The second member of the new BMW 8 Series family is now ready to enter the market with an exquisite, luxurious and sporty design. The 2019 BMW 8 Series Convertible is joining its coupe brother in a new luxury segment where BMW aims to be an important player. Even though BMW sold the 8 Series for almost ten years, as it ended production in 1999, a drop-top model was never produced. So this new BMW 8 Series Convertible is truly the first of its kind. Not only is the new 8 Series Convertible the first of its kind but it’s also the best looking drop-top BMW since the Z8.

To highlight the offerings in the UKL segment – or short for the upper luxury class – BMW has invited me to Algarve, Portugal to test drive the new M850i xDrive Convertible. Just the day before I was in the new 7 Series along a similar route, so it’s needless to say I was excited to put the top down and experience one of the most powerful BMWs available today.

Before I jump into the review, let’s take a look at the high-end segment for cabriolets. Alongside the new 8 Series Convertible, there are some more expensive offerings with their own appeal. The S-Class Cabriolet from Mercedes-Benz is one of them, along with the Bentley Continental GT Roadster and Aston Martin Vanquish S Volante. The 463 HP drop top from Mercedes-Benz starts at $133,300 and comes with a V8 as well, the Volante starts at just under $200,000, so when you look at base price of the M850i xDrive Convertible, you feel like you got a great deal – $122,395 including the destination and handling tax. That’s a cool $9,500 more than the Coupe alternative, in case you were wondering.

Customers in Europe do get a better deal by having the choice of an 840d Convertible which starts at 100,000 euros in Germany.

The Design

While the standard 8 Series Coupe is muscular and sporty looking, losing the roof adds a beauty. Sans roof, the 8 Series Convertible is equally stunning and luxurious, and while it’s not as flashy as its competitors, it’s certainly elegant and sporty at the same time. It might be understated with the top up, but as soon as you lower the roof, its beautiful design lines turn many heads.

Climbing behind the wheel is quite a treat; the convertible welcomes you with a premium cabin which inherits almost of all its elements from the coupe. The Merino leather of the front seats in Ivory White is superb and of the highest quality, and when paired with the fine-wood trim ‘Fineline’ copper effect high-gloss, the experience becomes even more premium for the driver. The tech also comes from the coupe-brother, so you’re getting the same dual 12.3 inch screens, paired with the Glass Application in the M850i, and an M Sports steering wheel.

Features specific to the M850i Convertible are the neck warmers, for the driver and front passenger, that blow warm air from just below the headrest, to allow an open-top experience even in chilly weather. The fabric roof is lightweight and can be raised or stowed in just 15 seconds up to 50 km/h, but as expected, that comes with reduced practicality – the trunk of the M850i Convertible is 150 liters smaller than the 8 Series Coupe. Yet, I was still able to store a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack.

Also due to the more tapered shoulder around the rear seats, the passengers in the back have slightly less shoulder room. Nonetheless, the rear seats should really only be used for shorter distances.

Customers can also buy an M Carbon package, which adds air intake bars, mirror covers and a rear diffuser.

The Engine

The BMW M850i xDrive model is the top cabriolet in the 8 Series family, so that implies a 4.4 liter V8 TwinTurbo under the hood which produces 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque — the same as the M850i xDrive coupe. BMW said the convertible will do 0 t0 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, which is 0.2 seconds slower than the coupe. Both models have a top speed of 155 mph.

Compared also to the outgoing 650i Convertible (445 hp), this is a significant bump in power and performance.

The Driving Experience

The convertible weighs around 4,740 lbs, which is approximately 260 pounds (117 kg) heavier than the M850i Coupe, so technically, the driving experience should be similar. Thanks to its lightweight construction using aluminum, magnesium and carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP), the M850i Convertible is also 97 percent as stiff as the coupe. The stiffness is also enhanced in the M850i Convertible by an additional thrust panel under the front axle, stiffer A-pillars and a torsion ring above the rear axle. 

A new rollover protection system has been engineered for the convertible to protect up to four occupants, so that gives you the confidence to push the car even without a hardtop. The protection system features two aluminum bars behind the rear-seat head restraints.

If you’re not familiar to the reasons why we always find ourselves in Portugal, then allow me to enlighten you. Firstly, great weather, almost year-round, which ensures that the weeks-long press drives can continue without interruptions. Secondly, some great driving roads, curvy and fun, with beautiful landscape surrounding them, and most importantly, not much traffic. Thirdly, it’s Portugal – people are friendly and the food and wine is great. In whichever order you prefer.

So as you might have guessed by now, I quickly find myself aboard a Dravit Grey M850i Convertible with an xDrive system. Putting grip to the ground is a set of 20 inch Bridgestone Potenza S007 performance tires wrapped around the 20″ M light allow wheels Y-spoke style 728 M Bicolour Cerium Grey. To test both scenarios – with or without the top – I leave behind the beautiful Conrad Algarve and heading towards Faro through the usual backroads. The top is up for now, yet you’re not entirely disconnected from the outside environment. The cabin is of course a bit noisier than the coupe, but that’s not something that I mind considering the excellent noise from the V8 engine.

The wind noise with the top up is also insignificant so it won’t impact your driving experience even at higher speeds.

But since most customers would buy the M850i Convertible to enjoy the open top feeling, I now push on the button to retract the soft canvas. The digital screen warns me that my speed is above 50 km /h (31 mph), so I slow down just enough to complete the process. Fifteen seconds later and the sun shines upon me, but luckily UV protection has been already applied.












At a first glance, and in Comfort mode, the cabriolet’s handling is similar to the coupe, relying on the same confidence stance on the road with smooth acceleration to the top speeds. The steering input is less aggressive than in the sportier modes, the suspension reminds us that in the end this is a Gran Turismo for comfortable drives, while the gas pedal has more travel. The exhaust noise is, of course, a bit neutered, so the drive is pleasant even with the top down and a high speeds. The ZF 8-Speed transmission needs no introduction as well – it’s the same gearbox as in the coupe, so you know that you’re getting smooth and precise shifts, regardless of whether you’re using the fully-automatic mode or shifting through the paddles behind the wheel.

To get the blood flowing, I switched over to Sport and later to Sport Plus, which brings a refreshing level of sportiness. The adaptive M Sport Suspension tightens up, giving the luxury cabriolet a firmer ride and stance. The steering wheel gets beefier, so I can immediately experience quicker turns around tight corners. There is plenty of feedback to the road, but that quickly made me wonder if any “regular” driver would notice that, or if that’s something that only us, journalists, care about.

Even when pushed hard, the chassis is quite stiff, the ride is firm, so only a professional driver would even notice the slight differences between the convertible and the coupe. Being accustomed to the roads, I get a bit more adventurous by pushing harder the M850i Convertible into the hairpins. The steering input is immediate and precise, the tires are grippy, while the rear only slides just enough to put a smile on our face – right before the xDrive system kicks in. There is a little bit of body roll and understeer, which I expected considering the car’s size and weight, but again, it’s something that most owners wouldn’t notice.

The rear differential is impressive as always, allowing me to have some fun with the car, while keeping it safe on the road. With the top down, the V8 engine and its M-tuned exhaust are the icing on the cake, reminding me once again how much better the TwinTurbos sound. Of course, some part of the sound is still artificially enhanced by the Bowers & Wilkins Diamond Surround Sound System, but that doesn’t take away from the loud growls of the V8. 

With the wind deflector up, it’s impressive how quiet the cabin is, allowing me to not only have an audible phone conversation, but also to record some footage off my GoPro.

A few hundred kilometers later and despite my objections, it’s time to turn in the luxury cabriolet, but before that, the folks at BMW allow me to fly a drone above it for some additional footage.

Conclusion

Needless to say, the 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible is a riot to drive, while offering the highest level of luxury and craftsmanship found in a BMW today. It’s truly a high-end Gran Turismo with the added benefit of an open-top experience, and thanks to the xDrive system, it will find a home in areas where the sun sporadically shines.

Packed with the latest and greatest tech and driving assistance features, the 8 Series Convertible becomes a reliable and pleasant companion during long drives, and while most cars are just there to get you from point A to B, the M850i Convertible does it in style and with a lot of personality and confidence.































































The article TEST DRIVE: 2019 BMW M850i xDrive Convertible appeared first on BMW BLOG

This is a free preview of LaunchPad, one of Teslarati’s member-only launch briefing newsletters. Before each SpaceX launch, I’ll give you an inside look of what to expect and share amazing photos and on-the-ground details after the launch. Become a member today receive all of Teslarati’s newsletters.

SpaceX launch technicians and engineers have officially completed the integration and static fire testing of the second Falcon Heavy rocket ever, nearing the end of preflight preparations for the vehicle’s critical commercial launch debut. 

Carrying the commercial communications satellite Arabsat 6A, the rocket will be tasked with placing the massive spacecraft into a high-energy geostationary orbit. After a combination of hurdles and conflicting priorities conspired to delay Arabsat 6A’s launch from mid-2018 to February, March, and eventually, April of 2019, both the spacecraft and rocket are nearly ready to go. If all goes as planned, SpaceX will also complete the first successful launch and near-simultaneous landings of three independent rocket boosters, preparing two of the three boosters for reuse on a launch that could happen as early as June 2019.

When: 6:35 pm EDT, 22:35 UTC (click for your time), April 10th
What: Arabsat 6A, communications satellite, ~6000 kg (13,200 lb)
Where: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Boosters: B1052.1, B1053.1, B1055.1
Recovery: Yes; drone ship Of Course I Still Love You (OCISLY) & LZ-1/2
Weather: 80% GO, 4/10

SpaceX technicians work to integrate the assembled Falcon Heavy first and second stages to the transporter/erector (T/E) ahead of a static fire test on April 5th. (SpaceX)

Falcon 9 Block 5, meet Falcon Heavy

  • With this Falcon Heavy, SpaceX has effectively built – once again – a center stage that is nearly its own rocket, much like the tortured development of the first vehicle’s center stage can be blamed for a lot of its years of delays. 
    • Based on Falcon 9 V1.2’s Block 3 iteration, Falcon Heavy Flight 1’s center core was effectively outdated a year before it launched, and Falcon 9 Block 5 debuted just three months after its first and last launch.
  • Combined with the center core’s untimely demise when it crashed into the Atlantic after running out of engine starter, the now 14 months separating Flight 1 and Flight 2 of Falcon Heavy can be explained by the rocket’s delayed path to the launch site.
    • By the time the first Falcon Heavy’s main components were all present in at the launch site, SpaceX was already building Block 5 rockets and was as few as three months away from completely transitioning its Hawthorne, CA factory to Block 5. 
    • Due to the extensive changes in production incorporated into Block 5, this was effectively a no-turning-back deal where the cost of transitioning back was simply a non-starter.
    • By the time Falcon Heavy had launched, and its center core had smashed itself to pieces on the Atlantic Ocean surface, it was far too late to begin producing a replacement copy. One step further, the process of ramping up Block 5 production had been slowed significantly by the drastic changes made across the board, taking SpaceX to the edge of production-related launch delays over the course of 2018.
  • Put simply, building two side boosters and a relatively boutique Falcon Heavy center core – all three of which would be inextricably tied together for the foreseeable future – was not a practical option when three separate Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters could instead support 6-12+ launches over a period of six or so months.

Pre-Launch Appetizers: 

(Hopefully) the first of many

  • In the nominal event that SpaceX’s second Falcon Heavy launch is an unqualified success, it’s entirely possible that the doors to new markets could be opened as the world and its many spacefaring customers begin to contemplate the existence of an affordable super-heavy-lift launch vehicle – the first of its kind.
    • On the outside, Falcon Heavy can begin to look like a bit of a boondoggle from a business perspective. It will have probably cost no less than $750M-$1B to develop, including the Block 5 modifications needed, and likely brought in less than $100M in gross revenue. It’s a black hole that SpaceX currently dumps huge volumes of cash into, in other words.
    • However, this sort of observation is far too pessimistic and gives SpaceX far too little credit after some additional careful analysis. As of today, SpaceX has six public launch contracts for FH, two of which are from the USAF/NRO and likely valued around $130M-$150M.
    • Purely commercial contracts for Falcon Heavy will probably be closer to $90M-100M, more than competitive with rockets like Atlas 5, Delta IV Heavy, Ariane 5, and other future vehicles like ULA’s Vulcan.
  • Within ~12 months, the USAF will likely have awarded 10-16 additional launch contracts to some combo of Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy as part of the latest EELV (now NSSL) acquisition phase. Assuming SpaceX is one of the two providers chosen, Falcon Heavy could receive numerous additional contracts for heavy military satellites.
    • Additionally, NASA is now seriously considering Falcon Heavy for the launch of flagship missions like Europa Clipper and (maybe, maybe not) even Orion missions to the Moon.
    • Falcon Heavy could also be the only vehicle in the world with the performance needed for a number of other missions that could arise from the Lunar Gateway, including launching actual segments of the space station and launching deep space cargo missions resupply said Gateway.
  • Only ULA’s Delta IV Heavy can marginally compete with Falcon Heavy’s performance, but it typically costs no less than $300M per launch, a 2-3X surcharge over SpaceX’s offering. Due to the utter and complete lack of competition from both a price and performance perspective, SpaceX could essentially have the heavy life market cornered for something like 48-60+ months.
    • Offering a unique product with potentially high demand and no real alternative, SpaceX would not be out of place to raise its profit margins significantly, helping to rapidly pay back the capital investment it put into Falcon Heavy’s extended development.
    • Regardless, the future of Falcon Heavy has every right to be even more thrilling and diverse than the already impressive Falcon 9.
The above photos show HellasSat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1, a nearly identical sister satellite to Arabsat 6A, both based on Lockheed Martin’s modernized A2100 satellite bus. At the bottom, a photo from the 45th Space Wing shows off what appears to be a conspicuously flight-proven nose cone, potentially taken from one of Falcon Heavy Flight 1’s two side boosters. (Lockheed Martin/45th Space Wing)

You can watch Falcon Heavy’s commercial launch debut live here on April 10th at 6:35 pm EDT (22:35 UTC). We’ll see you after the launch at LandingZone with exclusive photos and on-the-ground details of Falcon Heavy’s center core recovery.

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Sales reports from Switzerland have revealed that the Tesla Model 3 was the country’s #1 best-selling car in March 2019, bar none. This marked the first time that an all-electric vehicle was able to top the country’s sales charts, which include vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine.

Tesla sold 1,094 units of the Model 3 in Switzerland last month, as indicated by the numbers of sales statistics site Auto Schweiz. The Model 3’s figures were around 27% higher than the second-ranking vehicle in the country, the widely popular Skoda Octavia, which sold 801 units in March. The Model 3’s feat represented significant milestones for the Silicon Valley-based automaker, as it was able to achieve a record market share of 4.3% in Switzerland’s auto market. These are impressive figures, especially since deliveries of the Tesla Model 3 only started in February.

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The Model 3’s strong performance in Switzerland bodes well for the inherent demand for the vehicle, particularly as the country does not offer incentives for consumers purchasing electric cars. For the Model 3 to perform well among Swiss car buyers, it needed to impress potential customers. Based on the vehicle’s March 2019 sales figures, it appears that the electric sedan has done just that.

The news of the Model 3’s feats in Switzerland comes not long after it was revealed that the vehicle helped Norway set new records in March. Norway made history last month when the Norwegian Road Federation (NRF) stated that nearly 60% of all vehicles sold in the country were all-electric. Over March, Norway registered over 18,000 vehicles, 10,316 of which were all-electric. Among this number, 5,315 were Tesla Model 3.

It should be noted that Tesla’s international push for the Model 3 is only beginning, with the company so far only sending the vehicle to several European territories and China. Tesla is expected to deliver the Model 3 to other regions this year, such as those that utilize right-hand-drive vehicles. While concerns are abounding among Tesla’s skeptics in the United States about the Model 3’s demand, it seems simply far too early to dismiss the potential of the electric vehicle in the international market just yet.

Elon Musk himself admits that the Model Y SUV will likely outsell the Model 3 when it starts getting released. Nevertheless, the all-electric sedan will likely maintain strong sales figures, thanks to territories like Europe, which still host a healthy sedan market. This was emphasized by Tesla in its Q3 2018 Update Letter, when the company noted that the “mid-sized premium sedan market in Europe is “more than twice as big as the same segment in the US.”

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France-based global energy generator EDF has launched Hynamics, a new subsidiary for the Group that will be responsible for offering effective low-carbon hydrogen for industry and mobility. EDF’s ambition is to become a key player in the hydrogen sector in France and around the world.

According to a report released by McKinsey, hydrogen consumption will represent 18% of the world’s final energy demand in 2050. 95% of hydrogen is currently produced from fossil fuels. The process is very high in CO2 emissions: to produce 1 kg of hydrogen, 10 kg of CO2 is emitted.

Unlike this method, Hynamics has opted for water electrolysis to produce its hydrogen, a technology that does not emit very much CO2 at all, as long as the electricity used itself comes from low-carbon production methods.

Hynamics offers two different low-carbon hydrogen solutions:

  • For industrial clients, for whom hydrogen is a necessity (refinery, glassware, agri-food, chemistry etc.), Hynamics installs, runs and maintains hydrogen production plants, by investing in the necessary infrastructure;

  • For mobility providers, both public and professional, Hynamics helps link up different areas with service stations to provide hydrogen to recharge fleets of commercial vehicles, like trains, buses, bin lorries, utility vehicles and means of waterway transport. These services constitute an additional asset for the Electric Mobility Plan announced by the Group in October 2018.

At the end of March 2019, Hynamics teams have identified and are working on some 40 target projects, in France as well as other European countries including Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom.

Hynamics is the result of an “intrapreneurial” project led by ten or so employees and nurtured within EDFPulse Expansion, the Group’s start-up incubator.

The EDF Group’s interest in hydrogen is not new. Through its R&D Division, EDF has developed expertise in the field over many years, both for production and use, particularly within Eifer, a laboratory shared between EDF and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, based in Germany.

In 2018, EDF consolidated its interest in the emerging low-carbon hydrogen market by acquiring a 21.7% stake in McPhy, a manufacturer and marketer of electrolysers and a player committed to low-carbon hydrogen since its creation in 2008. By also signing an industrial, commercial and research partnership, the two companies aim to create a synergy between McPhy’s technological expertise and EDF’s knowledge of electrical systems and low-carbon electricity production.

In many Porsche 911 books the Carrera 3.0 hardly merits a mention. Sandwiched between the revered Carrera 2.7 and all-conquering SC, it’s a mere footnote in a 56-year story. Has history judged it too harshly? Is the ‘Carrera 3’ underrated or simply underwhelming? Only driving one will tell us for sure.

The odds seem stacked against the 3.0 from the start. First, Porsche broke an unwritten rule by launching a new car with less power than its predecessor. And while a 13hp shortfall mattered more on paper than the road, the outgoing Carrera 2.7 also boasted perfect pedigree, being mechanically identical to the 1973 RS 2.7, barring the US model. The new 3.0, conversely, was defined by what it lacked. It was, in essence, ‘a Turbo without the turbo’.

On sale for just two years between 1976 and 1977, the Carrera 3.0 was the middle rung of a revised 911 range. The base model – called 911 Lux in some markets – retained a 165hp version of the 2.7-litre engine. The 3.0, meanwhile, adopted the 2,994cc lump from the flagship 930. This development of the 1974 3.0 RS engine would serve the 911 in various guises until 1984. In naturally aspirated form quoted power was 197hp at 6,000rpm, this versus 260hp at 5,500rpm for the top-dog Turbo. Fuel economy was improved, albeit not sufficiently for US emissions legislation. The 3.0 was never sold Stateside as a result.

Transforming a 930 into a Carrera 3 wasn’t merely a case of unbolting the blower. The N/A engine also had larger inlet ports, while compression ratio increased from 6.5:1 to 8.5:1. Further fettling for the 1976 model year included a die-cast aluminium crankcase, Nikasil cylinder liners, a five-blade cooling fan and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, replacing the plunger-type system. The use of K-Jetronic, which endured until the 1994 964 Turbo 3.6, also meant the demise of the hand throttle, supplanted by a vacuum-operated warm-up regulator. Most buyers chose the five-speed manual transmission, but Porsche also offered the four-speed ‘box from the Turbo and the clutchless Sportomatic – the latter now reduced to just three ratios.

What the 3.0 lacked in peak power it made up for in mid-range muscle. Maximum torque of 255Nm matches the outgoing Carrera 2.7 and is developed 900rpm lower in the rev range, meaning it equals the older car’s 6.3-second sprint to 60mph. Top speed is an Autobahn-friendly 145mph. The 3.0 is a relatively light 911, too. At 1,093kg it weighs 67kg – or a typical adult passenger – less than a 1978 SC.

At first glance the Carrera 3 looks little different to other impact-bumper 911s. ATS ‘Cookie Cutter’ alloys in 6×15- and 7×15-inch sizes were standard, with wider Turbo-spec Fuchs for the Sport pack. The latter included a Whaletail spoiler and optional ‘Carrera’ side script, plus Bilstein dampers replacing the standard Koni or Boge set-up. A Comfort pack was also added for 1977 with 14-inch wheels and softer Bilsteins. Coupe versions of the 3.0 outsold Targas by a factor of two to one.

The most significant cosmetic update, however, is hidden from view. 1976 saw Porsche introduce hot-dip zinc coating for all panels, vastly improving the 911’s traditionally rather feeble resistance to rust. Stuttgart then put its Deutschmarks on the line with an industry-leading six-year corrosion warranty, which boosted resale values and reinforced a growing reputation for quality. Sadly the zinc protection is rarely so effective in the longer term; even slight damage exposes the steel underneath, allowing rust to take hold.

Inside, the Carrera 3 made a significant step towards curing another of the 911’s age-old issues: inadequate heating. Until this point regulating cabin temperature had been a hit-and-miss affair, using levers between the seats to mix air heated by the exhaust with fresh air from outside. The new system, standard on the 3.0 and Turbo, used two thermostats and a rotary controller to manage this process automatically. Separate fan and heater sliders were also introduced for 1977 along with face-level air vents, albeit only on the passenger side.

Further improvements to comfort came from extra sound deadening and a plusher interior, including carpeting on the lower doors from 1977. A larger driver’s door mirror was fitted, now electrically operated and heated, and cruise control – called Tempostat in Europe or Automatic Speed Control in the US – was an option for the first time. Porsche even changed the design of the locks to improve security. Now, instead of pop-up buttons that could be hooked with a coat hanger, the 911 had round knobs on the door panels. The Targa’s opening quarterlights were discontinued to deter smash-and-grab opportunists, too.

We could go on, of course. But there are only so many facts about thermostats or carpeted doors even the most committed enthusiast needs. What matters more is how the Carrera 3.0 drives and, ultimately, its place in the air-cooled 911 hierarchy. To find out we visited Classic Motor Hub, a huge multi-marque showroom that at the time of writing has the car pictured for sale at £87,500. CMH is also nestled among some of the Cotswolds’ prettiest villages
and finest driving roads. If the Carrera 3.0 can’t impress here…

For the full Carrera 3.0 classic test, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 177 in shops now or get it delivered to your door via here. You can also download a digital copy with high definition bonus galleries to any Apple or Android device.

In a paper being presented at WCX SAE World Congress Experience in Detroit this week, a team from MIT is proposing the use of a flex-fuel gasoline-alcohol engine approach for a series-hybrid powertrain for long-haul Class 8 trucks.

In this approach the engine would provide comparable (or possibly greater) efficiency than a diesel engine while also providing around 90% lower NOx emissions than present cleanest diesel engine vehicles. Ethanol or methanol would be employed to increase knock resistance. Engines that could be deployed in the relatively near term could also use high rpm operation and /or water injection, to allow operation with a very small amount of alcohol in addition to a low concentration mixture such as E10 (or possibly with no additional alcohol). Further NOx reduction (by use of higher levels of EGR) and increased efficiency (by use of alcohol enhance heat recovery) could potentially be obtained over a longer term.

—Cohn and Bromberg (2019)

While the ultimate goal would be to power trucks entirely with batteries, the researchers say, this flex-fuel hybrid option could provide a way for such trucks to gain early entry into the marketplace by overcoming concerns about limited range, cost, or the need for excessive battery weight to achieve longer range.

The new concept was developed by MIT Energy Initiative and Plasma Fusion and Science Center research scientist Daniel Cohn and principal research engineer Leslie Bromberg.

We’ve been working for a number of years on ways to make engines for cars and trucks cleaner and more efficient, and we’ve been particularly interested in what you can do with spark ignition [as opposed to the compression ignition used in diesels], because it’s intrinsically much cleaner.

—Daniel Cohn

Compared to a diesel engine vehicle, a gasoline-powered vehicle produces only a tenth as much nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution, a major component of air pollution.

In addition, by using a flex-fuel configuration that allows it to run on gasoline, ethanol, methanol, or blends of these, such engines have the potential to emit far less greenhouse gas than pure gasoline engines do, and the incremental cost for the fuel flexibility is very small, Cohn and Bromberg say.

If run on pure methanol or ethanol derived from renewable sources such as agricultural waste or municipal trash, the net greenhouse gas emissions could even be zero.

An all-electric heavy-duty truck will be very challenging, Cohn says, because of the cost and weight of the batteries needed to provide sufficient range. To meet the expected driving range of conventional diesel trucks, Cohn and Bromberg estimate, would require somewhere between 10 and 15 tons of batteries—a significant fraction of the payload such a truck could otherwise carry.

We think that the way to enable the use of electricity in these vehicles is with a plug-in hybrid.

—Daniel Cohn

The engine they propose for such a hybrid is a version of one the two researchers have been working on for years, developing a highly efficient, flexible-fuel gasoline engine that would weigh far less, be more fuel-efficient, and produce a tenth as much air pollution as the best of today’s diesel-powered vehicles.

Cohn and Bromberg did a detailed analysis of both the engineering and the economics of what would be needed to develop such an engine to meet the needs of existing truck operators. In order to match the efficiency of diesels, a mix of alcohol with the gasoline, or even pure alcohol, can be used, and this can be processed using renewable energy sources, they found.

Detailed computer modeling of a whole range of desired engine characteristics, combined with screening of the results using an artificial intelligence system, yielded clear indications of the most promising pathways and showed that such substitutions are indeed practically and financially feasible.

Bromberg says that gasoline engines have become much more efficient and clean over the years, and the relative cost of diesel fuel has gone up, so that the cost advantages that led to the near-universal adoption of diesels for heavy trucking no longer prevail.

Over time, gasoline engines have become more and more efficient, and they have an inherent advantage in producing less air pollution, Bromberg says. In a series hybrid system, the engine can always operate at its optimum speed, maximizing its efficiency.

The research was supported by the MIT Arthur Samberg Energy Innovation Fund.

Resources

  • Cohn, D. and Bromberg, L. (2019) “Flex Fuel Gasoline-Alcohol Engine for Near Zero Emissions Plug-In Hybrid Long-Haul Trucks,” SAE Technical Paper 2019-01-0565, doi: 10.4271/2019-01-0565.

Lawyers for ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn have released a video of the former executive speaking on the allegations against him. The seven-minute-long video was recorded only days before Ghosn's most recent arrest (minutes before his tell-all press conference) and tells a story of an attempted coup motivated by "backstabbing" high-level executives who feared for their futures.

Ghosn claims that the perpetrators behind the sophisticated attack on his character are attempting to paint a picture of greed, that he is being removed from his role due to his notoriously unorthodox cut-throat leadership style that was often viewed internally as a "dictatorship".

A lot of focus in the video is over the next several steps of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which would involve a merger and potentially threaten the future of certain executives. Additionally, Ghosn says that Nissan's performance had degraded over time and that the company would look towards autonomy to fix some of its lingering issues. This reportedly cast another shadow of executive uncertainty which contributed to those who Ghosn claims conspired against him.

During the video, several Nissan executives were called out for their actions, however, Ghosn's lawyers edited the video to remove the names prior to release. He claims that these individuals looking for personal protection are instead creating value destruction for the brand.

Interestingly, Ghosn focuses his attention not on the scandal, but on Nissan's future. He stands firmly on the grounds that he has pursued a strong leadership role within the company that was often viewed as a dictatorship, and he did so in order to ensure that Nissan stayed afloat among diminishing profits.

"But at the end of the day, during [this] period, I suffered not only because of my case, but who was taking care of Nissan?" said Ghosn in his statement, "Who was taking care of the brand? Who was defending corporate value? Who was defending the shareholder interest?"

He later continued, "I'm worried because obviously the performance of Nissan is declining."

The Hyundai Venue is already generating enough buzz before its unveiling on the 17th of this month. The car will be the first connected SUV of the country and will offer as many as 33 different functions. Apart from that, one can expect a huge number of other functions and features to come with the Venue, as it is the case with every Hyundai offered in the market today.

Apart from that, the Venue will be the first compact SUV in the Indian market to be offered with two automatic gearboxes. What was a rumour until now, but stands now confirmed if the official BlueLink technology promotional images can be believed. One can see that certain features of the remote access features are only available with the AT and DCT variant of the Venue.

A dual clutch transmission, as the name suggests, uses two clutch mechanisms. Out of these two clutches, one is ready to engage all the odd gears (first, third, fifth and so on) while the other one takes care of the even gears (second, fourth, sixth and so on). So when you are driving in say, the third gear, the other clutch assembly is ready with the fourth gear and this enables the driver to change the gear in a matter of seconds.

Also Read: Know More About The Upcoming Hyundai Venue SUV And Its BlueLink Tech

Coming back to the Venue, this DCT gearbox is rumoured to be paired with a 1-litre turbocharged petrol engine and within the range, this would be the more enthusiast-oriented offering. Other engine options could be a 1.2-litre petrol motor and a 1.4-litre oil burner. Coming back to BlueLink, Hyundai is actively training a team of over 650 Blue Link Wizards who would be specialists in their field and who in turn will train over 10,000 Sales Consultants across the wide network of Hyundai dealership and service touch points.

These specialists will be able to handle any query related to the new technology. Among many firsts in the industry, Hyundai will install Blue Link Simulation app across dealerships to give their customers a connected in-car experience. This will enable the customers to have a firsthand feel of the technology.

 

Hyundai Venue BlueLink VRM
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Hyundai Venue BlueLink Alert services
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IT services company DXC Technology signed an agreement to support BMW’s autonomous vehicle development via the High Performance D3 platform. (Earlier post.)

DXC provides services that help deliver and simplify data analysis and algorithmic training to reduce the time and cost to develop autonomous vehicles.

The BMW Group High Performance D3 platform supports the autonomous vehicle development program, gathering massive amounts of road-travel data from the global BMW test fleet. Using DXC’s digital solution, BMW’s manufacturing research and development teams will be able to collect, store and manage vehicle sensor data in seconds rather than days or weeks, resulting in faster autonomous drive development cycles.

Autonomous driving is at the heart of BMW Group’s ‘NUMBER ONE > NEXT’ strategy. DXC will greatly support our commitment to maximizing innovation, which will benefit our customers. With the managed services, we are able to ramp up the solution to support the next stage of the future of BMW Group’s autonomous drive platform.

Alejandro Vukotich, senior vice president, Autonomous Driving and Driver Assistance at BMW Group

DXC is focused on enabling autonomous driving research and development by expediting engineering and testing cycles. An example of this capability is DXC Robotic Drive, which accelerates the autonomous driving development process—from data collection, storage and analysis to deployment of evolved knowledge.

Built on an open-source ecosystem, DXC Robotic Drive is available on-premise or in a cloud or hybrid environment, allowing workloads to be moved easily. Engineers can work collaboratively and in an agile fashion regardless of their geographic locations. Using a single platform for storage, processing and training means hardware and software requirements, and hence cost and complexity, are reduced. Data can be collected globally but monitored centrally, maximizing efficiency and reducing cost.

The DXC Robotic Drive platform and toolkit are composed of digital analytics, cloud and platform services, and security and applications offerings. DXC offers a global network of Automotive Centers of Excellence where DXC’s partners and clients collaborate, build and deliver industry innovation.

DXC Technology was created by the merger of CSC and the Enterprise Services business of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The company logs around $25 billion in annual revenues and has nearly 6,000 clients in more than 70 countries.

The Indian Air Force claims radar data from an airborne early warning and control aircraft, along with other intelligence, shows that the Pakistani Air Force lost an F-16 Viper fighter jet during an aerial skirmish in February 2019, an already hotly debated event that The War Zone
has covered in detail. This follows a highly circulated report based on unnamed sources from Foreign Policy stating that U.S. government officials inventoried Pakistan’s Viper fleet and found that none of them were missing. 

Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Vice Marshal R.G.K. Kapoor laid out the new information in a press briefing on Apr. 8, 2019. Competing Indian and Pakistani claims regarding the aerial brawl over the contested Jammu and Kashmir region on Feb. 27, 2019, which followed Pakistani air strikes on various Indian bases in the area, continue to swirl more than a month after the incident, which reportedly brought the countries worryingly close to an all-out war. A major disputed part of the narrative remains whether or not IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, flying a MiG-21 Bison, shot down a Pakistani Air Force (PAF) F-16, before getting shot down himself.

Read our widely-read pointed takedown on all the bad information and naive assumptions swirling around that engagement at this link.

“The IAF has irrefutable evidence of not only the fact that F-16 were [sic] used by PAF on 27 Feb 19 but also that an IAF MiG21 Bison shot down a PAF F-16,” the IAF said in a written statement given to journalists during the press briefing. India has previously shown portions of an American-made AIM-120C-5 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) that the U.S. government sold to Pakistan as evidence that the F-16s were involved in some way. Pakistan has denied that its Vipers, which are its only aircraft capable of carrying AMRAAMs, participated in the battle, to begin with, and continues to deny that it lost any of those jets.

Kapoor first showed a radar image of the overall situation. An IAF airborne warning and control aircraft, either one of its A-50EIs or an EMB-145 Netra, operating in the area at the time was tracking three distinct groups of Pakistani jets, one to the north consisting of JF-17 Thunders, one in the middle with F-16s, and a third one to the south with F-16s. The IAF claims as many as 11 F-16s in total took part in the Pakistani strikes on targets in areas of Kashmir under Indian control. 

Additional Indian MiG-21, Su-30MKI, and Mirage 2000 aircraft had also scrambled in the response to the Pakistani intrusion into Indian airspace. India has now officially claimed that Pakistani F-16s fired multiple AMRAAMs during the battle, but that Indian aircraft dodged the bulk of them thanks to unspecified countermeasures and evasive action, but offered no details to support this assertion.

The IAF officer then presented additional images he said showed the period shortly after Wing Commander Varthaman had moved to engage a portion of the enemy F-16s in the middle group. There were three Vipers specifically in the Indian pilot's "engagement zone," according to the press briefing. The Indian claim is that Varthaman was then able to shoot down one of these F-16s, before his plane succumbed to enemy fire. 

The Indian Air Force says it has proven this because the airborne early warning and control aircraft on station had identified the F-16s and saw one of the tracks disappear from its screens completely. We have no way of knowing whether the images that Kapoor presented at the press briefing were taken directly from the radar outputs on AWACS, from a ground radar station or other integrated air defense network node, or were created from data from one or more of those sources specifically for the presentation.

When Varthaman purportedly shot down the F-16, there were supposedly separate reports from Indian Army outposts along the so-called Line of Control (LOC), which separate the areas of Kashmir under Indian and Pakistan control, that troops had seen multiple parachutes falling on the Pakistani side in different, distinct locations. The MiG-21 is a single-seat aircraft, but it also has a drogue chute, which could have deployed inadvertently before it crashed, leading to the sightings of an additional parachute.

Jyotirmoy895 via Wikimedia
An Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison.

Pakistan's existing official claims about the shootdowns are already confusing and conflicting. At first, Pakistani authorities said that, in addition to Varthaman, there were as many as two additional Indian pilots on the ground who it was searching for. Subsequent statements from the Pakistani Military's main public affairs office, known as Inter-Services Public Relations, said that a second, unnamed individual was in custody with no mention of a third pilot. There is no evidence to support any variation of these claims.

India now says these reports of additional Indian aviators in Pakistani detention were, in fact, the crew of the Pakistani F-16. The PAF has two-seat F-16Bs, BMs, and Ds, which would account for one plane crashing, but two pilots ejecting.

Asuspine via Wikimedia
A Pakistani F-16BM dropping GBU-10/B laser-guided bombs during a training exercise

“This is corroborated by radio communications intercepts of Pakistan Army formations in the area,” the IAF’s written statement added. These “categorically state the capture of atleast [sic] two pilots, one of them being Wg Cdr Abhinandan and a second one being admitted to CMH [a Pakistani Combined Military Hospital].”

However, the IAF has similarly declined to share the intercepted radio communications themselves or a transcript thereof, making it impossible to independently verify the claims. "Due to security and confidentiality concerns, we are restricting the information being shared in public domain,” IAF Air Vice Marshal Kapoor said during the briefing.

India and Pakistan are in agreement now that Abhinandan Varthaman was the only Indian aviator ever in Pakistani custody following the skirmish. There are also confirmed photographs of the crash site of his MiG-21. It is worth noting that Varthaman landed, got attacked by a mob of Pakistani civilians before authorities arrived and detained him. They provided first aid and questioned the Indian pilot before moving him to a military hospital. It is very possible that there was some confusion and that the "second" individual admitted to the CMH was actually the Indian Wing Commander.

AP Photo/Abdul Razzaq
Part of the wreckage of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's MiG-21 Bison.

It's also worth pointing out that India has not provided any evidence of the F-16 shootdown beyond the radar track "vanishing." Kapoor only showed two still radar images, as well. Without having more data and context, we have no way of knowing conclusively that the contact disappeared and never reappeared or that it was an F-16, to begin with. Electronic warfare and the limitations of the airborne early warning and control system could have been factors, as well. The mountainous terrain and other ground clutter may have masked the Viper's radar signatures temporarily and the fighter could have dropped into the "doppler notch" of the airborne radar system. There are so many possible explanations that cannot be ruled out without more information and at the very least, full motion video of the tactical picture, not just a few hand-picked screenshots.

There is no indication that Pakistan launched any combat search and rescue effort to recover the crew of the purportedly downed F-16, which one might have expected to see, either. There is
an unsubstantiated report that a group of civilians on the ground lynched a Pakistani pilot after his plane got shot down, mistaking him for an Indian aviator, but this is incredibly hard to believe.

Pakistan has also released images of portions of Russian-made R-73 Archer and R-77 Adder missiles it recovered from the MiG-21 crash site as evidence that Varthaman never got off a shot. The remains of one of the close-range R-73s, which numerous reports say was the weapon that brought down the F-16, consists of just elements of the rocket motor and seeker head, raising questions about this claim.

Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations
The remains of two R-73 and two R-77 missiles from the crash site of Wing Commander Varthaman's MiG-21 Bison.

“The infrared seeker right in front is completely destroyed when it detonates. No part is left intact,” an unnamed senior IAF official declared to Asia Times. But the R-73's warhead section is relatively small and is supposed to detonate outward as the missile flies in close proximity to the target, showering it with shrapnel, not exploding straight forward as the weapon physically slams into a plane.  

With this in mind, an R-73 missile missing its middle section is what one might expect to see if it had passed near its target and functioned as intended. Of course, the extensive damage may also have been a result of missiles hitting Varthaman’s MiG-21 or the fighter jet then crashing into the ground.

Not surprisingly, Pakistan has denied India's latest claims, while also reiterating their own unsubstantiated claim that Pakistani aircraft shot down a second Indian combat jet during the skirmish. There is no photographic or video evidence, even unconfirmed imagery from bystanders, of any other crash sites on either side of the LOC, beyond that of the MiG-21, in the aftermath of the battle. Pakistan does not claim to be responsible for bringing down an Indian Mi-17V5 transport helicopter, a separate incident that India has officially said was an accident, but which some posit may have been the result of friendly fire.

The Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is facing an election at the end of this month, has been under increasing pressure to prove its claims about both the aerial skirmish on Feb. 27, 2019, and unprecedented air strikes near the Pakistani town of Balakot the day before, which precipitated the air battle. There has been mounting evidence that also calls into question India’s claims that its jets successfully destroyed their targets in the Feb. 26, 2019 aerial raid.

This latest IAF press briefing also follows the aforementioned report from Foreign Policy on Apr. 4, 2019, citing two unnamed U.S. defense officials, that the United States counted Pakistan’s F-16s and found that none of them were missing. Pakistan’s F-16s, including jets obtained second-hand from Jordan, are under heavy U.S. export controls, which could allow for American inspections of the jets at the U.S. government’s request.

USAF
One of the Pakistani Air Force's Block 52 F-16Ds taxies at PAF Base Shahbaz near Jacobabad, Pakistan.

There are reports that the export agreement also limited the functionality of key systems and the PAF’s ability to service major components independently. There have also been rumors of tracking devices or additional systems that would allow American authorities to remotely disable the aircraft or certain systems, if necessary.

Asia Times subsequently reported that Pakistani officials, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, had also said an American audit had taken place and involved sending all of the Vipers to PAF Base Mushaf in Sargodha, which is home of the PAF’s Central Air Command. After that report came out, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken to Twitter to slam India's claims of having shot down an F-16.

"BJP's attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16 has backfired with US Defence officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan's fleet," Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Tweeted out on Apr. 6, 2019, referring to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) political party. "The truth always prevails and is always the best policy."

But sending all the F-16s to Mushaf would have been a major logistical undertaking. The PAF has around 76 Vipers total, including A/B, AM/BM, and C/D models. Even if they are all technically in service, it is, at best, statistically improbable that all of them are flyable at any one time. Some should have been undergoing major maintenance that would have made it even more difficult to return them to any sort of mission capable state or otherwise move them to the base in Sargodha.

In addition, the U.S. government has, so far, declined to officially confirm or deny that the F-16 count occurred or that it directly substantiated Pakistan’s claims. At the time of writing, the Pentagon had not yet responded to queries on the matter from The War Zone. The U.S. Department of Defense was not “aware of any investigation like that,” a spokesperson reportedly told India’s Hindustan Times
on Apr. 6, 2019.

“As a matter of policy, the Department does not publicly comment on details of government-to-government agreements on end-use monitoring of U.S.-origin defense articles,” the U.S. State Department public affairs office wrote in a statement to The War Zone by Email. “It is important to note that since January 2018, the United States government has suspended security assistance to Pakistan.”

The Hindustan Times also received this same exact same statement from the State Department.

USAF
A member of the US Air Force, at left, gives senior Pakistani Air Force officers an overview of the Daniels Kit, a tool kit used to repair complex wiring systems on F-16s, during a visit to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas in 2006.

The comment about the suspension of military aid to Pakistan is notable. U.S.-Pakistani relations are at a recent low, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Administration cutting military aid to the country after accusing Pakistan of not doing enough to combat terrorists within its territory who also operate in neighboring Afghanistan. The Trump Administration has also pushed for greater ties with India, which is Pakistan’s chief rival, including military-to-military cooperation.

In addition, there has been significant political opposition to selling F-16s to Pakistan at all from members of Congress over the years for various reasons, chiefly allegations that its state security apparatus is at least complicit in various terrorist activities if it is not supporting them outright. With this in mind, there have been suggestions that Pakistan has a sufficiently large number of political enemies in Washington, D.C. at present who would have leaked details about a lost Pakistani F-16 if the U.S. government was aware of it.

There is similarly nothing to back up conspiratorial rumors that the U.S. government is looking to conceal a Pakistani F-16 loss, especially to a heavily modernized MiG-21, for fear that it could impact future Viper or other American fighter jet sales abroad. F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin is presently trying to sell an advanced F-16 variant to India itself, rebranded the F-21. Such an outlandish conspiracy is preposterous, to begin with. 

Lockheed Martin
An artist's conception of the F-21, an advanced F-16 variant that Lockheed Martin is pitching to the Indian Air Force.

India’s Prime Minister Modi has used the Varthaman shoot down to publicly argue for speeding up purchases of French-made Rafales, a deal that opposition parties in India have accused of being rife with corruption and graft. Separately, Russia’s state media has used the incident to argue that the IAF should buy more Russian jets.

Regardless, the exact details of the aerial engagement that led to the Pakistanis shooting down the MiG-21 remain unclear. The truth is that air combat is a multi-faceted and extremely complex affair where the exact capabilities of two individual planes account for just a fraction of the many factors at play. You can read more about this in The War Zone’s previous deep analysis of the aerial skirmish on Feb. 27, 2019.

Furthermore, it's unclear why India waited more than a month to release this latest information, which still does not conclusively prove that the IAF shot down an F-16 in any tangible way. On Feb. 28, 2019, just a day after the aerial brawl, Indian authorities publicly showed the AIM-120C-5 fragment, which did offer compelling evidence that Pakistani Vipers had, at least, taken part in the operation overall. 

India’s latest release of information is interesting, but it remains too circumstantial and limited to put the issue of whether or not the IAF shot down an F-16 to rest for good. The Indian government’s repeated claims, and the counter-claims of an audit of Pakistani Vipers, only seem to raise new questions about exactly what happened in the skies over Kashmir more than a month ago.

Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com

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Tesla and Fiat Chrysler have entered into a deal to help the legacy automaker weather strict European Union emissions regulations that are set to take effect next year, according to a report published by Financial Times. This arrangement is the first of its kind and is estimated by one Wall Street firm to equate to $500+ million dollars worth of credits to Tesla from Fiat Chrysler over the next 2-3 years.

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Beginning in 2020, 95% of automotive fleet-wide emissions in the EU must average under 95g of CO2 per kilometer, i.e., have a fuel efficiency of about 57 mpg for internal combustion vehicles. In 2021, full fleets must be compliant, and the penalties could add up to financial ruin for companies unable to meet the strict standards.

The EU rules further allow different auto companies and divisions to pool together to form an expanded fleet, thus averaging out emissions across larger numbers of vehicles. Companies with existing low or zero emissions divisions can combine with their higher emissions divisions to meet the standards, or if the benefit outweighs the awkward arrangement, they can combine with companies like Tesla whose all-electric, zero emissions fleets would provide significant average emissions reductions.

Tesla offered its “open pool” deal to other auto manufacturers, but the Italian-American car maker was the only one with an arrangement by Tesla’s March 25th deadline. Fiat Chrysler has been slower than its industry peers to adopt an electrification plan for its vehicles sold in the region and needed to buy more time until a strategy could be worked out. The company has announced a $10.5 billion dollar plan to bring alternative power to its vehicle lineup, but any efforts in that direction will not manifest into enough production vehicles to avoid the EU fines by the impending deadline.

Tesla Model 3 waiting to be loaded onto the Glovis Captain and shipped to Europe. Taken on Jan 18, 2019 at SFO. (Photo: whitfletcher/Twitter)
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Under EU rules, Tesla qualifies for “super-credits” which allow a trade-off of electric car sales against ICE vehicles; the company has already managed similar profitable credit trades in California that brought in $280 million dollars in 2017. This number may be where the estimated $500+ million payout figure from Jeffries Financial Group is stemming from. Altogether, the pooling arrangement looks to be a temporary win-win for the two companies, and the deal was reportedly agreed to on February 25th.

Tesla has become a proven leader in developing emissions-free transportation. Since the release of its flagship Model S luxury sedan, the car’s appeal has fueled both the growth of the company – now on its fourth mass-produced electric vehicle with a fifth on the way – and new market demand for electric cars. Tesla’s competitors have taken note and many have committed billions to electrification of their fleets, even without looming EU regulations. US auto industry giant Ford Motor Company, for example, is planning an $11 billion investment into 40 electrified vehicles by 2022, as announced at last year’s Detroit Auto show.

Overall, the “Tesla Effect” on the global market has only begun, and the beginning of the EU’s strict emissions regulations may be the tip of the iceberg of changes coming to the numerous industries impacted by the coming shifts in the automotive arena.

The post Tesla could land $500 million dollar payday, courtesy of Fiat Chrysler in emissions tradeoff appeared first on TESLARATI.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. Unless you’ve just recently emerged from a cave, you’re probably aware that Jeep has a new pickup called the Gladiator hitting the market right about now. When we first saw it at the Detroit Auto Show a few months ago, we agreed that it had “hit” written all over it, but even we weren’t prepared for the clamor over this new truck.

I could take you through all of the strategic blah-blah-blah surrounding the new Gladiator if it would help to make more sense. Like the fact that Jeep Wrangler buyers now have a place to go in the Jeep lineup instead of wandering off to another brand when they need more room, or the fact that FCA marketers have shrewdly aimed the Gladiator at the heart of the mid-size pickup truck segment, which continues to grow. Or even the fact that FCA now has a more affordable truck alternative to the big-grossing Ram pickups, although that is proving to be an instant myth (more on this later). 

Yes, all of that may be true and explains why the new Jeep Gladiator exists, but I will offer up a simple explanation as to why the frenzy over it seems to be growing by the day: It takes the fundamental design essence of the Jeep and turns it up to “eleven.” It’s beefier, ballsier and much more aggressive. And even though it’s noticeably longer than the Wrangler, it just might be the most Jeep looking of them all. In terms of its sheer on-road presence, the Jeep Gladiator is smokin’ hot.

We’ve been seeing Gladiators roaming the streets and byways around here for quite some time now, first in the ubiquitous camouflage and in other various guises and levels of finish, but now the finished trucks are out and their presence is unmistakable. Just the other morning I saw an FCA executive in a brand-new black, fully loaded Rubicon with manufacturer plates rumbling up Woodward Ave., and I couldn’t believe the people in their cars and trucks maneuvering in and around it in order to get closer for a look. And this is in a jaded car company town that’s used to seeing just about everything when it comes to the latest automotive stuff. 

The PR minions at FCA out in Auburn Hills have to be absolutely thrilled over the full-on media frenzy that has been generated by the Gladiator. Not that the carpal-tunnel wretches aren’t malleable or anything, but still, the press coverage of the Gladiator has been staggering. The reports about the Gladiator have been gushing with nonstop praise for two weeks now, and it doesn’t seem to be easing in the least. 

But the Gladiator frenzy doesn’t stop with the production truck. FCA has followed up with six new custom-built concept Gladiators for its annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari (see below), proving that the Gladiator will be a gold mine in terms of personal customization options. 

Alas, the Jeep Gladiator isn’t perfect. FCA marketers appear to be getting greedy with the Jeep franchise, which has been earning huge profits for the company for years now. And it seems that with the Gladiator they decided that there would be even more profits to be gleaned from consumers, with the marketing formula being Jeep + Pickup = $$$$$.

Yes, you can get a new Gladiator for a base price starting in the $35,000 range, but that’s a vehicle that has very little of the good stuff. (I know FCA marketers will vehemently disagree with this, but go to the Jeep website and see for yourself. You’ll need an Overland to even get started with the good stuff, and that starts at more than $40,000.) From there, the options are pricey and add up quickly. Automatic transmission? $2,000. Premium Lighting Group? $995. Premium Audio Group? $1595. Active Safety Group? $995. Cold Weather Group? $695. Body-Color 3-Piece Hardtop? $2,295. And it goes on from there. The Overland I priced was $54,650. A full-zoot Rubicon pushed $60,000.

Not that there is anything wrong with making a profit, I should point out. Porsche has gouged its faithful for years with its exorbitant option pricing, and the industry has paid close heed to that specific albeit greedy example. FCA marketers are making the proverbial hay while the sun shines with the Gladiator, and they are pushing every advantage toward that direction. As they should. But… and there’s always a but. 

A couple of months ago, I wrote a column entitled, “Affordability: The Next Frontier.” In it, I pointed out that the signs are off on the not-too-distant horizon that affordability is going to be the key for this industry going forward. Trucks and SUVs are being priced by their manufacturers into the stratosphere. $70,000+ circus wagon pickups and $100,000+ luxury SUVs are common now, but that pricing model simply isn’t sustainable. Affordability is gaining more importance by the day because consumers are simply being priced out of the market. 

I applaud the denizens of Auburn Hills for the executional brilliance of the Jeep Gladiator; they’re going to print money with it, at least for a while. But FCA marketers better be thinking about up-contenting a cheaper Gladiator model without raising the price, because as people who have been around this business long enough have come to understand, nothing – especially the golden good times – lasts forever.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

(Jeep images)

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition sold out in one day.

The 2020 Jeep Gladiator Launch Edition.

The Jeep Gravity Concept.

The Jeep Five-Quarter “Resto-Mod” 1968 Jeep M-715 Gladiator-based military vehicle concept.

Just weeks after Volkswagen formally denied plans to build the long-rumored, 400-horsepower variant of its Golf R hot hatchback, a report has surfaced alleging that the project is back on track.

This potential range-topping model, reports Autocar, will sit above the Golf R derived from the upcoming eight-generation Golf, expected to be revealed later this year. Its drivetrain is said to be based on those of the 2014 Golf R400 concept and Golf GTI TCR race car.

"We're looking at introducing a new 'halo' performance model that would offer a level of performance beyond that of the next Golf R," a source inside Volkswagen reportedly told Autocar, alleging that this model will be the "most extreme and powerful Golf yet."

Power will reportedly come from an upgraded version of Volkswagen's EA888, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder used in the Golf GTI, Golf R, Jetta GLI, and other models. Horsepower targets are said to be between 380 and 400 horsepower with no hybrid assist. A dual-clutch, seven-speed transmission will reportedly dispense this power to a modernized Volkswagen 4Motion all-wheel-drive system, one said to have a "drift mode" that sends all power rearward, as popularized by the dearly departed Ford Focus RS.

By their powers combined, all these components are said to be good for a 0-to-60 time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 174 miles per hour.

Though a concept rendering for the model is said to have been drafted, Volkswagen reportedly has yet to give this Golf R variant the green light, though it allegedly has backing from Herbert Diess, the chairman of the board for Volkswagen Auto Group. If Diess has his supposed way, the mother of all Golfs will allegedly come to market some time after the next Golf R's launch in 2020, for a price that will put it in direct competition with the best the market has to offer, like the Audi RS 3 and Mercedes-AMG A 45.

One day after attending his hearing against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Manhattan, Elon Musk visited Tesla’s Gigafactory 2 facility in Buffalo, NY, marking the first time the CEO set foot inside the 1.2-million sq ft facility.

The purpose of Musk’s visit to the SouthPark Avenue factory was not disclosed by Tesla. According to The Buffalo News, a Tesla spokesperson only confirmed that Musk was indeed present in the facility on Friday. The spokesperson also noted that Musk will not be speaking with members of the media while he was in the facility.

A number of local reporters attempted to catch the CEO while he was visiting Gigafactory 2 nonetheless. Despite their best efforts, media personnel were unable to get a word with Elon Musk.

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Elon Musk’s presence in Gigafactory 2 all but highlights one of the points he emphasized during the unveiling of the Tesla Model Y last month. During his presentation, Musk boldly declared that 2019 will be the “Year of the Solar Roof,” referring to Tesla’s special solar shingles whose wide release has been delayed due to the company’s ramp of the Model 3.

“This is definitely going to be the year of the Solar Roof and Powerwall. Because of the extreme challenges with the Model 3 production, we had to basically allocate all resources to Model 3 production because otherwise, we were going to die,” Musk said.

Gigafactory 2 is key in accomplishing this goal, as the facility is tasked with producing both the Solar Roof tiles and the Powerwall 2. If Tesla were to ramp its Energy business seriously this year, the Buffalo, NY facility would have to start increasing its output dramatically, particularly as the company has maintained that demand for the solar shingles and home battery storage units exceed supply. This also means that Tesla has to start expanding the facility’s workforce, in order to produce the Solar Roof and Powerwall 2 at scale.

Gigafactory 2 was built and partially equipped by the state with $750 million in taxpayer money as part of its Buffalo Billion economic development program. As part of the deal, Tesla has pledged to employ 1,460 people by April 2020, though after a recent round of job cuts earlier this year, estimates indicate that Gigafactory 2 is now only equipped with a workforce of over 700 employees. Current activities in the plant are comprised of a Solar Roof assembly operation by Tesla and a solar cell and module manufacturing operation by Panasonic Corp, the electric car maker’s longtime battery partner.

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German automaker BMW has acknowledged the possibility of an upcoming "significant fine" issued by European Union antitrust regulators. The news comes after BMW was named alongside Volkswagen and Daimler, accused of colluding to purposely stymie the progress of emissions reduction in vehicles sold throughout Europe.

"[F]ollowing its review of the Statement of Objections, the BMW Group will recognise a provision, which is likely to exceed €1 billion," said the automaker in a press statement. At the time of writing, BMW's cash reserve for the fine equates to around $1.13 billion.

Despite preparing for the fine, BMW is holding steady on its stance that it categorically rejects emission cheating, as well as all other allegations set forth by the EU Commission. The automaker plans to fight the allegations through all legal means necessary.

On Friday, European regulators accused BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen of colluding to deny "consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars" by deliberately designing its Selective Catalytic Reduction systems (specifically, its AdBlue dosing strategies) to be limited in its effectiveness.

The European Commission's fine could account for up to 10 percent of BMW's annual global revenue. Due to the anticipated cost, BMW says that it estimates a significant impact on its yearly earnings. It has since revised its estimated Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) margins from 6 to 8 percent to as low as 4.5 percent (between 1 and 1.5 percentage points less). BMW's shares fell around 3 percent during U.S. trading hours on Friday following the news.

According to Reuters, alleged co-conspirator Daimler is not expecting to face any fines, given its whistleblower status in the case. Volkswagen has not issued an official statement on its earnings, stating that it would investigate the allegations before making further comment.

We here at The Drive like shimmering cars. Beyond the primal attraction to shiny objects, a good coat of wax enhances the beauty of a car’s paintwork and protects it from the effects of weathering and aging. And unless you have a six-figure, self-healing car (that isn’t a transformer), you’ll quickly appreciate how much headache and heartache a proper thin coat of wax will save you.

Waxing a car is a bit more complicated than conventional wax-on, wax-off movie wisdom suggests, but it’s still an easy weekend project that goes along way towards good car care. 

Things You’ll Need

It’s important to have everything you need for waxing within reach because once you begin, it’s hard to hit the reset button on beautifying your vehicle. 

Here are the minimum supplies you’ll need to wax your car:

  • An hour or two set aside for waxing.
  • A cool, dry, covered working area.
  • Readily-available water and a hose. 
  • A wash bucket filled with automotive soap (dish soap works well, too).
  • One to two clean, soft sponges.
  • Two soft applicator pads about the size of your hand.
  • A pair of disposable, chemical-resistant gloves. 
  • Drying towel(s) and/or a chamois.
  • Rags/shop towels.
  • Two to four microfiber towels, depending on the size of your vehicle.
  • Paint remover.
  • One bottle automotive car wax (either a liquid wax, spray wax, or paste wax).

Optional materials include glass cleaner and/or tire and wheel cleaner. You can use both of these items to aid in finishing the overall clean look of your vehicle. However, they’re not required for waxing your car. 

Preparation

Waxing your vehicle is a simple process in terms of just putting wax on and taking it off. But nothing automotive-related is ever that easy, right? There are a few steps you’ll need to take before even applying the automotive wax if you want the best results and a stress-free time. 

The more thoroughly you’re able to prepare your vehicle’s paint, the better your final results will be. Let’s take a closer look at this pre-waxing process:

Step 1: Wash Your Car (Thoroughly)

When car washing, don’t give your car the simple Super Soaker treatment. Rinse off as much dirt and debris as you can. Warmer water is better than cold. 

Once the surface of your vehicle is wet, use one or both sponges soaked in automotive/dish soap to scrub off the rest of the contaminants, including dirt, tar, and bugs. Work from the top of the vehicle down, finishing with the wheels and tires. Finally, rinse the soap off the vehicle, making sure to spray in cracks and crevices where debris can hide. 

Once the car wash is done, dry it completely with your choice of drying towels or a chamois. Water will typically pool around the grille, the side mirrors, under window trim, and above the rear license plate. Check these spots for drips after the rest of the car is dry.

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If you can write on your car it's too dirty.

Step 2: Prep Your Paint

Prepare your hands by putting on the disposable gloves. Layer two or three shop towels and dispense a small amount of paint remover onto the towels. Begin with one whole piece, or “panel” of the car, and move in a consistent direction over the clear coat, checking each panel individually for contaminants that might be stuck to the paint. 

Use the paint remover to remove this debris, being careful to avoid rubber, plastics, and any other exterior components that are not painted. The paint remover will dry up after a few minutes, so reapply as needed until you have addressed each panel on the car. 

Pat yourself on the back! The hard work is done—it’s now time to shine up your ride. If you have employed the “voluntary” help of children or pets, now is the time to let them loose.    

Methods

There are many ways to wax a car, each not necessarily better or worse than the next. Your final choice will depend on the tools you have—or the tools you want to have but haven’t rushed to the automotive store to buy yet—and how much time you have to spend with your vehicle over the rest of the world. 

We’re going to show you how to wax a car with a basic set of tools almost anyone has access to. Get your wax ready! Here’s how to wax your newly-washed car:

Step 3: Apply the Wax

Ready two soft pads, your microfibers, and the wax. Shake the wax bottle well, reading the instructions for best practices. Most waxes will be fine going on the way we’re showing you here, but it’s always good to read the guidelines printed on the bottle.

Once shaken, apply a nickel-sized layer of wax onto one side of one of your soft pads. Begin again with one panel of the car, pressing down gently but firmly on the paint with the waxed pad. Move in small circling motions. The idea here is to get a thin film of wax across the entire painted surface, so once a haze forms, you can move onto the unwaxed paint. Think of spreading a generous layer of butter on toast. That’s the look you’re going for. 

Generally speaking, you should use a nickel-sized blob of wax for a section about 2 feet by 2 feet. 

A good way to visualize this without a ruler is to think about two pieces of paper next to each other, portrait-style. Another way to tell if you need more wax is to look at how it is applying to the paint. When you see spots of paint where the wax hasn’t been applied, you’ll need to stop and apply more wax to your pad.

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Work your way around the car, making sure to cover all painted surfaces of your vehicle. Again, do not let the wax touch any rubber, plastic, or unpainted pieces. It’s okay if the wax gets onto these pieces, but wipe it away immediately so that the wax doesn’t soak into it. 

Touch up any spots that don’t look covered. After you’ve come back to the first piece you began with, slowly walk around the vehicle, checking to make sure you don’t see any unwaxed painted sections. 

If at any point in the process your pad becomes too saturated with wax, feel free to switch to your other pad. If you have a larger car like a truck or van, this second pad is essential.

There are other ways you can apply wax, or even car polish, to your vehicle’s paint as well—most that require the aforementioned trip to the auto supply store. The method we described above is known as “hand waxing” because you apply the wax with your hands via a small pad. There are three other methods you can choose from as well:

1. Dual-Action (DA) Method: The first alternative method to hand waxing is to use what’s known as a dual-action polisher or DA machine. This tool spins clockwise, but also moves in a figure-eight pattern—hence the name, dual action. Many of these machines are small and fit in the palm of your hand. Some require electricity while others require an air compressor. Instead of using your hand and a pad to distribute the wax, you use the pad on a DA machine. 

2. Rotary Polisher Method: Those well-versed in rotary polishers are able to cut waxing time nearly in half. Rotary polishers don’t have the dual action of the DA machine and simply rotate in a clockwise direction. However, they are usually 7 to 9 inches in diameter, so they’re much bigger than either the small hand pad or the DA pad. Again, you’ll use a round pad attached to the rotary polisher to apply the wax, usually at a low revolutions-per-minute (RPM) range. 

Go too fast with the rotary and you’ll just end up flinging the wax everywhere—except on your paint. 

With rotary polishers, you’re using heat to apply the wax directly into the paint’s pores, so you won’t get that same haze as you would with a hand wax and/or the DA. 

3. Mixed Approach: A third, blended method is to apply the wax with the DA pad, allow it to dry as you would if you were hand waxing, and then remove the wax with the rotary polisher. Again, this method simply warms the wax to allow it to flow into the pores of the paint. Remember our toast analogy? If you melt the butter before you spread it, it will adhere to the bread better than if the butter were cold. 

Now it’s time to sit back and wait. Think about our toast analogy some more if it’s still not quite clicking or ask a friend. Meanwhile, clean up your materials and dump out any soapy water leftover. If you have a spray-on tire and wheel cleaner, now’s a good time to apply that. The same goes for glass cleaner. Spray a little bit of glass cleaner on each window and then wipe it with a clean microfiber. You can do just the outside windows if you want, but it’s best to get the inside ones as well. 

Depending on the climate and environment, the wax may dry within anywhere between 10-20 minutes. There’s no strict time limit on how long wax can sit on paint, but after 20-25 minutes, it should be ready to wipe off. The best way to tell is to feel the wax itself. Wax that is ready to come off has the consistency of lotion, but a bit gummier.

Step 4: Remove the Wax

Remove the wax by using a dry microfiber towel. It may be difficult at first to move the towel across the wax, but use slight pressure and overlapping strokes. Move from one panel to the next, removing the wax as you go along. Feel free to switch microfibers or use another side of the current towel after a few panels, as the wax will build up on it.

Use a new microfiber to go over the car again, making sure to remove wax that might have gotten stuck in tiny cracks and crevices.

There you have it! A shiny, like-new waxed car to call your own. It might take a lot of work, but it’s not something you can get at a car wash. It will definitely protect your paint and keep your investment in tip-top shape for at least six months to a year.  

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Microfiber towels work best for removing car wax (though pick isn't a must).

Tips

  • If you’re worried about getting wax on certain pieces, use masking tape or plastic to cover them. Make sure the tape is sticky but not too much; otherwise it will be hard getting the tape off your vehicle. 
  • Applying more wax is better than applying too little. It will definitely be harder to get all the wax off your car if you do get too much on there, but don’t be afraid to be generous. 
  • Black cars are harder to wax. Just like with white cars, black cars show everything. There are specially-formulated waxes for black cars, so search these out if you need. 
  • If this is your first time waxing your car, pick up the most basic wax at your local auto parts store. Not necessarily the cheapest, it should be something you feel comfortable applying. Use this as your baseline wax. If, in the future, you feel adventurous, try another brand.
  • Waxing your car can be a great way to pretty it up for pictures if you intend to sell it. It’s been said that we buy with our eyes first, so appeal to the masses with a shiny, like-new wax on your for-sale vehicle.

FAQ

Q: How do I know when I should wax my car?

A: If you don’t remember or know the last time your car was waxed, it’s safe to say it’s time for a wax. Unless you’re waxing your vehicle daily, you can’t necessarily over-wax it.  

Q: How often should I wax my car?

A: Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to wax an old or new car twice a year. The best times to wax are right after the first snow and in the first few days of summer. Ideally, you’ll be protecting your paint through the winter from any chemicals on the road and from the heat of the sun during the summer. Once a year, however, will suffice. 

Q: What if my car just got painted—can I wax it?

A: Call the body shop where your car was painted. Depending on when and how the car was painted, you may be fine to wax it or you might need to wait a few months. Always ask the body shop before you begin your waxing process to avoid having to repaint the car. 

Q: The car wash soap I bought has wax in it. Should I still wax my car?

A: Yes. If you think about it, soaps are meant to remove unwanted materials. While some may be formulated to leave a waxy residue, it’s best not to rely on that to keep your paint protected from sun rays and harsh road chemicals. Give your car the most protection.  

Q: Will waxing my vehicle take out the swirl marks? 

A: No. Waxing might help to lessen swirl marks, but they are best addressed through complete paint correction. See your local dealership or detail shop for more information. 

Q: Almost all the higher-priced waxes at my local auto parts store have “carnauba” somewhere in the name—does that mean it’s better quality wax? 

A: Those waxes without carnauba in the name are referred to as “synthetic” waxes and differ from the carnauba products based on chemical makeup. In plainer words, they’re both waxes but with different ingredients. Some argue carnauba waxes work better but often don’t last as long on your vehicle’s paint as synthetic wax. We recommend you start with a synthetic wax to get a feel for it. Then, try carnauba wax if you want to and decide for yourself. Whichever wax gave you better results is most likely the one you’ll buy again. 

Awhile back, we test drove the Lexus LC500. With the BMW 8 Series now on the road for the first time in two decades, we want to see how it stacks up against its competitors and the LC500 is one of its biggest ones. So we gave it a whirl. It was an interesting car, the LC500, and one that had a ton of potential. However, it was also lacking in a lot of ways so, in the end, we’d still take the M850i. However, it seems as if the Japanese brand is looking to take its flagship car one step further, with the upcoming Lexus LC F.

While there really isn’t much information confirmed about the Lexus LC F, we know it will be the fastest, most aggressive model in the LC lineup. When it eventually debuts, it will be a prime candidate to take on the BMW M8, a car we also officially know little about.

Personally, I didn’t love the LC500. During my time with it, I noticed so much potential for it to be great, yet it consistently fell short. It had so many excellent ingredients but it just failed to make a cohesive dish out of them. For starters, its engine was magnificent. With a 5.0 liter naturally-aspirated V8, the big Lexus was one of the most charismatic cars I’ve driven in a very long time. Just a wonderful motor, with more than enough shove and an absolutely spine-tingling soundtrack. Sure, it was down on power compared to the M850i and would be lunched by the big Bimmer in a race but it was excellent to use and extremely enjoyable.

It was flawed elsewhere, though. While its steering was good, its damping and suspension setup was a bit of a mess, being a bit too choppy and sloppy over rougher pavement. Also, its interior was an ergonomic nightmare (despite looking very good, actually) and its transmission was infuriating. However, if the Lexus LC F can fix the chassis, suspension and transmission issues while also adding more power and more noise, it should be one helluva car.

After driving the BMW M850i, we know that the upcoming BMW M8 has a ton of potential as well. So once these two cars finally hit the road, it should be an incredible face-off.

The article Lexus LC F could be taking on the BMW M8 appeared first on BMW BLOG

A Tesla Model 3 Performance has shocked a group of drag racing fans by going on a head-to-head battle against a Ferrari 458 in a 1/8-mile drag race. Thanks to an over-the-air power boost and the instant torque of its dual electric motors, the all-electric high-performance sedan from Silicon Valley was able to give the Italian supercar a good fight, plus a lot more.

The Model 3 Performance that battled the supercar has received the over-the-air Peak Power Increase update from Tesla. The update, which was mentioned by Elon Musk during the launch of the $35,000 Standard Model 3 and on Twitter, increases the peak power of a Model 3 by around 5%, which results in a top speed increase of about 10km/h or 7 mph.

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It should be noted that even without the Peak Power Increase update, the Model 3 Performance is already a blazingly quick car, with its 0-60 mph time of 3.2 seconds and its Track Mode feature, which allows the vehicle to run multiple laps around a closed circuit without losing power. During a test with veteran race driver Randy Pobst, the Model 3 Performance with Track Mode was able to match the performance of a 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 around the “Streets” of Willow Springs International Raceway in CA.

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Quite fittingly, the Model 3 Performance’s record in Willow Springs matched the track time of one of Motor Trend‘s Best Driver’s Car winners in the past, the 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia. The Ferrari 458 is among the best vehicles that have been created by the Italian supercar maker, with its naturally aspirated V8 engine regarded as one of the best (if not the best) sounding V8 ever produced. Since its launch in 2009, the 458 has been described as the perfect car, and such a statement is not too much of a hyperbole. The only “drawback” that could be considered for the Ferarri 458 is its price, which starts at $239,340 for the base model, as noted by Autoblog. Higher priced variants such as the 458 Speciale are even more expensive.

Even a stunning piece of internal combustion machinery and art such as the Ferarri 458 has its work cut out for it, particularly when it’s faced with a high-performance electric sedan that gets more powerful simply because of a software update. At the beginning of the race between the Model 3 Performance and the Ferarri 458, the host of the event called out the two vehicles, asking “The Tesla, will it shock everybody?”

As soon as the race started, it became evident that the Model 3 was going to do just that. The electric sedan started the race by establishing an early lead over the Italian supercar, and by the time the 458 was able to get its rhythm by shifting its gears, the Model 3 had already completed the race. Jeff Brockway, who uploaded the race on YouTube, noted that the Model 3 Performance ran the 1/8 mile in 7.4 seconds, beating the Ferarri 458, which crossed the 1/8-mile mark in 7.6 seconds. The shocked reaction from the event’s audience and host after the Model 3’s win proved appropriately satisfying.

Watch the Model 3 Performance battle a Ferarri 458 in the video below.

The post Tesla Model 3 Performance with OTA power boost humbles $200K+ Ferrari 458 appeared first on TESLARATI.

SpaceX has revealed the first official media (including a timelapse video) of its Falcon Heavy Block 5 rocket, including one of the most spectacular photos of Falcon Heavy (and the Falcon family in general, for that matter) ever.

Over a period of 24-48 hours in early April, SpaceX technicians and engineers completed Falcon Heavy Flight 2’s final integration, attaching the side boosters to the center core and the rocket’s upper stage to its interstage. After assembled, cranes lifted the massive rocket – likely weighing upwards of 75 metric tons (165,000 lb) – and carefully installed it on Pad 39A’s transporter/erector (T/E), a large mobile structure that houses hold-down clamps and fueling/communications hardware, as well as the ability to lift the rocket vertical and horizontal. Soon after, the rocket rolled out to Pad 39A and performed its first integrated static fire, paving the way for a launch date as early as 6:35 pm EDT (22:35 UTC), April 9th.

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Alongside the unique timelapse of Falcon Heavy’s second-ever final integration, SpaceX also released one of the best Falcon (9 or Heavy) photos ever – a 4K view of all 27 of Falcon Heavy’s Merlin 1D engines, altogether capable of producing more than 5.6 million pounds (2550 metric tons, 25,000 kN) of thrust.

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Offered in 4K resolution, the photo is perhaps the most detailed official look yet at a Block 5 rocket, particularly so for a view of the engine section, octaweb, and heat shielding of not one but four boosters. Immediately noticeable is an intriguing green patina present on each Falcon Heavy booster’s shield heat shield structure, sometimes described (humorously) as the dance floor. Prior to these three boosters, the same structure of other Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters has never featured the same patina, indicating that it is either a distinct modification (improved shielding, perhaps) or – more likely – a vestige of manufacturing that disappears during each Block 5 booster’s first high-speed reentry. In other words, it might be a patina or an anti-corrosion coating that is literally burned off in the process of landing.

Falcon 9 B1048 seen shortly after its launch and landing debut in August 2018, no green patina to be found. (Pauline Acalin)

Additionally, the complex mechanisms connecting the three Falcon 9-like boosters are also easily visible. Rough visual comparisons between the mechanisms present on Falcon Heavy Flight 1 and 2 suggest that they are largely unchanged. Their ultimate job is to safely, reliably, and repeatedly transfer truly horrifying loads – at times, the majority of the thrust of both side boosters – with as little mass and aerodynamic disruption as possible, all while still successfully separating the three boosters and retracting thereafter. In a press conference shortly after Falcon Heavy’s successful launch debut, Musk repeatedly acknowledged that the additional hardware required – aside from a complete redesign for the center core – was an extraordinary engineering challenge, far harder than he had expected it would be.

Mysterious green and massive metal mechanisms. (SpaceX)
The aft connection mechanisms on Falcon Heavy Flight 1 and Flight 2 appear to be quite similar. It’s possible that SpaceX has chosen to reuse aspects of the hardware recovered on Flight 1’s two side boosters. (SpaceX)

Additionally, SpaceX confirmed that the fourth booster present inside 39A’s main hangar was Falcon 9 B1051, the same rocket that launched Crew Dragon into orbit for the first time one month ago. According to the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), B1051 is being refurbished for its Radarsat Constellation Mission (RCM), a trio of satellites planned to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) no earlier than May 2019. Over the course of the Falcon Heavy integration timelapse, B1051 can be seen rotating on its rocket rotisserie as technicians work to rapidly turn the rocket around for its second launch.

Falcon 9 B1051 inside Pad 39A’s main hangar, April 2019. (SpaceX)

Check out Teslarati’s newsletters for prompt updates, on-the-ground perspectives, and unique glimpses of SpaceX’s rocket launch and recovery processes

The post SpaceX reveals Falcon Heavy Block 5 in first official photo, timelapse appeared first on TESLARATI.

Elon Musk’s tunnel digging technology developed by The Boring Company is being eyed by Israel as a potential solution to the country’s traffic and public transportation woes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed at a recent campaign event that his government was in talks with the serial entrepreneur about tapping into Boring’s tunneling solutions to address infrastructure concerns.

“I met a man that they call Elon Musk — have you heard of him? A real genius,” Netanyahu said, as published in a report by Bloomberg. ““Right now we’re in conversation with him to see if we can tunnel the State of Israel.” The two men’s discussion took place at the Prime Minister’s residence over a breakfast.

Tel Aviv suffers from one of the world’s most congested traffic situations. | Credit: Pixabay
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Israel’s population growth has outpaced its infrastructure development thanks to an immigration influx and a surge in economic growth over the last two decades. Its small geographic area – about 290 miles long and 85 miles across at its widest – requires innovative solutions that take its space limitations into account when it comes to transportation solutions.

Several underground rail projects are underway in Israel; however, only one subway system is currently running in the country. It will remain that way until the planned Tel Aviv Light Rail lines become operational, the earliest planned for 2021 to the tune of $3 billion dollars for 14 miles of line. When compared to The Boring Company’s prior expenditure of only $10 million per mile of tunnel, it’s perhaps understandable why Israel would be interested in Musk’s improved digging technology.

A Tesla Model S inside a Boring Co. tunnel. [Credit: Elon Musk/Instagram]

Although the Boring Company hasn’t captured many headlines since its Monty Python watchtower days since its Hawthorne test tunnel completion, interest in the developed technology hasn’t waned with those who could benefit from its potential. In Las Vegas, a proposed two-mile transport line to be constructed by Musk’s company was recently approved by the city’s Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors. As planned, a series of underground tunnels will be dug by Boring, encompassing the local convention center and possibly expand to the McCarran International Airport. The estimated cost is between $35 and $55 million, and its completion set for the end of 2019, according to Musk.

The Boring Company’s planned high-speed transit tunnel connecting O’Hare International Airport with downtown Chicago is also still in the works despite criticism from local officials. Musk has estimated a cost of around $1 billion for the 18-mile project, none of which will be a taxpayer burden due to private investment. These private funding plans are a big source of skepticism surrounding Musk’s tunneling project, but enough support within Chicago’s government remains to continue moving forward.

The Hawthorne test tunnel, debuted on December 18th last year with fanfare and test rides, was constructed using a conventional tunnel boring machine (TBM) nicknamed Godot. The next iteration of Boring’s machines, an upgraded hybrid TBM named Line-Storm, will be operational any day now, according to Musk via Twitter. “Maybe active in a month or so. Focus right now is getting to high speed, tight follow distance in test tunnel,” he tweeted in reply to a status inquiry about Line-Storm at the end of February this year.

The Boring Company’s Urban Loop pod concept. [Credit: The Boring Company]

Line-Storm is estimated to be twice as fast as Gadot and will be succeeded by the all-electric Prufrock, a TBM being completely designed and built by The Boring Company. Prufrock will be 10-15x faster than than conventional machines, plus meet the energy and environmental standards driving all of Musk’s companies by having zero emissions.

Just as with Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology, though, The Boring Company’s projects face regulatory hurdles and pushback that will likely be a determining factor in whether or not its many projects succeed. It remains to be seen whether Israel will have the same legal obstacles if its Prime Minister’s discussions with Musk manifest into any solid agreements.

The post Elon Musk and Israel in discussions about Boring Company transport project appeared first on TESLARATI.

Kawasaki India has increased the prices of its motorcycle range by up to 7 percent in India. 11 of the company’s motorcycle models have witnessed a price increase ranging from Rs  1900 to Rs. 3.80 lakh. Kawasaki’s model range in India starts from the Ninja 300, which is priced at Rs 2.98 lakh ex-showroom. Surprisingly, the price of the model remains unchanged after the hike. Other motorcycle models for which the prices have not been changed include the Versys X-300, Versys 650, Ninja ZX-6R, ZX-14R among others.

India Kawasaki Motor (IKM) has announced this price hike last month, in percentage terms last month. However, the exact amount of price increase was listed on the brand’s website only on the 1st of April. While the popular models have largely been spared a very large price increase, it’s the track spec supersport machines which have seen the highest increase in value terms. For example, the Ninja H2 is now priced at ₹ 34.99 lakh with a price hike of ₹ 1.69 lakh. The top tier Kawasaki Ninja H2R gets a rice increase of a whopping ₹ 3.80 lakh and is now priced at ₹ 75.80 lakh (ex-showroom).

Kawasaki has attributed the increase in prices to the rising costs of raw materials and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. “IKM strives hard to keep the price of its models very competitive in the India market. However, due to increasing costs of raw materials and fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, IKM is compelled to change the price of our models” read the company’s official statement over the price hike.

A detailed list of the updated prices has been provided below. Please note that prices of most of the models remain unchanged

Model Name New Price
(w.e.f. 1st April 2019)
Ninja 300 2,98,000
Ninja 400 4,99,000*
Ninja 650 (Standard) 5,89,000*
Ninja 650 (KRT Edition) 5,99,000*
Ninja 1000 10,29,000*
Ninja ZX-6R 10,49,000
Ninja ZX-14R 19,70,000
Ninja H2 SX 22,89,000*
Ninja H2 SX SE 28,19,000*
Ninja H2 34,99,000*
Ninja H2 CARBON 41,79,000*
Ninja H2R 75,80,000*
Z650 5,69,000*
Z900 7,69,900*
Z900RS 15,70,000*
Z1000 15,10,000
Z1000R 16,10,000
Vulcan S (Black) 5,49,900*
Vulcan S (Orange) 5,59,900*
Versys-X 300 4,69,000
Versys 650 6,69,000
Versys 1000 10,89,000*
KX100 4,87,800
KX250 7,43,000
KX450 7,79,000
KLX110 2,99,500
KLX140G 4,06,600
KLX450R 8,49,000

The Volkswagen Group and Ganfeng Lithium Co., Ltd. (GFL) registered in Jiangxi (China) have signed a memorandum of understanding on long-term lithium supplies for battery cells. Under the agreement, Ganfeng will supply lithium to the Volkswagen Group and its suppliers for the next ten years.

Volkswagen is thus already securing a significant share of its lithium requirement for batteries.

Over the next ten years the Volkswagen Group will be launching 70-plus new pure electric vehicles. That means approximately a quarter of the vehicles we deliver in 2025 will be powered by electricity. Consequently, there will be a rapid increase in our raw material demand for cell production in the coming years. We must make sure we cover this demand at an early stage. Long-term agreements like the one for lithium, a key raw material, that we have just concluded with Ganfeng are therefore of crucial strategic significance for implementing our electric offensive.

—Dr. Stefan Sommer, Group Board Member for Components and Procurement at Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

The rapid increase in vehicle electrification in the automotive industry will have a major impact on global raw material markets. The global lithium demand is expected to more than double by 2023. In light of this, the agreement with Ganfeng is an important milestone in supply security for the Volkswagen Group.

With Ganfeng as a strategic partner we are creating a secure basis for planning capacities and costs. The strategic collaboration is the result of an extensive market analysis executed by Volkswagen’s e-Raw Material Team. This specialized team is focusing on building close relationships with the raw material industry. Together with selected strategic partners, Volkswagen is identifying and establishing common synergies along the HV-battery value chain. During this process we consider a sustainable value chain as equally important to securing material capacities and competitive pricing structures.

—Michael Bäcker, Head of Corporate Purchasing e-Mobility at Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

In addition to the arrangements on lithium supplies, Volkswagen and Ganfeng also agreed to cooperate on future topics such as battery recycling and solid-state batteries.

GFL is the world’s leading lithium compounds and metal manufacturer and dually listed on Chinese A share in 2010 and Hong Kong H share in 2018. GFL offers five major categories of more than 40 lithium compounds and metals products.

In many ways, rallycross feels like the ideal sport for electric vehicles. Qualifying rounds and races are short, snack-size affairs far removed from any concerns about range anxiety, for one. Yet it's been an uphill battle for rallycross promoters to get manufacturers to actually sign onto the idea of racing electric cars in the top classes of rallycross. 

Now World Rallycross wants to give all-electric vehicles their own series called Projekt E instead of switching to electric vehicles in its top Supercars class, reports E-Racing 365. Yet fans are left wondering if World Rallycross is doing too little, too late after a number of top teams and manufacturers already departed the series for 2019. 

Top-level rallycross has been mulling over the idea of an electrified premier class for a while now, to mixed results. World Rallycross' former closest competitor, the then-American-based Red Bull Global Rallycross series, originally planned to add a separate series for electric cars by 2018. However, that incarnation of GRC shut down before its 2018 season began amid allegations of unpaid bills and a lawsuit against longtime series participant Subaru. 

You would think that the loss of a competing series with high aspirations would have essentially gifted the rallycross market to the World Rallycross Championship. It was already the FIA-backed world championship for the sport, and its promoters even started a new Americas Rallycross series that attracted many ex-GRC competitors from North America. 

Yet the uncertainty over when World Rallycross planned to switch to electric cars seems to have been its undoing this year. The FIA World Motor Sport Council approved World Rallycross' plans to switch to an all-electric top class for the 2020 season back in June 2018, but getting marques and teams to sign up for this EV switch has been a constant struggle.

The 2020 switch to becoming the FIA Electric World Rallycross Championship initially sounded a lot like the tightly controlled early seasons of Formula E. Everyone would run a shared Oreca chassis and batteries made by Williams until 2023, and cars would have two electric motors producing a combined 500 kW, per E-Racing 365. Powertrain rules were based loosely on those used by Formula E, with some extra restrictions in the name of keeping costs down. 

Yet perhaps World Rallycross should have paid more attention to Formula E, where major auto manufacturers didn't join in en masse until the series ran for a few years, at which point Formula E's rules opened up to allow manufacturers to use their entries as a showplace for more of their own EV tech. 

By August 2018, World Rallycross was already pushing back its EV switch to 2021 to give manufacturers additional development time ahead of the switch, according to an FIA press release. Manufacturers were given until March 29, 2019, to confirm their commitment to the new electric format. 

Those commitments never actually panned out.

Ford's works Hoonigan team was the first major effort to bail on World Rallycross after the 2017 season, with driver Ken Block noting in a press release that so much of the sport was "up in the air." While Ford continued to offer some support to the Olsbergs MSE team in the 2018 season, the marque's attitude to jumping back in with another factory team became that of "wait and see." 

"For us to get back and do full factory support in rallycross, we'd need to see what rallycross is going to look like globally and what the electrified version of that is going to look like," Ford Performance Global Director Mark Rushbrook told Autosport in 2018. 

More major teams and manufacturers withdrew from World Rallycross' top Supercars class after the 2018 season. 

Audi confirmed in August of last year that it would not be campaigning an electric rallycross car in 2021, and dropped its factory support of EKS Sport after the 2018 season. Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass explained to Autosport that DTM offered a better return on their motorsport investment: 

We are involved in Formula E so we already do have a program in electric motorsport, even though we were very interested in the EWRX. It came very much down to a choice between DTM and EWRX. 

For us, as a return of investment and the broadness of what we cover in terms of [internal] combustion traditional motorsport and electric motorsport this was the better compromise. 

[The decision] was mainly a consequence of the positive decision to DTM rather than taking a negative decision to the EWRX. 

Mind you, that decision comes after DTM lost longtime mainstay Mercedes-AMG to Formula E. Audi's former factory team EKS Sport is still on the entry list for 2019 but has been scaled down from a two-car effort to just one. 

Peugeot then announced in October that it was ending its factory involvement in World Rallycross after the 2018 season, specifically calling out the uncertainty over World Rallycross' planned switch to electric vehicles. 

The former factory Team Peugeot Total is on the entry list for this year as Team Hansen MJP, however, as the two-car team has opted to continue racing in World Rallycross without factory support. 

Next to bail from World Rallycross' top class in 2019 was Olsbergs MSE, who announced it would be taking a break from the Supercars class in October. The team, who notably provides all the cars for World Rallycross' second-tier RX2 championship, cited the need to plan ahead for the 2021 class changes as well as a need to keep development costs manageable, according to Autosport. It was also looking for a manufacturer to partner with, and it voiced its support for the EV change, even if that meant it must take a year off from the top class. 

"We are also very much looking forward to the arrival of electric rallycross in 2021, and as such will put our efforts next year into securing a manufacturer partner ready for its introduction," Olsbergs MSE Team Principal Andreas Eriksson told Autosport. "We think the electric switch is important for the future of the sport—and for all the young drivers out there dreaming to be the best in the world."

David Davies/Getty Images

Finally, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team withdrew from the series in December due to the lack of competition left. "It’s really sad, but the declining numbers of teams in the series makes it impossible for us to remain for 2019," team principal Pernilla Solberg told Motorsport

Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets explained the company's outlook on rallycross further to Motorsport, using everyone's favorite U-word again: 

In the past two years, the competition in WRX between the cars from Audi, Ford, Peugeot, and Volkswagen has been huge, resulting in fantastic sport with close racing between some of the most famous drivers in motorsport. 

Unfortunately, with the exit of three works or works-supported teams from World RX, the situation has changed dramatically.

Together with PSRX and Volkswagen Sweden, we had to re-evaluate the involvement in the championship. 

We certainly didn’t take the decision lightly, but we came to a mutual agreement not to continue in WRX in 2019 as there is huge uncertainty regarding the entries and the competition for next season.

Both Volkswagen and the team told Motorsport that they're still interested in World Rallycross' future move to electric cars, but it's very clear that they don't want to be the only team competing. 

Audi, Volkswagen, and Peugeot were the three marques most expected to join in World Rallycross' new electric top class, Autosport notes, but all three marques have withdrawn from the 2019 season. In fact, there are no works entries at all on the 16-car 2019 full-season entry list. While there are still teams who are dedicated to World Rallycross and plenty of returning drivers I'll want to watch, this is a bad sign, as series rarely thrive without the added financial support and credibility of manufacturer participation. 

That brings us to this week's announcement, which feels far overdue. The new Projekt E series is set to run on the same weekends as traditional, internal-combustion-powered World Rallycross cars, but will be its own thing. This frees top-class participants from the stress and uncertainty of having to develop this whole new spec of electric rallycross car unless they really want to. 

Torben Olsen, the managing director of World Rallycross for its promoter IMG, admitted that a lack of buy-in from manufacturers was ultimately what forced the series to backtrack on the idea of an all-EV grid in the series' announcement

In terms of the strategy for introduction of electrification to rallycross, we have been in discussions for nearly two years with a number of manufacturers. Ultimately it emerged that the manufacturers were not yet ready to commit in sufficient numbers to make a fully-electric World Championship a reality. However, we believe that Projekt E is a positive step forward to deliver on our 2017 pledge.

Had there not been all of the uncertainty over an impending EV switch, there would have been no reason for key teams and manufacturers to leave the series, even for a brief hiatus. Marques unwilling to sign on, or needing more time to evaluate their motorsport plans should have changed the course of World Rallycross' electrification plans much earlier before they ended up with a season that The Checkered Flag refers to as "a post-manufacturer era." 

To make matters worse, the series has already been moving away from fan-favorite venues like Lydden Hill and Estering, and already unveiled a 2019 schedule two rounds shorter than last year's. While the U.K. move allowed them to have a large, festival-style event at Silverstone, the moves away from traditional rallycross venues haven't sat well with everyone. 

It's hard not to feel like World Rallycross is a contender for the largest wiener-step of 2019, despite the fact that it's only April. It was pretty much the only truly big show left in rallycross last year, but instead of using that year to solidify its place as the world championship for rallycross, the series spent most of 2018 through just now clinging to electrification plans that ultimately drove away interest. 

That being said, the fact that World Rallycross still has a full grid of 16 full-season cars that includes longtime ex-manufacturer teams means it's not a lost cause. I'm interested to see who steps forward to participate in Projekt E now that it's not the replacement for the top Supercar class, and will gladly tune into anything that sends a car sideways through the dirt and over sweet jumps. 

India’s largest car manufacturer – Maruti Suzuki has cut down production across all its factories in India by almost 21 %. This is a big move made by the company in response to the decline in demand for its vehicles. Maruti’s regulatory filing shows that the brand only produced around 1,36,201 units in March this year, compared to the 1,72,195 units it produced in March 2018, which is a drop of more than 20.9 %.

Most of the segments show a drop, the utility vehicle segment witnessed a huge decline of 26.4 %, whereas the compact segment showed a minor decrease of 7.5 %. The only segment that has displayed growth is the compact-MPV / VAN, showing an increase of 6 %, which means about 888 additional units of Vans were produced in March this year. Maruti Suzuki had started 2019 on a good note, with a 15.6 % increase in production to 1,83,064 units from the 1,58,396 units that were produced in January 2018. In February, however, they saw a decline of more than 8 %, as the production went down to 1,48,959 units, as compared to the 1,62,524 units made in February last year.

Maruti Suzuki has also set up manufacturing plants in Gurgaon and Manesar which have a combined capacity of around 15.5 lakh units per annum. Apart from this, the Hansalpur plant in Gujarat which is owned by Suzuki also has an installed capacity of about 2.5 lakh units from the first production line, while the second production line has been commissioned at the plant but it hasn’t reached its 2.5 lakh units capacity yet.

Also Read: Maruti Suzuki 1.5-litre DDiS Diesel Engine Debuts in the Ciaz, Produces 93hp and 225 Nm

Maruti has also made some changes to its popular cars like the Ciaz, Ertiga, Ignis and Eeco with a hope that it might revive the company. They have stopped the production of Ertiga’s LDi variant in India because of subdued demand, whereas it recently launched the all-new DDiS 225 1.5-litre diesel engine for the Ciaz sedan, which was developed in-house and produces 93 HP and 225 Nm of torque. Maruti has also updated the safety equipment and features on its tiny hatch – Ignis, and the best-selling Van – Eeco, as its now equipped with a driver airbag and ABS as standard.

2019 IndyCar Tech Overview

Want to know what’s new for IndyCar this year in 3 minutes? Well thanks to Chevrolet’s Rob Buckner, Programme Manager for the Chevrolet IndyCar team here’s what you need to know.

Keep up to date with all the latest motorsport technology with a Racecar Engineering subscription


 

The post IndyCar | 2019 Technical Overview appeared first on Racecar Engineering.

This year’s Formula 1
World Championship season kicked off at the Albert Park street circuit in Melbourne, Australia, setting the stage for what will expectedly be another dramatic fight for glory between the sport's top teams, Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari. Following last weekend's fantastic Bahrain Grand Prix won by Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, the series now heads to Shanghai where it will run its 1,000th race, some 69 years after the first-ever F1-sanctioned GP.

To commemorate this occasion, FIA Magazine Auto assembled a graphic that overviews some of the series' fun facts and highlights by the numbers.

As the graphic explains, the Formula 1 World Championship has competed at over 72 different circuits in 32 countries around the world. Unsurprisingly for fans of motorsport's top series, Italy has hosted the most Grands Prix of any country with Autodromo Nazionale Monza taking the crown for the most-visited circuit.

Germany comes in second place with a total of 77 Grand Prix races, varying in location between the world-famous Nürburgring, the Hockenheimring, and only once at the AVUS circuit just outside Berlin. This year’s race will, once again, take place at the Hockenheimring.

In third place is Great Britain, hosting a total of 72 races out of the grand 1,000, largely taking place at the Silverstone Circuit. This is the home race for many teams who find their homes nestled into the United Kingdom's history-laden confines.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Morocco has hosted just one Grand Prix race, with India taking the second-to-last position, hosting only three Grand Prix events. Tied with India is Azerbaijan, who's currently on the schedule and will host its fourth-ever GP on April 28.

Over the past 1,000 races, over 322,476 kilometers have been driven, or approximately 200,377 miles. That’s about 38,000 miles less than the average distance between the moon and the Earth, and enough to circle our planet eight times. Finally, with the series' ever-fluctuating scoring system, a total of 40,498.47 points have been awarded.

For the full spread of fun facts and figures, check out the infographic below and stay tuned for coverage of this year's Chinese Grand Prix on The Drive.

FIA Magazine Auto via Reddit

 

Our May 2019 issue features 2019 F1 aero regs, Racing Point, Audi DTM, GT3, Hypercar 2020, data logging, ground effect and much more.

 

 

 Get yours HERE!

 

   


Inside the May edition:

F1 has promised us more overtaking for 2019 – but how can changing the dimensions of aerodynamic components achieve more exciting racing? This month, Racecar delves into the details behind this year’s new F1 aero regulations and highlights how the teams have worked around them. We also analyse the changes for the 2019 tyres. 

Also in this issue, Racecar takes a technical look at the new Racing Point RP19, Simon McBeath explains the science behind ground effect and Ricardo Divila reviews the history of data logging. Our Editor discusses GT3 politics, the details behind the new 2.0L 4 cylinder turbo Audi DTM engine and the current status of the ACO’s Hypercar category for 2020 Le Mans.    


May 2019 issue

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At the site of the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant in Germany, the construction of the battery factory at the Brühl sub-plant has begun with the symbolic foundation-laying ceremony. By the end of the decade, Mercedes-Benz Cars will produce high-efficiency traction batteries for future Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles of the EQ product and technology brand on 12,000 m2 in a newly erected and carbon-neutral battery factory at Brühl.

The new battery factory is an important component in the global battery production network within the production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars comprising nine battery factories at seven locations on three continents.

Mercedes-Benz Cars is investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network within the worldwide Mercedes-Benz Cars production network. Local battery production will be a major success factor in the electric initiative of Mercedes-Benz Cars, and the crucial component when it comes to meeting the worldwide demand for electric vehicles flexibly and efficiently, the company said.

The global battery production network ensures the competitiveness of Mercedes-Benz Cars and puts the particular locations on a competitive footing. Daimler purchases the battery cells on the world market. The blocks of cells are assembled into an installation-ready overall battery system in the battery factories—including housing, control unit as well as functional testing.

Our powertrain production network is in the midst of the transformation. With the battery production at the Untertürkheim plant, we are further advancing the transition into a high-tech location for components of electric mobility. At the same time, we continue to produce conventional engines, axles, transmissions and components in large numbers. This flexibility of the team makes us strong.

—Frank Deiß, Head of Powertrain Production Mercedes-Benz Cars and Site Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant

As part of the negotiations on the target visions of recent years, a “Project Centre eATS” has been in existence at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant since autumn 2018 in order to build up know-how for the next generation of an electronic powertrain (eATS). There is also an “E-Technical Centre”, where prototypes for the electric powertrain are built, amongst other things.

In addition, since the beginning of 2019, the Untertürkheim plant has been responsible for the battery pilot factory. It forms the bridge between development and series production. This is where the energy storage units are tested and optimised for a production-oriented product design in order to ensure an efficient large-scale production in the worldwide battery factories.

In addition to building the batteries, the pilot factory qualifies employees for the future series production at the Brühl and Hedelfingen sub-plants. The Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant thus bundles important skills as a pilot factory, especially for the battery production. Furthermore, the company announced in 2018 that the capacity would be doubled again beyond the battery production already agreed with the works council the previous year.

In addition, it was agreed that a battery factory will also be added at the Hedelfingen sub-plant of the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant.

The Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant looks back on more than 115 years of tradition and is the largest location in the global powertrain production network and home to Daimler Group headquarters. With more than 19,000 employees, the plant produces engines, axles, transmissions and components.

The tradition-rich plant is a hi-tech location and a center of competence for high-efficiency engines, hybrid powertrains and the production of fuel-cell systems. Research and Development is also located here with a test track for vehicle testing. The plant comprises six sub-plants in all.

On Sunday night, a YouTuber named Beau Alan Rogel of the Rankin County in Mississippi live streamed his attempt to hit 180 mph in his Shelby Mustang GT350. Being a YouTuber, Rogel has a habit of live streaming his activities on YouTube. He attempted this stunt on public roads, which is why some YouTube trolls reported his activity to the Police. The cops caught up to him, however, they didn’t arrest him or give him a ticket on the spot. But, he was later arrested for traffic violations and rash driving after uploading the video on YouTube. Have a look:

During the live stream, Rogel once again speeds down a road just outside Jackson, Mississippi, where he claims to be travelling at approximately 160 mph / 257 kmph. However, Rogel’s luck soon gets the better of him as he quickly notices three police cars behind him with their lights flashing. His first response? “But I didn’t do anything.” Shortly after getting pulled over, Rogel denied speeding through the streets in his Mustang and surprisingly, the police actually let him go with a warning. In the same video, he also tries to claim that he is really hurt by the troll’s actions.

Also Read: Footage Of A Helmetless Scooter Rider Ramming Into A Cop Asks Serious Questions

The cops were not only interested in Rogel’s live stream but, they had also discovered a few of his Facebook posts in which he displayed numerous weapons. Investigators were granted a search warrant for his home, and they arrested and charged Rogel with reckless driving and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Rogel had previously been convicted for fraud and theft in 2009, and he was also sentenced to six years in jail. The Police have now seized his Shelby Mustang GT350 to collect the drive data from the car. Alan Rogel was released on a $20,000 bond, and he will have to face the Rankin County Grand Jury for his felony charges and reckless driving. Filming yourself while driving is definitely not a good idea, lesson learned!

In what may be my favorite installment in our ongoing series on Northrop's YF-23 Black Widow, we hear directly from famed test pilot Paul Metz. Metz started his career as an F-105G Wild Weasel pilot in Vietnam and went on to become one of America's preeminent test pilots. He flew Northrop's YF-23 on its first flight during the Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) competition that pitted the jet against Lockheed's YF-22 and also went on to do the same for the F-22A. In the video below, he describes what the ATF program was like from the inside and just how good the YF-23 actually was. In addition, we get extra color on the accelerated flight test program Northrop executed for the competition from test pilot Jim Sandburg. Their testimony combined gives us an unprecedented look into the YF-23 program and paints a clear picture that YF-23 was indeed equal if not superior to its competition.

The lecture was put on at the Western Museum Of Flight—where one of the YF-23 is on display—to a seniors group. This gem of historical reference has been largely overlooked even as the YF-23 has risen to near legendary status, becoming one of the most enigmatic and fascinating modern aircraft in history. What's so important to underline is that Metz worked for both Northrop and Lockheed and is not known for hyperbole. Yet even after flying the pre-production F-22, a far more mature machine than the YF-23 ever was, he makes it quite clear that Northrop's offering was on par with Lockheed's, if not superior. 

USAF
YF-23 and YF-22 side-by-side during the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition flight demonstration phase. 

The hardest hitting quote comes at the end of the lecture by the two test pilots, where Metz states:

"Never hang your head in shame about what we did. We built a tremendous product that would stand side-by-side with anything else, and in many cases exceed the capabilities of anything else. And we can always be proud of that."

Sandberg and Metz also note that both aircraft met the ATF requirements and that Lockheed was chosen because the Air Force had greater confidence they could better manage the program.

Metz makes another incredibly valuable point about how Lockheed knew how to present and market their airframe far better than Northrop did. He notes that not everyone who would be in a position to select a fighter aircraft would be an engineer and that they may not even be technically astute. So leaving 'lasting impressions' on a conceptual level, even if they don't tell the whole story technically, can give one side an advantage over the other. 

USAF
Paul Metz was the first pilot to fly the YF-23 and the F-22A. He worked as top test pilot for Northrop and Lockheed. 

Northrop's team was made up of brilliant engineers—Metz says they were beyond compare—but they thought and spoke almost exclusively in engineering terms. Meanwhile, Lockheed infused far more marketing, salesmanship, and pizazz—'lasting impressions' as Metz eloquently puts it—into their YF-22 flight demonstration program. They fundamentally understood how to sell their aircraft and how 'showmanship' heavily impacts the acquisition decision-making process. Northrop didn't and that fact may have proven fatal for the YF-23. 

There is so much else in this video of importance to the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition story. Sandburg talks about how the YF-23's massive tailerons were so powerful that they largely mitigated the perceived advantages of the YF-22's thrust vectoring. There are many other details about the genesis of the ATF program overall, in-flight emergencies during the flight demonstration phase, how the YF-23's radar cross-section helped influence its unofficial Black Widow moniker, and even how that famous picture of the B-2 landing with the YF-23 in the foreground came to be.  

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The Audi Quattro Cup, the world’s largest amateur golf tournament series, concluded the Delhi edition of its 12th Indian season at the Classic Golf & Country Club. With more than 750 golfers competing towards securing a slot for the India finals, the pair of Laxminarayan S and Tarun Kapur garnered 72 points to qualify. The first leg of the Audi Quattro Cup 2019 concluded in Bhubaneswar followed by Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Mumbai. With the game concluded in the capital city of Delhi, the Audi Quattro Cup has clearly emerged as the creme of corporate golf events and is being celebrated nation-wide with golfers from major state capitals and towns, who are and will be competing in the series.

“With a constant focus on leveraging sport, performance and customer engagement, Audi India continuously strives towards enriching the customer experience at every single touchpoint. Audi Quattro Cup provides a perfect platform to stay connected with the Audi fans and customers in India. Audi has been committed to the sport of golf, which stands for precision and technique and truly embodies Audi’s philosophy of ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ for more than two and a half decades now. The Audi Quattro Cup in India has become a great platform for young-minded, successful entrepreneurs and professionals to not only enjoy competitive golf but to also network with each other. This year we move into the 12th year of celebrating the growing fascination for the amateur golf sporting events in India,” said Mr Rahil Ansari, Head Audi India.

Winners of the Mumbai edition

Also Read: Audi’s New 2-Litre Engine Generates More Than 600 Horsepower

The Indian edition is being played on a Team Stableford format where the teams will be drawn randomly after the round. Using Single Peoria system, the individual handicaps are determined and the top team with the best cumulative score from each leg will qualify for the India finals later this year in March. The winning team from the India finals will then qualify to participate in the world finals later this year where the Audi India winners were amongst the top teams globally within the last years. “I wish all the participants the best of success and I’m hopeful that the winning team from India will have a realistic chance to get the global trophy in 2019,” Mr Ansari concludes.

Sherco TVS Factory Rally team had a successful run in the fourth stage of the Merzouga Rally. Both the riders of the team have had great results. This stage saw the riders push through a distance of 205 km with no assistance from the service crew. Aravind KP managed to progress significantly in his timings and finished the stage at P19 and ranks 54 overall. Tanveer put up his best show so far, topping the Enduro category and his overall ranking is now P2. Now the riders will prepare for the final stage of the Rally, a true Merzouga classic, will be the deciding factor for the riders, and see them cover 48 kilometres into the dunes.

B Selvaraj, Team Manager, TVS Racing said, “I am so proud of Tanveer and KP, they have shown that if you have focus and zeal for the sport nothing is impossible. Tanveer is performing exceptionally as he has shown tremendous improvement in his navigation skills and at the same time has managed to keep his bike in good condition. KP has picked up his pace rapidly crossing all obstacles with confidence. The technical team is also working hard in keeping the bikes in good shape and I hope the riders will be able to maintain their positions in the last stage as well.”

Also Read: TVS Sherco Factory Team Gets Mixed Results in the Third Stage of Merzouga Rally

David Casteu, Team Manager, Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team said, “This stage was the toughest one as it tests the team’s navigation skills throughout the Rally. The boys have shown phenomenal growth in this stage as they performed well against all odds and I am confident that we will finish the Rally on an equally good position.” Abdul Wahid Tanveer, Racer, TVS Racing said, “It was a crucial stage with lots of navigational challenges, but I am glad I could finish it at the top. I am thankful to the technical team for keeping the bike in good shape and helping me with all the guidance.”

Does anyone remember the Fisker Karma? It was that great looking hybrid sedan with a ton of ambition but little actual execution. The Karma was designed by Henrik Fisker, the man behind the famous BMW Z8, but he eventually left the company and it went bust. However, it was revived when the Chinese Wanxiang bought Fisker and renamed the company Karma and the car itself was renamed the Revero. It’s now been announced that the Karma Revero, which seemingly refuses to die off, will us a BMW three-cylinder engine as a range extender.

Much like the BMW i3 REx, the Karma Revero is a fully-electric car but has a gasoline engine to help recharge the batteries. The actual powertrain of the car is fully electric, with dual electric motors at the rear axle, but the batteries can be recharged by the little BMW three-cylinder.

That little three-pot is the same one used in the BMW i8 and MINI Countryman plug-in hybrid. While a potent engine in its own right, it’s not used to make any power here but it should help produce a good bit of electric range and quickly, as it packs a good amount of power while using little fuel. So it’s a more efficient range extender than the old GM-sourced four-cylinder that was used in the Fisker Karma.

According to Karma, the Revero can get from 0-60 mph in about 4.5 seconds but no word on total electric range. While there’s a lot of potential in the Karma Revero and it still sports Fisker’s very pretty design, we doubt much will become of this. It’s sad because it could be a very cool car if it were to be successful but it’s likely just going to be another forgotten EV attempt that doesn’t have enough technology or funding to compete with the bigger players and will eventually go bust again.

[Source: Jalopnik]

The article Karma Revero to be reborn with BMW three-cylinder Range Extender appeared first on BMW BLOG

The University of Georgia has placed an order for twenty Proterra 40′ Catalyst E2 buses with DuoPower drivetrain technology and fourteen 125 kW Proterra PCS chargers.

With the deployment of 20 Catalyst buses, the University of Georgia will have one of the largest fleets of electric buses in the US, and will displace more than 2,500,000 gallons of diesel over the vehicles’ 12-year lifespan and eliminate more than 4,500,000 pounds of carbon emissions annually.

The University of Georgia offers free rides for students, faculty and visitors with an average daily ridership of about 40,000. After receiving a $10-million grant from the GO! Transit Capital Program administered by Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority, the University of Georgia evaluated and tested electric bus technology to ensure students, faculty, staff and visitors received the best electric bus possible.

The state of Georgia underwent a similar testing and review process and selected Proterra as a statewide vendor for electric buses, which allowed the University of Georgia to procure the 20 buses under a statewide contract.

All of the University of Georgia’s Catalyst E2 buses will be powered by the Proterra DuoPower drivetrain, which delivers twice the horsepower and five times the efficiency of a standard diesel engine.

The DuoPower drivetrain features two electric motors that deliver 510 horsepower, accelerating a Catalyst bus from 0-20 mph in about five seconds, while also achieving an industry-leading 24.6 MPGe.

In addition, the DuoPower drivetrain can propel a bus up a 26% grade, making it an ideal option for routes with steep hills. By combining the DuoPower drivetrain with Proterra’s market-leading battery technology and lightweight composite bus body, the Catalyst vehicle provides unparalleled performance.

With this order, the University of Georgia joins colleges and universities nationwide that are moving to battery-electric campus buses. Proterra has sold its Catalyst buses to StarMetro/Florida State University, University of Montana, Duke University and Alabama A&M University.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $59 million for new and innovative advanced vehicle technologies research. Funded through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, this funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0002014) seeks projects to address priorities in advanced batteries and electric drive systems, energy efficient mobility systems, materials for more efficient powertrains, co-optimized advanced engine and fuel technologies, and alternative fuels and new mobility options.

Topic areas for this funding opportunity include the following:

Topic 1: Solid State Batteries – Materials, Diagnostic Tools, and Modeling (up to $12.5 million). Projects will focus on developing new solid electrolytes that can address materials challenges and enable next-generation chemistries that reduce costs and improve energy density and cycle life.

This topic area seeks to research, to develop, and to test lithium metal-based batteries that implement solid lithium-ion conductors capable of achieving the cell performance identified in the table below.

Anticipated technology approaches include, but are not limited to:

  • New solid electrolytes that can promote uniform lithium plating and have high
    conductivity and low reactivity against lithium metal and against high voltage
    cathodes;

  • New polymer electrolytes that have the potential to operate at room
    temperature and possess the mechanical properties to prevent dendrites;

  • Novel architectures/cell designs to protect metallic lithium from dendrite
    formation;

  • Novel approaches to integrate solid ion conductors into cathode materials that
    can result in low interfacial impedance; and

  • New designs of the sulfur cathode host to achieve high sulfur loading (>6
    mg/cm2) good sulfur utilization, minimal polysulfide diffusion, and limited excess electrolyte (goal of electrolyte to sulfur ratio of 3 ml/mg).

Topic 2: Electric Motor Research Increasing Power Density 8x (up to $3.5 million). Projects will focus on novel, innovative materials and designs that decrease the size and increase the power density of electric drive systems by a factor of eight, while achieving cost reduction and performance improvement targets for more affordable electric drive systems.

Through this topic area, the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) will select “seedling” projects for innovative, new ideas that accelerate the development of advanced motor designs and materials in support of the goals of the Electric Drive Technologies (EDT) Consortium, a multi-disciplinary team of national labs and universities.

VTO will manage and review work conducted as part of the seedling projects in conjunction with the Consortium; project teams will communicate and coordinate their efforts with Consortium partners and members.

Potential technologies in response to this AOI include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Printable magnetic materials for motors – Instead of laminations, one approach to building high power density, high-speed motors is using solid 3D printed materials. Novel approaches are needed to build stators/rotors with no laminations.

  • Covetic/Printed Steel – There is a need for low-cost, high-efficiency steels to achieve low-cost and high power density electric motors. Covetic steel is one approach that can achieve this.

  • Ultraconductors for Motor Windings – Covetic copper and copper/nano-tube alloys for high-conductivity windings are two approaches to increase the conductivity of copper and both reduce the size and increase the efficiency of the electric motor.

  • Novel High-Power Density Non-Heavy Rare-Earth Motor Topologies for High Speed Traction Motors – High speed (>20,000rpm) electric motor operation creates material and structural challenges, and reducing motor size creates thermal challenges. Achieving EDT Consortium goals and targets requires novel electric motor architecture innovations (e.g., new magnets and magnetic materials) and improved motor thermal management approaches.

Topic 3: Energy Efficient Mobility Systems Research (up to $7 million). Projects will focus on vehicle automation and connectivity to improve transportation system-level efficiency for travelers, vehicles, and infrastructure, reducing the time, cost, and energy required to move people and goods.

Topic 4: Predictive Modeling Capabilities for the Co-Optimization of Fuels and Multi-Mode Engines ($3.5 million). Projects will focus on improving the accuracy, speed, and predictive capability of multi-mode combustion simulation models for current high performance computing systems and future exascale level systems.

Topic 5: New Materials and Engine Technologies for High Efficiency Powertrains (up to $15 million). Projects will develop innovative powertrain systems that combine advanced materials that reduce weight and enable higher engine temperatures with new combustion strategies to improve vehicle fuel economy.

This are of interest seeks innovative engine designs that use advanced materials and manufacturing approaches to significantly improve the fuel economy of Class 1-6 vehicles (mid-size passenger cars, crossover vehicles, pickup trucks, and medium-duty trucks in Classes 3-6). New, innovative materials and manufacturing approaches have the potential to enable fundamental improvements in overall engine performance and efficiency, including, but not limited to, lightweighting of the engine.

Combining advanced materials and combustion strategies can expand operational parameters to further increase engine efficiency while addressing technical roadblocks such as high pressure rise rates, increased peak pressures and temperatures, thermal management, and NVH (Noise, Vibration, and Harshness). The powertrain mass in Class 1-6 vehicles can represent up to 30% of total vehicle weight, and when mass compounding is included, powertrain mass reductions can result in significant fuel economy benefits. Applicants must validate fuel economy improvement, engine weight reduction, and pathway to emissions compliance to meet minimum performance targets (see table below) using full engine dynamometer testing, actual component weight measurements, and vehicle-level modeling.

Topic 6: Technology Integration (up to $17.5 million). Projects will focus on alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure for resiliency and emergency preparedness, new mobility services in rural America, alternative fuel (e.g., natural gas, propane, electricity, hydrogen) proof-of-concept demonstrations in new communities and fleets, and electric vehicle data collection. There is also an open topic specific to Clean Cities coalitions seeking innovative ideas for alternative fuel and mobility solutions.