Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Ford builds an affordable, efficient small truck: The new Maverick

June 8th, 2021

America’s love affair with the truck shows no signs of abating. The country buys millions of them each year, providing the bread and butter for domestic automakers. But not everyone is well-served by the products on offer. Some might want a truck but are turned off by their ever-increasing size, particularly hood heights that hide small pedestrians. Others are put off by the poor efficiency. Enter Ford. After blowing everyone’s socks off with its electric F-150 Lightning, the Blue Oval is back with yet another truck, but this one’s small, efficient, and cheap—it’s the new Ford Maverick.

Unlike its bigger siblings, the Maverick uses a monocoque chassis construction rather than a body on frame. At just under 200 inches (5,072 mm) in length, it’s significantly shorter than the (232-inch/5,885-mm) F-150, and smaller even than the Ranger. And that means a shorter and lower hood and, therefore, a smaller forward blind spot, which will be welcome news to pedestrians, cyclists, and road users with small cars.

Under that small hood, you’ll find a hybrid powertrain that combines a 162 hp (120 kW), 155 lb-ft (210 Nm), 2.5 L four-cylinder gasoline engine (that operates on the more efficient Atkinson cycle) with a 126 hp (94 kW), 173 lb-ft (235 Nm) permanent magnet electric motor. Together, they provide 191 hp (142 kW) to the front wheels via a continuously variable transmission.

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Schumacher, Senna, and co-op multiplayer are new additions for F1 2021

June 7th, 2021
This year's installment of the official Formula 1 game, <em>F1 2021</em>, arrives on PCs and consoles on July 16.

Enlarge / This year’s installment of the official Formula 1 game, F1 2021, arrives on PCs and consoles on July 16. (credit: Codemasters)

If you’ve ever wanted to race with Formula 1 legends like Michael Schumacher or Ayrton Senna, your wish could come true later this summer—sort of. The iconic drivers and their driving styles have been put into F1 2021, which arrives on consoles and PCs in July.

“We’ve always spoken about ‘wouldn’t it be cool to have as your teammate the drivers that we all remember?’ And that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said Lee Mather, franchise game director at Codemasters, who briefed Ars on the new game recently.

Mather’s team started programming the game’s AI to race like the sport’s current stars in last year’s F1 2020. “We put so much time and effort and science into how you do driver ratings [for F1 2020] and how you manage those on a race-by-race basis. So we built the data [ranking different attributes for each of the current F1 drivers] and then we updated every three or four grands prix,” Mather explained.

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Posted in cars, Codemasters, EA Sports, Electronic Arts, F1, F1 2021, Formula 1, Gaming & Culture, Michael Schumacher, racing game | Comments (0)

Ancient electric cars meet modern EVs at Amelia Island show

June 6th, 2021

AMELIA ISLAND, FLORIDA—It’s rare to see an electric vehicle among the polished and restored vintage cars of a concours d’elegance. (That’s French for a very fancy car show.) And that’s despite the fact that electric power was a credible alternative to the internal combustion engine for the first few decades of the automobile. But this year’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance went some way to rectifying that. Under the oppressive humidity, nestled between the usual concours fare of interwar phaetons and a wonderful assortment of Porsche 935s, there was an entire class of ancient EVs on display.

And what a varied class it was. A marvelously named Electrobat IV 1895 was the oldest EV to take to the well-manicured golf course. They were still in the earliest stages of figuring out this whole automobile thing 126 years ago and the Electrobat IV, running on skinny buggy tires, still looks like it’s missing its horse. But the real innovation that Pedro Salem and Henry Morris came up with for the Electrobat was its electric powertrain, consisting of a 1.5 hp (1.1 kW) motor and a 350 lb (159 kg) battery. They went on to build a fleet of Electrobat taxis that operated in New York at the beginning of the last century.

The Waverley Electric from 1901 was nearly primitive, and again there’s the impression that it’s incomplete without an accompanying equine. But the 1901 Waverley rides on pneumatic treaded tires, it has headlights, and is powered by a 2.5 hp (1.8 kW) motor. A Waverley Four-Passenger Coupe from 1910 shows how far the Indianapolis-based company developed over a decade; while obviously an antique, the red two-door fits most definitions of a car.

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Posted in Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, cars, electric cars, Electric vehicles, Electrobat, vintage electric cars, vintage EVs, Waverley | Comments (0)

“Kind of crazy”—how the booming US used car market is driving inflation

June 5th, 2021
“Kind of crazy”—how the booming US used car market is driving inflation

Enlarge (credit: Nathan Mattise)

Last month it took Carey Cherner, a 36-year-old used car dealer in Kensington, Maryland, less than 12 hours to sell a 2001 Ford F-150 pick-up truck with 184,000 miles on the clock. It went for $7,500—50 percent higher than usual.

Cherner’s experience was not a one-off in the US used car market, where prices are rising rapidly. The industry is at the heart of the country’s growing inflationary pressures—and has therefore become a subject of great interest to policymakers in Washington.

“There’s more people buying cars than there are cars in the market, which makes it go kind of crazy,” Cherner said.

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Here’s why Toyota converted this Corolla to hydrogen and went racing

June 3rd, 2021

In late May, a special Toyota Corolla entered the track at Fuji Speedway in Japan to take part in a 24-hour race. Unlike the other cars in the race, this one was hydrogen-powered. But it didn’t use a fuel cell like the Mirai sedan; instead, this car’s three-cylinder engine was converted to burn the gas instead of burning gas(oline). The driver line-up for the car showed why. Among the racers listed was a “Morizo,” better known to the world as Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Company’s president.

No pressure, then.

“The reason for competing in a 24-hour endurance race is that simply lasting three or five hours is not enough. You have to have done the preparation to last for 24 hours,” Toyoda said in the weeks before the race. There’s no doubt about it—completing a 24-hour race is no easy thing, and the crucible of racing will often reveal problems that engineers don’t encounter on the test bench.

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Posted in Akio Toyoda, cars, endurance racing, hydrogen, hydrogen car, hydrogen internal combustion, Racing, Toyota, Toyota Corolla | Comments (0)

This Range Rover Classic restomod runs on Tesla power

June 3rd, 2021

KISSIMMEE, Fla.—At the upper end of the automotive market, there exists the restomod. A portmanteau of restoration and modification, the restomod is usually a reimagining of a classic car, with a fit and finish far in excess of factory spec—and a price tag to match. It’s a less conventional alternative to spending six figures on a supercar and a great way to stand out from the crowd (or blend in, depending on how stealth you go). And nothing in the world of restomodding appeals to me as much as the electric conversion.

Some classic cars lend themselves to the electric restomod treatment better than others—like the gloss-white 1995 Range Rover Classic you see in the photos here. No one’s really going to miss its old Rover V8, originally originally an engine of Buick design as nerds will know. And while you could replace it with a modern V8 fresh out of a crate (as is the case for most of ECD Automotive’s restomods), doesn’t a Tesla drive motor and some Tesla lithium-ion sound a whole lot cooler?

It looks a lot cooler under the hood of the electric Range Rover, too. Instead of an oily engine bay, you find one of the two battery packs, nestled with ancillaries like the cooling system beneath a custom cover. The other pack is at the far end, where it takes up some (but not too much) space in the cargo area. In total, the batteries amount to 100 kWh, good for about 220 miles (350 km) of range. The packs feed a single 450 hp (335 kW) drive motor from a Tesla Model S, mounted roughly where the transmission used to be so it can drive the front and rear axles in a 50:50 torque split.

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Posted in cars, ECD Automotive Design, electric SUV, Range Rover, Range Rover classic, Restomod, Tesla | Comments (0)

Pirelli puts a wireless sensor in its new tire for the McLaren Artura

June 1st, 2021
The new McLaren Artura plug-in hybrid supercar will be the first production car to use tires with built-in monitoring sensors.

Enlarge / The new McLaren Artura plug-in hybrid supercar will be the first production car to use tires with built-in monitoring sensors. (credit: McLaren)

When the McLaren Artura reaches the road later this year, it will do so riding on the world’s first “Cyber Tires.” Made by Pirelli, the tires feature an evolution of the tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) that are now fitted to new cars. Normally, those sensors are in a car’s wheels, but Pirelli has here embedded them in the construction of the tire, where they measure pressure, temperature, and acceleration.

That little snippet of information from the Artura press briefing left me intrigued, if a little skeptical. So I reached out to Pirelli to see if it could convince me that smart tires are a good idea.

“Now we have the technology to install at industrial level a sensor inside the tire and, most of all, integrate the sensor into the car itself,” said Piero Misani, Pirelli’s senior VP of R&D. “You can put in a sensor, you can put in an app [linked to a tire], but this is not a dialogue between the tire and the car. That is something that is a standalone system. With the McLaren Artura, we believe that we’ll be the first to fully integrate a sensor in the tire with the car’s electronics.”

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How I learned to love the Indianapolis 500, America’s greatest race

May 28th, 2021
Scott Dixon has won six IndyCar championships and one Indy 500. On Sunday, he will start the 105th Indy 500 from pole position.

Enlarge / Scott Dixon has won six IndyCar championships and one Indy 500. On Sunday, he will start the 105th Indy 500 from pole position. (credit: Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

As an immigrant, it took me a while to properly appreciate the Indianapolis 500. Taking place this coming Sunday, the race is one of the oldest in the world, and it’s the largest single-day sporting event of the year, to boot. To the uninitiated, 200 laps on a track with only four corners doesn’t seem that complicated. But consider the fact that the 33 drivers still lap at an average speed of more than 220 mph (354 km/h), often inches from each other—and from the wall that lines the 2.5-mile (4 km) oval—and everything comes into perspective.

The race usually takes place on the same day as F1’s Monaco Grand Prix (and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600), but it’s now the highlight of the day for me, usually offering up about three hours of close but unpredictable racing. The demands on the driver are high—unlike in F1, an IndyCar has no power steering, for one thing.

And the addition of the aeroscreen has resulted in a considerable increase in cockpit temperatures now that drivers are no longer exposed to airflow. On top of that, teams need to manage their tire and fuel strategies and perfectly execute each pit stop if they want a shot at victory. It’s a daunting challenge that has bested even legendary drivers like F1 double champion Fernando Alonso.

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We got our first ride in the electric Lucid Air sedan

May 27th, 2021

Back in 2017, I got my first face-to-face encounter with a Lucid Air, when the startup electric vehicle-maker brought one of its early prototypes to Washington, DC. Its EV combined distinctive styling with some innovative packaging, with the technical team being led by a CTO who can count being the Tesla Model S’ chief engineer among his CV highlights.

Lucid’s timeline might have slipped a little from the original plan—investors are much less reticent about putting their money into EV startups than they were in 2017, and then the pandemic happened—but it’s on track to begin deliveries of the Air later this year. And on Sunday, I was fortunate enough to go for a ride in one of the company’s current prototypes to see how things have changed.

From the outside, the Air looks like little else on the market. It’s a smooth shape, with a relatively long hood and a short trunk, accented by the polished aluminum pillars that frame the glasshouse. Superficially it looks much the same as when I first saw it, but many of the details have changed along the way to what may well be a class-leading drag coefficient of just 0.21.

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Posted in Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, battery electric vehicle, BEV, cars, EV, Lucid, Lucid Air | Comments (0)

The 2021 BMW M3: When you’re driving it, you don’t have to see its nose

May 26th, 2021

I have a confession to make. Over the past few months of gazing at images in wide-eyed awe and after spending a week with the new sixth-generation M3 in the flesh, I’ve grown accustomed to the look. The front end no longer stuns and confuses me; it’s simply the new M3. While that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for the design, I’d like to think that it offers a semblance of hope: with time, you can see past the face.

More importantly, this new M car is notable for more than just its schnoz—there’s a reason the M3 has long been the benchmark by which all other luxury sports sedans are measured. Decades ago, the M3 helped establish the template for the everyday performance machine with a masterful blend of capability, comfort, and style. The mission remains much the same today, but the stakes are higher than ever.

Starting at $70,895 and coming in at $90,295 as tested, this “base” M3 packs formidable performance cred, dishing out 473 hp (353 kW) and 406 lb-ft (550 Nm) of torque by way of the twin-turbocharged 3.0L S58 inline six-cylinder engine under the hood, and that boosted mill sends the power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. Spring for the Competition package and output jumps to 503 hp (375 kW) and 479 lb-ft (650 Nm), but it comes with the caveat that it can only be had with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

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