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Tesla Model X reservations 20,000 strong and counting

Or So We Think

Posted Sep 11th 2014 11:59AM

Tesla Model X

Those falcon wing doors appear appropriate for the Tesla Model X, as pre-orders for the battery-electric SUV are flying. That's what Gas2.0 is saying, citing various sources. So despite Model X deliveries not happening until the spring of 2015, folks are lining up.

Company spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson called the estimated sales figures "merely speculation."

All told, more than 20,000 Model X vehicles have been pre-ordered from Tesla's retooled Fremont, CA, plant. In fact, sales are accelerating, as about 8,000 of the SUVs have been ordered during the past six months, and more than 1,300 were pre-ordered in August alone. And that's despite the fact that Tesla has disclosed neither the Model X's price nor its single-charge range. Either way, the percentage split is about 75/25 for North America vs. oversees orders, according to Gas2.0.

If there were really 1,300 units ordered in August, the Model X would be the fourth best-selling plug-in in the US, trailing only the Nissan Leaf battery-electric, Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and, of course, the Tesla Model S sedan. Tesla itself is being quiet about its figures. Company spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson, in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen, called the estimated sales figures "merely speculation" and declined to confirm them.

In late July, Tesla said it delivered a quarterly record 7,579 vehicles for the three months that ended June 30 and that it was on track to deliver more than 35,000 vehicles this year. And more recently, Tesla said it planned to build its massive gigafactory near Reno, NV, as the Silver State promised an incentive package worth over $1.2 billion over the next two decades.

News Source: Gas2.0

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

2014 Maserati Ghibli Diesel

Posted Sep 11th 2014 11:57AM

It used to be easier to make sense of the auto industry. There were mainstream manufacturers, and there were niche sports car manufacturers. That was before Porsche starting selling more crossovers than it does sports cars, Lamborghini began preparing to go down the same road, and Ferrari introduced an all-wheel-drive hatchback. But long before the arrival of the Cayenne, the unveiling of the Urus and the advent of the FF, the storied marque that is Maserati was already bolstering its sports car offerings with four-door sedans.

In fact, it's now been half a century and six generations since the launch of the original Quattroporte. So the idea of a four-door Maserati shouldn't come as any surprise by now, but the vehicle you see here has the Modenese automaker breaking new ground in another way entirely. And it's not the size, either: although the new Ghibli is smaller than the current QP, it's roughly the same size as the aforementioned original – not to mention the Dodge Charger, a corporate stablemate which similarly revived a coupe nameplate for a four-door sedan. No, what makes this Ghibli 'special' is what resides under the hood, because the model you're looking at packs the very first diesel Maserati has ever offered in its hundred-year history.

Sacrilege, you say? Maybe, but as so-called performance brands have turned their attention to four-door sedans and crossovers, they've also begun to embrace diesel propulsion. In Europe these days, even Porsche, Jaguar, the BMW M division and Audi Quattro GmbH are burning the midnight oil. So while it may be new territory for Maserati, the Ghibli is far from the first high-end, performance-oriented diesel on the Old World's market. It's also a vital addition to the brand's portfolio, particularly in Europe where the advantageous price of diesel fuel over gasoline (and the smaller volumes of fuel a diesel engine typically consumes) makes offering a model so equipped vital to the Trident marque's ambitious growth plans. The question, then, is whether it delivers.

Driving Notes
  • The basic parameters of the Ghibli should be familiar from our first drive in Italy and our subsequent review back on American roads. We won't go into the same depth in this short report, because this engine isn't coming to North America, and this diesel model is visually almost indiscernible from its benzine-burning stablemates. Suffice it to say that its evocative shape is a welcome addition to a segment that typically appeals to conservative tastes with cookie-cutter uniformity, but such non-traditional styling won't be for everyone: the shape may whisper "Italian Riviera" to some, but the detailing will say Buick Riviera to others.
  • The interior is a nice (if somewhat plain) place to be, the infotainment system is a marked improvement over those found in older Maseratis (thanks, Chrysler), and the seats are comfortable and supportive (if teetering a little too high for a proper sports sedan), but the cabin doesn't feel as special as a Maserati should, especially all in black like our tester.
  • Power in this least potent, most fuel-efficient Maserati comes from the same 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel as you'll find in a variety of models under the Fiat-Chrysler umbrella, which has by now fully absorbed the VM Motori engine manufacturer that supplies it. In the Ghibli (as in the diesel Quattroporte), it's been retuned to produce 271 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque – which is, by both measures, more potent than the same engine as fitted to the Chrysler 300, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ram 1500.
  • Relative to the diesel versions of the BMW 5 Series, for comparison's sake, that puts it smack in between the 535d available Stateside (with 255 hp and 413 lb-ft, sold overseas as the 530d) and the more powerful Euro-spec 535d (308 hp and 465 lb-ft) but well shy of the more performance-oriented M550d (376 hp/546 lb-ft). Clearly there's room for improvement, and we hope Maserati aims higher next time around.
  • Compared to the gasoline versions available in the US, the diesel Ghibli is down on power but up on torque, netting a (comparatively) lethargic 6.3-second 0-62 time versus to the 5.6 seconds quoted for the 345-hp base Ghibli (which gets a lower power rating overseas at 325 hp but the same torque and performance figures), and the 4.8 quoted for the top-of-the-line S with its 404 prancing horses (which comes standard with Q4 all-wheel drive in the US, available in Europe but not in the left-hand UK market). That's a hefty penalty in performance, which partially comes down to the difference in weight: the diesel model tips the scales at 4,045, which is heavier than either spec of the rear-drive gasoline models (but less than the all-wheel-drive version) - the diesel's extra torque failing to overcome the added weight under acceleration.
  • What you get in return, however, is far better fuel economy: 37 miles per gallon in the city, 56 mpg on the highway (by European standards) easily trumps the 20 mpg the base gasoline model gets in a European metropolis and 40 mpg between them. Factor in the diesel fuel that's cheaper in Europe and you're looking at a substantial savings at the pump.
  • The relative drop in performance, however, is not helped by a transmission that seems determined never to hold the gear selected, controlled (in addition to the paddles) by a console shifter that, to put it charitably, takes some getting used to. Naturally, the turbodiesel doesn't sound quite like a Maserati should, though the synthesizer engaged with the Sport button makes up for it, at least in part.
  • With the added weight in the nose – and on the punishing Hill Route at the Millbrook Proving Ground where we drove it – we didn't experience that perfect 50/50 weight balance Maserati's been crowing about with the gasoline versions. (Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to compare them back to back since the gasoline testers on hand, rather tellingly, ran out of fuel early on.) The impression with which we were left was one of a reasonably solid chassis, well damped from the surrounding environment, but saddled with a lackluster engine. We weren't entirely convinced, either, that a "reasonably solid chassis" can keep up in such a competitive segment – an impression further reinforced when we drove a diesel Panamera later the same day and a diesel Jag XF just a few days later, both of which (though based on older architectures) gave a better impression of the driver's connectedness to both machine and road.
  • The diesel Ghibli, however, is still new, and represents new territory for Maserati – one to which we trust it will become better adapted as development progresses... especially when a new diesel engine arrives. In the meantime, the current diesel, arguably better suited towards trucks than performance sedans, isn't one which American buyers should pine for when there are newer, better gasoline options available from Maserati and better diesels offered by the competition. At the end of the day, the diesel Ghibli's greatest achievement may very well be the more realistic proposition of actually driving one in Italy, where a troubled economy and high fuel prices – currently hovering at around $9 per gallon for gasoline and $8.50 for diesel – have made the sight of a Maserati on the road a tragically rare one.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Noah Joseph / AOL

VW issues orders for police version of e-Golf

Posted Sep 11th 2014 10:58AM

VW e-golf polizei

If the Toyota Prius could be used (in fiction, anyway) as a quiet way to do a drive-by shooting, then a pure electric vehicle should have some silent benefits for the police. It's happening in the real world thanks to the new police-spec VW e-Golf.

On display at an international police equipment conference in Germany this week (the Internationalen Fachmesse für Polizeiausrüstung), the 5-0-ready EV has a special paint job as well as the required top lights and digital communications gear. VW says the special e-Golf also stands ready to serve the mission of emissions reduction.

The powertrain is the same as what you'll find in the civilian e-Golf, which means an 85-kW electric motor that can zip up to 62 miles per hour in 10.4 seconds and a li-ion battery that provides something between 80 and 118 miles of range. We imagine using this little car for a high-speed car chase will shrink that down a bit.

News Source: VW, AutoWeek

Recharge Wrap-up: Local Motors begins 3D printing Strati car, global liquid fuel use to increase 38% by 2040

California Funds $13.3M In Clean Car Manufacturing; Proterra Chooses Toshiba Battery

Posted Sep 11th 2014 8:04AM

local motors strati 3d printed car

Petroleum and liquid fuel consumption will increase 38 percent globally by 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Developing parts of the Middle East and Asia account for 85 percent of that increase. In 2040, 92 percent of liquid fuel will be consumed by the transportation and industrial sectors. Liquid fuel use by the residential, commercial and electric power sectors is expected to decrease. Fuel consumption in areas with established oil markets, including the US and Europe, has probably already peaked. Read more at Green Car Congress, or in the press release below.

California is funding $13.3 million worth of programs for manufacturing zero-emission vehicles and advanced vehicle technology. The California Energy Commission's Zero Emission Vehicle Readiness grants, worth $3.3 million, will go toward planning for plug-in hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing grants, worth $10 million, will fund manufacturing lines for alternative fuel vehicles. That includes lines that manufacture complete vehicles, as well as ones that build power- or drivetrain components for those vehicles. The grants require a 50 percent cost share with the awardees. Read more at Green Car Congress.

Local Motors is currently making its 3D printed car, called Strati, at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. The design, created by Italy's Michele Anoé, was chosen in the 3D Printed Car Design Challenge earlier this year. Printing began Sunday, and is expected to finish this Saturday. The Strati is being made using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing machine - which can print 10 pounds of plastic per hour - with carbon reinforced ABS plastic. If successful, the Local Motors team will drive the Strati away from McCormick Place, where the printing is taking place. Read more at 3D Print, or see the printing process in the video below.

Proterra has chosen Toshiba as the battery supplier for its electric bus. The Toshiba battery is the Rapid Recharge SCiB battery, which is capable of at least 10,000 charge-discharge cycles, as well as vehicle-to-grid operation. The Proterra bus' fast charge system can charge the battery in less than 10 minutes, making it ideal for the demands of public transit. Read more in the press release, below.

Image Credit: Local Motors

How Toyota's 100-year textile history influenced FCV hydrogen fuel cell car

H2 Tanks Will Likely Need To Be Inspected Every Few Years

Posted Sep 10th 2014 7:57PM

Toyota FCV Hydrogen Fuel Tank

Turns out, Toyota had a surprising ace in the hole when it came to building the new fuel tanks for the FCV hydrogen fuel cell car, which is coming next year. Well before Toyota became the Toyota Motor Company, it was the Toyota Industries Corporation and it made textile looms. This is important because the main structure of the hydrogen tank is wound carbon fiber. When Toyota set out to increase the strength of the tanks to hold hydrogen stored at 10,000 psi (up from 5,000 in the previous tanks), it was able to draw on its 100-year-old history as it designed its car of the future.

"A lot of that textile experience came back when we did the tank wrapping." – Justin Ward

"We have a lot of experience with textiles," Justin Ward told AutoblogGreen at the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) in Detroit this week, "and a lot of that textile experience came back when we did the tank wrapping." On top of being able to hold the higher-pressure hydrogen, Toyota's first attempt to build its own hydrogen tank was six times faster than the industry standard, so it saved time and money as well as working better. The company will also be able to inspect its own tanks. Ward is the general manager of powertrain system control at the Toyota Technical Center and hydrogen vehicles are something he knows a lot about.

The reason for the stronger, 10,000-psi tanks is because the 5,000-psi tanks only offered around 180-200 miles of range, even with four tanks in the early $129,000 FCHV Highlander hydrogen prototypes. The FCV only has two, but they will able to deliver the 300-mile range that customers told Toyota they wanted. Dropping the number of tanks not only obviously reduced the cost for the tanks themselves but also the number of valves and hoses and other components you need.

Despite the benefits of higher compression, going much higher doesn't make sense. 10,000 psi is the "natural progression," Ward said, because "you start to bump up against compression inefficiencies." Think of an air compressor. When hydrogen is produced at a wastewater treatment plant or a reforming site, Ward said, is it at around ambient pressure (14 psi). That has to be raised, using compressors, all the way to 10,000 psi. "That takes energy," Ward said, "and every doubling of pressure adds another doubling of energy needed, so it starts to add up pretty fast if you go too high." Component specifications are also fine at 10,00 psi, but more difficult at higher levels.

Recharge Wrap-up: Mini Superleggera decision delayed, Denza begins production

Local Motion Manages Fleet-Sharing For Businesses

Posted Sep 10th 2014 6:01PM

mini superleggera vision concept

A decision on whether or not to build the Mini Superleggera has been pushed back. Earlier this year, Mini's Peter Schwarzenbauer hinted that the electric roadster concept could eventually make its way to production. Now, Schwarzenbauer is saying that a possible call is still at least six months away. "To really investigate seriously," Schwarzenbauer says, "you look into several different options, you come to the question: do we produce it ourselves, do we give it to somebody else?" Mini is considering whether or not to expand its seven-car lineup to 10 models, or scale it back to five "superheroes," which still wouldn't rule out more models. Read more at Reuters.

The first EV from Daimler and BYD's joint venture, Denza, is set to go on sale this month, with production already starting. The 50/50 partnership said earlier that it was "well on track" to begin sales in September 2014. Now, Daimler has announced that the first Denza has rolled off the production line. According to Daimler, the cars will be sold through an independent dealer network. The Denza, which has a range of about 186 miles, will start at about $60,000. China's generous subsidies could help bring that cost down quite a bit (by nearly $20,000) for customers. Read more at Want China Times, or in the press release from Daimler, below.

Local Motion wants to help organizations pool their transportation resources through fleet-sharing, with a focus on EVs. The company uses software to manage and track vehicle use, diagnostics, energy consumption, vehicle reservations and the like. The keyless technology allows employees to reserve and use the right vehicle for the job, and allows companies to save on vehicle ownership and maintenance. Local Motion is working with companies like Nissan to encourage the adoption of emissions-free driving, as well. Read more in the press release below, or at the Local Motion's website.

News Source: Reuters, Want China Times, Local Motion, Daimler

Image Credit: Mini

Nevada lawmakers debating Tesla gigafactory tax breaks today

Posted Sep 10th 2014 4:16PM

Tesla gigafactory

When it comes to Nevada's financial incentives that lured Tesla Motors to build its Gigafactory in the Silver State, some lawmakers have said Gov. Brian Sandoval has some 'splain' to do. And such explanations are slated to start today, reports Reuters. When there are $1.3 billion or so worth of incentives, the conversation's likely to be a lengthy one.

Nevada Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick is expected to oversee the talks about the incentives, which have been criticized in some circles as being overly generous (even the idea of massive incentives was criticized). Tesla's tax exemptions alone would amount to about $725 million, and there would be about $300 million in payroll savings. Other goodies include business-tax abatements and discounted electricity rates.

Sandoval has argued that the Gigafactory, which could open by late 2016, could create $100 billion worth of economic activity during the next two decades, making it a pretty good deal for the state. The factory, to be built near Reno, will be about 5 million square feet and includes battery-maker Panasonic as an investor. It's considered vital to Tesla's goal of making a $35,000 electric car with a 200-mile range. Nevada beat out Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Tesla's home state of California for Gigafactory bragging rights, but the fight might be just beginning.

News Source: Reuters

Despite Bright leaders, Echo Automotive needs to restructure

Echo Tells SEC It 'Does Not Have Adequate Liquidity'

Posted Sep 10th 2014 1:58PM

Not to state the obvious, but an echo is about all that's left for the plug-in hybrid vehicle system maker of the same name. Echo Automotive, which was led by the engineering team of the defunct Bright Automotive, has run out of cash. Echo said in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing last month that it couldn't pay its debts and is "exploring options to restructure its business." The stock still trades Over the Counter (OTC), but it is worthless. The filing flat-out says, "the Company does not have adequate liquidity to repay any outstanding obligations."

Echo had been promoting its bolt-on plug-in hybrid kits for vans and trucks and said the could boost the fuel economy of a vehicle like the Chevrolet Express by about 50 percent. That meant as much as $45,000 in refueling savings that the aftermarket kit provided over the 10-year life of a typical utility vehicle.

Echo was last heard from in these parts when it said it added General Motors' GM 2500 and 3500 vans to the list of vehicle lines compatible with the plug-in hybrid system earlier this year. The plan had been to start production during the first quarter of 2015. Last year, the company said it added plug-in electric vehicle expert Chelsea Sexton and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk to its seven-member advisory board.

EVs are the missing link in making solar power competitive with fossil energy

Posted Sep 10th 2014 11:55AM

Solar panels

Anyone having a sour day could do worse than reading the conclusions of a UBS report that lays out the near-term future of electric vehicle adoption and on-site energy storage. That's because the Swiss bank's findings paint a fairly rosy picture when it comes to sustainable transportation and stationary energy storage and production, The Guardian reports. In short: the future looks bright.

UBS says large-scale European power stations could be redundant within a decade or so thanks to the combination of advancements in lithium-ion battery production, energy storage and solar-energy production. Those changes should make it cheaper to produce energy at home than buying it from utility companies, which could help battery costs fall by more than 50 percent by 2020 and by almost 75 percent within the next decade. That will, in turn, drive electric-vehicle costs down to the point where they only have about a $2,000 premium compared to similar gas-powered cars and then 10 percent of new vehicle sales could be EVs in 2025.

And many of those drivers will own homes with solar systems because those systems will be able to pay for themselves, in the form of lower or eliminated utility bills and better energy storage capabilities, in as little as six years. That means that a bunch of homes in countries such as Italy, France and Germany will have electric vehicles in the garage whose juice is cheaply produced by the sun. Good times.

News Source: The Guardian via Green Car Reports

Image Credit: Peter Blanchard / Flickr

Apple Watch watches your BMW i3, i8

EV Drivers Can Monitor Charging Status,

Posted Sep 10th 2014 10:57AM

Apple unveiled details about its long-awaited Apple Watch yesterday and we now know that the $349, er, watch will be released to the public early next year. Amid the millions of features the watch has is the ability to provide real-time information on the battery charge level in a BMW i3 or i8 plug-in vehicle. The watches can also help locate the vehicles if, say, they're parked in a crowded lot. Because so many of us lose our Bimmers on a daily basis.

BMW spokesman Dave Buchko confirmed the integration of the Bimmer-centric features on Apple Watch to AutoblogGreen, and noted that the product will let users monitor heating and air-conditioning as well as remotely unlocking the car. "This latest device has the potential to change how owners interact with their BMW, paving the way for a new level of personalization and immediacy," Buchko said.

The new wrist-based connection allows for a nice bit of exposure for the German company's new i series. As of the end of last month, BMW had sold 2,082 i3 battery-electric vehicles in the US since starting domestic sales in May. It also sold nine of i8 plug-in hybrids in August, the first partial month for US sales.

News Source: BMW Blog, Apple, BMW

Image Credit: Apple

Mission Electric delays motorcycle production, announces plans to enter automotive space

Posted Sep 10th 2014 8:28AM

Mission Motorcycle

It's been a long, hard road for Mission Motorcycles. And it's been just as long and hard for the company's fans and would-be clients, who have been left waiting for their high-powered, stunningly beautiful and technologically advanced electric motorcycles to actually hit dealerships for what seems like ages. To such fans and would-be clients, we have good news, and we have bad news.

First, the bad: Mission is now promising to deliver its first motorcycles to customers in the second or third quarter of 2015. Last we heard, bikes were expected to hit garages across the country right about... well, right about now, actually, in the summer of 2014. Clearly, that's not going to happen, and that's a shame.

Now for the good: Mission Electric, the newly renamed company born from the Mission Motors and Mission Motorcycles duo (which had previously been a single entity...) is hiring, and is now, apparently, branching out into the four-wheeled realm. In fact, the company's website shows a McLaren supercar under the Mission Automotive umbrella, which is kinda interesting, and it also suggests that Mission-powered boats and heavy-duty machinery are also in the offing.

Of course, all of this should be taken with a full shaker of salt until an actual product from any of Mission's garages actually lands in the garage of a paying customer. In any case, feel free to check out the company's website here.

California has sold 102,440 EVs since Volt, Leaf went on sale in 2010

Posted Sep 9th 2014 7:55PM

California Plug In

Last July, Plug In America declared that a Mitsubishi i-MiEV in Alabama was the 100,000th electric vehicle sold in the US. Today, the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative announced that that many EVs have now been sold in California alone. To celebrate the milestone – which was actually 102,440 EVs sold in the Golden State between when the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf were introduced in late 2010 and the end of August 2014 – we spoke with some of the key players in moving the battery-powered metal off of the dealer lots and into driver's driveways.

CARB's Mary Nichols drives a Honda Fit EV, and said that in LA, it's no longer "a weird thing."

The chairman of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), Mary Nichols, took a broad overview. Nichols herself drives a Honda Fit EV, and said that in her home of Los Angeles, that's no longer "a weird thing." She told AutoblogGreen that, "The industry people that we work with are very clear about this, they think the electric cars sell themselves, in terms of their driveability and attractiveness, if you can get a person into one," she said. "The best way to get a person into one is for them to see it somewhere, and that's really what we're celebrating here. As you get to critical mass, and I think 100,000 vehicles is getting to that point, people start looking at these as an option as opposed to something that they walked into the dealership already wanting to get."

Given CARB's support of hydrogen vehicles as well as EVs, we had to ask Nichols when she thought H2 would hit the 100,000-vehicle milestone. She declined to answer that question, but did say that, "Hydrogen vehicles are just beginning to be available in the market. They are just being very selectively and even more cautiously introduced than plug-in vehicles because of concerns that customers will have a good experience, and a good experience means that there has to be an adequate supply of fueling stations," she said. "There has been a lot of expression of interest and support and vision in this direction but we are just at the beginning stages, where we were with plug-in vehicles a few years ago. It's going to take a while."

News Source: California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative

Image Credit: Nick Ut / AP

Here We Go Again: Lexus attacks EVs in new ad [UPDATE]

No One Would Want An EV If These Messages Were True

Posted Sep 9th 2014 6:29PM

the latest ad from the largest auto company

UPDATE: We got a comment from founding member of Plug In America Paul Scott on this ad. It's available below.

The last time Lexus attacked plug-in battery vehicles in an ad, it had to apologize. The company is remaining on message, though, and has revisited a hybrid-vehicle advertising campaign that implies that driving a battery-electric vehicle is a big waste of time, because of all the charging you need to do. With the new spot, Lexus once again raised hackles of plug-in vehicle advocates because, once again, the accuracy is questioned.

"The ad's message was that a consumer could [drive] a vehicle with advanced technology today, without sacrifice or change in habit." – Lexus spokesman Brian Bolain

Lexus is running print ads (click to enlarge) in publications like Wired poking fun at EVs, the International Business Times says. Lexus highlights range anxiety in the spot, comparing the amount of time it takes to fully recharge an EV – and the idea that air conditioning and using the radio can shorten an EV's range – to the fun of just driving a Lexus.

"The [print] ad was merely intended to paint a picture of life with a hybrid, which is basically no different from life with a traditional gas-powered vehicle, versus life with an EV, which can have challenges or at least uncertainties," Lexus spokesman Brian Bolain told AutoblogGreen. "In other words, at its core, the ad's message was that a consumer could participate in driving a vehicle with advanced technology today, without sacrifice or change in habit."

The campaign picks up where Lexus's previous anti-EV campaign left off this spring. A website promoting Lexus's hybrids (and parent company Toyota's H2 vehicles) claimed that there was a hydrogen refueling infrastructure set up in 20 US states (not anywhere close to true). Plug-in advocates were also quick to note that higher-powered EV recharging systems can allow a plug-in to be recharged in far less than the four hours the Lexus site claimed.

Of course, Toyota has a lot more skin in the game when it comes to hybrids and, starting next year, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles than it does for plug-ins. Through August, the company sold just 842 RAV4 EVs and about 11,500 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrids in the US. That compares to almost 19,000 Nissan Leaf EVs and a Tesla Model S count that's likely close to that figure as well (Tesla breaks out neither monthly sales numbers nor US-only sales for the Model S). Lexus sold almost 29,000 hybrid vehicles during the first eight months of this year.

News Source: International Business Times

Image Credit: jurvetson/Flickr

Saleen FourSixteen kicks the door open on Tesla Model S tuning

Posted Sep 9th 2014 5:15PM

Saleen FourSixteen Tesla Model S

Steve Saleen kind of shocked us when he announced that his company was working on an electric car late last year with no solid details to speak of. It just seemed like a complete about-face from the big muscle Ford Mustangs and supercars Saleen had built its reputation on. If anything, it was even more surprising when the business revealed that the new model would be a tuned Tesla Model S to be dubbed the FourSixteen. We finally got a glimpse of it during Monterey Car Week, and while the sedan's styling might have been polarizing, the car was still an intriguing project.

Xcar Films is taking an even deeper look into the FourSixteen's creation in its latest video with interviews with Saleen and other principles of the tuned Tesla's creation. According to Steve in the video, the company's focus is still on tuning pony cars and building supercars, but "electric vehicles are here to stay."

While Saleen leaves the Model S electric motor and batteries alone, it touches nearly every other part of the Tesla. The FourSixteen feature a new final-drive ratio and tweaked suspension, plus lighter wheels and carbon ceramic brakes to shed quite a few pounds. Of course, the most obvious change is its contentious body kit, especially at the rear, but Saleen claims that it's completely functional by channeling air more efficiently around the car. Like it or not, the FourSixteen might be the future of auto tuning.

News Source: Xcar Films via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL


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