Posts with «transportation» 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

Uber is expanding availability of shared rides and other 'green' services

Uber is expanding existing services and introducing new features meant to help it achieve its goal of becoming a zero-emission platform by 2040. To start with, the company is bringing UberX Share, its revamped carpooling service, to 18 more cities. That brings the total number of markets where it's available to 50, allowing more people to share their commute with others going the same way.

For those who'd rather drive their own vehicle, Uber is also launching Carshare, a new product that allows users to borrow cars from private owners, in more locations. It initially launched in Australia, but it will roll out in Boston and Toronto in the coming months. The company believes that turning private cars into shared vehicles could lead to more livable neighborhoods around the world. 

Uber Green is now also available in Australia, giving passengers the ability to choose hybrid or fully electric vehicles for their rides. And speaking of green options, Uber has updated its app so that its Emission Savings section in the Account page shows the emissions passengers have managed to avoid by choosing Green and Comfort Electric options. 

To encourage travelers to choose either Uber Green or Comfort Electric, which gives riders access to top-rated drivers in premium zero-emission vehicles, the company has also introduced airport-specific perks. This summer, riders who choose either option will get lower fares and exclusive access to dedicated pickup zones at airports. Meanwhile, drivers with hybrid or electric vehicles will be able to use airport fast chargers for free or at discounted rates.

Uber is integrating smart charging features into its Driver app, as well, so that it can publish real-time charging prices and locations. The updated app will also have the ability to filter trip requests based on the vehicle's battery level, so that drivers will end near a charger and don't end up taking trips much longer than what their current battery level can handle. 

The company announced way back in 2020 that it plans to be fully emission free by 2040. It's hoping that by that time, it can offer 100 percent of rides in zero-emission vehicles, on public transit or with micromobility, such as bikes. (It is, by the way, expanding bikes to Chile in partnership with bike-sharing network Tembici.) Now it's including Uber Eats in that pledge. It's aiming to eliminate all emissions associated with its food delivery service by 2040 and to end all unnecessary plastic waste from delivery ten years earlier by 2030. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

United is putting 4K displays and Bluetooth on its planes

United Airlines has struck a deal with Panasonic Avionics that could make flying in economy more bearable. No, it will not magically make the seats wider or the leg room bigger, but it will distract you with a larger, sharper in-flight entertainment display and — some will perhaps find this even more exciting — Bluetooth. The airline has announced that it's installing almost 300,000 units of Panasonic Avionics' Astrova in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens on select new Boeing 787 and Airbus A321XLR aircraft. 

They're seatback displays that use 4K OLED technology, which promises sharper image quality and better contrast ratio than a lot of other IFE systems. The company says Astrova can also provide high fidelity 3D spatial audio through its latest Bluetooth technology. Yep, you won't need to use wired headphones anymore or bring one of those Bluetooth dongles just so you could use your wireless earbuds. Astrova also comes with USB-C ports capable of charging your phones and tablets with 100 watts of DC power. 

As Aviation Week notes, the Boeing 787 and Airbus A321XLR planes are part of United's international fleet, but the airline will reportedly equip its domestic planes with Astrova IFE systems, as well. The displays will be installed under the United Next program, which aims to put a seatback in-flight display at every seat. United plans to provide first class passengers access to 13-inch displays and passengers in economy with 10-inch IFE screens. 

In their announcement, the companies said their agreement will allow United to upgrade the Astrova displays over the coming years. The IFE system uses a modular architecture with a removable peripheral bar that makes it easy to add newer technologies and update its Bluetooth or charging stations. No upgrade will be happening anytime soon, though — the airline isn't scheduled to start installing the in-flight entertainment systems until 2025. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

NYC sues Hyundai for negligence in wake of TikTok car thefts

Last month, Hyundai agreed to pay $200 million to settle a class action lawsuit in the wake of a viral TikTok car theft challenge. The deal promised to pay out about $145 million to US Hyundai and Kia owners who had their cars stolen or damaged by a theft attempt — but the settlement didn't put the matter to rest. New York City has announced that it's now suing the automaker for negligence and being a public nuisance.

Specifically, the city accuses the automaker of choosing to "sacrifice public safety for profits" by eschewing common anti-theft technology from certain US model Kia and Hyundai vehicles. New York City alleges this was a market specific choice, noting that Hyundai and Kia vehicles sold in European and Canadian markets do, in fact, have vehicle immobilizers installed "because regulations there expressly require them."

This led to a rise in thefts after the "Kia Challenge" went viral on TikTok earlier this year — with videos demonstrating how certain Hyundai vehicles can be quickly hot-wired using a simple USB cord.

The result, the city says, was unprecedented, with a 660% increase in Hyundai and Kia vehicle thefts in the first four months of 2023 when compared to the previous year. New York City says this has resulted in not only more reports of theft, but other safety issues, including reckless driving, and violent altercations between thieves and vehicle owners, all of which it claims has made New York City less safe and caused undue burden on police resources. New York City is requesting a trial by jury and is seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

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

Acura ZDX EV gets Android Auto and built-in Google apps

Acura is preparing to launch its first fully electric vehicle, the 2024 ZDX, and just announced integration with a full suite of Google products, including Android Auto. These features will be available on all ZDK trims and bring apps like Google Assistant and Google Maps to the vehicle, offering a “personalized and more streamlined” experience.

Google Assistant lets you issue voice commands while keeping your eyes on the road to initiate phone calls, text friends, set reminders, change the cabinet temperature and more. Of course, this is fully integrated with Android Auto, so use Assistant to play favorite media tracks, skip to the next track, rewind a podcast and download a wide range of third-party apps.


While Google Assistant isn’t a vast departure from any other iteration, this version of Google Maps boasts some features just for EV drivers. It offers optimized route planning with an emphasis on finding EV charging stations and an estimation of the charging time required to reach any destination. It even preconditions the battery when preparing to enter a DC fast charging station.

There’s a large center touchscreen that acts as a primary dashboard for navigation, media selection and the like. The touchscreen integrates with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with regular “fast and secure” Over the Air (OTA) software updates to enhance various functionalities.

This move comes as auto giant GM begins phasing out Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in its vehicles to make room for the more robust Android Automotive software platform. The Acura ZDX and ZDX Type S EVs will be available early next year, with all sales taking place online and not at brick-and-mortar dealerships.

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