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.
When six-speed transmissions began becoming more and more popular throughout the mid-2000s, drivers began to adapt to them. For most drivers, the change from five to six speeds was a relatively simple one, as it was just one more gear downward. Now with automatic transmissions exhibiting better fuel economy than manuals, thanks 7- and 8-speed automatics, the manual transmission needs to adapt or die.
In true Darwin-like fashion the 6-speed evolved into a 7-speed on the most recent Porsche 911, so why hasn’t any one else followed suit? The truth behind it is that most experts decided that six speeds is about all that the average human can handle in a car. Well, BMW appears to be joining Porsche in proving the experts wrong, as according to patent drawings that surfaced recently, there is a 7-speed manual in development for BMW.
BMW isn’t trying to say that the experts are 100 percent incorrect, as all signs point toward electronic gating of the gears, which prevent a driver from accidentally shifting to 1st gear when going 70 mph and 7th gear when going 20 mph.
These drawings combined with electronic gating of the gears also bring about the possibility of a semi-truck-like 8-speed transmission option. An 8th speed would definitely place the manual transmission back into at least a 1st place tie with new automatics for fuel economy supremacy, but their widespread reality has yet to be seen, and the verdict is still out on the 7-speed variant of the 911. To date it seems like a winner, as it gives the driver six shortly spaced gears then a 7th wide, overdrive-like speed.
We’ll keep you updated as more information becomes available on this patent drawing of a 7-speed transmission.
It seems like since the beginning of time, Mercedes has offered a diesel option on its sedans to its U.S. customers, but BMW has always avoided putting these loud and relatively sluggish engines in its U.S.-bound cars. According to various reports, this is all due to come to an end in the near future, as BMW is prepping its 3.0-liter diesel power plant for U.S.-bound 7 Series models.
Nothing is definitive yet and we are still in the early phases of all of the speculation and reports, but we anticipate it to bear a 735d or 740d badge. We also do not know if BMW is planning to further tune the current 3.0-liter diesel engine to exceed its current 265 horsepower and 425 pound-feet of torque, but we certainly anticipate the German auto builder to pump up the horsepower to the 300 horsepower range to attract buyers.
As for fuel economy, we can expect the highway economy to jump from the 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway to roughly 19 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, given the fact that the much heavier and less aerodynamic X5 gets 26 mpg highway with the same diesel engine. This would make the 7 Series one of the most fuel efficient cars in its class, as the automaker strives to stay ahead of the CAFÉ curve.
Reports are pointing toward this new engine arriving in showrooms sometime in late-2013, but don’t be surprised to see it makes its way over here a little earlier. We will continue to monitor the details of this new engine and keep you updated as more information becomes available.
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.
For roughly two years now, the DeltaWing has been in the works and just recently it received its most major corporate sponsors in the form of Nissan and Michelin. The DeltaWing is all set to make its debut race at the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the “Garage 56” class, but before it can make that run, the car needs to be tested and said testing has just been completed.
In the DeltaWing’s inaugural run on Circuit de la Sarthe, it completed a total of 54 laps. Through those laps, the Delta Wing really showed off one of its main benefits; its ability to use tires for longer periods of time, as it almost completed all 54 laps on the same set of tires. The only time the tires were changed was when it started to rain, so the pit crew changed it into a set of rain tires.
The second benefit of the DeltaWing’s technology, its fuel efficiency, was not mentioned, but we are certain that it was far better than the other classes of cars that run in Le Mans. The fastest lap that the DeltaWing pulled off in testing was 3:47.980, which would put it right on pace with the LMP2 class – the second highest class in the race – as the fastest lap in 2011 LMP2 class ranged from 3:42.625 to 3:55.254, putting it square in the middle of the LMP2 pack. Given the fact that it requires less pit stops for fuel and tires, this experimental car just might place highly in the race, if it finishes. We know that it will definitely win its class, as it’s the only entrant in the “Garage 56” class.
This definitely makes this year’s Le Mans, which starts on June 16th, even more worth watching just to see how this experiment pans out.
The automotive world is full of trends and copycatting, so it is not uncommon to see drivetrain modifications start off small and explode as the years progress. If you think back, you will find one of the slower growing trends in automotive history was fuel injection, as it dates way back to 1925, then by 1940 it was first made electronic by Alfa Romeo engineers. In 1952, it became commercially available via Bosch, but only a few automakers made use of it. By the early-1990s, all but a handful of cars had electronic fuel injection of some sort.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, in terms of rate of growth, is the elimination of V-8 engines in favor of more practical turbocharged V-6 engines. The Ford F-150 has been on the front lines of this V-8 abandonment front and it all began with the elimination of all but two V-8 engines in 2011 – the 5.0-liter V-8 and 6.2-liter V-8 were the only 8-cylinder engines available – and replacing them with a series of V-6 engines, including: a high-output non-turbo, a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter, a 302-horsepower 3.7-liter, and a 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 engine.
Since this successful introduction of forced-induction V-6 engines by Ford, seemingly every company is working on a hot turbocharged V-6 to replace their V-8 engines. The most notable is General Motor’s work on a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 for its upcoming Escalade redesign and the new Silverado and Sierra. There are also whispers of a twin-turbo V-6 for the Camaro. Dodge has fallen behind, but has turned its focus more toward making its existing V-8 powered trucks more economical, but will eventually have to switch to turbo power to keep pace.
So the question on everyone’s mind is how do these turbo charged V-6s stack up to the aging and fuel-hungry V-8s?
Click past the jump to read our comparison between the two options.
When people think about Buicks, words like old, boring, and grandpa come to mind. Very rarely, if ever, does the word sporty get uttered as an accurate description, but get ready for all of that to change. In an effort to change the stigma attached to the brand, Buick is releasing an all new Buick Regal GS which will arrive at dealerships in the fall of 2011. This new vehicle will target models like the Audi A4 and the Acura TSX with its exclusive Ecotec 2.0L direct injected, turbocharged engine that delivers a total of 270 HP and 295 lb-ft of torque.
The last time a GS model was released by Buick, it was 2004. This model was powered by a 3.8 L L67 Series II supercharged V6 that produced 240 HP and 280 lb-ft of torque. Technology, and the constant need to improve fuel economy, has allowed Buick to pump out more horsepower out of a smaller engine, all while providing an estimated fuel economy of 33 MPG.
UPDATE 08/04/2011: Buick has announced that the Regal GS will be put on sale this fall at a starting price of $35,310, which includes a $860 destination charge. Standard features on the GS model include: push-button start; a leather-wrapped, flat-bottom sport steering wheel with audio controls; metal sport pedals; and leather-appointed, heated and 12-way adjustable sport seating, a Harman Kardon premium 336-watt, 5.1 Matrix Surround Sound system with nine speakers.
UPDATE 05/22/2012: During a recent test drive at Nevada Open Road Challenge, the 270 Regal GS clocked in an impressive top speed of 162 mph - making it the fastest model Buick ever made. The car was piloted by Rietow and Townsend and the only modifications were limited to safety equipment such as a roll hoop and five-point harness seat belts, as well as data collection computers. Check out the new video to see the test drive!
Hit the jump for more details on the Buick Regal GS.
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?
Green cars are slowly starting to gain some traction in the automotive realm, as seemingly every manufacturer now offers some sort of hybrid model. Even electric cars are starting to see a lot of upswing lately, as most manufacturers are at least tinkering with the EV idea. However, there is one “green” mode of transportation that is getting overlooked at every turn. This is liquid natural gas and compressed natural gas.
One company has made LNG and CNG its No. 1 priority lately, and that is Maxximus. Maxximus’ first vehicle was a supercar dubbed the G-Force and it recently took that monster and turned it into a vehicle that can run on LNG, CNG, or even propane, and run at an extremely high rate of speed. This new vehicle is named the LNG 2000.
CNG and LNG are not only 90 percent cleaner burning than gasoline, making them the cleanest burning fossil fuel, but they are also as much as 50 percent cheaper than gasoline. Of course, some oil tycoon would snatch up the world’s supply and eventually drive process to the range of gasoline. At least it would provide a little temporary relief for the price of fuel, as we search for a legitimate alternative.
When most people think of alternative fuels, they think of a slow-moving vehicle that isn’t practical in the real world. Can the Maxximus LNG 2000 break this mold?
At the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, Ferrari unveiled the Vettura Laboratorio HY-KERS - the company’s first attempt to create a hybrid vehicle. Now in an interview with Autocar, Ferrari boss Amedeo Felisa has confirmed that the Italian company is working on a V12 hybrid engine that will most likely make its debut in the upcoming Enzo. This hybrid engine comes as a followup to the V12 used in the new F12 Berlinetta, which Ferrari has called “the first in a new generation of V12s.”
"We will roll out new technology that is there first and foremost to introduce a green factor to our cars and ensure that we can keep our product where it is in terms of CO2."
According to Amedeo Felisa, this system won’t just be used to increase the total output, but will be a good way to save energy. The company’s new technology is expensive at the moment, but Ferrari hopes it will find a solution to reduce costs in the near future and use it for all Ferrari models.
"I’m not saying when, but it is possible that this technology will be on all Ferraris. It has been designed to fit all our future architecture, and if we go ahead it will be fitted as standard. It is not the sort of thing you offer as an option."