Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Jun 15

Audi’s ‘Musk Have’ Billboard Ad for e-tron quattro Pokes at Tesla’s Elon Musk


Audi’s all-electric e-tron quattro is not expected until 2018, but the company says it is a musk have.

Not a typo, an advertisement by Audi of Berlin is being interpreted as taking a direct crack at Tesla chief Elon Musk in promoting its pending luxury performance SUV.

The company which has been making inroads toward EVs also said earlier this year it would be “the first real premium manufacturer doing a premium electric SUV.”

In 2009 Audi’s then-CEO Johan de Nysschen – now with Cadillac – mocked electric cars in calling the Chevy Volt a car for “idiots.” New management obviously has changed it tune while today de Nysschen works to overhaul a brand for a company whose product he once disparaged.

Where that leaves the Tesla Model X crossover SUV may be your next question, but fact is, it is in Tesla stores, and available for sale now.

The Model X, which in the U.S. is the first- or second-best selling EV month-after-month along with the Model S is also clearly a target Audi may hope its loyal domestic customers will avoid as they wait for the German-engineered rival.

Without its car yet for sale, Audi runs an ad naming Tesla’s CEO. Tesla, whose top-selling Model X was just named by the federal government as the safest SUV it’s tested, has not posted a billboard for it yet. Credit: m.a.x.i.m.i.l.l.i.a.n on Instagram reposted on Facebook by Audi Deutschland.

The e-tron Quattro under European testing rules is to have around 310 miles range, with a battery believed to be 95 kWh. Three electric motors propel the AWD vehicle for a total 503 horsepower, and 0-62 mph time in 4.6 seconds.

That’s not quite in the league of the Model X P100D with Ludicrous model capable of 0-62 in 3.1 seconds, but who’s counting anyway?

Audi, a part of the VW Group, is at this stage amping up excitement, promises more EVs to come along with its parent company’s pledge to bring at least 30 EVs to market by 2025 across its product lines.

SEE ALSO: Audi Rolling Out Three New All-Electric E-tron Models By 2020

Undoubtedly the company’s products are popular with luxury buyers with discerning tastes, and while some may say the pun of the billboard is just a joke, others may question the tastes of the humor.

Or, is this just another form of “disruption” that will sell Audi cars? The company paid for the prominent ad, so one might surmise it thinks so.


Jun 14

Chevrolet Adds 130 New Bolt EVs to its Self-Driving Fleet


By Stephen Elmer

Chevy has prepared an entire fleet of self-driving Bolt EVs, showing that mass production is possible with this type of sophisticated technology.

Chevy has built 130 Bolt EVs outfit with a full suite of self-driving hardware and software, showing that it can include this type of technology in its mass-production process. These new vehicles will join the already operating test fleets in San Francisco, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Detroit.

“This production milestone brings us one step closer to making our vision of personal mobility a reality,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Expansion of our real-world test fleet will help ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we build into all of our vehicles.”

To make self-driving possible, each Bolt is fit with LIDAR, cameras, and sensors that can read the world around them. Back in January, Chevy claims it became the first automaker to use an assembly line process to build self-driving vehicles.

“To achieve what we want from self-driving cars, we must deploy them at scale,” said Cruise Automation CEO Kyle Vogt.

This article originally appeared at

Barra Post

The source of the images and news above is a post from GM CEO Mary Barra. Here is the article from LinkedIn.

Six months ago, we announced that GM would build its next-generation autonomous test vehicles at our Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan. Production of those vehicles began in January, making GM the first and – to this day – the only automotive company to assemble self-driving vehicles in a mass-production facility. This means we have the unique and necessary combination of technology, engineering and manufacturing ability to build autonomous vehicles at scale.

To date, we have completed production of 130 Chevrolet Bolt EVs equipped with our next generation self-driving technology. These vehicles will soon join the more-than-50 first-generation self-driving Bolt EVs we have already deployed in test fleets in San Francisco, Scottsdale, and Southeast Michigan.

New technologies and changing customer needs are helping us transform personal mobility and deliver transportation solutions that are safer, more sustainable and better than ever. We believe one of the best ways to deliver these solutions is through greater access to self-driving electric vehicles deployed in sharing networks.

To get to this future, we are pursuing both an evolutionary path – with technologies such as automatic emergency braking and Super Cruise – and a revolutionary path, and the clearest evidence are our Michigan-built self-driving Bolt EV test vehicles.

Last year, GM acquired Cruise Automation. Cruise is a leading Silicon Valley startup that specializes in developing the software that drives our autonomous vehicles. Cruise is moving fast, operating within GM like the startup company it is.

The array of equipment that Cruise uses on the Bolt EV – the LIDAR, cameras, sensors and other hardware – represents a substantial leap forward in autonomous technology and capability. It will provide GM engineers with more data and faster processing speeds to adapt and problem solve in real time.

Our approach over the last year has been to test in challenging, urban, real-world driving environments. These next-generation vehicles will allow us to increase that testing and really accelerate our development of safe, reliable, fully autonomous vehicles.

At GM, our highest priority is always safety, and of course that priority extends to our development and testing of these autonomous vehicles.

The expansion of our real-world test fleet will help ensure that our self-driving vehicles meet the same strict standards for safety and quality that we build into all our vehicles. This is vitally important, because we believe that autonomous vehicles will provide great benefits to society in terms of safety, convenience and quality of life.

The National Safety Council estimates as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicles crashes in the U.S. last year, a six percent increase over 2015. We also know that more than 90 percent of crashes are attributable to human error, and that is something that autonomous vehicles have the potential to eliminate.

At the end of the day, we believe the societal benefits and business opportunities of autonomous vehicles will be significant… and we intend for GM to be a leader in their development and deployment. Today’s production milestone brings us one step closer to making our vision of personal mobility a reality.

If you’re interested in joining our autonomous technology team, please visit here.


Jun 13

How Well Might a 2018 Nissan Leaf With 38.4 kWh Do Against the 60 kWh Chevy Bolt?


Nissan has said its next Leaf will compete with the Chevy Bolt EV and a drive report saying for year-one its battery could have two-thirds the capacity indicates it just may.

The Bolt was built in response to Tesla’s Model 3 as a 200-plus-mile EV priced in the upper-mid 30s but as many an EV fan will point out, the two cars are apples and oranges, and the Leaf due for unveiling in September is a more likely competitor.

Both the Leaf and Bolt fit the four-door, front-wheel-drive hatchback mold, don’t aspire to compete with entry level German luxury performance sedans like the Model 3 will when released in July, and Nissan is hoping to defend turf it established.

As the most-successful EV to date, and still on the market as a generation-one product – albeit having range increases in 2013 and 2016 – the Leaf defines a type of car which the just-released Bolt improves upon in meaningful ways.

For a $37,495 starting price before $7,500 federal tax credit, the Bolt delivers 238 miles of EPA-rated range. It offers midsized volume in a compact footprint, and its quickness and handling are good enough that experienced auto writers have pondered how it would do in an autocross with stickier tires.

Details to this degree are as-yet lacking on the Leaf, but YouTube channel Electrified Journeys Japan reported – in a video since removed – an initial test drive of the 2018 pre-production Leaf indicates it’s off to a good start.


The Leaf was first released in Dec. 2010. Actual photos of the 2018 Leaf are not available. Top photo is the IDS concept which lends some of its design to the new Leaf.

As has been reported before, the new Leaf may come first year with less than the new standard of over 200 miles EPA rated range. The Japanese video says this is due to a 38.4 kWh battery, which is much smaller than the 60 kWh pack in the Bolt.

The 38.4 kWh is said to be actual usable energy, not the total so the whole pack power may be nominally higher, and it might be good for somewhere over 150 miles range – well below the Bolt EV.

After its first year, the Leaf may get a larger battery option to give it greater parity, but it’s believed it will be priced competitively next to the Bolt – and European Opel Ampera-e, meaning an acceptable compromise. In Europe, it’s reported by PushEVs it may cost 10,000 euros less than the Ampera-e, and that’s a sizable savings in exchange for accepting 80 or so miles less range.

One hundred-fifty or more miles is enough for many would-be buyers, and given the Leaf will be all-new, it would stand to attract buyers/lessees to this follow-up from the Japanese automaker.

While there’s been talk of Nissan getting out of the battery making business, it’s reported Nissan didn’t seal a supply agreement deal with LG Chem and it will for the time being keep the AESC battery cell production. As such, the batteries for the U.S. Leaf are supposed to come from Nissan’s plant in Tennessee, and the European Leaf’s are to come from Sunderland England.

Drive Experience

The New Leaf will come with more power, but probably not as much as the Bolt, unless Nissan updates it between the pre-production drive and its official reveal in Japan in three months from now.

Output is estimated as north of 134 horsepower which means somewhat better pep, and the original Leaf is already acceptably quick from 0-45 mph, and even above, but the Bolt is downright fast.

The Bolt nets 200 horsepower and estimated time from 0-30 is 2.9 seconds, 0-60 is 6.5 seconds, and it actually pulls well up towards its 92 mph top speed.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV Review – Video

Both cars have their batteries in the floor for low center of gravity. The Bolt is sharp, and it’s expected the Leaf may be also, but as yet there’s insufficient indication how closely the two will compare in handling dynamics.

Meanwhile the Leaf is quieter than before, with no more high-pitched whine, and now has more-powerful regenerative braking that may feel stronger than the Bolt EV which allows “one-pedal driving.”

This is accomplished via an additional high-regen mode which feeds so much regenerative braking that it will haul the car down to a stop in lieu of touching the brakes. The former Leaf was not super strong in regen compared to the Bolt, and the driver reportedly interviewed by Electrified Journeys Japan says the new Leaf’s regen offers a noticeable difference.


Carscoops drew this rendering based on spy shots released in recent months.

Spy photos and artists renderings of the new Leaf suggest what has been reported for a while – the Leaf’s face will be more “mainstream” while building on the design language of the existing midsized car.

Compared to the Bolt EV, it would arguably be in the same aesthetic league, and come down to personal tastes.

Inside the 2018 model driven did not have as many changes, and offers evolutionary updates.

Due This Fall

The Leaf is expected to become available the month after its September unveiling.

Among details not reported is whether its battery will be liquid cooled, and the existing model’s battery is not – while the Chevy Bolt’s is.

What the scoop is on different battery size options will also be determined for those contemplating holding out for a longer range version, assuming that rumor is correct.

In all it appears the Bolt will be a relative hotrod as that’s been a priority with GM to bake in a fun-to-drive factor.

The Leaf brings to the table Nissan’s experience and knowhow in a second-generation EV, and given Nissan is entering a market expected to be competitive with a car that must endure, one might hope it’s done its homework.

Time will tell.

Electrified Journeys Japan via PushEVs,


Jun 12

Elon Musk Goes On Twitter Rant About Automakers Killing EVs


By Tim Healey

Who killed the electric car?

Most of us know that phrase as the title of a documentary that explores factors that limited production of EVs, specifically General Motors’ EV1. The actions of automakers, specifically those of GM, are one of those factors blamed in the film.

Now one of today’s key figures in the EV world is also blaming GM, claiming the genesis of his company was inspired by the automaker crushing EVs.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to take investors to task for shorting his company’s stock. In so doing, he said that he and others started Tesla in 2003 as a response to GM sending electric vehicles to the crusher.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk Is At It Again With Another Wild Transportation Idea – Video

He further asserted that since large “legacy” automakers were busy killing off whatever EV programs they had, the only chance for EVs was for him to start his own company, even though, in his opinion, any new company started to sell EVs was certainly doomed to failure.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk Adds Details On What To Expect From Model 3

Musk says he didn’t start Tesla to make money or chase government incentives, and he thought Tesla was the only chance for EVs, despite what he calls a 90 percent probability of failure. On that note, he also claims the company almost failed “many times.”

Musk’s Tweetstorm brings back memories of the 2006 film referenced above.

Certainly, Musk had already made plenty of money before Tesla, so perhaps he’s telling the truth about not starting Tesla to make money, but on the other hand, just about all businesses aim to turn a profit at some point.

Maybe Musk was simply on the defensive after reading an article that claimed Tesla is the most shorted stock in the U.S. equity market, with short interest in the company totaling around $10.4 billion.

If so, he might be cheered to know that as of the end of the day Thursday, Tesla stock was at $370 a share, which was an all-time high. The company’s stock is up 73 percent since the beginning of 2017 and 61 percent over the past 12 months. Much of that is based on anticipation of the upcoming Model 3, which is set to launch this year.

The rise of Tesla’s stock has caused consternation among industry observers, as legacy automakers have taken hits on Wall Street amid sales that are leveling off and dropping after the industry hit its post-recession peak. This despite the fact that legacy companies like GM are seeing record earnings, sales slump or not, while Tesla has yet to show a sustained profit.

Tesla has a lot riding on the Model 3, and a history of development delays caused by defects and other problems. Perhaps Musk is feeling a little punchy, knowing that any launch problems with the Model 3 will cause critics to pounce – and be a boon to those who shorted the stock.



Jun 09

These Startups Are Leading the Way Toward Plug-in Trucks


Today the most efficient gas-powered pickups are rated for only 22 mpg and while plug-in tech could easily double that or more, thus far only startups are announcing plans to do so.

While legacy automakers raise prices on incrementally improved conventional tech, and report increased sales for pickups and SUVs – all while petitioning President Trump to alleviate regulations – newcomers are aiming to carve out a niche plug-in business.

Put plainly: even though underfunded, and pushing long odds, enough of a business case exists today that upstarts like Workhorse, Via Motors, XL Hybrids and Tesla have started on plug-in trucks in some form or fashion – typically focused on fleet buyers for now.

Rumors that Ford may be developing a plug-in hybrid F-150 by decade’s end have gone out, and some believe GM might reveal tech it also has waiting in the wings, but to date automakers have been content with merely putting a finer hone on conventional internal combustion technology.

SEE ALSO: America’s 5 Most Fuel Efficient Trucks – 2017

So it goes. This state of affairs is a pity to those wanting to see the needle move in a more meaningful way on the petroleum-conservation dial, but with regulations still cracking a whip, and startups stirring things up, it may be just a matter of time before plug-in truck electrification takes hold.

And that would be a good thing, say advocates. It’s been a periodic lament that the majority of hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles have been compact and midsized cars, while the worst offenders in fuel economy are bypassed by major automakers.

Glaring Miss By the Auto Industry

It’s long been known that if you take a 15 mpg truck, and improve it by 15 mpg, you increase its fuel efficiency by 100 percent. If you take a 30 mpg sedan, and increase its efficiency by 15 mpg, you improve it by 50 percent.

In both cases, you get a 15 mpg increase, but with the fuel-swilling truck, a higher percentage of fuel is saved. Trucks use a lot of gasoline, so even a 20-40 percent improvement – as could be achieved by non-plug-in hybridization – is a bigger reduction than the same reduction for a car that started off using a relatively smaller absolute amount of gas.

In 2008 GM was lauded for its tow-capable two-mode hybrid system. A non-plug-in, mpg in 2009 was improved from 16 mpg to 20 for 4WD, and power was good. Several variants were sold until a couple years ago. As has been a practice for “green” vehicles, GM chose to content and price them relatively highly ensuring they stayed a minority product.

Where real savings could be had is with plug-in hybrids offering a long-enough stretch of electric driving, or pure battery electric trucks which could save even more fuel and emissions.

According to Scott Shepard, senior research analyst with global market research and consulting firm Navigant Research, the cost of batteries is still too high to make a good case to major automakers.

“When you do the math on pickup trucks, the battery price point that would make the plug-in hybrid or the battery-electric-powered truck competitive against a conventional competitor is still below where battery prices are today,” said Shepard in the March issue of Utility Fleet International.

Even for fleet operators – which have been targeted by startups as able to appreciate the value of more-expensive but cheaper to operate plug-ins – Shepard is projecting a few years or longer.

“For these trucks to become more mainstream, it’s not going to start for a while. The rationale behind that is largely the added-on power and range requirements that these vehicles have to meet to even come to market,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. I think you’re looking out to 2025 or even 2030 before you get to the point where batteries are providing the same number of miles as an internal combustion engine. Then you’ve hit the point where this option is actually viable.”

If Shepard sounds bearish, others are bullish, and others still are in between.

Among the more optimistic are companies that despite limited funding are starting today to carve out markets for themselves. If, like Tesla, new businesses can get a leg up, they also like Tesla, stand to push the majors to act sooner.

Consumers can only hope. Meanwhile here are a few companies working in that direction.

XL Hybrids

Founded in 2009 by MIT Senior Lecturer Tod Hynes, XL Hybrids focuses on quick plug-in hybrid conversions for class 2-6 commercial fleet vehicles down to pickup trucks.

The Boston-area company touts 20-50-percent improvement in miles driven per gallon and resultant CO2 emissions savings.

Closest to the heart of ordinary retail buyers is the company’s XLP Plug-in Hybrid retrofit for the Ford F-150.

Unfortunately for would-be individual customers is this is targeted at commercial fleet buyers, but it does present a benchmark above the existing F-150.

XL Hybrids says a 50-percent mpg improvement can be had with a battery greater than 10-kWh that can provide e-drive up to 85 mph.

Charging on from a wall socket at level 1 takes less than 12 hours, and 240-volt level 2 is under 3 hours. The system weighs 700 pounds, and works for two- and four-wheel-drive powertrains.

Via Motors

A familiar name, and backed by “father of the Chevy Volt” Bob Lutz, Via Motors specializes in retrofitting its plug-in hybrid powertrains into new GM light duty pickups, SUVs, and vans.

Via’s new eREV powertrain uses a 23 kWh battery and claims up to 40 miles EV range. The system is coupled with a 4.3-liter V6 that generates electricity.

Up to 190 kW peak (415 Nm) motor power makes for quick acceleration, and a 6,500-pound curb weight extended cab VTRUX has a 1,000 pound payload capacity.


With the Model 3 on the near horizon and a Model Y crossover next, Tesla has its hands full, but a truck is something company head Elon Musk has promised.

Unlike plug-in hybrids, this one is to be all-electric and Musk tweeted in April it would be revealed in a couple of years.

Before that however, Musk said to expect its semi truck in September 2017.

The semi, to be as innovative for trucks as the Model S has been for cars, of course is not for retail customers, but the good news is the pickup is to be.

Specs are anyone’s guess, but Tesla says it does not make slow vehicles, or ugly ones one might add, so this may be something to look forward to.


Last but not least is Workhorse which unveiled its W-15 fleet-oriented plug-in hybrid pickup this March in Long Beach, Calif.

Unlike others, this one is made from the ground up based on the company’s E-Gen electric technology used in Workhorse medium-duty delivery trucks, said Mike Dektas.

The company believes this is the first purpose-built full-size electrified pickup, and being such, it has room for enough Panasonic 18650 li-ion batteries to provide 80 miles range, and 0-60 in 5.5 seconds

Extra large crumple zones and crash mitigation technology including automatic braking and lane centering technology add to safety, and good news as well is the company is taking names for a potential consumer model.

The fleet model, due for production in late 2018 in the company’s Union City, Indiana plant is to start at just $52,500, said media representative Dektas, and details remain to be seen on a potential model you may buy as an individual consumer.

“The W-15 is an exciting vehicle,” said Dektas. “We have had a lot of response from people saying they would like to buy it as a consumer pickup – so we are beginning to collect names of interested parties on our website – if we get enough interest we will also market the truck to consumers.”


Jun 08

New Popemobile is an Opel Ampera-e


by Michael Accardi

Vatican City wants to become the first C02 free country in the world through the use of electric mobility and renewable energy.

During Laudato Sì, a sustainability conference addressing key environmental issues and future mobility, hosted by the Vatican earlier this week, Opel’s CEO Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann presented his Holiness Pope Francis with the keys to a brand new Opel Ampera-e.

“We are proud that we as Opel can contribute to the ambitious goals of the Vatican City. Our new Ampera-e will make electric mobility feasible for everyday use without any compromises,” said Dr. Neumann.

During the conference, Vatican City, along with Opel and Italian energy company Enel, promised to develop a sustainable mobility program for the smallest country in the world.

The Opel Ampera-e isn’t a bad place to start, its 520 km of NEDC rated range dwarf its next closest competitor by at least 100 km.

A version of this article originally appeared at GM Inside News

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