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More on Tesla: Why Part Deux Will Work

July 28th, 2016

2016 Tesla Model X

Last week, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, unveiled his Master Plan, Part Deux, on his website. It lays out his plans for where his futuristic company will go in the next decade.

Now there are those of you out there who are wondering about his Master Plan, Part One, which included the following goals:

  • Create a low-volume car, which would necessarily be expensive;
  • Use that money to develop a medium-volume car at a lower price;
  • Use that money to create an affordable, high-volume car; and
  • Provide solar power.
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Apple Car Could Hit Roads in 2021

July 28th, 2016

apple car

It appears that, contrary to some rumors and speculation, Faraday Future is not Apple in disguise.

In recent weeks Faraday has hired a former Toyota executive to lead exterior design, while the Nevada treasurer began to question how the upstart electric carmaker will finance a $1 billion factory and deliver on its promise to help turn Nevada into an electric-vehicle production hub. (Tesla, of course, is building its Gigafactory there.)

Nevada has reason to be concerned, because the state has promised tax benefits and infrastructure improvements. Faraday’s failure would be a giant gambling loss for Nevada, a possibility that would seem less likely if Apple had control of the reigns.

The Apple plan, meanwhile, seems to be delayed.

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Tesla, Autopilot, and the Future of Self-Driving Cars

July 26th, 2016

Tesla AutoPilot

From the first press release outlining Tesla’s Autopilot technology, potential customers have wondered how the system works, what its limitations are, and whether it will be welcomed or shunned. Since Joshua Brown’s fatal crash while using Autopilot in a Tesla Model S, these questions have grown larger and more pointed. Without a doubt, popular opinion has shifted toward negativity. But should it?

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Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux: Anticipating a New World

July 25th, 2016

Tesla-Model-X-Tesla-Roadster

Ten years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed the world his plan to grow his electric car company into an international powerhouse. In his original master plan, posted in 2006, Musk summarized his ambitions by saying Tesla would:

  1. Build a sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing the above, also provide zero-emission electric-power generation options

Mission accomplished.

With 2016 upon us, Musk has published his new master plan. It’s equally ambitious, if not more so, and includes some bombshells that give clues to Mr. Musk’s intentions to change our world for the better.

Perhaps the best idea in Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux,” is for an electric semi truck. Shocking, right?

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What the New CAFE Standards Mean for Auto Buyers

July 20th, 2016

White House Infographic, fuel economy standards

There has been a lot of news this week regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issuing new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The reports seem to suggest the government has gone lax on the issue of fuel economy because most Americans don’t seem to care about it.

One analyst, however, suggests the opposite may be true. Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive, read the entire 1217-page midterm report that discussed the standards (something probably 99 percent of journalists didn’t do, including me).

She wrote in Forbes, “The (CAFE) standard and NHTSA projected figures for the 2025 model year targets, however, have now been revealed as a projection rather than a legal requirement. The report is supportive of the progress and direction of the existing standards. The agencies believe automakers can meet the challenge, and that consumers want it.”

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Acura NSX to Add Electric, Gas, and Convertible Versions

July 15th, 2016

acura-nsx

The Honda NSX, known in America as an Acura, began life over 25 years ago as a lower-priced and mechanically reliable alternative to the V8-powered Ferrari supercars.

Introduced in 1990, the NSX became the world’s first mass-produced car to feature an all-aluminum body and was powered by an aluminum 3.0-liter V6 engine, which featured Honda’s VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system, along with a choice between a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmission.

The NSX became a spectacular success and remained in production until 2005. Fans mourned the loss of their Japanese supercar and eagerly watched the headlines in anticipation of its return.

As of this year, the NSX is not only back with a vengeance, but it will likely launch an entire platform of supercar goodness.

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Could Now Be a Good Time to Buy a Tesla?

July 14th, 2016

2015 Tesla Model S

Tesla has seen a lot of time in the news during the past couple of weeks over crashes involving its Autopilot system. Low gas prices also might be hurting its business plan, and there are some growing questions about reliability. This all begs the question: is now the right time to think about buying a Tesla? The answer is a qualified “maybe,” because the decision essentially comes down to how much risk you’re willing to assume.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Instrumentation

June 30th, 2016
Courtesy Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Head-Up Display

Chances are, anyone reading this post learned to drive a car with some sort of traditional gauge setup. Speedometer, tachometer, engine temperature, gas level, maybe a warning that someone needs to fasten their seatbelt. But is it possible the near future will leave such an interior feeling old-fashioned, obsolete, better suited for classic cars and car shows? We all know how fondly our zealously up-to-date culture likes to deride (or sometimes obsess over) old technological “breakthroughs” like cassette tapes or first-generation iPods, computing devices that look and feel like bricks in comparison to the sleek devices of today. With their growing computing power and ever-more-sophisticated interiors, why would cars be exempt from this double-time march of progress?

Surely we’ve seen this coming. Nothing moves as quickly as technology or has quite the same way of spreading across all parts of a particular product or experience. We have our award-winning infotainment systems; how long could it have been before some of the operating philosophy behind fighter-jet cockpits or the crisp graphics and formidable computing power of smartphones began showing up right in front of drivers’ noses? Not long, apparently: just take a look at the new display setups appearing in consumer vehicles, from the head-up displays (yes, like fighter jets, sort of) to fully computerized dashboards. But if you haven’t necessarily been keeping an enthusiast’s eye on the automotive market, you might not quite know what these new features are all about. They are, after all, still pretty new. So here’s a quick rundown of a few of the more important (or common) among them.

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Volkswagen Looks Toward an Electric Future

June 20th, 2016

VW-Electric-Bus

Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have killed diesel-fueled cars in the U.S. forever.

Prior to September of 2015, cars with diesel engines were on the rise in the United States. Long popular in Europe, the fuel was on the verge of overcoming the stigma of its dirty past and even rivaled hybrid technology as a clean, efficient alternative to gasoline.

Volkswagen led that charge with its Clean Diesel marketing campaign and its promise of efficient, environmentally friendly sedans and SUVs.

Then it all came crashing down when the story broke that VW had cheated on emissions tests and the engines were, in fact, heavy polluters.

The fallout of the scandal is still ongoing and VW hasn’t sold a new diesel automobile in the States in over nine months. The company may not sell one here ever again.

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Mercedes-Benz Addressing All Threats, Both Foreign and Electric

June 16th, 2016
The new look of electric Mercedes-Benz? This the Intelligent Aerodynamic Automobile concept.

The new look of electric Mercedes-Benz?

By the end of 2015, Mercedes-Benz had fallen behind its competition in U.S. sales. While in catch-up mode, the company steered into the passing lane, floored the gas pedal, and is accelerating fast.

Sales of BMW and Lexus vehicles both surpassed Mercedes at the end of last year. To make matters worse, there are some who would say the company also lags behind Audi and Tesla when it comes to innovation and technology.

So far this year, though, Mercedes-Benz is on pace to outsell both BMW and Lexus. Through May, Mercedes holds a roughly 20,000-vehicle lead over each. Mercedes also has plans to further distance itself from Audi and Tesla by introducing new vehicles to snag some of their sales.

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