Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Polestar: How Volvo's EV performance brand will take on Tesla and AMG



 
Clarification: This story originally said that customers couldn't outright buy a Polestar, but the company now says that it's not ruling that out. The focus, however, seems to be on online ordering and the subscription program.


by: Jordan Golson
SHANGHAI, China - Three years ago, Volvo's renaissance began with the release of the new XC90 SUV. It was made possible by a multi-billion dollar infusion of cash by Geely, the Chinese company that acquired Volvo from Ford. That's was followed by the S90 sedan, V90 wagon, and, most recently, the volume-selling Volvo XC60. More cars, including the new XC40 compact SUV, are on the way - but there is still much left to be written of the Volvo story.

The next chapter starts tonight, here in Shanghai, with Volvo's transformation of Polestar - its longtime sporty nameplate - into a standalone brand focused on sporty cars with advanced electrified powertrains as well as a full-throated embrace of purchasing cars via a subscription-model. Polestar is also something of a statement about where Volvo thinks the entire auto industry is headed.
 

Three cars are being announced today. First is the aptly-named Polestar 1, limited-production, plug-in hybrid, 600-horsepower grand tourer based on Volvo's Scalable Platform Architecture, the same as Volvo's new-generation 60- and 90-series cars. Production will begin in mid-2019, and will be followed by a fully-electric, midsize sedan Polestar 2 before the end of 2019. Finally, Polestar 3 will be a larger SUV-type EV.

But perhaps more interesting than the cars, which are still a few years off, is the sales process. Polestar's vehicles will all be ordered online - and while it originally sounded like you couldn't buy one in the traditional way, at least not officially, Polestar is apparently willing to take offers. But instead, the company seems focused on offering two- and three-year all-inclusive subscriptions for its vehicles. Insurance, maintenance, and depreciation are built into a (not yet disclosed) monthly fee.
 

The entire Polestar process can be done online, from scheduling test drives to customization and ordering - though there will also be "Polestar Spaces" around the world, offering potential customers a place to go and ask questions of Polestar employees and test drive the vehicles. Notably, they will not be located within existing Volvo showrooms. It all sounds very Tesla-esque.

We've seen similar subscription-type offerings from a number of brands including Cadillac and Porsche, but Polestar seems to be the first company that will forgo both traditional dealerships and the ability to typically "purchase" cars. Polestar says that once the initial subscription period is up, the car will be returned by the customer and sent out again on a cheaper pre-owned subscription.

The company says it is trying to eliminate the hassle from the car buying and ownership process. Scheduled maintenance will be handled concierge-style, with the car picked up from the customer when it's convenient. A number of other services will be offered for an additional fee, including the temporary rental of other Volvo vehicles both domestically and internationally, car wash and valet services, or the temporary installation of a roof box or ski-rack.

Polestar vehicle maintenance will be performed at "select Volvo retailers," so they aren't left entirely out of the picture. But, thanks to the concierge pickup and drop-off services, Polestar subscribers won't ever need to step foot in a dealership if they don't want to.

Like with the Tesla Model 3, Polestar plans to offer a phone-as-key mode, allowing the concierge service (or anyone one might wish to loan the car to) easy access to the car without the owner needing to be present.

For a half-decade, Polestar has been to Volvo what AMG is to Mercedes, or M to BMW. Several Volvo models, including the S60 sedan and V60 wagon have fully-fledged Polestar customizations, with few parts of the car left untouched in a quest for increased performance. The latest 90-series of cars, including the XC90 and V90 have more limited Polestar customizations available, including the reprogramming of engine ECUs and tweaked badging and more aggressive looks. Volvo Polestar Engineered Products will continue to exist.

Polestar was a Swedish customization and racing shop when it first partnered with Volvo in the mid-90's, but things got a lot more interesting in 2015 when Volvo acquired Polestar's performance operations outright, leaving the race team - which competes in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship under the Cyan Racing banner - separate. Now Polestar is becoming its own wholly owned Volvo subsidiary, following in the footsteps of Mercedes which released the AMG-branded GT sports car a couple years ago.
 
The new Polestar Production Center is under construction in Chengdu, China. With an expected completion date of mid-2018, Polestar is capitalized with a 640 million euro joint venture between Volvo Car Group and Zhejiang Geely Holdings. Polestar will operate as a subsidiary of Volvo Car Group.

The Chengdu Production Center will also include the first Polestar Space, where potential customers can test the Polestar vehicles on a private test track, including taking the cars "to extremes not possible on public roads." More Polestar Spaces are expected to open beginning in early 2019.

In many ways, Polestar is a shot across the bow directly at Tesla. Though its first cars won't get to customers before early 2019 at the earliest, the order book for the Polestar 1 opens today - and there are decent odds that if you were to order a Polestar 1 and a Tesla Model 3 today, you might even get them around the same time.



article from: carscoops.com
photos from: Polestar

Friday, 13 October 2017

Semi Hands-Free Cadillac Hands-free autonomous driving is no longer the stuff of Silicon Valley dreams and bug-eyed research vehicles. With Cadillac's long-awaited Super Cruise feature, which launches this month in the 2018 CT6, drivers will be able to buy a car that can drive itself on many highways.



by: John R. Quain

Hands-free autonomous driving is no longer the stuff of Silicon Valley dreams and bug-eyed research vehicles. With Cadillac's long-awaited Super Cruise feature, which launches this month in the 2018 CT6, drivers will be able to buy a car that can drive itself on many highways. Unlike existing semi-autonomous driver-assistance systems from Tesla, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volvo, you don't have to keep a hand on the wheel or retake control of the car after a few seconds. Super Cruise is designed to drive the car by itself for hours on end without driver intervention. 
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Of course, there are limitations. General Motors describes Super Cruise as a Level 2 autonomous system, one in which the system can handle steering, acceleration, and braking while operational. While it doesn't require a frequent hand on the wheel, it does require human monitoring.
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So far it works on the 130,000 miles of highways in the United States and Canada that Cadillac has specially mapped (including those that a caravan of CT6s are currently using in a cross-country journey showcasing the technology). Super Cruise works only on divided highways that have no intersections, and it cannot perform sophisticated maneuvers such as changing lanes. It will not work above 85 mph or in a snowstorm, and it can behave like a peeved parent. If you start horsing around behind the wheel-turning away too much to interact with your passenger or watch a movie-it will stop the car.

A steering-wheel light bar and cluster icons indicate the status of Super Cruise and will prompt the driver to return attention to the road ahead if the system detects he or she has turned away from the road too long.
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Nevertheless, after a test ride in a 2018 CT6 outfitted with the new option, it is clear Super Cruise represents a milestone in the race toward autonomy. And more important for Cadillac, it's an optional feature buyers are not going to want to do without. Super Cruise arrives in showrooms this month and will be a $5000 option on the Premium Luxury model, which starts at $66,290, and standard on the $85,290 Platinum model.
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Even after logging many hours in experimental autonomous cars and tens of thousands of miles using driver-assistance systems, it was still disquieting to push the Super Cruise button and let go of the controls for the first time. But within minutes, I felt confident enough to allow the CT6 to negotiate narrow lanes on the New Jersey Turnpike as we squeezed between multiple tractor-trailers and concrete barriers at 65 mph. There was none of the anxiety-inducing ping-ponging within lanes that the likes of BMW and Tesla systems can produce. GM's Super Cruise kept the car on the straight and narrow, and its unwavering steering instilled confidence.
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It accomplishes this using cameras and radar, but without expensive onboard lidar sensors. Instead, GM has utilized lidar beforehand to make high-resolution 3D maps that act as a proxy for onboard lidar and contain detailed information on elevation changes, guardrails, and bridge abutments.
A steering-wheel light bar and cluster icons indicate the status of Super Cruise and will prompt the driver to return attention to the road ahead if the system detects he or she has turned away from the road too long.
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The driver-attention system uses a small camera located on the top of the steering column and works with infrared lights to determine where the driver is looking whenever Super Cruise is in operation.
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Still, there are plenty of situations on the highway that Super Cruise cannot handle. It cannot account for new construction (although it dealt with minor stretches of road work on my test drive without handing back control), and it will not anticipate maneuvers by human drivers. At one point, a car merging on my right had to slow down to enter the highway; Super Cruise drove like a true New Yorker, refusing to budge one bit to let the fellow in.
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To ensure you're always aware of what's going on, Super Cruise uses an attention-detection system to ensure the human behind the wheel can retake control in the event a handoff is requested. Infrared sensors in the steering wheel and a video camera in the top of the steering column keep tabs on the driver's eye movements and head position. Misbehave or block the camera and the car goes through various warning levels. If the driver continues to be unresponsive, it will ultimately bring the vehicle to a halt within the lane of travel, an aspect of Super Cruise that has already raised safety concerns from federal regulators.
In the realm of firsts, Audi is touting its forthcoming Traffic Jam Pilot package for the 2019 A8 as the first "conditional automated driving" system, one that lets drivers give up control to a self-driving machine and turn their attention to things like onboard entertainment. Audi calls it the first true Level 3 system. Drivers don't need to monitor operations.
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When it comes to comparisons, though, it should be noted the two systems have fundamentally different use cases. Traffic Jam Pilot is targeted toward commuters who want to avoid the drudgery of stop-and-go traffic, and it works at speeds lower than 37 mph, while Super Cruise is optimized for highway travel.
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Perhaps more important for motorists itching to get their hands on the latest tech, the Audi A8 with this option has yet to appear in showrooms-and the Cadillac CT6 is here now.

article from: caranddriver.com

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

TESLA to Switch From NVIDIA to INTEL'S Chipset for its Infotainment Systems Tesla Motors is going to reportedly replace Nvidia's processing modules with new ones from Intel for its infotainment systems.

 

 Michael Karkafiris
Tesla Motors is going to reportedly replace Nvidia's processing modules with new ones from Intel for its infotainment systems.

The Tesla Model 3, as well as the new versions of the Model S and Model X, will feature the new Intel chip, according to inside sources with knowledge of the matter,  Bloomberg reports.

With modern cars relying more and more heavily on electronics, the automotive industry is increasingly important for chipmakers; Nvidia saw its stock price surging more than sixfold in the last two years, partly because of its business with auto makers.

Intel, the world's biggest chipmaker, also wants a piece of the action as it looks to lower its dependence on personal computers and start supplying more of its chipsets to car makers.

The main goal for the chip companies is of course to provide the hardware that allows cars to become fully autonomous. Tesla might be one of the smallest car companies in the market, having sold just over 76,000 vehicles in its last financial year, but the EV company's position at the forefront of new technologies makes them one of the most attractive partners to work with. 




Article from: Carscoops.com

Friday, 6 October 2017

Sneak Peak of Porche's 2018 Panamera Turbo SE-Hybrid Sport Turismo Porsche packed a lot of performance and technology (and letters) into the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. At the same time, it put a lot of practicality into other Panameras with the Sport Turismo treatment, giving them a wagon-y rear end and more storage space.

 

Porsche packed a lot of performance and technology (and letters) into the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid. At the same time, it put a lot of practicality into other Panameras with the Sport Turismo treatment, giving them a wagon-y rear end and more storage space. Now, Porsche has gone and combined the two, unveiling the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, which is perhaps the poshest and most fun way to bring home a load of groceries.



The Sport Turismo's powertrain is the same as the four-door version, pairing a twin-turbo V8 with an electric motor to produce 680 horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque. It'll do the 0-60 sprint in just 3.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 192 miles per hour. Ceramic composite brakes are standard, along with Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control Sport with torque vectoring, three-chamber air suspension with Porsche Active Suspension Management and 21-inch 911 Turbo Design wheels. The Sport Chrono Package is also standard.
The Sport Turismo has a raised roofline, providing more headroom and rear storage space. At the rear of the roof, it features a three-stage adaptive spoiler that can produce up to 110 pounds of additional downforce (or optimize aerodynamics for efficiency, depending on the driving situation). Inside the car, it has three rear seats that can fold down for a maximum of 45.7 cubic feet of storage space, or optionally a posh pair of reclining rear buckets. The car is also equipped with Porsche's digital cockpit, Porsche InnoDrive driver assistance technology. Rear-axle steering is an optional feature.


Porsche is now taking orders for the 2018 Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, which is priced at a starting MSRP of $189,450 including destination. Deliveries begin in the spring of 2018.



image credits: Porche
article from: autoblog.com

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Could These Floating Pods Be The Future Of Transportation? The car as we know it is set to change dramatically in the coming decades thanks to electric powertrains, autonomous driving and ride-hailing, ride-sharing services and other connected technologies.

 
The car as we know it is set to change dramatically in the coming decades thanks to electric powertrains, autonomous driving and ride-hailing, ride-sharing services and other connected technologies.

In an effort to spawn the imaginations of budding automotive designers, Renault and the London-based Central Saint Martins art school held a competition for MA Industrial Design students to imagine the car of the future.

In total, 15 students created detailed designs of how they expect the car of the future to look. After deliberations between two of Renault's senior design team, Anthony Lo and Fran├žois Leboine, and three industry designers, Yuchen Cai was announced as the winner for her vision dubbed 'The Float'.

The Float has been dreamed up as a way to connect new mobility with people and consists of a spherical pod. Instead of wheels, the pod uses magnetic levitation technology and has been made with transparent glass across the exterior to give it a futuristic vibe.


Another interesting thing about Cai's design is that pods accommodate either one or two people and multiple pods can be attached together via a magnetic belt running around the exterior. Inside, the pods have swivel seats and large sliding doors, allowing for easy ingress and egress.

As part of her prize for winning, Cai spent two weeks at Renault's design studios in Paris to fine tune her idea.









article from: carscoops.com

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid Rated at 47 Miles of Range While there will be three distinct powertrains offered in the Honda Clarity mid-size sedan, most U.S. shoppers will only ever see one of them on sale.

y: John Voelcker

2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
























While there will be three distinct powertrains offered in the Honda Clarity mid-size sedan, most U.S. shoppers will only ever see one of them on sale.
That's the plug-in hybrid, which will go on sale "later this year" as the sole Clarity to be offered at all Honda dealers.
Now the 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid's electric range has been certified by the EPA, and it's come in at a higher-than-expected 47 miles.
That puts the plug-in hybrid Clarity in the top three for battery range, following the range-extended electric BMW i3 REx (with 97 miles of battery range) and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt (with 53 miles).
It surpasses the battery range for plug-in hybrid versions of the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, and Kia Optima mid-size sedans.
Once the battery is depleted, the 2018 Clarity Plug-In is rated at 44 mpg city, 40 highway, and 42 mpg combined, which equals the 42-mpg combined rating of the smaller Chevy Volt.
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid debuts at 2017 New York auto show
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid debuts at 2017 New York auto show




























When operating in electric mode, the plug-in Clarity is rated at 110 MPGe, against the Volt's 106 MPGe and the i3 REx at 111 MPGe.
Miles Per Gallon Equivalent, or MPGe, is a measure of how car a vehicle can travel electrically on the same amount of energy as contained in 1 gallon of gasoline.
The car's powertrain combines a 1.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-4 with Honda's two-motor hybrid system, which takes the place of a transmission.

One motor, rated at 135 kilowatts (181 horsepower) and 232 pound-feet of torque, can drive the car itself under many circumstances, especially at lower speeds.
It draws power from a 17-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack located behind the rear seat; Honda quotes a recharge time of 2.5 hours when using a 240-volt Level 2 charging station.
The default driving mode, Normal, runs on battery power until the pack is depleted and then essentially turns into a conventional hybrid car.
2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid

The Econ mode reduces power draw and cabin ventilation to extend the range, at the risk of slower acceleration, while the Sport mode uses the battery and engine more aggressively.

A separate toggle for "HV" (or Hybrid Vehicle) mode can be selected with any of the three driving modes; it operates the car and maintains battery charge for later all-electric use.

The 2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid will be offered in standard and Touring trim levels. Pricing will be released closer to the car's on-sale date.

Honda will also launch a "dedicated hybrid car" next year, about which no details are yet known, and is expected to launch a CR-V Hybrid compact crossover to join its redesigned 2018 Honda Accord sedan.
Meanwhile, the Honda Clarity Fuel Cell version is offered for sale only in California, which now has 35 hydrogen fueling stations operating.
The Clarity Electric version, with a battery range rated at just 89 miles on a full charge and a combined energy efficiency is 114 MPGe, is on sale only in California and a few other states.






article from: greencarreports.com

Friday, 22 September 2017

Mercedes Invests in Radical Electric Car Tech Which Could Revolutionize the Industry A NEW battery that can be recharged in five minutes and deliver around 300 miles of range has been revealed as a potential game changer for the EV world.

by: Luke John Smith

 
One company has been busy manufacturing new electric car battery technology that could become a game changer in the EV world which Mercedes has invested in.
Israel start-up StoreDot has developed a new car battery technology which could prove to be revolutionary in the industry. 
Their new developments in the technology has also now just got a $60 million backing from Mercedes parent company Daimler, who want to bring it to their future EVs.
Daimler AG's Truck division is currently interested in the technology for their HGVs.  

StoreDot claim their new technology can be fully recharged within five minutes and enabled a range of up to 300 miles on a single charge. 


Currently one of motorist's biggest gripes with electric cars is how long it takes for the cars to be recharged.
At the moment EVs can take up to 10 hours to charge to full. 
Fast charging is available on some vehicles but it usually takes around 30 minutes to recharge the car to a useful level.
 
This is currently better than other electric cars on the road such as the Tesla Model S. 
These innovative molecules demonstrate uniquely tuneable optical and electrochemical properties
Daimler AG
Mercedes unveiled their new EQA Concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show 2017 this week which will go into production in 2019
Daimler AG's Trucks wrote in a press release: "Complementing the investment, both partners have agreed to a strategic partnership that focuses on the field of fast battery charging. 
"StoreDot's FlashBattery technology enables charging any electric vehicle within minutes, as quickly as filling a tank of gas. 
"Furthermore, FlashBattery's high efficiency in recuperation is particularly interesting for commercial vehicles; better usage of braking energy increases the range and requires less frequent charging. 
 
"This results, together with faster charging times, in higher vehicle usage. 
"Both partners will jointly work on tailor-made, integrated technologies, with the future-generation FUSO eCanter as a possible example of application. 
"The possibility of further joint projects, even beyond the Trucks division, is part of both companies' future discussions."
StoreDot described how it has created its battery technology: "StoreDot's core technology incorporates chemically synthesized organic molecules of non-biological origin. 
"These innovative molecules demonstrate uniquely tuneable optical and electrochemical properties, which allow for enhanced performance of energy storage devices."
Apart from the claimed recharge time and range not much else is known about the technology. 
StoreDot has claimed that it is aiming to bring the technology to mass production by 2022 for their own facility called 'OneGiga' which is to be but in Shenzhen China with a scalable capacity of one to 10 GWh per year.






article from: express.co.uk