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Audi to unveil the 2019 e-tron on September 17th

July 27, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Engadget/Steve Dent

Audi’s first all-electric car, the 2019 e-tron, will make its global debut on September 17th in San Francisco. The automaker will also reveal the price and specifications, and US customers will be able to place a $1,000 deposit to reserve and configure a vehicle from Audi’s website on the same day. The new reservation system is a big part of the launch, with Audi creating a Tesla-like process for customers to place and track orders online or with a dealer. The e-tron is expected to arrive in showrooms in the first part of 2019, said Audi.

“We’re introducing a premium, customer-centric vehicle in a premium, customer-centric way,” said president of Audi of America, Scott Keogh in a statement. “With our owners and our dealers, this process allows us to offer transparency from reservation and build all the way through delivery.” Audi said it will unveil more details about the system at the launch event.

The e-tron will be the first of three all-electric vehicles launched by Audi by 2020. It’s a five-passenger premium SUV with a range of about 245 miles and will support fast charging at up to 150kW, about the same delivered by Tesla’s superchargers. The standard home charger will deliver 11 kW, enough to juice up the e-tron in about 8.5 hours. Audi will likely reveal more about its US charging network plans on September 17th.

Audi reportedly delayed the launch of the e-tron because of the arrest of CEO Rupert Stadler over the “Dieselgate” scandal. That cost parent company Volkswagen $25 billion in the US alone, and resulted in up to 20,000 deaths per year by respiratory diseases, by some estimates. VW also had to take hundreds of thousands of cars off the road and store, repair or scrap them.

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Volvo's all-electric Polestar 2 will go up against the Model 3

July 24, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Volvo

Now that Polestar’s first car (and its only hybrid car) is out the door, what’s it going to do for the purely electric follow-up? Give Tesla’s Model 3 a run for the money, apparently. Chief operating officer Jonathan Goodman told Autocar in a recent interview that the Polestar 2 would have the kind of performance and pricing that might have some Model 3 buyers reconsidering their life choices. The upcoming EV would cost between £30,000 to £50,000 (about $39,400 to $65,700) with as much as 400 brake horsepower and a 350-mile range. And that last figure is for the starter model — you wouldn’t have to pay a premium for long-distance driving like you do for its Tesla rival.

The 2 is poised to make its debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March, and is expected to share a lot in common with Volvo’s 40.2 concept (pictured above). It wouldn’t be as exotic-looking as the Polestar 1, but that’s part of the point. Goodman rejected the idea that EVs had to be “quirky or futuristic” — if they’re eventually going to be mainstream, they have to look like (relatively) ordinary cars.

This doesn’t necessarily put Tesla in immediate danger. It’s expected to deliver its fabled $35,000 Model 3 variant within several months, and it has the luxury of both an enthusiastic fan base and hundreds of thousands of pre-orders. Nonetheless, it has good cause to be nervous. Polestar not only has competitive specs, but the luxury of support from a long-serving automotive brand. It doesn’t have to worry as much about economies of scale or manufacturing challenges, and that could help it lure customers who want Model 3-like abilities without necessarily buying a Model 3.

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Tesla's Model 3 Performance has an experimental 'Track Mode'

July 21, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Tesla’s Model 3 is very quick, especially if you spring for the dual-motor Performance variant, but it’s still tame for safety’s sake. What if you want to launch an all-out assault on a race course? You might have that option soon. YouTuber Marques Brownlee recently had an opportunity to drive the Model 3 Performance on a track, and he pointed out an experimental “Track Mode” that takes the gloves off. The in-testing feature switches on “stability control and powertrain settings configured for track driving,” and it’s no secret what that means: you can drift, understeer and otherwise push the electric car past its usual limits.

It’s not certain when this will reach customers, or even what the final name will be. And as enthusiasts will tell you, it’s not a novel concept — many sports cars have the option to turn off handholding features. It’s still relatively rare among street-going electric vehicles, though, and serves as another signal that Tesla is interested in EV performance beyond straight-line acceleration. The greater challenge may be the “Augmented Mode” for the upcoming Roadster. It’s one thing to turn features off in the name of courting experienced drivers, it’s another to use them to improve a driver’s abilities.

Taking @Tesla’s brand new car to a track and getting some power slides in. Not a bad day.

A post shared by Marques Brownlee (@mkbhd) on Jul 20, 2018 at 5:00pm PDT

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Zero motorcycle’s modular battery is one pricey upgrade

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

FX Get more info More Scores Engadget Not yet scored   Critic Not yet scored   Users Not yet scored   Key Specs

On a spreadsheet, electric motorcycles can be a tough sell. For starters, gas-powered bikes get outstanding mileage. So while hybrids and electric cars can save a driver money in the long run, that doesn’t really apply to motorcycles. Instead, there’s the warm fuzzy feeling that you’re doing something good for the environment. In addition, you can silently cruise around without frightening the neighborhood pets with a bombastic exhaust. Oh and there’s also the incredible electric torque.

Engadget Score Poor Uninspiring Good Excellent Key Zero Motorcycles FX 83 Pros Fast and nimble Fun to ride No transmission Over-the-air updates Cons Pricey Modular battery pack only makes sense for a small group of people Summary

A fun, quick and nimble commuter bike with a modular battery pack that most people won’t use. The fixed 7.2kWh is probably the the better bet.

The new Zero FX with modular battery (starting at $8,495.00 for the 3.2kWh version) is an even tougher sell on that spreadsheet. It’s a great bike with an intriguing feature: the ability to swap batteries and keep on riding without the hassle of waiting for a bike to charge. That sounds awesome right? It is, but it’s for a select group of riders and to be part of that group, be ready to pony up some cash.

The FX is the more capable version of the FXS I rode before. It’s able to hit the asphalt as well as the dirt. I had a blast riding it in both environments. Plus its lightweight (289 pounds) which gives it a nimbleness that’s perfect for lane splitting on San Francisco’s narrow streets.

I rode the 7.2kWh version of the bike which actually uses two 3.6kWh modular battery packs. Removing the batteries isn’t tough (you just unlock a bar and pull them out) but it requires you to be ready to carry a very heavy brick of electrons. The FX only requires a single battery to operate giving you the option of charging one battery while riding with another hence the 3.2kWh version of the bike. But with that second power supply plugged in the FX bike has 78 foot-pounds

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Nissan's Leaf E-Plus may offer more range and extra power in 2019

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Engadget

Nissan’s 2018 Leaf model upped the ante with a ProPilot Assist system and 150-mile travel range on full battery. That was a solid improvement compared to the original Leaf’s 107 miles, and positioned it somewhere between the Hyundai Iconiq EV and Tesla’s Model 3. Still, it left many hungry for a vehicle that could offer a longer range. Now, the best-selling EV maker has confirmed its 2019 model will boost mileage and battery power.

Brian Maragno, Nissan’s director of Marketing and Sales Strategy told AutoGuide that the Leaf “E-Plus” will up the horsepower from 142BHP to 200BHP and will utilize a higher capacity battery. According to reports, battery power will rise from 40kW to 60kW. The E-Plus is also said to feature a 160kW electric motor and a fast-charging capacity that isn’t currently part of the Leaf line-up.

While Maragno did not reveal exact figures on the E-Plus’s range, it’s been proposed as early as December 2017 that it will reach approximately 225 miles — which would bring it more in line with the Model 3 and Chevy’s Bolt EV.

For Leaf fans wanting a more sporty look, Nissan is also delivering on that front. At the Tokyo Game Show last year, the company first exhibited the Leaf Nismo — a concept vehicle with a “fondness for song” that’s based on the 2018 Leaf design. The ‘Canto’ (Latin for ‘I sing’) feature, which was built-in to insure pedestrian safety, changes the pitch of sounds depending on whether the Leaf is accelerating or decelerating. Although the Nismo didn’t come with a release timeline, that’s since changed. The Japanese company has recently announced it will be on sale in Japan beginning July 31st. There’s no confirmation yet on when or if it will arrive on US shores.

At any rate, Nissan’s strides toward improving its EV lineup could further cement its grip on the EV market and cause prospective owners less range-anxiety.

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Tesla to cover the cost of Germany's court-ruled subsidy repayments

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Some German Tesla owners are facing a surprise €4,000 bill for purchasing their Model S cars, thanks to a confusing ruling by Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control. In a bid to push EVs and plug-in hybrids in the country, Germany offers a €4,000 subsidy for electric vehicles with a base price under €60,000 (half of the subsidy comes from the government, the other half from the automaker itself).

While the Model S has a base price low enough to qualify, it was previously removed from the approved vehicles list when the government came to believe the base model wasn’t actually available in Germany. Tesla could only prove this model was available to German buyers from March 6th, so anyone purchasing the car prior to this date was — according to the government — erroneously in receipt of the subsidy, and must now pay it back.

The decision affects around 800 Model S owners, but Tesla is stepping in to help. In a statement, the company said that “the arbitrary decision to temporarily remove Tesla from the list of vehicles eligible for the Environmental Bonus (Umweltbonus) was unjustified, contrary to the stated goals of the program, and unfair to our customers.”

It says it plans to appeal the government’s decision, and “to make sure our customers are not harmed by this decision, we will cover the cost of the bonus for them until the issue is resolved.” It also says it won’t ask for its half of the payment to be returned. The issue could end up lumping Tesla with a bill of €1.7 million (the government’s share of the subsidy) — not a serious sum for a company of its size but certainly enough to get their accounts in a sweat, so it’ll no doubt push for a quick resolution.

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VW will build its electric microbus and crossover in the US

July 19, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Volkswagen

Volkswagen is pushing its EV strategy hard in Europe and China, and now intends to continue its momentum in the US, where it plans to produce its upcoming all-electric microbus and crossover SUV. Confirmed to Autocar this week, VW says it’ll produce the I.D. BUZZ electric microbus and I.D. CROZZ Concept in the States, ready for launch in 2022. According to Hinrich Woebcken, head of VW in North America, “For strong product momentum, they need to be produced in the USA. It’s not possible to come into a high-volume scenario with imported cars. We want to localize electric mobility in the US.”

The I.D. BUZZ electric microbus is a new version of VW’s iconic campervan. Last year the company unveiled a working prototype of the vehicle, which will come in two options. The higher-end model features all-wheel drive and a total output of 369 horsepower, powered by a huge 111kWh battery pack. VW claims it’ll have a range of 270 miles. The less expensive version clocks up 268 horsepower via an 83kWh battery, for a range around 200 miles.

The I.D. CROZZ Concept, meanwhile, comes with a dual motor powertrain boasting 75kW power in the front and 150kW in the back, totalling 225kW. VW claims the 83kWh battery will enable a range of 310 miles, but it’s expected to be closer to 275 miles when EPA estimates are taken into account.

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VW's electric Pikes Peak racer is now the champion at Goodwood, too

July 16, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Volkswagen

VW made good on its promise to conquer Goodwood’s Hillclimb with its pure electric race car soon after tackling Pikes Peak. The I.D. R Pikes Peak was the fastest vehicle to take on the legendary ascent at the Festival of Speed, finishing the climb in a brisk 43.86 seconds — as you’ll see in the video below, driver Romain Dumas outpaces the competition almost immediately. It’s the first electric car to win the Festival’s shootout, and certainly the fastest EV in the competition. Second place was also an EV — Nio’s EP9 was slightly slower at 44.32 seconds.

Unlike at Pikes Peak, VW won’t be returning home with the all-time record. That honor goes to Nick Heidfeld (appropriately now a Formula E driver), who reached the end in 41.6 seconds using a McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 car. Goodwood no longer accepts Formula 1 cars in the shootout for safety reasons, so that record may stand for a while yet. VW might not mind so much knowing that it now has the third-fastest time in the shootout.

As with Pikes Peak, the very nature of the course played into VW’s hands. The twisty incline favors the instant torque of an EV, especially over a short distance (1.15 miles) where gas-powered vehicles can’t make the most of their torque ranges or top speeds. VW can’t win every race with the I.D. R Pikes Peak, in other words. This just shows that electric racers have some distinct advantages in the right circumstances, and that conventional cars might not rule the roost for much longer.

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Tesla Model 3 rollover crash shows its real-world safety

July 15, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

StapleGun, Reddit

While Tesla’s Model 3 should be a safe car (this isn’t the company’s first try), it’s hard not to feel nervous. Without official crash test results, how do you know how resilient it really is? Apparently, it’s tougher than you might think. Reddit user StapleGun has recounted what might be the first rollover crash of a Model 3, and the new EV appears to have done a decent job protecting its lone occupant in what many would consider a nightmare scenario.

The Model 3 tumbled several times after colliding with a vehicle in the middle lane, sending it into a cement barrier that tore off a front wheel and knocked the normally stable machine (courtesy of batteries in the floor) off-balance. Despite the violence of the crash and the Model 3’s glass roof, the cabin was “completely intact” and prevented any serious injuries. StapleGun’s wife emerged with a compression fracture, bruising and a friction burn from an airbag.

This isn’t absolute proof of the car’s durability, and it’s important to stress that regulators like the US’ IIHS have yet to issue a more authoritative verdict on crash performance. This certainly doesn’t erase Tesla’s other safety concerns, such as the trustworthiness of Autopilot and the potential for battery fires in certain circumstances. However, it does suggest that the Model 3’s design is at least solid, and that Tesla didn’t sacrifice safety in its scramble to meet production goals.

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Pininfarina's $2 million electric hypercar boasts a 250MPH top speed

July 15, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Automobili-Pininfarina

When Pininfarina teased its PF0 electric hypercar in March, it didn’t do more than promise a massive amount of power and a 2020 launch. It’s starting to dribble out details, however, and it now looks like the PF0 may deliver the best of all worlds — at a cost. In separate interviews with Wired and The Verge, the company has provided both teaser pictures of the PF0 (surprise: it’s sleek) and performance numbers that could make Tesla Roadster buyers at least momentarily nervous. It can reach a blistering 250MPH top speed, reach 60MPH in under two seconds and provide about 310 miles of driving range. You’ll no doubt have to be gentle on the throttle to achieve that last figure, but this is theoretically a vehicle you can take on a city-to-city jaunt with some bursts of mind-numbing quickness in between.

The company also promises Porsche Taycan-like charging times of 10 to 15 minutes for 80 percent capacity. Even the battery placement matters — where Tesla and others usually put the battery in the floor to make space for passengers, Pininfarina is putting most of the battery in a central tunnel that will help it keep the PF0 low to the ground. The interior technology is up for grabs, but the company said it would rather integrate tech companies’ work than do most of the work itself.

The eco-friendly aspect should extend beyond the powerplant, too. It’s promising paints without chemical ingredients, natural wood and other “ethically sourced” materials.

As we hinted at earlier, though, you’ll be paying a stiff premium for a vehicle on this level. Pininfarina estimated that the PF0 will cost between $2 million and $2.5 million, putting it closer to the Bugatti Chiron (starting at roughly $3 million). It’ll be hard to see, for that matter. Only its well-to-do potential customers will get a first peek at the vehicle at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August, and everyone else will have to wait until the 2019 Geneva Motor Show in March.

That price might make it a tough sell in some cases. Tesla has already vowed comparable acceleration and top speed for the Roadster, and it will seem like a veritable bargain at ‘just’ $200,000. And that’s before you throw in some outlandish performance packages that could give it the edge. Pininfarina may have to lean on both its Italian design flair and a posh interior to convince wealthy EV fans that it’s worth the premium.