Tesla has yet to officially launch its latest EV, the Model S, and already the upstart automaker is setting up some pretty lofty goals. In an interview with CEO, Elon Musk, it was made clear that the company is confident that it will achieve 20,000 total models sold in 2013. With the Nissan Leaf eclipsing just 9,500 total sales in the U.S. in 2011, those are some pretty stratospheric goals.
This is especially difficult considering that Tesla is not expected to infiltrate the European and Asian markets until mid-2013. We do see the logic behind this though, as the base $57,400 price is relatively affordable, considering what you get at that level. Also add in the fact that the Model S is more stylish and ego-massaging than the very odd-looking and soft-feeling Leaf, and Tesla just may be able to hit those numbers.
Once Tesla debuts the Model X SUV, the automaker anticipates a huge upswing in sales at the tune of 75 percent. Yup, Tesla anticipates 2014 sales to eclipse the 35,000 mark thanks to its newest EV SUV, which means the Model X’s sales are expected to hover around 15,000 for the year.
Overall, these are very high goals to achieve for an automaker that really has no reputation or customer base to attach its wagon to yet. However, there are tons of enthusiasts out there that would love nothing more than a 300-mile-per-charge supercar that hits 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and still hauls the family around. So, if Tesla remains true to its promises with the Model S, we could all see this new automaker well exceeding its projected goals.
We’ll be closely monitoring the sales of the Model S to see if the demand is there and if this upstart can provide ample supply if the demand is high.
In the last year, we have seen Mazda’s SKYACTIV technology make its way into various vehicles in an effort to increase fuel efficiency without reinventing the wheel. These technologies include advanced weight reduction, reduced friction, forced induction, and ultra-high compression ratings. All of these advancements combine to boost the fuel economy ratings of Mazda’s street cars.
Now Mazda is ready to take SKYACTIV to the next level, and introduce it into racing, via the Grand-Am Road Racing Series. The first engine that Mazda will offer to race teams is the 2.2-liter SKYACTIV-D engine, which is an ultra-high-efficiency diesel engine. Now, before you start wondering how Mazda expects this engine to be competitive in the Grand-Am series, keep in mind that this engine will only be raced in the GX class, which is a class dedicated to alternative fuels and highly fuel efficient vehicles.
The SKYACTIV-D that is currently being developed will boast a 14-to-1 compression ratio, a two-stage turbocharger and a 5,200 rpm redline. In comparison to the current Mazda 2.2-liter diesel engine, the SKYACTIV-D is 10 percent lighter, has 20 percent less internal friction, and gets 20 percent better fuel economy.
The production numbers are not out yet for this racing engine, but we do know that the production SKYACTIV 2.2-liter diesel produces 173 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and an impressive 310 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 rpm. We will update you with the official base numbers once Mazda completes the dyno phase of its testing.
Click past the jump to read the full press release.
Tesla is starting the beginning phases of production for its Model S sports sedan and it is easier than ever to order a model custom fitted just for you. Tesla’s new design studio allows you to dive right in and add in the options that you prefer, ranging from performance altering battery packs to interior color and accents.
Even if you aren’t looking to snag up a new Tesla Model S, the system is pretty cool nonetheless. There are loads of features to choose from, even on the base Model S, which starts out at $57,000 and ranges up to $97,000 when fully stocked with every available option. These options include high-powered wall connector and twin chargers, an 80kWh battery for 4.4-second 0-60 time and 300 miles per charge, a 580-watt audio system, and loads more.
The highest price we could build comes in at $110,550. This is the range-topping model S Signature Performance model with optional rear-facing seats, paint armor, panoramic glass roof, and a high-power wall connector. That’s still not too shabby for a car that goes up to 300 miles on a charge, hits 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds, and looks sexy doing it.
Unlike other car designing sites for more popular manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t need to find a model that is the closest to meeting your selected options; Tesla builds your Model S with all of the options you selected. Pretty cool, huh? So, have a look at the Tesla Model S design studio and see what the options are. You will likely be pretty amazed at what these electric cars can offer you, even at the base level.
We all watched as Mazda rolled out the sexy Mazda Takeri concept car in New York. At that same time we learned that the 2014 Mazda6, which we will see at the 2012 Paris Auto Show, will be “strongly influenced” by the Takeri concept and we became rather excited by its potential. With those “look at me” body lines we assumed that there would be some hot V-6 option for this new stylish body. Unfortunately, Mazda went in a completely different direction, according to Mazda spokesperson Jeremy Barnes, via Automotive News.
Barnes made it quite clear that there are no plans to place a V-6 option or any other performance engine option under the 2014 Mazda6’s new hood. Actually, Mazda is even axing the somewhat impressive 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The likely replacement for both engines is the Skyactiv 2.0-liter four-banger that cranks out a respectable-for-its-size 155 horsepower and 150 pound-feet of torque. However, if you have to add “for its size” in front of something, that’s typically not a good thing.
The goal of this freshly revised Mazda6 is obviously fuel economy, which we can respect Mazda for doing. In all honesty though, they could produce a turbo-charged four-cylinder or even borrow an EcoBoost engine from Ford, who still owns a small share of Mazda. A possible performance engine would be the 250-horsepower, 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine slated for the upcoming Focus ST.
Having said all of that, Mazda did not completely rule out a future optional Skyactiv V-6 option for the Mazda6, but for now we will only see a four-cylinder engine.
We just hope that Mazda isn’t cutting its own throat by offering an under-powered four-cylinder for this hot-looking model. Then again, the automotive world tends to change with the wind, so you never know what may actually happen between now and the 2014 Mazda6’s release in the first quarter of 2013.
So we have watched as electric cars have begun infiltrating the market with maximum ranges of 70 to 150 miles per charge and a roughly 6- to 12-hour charging time. To be honest, that is just not a feasible solution for most drivers. We all know hybrids, as they have been around for what seems like forever now, but they are still reliant on gasoline and some actually get worse gas mileage than some gasoline-only cars.
This all leaves us scratching our heads looking for a solution to the gas crisis we are experiencing. Some people insist that hydrogen is the only real answer, but that experiment is far away from ever becoming a reality. There are two gasses that we have been using for ages to heat our homes and grill our food that a lot of people seem to forget, these are compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (propane).
Natural gas vehicles have been on the rise lately, with many fleet companies switching over to it, and forklifts have been propane-powered for ages. Recently, we even saw a performance car, the Maxximus LNG 2000 break a number of speed records, using natural gas as its fuel. This leads to the ultimate question of can CNG and LPG make their way into the performance and luxury car world to alleviate the gasoline crisis, especially in regards to fuel-hungry performance and luxury cars, as we find a real alternative?
The styling of the Bentley EXP 9 F has been criticized to such an extent that the British marque confirmed it was already back to the drawing board to refine it, but that hasn’t stopped it from speculating about the engines which could be found under its hood. And all of this has been done without Bentley actually confirming that the EXP 9 F is going into production, but it seems pretty obvious now that it definitely is.
Anyway, it’s almost completely certain that the EXP 9 F will be offered with Bentley’s massive 6.0-liter W12 engine which has been around for years now, and in SUV-spec, it could pump out in excess of 600HP and 590 lb-ft of torque. However, very few customers will be willing to buy an SUV with a gas-guzzling W12, so Bentley has suggested that the brand new 4.0-liter V8 engine from the new Continental is a likely contender, while a far more affordable V6 plug-in hybrid may also be developed and utilized.
The V8 engine would likely remain in the same tune as it is when coupled with the Continental GT and will slash carbon emissions by 40 percent over the gargantuan W12. As for the plug-in hybrid, well very little is known about it at the moment, but it should have the capability of traveling up to 19 miles in fully- electric mode and when combined with the new six-cylinder engine, it could even launch the heavy SUV to 62 mph in less than 5 seconds.
Hopefully Bentley will release more details about the V6 when it officially confirms the EXP 9 F for production in the coming months, and we’ll be sure to bring you that news straightaway.
For a long time we have been screaming from the hilltops that Toyota has been wasting its No. 1 slot in the hybrid market by releasing boring hybrids, like the Prius. Well, Toyota is about to release yet another hybrid concept and we can only hope that it is not more of the same stuff we have seen for the past decade.
The details are a little sketchy on this new hybrid concept, but Toyota did release a pair of teaser images, which look pretty neat from what we can see. The front headlights appear to be normal old headlights on the outside, then as they work toward the center of the car, the lights turn a shade of light blue. Not only is the ambient lighting sweet, but from the silhouette this thing looks nothing like the Prius.
In a way, it has styling similar to the NS4 concept that Toyota revealed at Geneva, which Toyota made clear was not coming into production. Rather, the NS4 was being used to test different features that would make their way into showrooms. This may be one of the cars featuring those NS4-like cues that are heading to showroom floors.
There are rumors circulating that the reason this car is only being revealed in Beijing is because the car will be available in China only. We don’t quite see a point of releasing a hybrid in the Chinese market yet, as it is still a developing market. The likely reason for a Beijing release and not a New York release is so it didn’t steal the new Avalon’s thunder.
The Beijing auto show opens up to the press today and we are sure that Toyota won’t wait long after that to unveil this new gas-electric machine. We will keep you updated as much as we can on this soon-to-be-unveiled hybrid, as we obtain more information.
Fisker has been one of the more exciting rollercoaster rides in the automotive industry, as of late. In 2010, it was developing an extended range hybrid, then known as the Nina, and the Department of Energy was interested enough to provide the struggling company with a $529 million loan. This loan was three fold; part of it was for additional research for the Karma, part was for the Nina’s development, and the final portion was to renovate the old GM plant in Delaware.
Apparently Fisker didn’t meet the DOE’s expectations and they froze the loan in 2011, due to “unmet milestones.” Fisker then insisted that production of the Atlantic (the production name of the Nina) will commence at the Delaware plant, despite laying off 26 employees in early-February.
Well, the layoffs are still coming, as Fisker just let go of an additional 12 employees, including engineers and maintenance technicians, from its Delaware plant, which one laid off engineer called “absolutely empty.”
This is really making it look as if the Atlantic will not be produced in the Delaware plant. For that matter, it is starting to look like the Fisker brand as a whole may be in some significant trouble. The true question here is will the DOE see that Fisker’s recent progress is good enough to thaw out those loan funds and allow the company to continue its renovation of the Delaware plant and research on the Atlantic project? Or will the DOE watch Fisker squirm as it gasps for air wherever it can?
Chances are releasing the loan funds will never happen and it is looking like Fisker may fizzle out and end up amongst the heap of failed car companies, alongside Packard, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac. Only time will tell, but seeing the Atlantic – an affordable hybrid sports sedan – hit the market would be a great thing for the environment and the entire hybrid realm.
Just a few weeks ago, we teased you about Porsche bringing its popular-in-Europe clean diesel engine to the U.S., and installing it in the Cayenne. Not only is this engine powerful, boasting 240 horsepower, 406 pound-feet of torque, and towing 7,716 pounds, but it is also economical, getting 28 mpg.
According to our colleagues over at Car and Driver, we are essentially just getting Europe’s hand-me-downs. Much like a big brother does with clothes that are too small for him, European Porsche drivers have grown out of the 3.0-liter V-6 diesel that we are just now getting and are moving into a larger engine, a full two cylinders larger that is.
Yup, Porsche will be adding in a V-8 diesel option to the Cayenne lineup in the “very near future,” according to Car and Driver’s report. It looks like the most likely and cost-effective diesel engine to offer is the Audi 4.2-liter V-8 that cranks out 346 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque, given Porsche and Audi are in bed under the VW umbrella. Given how well the smaller 3.0-liter diesel performs now, this engine would make the Cayenne diesel a screamer – as much as a diesel can be a screamer. It would also thrust its towing rating toward a truck-like 10,000-pound mark.
With that said, there are also rumors afloat that another VW affiliate, Bentley, may be working directly with Porsche to develop this new diesel engine.
Now, before you start getting all excited for this large diesel engine, you can forget about it. Porsche does not appear to have any plans on bringing this larger diesel engine to the U.S. This is no surprise, as the European market is easier for Porsche to distribute to, as well as the fact that Euro drivers are accustomed to buying these clean diesels than U.S. buyers are. Maybe one day the European market will outgrow this engine and we will finally get it here, but the chances are slim.
We all understand that the European market was the first to really get nailed with high gas prices. They were paying over $5 per gallon while the U.S. market still was just cresting the $2 per gallon mark. This forced the European market to start accepting smaller and less desirable vehicles in hopes of getting better economy, while folks in the States continued to drive Hummers and other large SUVs.
Now that gas is hitting $4 per gallon, the U.S. buyers are starting to become more receptive to smaller cars with upwards of 40 mpg capabilities and hybrids cresting the 50 mpg mark. However, we are still left out in one market, the ultra economic clean diesels. The latest one is the 2012 Chevrolet Aveo, which is known as the Sonic in the U.S.
In the U.S., the highest mpg available on the Sonic is 40 mpg and that is the optional 1.4-liter turbocharged engine, which we have our doubts if any normal driver can actually hit 40 mpg in this car. In the U.K., the Aveo has several four-cylinder engine options, including a 1.2-liter gasoline, 1.3-liter diesel, 1.3-liter Eco Diesel, and a 1.4-liter. The highway fuel economy on these engines is 68.9 mpg, 83.1 mpg, 85.6 mpg, and 62.7 mpg, respectively.
None of these engines would make the Sonic a speed demon, like the relatively quick Sonic LTZ and its 1.4-liter turbo engine, but will Chevy ever bring these engine options to the U.S. market? We understand that diesel fuel is not as readily available as regular gasoline, but they certainly give the U.S. buyer an option other than hybrid or electric, which have technologies that could end up requiring rather pricy repairs in the future.
We’re not singling out Chevy here, as Ford has its ECOnetic system getting 65+ mpg in a Ford Fiesta. Our best Fiesta gets an arguable 40 mpg on the highway. Seemingly every car company has a super-Eco diesel engine in its European lineup, but we have yet to see one in the U.S. We think the time has come for one to show up.