Posts with «autos» label

Porsche sent its Taycan EV cross-country to claim a 'charging time' record

A standard 2021 Porsche Taycan has broken the Guinness World Record for the shortest charging time to cross the United States in an electric vehicle. It only needed a cumulative charge time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds to cover a 2,834.5-mile drive from Los Angeles to New York. While the record it broke is highly specific, there was a previous holder: A Kia EV6, which had to be charged for 7 hours, 10 minutes and 1 second to make a similar, but just slightly longer, trip from New York to LA. 

Wayne Gerdes, known for his efficiency driving and for coining the term "hypermiling," was behind the wheel for the record-breaking journey. Hypermiling, as you may know, involves the use of adjustments and driving techniques to maximize the vehicle's fuel use. Porsche told Engadget that Gerdes drove normal speeds and sometimes even went faster, depending on the charge level, for the duration of the trip. 

As for the vehicle itself, it was equipped with the company's Performance Battery Plus, which has a higher gross capacity than the base battery option, and Adaptive Cruise Control. For the attempt to be recognized by the Guinness World Records, every mile of the journey had to be filmed and the vehicle's GPS had to be tracked.

Gerdes said that the first time he charged a Taycan on a 350KW charger, its battery levels went from 6 to 82 percent in just 22 minutes. He relied on Electrify America's CCS DC fast charging network for the trip, since the company is a partner for this attempt. Porsche first revealed the Taycan electric sedan in 2019 and started making deliveries in 2020. The automaker has released several variants since then, including the category-blurring Cross Turismo EV.

Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance confirms plans to build 35 new EVs by 2030

The Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance has announced plans to spend $25.8 billion (€23 billion) with the aim of having 35 EVs by 2030. As part of that, the group will develop five new platforms shared across brands with 80 percent common usage as part of a "smart differentiation" strategy. Nissan teased one of the first cars based on one those platforms, an all-electric compact that will be sold in Europe to replace the automaker's popular Micra. 

The Alliance is focusing on pure EVs and "intelligent & connected mobility." It aims to increase commonality between vehicles with a "smart differentiation" system that allows pooling for platforms, production plants, powertrains and vehicle segments. "For example, the common platform for the C and D segment will carry five models from three brands of the Alliance (Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, Renault Austral and an upcoming seven-seater SUV)," Renault Group said in the press release.

To that end, it unveiled five separate platforms, including the affordable CMF-AEV that's the base for Renault's budget Dacia Spring model, the mini vehicle KEI-EV platform for ultra-compact EVs and the LCV for commercial vehicles like the Renault Kangoo and Nissan Town Star. Another is CMF-EV, currently used by the Alliance for crossovers like the Nissan Ariya and Renault Megane E-Tech. 

Finally, the CMF-BEV platform will be used for compact EVs but reduce costs by 33 percent and consumption by 10 percent compared to the current Renault Zoe. It'll be the base for 250,000 vehicles per year under the Renault, Nissan and Alpine brands, including the Renault R5 and Nissan's upcoming EV to replace the Micra.

Nissan teased that vehicle in a separate press release, showing it off in a shadowy photo and brief video (above). While it has no name, price or launch date, it'll be built at the Renault ElectriCity center in Northern France. "This all-new model will be designed by Nissan and engineered and manufactured by Renault using our new common platform, maximizing the use of our Alliance assets while maintaining its Nissan-ness," said Nissan CEO Ashwani Gupta. "This is a great example of the Alliance"s 'smart differentiation" approach."

Renault Group said it would use a common battery strategy as well, aiming for 220 GWh of production capacity by 2030. It plans to reduce battery costs by 50 percent in 2026 and 65 percent by 2028. It's aiming to develop all-solid-state batteries (ASSB) by 2028, with Nissan in charge of that project "based on its deep expertise and unique experience as a pioneer in battery technology." 

The Alliance also said it aimed to have 25 million vehicles connected to its cloud system by 2026 that would allow for Tesla-like OTA (over the air) updates. "The Alliance will also be the first global, mass-market OEM to introduce the Google ecosystem in its cars," Renault Group said. 

The news follows Renault's announcement that it would electrify two thirds of its cars by 2025, with about 90 percent EVs in its lineup by 2030. Renault and Nissan ruled out a closer partnership last year, with Renault saying the companies "don't need a merger to be efficient." With the new platforms and cooperation announcement, it appears that the common platforms with "smart differentiation" will be key to that. 

Tesla kept its record 2021 profits rolling right through Q4

Following a profitable — and, ahem, notable — 2021, Tesla remains at the forefront of EV production in America as we enter the new year. With deliveries up nearly 90 percent over 2020’s figures, Tesla achieved “the highest quarterly operating margin among all volume OEMs,” during that time frame, according to the company’s Q4 figures released Wednesday The company not only hit $5.5 billion in net income despite a $6.5 billion outlay for new production facilities in Berlin and Austin, Texas, it also exceeded its own revenue goals by a cool billion dollars.

In Q4, 2021, Tesla produced 930,000 electric vehicles (99 percent of which were Xs and Ys) and delivered 936,000 of them to customers around the world. At the same time, the company expanded its proprietary Supercharger network by a third, now totalling 3,476 stations.

Despite widespread supply chain issues impacting the entire automotive industry, Tesla maintained its production capabilities better than virtually any other automaker. The Fremont factory churned out around 600,000 vehicles last year with plans to increase that figure even after the Austin and Berlin plants come online later this year. Production in the Shanghai plant continues to ramp up as well. According to Tesla, it has managed to lower the per unit cost of producing its vehicles to around $36,000 (and did so in both Q3 and Q4, 2021).

Tesla's Q4 investor call happens at 5:30pm ET today, stay tuned for live updates and comment from Tesla executives.


Kia's EV6 pricing will start at $42,115 when it goes on sale in the coming weeks

Kia's EV6, which shares a platform, battery, motors and more with Hyundai's Ioniq 5, will start at $42,115 including the $1,215 destination charge, the company announced. That sum will get you the base "Light" rear-wheel drive (RWD) model with a 167-horsepower motor and 58-kWh battery pack delivering a 232-mile EPA range. The model is eligible for a full $7,500 federal tax credit, which would reduce the price down to $34,615. 

That's $1,190 more than the Ioniq 5, if you're keeping score at home. While the two vehicles share the same platform and offer similar performance, the Ioniq 5 has a more edgy, angular design, while the EV6 offers a more classic, rounded look. 


Kia's higher-end EV6 models jump considerably in price. The "Wind" RWD EV6 with the 77.4-kWH battery pack and 225-horsepower motor starts at $48,215, offering an EPA range of 310 miles. Meanwhile, the GT-Line RWD comes with more luxurious options but the same drivetrain and starts at $52,415. Both the Wind and GT-Line models can be updated to all-wheel-drive (AWD) starting at $52,115 and $57,115, respectively. EPA range drops to 274 miles for both models, again eligible for $7,500 federal tax credits.

By comparison, Ford's Mustang Mach-E starts at $44,995, while the Tesla Model 3 has a $46,490 MSRP and the Volkswagen ID.4 is $39,995, all before any incentives. 

In our road test with the Ioniq 5, we found that Hyundai had produced a retro-futuristic winner that offers cutting-edge tech and is a pleasure to drive. The EV6 will hopefully live up to that same standard — the first models are expected to arrive at dealers in the coming weeks.

GM is building EV production and battery factories in Michigan

GM and LG are building a third Ultium factory in the US. The $2.6 billion plant in Lansing, Michigan will make batteries for GM’s electric vehicles.

Ultium Cells, a joint venture between the companies, expects to create 1,700 manufacturing jobs at the plant, which is projected to open in late 2024. At full production, Ultium expects the factory to have a battery cell capacity of 50 gigawatt hours, and it will be able to adapt to advancements in materials and tech. Construction is underway on Ultium's other battery manufacturing sites in Tennessee and Ohio.

Ultium's cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside battery packs, which allows GM to customize the layout for each vehicle design. Energy options range between 50kWh and 200kWh. GM says Ultium system may deliver a range of 450 miles or more on a single charge and accelerate from zero to 60MPH in three seconds. The company is designing Ultium-powered EVs with fast charging in mind — most of them will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast charging. Electric trucks, meanwhile, will have 800-volt packs with 350kW charging.

The Ultium factory forms part of a new $7 billion investment by GM (the company's largest single outlay to date) in four Michigan sites. The automaker is spending $4 billion to convert a plant in Orion Township, which will become its second US manufacturing location for the Chevrolet Silverado EV and electric GMC Sierra.

Conversion work is underway, and GM expects to start making the electric trucks at the plant in 2024. It expects to retain around 1,000 current jobs and add more than 2,350. Production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV and EUV will continue during the transition. The company projects that it will convert half of its North American assembly capacity to EV production by 2030.

GM is aiming to make more than a million EVs in the US per year by the end of 2025, and today's investment announcement forms a key part of that. The company's also spending more than $510 million to increase production at two sites in the Lansing area, one of which is building the next-gen Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave.

Airstream's concept electric camping trailer propels itself

Even Airstream is getting in on electric vehicles. According to Autoblog, the Thor brand has introduced a pair of EV concepts that include the eStream, a self-propelled camper. The dual-motor trailer not only reduces the burden on the towing vehicle, but can be remote-controlled from your phone to help you hitch up, reverse or simply move your camp site. You can even use the motors to shift the weight distribution, so you might not need a special hitch to handle certain trailer loads.

The other concept, the Thor Vision Vehicle, is a Ford Transit-based electric RV. The design is conventional, but Thor teased a "best in class" 300-mile range along with a digital cockpit that includes extensive tools to find chargers along your route.

There's no mention of whether or not the eStream or TVV will lead to ready-to-buy models, let alone timeframes for production. However, it's easy to see both reaching customers. Campers and other trailers significantly limit the range of any towing vehicle, and often demand extra power. While an electric camper like the eStream would have its own challenges (the weight and wear of its batteries, for instance), it could limit the overall impact on range and make towing an option for vehicles that would normally struggle.

Subaru unveils a 1,073HP electric race car

Subaru is still new to EVs, but that isn't stopping it from unveiling more ambitious projects. Electrekreports the automaker has introduced two concept EVs at the Tokyo Auto Salon, including its first all-electric race car. The STI E-RA Concept hints at Subaru's upcoming track vehicle with 1,073HP of total power from its four Yamaha motors, extensive downforce and all-wheel drive mated to a "unique" torque vectoring system that maximizes grip and stability.

While the 60kWh battery is relatively small, Subaru is confident the E-RA can thrive on the track. It's hoping to set a Nürburgring lap time of 6 minutes and 40 seconds at some point in 2023. That's not as quick as VW's ID.R (6 minutes 5 seconds), but it's comfortably ahead of road cars like Tesla's Model S Plaid (7 minutes 35 seconds). The company plans to test the E-RA at Japanese racing circuits later in 2022.


The brand also unveiled a Solterra STI Concept (at middle) that, as the name implies, is a sportier version of the upcoming crossover. Subaru didn't discuss under-body changes, but the upgraded Solterra has a roof spoiler, skirt spoilers and other customizations to signal its performance ambitions.

However much the E-RA represents Subaru's motorsport plans, it's also serving as a declaration of intent. Like VW's racer, it shows the company is serious about EVs and can produce high-performance cars in addition to everyday people haulers. The challenge is to translate lessons learned from concepts like this to regular vehicles. Subaru is late to EVs compared even to incumbents like VW, Mercedes and GM, and it may need to move quickly if it wants to counter the electrification efforts of its rivals.

Ford tries to fight F-150 Lightning scalpers by banning resales

Ford is swamped with F-150 Lightning orders, and it's taking special steps to make sure the electric pickup truck reaches honest-to-goodness buyers. Roadshowreports Ford is now giving dealerships the option to ban customers from reselling the Lightning for up to a year after purchase. As the (since-pulled) document on the F-150 Gen 14 forums revealed, the dealer could "seek injunctive relief" to block the ownership transfer or even demand payment for "all value" generated from the sale.

The automaker is also cracking down on a "limited number" of dealers that allegedly violated sales and service terms by forcing customers to make additional payments beyond those Ford requires. It's not clear just what those payments were, although this suggests they were more than the markups you frequently see when cars are scarce or in high demand.

This no-resale clause isn't new to the automotive world. Ford used it to ensure its GT supercar reached real owners. However, it's still rare for EVs — particularly for relatively mainstream vehicles like the F-150 Lighting. This reflects the popularity of the Lightning, of course, but it might also be vital to Ford. Scalping has hurt access to many other tech products, such as game consoles and video cards — Ford likely doesn't want those opportunists to sour the launch of such an important vehicle, particularly with Chevy, Rivian and Tesla chasing after many of the same customers.

Watch GM's Silverado EV reveal in 10 minutes

GM had a lot to show off during its virtual CES 2022 keynote, including the Chevrolet Silverado, which is built on the company's Ultium battery platform. The automaker offered an early look at two other Chevy EVs, which are electric versions of the Blazer and Equinox SUVs. 

On top of that, GM discussed BrightDrop's Ultium-based electric vans, the Cruise Origin vehicle and autonomous Cadillac concepts called InnerSpace and OpenSpace. Catch up on all of the key news from the event with our 10-minute supercut.

Cadillac's new self-driving concept is a luxury loveseat on wheels

After introducing a six-person self-driving box and a frickin' ridable drone concept last year, GM's latest luxury self-driving EV idea is much more grounded. The InnerSpace concept looks like a futuristic car from the outside—but inside, there's a two-seat loveseat surrounded by one of the widest screens we've ever seen. There's no steering wheel or pedals, of course. Instead, there's a built-in ottoman and a compartment for slippers and a blanket. Where GM's going, you won't need any sort of manual control.

Even stepping into the car seems like something from science fiction: the doors pop out, while the large windshield/sunroof rises up. As usual, concepts like the InnerSpace are a way for car designers to flex their muscles and imagine what future vehicles could actually be like. While it certainly seems out of reach for most people, perhaps Cadillac's more affluent clientele would be intrigued by owning a personal spaceship. At least it's better for the environment than full-sized luxury SUVs. 

“Electrification and autonomous driving will fundamentally change the role of vehicles and the experiences customers have with them,” Bryan Nesbitt, GM's executive director of Global Advanced Design, said in a statement. “We’re exploring where that will go with these innovative concepts, envisioning mobility as an ally of wellness, giving customers the ultimate luxury, more personal time rather than taking it.”

As someone who hates the act of driving, but lives in a place where I can't avoid it, it'll be interesting to see how car makers turn these self-driving concept vehicles into a reality. And maybe after getting these wild designs through their systems, they'll show us more concepts for self-driving family EVs.