Category Archives: Green

Volvo Debuts 600 Horsepower Polestar 1 Coupe

When Volvo first revealed that it was spinning off Polestar into its performance exclusive brand, we we’re curious what the safety focused Swedish carmaker had in store for enthusiasts. Volvo decided to unveil the answer to this question in grand fashion, with its first Polestar badged model, the Polestar 1

The Polestar 1 (not to be confused with the decidedly rarer and distinctively British McLaren P1) is a halo offering for Polestar, and aims to be a dramatic preview of what the young brand will have to offer in the near future. The P1 (short for Polestar 1)  will arrive as a 2+2 Grand Touring coupe that will utilize much of Volvo’s current design language, but it amps things up by featuring carbon fiber bodypanels (a trick borrowed from the Aston Martin Vanquish.)

The panels help shed weight, and also add 45 percent more torsional rigidity to the car. In addition, they also lower the center of gravity slightly which is key in a car designed to tackle sharp corners and apexes at full gallop.

Like other current Volvos, the interior of the P1 is a gorgeous exercise in elegant design with the Volvo logo being pitched for a Polestar exclusive symbol, as well as more black accenting than other Volvo efforts which subtly highlights the more performance oriented flair that the P1 possesses. This flair for attention also highlights the P1’s platform with the car being built on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA platform) but perhaps befitting of the Polestar designation, roughly half of the components were allegedly created from the ground up by Polestar engineers. Case in point, Polestar’s claim that the P1 will be the first car to feature Ohilns Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CESi) and the first to feature a dual electric rear axle to maximize torque application at each wheel.

The P1 will be powered by a plug-in hybrid powertrain that is expected to produce over 600 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. These are impressive figures, and while Polestar remained quiet on the Polestar 1’s true capabilities , look for it to go toe to toe with select versions of the Tesla Model S as well as other compelling rivals. When its not out on the track, the P1 is also capable of achieving an all electric driving range of 93 miles, which is further than any hybrid offering on the market today.

When the Polestar 1 eventually goes on sale, it will not be sold in a traditional sense of the word. Instead, Polestar vehicles will be sold exclusively online, with Polestar offering the model on a two to three year subscription basis with each package including pickup and delivery services, as well as rental options for other vehicles in the Volvo model lineup in the event the P1 needs to spend extended time in a Volvo repair garage.

Production is slated to begin in mid-2019 with the model being followed by the Polestar 2 full electric EV vehicle as well as the rumored Polestar 3 which is expected to bring Polestar into the highly competitive SUV market.

Mazda’s Rotary Engine Could Return As Range Extender Option

When the Mazda RX-8 ceased production several years ago, its departure represented not only the end of an era for Mazda, but also seemingly sealed the fate of the rotary engine, which was once seen as a novel solution for higher fuel economy by automakers back in the 1970s. However, recent comments by a high ranking Mazda executive appear to suggest that the rotary could be making a return to production automobiles, albeit in an unexpected role.

In a recent interview with the folks at Automotive News, Mitsuo Hitomi chief of Mazda’s powertrain division revealed that there could be a very good chance that the next iteration of the rotary engine could appear as a range extender for electric automobiles. While this would be a dramatic change in role for an engine that once defined the pinnacle of Mazda performance, its potential shift in function could help the novel powerplant fulfill its original green intentions, especially when one looks at prior efforts at this idea by Mazda.

Back in 2013 Mazda was already working on a rotary engine equipped extended range EV, with this early effort materializing in the Mazda2 RE Range Extender concept car. The tiny concept had a 250 mile driving range with half of it coming from its battery, while the other half was supplied by a 330 cc rotary engine which was hooked up to a 2.6 liter fuel tank. More recently, the RX-Vision concept also teased a rotary powered performance vehicle that could also add electrification to its list of tricks if it ever makes its way into formal production.

With all that said, its important to look at the finer details into how such an idea is possible. While the rotary engine has never been known for its efficiency (a key trait that made automakers such as GM and AMC abandon the idea for their lineups,) it is a very smooth running engine, and is also reasonably compact when compared to a conventional engine. Modern technology could allow Mazda engineers to make the engines even smaller than before, which will not only improve overall fuel economy, but also improve space and weight savings for the vehicle at the same time. These latter two traits would allow Mazda to add more batteries, or simply keep the car lightweight, and use this newfound lightness to retain the spirited handling that Mazda models have been long known for.

While this news might not be encouraging to rotary die-hards eagerly awaiting an RX-8 successor, Hitomi also revealed that a bigger rotary engine is also in development with the engine being tuned towards formal sports car applications. However, like many good things in life, the engine is reportedly being stonewalled by management that want a better business case for offering such a model in the first place. If we were in the board room, we would highlight the lack of a formal halo entry in Mazda’s lineup, which would help create a halo effect for other Mazda models including its growing CUV lineup. Either way, it looks like the humble rotary has a strong chance at catering to a new era of buyers if all the cards are right.

 

Mitsubishi Teases e-Volution Teaser Images

Following the initial announcement of the e-Volution concept, Mitsubishi has released several more images of the mysterious e-Volution concept ahead of the concept’s formal debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

As promised by company execs, the Evo badge has returned but wheras it once defined an era of high performance sport sedans, Mitsubishi aims to resurrect this legendary nameplate on a high riding electrified crossover entry. Contrary to previous rumors, it

appears that the concept will be a plug-in hybrid versus a pure electric model, most likely due to reduced battery range in a pure electric offering, as well as the precarious condition of Mitsubishi’s finances.

“This very high performance automobile will blend Mitsubishi Motor’s signature 4WD and electric powertrain know-how with advanced Artificial Intelligence technology under a low slung aerodynamic SUV coupe shape” the company revealed in a release that accompanied today’s release.

Buyers looking to add one to their garage (perhaps as a companion to its rally based predecessor) will have to endure a potentially long wait with a Mitsubishi executive revealing that the new performance model (if it proceeds to production as expected) will not arrive in dealer showrooms for three to six years. It’s unknown if Mitsubishi will also produce a more conventional hybrid crossover, which could serve as a figurative launching pad for the more performance oriented Evo badged variant.

We are curious to see where this endeavor goes next, especially since a production version of the e-Volution would give Mitsubishi a performance model in a segment of the SUV market that the Japanese auto giant has traditionally stayed away from. In addition technology from its new corporate partners Nissan-Renault could also allow the model to be tailored to more international markets, while also reducing the costs of scale and production at the same time.

V90 Cross Country

Volvo To Produce Only EV and Hybrid Models By 2019

When Volvo first announced that it intended to seriously pursue electrification a few years ago, the world wondered what it would entail for the Swedish brand, and its lineup of vehicles. In a new announcement released earlier today, the car giant further detailed its ambitious plans while perhaps signaling a broader shift for the industry.

A key item of note here is that every new Volvo offering will be either a full EV or hybrid vehicle starting in 2019. Volvo also promises to include at least one electric motor in each of its new offerings.

“This is about the customer. People increasingly demand electrified cars, and we want to respond to our customers’ current and future needs. You can now pick and choose which electrified Volvo you wish” explained Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

However this sudden embrace of electrified powerplants doesn’t mean that Volvo’s iconic internal combustion engines will get the figurative pink slip anytime soon. Buyers will be asked to choose from either mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or full electric technology for their Volvo purchase, which will help retain customer flexibility and loyalty.

Volvo also plans to release a 48 volt hybrid system before the end of the decade, and to also roll out five all new battery electric models. Three of them will join the main Volvo lineup, but the other two will be performance tinged Polestar entries. Look for all five models to roll out between 2019 and 2021 with information being released possibly in late 2018.

 

Model Y

Tesla Teases Model Y CUV

Following the launch of its Model X SUV, Tesla has released a shadowy teaser image of the next step in its plans to dominate the CUV market the Model Y.

Like Tesla’s other teaser images, this one does not reveal too much detail. However, it does give a preview of the basic styling direction Tesla is trying to achieve with the Model Y, as well as the proportions for the front end. Unlike the Model X, the Y is expected to feature a more traditional apperance, and that could include ditching the X’s glitchy falcon doors for more conventional units.

While the Model Y is based on an all new platform, Tesla admits that the Y will eventually outsell the Model 3 due to the high demand from CUV buyers. Tesla also admitted that it wanted to avoid some of the styling compromises that emerged when designing the Model X.

“I think we really made a mistake trying to derive the design for the Model X from the Model S platform” Musk revealed at a recent shareholders meeting.

Look for the Model Y to also feature a more approachable pricing ladder albeit in the higher end of the CUV segment where it will compete with rivals from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes.

Fisker Shows Official Images of EMotion EV, Confirms $130k Pricetag

Fisker’s EMotion EV has big ambitions, and aims to make up for all the sins that were committed by Henrik Fisker’s prior attempt at an EV, the Fisker Karma. Following the prior unveiling of several teaser images, Fisker Inc has released several new photos of a prototype, as well as confirmed the official price tag for the stylish coupe.

The new round of photos showcase several changes between the renderings and the prototype, with a key revision taking place in the front fascia. Unlike the renderings, the prototype appears to have toned down the styling in this area somewhat, with the car ditching the faux air intake ducts on the hood and front bumper. Other than those tweaks, the basic design retains select traits from the Karma which has been reborn separately under the umbrella of China’s Wanxiang corporation, but with a wedge shape versus the more organic lines that defined the Karma.

In addition to the new images, Fisker Inc also revealed to the folks at TechCrunch that the EMotion will have a starting price of $129,900 (excluding various taxes and options.) This pricing ladder appears to suggest that the company is aiming to position the EMotion above Tesla’s Model S P100D. While its 161 mph top speed is lower than the Tesla, the EMotion would have a higher 400 mile driving range, which should please buyers that have range anxiety. Other goodies include weight reducing carbon fiber and aluminum wheels, 360 degree optical sensors, as well as fast charge technology that can allegedly provide 100 miles of driving range in less than nine minutes.

If the EMotion eventually makes its way to formal production, it would be built from carbon fiber as well as aluminium to help shed weight, while also increasing overall fuel economy at the same time. The EMotion would also be a technological showcase, and could possibly arrive with advanced levels of autonomy, especially with LiDAR sensors and specially designed mirror cameras.

Fisker revealed that the company plans to begin accepting pre-orders from prospective owners on June 30th, but official production is expected to not begin until 2019 or later.  In the meantime, look for the company to release more information as its reveal draws near including pictures of the interior.

Honda Showcases Clarity Electric and Plug-in Hybrid

The Clarity fuel cell was a big achievement for Honda when the Japanese auto giant first unveiled it several years ago. However, the fuel Cell represented only a small portion of the Clarity’s full potential, and Honda has unveiled the final two members of the Clarity family under the bright lights of the New York International Auto Show, the Clarity Electric and the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid.

The Clarity PHEV is equipped with an ultra efficient 1.5 liter Atkinson cycle engine to generate electricity and directly power the front wheels in certain driving conditions. The engine is capable of delivering 181 horsepower and is paired with a lithium ion battery pack. Honda claims that the PHEV can be driven on all electric power up to 42 miles and achieve up to 42 mpg when the gasoline engine is running.

Meanwhile the Clarity Electric is solely powered by an electric motor that delivers 161 horsepower, and its battery can be fully charged in three hours or up to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Honda claims that the Clarity Electric is capable of achieving up to 111 MPGe but curiously its 25.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack is not that much bigger than the plug-in hybrid. This particular figure contributes to the Clarity Electric’s rather modest 80 mile driving range which is one of the lowest in the market and falls short of the Chevrolet Bolt and the Volkswagen e-Golf.

Honda claims that the Clarity Electric compensates for that initial disadvantage by being more spacious and luxurious than any other non-Tesla offering out on the market. It will be interesting to see if this will be enough to win over electric car buyers, but both models feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability as well as sustainable bio-fabric and plastic trim.

Honda revealed that both models are expected to start in the mid-$30,000 range before tax incentives but wheras the PHEV will roll out in all 50 states right out the gate, the Clarity Electric will initially only be available in California and Oregon before eventually rolling out in the remaining 48 states.

Smart To Go EV Only In U.S. Market

A new report from Daimler owned Smart reveals that the brand will stop selling a large slice of its current lineup in the U.S. and Canada, with only EV models making up the range after 2017.

This decision was shared to Smart dealers via a letter that was written by Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dieter Exler, and was not made public. Automotive News however, managed to obtain a copy of this letter which reveals.

“Developments within the micro-car segment present some challenges for the current smart product portfolio,” he explained. “The smart lineup will consist exclusively of the zero-emissions smart electric drive coupe and cabrio in the U.S. and Canada.”

Production of the U.S. spec fortwo will cease in April, but sales will continue until the present inventory runs out, which will give dealerships time to sell them to interested buyers. The first deliveries of the electric models will begin this summer, and expect the full rollout to be completed in early fall.

The announcement does not come as a suprise since the brand’s North American sales have been slowly dwindling over the past few years. According to Automotive News, the brand’s, peak sales year was in 2014, when it sold 10,453 cars. Since that time, sales have plummeted, with the brand only selling 6,211 units.

The first generation Smart car was a compelling idea when it first came out, and it managed to have strong success due to the spike in oil prices in 2008. However, with gas prices lower, and demand for SUVs and crossovers on the rise, many Americans were simply not interested in the pint sized two seater.

Smart’s decision to go EV only after 2017 applies to the U.S. and Canada. Buyers in other markets like Europe, will still have access to the current generation fortwo petrol model, which is powered by a Renault sourced three cylinder engine.

Tesla Announces One Model Racing Series

Ever wondered what would happen if Tesla chose to unleash the insane potential of Ludicrous mode out on the race track? The California based EV company aims to answer that by unveiling an all new racing series for eager enthusiasts.

Dubbed Electric GT, drivers will compete in identical Tesla Model S P100Ds that have been extensively modified for track day use. A key change is the radical diet that the typically 01-069_JJC1687porky car has undergone in its transition from the road to track slaying beast, with Tesla engineers cleaving 1,100 lbs of excess flab.

This was achieved by completly gutting the interior of virtually all of its luxury and convinence features. However, the spartan cabin retains the vertically mounted touchscreen, and adds goodies such as a carbon fiber bucket seat for the driver, a full roll cage, as well as a rectangular steering wheel.

The exterior styling is also race ready, and adds a full bodykit, a deeper front bumper with 01-013_JIM8378-Editarincorporated front splitter, and a massive rear wing. Also, look for each car to feature a slick paint job that varies depending on affiliation and sponsors.

The P100D is no slouch in performance either, and is capable of producing 778 horsepower and 734 lb-ft of torque thanks in part to its 100 kWh battery pack. The folks at Electric GT have added beefier brakes, a fully revised suspension system, and center locking wheels shod in sticky Pirelli racing slicks.

Both male and female drivers are eligible to compete in the Electric GT series, but U.S. fans will be mostly out of luck with the initial pool of races taking place in Europe. Each race will take place at a well known European race circuit including Estroil in Portugal, the Paul Ricard in France, and the famed Nurburgring in Germany. Three additional races will be organized in the Americas, but all three will not be championship races.

Electric GT events consist of a 20 minute practice session, as well as an hour long qualifying session. Once all that is out of the way, the formal competition is split into two 37 mile long events.

It will be interesting to see how various elements of strategy and tactics differ from other types of motor racing  and how the batteries hold up in rigorous track use.

In the meantime, Electric GT hopes to attract 20 professional drivers and 10 diffrent racing teams for the new season. We look forward to hearing more about this new series as information becomes avalible.

Ford Confirms Hybrid Mustang, F-150 models

In an announcement released earlier today, Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields revealed that th company is ramping up its investment in hybrid vehicles and that it is bringing hybrid capability to the Mustang and F-150 models.

Revealed to be part of a $4.5 million dollar push towards electrification that involves 13 new models, the Mustang and F-150 versions would help the inititave reach more customers with the Mustang in particular standing out as the world’s only hybrid muscle car offering.

Ford chose to not go into depth regarding both hybrid systems, but Fields did reveal that the Mustang hybrid will deliver “V8 power and even more low end torque.” This could mean that the proposed hybrid system would be offered on the mid-range V6 engine, but we’ll have to wait until the model is unveiled to judge for ourselves.

As for the F-150 version details surrounding it are even murkier but Fields did slip that the new hybrid truck would be an electrified alternative to the EcoBoost V6 while also serving as an on board generator for certain equipment when put to use out on the job site.

The biggest announcement however is where all of these vehicles will be built with the company recently scrapping its plans to build a manufacturing facility in San Luis Potisi Mexico. Instead, the company will invest this green future with upgrades at its Flat Rock, MI assembly plant which is currently the home for Mustang production and will help generate new jobs in the area as well.

Look for more information to.be unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.