Report: Akerson looking for 20 percent more range from next-gen Chevy Volt [w/video]

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, Videos, Chevrolet

Dan Akerson wants to see 20 percent improvement in electric-drive range.

The Chevrolet Volt’s 38-mile electric range leaves something to be desired, despite being able to run nonstop for hundreds more miles when the range-extending gasoline generator kicks in. General Motors CEO Dan Akerson has recognized this and let slip that he wants to see the next-generation Volt get a significant electric-range increase, Bloomberg reports in a recorded interview with Akerson. The CEO says significant to him means 20 percent – “50 to 60 miles, or more,” he adds – and remarks that the range improvement could be a reality in three or four years. It’s a much bigger deal than the mid-cycle increase that the 2013 Volt got: three electric miles thanks to a half-kWH battery capacity increase.

In a less explicit statement about the next-gen Volt’s electric range, but still in context of the expected 20 percent increase, Akerson also tells Bloomberg that he hopes to see breakthroughs in battery technology that could further reduce cost and increase performance over the next couple of years. Already, the Volt’s 16.5-kilowatt-hour battery’s initial $800 per kWh price has dropped significantly due to volume and improvements in battery technology, according to Akerson. That’s without mentioning the current cost to produce a battery, of course.

Last spring Akerson said that GM hopes to trim $10,000 from the Volt’s price, currently at $39,145, through cost reductions. The goal is halfway met with the recent announcement of a $5,000 price drop for the 2014 Volt, which Akerson confirms in the interview was possible through “some cost savings by virtue of the evolution of the [battery] technology.” Feel free to watch listen to the video below for more details.

Continue reading Akerson looking for 20 percent more range from next-gen Chevy Volt [w/video]

Akerson looking for 20 percent more range from next-gen Chevy Volt [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tesla sold 5,150 Model S EVs in Q2, future $35k model will have 200-mile range

Filed under: EV/Plug-in, Tesla Motors

Finally, we know the number. Tesla Motors announced today that it sold 5,150 Model S electric vehicles in North America last quarter. Divide by three and you see that the California company sold around 1,700 cars a month, which puts it right up there with the current plug-in vehicle champions, the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. That’s despite the fact that the cheapest Model S, which starts at $69,900 but often sells for a lot more with better options, costs at least twice as much as the sales leaders. Tesla said it was making “almost 500 vehicles per week” in the second quarter of this year.

Tesla says its “financial position and balance sheet have never been stronger.”

The sales contributed to an overall increase in net income (non-GAAP) of 70 percent compared to the first quarter, up to $26 million. Tesla said it achieved a gross margin of 22 percent (non-GAAP), “despite significant reduction in ZEV credits” (which was no surprise) and should hit 25 percent by the fourth quarter of 2013. That number is simply a company’s sales revenue with the cost of goods sold taken out, divided by total sales revenue. Put it all together and you get the following statement: “Our financial position and balance sheet have never been stronger.” Still, there was no talk in today’s conference call of an overall profitable quarter, as there was three months ago.

With all of the good financial news, Tesla and CEO Elon Musk said the primary focus now is on “expanding production to meet worldwide demand.” Tesla started delivering the Model S to Europe this week (the first lucky countries were Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands) and if demand there matches North America, which Musk said is likely, then the company predicts “annualized sales for Model S could exceed 40,000 units per year by late 2014.”

In China, the Model S will have an “executive back seat” instead of the current “family back seat.”

Musk said the upcoming new-market Model S versions (right-hand-drive for Japan and the Chinese model) are taking up most of Tesla’s resources at the current moment. In China, for example, the company is trying to improve the comfort level of the rear seat, because it is common for people in The People’s Republic to be driven around. The Model S was designed to be the perfect driver’s car, Musk said, but in China it will have an “executive back seat” instead of the “family back seat” the car has now. Things like this mean that work on the Model X won’t really start to ramp up until the end of this year. Deliveries of that car should start at the end of 2014.

Looking further down the road, Musk said that the next-gen Tesla vehicle, the long-rumored $35,000 (without any subsidies) EV, should be a compelling option with a 200-mile range. That vehicle is still quite far away – he wondered aloud how his company might need more battery cells than the laptop industry does if it’s making a half-million cars a year – but at least his automotive competition now has targets to shoot for if they want to beat Tesla in the longer-range EV game.

Tesla sold 5,150 Model S EVs in Q2, future $35k model will have 200-mile range originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 07 Aug 2013 18:50:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rumormill: Range Rover Sport and Evoque rumored to get RS versions

Filed under: Performance, SUV, Land Rover, Rumormill, Luxury, Off-Road

2014 Land Rover Range Rover Sport

A report in Autocar claims that Jaguar’s RS badge and its herd of extra horsepower is walking across the aisle to the Land Rover stable. Autocar sources say the Range Rover Sport and Evoque will get RS designations, the supercharged V8 in the Sport RS getting cranked up to “at least” 542 horsepower, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost in the Evoque RS getting 300.

The magazine has spy shots of an extra potent Sport testing at the Nürburgring, slight changes to the lower parts of the SUV giving it away as a ringer. Supposedly, with the same horsepower (or more) than the RS cars in the Jaguar fold, Land Rover wants it to get from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.5 seconds; that would make it just 0.1 second shy of the same run in a Jaguar XJR. The Evoque RS is said to be arriving first, perhaps this year, with the Range Rover Sport RS coming next year.

Range Rover Sport and Evoque rumored to get RS versions originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Jul 2013 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Followup: Range Rover Evoque convertible reportedly gets go-ahead after all

Filed under: Convertible, SUV, Land Rover, Luxury

Despite a report earlier this year stating that a production version of the Range Rover Evoque Convertible was shot down, there have been signs suggesting otherwise recently. Last week, we heard that the fate of this two-door, drop-top SUV could be decided upon soon, but WhatCar? says that the decision has already been made.

Quoting an insider, the article states that the Evoque Convertible has been given a green light for production with the first units being built next year. WhatCar? also says that no structural modifications are necessary for the removal of the roof, which could lessen the development time and cost of the vehicle.

As there are really no luxury SUV convertibles with which to compete against, Land Rover seems to be expecting the Evoque Convertible to rival convertibles such as the Audi TT and BMW 4 Series. We’re a bit dubious, but time will tell.

Range Rover Evoque convertible reportedly gets go-ahead after all originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 19 Jul 2013 11:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ETC: Convertible 2013 Range Rover Autobiography is safari luxe

Filed under: Aftermarket, Convertible, Land Rover, Luxury, Off-Road

2013 Land Rover Range Rover convertible - front three-quarter view

The idea of a convertible SUVs remains attractive enough that manufacturers are still trying to figure out how to make it work – case in point, we recently heard that Range Rover continues to debate production of the Evoque convertible. On that note, the folks at Newport Convertible Engineering, lately of Acura TL convertible fame, have given us a look at what a 2013 Range Rover Autobiography looks like with its top removed.

Unlike the Evoque convertible concept, there’s quite a bit of structure left above the shoulder line. It still looks like one of the nicest ways to see lions, tigers and bears from a safe distance, or take a tour of the Champs-Elysée or Tokyo’s Ginza district.

For now, the issue with every topless SUV that isn’t shaped like a box is what they look like with the top up, and the convertible Range doesn’t escape the quandary unscathed; the only two that do escape are the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Defender, because they’re shaped like boxes. As a second vehicle for your rain-free third home in Scottsdale or South Africa, however, it could be the thing.

Convertible 2013 Range Rover Autobiography is safari luxe originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 08:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Porsche launches Panamera Diesel with 745-mile range just for Europe

Filed under: Sedan, Europe, Porsche, UK, Diesel

Porsche Panamera Diesel

Porsche Panamera Diesel – Click above for high-res image gallery

A diesel sedan from… Porsche? What has the world come to? Following in the wake of the diesel Cayenne, Stuttgart’s finest is meeting demand in Europe – where an oil-burning offering is a must – with a diesel Panamera.

The four-door gets a Porsche-tuned version of Volkswagen’s 3.0-liter common-rail turbo-diesel (packing variable-vane turbochargers just like the 911 Turbo), here producing 247 horsepower but a far more prodigious 406 lb-ft of torque – similar to the Cayenne diesel’s output, but tuned for delivery over a wider band.

Mated to an eight-speed automatic with stop-start capability, that’s enough to drive this latest Panamera variant to 62 miles per hour in 6.8 seconds. Which isn’t bad for a diesel, but what Porsche is emphasizing is the car’s range of 745 miles from a full tank of fuel. That’s enough juice to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back, blissfully whizzing by every gas station along the way.

This isn’t something Porsche drivers here in North America would be accustomed to, but that’s just as well, as the Panamera Diesel isn’t likely to land on these shores anytime soon. For a closer look, scope out the press release after the jump and click through our high-res image gallery below.

Gallery: Porsche Panamera Diesel

Continue reading Porsche launches Panamera Diesel with 745-mile range just for Europe

Porsche launches Panamera Diesel with 745-mile range just for Europe originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 02 May 2011 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Alfa Romeo streamlines the MiTo range with new engines, trim

Filed under: Europe, Hatchback, Alfa Romeo, UK

2011 Alfa Romeo MiTo

2011 Alfa Romeo MiTo – Click above for high-res image gallery

Ordering a new Alfa Romeo is a daunting task. Or at least, so we’ve come to understand. In the UK alone, the MiTo hatchback was available in no fewer than 17 different versions. Which you might expect of, say, a pickup truck with a choice of cabin sizes, bed lengths and drivetrain configurations. But the MiTo is the MiTo: it’s a three-door hatchback with front-wheel drive. That’s that.

So to make things a little easier, Alfa has streamlined the MiTo’s catalog down to nine versions as part of a refreshed range. The entry level model has been rebranded as the Progression, the Turismo and Lusso trim levels have both been replaced by the Sprint, the Veloce by the Distinctive and the Cloverleaf by the Quadrifoglio Verde.

The engine range has likewise been revised, the new 78-horsepower 1.4 and 105-hp MultiAir 1.4 replacing the 95-hp engine and a new 1.3-liter JTDM-2 diesel eligible for emissions exemptions under overseas regulations. The top-of-the-line QV carries over the same 170-hp MultiAir 1.4, while the bronze metallic paint pictured above is new. Read more about the revised range in the press release after the jump.

Gallery: 2011 Alfa Romeo MiTo

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Alfa Romeo streamlines the MiTo range with new engines, trim originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 02 May 2011 16:40:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ram Long-Hauler concept offers 1,600-mile range for epic road trips

Filed under: Concept Cars, Truck, Work, Dodge, Specialty

Ram Long-Hauler concept

Ram Long-Hauler Concept – Click above for image gallery

Need a way to get yourself, four buddies and a whole lot of cargo across the country with the bare minimum of fuel stops? The Ram Long-Hauler Concept is your truck. The rig got a quiet coming-out party at the Mid-America Trucking Show, which was held March 31st through April 2nd in Louisville, Kentucky.

This behemoth of a tow rig sports a 197.7-inch wheelbase, or about as long as your average oil tanker. That much space means it has a full-size eight-foot bed and Ram’s four-door MegaCab passenger compartment. In keeping with the oil tanker theme, the Long-Hauler has the capacity to hold an astonishing 162 gallons of diesel fuel, thanks to a 60-gallon auxiliary tank in the bed. That much fuel should give this thing enough range to cross the country in two fuel stops if you aren’t too liberal with the throttle.

The Long-Hauler is based on the Ram 5500 commercial truck chassis cab, which comes with a 19,500-pound gross vehicle weight rating. Ram combines that with a self-leveling air suspension on all four corners, a dual-rear-wheel package, 19.5-inch Alcoa 10-lug wheels and an Allison six-speed automatic. Add it all up and you’ve got a gross vehicle weight rating of 37,500 pounds, which should be enough to handle whatever you throw this hauler’s way. Doing the grunt work will be a 350-horsepower, 6.7-liter Cummins diesel inline six spitting out 650 pound-feet of twist.

The Ram Long-Hauler, should it make production, will be aimed at those who need enormous towing capacity and range, but don’t want to step up to something like a Freightliner SportChassis just yet. There’s still no word on a production timetable or what the truck might cost should it become available.

Gallery: Ram Long-Hauler Concept

Ram Long-Hauler Concept front 3/4Ram Long-Hauler Concept side

[Source: Pickuptrucks.com | Images: Pickuptrucks.com]

Ram Long-Hauler concept offers 1,600-mile range for epic road trips originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 25 Apr 2011 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Volvo Concept Universe previews next range-topping sedan from Sweden

Filed under: Concept Cars, Sedan, Volvo, Shanghai Motor Show, Design/Style, Luxury

volvo concept universe shanghai motor show

Volvo Concept Universe – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volvo is looking to gain a foothold in the fast-growing Chinese auto market, and the Swedish automaker is hoping to pique interest in the brand with a range-topping luxury sedan concept. The design aims to incorporate the simplicity of Scandinavian design while also trying to discern what the modern luxury car buyer really wants.

The Concept Universe bows at the Shanghai Motor Show to show what Volvo can do near the top-end of the large luxury sedan market. And although this vehicle is definitely a design study, Volvo doesn’t seem interested in hiding its intention of going upscale. Volvo CEO Stafan Jacoby calls the concept “a sneak preview of what people can expect from our next top-of-the-line sedan.”

The large concept features a coupe-like roofline that combines with a modern interpretation of the boxy Volvos of the past. Another homage to older Volvo models includes convex style lines between the wheel wells. Up front, the Concept Universe appears to borrow some lines from the Ford Interceptor concept from the 2007 Detroit Auto Show with its bumper-less front end that is rounded off all around. The grille is totally new for Volvo, with a series of shrinking, rounded rectangles; each smaller than the next.

Volvo design boss Peter Horbury feels the vehicle looks hand-crafted and durable, adding, “We will compete with the best with our special kind of Scandinavian Design. It is unmatched in performance and technology, but without superficiality or complication.”

We’re not so sure what to think of the Concept Universe, but we’re sure you’ll tell us what you think in the Comments below. Hit the jump to read over the Volvo press release.

Gallery: Volvo Concept Universe

[Source: Volvo]

Continue reading Volvo Concept Universe previews next range-topping sedan from Sweden

Volvo Concept Universe previews next range-topping sedan from Sweden originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 19 Apr 2011 01:25:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Angry Chinese driver tows Range Rover back to dealer with donkeys

Filed under: SUV, China, Etc., Land Rover, Luxury

Range Rover towed by Donkeys

A man in Shenyang, China was reportedly so frustrated with his 2010 Land Rover Range Rover breaking down that he towed it back to the dealer and asked for a full refund. To add a little insult to his heady request, the spurned owner towed the stricken SUV with a pair of donkeys.

Apparently the guy paid ¥2 million (about $304,000) for the English SUV in 2010. Since the purchase, the car reportedly broke down six times and eventually needed a new engine. When it died a seventh time, the owner was apparently at wit’s end. The stunt managed to hammer the point home in a much less destructive manner than a certain Lamborghini owner recently chose. According to Asian auto news outlet TheTycho, the doubtlessly dumbfounded dealer refused to give the customer a refund.

[Source: TheTycho]

Report: Angry Chinese driver tows Range Rover back to dealer with donkeys originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Mar 2011 15:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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