EV


Leave The Brake Pedal, Take The Bolt – Driving Chevrolet’s New EV

It’s been more than eight years since I first drove one of BMW’s MINI E electric prototypes around downtown Los Angeles. One of the first characteristics I noticed about that car was the extremely aggressive regenerative braking that enabled driving virtually without touching the brake pedal. While BMW has persisted with that strategy as the only control mode on the production i3, other automakers have provided similar abilities only when shifting the transmission to Low mode. After driving the new Chevrolet Bolt EV from Tesla’s Silicon Valley backyard into the heart of San Francisco, I think all Bolt drivers should consider driving this way all the time.

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2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e – Fuel Efficient Family Truckster

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

It’s now been about a decade since BMW first announced its plans to get into the hybrid game and it was another three years before any production models with electric drive assist hit the streets. A lot has changed since BMW launched the ActiveHybrid X6 and ActiveHybrid 7 essentially as experiments in 2009. Electrification is now becoming relatively mainstream with batteries and electric motors no longer limited to super-efficient cars like the Toyota Prius. After a week with the 2016 X5 xDrive40e, there’s no doubt that the future of the ultimate driving machine includes plugs across the board.

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2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-in Hybrid – Handsome Efficiency If You Can Find It

2016 hyundai sonata phev

2016 hyundai sonata phev

If you’ve been following along over the past year or so, you’ve probably noticed that I’m quite enamored with the current generation Hyundai’s midsize sedan, the Sonata. Since early 2015, I’ve driven the 1.6-liter turbocharged Eco, the 2.0-liter Hybrid and now the newest member of the lineup, the Plug-in Hybrid. The Sonata PHEV is the first Hyundai-branded model sold in North America with a plug and it’s one of only two plug-in hybrids in the midsize family sedan segment, the other being the Ford Fusion Energi.

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2015 BMW i8 – A Plug-in Hybrid Spaceship From Munich

2015 BMW i8

A good rule of thumb when attending an auto show is that the more radical looking a concept car is, the less likely it is to ever make it to production. Virtually every major brand is guilty of producing pieces of rolling sculpture that end up doing little more than introducing a couple of new design cues that end up on more mainstream models. When we first saw BMW’s Vision EfficientDynamics concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, it seemed to fall squarely into this category. Nevertheless, five years later something very much like that concept emerged as the first-ever i8.

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2016 Ford C-Max Energi – 20 Miles of Usability on the EV Spectrum

2016 Ford C-MaxLike most things in the real world, when it comes to automotive electrification, there is a continuum of approaches rather than a binary electric or not. At the minimal end, you’ll find automatic stop-start systems while the maximal solution relies on electric motors alone for propulsion. Lying somewhere in between is the Ford C-MAX Energi, the Dearborn automaker’s first production plug-in hybrid. After three years on the market, is the C-MAX Energi a good solution for those interested in going electric without range anxiety?

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New iPhone Upgrade Program May Point to the Apple Car

silvercar+appleWhen I first started speculating on the idea of an Apple car last February as rumors about Project Titan emerged, I was enormously skeptical that it would ultimately happen. However in the days since Apple’s most recent media event where they announced the iPhone 6s, I’ve begun to rethink my assessment. I now see a way that might lead to Apple’s entry into the car business based on their latest approach to selling smartphones.
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2015 Tesla Model S P85D – Excellent But Not Perfect

2015 Tesla Model S P85D - 4 of 36-02.jpeg
Nine years ago, I was beginning my career as a professional writer just as a little Silicon Valley startup was emerging from stealth mode to introduce its first product. Taking its name from one of the greatest engineers and inventors of all time, Nicola Tesla, that company reignited the pursuit of battery electric vehicles with a heavily modified Lotus Elise chassis packed with 1,000-pounds of lithium ion cells. It would take another two years before paying customers would finally take delivery of the first Roadsters and another four after that before Tesla would finally deliver its first completely in-house developed product, the Model S. During a recent trip to California I finally got my chance to drive the insanely fast Tesla Model S P85D.

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BMW i3 REX – Carbon Fiber EV at an Almost Affordable Price

2015 BMW i3 Rex - 1 of 37

In November 2008, I sat with a group of journalists on a hotel terrace in Beverly Hills to learn about BMW’s Project i which had the aim of a building a 21st century megacity car. In the middle of the terrace sat a fairly conventional-looking grey MINI hatchback that frankly didn’t look all that advanced. However, the lessons learned from that car and the other 500 examples just like it, led directly to the BMW’s first true, next-generation automobile, the i3.

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Why an Apple EV Might be the End of Tesla

no_tesla

Over the last couple of days I’ve been having some further discussions with people about what sort of car Apple might create if indeed they are developing one. As I said in my first post on the topic the other day, if Apple is going to build a vehicle, it will almost certainly be a premium EV in direct competition with the Tesla Model S and Model X. For any company getting into building cars for the first time today, this is probably the only rational course.

A major component of the investment in developing a vehicle is the powertrain and for internal combustion engines, that is a huge differentiator with different manufacturers having decidedly different characters. In its existing businesses, Apple contracts with other companies like Foxconn and Samsung to do all the actual production and they likely would for a car which I’ll come back to. For most of the important parts that are actual product differentiators like processors and fingerprint sensors, Apple does the design work in-house and only them manufactured to their specifications. They generally don’t like to licence these components.

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Can an Apple User Experience Be Enough to Succeed in Cars?

carplay

In recent days, the speculation that Apple, Inc. has embarked on an effort to develop and produce cars has blown up all over the internet. If indeed Apple is doing this, they come at this market segment as the industry may be entering the most transformational period in its near 130 year history. I believe Apple can do some very interesting things in this field in the near term, but it’s not at all clear if the company behind the Mac and iPhone has the traits to succeed in the long run. Even if Apple does succeed in the near-term, Tesla is likely to be the first automaker to feel the pain.

The auto industry is scrambling right now to develop future cars capable of driving themselves, taking the humans completely out of the loop. As I’ve discussed previously, there are still a great many technical issues to resolve before we can turn over full control of our mobility needs to sensors, actuators and algorithms. It may in fact be decades before we have fully autonomous general purpose vehicles that can go anywhere.

The era of personal vehicle ownership may be coming to an end

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