Posts with «autos» label

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.

Chevrolet's electric Silverado will debut at CES 2022

When General Motors CEO Mary Barra delivers the opening keynote at next year's CES, she won't only be kicking off the event — she'll also be unveiling Chevrolet's electric Silverado. The automaker first revealed that it's working on an electrified version of the pickup truck in April, promising an EV with a 400-mile range, which can rival Tesla's 2020 Long-Range Plus Model S. 

In today's announcement, Chevrolet has also confirmed that the retail model will come with a glass roof with increased headroom to make the interior look and feel bigger. It will apparently be the first time GM is making a glass roof option available for a full-size pickup. Chevrolet has also confirmed that the vehicle will be capable of four-wheel steering. 

The electric Silverado is based on GM's Ultium platform, the automaker's modular technology that enables it to mix and match battery and drive units to electrify all kinds of vehicles across its brands. GMC's electrified Hummer vehicles are also based on the Ultium platform. And, like the Hummer EVs, the electric Silverado will be manufactured at GM's Factory ZERO, the company's new Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. GM spent $2.2 billion to set up the factory with the equipment needed to build all types of electric vehicles.

Mary Barra's CES 2022 keynote and the Silverado's debut will take place on January 5th.

Tesla sales continue to surge in the face of chip shortages

In the third quarter of 2021 Tesla sold 241,300 cars. That's 102,000 more than the same time period last year. Sure, that's only slightly more than half of the 446,997 cars that GM sold in the last three months. But, that number represents a steep 33-percent decline year-over-year for GM. And (if my math is correct) would mean that it sold more cars than Subaru globally over the last three months.

That Tesla has surged while other automakers are struggling isn't a huge surprise once you start digging into the details, though. While other manufacturers have felt the brunt of the global chip shortage Tesla has begun sourcing different silicon, according to The Verge, and rewriting its software to work with those new components. 

Additionally the company only recently began selling its popular Model Y in Europe and it's still relatively new to the Chinese market as well, giving it plenty of room for growth.

Of course, things aren't all rosy for Tesla. The company is still facing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board here in the US. And it's only a couple of month removed from a massive recall of nearly 300,000 vehicles in China. Not to mention both its Roadster, Cybertruck and electric semi-truck are facing prolonged delays. 

GM can't find the chips to enable Super Cruise in the next Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac has dropped quite an important feature from the 2022 Cadillac Escalade. According to Motor1 and Roadshow, the model won't come with Super Cruise, GM's hands-free driver-assistance technology. A spokesperson from the brand has confirmed to the publications that the Super Cruise would be "temporarily unavailable at the start of regular production," though they expressed the possibility that it would be available for vehicles manufactured later on. The spokesperson also revealed that the reason for this change is none other than the global chip shortage born out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cadillac's whole statement reads:

"Super Cruise is an important feature for the Cadillac Escalade program. Although it's temporarily unavailable at the start of regular production due to the industry-wide shortage of semiconductors, we're confident in our team's ability to find creative solutions to mitigate the supply chain situation and resume offering the feature for our customers as soon as possible."

The company also told Roadshow that it was only able to build "a few" CT4 and CT5 sedans scheduled for release this year with the capability to use Super Cruise. It had to postpone the full launch of its driver assistance system in the sedans until model year 2022, which will start shipping next year. 

The global semiconductor shortage has had an extensive effect on the tech and auto industries. GM, Cadillac's manufacturer, had to suspend production at all but four of its North American factories due to supply constraints. Nissan, Ford, BMW and Honda had to cut vehicle production, as well. In Ford's case, it led to the delay in shipments of the Mach-E electric vehicle.

GM has big plans for Super Cruise and previously announced its plans to bring the technology to 22 vehicles by 2023. It's unclear if these delays and adjustments caused by the chip shortage would affect the timeline it set for itself.

ABB claims its Terra 360 is the 'world's fastest electric car charger'

Swiss company ABB, which supplies EV chargers to Ionity and Electrify America, has unveiled what it calls the "world's fastest electric car charger," Reuters has reported. As its name suggests, the Terra 360 has a 360 kW capacity, meaning it could fully charge a (theoretical) EV in 15 minutes. More realistically, it can charge four vehicles simultaneously, saving space at charging stations. 

The Terra 360 isn't the most powerful charger by much, as companies like Electrify America, Ionity and EVGo have been using 350 kW chargers manufactured by ABB and others since at least 2018. However, it's the "only charger designed explicitly to charge up to four vehicles at once," the company said. "This gives owners the flexibility to charge up to four vehicles overnight or to give a quick refill to their EVs in the day." They also have a relatively small footprint, allowing installation in small depots or parking lots. 

There aren't a lot of EVs that can handle that kind of charge. The fastest-charging EV available is Hyundai's Ioniq 5, which supports DC fast-charging at up to 350 kW, in theory. The only two approaching that are Porsche's Taycan, with 270 kW of charging capacity and the new Lucid Air, which allows for up to 300 kW fast-charging. Tesla's Model 3 and Model Y EVs can charge at up to 250 kW. 

Such high charging levels aren't necessarily great for an EV's battery. Porsche, for instance, has a battery preservation setting on its Plug & Charge Taycan feature that lowers voltage to 200 kW from the maximum 270 kW allowed — so it's essentially acknowledging that faster charging degrades the battery. On top of that, extreme charging levels don't necessarily save you much time, as Car and Driver found. Tesla recently promised to upgrade its own Supercharger V3 network from 250kW to 300kW. 

ABB's new chargers will be able to add 100 km (62 miles) of range in less than three minutes. They'll arrive in Europe by the end of the year and start rolling out in the US and elsewhere in 2022.

GM's new software hub will update your next EV like a smartphone

Compared to what we were driving just a decade ago, today's connected cars and trucks are practically computers on wheels. From content streaming infotainment systems to the background processes that interpret sensor data and power the advanced driver assist features, software has become a fundamental component in modern vehicles. To better manage those countless lines of code, GM announced on Wednesday that it has developed an end-to-end software platform, dubbed Ulfiti (rhymes with "multiply").

GM's latest vehicles already enjoy features like OTA software updates and on-board internet connectivity thanks to the company's Vehicle Intelligence Platform (VIP). the Linux-based Ulfiti is designed to sit on top of that existing architecture and serve as a central hub for select software systems, separating them from the vehicle's core operations. 

"In all of the embedded controllers, we refactored them and extracted the software from the hardware out of them, making them available to our SOA layer," Scott Miller, Vice President of Software Defined Vehicle. at General Motors, said during a recent teleconference. "Basically we're abstracting them and making them available for a powerful hub for all the vehicle's systems."

"Then we're adding this service oriented layer on our high performance computing that we have in the vehicle for infotainment and safety," he continued. "And we're going to organize those abstractions as services."

This will enable GM to more quickly develop and deploy updates, new features and apps to customers. In essence, Ultifi will serve a similar function as Android does on smartphones — an API layer sitting between the underlying hardware and the end user. GM did note that Ultifi will run in conjunction with existing automotive OSes, such as Android Automotive, which GM announced in 2019 it would begin supporting. 

"Android Automotive is a certain subset of functionality in the car," Darryl Harrison, GM's Director of Global Product Development, explained. "Ultifi is more of an umbrella overall strategy. Some vehicles will have Android Automotive and some will have other infotainment apps and services."

In essence, GM wants to treat your vehicle like a rolling smartphone, offering users continuous OTA updates, cloud-based personalization options that drivers can transfer between GM vehicles, and smart home connectivity. The company is also considering pushing out various safety and comfort upgrades through via OTA, such as using the vehicle's onboard cameras to automatically engage the child locks when they detect children in the back seat or remotely closing the vehicle's sunroof if you parked outdoors and the weather forecast calls for rain.  

GM is also considering using Ultifi to offer subscription services to users, such as on-demand Supercruise that drivers can enable on long road trips but cancel once they reach their destination. Ulfiti could also allow for improved V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2X (vehicle to everything) applications including near-real time traffic and road hazard updates. Expect to see Ulfiti in select GM vehicles — both internal combustion and EV — starting in 2023.            

Rolls-Royce plans to stop making gas-powered cars by 2030

Another major automaker has revealed plans to move entirely to electric vehicles within the next decade. Rolls-Royce is the latest one to make the pledge, following other luxury brands such as Jaguar, Lincoln and Bentley.

Spectre, Rolls-Royce's first EV (and one that sounds like it's rolling off the set of a James Bond film), will arrive in the last quarter of 2023. The BMW brand plans to start testing the vehicle soon, according to Reuters. Rolls-Royce teased the EV in some images, but it literally kept the Spectre's design under wraps.


Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos said that by 2030, the automaker "will no longer be in the business of producing or selling any internal combustion engine products." Sibling brand Mini has made a similar pledge. Parent company BMW has not set a date for making a full switch to EVs, though it aims to move half of production to electric models by the end of this decade.

Jeep's Grand Cherokee plug-in hybrid will arrive in early 2022

As promised, Jeep has detailed its first Grand Cherokee plug-in hybrid. The company has confirmed the Grand Cherokee 4xe will arrive in North American dealers in early 2022, and will sport more capabilities than you might have expected. The estimated 25 miles of all-electric driving (440 miles total) won't necessarily cover your entire commute, but Jeep is promising a rough-and-ready PHEV that can climb hills without touching the 2.0L turbo gas engine. You can also drive in a full hybrid mode for peak performance and an "eSave" mode to preserve the 17kWh battery for later.

You can also expect new technology inside, such as 10-inch front and rear passenger displays with built-in Fire TV — your kids can stream Prime Video in the backseat. The driver, meanwhile, gets a 10-inch display with a much faster Uconnect 5 platform that supports over-the-air updates.

The 4xe and its regular counterparts are improved off-roaders with semi-active damping for air suspension as well as a front-axle disconnect when the SUV senses it doesn't need all-wheel drive. You'll also get semi-autonomous help through an optional Active Driving Assist system that takes over so long as your hands are on the wheel and your eyes are on the road. Jeep is promising a 6,000lbs maximum towing capacity.

Jeep hasn't divulged pricing for the Grand Cherokee 4xe, although it will be available in increasingly loaded Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve editions. It's already safe to say this is an important vehicle for the brand, though. Parent company Stellantis is racing to catch up with rivals in electrifying its vehicles, with plans for a fully electric version of every SUV by 2025. The plug-in hybrid is a critical first step in that direction.

Lucid will begin delivering its Air luxury EV in late October

After roughly five years of work, the Lucid Air is finally close to reaching customers' garages. Lucid Motors said it has started production of the luxury EV and expects to deliver the first Dream Edition models in late October. There will only be 520 Dream units (conveniently a match for the car's 520-mile estimated range). However, Lucid won't be hurting for early customers. Even if only some of the 13,000 reservation holders commit to a purchase, that's a significant volume for an upscale car from a relatively new brand.

Those numbers might climb. The fledgling automaker plans a rapid expansion that will add about 65 acres (2.85 million square feet) to its Casa Grande, Arizona factory. It may need the extra output, too. Lucid plans to mass-produce its first SUV, the Gravity, in 2023, and electric SUVs have lately been in high demand.

The Air starts at $77,400. In addition to its potentially Tesla-beating range, it promises rare perks like Dolby Atmos audio, very quick charging (20 minutes for 300 miles) and a 34-inch cockpit display.

There's no guarantee Lucid will succeed when competing against Tesla, Rivian and rapidly electrifying incumbent car brands. While its strategy is familiar to Tesla fans (its first truly large-scale EV was also a luxury sedan), Lucid is entering a much more established market with competitors that have ample resources and name recognition. With that said, just making it to production is notable feat. EV startups like Faraday Future and Lordstown Motors are still struggling to reach that point, giving Lucid a considerable lead over some of its key rivals.

Volvo unveils prototype self-driving semi truck built for long hauls

Volvo and Aurora are one step closer to putting autonomous semi trucks on North American roads. The two have revealed a prototype self-driving semi truck meant for "long-haul" trips in North America, not just quick hops as with past vehicles. The variant of Volvo's VNL looks familiar, but packs a wide array of sensors to detect the surrounding environment and navigate on its own using the virtual Aurora Driver.

The automaker was shy on technical details, but said the big rig expanded on existing VNL safety features like Volvo Dynamic Steering and automated transmission to create a "redundant" system. This truck might not run into much trouble on the highway, in other words. The companies previously said they hoped for Level 4 autonomy, or completely human-free driving in limited situations.

Volvo has already put autonomous trucks into service in countries like Norway and its Swedish homeland. However, they've generally been limited to short, narrowly defined routes. In theory, the new prototype could handle the longer distances and varied conditions necessary to shuttle payloads between North American cities.

Volvo didn't say when it expected the prototype to reach public roads, let alone when you might see a production truck. The company would also need regulations allowing commercial self-driving trucks, not just the testing you see in some states. This is an important step toward Volvo's driverless trucking goal, but far from the last step.