Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Mazda adds 250 horsepower turbo engine to the 2021 Mazda 3

July 8th, 2020
Black wheels and a black grille are a few small clues to the fact that this Mazda 3 has a turbo.

Enlarge / Black wheels and a black grille are a few small clues to the fact that this Mazda 3 has a turbo. (credit: Mazda)

On Wednesday morning, Mazda confirmed something enthusiasts had long hoped for: for model year 2021, the carmaker will offer a turbocharged engine as an option for the Mazda 3 hatchback and sedan. The engine is the company's 2.5L Skyactiv-G power plant, and when installed in a Mazda 3, it bumps the 3 squarely into hot-hatch territory (or hot-sedan territory, as appropriate) with 250hp (186kW) and 320lb-ft (434Nm). (If you have to feed it 87 gasoline instead of 93, power and torque decrease to 227hp (170kW) and 310lb-ft (410Nm).)

Before enthusiasts get their hopes too high, it does appear as if the turbocharged Mazda 3 will only come in all-wheel drive and only with a six-speed automatic transmission. Visually, the tweaks to the Mazda 3 Turbo are pretty subtle. There are larger tailpipes, and it wears black 18-inch alloy wheels and gloss black grilles, side-mirror housings, and spoilers.

Mazda will also offer a pair of naturally aspirated engine options for MY2021 Mazda 3s. There's the 186hp (139kW), 186lb-ft (252Nm) 2.5L Skyactiv-G version; we first drove this back in 2019 and have a review coming in the next week or so now that we've had more time in both the sedan and hatchback versions. (Spoiler alert: we still love it.) And that car will still be available as a front-wheel-drive hatchback with a manual transmission; otherwise, a six-speed auto is the only option whether FWD or AWD.

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Posted in cars, Mazda 3, turbocharger | Comments (0)

Audi drops a new electric Q4 e-tron Sportback crossover—on sale in 2022

July 7th, 2020

The plan to rapidly electrify a post-diesel Volkswagen Group relies on a similar strategy to the plan that made it the world's second-largest automaker: design a flexible, extensible vehicle architecture, then use that across multiple brands to build a dizzying array of cars, crossovers, SUVs, and so on. The first of these architectures is called MEB (Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten, or Modular Electrification Toolkit), which is for small and medium-sized vehicles and is on track to debut with the VW ID.3 hatch in Europe in September. Here in the US, we'll get our first MEB crossover, the VW ID.4, early in 2021. But it won't be the only MEB-based crossover for the US in 2021. Audi has plans for the platform, too, and they include this newly revealed Q4 e-tron Sportback, which goes into series production next summer.

In 2019, we saw an MEB-based Audi called the Q4 e-tron, which goes on sale in the US in late 2021. It's an upscale battery-electric crossover with the footprint of a Q3 but the interior space of a Q5, a TARDIS-like effect that purpose-designed battery EVs make possible by dint of their powertrain layout.

The Q4 e-tron Sportback—which we'll get in 2022—will be mechanically identical to that BEV. The front axle is driven by a 75kW (100hp), 150Nm (111lb-ft) motor-generator unit. The rear by a 150kW (201hp), 310Nm (229lb-ft) MGU, with a total output of 225kW (301hp), all fed by an 82kWh lithium-ion pack.

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Posted in Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback, cars, MEB, Volkswagen Group, Volkswagen ID.4 | Comments (0)

Elon Musk taunts Tesla critics as stock soars to new highs

July 7th, 2020
Elon Musk taunts Tesla critics as stock soars to new highs

Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

Tesla's stock leapt above $1,400 for the first time on Tuesday morning—a nearly 50 percent increase over the price just a week earlier. As of publication time, Tesla's stock has slumped a bit to around $1,380. That's still more than the stock was worth at any time before today and a six-fold jump from Tesla's share price a year earlier.

The primary villains in Tesla's mythology are "shorts": investors who short-sell the company's stock in hopes of profiting from a falling price. CEO Elon Musk has regularly taunted these critics about the company's rising stock price. On Sunday, Musk gleefully announced that Tesla was selling "limited edition short shorts" on its website.

The shorts are red with gold trim, with a small Tesla logo on the side. "S3XY" is emblazoned across the back in large type. The shorts cost "only $69.420," Musk wrote. As I write this on Tuesday morning, the shorts are sold out.

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Posted in cars, Tesla | Comments (0)

F1 2020 reviewed—Codemasters takes another racing game win

July 6th, 2020

In the before times, pre-pandemic, the annual installment of the officially licensed Formula 1 game would arrive about midway through the championship. But we're not in the long-long ago anymore, and in our 2020, F1 started an abbreviated, socially distanced season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. So when F1 2020 launches this week—tomorrow for the Deluxe Schumacher Edition, Friday for the standard edition—it takes players to an alternate universe where there was no COVID-19 and where F1 racing started as usual in Australia, in March.

The team at Codemasters probably didn't intend for a multiverse angle for F1 2020, but if this year has taught us anything, it's to make the best of the cards we're dealt. The upside to this digital release is it means you can race wheel-to-wheel at new tracks in Hanoi in Vietnam and Zandvoort in the Netherlands almost a year before they'll host their first F1 events in meatspace. But the addition of a couple of new circuits isn't the only way that Codies have kept things from getting stale—no mean feat for an official franchise for a sport that doesn't really change a huge amount year-to-year.

Whose team? My team

Probably the biggest new addition to F1 2020's gameplay is a new career mode. This one is called My Team, because instead of joining one of the existing 10 teams, it puts you in the role of a new team owner (as well as F1 racing driver). You get to pick the team name, design a livery and logo, find a title sponsor, and choose a second driver for the team. Then, in between races, you'll manage the team, which (hopefully) involves bringing in more money than you spend, all the while keeping each department happy.

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Posted in cars, F1 2020, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

How one IndyCar driver turned his type 1 diabetes into an advantage

July 4th, 2020
Charlie Kimball, driver of the #4 TRESIBA / AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet, races during practice for the NTT IndyCar Series GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 03, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Enlarge / Charlie Kimball, driver of the #4 TRESIBA / AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet, races during practice for the NTT IndyCar Series GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 03, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Like most of us, 2020 hasn't exactly going to plan for IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball. Here in July, we should already be midway through the season. But the sport only waved the green flag in early June, starting a condensed 14-race season that wraps up—hopefully—in Florida in October. It promises to be hard work for the drivers; with no power steering and high cornering loads, an IndyCar requires more muscles to drive than most race cars.

"The challenge in driving an IndyCar is that, at 200 miles an hour, it produces 5,000 pounds of downforce. I've got 750 horsepower under my right foot, and I have no power steering, no power brake. Plus the adrenaline and the physiological response to competition means that during a race my average heart rate is between 150 and 170 beats per minute," he told Ars when we spoke recently. And don't forget—an IndyCar race can can last well over three hours if we're talking about something like the Indy 500.

The best way to be race-fit is to do a lot of racing, but the extended off-season obviously made that impossible. But Kimball thinks he's better prepared today than he was back in March when the original season-opener was cancelled.

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Posted in cars, Charlie kimball, IndyCar, type 1 diabetes | Comments (0)

Heated seats as a service? BMW wants to sell car features on demand

July 2nd, 2020
A BMW-branded engine has been photoshopped to include an arcade game-style coin slot.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson)

I'm all too aware that connected cars aren't a popular topic around these parts, and that's unlikely to change with today's news. BMW is planning to move some features of its new cars to a subscription model, something it announced on Wednesday during a briefing for the press on the company's digital plans.

It's not an entirely new idea to the auto industry—Tesla has pioneered the idea of shipping vehicles with hardware that can be enabled at the time of purchase or later on for a fee. And BMW has done something similar in the past with infotainment features; for a while, if you wanted access to Apple CarPlay, you had to pay an $80 yearly subscription until the automaker abandoned that idea.

But those were for digital services—now the Bavarian carmaker has plans to apply that model to features like heated seats. BMW says that owners can "benefit in advance from the opportunity to try out the products for a trial period of one month, after which they can book the respective service for one or three years." The company also says that it could allow the second owner of a BMW to activate features that the original purchaser declined.

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Posted in BMW, cars, connected car, subscription service | Comments (0)

Tesla stock leaps again on unexpectedly strong delivery numbers

July 2nd, 2020
A Tesla facility in Lathrop, CA.

Enlarge / A Tesla facility in Lathrop, CA. (credit: Andrei Stanescu / Getty)

Tesla has surprised Wall Street again with better-than-expected delivery numbers. The electric carmaker delivered 90,650 vehicles in the second quarter of 2020, up slightly from the 88,400 vehicles delivered in the first quarter. This despite the fact that Tesla's main factory in Fremont, California, was shut down by county officials for the first half of the quarter.

Tesla's stock leapt at the news. After closing at a record high of $1,120 yesterday, Tesla's shares rose above $1,200 in pre-market trading on Thursday morning.

While Tesla's Q2 deliveries were up from the previous quarter, they're down slightly from the 95,200 vehicles produced in the second quarter of 2019. Tesla also delivered more cars in Q3 and Q4 of 2019 than it did last quarter. That presumably reflects the effects of the coronavirus over the last two quarters, as well as the phaseout of the federal tax credit for purchasing a Tesla. The credit fell by half on June 30, 2019 and phased out completely on December 31.

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Posted in cars, Policy, sales, Tesla | Comments (0)

Hyundai’s super-efficient 2020 Sonata Hybrid sedan is best in class

July 1st, 2020

It seems like every article we write explaining just how good Korean cars have become is met with surprise. Well, I'm ready for more shocked faces, because I just spent a week with a 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and it is spectacular. It's handsome, well put-together, boasts some nifty driver-assist tech, and best of all, it sips gas, averaging a combined 52mpg (4.5L/100km). Not bad for a sedan that starts at $27,750.

To be fair, I expected the Sonata Hybrid to be good. An hour spent in the not-hybrid Sonata as part of the judging process for the World Car Awards in late 2019 suggested that the Camry and Accord should both be scared. As for the Sonata's hybrid version, I first saw it at this year's Chicago Auto Show, where it stood out against a sea of pedestrian-terrifying SUVs and trucks.

The Sonata is a sleek-looking thing, with a hint of techno catfish to it, thanks to visual whiskers that appear where the chrome cuts through the hourglass grille at its narrowest. I also love the way the daylight-running LEDs blend into strips of chrome as they make their way toward the A pillars. Other design details tell of the wind tunnel and fluid-dynamics simulations in a server farm rather than the whimsy of a design sketch—leading to the disc-like wheels, for instance, or the spikes on the tail lights that work like hostile architecture but for vortices instead of homeless people.

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Posted in 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, cars, hyundai | Comments (0)

Stock surge makes Tesla the world’s most valuable automaker

July 1st, 2020
Stock surge makes Tesla the world’s most valuable automaker

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson vs Disney)

One share of Tesla stock traded for more than $1,130 on Wednesday, pushing the company's market capitalization to nearly $210 billion. That sent Tesla's market cap past Toyota, which is worth either $170 billion or $203 billion, depending on how you count it. Tesla is now the world's most valuable car company.

It's a remarkable milestone for a company that sells far fewer cars than its leading rivals. Toyota and its subsidiaries sold 10.7 million vehicles in 2019, while Volkswagen and its subsidiaries sold almost 11 million vehicles. Tesla sold a comparatively tiny 367,500 vehicles last year.

But Wall Street is apparently very optimistic about Tesla's prospects for future growth and profits. Many experts expect a global shift to battery electric vehicles over the next decade or two, and Tesla is leading that revolution. Tesla's Model 3 was by far the most popular battery electric vehicle in 2019. It sold 300,000 vehicles, almost triple the sales of the next most popular model: the EU series from Chinese automaker BAIC Group. The Model 3 sold four times as many vehicles as the Nissan Leaf, the most popular battery electric vehicle not made by Tesla or a Chinese company.

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Posted in cars, Elon Musk, Tesla, Toyota, Wall Street | Comments (0)

Tesla driver blames Autopilot for crash, faces negligent driving charge

July 1st, 2020
A red sedan cruises down a tree-lined highway.

Enlarge / Tesla Model S driving on the freeway in Silicon Valley. (credit: Andrei Stanescu / Getty Images)

A Massachusetts man is facing a negligent-driving charge after his Tesla slammed into a police car that was parked by the side of the road. According to a state trooper, the man had Tesla's Autopilot technology turned on and said that he "must not have been paying attention." The crash occurred in December, but the defendant, Nicholas Ciarlone, was only recently charged in the incident.

NBC Channel 10 in Boston reports that the police car was parked on the left-hand side of Route 24, a divided highway in West Bridgewater, a town about an hour south of Boston. The state trooper had just pulled over college student Maria Smith and was asking for her registration paperwork when the Tesla slammed into his SUV.

This caused a pileup, with the police car crashing into the student's vehicle. The trooper was knocked back against the concrete barrier at the side of the road but was not seriously injured. Smith said she got glass in her hair when the back window shattered. And Smith told NBC 10 that the officer easily could have sustained more serious injuries.

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Posted in autopilot, cars, Tesla | Comments (0)