Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Oct 14

The P85D is not the ‘fastest’ sedan in the world


The pros and cons of EVs in general and Tesla in particular are understood, and most of the time, that’s the focus, but embellishment of facts is not needed when so many verifiable facts support the cause.

To wit, at first this was going to be a brief about Tesla’s quickness claims, but then it became apparent Tesla has amped up rhetoric that began a couple years ago with Model S is the world’s best car (and the Volt is an “amphibian” and BMW i3 is “Ikea” level design).


Tesla is pushing the frontier in many ways, and its 691-horsepower all-wheel-drive P85D just announced is a technological feat, but some of Tesla’s assertions appear a bit stretched even next to cars by Dodge.

Yes Dodge, and many other automakers could also contend some of Tesla’s statements as well.

In its blog post last week, Tesla suggested the P85D will be the best road holding vehicle and quickest sedan produced in the history of automobiles, and if this is what it means, this is incorrect.


Just weeks before Tesla wrote the P85D’s 3.2-second 0-60 mph time makes it the “fastest accelerating” sedan ever, Dodge had announced its 707-horsepower SRT Charger as the “quickest” and “fastest” sedan “ever.” Dodge used the terms correctly, and Tesla really means quickest when it says it’s the “fastest accelerating.”

"Quickest," Fastest, "Most Powerful" sedan ever, says Dodge of the car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute. Is this a last hurrah of the pony cars, or are we in for a protracted battle?

“Quickest,” “Fastest,” “Most Powerful” sedan ever, says Dodge of the the 4,500-plus-pound Charger SRT Hellcat that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute. Is this a last hurrah of the pony cars, or are we in for a protracted battle? More could be stated for either car, including the ICE benefits from an 8-speed transmission. Formula E has incorporated multipspeed boxes for its race cars. EVs have instant torque, but they must push a tall final drive which can matter for cars positioned for ultimate performance. Also not stated is the Dodge has been dyno’d in development over 100 hp more. A tuner’s market however can make it quicker, cheaper.

“The P85D combines the performance of the P85 rear motor with an additional 50 percent of torque available from our new front drive unit,” wrote Tesla. “The result is the fastest accelerating four-door production car of all time – while remaining one of the most efficient cars on the road.”

Tesla claims 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, and quarter mile in 11.8 seconds with all four wheels propelling. The rear-wheel-drive Dodge costing around half the $120,000-plus Tesla officially blazes 0-60 in 3.7 seconds – here Tesla is quicker – and the quarter in 11.0 seconds – here the Dodge is quicker.

When equipped with drag radials – to help with traction which the Tesla gets with four sticky sport tires – the Dodge was timed at 10.7 seconds in the quarter, and 0-60 took a superbike-quick 2.9 seconds.

Of course when on full tilt the Charger can burn as much fuel as a battleship, and company wide, Fiat-Chrysler is dead last in the federal fuel-economy ratings, but this fact remains.

It should be noted other rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model S sedans have been timed a few tenths quicker than their advertised time, so ultimately, the P85D’s times will remain to be seen. However, it is not necessarily the “fastest,” including top speed, which is what this term normally refers to.

The P85D has its top speed raised to 155 mph but Dodge says the Charger – which uses a powertrain developed first for the Challenger SRT Hellcat – goes 204 mph.

McLaren F1.

McLaren F1.

Tesla says it benchmarked the P85D’s 3.2-second 0-60 time to the McLaren F1, an ultimate supercar from the 1990s which Elon Musk once owned. The McLaren F1 was quick, its 11.5-second quarter mile still stands quicker, but which was “fastest?” The F1 could outrun small aircraft. With its rev-limiter disabled an example ran 243 mph in 1998, and with rev-limiter intact, the F1 did 231.

That Tesla’s 4,936-pound EV can match the beginning of the acceleration run of an all-time great supercar weighing around 2,400 pounds is amazing, but also in question would be Tesla’s road-handling assertions.

Best Handling?

The P85D has all-wheel drive that Tesla describes with phrasing borrowed from the IT world to make it seem the AWD Model S will handle better than anything else.

“With its digital torque controls and low center of gravity, Dual Motor Model S has the most capable road holding and handling of any vehicle ever produced,” wrote Tesla.

How Tesla wishes to qualify this seemingly unequivocal statement is in question, but the P85D is a nearly 5,000 pound automobile, about the same as a 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat, and 1,000 pounds more than a conventionally powered Porsche Panamera.

P85D has 1g lateral acceleration, which means it will do respectably in a slalom test, if not an open road-racing course favoring faster cars.

P85D is claimed to have 1g lateral acceleration, which means it will do respectably in a slalom test, if not an open road-racing course favoring faster cars.

Many things come to mind, but for no-excuses performance, one cannot help but remember Lotus’ Colin Chapman.

“Simplify, then add lightness,” was his philosophy [says Lotus Cars] way before minimalism became a high street term. “Adding power makes you faster on the straights, subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere.”

No matter how low the center of gravity and enablement of all-wheel drive, in the absence of ground effects (which would add brutal forces to the tires), Tesla will not be able to make up for this weight.

In July, a rear-wheel-drive Model S 60-kwh that attempted to run the Nürburgring Nordschleife took around 10 minutes after overheating, close to the 10–minute time Sabine Schmitz did in a Ford Transit van.

Here’s one of a P85, not professionally driven, uninsured, his own car, taking it careful.

Without a doubt, an 85-kwh Model S is capable of better, a P85D even better, but even with battery management keeping temperatures under control, it will remain to be seen how competitively Tesla can complete even one full lap of the 13-mile automotive proving ground du jour.

Actually the automaker has yet to take its world’s best sedan, as it called Model S a couple of years ago, to the ‘Ring. Instead, last week Tesla set up a sensory overload light tunnel to wow folks at night with no competitive comparison nearby, and in a way that highlights the P85D’s sub-100 mph straight-line acceleration advantage.

Other Nürburgring lap times of note are: Hyundai Genesis: 8:43, Chevy HHR SS: 8:43; MINI Cooper JCW, 8:23; Lexus IS-F: 8:18; Cadillac CTS-V: 7:59; Subaru WRX: 7:55; and there are a few dozen more in the low-mid 7-minute range.

Has anyone seen a Model S crack into the 8-minute mark yet? It should be able to, and eventually someone could make it into the 7s as well. Or, how about Tesla just take the P85D to any major U.S. winding road circuit with curves and straightaways against, say, a BMW M5, Audi RS7, S8, or a half-priced a Cadillac CTS-V?

Nor is this us being contentious; the gauntlet is being thrown down by Tesla’s own rhetoric, including its latest post:

“Where gasoline-powered all wheel drive cars sacrifice efficiency in return for all weather traction …”

“Consistent with our mission, we also wanted to demonstrate that an electric car can soundly beat gasoline cars on efficiency and pure performance …”

“The Model S P85 already outperforms gasoline-powered cars in the same class with its ability to deliver 100 percent of peak torque from a standing start …”

And, as mentioned:

“The result is the fastest accelerating four-door production car of all time …”

“Dual Motor Model S has the most capable road holding and handling of any vehicle ever produced …”

So, Tesla is saying in one post P85D is better than gasoline-powered cars in wet and dry. It also soundly beats gasoline cars, outperforms competitors in its class, is the quickest sedan in history, is the best handling production vehicle of any type in history.

Where Tesla Is Really Winning

The Model S P85D will give your friends a super speed show if you punch it from go, but a race car it is not, nor is it likely to win in several performance car measurements that enthusiasts would consider meaningful.

But no other automaker is pushing the threshold in all-electric drive like Tesla is. It has captured the imagination of the public, the stock market, and is running circles around established nameplates in the marketplace.

It is serving as a goad to old-school automakers who are probably being coached by their PR department not to let their executives speak too negatively about Tesla with media recording their statements, as have some only to be pounced on by Tesla fans.

And as for Dodge, its maker Chrysler-Fiat has one compliance EV, the Fiat 500e, it has no hybrids, and its CEO Sergio Marchionne comes across as much like the antithesis of Elon Musk as do the gas-swilling Dodge Hellcats from the Model S.

“I think you need to be very, very careful if you think that electrification, given its inherent limitations on range, especially in markets like the U.S., will effectively displace combustion,” said Marchionne to Automotive News last week. “It will never provide the travel distance that you require, especially based on what we know today about the storage capabilities of batteries.”


We could quote Elon Musk too, but you likely already know what he is saying about EVs. Tesla’s blog does tout outright superiority to conventional cars that is questionable, but Tesla is winning in more important ways, and is speaking otherwise convincingly with its actions against a tough industry with a 100-year head start.

For now, it has brilliantly kept the buzz machine generating more free ink with the P85D costing four times the average new car price, and those of more modest means are waiting for the Model 3 so they can get their Tesla EV in due time.

Who will win in the end? Don’t bet against Tesla, even if some of its exuberant self-descriptions about its latest product update might not hold up under closer examination.


Oct 13

Test drive review – 2015 Kia Soul EV


And now for something completely different.

We’re not sure if Kia and Hyundai are playing good cop, bad cop, but while Hyundai insists EVs are less effective solutions than fuel cells, Kia has launched its first globally intended EV.

Of course, it’s a compliance car for the time being, but that could change. We had a writer in California offer us the unique peek, so here it is.

By Aaron Gold


Kia has garnered a lot of fans for its Soul, a squared-off mini-ute that proves style and practicality can go hand-in-hand.

For its first EV marketed outside its home country, Kia decided to convert the funky box on wheels which breaks the mold of the more-often seen hatchback configuration.

And, after having driven it at a media road drive event, we can report that nearly everything we like about the internal-combustion version is intact. Although the Soul EV gives up a few inches of back-seat legroom, trunk space remains unchanged and the squared shape means there’s plenty of headroom front and back.


As a bonus, they’re even making commercials for it with the hamsters!


Kia has taken an as-you-like-it approach by offering four paint schemes.

If you want the world to know you’re driving electric, you can get your Soul EV in bright blue with a white roof, as shown in our photos, or jet black with the roof, grille surround, mirrors and chin spoiler done in bright red.

Prefer to play it cool? Then ask for your Soul EV in soul-less white or gray, in which case only the blanked-off grille and five-slot disk wheels distinguish it from the gas-powered version.


Inside, the Soul EV gets a glossy white center stack that appears identical to finishes found on cheap third-party iPod accessories – but the unique digital instrument panel packs a lot of information into an easy-to-scan graphical format.


Over 50 pounds of interior parts are made from bio-based materials, with many of the plastics derived from cellulose and sugar cane. These include things line trim panels, carpeting, headliner, and seat trim.

The Soul comes with a special EV version of Kia’s UVO eServices. With built-in connectivity from Verizon and an app on their phone, Soul EV owners can get real-time battery status and can remotely start and stop charging, heating or air conditioning. Drivers can also use the standard-fit navigation system to find nearby charging stations. UVO services are free for the first five years, and the Soul EV comes with a five-year Sirius TravelLink subscription as well.

The Drive

So what’s it like? Well, to be frank, it’s a bit unusual. Power isn’t a problem; the Soul EV’s synchronous electric motor is rated at 109 horsepower and 210 pounds-feet of torque.

Like most EVs, the one-speeder with torque from zero delivers strong thrust with no waiting, unless you accidentally switch it into Active Eco mode, which chains up the amps in order to stretch battery life. If given full access to the juice, Kia says the Soul will scamper to 60 mph in 11.2 seconds and top out at 90 mph.


One thing we really like is the regenerative braking setup. With the shifter in “D,” the Soul EV responds like an ordinary car. Shifting into “B” (“Brake”) allows one-foot driving: Lift off the accelerator pedal brake, apply light pressure to drift, and gas it (figuratively speaking) when you want to go.

But the ride is a bit of a head-scratcher. Our test car pitched awkwardly over low-speed bumps, as if the engineers had beefed up the springs to handle the extra weight of the batteries but hadn’t spent much time or money fine-tuning the whole set-up.


Once up to speed, the Soul is smooth and commendably quiet. You’d think quiet would need no commendation in an electric car, but you’d be surprised: With no internal-combustion engine to provide a background rumble, things like tire and wind noise suddenly seem very loud. We did hear a trace of wind rushing past the Soul EV’s windshield at highway speeds, but that was about it.

One thing we heard more than a trace of was squealing rubber. While most EVs are shod with low rolling resistance tires, the Soul EV goes one step further with what Kia calls super low rolling resistance tires. Like the low-rollers of old, these SLRRTs (well, what else should we call them?) scream bloody murder if you try to whip the Soul EV around a corner, and give up their grip shortly thereafter.

It’s a shame, as having 600-plus pounds of batteries in the basement does wonders for the Soul EV’s cornering stability, and we can’t help thinking that with a good set of shoes, the Soul EV would make an interesting track car.


That aforementioned juice for the Soul EV comes from a 90-kw (27 kwh) lithium-ion polymer battery pack – an 8.5-cubic-foot package that fits neatly underneath the car. A panel on the grille opens to reveal twin power ports for the 6.6-kw charger, with a J1772 connector for 120/240-volt charging and a CHAdeMO port for 480-volt fast charging both fitted as standard equipment. Kia says the Soul EV can be fast-charged to 80 percent in 33 minutes, while a full charge at 240 volts will take 4 to 5 hours. The Soul comes with a 120-volt charger, but with a 24-hour juice-up time, you’ll want to avoid using it. Kia is installing 240- and 480-volt chargers at a handful of Kia dealerships in California, and for those who need to buy a home charger, Kia has established partnerships with Aerovironment, Bosch, and Leviton.

SEE ALSO: Kia Uses Novel HVAC Technologies For Soul EV

How far can you go on a charge? Kia reiterates an EPA range of 93 miles, which puts it ahead of most EVs save the Tesla Model S and the Toyota RAV4 EV. But in terms of efficiency, it’s near the back of the pack: With EPA ratings of 120 MPGe city, 92 MPGe highway, and 105 MPGe combined, the Soul is in the same ballpark as the Ford Focus EV (110/99/105) but well behind the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, and Chevrolet Spark EV.


The Soul EV will first go on sale in California, with sales spreading to other states in 2015. Pricing starts at $34,500, including the destination fee but not including $7,500 federal tax credit, assuming you apply, and as-available state credits. The Soul EV Plus model , lists for $2,000 more and adds leather seats and trim, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, parking assistance, and a few other odds and ends. That makes the Soul EV more expensive than the Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, and Nissan Leaf, but more affordable than the Ford Focus Electric.


Overall, the Soul EV is a rather good effort. We like the choice of color options (stand-out or fade back) and we’re impressed by the range, though we’re also disappointed by the efficiency. And this being a Kia, we expected more aggressive pricing. The Soul EV is certainly very practical, but so is the Nissan Leaf, which falls about 10-percent shorter on range but is less expensive and more efficient. And if back-seat space isn’t an issue, we’d recommend the Fiat 500e, which costs less, charges quicker, consumes less power, and is very fun to drive.

The Soul EV is a perfectly good electric car, and as with the gas version, it’s worth buying on styling alone. But if you’re looking for the best-and-brightest in EV technology, the Soul might be a bit too much of a square.


Oct 10

Tesla reveals ‘the D and something else’


After holding everyone in suspense and sending the Internet into a speculation frenzy, Tesla has revealed “the D and something else” as tweeted last week by CEO Elon Musk.

As we reported last week was suspected on the first half of his tweet, the “D” is a Model S P85D with dual motors. A Model S with 60-kwh battery will be called 60D and a mid-level 85D with dual motors will be available in addition to the quickest P85D.


According to a Tesla rep on a drive last night in Hawthorne, prices quoted are $4,000 extra for the standard 60D and mid-level 85D and the highest-performance P85D model will “start at $120,000.”

The AWD system uses an additional 221-horsepower motor up front adding to the 470 horsepower motor out back to claw out better traction. For the P85D this is claimed at 0-60 time in about 3.2 seconds, and efficiencies allow for an extra 10 miles range, or 275 miles total.

Quarter mile time is estimated now at 11.8 seconds instead of the former 12.6 and lateral acceleration is 1g for the 291-pound heavier car, weighing 4,936 pounds.

But don’t expect both max range and to be testing the 0-60 times overly much on the same charge, as that energy will take a toll on the AWD Model S – a concept at least generally suspected was coming well before Musk’s tweet, if not with all this extra performance.


The P85D’s estimated sprint time compares to the current quickest P85 Performance rated at 4.2 seconds. This and other rear-wheel-drive variants have all been timed a few tenths quicker by various testers, however, and it’s believed Tesla is conservative with its estimates.

And, more certain is AWD helps with wet and snow acceleration – not braking, so to say improved “traction” can be somewhat misleading – but AWD should otherwise be a benefit for those who experience snow.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Could Profit From Selling Its Used Cars
The Model X SUV will also be provided with all-wheel drive when released next year, but no news was given about it or the Model 3.

Musk called the AWD system for the Model S “a huge improvement” and said it is “taking the technology to the next level.” Other automakers, such as Lexus with its RX SUV, have employed a similar AWD system.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Cars To Be 90-Percent ‘Auto Pilot’ Capable By 2015, Says Elon Musk
As for “something else,” new safety tech will also help Tesla compete with other automakers which are moving towards autonomous driving with sophisticated systems.


On of Tesla’s innovations includes lane departure warning, and new Model S sedans will have 12 sensors that can see 16 feet to help the new system move the car over a lane when the driver uses the turn signal. It will also read speed-limit signs and be able to adjust the vehicle to the speed seen.





The system is not able to be retrofitted on previous Model S sedans.

Prior to the revelation, Tesla also threw one of its usual parties, and while it was at it launched a new line of leather goods with the Tesla logo made of the same leather as used in the Model S.


Thanks to Mark Z for the photos!


Oct 09

Mark Reuss confirms believed-likely 200-mile range Chevy BEV


GM has a Tesla watch team. Tesla wants a 200 mile BEV. GM wants a 200 mile BEV.

Yeah, so? When did GM ever say it would use a Sonic to steal sales from Tesla’s built-from-the-ground-up BMW 3-Series fighter (the world has not yet seen)?

Anyway, things are looking up over at GM. What else could it have cooking? What kind of batteries will it use? Those from Sakti3 or someone already in its supply chain?



Since former GM CEO Dan Akerson hinted last year of another Chevy branded EV with 200-mile range on par with Tesla’s planned Model 3, conjecture has swirled about the possibilities.

Last week at an investor meeting, GM’s global product chief Mark Reuss confirmed rumors are true that the Spark EV will have a sibling, and the Volt will have a distant relation.

He did not divulge price, specs, timing, or nameplate but a report by Automotive News cites “two people familiar with GM’s plans” stating off the record that the subcompact Sonic will be the one to be electrified, and it is due some time during 2017, and will have 200 miles of range.

The Sonic is bigger than the diminutive Spark which Reuss knows “people wish we would sell it all around the country,” he said of the 82-mile-range EV version, but GM has announced no plans to extend beyond Oregon and California.

Not clear is whether the Sonic would be another compliance car, or if by 2017 as new CAFE regs start to ratchet down, and the competitiveness of a 200-mile EV interests buyers, it could be sold broadly as the Volt is now.

Also unclear is whether GM hopes to make any conquest sales from Tesla’s pending Model 3 as it’s come to be called. Both could launch around the same time, but AN gave no indication GM is saber rattling, and dots connected in the minds of speculators is the primary basis of that idea.

If Tesla is aiming at BMW 3-Series and others in that range, we’ve heard the usual smearing and disrespect for GM for contemplating to convert a basic family hatch, but maybe GM’s car will sell for less?

More certain is the next Volt is due in late 2015 or 2016, and GM has also sad a plug-in hybrid version of its pending CT6 flagship was coming, and it would even build a second generation Cadillac ELR.

Perhaps GM will have more plug-ins to announce over the next three years? The way things have gone, this would appear nearly definite, but we shall see.

Automotive News


Oct 08

Volts have driven over 1 billion miles – close to two-thirds on electricity


As GM teases and otherwise hides its next Volt, the monitored fleet of the existing ones quietly crossed one billion miles.


Of these miles, over 627 million were EV miles, and over 32.6 million gallons of gas were saved.

GM’s data comes from some of the OnStar data and the numbers which are supposed to be live and in real time can do strange things like reverse or stop.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 9

But given the total is one billion plus 4.7 million, it’s safe to say at least a billion miles have been driven.


Oct 07

Chrysler Town & Country PHEV to launch a year early in 2015


Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed from Paris the company will bring its plug-in hybrid minivan to market late next year – a year ahead of its previously announced timeframe.

In May this year we reported its Town & Country PHEV would come along in 2016, and could boast upwards of 75 MPGe while taking design cues from the 700c concept (pictured).


The new plug-in hybrid will be one of more Chrysler hybrids to come, including a full-sized crossover. A report by Automotive News offered scant details about the minivan’s powertrain, but earlier this year it was suggested it could get a nine-speed transmission and offer all-wheel drive.

According to Automobile magazine, the new minivan will get a new front-wheel-drive platform and V6 and motor pairing.

Town & Country plug-in hybrids tested on the road were using “a 3.6-liter Pentastar paired with a two-mode hybrid transmission and liquid-coolied lithium-ion battery pack to crank out 290 horsepower,” wrote Automobile.

Level 2 charging took two-four hours, and level one took 8-15 hours. AER was not mentioned, but a total of 700 miles range was.


The vehicle is believed likely to seat seven and rival the Chevy Traverse, and Toyota Highlander.

In 1984 Chrysler made a big splash in the market with its first minivan that began the downward spiral for station wagons as a vehicle of choice for American families.

Chrysler presently has no hybrids for sale in the U.S. and here it is launching a vehicle in a type that proved successful before – and indeed, there is a gaping hole other automakers have chosen not to fill, although they have the technology in place.

But Marchionne made no predictions that plug-in power would replace combustion, and in fact, he stated limitations with battery energy storage would keep them a minority player until further notice.


“I keep on running into this fundamental economic obstacle of overcoming the cost equation of electrification. You can’t,” Marchionne said. “You can’t unless there is a wholesale change and a fundamental shift in the pricing structure of cars.”

So what will it cost? That was not divulged either, but they’re building it, bringing it early, and earlier this year Chrysler brand head Al Gardner said the plug-in minivan would be have efficiency to rival a Prius.

Know any other companies with technology that can rival a Prius?

Automotive News, Automobile

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