Category Archives: Green

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.

Chrysler Portal Previews Millennial Infused Future

FCA is out to stake a claim in the wallets and minds of Millennial car buyers, and has unveiled the first piece of this Millennial infused future with the Chrysler Portal concept minivan.

Set to debut later today at CES in Las Vegas, the Portal is an all electric minivan that claims to have all the things that millennials crave in a vehicle. This apparently includes futuristic Chrysler Portal roof viewstyling that looks like it lept off the pages of a Syd Mead drawing catalog, while also showcasing the renewed levels of flair that FCA has unleashed over the past few years. The Portal is a one box design, but manages to cram plenty of LED lighting, as well as copious amounts of glass into its overall shape.

The Portal’s 118.2 inch wheelbase is slightly smaller than the Chrysler Pacifica’s, but the Chrysler Portal rear viewfront fascia still looks slick, and neatly transistions into a side profile that incorporates massive sliding doors before leading out to a more function oriented rear end. While the Portal as a whole will most likely not make the leap to production, select elenents could eventually make their mark on future FCA models.

The interior of the Portal is where things really start to get interesting. A minimalist dashboard layout is accented by a long top mounted LCD Portal interiorscreen which is complimented by a more conventionally placed center mounted screen. FCA claims that the screens can be configured by occupants to help increase the interior’s flexibility. The Portal also features 10 docking stations, and FCA worked with Panasonic on enhancing usability, with the possibility that the tech giant could become a future supplier for FCA.

In addition, the seats are mounted on rails. and can be moved fore and aft, fold flat into the floor, or removed completly for maximum cargo capability. The flat floor sits above a 100 kWh battery pack which allows the Portal to have a 250 mile driving range.

A 350 kWh fast charger can fully replenish the pack in less than 20 minutes, but range drops to 150 miles as a result. A single electric motor provides the motovation, but FCA did not reveal exact performance data for it.

FCA claims that the Portal is capable of SAE Level Three autonomus driving which means occupants can transfer driving duties to the concept under certain conditions when out on the freeway. Chrysler also claims that as self-driving technology advances, the Portal can be upgraded accordingly to allow it to stay fresh. Facial and speech recgonition technology allows the Portal to recognize individual drivers, so it can tailor the driving enviorment to their tastes.

Look for more information about the Chrysler Portal concept to be revealed later today when it makes its formal debut at CES.

Nikola Motors Teases Hydrogen – Electric Semi Truck

It’s not too often that we get the opprotunity to talk about semi trucks here at Autoinfoquest, but the folks at Nikola Motor Company have big things in store for their entry in the commercial truck segment, and have released a lone teaser image of its new rig ahead of its formal debut later this evening.

 

Dubbed the Nikola One, this new model is a class 8 semi that Nikola claims will be ready for production by 2020. While the lone image does not give an all round look of its styling, it does reveal the production front end which boasts plenty of LED lighting accents, as well as a slight resemblance to the Audi R8 when you ignore its big center mounted grille and focuse on its headlight assemblies.

The lighting also forms a calling card for the Nikola with a thin strip forming a sleek border that encircles the headlights as well as the lower front air intakes. Thankfully the front fascia largely resembles prior renderings that the company released, albeit with minor tweaks for the sake of feasability. The renderings also showcased its aerodynamically focused profile, though expect changes here too in its transistion from the drawing board to production big rig.

Either way, it should be a nice change of pace versus current gasoline offerings from rivals such as Mack and Peterbilt which favor brawny themes, and typically stay away from the more elegant suit of clothes wielded by the Nikola One.

The highlight feature however is its zero emissions powertrain. Potentially the first production semi truck to offer such an option, the Nikola One gets its energy from both electric batteries as well as a hydrogen fuel cell. The company did not release formal performance figures, but did reveal that the combination allows the truck to have a driving range between 800 to 1200 miles.

To help make fueling and upkeep more affordable, Nikola will have a 72 month lease program that goes between $5,000 and $7,000 and allows owners to fill up at a network of fueling stations which will be announced by Nikola this evening. Maintenance will be covered by Ryder, with the firm also providing sales and warranty services for Nikola.

The company claims that it already has secured $3 billion in pre-orders which is an impressive feat. However like Tesla and its upcoming Model 3 sedan, it will be interesting to see if Nikola will have enough production capacity to meet all this demand.

Maserati Confirms Alfieri EV For Production

Confirming a recent string of rumors, Maserati has revealed that the elegant and visually stunning Alfieri concept will spawn the Italian luxury car maker’s first ever production EV.

First making its debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, the Alfieri appeared as a sleek and stylish coupe, but the production version will also be joined by a convertible to appease sun soaking buyers looking for a good weekend cruiser. Look for the production version to largely retain the concept’s lines albeit with tweaks for safety and feasibility.

As for performance, Peter Denton the manager for Maserati’s northern Europe operations revealed in a statement to British website Just-Auto that the Alfieri will initially launch with a gasoline powered engine (most likely a V8) to help it establish a firm foothold in the marketplace. The electric model will be added to the lineup a year later, and will be sold alongside it.

“Alfieri will be bigger than Boxster and Cayman. It is being designed as a competitor to the 911 but it will be a larger car. More the size of the Jaguar F-Type, stated the executive.”

This is contrary to select reports that suggested the Alfieri would be smaller, and not only be primarily focused on the 718 Cayman, but also take aim at the upcoming Renault Alpine and the Alfa Romeo 4C.

Look for the Maserati Alfieri to go on sale in 2019 or 2020 and feature a pricing ladder that is very similar to the Jaguar F-Type’s. That model has a price tag of just over $61,000 when ordered with a V6, a manual transmission, and rear wheel drive. The electric version will be much more expensive in comparison, but its ability to serve as a halo vehicle will be beneficial to helping increase sales of its other models especially the Ghibli and the Levante SUV.