electric cars

electric cars

Tesla Model S

In what was more of a publicity stunt than anything, Tesla delivered its “first” Model S to its “first” owner about two weeks ago. Well, said owner just so happened to be an executive with the company that likely didn’t pay much, if anything, for the car. Now we are ready to announce yet another milestone for this all-new electric-powered sports sedan, and that is its official EPA ratings.

Keep in mind, that these ratings are all based on the 85-kWh battery, not the smaller and less expensive batteries. The Model S came in at a respectable 88 MPGe in the city, 90 MPGe on the highway and 89 MPGe combined. MPGe is basically how far an electric car will travel on the electric equivalent of the energy contained in a gallon of gasoline.

The EPA didn’t stop there, as it also had to put the Model S’s claimed 300-mile range to the test. In this test, the Model S came up pretty short, as it could only hit 265 miles on a single charge, which is a pretty significant 11 percent drop. In overall scheme of things, the Model S trumps the other, less expensive, EVs, like the Honda Fit , Nissan Leaf , and Focus electric in total range. In combined MPGe, however, the aforementioned EVs beat it out, as they net 118 MPGe, 99 MPGe, and 105 MPGe, respectively. The “as tested” Model S also has a base price of $69,900, which is over $30,000 more than the most expensive EV of the group, the Focus Electric.

Then again, the “as tested” Tesla Model S also zips to 60 mph in under 5 seconds and looks flat out awesome doing it. None of the other EVs can boast that combined with impressive range and MPGe. So, even though the Model S came up a little short, it is still impressively economical.

Daimler’s Smart lineup has been begging for an electric variant since its inception, due to its small stature and focus on being more “green” than other cars on the road. It took some time, but Smart finally did debut an electric variant and it is now due for an upgrade. Well, after much delay, the redesigned Smart electric drive – yes, it’s all lowercase letters to stay true to the “smart” way – is finally set to hit the streets without hitting the filling station.

With the influx of EVs in the marketplace, can the puny smart fortwo really stand up to the challenge? The fortwo has always been a niche car and adding in the hum of an electric motor in the place of its three-pot gasoline power plant just places it into an even narrower niche.

Only time will truly tell whether this car will gain any traction in the EV market, but we are all set to dive into it and tell you what to expect. We will also let you know if this car is one for the ages or one that you can live without.

Click past the jump to read our full review.

For those that are unaware, the FIA is still organizing and developing the Formula E racing series, which it almost the exact same racing as Formula 1, minus the vroom-vroom of the internal combustion engines. This series uses only cars that utilize sustainable energy, which means no gasoline or diesel, just the ominous hum of an electric motor.

The series is loosely set to kick off in 2014 and manufacturers have started coming forward with cars for the series. This latest car is pretty wild, to say the least. It looks almost like a Le Mans prototype car and the Batmobile had a wild night in the Batcave and the Bluebird GTL Formula E racing concept was the end result.

It takes most of its styling cues from the closed-cockpit-style Le Mans cars that have no rearward window, which was Audi’s reasoning for replacing the rearview mirror . It is very obvious that the focal point in building this machine was aerodynamics, as the curves are plentiful and there are no visual flat spots to catch the air.

According to its developers, the pictured model is purely just a prototype that they are using for wind tunnel testing and there is no motor information available yet. They anticipate a track-ready model to be completed by the end of September in hopes of racing in the Formula E’s debut season – if one ever kicks off.

We will keep you updated on this newest addition to the Formula E series and let you know the second its manufacturer releases some performance specs.

We have seen the supercar , supertruck , and we are just starting to get into the superSUV , so what else could engineers possibly put “super” in front of? Well, the engineers at the Delft Institute of Technology have a new one for you, the Superbus.

The Superbus has been a long work in progress and we have brought you several updates. First we broke the news to you about the designing of such a machine , back in 2006. In 2011, we alerted you that the machine was finally complete and could hit top speeds of 155 mph on electric power only.

Well, here we are, six years after its initial conception and we finally have and a purpose for this Lamborghini-meets-school-bus electric mass transit system, as well as a road-legal model. According to Fox News, a license plate was finally issued for this creation, which makes road testing legal, allowing its engineers to see how well it performs in real life.

You may wonder what in the world anyone would need with a 50-foot-long, 23-seat, six-wheeled Superbus. Well, the United Arab Emirates have your answer. Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two UAE members, are separated by about 75 miles of highways and want a way to connect the two cities with as little travel time as possible.

The two cities plan to build a stretch of highways connecting them and purchasing a fleet of these Superbuses to trek this journey in just 30 minutes. That’s some serious ass haulin’. We are at least three years away from seeing a production version of this all-electric Superbus, but the issuing of a license plate is a promising site. We will keep you updated on this slow development project as news becomes available.

You can catch a glimpse of this Superbus in the above video.

Source: Fox News
Chevrolet Volt

On the surface, the Chevy Volt is actually a pretty good looking car, if you are able to ignore the fact that it pumps out only 149 horsepower from its paltry1.4-liter engine and uses an electric motor for 30 miles before the gas engine ever kicks in. We’re not trying to say it’s a sports car, but it could certainly fall into the sports sedan area.

Unfortunately, we come right back to that 149 ponies and that immediately disqualifies this otherwise stylish car from sniffing the sports sedan segment. Well, GM obviously has noted the potential for the Volt and rumors are now swirling around that Chevy will start installing the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that the all-new Buick Verano T is receiving into the Volt .

As of now, this is still a rumor, but given that the Cadillac ELR and its sexy exterior is due to debut any time now and will likely ride on the same platform as the Volt, it only makes sense to use the powerful boosted 2.0. The ELR with only 149 horsepower would be like dumping a Civic Si engine in a Ferrari , it just doesn’t quite fit the looks.

We are uncertain if the Volt receives the full-powered version of the 2.0-liter engine, or a detuned model, it will mean that the Volt could push up to 270 horsepower, if it receives the full-power 2.0. Also floating around is a rumor that this new engine will receive a larger electric motor for a little extra gasoline-free oomph.

All we can say is that we truly hope that these rumors are true, as the Volt in its current form is underwhelming, to say the least. We’ll keep you updated as more details roll out on this possible upgrade.

Source: InsideEVs
Saab 9-3

few days ago, we let you know that several sources were reporting that bankrupt Swedish automaker, Saab, was finally sold to Hong Kong-based, Sweden-registered renewable energy company, National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS). This in turn booted Youngman out of the bidding war for the third time, but we had not yet seen any official reports. Well, we now have all something official.

NEVS’ boss, Karl Johan Jiang (interesting mixture of names) announced at a news conference that NEVS indeed won the folded automaker and that NEVS will indeed use the “Saab” name on its cars. NEVS was awarded the Saab factory, its tooling company and the 9-3’s architecture, which is odd, as BAIC purchased the intellectual rights to the 9-3 several months ago. We assume that BAIC got the drivetrain rights and Saab retained the underpinnings and body.

NEVS also let us know that we will not be without a new Saab vehicle on the road for much longer, as NEVS is currently developing an EV car based on the 9-3’s architecture that it was awarded and that car should be released in the next 18 months. Sales will start in China, then eventually move worldwide.

Unfortunately, NEVS’ bid did not include the 9-4x or 9-5 rights, so other than the 9-3, Saab will be starting all over again with brand new models, if it ever gets off of the ground. Given the Saab 9-3’s somewhat sporty nature, we expect to see a higher performance EV made of it. It definitely won’t be a screamer, like the Tesla Model S , but also not as slow as a Nissan Leaf .

There should be loads more information coming down the pike in the next 18 months, and we will update you as often as we can. Until then, congratulations to NEVS and the “Saab” name for making it through this long saga.

One of the largest – if not the largest – problems with electric cars becoming a complete reality is the limitation of the lithium-ion battery. One issue is the fact that they are extremely susceptible to extreme heat and cold. Both ends of the temperature spectrum result in serious energy loss, which, in turn, creates excessive battery usage to obtain the same results. This is exactly why the estimated mileage of EVs can vary greatly, depending on the environment.

To help regulate the battery temperature, EV manufacturers today are using liquid coolant to maintain an optimal temperature, just like the coolant works in an internal combustion engine. This liquid come with added expense, as it is expensive to manufacture and adds in a complex system to regulate the coolant temperature.

A123, a leading battery manufacturer for EVs, recently developed and is currently testing a battery it dubbed the Nanophosphate EXT, which can handle extreme hot and cold without requiring any coolant to maintain its temperature, per A123. In testing, this new lithium-ion battery held roughly 90 percent of its energy capacity in 113-degree heat, which shows it can take heat.

According to reports, cold testing is underway at a temperature of -22 degrees Fahrenheit and A123 claims that the batteries deliver 20 percent more power than standard coolant-regulated batteries at the same temperature.

In addition to it not needing temperature regulation, A123 also claims that Nanophosphate EXT batteries can last two to three times longer than an equivalent lithium-ion battery.

Combining more energy at extreme temperatures, deletion of the complex cooling system, and the lighter nature of these batteries, thanks to the lack of coolant, this new battery technology appears to be nothing short of a winner. With developments like this new battery and the high-tech and high-performance nature of EVs like the Tesla Model S and Fisker Karma , we just may see EVs become more of a reality to replace Dinosaur flesh-burning vehicles in the next 10 years.

We’ll keep you updated if anything new comes from A123’s research.

Click past the jump to read A123’s official presser about this new technology.

TV buffs get the Emmys, movie buffs get the Oscars, and music lovers get the Grammys; so, where does that leave us gearheads? Well, the International Engine of the Year Awards, of course, and the 2012 results are hot off the press!

Ford took home the top prize of International Engine of the Year, with its 999 cc engine found in the European Focus . This engine, despite its petite size, cranks out 125 PS (123 horsepower) and manages to squeeze out 56.5 mpg. The 1.0-liter engine didn’t win a close battle either, it took home top honors by a full 113 points. Points are accumulated based on fuel economy, smoothness, performance, noise and drivability and each engine can only receive 15 of each voter’s total 25 points to give. Needless to say, that was quite a landslide victory.

That’s not the biggest news though, as BMW brought home top honors in four different categories. Bimmer took home the 1.4- to 1.8-liter prize with its 181-horsepower, 1.6-liter engine found in the MINI Cooper S . In the 1.8- to 2.0-liter class, BMW took first prize with its 241-horsepower, 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged four-pot. In the 2.5-liter to 3.0-liter class, BMW wrapped up top honors with its bi-turbo 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine and its 335 horsepower. Last, but certainly not least, BMW took home 1st place in the 3.0- to 4.0-liter class with its 414-horsepower, 4.0-liter V-8 engine.

Despite all of the accolades, the highest mark that BMW achieved in the Engine of the Year award was 5th place, with its 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-banger.

Click past the jump to see all of the results of each class.

Infiniti has taken their time releasing the EMERG-E bit by bit with teaser image after teaser images, but the concept has finally made its world debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The Emerg-E is a highly advanced mid-ship sports car with a future dependent on the reaction of the folks at the auto show. Whether it makes it to production or not, it offers an exciting glimpse into Infiniti’s future.

Next to a completely new design language, the concept also features an array of exciting new technologies that the brand "will adopt in its quest to build dramatic and sustainable high performance cars."

The EMERG-E is powered by a twin electric motor that develops a total of 402 HP. It will sprint from 0 to 60mph in just four seconds and from zero to 130 mph in 30 seconds.

UPDATE 03/08/2012: This review has been updated with the official details and images of the Infiniti EMERG-E.

UPDATE 06/14/2012: After debuting the concept version at the Geneva Motor Show, Infiniti has announced that the first running prototype will be unveiled at the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed (28 June-1 July). Jerry Hardcastle, Global Chief Marketability Engineer, commented: "The Festival of Speed crowds will be seeing EMERG-E in action for the first time ever, even before many of Infiniti’s top executives have seen it. Goodwood’s spectators will see not just an exquisite design but an example of our and our partners’ technologies for an environmentally-friendly car brimming with true Infiniti driver appeal."

Hit the jump to read more about the Infiniti EMERG-E concept.

Tesla Model S

We always see new little wrinkles in automotive dealerships to try and make the car-buying experience seem less stressful and forced. Two key examples are the “No-Haggle” promise offered by now-defunct Saturn and the “Sign-and-Drive” deals offered by several manufacturers now, but started by VW . These are less about making the process easier for the consumer and more about increasing the dealer’s profits while displaying the illusion of an easy-going sales force, which is an oxymoron for any commissioned sales job.

Tesla appears to be going into a realm where car buying is a simple and stress-free environment. How they are achieving this is by beginning with the elimination of the traditional dealership and replacing it with smaller stores in local malls. The second step is to eliminate all commissions and pay the employees a salary. The third step is to not require car sales experience as a prerequisite for hiring, which eliminates the high-pressure “Sell now or sell never” mentality. To get a good picture of what to expect, walk into an Apple store in a local mall and see how laid back it is. You can walk in and play with all of the gadgets without a single sales person bothering you until you ask.

You may be wondering about the floor models and demo models. Keep in mind that all Teslas are built to order, so stores only need a handful of models on the floor and a few test vehicles in the mall’s parking lot. The biggest focus of these stores is to simply educate the customer about Tesla models, and what better place to get plenty of people to educate than a traffic-heavy mall?

Our hats go off to Tesla in its new approach to vehicle sales, but we have a sneaking suspicion that we will see Tesla dealerships and commission-based sales in the near future. Especially if sales start taking off and more models have to be kept on hand for the I-want-it-now customer. So we’ll see exactly how long Tesla can hang onto this low-pressure buying experience before converting into your typical high-pressure dealership.


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