From Engadget: Tesla Model S electrifies Motor Trend judges, unanimously voted 2013 Car of the Year

Tesla Model S electrifies Motor Trend judges, unanimously voted 2013 Car of the Year

Tesla’s Model S roadster has nabbed Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year award, making it the first electric car to garner the prize. The EV was voted in unanimously by the publication’s judges while beating out the formidable likes of BMW, Porsche and Lexus. In announcing the award, the editors proclaimed the vehicle to be sporty, efficient, spacious and “as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce.” Meanwhile, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk opined that gaining the prize over the gas-burners was a “critical step towards the widespread adoption of sustainable transport.” Now all the automaker needs to do is ramp up production and it might start to generate cash as well as awards.

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from Engadget

From Autoblog: Toyota recalling 670k Prius models in US, 2.77 million vehicles worldwide

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Automotive News reports Toyota is recalling a total of 2.77 million vehicles worldwide for faulty water pumps and steering system issues. A total of 670,000 of those are 2004-2009 Prius hybrids sold in the US. Those vehicles are headed back to the dealer, where technicians will inspect the intermediate shaft in the steering column for deformed splines and replace the shaft if necessary. Around 350,000 of those same models will also be inspected for a faulty electric water pump. In some cases, the motor driving the pump could stop, causing the electric motor to overheat and stop functioning while being driven.

Toyota has not received any reports of accidents as a result of either problem, and says the inspections and replacement work should be completed in around one hour.

The recalls also affect 496,000 vehicles in Europe and a further 1.5 million in Japan. All told, the steering shaft recall covers 10 models worldwide, including the Corolla and Wish models manufactured in Japan between 2000 and 2009. Five models are affected by the water pump recall, though we’re still waiting for confirmation from Toyota as to which they are. You can read the full Toyota press release below, covering the US-spec Prius issues, for more information.

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From Autoblog: Hyundai, Broadcom to equip vehicles with built-in ethernet

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Hyundai badge

Hyundai is the second manufacturer after BMW – having put its Flexray ethernet system into the X5 – to pledge to install Ethernet technology in its cars. This isn’t a ploy to give you yet another place to work on those regional sales spreadsheets, it’s about reducing vehicle complexity while making the cars and their systems more efficient. The Korean manufacturer will be doing so in conjunction with Broadcom, the U.S. firm having created the “one pair Ethernet” (OPEN) special interest group that now counts 81 members.

Various in-vehicle electronics use a variety of protocols, primary among them being control area network (CAN), local area network (LAN) and low voltage differential signaling (LVDS). Broadcom wants to integrate those incompatible and highly specialized systems into one Ethernet system – the same plug-and-play one your computer can use all over the world – and in doing so make Ethernet “the backbone of the car.”

Developed with BMW and Hyundai, Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach standard uses two unshielded cables instead of four, which allows for light and inexpensive wiring that can be fit through a bodyshell’s tight spots. Achieving the kind of consolidation ultimately envisioned would bring numerous and wide-ranging advantages like lowering the cost and complexity of electronics, at the same time allowing for greater electronics capabilities inside the car like 360-degree car camera security systems, using the same IP standard familiar around the world, allowing for speeds from 100 Mbps to 1 GBbps for faster and better communication between systems, just for starters. Lighter wiring – and there’s a lot of it in a car – also means lighter cars.

That futuristic world is still in the future, though. Automakers are naturally keen to develop Ethernet applications in phases, such as focusing just on infotainment, to make sure it can stand up to the rigors of an automobile’s daily life. Hyundai hasn’t said which of its products will be the first in line or when that vehicle reach showrooms, but has cited infotainment, lane departure warning, park assist and telematics as the features likely to benefit. Read more in the press release below.

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From Autoblog: Report: Motor Trend tests Tesla Model S, finds 0-60 in 3.9 sec and 100.7 MPGe

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2012 Tesla Model S - front three-quarter dynamic motion shot

Tesla has said the highest-end Model S has a range of 300 miles (at 55 miles per hour), but until recently, it’s been tremendously difficult for anyone outside the company to verify this number. When the EPA did its testing thing, it came up with a 265-mile range estimate for the version with the 85-kWh battery pack. Tesla is even offering a prize of some sort to anyone who drives a Model S over 400 miles on one charge.

Now, Motor Trend writers has had the chance to spend some time in Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s personal Performance Signature Model S to see just how far the electric car can be driven. The result? Your results may vary.

First, the good news. Motor Trendran a battery of tests on the Model S, and its independent measurements discovered the following ways that their independent testing beat the manufacturer’s official numbers:

  • 0-60 time: 3.9 seconds (Tesla official number is 4.4 seconds)
  • Quarter mile: 12.5 seconds at 110.9 mph (12.6 seconds)
  • 100.7 MPGe during a 200+ mile drive (EPA says 89 MPGe).

So, then, what’s the bad news? At roughly 65 mph with no A/C, MT “only” got 238 miles out of the battery. That’s less than advertised, but MT offers an important and reasonable take on this issue:

“But the range that matters is really a psychological/perceptual one, not a specific number. Think about it: We drove from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back to L.A.’s Pacific edge on one charge. Five hours of continuous driving. This is a breakthrough accomplishment that ought to knock down the range anxiety barrier that’s substantially limited EV sales.”


from Autoblog

From Autoblog: Study: Feds launch largest-ever road test of connected vehicles

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Vehicle-to-Vehicle communications envisioned

Vehicle-To-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-To-Infrastructure (V2I) communications are going to play a big role in future automobiles when it comes to autonomous vehicles, but in the near term, these technologies are being looked at as a way to make the roadways safer by reducing crashes and congestion. As part of its Safety Pilot program, the Department of Transportation has announced plans for the largest-ever real-world test of V2V and V2I technologies consisting of almost 3,000 cars, trucks and buses in Ann Arbor, Mich.

V2V and V2I allow vehicles to connect and communicate with one another along with roadways and intersections using a wifi signal with the intention of reducing vehicle collisions in the instances such as rear-end collisions, blind intersections, vehicles running a red light or vehicles changing lanes when another vehicle is in its blind spot. Automakers, including General Motors and Ford Motor Company have already been testing intelligent vehicles, but the benefit of a government-sponsored program like this is that it could create a universal language for vehicles to communicate with each other rather than each automaker coming up with its system independently.

Both GM and Ford are supplying vehicles for this program, but there will also be extensive feedback received from drivers. Ahead of its real-world tests, the DOT conducted a study that found 90-percent of drivers who experienced V2V and V2I had a “highly favorable opinion” of the technologies. Safety Pilot will last for a year, and the data collected will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determine how the technology can be used in the future, along with what, if any, laws need to be made regarding V2V and V2I.

GM says that it can start offering this technology in its cars by the end of this decade and Ford says it has already started developing Intelligent Vehicles.

Scroll downfor V2V videos from GM and Ford as well as a press release from the U.S. DOT.


from Autoblog

From Autoblog: Video: Consumer Reports cuts loose, compares Scion FR-S against Subaru BRZ

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Consumer Reports pits Scion FR-S against Subaru BRZ

The folks at Consumer Reports are a lot like the Ben Steins of the automotive world. At first glance, they are the dry-as-saltines, facts-only crew that can’t be bothered by anything but the empirical data with which they distill to arrive at their coveted “Recommended” accolades. It isn’t always this way with CR, though, as we found out when they hopped behind the wheel of the Toyobaru coupes of our collective dreams, the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.

Automotive engineer Jake Fisher hosts this test and speaks for the CR team explaining that, though both coupes are very much the same animal, they have subtle differences. The BRZ comes with a bit more available kit, like a rear spoiler, HID headlights and navigation, while the FR-S carries a lower price. All seems like what we’ve heard before, right? Well, CR ends up favoring the FR-S, claiming it has a more balanced ride and handles better.

This decision stands in contrast to a recent Motor Trend comparison test, in which the print publication favored the driving characteristics of the Subaru over the Scion.

More than anything, this highlights just how close the two cars are, and as CR‘s Fisher put it, “You’re not gonna go wrong with either one of these.” We agree, but click belowto see the video and find out exactly what made CR err on the side of the Scion, then weigh in with your thoughts in Comments.


from Autoblog