual-motor, all-wheel-drive with 550 horsepower, which can accelerate the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It also includes three driving modes, a 17.1-inch rotating screen you can play games on and a solar roof.

The base-level Ocean Sport is selling for $37,499, while the mid-tier Ocean Ultra will set you back $49,999. The Sport has one 275 hp engine that can take the car from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds. The dual-motor Ultra has 540 horsepower and a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.9 seconds.

Fisker claims the Ocean is the planet's "most sustainable vehicle." The SUV is being assembled in a carbon-neutral factory. The vehicle also includes more than 50 kg (110 pounds) of recycled, biodegradable and overall eco-conscious materials.

Toyota's 2023 Prius is the most fuel-efficient vehicle in the lineup

Toyota has unveiled the latest Prius at an event on the eve of the 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show, and it says the model is the most fuel-efficient entry in the lineup to date. The company designed the 2023 Prius, which will come in LE, XLE and Limited grades, with a low center of gravity, a wider stance and a lower driving position. Its roofline is 2 inches lower than its predecessor's, and it is one inch wider at the rear. Toyota was clearly going for a more sporty, modern look, aided by the larger wheels in the XLE and Limited variants. 

Of course, the new Prius comes with performance improvements, as well. It uses Toyota's 5th generation hybrid powertrain and a new lithium-ion battery, which offers a 15 percent increase in output compared to the lineup's old nickel metal battery technology. That means the company was able to develop a smaller and lighter battery for the vehicle without compromising its performance. But since Prius is still a hybrid and doesn't solely rely on electricity for power, Toyota has also equipped it with a bigger two-liter gas engine. 

The automaker says the Front-Wheel Drive variants have a 194 horsepower output and can go from 0 to 60 mph within 7.2 seconds, faster than the outgoing FWD vehicles' 9.8 seconds. The All-Wheel Drive models have a 196 horsepower output and the capability to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds. All models have three drive modes: Eco, which enhances fuel economy, and Power and Sport modes, which increase throttle responsiveness. 

Other features include half a dozen USB-C ports and the Toyota Audio Multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Toyota's Connected Service Drive Connect also gives owners access to an intelligent assistant that can follow voice activated commands and cloud navigation, which can download the latest available map, traffic and routing information from the cloud. And in case drivers are truly having a tough time finding the way to their next destination, they can also use the Destination Assist feature to talk to a live agent any time of day

For driver assistance, the vehicle has Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, as well as Front and Rear Parking Assist with Automatic Braking on all variants. The Limited version has a Panoramic View Monitor that provides a live rotating 360-degree view around the vehicle and a hands-free system that can help drivers with parallel parking or backing into a parking space. 

In addition, the 2023 Prius will come with the latest version of Toyota's Safety Sense generation, which enables a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, lane departure alert with steering assist and cruise control. A new addition to the feature and to Prius as a whole is proactive driving assist that enables gentle braking into curves or when it senses a vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist ahead of the vehicle. 

Toyota has yet to reveal the pricing and availability of the 2023 Prius, but it promises to make another announcement with those details before the year ends. 


Kia's 2023 EV6 will cost $7,100 more than its predecessor

Kia has unveiled pricing for the 2023 EV6, and it's decidedly more expensive than before — although you might not mind depending on what you were looking for. The new electric crossover starts at $49,795 when you include the $1,295 destination fee, or $7,100 more than the entry 2022 model. You do get more in the bargain, though. The automaker has dropped the cut-down Light trim with 232 miles of range and now starts with the Wind RWD variant, which delivers a claimed 310 miles. That could put the EV6 out of reach for some buyers, but is also an acknowledgment that Light ultimately existed to upsell customers to pricier versions.

Wind now costs $1,000 more than it did last year. You may not have much need to spend extra, at least, when that configuration includes a power liftgate, vehicle-to-device power ports, Meridian audio and ventilated leather seats. You also have the option of a tech package previously limited to the Wind AWD with blind spot and surround views, parking collision avoidance and a remote start parking aid.

Other trims mainly provide added performance and intelligence. The $52,400 Wind AWD adds its namesake 320HP dual motor system with 282 miles of range. Spend $52,700 on the GT-Line RWD ($57,400 for AWD) and you'll get extras like navigation-based smart cruise control, more advanced highway driving assists and lane following help. And it's now clear just how much you'll pay for the range-topping EV6 GT — the performance-oriented car starts at $61,400 with a 576HP motor system, electronically-guided suspension, a limited-slip rear differential, higher-end brakes and 21-inch wheels mated to Goodyear Eagle F1 tires. Kia claims the GT can reach 60MPH in 3.4 seconds, so this is your pick if you want to shame sports cars at the local drag strip (and don't mind the reduced 206-mile range).

You still have the Ioniq 5 if you want Hyundai's latest EV tech in a (slightly) more affordable package. The Niro EV is an option, too. However, it's evident the automaker is repositioning the EV6 as a more premium machine.

Volvo officially reveals the EX90 EV SUV, its 'safest car ever'

Volvo took another step towards its 2030 goal of full electrification on Wednesday with the official unveiling of its new flagship, the all-electric EX90. The three-row, seven-seat SUV, which grew out of the Concept Recharge design, will go on sale alongside its gas-powered sibling, the XC90, in model year 2024.

The EX90 will initially come equipped with a 111 kWh battery pack powering a pair of permanent magnet electric motors for 380 kW (517 hp) and 910 Nm of AWD torque. Per the company, the pack can refill from 10 to 80 percent in under 30 minutes. Volvo has not yet shared performance figures for the vehicle.

The EX90 will be the first Volvo to offer bi-directional charging capabilities, which enable drivers to use their vehicles as home-scale batteries in the event of power outages — similar to what Hyundai's Ioniq 5 and the Ford F-150 Lightning offer. Volvo plans on selling home charging equipment as well including a wall box and energy management system. What's more the EX90 — like the rest of its EV brethren — will enjoy over-the-air software updates, though Volvo has begun expanding that service out to hybrid and ICE models as well. 

The EX90's exterior is optimized for aerodynamics, boasting a drag coefficient of .29, just a touch behind the VW ID.4 and very respectable for a full-size SUV, electric or not. "We’ve taken inspiration from yacht design to outline the Volvo EX90’s beautiful and sleek proportions,” Volvo's head of design, T. Jon Mayer, said in a press release. “If you look at the front, it’s proud and confident – inspired by a sailboat’s ability to shear through the ocean’s slamming waves. But it’s also rounder overall, which enables the air to flow around the car more efficiently.”

Pedestrians will sail around the car more efficiently as well, thanks to the "shield of safety" that Volvo is working on. Using a mix of LiDAR, optical, ultrasonic and radar sensors, the EX90 will offer a 360 degree view around itself to proactively react to other vehicles and pedestrians even if the driver doesn't immediately notice the issue. The EX90's LiDAR sensors can reportedly spot pedestrians up to 250 meters away. The company believes that the system could reduce the rate of all accidents by 9 percent and cut accidents resulting in serious injury or death by as much as 20 percent. 

"No matter how much experience you have or how much competence you have, at the end of the day, we are all still human," Volvo Head of Safety Jim Rowan quips in the walkthrough above. "We want to help people become better drivers by being there when they're not at their very best." The company plans to further incorporate the LiDAR sensors into its future unsupervised autonomous driving system.

But like the oozing garbage bags one finds on the side of the highway, it's what's inside that counts. The EX90's cabin provides a well-lit Scandinavian minimalist design clad in sustainable and recycled materials, such as "Nordico," a fabric made from recycled PET bottles "as well as bio-attributed material from responsibly-managed forests in Sweden and Finland. All of the interior wood panels are FSC-certified sustainable and if you opt for the wool seat fabric, that yarn will come from vetted suppliers "according to strict sustainability standards on animal welfare, environmental and social issues." In all, more than 50 kilograms of recycled plastic are used in each EX90 interior.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into the illumination inside the EX90, trying to create a warm interior and a somewhat colder expression for the exterior,” Mayer noted. “It’s also connected to how people in Scandinavia might be perceived. There’s a calm and understated confidence that can read as cold at first – but once you get to know people, you find that they're really warm.”

The EX90's in-cabin LiDAR is a world-first, designed to detect the presence of occupants and alert the driver if anyone is left behind in an effort to prevent hot car deaths — Volvo notes that more than 900 kids have died in these circumstances in the US since 1998. Where allowed by regulation, the system will prevent the keyfob from locking the doors should a child or pet be detected inside and display a warning icon on the central infotainment screen.

"No one chooses to be distracted or tired, but we know it can happen," Lotta Jakobsson, Volvo senior technical specialist in injury prevention. "We’re all human and distraction is a fact of life. With the help of cutting-edge technology, we’ll support you when you’re not at your best and help you avoid leaving family members or pets behind by accident."


Audi's new flagship Q8 e-tron SUV boasts a maximum range of 373 miles

Audi has introduced seven, well, now eight, electric SUVs under the e-tron banner since they began production in 2018 — with another dozen already in the works for release by 2026. After months of teasing, the company finally, officially introduced the latest iteration of its luxury EV line with Wednesday’s reveal of the upcoming Q8 e-tron crossover SUV.


Available for order starting next spring, the Q8 e-tron and its Sportback version will both offer three AWD powertrain options: a Q8 50, a Q8 55, and the top of the line SQ8. The base model Q8 50 e-tron delivers 250 kW (335 HP) with 490 lb-ft of torque alongside a 0-60 of 6 seconds flat, a max range 306 miles for the SUV body style and 313 miles for the Sportback.


The step up Q8 55 e-tron, again both the SUV and Sportback, outputs 300kW peak (402 HP) with 490 lb-ft of torque. The SUV ranges out to 361 miles while the Sportback can hit 600 km (372 miles), thanks to their larger battery pack. The top-of-the-line SQ8 e-tron boasts three motors to the others’ pairs so it can generate 370 kW (496 HP) and 717 ft-lb of torque with 307 miles (SUV) and 319 miles (Sportback) of range. The S model is software limited to a top speed of 130 MPH and a 0-60 of 5.6 seconds.

The Q8 50s will come equipped with a net-89 kWh battery pack that can charge at up to 150 kW. The Q8 55s, however, are outfitted with a bigger net-106 kWh pack that can achieve 170kW charging rates (higher rates equals faster charging times which means less sitting around a roadside power station). The 55s will be able to refill from 10 to 80 percent (~260 miles of range) in just over a half hour using an L3 DC fast charger, though the rate drops to just 11 - 22kW, depending on the wall box options, for home charging. You’re going to have to leave a Q8 50 on an 11kW socket for about nine and a quarter hours to fully replenish it, and a whopping 11 and a half hours for the bigger Q8 55. Those numbers drop to just under five hours for the 50 and six hours for the 55 at 22 kW.


The new e-tron line boasts more efficient motors than its predecessors, offering 14-coil power plants that can generate a stronger magnetic field for roughly the same amount of electrical input as the older 12-coil motors required. A stronger field can generate more torque when necessary but also step that power back when it isn’t needed to help extend the vehicle’s range. What’s more, the vehicle’s exteriors have been designed to minimize air resistance, with the Q8 Sportback offering a drag coefficient of just 0.24 — that’s the same as the Polestar 2 — and the Q8 e-tron offering 0.27, slightly better than the VW ID.4.


“Looking at the current Audi e-tron, it's clear that we're starting with a very solid base of technical features as we move forward into the Q8 e-tron family,” Audi spokesperson Benedikt Still said during a press preview last week. “We'll be carrying over retaining this strong character in the new model, groundbreaking features such as the digital matrix headlights or the virtual side mirrors are still at the technical forefront today.”

As is the way in the luxury vehicle segment, the Q8 is packed with high-tech features. The vehicle offers nearly four dozen driver assist features based on data gathered from as many as five radar sensors, five optical cameras and a dozen ultrasonic pickups. This plethora of incoming information is enough to let the Q8 park itself. Available for order in 2023, remote park assist plus will autonomously guide your seventy-some odd thousand EV “into even the tightest parking spaces,” according to Wednesday's release, in a process controlled through the driver’s myAudi app.


And as with every e-tron released since the line went electric in 2018, the Q8 will come equipped with Audi’s Matrix LED headlights. But unlike previous model years, the Q8’s headlights will finally be ADB capable following a long-awaited NHTSA ruling this past February and, as such they’ll have three new features: enhanced traffic information, a lane light with a direction indicator and an orientation light on country roads.

If you were expecting the interior to be anything short of opulent, you’re going to be disappointed. The two-part roof is panoramic and controlled electronically, as are the integrated sunshades. Audi is also offering four-zone automatic climate control as an option as well as massaging functions for the synthetic leather-clad seats. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a physical button to push as virtually all of the cabin’s features are controlled through the pair of central infotainment screens — a 10.1-inch upper and a 8.6-inch lower — or via voice command.


Order windows for both the Q8 e-tron and the Q8 Sportback open mid-November. Audi is aiming for an initial market launch in Germany and major European markets at the end of next February with arrivals to the US happening by the end of April. Audi has announced a base MSRP of 74,400 euros or around $72,500 US at current exchange rates.