Posts with «autos» label

Toyota unveils a hydrogen race car concept built for Le Mans 24 Hours

Modern electric vehicles aren't very practical for endurance races due to the long charging times, but Toyota may have an alternative. Its Gazoo Racing unit has unveiled a GR H2 Racing Concept that's designed to compete in the Le Mans 24 Hours race's new hydrogen car category. The automaker isn't divulging specs, but the appeal is clear: this is an emissions-free car that can spend more time racing and less time topping up.

Toyota doesn't say if or when a race-ready GR H2 will hit the track. The machine is built for "future competition," the brand says. Don't be surprised if Toyota refines the concept before bringing it to a Le Mans race.

The company is no stranger to low- and zero-emissions motorsports. The brand has been racing a hydrogen engine Corolla in Japan's Super Taikyu Series since 2021, and its GR010 hybrid hypercar took the top two overall podium spots at last year's Le Mans. A purpose-built hydrogen car like the GR H2 is really an extension of the company's strategy.

The announcement comes at a delicate moment for Toyota. The make is shifting its focus to EVs after years of resisting the segment in favor of hybrids and hydrogen cars. At the same time, new CEO Koji Sato wants to be sure hydrogen remains a "viable option." The GR H2 may be a hint as to how Toyota tackles this dilemma: it can keep using hydrogen in categories where fast stops are important, such as racing and trucking, while courting a passenger car market that insists on EVs like the bZ4X and Lexus RZ.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Porsche's Mission X concept offers a glimpse at its electric super car future

Porsche has unveiled its latest concept vehicle called the Mission X, and it says the model gives us "a glimpse into what the sports car of the future could look like." The Mission X is supposed to be an electric hypercar with a design that takes inspiration from the automaker's old models, including the 959, the Carrera GT and the 918 Spyder. With a body that's 177 inches long, 78.7 inches wide and 47.2 inches high, it's a relatively low-slung compact vehicle. 

The model Porsche has presented has a "Rocket Metallic" finish, though big parts of the vehicle feature a lightweight glass dome with an exoskeleton made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Those parts include half of the passenger doors, which are made in the style of Le Mans sports cars that open forwards and upwards. Inside, there are two seats made of leather and carbon fiber reinforced plastic, an open-top steering wheel, as well as multiple cameras and clocks on the instrument panel that can display lap times and the driver's vital stats.


Porsche has also designed the vehicle with staggered tires — 20-inch wheels at the front and 21-inch wheels at the rear — for aerodynamic purposes. If the Mission X ever goes into production, the automaker intends to make it the fastest road-legal vehicle around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, a popular circuit in Germany. Its battery will be installed centrally behind its seats, and it will feature a 900-volt system architecture that can charge the vehicle as twice as fast as the Taycan Turbo S. It if ever becomes a real product people can buy, of course. For now, it's just a concept, and you can look at more photos of the vehicle at Porsche's Mission X portal


This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Mercedes becomes the first automaker to sell Level 3 self-driving vehicles in California

Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker to get permission from California regulators to sell or lease vehicles with Level 3 (hands-off and eyes-off) self driving tech on designated roads, Reuters has reported. The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit for the company's Drive Pilot system, provided it's used under certain conditions and on specific roads. Mercedes-Benz previous received a similar certification in Nevada. 

Drive Pilot will allow Mercedes-Benz drivers to takes their eyes off the road and hands off the wheel, then do other non-driving activities like watching videos and texting. If the rules for use are followed, Mercedes (and not the driver) will be legally responsible for any accident that happens. 

To do all this, the Drive Pilot system relies on sensors installed throughout the vehicle including visual cameras, LiDAR arrays, radar/ultrasound sensors and audio mics to keep an ear out for approaching emergency vehicles. It can even compare onboard sensor and GPS data to fix its precise location on roads. 

It's not as advanced as the systems on Waymo and Cruise vehicles, which allow full self-driving with no human driver aboard. At the same time, it's a step up from Tesla's so-called Full Self-Driving system, which is actually a Level 2 system and requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and pay attention at all times. 

Utilization is limited to high-traffic situations during daylight, with speeds under 40 MPH, and drivers must be available to resume control — so you can't go in the back seat and sleep, for example. To enforce that, the vehicle tracks the driver with an in-car monitor, and you'll need to take over if it goes faster than 40MPH, an emergency vehicle shows up, it rains, or other situations Driver Pilot can't handle on its own. 

The system will be available on 2024 S-Class and EQS Sedan models, with deliveries slated for later this year. Engadget was able to test the system at Mercedes-Benz's test track in Germany (and see it in action on LA roads). According to contributor Roberto Baldwin, "while it did what it was supposed to do, we found it hard to turn off our driving brain while behind the wheel."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

GM EV owners will gain access to Tesla Superchargers in 2024

Ford isn't the only electric automaker switching to Tesla's North American Charging Standard — General Motors says it's making the change, too. CEO Mary Barra announced the move during a Twitter Spaces chat with Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday, stating that its electric vehicles will make the NACS open-source connector standard in all GM EVs in 2025.

As part of the collaboration, all GM EVs will gain access to 12,000 Tesla Superchargers in 2024. Drivers of existing GM EVs won't have to upgrade their vehicles to use Tesla's chargers, but will need to use an adapter to make their vehicle compatible. Likewise, GM says it will be developing an adapter that will allow future NACS-enabled EVs to charge its existing network of CSS-capable fast charging stations.

That backwards compatible charger could prove important. Tesla's willingness to open up its charging system to non-Tesla vehicles was originally announced alongside a $7.5 billion Biden administration initiative to expand EV charger availability in the US — but that plan heavily indexes on building out CCS chargers.

"This collaboration is a key part of our strategy and an important next step in quickly expanding access to fast chargers for our customers," Barra said in GM's statement on the partnership. "Our vision of the all-electric future means producing millions of world-class EVs across categories and price points, while creating an ecosystem that will accelerate mass EV adoption."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Volvo officially unveils the EX30, its compact electric SUV

After a few teases, Volvo is finally revealing the EX30, its all-electric small premium SUV. Designed to have the lowest carbon footprint of all its offerings, Volvo’s fourth EV brings the company’s plan to go all-electric by 2030 one step closer to becoming a reality. 

The EX30 includes all of Volvo’s typical safety features and an updated Park Pilot Assist that will help you find parking spaces, along with getting into them. It also comes in five exterior colors and ambient light offerings inspired by Scandinavia, including a northern lights setting, with paired ambient soundscapes. It comes off more like what you’d get in a spa than a car, but as long as you don’t get too cozy while driving, it should be nice. 

The EX30 is available as a Single Motor Extended Range or Twin Motor Performance. They charge from 10 to 80 percent in 26 and a half minutes, have 64 kWh of usable battery and 268 rear horsepower. Plus, they have 31.9 cubic feet of luggage space. 

Now, where they differ: The Single Motor is real-wheel drive, offering an estimated range of 275 miles, going 0 to 60 in 5.1 seconds and with 253 lbs-ft of torque. The Twin Motor is all-wheel drive with a slightly shorter range at 265 miles, goes 0 to 60 in 3.6 seconds and has 400 lbs-ft of torque. Built with performance in mind, the Twin Motor delivers 154 more horsepower (a total of 422 HP) than its single motor sibling.

The Volvo EX30 is available for pre-order in the US starting at $34,950, with a cross-country variant launching next year. In a statement about the EX30’s release, Volvo’s chief executive Jim Rowan commented on the frequent financial barrier to buying an EV. “We know that price and cost of ownership is still one of the biggest challenges when people consider switching to an electric car,” he said. “With the Volvo EX30, we aim to bring premium, fully electric mobility to a much broader audience, helping to advance and speed up the transition to full electrification that our industry and society needs.” The EX30 is significantly cheaper than Volvo’s C40 and XC40 EVs — both with a starting price around $55,000 and the upcoming EX90, which Volvo says will be “under $80,000.” 


This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Even the cheapest Tesla Model 3 now qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit

If you're buying a Tesla Model 3 in the US, you can now get the maximum possible tax credit of $7,500 no matter what make you're getting. Tesla has updated its website to show that the rear-wheel drive Model 3, along with its long range and performance counterparts, now qualify for the full federal tax credit for EVs. You'll also get to the enjoy the same amount of savings if you're buying the all-wheel, long-range or performance Model Y. 

The US government issued a revised set of guidelines for which electric vehicles qualify for the federal $7,500 EV tax credit in March to comply with the Inflation Reduction Act rules the president signed last year. Under the new guidelines, which went into effect on April 18th, vehicles using battery components that are 50 percent made or assembled in the US qualify for a tax credit of $3,750. They can only get the full $7,500 credit if their manufacturer sources at least 40 percent of their critical minerals from the US or its free trade partners, which don't include China. 

A lot of EVs were kicked off the list of vehicles qualified for credits when the change was implemented, but some were re-added in the days that followed. You could only subtract $3,750 from your taxes for Tesla's rear-wheel drive and long range Model 3 due to the new guidelines, but that's no longer the case. It's not quite clear if Tesla altered the cars' batteries or found new suppliers to ensure that its new Model 3 deliveries meet the requirements for the new guidelines. But this means in some locations, you could get the standard version of the vehicle for just a bit more than $30,000 — or maybe even less than that if the state has its own perks for EVs.

BREAKING: @Tesla says ALL new Model 3 vehicles in the US now qualify for the full $7,500 EV tax credit, meaning the Model 3 now starts at $32,740 (with incentives). In some states, you can get it for under $30k.

Before, the RWD and Long Range versions only qualified for $3,750.

— Sawyer Merritt (@SawyerMerritt) June 2, 2023

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Ford will offer flexible Mustang Mach-E leases to Uber drivers in three cities

Uber drivers won't just have easy access to Tesla cars when they want to switch to EVs. Ford and Uber are launching an expanded Drive pilot program that provides a flexible Mustang Mach-E lease to rideshare drivers in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Operators pick leases in one- to four-month increments, and get their Mach-E within two weeks. After that, they use a Ford Drive app to handle payments and maintenance. Ford, meanwhile, buys fleets of the electric crossovers from dealerships and uses them for service.

A lease costs $199 per week with 500 included miles, and $249 per week with 1,000 miles. Drivers pay 20 cents for every additional mile beyond what their plan offers. That may seem expensive, but Ford is counting on the no-hassle exits and renewals as a draw. Uber workers can lease only when they have enough driving time to justify the expense.

Ford and Uber initially tested Drive in San Diego last year with over 150 Mustang Mach-E cars in the fleet. The companies didn't say how successful the initial run was, but they note that California is Uber's best market for EV demand. Nearly 10 percent of all passenger miles were completed in EVs as of late 2022, Ford says.

To qualify, drivers need to have at least a 4.85-star rating and over 150 trips. The Mustang on offer is a no-frills rear-wheel drive model with 247 miles of range, although it does have CoPilot360 driver aids.

The lease option is in line with Uber's goal of becoming a zero-emissions service in North America and Europe by 2030. This theoretically makes EVs more viable for drivers who can't commit to a purchase or multi-year lease. Uber also sweetens the proposition with an extra $1 per ride (up to $4,000 per year) and the option of serving premium Comfort Electric passengers. Not that Uber has much choice. California will require that most ride hailing cars are electric by 2030, while New York City wants a wholesale switch by the same year.

Ford, meanwhile, benefits by getting the Mach-E into the hands of rideshare drivers who would otherwise rent a Tesla EV through Hertz. This boosts exposure for the brand for passengers, too, and helps with Ford's bid to establish itself as a general mobility company. The challenge is simply competing against Tesla's sheer volume. The Hertz deal puts up to 50,000 Tesla EVs on American roads, and Ford's Drive pilot won't compete at its current scale.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Faraday Future's FF 91 electric vehicles will cost as much as $309,000

Faraday Future has officially launched its long delayedFF 91 electric vehicles, including a limited edition called the Futurist Alliance that carries a pretty hefty price tag of $309,000. As Autoblog notes, that's even more expensive than the $249,000 Lucid Air Sapphire, a "ultra-high-performance" EV with similar specs. The company's FF 91 2.0 Futurist model will sell for the same price as the Air Sapphire at $249,000, while the base FF 91 2.0, which is expected to be the most affordable of the three, doesn't have pricing yet. 

Both the FF91 2.0 Futurist Alliance and Futurist models are powered by three electric motors and can go from 0 to 60mph in 2.27 seconds. The 1050 horsepower vehicles can go as fast as 155 mph, and their 142kWh battery can sustain a range of approximately 381 miles — shorter than the range of a Tesla Model S but longer than a Model Y's. They both have the same "zero gravity" seats that have a large recline angle for comfort, as well as 27-inch rear passenger displays. 

However, the automaker will only produce 300 Futurist Alliance EVs, which will feature an exclusive wheel design and will be available in bright silver, matte silver and matte black. Futurist Alliance owners will also receive exclusive professional track-time training and an Apple Watch loaded with the automaker's vehicle control features. Plus, the first 91 owners will get a high-speed internet satellite communications suite included with their purchase. 

In addition to announcing the two models' prices, Faraday Future has also launched the FF aiHypercar+, a "mobility ecosystem product" with a rather vague description at the moment. According to Autoblog, the subscription service will give customers access to some kind of AI assistant personalization and vehicle maintenance. It will cost the first 2,000 users in US and China an eye-watering $14,900 a year, so everyone else will have to be prepared to pay more than that. 

Preorders for the FF91 2.0 Futurist Alliance and Futurist models are now open to interested buyers in the US and China for a deposit of $5,000 and $1,500, respectively. They don't have a delivery date yet, but Faraday Future says its three-phase delivery plan started on May 31st. The company will hold an event for a group of customers it's calling "Industry Expert FPO(s)" on June 6th, after which they'll get the chance to pay for and get the first delivery units. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

GM’s auto emergency braking feature is now standard on its latest EVs

GM announced today that it’s making five active safety features standard on all its 2023 and newer EVs. In addition, the automaker says it will surpass its commitment to add Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) to 95 percent of its vehicles; the feature is included in 98 percent of GM’s 2023 models — including all its EVs. The disclosure follows the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stating today that all new passenger cars and light trucks will be required to include AEB within three years.

In addition to AEB, GM says four other safety features will be standard in most of its 2023 model-year vehicles. These include Forward Collision Alert (warns you if a front-facing crash is likely), Front Pedestrian Braking (alerts you to oncoming pedestrians, automatically braking if needed), Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning (lets you know if you’re drifting out of your lane) and IntelliBeam (automatic high-beam headlight controls). “As we look ahead toward a future vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, these technologies are significant building blocks with proven benefits for reducing common crashes,” said John Capp, GM’s director of Vehicle Safety Technology, Strategy and Regulations.

The automaker touts its adherence to safety research data to inform the decision, citing a 2023 study at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) that showed AEB combined with Forward Collision Alert reduced rear-end crashes by 42 percent. The same research found that Front Pedestrian Braking cut head-on pedestrian collisions by 23 percent, while Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning lowered roadway departure accidents (crashes stemming from a car veering off-road or into other lanes) by 15 percent. Finally, the automaker sourced a separate 2022 UMTRI study demonstrating that IntelliBeam cut nighttime crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists and animals by 22 percent.

GM is also upgrading the front sensors in the Cadillac Lyriq, 2023 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. The enhanced sensors, with a wider field of vision, extend AEB operation to speeds of up to 80 mph while adding Bicyclist Automatic Emergency Braking to Front Pedestrian Braking — a welcome feature in cities with cyclists zipping in and out of traffic. In addition, the sensors enable smoother Lane Keep Assist engagement and Blind Zone Steering Assist (a short / sharp turn to avoid lane-change crashes). The automaker says the upgraded sensors and corresponding features will expand to other models in coming years.

The company emphasized that its safety features aren’t only for the wealthy and will also cover some of its cheapest gas-powered vehicles. For example, the 2024 Chevrolet Trax ($21,495 and up) will include all five of the safety features now standard in its more expensive EVs. “With this commitment, customers across all price points and trim levels will benefit from this set of proven safety technologies,” the company said.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Ford EV drivers will get access to 12,000 North American Tesla Superchargers next spring

Last February, the Biden administration unveiled its $5 billion plan to expand EV charging infrastructure across the country. Not only with the Department of Transportation help states build half a million EV charging stations by 2030, the White House also convinced Tesla to share a portion of its existing Supercharger network with non-Tesla EVs. On Thursday, Ford became the first automaker to formalize that pact with Tesla, announcing during a Twitter Spaces event that "Ford electric vehicle customers access to more than 12,000 Tesla Superchargers across the U.S. and Canada," starting in Spring 2024, per the company release.

Because Teslas uses a proprietary charger port design for its vehicles, Ford owners will initially need to rely on a Tesla-developed adapter connected to the public charging cable in order to replenish their Ford F-150 Lightning, Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit vehicles. Ford also announced that, beginning with the 2025 model year, it will switch from the existing Combined Charging System (CCS) port to Tesla's now open-source NACS charge port. These 12,000 additional chargers will join Ford's 84,000-strong Blue Oval charging station network.   

“Tesla has led the industry in creating a large, reliable and efficient charging system and we are pleased to be able to join forces in a way that benefits customers and overall EV adoption,” Marin Gjaja, chief customer officer of Ford Model e, said in the release. “The Tesla Supercharger network has excellent reliability and the NACS plug is smaller and lighter. Overall, this provides a superior experience for customers.”

This article originally appeared on Engadget at