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Cadillac ELR next EV to get Plugless Power wireless charging tech

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    Cadillac ELR next EV to get Plugless Power wireless charging tech
  • In China, Tesla Model S is missing one basic feature
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    A window into China's low-speed electric vehicle revolution
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    Nissan: We lose money on each Leaf replacement battery
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BMW planning six-cylinder i9 hybrid to celebrate centenary?

Posted Jul 28th 2014 4:29PM

2015 BMW i8

On the prospect of a new BMW M1 based on the company's new i8 hybrid, the jury has been in and out so much that we can't even tell which way it's likely to go. However, the latest reports coming in from Germany suggest that BMW may have something else up its sleeves. Rather than make a conventional gas-powered version of the i8, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport says BMW will make a more powerful one.

Tentatively dubbed i9, the hybrid sports car is rumored to pack a six-cylinder internal-combustion engine instead of the i8's turbo three. Coupled to more potent electric motors, it would figure to produce even more than the 357 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque already on tap in the i8, with further weight reductions to offset the bulkier engine.

Auto Motor und Sport says the mooted model will be produced to celebrate the Bavarian automaker's 100th anniversary and eclipse the i8's performance, with a projected 0-60 run in under four seconds en-route to taking the gloves off to crunch the Autobahn in electric bliss. The new i flagship would be another member of the company's growing electrified family, joining the existing i3 hatchback, upcoming i5 minivan and possible i8 Spyder down the line.
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Recharge Wrap-up: Control Tesla Model S from your wrist, NASCAR's E15 milestone

More Toyota Hybrid Battery Production; Pennsylvania Keeps Incentives

Posted Jul 28th 2014 1:56PM

tesla model s

Tesla Model S owners can now control their car with Android Wear. A new, free app for the Android wrist devices, called Tesla Command, allows the user to control car functions such as the locks, horn, and sunroof from outside the vehicle. The developer promises more features are coming soon. Watch the video below for a demonstration, or head over to 9 to 5 Google to read more.

NASCAR drivers have raced 6 million miles on E15 fuel. The stock car series reached the milestone on July 20 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR has been using Sunoco Green E15 gasoline since the start of the 2011 season, which the group credits with increasing horsepower and reducing emissions. The US Department of Energy notably approved the 15-percent corn ethanol blend after 6 million miles of testing. Read more at Domestic Fuel.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has decided to continue its incentive program for alternative fuel vehicles. Buyers of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids with batteries larger than 10 kWh will continue to get a $2,000 rebate (until December 31 or until 500 are sold, whichever comes first). Various EVs with batteries less than 10 kWh, as well as natural gas, propane and hydrogen-powered cars, will get $1,000 back. Electric motorcycles and scooters are offered a $500 rebate. Get more details at ABC 27.

Toyota subsidiary Primearth EV Energy is set to expand production of nickel metal hydride batteries for hybrid cars. Due to high demand, production capacity will ramp up from 300,000 to provide batteries for 500,000 vehicles at its Miyagi prefecture plant. The company eventually plans to be able to produce batteries for 1.4 million hybrids per year. Primearth EV Energy currently supplies batteries for the Toyota Prius and Yaris hybrids, as well as Mazda's Axela (AKA Mazda3 in the US) hybrid. Read more at Economic Times.

News Source: 9 to 5 Google, Domestic Fuel, ABC 27, Economic Times

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Translogic 155: 2014 Cadillac ELR

Posted Jul 28th 2014 12:45PM

Cadillac ELR

For the past decade, Cadillac has been searching for ways to breathe life into its lineup of luxury sedans and SUVs. While it has enjoyed recent success with the CTS and Escalade, brand perception still skews older and stuffier than Caddy's German and Japanese counterparts.

Can the electrified Cadillac ELR shock the system and return a pulse to this storied American brand, or will the Chevy Volt-based plug-in price itself out of the market?

Host Jonathon Buckley heads to Los Angeles to test the 2014 Cadillac ELR.

China's Google is working on its own autonomous car

Posted Jul 28th 2014 11:01AM

Chinese motorists pass  by the Chinese W

If you had told us a decade ago that Google, of all companies, would be developing a driverless car, we likely would have asked you what you were smoking. But here we are, watching the Internet giant not only testing such systems on existing cars, but designing its own vehicles. It won't be the only one, it seems, as reports from China indicate that one of its own is following suit.

That company is Baidu, which for all intents and purposes is China's Google. Only, you know... it hasn't been banned in China. Baidu has a search engine, open-source online encyclopedia, searchable multimedia database... the works. It's the fifth most visited website on the internet behind Google, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo!, and ahead of Wikipedia, Twitter, Amazon and even Autoblog, hard as it is to believe. It was the first Chinese company to be indexed on the NASDAQ 100, and now, just like Google, it's developing its own driverless car technology.

Baidu's system reportedly uses radar, lasers, cameras and GPS to recognize its surroundings and pilot the car without driver intervention. It can read traffic signs, recognize voice commands and whatever else it needs to do in order to drive itself around.

That's about all we know at the moment, with the company scheduled to begin testing before the year's end. Baidu previously announced it was developing a driverless bicycle as well, though we can scarcely imagine how that would work.

News Source:

Image Credit: Simon Lim/AFP/Getty

Cadillac ELR next EV to get Plugless Power wireless charging tech

Evatran Says Two More Premium Vehicles Will Be Compatible By End Of 2014

Posted Jul 28th 2014 10:19AM

Caddy ELR

Evatran has been testing its Plugless Power wireless charging systems for electric vehicles in the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf for years now and made the tech commercially available early this year. With the growth of the EV market, Evatran is getting ready to expand as well. The company announced today that it will add three premium EVs to the Plugless Power system by the end of the year, with the first (and so far only) named model being the Cadillac ELR.

We expect it was not difficult for Evatran to adapt the Plugless Power system to the ELR, since the vehicle's powertrain is so similar to the one in the Volt. The main problem we see is that Cadillac has only sold 390 ELRs (as of the end of June), so this first Plugless Power expansion isn't exactly going to ignite sales, even if every ELR owner opts for the cool tech. If one of the next two announcement is for the Tesla Model S, though, then you're talking numbers. Speaking of the future, what models do you think will be next?

The Plugless Power L2 wireless systems were recently declared safe by the Intertek and start at $2,470, not including installation or government incentives. All the online/smartphone connectivity features that work with the car when it's got a cord stuck in it work with the L2 system, Evatran says. Orders start today, and the ELR package will be available September 1. There's more, including a local news report on the technology, below.

News Source: Evatran

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

France getting legally fierce against Uber, ridesharing apps with 'go home' law

Taxi Companies Say Upstarts Not Playing Fair

Posted Jul 28th 2014 8:01AM

uber in paris, france

Those not-a-taxi ridesharing services are facing all sorts of difficulties, from union challenges to unfriendly local laws. Of course, they're also enjoyed by thousands of people around the world and have support from other union groups, so you're forgiven if you can't keep straight who's in favor of what on the issue. One thing is certain, though, France might soon be a completely anti-ridesharing country.

French legislators are discussing a law that would really hinder the work that Uber and other app-based ridesharing companies (like French companies Snapcar and Chauffeur-Privé) are doing. Namely, between fares, Uber drivers would need to go back to their headquarters or to a parking garage. No waiting in the park. No driving around aimlessly. Nothing. Just go home and wait for another fare. The only way out of the "go home" rule is if the driver has another reservation lined up. The problem is that Uber would not be allowed to show where its cars are on an online map. So, yeah.

The underlying issue, according to The Wall Street Journal, is that the government only allows taxis to respond to street hails. Uber gets around this by using the app-based reservation system, but if you can see that there's an Uber car around the block, what's the real difference between that and a street hail, is the government's point.

In January, the government tried to force ridesharing drivers to have to wait 15 minutes between fares, but that decree was suspended after protests. The new "go home" law passed the French Senate last week and will now be voted on by the National Assembly in the fall. We expect more protests before then.

When you put Rimac Concept One batteries into a wheelchair, magic happens

Posted Jul 27th 2014 4:55PM

Rimac EV batteries wheelchair Rolli

Rimac Automobili is no stranger to our pages, but it's usually for the Concept_One supercar or its sleek spinoffs. Today, though, the company is talking up a feel-good alternative use for the electric vehicle's batteries: powering a wheelchair for a young fan, Rolly Bugnar, who suffers from a serious and legitimate case of range anxiety.

"We were confident that we could relatively quickly adapt our battery for a wheelchair." – Mate Rimac

So Bugnar contacted Rimac to see if the company could repurpose its batteries for his daily conveyance. Mate Rimac, the company founder and CEO, said, "Since we have already used the technology originally developed for the Concept_One supercar in other products like the high-performance Greyp Bikes, we were confident that we could relatively quickly adapt our battery for a wheelchair. ... It still took us months of development and adaptation, but we are all very satisfied with the performance and reliability of the prototype system."

What did Rimac do? It took the li-ion battery system from that Greyp G12 bike as well as the company's battery management system, vehicle control unit and human machine interface. As you might suspect, the wheelchair now has better range (37 miles vs. just six with the old lead acid batteries) and weighs less. The new batteries went from 70 pounds down to 47, and the EV has more consistent power, too. You can tell Bugnar is a true EV fan, since he likes to keep close tabs on the individual cells and he wishes his wheelchair could go faster.

Sadly, Rimac Automobili doesn't have a plan to sell any wheelchairs like this, but we expect a lot of wheelchair users would enjoy a new ride like Bugnar's. See what we mean in the video below. It might be the most heartwarming seven minutes you'll spend online today.

News Source: Rimac via YouTube

More speculation about Tesla Gigafactory announcement

Posted Jul 27th 2014 8:59AM

Should we all be laying our chips down on Nevada for Tesla's proposed Gigafactory? At least a few news sources are saying yes, though another says there's a remote chance of a San Francisco Bay Area site getting the nod. Real remote.

The frontrunner appears to be the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center, which is about 20 miles east of Reno proper and includes warehousing sites for Walmart, Dell and Petsmart, Transport Evolved says. Compared to other states in the running, Nevada has the advantages of lower taxes, lots of cheap real estate and some lithium-mining capabilities, while the specific site has very good highway and rail access. There's also already a li-ion company there, Dragonfly Energy.

Feeding that belief is the sight of about 50 earthmoving trucks recently spotted at that site, says ValueWalk, Greentech Media and Jalopnik, in addition to Transport Evolved. But then we heard that the site had been shut down. Nobody involved is giving any clues, but the site is plenty big enough for a $5 billion, 10-million-square-foot plant that would support about 6,500 jobs.

Meanwhile, Tesla may also be considering the former Concord Naval Weapons Station about 35 miles northeast of San Francisco and 45 miles north of Tesla's Fremont headquarters, says KTVU, the NBC affiliate for the San Francisco Bay Area. The problem is that's a Superfund site in need of some remediation. But that sort of cleaning project could be a good fit for a company focused on "clean" energy. Tesla is, of course, declining to comment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said early last month that it was in "quite advanced" stages of planning for the plant, or perhaps two plants, and that the company was meeting on a daily basis with partner and battery-supplier Panasonic. The company is expected to officially announce the location of the Gigafactory later this year, and it could be up and running by the end of 2016.

Of course we'd like to Kickstart a hoverbike [w/video]

Posted Jul 26th 2014 4:09PM

hoverbike scale drone

It may not be a flying car, and it may not even be a Hoverboard. But we don't care. A hoverbike is still incredibly awesome, and there's now a chance to bring just such a device to the real world thanks to Kickstarter.

Designed by an Kiwi bloke in London named Chris Malloy and seen on these very pages three years ago in prototype form, the would-be hoverbike is a sort of combination between a motorcycle and a helicopter, relying on spinning rotors front and rear to generate lift. Past versions of the machine used two rotors, powered by a a 1,170cc boxer engine from BMW, but what you're helping build is rather different entirely.

Since we last featured that Hoverbike prototype, Malloy has further refined the design, changing from two rotors to four, but it's still far from being ready for production. That's the bad news. The good news is that small-scale testing has proven this new design, and third-scale models, powered by electric motors and controlled remotely, are now ready for those with a bit of expendable income to get their grubby mitts on.

As much as we'd love to see a Kickstarter campaign for the fullsize Hoverbike, we think these radio-controlled, unmanned drones are pretty darn cool in their own right, and Malloy says this project will help fund the real thing in true human-scale. Check out the Kickstarter campaign here, and scroll down below for some video.

News Source: Kickstarter

First BMW i8 in US to be auctioned off at Pebble Beach

Posted Jul 26th 2014 8:30AM

BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition for Pebble Beach

Snag yourself a BMW i8 at the upcoming Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Weekend and you won't only be the first in the US to own this model, you'll be getting a one-of-a-kind version of BMW's new gas-electric plug-in marvel.

The special i8 will come with a special exterior paint color (called Frozen Grey Metallic) as well as a modified Pure Impulse Tera World interior that has "Concours d'Elegance Edition" etched in and comes with "Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery, which is tanned using dye derived from plant extracts." Tell all your treehugger friends. The 2014 BMW i8 Concours d'Elegance Edition also has laser headlights (as long as BMW gets government approval for them in the US) and comes with the first BMW Charging Station, professional edition. The standard i8 starts at $135,700 and Gooding & Company expects the special i8 to bring in between $150,000 and $200,000 at the auction. We'll find out Saturday, August 16. As a bonus, there's no reserve.

The Concours d'Elegance is not a complete stranger to electric vehicles, hosting an EV display at the Meadow Brook Concours in suburban Detroit last year.

News Source: BMW

Coal-rolling Ram dually does tandem beer-shooting burnout with ATV in bed

Posted Jul 25th 2014 8:03PM

A Coal-Rolling tandem ATV burnout

Sometimes a video comes around that just makes you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example these guys from Nebraska in their dually diesel flatbed Ram, doing a smoky burnout. Lighting up the tires is nothing new, but these folks take things a step further by having another guy on an ATV in bed that is also smoking the tires. Finally, people are sitting on a couch in the bed taking the whole show in, as beer cans shoot out of the stacks.

There have been several stories recently about the scourge of rolling coal, i.e., diesel trucks modified to lay down a thick, black smoke screen, sometimes for vaguely political reasons. Whatever your opinion is on it, breathing in this much nasty stuff isn't exactly great for your health. Of course, it turns out that burning rubber is pretty awful, too. Both diesel and tire emissions contain cancer-causing Group 1 carcinogens. Combine them with the cigarette smoking here, and these guys are an oncologist's nightmare. Scroll down to take it all in for yourself. Warning, there is a little explicit language.

News Source: 1320 Video via YouTube

In China, Tesla Model S is missing one basic feature

Posted Jul 25th 2014 6:44PM

Tesla Model S Nav Screen

There were questions about the nav system in the Tesla Model S when the vehicle launched in the US, and there are still people who don't like it. But here's the thing: the US version at least has a nav system. With the luxury electric vehicle now available in China, drivers are discovering that the car is shipping without a working navigation system at all.

As China EV blogger Alysha Webb reports, Tesla's explanation for the lack of a nav system is that "Google maps are not supported." At least the company is working on an alternative map database for the land where Google doesn't work right. We've confirmed with Tesla PR in the US that Webb's report contains an official Tesla response, which includes the following:

Currently there isn't a navigation system in Chinese Model S as Google maps are not supported in the country. However, teams are currently working on a solution with Chinese text and voice recognition. We plan to introduce navigation to Chinese cars later this year (as already communicated to our customers). Once it's available, maps will be pushed to customers' vehicles through software updates.

One interesting quirk is that Tesla can't yet push the updated map to everyone over the air, since, "remote over-the-air software updates are not yet supported in Chinese Model S." Instead, Tesla will have to rely on its backend system to update the EV to what most American customers would consider standard equipment in a car in this price range. You can read the whole thing here.

Tommykaira ZZ ready for a customizable EV closeup

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:53PM

Tommykaira ZZ Electric Roadster

Tesla Roadster? What Tesla Roadster? Japanese automaker GLM and Japan racing-car maker Tommykaira are putting the finishing touches on one very cool electric roadster. No word on when it will reach the US but it looks worth waiting for.

The Tommykaira ZZ is said to be able to go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, about the same as a Tesla Roadster, according to Tech In Asia. The advantage is that Kyoto-based GLM specializes in what it calls "adaptable" chassis, so the flexibility and customization possibilities may be far beyond what's typical for a high-end sports car, much less an EV.

The model, priced at about $80,000, has sold out of its initial small batch in Japan, but the companies say broader production for markets such as Europe and Taiwan may start next year. Mitsubishi Capital and Globis Capital Partners are among companies who helped fund the development of the Tommykaira ZZ.

We'd reported on Tommykaira back in early 2010 when the company gained from renown for offering special body and wheel kits for hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. But this is far more impressive. Check out the really cool 87-second video of the electric roadster (yes, right-hand drive) in action below.

News Source: Tommykaira, Tech In Asia

AAA finds stop-start could save you $179 a year

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:56PM

That silence you hear? It's a month's worth of payments on the family car-insurance plan not being spent on an idling engine. That's one way to look at new numbers out from the AAA that say stop-start engine technology will save drivers a solid chunk of change in the form of lower refueling costs. If only more automakers would embrace the tech for their vehicles.

AAA says a typical US driver can save $179 a year if they drive a car with a stop-start system, which automatically shuts off the engine when the car's not moving. By typical, AAA means a driver putting 15,000 miles a year on a car that gets 20 miles per gallon. AAA figured this out by running a commuter simulation with a 2013 Ford Fusion, a 2014 Mercedes Benz CLS550 and a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

Hybrid Cars noted in 2011 that as much as 42 percent of new vehicles in 2016 would offer start-stop technology, and the lack of incentives prevented that number from being higher. Part of the problem with introducing the technology to the US is that the EPA's testing methods don't factor in real-world driving factors (yet) that can be boosted by stop-start technology. Therefore, the current tests underestimate the technology's fuel-saving benefits.

The lack of incentives appeared to take hold, as the US didn't get its first midsize family sedan with stop-start technology until the 2013 Ford Fusion offered it as a $295 option in the fall of 2012. Ford estimated at the time that the stop-start-equipped Fusion would save drivers about $220 a year in refueling costs relative to other midsize sedans, making it a good investment. Chevy now offers stop-start standard in some versions of the 2015 Impala.

Late last year, German automotive component maker Bosch estimated that stop-start systems may cut fuel use by about 10 percent. Bosch made that claim right after Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler said the EPA was underestimating fuel economy achieved by its sedans equipped with stop-start. Check out AAA's press release below.

News Source: AAA


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