Toyota Corolla Cross H2 uses race-derived hydrogen combustion technology

Many have accused Toyota of dragging its feet on EVs, but the company is not treating battery electrics like a foregone conclusion. Like a college freshman who’s just dumped their high school sweetheart, it’s keeping its options open. It’s been campaigning a hydrogen combustion race car (note that it’s not a fuel cell vehicle but a conventional piston engine that burns H2), and the first road car derived from that technology has entered the prototype stage.

The Toyota Corolla Cross H2 Concept is powered by a version of the turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder found in the GR Yaris and GR Corolla. That means it still has pistons, rods and a crankshaft. And instead of using hydrogen in an electrochemical process to power a car electrically, the engine employs a modified fuel delivery system, injectors and ignition setup to burn the element.

It adopts the hydrogen storage technology put forth by the Mirai, but can be built easily using traditional ICE manufacturing methods. Toyota says the system has quicker refueling times than charging a BEV and reduces dependency on precious metals like nickel and lithium, both required for electric vehicles

In one year of campaigning what is essentially a GR Corolla that runs on hydrogen in Japan’s Super Taikyu endurance series, Toyota has been able to markedly improve efficiency of the hydrogen combustion engine. By the end of the season, Toyota says it upped horsepower by 24% and torque by 33%, putting it on par with gasoline engines. The race car didn’t have the range of an equivalent petrol car, but engineers managed to increase the distance covered on a tank of H2 by 30% over the season. Similarly, refueling time was greatly reduced, from about 5 minutes to just 90 seconds.

The race Corolla had four tanks of hydrogen stuffed in the cargo area, but the Corolla Cross H2 will test real world practicality. It can carry five occupants and their luggage. It will soon begin winter testing in Japan.

Toyota estimates that the Corolla Cross H2 is only 40% of the way to commercialization, and doesn’t yet know if it can bring it to market. The prototype’s reveal took place at the same EU conference where the company announced an EV manual transmission and an expansion to six electric vehicles in the BZ family, so Toyota isn’t under any illusions that EVs will be a big part of the future.

On the other hand, Toyota sells cars in 170 countries with very different infrastructures and driving habits. Toyota believes that with a multi-technology approach — which includes battery electrics, hybrid-electrics, plug-in hybrid electrics, hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen combustion cars — they have a better chance of achieving zero emissions.

Simultaneously Toyota is working with companies researching green hydrogen production and transport so that it has many avenues to get to carbon neutrality. The race cars are fueled with hydrogen fuel created from renewable energy. If nothing else, the firm is proving that even in a non-gasoline future, motorsports is still an important crucible for developing technology that can filter down to road cars.

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via Autoblog

December 6, 2022 at 07:48AM

Tesla delivers first Semis to Pepsi, reveals some new details

DETROIT — Tesla delivered its first electric semis to PepsiCo Thursday, more than three years after Elon Musk said his company would start making the trucks.

The Austin, Texas, company formally delivered the trucks in a “delivery event” at a factory near Reno, Nevada. The event was livestreamed, including on Twitter, which Musk now owns.

Musk drove one of three Tesla Semis in front of a crowd inside the factory. One was white, one was painted with a Pepsi logo, and another with Frito-Lay colors.

PepsiCo, which is based in Purchase, New York, is taking part in a zero-emissions freight project at a Frito-Lay facility in Modesto, California. That project is being funded by a $15.4 million clean-freight technology grant from the California Air Resources Board that includes 15 Tesla battery-electric tractors and other electric- and natural-gas powered trucks.

Electric semis also would be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $40,000.

At an event in November of 2017 unveiling the Tesla Semi, Musk said production would begin in 2019 and the trucks would be able to follow each other autonomously in a convoy. But during Tesla’s third-quarter earnings conference call in October he said the company’s “Full Self Driving” system is not quite ready to be driverless.

“It’s been a long journey, a long five years,” Musk said, “but this is going to really revolutionize the roads.”

Musk said the truck has a tri-motor powertrain, based on the same one in the Model S/X Plaid. Two of the drive units would free-spin at times on the highway for maximum efficiency, while the other two units would engage when torque and acceleration is called for, say when tackling a grade. A video clip shown during the event (above) showed the truck pulling a 6% grade on Donner Pass, and passing traffic.

The truck’s regenerative capabilities capture energy on a downhill grade, preventing the threat of brake failure and a runaway truck, Musk said — “a significant safety improvement for the truck driver and the other people on the road.”

Of the motors, Musk said, “One of them is more powerful than the diesel engine on a semi truck.” (The drive unit in a Tesla Model S Plaid has an output of 1,020 horsepower and 1,050 pound-feet of torque. A diesel semi typically has around 500-600 horsepower, but its torque can range from 1,000 to 2,000 pound-feet.)

Musk said that when the tractor is being driven without a trailer, it’s “like an elephant moving like a cheetah.”

Musk said the truck has a range per charge of 500 miles (800 kilometers) when pulling an 82,000-pound (37,000-kilo) load. The normal load limit for a semi is 80,000 pounds, but Musk said an extra 2,000 pounds is allowed for an electric truck.

Musk said the company successfully completed a 500-mile test of the Semi‘s driving range on Nov. 15 between Fremont and San Diego. The company plans to ramp up Semi production to make 50,000 trucks in 2024 in North America.

To service the Semi, Musk said Tesla has developed a “megawatt-class” V4 DC Supercharger that’s “next-generation liquid-cooled,” allowing a user to “shove a megawatt” through a typically sized charging cable — “it’s going to be used for Cybertruck, too.” The charger is promised for next year.

Competitors working on hydrogen-powered semis say battery-powered trucks won’t work for long-haul carriers because it will take too long to recharge the huge batteries. Musk said hydrogen isn’t needed for heavy trucking. Musk said Tesla’s interest in the Semi was based in the fact that commercial trucking amounts to 20% of transportation greenhouse emissions, and 33% of particulates.

Tesla said its other vehicles would used the powertrain in the Semi, and that the company will use the truck in its own supply chain to ship auto components.


via Autoblog

December 1, 2022 at 08:57PM

Airbus is building an aircraft hydrogen fuel cell powertrain

As part of its goal to have zero-emission aircraft enter service by 2035, Airbus has announced the development of a hydrogen fuel cell designed for airplanes. Unlike Rolls-Royce’s recently announced jet engine that burns hydrogen directly, it would use an electric motor just like fuel-cell cars, while emitting only H2O. It could eventually be employed in commercial aircraft that could carry up to 100 passengers around 1,000 nautical miles (1,150 miles), the company said.

Airbus plans to test the engine by the middle of the decade on its A380 MSN1 aircraft, “currently being modified to carry liquid hydrogen tanks.” However, the technology appears to be designed for smaller, regional aircraft that use more efficient propeller, rather than jet, engines. As you can see on the rendering above, the fuel cell and propeller motor are attached to an A380 for testing, not necessarily as full propulsion for the large airliner. 

“Fuel cells are a potential solution to help us achieve our zero-emission ambition, and we are focused on developing and testing this technology to understand if it is feasible and viable for a 2035 entry-into-service of a zero-emission aircraft,” said Airbus VP for zero-emission aircraft, Glenn Llewellyn. 

The company didn’t provide any more details, but fuel cells are a well-known technology for cars. They’re far less efficient than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) if you count fuel production and conversion to electricity. However, they have more range, are faster to refuel and lighter — with the latter, of course, being essential for aircraft.  

As mentioned, Rolls-Royce just announced the successful test of a jet engine powered by burning hydrogen directly, another possible technology for future air transport. The company converted a Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A, a regional aircraft engine used in turboprop commuter planes, to work with the novel fuel source. However, the tech could theoretically be scaled up for larger planes.

There are still some major hurdles to overcome before hydrogen could ever be used to power airplanes. It takes four times as much hydrogen as regular fuel by weight for the same range, and the fuel must be kept under pressure. Still, it might be the only option available for aircraft in the near future, as battery technology is still much too heavy unless used for very short flights.

via Autoblog

December 4, 2022 at 09:08AM

How ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Really Works

Money is tight these days. Holiday shopping, ballooning inflation, and a looming recession have forced people to more carefully consider their finances. Those factors might help explain the explosion of “buy now, pay later” services. BNPL plans offered by companies like Affirm, AfterPay, and Klarna let you spread the cost of a purchase—anything from a Peloton bike to a basket of groceries—over multiple installments, without the fees or interest rates of most credit cards. Of course, free money always comes with a catch.


This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

This week on Gadget Lab, we dig into the buy now, pay later phenomenon and what it means for the future of shopping.

Show Notes

Read Lauren’s interview with Max Levchin. Check out more of WIRED’s reporting about buy now, pay later programs. Follow our coverage of all things ecommerce.


Michael Calore is @snackfight. Lauren is @LaurenGoode. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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via Wired Top Stories

December 1, 2022 at 07:17AM

There’s Finally a Hidden Setting to Stop Chrome From Killing Your Laptop’s Battery

Photo: monticello (Shutterstock)

From all the web browsers to choose from these days, Chrome is still the most popular for some reason. Practially everyone uses it, and as such, everyone knows it’s a battery hog—and the more tabs you open and the more extensions you use, the worse the energy drain becomes. While we’ve tried to help you out in the past with workarounds to limit Chrome’s energy use, they’re no longer necessary. Google finally has implemented an official “low power mode” solution you can enable in one step.

As reported by How-To Geek, Google dropped the new “Energy Saver” feature alongside the release of Chrome 108. When you enable the option, Chrome will preserve your battery by minimizing background activity, visuals, and frame rates. You will likely notice a change in performance when browsing with those three components limited. Animations and scrolling may feel choppy, and Chrome’s overall speediness may be diminished. But I’ll take it if it means I can actually get a full day’s work done without staying tethered to my charger.

That said, at this point it’s unclear how much battery Energy Saver will actually preserve, since the feature is so new. Still, it seems worth trying, even to squeeze an extra few minutes of juice from my MacBook.

How to enable Low-Power Mode in Chrome 108

The first step is to update Chrome to at least version 108. If it hasn’t updated automatically, you can force an update ton Windows, Mac, or Linux by clicking the three dots in the top-right corner, choosing Help > About Google Chrome. Hit “Relaunch” once Chrome loads the update.

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Then you’ll have to do a little digging, because Google hasn’t (yet) made the new option user-facing—there’s no obvious battery-saver setting; instead, the feature is hidden behind a feature flag. (Google launches experimental new features as flags it doesn’t consider ready for the general public, but which are good enough for tinkerers to try out. The company warns that enabling flags can mess with your browser and its data, but Energy Saver seems like a relatively safe one to try.)

If you want tinker with Energy Saver, type chrome://flags into the address bar, then hit enter. Here, click the “Search flags” field and type “battery” to pull up “Enable the battery saver mode feature in the settings” (it’s identifying flag is “#battery-saver-mode-available”). Click “Default,” change the setting to “Enabled,” then hit “Relaunch” to reboot the app. Once Chrome opens back up, head to Settings, then click on the new “Performance” tab to see “Energy Saver.”

From here, you have two options. You can either have Energy Saver kick on when your laptop hits 20% battery, or you can choose to keep the feature on anytime your laptop is unplugged. I didn’t bring my charger to work today, so I know which option I’m picking.

via Lifehacker

November 30, 2022 at 09:56AM

Researchers Used a Sirius XM Bug to Easily Hijack a Bunch of Different Cars

How do you hack a car? Through its infotainment system, apparently.

Newly revealed research shows that a number of major car brands, including Honda, Nissan, Infiniti, and Acura, were affected by a previously undisclosed security bug that would have allowed a savvy hacker to hijack vehicles and steal user data. According to researchers, the bug was in the car’s Sirius XM telematics infrastructure and would have allowed a hacker to remotely locate a vehicle, unlock and start it, flash the lights, honk the horn, pop the trunk, and access sensitive customer info like the owner’s name, phone number, address, and vehicle details.

A group of security researchers discovered the bug while hunting for issues involving major car manufacturers. One of the researchers, 22-year-old cyber professional Sam Curry, said that he and his friends were curious about the kinds of problems that might crop up if they investigated providers of what are known as “telematic services” for carmakers.

Even if you don’t own a Tesla, most modern vehicles are basically web-connected computers on wheels. Inflows and outflows of vehicle data—what is known as telematics—make cars more convenient and customizable than ever before, but they also make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks and remote hijacking. The telematics industry is also a giant privacy hazard, because car manufacturers have been known to sell vehicle data to surveillance vendors, who then do creepy stuff like sell it to government agencies.

After poking around in code related to various car apps, Curry and his colleagues discovered an authentication loophole inside infrastructure provided by radio giant Sirius XM. Sirius is found inside most cars’ infotainment systems and provides related telematic services to most car manufacturers. The way Curry explains it, most cars have SiriusXM “bundled with the [vehicle’s] infotainment system which has the capability to perform actions on the vehicle (lock/unlock, etc) and communicates via satellite to the internet to the SiriusXM API.” This means that data and commands are being sent to and from Sirius by individual vehicles and that information can be hijacked, under the right circumstances.

“It’s as if you had a cell phone connected to your vehicle and could receive and send text messages from the car telling it what to do or sharing the state of the car back to the sender,” Curry said. “In this case, they built infrastructure around the sending/receiving of this data and allowed customers to authenticate to it using some form of mobile app (whether it’s the Nissan Connected mobile app or the MyHonda app). Once the customer was logged into their account and their account had their VIN number associated to it, they could access that pipeline where they can run commands and receive data (e.g. location, speed, etc) from their vehicle.”

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By exploiting an authentication flaw in Sirius XM’s system, a cybercriminal could have hijacked the car, as well as the associated customer account information, Curry explained.

“We continued to escalate this and found the HTTP request to run vehicle commands,” Curry said, explaining how deep the hack went. “We could execute commands on vehicles and fetch user information from the accounts by only knowing the victim’s VIN number, something that was on the windshield.”

When reached for comment, Sirius XM acknowledged the issue and provided Gizmodo with the following comment:

“A security researcher submitted a [bug bounty] report to Sirius XM’s Connected Vehicle Services on an authorization flaw impacting a specific telematics program. The issue was resolved within 24 hours after the report was submitted. At no point was any subscriber or other data compromised nor was any unauthorized account modified using this method.”

Gizmodo also reached out to the affected car manufacturers for comment and will update this story if they respond.

Suffice it to say, these days it might be safer to pal around in a beat-up junker than your souped up electric vehicle. At least your 1979 Ford Pinto didn’t have hijack-able computer systems that could run you off the road.

via Gizmodo

November 30, 2022 at 04:26PM

Tesla Is Set to Finally Deliver Its First Electric Semi-Truck Tonight, and You Can Follow Along

Tesla is planning to deliver its first all-electric semi-trucks to client PepsiCo this evening—about three years after the vehicle maker first indicated the big rigs would be available. The company announced in a tweet that it will stream the delivery live via Twitter at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET) on Thursday, in a mysterious “event”—seemingly making good on an October promise to get the trucks to its first clients on Dec. 1.

Elon Musk rolled up to a Tesla press event in an electric semi-truck all the way back in 2017. That vehicle is/was equipped with Tesla’s autonomous driver assistance technology, could go from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds, had a 500-mile total range, and could get to 400 miles of range with just 30 minutes of charging, according to Musk’s claims at the time—some of which he recently repeated in an Oct. 6 tweet. “500 mile range & super fun to drive,” the billionaire recently wrote.

Though the five second 0-60 claim seems to have been tempered since. The website for Semi (the vehicle’s official model name) says such acceleration takes 20 seconds.

And speaking of bunk claims— in 2017, Musk also said “If you order the truck now…you’ll get it in two years.” Immediately following the truck reveal five years ago, pre-orders began rolling in from at least 16 different companies. Each would-be buyer paid Tesla a deposit of between $5,000 and $20,000 per reserved vehicle, according to a report from Electrek. And obviously, Tesla did not deliver as initially planned.

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Now, half a decade post-reveal and 3-years late, we’ll presumably finally find out how those avowed specs hold up under actual use. Tesla began low-level production of its Semis at the company’s Nevada Gigafactory about two months ago. And PepsiCo expects to receive the Tesla trucks today at two of its plants in California, the soda maker previously told Gizmodo. “We are looking forward to this next step in our PepsiCo Positive journey and will provide more details once we have taken delivery,” the beverage behemoth wrote in an October email.

During Tesla’s last earnings call, CEO Musk said the company was planning to manufacture 50,000 semi-trucks for North America by 2024. Though, as we’ve already gone over, the world’s richest person is not very good at meeting his own deadlines. But if all those Tesla Semis do materialize, they’ll be tapping into a market ripe for electrification. Freight shipping is a notoriously polluting and carbon intensive industry—it makes up nearly 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, by some estimates. 

Companies like Amazon and Walmart have already begun to electrify their delivery fleets with smaller, EV vans. Even the U.S. Postal Service has been facing legal pressure to shift away from gas guzzling vehicles. And Penske and Daimler Truck have been collaborating on their own electric 18-wheelers.

via Gizmodo

December 1, 2022 at 04:32PM