Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Oct 23

Which makes more sense – gen-2 Volt or Model S?



Is there really any comparison between the Tesla Model S and the Chevy Volt?

In ways yes, in other obvious ways not so much, but people are evaluating the two for what it’s worth.

Both are plug-in electrified vehicles and since there are scant few PEVs on the U.S. market, the temptation has been inevitable.

But beyond a mere academic exercise, there are reasons why the Volt could make an inexpensive alternative to the Model S, particularly the base 70D.

Both cars are at the pinnacle of their respective segments, and the Volt could potentially hit most of the hot-button reasons for buying a Tesla, so following is a look at various factors between the two.


Let’s get the obvious out of the way. The Model S is a large sedan – actually it is also a form of hatchback designed like a sedan. The Volt is a compact-class car – though in common it is also a hatchback designed like a sedan.


Model S is all-electric, with a 70-90-kilowatt-hour battery, priced on the low end before federal or state incentives at $76,200. The Volt is an “EREV” (extended-range electric vehicle) – a form of plug-in hybrid that is distinct from “blended PHEVs.”

As the name implies, it is an EV that extends range with a gas generator. It costs $33,995.

Where’s the Similarity?

Both are from U.S. carmakers. Both are plug-in electrified solutions to wean away from petroleum.

The 240-270-mile range Model S is guaranteed not to use gas because it has no engine. Simple!

The fastest color.

The fastest color.

The Volt, while it can only travel its 420-mile range with gas assist can do the first 53 miles in EV mode without that gas engine kicking on.

It thus can meet most average daily driving needs all electrically as well as a Model S. Former-generation Volt drivers statistically did 80 percent of trips gas free. GM estimates the new car will be good for 90 percent gas-free driving because its 53-mile rated range is farther than the 2011-2015 Volt’s approximately 35-40 miles.

Model S.

Model S.

Of course longer drives will see the Volt start to burn gas at somewhere around 42 mpg while the Model S will continue electrically.


Model S is a sleek luxury performance car. It’s really positioned more as a Cadillac class vehicle than as an alternative to a Chevrolet. It has gorgeous lines, avante garde features like a 17-inch touch screen, and a discrete minimalist interior design.

It’s also more spacious with true five passenger accommodations, or up to seven with two optional rearward facing seats for smaller people in back.


The four-seat plus one middle rear “seating position” Volt is contemporary, restyled and plenty of folks find it attractive enough, and refreshingly tasteful inside. GM does give the cabin an upscale flair with amenities, and it is comfortable at least up front, and in back to a lesser degree, but by comparison, its looks make it more of a low key conveyance.


For someone not wanting to stand out, this may be desirable not unlike how some have favored a Prius even in cases when they had the funds to buy a Mercedes just as easily.

The Volt does not put on any great air, and truth be told, it might even be confused from certain angles for a Cruze, though there are a few differences to a discerning eye.


The all-wheel-drive base Model S 70D is quicker in any 0-60 contest with a 5.2-second time, but the 0-30 time comparison may be much closer. Volt is estimated at 8.4 seconds to 60, but just 2.6 seconds to 30.

Its electric front-wheel-drive’s “instant torque” was beefed up over the generation-one Volt, and real world driving performance was emphasized, though to be sure this is no speed burner like the sleek fast Model S.


And compared to the larger 85 and up Model S, there is even less of a contest at upper speed levels.

Whether this matters is the question. The Volt is quite satisfactory for legal driving and then some – and truth be told, cars that are as quick as four-cylinder motorcycles really cater to desire for extra-legal driving in America with speed limits that can be quite tame by European standards.

Boring however, the Volt is not. On our drive in twisty Route One above Sausalito, California, the Chevy’s cornering prowess was satisfying, even with the standard Michelin low rolling resistance spec-class tires. These tires, by the way, could be changed out for more sticky rubber if really desired, at the expense of a tiny bit of range and efficiency, but most won’t see the need.

It’s lighter, in the 3,550-pound range than a large 1,000-pound heavier Model S on fatter stickier tires. The Model S is a rewarding driver too, both are fun.

Anyone really contemplating this should test drive both to see what you can live with. All we are saying here is while it’s assumed the Model S is fun, the Volt is surprisingly enjoyable.

Technology Credentials

The Model S and Volt are examples of sophisticated engineering. Tesla is a rolling computer with flat battery down below the floor in its skateboard chassis. Volt is a rolling computer and its tech cred mainly being its superior plug-in hybrid powertrain.


The battery actually is very high tech too, but is more of an encumbrance on interior packaging that is either something people accept or object to for its taking up the middle seating position.

Both are cutting edge in their own way.


The Volt and Tesla Model S have each scored well on Consumer Reports owner satisfaction ratings. Before the Model S took its crown in 2013, the Volt in 2011 and 2012 was number one in owner satisfaction, edging out even the vaunted Porsche 911 in the process.

The record for Volt reliability has been solid. The battery with five years on the market now has proven to retain its charge-holding capacity, and the entire vehicle is engineered as sort of technological showpiece for GM.

Model S11

Model S has also enjoyed popularity, though Consumer Reports this week did demote it to not recommended due to various issues. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has tweeted reminding people owners still largely recommend it. Tesla is also known to be extremely responsive in service.

Tesla’s proactive service policy where it may replace parts on principle has kept owners happy, even when changing out things like drive motors that failed in a number of cars, along with other issues CR documented, citing 1,400 owners.


The Volt also promises white glove customer service, and a “Volt Advisor” is there to offer assistance, but of course the owner experience is through authorized third-party dealers. Tesla runs its own factory service, so the experience is different, to be sure.

This assumes one will need warranty or repair service, which some have not, and in common to both is owners have become fans which says something in and of itself.

Bottom Line

This comparison between Volt and Model S is about as apple vs. orange as you can get, but in ways it’s not a complete stretch as both are aimed at demographics with overlapping preferences.


And the tendency to assess the two side by side may be inevitable. Until automakers give us more like-for-like choices, people determined to reduce emissions and get off of gas may be compelled to size up the cars despite them being in different classes.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Review – First Drive

Two Volts could be had for the price of one Model S. Chevrolet does not market the Volt as a Model S competitor, but for its part sees it more as an alternative to the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius.

Among plug-in hybrids, the Volt is a standout however and it is elevated to being truly an EV with extended range, and it does what people buy an EV to do. The next-nearest-range PHEV will be the 27-mile Hyundai Sonata plug-in hybrid when it is launched.

The Volt is the first plug-in car to undergo a full redesign. It has benefitted from lessons gained from gen one, while Model S gets evolved as it goes with over-the-air updates, and constant revisions, including Autopilot most recently.

They are two different approaches, to be sure. Which one would make more sense for you?


Oct 22

Close partnership between GM and LG helped bring about the Chevy Bolt


By Sarah Shelton

LG is providing far more than just batteries for the upcoming Chevy Bolt, with details emerging about LG’s in-depth relationship with General Motors during a media briefing earlier this week.

“Chevrolet needs to be disruptive in order to maintain our leadership position in electrification,” said GM Executive Vice President Mark Reuss. “By taking the best of our in-house engineering prowess established with the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV, and combining the experience of the LG Group, we’re able to transform the concept of the industry’s first long range, affordable EV into reality.”

LG Chem has long been the battery supplier for GM, building lithium-ion packs for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, while LG Electronics is responsible for Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system. In 2011, the two companies expanded their collaboration through a signed agreement to “jointly design and engineer future electric vehicles.”

Since then, LG Chem, LG Innotek, LG Display and LG Electronics have invested an estimated $250 million of research and development to “support the component development and manufacturing for Bolt EV components.”

These contributions will include the electric drive motor – built by LG using GM’s design – the power inverter, on-board charger, accessory power module and power line communication module. LG is once again supplying the infotainment system, but may deviate from the MyLink setup to design a unique screen and user interface.

SEE ALSO: GM Says Li-ion Battery Cells Down To $145/kWh and Still Falling

GM executives noted that the complexities of building an EV that retails for about $30,000 (after tax incentives) and delivers a 200-mile range “required an unprecedented supplier relationship combining expertise in infotainment, battery systems and component development with GM’s proven in-house capabilities in electric motor design, battery control, system validation and vehicle body/system integration.”

It also may be a sign of more tech companies merging with the automotive industry, noted Woo-jong Lee, president and CEO of the LG Electronics Vehicle Components Co.

“The opportunity to work with GM on such game-changing technology is indicative of exactly the type of contributions that traditional tech companies can make in the automotive space,” he said.


Another statement Inside EVs picked up on has folks speculating:

“It [the Bolt] will be around $30,000, but I think it’s going to be below that when you get the tax break on it,” said Mark Reuss. “It will have over 200 miles of range.”

So does that below $30k mean federal plus a state credit? Officially it will be around $30k after the federal. Caution is urged reading to much into things until more definitive statements are made.

As for range, how much more? it looks like 250 is the new 200. Nissan and Tesla may also do something more or less competitive, but Bolt will most likely do it first.




Oct 21

Will VW turn into a new electrified vehicle powerhouse?



By Sarah Shelton

Analysts are carefully watching Volkswagen to see if it can recover from its diesel emission scandal, and a few are wondering if electrified vehicles will be the answer.

“VW is actually in a strong position to innovate their way out of this mess,” said analysts with Lux Research. “They have been spending the most on R&D of any OEM (about $11 billion in 2013), and they are the largest automaker by volume. Arguably, no major OEM is better positioned than they are to decisively accelerate the push towards plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, putting the shine back on their tarnished image.”

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, one of only two electrified VWs currently available in the U.S.

Volkswagen has already developed a similar strategy for China, announcing last May that 20 different vehicles were being developed specifically for that market. The electrified fleet is to include both plug-in hybrid and battery electric powertrains in a variety of vehicle classes.

Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann, member of the board of management of Volkswagen AG with responsibility for China, laid out the plan in his essay, “Electrifying China With a Tailor-Made Efficiency Strategy.”

“I think we should be aware that plug-in hybrid power is the best solution in the short and medium term,” said Heizmann. “Perhaps the development of all-electric vehicles can be realized in the long run.”

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen To Build 20 New Electrified Car Models For China

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, also recently noted that plug-in vehicles are an optimal way for Volkswagen to recover.

“With hydrocarbon combustion we’ve hit the limits of physics – improvements are very tiny,” he told Auto Express. “There must have been lots of VW engineers under pressure – they’ve run into a physical wall of what might be possible so trickery was the only option.

“If I was taking over VW, I’d go the other way and aim to be a leader [in clean vehicles]. Maybe the path to redemption is towards clean vehicles.”

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Withdraws 2016 Diesel Models’ EPA Application

Switching from being a category forerunner in diesels to electrified vehicles will be an arduous challenge for Volkswagen, which currently has only two hybrids in the U.S. market and tallies less than 100 sales each month. And some analysts are doubtful that the company can initiate the drastic changes to make an EV-heavy strategy work.

“VW probably lacks the vision, leadership, and ambition to do it, so they will most likely carry on as usual after some apologies,” commented Lux Research.



Volkswagen To Shift Strategy From Diesel To Plug-In Hybrids And Electric Vehicles


Volkswagen AG is modifying its plan for smaller models – previously packed with diesel powertrains – saying it will move toward more electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The strategy was developed in a special meeting with the newly-formed Volkswagen Brand Board of Management, and announced this week by CEO Dr. Herbert Diess.

“The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future,” Diess said. “We are becoming more efficient, we are giving our product range and our core technologies a new focus, and we are creating room for forward-looking technologies by speeding up the efficiency program.”

Included in Volkswagen’s new direction is a distinct approach for each of its diesel, electric and plug-in powertrains.


For European and North American markets, Volkswagen said it is reorienting “the diesel strategy with the most advanced technologies.” This means every diesel drivetrain will include a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) catalytic converter and the urea-based AdBlue (both explained in the video below).

“Diesel vehicles will only be equipped with exhaust emissions systems that use the best environmental technology,” added Volkswagen.

Battery Electric:

The new strategy will also include “the development of a standardized electric architecture for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles,” Volkswagen said. For its electric vehicles, the company is targeting a range between 155 and 310 miles.

“This will be a multi-brand toolkit suitable for both passenger cars and light commercial vehicles and will thus leverage synergies from other electric vehicle projects in the Group,” detailed the company. “The standardized system will be designed for all body structures and vehicle types, thus allowing particularly emotional vehicle concepts, and will enable an all-electric range of 250 to 500 kilometers.”

SEE ALSO: Why Electrified Vehicles May Be The Remedy For Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Phaeton – a luxury sedan previously powered by a W12 gasoline engine – is currently marked to receive this new electric setup.

“The future generation of the Phaeton will once again be the flagship for the brand’s profile over the next decade,” Volkswagen said. It will feature “a pure electric drive with long-distance capability, connectivity and next-generation assistance systems as well as an emotional design.”

Plug-In Hybrid:

The restructured plan also looks to improve upon Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrids.

“The focus is on plug-in hybrids with an even greater range, high-volume electric vehicles with a radius of up to 300 kilometers [186 miles], a 48-volt power supply system (mild hybrid) as well as ever more efficient diesel, petrol and CNG concepts,” outlined Volkswagen.

Volkswagen said it is “accelerating” this new plan, but didn’t offer firm dates on when the changes would be implemented or when the battery-electric Phaeton might emerge.


Oct 20

Toyota reveals 2016 Toyota Prius specs


Here’s one of the very rare times we’ll cover the Prius, but this is gen 4. Stay tuned for gen 5 news in 2021. (Or PiP next year.)


A rundown of the just-released 2016 Toyota Prius specifications indicates nearly a complete top-to-bottom makeover.

Goals for the Japanese automaker’s perennial globally best-selling eco car have included 55 mpg, sportier handling, and – while it’s less than vocal about it – to stay fresh against a growing field of plug-in cars.

The new car ought to enable it to do that.

SEE ALSO: Toyota Unveils 2016 Prius – Video

Toyota says it expects the now-fourth generation to be rated 10-percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing 2015 model rated 50 mpg, and waiting to be revealed later is a 2016 Eco variant which will do an undisclosed amount better.

Following are the highlights of how every single aspect was rethought, and we anticipate Toyota will have more announcements later.

New Engine

In common with the 2010-2015 Prius engine is the displacement at 1.8 liters, but the 2016’s thermal efficiency as hinted as far back as 2013 is 40 percent and the gas burner is “completely re-engineered.”

1.8-liter 2ZR FXE.

1.8-liter 2ZR FXE.

Tricks that let the VVT-i unit do this include redesigned intake ports to get more air in, and redesigned coolant passages to cool the engine more effectively.

SEE ALSO: What Toyota Really Said About Next-Gen Prius MPG Goals

A large-volume exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system adds to the improvements, as does a similarly named, but not to be confused upgraded exhaust heat recirculation system. This gets the engine to peak operating temperature more quickly by capturing exhaust heat. The heat is also used to warm the cabin.

Powertrain Control Unit.

Powertrain Control Unit.

Other upgrades are redesigned internals to cut mechanical friction losses by the piston skirts, other reciprocating parts, and the car gets a new oil pump to circulate low viscosity oil.

No claims for 0-60 or acceleration or horsepower are being made at this point.

New Transmission

Transaxle cutaway.

Transaxle cutaway.

Merged with the gas engine of course is an electric motor and CVT transaxle, and these have been redesigned, lightened, and claim 20-percent less frictional losses. Parallel gears replace the planetary reduction gears in the outgoing transmission.

New Battery – including Li-Ion Option

Optional new li-ion battery.

Optional new li-ion battery.

Not complete without a battery, the hybrid powertrain either carries over the trustworthy – and long-since amortized – Nickel Metal Hybrid (NiMh) chemistry, or a new lithium-ion unit to be utilized by the new up-line Eco model.

SEE ALSO: Have 2016 Toyota Prius Specs Already Been Revealed?

Cargo space is not compromised as the pack is located under the rear passenger seat. This was accomplished in part by increasing energy density, and making them more compact.

UPDATE 10/13: One thing however in the drivetrain lacking in the U.S. market Prius that has been rumored as pending is all wheel drive.

The E-Four electric-rear-motor system as used in other Toyota products touted to enable snow-belters in teh gen-four Prius is not coming to the U.S., said Toyota communications representative Sam Butto.

“No AWD in the U.S. market for the 2016 Prius,” he said.

Other publications in other markets overseas are reporting AWD for the new Prius.

New Design

Inside and out the Prius touts new design with 60-percent increased torsional rigidity in the body with a very low 0.24 coefficient of drag equaling a Tesla Model S.

The slippery creased body rolls on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, a modular platform enabling a body now 20mm (0.79 inches) lower and with the high point of the roof 170mm (6.69 inches) further forward to increase headroom. The nose on what is being called a sporty handler is now 70mm (2.76 inches) lower, and forward vision is improved with a 62mm (2.44 inches) lower rear-most section of the hood.


Standard are bi-LED headlights, and as mentioned, this vehicle wants to lose any dowdy image the sensible gas sipper had in the corners.

Toyota has a planned drive event in mid November, and we’ll have first hand-info on that, but in light of more fun-to-drive cars like the Chevy Volt, suspension tuning and chassis dynamics were a priority.

Inside, occupant comfort, a plethora of infotainment standard or optional, and advanced safety tech are also promised.

A new independent double wishbone suspension instead of a torsion beam should help with handling manners.

A new independent double wishbone suspension instead of a torsion beam should help with handling manners.

Nifty items available include a color head up display, Smart-flow (S-FLOW) air conditioning system, dual 4.2-inch screens, and other familiar features.

A Toyota Safety Sense P package features a Pre-collision System with Pedestrian Detection, and includes Full-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control.

New Face, Familiar Formula

The Prius is meant to be functional transportation, and has become synonymous with the term “hybrid.”

People have offered all sorts of comments about the new aesthetics. We’ve heard more expressions of disapproval than approval, but if this becomes a new normal, and people get over it in due time, do not be surprised.


Toyota has managed to crack through niche status, and although people know a 2016 model is only months away and its sales this year are down 13 percent, in just the last two months – August and September, it sold 20,042 Prius Liftbacks in the U.S.

By comparison, for all of 2014 Chevrolet delivered 18,805 Volts, Tesla delivered just more than an estimated 16,605 of its Model S, and only Nissan sold more among plug-ins with 30,200 Leafs for 2014.

Like it or not, plug-in fans, there’s just something about an established product that’s been here for 15 years, and it’s this Toyota hopes to keep building upon.

While everything is new, it’s really more of the same, and for many, familiarity may be what they will go with.

The idea of “miles per gallon” on the other hand is becoming an anachronism from a former life to battery electric car owners, but still true is an environmentally oriented car choice is a series of trade-offs compared to convention internal combustion.

SEE ALSO: What Kind of Green Car Should You Buy?

Next to plug-in hybrids, the Prius beats all of them in hybrid mode. While we’ve heard the Volt increased mpg by 5 mpg and now runs on regular, the Prius appears like it will keep the exact same gap of 13 mpg when the Volt is in gas-burning hybrid mode.

Longer distance drivers mulling this or any PHEV will need to weigh pros and cons including price, available subsidies, and whether they will benefit enough from electricity use. Most people drive under 40 miles a day, so many could day to day.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Buy An Electric Car Now

The 2016 Volt with 53 miles range has the most-effective plug-in hybrid powertrain. Pure EVs like the Leaf, Soul EV, BMW i3, VW e-Golf, and others as tracked on our monthly sales Dashboard are far more energy efficient, but may be seen as range limited.


This could continue into a very lengthy discussion of further trade-offs for or against choices, but the short answer is the 55 mpg or better mid-sized Prius hybrid which may be priced from the mid 20s, though not announced yet, will probably stay relevant.

SEE ALSO: Does A Hybrid Pay For Itself?

You can bet Toyota is banking on it.

“It started in 1992 with a vision for the future – mobility in harmony with society. Prius, which means ‘to go before’ changed the way we move about the world, and changed the automotive industry forever. More than two decades and over 8 million Toyota hybrid sales later, the all new, no compromises 2016 Prius stands side by side with its sibling, the hydrogen powered Mirai, poised to change the game yet again. The new Prius will arrive in dealerships early next year.”

That’s its official take. We’ll have more Prius news not too long from now.

This article also appears at


Oct 19

Tesla Autopilot takes us one step closer to cars that drive themselves



Tesla keeps pushing the frontier and one of its goals is cars that will utterly drive themselves.

Short of that, but as a significant step forward, this week Tesla sent out over-the-air user interface update 7.0 that enables Autopilot semi-autonomous driving.

Tesla’s aeronautically inspired system is compatible with the Model S produced from October 2014 onwards and Model X – six Founders editions of its new crossover were delivered last month and full production is pending.

Owners of the Model S built prior to last October will benefit to a degree as well from the software upgrade with a new look to their user interface, although more changes will come with Tesla software 7.1.

What Autopilot Is

At this stage, Autopilot is a work in progress, due to evolve said CEO Elon Musk.

More specifically, says Tesla, it relies on feedback from a forward radar, forward-looking camera, 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors monitoring 16 feet around in every direction at all speeds, and a “high-precision digitally-controlled electric assist braking system.”

These functionalities work in conjunction with pre-existing automated driving capabilities.

“This combined suite of features represents the only fully integrated autopilot system,” says Tesla of the four different feedback modules – camera, radar, ultrasonics, and GPS.

The Model S and Model X can steer within a lane, change lanes by using the turn signal, and maintain speed via active, traffic-aware cruise control.

Collisions are avoided by computer monitoring of conditions and its controlling of motors, brakes, and steering.

It can also scan for parking space, tell the driver when a space is found, and parallel park on command.

What Autopilot is Not


It does not produce a fully robotic driverless car in which one can go to sleep at the wheel, or travel intoxicated or fully distracted and trust the car with one’s life.

That, assuming it arrives, is reserved for what the National Highway Traffic Administration designates as Level 4 – Full Self Driving Automation.

“While truly driverless cars are still a few years away, Tesla Autopilot functions like the systems that airplane pilots use when conditions are clear,” says Tesla.

Alleviates Driving Tedium

If like most people you’re not one who enjoys mundane driving tasks, this system is designed with you in mind.

“Tesla Autopilot relieves drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel,” says Tesla. “We’re building Autopilot to give you more confidence behind the wheel, increase your safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable.”

The car can be taken over any time, and drivers are free to enjoy the car when opportunities arise.

Central to Tesla’s Mission

Tesla wants to change the way of the automobile, and how people travel. It is a forward-looking philosophy envisioning all-electric vehicles, eschews petroleum even in hybrids, and Autopilot is part of the ethos.

“Tesla’s commitment to developing and refining the technologies to enable self-driving capability is a core part of our mission,” says Tesla.

You can be sure Tesla will keep working on it.

It Could Be Safer Than Humans

Compared to a person texting at the wheel, engaged in a deep phone conversation, or simply tired, inattentive – or not a good driver, period – Autopilot strands to do a better job.

That is true at this point, and Musk said prospects are it will be superior to human drivers eventually.

“Long term it will be way better than a person. It never gets tired, it’s never had anything to drink, it’s never arguing with someone in the car,” said Musk to reporters. “It’s not distracted.”

It’s Not Foolproof

Musk has essentially warned people they are not to cede their minds utterly to the car, and an accident could still happen.

Audi has shown tech navigate a race track, others, and many others could be following Tesla.

Audi has shown tech navigate a race track, others, and many others could be following Tesla.

How it plays out will remain to be seen.

“I am concerned if I accidentally press the turn indicator and change lanes when I wasn’t intending for that action said one Model X customer who will soon be finding out.

Obviously Tesla has tried to make it as fail safe as possible with multiple redundancies.

A 5,000-pound motor vehicle may still be counted as a deadly weapon if used to run into a person, other vehicle, or something else.

The system mainly is there to helps avoid collisions, but inclement weather and possibly other conditions may make it act wonky.

“If there’s heavy snow it’s going to be harder for the system to work, so we’d advise caution,” said Musk.

“Essentially it’s like a person – how well can a person figure out what route they should take,” he said. “Over time it will be better than a person.”

Liability is On You

“The driver is still responsible for, and ultimately in control of, the car,” says Tesla.

This means, worse case, the car is capable while in Autopilot of hurting someone, though this is not expected and the system has been engineered for safety.

Ever since it was originally announced, Tesla has made it clear that Autopilot is intended for highway use only, and exit ramps aren’t included in that. To see the single incident, you can optionally skip ahead to 2:54.

“It should not hit pedestrians, hopefully,” Musk said. “It should handle them well.”

If however all does fail, and a person or property are damaged, Tesla owners are legally liable.

“The driver cannot abdicate responsibility. That will come at some point in the future,” said Musk.

This article also appears at


Oct 16

Volt powertain walkthrough – video


Today’s post ought to whet the appetite for techies – a walkthrough of the Volt powertrain past and present by GM chief engineer Tim Grewe.


This was in Sausalito in the tent Chevrolet had set up for waves of journalists.

Slash Gear was clever enough to do this video.

By the way, the post-consumer re-used Volt battery cabinet such as GM has shown in other demos and at the Milford Proving Grounds was partially supplying power for this event.

Some was from the grid, but Volt batteries were tied in as well.

Don’t you wish you were there, and could have asked more questions?

If you find this at all confusing, or want a detailed tech explanation, here’s the outstanding write-up by Jeff N, Patrick Groeneveld and George Bower – Gen 2 Volt Transmission Operating Modes Explained.