Category Archives: Green

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.

Buick Teases Velite PHEV Concept Ahead Of Chinese Debut

General Motors has released the first teaser image of the Velite PHEV concept car which will make its debut at the Guangzhou Auto Show, and signal what is expected out of Buick’s upcoming Buick Blue sub-brand.

GM for its part has remained quiet on specific details of the concept, but did reveal that the Velite’s PHEV system will consist of a direct injection gasoline engine that is paired with the company’s latest “modular intelligent electric drive system, as well as a modular lithium-ion battery pack.

The exterior styling of the concept also largely remains shrouded in mystery  but the front end does promise to showcase a bold face that is highlighted by slick headlights that merge at the Buick tri-shield which is also illuminated. The hood also has a relatively elegant design, and appears to thankfully be free of the tacky portholes that have come to define Buick’s offerings (for better or for worse.)

“Additional products featuring HEV, PHEV, and extended range electric vehicle powertrains are on the way from Buick to provide diverse intelligent solutions for green mobility” the announcement went on to reveal hinting that GM has a big green push in store for Buick that would not only be prevalent in China, but also trickle down into the U.S. market where the brand’s lack of green offerings is a noticeable weakness when compared to rivals such as Lexus and Hyundai

It is currently unknown if the powertrain and chassis architectures will lean towards the Cadillac CT6 PHEV or if they will share their heritage with the Chevrolet Volt. However, GM has released statements in the past which state that the company sees the Volt as a range extended EV versus an outright PHEV which could give the CT6 theory an edge in overall feasibility.

Look for additional details to be revealed closer to the car’s formal unveiling on November 18th, with more images possibly appearing before the big unveiling in China.

Fisker Previews EMotion Electric Car

Henrik Fisker always seems to find a way to stay busy in the automotive world. From being the man responsible for the current generation Aston Martin Vantage as well as the recently axed DB9, to crafting the outright bonkers Force 1 supercar. Fisker’s mark on the industry is undisputed, and it appears that his legacy will continue with his latest creation the EMotion electric car.

Unlike the Force 1 which was based on the Dodge Viper and sparked a legal spat with Aston Martin, the EMotion is an all new effort with the car boasting a wedge shaped design that is decidely less dainty than the Fisker Karma.

The EMotion also embraces the recent shift towards four door coupes though admittably some of the design elements here may appear EMotionto have a subtle relationship with Fisker’s old creation which is now being offered by Chinese firm Wanxiang under the Revero nameplate.

“Combining redefined proportions with game-changing battery technology, the car will boast the world’s longest electric range of any production vehicle on the road,” the company revealed in an accompanying statement. “For the first time in automotive history, Fisker’s electric vehicle adaptive construction transforms the use of lightweight materials without compromising elegance to create a superior driving experience.”

The EMotion will also allegedly have more rear head and leg room than comporable segment rivals with the rest of the cabin “cocooning” occupants in premium materials as well as superior ergonomic design.

Like Tesla, Fisker is aiming to create EV offerings that set new benchmarks for range and cost in every segment. Fisker’s strategy also mirrors Tesla’s and will initally be defined by premium models before trickling down market to appeal to more buyers.

Curiously, Fisker is taking an unconventional approach when it comes to battery technology with the firm ditching existing suppliers in favor of an all new seperate battery division dubbed Fisker Nanotech. The division is said to be pursuing a mysterious breakthrough battery technology that will be heralded by the EMotion. If all goes to plan, the car could theoretically deliver a driving range of 400 miles which would smash the rather low range boasted by many of its rivals.

It will be intersting to see if Fisker can use this second chance effort to finally build a sucessful EV offering. Its last attempt the forementioned Karma had early inital promise, but the company was forced to stop building it in 2012 after a series of issues with its old supplier A123 caused the battery maker to go bankrupt which in turn nearly crippled Fisker.

The EMotion then, can be seen as the company’s all in bet on the green car industry, and it will be interesting to see if the EMotion and its breakthrough battery technology can truly stand out against traditional lithium-ion batteries without falling into the same traps that doomed previous breakthrough efforts.

Kia Considering All Electric Version Of Nero CUV

With the launch of the hybrid version of the Niro CUV, a new report suggests that Kia is considering an all electric version of the Niro in a bid to help it nab sales as well as increase Kia’s reputation and pedigree in the growing green car segment.

This comes from a statement released by Kia Motors operating chief Tae-Hyun-Oh who revealed in an interview with the British publication Car Dealer magazine that the Niro’s size, utility, as well as stricter emissions laws could force the Korean firm to build a Niro EV. Kia’s sister company Hyundai already sells the Tuscon Fuel Cell crossover in limited markets, as such Kia could also be considering a fuel cell car in order to further expand the brand’s experience in this segment even further.

Currently the Niro has done relatively well for Kia with the brand selling roughly 1,000 units to customers since it made its formal debut in dealer lots back in August. The all-electric version of the Niro would be underpinned on the same platform as the Kia Ioniq. The Ioniq was designed to feature hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric variants with all three part of a unified “three pronged attack” that was designed to help maximize the Ioniq’s exposure in the marketplace. The all electric version of the Ioniq made its debut in South Korea and is expected to make its way to the U.S. before the end of 2016. When it eventually arrives, the car will feature a 28 kilowatt-hour battery pack that provides a driving range of about 110 miles on a single charge.

At the moment, Kia sells an all electric version of the Soul crossover in select markets. That model has a 93 mile driving range but it could increase thanks to a 2018 refresh that Kia has planned for the Soul. This boost would allow the Soul EV to better compete against rivals like the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model 3.

Look for the momentum of this project to hinge on sales of the Niro hybrid and whether they are high enough to justify expanding the Niro family especially as an all electric vehicle which tends to make development expensive.

Volkswagen Unveils I.D. EV Concept

With Volkswagen still navigating the stormy waters that it’s ongoing emissions scandal has unleashed on its long term future, the beleaguered German car company has unveiled a glimpse into what could be a new chapter in its history, with the I.D. concept car.

The exterior styling of the I.D. is largely a design study, but it is roughly the size of the current generation Golf hatchback and as a I.D. rear stylingresult shares that model’s basic profile and shape. However its aerodynamically sculpted styling helps enhance its aerodynamic profile, while small cameras replace the side mirrors presumably in an attempt to reduce drag.

Along with these green oriented touches, the I.D. also boasts plenty of showcar touches including enormous wheels, equally sizable windows, as well as narrow LED lighting elements.

Volkswagen has released little information about what’s lurking underneath the I.D.s hood but seperate reports suggest that the I.D. can I.D. side profileachieve up to 375 miles on a single charge. Look for more information to be revealed later this week when the I.D. makes its official debut in Paris.

While the I.D.’s chances at production in its current state are slim, technology from this concept could eventually trickled down to future Volkswagen models. In particular the lessons learned from the I.D. could be beneficial to Volkswagen’s goal of greatly expanding its EV and hybrid vehicle lineup.