The Yamaha YZF R15 is a charming motorcycle which packs a sweet combination of good looks and great engineering. A result is a machine which behaves and rides like no other 150cc motorcycle out there and is the perfect tool to hop on and hone your fast-riding skills. Even for those who have graduated beyond the level ‘Rookie’, it still is a riot once you’ve swung a leg over. There are also those who have transformed this machine into something which is a lot more. Let’s take a look at such Top 5 modified Yamaha YZF R15 examples.

The 190 Km/h R15

A 150 cc motorcycle which can do 194 kph on its speedometer? Outrageous right. Just what we thought when we came across this example which revs till 13,000 rpm. Going by the visual reference of how things pass by, the motorcycle does seem to be doing those ridiculous speeds for a 150 cc. But we aren’t sure as what exactly has been sprinkled on the engine. A turbocharger maybe? Or an engine swap altogether? Our guess is as good as yours.

Watch Video: This Modified Yamaha R15 Does 194 kph+ And Hits 13,000 RPM!

The Gadget Freak R15

This modified R15 bike gets a bunch of features which includes cruise control, GPS navigation and some more. The first thing to catch your attention would be the fingerprint scanner which can be used to switch the ignition on of the bike. In true Knight Rider style, once the ignition is switched on, the side view mirrors open up electrically! Behind the windscreen is a touchscreen which can be used for various functions of the bike. The bike has been fitted with features like mobile phone control, Anti-theft alarm, GPS navigation, call notification with message alerts, auto headlight, auto high low beam, a rearview camera, highway flasher and voice control.

Watch Video: This Yamaha R15 Can Recognise Its Owner’s Fingerprints & Control Its Cruise

The R15 With A Seat-Eject Button

This modified example really has a button which ejects its rear seat. Okay, it doesn’t eject in a way which will propel the pillion into outer space, but still. The motorcycle also features auto headlights, an in-built mobile charger. And there’s a touchscreen colour screen fitted above the fuel lid which displays navigation, caller id, bike info, and a lot more.

Watch Video: Crazy Yamaha R15 With A Seat Eject Button Is Back With a Touchscreen On Its Tank

The R15 which thinks it’s an HP4 Race

This audacious Yamaha emulates the best on two wheels from Germany and it does so quite well. Agreed, it’s only in terms of appearance, but just look at it! That tinted visor, the decals, those gold-finished premium forks, the bodywork, and even the exhaust pipe, all have been mimicked to perfection.

Also Read: This 150cc Sportbike Worships The BMW HP4 Race

The R15 Which Wants To Look Like Its Big Brother

This example wears a bolt-on kit which turns the R15 into something which resembles Yamaha’s flagship – the R1. The kit can be bought online and includes a headlamp setup which is similar in appearance to the R1’s, a new windshield, all-new side and front panels, a new front fender, underside panels, mirrors with integrated trafficators, and a completely new tail section with integrated illumination bits.

Also Read: This Bolt-On Kit Can Make The Yamaha R15 V3 Live Its R1M Dream

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If having a clean vehicle inside and out is a priority, invest in a car duster. A buildup of dust or pollen is not only unsightly, but it can also affect your vehicle's performance by getting into the air vents. The ultimate car duster will make car cleaning simple and keep your car nice and tidy. Check out our car duster review for the best car duster on the market.

Best Car Duster Overall: Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive
Best Value Car Duster: AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster
Best Car Duster Honorable Mention:
California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster with Wooden Handle

Why Buy Car Dusters?

  • Eliminate interior dust. A quick and simple way to keep your car free of dust is by using a car duster. Simply swipe it across the dashboard and other areas to remove the particles.
  • Clean more than with a simple cloth. When you use a piece of cloth for dust, it usually moves it to another area of the car. A duster picks up the debris and removes it completely.
  • Keep your interior from fading. You need to get the places a normal car wash can't. If you use an ordinary duster or brush, the surface area may fade in time. A regular duster can also scratch the dashboard, center console, and other interior spots.
  • Avoid a lot of vacuuming. If you use a car dust remover on a regular basis, it eliminates the need to vacuum all the time. The duster will remove particles that otherwise could end up on the floor and seats.
  • Avoid messes. While soap and water can effectively clean your vehicle inside and out, it can be messy. Avoid drips, splatters, and spills by using dash dusters instead.
  • Get to hard-to-reach spots. While a vacuum is effective for the seats and carpet, they're tough for cleaning areas such as cup holders, air vents, door pockets, and other small spaces in the vehicle.

Outside of car being cleaned by hand with blue duster

gettyimages

Types of Car Dusters

Microfiber

Microfiber dusters use a synthetic material that contains an electrostatic charge. This enables them to attract and catch dust, pollen, lint, and other tiny particles. Microfiber car dusters are soft and unlikely to mark up a surface area. Soft microfiber dusters with tendrils are particularly effective because they can trap more particles than a flat cloth. They are also more easy to move into small corners of the vehicle.

Cotton

Some dusters are made of waxed cotton, including the California car cleaner. There is little difference between a California car duster vs. microfiber. They generally resemble microfiber fingers, but they are made of a slightly different material. They both remove dust and debris from a surface area by trapping it. Waxed cotton dusters cannot be washed. 

Lambswool

The priciest dusters on the market tend to be made of lambswool. Historically, many people used this type of material to remove dust; however, it is generally not as effective as more modern fabrics such as microfiber and cotton. Lambswool has an inherent magnetic charge. Lambswool dusters may not work as well in tiny spaces as their counterparts. 

Compressed Air

Compressed air dusters are intended for areas of your home, office, or car that are very hard to reach using a traditional duster. They are useful for electronic devices, such as keyboards, and other tech items. In a car, they are handy for cleaning the areas around knobs and buttons. They are useful but aren’t an equal replacement for a microfiber or cotton duster. 

Woman hand polishing her black car

gettyimages

Top Brands of Car Dusters

The Original California Car Duster

The Original California Car Duster is headquartered in Chatsworth, California, and was founded in 1989 by Jim and Loraine DeFrank. The company is still family-owned and operated. Its products are sold online and by specialty retailers/auto parts stores around the world. One top product is the Original California Car Duster created out of durable cotton fibers.

Carrand Companies

Headquartered in Carson, California, Carrand Companies was founded in 1982. It produces over 200 different cleaning tools for cars and at home. One of its top products is the 93007 Pacific Coast Car Duster.

SENHAI Technology Co., Ltd.

Senhai was founded in 2012, and its major parts factory is located in China. The company focuses on electronic products research, manufacturing, and marketing. One of its popular products is the Mini Duster for Car Air Vent.

Car Duster Pricing

  • Less than $10: Car dusters that are this inexpensive tend to be lower quality and less effective than pricier products. However, some are sufficient and intended for specific areas such as air vents.
  • $10-$20: It is possible to find a decent-quality duster in this price range. They typically do the job well.
  • $20 and up: Many good-quality car dusters cost anywhere between $20 and $30. They are usually very effective at removing dust and pollen from a vehicle's interior and exterior surfaces.

Key Features

Telescopic, Extendable Handle

If you have a large truck/SUV or have trouble bending/moving due to a physical ailment, you may want a duster with a telescoping handle. It will allow you to reach several areas of the vehicle much more easily. Telescopic handles are also effective on tall cars with high roofs. Plastic and metal are common materials instead of a more traditional wooden handle.

Removable or Disposable Head

A few dusters come with a detachable or removable dusting head. This allows you to clean or replace the mop head once it wears out from use. This type of duster is typically used for the home rather than for a vehicle.  

Other Considerations

  • Performance: Ideally, a car dusting mop will remove the dust with one swipe over a particular surface area. You don't want a product that simply moves the dust from one spot to another or just releases it into the air. The best car duster will trap the dust until it is shaken off or washed.
  • Durability: A car dust remover should be made of materials that ensure its longevity. In addition, it should be manufactured in a way that prevents it from falling apart. If you purchase a duster that isn’t made well, it's more likely to fail, requiring you to purchase an additional duster.
  • Versatility: The best car duster brush can also be used for other purposes. If you like keeping your home dust free, for example, a good car duster can help. The best car interior duster can also clean kitchen counters, dining room tables, coffee tables, dressers, and other areas in your house that are prone to collecting dust.
  • Size: Car dusters come in a variety of sizes, from small to extra large. Tinier dusters are useful for detailing a vehicle's interior. Larger dusters are more suited for removing particles from the exterior surface area. Make sure to look at the dimensions of the duster before ordering it online.
  • Shape: Dusters come in a variety of shapes, from long and narrow to round, square, or cylindrical. Long, narrow dusters enable you to access hard-to-reach spots. On the other hand, it may take you longer to clean an area of your car's interior using a square or rounded duster.

Best Car Dusters: Reviews & Recommendations 2019

Best Car Duster Overall: Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive

Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive

Amazon

The Ultimate Car Duster has a 16-inch-by-6-inch, 360-degree electrostatic microfiber dusting surface that clings to dirt and dust. It's one of the larger dusting products on the market and includes a plastic case for storage. The company has a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee, and you can return it if you're unhappy with the product.

The duster removes particles without leaving lint behind. It does not leave streaks like some competitor products do or scratch the surface or leave behind a waxy residue. The high-quality, padded handle makes it more comfortable to use, and the extendable, telescoping handle is strong. It works well on black vehicles, which often show every speck of dust.

The duster has been known to unravel or fall apart after a couple of months of use. Its performance cleaning small debris also leaves something to be desired since it just pushes dust around as opposed to removing it. 

Best Value Car Duster: AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster

AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster

Amazon

The AutoSpa Duster is about 12 inches long, including the handle. The microfiber part is about 6 inches long by 3 inches wide, making it ideal for small areas such as cup holders and the side pockets of doors. It features long chenille microfiber fabric and a molded handle for a comfortable grip.

The product is very soft, and the microfiber sleeve comes off for easy cleaning. Its size makes it easy to store in the glove box or door pocket, and it's useful for those hard-to-reach places in your vehicle. It's also lightweight. The AutoSpa Duster picks up and traps every speck of dust, sand, and dirt from your vehicle's interior and exterior.

The duster is smaller than some competitors’ products. There have been complaints that it leaves lint on the surface areas and moves dust around, and its shape may prohibit you from cleaning the area between the windshield and dashboard. 

Best Car Duster Honorable Mention: California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster with Wooden Handle

California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster

Amazon

When used on the exterior, this duster does not smear, streak, or damage the paint. It removes dust as opposed to moving it around and works better the more you use it. It easily wipes away dust and pollen from black vehicles and on wind-borne dust or rain-splatter dust. It's perfect for a quick dusting between washes.

The nontoxic California Car Duster won't scratch your vehicle's finish. Spray waxes and other cleaning fluids are not required. The duster weighs about 1.5 pounds and is 25 inches by 7 inches by 3 inches wide. A storage bag is also included.

The duster requires a break-in period. It may leave a wax film or tiny red fibers on your vehicle if you don't follow the instructions about using it for the first time. If you're cleaning your entire car inside and out, your hand may ache because the wooden handle isn't very comfortable.

Tips & Advice for Car Dusters

  • A cheap car duster of inferior quality could actually damage your vehicle when used either in the interior or on the exterior paintwork. Consider spending a little more for a better product.
  • If a car duster is made of second-rate materials, it may not effectively do the job. Avoid paying extra for a second car duster by purchasing a well-made one in the first place.
  • Use gentle sweeping movements on glass surfaces in order to avoid scratching or damaging the area. In addition, make sure the glass is dry before using the duster to avoid streaks.
  • If you use the duster on the mirrors in your vehicle, make sure they are properly adjusted after you are done dusting. They may move while you are cleaning them.
  • Before each use, twist and shake the duster so any lint, particles, or excess pieces of fabric are released. Then you can expect a smoother, dust-free experience.
  • Cotton wax dusters often require some prep before using them for the first time. Consider sitting it on cardboard or on newspaper to absorb the excess paraffin wax before dusting your vehicle.

FAQs

Q: Can I use a car duster on glass?

A: A car duster that is made of a soft material can be used on glass surfaces, such as the windshield, rearview mirrors, or side mirrors.

Q: Do I need to use a cleaning solution with the duster?

A: Most car dusters do not require cleaning solutions or detergent to work effectively. Using a cleaning solution may actually scratch or damage the surface area.

Q: How do I clean a car duster?

A: Some car dusters, including those made of microfiber or waxed cotton, can be cleaned by simply shaking them outside the vehicle or into a garbage can. Others can be cleaned in a washing machine. Some have heads that you can remove and replace with new ones.

Q: How do I avoid streaks?

A: Moisture trapped in the car duster or on the surface area you are cleaning may result in streaks. Both the duster and the surface must be completely dry before you attempt to clean the area.

Q: Will a car duster pick up dog hair?

A: Most car dusters are not equipped to pick up dog hair due to how they’re made. It's better to use a handheld vacuum, dryer sheets, or use a rubber glove on the surface area to remove dog hair.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for the best car duster is the Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive. It is soft, well-built, and picks up dirt, dust, and pollen in one swipe. It also features a telescoping handle.

If you're looking for something a little less pricey, consider the AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster.

Royal Enfield has launched the brand new Bullet Trials in the Indian market today. Paying homage to the Trial models of the past. The name Bullet has been an iconic badge, which has been endowed to the most iconic models the brand has offered over the years. These newly launched models of the brand join the long list of models of the company which have had the ‘Bullet’ badge in their name. Sharing most mechanical parts with the regular 350 cc and 500 cc bullet models from Royal Enfield, these two models are launched at a price of INR 1.62 Lakh for the 350 model and INR 2.07 Lakh for the 500 cc model. Both these prices are ex-showroom, Delhi.

The Trials share the fuel tank and side panels with the regular Bullet models. Differentiating them from the regular Bullet are design highlights like the shortened fenders, a taller handlebar, a luggage rack in place of the pillion seat and a muffler for the exhaust system which swipes upwards. All these changes have been made to make the motorcycle more off-road friendly and ready to handle obstacles when off the road. As standard, the bikes come with disc brakes at both ends which also are endowed with a dual channel ABS system as well. The spoked wheels measure 19-inches in the front and 18-inches at the rear and come wrapped in Ceat tyres from the factory.

Also Read: Updated Royal Enfield Classic Spotted Undergoing Tests on the Roads of Chennai

Powering these two motorcycles are the same set of air-cooled, single cylinder motors. The smaller, 346 cc unit is tuned to produce 19.8 bhp of maximum power at 5,250 rpm and 28 Nm of peak torque at 4,000 rpm. The larger 499 cc unit offers more grunt, generating 27.2 bhp at 5,250 rpm and 41.3 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Both these wonderful engines are paired to a 5-speed gearbox which can handle all sort of terrain. Differentiating the 350 model from the 500 model is the frame colour, which is red in the case of the 350 cc model and green in the case of 500 cc model. Being such unique offerings, these two models do not face any direct competition and sit in between the standard Bullet range and the Himalayan in the Royal Enfield Portfolio. Here are some images of the two bikes for you to see.

Royal Enfield Bullet Trials fuel tank
Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 500 engine bash plate
Royal Enfield Bullet Trials 350 engine side

It’s sad to see the BMW F30 3 Series go. After all, we hung out with it for the last several years in various shapes and forms and the vehicle did nothing but to impress us. And this is especially true for the more performance-oriented variants – such as the BMW 335i or the M3. Sure, it got replaced by the somewhat more potent BMW 340i in the recent years. However, the good old 335i still poses one of the most potent punches – slotted right below the much-famed M3 – providing an impressive bang for your buck factor.

The BMW 335i is powered by a 3.0 liter BMW TwinPower Turbo engine churning out 300 horsepower powering the rear wheels. The vehicle comes with a fast and easy to use 8-speed STEPTRONIC automatic transmission with Adaptive Transmission Control (ATC). Thus, the BMW 335i can accelerate from 0-62mph (0-100km/h) in just 5.5 seconds. The vehicle is able to accelerate to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

Placed just a tad below the pure-bred high-performance machines, the BMW M3 and BMW M4, this is for many, the perfect balance of power, performance, and aesthetics. Furthermore, this particular Estoril Blue BMW 335i features a set of lightweight aftermarket wheels. In turn, it showcases an even more appealing and aggressive exterior look.

These flows formed wheels come from Forgestar, and were installed by Mod Bargains, a local Los Angeles tuning shop. These Forgestar CF5V wheels come in sizes of 20×8.5 and 20×10.5 in the front and rear, respectively. Thanks to a finish Forgestar calls Bronze Burst, they fit the narrative of this high-performance machine perfectly.

You can grab a detailed look at the complete media gallery of this build right below.

The article Clean Estoril Blue BMW 335i With Custom Wheels appeared first on BMW BLOG

The 10th-anniversary edition of the Afriquia Merzouga Rally kicked off on March 31st, 2019, with a free practice session and a short prologue stage of 2 kilometres. Stage 1 of the Rally saw the riders traverse a distance of 210 kilometres; the stage was a combination of rocky terrain and sand dunes with some tricky navigation to tackle in the Moroccan desert.

Michael Metge started the Rally at 15th position and completed the stage with an overall ranking of P3. Aravind KP completed the stage at P31 in the provisional standings and Abdul Wahid Tanveer at P3 in the Enduro category. Stage 2 will see the riders traverse a distance of 240 kilometres, divided into two loops with 145 Kms of a special stage. Certain sections of the route are expected to be challenging with a mix of quick stretches and large dunes.

B Selvaraj, Team Manager, TVS Racing said, “It is always heart-warming to start a Rally on a positive note as it sets the momentum of the Rally. Michael continuing his winning streak from Dakar 2019 started off with a smashing performance. Aravind KP had some issues in the stages but was able to finish the stage on a good note. Tanveer is our Enduro champ, he is very comfortable with his bike and is all geared up to bring in some exciting performances. Merzouga is a tough Rally, we have a strong team this year and we hope to finish the Rally on a positive note.”

David Casteu, Team Manager, Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team, said “Merzouga Rally is an important learning ground for us not only because it is part of the Dakar Series but also the sandy terrain here is similar to the ones the riders face at Dakar. There’s a lot of roadbook navigation and riding in windy conditions which makes it interesting. After a solid performance at the Dakar Rally, Michael Metge started the Rally with a bang and has been training hard for a podium finish. Aravind KP brings all his experience to the team and will push himself to stay on top. Tanveer had a great racing season last year and we hope he continues the momentum. Our technical crew is also well prepared for the race with 3 Rally-bikes to be managed and I wish the team all the very best for a great Rally.”

Also Read: TVS Young Media Racer Programme: My Journey From Being A ‘Commoner’ To ‘A Racer’

Commenting on his performance, Michael Metge, Racer, Sherco TVS Rally Factory Team says, “Merzouga is one of the toughest Rallies as a part of the pre-Dakar series.  I am happy with this solid start and will do my best to keep the momentum going.”

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

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

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.

Jason Blundell and his two teenage kids, Shelby and Spencer, spent a snowy Saturday in Chadron, Nebraska, recreating their family's 1967 Ford Mustang GTA, according to the Scottsbluff Star-Herald. The Mustang stayed in the garage, of course, but its snow-replica was parked proudly out on the curb.

The "Snow Pony"  took five hours to build and blew up from there, attracting admirers from across the world thanks to a family friend who added to the display. Nebraska State Patrol Sgt. Mick Downing, who attends the Blundells' church, filmed himself writing a fake tow notice for the obvious snow-car and posted it on the patrol's social media pages.

Downing, of course, never filed the paperwork to submit the notice, as it would have been legally parked if it were a real car. 

   

Downing's video sure fooled a few on social media, though—especially since the Internet loves its Ford Mustang memes. The car itself was realistic enough that Blundell told the Star-Herald that one person thought they were burying a real car as they were making the sculpture. 

To make the car, the family used a skid loader, shovels, ice scrapers, concrete wood floats, and a squirt bottle.  Spencer even measured the real car as they were making it, just to make sure the proportions were correct. 

This isn't the first large snow sculpture the Blundell family has made, as they've also done Easter Bunnies, a jack-o-lantern, and even a huge toilet. the Star-Herald notes. 

"The start of that was to get my kids off their cellphones for a day,” Blundell told the Star-Herald. “Normally, we don’t do much with [the sculptures]. We just take a couple of pictures of them for ourselves. It just happened that our state trooper buddy came up to do a joke and it blew up.”

Engine displacement is everything in the US. The home of the Hemi is also the land where big V8s are shoehorned into just about everything, whether it’s for the school run or the race track. Bigger is supposedly better when it comes to cars, this a heavily enriched ideology ingrained into many aspects of general US society.

However, in the world of Porsche, superior engine size has never formed part of the agenda. While Lamborghini’s first car in 1963 was the 3.5-litre, V12 350GT, for example, Porsche’s original 911 had a measly 2.0-litre flat six. Lamborghini still uses the V12 in its Aventador today, while Audi’s R8 is powered by a 5.0-litre V10, and Ferrari’s V8 and V12 powerplants are considered legendary among the wider car enthusiast population. Despite this the plucky 911 sports car has continued to battle successfully against its bigger-engined rivals on circuit, sticking fiercely to its winning recipe of a robust flat six and an exquisite chassis.

It is this approach which Alex Ross, owner of Californian Porsche tuners SharkWerks, has always found favour with. British born, his extracurricular indulgence in Lotus is therefore forgiveable, but the overachieving 911 has always been the primary source of his motoring aspirations. This, fused with a hint of that ‘bigger is better’ American way, is what has given us the SharkWerks 4.1.

Long-time readers of Total 911 will already know of the prowess of the one-of-four Gulf-inspired Rennsport in our pictures, which we first featured
in early 2015. Acquired in 2011 before being ‘run in’ with a 2,600-mile jaunt across the USA, Alex 
and the SharkWerks team found tuning potential in its 3.8-litre Mezger engine, this becoming the trailblazer for its pioneering 4.1-litre programme. It all started before Porsche had even released its own 997 GT3 RS 4.0 – we told you the States does it bigger and better.

The fruits of more than five years of development includes a partnership with EVOMS to produce a race-spec, lightweight billet 80.44mm crank, CNC machined from billet 4340 high-alloy steel and tested to more than 9,500rpm, as well as a 104.5mm bore piston and cylinder set. The cylinders use steel liners and the pistons are Teflon-coated with anti-wear skirts and titanium wrist pins, saving 20 grams per piston and wrist pin combo against factory. In terms of top end, SharkWerks’ engine has ‘Hammerhead’ Shark-spec headwork along with race-style valve guides for longevity and cam adjuster strengthening, with everything balanced and blueprinted. A custom multi-indexed rotary-style oil pump is used, and the camshafts are SharkWerks/EVOMS spec.

The engine case has been race-prepped with, among other things, improved oiling techniques according to SharkWerks’ own wizardry. This is all partnered to EVOMSit ECU tuning; an RS 4.0-litre clutch pack, though Alex says the original factory set-up does work; a choice of SharkWerks lightweight street or track exhaust, and a host of chassis upgrades including Brembo GT brakes, Bilstein Clubsport double adjustable coilovers, RSS rear adjustable links, bump steer kit, thrust arm bushings and lower control arms, plus some aerodynamic adjustments.

For the full feature on the safari SC, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 174 in stores now, or click here for delivery to your door. You can also download our hi-res digital edition with bonus galleries to an Apple or Android product of your choice. 

The Tesla Model Y is here, and it is everything that we wanted it to be, plus a little bit more. Elon Musk revealed the all-electric SUV before Tesla enthusiasts and guests at the LA Design Center on Thursday, and based on the community’s reaction; the Model Y seemed to have met expectations.

Design

The Model Y is recognizable as a Tesla from first glance. True to a number of teasers that have been released over the past weeks, the Model Y is a larger, somewhat bulkier version of the Model 3. Inside the vehicle, the Model Y is all Model 3, with the dashboard being dominated by the same 15″ touchscreen, which controls the majority of the vehicle’s functions. The Tesla Model Y is an SUV that seats seven passengers comfortably, and it has 66 cu ft of cargo space.

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Performance

The Model Y comes in four variants: the Standard Range, Long Range, Dual Motor AWD, and Performance versions. The Standard Range variant goes from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, the Long Range in 5.5 seconds, the Dual Motor AWD in 4.8 seconds, and the Performance trim in a Model 3-comparable 3.5 seconds. Top speed for the Model Y is 120 mph for the Standard Range, 130 mph for the Long Range, 135 mph for the Dual Motor AWD, and 150 mph for the Performance version.

Range

Being a Tesla, the Model Y is equipped with impressive range. The Standard Range version goes 230 miles on one charge, while the Long Range version goes 300 miles in one charge. Both the Dual Motor AWD and Performance Model Y get 280 miles of range per charge.

Charging

The Model Y is built to be fully compatible with the Supercharger V3 network, which supports charging at 250 kW. This translates to a charging speed of up to 1,000 miles per hour, which should allow owners to do road trips even faster and more conveniently than before. The faster charging speed will also allow Supercharger V3 locations to accommodate more vehicles per hour; a capability that will be beneficial to Model Y owners considering the estimated demand for the all-electric SUV.

Pricing and Availability

The Model Y is expected to enter production sometime in Fall 2020, with the company producing the Long Range, Dual Motor AWD, and Performance versions first. The Standard Range hits production in Spring 2021. The Model Y starts at $39,000 for the base variant and $47,000 for the Long Range version. A Dual Motor AWD version costs $51,000 and a Performance variant will be priced at $60,000.

Interested buyers can reserve a Model Y at for a $2,500 deposit.

The post Tesla unveils the Model Y: 300-mile range, 7 seats, and $39k base price appeared first on TESLARATI.

A little less than three years ago, the Australian Army said it would evaluate an unusual backpack-mounted pole-and-sling combination called the Reaper that could make it easier for machine gunners and snipers to carry their weapons on patrol. Now, The War Zone have obtained trials reports that make it clear the Australians weren’t impressed and found the system to be far more of a burden than a benefit.

In December 2016, the Australian Army officially rejected the Reaper Small Arms Carriage System, or RSACS, and informed the manufacturer, Advanced Accuracy Solutions, of its decision. The Idaho-based company had first demonstrated their piece of kit at an Army Innovation Day showcase in October 2015.

“The Australian Army units involved in the trial of ‘The Reaper’ all indicated that although it may have utility in specific situations, these advantages were outweighed by a number of disadvantages,” an unknown officer wrote in a letter to Advanced Accuracy Solutions. “These disadvantages included compromised camouflage and concealment, integration with night fighting equipment and user safety in airframe and vehicle platforms.”

The War Zone obtained this partially redacted document and other records related to the Reaper trails via Australia’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law.

Australian Army via FOI
A copy of the Australian Army's December 2016 letter to Advanced Accuracy Solutions.

Reaper consists of a two-piece aluminum pole attached to a frame a shooter wears like a backpack. This assembly extends up over the user’s shoulder. A cord extends from the curved end of the pole and attaches to their gun.

The basic idea is that this arrangement offers additional stability to improve accuracy and reduce the physical strain of carrying a rifle or machine-gun around at the ready for hours on end. “Personnel patrolling for long periods of time can become combat ineffective, or at the very least have a diminished response to a threat,” Advanced Accuracy Solutions’ Jason Semple told me in an Email when I initially reported on the Australian Army’s trial in 2016.

He wasn’t wrong. Soldiers in any major military today are increasingly burdened with all sorts of weapons and equipment, especially if they’re conducting extended dismounted patrols. Machine guns and large sniper and anti-materiel rifles, which can weigh more than 20 pounds on their own, only add to the strain on soldiers assigned to carry those types of weapons.

“It’s a funny-looking contraption,” Australian Army warrant officer Nicolas Crosbie, who took part in the trials, said in an official video. “I’m interested to see … when we trial it with the soldiers, what they think of it and that sort of thing.”

The Australian Army trialed the system in combination with three machine guns, its version of the FN Minimi, known as the F89, the 7.62mm FN Maximi, similar to the U.S. Mk 48, and the FN MAG-58. Snipers also tested it together with their KAC Mk 11, Accuracy International SR-98, Blaser Tactical, and Accuracy International AW50 rifles. The evaluations also involved using various Reaper and weapon combinations together with the Bushmaster wheeled armored vehicle, the M113AS4 tracked armored vehicle, and the CH-47 Chinook and MRH-90 helicopters.

The response from soldiers was not positive.

“The Reaper trial sought to prove or disprove the hypothesis that the utilization of the Reaper by a Rifleman will provide greater lethality by reducing the effects of muscle fatigue and weapon instability in a mounted and dismounted role,” the final report concluded. “As a result of the evidence collected over the trial period, the hypothesis has been disproven.”

For one, the Reaper did reduce strain on a soldier’s arms when carrying a weapon. But it also increased fatigue from the awkwardness of firing and moving with the system on their back.

“The soldier’s breathing motion was exaggerated by the RSACS,” one report says. “This forced the soldier to tense his entire torso in order to effectively release each burst, thus significantly increasing the soldier’s overall fatigue.”

The change in high-mounted weight distribution also made it harder for troops to run and the pole made it impossible to get into a prone firing position. Advanced Accuracy Solutions has said that the Reaper can work when the shooter is prone, but the Australians vehemently disagreed in their trials. Troops also just found it difficult to put it on at all, usually requiring the aid of a second person.

Australian DOD
An Australian Army soldier fires an F89 machine gun, something the the service said was not possible to do with the Reaper.

These factors also contributed to a lack of any meaningful improvements in shooter accuracy. When troops firing their weapons unsupported while kneeling, they were able to achieve better effects without the Reaper at four of the six tested distances. The Australian Army said that the RSACS performed better during standing unsupported fire drills, but the improvements were still negligible.

Some of these results can certainly be blamed on a lack of experience with the Reaper and further practice using the system may have led to better performance. However, this would have meant the Australian Army might have been looking at increased training requirements had it adopted the system for widespread use.

In addition, ignoring the issues of accuracy and fatigue, the Reaper presented other serious problems. The pole made it difficult for soldiers to stay concealed on the open battlefield, maneuver through more constrained environments, such as buildings, and get in and out of aircraft and vehicles. The Australian Army determined that the system presented such a serious safety risk for personnel in helicopters, especially if they had to ditch over water, that it would preclude any soldier from wearing it during airmobile operations.  

Australian Army via FOI
A table describing the various issues Australian troops uncovered in their trial of the Reaper.

In an apparent attempt to be charitable, the Australian Army noted that the system could help soldiers stabilize heavy guns while standing in turrets on vehicles such as the Bushmaster wheeled armored vehicle. However, the report pointed out that these vehicles already had fixed mounts in those positions specifically for this purpose. In addition, Australia's Bushmasters feature a remote weapons station that reduces the need for individuals inside to expose themselves to enemy fire at all during a firefight.

Advanced Accuracy Solutions says that the system can be folded away when users are riding in vehicles, something that is not mentioned in the Australian reports. However, this would mean that troops would have had to go through the motions of extending and collapsing the Reaper every time they mounted or dismounted a vehicle, which could have made the process more cumbersome, especially under fire.

Australian DOD
An Australian Bushmaster armored wheeled vehicle with a remote weapons station. A fixed weapon mount is visible at the back where an individual could use it to support their weapon when standing in the right rear hatch.

Not surprisingly, the pole and cord also had a habit of getting caught on both foliage and other objects, as well as the user’s other gear. The system notably interfered with troops using helmets with night vision googles attached to them. It also made it difficult for machine guns with the F89 machine gun to open the top cover to reload or clear jams.

“The live fire trials identified that the Reaper, overall, created a decrease in accuracy and transferred muscle fatigue to the remainder of the torso,” the Australian Army concluded. “The Reaper is not suitable for dismounted operations. The Reaper for utilization in all mounted in all mobility platforms trialed.”

These potential issues had been obvious well before the Reaper trials began. But it’s not necessarily surprising that the Australians were still willing to consider the system.

Large armed forces, including the United States, have expended considerable time and resources to try and reduce the weight of things troops need to carry and mitigate the fatigue they experience lugging their individual loads around. This has included programs to develop everything from lightweight ammunition to powered exoskeletons.

Ammunition-filled backpacks, more commonly associated with action movies such as Predator, have been another option. “Third arm” systems such the Reaper, another Hollywood staple, most notably the M-56 Smart Gun in Aliens – a prop made from a Steadicam video camera stabilization system and an MG-42 machine gun – have offered the potential for a less risky and lower cost interim solution.

Aliens

The U.S. Army is in the process of testing its own “third arm,” which clearly tries to mitigate many of the problems with the Reaper by placing the support under the shooter’s arm, rather than over the shoulder. It still remains to be seen whether the added bulk of this system offers more benefits than hindrances.

U.S. Special Operations Command recently put their “Iron Man” exoskeleton program, officially known as the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS), on ice, admitting that the initial prototypes had not met expectations. But SOCOM does intend to continue developing certain specific portions of the overall system that do show promise, including “a small arms stabilization system,” according to Task and Purpose.

So, while the Australian experience with the Reaper might have been poor, there’s still a possibility that troops in major militaries around the world might end up some similarly unusual contraption strapped to their backs in the future.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

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The popular chrome delete treatment has finally made its way as a standard offering in Tesla Model Y.

When the electric carmaker unveiled its new 7-seater compact SUV to the world, Teslarati quickly took notice of Tesla Model Y lacking the same chrome accent trim as standardized across the Model S, Model X and Model 3 fleet. Unlike Model 3 which the vehicle is derived from, Model Y’s door handles, side mirrors, blinkers, pillar trim, and various accents that are ordinarily in chrome are finished in matte black.

Tesla Model Y without chrome trim

Photo: Teslarati

Tesla’s Model Y online configurator confirms the company’s direction to remove all chrome accent pieces from the exterior of the vehicle and have “chrome delete” as a standard offering. At least for now.

While it remains to be seen how this aesthetic change will be received by the greater Tesla community, signs of this cosmetic update first appeared when Tesla’s Chief Designer was spotted with a chrome-deletion treatment on his personal Model 3.

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Having a Tesla void of any chrome is a common look that’s sought after by the aftermarket community, with owners forking out upwards of $1,000 to cover these pieces with black vinyl.

By making this a standard look on the Model Y, Tesla could be gauging the market for a reaction (and demand) before determining if this will be offered as a future upgrade. In other words, if there’s a negative reaction to this standard “chrome delete” offering, Tesla could simply bring back the chrome trim and offer the matte black trim as an additional upgrade. Conversely, the same could be said if there’s a positive reaction to it. With many people warming to the new look, Tesla could offer this as an upgrade package for existing Model 3, Model S and Model X.

A positive reaction will also help guide the team on setting design cues for future vehicles and vehicle updates such as the rumored Model S and Model X refresh.

Here are some before and after photos showing a Model 3 with standard chrome trim and without. What do you prefer? Let us know in the comments!

Tesla Model 3 with standard chrome accents

Tesla Model 3 with a “chrome delete” treatment

Tesla Chief Designer Franz von Holzhausen’s Model 3

Credit: Marc Benton

The post Tesla Model Y gets “chrome delete” treatment as a standard offering appeared first on TESLARATI.

The United States Marshals will auction off more than two dozen vehicles belonging to Kong "Steve" Meng Vang, the perpetrator who pled guilty to Tulsa, Oklahoma’s largest-ever cannabis bust last August.

According to local news, Vang was convicted of smuggling 1,500 pounds of California quality pot into Oklahoma for resale. Vang was also charged with money laundering, which he was accused of funneling through his tuner shop, Vang’s Dyno Performance. As a result, he would forfeit seven residential properties, his business, and 28 vehicles.

U.S. Marshals have put Vang's forfeited car collection up for auction, which includes quite a few rarities that you could be interested in like a plethora of imports that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

The collection includes both a modern-day Nissan GT-R, as well as its older brother, the coveted R34 GT-R. A Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III and Evo VI Tommi Makinen GSR are included in the lot, as well as two MK4 Toyota Supras, a Toyota Soarer GT-T, a twin-turbo FD RX-7, and other various cars which will tickle a tuner's fancy.

Here's the complete list of Vang's forfeited cars:

  • 1972 Datsun 240Z Pro Street
  • 1990 Nissan Cefiro Turbo
  • 1991 Acura NSX
  • 1991 Toyota Supra
  • 1993 Toyota Supra Pro Street
  • 1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
  • 1996 Honda Integra Type R
  • 1996 Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo
  • 1996 Toyota Supra
  • 1997 Lexus SC300
  • 1997 Lexus SC400
  • 1997 Toyota Soarer GT-T
  • 1998 Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo
  • 1998 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Type R
  • 1998 Toyota Celica GT-Four
  • 1999 Kensworth T600
  • 1999 Nissan Skyline GT-R
  • 2000 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
  • 2000 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI Tommi Makinen GSR
  • 2000 Toyota Chaser Tourer V
  • 2002 Ford F-250
  • 2004 Cadillac Escalade EXT
  • 2007 Toyota Tundra SR5
  • 2009 Nissan GT-R
  • 2009 Toyota Venza
  • 2012 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2015 Nissan Sentra
  • 2017 Ford F-150

The auction will run from March 18 until April 1 and is available to bid online only. So whether you're looking for the car of your dreams, a daily driver, or even a dump truck, there's probably something in this lot you'll like.

H/T: Jalopnik

Newly available data shows that less than 15 percent of the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters and around just two percent of the U.S. Navy's F-35Cs were fully mission capable at any given time, on average, for more than two years at least. The details come as the readiness rates for aviation fleets across both services have plummeted in recent years. It is also a clear indication that they will have a difficult time meeting the target of 80 percent mission capability rates for both aircraft by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year that former Secretary of Defense James Mattis had mandated last year.

The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) first revealed the chronically abysmal mission capable rates for the F-35B and C models on Mar. 19, 2019, after obtaining official Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) data spanning from October 2016 to December 2018. The Navy only declared initial operational capability (IOC) with the F-35C, meant to reflect the service's establishment of its first operational unit, at the end of February 2019. However, the Marines had announced they had reached IOC with the F-35B back in July 2015. F-35Bs from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron Two One One (VMFA-211) also recently wrapped up a deployment to the Horn of Africa and the Middle East that involved the first ever combat missions by American F-35s, with the planes eventually striking targets in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria.

"In response to POGO’s questions about the Navy’s fully mission capable rates, the Joint Program Office highlighted the entire F-35 fleet’s higher “mission capable” rate," Dan Grazier, the Jack Shanahan Military Fellow at the Center for Defense Information at POGO, wrote in a detailed status update on the F-35 program as a whole on the organization's website. This is "a less rigorous – and less useful – measure showing how often the aircraft can perform at least one of its assigned tasks. The office also identified the lack of spare parts as the biggest factor impacting availability."

The data that POGO obtained on full mission capable F-35Bs and Cs, also commonly known as "Code One" aircraft, is truly striking. The average number of fully mission capable Marine F-35Bs, aircraft with all of their systems functional and capable of meeting all mission requirements, never rose above 25 percent in more than two years. In October 2017, it dipped to 12.9 percent and by the end of 2018 it was hovering somewhere around 12 to 13 percent. 

NAVAIR via POGO

NAVAIR via POGO

As of June 2018, Lockheed Martin had delivered 75 F-35Bs to all customers, the vast majority of which went to the Marines. Even if the service had received all of these planes, it would have had less than dozen jets fully mission ready in December 2018, more than three years after officially declaring the type operational.

The figures for the F-35C are far worse. For more than two years, the Navy has been unable to even get the full mission capable rate about 20 percent. As of December 2017, not a single one of the service's jets met that standard at any given time. A year later, the rate was still in the single digits. With just 28 C models in total, this would have meant just around one of the stealthy aircraft was ever fully ready to go, on average, for at least 12 months.

There's absolutely no reason to doubt the accuracy or authenticity of this data. In 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that noted that the F-35B full mission capable rate was under 15 percent.

GAO

Though NAVAIR might prefer to refer to the mission capable rate, which is really a partially mission capable rate, it's not actually much better, either. The F-35B mission capable rate has generally been between 40 and 50 percent. With the exception of an unexplained spike to 70 percent mission capable in August 2018, the F-35C fleet's readiness has been steadily trending downward to below 50 percent.

It's certainly fair for NAVAIR to blame a part of this dismal performance on parts shortages and other chronic sustainment issues. The Pentagon's central F-35 Joint Program Office, together with the plane's manufacturer Lockheed Martin, have been struggling to get these problems, and their associated costs, under control for years now. The unit costs for all three F-35 variants have been coming down, but at the same time, operation and maintenance costs have steadily grown

On top of that, the F-35's cloud-based computer brain, known as the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS), pronounced like the name "Alice," has failed to perform. In principle, this system is supposed to streamline mission planning and maintenance procedures, help diagnose and predict faults, and serve a host of other critical mission functions that you can read about in more detail here. In practice, ALIS has contributed to dramatic declines in mission capable rates for various reasons, including by declaring parts broken when they're not and showing aircraft as not mission capable when they actually are.

USAF
A US Air Force maintainer uses a laptop to communicate with ALIS on an F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

"The timeline for correcting ALIS deficiencies is typically excessive, causing workarounds to remain in place for extended periods," the Pentagon's Office of the Direction of Operational Test and Evaluation, or DOT&E, noted in its annual report on the F-35 program's performance for the 2018 Fiscal Year. "For example, ALIS incorrectly reports the status of aircraft as NMC [Not Mission Capable] in the Squadron Health Management application based on HRCs [Health Reporting Codes] (faults). Meanwhile, a separate application – Customer Maintenance Management System, which relies on the Mission Essential Function List (MEFL) – reports the same aircraft as mission capable."

It's also important to note that the U.S. military exacerbated these issues itself through a concept known as concurrency, which involved increasing F-35 production and purchasing dozens of jets with plans to make upgrades and updates on a rolling basis as time went on. Originally billed as a cost-saving measure, this has left the Navy and Marines with dozens of jets in various configurations that do not all have the same capabilities and routinely have to go back to the depot for reworks. Aircraft with older mission systems software, in particular, have become increasingly difficult to maintain and add to the errors in ALIS. It may never be cost-effective to bring these F-35s up to the latest standards.

GAO
A basic overview of the different mission system software blocks as of February 2018. There have been numerous revisions in each case, as well, meaning that there have actually been dozens of different configurations.

These issues are hardly limited to the F-35B and C models, either. The U.S. Air Force has been experiencing them as well with regards to its F-35A fleet, which had a full mission capable rate of just more than 32 percent as of mid-2017, according to the GAO. This service has also been choosing to use the less comprehensive mission capable rate instead in much of its public reporting, which inflated the readiness figure for that year to closer to 55 percent. 

All three services had been referring to a separate Mission Effectiveness figure, as well, which indicates the percentage of time an F-35 could perform its assigned mission. There's no information on whether or not the actual readiness rates, whether full mission capable or partial mission capable, impacted the decision to assign a mission in the first place, though.

GAO
A chart showing various readiness data on Air Force F-35As and Marine Corps F-35Bs during 2016 and 2017.

Earlier in March 2019, Defense News revealed that ALIS has been so unreliable that the U.S. Air Force's instructor and student pilots at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and Luke Air Force Base in Arizona quietly stopped using it altogether in early 2018. The month before, that service had announced it had begun an initiative dubbed Mad Hatter, to completely revamp the system.

“The goal [of Mad Hatter] is not simply to fix ALIS within the constraints that define it," Will Roper, the Air Force’s top acquisition official, told Defense News, in February 2018. "It is to make the operator – the maintainer – more efficient, to make their user experience more pleasant.”

USN
F-35Cs in the hangar bay of a supercarrier. 

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson was blunt about the system in remarks at the Air Force Association's Air Warfare Symposium that same month. "I can guarantee that no Air Force maintainer will ever name their daughter Alice," she quipped.

But it's hard to see sustainment costs, parts shortages, ALIS, and even concurrency, being the only factors to blame. For the F-35C fleet especially, a relatively small force tasked with testing and training duties for the entire reporting period that the data POGO obtained covers, it seems difficult to understand how readiness could slip so low. There would have been a particular incentive to ensure the fleet was performing as well as possible in the lead up to the IOC declaration. 

USNC
F-35B in vertical landing mode. 

Whatever the exact causes, and while the F-35B and C mission capable rates are especially awful, they also reflect broader and more serious trends across Navy and Marine aviation communities. At the beginning of 2018, the Navy's overall full mission capable rate goal across the entire Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE), which includes Marine aircraft and helicopters, was just 56 percent. Even then, at that time, the actual "enterprise-wide" rate was closer to 30 percent. The desired overall mission capable rate, which the services were also failing to meet, was 73 percent. 

Both figures had been largely trending downward every year since 1998. A change in how NAVAIR determined support postures briefly led to the average full mission capable rate for any Navy or Marine aircraft or helicopter dropping to just 15 percent. In 2010, the Navy and Marines began also using a Ready Basic Aircraft category, or RBA, something one official presentation even refers to as a "lowered bar," to refer to planes and helicopters that were available in any way, to further help present a more positive picture of their readiness.

USN
A chart showing mission capable and full mission capable rates across the entire Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) from August 1998 to August 2017.

A host of factors since the end of the Cold War are responsible for this overall decline. The Budget Control Act of 2011, which triggered automatic defense spending cuts in 2013, known as sequestration, only exacerbated the issue, forcing the services to make hard choices about what to scale back to meet the budgetary constraints. Poor decision making throughout the U.S. military compounded the problems as various services, with new procurement repeatedly taking precedence over training, maintenance, logistics, and overall readiness. 

In recent years, the impacts have risen to crisis levels amid a spate of often fatal accidents. It's also what prompted then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis to demand in a memo he circulated in September 2018 that the Navy, Marines, and Air Force all ensure that certain "critical aviation platforms," including all three models of the F-35, had mission capable rates at or above 80 percent by the end of the 2019 Fiscal Year.

It will take a nearly miracle-like improvement in performance for any of the F-35 fleets to meet this target by the Sept. 30, 2019 deadline, even using the less robust mission capable rate rather than the full mission capable rate. Ongoing sustainment problems and troubles with ALIS raise the possibility that it might actually get worse.

Lockheed Martin
From left to right, the F-35C, F-35B, and F-35A.

None of this addresses the overall costs involved with flying and maintaining the F-35, either. The operational and logistical demands of the stealthy Joint Strike Fighters are significant greater than previous fourth generation aircraft in general, which has long raised concerns about the potential difficulties in operating large fleets of the stealth fighters in the future. These fears have been particularly pronounced with regards to the Marine Corps, which is transitioning to a force where the F-35B will eventually be its only jet combat aircraft. The data POGO obtained, coupled with the information from other available sources, would seem to bear this out, at least for the foreseeable future.

It also only lends more weight to plans the Navy, and now the Air Force, are pursuing to operate a mix of fifth and advanced fourth generation aircraft going forward. To this end, the Navy has been continuing to purchase increasingly more capable sub-variants of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to serve alongside its F-35Cs. At the suggestion of Pentagon cost analysts, the Air Force is now looking to buy improved F-15X Advanced Eagle jets to supplement its F-35As.

USN
F-35Cs over NAS Lemoore in California. 

It also puts into question the viability of the F-35 fleets in their present state to adequately perform during a protracted conflict. If the Marines need seven jets just to ensure that one is full mission capable, it only drives up the total number of aircraft the service would need to deploy and sustain to generate the required sorties during any sort of high-end, high-tempo operation. On top of that, the F-35 is all about "fusing" its deeply integrated systems capabilities together for a synergistic effect. When the aircraft only has some of its systems operational at any given time, the advantage of this deep integration degrades steeply. 

If nothing else, the dismal full mission capable rates for the F-35B and C call into question the actual combat utility of either aircraft broadly, despite the former's recent operational outing and the latter's recent IOC milestone. The new data only adds to the long-standing
questions about the exact capabilities of all three Joint Strike Fighter variants as they stand now.

But it hardly matters what their capabilities are on paper if just a tiny fraction of them are actually fully mission capable at any given time.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

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It looks much the same, but there are significant changes. Not least, Porsche has future-proofed the 992 model for hybridisation, using a re-engineered eight-speed PDK transmission from the Panamera that’s got a space in it for an electric motor. It won’t be called into action just yet though, says 911 boss August Achleitner, because he’s not convinced the battery tech is good enough for now, but don’t rule it out for the Gen2 model.

That hybrid preparation also means there’s some space in the body for battery packs, though like the gap in the gearbox they’ll remain unused at the 992’s launch. All Carreras will now be widebodied, with the Carrera S we’ve been in the same width as the GTS. The front axle gains 40mm, while there’s new technology like Lane Keeping Assist, Lane Departure Warning and the option of Night Vision. A march to autonomy? Achleitner says no, saying the 911 will be one of the last cars to do so, adding that at its core it’s a driver’s car.

All the new equipment inevitably adds weight, though the use of aluminium in the body helps mitigate that, Porsche’s engineers targeting a weight the same as the outgoing 991 for the new 992 model. There’s a new standard driving mode, the 992 detecting wet roads and priming the stability with tweaks to the gearbox and the rear wing’s angle of attack. Achleitner says that’s the result of the 911 being a relatively light car on wide tyres – with staggered wheel sizes of 20 and 21 inch, wearing 245/30 ZR20 and 305/30 ZR21 tyres respectively.

The engine remains the same turbocharged 3.0-litre flat-six, with a number of significant revisions. There’s piezo injection, an entirely new intake and exhaust system, re-positioned intercoolers (on top of the engine, 993 Turbo style), while EU cars have an exhaust particulate filter, too. The output is up, 450hp in the Carrera S – the Carrera anticipated to have 385hp or so. In the S, Porsche’s engineers are saying it’ll match the performance of the 997 Turbo, so a sub-4.0 sec 0-62mph time, and a 190+mph top speed.

The slightly slower Carrera will follow the S’s intro, it adding the seven-speed manual to the line-up, while the inevitable Turbo, Turbo S, GT3, and GT3 RS models following, too. Word is the Turbo is punching out 650+hp.

We’ve ridden alongside Achleitner and his team of engineers as the 992 is signed off prior to its November reveal in LA. Be sure to read the full inside story of the new, future-proofed 911 in Total 911 issue 172, out October 31st.

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If having a clean vehicle inside and out is a priority, invest in a car duster. A buildup of dust or pollen is not only unsightly, but it can also affect your vehicle's performance by getting into the air vents. The ultimate car duster will make car cleaning simple and keep your car nice and tidy. Check out our car duster review for the best car duster on the market.

Best Car Duster Overall: Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive
Best Value Car Duster: AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster
Best Car Duster Honorable Mention:
California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster with Wooden Handle

Why Buy Car Dusters?

  • Eliminate interior dust. A quick and simple way to keep your car free of dust is by using a car duster. Simply swipe it across the dashboard and other areas to remove the particles.
  • Clean more than with a simple cloth. When you use a piece of cloth for dust, it usually moves it to another area of the car. A duster picks up the debris and removes it completely.
  • Keep your interior from fading. You need to get the places a normal car wash can't. If you use an ordinary duster or brush, the surface area may fade in time. A regular duster can also scratch the dashboard, center console, and other interior spots.
  • Avoid a lot of vacuuming. If you use a car dust remover on a regular basis, it eliminates the need to vacuum all the time. The duster will remove particles that otherwise could end up on the floor and seats.
  • Avoid messes. While soap and water can effectively clean your vehicle inside and out, it can be messy. Avoid drips, splatters, and spills by using dash dusters instead.
  • Get to hard-to-reach spots. While a vacuum is effective for the seats and carpet, they're tough for cleaning areas such as cup holders, air vents, door pockets, and other small spaces in the vehicle.

Outside of car being cleaned by hand with blue duster

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Types of Car Dusters

Microfiber

Microfiber dusters use a synthetic material that contains an electrostatic charge. This enables them to attract and catch dust, pollen, lint, and other tiny particles. Microfiber car dusters are soft and unlikely to mark up a surface area. Soft microfiber dusters with tendrils are particularly effective because they can trap more particles than a flat cloth. They are also more easy to move into small corners of the vehicle.

Cotton

Some dusters are made of waxed cotton, including the California car cleaner. There is little difference between a California car duster vs. microfiber. They generally resemble microfiber fingers, but they are made of a slightly different material. They both remove dust and debris from a surface area by trapping it. Waxed cotton dusters cannot be washed. 

Lambswool

The priciest dusters on the market tend to be made of lambswool. Historically, many people used this type of material to remove dust; however, it is generally not as effective as more modern fabrics such as microfiber and cotton. Lambswool has an inherent magnetic charge. Lambswool dusters may not work as well in tiny spaces as their counterparts. 

Compressed Air

Compressed air dusters are intended for areas of your home, office, or car that are very hard to reach using a traditional duster. They are useful for electronic devices, such as keyboards, and other tech items. In a car, they are handy for cleaning the areas around knobs and buttons. They are useful but aren’t an equal replacement for a microfiber or cotton duster. 

Woman hand polishing her black car

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Top Brands of Car Dusters

The Original California Car Duster

The Original California Car Duster is headquartered in Chatsworth, California, and was founded in 1989 by Jim and Loraine DeFrank. The company is still family-owned and operated. Its products are sold online and by specialty retailers/auto parts stores around the world. One top product is the Original California Car Duster created out of durable cotton fibers.

Carrand Companies

Headquartered in Carson, California, Carrand Companies was founded in 1982. It produces over 200 different cleaning tools for cars and at home. One of its top products is the 93007 Pacific Coast Car Duster.

SENHAI Technology Co., Ltd.

Senhai was founded in 2012, and its major parts factory is located in China. The company focuses on electronic products research, manufacturing, and marketing. One of its popular products is the Mini Duster for Car Air Vent.

Car Duster Pricing

  • Less than $10: Car dusters that are this inexpensive tend to be lower quality and less effective than pricier products. However, some are sufficient and intended for specific areas such as air vents.
  • $10-$20: It is possible to find a decent-quality duster in this price range. They typically do the job well.
  • $20 and up: Many good-quality car dusters cost anywhere between $20 and $30. They are usually very effective at removing dust and pollen from a vehicle's interior and exterior surfaces.

Key Features

Telescopic, Extendable Handle

If you have a large truck/SUV or have trouble bending/moving due to a physical ailment, you may want a duster with a telescoping handle. It will allow you to reach several areas of the vehicle much more easily. Telescopic handles are also effective on tall cars with high roofs. Plastic and metal are common materials instead of a more traditional wooden handle.

Removable or Disposable Head

A few dusters come with a detachable or removable dusting head. This allows you to clean or replace the mop head once it wears out from use. This type of duster is typically used for the home rather than for a vehicle.  

Other Considerations

  • Performance: Ideally, a car dusting mop will remove the dust with one swipe over a particular surface area. You don't want a product that simply moves the dust from one spot to another or just releases it into the air. The best car duster will trap the dust until it is shaken off or washed.
  • Durability: A car dust remover should be made of materials that ensure its longevity. In addition, it should be manufactured in a way that prevents it from falling apart. If you purchase a duster that isn’t made well, it's more likely to fail, requiring you to purchase an additional duster.
  • Versatility: The best car duster brush can also be used for other purposes. If you like keeping your home dust free, for example, a good car duster can help. The best car interior duster can also clean kitchen counters, dining room tables, coffee tables, dressers, and other areas in your house that are prone to collecting dust.
  • Size: Car dusters come in a variety of sizes, from small to extra large. Tinier dusters are useful for detailing a vehicle's interior. Larger dusters are more suited for removing particles from the exterior surface area. Make sure to look at the dimensions of the duster before ordering it online.
  • Shape: Dusters come in a variety of shapes, from long and narrow to round, square, or cylindrical. Long, narrow dusters enable you to access hard-to-reach spots. On the other hand, it may take you longer to clean an area of your car's interior using a square or rounded duster.

Best Car Dusters: Reviews & Recommendations 2019

Best Car Duster Overall: Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive

Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive

Amazon

The Ultimate Car Duster has a 16-inch-by-6-inch, 360-degree electrostatic microfiber dusting surface that clings to dirt and dust. It's one of the larger dusting products on the market and includes a plastic case for storage. The company has a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee, and you can return it if you're unhappy with the product.

The duster removes particles without leaving lint behind. It does not leave streaks like some competitor products do or scratch the surface or leave behind a waxy residue. The high-quality, padded handle makes it more comfortable to use, and the extendable, telescoping handle is strong. It works well on black vehicles, which often show every speck of dust.

The duster has been known to unravel or fall apart after a couple of months of use. Its performance cleaning small debris also leaves something to be desired since it just pushes dust around as opposed to removing it. 

Best Value Car Duster: AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster

AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster

Amazon

The AutoSpa Duster is about 12 inches long, including the handle. The microfiber part is about 6 inches long by 3 inches wide, making it ideal for small areas such as cup holders and the side pockets of doors. It features long chenille microfiber fabric and a molded handle for a comfortable grip.

The product is very soft, and the microfiber sleeve comes off for easy cleaning. Its size makes it easy to store in the glove box or door pocket, and it's useful for those hard-to-reach places in your vehicle. It's also lightweight. The AutoSpa Duster picks up and traps every speck of dust, sand, and dirt from your vehicle's interior and exterior.

The duster is smaller than some competitors’ products. There have been complaints that it leaves lint on the surface areas and moves dust around, and its shape may prohibit you from cleaning the area between the windshield and dashboard. 

Best Car Duster Honorable Mention: California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster with Wooden Handle

California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster

Amazon

When used on the exterior, this duster does not smear, streak, or damage the paint. It removes dust as opposed to moving it around and works better the more you use it. It easily wipes away dust and pollen from black vehicles and on wind-borne dust or rain-splatter dust. It's perfect for a quick dusting between washes.

The nontoxic California Car Duster won't scratch your vehicle's finish. Spray waxes and other cleaning fluids are not required. The duster weighs about 1.5 pounds and is 25 inches by 7 inches by 3 inches wide. A storage bag is also included.

The duster requires a break-in period. It may leave a wax film or tiny red fibers on your vehicle if you don't follow the instructions about using it for the first time. If you're cleaning your entire car inside and out, your hand may ache because the wooden handle isn't very comfortable.

Tips & Advice for Car Dusters

  • A cheap car duster of inferior quality could actually damage your vehicle when used either in the interior or on the exterior paintwork. Consider spending a little more for a better product.
  • If a car duster is made of second-rate materials, it may not effectively do the job. Avoid paying extra for a second car duster by purchasing a well-made one in the first place.
  • Use gentle sweeping movements on glass surfaces in order to avoid scratching or damaging the area. In addition, make sure the glass is dry before using the duster to avoid streaks.
  • If you use the duster on the mirrors in your vehicle, make sure they are properly adjusted after you are done dusting. They may move while you are cleaning them.
  • Before each use, twist and shake the duster so any lint, particles, or excess pieces of fabric are released. Then you can expect a smoother, dust-free experience.
  • Cotton wax dusters often require some prep before using them for the first time. Consider sitting it on cardboard or on newspaper to absorb the excess paraffin wax before dusting your vehicle.

FAQs

Q: Can I use a car duster on glass?

A: A car duster that is made of a soft material can be used on glass surfaces, such as the windshield, rearview mirrors, or side mirrors.

Q: Do I need to use a cleaning solution with the duster?

A: Most car dusters do not require cleaning solutions or detergent to work effectively. Using a cleaning solution may actually scratch or damage the surface area.

Q: How do I clean a car duster?

A: Some car dusters, including those made of microfiber or waxed cotton, can be cleaned by simply shaking them outside the vehicle or into a garbage can. Others can be cleaned in a washing machine. Some have heads that you can remove and replace with new ones.

Q: How do I avoid streaks?

A: Moisture trapped in the car duster or on the surface area you are cleaning may result in streaks. Both the duster and the surface must be completely dry before you attempt to clean the area.

Q: Will a car duster pick up dog hair?

A: Most car dusters are not equipped to pick up dog hair due to how they’re made. It's better to use a handheld vacuum, dryer sheets, or use a rubber glove on the surface area to remove dog hair.

Final Thoughts

Our top pick for the best car duster is the Ultimate Car Duster by Relentless Drive. It is soft, well-built, and picks up dirt, dust, and pollen in one swipe. It also features a telescoping handle.

If you're looking for something a little less pricey, consider the AutoSpa 97372AS Interior Car Detail Duster.

Nobody likes a killjoy, especially an automotive one. If you were a Porsche 911 driver in the mid-1970s, it must have felt as if everyone was wanting to take all of your toys away and spoil all of your fun. A combination of a global fuel crisis, soaring pump prices for petrol and oil embargoes all combined with a sudden attack of conscience as the world woke up to environmental damage and vehicle accident safety. This ended up having a significant impact on the Porsche 911 that everyone loved.

Gone were the beautiful chromed bumpers, replaced with what many saw as ugly ‘Federal spec’ Impact Bumpers. Even the traditional Porsche whaletail wasn’t spared, the German TÜV authorities deciding that the trailing edge was potentially dangerous, leading Porsche to introduce the soft-rubber edging that we know so well today.

In Europe, drivers were spared many of the engine modifications needed for Porsche to continue to sell the 911 in the US. We remained safely enjoying our mechanical fuel injection throttle response and looked smugly across the Atlantic at the Americans and their California law makers, their poor 911 seemingly shackled.

History has not been kind to the US-spec Carrera 2.7. If online forums and hearsay were to be believed, a California-specification Carrera 2.7 would probably have the uphill performance of a Citroën 2CV. Everywhere you could possibly look gives reinforcement of the jaundiced view that the 2.7 Carrera with CIS is to be avoided. Nothing to see here… head over to Europe and seek out a 2.7 MFI.

However, for one man, the chance to own a US-specification 911 proved to be irresistible. “When a friend told me about a 2.7 US Carrera he’d seen for sale, I wasn’t inspired. Like everyone else it was some way down my list of Porsche I’d like to own. However, my friend then said, ‘It’s a non-sunroof Coupe’,” Robin Titterington says.

“That got me interested. After all, I could always swap out the engine, hot rod it, remove the emissions gear. So I bought it with the expectation to change it, tune it, improve it.” “But as I began to put some miles on the car, the entire validity of their tainted reputation came into question. This was a stock engine and I was having fun. Something doesn’t add up here! I’ve driven 1973 Carrera RSs, nearly every year of early 911 T, E, and S models and have owned a hot rod 2.5-litre 1971 911 for years – I’m not easily swayed.”

Robin was actually enjoying driving the US 2.7 just as it was. The performance was certainly different, but a long way from being unacceptable. And compared with other 911s he had owned, it was actually quite comparable. Why should this stock US-spec 2.7 Carrera with all of its alleged shackles and compromises be such fun to drive? Robin tried to
find out more.

“I began doing some quick research, but rather than answer my questions it seemed to turn up lots of conflicting performance data and information. Reviews of the 1974 US Carrera from ‘back in the day’ were overwhelmingly positive, although the performance numbers were all over the map. More recent information and opinion seems predominantly negative. I soon had magazines and books scattered all over my desktop and had to start writing things down to keep it all straight.”

So it appears that all is not as it would seem with the 1974 US 2.7. Robin’s investigations actually posed more questions than answers. “It seems that there were so many different ways to record performance stats in the 1970s. Plus, many automotive magazines didn’t test with the same desire for accuracy that they do today.” Swapping between power outputs measured at the flywheel and then also at the wheels seems to throw many figures hopelessly out of context. Robin’s study of the period data proves to
be very interesting.

He continues, “For instance, Car & Driver’s February 1972 test of the new 2.4-litre Porsche used SAE gross horsepower numbers, giving the 911 S 210bhp, but in its 1974 test of the Carrera they switched to the opposite extreme with SAE net horsepower, giving it only 167hp! No wonder many have come to believe these cars are underpowered. In SAE gross units, the 1974 Carrera US has 195bhp.”

For the full feature, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 169 in shops now or get it delivered straight to your door. You can also download in digital form with high-resolution photography to any Apple or Android device. 

Rivian’s new teaser for its all-electric R1T pickup truck focuses on the upcoming luxury adventure vehicle’s aerodynamics, which resulted from countless hours dedicated by the company’s aerodynamicists, designers, engineers, and sculptors. The result of all these efforts is a truck that is tough, sleek, and capable of going 400-miles between charges.

The short video provides what could be described as a behind-the-scenes look at some of the work that went behind the creation and design of the R1T pickup. Much care was taken by the company to ensure that the vehicle’s aerodynamics optimizes range, which is incredibly important for an electric truck like the R1T, which is designed for both utility and luxury.

Rivian impressed the electric car industry by unveiling two nearly production-ready vehicles late 2018 following numerous years of operating in stealth mode. Together with the R1T pickup truck was the R1S SUV, a seven-seater utility vehicle that is also designed to be as comfortable off the beaten path as it is on paved roads. Both the R1S and the R1T are equipped with four electric motors that allow the vehicles to accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3 seconds. Both vehicles also boast up to 400 miles of range.

(Credit: Rivian)

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While the R1T and the R1S are already impressive when they were unveiled, recent patents from Rivian suggest that the company is still working consistently to improve the vehicles. Patent applications from the company show that Rivian is working on an auxiliary battery pack that can push the range of its vehicles beyond 400 miles between charges, as well as swappable components that could optimize the R1T pickup truck for specific tasks.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe noted in a previous interview that the R1T is aimed towards buyers that spend “$70,000 or $80,000 on a GMC Denali or a Chevy Suburban or a Land Rover Discovery or a fully loaded Ford F150.” With this goal in mind, the CEO stated that the company would come up with a version of its 180 kWh, 400-mile range truck that is priced below $90,000.

Rivian recently sent out exclusive invitations for its reservation holders for a private viewing of its vehicles this April before the NY Auto Show. Similar to the R1T’s unveiling last year, the upcoming event is expected to be posh, with reservation holders being served cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while enjoying a meet-and-greet with the company’s CEO and several individuals involved in the creation of the R1T and R1S.

Watch Rivian’s latest teaser for the R1T in the video below.

The post Rivian R1T pickup truck’s aerodynamics in focus in latest teaser video appeared first on TESLARATI.

By 1984, as the latest 3.2 was appearing in the showrooms, the 911 was already a phenomenon: it had far exceeded the impressive 15-year life of the 356 and, thanks to the passion and insight of then-CEO Peter Schutz, showed no signs of flagging. No other mass-production car conceived in the 1960s survived into a third decade. In 1982 Ford had built the last Cortina, but that car had been rebodied no fewer than four times; only the primitive Land Rover could offer the visual continuity of the 911.

The Porsche remained both profitable and near the top of the performance league. In 1984 231bhp was respectable, and on the quieter roads of those times a driver could deploy such horsepower regularly in a way quite impossible for today’s 500bhp 911s. Indeed, to beat a 3.2 you needed an Italian exotic of the type that required a mechanic in the boot, and even then it would never sustain day-in day-out 120mph use on the Autobahn.

But if the 911 was still a selling proposition, the strength of the dollar during the early 1980s making Porsche an increasingly attractive proposition to Americans, this masked the fact that it was dated. It had no power steering, a ride quality not worthy of its price bracket, no auto transmission option and byzantine heating and ventilation systems. Australian journalist Peter Robinson said in 1978: “The 911 belongs to another era. It’s showing its age and not just around the edge, so let’s put it out to pasture with the other thoroughbreds before it breaks down and has to be destroyed in front of its adoring public.”

Such antipodean directness was too much for Porsche, and Robinson later revealed that it was 11 years before Porsche would let him near another press car. Nevertheless, there were rumblings within Porsche too. Styling director Tony Lapine was a well-known 911 dissident, but Peter Falk was also critical. A man steeped in 911 development, and who before retirement produced the famous Lastenheft which sought to redefine the fundamental characteristics a new 911 should have, Falk represented the very essence of 911 integrity and tradition. After 20 years he wanted to see improvements, such as dispensing with the archaic torsion bars.

Falk’s voice did not go unheard. In April 1984 the board authorised development of the next 911, Typ 964. This would be the 911’s first step to making up lost ground. In fact, when it was revealed in 1988, the 964 looked remarkably like its predecessor. The board had stipulated that nothing was to be changed above the level of the axles. This had vastly restricted the designers, but Dick Soderberg’s skilful melding of the impact bumpers into the bodywork was widely praised, and the smooth-surfaced, technical-looking ‘Design 90’ 16-inch wheels were much admired. All of a sudden the Fuchs appeared old-fashioned…

For the full article examining how the 964 improved over the 3.2 Carrera, pick up your copy of Total 911 issue 168 in shops now. Alternatively, get your copy delivered to your door or download to any Apple or Android device.

The growing Rivian community is flexing its imagination more each day while taking the company’s “electric adventure” narrative to heart, and one design-minded member rendered Rivian’s R1S SUV as an extreme, off-road beast.

Graphic artist Mo Aoun added meaty tires with lots of traction to Rivian’s flagship SUV in images shared via LinkedIn, portraying the R1S as both a functional park ranger vehicle and a serious outdoor travel vehicle. The portrayed suspension lift and beefy, solid front and rear axles with robust differentials and heavy duty tie rods clearly invokes a serious off-road theme.

Rivian’s R1S SUV imagined as a serious off-road vehicle. | Credit: Mo Aoun

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The tubular steel front bumper with winch housing interprets Rivian’s outdoor narrative as something involving soft ground, steep inclines, and narrow roads. Exo-frames added to the headlights imagine a need for rugged durability, and an oversized safari rack with several trail lights attached as a final touch demonstrate a vehicle intended for just about any adventure imagined.

Rivian’s R1S SUV imagined as a serious off-road vehicle. | Credit: Mo Aoun

Rivian unveiled its all-electric R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV in late 2018, and excitement for delivery of the vehicles has continued to ramp up ever since. The EV startup will be attending the New York International Auto Show later this month, and exclusive invitations for a private viewing of the cars were sent out to reservation holders in a run-up to the event. Recently, invitees were informed that the viewing would be split into two time slots to enable more members of the preorder community to attend, a further nod to the growing interest in Rivian’s coming products.

Along with reservation holder events, Rivian has continued to maintain a social media presence that generates attention and excitement for its brand. The aerodynamic development of the R1T pickup truck was highlighted in a recent behind-the-scenes video, and a cinematic marketing campaign focused on an “electric adventure” put the company’s imagined Rivian lifestyle on display. Rivian’s published patent applications continue to give insight into possible innovative features such as swappable components and battery packs for extended range.

The post Rivian community imagines R1S SUV in extreme, off-road all-electric adventure appeared first on TESLARATI.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Detroit. I will admit that at times it seems like the auto business operates in a dimension that defies comprehension. Powered by its relentless, cyclical nature, this business careens from crisis to crisis on a roller-coaster ride marked by euphoric highs and devastating lows.

The highs are so seductive that the players involved start believing that the good times will never end. They’re the, “We’re finally going to buy that vacation house up north” or, “It’s time to finally get that Shelby Mustang GT500” kind of highs. Big sales, plus big bonuses equal bigger dreams and big spending because, after all, this is how the people immersed in this business 24/7 get to enjoy the ride. And there’s nothing wrong with that when it comes right down to it. 

But predictably – and inevitably – those soaring highs are balanced out by crushing lows. The kind of lows that alter people’s thinking and affect their perspective long after the next upswing has started. Then again, the auto industry as practiced here in the Motor City has lived with this for more than a century, through world wars and economic calamities. Boom times are always followed by busts, and just when people start to believe there’s no hope, somehow a new trend emerges, and a new wave of prosperity starts all over again.

Today, we’re heading for another slowdown, one that can’t be predicted as to its severity but one that threatens the auto industry once again. The sugar high brought on by the public’s insatiable desire for trucks and SUVs is already showing signs of coming to an end. The softening sales can be propped up by massive incentives and long-term financing for only so long, and then the industry engine will go from a gallop to a leisurely trot in an instant.

To its credit, the collective Motor City has actually been trying to get ahead of this imminent slow down by slashing inventories and closing plants in an effort to control the scope of the inevitable bleeding. This was anathema to Detroit not long ago, so even though it may seem illogical now, this is a highly positive step. Except, it’s always something, as this “get out in front of it” plan hasn’t come without its controversies. Example? GM and CEO Mary Barra have been repeatedly pummeled by Unifor – the Canadian trade union – for the plans to shut down its plant in Oshawa, Ontario. And the fight continues.

There are other complications too. The auto manufacturers’ impetuous desire to become Tech/Autonomous companies overnight is having a hugely negative effect. They’re making deals and throwing money at everything that moves with the hopes that something will stick long enough to give them a leg up on the competition. So, even though the whole “getting out front” of the looming slowdown is commendable, they’re already operating at a distinct disadvantage because their “new mobility” efforts are sucking up cash in massive quantities, leaving them on the edge of extinction.

Much of this has to do with the most virulent strain of “not invented here” thinking on the planet. Too many in this business think that they know better, no matter what the subject is, especially when it comes to advanced mobility technology. Unfortunately, this thinking isn’t based on fact or any reservoir of capabilities that these companies may possess. Instead it is based on pure, unadulterated hubris and the unfounded notion that “we can do it better and cheaper.” When in fact the complete opposite is closer to the truth.

But the other complication compounding the situation may be the most dangerous of all, and that’s the looming tariffs thrust upon the industry by a current administration that’s relentlessly clueless as to the way things really work in this business. And make no mistake, the financial havoc and devastation that these idiotic trade policies could unleash are incalculable. This is a giant bowl of Not Good that not only could but will cripple this business for years to come. Everyone in this business – both domestic and import auto executives alike – are holding their collective breath that somehow cooler heads will prevail in Washington so that the imbecilic tariffs will not be put in place. But given the current chaos in the nation’s capital, the fear of the wrong move being made is palpable.

I’ve dubbed the overriding pulse of this industry as the “swirling maelstrom” for a reason, because it has careened in fits and starts marked by a two-steps forward, five-back cadence of mediocrity for as long as I can remember. Prosperity can’t be sustained for very long without the pendulum swinging back with devastating effect. It’s just the way this business rolls.

The business is also populated by executives who cover the spectrum of capability, from the brilliant visionaries to the maliciously clueless, and everything in between, which may have something to do with this perpetually frenzied state. That isn’t even counting the hordes of spineless weasels and recalcitrant twerps who occupy the vast middles of these companies. Far from being the switched-on, engaged people that the company PR machines would have you believe, they’re still blatantly stubborn obstacles camouflaged in new, touchy-feely wrappers. 

If it weren’t for the fact that these hordes are, for the most part, balanced out by the actions of the hard-core True Believers at these companies, then where would we be?

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

Yorkshire dry-stone walls have a very useful application that was never intended by the original builders several centuries ago. In addition to providing the unique signature style that is the Yorkshire landscape while also containing livestock over the centuries, they also make a superb surface to echo back the bark of an air-cooled 911 engine. Combine that with the final days of a long, hot summer and a trio of Cabriolet 911s – all with the hoods folded as they truly should be – and we have the perfect recipe for a great day’s driving and a chance to investigate the appeal of the open-top 911 experience. Will we enjoy a day in the sunshine, or will the bumpy Yorkshire lanes highlight the compromise of 911 body stiffness?

Heading out of the market town of Malton, I’m at the rear of the convoy in the 993 Cabriolet. The air is filled with the bass burble of air-cooled exhaust tones at low RPM, the whiff of that unique 911 aroma of hot oil and burned hydrocarbons from the two cars ahead spilling over into the interior, the sun providing a warmth on my face that is still pleasant so late in the summer. Good times.

Turning left down some of our favourite B-roads, the sunshine dapples the tree-lined road ahead… it’s time to increase the pace. We’re staying away from the vast, open moorland of the North Yorkshire Moors today, instead staying on the lower ground of the Vale of York and the twisting, turning B-roads that keep hands and feet busy as the road snakes between those ancient dry-stone walls. The three cars span an eight-year period of 911 evolution, from the torsion bars and impact bumpers of 1989, through the transformation of 1990 with power assistance and coil springs, to the final development of the air-cooled Porsche 911 in the 993.

Without a doubt everyone will have a personal favourite. Indeed, as we gather the cars together for photographs, the debate commences even before photographer Alistair has rigged his first flash head. The most visually arresting is the 1989 Super Sport in Guards red. For me this car is the epitome of that period of Porsche sales. The hedonistic period when excess was encouraged and every businessman and city trader in the City of London had to have a giant Motorola brick phone, expensive Italian shoes and matching briefcase, plus a Guards red Porsche 911. For the full-on effect it had to be the Turbo body, Fuchs alloys and the whaletail spoiler. And if you really wished to be publicly on display through the city streets, then the Cabriolet ensured that you shared your cellphone conversation with everyone around you as you discussed the day’s share trading at the traffic lights.

So how does the drive compare almost 30 years later? We hand over the keys to the 993 that we arrived in and swap to the cream seats of the Super Sport. Instantly I’m missing the powered steering as we shuffle back and forth to leave the photo location, the non-standard steering wheel not helping with its smaller diameter, though once rolling along the country lanes it’s much less of an issue. The road is initially bumpy, and several things become apparent. Firstly there is indeed that flex and shake from around the windscreen area that I recall from previous drives. Secondly, despite there only being a few years between the registration dates, the 1989 car does feel as though it’s from a much older generation of Porsche.

That’s not to say it’s a bad car – far from it. And as the road smooths out and widens we’re able to enjoy the bark of the 3.2 engine and use the echo board of Yorkshire’s dry-stone walls to enjoy some rather delightful pops and crackles on the downshifts. Through the avenue of trees we return to our location, and I swap into the black 964.

For the full verdict on our trio of air-cooled Porsche 911 Cabriolets, pick up your copy of Total 911 magazine issue 172, in shops now or available for fast delivery to your door. You can also download the issue to any Apple or Android device to take advantage of our high-definition pictures. 

With over 300 photos to share, we bring you one of the most extensive BMW X7 photo gallery. The US tour of the 7-seater luxury SUV is about to end and BMW has released all of their goodies. You can catch some of the videos on our Youtube Channel (feel free to subscribe as well) as well as some more shots on our Instagram account @bmwblog.

The X7 model showcased here is the BMW X7 xDrive40i painted in the beautiful Arctic Grey Metallic colors. Inside, the interesting grey shade is paired with the Tartufo Merino Leather, coupled with the bling from the Glass Package.

At launch time, BMW says that the following colors will be available:

  • Alpine White
  • Ametrin Red (Individual)
  • Arctic Grey
  • Black Sapphire
  • Carbon Black (with M Sport Package)
  • Dark Graphite
  • Jet Black
  • Mineral White
  • Phytonic Blue
  • Pyrite Brown (Individual)
  • Ruby Black (Individual)
  • Tanzanite Blue (Individual)
  • Vermont Bronz

Inside, you’re getting a variation of different upholsteries – SensaTec Black, nine premium Vernasca and Extended Merino Leathers (in the X7 xDrive40i for the US market). The two-tone Ivory White/Navy Blue Full Leather Merino interior, with a Navy Blue leather dashboard and a Navy Blue Alcantara headliner, can be specified for some models. More on that particular combination in our next BMW X7 article.

The trim menu is just as extensive with options like Fineline Stripe Brown High-gloss Wood Trim, Anthracite-Brown Poplar Matte Finish Wood Trim and BMW Individual Fine-wood Trim Ash Grain Silver Grey High-gloss.

Powering the BMW X7 will be a suite of engines. For America, there will only be two X7 variants and powertrains; the BMW X7 xDrive40i, which will pack BMW’s famous B58 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six, making 335 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque and getting from 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds; and a BMW X7 xDrive50i, which will pack a 4.4 liter twin-turbo V8, making 456 hp and 479 lb-ft while hitting 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

In the United States, the X7 will set you back at least $74,895 when it goes on sale next year. That includes the shipping and handling tax and will get you the entry-level xDrive40i model, with its 3-liter straight six petrol engine and 340 HP. If you want a V8 under the hood, you’ll have to pay considerably more – $93,595. That also includes handling and shipping and means you can have your BMW X7 xDrive50i with 456 HP and 650 Nm of torque (479 lb-ft).

The article Photo Gallery BMW X7 xDrive40i in Arctic Grey Metallic appeared first on BMW BLOG

The Formula E season is heating up these days with team BMW i Andretti Motorsport and its driver, Antonio Felix da Costa now claiming the number on spot in the driver standings. Felix finished third in the Sanya race hosted this weekend, racking up 15 points, adding up to a total of 62 points, enough to push him to the top of the standings. This was Felix’s third podium this season, the Chinese race being a heavily disputed one.

Starting from third (Félix da Costa) and fifth (Sims) on the grid, the race was characterized mainly by energy management. After the front runners raced defensively for more than half the race, leaving the field close together, the first duels began after around 30 minutes. In a head-to-head with André Lotterer (GER), Sims slid into the barriers, damaging his #27 BMW iFE.18 too severely to continue the race. Félix da Costa defended his third place throughout the race, which ended behind the Safety Car after another accident in the middle of the field.

“Third place for António is a very good result. We had both cars in the Super Pole and overall put in a strong performance. In Sanya the power train plays a big role – and we were in a great position here with the BMW i drivetrain. Both drivers were fantastic in qualifying. However, the race ended up being a disappointment for Alexander. He had a good rhythm before he retired after being involved in a duel with another car. Despite everything going on around him, António kept a cool head,” said Roger Griffiths, Team Principal BMW i Andretti Motorsport.

“It goes without saying I am pleased with the result, the points and the lead in the driver standings. But I’m a little frustrated too, if I’m being honest, because I wanted to do even better today. I was able to keep up with the two guys in front of me with no problems and think that I could have won. But the track here is very narrow and you have to take a lot of risks to overtake. I tried once, but then decided to take the important points for third place. I think this is the way we need to act if we want to stay at the top until the end of the season,” said Felix after the race.

The article Felix Da Costa Takes Lead in Formula E, Claims Podium in Sanya appeared first on BMW BLOG

Workers at General Motors’ powertrain plant in Toledo, Ohio underwent civil rights training this week after the automaker became the target of multiple lawsuits alleging racial harassment, reports Automotive News. The training was administered by the office of State Attorney General David Yost. A total of 1,700 employees were expected to attend one of nine sessions scheduled for this past Thursday and Friday. 

Reportedly, a minimum of three separate lawsuits have been filed against the company alleging, among other things, an "underlying atmosphere of violent racial hate and bullying" at the Ohio facility. One lawsuit launched by nine former workers says nooses and "whites-only" bathroom signs were found in the building and that they were subjected to racial slurs, bullying, and even planned violence. And it isn't just employees of color who have been the target of racially charged idiocy either. One anecdote saw a white woman who was apparently seen walking with a black employee finding the words "n****r lover" scrawled on her pizza box. The suit goes on to accuse management of looking the other way so that employees would "get along."

From Attorney General Yost: 

"The best way to keep these jobs here in Ohio is to do a good job and respect your coworker. Treat the people in your workplace with dignity. Exercise humility and do your part to make sure that everyone goes to work in a place with mutual respect and safety."

General Motors

It doesn't sound like GM is done with the sensitivity training, however, as a spokesperson told Automotive News that the sessions this past week were only "the latest in a series of training activities expanding GM's commitment to maintaining a safe, open and inclusive work environment."

General Motors isn't the only American automaker appearing to have a race problem within assembly plant walls. Nooses have apparently been found in Fiat Chrysler's Ram factory in Sterling Heights, Michigan while ex-Tesla workers say the EV maker's Fremont, California facility is a "hostile work environment" for African Americans.

The Indian automobile industry is changing at a rapid pace. Many new car companies are about to enter the Indian auto space, to compete with existing manufacturers. And these new companies are planning to make their debut by launching an SUV, as the Indian customers now prefer buying such kind of vehicles, over sedans and hatchbacks. The reason behind this shift of preference is affordable pricing, a spacious cabin, high ground clearance, and an ample amount of features on offer. In the coming months, there are four such examples which are about to be launched. These will offer something for everyone and will be one of the most tech-laden cars the country has ever seen in such segments.

Kia SP2i

Kia will make its debut in India by launching an SUV in the second half of 2019. The vehicle has been codenamed as SP2i. It was first showcased by Kia at the 2018 Auto Expo. The SP2i concept is a good looking car, what with the inclusion of a Tiger nose grille, sleek looking LED headlamps, 3D alloy wheels and a good looking rear. We can expect the SP2i SUV to come equipped with features like a touchscreen infotainment system, a rear row with three individual, adjustable headrests, and the latest in connectivity.

Also, one can expect to see two or more airbags, ABS with EBD, child seat anchors, high-speed alarm, seatbelt reminders and some more safety aids as standard across all variants. Mechanically, it is expected that the Kia SP2i will derive power from turbo petrol and diesel units. The SP2i will be priced between Rs 10 to 16 lakh, slightly above the Hyundai Creta

MG Hector

A legendary car brand, MG Motor is ready to launch its first product in India. Owned by the Chinese giant SAIC, MG Motor will first introduce the Hector SUV in India. Expected to be launched in the month of May or June 2019, the Hector will aim to become India’s first Internet car, for packing some segment-first tech features. To be priced to compete against the likes of the Harrier, the Creta and the Compass, the Hector will debut with many firsts, like a hybrid powertrain setup along with conventionally powered petrol and diesel motors. Oh, there’s a panoramic sunroof too!

The SUV will feature a newly developed tech called iSMART Next Gen and will be the first internet car in India that will aim to redefine connected mobility. Developed along with its strong consortium of global tech partners that includes Microsoft, Adobe, Unlimit, SAP, Cisco, Gaana, TomTom and Nuance, several industry-first features of Internet-enabled cars that will be available in the MG Hector. The brain of the iSMART NextGen will be housed in a 10.4” Head Unit. The screen is designed with a vertical interface that allows the driver to control the entire car system with just a touch or voice command. Activated with ‘Hello MG’, the voice assist allows over 100 commands, including opening and closing of windows and sunroof, ac control, navigation etc.

Hyundai Venue

The Venue is Hyundai’s first sub-four meter SUV in India and will rub shoulders against the likes of the newly launched Mahindra XUV300, Tata Nexon and Ford Ecosport. The engine options for the Venue are likely to be a 1.2-litre petrol producing 100 bhp and a 1.4-litre diesel producing 90 bhp which would be paired with 6-speed manual gearboxes. It could also get a 1-litre turbocharged petrol engine mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox.

On the outside, the Venue’s fascia is dominated by a large-ish chrome grille, bumper integrated headlight and LED DRLs, a’la the Harrier. The new SUV will be the first ‘SmartConnected SUV’ in the country with ‘BlueLink Connectivity Technology.’ This technology will use an inbuilt eSIM card from Vodafone Idea Network for seamless connectivity which will work together with a Cloud-based VoiceRecognition platform from Global AI (Artificial Intelligence) Company.

The Hyundai BlueLink system has been developed with the Indian audience in mind and will work as an interface between the user and the car for 33 different features. For example, it will allow remote operation of the AC,  just with your voice. The expected price of the upcoming Hyundai Venue is between Rs 8-12 lakh.

Tata Cassini

Showcased this year at the 2019 Geneva Motor show, the Harrier-based Buzzard will be called the Cassini in India. Based on the same Omega ARC platform like the Tata Harrier, the Cassini is essentially a 7-seater version of the new SUV. With the extra seats, what will also be on offer is an automatic transmission, and perhaps even a four-wheel drive system.

The 2.0-litre Kryotec engine which powers the Harrier will be tuned to crank about 170 PS under the hood of the Cassini. Besides the extra space inside, the layout and design of other bits will be similar to that of the Harrier. Expected to be launched during the festive season this year, the Cassini will be introduced shortly after the Altroz hatchback.

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.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully returned to Port Canaveral aboard recovery vessel GO Searcher, wrapping up an orbital launch debut that tracked through its milestones so flawlessly that Commercial Crew Program Deputy Manager Steve Stich went so far as to say that the spacecraft “did better than [NASA] expected.”

The culmination of the better part of a decade of constant work and NASA support, the flawless success of SpaceX’s DM-1 Crew Dragon mission is a testament – above all else – to the many hundreds of thousands or millions of hours SpaceX employees have put into the spacecraft’s design, production, operation, and recovery. While just one half of a critical pair of demonstrations, DM-1’s success should translate into extremely good odds for Crew Dragon’s Demo Mission 2 (DM-2), in which SpaceX will launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station on the company’s first crewed launch ever.

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“I can’t believe how well the whole mission has gone. I think on every point, everything’s been nailed, all the way along—particularly this last piece. We were all very excited to see re-entry and parachute and drogue deploy and main deploy, splashdown—everything happened just perfectly, right on time the way that we expected it to. It was beautiful.” – Benji Reed, Director of Crew Mission Management, SpaceX

SpaceX Director of Crew Mission Management Benji Reed’s unqualified appraisal of Crew Dragon’s debut serves as a perfect example of the attitude almost universal throughout the company in the twilight of the mission’s completion. While sources suggest that there were more than a few hiccups during the mission, they were extremely mild and came as no surprise for what effectively amounted to the first shakeout mission of a brand new vehicle. According to CEO Elon Musk, Crew Dragon shares almost no hardware – aside from its Draco thrusters – with Cargo Dragon, the uncrewed orbital spacecraft SpaceX has now launched into orbit 17 times in the last eight years.

For such a complex spacecraft, not to mention an almost clean-sheet redesign, it’s nothing short of extraordinary that its debut launch was so utterly free of significant anomalies or unexpected behavior. Separated into the distinct phases of launch, free-flight, ISS docking/undocking, and recovery, Crew Dragon reportedly performed almost perfectly in all cases, “right on time” according to Mr. Reed. NASA’s CCP Deputy Manager Steve Stich was equally enthusiastic and elated about the spacecraft’s performance.


“On-orbit we got a lot of great data on the vehicle in terms of the thermal performance and power performance; the vehicle really did better than we expected. Then the rendezvous was phenomenal as we came in and checked out those sensors. Today; the undocking, watching how those systems performed, that went flawlessly. It’s a very tight sequence between undocking and de-orbit burn, how the nose cone performed, how the de-orbit burn was executed, then the entry was phenomenal.”

“I don’t think we saw really anything in the mission so far—and we’ve got to do to the data reviews—that would preclude us from having the crewed mission [DM-2] later this year.”

– Steve Stich, CCP Deputy Manager, NASA


Following Crew Dragon’s March 9/10 return to Port Canaveral, the spacecraft is expected to immediately enter into a post-flight analysis and data-gathering phase that will quickly transfer into refurbishment to prepare for the capsule’s second (albeit suborbital) launch, a critical in-flight abort (IFA) test that could happen as early as April according to Elon Musk. While official planning schedules point towards the IFA occurring closer to June or even July, it’s reasonable to assume that those official schedules are highly conservative. If Crew Dragon’s significantly waterproofing and reusability upgrades make a major difference, it’s far from inconceivable that the vehicle’s second abort test could actually occur ahead of schedule, although it’s unlikely.

The in-flight abort test will effectively be a repeat of SpaceX’s successful 2015 pad abort demonstration, albeit with the stationary launch pad replaced with a full Falcon 9 rocket – first and second stage – traveling at supersonic speeds. If Crew Dragon can safely abort in such challenging conditions, it’s almost guaranteed that it will be able to safely abort at any time during a Falcon 9 launch, all the way from the moment fueling begins on the ground into orbital operations. In fact, CEO Elon Musk recently suggested that the same SuperDraco abort thrusters that enable those safe escapes could potentially be used to add yet another level of redundancy during landing, standing in for parachute damage or failures to slow the capsule down and minimize or prevent injuries during splashdown.

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The post SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returns to port as NASA praises successful launch debut appeared first on TESLARATI.com.

New research released by NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry confirms that fleets across the country are increasingly relying on biodiesel for their existing and new diesel vehicles. For the third time in four years, surveyed fleets named biodiesel as their top alternative fuel choice both for current use and future interest.

Each year, NTEA conducts a comprehensive Fleet Purchasing Outlook Survey to better understand the commercial vehicle landscape, including interest levels for advanced truck technologies and alternative fuels. Insights from NTEA’s Fleet Purchasing Outlook, provided by fleet professionals across the United States and Canada, give the entire work truck industry perspective on anticipated purchasing intent and areas of greatest interest to fleet managers.

The 2019 NTEA Fleet Purchasing Outlook showed that the majority of fleet survey respondents—76%—anticipate maintaining or increasing use of diesel engine-powered trucks in their fleets, and more than 33% of survey respondents acknowledged currently operating alternative fueled trucks in their fleets.

Survey participants named biodiesel as their top alternative fuel choice at 16%. Additionally, biodiesel was named as their top choice for future interest at 14%.

NTEA’s additional anecdotal evidence suggests that though alternative fuel interest may ebb and flow along with fluctuating oil prices, the trend will likely turn upward in the long run. It is highly likely that clean energy solutions will remain relevant due to oil price instability. The National Biodiesel Board further credits the nation’s growing interest in reducing carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as indicators for future growth in the use of biodiesel.

As biodiesel blends can be used in any diesel engine without modification according to manufacturers’ recommendations, they offer fleets an easy and cost-effective way to reduce their carbon footprint in their existing diesel vehicle fleet.

Customers have used B20 (a blend of 20% biodiesel with 80% ultra-low sulfur diesel) successfully in virtually every make and model diesel engine, and the vast majority of new diesel engines now have full OEM support for B20 meeting today’s ASTM specifications. Compared to fossil fuels such as petrodiesel, B20 reduces carbon by 16% on average, with B100 reducing carbon by 80%.

Ferrari SF90 testing update

More analysis coming soon…

To most, the Ferrari SF90 has been the star of the show at pre-season testing. Clocking a total of 598 laps over the first four days, with Vettel topping the timing sheets on day 1 and Leclerc following suit on day 2. However, due to the cold conditions, the roughness of the Barcelona track, turned-down engines and team tactics, this impressive performance can’t be used to gauge the ultimate pace of the SF90. We will only know that at the first race of the 2019 season.

What can be analysed though, is the impressive reliability of the Ferrari car plus two happy drivers, which equals a very positive test for Ferrari indeed. So with their actual 2019 contender hitting the track, albeit in ‘testing configuration’ what features can we spot on the Ferrari SF90 and what have the engineers been working on over the winter?

Brake duct comparison of the Ferrari SF90 at pre-season testing (top) compared to last year’s SF71H (bottom)

Behind the front wing lies the simplified brake ducts, which now no longer feature exotic turning vanes and complex elements. Only one aperture is allowed and this must be fully visible from the front of the car. Furthermore, the geometry must be such that no point on the outside of the aperture is more than 50mm away from another point on the outside of the aperture. Essentially, this means that teams have a 50mm diameter circle to play with but as you can see below, teams have opted for a narrower geometry which balances the need for cooling the brakes, without creating too much disruption to the air flowing towards the rear of the car. 

The brake duct on the Ferrari SF90 is much larger compared to that of last year’s SF-71H. Furthermore, rather than the three horizontal elements which can be presumed to ensure the airflow remains laminar, the SF90 brake duct has been divided into three vertical sections, with the inner portion blanked for pre-season testing. 

Flowviz on the bargeboard area of the Ferrari SF90 on the first day of pre-season testing

Flowviz on the Ferrari SF90‘s bargeboard give us some insight into the behaviour of the airflow around this area. Note the minor angle and profile of the top section of the two main turning vanes, where there is no flowviz. The turning vanes help to guide the turbulent airflow from the tyre wake around the sidepod. The slight angle at the top section could change the characteristics of this airflow slightly for aerodynamic benefit, but the detailed details are difficult to determine without access to the CFD of this component.

Ferrari SF90 Turning Vanes from pre-season testing

Another phenomena that the flowviz nicely illustrates is the separation of the airflow from the surface at the trailing edge of the front wishbones, highlighted in yellow below. The flowviz has been dragged over the leading edge of the wishbones and over the profiles at high velocity, which is why there is not much flowviz visible on the main sections, apart from a few blobbed lines on the lower element, showing laminar flow. At the trailing edge, the flow slows down and therefore begins to separate and become turbulent as shown by the thicker region of flowviz which has been deposited. 

Separation on the trailing edge of the SF90’s front wishbones on the first day of pre-season testing

Although there is not much flowviz by the time the airflow has reached the rear of the car, one interesting pattern is that highlighted in blue below. The curved streaks of flowviz illustrate the turbulence of the flow at this point downstream. Furthermore, could those two miniature elements just ahead of this streaks be there to try and tidy this up?

Flowviz on the rear of the Ferrari SF90 on day 1 of pre-season testing

Last year, the Mercedes W09 featured a vent just behind the rear mounting of the Halo and it has been carried over on the W10 for this year. However, Ferrari’s SF90 also now has this vent as highlighted below. The Halo is a solid titanium structure, therefore teams can’t feed air through the Halo, so maybe it is an outlet for air from the cockpit or another area which teams are utilising for aerodynamic gain. 

Comparison of the vent rear of the Halo on the Ferrari SF90 (left) and the Mercedes W10 (right)

The mountings of the upper wishbones of the pull-rod rear suspension have been modified to a much more streamlined design on the Ferrari SF90. The bodywork has also been extended to sit closer to the elements.

Rear suspension comparison between the Ferrari SF90 at pre-season testing (left) and the SF-71H at the Abu Dhabi GP (right)

Note the use of temperature strips to monitor the temperature of the upper wishbones. The colour of the liquid or wax in these temperature strips changes when each increment of temperature is reached. Therefore, teams can quickly determine the temperature of critical components.

Temperature strips on the upper wishbones of the Ferrari SF90‘s rear suspension

With the rear wing increasing in width for 2019, so has the effect of the DRS – by 25% – according to some sources. Therefore, to cope with these higher loads, larger mechanisms have had to be incorporated onto the 2019 cars. This can be seen on the Ferrari SF90, which now has a much larger actuator in black compared to the more streamlined red version on last years car. These actuators lift the top flap of the rear wing, which suddenly decreases drag, and therefore offers a boost in acceleration. However, DRS can only be activated within DRS zones and is only granted when a driver is within 1.0s to the car infront.

We have already seen the effect of this bigger DRS when Daniel Ricciardo’s DRS flew off his Renault RS19 during testing. Although, this was a quiz fix for the Renault team, it highlights the impact of such a change, particularly if the engineers get it wrong. 

DRS mechanism on the Ferrari SF90 at pre-season testing (left) and on last year’s SF-71H in Abu Dhabi (right)

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The post F1 | Ferrari SF90 testing update appeared first on Racecar Engineering.

There have been a number of movies made over the years about the mastermind behind the DMC-12, John DeLorean—and why wouldn't there be? His life was essentially a Hollywood movie to begin with: drugs, fraud, and expensive cars. Now, a new movie called Framing John DeLorean will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in April and it's promising everything you could ask to see.

Starring Alec Baldwin, Framing John DeLorean teases a dramatized documentary of the Detroit-born automaker's life. Specifically, it covers the period of time in which the DeLorean Motor Company was founded, build up, and ultimately defunct, a story which infamously ended with the oddest fall from grace for an automaker ever.

FBI agents arrested DeLorean on Oct. 19, 1982 following a targeted sting which involved $24 million and 220 pounds of cocaine. Two years later, a jury acquitted DeLorean of the charges, only to place the automotive mogul on the front page again in 1985 for fraud charges (which he was again acquitted of by a jury).

Both of DeLorean's surviving children, Zachary and Kathryn, appear to have been involved in the documentary, which enables the pair to tell their sides of the story growing up in the DeLorean household amid the turmoil and unwanted media coverage.

DMC is perhaps best known for its contribution to the Back to the Future series; however, a more recent uptick in the niche automaker has risen over the past several years. In 2017, DMC began taking pre-orders for low-volume reproduction of its infamous DMC-12 sports car. Just last year, another dramatized biopic, Driven, was teased about DeLorean's life.

Framing John DeLorean will make its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 7.

The top model of the new BMW X7 is – for now – the xDrive50i. There are rumors that next year this particular model will be replaced by the X7 M50i, but until then, 456 HP and 650 Nm of torque (479 lb-ft) is the best you can get from the BMW’s largest SUV.

We’re now in Southern California testing the all-new X7, on and offroad, and a full review will be coming up. The model at hand is painted in the Mineral White Metallic color and paired with a luxurious interior and Tartufo Merino Leather. There is also the optional Glass Package which adds a bit more luxury to the cabin.

Jörg Wunder, the project manager for the X7, has often said that the X7 was developed to be more of a 7 Series to the X lineup, instead of just a larger X5.

The X7 is built upon BMW’s new modular CLAR platform, same as the new X5 and G20 3 Series. Many of the suspension parts are shared with the X5, but modified to X7’s specs. The front and rear multilink units are supported by stand­ard adaptive dampers and air springs.

As we tested last year, there is also an Off-Road package which offers underbody protection, a limited-slip rear differential and four ride-height- and stability-control-altering xOffRoad modes (xSand, xRocks, xGravel, and xSnow).

Seating options are where the X7 separates itself from the X5. In the second row, the bench is standard but captain’s chairs are optional. Captain’s chairs in the second row are $600. The X5 can also be optioned with a third row, but it’s really meant to sit small children.

Wireless Apple CarPlay  and 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity both come standard. Gesture Control is standard too.

Overall, the list of options and features in the X7 is one of the most comprehensive in BMW today’s lineup, but more on that in our review coming up this week.

Stay tuned in the mean time on our social media channels for exclusive reports! Also, click below for a large photo gallery.

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Tesla’s Bioweapon Defense Mode is about to get smarter, with location-based activation settings expected to be introduced in the future. Musk recently mentioned the upcoming improvements to the Model S and Model X’s hospital-inspired air fitration system in a response to a Tesla owner on Twitter.

Bioweapon Defense Mode enables Model S and Model X to improve cabin air quality by removing at least 99.97% of fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, including bacteria, viruses, pollen, and mold spores. The only drawback to the feature in its current iteration is that it must be manually activated.

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With Bioweapon Defense Mode’s location-based activation settings, Tesla’s electric cars can proactively protect their inhabitants better. Drivers that regularly pass through polluted areas could set the air filtration system in their Model S and Model X to engage in selected sections of the city (or the freeway for that matter), making commutes more convenient and safer at the same time.

Granted, Bioweapon Defense Mode’s upcoming improvements will depend on saved locations, but the recently-announced enhancements could be used by Tesla as a stepping stone for future upgrades nonetheless. Among the potential improvements that Tesla could roll out is the capability to automatically engage Bioweapon Defense Mode depending on data from other Teslas in nearby areas. With such a system in place, vehicles could warn other electric cars about locations with poor air quality at a given time. This capability will be useful during emergencies such as wildfires, which are very difficult to predict.

Bioweapon Defense Mode is made possible by the Model S and Model X’s incredibly large HEPA filter, which is around ten times as large as those of a regular car. Bioweapon Defense Mode is currently exclusive to the Model S and X since the vehicles’ large HEPA filter does not fit in the smaller frame of the Model 3 (and in extension, likely the Model Y as well).  

While its name incites ideas of a clever marketing strategy, Bioweapon Defense Mode has actually been proven to be effective in real-life scenarios. Last year alone, Tesla owners who were affected by the raging California wildfires have noted that their vehicles helped them breathe easier while they were driving in areas with poor air quality. Apart from this, a controlled demonstration from Tesla involving a Model X placed in a bubble contaminated with extreme levels of pollutants also showcased the effectiveness of the air filtration system. During the test, Bioweapon Defense Mode was able to scrub the air inside the vehicle within two minutes, later even cleaning the air around the all-electric SUV.

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The fuel cell plug-in hybrid Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL (combined hydrogen consumption: 0.34 kg/100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km, combined power consumption: 13.7 kWh/100 km) has successfully passed its 360° environmental check. The results have been verified by the TÜV Süd technical service.

The environmental check is based on an eco-balance in which the environmental effects of the car are examined over the entire lifecycle.

Mercedes-Benz has been conducting this environmental check regularly since 2005, starting with the S-Class at the time. Depending on the segment, Mercedes-Benz bases its calculations on a driving distance of 150,000 to 300,000 kilometers.

Thanks to emission-free driving, electric vehicles can compensate for a large part of the additional CO2 emissions in the production phase. If it is possible to operate electric vehicles using only renewable energy, the CO2 emissions over the entire lifecycle fall by 70% compared with combustion-engine vehicles.

The same applies to fuel cell vehicles, which give rise to more emissions in production but slightly fewer than batter vehicles in operation, and where the supply of hydrogen has a major influence on the overall effect.

However, the 360° environmental check is not only about CO2 emissions. In order to gauge a vehicle’s environmental compatibility, the experts consider all emissions and the use of resources over the entire lifecycle. This is achieved by means of an eco-balance that records the key environmental impacts.

It includes the extraction of raw materials—the use of platinum in the fuel cell has been reduced by 90% compared to the B-Class F-CELL—production and use, and finally recycling. Development of the components in the new powertrain was accompanied by concepts for eventual recycling. This means that as with every other Mercedes-Benz, a high level of recyclability is also assured for the GLC F-CELL.

Different CO2 scenarios depending on the power and hydrogen source. As in all electric vehicles, how the necessary power is generated is also the decisive factor for the Mercedes-Benz GLC F‑CELL: 100 percent renewable, e.g. hydroelectric power, or e.g. in the EU power mix. The same question arises with respect to the generation of hydrogen: the scenarios considered in the eco-balance are reformation from natural gas, the H2 mobility scenario (50% regenerative, 50% from natural gas), and 100% generation of hydrogen from electrolysis using hydroelectric power.

The eco-balance, and especially the CO2 balance, varies accordingly over an entire lifecycle with a mileage of 200,000 kilometers. While the components specific to the GLC F-CELL lead to considerably higher CO2 emissions during production, these can in part be considerably overcompensated over the use phase, depending on the hydrogen and power source.

The CO2 saving over the entire lifecycle is greatest if the GLC F-CELL is operated exclusively with hydrogen and power from renewable sources. Savings of more than 50% are possible compared to the scenario with hydrogen from natural gas and the EU power mix.


Objective of further reduction in the use of primary raw materials. The aim of Daimler AG is to reduce the use of primary raw materials for the powertrain and battery technology by 40% by 2030. Apart from the economical use of resources, the reconditioning of components and the recycling of the raw materials used play an important role as well.

Advances in lithium-ion battery technology will further contribute to this reduction: Energy density will be further increased, while batteries will become increasingly lighter in weight. The materials composition will change, and materials such as cobalt will be replaced by nickel.

This holistic approach also includes the use of vehicle batteries in stationary energy-storage devices after their mobile service life. The aspect of energy supply to the production locations also plays an important role. All Mercedes-Benz plants in Germany will therefore switch to CO2-neutral energy supply, e.g. wind power and hydropower, by 2022. This will reduce the CO2 expenditure in the lifecycle of the vehicles by the amount accounted for by assembly of the components.

The GLC F-CELL. The Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL features both fuel cells and a battery drive which can be charged externally using plug-in technology. Apart from electricity, it also runs on pure hydrogen. This has a number of advantages:

  • Within three minutes at a hydrogen filling station, the full operating range of more than 400 km is available again.

  • The battery provides a further 50 km or so of range.

  • On downhill stretches and when braking, kinetic energy can be stored in the battery (recuperation).

  • The battery provides additional power for brisk acceleration.

  • Power from purely renewable sources can be used when charging the battery at a power socket.

Two carbon-fiber encased tanks in the vehicle floor of the GLC F-CELL hold 4.4 kg of hydrogen at 700 bar. With a hydrogen consumption of around 1 kg/100 km, the GLC F-CELL achieves around 430 hydrogen-based kilometers in the NEDC cycle; in hybrid mode it additionally delivers up to 51 km on a fully charged battery.

The lithium-ion battery has a gross capacity of 13.5 kWh and serves as an additional energy source for the electric motor. Plug-in technology makes it easy to charge via the 7.4 kW on-board charger at a standard household socket, a wallbox or a public charging station—from 10 to 100 percent SoC (State of Charge) in approx. 1.5 hours if the full power is used.

Just like the drive motor, an asynchronous motor with an output of 155 kW (211 hp) and a torque of 365 N·m, the storage battery is space-savingly installed in the rear of the SUV.