News: Mitsubishi e-Evolution Debuts in Tokyo

News: Mitsubishi e-Evolution Debuts in Tokyo

Aggressive Electric Crossover Coupe Previews Future Products

The pure-electric, four-wheel drive Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept made its world debut at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show on Wednesday. Mitsubishi said the coupe-styled crossover SUV concept previews future electric powertrain technology and the ability to reach Level 4 autonomy, allowing drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel.

Mitsubishi e-Evolution, Tokyo Motor Show

Not many details, but it looks like an off-road capable EV

The crossover is also a heritage play for Mitsubishi, as it leverages one of the automaker’s most notable models—the Lancer Evolution (Evo for short) high-performance sports sedan. Built for more than two decades, the rally-inspired Evo was discontinued in 2015 amid Mitsubishi’s focus on crossovers.

No Powertrain Details

Powertrain details were not released for the e-Evolution though Mitsubishi did say the concept uses three high-torque, high-performance electric motors: one at the front axle to move the front wheels, and a pair of electric motors at the rear wheels. The four-wheel drive system is complemented by a new Dual Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) system that couples two rear motors through an electronically controlled torque-vectoring unit. Batteries are integrated into the floor in the middle of the vehicle. That helps provide a low center of gravity, while stopping power gets help from electric calipers instead of conventional hydraulic ones, according to the maker. No range or power numbers were announced.

Mitsubishi e-Evolution, Tokyo Motor Show

With help, all-electric e-Evolution could become a reality

Styling of the vehicle is on the wild-side aggressive and foreshadows a design theme called “Robust & Ingenious” that will be seen on future production models. The show car’s black grille is shielded under glass, which protects the cameras and sensors for autonomous driving. Large air intakes are located beneath the headlamps to cool the electric brake calipers; the air passes jet tail fins on the C-pillars before exiting on either side of the rear bumper. The back gets a large hexagon shape flanked by Y-shaped taillights that Mitsubishi said will appear on future models. It appears to have a high ground clearance, but no dimensions have been provided.

Tech Inside

Inside, the e-Evolution features a large digital screen that runs the length of the dashboard just below the windshield. Mitsubishi wants to get in on the artificial intelligence (AI) game, so the screen can use cameras mounted on the front of the vehicle to display augmented reality over an image of the road. A “coaching function” is also designed to send relevant information to the driver, so the vehicle’s abilities in a given situation are made clear.

Mitsubishi e-Evolution,Tokyo Motor Show

The concept’s design cues are headed for production

It would seem that, for a small automaker like Mitsubishi, all of this electric and AI tech promises are little more than a dream. But now that the company is part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and will share its electrification efforts, some of the tech previewed on the e-Evolution could begin to appear in production Renaults, Nissans and Mitsubishis in the next few years.

Mitsubishi executive vice president Mitsuhiko Yamashita described the e-Evolution at its Tokyo unveiling as a “new evolution of the SUV” that proposes “a new direction for Mitsubishi Motors.”

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Preview: 2017 Tokyo Motor Show

News: Nissan IMx Crossover EV at Tokyo Motor Show

News: Nissan IMx Crossover EV at Tokyo Motor Show

Concept Car Promises Future “Intelligent Mobility”

One of the missing pieces of the electric car portfolio is the crossover. Most current EVs are sedans with only Tesla offering its pricey—and large–Model X. Nissan, relishing its role as the worldwide leader in EV sales, took a significant step at the Tokyo Motor Show this week by showing the IMx—a concept crossover that could fill the void.

Nissan IMx crossover EV

Welcome to the future!

Like most concepts, take what was shown on the stand with a dose of skepticism. In fact, with this one, you can pretty much suspend belief that it will ever be seen in production in anything close to this form. Nissan’s past concept designs have ended up being more muted when they go on sale. Fanciful features like retractable steering wheels will disappear. Over the top performance numbers tend to shrink in the real world.

Crossover with Style

With those caveats, let’s enjoy the Nissan IMx, which Nissan presents as a glimpse “just around the corner.” The IMx is a crossover in the Land Rover Evoque, BMW X4 mode—essentially a high-riding hatchback. It offers more versatility and flexibility than its staid sedan cousins.

Nissan IMx crossover EV

The IMx is all new underneath

The IMx is not a Leaf SUV, but is built on Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi’s new global EV architecture. That flexible platform will underpin a whole generation of plug-in vehicles for the three companies.

This model promises to be more than just a peppy electric crossover. It features 430 horsepower and 516 pounds-feet of torque from two electric motors driving all four wheels. The battery pack size is not disclosed, but Nissan says it will have more than 300 miles of range.

More Than an EV

But there’s more! The IMx is the “future of mobility,” according to Nissan. It features a future version of ProPilot, Nissan’s autonomous car technology. When engaged, it will retract the steering wheel, recline the seats and take

Nissan IMx crossover EV

Not much to see here

over control of the car. The featureless (no knobs or switches) dash is designed to respond to gestures, eye movement and spoken commands. This is “just around the corner,” according to Nissan. So get ready.

At the show Nissan also formally introduced the Nismo Leaf concept, which had been previewed. It also announced that the company would be participating in Formula E racing next year, so there may be a place for all this high-horsepower EV.

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Events: Steve Westly Has Faith in Millennials

Events: Steve Westly Has Faith in Millennials

The Clean Energy Revolution Is Coming

When you read about climate change in the news these days, it’s mostly about supercharged, destructive hurricanes, melting icecaps and imminent catastrophe. Steve Westly, venture capitalist and former California State Controller, has a brighter vision. He shared it with a receptive group at an event hosted by Acterra at the Foster Foundation Gallery in Palo Alto.

Steve Westly

Steve Westly

Westly, a lean, animated man who reads younger than his 61 years, knows his stuff and his audience. He presented images and data to show a world in which energy production is moving towards renewable solar and wind at a much faster pace than predicted. The transportation sector is on the verge of a massive, positive change to electric and autonomous vehicles. Westly is placing his trust in the younger generation of millennials to pull off the work we need to combat the climate crisis.

Growing Up Before It Was Silicon Valley

Westly grew up in Santa Clara Valley, before it was called Silicon Valley, when it was mostly farmland, Stanford University and not much else. He witnessed the sweeping changes that transformed the valley into the place where much of the technology that can save us is now based.

Westly has been involved for years. He was a board member with Tesla when it was a few dozen people in a small warehouse and has seen much more since. He knows his numbers.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is invisible, so it’s harder for people to get upset about it increasing, but air pollution is easy to understand. While the skies have largely cleared over the last 30 years or so, they are beginning to darken again, thanks to significant pollution wafting over from China–as much as 25 percent of what we breathe in California originates there.

That’s because to support their economic growth, in recent years China was on a massive coal plant building spree. However, that is now changing to renewable energy as the Chinese people demand an end to the choking clouds of pollution that could kill up to 83 million Chinese citizens over the next 25 years. Now, the Chinese are becoming the green energy world leaders.

The Energy Change

Per Westly, coal and nuclear are out, while solar and wind are on the way up—much more quickly than they were projected to rise. Coal is too dirty and nuclear plants are too expensive. Meanwhile, the price of wind and solar continues to drop steadily—it’s at a fraction of where it was—while natural gas, currently a popular energy source, fluctuates.

Tesla gigafactory

Tesla gigafactory represents step toward the future

Storage of solar and wind generated electricity has been a problem over the years, since the sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t always blow, but the storage price is dropping quickly. Westly presented a chart showing a steeply descending line, depicting a 35 percent drop between 2016 and 2017 alone. This is in part thanks to Tesla’s huge battery gigafactory in Nevada, which when complete will be the largest building in the world. Interestingly, this American plant has pushed the Korean LG and Japanese Panasonic/Sanyo battery makers to become more competitive, all to the consumers’ benefit.

Westly predicts affordable $25,000 electric cars in the next five years as part of a boom in these clean-running models. BMW, VW, and other companies are investing big time. It’s no longer going to be a small, fringe group, as EVs take over.

Three Big Changes

Westly says three things are going to make leaps of progress happen:

  • The Internet of Things, where everything is connected;
  • Big Data, with the ability to provide the enormous amount of data needed to make connected cars work; and
  • A sharing economy.
Big Data

Big Data is coming to save us

Together, these factors will contribute to the rise of the autonomous car in just a few years. It’ll be sooner than you think, Westly promises.

Westly is counting on millennials, with their different set of values, to lead the charge. They are now the largest population group, passing the aging baby boomers. Shared values of this generation include having a small carbon footprint, wanting a choice of connections, and having clean air, food, and water.

Other countries are already moving ahead with plans to dump the gasoline-powered car in the next few decades. Norway say it’s 2025. India, with its huge population, says 2030 will be it. Even England and France are talking about 2040 to sell the last petrol-powered car. California has also broached the idea.

Westly is sanguine on the possibilities of rapid, beneficial change to help combat global warming—with answers coming from Silicon Valley. The private sector, not the U.S. government, will lead the charge. It’s a very appealing vision.

Acterra is a nonprofit whose mission is to bring people together to create local solutions for a healthy planet               

The Foster Foundation’s is a nonprofit whose mission is to share artist-explorer Tony Foster’s powerful watercolor journeys to inspire reflection, discussion, and education about art, wilderness, and the natural world.

News: GM Shows Autonomous Fuel Cell EV Platform

News: GM Shows Autonomous Fuel Cell EV Platform

U.S. Army Takes a Look at New Technology

General Motors presented its Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure (SURUS), a flexible fuel cell electric platform with autonomous capabilities, at this week’s meeting of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). It is not to be mistaken for a truck; it’s a platform capable of carrying large loads. SURUS is designed to assist in “some of the toughest transportation challenges,” such as natural disasters and global conflicts, according to GM.

GM fuel cell

GM’s fuel cell platform could have a variety of uses

SURUS uses the company’s newest Hydrotec fuel cell powertrain, giving it zero-emissions green cred and impressive performance. Furthermore, SURUS will incorporate autonomous capability, increasing its attractiveness to the military; drone-style operation could make deliveries in dangerous areas much safer for the operator.

“SURUS redefines fuel cell electric technology for both highway and off-road environments,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM Global Fuel Cell Business. “General Motors is committed to bringing new high-performance, zero-emission systems to solve complex challenges for a variety of customers.”

There are a variety of other uses that can be accommodated with SURUS, as revealed by several illustrations. It can underpin light- to medium-duty utility and service trucks, serve as a self-driving cargo hauler or double as a mobile medical unit or power generator. As an open platform not obstructed by a driver’s cabin or other ancillary structure, and with an appearance resembling a skateboard, SURUS’ potential uses are nearly endless.

Tech Specs

SURUS is about 16.5 feet long and 7.5 feet wide. With two electric drive units, four-wheel steering, a lithium-ion battery, 400 miles worth of hydrogen storage, and an advanced suspension, SURUS is packed with technology. Some of the benefits of the Hydrotec fuel cell include quiet and odor-free operation, high instantaneous torque and quick refueling time. It is also capable of providing an exportable power source and generating water.

GM fuel cell

The Army likes the quiet operation of SURUS

This isn’t GM’s first foray into fuel cell vehicles for the military. In 2005, the auto and truck maker supplied a fuel cell-powered Chevrolet half-ton pickup for testing at the U.S. Army base in Ft. Belvoir, VA, outside of Washington D.C. And last April, GM released the Colorado ZH2, an off-road 4×4 truck considered the first ground-mobility combat vehicle using hydrogen fuel-cell technology. Military testing has shown the ZH2 reduced acoustic non-detection distance by 90 percent compared to current military vehicles in operation. This means the ZH2 can get 10 times closer before being detected. Testing will continue through spring 2018.

The SURUS prototype is just a work-in-progress platform, and GM hasn’t actually committed to any official timetable for series production.

News: Volkswagen Introduces I.D. Crozz to EV Lineup

News: Volkswagen Introduces I.D. Crozz to EV Lineup

At this week’s Frankfurt auto show, automakers will be vying to show that Tesla won’t overtake them by introducing a passel of battery-electric vehicles themselves. Here’s a look from Clean Fleet Report of one of those new electrified cars that you could be driving by the end of this decade.

Frankfurt Debut for Crossover That Joins Hatchback & Minivan Electrics

Volkswagen has made it clear that its future is electric, showing a concept version of a bread-and-butter hatchback and a reincarnation of the iconic microbus. The third installation, possibly the most critical for its future business, debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week—the Volkseagen I.D. Crozz, a fastback crossover.

VW I.D. Crozz

Volkswagen’s EV onslaught in the U.S. will lead with this

The Tiguan-sized model was actually the second iteration of the electric crossover, which will be on the market alongside the hatchback in 2020. Given the hot segment that is compact SUVs, this EV cannot be launched quickly enough.

The concept shown in Frankfurt (an updated version of one shown at the Shanghai Motor Show in April) had Volkswagen’s 4Motion all-wheel drive system. A front-drive electric motor produces 101 horsepower and the rear-wheel motor delivers 201 horsepower.

While the battery pack size has not been disclosed, it is located beneath the floor of the SUV. A 311-mile range is promised with fast-charging capabilities.

Loads of Tech

Not surprising for 2017, the I.D. Crozz showed up with loads of advanced technology. While the LED headlights were probably close to production, the Lidar equipment on the roof may or may not show up in 2020. The Frankfurt model also claimed to respond to voice commands—“waking up,” opening and closing doors, as well as recognizing gestures.

Volkswagen I.D. Crozz

The I.D. Crozz interior is ready for autonomous driving

The concept has rear-view cameras instead of mirrors and a retractable steering wheel that anticipates full autonomous driving. A 10.2-inch central screen commands the main console.

In Frankfurt, VW officials said the I.D. Croszz was expeccted to be the first of the new electric VWs to hit U.S. shores.

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News: 2019 Audi A8 Rolls into Frankfurt With 48-Volt Hybrid System

News: 2019 Audi A8 Rolls into Frankfurt With 48-Volt Hybrid System

At this week’s Frankfurt auto show, automakers will be vying to show that Tesla won’t overtake them by introducing a passel of battery-electric vehicles themselves. Here’s a look from Clean Fleet Report of one of those new electrified cars that you could be driving by the end of this decade.

Autonomous Technology, Electrification Push A8 to the Top

Audi has thrown down the gauntlet for high-end luxury cars, and put BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla on notice: The 2019 Audi A8 has leapfrogged in every area with the recently refreshed BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class flagship sedans as well as the challenger, the Tesla Model S. Starting with the all-new 2019 Audi A8, every single model will soon feature a 48-volt hybrid system.

2019 Audi A8

Inside the tech-heavy 2019 Audi A8

The hardware starts with a belt-driven alternator-starter as the core of the 48-volt hybrid unit. The system allows the A8 to coast with the engine turned off, saving fuel. Audi says the system restarts “smoothly,” unlike some stop-start systems currently employed. The mild hybrid system can also recover some energy during braking, while the motor adds 16 horsepower (12 kilowatts) on top of the engine’s output, with the final power figure a combination of both propulsion sources. As for fuel economy, Audi estimates the mild hybrid system will reduce fuel consumption by 0.2 gallons for every 62 miles driven in real world driving conditions.

When the new 2019 A8 arrives in the U.S. next spring, it will be powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 gasoline engine delivering 354 horsepower and a healthy 369 pounds-feet torque. An eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission will deliver that power to all four wheels, as all 2019 A8s will come with permanent Quattro all-wheel drive. Optional will be four-wheel steering.

Fancy Tech

On the technological front, the new A8 will be the first production car to come to the U.S. fully ready for Level 3 (on the 0-5 scale for autonomy laid out by the Society of Automotive Engineers). Called “Traffic Jam Pilot,” the system can take control of the vehicle on highways with a physical barrier separating oncoming traffic, at speeds up to 37 mph. It’ll take care of steering, accelerating and braking, and will give the driver plenty of warning when it’s his or her turn to take the steering wheel once again. It will also be capable of parking itself, whether in a parking space or a garage. Audi will roll out activation of the A8’s autonomous driving features when U.S. federal or state laws allow.

To smooth the ride, an electromechanical suspension, with juice supplied by the 48-volt system, uses cameras that monitor the road ahead and can command the suspension to soften up over bumps. Electric motors actuate the air suspension to soften or firm up at a millisecond’s notice. It can also raise the car up if there’s a side collision to help mitigate any chance of injury by deflecting the blow to the strongest parts of the chassis.

2019 Audi A8

Traffic Jam Pilot takes autonomy up a level


As you would expect, the 2019 Audi A8 is fully redesigned, with nearly 90 percent of the front end covered by a new, massive hexagonal grille—it’s the automobile equivalent of a Kenworth 18-wheeler in the rearview mirror. Narrow headlights lifted from the Prologue concept cars have laser beams (not U.S. approved) within the LED Matrix lights. Out back, the taillights are joined together with a long strip of both chrome and more taillight.

No surprise to anyone, the 2019 Audi A8’s cabin is leather-wrapped and wood-trimmed. The interior adopts a reductive design with a strictly horizontal orientation. It dispenses with the familiar rotary pushbutton and touchpad of the predecessor model in favor of an instrument panel which is largely free of buttons and switches. At its center is a 10.1-inch touchscreen display which, when off, blends almost invisibly into the high-gloss black surround thanks to its black-panel look. The A8 also includes a footrest for backseat passengers with massage function. That’s coupled with heated and cooled seats as well.

When the 2019 Audi A8 hits European streets this fall, the base price will be $103,000 and change.

U.S. pricing will be announced at a later date.      

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