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BMW i8

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.

Short of learning the fact that Toyota and BMW planned on developing a sports car together and the fact that BMW loves Toyota and vice-versa, we didn’t learn much from the press conference where the two automotive giants announced their joint venture. Fortunately, BMW recently held an interview with Automotive News and released a good bit of information to shine a little clarity on the deal.

The first thing cleared up is the fact that at least two sports cars will come from this joint venture – one for Bimmer and one for Toyota Toyota . Now, if you are starting to see similarities to the Toyota-Subaru deal that spawned three identical cars – the Subaru BRZ , Toyota GT 86 , and Scion FR-S – that just wore different badges, you can scratch that nasty idea.

The BMW spokesperson made it very clear that any vehicles developed from this venture will each bear completely unique styling. That’s music to our ears, as even though we love the end result of the Subaru-Toyota deal, we really wish they would have given each model its own styling, so as to not water down the market.

In addition to the details revealed above, the BMW went on to let us know that Bimmer’s resulting sports car from this partnership will be a sustainable model – not needing gasoline – that will boast eco-friendly technology. This leads us to wonder if maybe Toyota might take part in the future development of the i8’s drivetrain, or will there be yet another i model that sits above or below the i8 that boasts Toyota technology.

Needless to say, we are pretty excited to see what in the world these two companies can come up with in the coming years. We’re not so much excited about the BMW BMW end, as sports cars are nothing new to it, but the Toyota end is truly intriguing, as seeing Toyota take this sudden shift back toward sports cars is surprising. We have about had our fill of seeing nothing but Camrys, Corollas, and Priuses on Toyota lots, so it’s a refreshing change.

While Mazda of America is busy working on its SkyActiv system, back at home in Japan, it is hard at work creating a new micro-mini vehicle. This latest micro-mini to hit the Japanese market is the Mazda Flairwagon, which is a relatively appropriate name given this new wagon has plenty of flair to show off, with its odd-shaped body.

Underneath all of the Mazda badging is a car that is not even related to Mazda in any way, as this new micro-mini wagon is really nothing more than a Suzuki Palette with Mazda badges. Unlike other rebadged cars like the Cavalier and Sunfire, Mazda didn’t really bother changing anything but the badges, which is pretty strange. Then again, this Suzuki also prowls the streets bearing the Nissan Roox name. In the Roox’s case, Nissan at least changes the headlights a little to separate it from its Suzuki donor.

Is this compact and odd-looking wagon something that will actually sell and will it ever find its way outside of the Japanese market? To find out the answers to these questions and learn all about this “new” micro-mini by Mazda, click past the jump.

Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid

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.

Click past the jump to read our full review.

One of the few thorns in the side of the EV market place is the battery charging systems. The vast majority of them require upwards of six to eight hours to reach 100 percent capacity and at the quickest, most can reach 80 percent in about three to four hours. Well, Tesla has been at the forefront of EV engineering, especially with its 300-mile-range Model S, which screams to 60 mph in about 4 seconds.

The Model S , as delivered, is no different than any other EV when it comes to charging, as its 85kWh battery requires eight hours to charge, using its standard 240-volt charging system. Tesla plans to separate itself from the competition once again by releasing a 440-volt fast-charger, which Tesla has cheekily dubbed the “Supercharger” (obligatory rim shot).

Anywho, this new “Supercharger” will be able to get the Tesla S from full discharge to 100 percent in just about an hour. The catch is that this fast charger is not designed for everyday use, it is only for those emergency fill-ups on the road. Tesla is planning to have these stations installed in high-traffic areas for on-the-spot fill ups in just about a year.

Once Tesla releases this new charger for use in the States, it will firmly place itself in the driver’s seat in the EV market, leaving everyone else looking up at it wondering how this small company managed to pull off these stunts. We think the time for the other car companies to start investing more money in EV models is now, before Tesla runs away with it all.

Mini Cooper & Cooper S

The web tying varying automakers to one another is a very complex, yet delicate thing. One strand heading the wrong direction can cause an automaker to break off another connection, and we see it every day. One prime example was when AMG hacked off its advertising ties with Ducati just because Audi bought the company. Really, what do motorcycles have to do with your competing with Audi in the automobile realm?

Well, we have another bit of info to pass on in regards to one partnership killing another. Recently PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen , increased its stake in a partnership with GM affiliate, Opel, to develop four vehicle platforms together. This leads BMW to believe that PSA will not have the ability to fulfill its partnership duties in reference to BMW’s developing Hybrid platform.

A BMW spokesperson said “We are discussing conditions for the exit of PSA but we will not make any payments,” in an interview with Reuters. In addition, PSA has accepted the fact that this new relationship with GM will force it to “change the conditions” in its partnership with BMW. This likely means that BMW will buy-out PSAs share of the investment in the project and take development into its own hands.

This will not, however, affect the other relationships that BMW and PSA have going on. The largest of these relationships is the partnership between the two to build the MINI Cooper ’s engine.

We’ll keep an eye on what’s going on with this development and let you know if anything else pops up. For now, this seems like a pretty open-and-shut case.

Source: Reuters
Tesla Model S

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.

Daimler’s Smart lineup has been begging for an electric variant since its inception, due to its small stature and focus on being more “green” than other cars on the road. It took some time, but Smart finally did debut an electric variant and it is now due for an upgrade. Well, after much delay, the redesigned Smart electric drive – yes, it’s all lowercase letters to stay true to the “smart” way – is finally set to hit the streets without hitting the filling station.

With the influx of EVs in the marketplace, can the puny smart fortwo really stand up to the challenge? The fortwo has always been a niche car and adding in the hum of an electric motor in the place of its three-pot gasoline power plant just places it into an even narrower niche.

Only time will truly tell whether this car will gain any traction in the EV market, but we are all set to dive into it and tell you what to expect. We will also let you know if this car is one for the ages or one that you can live without.

Click past the jump to read our full review.

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.

The Superbus has been a long work in progress and we have brought you several updates. First we broke the news to you about the designing of such a machine , back in 2006. In 2011, we alerted you that the machine was finally complete and could hit top speeds of 155 mph on electric power only.

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.

Source: Fox News

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