We absolutely love the BMW i8, we really do, and we are excited to see exactly what BMW brings to showrooms with its anticipated 2013 release. As we sit back and ponder a little bit more about the i8, we begin to notice that the i8 has a pretty good chance of being an absolute flop. Now, before you BMW enthusiasts start picketing in front of the TopSpeed offices, hear us out, and understand that we are just saying there’s a possibility.
So BMW is touting around the 350 to 400 combined horsepower in the i8, but we often glance right past that “combined” word and only see the total output. In reality, the i8 only boasts about 220 ponies and 221 pound-feet of torque from its gasoline power plant. The remaining power comes from the two electric motors powering the front wheels. In addition, this combination is what allows the i8 to hit 60 mph in sub-5-second times.
From what we are told by BMW, the i8 can run on electric power only for about 20 miles and the electric motors are battery powered, which gains no regenerative power from the 3-pot engine in the rear. So once the batteries die, you’re stuck piloting this likely heavy car with only 220 ponies. This becomes even more of an issue, as BMW has kept rather mum on the topic of how far the car will actually go on the combined gas-electric power.
If the batteries discharge, you are not going to sniff a 5-second 0 to 60 time, as a lot of the torque responsible for such lightning-fast acceleration is provided by these electric motors. Sans those electric aids, you are likely looking at a 8- or 9-second sprint to 60 mph, which is rather disappointing in a car that is certain to crest to $100K mark when it hits showrooms.
Again, this is purely just a look ahead at what could potentially make the i8 a bust. We certainly hope that BMW has figured out a way to prevent this from happening.
There are very few things in this world that include the word “Eco” in its name and still remain fun. Ford somehow managed to find a way to have its cake and eat it too – what a weird saying – with the EcoBoost engines. Not only are they more economical than the engines they replaced, but they, for the most part, are drastically more powerful.
For example, let’s look at the F-150. In 2011, Ford dropped the 5.4-liter V-8 and 4.6-liter V-8 from the F-150’s options list and replaced them with the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. The 2011 EcoBoost engine pumped out 55 more horsepower than the 2010 5.4-liter and 73 to 117 horsepower more than the 4.6-liter V-8. Add in the fact that the 6-pot boosted engine also got 2 mpg city and 2 mpg highway better than the 5.4-liter, and 1 mpg and 2 mpg better than the 4.6-liter V-8, and you have a winner.
Well, this all added up to some impressive sales, even more impressive that Ford could have imagined. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford anticipates selling about 1.6 million EcoBoost engines in 2013, according to its current pace, which is 100,000 more units that its initial target was. Ford is seemingly always adding a new EcoBoost engine, with the 2.0-liter and 1.0-liter variant coming out this year and a 2.3-liter variant looking like a sure thing for 2015, so we see this number going nowhere but up in the coming years.
Ford definitely bet the farm on the EcoBoost engine in the F-150 to start with and much like it did in 1996 when it drastically restyled the F-150, it won back the farm and took the neighbor’s farm along with it. Our hats have to go off to Ford and its ability to think outside of the box and constantly give the customer what he wants. It’s no wonder Ford was one of the few Detroit automakers to survive without a government bailout.
Lotus hasn’t seen a great share of luck in recent years, but in the past few weeks, its luck has taken a slight turn for the better. First came INDYCAR’s approval of desired changes to its IRL engines. Now Lotus is now extending this run of decent luck a little more by announcing that its running prototype for the Evopra 414E hybrid is ahead of schedule and ready for dynamic testing.
Lotus first unveiled the prototype at Geneva in 2010, but it was just that, a prototype. It had no engine or motor driving it; it was essentially just a shell. No one in the automotive world expected anything from Lotus in the next year or so, as it seeks a new CEO, fights a rumored lawsuit from its former CEO, and attempts to right this sinking shop.
It looks like we were all wrong, as Lotus just sent out a press release detailing all of the Evora 414E’s main specifications. So, we did what we do best and used our speculative abilities to put together a review for you to use to make an educated shopping decision, if you are lucky enough to be in the market for this type of car.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
Anyone that drives a truck in a manner that it is built to be used – you know, actually hauling more than just yourself – will tell you that diesel power is the way to go. Not only are diesel engines far more reliable, but they also boast extraordinary torque for their size and historically get better fuel economy. For some reason unknown to us, the “Big Three” only offer diesel engines in their 3/4-ton and larger trucks, leaving 1/2-ton truck with only gasoline engines to choose from.
With trucks being all about towing these days more than in recent history, a lot of focus has been placed on increasing frame rigidity and driveline quality to bump up towing capacity on the entry-level 1/2-ton pickups, but little has been done to pump up the twisting power needed to get those heavy loads moving (A.K.A. torque).
Well, it looks like Chrysler is getting really serious about the Ram taking over Chevy’s No. 2 slot on the best-selling pickup list. In addition to all of the new enhancements coming in 2013, reports are pointing toward a diesel variant coming to the 1500 lineup in the near future, as test mule 1500 Rams are being spotted bearing torque-happy diesel power plants.
No, this is not a Cummins diesel engine like most would expect. The engine of choice is the VM 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine by Fiat. Before you start complaining about Ram straying away from the Cummins engine, understand that this Fiat diesel is no wimp, as it cranks out 241 ponies and 406 pound-feet of torque straight off of the shelf. Add in the fact that it gets up to 28 mpg on the highway and you have a winner.
That would put this diesel at the same torque output as the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, but allows it to get 10 more MPG on the highway. Given the new frame enhancements in the Ram 1500, we would anticipate a towing rating well over 10,000 lbs from these diesel-power Ram 1500s.
For now, these engines are still in the testing phase, but we will keep you informed if anything changes.
There comes a time in every person’s life where sacrifices must be made and the biggest moment of sacrifice is when you have a child. I know that my son comes first in everything. There is not a single thing in this world that I would put before his health, safety, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, not everyone feels this way.
Enter in a woman (we know her name, but we’ll spare her some privacy) from the Denver, Colorado area, and you have a woman that made the “mistake” (her words, not ours) of putting $7.00 worth of gasoline in a child safety seat, as the young child sits in the seat next to the car seat with a lap belt around him.
After picking up what appears to be a 2-gallon gas can of fuel, she apparently couldn’t find any other better place to sit it other than her child’s car seat. So she removed her son and placed him on the adult seat and securely strapped in the can of gas in the child seat.
Fortunately, she was stopped by the Aurora Police Department during a random seatbelt checking campaign and she received a slew of tickets. One of the officers snapped a picture of the terrible site and posted it on the Colorado DOT’s Facebook page, which now has 704 comments, most of which comment on the horrendous lack of safety, and 2,031 shares.
To make matters worse, on this undisclosed woman’s Facebook page she posted on May 30th “So I jus [sic] got pulled over! No license again....but I didn’t go to jail! Thank God! This time I learned! !!!” This leads us to believe that not only was she driving with her son in the worst possible position – in a regular seat with a can of gas within reach – but she was doing so without a valid license, which she has done before.
It’s not our job to judge, so we will just say that no matter what, the safety of you children always comes before a can of gas…