Now that Smart’s second-gen Fortwo Electric Drive EV has gotten its year of time on the roads, the company is ready to announce its successor. For 2013, the car has received some mild tweaks to its design, but the real news is about what’s hiding inside this rear-wheel driven EV. For the first time, you’ll have to option of owning one outright, rather than being limited to a four-year lease at $599 per month. It’s thanks in part to an improved battery, which is now rated for an average lifespan of 10 years. The car has also received a massive power upgrade to 47 horsepower (up from 27 previously), along with an extra boost if you floor the pedal — this courtesy of a beefier engine and drive-train that gives it about 50-percent more power. Put it this way, this EV will get you from 0-60 in about 11.5 seconds, with top speed of 78MPH. Sadly, there’s no concrete word on what kind of range to expect, but it should be well more than the 87 miles of its predecessor. Beyond that, Smart’s added in GSM connectivity, allowing you the abilities to pre-start the car and keep track of its vitals remotely, among other features.
A quick drive around Brooklyn also confirmed how peppy and smooth the car was in use, however, not exactly on-par with our experience in Audi’s A3 e-tron — but it is considerably less. As our friends at Autoblog detail, the base model coupe is set to sell for a $25,000 MSRP plus fees, along with your choice of two chargers, which can cost up to $2,200 with installation. Here’s the good news, the car itself actually works out to just $17,500 thanks to a federal tax credit. All in all, this currently makes the cheapest full-on EV you’ll be able to get your mitts on. If you’d prefer to spice it up a bit, Smart will also offer a spruced up cabriolet variant for an extra $3K. Check out our chat with Smart about the car and the press release after the break for all the details.
Pepsi Australia recently teamed up with Kelly Racing to produce the Pepsi Max super car. Photographer Chris Benny was hired to shoot the new car and lucky for us, he filmed a quick BTSV of the production. As with many shoots, the weather became a problem but Chris had a backup plan. With a little post work Chris made the outside shots pop and then moved the car inside to finish the shoot.
Apple’s VP of iOS Software Scott Forstall just demoed Eyes Free, Siri’s new vehicle integration. The feature is being framed as a safety booster, letting you tap a steering wheel-mounted button to toggle Siri on your iOS device, rather than reaching around for your iPhone or iPad and taking precious seconds away from the road. This being Apple, there are already plenty of partners lined up — BMW, GM, Mercedes, Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, Toyota, Chrysler and Honda are all said to be on board, with Siri support making its way to vehicles within the next 12 months. It’s certainly not the first example of smartphone/car integration we’ve seen, but it could soon end up being one of the most widely utilized, despite the years-long head-start competing technologies have enjoyed.
Volkswagon has imagined a concept hover car, which uses electro magnets embedded in the road to allow it to hover above the street. Watch the video after the jump to see the VW concept hover car in virtual action.
Other features of the concept hover car include a collision detection system to protect you from crashes, and which can be used in an automatic driving mode. The vehicle has been designed to carry two passengers and requires just a simply joystick controller to steer.
As you might guess due to the car being just a concept at the moment no production vehicles are available to actually drive, but the video representation of how the concept might work, gives you a glimpse of the what the future might hold.
The new new Beetle might have gotten more macho in its latest incarnation, but that didn’t stop Volkswagen from upping the ante with the E-Bugster Concept. Don’t let those serious looks fool you, as its wielding a comparatively anemic electric drivetrain donated from the upcoming Blue-e-emotion Golf. That’s 114 horses tasked with hauling a 695 pound lithium-ion derrière, which in its hatchback donor took an languid 11 seconds to hit 60MPH. It’s got respectable range though, as it’ll roam for nearly 100 miles before requiring a 120, 240 or 400Vtether — with the latter replenishing 80 percent of its battery in a scant 30 minutes. That kind of onboard choice we like, but next time lets withhold the visual drama unless we really mean business. Okay?
The Jetsons were a lie, people. If you want a flying car, glue a parachute to a Matchbox racer. Automotive companies like Mitsubishi Electric have a distinctly different idea about our auto future, one where we’ll all be driving in a 1980s-by-way-of-2011 Tron roadster with seatback-embedded (glasses-free) 3D TVs and a big ‘ol curved rear projection display. At least, that’s the vision put forth by the company’s EMIRAI concept, shown off at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. The demo vehicle’s biggest innovation, supposedly on deck for the next decade and beyond, is its biometrically-sensitive interface, which can adjust the position of your seat based on current heart rate and facial temperature. There’s also a driver side touch panel configured to recognize handwriting (Japanese, for now) and dynamically-changing buttons, mounted on the W-shaped “steering wheel,” that rise and fall in correlation to the dashboard’s UI. It’s neat stuff, no doubt, but we’ll let you go ahead and get excited at your own risk. Because until production models hit showroom floors, it’s all still very much promises, promises. Check out the video after the break for a brief peek at the wheels of tomorrow.
We’ve seen our fair share of folding cars, but here’s where those concepts and the Kobot EVs differ — these might actually come to market. These personal transportation vehicles are already far enough along to be rolling about the floor of the Tokyo Motor Show and Kowa Tmsuk (the joint venture between medical supply company Kowa and robot manufacturer Tmsuk) plan to have the first model out by fall of next year. There were three varieties on display at the show: the sporty, red Kobot ν (nyu) being ridden by Cat Woman in the photo above; the green Kobot β (beta), which collapses to just a 30-inch footprint (a tad under one foot); and the two person Kobot π. The electric “cars” shrink with the tap of a button on a smartphone, only have a top speed of 30 km/h (about 19MPH) and are intended for short urban jaunts where parking is at a premium. Check out the source for a bunch more photos and head after the break for a clip of the personal propulsion pods in action.
Nissan has big plans for the still-budding Leaf. The Japanese automaker lit up its impressive Leaf-powered Smart House at the Tokyo Motor Show last week, but also demoed its wireless charging solution for a much smaller crowd at the company’s Oppama factory. The device uses electromagnetic induction to transfer power between a charging pad and a receiver on the bottom of the car, with an efficiency level between 80 and 90 percent — simply park your EV directly above the system to begin charging, and monitor progress on the ground transmission unit’s control panel. The pad is expected to become available as soon as 2013, but will only be compatible with new vehicles, so you won’t be able to use it with an older Leaf, unfortunately. There’s a silent demo video waiting for you just past the break.
Using LEDs to display messages on the back of a car? Looks like we have yet another contender with the same idea, except this time all four sides get an LED panel each. The idea behind Daihatsu’s Pico concept EV is that it can interact with surrounding pedestrians and drivers using messages with matching colors. For instance, the LED belt can issue a red warning on the back if a car is following too closely; or when driving past pedestrians in close proximity (think rascal scooters but with front and back seats), the belt can turn green and indicate that the car’s limited to a safe top speed of 3.7mph.
Other than that, the Pico’s very much just a cute little EV with a driving range of up to 31 miles (with a full two-hour charge), plus a top speed of 31mph. We also dig the touchscreen console inside the car, but with just the two LED bars acting as doors, we sure hope it’ll withstand a bit of rain. Video after the break.
What good is an Ultimate Driving Machine if it can’t get a little help from its friends? A new hazard-dodging system from BMW could help these Bavarian autos get a bit more chatty, each vehicle talking to nearby traffic across long-range wireless networks. In a series of video demonstrations, the car maker shows how the car-to-x system could give advance warnings of traffic, emergency vehicles and weather hazards by enabling one car to beam warnings directly to others. BMW hopes to connect the system to mobile phone networks as latency times improve and possibly even access data from traffic light systems. Sure, GM and Ford got there a bit earlier, but you can see BMW’s implementation demonstrated after the break, and check out the via link for more videos of the world’s most boring game of GTA.
Sure, we may not see flying cars in our lifetime, but a mainstream digital dash is a definite possibility. The all-glass vehicle dashboard has been conceptualized by other manufacturers in the past, but this year it’s Panasonic’s turn to try its hand at building a multi-display system. The electronics maker brought its Cockpit prototype to the CEATEC floor, causing quite a stir among passersby. The dash itself was little more than a semi-functional mockup, presenting recorded rendered video on the main 20-inch LCD and dual 10.4-inch secondary displays. The main display’s current objective appears to be improving safety, using a series of cameras to eliminate blind spots and alert drivers to other road hazards. Real-time driving stats are displayed atop a video feed, either from the rear camera (when in reverse), or one up front.
We spent a few minutes behind the wheel of Panasonic’s mockup, which consisted only of a pair of (rather comfortable) leather seats, along with a trio of LCDs, which the company claims are currently based on panels used in other Panasonic products, but may eventually utilize custom displays. This wasn’t an actual vehicle prototype — only the “cockpit” was on hand. The main display will (hopefully) focus the driver’s attention away from distractions on those two smaller screens — the one in the center can be used to control standard vehicle settings like climate and entertainment, while a second display positioned directly in front of the passenger seat can play movies and other content.
Are we there yet? No, so you better get comfortable for the long drive ahead. Overall the setup looked like it could have potential, though Panasonic warned us not to expect anything final until the end of the decade (2018 at the earliest). Jump past the break for a Cockpit drive-by.
Not ready for the future? Too bad, it’s here — well, at least in concept form. Debuting soon at Frankfurt’s international auto show is Ford’s Evos, a cloud-connected hybrid EV that serves as a preview of the kinds of smart and hyper-connected vehicles Dearborn eventually wants to build. Details on what powers it are scant, but we do know it’ll rock the gasoline-electric drivetrain from the upcoming C-Max Energi. And when you’ve exhausted the combined 500 mile range, you can top up that lithium-ion pack by plugging in or wirelessly through inductive charging.
With gratuitous access to data you’ve slung into the cloud, the Evos is deeply intertwined with your daily routine. It’ll change your alarm clock if your morning meeting is canceled, continue music playback from other devices where you’ve left off and even suggest alternative routes based on your schedule and past driving history. Oh and it’ll monitor your heart rate too. Don’t believe us? Proof of that and more reside in the video after the break, which’ll hopefully tide you over til September — when we get to see if it lives up to the hype in person.
DC and Ken Block present Gymkhana FOUR: The Hollywood Megamercial.
GYM4 surpasses the high-production style of Gymkhana TWO with even more spectacular effects shot in the backlots of Universal Studios, California.
Filmed over the course of five days, director Ben Conrad
(Zombieland and 30 Seconds or Less) and his team at Logan deliver a Hollywood caliber production complete with pyrotechnics, massive stunts and a series of unbelievable tricks.
Featuring robotic sharks, deranged zombies, and a hilarious cameo by the Epic Meal Time guys, Ken Block and his Hybrid FunctionHoon Vehicle (H.F.H.V.) bring the magic of Hollywood and gymkhana together.
You know how we said that 780bhp electric pipe dream Jaguar had last year wasn’t going to be anything more than a concept? Well, we were wrong. Sort of. You see, the British automaker has just announced its intention to produce a limited run of 250 C-X75 supercars in partnership with Formula 1 team Williams, however the retail model will eschew the craziest aspect of the original design — the twin turbine engines at the back. Those will be replaced with a four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine, which will aid the four electric motors (one attached to each wheel). Don’t worry, though, this tweak has actually made the C-X75 accelerate even faster, as it’s now rated to go from 0 to 60mph in under three seconds. 2013 is when the earliest production of this road-faring beast is expected to commence, with prices starting at £700,000 ($1.15 million), and there’s even a glimmer of hope that a version with the gas turbines will also be built at some point down the line. Crazy, just crazy. Check the C-X75 out on video after the break, where Jay Leno gives you a tour around its dramatic design.
Formula 1 cars set to go all electric in the pit lane from 2013 onwards, racing purists outraged already
Formula 1, the pinnacle of gas-powered racing, is more often at odds with the eco-conscious electric car movement than in tune with it, but here’s an exception to that rule. The FIA, the sport’s governing body, announced back in December of last year a move to a hybrid four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which is still on track to be introduced in the 2013 season, and Williams boss Adam Parr has now enlightened us on some of the benefits of the new power setup. Noting that future cars’ kinetic energy recovery system will be four times as powerful as on current models, Parr says enough electric juice will be available to power each one-seater through its journey into and out of the pit lane. That would mean that at least for the tame, speed-restricted portions of a race, the F1 gas guzzlers you know and love will be humming along in almost perfect silence while using good old electricity. Unfortunately, it’s exactly that lack of vroom vroom that old timers like Bernie Ecclestone and Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo are afraid of, describing the new hybrid stuff as sounding “terrible” and insisting on the sport sticking to its V8 roots. Then again, as Parr says, if you don’t move with the times, the times leave you behind.