Archive for the ‘electric car’ Category

This electric car just set a new record at the Nürburgring

June 3rd, 2019
Romain Dumas has set a new lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife for electric cars.

Enlarge / Romain Dumas has set a new lap record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife for electric cars. (credit: Volkswagen Motorsport)

A few weeks ago, I visited the Nürburgring Nordschleife in Germany as Volkswagen began testing its ID R Pikes Peak electric car at the famous race track. The ID R Pikes Peak is part of VW's multibillion-dollar apology for all those diesel emissions; a tiny part compared to the fines, the chargers, and the new business strategy, but a part nonetheless. Its job is to imbue the coming onslaught of ID-branded electric vehicles with a halo—the exciting kind one gets from on-track derring-do.

And the derring rarely gets done as well as this. On Monday, racing driver Romain Dumas and the VW Motorsport team set a new electric record at the 12.9-mile (20.8km) track also known as the Green Hell. As corporate apologies go, I like this one.

Dumas lapped the circuit in 6:05.336 minutes, lopping a full 40 seconds off the time set by Peter Dumbreck and the Nio EP9 hypercar back in 2017. The lap time is also almost six seconds quicker than the time set by Stefan Bellof in a Porsche 956 in 1983. Though separated by more than three decades, the two cars are closely matched in some regards; at 670hp (500kW) the electric VW is a little more powerful than the 630hp (474kW) Group C Porsche, but at "under" 2,425lbs (1,100kg) the VW is also a little heavier than the 1,852lb (840kg) 956.

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One of my tweets set off a cross-country electric car record attempt

May 30th, 2019

It's not often you get to inspire an electric car speed record attempt, but it seems I've inadvertently done just that.

It began on Twitter, when I saw that there was an electric charging station in the parking lot at John O' Groats in Scotland, (almost) the most northern point of the Scottish mainland. The village is about as far from the most south-westerly point in the UK, Lands End in England, as it's possible to get without leaving the mainland: 874 miles (1.407km) to be precise. So, I idly wondered what the fastest journey time was for an electric vehicle. The idea then caught the eye of a TV presenter named Gareth Jones, host of the eponymous podcast Gareth Jones on Speed.

"Absolutely, it's all your fault," he told me when we spoke last week. "When you tweeted—I think it was March 7—a picture of the recharging point in John O' Groats, which has an Ecotricity charger, you said, 'I wonder what the record is from Lands End to John O' Groats?' I thought, that sounds like a plan. So I fairly casually, without much forethought, retweeted it, mentioning anyone who sells EVs in the UK asking if any of them wanted to give us a car."

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VW’s record-breaking electric car takes on world’s scariest racetrack, Nürburgring

May 8th, 2019
Romain Dumas at the wheel of the VW ID R electric car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Enlarge / Romain Dumas at the wheel of the VW ID R electric car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. (credit: Volkswagen Motorsport)

Although we make every effort to cover our own travel costs, in this case Volkswagen flew me to Germany and provided two nights in a hotel.

NÜRBURG, Germany—What do the race cars of Formula 1, the World Endurance Championship, NASCAR, and IndyCar all have in common? The answer is that each is built to comply with a specific set of rules. That's understandable: rules in each series exist (ideally) to create a level playing field and to prevent cars from getting too fast and too powerful for the tracks upon which they race. But what if there were no rules? What if you could throw as much power and downforce onto a car as you could to make it go around a track faster than anything else?

This ethos has been tried at least once in the past. It was called the CanAm series, and until the 1973 oil crisis killed it, it gave rise to cars the likes of which had never been seen. The effort culminated in the 1,100hp (820kW) turbocharged Porsche 917/30, which is arguably also the car that helped kill the series because it was so much faster than anything else. Today CanAm is long gone, and no competitive series has seen fit to take up its mantle. But that doesn't mean there's no room left in the world for motorsport engineers to toss out the popular rulesets and start with a clean sheet of paper.

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Posted in cars, electric car, Features, Nordschleife, Nurburgring, Volkswagen ID R | Comments (0)

Inside Electrify America’s plan to simplify electric car charging

May 6th, 2019
A look inside Electrify America's testing lab.

Enlarge / A look inside Electrify America's testing lab. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

Electrify America, a new national electric vehicle charging network, launched a new mobile app and EV charging membership plans on Monday morning. The company, which is coming to the end of its first phase of deployment, is also preparing an innovative "plug-and-charge" feature that, if implemented by auto OEMs, will bring the same simplicity of charging to other vehicles as is currently enjoyed by Tesla drivers. To find out more about Electrify America's plans, and to see its new tech in action, I visited the company's HQ and its alpha test lab in Virginia. What I discovered made me optimistic about the state of US EV infrastructure in the coming years.

Electrify America was created as part of a settlement by Volkswagen Group, after Volkswagen was caught lying about diesel emissions and ordered to invest $2 billion in electric vehicle charging infrastructure. That work began at the beginning of 2017, initially all behind the scenes as Electrify America began the process of designing and then building its network.

The map of Electrify America's network at the end of 2019.

The map of Electrify America's network at the end of 2019. (credit: Electrify America)

Phase one of four

That $2 billion is being spent in four 30-month cycles, the first of which is drawing to a close. In the first cycle, the bulk of the investment—$370 million—has gone into charging infrastructure. As we've previously reported, the first phase of the network—which should be fully in service by the end of 2019—will feature 2,000 DC fast chargers at 484 sites around the country. "We had no chargers at all in 2018; to date in 2019 we have 158 sites operational. The way we're interpreting the consent decree is doing something unique in the US. We've got one chance to finally try to have an increase in EV adoption," explained Giovanni Palazzo, president and CEO of Electrify America.

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Aston Martin is the latest car maker to announce an all-hybrid or EV future

August 28th, 2017

Aston Martin

Aston Martin is the latest car maker to announce it’s going to move to an all-hybrid line up. CEO Andy Palmer has told the Financial Times that “We will be 100 per cent hybrid by the middle of the 2020s.” Palmer also told the FT that he expects about 25 percent of Aston Martin sales will be EVs by 2030. A similarly bold announcement was made by Volvo earlier this summer; however in this case Aston Martin will continue to sell non-hybrid versions of its cars as an option.

The first all-electric Aston Martin will be the RapidE, a sleek four-seater due in 2019. But that will be a limited-run model, with only 115 planned. There’s also the hybrid Valkyrie hypercar in the works, an F1 car for the road that’s being designed by Aston Martin in conjunction with Red Bull Racing’s Adrian Newey. But there will be more mainstream (if such a word can apply) hybrid and battery EV Aston Martins coming too. Like Volvo, some of these will just be 48V mild hybrids.

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Ariel—makers of the Atom—have a hybrid hypercar in the works

August 23rd, 2017

Ariel Motor Company

If you watch Top Gear, you’ll know the Ariel Motor Company. It’s the British maker of the Atom, a mid-engined assortment of scaffolding that was dreamt up as a modern answer to the Lotus/Caterham Seven—the same car that gave Jeremy Clarkson an epiglottis full of bees. Ariel also makes the Nomad, an off-road version of the Atom that featured in Matt Le Blanc’s Top Gear debut.

Both of those vehicles are utterly bonkers, stripped down to the very essence of a car but overloaded with excitement. Which makes us rather excited about the fact that the next four-wheeled thrill ride to emerge from its Somerset factory is going to be an electric vehicle.

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Volvo says from 2019 all new models it introduces will be electric or hybrid

July 5th, 2017

Enlarge / Volvo’s current plug-in hybrid range, the S90, V90, XC60 and XC90 T8s. (credit: Volvo Cars)

On Wednesday, Volvo Cars announced that all new models introduced from 2019 will feature some form of electric propulsion. The news follows an announcement in May that diesel engines have no future with the brand, in part because of ever-stricter EU carbon emissions targets, but also because of the growing concern over the health effects of diesel exhaust, which is loaded with particulates and nitrogen oxides.

When it comes to socially responsible car companies, Volvo appears to be leading the pack. The Swedish automaker, which built its reputation on safety, has already committed to a goal of reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries in a new Volvo to zero by the year 2020. And it looks like that concern extends beyond the wellbeing of its customers to the rest of us as well.

Between 2019 and 2021, Volvo plans to launch five new electric vehicles. Details about the new EVs are scarce at present, but the company says that three of them will be badged as Volvos, and the other two will be high-performance EVs badged as Polestars. (Polestar is Volvo’s in-house tuning operation, and you’ll be able to read a review of the S60 Polestar here at Ars in a few weeks.)

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Posted in 48V hybrid, Cars Technica, electric car, plug-in hybrid, volvo | Comments (0)

Revealing the Future: Faraday debuts its FF91

January 4th, 2017

Jim Resnick

Financially beleaguered and lacking two top executives—who left just before the end of the year—Faraday Future unveiled its first actual electric car at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Calling it “a new species” that “reformats the future,” the FF91 (“nine-one”) has a name which will confuse rather than clarify, but the critical numbers are impressive.

Faraday claims the FF91 will have the biggest electric drive system at 130kW of energy (using cells provided by LG Chem but packaged by Faraday). The greatest range, at a minimum of 378 miles using the EPA’s protocol (700km on the EU cycle) before needing a charge. And a power output of 783kW (equivalent to 1,050hp). Charging is important to Faraday, too, and an open charging strategy across networks works at 1.5, 10, and 15kW power levels, though the fastest DC charging will operate over 200kW.

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Volkswagen unveils the I.D., a long-range electric car due in 2020

September 28th, 2016

Within the first few weeks of Volkswagen’s diesel shenanigans becoming public knowledge, the company’s board decided that electrification would have to be the way of the future. And earlier this year, the company got more concrete about those plans, forecasting that 20 to 25 percent of its sales in 2025 would be electric vehicles. While we’d already seen veiled production EV concepts from Audi and Porsche, at the Paris Motor Show on Wednesday VW revealed the I.D. concept, a battery electric vehicle that VW says will go into production in 2020.

The I.D. features a 125kW motor, batteries good for 250 to 375 miles’ range (400 to 600km) according to VW, and it’s the first car to use VW Group’s Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform. (The Audi e-tron and Porsche Mission-e concepts linked above both predate MEB.) The I.D. will be launched as a model parallel to VW’s very successful Golf, and the dimensions look roughly similar based on the provided images of the car.

VW also tells us that the car is our first look at the marque’s plans for autonomous driving. A self-driving mode will apparently be available from 2025, and when in automated mode, the steering wheel recesses into the dash.

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Riversimple Rasa review: Is this hydrogen car the future—or just a gimmick?

April 20th, 2016

(credit: Alun Taylor)

Specs at a glance: Riversimple Rasa
Body type 2-seat, 3-door hatchback
Power source 8.5kW Hydrogenics hydrogen fuel cell
Transmission Four wheel-mounted electric motors
Power 16kW continuous (55kW peak)
Torque 4x 60Nm continuous (170Nm peak)
Chassis Carbon composite monocoque with aluminium crash structure
Bodywork Self-coloured thermoplastic panels
Steering Unassisted rack and pinion
Suspension Double wishbone (front)
Semi-trailing arm (rear)
Tyres Michelin 115/80R15
Top speed 60mph (97km/h)
0-60mph Under 10 seconds
Fuel tank capacity 1.5kg (hydrogen)
Extra power storage 1.9MJ (lithium-ion hybrid capacitors)
Rated max range 300 miles (485km)
Weight 580kg (1278lbs)
Wheelbase 2272mm (89.4in)
Dimensions 3673mm (144.6in) x 1630mm (64.1in) x 1332 (52.4in) (LWH)
Base price TBA

An industrial estate on the outskirts of a sleepy spa town in deepest Powys, Wales, may not strike you as the obvious place to find an ambitious little hydrogen vehicle maker with plans to revolutionise the way we power, drive, and own our cars. But it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise.

Why not? Well, if you drive seventy-five miles to the south-west from Riversimple’s HQ in Llandrindod Wells, you end up in Swansea, once the home of William Robert Grove who in 1842 pretty much invented the hydrogen fuel cell. And it’s a hydrogen fuel cell that part-powers the Rasa, Riversimple’s funky little two-seater prototype.

“Part-powers?” I hear you ask. While the majority of electric and hydrogen cars currently on the market are essentially conventional designs with battery or fuel-cell-and-battery power sources, the Rasa—the name comes from tabula rasa, the Latin for blank or clean slate—is the result of altogether more clever thinking. I’m inclined to use a word I usually avoid like the plague—holistic—to describe Riversimple’s view of automotive design.

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