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.
It looks like Toyota, after a very huge hiccup, is set to return to the world of Lee Mans racing. Its pair of TS030 Hybrids have completed their first testing run at Cirque De La Sarthe – the name of the 24 Hours of Le Mans track. This test wasn’t just any test either. The all-new hybrid tested very well, as both cars finished the 10 laps required to qualify and the fastest lap amongst the two was 3:27.204, which was only 1.277 seconds slower than the fastest car (the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro).
The only issues with the run that Toyota Motorsport GmbH reported were a few bits of “minor bodywork damage,” which the team didn’t elaborate on in its press release. Other than that, the test was a complete success for the Toyota team, but it was down its main driver, Stéphane Sarrazin, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. Sarrazin is expected to be ready to resume driving duties before the race starts next week, so everything is looking good for Toyota. With Sarrazin missing, Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima were behind the wheel of the No. 7 car, and the No. 8 car had Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi piloting it.
With all of the new cars, like the Toyota TS030 and the extremely intriguing Nissan DeltaWing, this 24 Hours of Le Mans is sure to be a fun one to watch. The race starts on Saturday, June 16th and the green flag drops at 3:00 p.m. Le Mans time, which is 7:00 a.m. EST.
Click past the jump to read Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s full press release on the debut.
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.
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.
Audi has been experimenting with the electric-car market for a few years and officially unveiled plans for the A1 e-tron and an electric-powered A2 recently. It does not look like either one is going to happen any time soon, according to a report from Car.
The A2 electric was slated to be released in Europe, where high-efficiency diesel and gasoline engines that get upwards of 60 mpg reign supreme. These markets are tough enough to crowbar in an electric model, but add in the fact that the A2 was expected to carry a €40,000 ($50,000) price tag, and you get a model that was bound to fail in the European marketplace. Combine that price point with the fact that the Nissan Leaf, with its far lower €25,990 ($32,500) price tag, only saw 3,000 units leave showroom floors in 2011, and Audi wisely saw this as a fruitless journey.
The entire A2 line will likely continue as expected, sans the electric model. This leaves a gasoline and diesel model as the only drivetrain options.
The A1 e-tron reportedly is meeting a similar fate, but for different reasons. The A1 e-tron is being axed due to extravagantly high production costs. This car was planned to be similar to the Chevy Volt, as it was going to have a gasoline engine to extend the range of its electric motor by charging the batteries via a Wankel (rotary) engine.
Though this is a tragic way to abruptly cease the development phase for an electric lineup, we cannot blame Audi for its choice. Electric cars just are not selling well in the European markets and having one priced nearly double its closest competitor and another one with climbing production costs just isn’t smart business.
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.
Just a few weeks ago, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile – no, not that Lotus – was pushed out of the bidding ring for Saab due to what Autoweek called “Chinese bureaucracy” and the fact that there were some worries about the Chinese firm coming up with the scratch needed to finalize the deal.
This allowed a group of Chinese businesses, headed up by an alternative energy firm, to swoop in and take the lead on bidding. It looks as if Youngman isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel just yet, as according to Bloomberg the Chinese firm has just entered in a new bid of 4 billion kronor ($552 million) to purchase the bankrupted Swedish automaker.
The true test here is if this bid is even accepted. Youngman’s first bid was flat out rejected by GM. The second bid went belly up for similar reasons, we can only assume. So what makes Youngman think that this bid will receive a stamp of approval?
Even if Youngman succeeds in purchasing Saab’s remaining assets, what exactly does it plan on doing with the folded automaker? Most signs are pointing to Saab moving toward alternative energy sources to attempt to spearhead that market early on with a recognizable name. That’s all well and good, but the intellectual rights of the 9-3 and 9-5 are owned by BAIC, which leaves the company the rights to just the 9-4X SUV.
This lack of vehicles to base new ones off of means that whoever wins this relatively low-budget bidding war will essentially be building the company from scratch. Fortunately for the winner, the “Saab” name is well known and was once a fairly popular brand.
We will continue following the Saab bidding war and keep you updated as more information becomes available.
A few weeks ago, we let you know that the Ferrari P4/5 Competizione became the hottest thing to lap the Nürburgring, as it crushed the old Ferrari record around the Ring by over 7 seconds. Well, the Ferrari P4/5 Competizione was again the hottest thing on four wheels on the Ring, but this time in the literal sense. Yup, while in the pits at the Nürburgring, a small amount of fuel hit the red hot engine and… Well, you can fill in the blanks.
Needless to say, the rear end of the Ferrari became quite the fireball, thanks to racing fuel meeting the freshly raced engine. Fortunately, the picture of the fire makes it look a lot worse than it actually was, as the team was able to douse the fire and get the car back onto the track. We guess that all part of the typical pit crew day, huh?
What’s even more impressive is following this fire, the team managed to regroup and end up taking 1st place in the Alternative Energy Class in the 2012 24 hours of Nürburgring, which it entered as a hybrid, and 12th overall. Good job to the team for their racing and fire-fighting abilities!