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Ford Will Discontinue C-Max Production for U.S. Market

Motortrend News Feed - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 23:29

Ford is discontinuing the C-Max after six years on the U.S. market. U.S. production for the C-Max Hybrid will end in mid-2018, according to Automotive News, and production for the C-Max Energi plug-in model has already ended in September. This should come as no surprise because the C-Max is the automaker’s worst-selling mass-market U.S. nameplate.

Sales for the C-Max peaked back in 2013 and never returned, partly due to the originally overstated 47 mpg combined city/highway driving for the C-Max Hybrid. Ford has since dropped that figure to 40 mpg combined driving and issued checks to disgruntled owners. One of the C-Max’s competitors, the Toyota Prius, delivers a much higher 52 mpg combined driving (2017 model year).

Lagging C-Max sales can also be attributed to the rise in demand for crossovers and SUVs and hybrid sales have not been helped by low gas prices. Gasoline and diesel versions of the C-Max will still be sold in Europe.

This should be good news for truck and SUV fans. With the discontinuation of the C-Max and the production of the next-generation Focus moving to China, Ford’s Michigan Assembly Plant will be able to build the upcoming Ranger truck and Bronco SUV.

Despite all this, Ford is committed to electrifying its models by investing 4.5 billion in electric vehicle technology by 2020 and will add 13 new electrified models to its lineup. Ford has also confirmed plans to sell two electrified vehicles in China and is working on a 200-mile electric vehicle.

Source: Automotive News

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2018 Jaguar E-Pace First Drive Review: The No-Brainer Jaguar

Motortrend News Feed - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 00:01

There was a certain inevitability to the Jaguar E-Pace. With its midsized F-Pace, Jaguar’s first ever SUV, powering an 80-plus percent increase in global sales for the storied British brand over the past year, and demand for the compact Range Rover Evoque blasting past 600,000 units worldwide since 2011, the decision to build a small Jaguar SUV was a no-brainer. Especially as the Evoque and the Land Rover Discovery Sport had provided Jaguar with a platform and a parts bin as a starting point.

The E-Pace shares its basic body structure, powertrains, and sundry other pieces of hardware with the Evoque and the Discovery Sport. But JLR has worked hard to keep the two brands distinct, giving the E-Pace a unique character that’s more than skin-deep. Quicker and sportier, the E-Pace is more fun to drive than either of the Rovers. Which is as it should be. Eager to see it? It has just gone on sale in the U.S., priced between $39,000 and $55,000,

Critics will note that this is only the second-ever Jaguar built on a front-drive architecture, with a transverse-mounted engine under the hood. (The other? The unloved X-Type sedan, which was based on the Ford Mondeo.) Nevertheless, the E-Pace successfully morphs the studied emotion of Ian Callum’s design language onto a tall package with a short dash-to-axle ratio. The trapezoidal grille, power bulge on the hood, and slimline taillights are key Jaguar family visual triggers. A bold, crisply defined haunch over the rear wheels and a greenhouse that riffs on that of the F-Type sports car give the E-Pace its own personality.

Inside, the PRNDL shifter and the flying buttress that arcs down from the dash to the center console give the E-Pace cabin a dash of F-Type spice. And the TFT instrument panel and InControl Touch infotainment interface are straight from the JLR parts bin. But careful attention to materials—both in terms of quality and execution—has made the E-Pace cabin appear more discreetly upscale than that of the F-Pace. Impressive, given the price leap to the larger crossover. Significantly, there’s no wood trim available, not even as an option. The E-Pace truly is a modern Jaguar.

Dimensionally, the E-Pace is an inch longer than the Range Rover Evoque, a half-inch taller, and has a wheelbase nine-tenths of an inch longer. The difference in wheelbase is due to a different rear suspension. Whereas the Evoque has struts, the E-Pace rear axle has the same integral link design as the F-Pace and the Discovery Sport; the rear knuckles are the same as the F-Pace’s, and the subframe and control arms are shared with the Discovery Sport. The E-Pace therefore has a different rear floor to the Evoque, with more legroom for rear-seat passengers and more room for luggage—there are no strut towers intruding into the load space.

Early in the E-Pace development program insiders acknowledged the biggest problem with using the all-steel Evoque platform—which traces its ancestry back to Ford’s ownership of Jaguar and Land Rover—was its weight. Developing a new, lighter platform from scratch simply wasn’t an option, so the engineering team applied what weight-saving countermeasures it could. The E-Pace’s hood, front fenders, roof panel, and tailgate are aluminum, delivering weight savings of almost 75 pounds over comparable steel parts. The bodysides are also stamped from special, thinner steel that saves almost 8 pounds. Even so, a base E-Pace still weighs 155 pounds more than the entry-level version of the larger F-Pace, which is built on JLR’s aluminum-intensive D7a architecture.

The E-Pace is the first Jaguar in history available only with four-cylinders under the hood. No V-6. American-market buyers can choose between two different versions of JLR’s 2.0-liter turbocharged Ingenium gas engine, driving through a ZF nine-speed automatic transmission. The regular E-Pace, which is available in standard, S, and SE trim levels, gets a 246-hp variant that also develops 269 lb-ft of torque from 1,200 to 4,500 rpm. In E-Pace R-Dynamic form, available in S, SE, and HSE trim levels, the engine has been tweaked to deliver 296 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. Peak power in both arrives at a modest 5,500 rpm. Jaguar claims the R-Dynamic’s extra horsepower cuts the 0-60-mph acceleration time from 6.6 seconds to 5.9 seconds.

JLR’s 2.0-liter Ingenium engine isn’t the smoothest in class. There’s almost a diesellike graininess at idle and under light throttle at low speed, especially when cold. But it delivers good performance and drivability on the road. The nine-speed automatic transmission has been recalibrated to deliver smoother and faster shifts, especially in Dynamic mode, and R-Dynamic models also benefit from having paddle shifters on the steering wheel for drivers who like DIY driving in the twisty bits.

Although the platform is front-drive-based, all-wheel drive is standard across the E-Pace range. There are, however, two systems available. The regular E-Pace lineup gets a conventional setup that simply varies torque between the front and rear axles, depending on load. The R-Dynamic models come equipped with Jaguar’s electronically controlled Active Driveline, which is capable of rapidly shifting 100 percent of the torque to either the front or rear axles and between the rear wheels. In steady state cruising, the Active Driveline switches to front-drive only, decoupling the prop-shaft to the rear axle to help save fuel. But it can funnel needed power back to the rear wheels in just three milliseconds. Two electronically controlled wet plate clutches on the rear axle also send precise measures of torque to each rear wheel to help control understeer and oversteer.

Subtle chassis and suspension tweaks have given the E-Pace a more alert and agile rear-drive feel than the Evoque. On the rear axle, positive camber has been increased to help initial turn-in response, particularly at low to medium speeds, and brake-induced torque vectoring is standard. Up front, there’s more negative camber to help get the nose of the car into corners, and the two rear-mounting points of the front subframe have been bolted directly to the body to deliver a more rigid platform. The E-Pace is 20 percent stiffer than an Evoque and 25 percent stiffer than a Discovery Sport, says lead engineer Matt Eyes. In turn, that stiffness improves steering feel and response.

What’s more impressive is that this fun-to-drive character happens with smoothness and silence, too. Our tester, a loaded R-Dynamic HSE riding on 20-inch alloys and 245/45 R20 Pirelli P Zero summer tires, felt calmer, quieter, and more relaxed on jittery British back roads than Evoques we’ve driven on 20s. Impact harshness is better suppressed, and there’s much less tire noise from the rear axle.

In terms of off-road capability, the little Jaguar doesn’t give much away to the baby Range Rover. All E-Pace models can be switched between four drive modes—Normal, Dynamic, Eco, and Rain, Ice, and Snow. The latter setting allows drivers to activate the standard All Surface Progress Control (ASPC), the low-speed, off-road “cruise control” system developed by the off-road specialists at Land Rover. ASPC is masterful at exploiting every last vestige of available traction, especially when working with the Active Driveline system.

Worldwide sales of compact SUVs last year totaled 9.8 million vehicles, according to JLR, and are forecasted to grow substantially in the near future. As it gives Jaguar the opportunity to play this white-hot segment for the very first time, the E-Pace is arguably one of the most important new Jaguars in history.

Although comparisons with the Range Rover Evoque are inevitable, the E-Pace’s real targets are BMW’s X1, Audi’s Q3, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, along with buyers moving up from mainstream U.S. and Asian brands. Its mission is one of conquest, and early indications show that’s exactly what’s happening—more than 90 percent of customers who’ve placed an order for an E-Pace in the U.S. are newcomers to the brand. A lot of buyers are looking for a stylish, accomplished, competitively priced premium compact SUV, and they are likely going to see that Jaguar has a definite place in this segment.

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Mercedes-Benz Teases Redesigned 2019 CLS Before LA Debut

Motortrend News Feed - Sun, 11/19/2017 - 00:01

Mercedes-Benz has been working on the redesigned 2019 CLS for some time now and we finally see the first glimpse of the four-door coupe in the latest teaser image from the automaker. The stylishly swoopy Mercedes enters its third generation with a new engine and tech.

The dark teaser image reveals part of Mercedes’ signature diamond grille pattern flanked by bright inward pointing LED light strips that line the LED headlights. Fortunately, we recently drove the redesigned CLS prototype and even though it was mostly camouflaged, we can see much more of the design elements than the teaser shows. Taking a design cue from the original CLS, we can see the return of one long sweep of the side and the addition of more aggressive shoulders and a tweaked trunk lid edge.

The CLS will be unique in the sense that it will be underpinned by the MRA platform shared with the E-Class (including the same wheelbase and axles but not the length and track) but will share its engines and electronics with the flagship S-Class. However, the seats and most of the interior will not be shared and will be unique to the CLS-Class.

Probably the most exciting aspect of the upcoming CLS is the power plant. The CLS 450 will come equipped with a 3.0-liter turbocharged, supercharged, and hybridized inline-6 engine that produces 376 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The automaker claims a 5.0-second 0-62 time.

The 2019 CLS-Class will come standard with traditional steel suspension while adaptive steel suspension and multi-chamber air suspension are optional. Engineers adjusted the Air Body Control system to make the CLS feel more direct and responsive versus the E-Class’ plushier handling dynamics.

Inside, the driver will be greeted by a fully digital instrument panel and integrated large center display screen, the same impressive unit found in the S-Class. A 64-color interior ambient lighting system and carbon-fiber-looking woven steel matrix inlays that line dashboard and door panels complement the luxurious interior.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS will be revealed at the Los Angeles auto show. Expect to see the new 2019 CLS at Mercedes-Benz dealerships in July with all-wheel drive versions filling showrooms first before the arrival of rear-drive units later in the year. Pricing will be released at a later time.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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2019 Infiniti QX50 Prototype Quick Drive

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 09:00

Infiniti claims that its new VC-Turbo engine delivers the power of a six-cylinder engine and the fuel economy of a four-cylinder. This is a claim many other manufacturers have made over the years, but no other manufacturer has had such groundbreaking technology to back it up.  Multi Link Variable Compression Ratio system (VCR) is the name of the technology developed by parent company Nissan, and it’s a beautifully complex array of mechanical linkages connected to a fancy actuator and combined with the most current thinking in turbocharging, variable valve timing, and fuel injection.

We drove a prototype for the 2019 Infiniti QX50 equipped with the new VC-Turbo engine that makes 268 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque.

First let’s level set; if you understand the basic operation of a four-stroke internal combustion engine, the underlying concept behind Nissan’s variable compression ratio technology is easy to grasp. For as long as car engines have been mass produced, their compression ratios—the volume of the cylinder when the piston is at the very bottom of the stroke compared to the volume at the very top of the piston’s stroke—has remained fixed. Traditionally, changing the compression ratio requires tearing apart the engine and swapping out pistons, connecting rods, and even the crankshaft. The holy grail for automotive engineers around the world for the last few decades has been to figure out a way to manipulate this volume on the fly, with an eye toward increasing power and fuel efficiency, on demand.

My esteemed colleague Frank Markus, Motor Trend’s resident automotive engineer and technical director, has deftly explained the inner workings of the multi-link VCR system several times, and I encourage you to read his first look at Infiniti’s new engine here and then go here for a deeper dive on the topic.

To summarize, I pulled Frank’s recap of VCR from his third piece on the topic:

Compression is altered by moving the range of motion of each piston up and down within the cylinder. In the upper position the ratio is 14:1, and in the lower position it’s 8:1. This is accomplished by an elaborate set of intermediary links between the crankshaft and the piston connecting rods, the positions of which can be altered by a control shaft mounted below the crankshaft and another set of control rods. A glance at the cutaway photos should help demystify this mechanism. Low compression is desirable during periods of peak boost and engine output, and the high ratio (along with Atkinson cycle operation that closes the intake valves partway up the compression stroke) greatly improves efficiency during low-load steady-state operation. The engine also employs direct, multipoint, or a combination of both fuel injection strategies as best befits the operating conditions.”

To provide a better idea of what is going on, Nissan has given names to all the links and rods in its multilink system, and the easiest way to remember the sequence is, oddly, ACLU, starting outside the engine, at the VCR actuator. This high-tech softball-sized motor precisely controls the compression ratio by first shifting the position of a dogleg-shaped actuator-link (A-link). At the VC-Turbo’s highest compression ratio of 14:1, the A-link sits at 9 o’clock, if you imagine the actuator shaft to be the hour hand. To lower compression, the actuator shifts the A-link clockwise to about 2 o’clock, which pushes up on the control-link (C-link) and the corner of the lower link (L-link) to which it is attached. This trapezoid-shaped L-link oscillates about the crankshaft, so as one corner goes up, the opposite corner comes down. That corner is connected to the upper-link (U-link), which you’ll recognize as the piston connecting rod. As the piston’s top-dead-center location falls to its lowest point, more volume is created in the combustion chamber, and the lowest compression ratio of 8:1 is achieved. (The difference in piston heights required to drop compression from 14:1 to 8:1 is approximately 6mm.) As Frank notes, a lower ratio creates nearly ideal conditions for the wonders of turbocharging and direct fuel injection, and a high compression condition maximizes fuel efficiency under light loads, thanks to variable valve timing trickery and a balance of port and direct injection.

So how does it drive? Stunningly … seamless. All the beautifully complex engineering described above is almost entirely undetectable during our brief laps in a preproduction QX50, Infiniti’s all-new premium midsize SUV in which the Multi-Link Variable Compression Ratio system will make its debut. Because the settings of many of the vehicle’s other systems were not finalized, Infiniti asked us to reserve comments about dynamic attributes, aside from the powertrain performance. So, all we’ll say is that it steers, handles, and rides just as you’d expect from a camouflaged, late-stage prototype, premium SUV.

But that new VC-Turbo 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine certainly does hum. Infiniti’s claims of 268 horsepower and 288 lb-ft of torque seem in-line with our inner-ear and seat-of-the pants dynamometers (though torque will be slightly less in the production QX50, roughly 280 lb-ft). We performed several launches from a stop and simulated merging and passing situations, with the throttle floored from various engine speeds. Acceleration in every instance could be described as brisk but not breathtaking or neck-snapping.

Part of the issue is the transmission, which is the carryover CVT currently used in the Infiniti QX60. A CVT’s reason for being is better fuel consumption and smoothness, and for the purposes of trying to evaluate a new engine’s performance, its relaxed response has a dampening effect. This is especially evident when toggling through the Sport, Standard, and Eco drive modes; in Eco mode, the throttle response and power delivery felt particularly languid. To be clear, these modes only influence throttle response and transmission parameters, not the engine or any part of the VCR system.

So the fundamental takeaway is that the VC-Turbo delivers smooth, seamless acceleration in all the limited conditions we drove the QX50 prototype. This is not like other engine tweaks or power adders that produce a noticeable boost or have a cam-lobe change over point at a proscribed rpm. You might be able to feel Honda’s VTEC kick in (yo), but VC-Turbo technology is largely hushed and refined.

The only clue that anything is going on is a little vertical gauge set between the instrument cluster’s main dials, labeled Compression Ratio. (Infiniti representatives told us the details on this gauge were yet to be finalized.) During our on-ramp merging simulation, with the throttle firmly planted on the floor, the bar on this gauge pegs the highest level, indicated by the word POWER. In this situation, the VC-Turbo should be operating at 8:1 compression, allowing the turbocharger to cram in charge air (at a peak boost pressure of 23.2 psi) without fear of detonation, while the direct-injection fueling system fires in optimally timed pulses of fuel into the combustion chamber.

Once we reach cruising speed and ease off the throttle, both bars on the turbocharger and compression ratio gauges drop precipitously, the latter to the lowest level labeled ECO. Because the VCR system is continuously variable (not just on/off like a light switch), how much the compression changes depends on the lightness of your foot. Infiniti engineers tell us rapidly lifting off the throttle typically sends the VCR system swinging from Power/8:1 to Eco/14:1 in about 1.5 seconds and vice versa. At the eco side of things, the turbo is quietly spinning, sending little to no boost to the combustion chambers because, hey, it’s not needed—we’re cruising to the beat of the Miller & Atkinson (cycle) bands.

So do Infiniti’s opening claims ring true? Yes, and we’ll see. Generally speaking, the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo’s performance does feel on par with current naturally aspirated V-6 engines displacing up to, say, 3.5-liters. That’s convenient because Infiniti reps are eager to compare the VC-Turbo’s output and fuel consumption to the family’s long-running 3.5-liter V-6. At 268 horsepower and up to 288 lb-ft of torque, in a smaller, significantly lighter (up to 55 pounds) package, the VC-Turbo makes only 2 less horsepower and up to 73 lb-ft more torque than that old 3.5 V-6 while returning a claimed 27 percent better fuel economy. But that engine is no longer used in the Infiniti product line and only sprinkled about the Nissan family. The comparison is a little more challenging if you put the VC-Turbo up against Infiniti’s 3.7-liter V-6, which makes 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque in the current-generation QX50 while delivering and EPA-estimated 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway.

Against four-cylinder rivals, the early read is that Infiniti has a winner on its hands. Infiniti claims the its VC-Turbo returns 10 percent better fuel economy over four-cylinder rivals from Germany and Japan and should deliver class-leading acceleration. Infiniti’s benchmark testing shows its new QX50 delivers as much as 3 mpg better fuel economy and 1-second faster acceleration to 60 mph over comparably equipped rivals from Audi and BMW.

But that’s all bench racing. When we’re able to perform our instrumented performance and EquaAir RealMPG fuel economy tests, you’ll be the first to see the results. Stay tuned.

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Volvo V90: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:35

We Like: Styling inside and out, Bowers & Wilkins stereo

We Don’t Like: Road noise, ignition knob interface

We continue to swoon before this lovely wagon and nestle into a cabin Mark Rechtin called a “cocoon of comfort.”

“Boasting the same extravagant dash-to-axle ratio, taut surfacing, and crisp character lines as the S90 sedan, the V90 wagon exudes the same confident stance and studied elegance,” Angus MacKenzie said.” Though this time it’s infused with just a dash of sportiness, thanks to those rakish D-pillars and the slightly shorter rear overhang.”

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The 2.0-liter engine’s initial surge of boost from the supercharger is addicting, with the turbo kicking in just as the supercharger wanes, Christian Seabaugh noted.

The V90 handled uneven surfaces better than the other wagons in the field and had less tire squeal and body roll on the handling course, Frank Markus said. But the ride could be more refined. It is rock-solid and stable at high speeds, and Pilot Assist skillfully keeps the wagon safely between the lane markings.

Thoughtful inside touches include the pop-up cargo area divider with integrated straps and hooks. The second-row seats fold electrically. And the front seats might be the most comfortable in the business.

Oddly, this low-volume wagon can only be special-ordered. And as fabulous as the V90 is, our tester cost almost $70,000, which Ed Loh called “a bit eye-watering.”

Lieberman contended that had the S90 and V90 arrived simultaneously last year, Volvo could have had a strong chance of walking away with the Golden Calipers. But as a low-volume stand-alone vehicle, the wagon didn’t sufficiently advance Volvo’s cause.

2018 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription BASE PRICE $58,945 PRICE AS TESTED $69,340 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon ENGINE 2.0L/316-hp/295-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,253 lb (54/46%) WHEELBASE 115.8 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 194.3 x 74.0 x 58.1 in 0-60 MPH 6.1 sec QUARTER MILE 14.6 sec @ 94.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 110 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.88 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 26.3 sec @ 0.67 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 22/31/25 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 153/109 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.77 lb/mile

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Nissan Leaf: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:35

We Like: Attractive design, superb semi-autonomous driving option, killer pricing

We Don’t Like: Borderline range improvement, CHAdeMO fast-charging plug

Although electric vehicle historians will inevitably point to GM’s EV1 as the dawn of the modern electric car, its real origin—at least as far as the mass public is concerned—was the appearance of the original Nissan Leaf in 2011. It’s the best-selling electric vehicle in history (with roughly 115,000 sold in America since day one). All of which has created a hushed anticipation for its follow-up, this second-generation Leaf (particularly in light of the 238-mile Chevrolet Bolt EV, which grabbed last year’s COTY Calipers).

So when the car’s specs were recently released, one number among them eclipsed everything else. It’s range: 150 miles from its 40-kW-hr battery. (A 60 is expected next year.) Back in the BB-era (Before Bolt), this would have ignited celebrations.

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Now, we question if it’s enough. Nissan has fortified the Leaf’s defense with an excellent styling update, more power, much better steering quality, and its amazing ProPilot Assist option (think single-lane Tesla Autopilot–like capabilities for $2,200).

The new Leaf delivers a supple ride and a focus on tech that makes driving easier. Its e-Pedal is its prime example—a high-regen, hill-holding, one-pedal solution that could eliminate 90 percent of brake pedal use in real-world driving, Nissan says.

Still, the car failed to generate much enthusiasm. But the Leaf’s fall seems to come from Nissan’s decision to retain the original car’s platform. Observed Christian Seabaugh: “In ride and handling, the Leaf rolls and flops way too much through corners, and the ride is just generally too soft.”

2018 Nissan Leaf SL BASE PRICE $36,853 PRICE AS TESTED $37,738 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback ENGINE 0.0L/147-hp/236-lb-ft TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,503 lb (58/42%) WHEELBASE 106.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.4 x 70.5 x 61.4 in 0-60 MPH 7.5 sec QUARTER MILE 15.8 sec @ 87.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 129 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.76 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 27.9 sec @ 0.61 g (avg)

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Honda Odyssey: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:35

We Like: Slick 10-speed, ride/handling, Cabin Watch & Talk

We Don’t Like: No-fold middle row, lightning-struck exterior

Minivans frequently serve as innovation incubators, and Honda’s own imagineers are following up their fourth-gen Odyssey HondaVac breakthrough with Cabin Watch and Cabin Talk. The former lets parents keep a fisheye on middle- and third-row kiddos even when they’re in rear-facing child seats, and the latter broadcasts front-row voices of authority over the rear speakers or headphones. Ed Loh found them “fun, if a bit gimmicky,” while Mark Rechtin likened Talk’s fidelity to “doing a sound check onstage at Cabaret Metro in Chicago.”

Honda’s fabulous 10-speed automatic earned big Engineering Excellence points by helping the Odyssey outrun a Chrysler Pacifica Limited by 1.1 seconds to 60 mph while ranking 1 mpg better in the city. Of course, the plug-in Pacifica Hybrid arguably overcompensates for such engineering deficits.

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Performance of Intended Function rules in the minivan category, and Chrysler’s foldaway middle row trounces Honda’s 69-pound (each) side-sliders with nonfolding backrests. We don’t buy the argument that Honda’s customers never carry big stuff. “Lots of customers don’t use turn signals, either,” Christian Seabaugh said, “yet we still need them.” Furthermore, Alisa Priddle worried that “once gummy bears get in those side-sliding tracks, kids will not be able to push them easily, if at all.”

And finally, on the design front, we’re not fans of the lighting bolt beltline. Angus MacKenzie felt there were “too many lines heading in too many directions, many simply dying of despair on a random section of panel.” He sealed the Odyssey’s fate, summarizing: “Chrysler’s more practical, more elegant Pacifica is better.”

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite BASE PRICE $47,610 PRICE AS TESTED $47,610 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 8-pass, 4-door van ENGINE 3.5L/280-hp/262-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6 TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,582 lb (55/45%) WHEELBASE 118.1 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.8 x 70.8 x 55.5 in 0-60 MPH 6.6 sec QUARTER MILE 15.0 sec @ 94.6 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 127 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.73 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.1 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 19/28/22 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/120 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87 lb/mile

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Hyundai Ioniq: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:30

We Like: How polished, high quality, and good to drive both versions are

We Don’t Like: Baked in from the start engineering compromises

The Hyundai Ioniq is available in three flavors, a gas-electric hybrid version, a plug-in hybrid (not yet available), and a fully electric car. We mostly liked the Ioniq, but no one fell in love with it. Why? Have you ever heard the old saying that a camel is a racehorse designed by committee? That applies here.

“To fit both a gas tank and an internal combustion engine meant that Hyundai had to put the battery under the rear seats, which means the electric version doesn’t have as much range as it could have, and the hybrid/PHEV versions have to have structural accommodations for the bigger, heavier battery that they don’t have,” Christian Seabaugh said. Long story short, the Prius Prime is better as a hybrid, and the Tesla Model 3 is a better electric car.

So what did we like? Basically everything else. Angus MacKenzie praised Hyundai’s design restraint. “Hyundai is to be commended for not making its hybrid—and its battery electric sibling—look weird because … Prius,” he said. “Both are cleanly and conventionally styled, and we’ll take that all day long.” The looks were described as “freakishly vanilla” by one judge, though.

Moving on. “These drove surprisingly well, had nimble steering, not too much body roll on the winding road, but the tires are squealers,” Alisa Priddle said. “I love the one-pedal driving, and, man, is this car quiet. It rides so well, too.” Perhaps the home-field advantage helped its ride and high-speed stability, Chris Walton noted, as the Ioniq was tuned on the same roads as our COTY evaluations.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid BASE PRICE $30,385 $23,085 PRICE AS TESTED $36,835 $25,960 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan ENGINE Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor 1.6L DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 1-speed automatic 6-speed twin-clutch auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,280 lb (49/51%) 3,085 lb (61/39%) WHEELBASE 106.3 in 106.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 176.0 x 71.7 x 57.1 in 176.0 x 71.7 x 56.9 in 0-60 MPH 8.7 sec 8.8 sec QUARTER MILE 16.8 sec @ 83.8 mph 16.7 sec @ 83.0 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 129 ft 133 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.77 g (avg) 0.77 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.2 sec @ 0.59 g (avg) 28.4 sec @ 0.58 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 150/122/136 MPGe 55/54/55 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 22/28 kW-hrs/100 miles 61/62 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.00 lb/mile 0.36 lb/mile

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Toyota Prius Prime: 2018 Motor Trend Car of the Year Contender

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 08:30

We Like: Value, huge visual differentiation from regular Prius

We Don’t Like: Tight rear-seat headroom, body roll

If you want the best Prius Toyota offers, is the plug-in Prime the way to go? Opinions were divided on whether the Prime’s aesthetic changes from the standard Prius transformed the car into one that was less ugly or just a different ugly. Still, we admire Toyota’s dedication to differentiation—especially those too-cool taillights.

Looks debate aside, the Prime is a decent performer on efficiency and range considering a base price comfortably below $30,000. The Prius Prime can go up to 25 miles on EV power alone before the gas engine kicks in to help, for a total driving range well over 600 miles.

Don’t miss all the latest Car, Truck and SUV of the Year content at MotorTrendAwards.com!

The Prius Prime drove around a winding road “with less tire squeal and drama than the Hyundai Ioniq and Kia Niro,” Frank Markus said. That doesn’t mitigate the Prime’s substantial body roll. “I’m not sure it’s going any faster; it might even be going slower. There’s just less drama.”

Inside, the weird styling continues—occupants are awash in a sea of shiny white plastic—and the ersatz Tesla infotainment screen washes out quickly in sunlight. Plus, it has only two rear seats. However, bonus features include a full suite of active safety tech, LED headlights, and navigation.

But the prime mover to someone who primarily wants a hassle-free commute is avoiding the gas pump. Because the Toyota’s battery is relatively small, charging only takes about 2 hours at 240 volts. And if your commute is short, you can go gas-free for days at a time if you plug in at night.

2017 Toyota Prius Prime BASE PRICE $27,995 PRICE AS TESTED $33,995 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 4-pass, 4-door hatchback ENGINE 1.8L/95-hp/105-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4 plus 121 hp electric motors; 121-hp combined TRANSMISSION Cont variable auto CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,435 lb (56/44%) WHEELBASE 106.3 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 182.9 x 69.3 x 57.9 in 0-60 MPH 10.0 sec QUARTER MILE 17.4 sec @ 79.9 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 125 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.78 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.5 sec @ 0.56 g (avg) EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 55/53/54 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 61/64 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.36 lb/mile

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Meet the SCG 004S, the More Affordable Followup to the $2 Million SCG 003

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 01:30

Late last month, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus teased a new car on its Facebook page. Glickenhaus said he was targeting a price around $400,000, a power output of 650 hp, and a weight of about 2,500 pounds. He also promised a six-speed gated manual transmission. Today, SCG revealed the car, which we now know will be called the 004S.

Design-wise, you can see styling elements from quite a few different cars. There’s a bit of Ford GT in there, some Porsche 918, and even a good bit of Glickenhaus’s Ferrari P4/5. Viewed as a whole, though, the 004S has a cohesive look to it that will still stand out even when parked next to other supercars. The greenhouse looks taller and more rounded off than you might expect, but it will probably also provide great visibility. With huge air intakes, an aggressive aero kit, and a large greenhouse, and a road-scraping ride height, we also don’t doubt SCG’s claim that this is a “fully legal race car for the road.”

Perhaps the most notable design element, however, requires you to look inside the cabin. Instead of offering seating for two or four, the 004S seats three, just like in the McLaren F1. The driver sits front and center, while passengers sit farther back to each side. That also means all the gauges and controls are laid out specifically for the driver, not anyone else. Speaking of the gauges, they appear to all be analog, not digital. In fact, other than a rearview camera and an iPhone dock, there doesn’t appear to be much digital technology in the cabin.

SCG says that with a carbon-fiber body and chassis, the 004S will weigh in at about 2,600 pounds. The 5.0-liter twin-turbo engine has an 8,500-rpm redline and will make around 650 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque. Power will be sent to the rear wheels via a standard six-speed gated manual transmission. A paddle-shifted option will be available, as well. With a base price of $400,00, it certainly won’t be cheap, but only 250 will be produced per year, making it an extremely rare car.

SCG also says the NHTSA has given it Low Volume Manufactures Status, allowing it to issue VINs for the 004S. As a result, the car will be street-legal. If a buyer is interested in racing the car, though, SCG says it plans to also build GT3 and GTE/GTLM competition versions of the 004S. 

Expect to see a running prototype in 2018, with the first 25 Founders Edition cars delivered as early as late 2018. By the end of 2021, though, SCG says it should be up to full capacity.

Source: Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

 

 

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Refreshing or Revolting: 2020 Tesla Roadster

Motortrend News Feed - Sat, 11/18/2017 - 00:30

The 2020 Tesla Roadster stole the long-awaited semi-truck’s thunder in a surprise debut last night. With its unheard-of performance and range claims, the new 2020 Roadster leaves its predecessor in the dust. But how does its styling compare? Take a look below and decide for yourself.

The new Roadster looks like it will easily slot into the Tesla lineup, wearing curvy styling cues seen on the Model S, Model X, and Model 3. When the Model S first debuted, its styling didn’t really jibe with that of the old Roadster. That’s because the first-gen Roadster was essentially a rebodied Lotus Elise. This new model was designed from the ground up, so the look is more cohesive.

The 2020 Roadster’s front fascia is smooth and sleek, with only a single trapezoidal opening at the bottom—perhaps the only thing the front end has in common with its predecessor. The headlights are narrow and sit below the fender arches, giving the nose an aggressive, low-slung look.

From the side, the new Roadster now looks the part of a supercar with a narrow greenhouse opening, raked roofline, and small retractable wing. The Roadster again features a targa top, with a removable roof panel that opens up the cabin to the elements. The rear end is just as dramatic as the front, with wide fenders and well-defined shoulders. The taillights almost meld into the bodywork, and are incredibly slim. The rear bumper has an integrated diffuser, which is probably necessary if the car can indeed hit speeds above 250 mph.

Inside, the Roadster continues the minimalist theme of other Tesla models with a Model S-like central screen, futuristic airplane yoke-style steering wheel, and not much else to clutter the dash. There are very thin displays in the dashboard on both the driver and passenger sides that can be configured to show vehicle speed, g forces, or other performance data. The new Tesla Roadster also has rear seats for the first time, bringing total seating capacity to four.

What do you think of the 2020 Tesla Roadster? Is it a worthy successor to the original electric sports car? Tell us on our Facebook page!

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Jaguar Land Rover Begins Testing Autonomous Vehicles in U.K.

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 23:45

Earlier this month, Google’s Waymo launched a trial program to allow the general public to use its driverless vehicles in limited areas around Phoenix, Arizona. General Motors, meanwhile, is still testing its Cruise autonomous vehicles on the crowded streets of San Francisco. Today, Jaguar Land Rover announced that it’s begun testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, making it among the first to do so in the U.K.

Testing is currently taking place on the roads of Coventry, near the Jaguar Land Rover headquarters. But JLR says it isn’t only testing autonomous technology. It’s also testing out both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure tech. That means that even before the vehicles become fully autonomous, it’s working to find ways for them to communicate with each other, as well as with traffic lights and other roadside infrastructure.

“Testing this self-driving project on public roads is so exciting, as the complexity of the environment allows us to find robust ways to increase road safety in the future. By using inputs from multiple sensors, and finding intelligent ways to process this data, we are gaining accurate technical insight to pioneer the automotive application of these technologies,” said Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of product engineering, in a release. “Jaguar Land Rover is proud to be a leader in collaborative research projects for autonomous and connected cars. We are supporting innovative research that will be integral to the infrastructure, technology and legal landscape needed to make intelligent, self-driving vehicles a reality within the next decade.”

Earlier this year, JLR announced that it had completed tests of an autonomous Range Rover Sport on private roads in its Horiba Mira test facility. Previewing the Level 4 autonomous vehicle it hopes to begin selling within the next 10 years, the British automaker has said it doesn’t necessarily intend to replace the driver. It does, however, want to increase driver safety and automate the least enjoyable aspects of driving, like commuting in stop-and-go traffic.

Source: Jaguar Land Rover

 

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Porsche 911 May Gain High-Performance Hybrid Variant

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 23:00

If Lamborghini is adding a hybrid, then it makes sense that Porsche’s most iconic sports car wouldn’t be immune to the electrification crusade underway by Volkswagen Group. Porsche is mulling over a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the 911, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg says the vehicle could debut a few years after the eighth-generation 911 comes out. If engineers can figure out how to reduce the weight of the battery, the plug-in 911 could offer a range of about 40 miles in EV mode, Bloomberg’s sources claim.

Porsche has set up the new 911 to accommodate an electric powertrain to keep options open, a Porsche spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg. The next 911 is expected to debut near the end of 2018.

Porsche recently added electrification to the Panamera in the form of the Turbo S E-Hybrid, a high-end $185,000-plus saloon. Packing a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 and an electric motor, the model produces a total of 671 hp and 626 lb-ft of torque. The plug-in 911 also promises high levels of performance, although exact specs remain unclear.

Purists may lament the shift to hybrid technology, as if adding turbo power wasn’t enough of a blow. But this is the way that Volkswagen Group is headed. Through 2022, the automaker is investing around $40 billion in future mobility technologies, primarily electrification. By 2030, the automaker wants to have electrified variants of every model in its lineup, including Porsches. And let’s not forget the Mission E sports car is in the pipeline for 2019.

Source: Bloomberg

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Wal-Mart Plans to Order Tesla Semi Trucks

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 22:00

Tesla revealed its electric semi-truck last night, and it has already secured some very high-profile customers.

Wal-Mart announced today it will order copies of the Tesla Semi. Although the retailer only plans to buy 15—five for the U.S. and 10 for Canada—the deal opens up plenty of opportunities for future collaboration with Tesla.

“We believe we can learn how this technology performs within our supply chain, as well as how it could help us meet some of our long-term sustainability goals, such as lowering emissions,” Wal-Mart said in a statement, reports Reuters.

J.B. Hunt, a big truck fleet operator, said it has placed a reservation to buy “multiple” Tesla Semi tractors. It’s the first major U.S. trucking company to announce such a deal with Tesla. The trucks will help support J.B. Hunt’s operations on the West Coast.

“We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology,” J.B. Hunt president and CEO John Roberts said in a statement.

Tesla says the Semi can travel 500 miles on a single charge at max weight, assuming the driver is going 60 mph. With the help of four electric motors borrowed from the Model 3 sedan, the truck can hit 60 mph in just 5 seconds, or 20 seconds while towing. The Semi has a maximum towing capacity of 80,000 pounds and is categorized as a class 8 heavy duty truck.

Fortunately, truck drivers can recharge rather quickly. Tesla says it will take just 30 minutes to regain 400 miles of range at one of its new solar-powered Megachargers.

Despite its advanced capabilities, the Tesla Semi has serious competition in the form of diesel rigs. These trucks can go 1,000 miles on a single tank. We still don’t know how much the Tesla Semi costs, and that could be another point of comparison companies will have to consider. Tesla says production will begin in 2019.

Source: Reuters, J.B. Hunt

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The Next Subaru WRX STI Will Almost Definitely Be a Hybrid

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 21:00

Back in 2015, we heard a shocking rumor that the next Subaru WRX STI would be a hybrid. At the time, there were no direct quotes from Subaru executives, so the report from Australia’s Motoring could have been pure speculation. But now it sounds like that report was pretty accurate.

Speaking to AutoExpress, Chris Hawken, Subaru’s U.K. marketing director, said “[Subaru’s Global Platform] has been designed to take hybrid and electric.” While we knew that part, it’s the next thing he said that was more interesting. “That is the way STI is going,” said Hawken. That’s not necessarily confirmation, but it sure sounds a lot like Subaru plans to make the new STI a hybrid.

2017 Subaru VIZIV Performance concept

As for why Subaru would potentially electrify the next STI, Hawken said it has to do with emissions requirements. “We are definitely working on downsized turbo engines,” he told AutoExpress. “With Euro 6c coming in next September, cars like the existing STI have to stop. By 2019 and 2020 manufacturers have to show a massive drop in CO2. The future is petrol, hybrid, and electric.”

Again, Hawken didn’t come out and say, “The next Subaru WRX STI will be a hybrid,” but reading those comments, it’s hard to imagine a Subaru producing a new STI that isn’t a hybrid. That may upset some STI purists, but as we’ve seen with performance hybrids like the McLaren P1 and the Porsche 918, with the right setup, hybrids don’t have to be boring.

Hybrid or not, it will still be several years before we see the new STI. Subaru recently said the new WRX and STI won’t arrive for at least two and a half years.

Source: AutoExpress

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2018 Kia Stinger sport sedan costs $32,800 to start; your move, big guys

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 20:55
Kia's first salvo into sport sedan territory will start at thousands less than its likely competitors. The 2018 Kia Stinger will cost $32,800, including destination, at its base trim level and will run up to $52,300 for a Kia Stinger GT2 equipped with all-wheel drive, the automaker announced Friday. The Stinger will arrive in dealerships near the...
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2018 Nissan Murano adds safety tech, priced from $31,525

The Car Connection News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 20:51
The 2018 Nissan Murano's hefty price hike is offset by the addition of far more advanced safety tech than last year's model. The entry-level 2018 Murano S will start at $31,525, a figure that's about $800 more than last year's crossover but now includes automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings. MORE: Read our 2017 Nissan Murano...
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Watch the Tesla Roadster Go to Plaid in New Test Ride Video

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 20:00

Last night’s Tesla press conference was a relentless barrage of unbelievable numbers, with claims ranging from the 500-mile EV range for a loaded Tesla Semi to the 1.9-second 0-60 time of the Tesla Roadster, which made a surprise debut after the Semi. We’ll have to wait until those claims can be verified independently, but a new video might lend some credibility to the Roadster’s acceleration claims.

Immediately following the reveal, attendees could reserve one of the 1,000 Roadster Founders Series models for $50,000. Those who did got a ride in the Roadster prototype that debuted. The owner of YouTube channel DragTimes was one of the lucky few who got a ride in the prototype. The driver explains that it’s not quite 100 percent finished, as the G meter in the dash doesn’t work. What does work is a Plaid graphics show in the Model S-like central screen that plays as soon as you hit full power. As you know, Tesla’s Ludicrous mode Easter egg was an homage to 1987’s Spaceballs, and “Plaid” is the next speed up from Ludicrous, according to the movie.

The host appears surprised by the Roadster’s acceleration, saying afterward, “Honestly, I didn’t think I’d notice a difference between my P100D.” The Tesla Model S P100D Ludicrous is the quickest car we’ve ever tested at 2.28 seconds to 60 mph. Seat of the pants feel is definitely not the best way to measure whether or not a car is quicker, but it’s interesting that someone who races his P100D against exotics regularly on his YouTube channel is this surprised by the Roadster prototype’s thrust. He sets up an accelerometer app to record the 0-60 time before the test ride, but apparently something goes wrong and we don’t find out just how quick the run is. We’ll just need to verify Tesla’s claims ourselves in instrumented testing.

Tesla also released a short official video showing the Roadster prototype in action. Check out both below.

Source: DragTimes, Tesla

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BMW May Offer X8 SUV as Sporty Range Rover Rival

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 19:00

Back in September, BMW introduced the X7 iPerformance concept ahead of the Frankfurt Motor Show as a preview of its upcoming three-row SUV, the X7. The styling was pretty controversial, but it will probably sell well simply because it’s a three-row luxury SUV. But according to the latest report, the X7 might not be the largest, most expensive SUV in BMW’s lineup for long.

Speaking to Autocar, Klaus Frohlich, BMW’s head of development hinted that an X8 might be in the works, as well. “There is room for X8, especially in markets like China, but there are no decisions yet. Each car must have a distinct character, and these are the sort of areas that take time to evaluate,” he told the British news outlet.

If BMW does decide to build the X8, though, it sounds like it will get the same “four-door coupe” styling that we’ve seen on the X6 and X4. “It is early to talk about X8, but one of the first decisions I made when I worked on product strategy was to take the X5 and make the X6,” said Frohlich. “Everyone said it was not necessary, but it worked. Now we have the X2, X4, and X6. They are emotional and sporty derivatives that work for us.”

Frohlich didn’t say whether this hypothetical X8 would be larger than the X7 or how many passengers it would seat, but it’s hard to imagine BMW building a three-row SUV with less headroom for rear passengers. Will BMW stretch the X8 to prevent the coupe-like roofline from compromising headroom, or will it remove the back row? Perhaps both? It’s too early to do more than guess, but no matter what, you have to assume the X8 will be one seriously swanky ride if it ever goes into production.

Source: Autocar

 

 

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VW to Spend $40 Billion on Electrified Cars, Autonomous Tech

Motortrend News Feed - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 18:00

We knew Volkswagen was getting serious about electric cars after its diesel scandal, but a new announcement reveals just how serious it is. VW Group will spend 34 billion euros, around $40 billion, on electrification, autonomous driving, mobility services, and digitalization through the end of 2022.

Most of this money will go toward “the electrification and hybridization of all Group models,” Volkswagen Group said in a statement. The investment goals were established today at a VW Group planning round meeting for 2018-2022.

Back in September, the automaker announced it will offer an electrified variant of every model in its lineup by 2030. Considering the Group has around 300 vehicles in its stable, that’s no easy task. The automaker is also aiming for battery-only electric vehicles to make up one out of every four vehicles that it produces. Possibly, this could mean producing up to three million e-cars per year.

VW has already previewed three of its future EV offerings: a hatchback, a crossover, and a new take on the Microbus. These models will start entering production in the next few years.

The automaker will optimize its production process to benefit its future EVs. It will transform its Zwickau plant in Germany to focus on e-vehicles. The plant will launch Europe’s first batch of new EVs on the MEB platform.

Source: VW Group

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