Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Aug 10

Cruise Automation Tests Autonomous Chevy Bolt

 

By Jon LeSage

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Cruise Automation is now testing a self-driving Chevy Bolt in Scottsdale, Ariz., according to a social media post.

The company revealed a photo yesterday of a test model Bolt with a LiDAR unit mounted on top, parked in a Scottsdale lot. The Twitter posting said that “We’re testing @Cruise autonomous tech on @Chevrolet Bolt EVs on roads in Scottsdale, AZ, in addition to San Fran.”

Cruise Automation has been testing autonomous Bolt electric cars in San Francisco since at least May, according to Autoblog spy shots. The publication reports that the autonomous vehicle testing in San Francisco and Scottsdale are being conducted by GM Cruise LLC.

Purchased by General Motors in March, Cruise Automation has been established as a new business unit for the automaker called GM Cruise LLC. It describes itself as “a driverless car company” on its LinkedIn page.

SEE ALSO: Sooner Than Some Think, Lyft Will Launch GM’s First Autonomous Electric Car

The reasons behind GM Cruise testing these self-driving Bolts haven’t been revealed. It may be tied into GM’s $500 million investment in Lyft in January of this year.

At that time, a GM executive shed some light on the subject. Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer of autonomous tech, said that GM offering its first autonomous electric car through its Lyft alliance, which will be coming together sooner than you might think.


Here’s a video from July 2014 when Cruise was working with Audis. Note they called it “autopilot.” Hmm. Maybe should have trademarked that name?

“We have not made that announcement yet, but what I would say is this is all coming much faster than people anticipate, so I’ll say that much. We have been transparent about that,” she said. “We are working on an on-demand ride-sharing network with Lyft, it’s not something we are thinking about, it’s something we are very much readying for consumer use.”

Autoblog

 

Aug 09

Faraday Future Poaches General Motors’ Electric Propulsion Chief

 

By Larry E. Hall

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Faraday Future’s hiring spree now includes Peter Savagian, the general director of General Motors’ electric propulsion drive team, and a former chief engineer of GM’s EV1 battery-electric program in the 1990s.

The California electric car start up has had success in recruiting top executives, engineers, designers and technicians from a wide scope of auto manufacturers.

Savagian announced his move to Faraday Future on LinkedIn, which was discovered by Electrek this past weekend.

On his LinkedIn profile, he lists himself as Faraday’s vice president for engineering and says he will “lead engineering operations for powertrain, battery and related high voltage systems.”

Savagian will be joining several of his former EV1 colleagues, including Silva Hiti, Young Mok Doo and Steven Schulz, who are working on Faraday’s power electronics.

The four of them also all worked for the Hughes Aircraft Company, which developed power electronics for the EV1 program, prior to joining GM.

SEE ALSO: Does Faraday Have a Future?

Former hires by Faraday Future include top people from BMW, FiatChrysler, Ford, Tesla and Toyota.

Currently, Faraday is designing and engineering a lineup of battery-electric vehicles, the first of which is expected sometime in 2018.

Until that happens, Faraday Future has a logo, offices in Hawthorne, CA, a factory that is under construction in Nevada and a concept car named the FFZero1 (above photo).

The concept, introduced at January’s Consumer Electronic Show, is a single-seat racecar built on an adaptable modular platform that will underpin the company’s future production vehicles.

Electrek

 

Aug 08

2019 Chevrolet Corvette Could Be Mid-Engined With Plug-in Hybrid Option

 

By Jon LeSage

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The next-generation Chevrolet Corvette could break tradition with a mid-engine layout and plug-in hybrid option as well.

According to sources interviewed by The Detroit News – including former “Father of the Volt” Bob Lutz – the eighth-generation C8 ‘Vette, codenamed “Emperor,” could be unveiled in 2018 prior to arriving at dealers for the 2019 model year.

None of this is official, as Chevy media reps merely said they do not speak of future product, but others with reportedly close ties have said the car is definitely in the works.

One “former GM employee with knowledge of the project” told The Detroit News the project is being pushed through by GM’s Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain.

“It’s happening. Mark Reuss wants it,” said the source. “It’s the worst-kept secret in town.”

For his part Lutz suggested the possibility of the plug-in option. The former General Motors product czar and vice chairman speculated that one of the reasons the C8 is in a longer-than-typical development period is indeed to add a plug-in powertrain.

Lutz predicts “10- to 15-mile plug-in electric capability,” which would come from a small lithium-ion battery pack no larger than 5 kilowatt hours plus electric motor added to the traditional small-block pushrod V8. He also predicts the plug-in hybrid Corvette will have 50 mpg city in EPA testing.

If the mid-engine layout actually does come to pass, despite plug-in fans’ sensibility, this change in engine layout will be seen as bigger news, and arguably the most profound design change in the Corvette’s history since 1953.

Aside from the The Detroit News, several other publications have also speculated that the next Corvette will drop the front-engine layout. Mid-engine Corvette concept cars have been shown by GM going back to the 1960s, but were never brought to production as consumer models.

Lutz suggested that engineering a plug-in hybrid powertrain could enable another first for the Corvette – all-wheel drive. He speculated that it could be enabled by an electric motor mounted to the front axle, augmenting the Corvette’s traditional rear-wheel drive.

The idea of a hybrid or plug-in hybrid Corvette has been talked about before. In 2013, then-GM president Reuss called a hybrid Corvette a “very attractive idea” for competing with other high-performance models on the market, and he’s said also he would like to be involved with such a project.

SEE ALSO: Electric Corvette Sets 205-MPH Speed Record

In reimagining the Corvette to this degree, it would also stand to take the already competent supercar-on-a-relative-budget further into bona fide supercar territory. The mid-engine layout is prized for balance, and cars like the Ferrari 488 and Ford GT would be considered competitors.

As for the plug-in part of the equation, elite brands have shown their own electrification projects, if not also production models. Porsche has its 918 Spyder, McLaren has its P1, Ferrari has its hybrid LaFerrari, and the list goes on of brands adding or planning to add batteries to monster engines and track-worthy road chassis.

Speculation surrounding spy photos of the supposed mid-engine Corvette in testing have further been that development could see its way into a Cadillac halo vehicle as well.

No word was given however on a pure battery electric ‘Vette that might compete against a future follow-up to a Tesla Roadster.

So far, electric versions of the Corvette have been built by do-it-yourselfers, with one notable example being the all-electric Genovation Extreme Electric Car (GXE). This vehicle ran at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to a record speed of 205.6 mph.

Whether GM ever goes this way with its fabled sports car is to be determined, but meanwhile eyes will be on whether more news comes about a mid-engined Corvette with plug-in option.

The Detroit News, via Green Car Reports

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Aug 05

Nissan Takes Wraps Off of World’s First Solid-Oxide Fuel-Cell Car

 

Here’s something a little different.

By Tim Healey

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Nissan has come out with the world’s first solid-oxide fuel-cell prototype car.

The light-commercial vehicle based on the e-NV200 runs on bio-ethanol electric power. That means it can use multiple fuels, such as ethanol and natural gas.

SEE ALSO: Nissan Trying Out Bio-Ethanol for Electricity and Hydrogen Powered Cars

“The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a press release. “All the while supporting the existing infrastructure. In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. Without the need to create new infrastructure, it has great potential to drive market growth.”

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SEE ALSO: Nissan Finds a Way to Broadcast EV Driver’s Emotions

Nissan is working on building zero-emission cars, and this fuel-cell prototype is part of that effort. In this case, the vehicle can run on 100 percent ethanol, which charges a 24-kWh battery, and Nissan promises a cruising range of more than 600 kilometers, or about 372 miles. In addition to ethanol, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell can also run on ethanol-blended water.

The e-Bio Fuel Cell generates electricity by using the solid-oxide fuel-cell, with the bio-ethanol stored in the vehicle’s tank providing the fuel source. The e-Bio Fuel-Cell uses hydrogen transformed from the fuel through a reformer as well as atmospheric oxygen, with the following electric and chemical reaction producing the electricity that’s used to power the prototype.

GM also had a use for the non-electric NV in rebadging the Chevy Express in 2013. Speculation was one day GM might also use the electrified version. Might it yet?

GM also had a use for the non-electric NV200 in rebadging the Chevy Express in 2013. Speculation was one day GM might also use the electrified version. Might it yet? Might it also like a solid-oxide FC type as well? GM is committed to FCV research with Honda already. Just food for thought …

Nissan will be conducting tests on public roads in Brazil. The e-Bio Fuel-Cell is promised to be carbon-neutral (meaning that any carbon dioxide emitted is offset by the process of growing the crops that are used to create the fuel) while also running silent like a battery electric vehicle with the cruising range of a standard gasoline-engined vehicle.

Bio-ethanol fuels are mainly sourced either from corn or sugarcane.  Because these sources are plentiful and ethanol-blended water has a low combustion point, Nissan said it won’t be hard to introduce this fuel to the market and its existing infrastructure.

The base vehicle for the prototype is the Nissan e-NV200, with a 30-liter tank capacity. The solid-oxide fuel-cell has an output of 5 kW.

Nissan press release.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Aug 04

Tesla Q2 Earnings Report Falls Short As It Otherwise Shoots For the Stars

 

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Wildly ambitious Tesla promises very favorable long-term numbers but its second quarter earnings report released today had figures that did not meet analysts’ expectations.

The company is not yet profitable, is not expected to be at this stage of burning cash to build and unify its businesses of vehicles, solar power and energy storage, but losses reported of $1.06 per share were worse than a projection of 52 cents.

Including expenses, the loss was $2.09 per share, and the same poll by Thomson Reuters that set the 52-cent estimate had figured Tesla would lose 94 cents per share under that metric.

Losses of $293 million for the second quarter were 59-percent greater compared to the second quarter one year prior. Revenue was up 32 percent at $1.3 billion. Thomson Reuters had estimated Tesla would take in $1.6 billion in revenues, and Tesla said this it did do, after adjusting for certain costs.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Throws a Gigaparty

Vehicles delivered in Q2 tallied to 14,402, shy of a 17,000-unit target, and about 30 units more than it had said in an adjusted forecast in July. This year assuming 50,000 more units it says it is on track for, it may hit the low end of its total-year guidance of 80,000-90,000.

But as noted, Tesla has been busy. The earnings news comes the week after its grand opening of the Nevada Gigafactory battery plant, and this Monday it announced a planned acquisition of SolarCity for $2.6 billion.

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The company is accelerating its global footprint in terms of retail space, service space, charging networks, and its Master Plan, Part Deux announced last month lays it all out.

High on the priority list is to begin production as soon as later next year of the $35,000 and up Model 3 – which may average around $42,000 with options, according to a tweet by CEO Elon Musk. More than 400,000 people have placed deposits to reserve the Model 3.

The company is also at work on long-term plans to fill out a product assortment that would include a crossover, van, pickup truck, bus and semi, among other vehicular options from small to large.

Tesla has always been controversial to one degree or another and has been a focus of options strategy players while those invested long have argued the case for its ultimate success.

Analysts and others of late are publishing more frontally challenging pieces with varying degrees of politeness assessing Musk’s ambitions to reinvent the transportation industry.

The overview on its investors page sets the tone for the boilerplate Tesla party line:

We believe that more than 100 years after the invention of the internal combustion engine, incumbent automobile manufacturers are at a crossroads and face significant industry-wide challenges. The reliance on the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine as the principal automobile powertrain technology has raised environmental concerns, created dependence among industrialized and developing nations on oil largely imported from foreign nations and exposed consumers to volatile fuel prices. In addition, we believe the legacy investments made by incumbent automobile manufacturers in manufacturing and technology related to the internal combustion engine have to date inhibited rapid innovation in alternative fuel powertrain technologies. We believe these challenges offer a historic opportunity for companies with innovative electric powertrain technologies and that are unencumbered with legacy investments in the internal combustion engine to lead the next technological era of the automotive industry.

 

In its favor for Q2, despite raised eyebrows here and there, Tesla touted accomplishments including the completion of the Model 3 design phase, increased margins on Model S and Model X, and consistent production of nearly 2,000 vehicles per week.

Never shy to shape the ongoing narrative of the Tesla Story, last week Musk tweeted a vote of confidence published making a case for Tesla's "fruitful synergies."

Never shy to shape the ongoing narrative of the Tesla Story, last week Musk tweeted a vote of confidence published making a case for Tesla’s “fruitful synergies.”


It says these and other developments including the SolarCity merger keep the case viable that the glass is half full for fulfilling its goals, not half empty.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Executive Says Other Automakers’ Electric Cars Are ‘Little More Than Appliances’

Tesla’s explanation of last quarter’s numbers can also be seen in its Q2 2016 update letter.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Aug 03

Volt has best monthly sales this year in July; up 83 percent YOY

 

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The Chevy Volt notched above recent months’ around-1,900-unit sales level to 2,406 units in July, its best month this year and 83.2 percent better than July 2015’s 1,313 units.

Prior to this, a best month in recent history was August 2014, in which 2,511 were sold. Helping things along, among a host of other reasons, said automotive analyst Alan Baum, was a 20-percent off MSRP incentive for leftover 2016 models in the early days of July.

As the first plug-in electrified vehicle to receive a complete redesign, the new Volt struggled early in the year to match volumes in its best years of 2012 and 2013, but has picked up steam since March and its latest month, July, is within the realm of its better months on record.

The years 2012 and 2013 saw year-end totals within a few hundred units of each other in the 23,000-unit range. Year to date, with five months left to go, the Volt has sold 12,214 units.

If it averages just over 2,000 units per month for five more months, it could tie its peak years. Or is there room to go higher?

Notable also is 12,214 sales thus far is enough to make the Volt the second-best selling PEV in the U.S. behind the Tesla Model S.

Other cars doing well include the Ford Fusion Energi, which as of June was tracking about 2,600 units behind the Volt, having experienced a 133 percent gain that month.

As expected, the all-electric Nissan Leaf, awaiting a second generation revision but traditionally compared to the Volt having launched the same month, lags even further behind, with 1,063 sales.

We will have a complete sales report once we have all numbers in and checked with the July 2016 sales Dashboard.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 
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