Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

This electric fastback is the next Audi A6 e-tron, due in late 2022

April 19th, 2021

It has been a bumper few days for new electric vehicle reveals. Traditionally the time of the New York International Auto Show, last week saw new battery EVs from Audi, Mazda, and Mercedes-EQ. This coming week, the Shanghai Auto Show will take place in corporeal form, and Audi has brought along something special. It's called the A6 e-tron concept, but don't let the "concept" bit fool you; when the actual A6 e-tron arrives in late 2022, it'll look a lot like the car you see in the gallery above.

A new EV platform

Audi and its corporate siblings within Volkswagen Group have made efficient use of highly flexible vehicle architectures, where a common set of components is used to create a wide range of different vehicles. When dieselgate forced VW Group to abandon that fuel in favor of electrification as a way to meet tough European climate regulations, it put Audi in charge of developing a replacement for the MLB Evo architecture that Audi, Porsche, Bentley, and Lamborghini have used to make cars and SUVs.

The new platform is called PPE—Premium Platform Electric—and the new A6 e-tron will be one of the first BEVs to make use of it. (This is in addition to the new MEB architecture for smaller BEVs built in much greater volume.) In fact, the A6 e-tron won't be the first PPE-derived BEVs to reach market; late 2022 should see the arrival of an electric replacement for the Porsche Macan crossover, as well as a new Audi Q6 SUV, but we don't have any more details to share about those two at this time.

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Posted in Audi, Audi A6 e-tron, battery electric vehicle, BEV, cars, concept car, electric vehicle, PPE, Premium Platform Electric, Shanghai auto show | Comments (0)

Mercedes goes all out with its new electric luxury sedan, the EQS

April 16th, 2021

You can tell there should have been an international auto show this week by the flurry of new car announcements. These announcements have already included new battery electric vehicles from Mazda and Audi, as well as a little Hyundai truck that seems to have impressed many. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has taken the wraps off an electric alternative to its mighty flagship S-Class. Actually, let me correct that—it's the first car from a new sub-brand, called Mercedes-EQ, and the car is called the EQS. And unlike the EQC crossover, this one is definitely going on sale here in the US.

Do not mistake this car for an S-Class with a battery pack and some electric motors instead of an engine and transmission. Although the two cars share technology, the EQS uses a purpose-designed BEV architecture that we'll see in other, probably more modest Mercedes-EQs. Over in the conventionally powered world, the S-Class has for decades been the car to beat for the title of "World's Best," and the EQS is sticking to that playbook.

The EQS has a drag coefficient that might make a Lucid Air driver wonder if someone left a window open. It has a range far in excess of a Tesla Model S Long Range. It can regenerate more braking energy than a Porsche Taycan Turbo S. And the dashboard has been replaced by 56 inches of AI-enhanced data screens. Oh, and did I mention the doors close themselves?

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Posted in battery electric car, cars, luxury car, Mercedes-EQ, Mercedes-EQ EQS | Comments (0)

The largest independent self-driving startup is under a lot of pressure

April 16th, 2021
Chris Urmson speaks onstage during the 2019 SXSW Conference on March 9, 2019 in Austin.

Enlarge / Chris Urmson speaks onstage during the 2019 SXSW Conference on March 9, 2019 in Austin. (credit: Samantha Burkardt/Getty Images for SXSW)

Few people have been working on self-driving cars longer than Chris Urmson. Urmson played a key role on Carnegie Mellon's team in all three of DARPA's famous Grand Challenges between 2004 and 2007. He then led Google's self-driving project for several years. Urmson left Google after being passed over to become the CEO of the spin-off company that became Waymo.

“I’d been leading and building that team and, for all intents and purposes, general managing it for years,” Urmson told Bloomberg in a Thursday interview. “Of course I wanted to run the program.”

Bloomberg asked Urmson about Tesla's Autopilot technology—and particularly Elon Musk's claim that Tesla vehicles will soon be capable of operating as driverless taxis.

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Posted in aurora, autopilot, cars, google, self driving cars, Tesla | Comments (0)

Walmart invests in self-driving startup Cruise

April 15th, 2021
Walmart invests in self-driving startup Cruise

Enlarge (credit: Walmart)

Walmart is investing in self-driving startup Cruise as part of a massive $2.75 billion investment round in the company—an expansion of the $2 billion round announced in January. That original announcement featured three other big names: GM, Honda, and Microsoft.

Cruise was originally an independent startup but was acquired by GM in 2016. GM has poured billions into the company and has increasingly sought additional financial support from outside investors.

Recently, Cruise has been signaling that it is just a couple of years away from launching its technology commercially. Earlier this week, Cruise announced that it would launch a self-driving taxi service in Dubai in 2023. Cruise CEO Dan Ammann then told Bloomberg that he expected to launch a commercial service in San Francisco prior to launching in Dubai.

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Posted in cars, Cruise, self-driving car, walmart | Comments (0)

Everything we know about Audi’s next electric crossover, the Q4 e-tron

April 14th, 2021

Although it hasn't announced plans to give up internal combustion engines completely, the future is definitely an electric one for Audi. In February, the company revealed its third battery electric vehicle, the e-tron GT, which joins the e-tron and e-tron Sportback SUVs in dealerships this summer. And following the svelte e-tron GT by year's end is a pair of smaller, more affordable crossovers, called the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron, unveiled online on Wednesday. (And if that's not enough, we have some news on Audi's other new BEV platform, but we can't tell you about that until next week.)

As the name suggests, the Q4 fits in between the brand's Q3 and Q5 crossovers. Based on its exterior dimensions, it's only slightly smaller than the Q5, although the benefits of a bespoke BEV platform make for a much more voluminous interior, particularly for those in the back.

If the Q4 looks somewhat familiar—a bit like a Volkswagen ID.4, perhaps—don't be alarmed. That's because it uses a new dedicated BEV architecture shared with VW, called MEB (Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten or Modular Electrification Toolkit). Therefore, many of the Q4 e-tron and Q4 Sportback e-tron technical specs may come as no surprise.

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Posted in Audi Q4, Audi Q4 40 e-tron, Audi Q4 50 e-tron quattro, Audi Q4 50 Sportback e-tron quattro, Audi Q4 Sportback e-tron, battery electric vehicle, BEV, cars, electric crossover, MEB, Modularer E-Antriebs-Baukasten, Sportback | Comments (0)

Fast and Furious 9 drops a new trailer ahead of June 25 release

April 14th, 2021

This past weekend, with little to do thanks to the pandemic, I marathoned through the Fast and Furious franchise. That was fortuitous timing, because on Tuesday a new trailer dropped for F9, the next installment, which arrives in theaters on June 25.

We actually got our first look at F9 well over a year ago, when the first trailer dropped at the end of January 2020. Family has been a central theme to the F&F movies, and that continues here. Dominic Torreto (played by Vin Diesel) and the gang have to confront his younger brother Jakob (John Cena), described as "the most skilled assassin and high-performance driver they've encountered." He's working with criminal mastermind Cipher (Charlize Theron), who sports a much more flattering haircut than in Fate of the Furious, the movie where she improbably hacked a bunch of old cars to drive themselves.

Also returning to the series is Han Lue (Sung Kang), who we all thought died at the end of Tokyo Drift. (This was revealed to be the work of Deckard Shaw (Jason Stratham) who was bad in Furious 7 but then turned out to be good in Fate of the Furious and Hobbs and Shaw.)

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Posted in cars, F9, Fast and Furious 9, fast and the furious, Gaming & Culture | Comments (0)

Mazda’s electric MX-30 goes on sale in the US this fall

April 14th, 2021

On Wednesday, Mazda confirmed that it will bring its new battery-electric vehicle to the US later in 2021. It's called the MX-30, and it's an attractive compact crossover that has been on sale in Europe for a few months already. It's the first full EV to join the Mazda lineup. The MX-30 will be joined in time by a series hybrid version that uses a rotary engine as a range extender, as well as a new plug-in hybrid for an as-yet-unseen larger vehicle, plus a US-made hybrid crossover.

The MX-30's technical specs probably won't win any bench races. There's a 107 kW (144 hp), 271 Nm (200 lb-ft) electric motor that drives the front axle, and a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that has a 124-mile (200 km) range under the generous WLTP testing format. And DC fast charging tops out at a maximum of 50 kW, which equates to a 36-minute pitstop to get back to 80 percent state of charge on road trips.

But we're expecting it to drive like a peach, as it shares the same Skyactiv Vehicle architecture as the CX-30 crossover and Mazda 3 sedan and hatchbacks, all of which are a joy from behind the wheel.

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Ford’s hands-free answer to GM’s Super Cruise is called BlueCruise

April 14th, 2021

On Wednesday morning, the Ford Motor Company revealed some fresh information about its forthcoming hands-free highway driving assist. Originally known as Active Drive Assist, this new system has been renamed BlueCruise, and it will roll out in Q3 2021 via an over-the-air update to F-150 trucks and Mustang Mach-E crossovers that shipped with pre-installed hardware.

Like General Motors' highly rated Super Cruise system, BlueCruise only enables hands-free driving on predetermined roads—in this case 110,000 miles (177,027 km) of pre-mapped divided-lane highways.

And, like Super Cruise, it uses an eye-tracking infrared camera to make sure that the driver's eyes are on the road ahead while engaged. To prevent mode confusion, Ford says that the main instrument display will change unambiguously so drivers know whether BlueCruise is active.

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Posted in ADAS, advanced driver assistance systems, BlueCruise, cars, Ford, ford f-150, Ford Mustang Mach-E, hands-free driving | Comments (0)

Tesla tells customers they’ll have to pay more for solar roof

April 13th, 2021
An upscale suburban house has a Tesla in the driveway and solar panels on the roof.

Enlarge (credit: Tesla)

Tesla has jacked up the price of its solar roof, which integrates solar panels directly into roof tiles, Electrek reports. A 12.3 kW system that Electrek priced at $54,966 last summer now costs more than $70,000, according to Tesla's online calculator.

Customers report that Tesla is not only raising prices for future solar roof installations—it's demanding more money from some existing customers whose panels haven't been installed yet.

"Tesla has reneged on its solar roof contracts and has raised the prices for people (like me) who have already signed contract with them," one Ars reader told us. "For example, they are asking for an additional $21,000 for my project from about $66,000 to $87,000."

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Polestar expands the Polestar 2 lineup, adds a single-motor variant

April 13th, 2021

On Tuesday morning, Polestar expanded its line of battery-electric vehicles with two new versions of the Polestar 2 fastback, both of which should be cheaper than the fully loaded $59,500 Polestar 2 Launch Edition we tested last summer.

In the next few weeks, the automaker will start offering a simplified version of the dual-motor Polestar 2. It says that this version should have an EPA range of 240 miles (386 km). That should increase if you option it with the Plus Pack, which adds a slightly nicer interior (using the WeaveTech fabric from the Launch Edition), more speakers for the sound system, heated rear seats, steering wheel, and wiper blades, but perhaps most importantly, a heat pump.

The addition of a heat pump means that the Polestar 2 can warm or cool the cabin with less draw from the 78 kWh battery pack, and Polestar says that at ambient temperatures between 40-60˚F (4.4-15.5˚C) it can add up to 10 percent to the car's range.

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Posted in battery electric vehicle, cars, electric vehicle, Polestar 2 | Comments (0)