emissions

emissions

  Automotive pollution is a serious concern and new emission regulation are tougher each year. In some countries lower emission can mean lower car insurance or the right to use HOV lanes.

BMW 3 Series Sedan

We already know that BMW has officially approved the manufacture of its much anticipated hybrid sports car, the i8 and we are well aware that the gasoline engine behind it is a 1.3-liter three-banger that pops out a sweet 223 horsepower. When combined with the electric motor on the front wheels, the i8 hits a healthy 354 ponies.

BMW has just revealed yet another detail on its upcoming i8, and that is that the thee-pot gas burner that powers it will hail from Jolly Ol’ England… Hams Hall factory in Birmingham Birmingham , to be precise. Head of engine development at BMW, Peter Nefischer, mentioned before that the boosted three-cylinder could find its way into the 3-Series in the future and the fact that this engine is being built in the same factory that manufactures the 3-Series engine could add some validity to this possible downsizing of the 3-Series .

With the 328i already coming stock with a 240-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter, there is no reason that an extended fuel range model boasting this 223-horsepower, 1.3-liter engine cannot become a possibility. Granted, it likely wouldn’t have quite the drivability of the 2.0-liter, but the extended fuel range would help traveling business people a great deal, while still having a little pep in its step. In addition, those 223 ponies still far exceed the paltry 201 ponies pumped out by the Mercedes-Benz C250 .

We can say with some certainty that a three-cylinder 3-Series variant will definitely happen, it’s just a matter of when it happens and how BMW tunes the engine to retain the comfortable feel that the 3-Series is notorious for. We’ll update you if any other news pointing toward a three-banger 3-Series pops up.

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.

The anticipated release of the Tesla Model S is nearly here. It began just a few days ago with the launch of the Tesla Model S design studio , so customers could customize their own Model S and place an order. Just a few days later, we are now set to announce that the first Model S has been handed over to its owner over two weeks before the car’s official release date of June 22nd.

You may be wondering how exactly a customer got his hands on one of the hottest new cars available so early. Well, the first Model S went to Tesla board member, Steve Jurvetson. When you’re one of the bosses, we assume that you can pull a few strings to get your ride a little early.

What’s even better is that there is a video of Mr., Jurvetson taking delivery and you can honestly see that he is excited to get his hands on the first Model S and one of the already sold out Signature Series trim levels. Despite some minor audio issues around the midway point of the video, it is all pretty clear. What’s pretty funny is when Jurvetson hops in his Model S for the first time at the 1:47 mark, fires up its completely silent motor, and pulls away, you will notice that he obviously pressed the accelerator a little too hard, as the car launches forward a few feet before he releases the pedal.

That would have been an interesting story to tell had he lost control the first ever Tesla Model S on its inaugural run. Fortunately, he kept it under control and we are left with a cool video of the first model S to hit the streets. In about two weeks, all of you folks not associated with Tesla will start getting notifications that your car is finished and ready for delivery. Until then, just enjoy the video.

Saab 9-4X

We reported just a few days ago that despite twice being bumped out of the bidding war for Saab, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, reentered the bidding with a $552 million bid. Apparently, this was still seen as an unsafe bid and the Chinese firm was again stuck with the highest bid, but no car company to show for it.

This time around, it looks as if Saab has finally found itself a home. Sweden-registered and Hong Kong-based firm, National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB, has been awarded the folded automaker and what’s left of its assets, according to a Swedish newspaper. The winning bid is estimated to be between $208 million and $250 million. That is less than half of the last reported bid by Youngman, which really shows that the Chinese firm was either demanding the parts operation, which the NEVS AB deal does not include, or just not seen as a trusted bidder.

The deal is expected to be finalized and pen is expected to hit the “Sign Here” line in about a week, if the reports are accurate. After that, NEVS AB can take complete ownership of what’s left of Saab, which is little more than an S, a pair of As, and a B. We are not aware of NEVS AB’s plans with Saab, but we can say with a lot of certainty that it will involve alternative fuels (i.e. electric, hydrogen, hybrid, etc.)

We have yet to receive official confirmation on the deal, but this looks to be the real deal, FINALLY. We will keep you updated as more information becomes available on the ongoing Saab saga.

Tesla Model S

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 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 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.

Mazda6

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?

Click past the jump to find out!

Posted on by Brad Anderson 3
Bentley EXP 9 F

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.


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