Category Archives: Autos

What’s crazier than Insane? Ludicrous

Yes. Elon Musk does it again. He takes the one thing that people thought was already crazy, and one upped them.

Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman of Tesla Motors, has had a long-standing record of maybe hyping up the public expectations, and delivering a little later on their expectations, but his ability to pull feats like the surprise D models for the Model S, and adding self-driving driver assistance capabilities to the car keeps the public believing his word.

The Model S’s performance package model, P85+, was already blisteringly quick for a sedan, reaching 60 mph in a blistering 3.9 seconds. The unveiling of the newer P85D model that would replace the P85 now had two motors, all wheel drive, a total of 691 horsepower, and of course, decreased the 60 mph time to 3.1 seconds when put in “Insane Mode”. Now, this is all you know. You have heard it thousands of times and watched the Youtube videos of grandmothers being scared out of their minds and people watching as their phones get stuck to the seat as the car creates false gravity.

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What we are flipping out about is the new option of Ludicrous mode. Upping the speed to 2.8 seconds now means that the Model S is faster than a Lamborghini, and actually has the same 0-50 time as a 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggra! AND, this car can haul 7 people! Having already been crowned as the quickest sedan in the world, this is completely something.

For those of us less concerned with the performance, Musk also added that they are adding a 70 and 90 kwh battery option. The 70 would be offered at 70k base price before discounts, and the 90 would offer 300+ miles of range. However, I think most of us fanboys and fangirls will be waiting for the Model III so we can convince ourselves we can afford it.

Suggestions? Feedback? Requests? Just tell us in the comments!

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The Self-Driving Google Car: Another Leap For Mankind

We all know Google: our best friend when it comes to severely-needed homework help, recipes on how to prepare delectable Mexican cuisine, difficult trigonometry formulas, social media, and various other applications. As we can see, google has multifarious applications to offer the public. However, soon its website will not be the company’s primary fame – its cars will. The Google cars are a revolutionary way of commuting.  Google’s unique, self-driving car clearly manages to do the impossible, opening up a new, revolutionary phase in the field of technology development and autos.

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To begin with an obvious point, this innovative car contains countless gadgets, processors, scanners, laser sensors, and various other types of modern technology. With a five-year old project like this taking place in California, USA, a strong, intelligent, innovative, and collaborative team is an essential requirement. Consequently, Google decided to call in the elite experts rather than the average workers. Their team comprises dexterous rocket scientists who have worked on NASA’s intricate Mars projects and adroit vehicle development engineers, such as Jaime Waydo. Each member of the vast and organized team undoubtedly plays a vital role in various, minor parts of the car, with each member being responsible for something different.

The car has multiple and expensive major and minor parts. Firstly, an expensive laser sensor, located at the top of the car, scans 360 degrees for any objects or other hazards within a certain radius of the car. A processor reads the data that has been accumulated by the various sensors and accordingly, regulates vehicle behavior. A hidden orientation sensor, located at the front of the car, tracks the car’s motion and balance, while the radar (a bulging black, oval also at the front of the car) accurately measures the speed of vehicles ahead of itself. Lastly, a wheel-hub sensor, which is located in the car’s tires, detects the number of rotations to help determine the car’s location. These are just a few, astounding pieces of technology in the pioneering car.

Moreover, in the past few months, the self-driving Google car went on several test drives during the beginning of Spring (2015) in California. As stated in the USA TODAY article titled A look inside the Google Car lair, “The Google Car had been waiting about four minutes at an intersection before finally deciding the coast was clear. A human might have taken a chance during a lesser break in traffic. Honking had ensued.” Evidently, this highly secure car does not take any chances.

All in all, with a goal of having driverless cars available on the market within a few years, these cars are sure to revolutionize commuting as well as technology.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Before you start shopping for a used car, do some research. It may save you a ton of money. Consider your driving habits, what the car will be used for, and your budget. Research models, options, costs, repair records, safety tests, and mileage — online and through libraries and book stores. You need to be very careful when buying a used car. You can easily end up with a lemon or rebuilt car. When you see a horrific accident on the highway you probably don’t realize that many of those cars end up repaired, rebuilt and sold on the used car marked. Below are tips you should consider when buying a used car.

  1. Know the car you want- Wandering aimlessly around a car lot can lead to an imperfect vehicle match. Again know its use and figure out if it will really help you.
  2. Create a Budget- When you buy a car you need to know how much you will spend buying it and how much of a monthly payment you will have to pay in order to maintain it.
  3. Ask for records- Service records and a vehicle history report may not be solid proof of a car’s past, however, they do reveal facts about the life it led. Confirmation of important maintenance like a timing belt, clutch or other expensive work can be a very useful bargaining tool and it will help you anticipate future operating costs.
  4. Know what it’s worth- Some people will try to overcharge you for the car. If you know what is is really worth, then you can prevent yourself from being tricked.
  5. Test drive the vehicle- Do a vehicle walk-around, checking to see any obvious signs of repair, misaligned doors, major scratches, dings or other visible signs of damage or wear. Then go for a test drive. During the test drive, pay attention to how the vehicle fits. Is it comfortable? Is visibility good? Does it accelerate properly? How is the braking and turning? Any squeaks and rattles? Check roominess and comfort in the back seat as well as storage capacity.
  6. Have it inspected. If you like the car and think it is fine, it is still important to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic. While it may cost you about $100, the expense is well worth it to ensure you a peace of mind that the vehicle is as the seller advertises it to be and you shouldn’t expect a major problem when you drive it away after the sale.
  7. Negotiate the price- Make an offer to the seller, starting with a low price, but not unreasonably low. If you must go higher in price, do so in small additions and know when you’ve reached your limit. Be willing to walk away. There are many more used cars out there. You don’t have to buy this one if you are uncomfortable with the deal.

Remember these tips before buying . It may just save you a boatload of cash!

Tesla Gigafactory gets new home in Nevada with $1.3 Billion deal

This last Thursday September 11, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a package of bills that would give Tesla Motors a 1.3 Billion dollar tax break package to build their new Gigafactory in Nevada.

gigafactory_aerialTesla Motors, an electric car company founded by entrepreneur and current CEO of Tesla and Spacex, Elon Musk, had been negotiating a home for the mammoth renewable energy lithium-ion battery factory with a few states, including Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Nevada. The deal won the most support on the second day of the two day session that Governor Brian Sandoval called to try and secure an arrangement for the factory’s location in an industrial park 20 miles east of Reno.

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Breakdown of the factory

The largest portion of the deal allows Tesla sales tax exemptions for 20 years (estimated to value at about $725 million) and savings of an estimated $300 million in payroll taxes over the next 20 years as well.

It seems Sandoval was more than eager to propose the agreement, exclaiming that it has “changed the trajectory of Nevada forever” as the Gigafactory would revitalize Nevada’s economy, that still hasn’t fully recovered from the Recession in 2008. The conditions of the Gigafactory include that half of the factory’s employees must be from Nevada. The factory would create an “estimated 3,000 construction jobs, 6,500 factory jobs, and 16,000 indirect jobs,” (Reuters.com)

Press released image of factory's location
Press released image of factory’s location

“The factory is crucial to the company’s mission of mass producing affordable electric cars within three years,” said Tesla’s vice president of business development Diarmuid O’Connell.

Tesla Motors Expands in China

Tesla Motors signed a deal today to build more than 400 charging stations in China across 20 cities. All the charging stations will be located at China Unicom retail outlets. China has recently shown a great amount of interest in automobile expansion in their country. In 2013, they led the world in automobile sales of 22 million.

The introduction of electric vehicles will also prove to be profitable to the nation. China looks to reduce the excess pollution in their country by focusing on the market for electric and hybrid cars. Also, to encourage purchases of electric cars they will stop charging sales tax on sales of electric cars. Instead, they will introduce a gasoline tax to fund the creation of the charging stations. China can’t necessarily force people to buy electric cars but they can certainly endorse and support the construction of charging stations.

According to several sources,  China has sold about 5000 units of Model S this year. Despite only providing the Model S in certain cities and areas, the sales show that Model S is off to a fine start. Tesla has been one of the fastest growing companies and in 2014 their stock is up more than 79 percent. This expansion into China has helped  Tesla’ s stock hit a record high and it seems that this venture will prove to be quite profitable for them.

Max Verstappen, F1’s youngest driver, doesn’t even have a license.

Sixteen year old Max Verstappen is set to become Formula One’s youngest driver ever,and he doesn’t even have a license.

The teenager is actually the son of the Dutch Ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen and is currently racing in Formula 3 circuits with the Van Amersfoort Racing team after having been established in go-Kart racing. The thing is, he is actually too young to even take his driver’s test on Dutch roads!

His partner will be Russian Fanii Kvyat as a part of the Red Bull feeder team and 24 year old Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne placed as surplus.

He will partner Russian Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull feeder team with 24-year-old Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne deemed surplus to requirements. Verstappen, who won the go-Kart racing championship last year and has placed in the leader board in 8 out of the 27 races he raced as a part of the Formula 3 racing circuit. Turning 17 next month, he will beat the previous record holder for the youngest F1 driver, who was Spain’s Jaime Alguersuari by 2 years.

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In response to the amazing opportunity, Verstappen said this, “Ever since I was seven years old, Formula One has been my career goal, so this opportunity is truly a dream come true.” He also stated that he believed his step from Go-Karting to F3 was a far larger step and hoped that his transition from Formula 3 to Formula 1 will be easier.

As for safety? He doesn’t seem worried at all: “I’m not that worried about it. The cars are really safe. I think it’s more dangerous to bike through a big city than race in an F1 car.”

Whatever the case is, this boy has racing in his blood and genetics. He is lucky to get this opportunity at such a young age, but clearly, he is an amazing driver to reach this far at such a young age, and he may enlighten us yet on the track.

 

Questions? Suggestions? Doubts? Please comment below and I will be sure to respond!

Tech Talk

The future is officially here! When I hear about talking cars, I envision Bumblebee from Transformers communicating with Optimus Prime, but this is the closest we’re going to get!

Imagine you are driving in a car on a typical road. Going maybe 35 mph. Now imagine the car right in front of you suddenly slams on the brakes and screeches to a halt. Imagine how little time you would have to react. What do you do? Would you slam the brakes as fast as you can? Or is it too late and you’ve already crashed into the other car’s behind? These type of situations are major safety hazards!

However, the Transportation Department recently announced a plan this week to install a “vehicle-to-vehicle communication system” of some sort. You know where this is going. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx called it “the next great advance in saving lives.” Although Google is currently experimenting with automated, driver-less cars, this new technology could be imported into ordinary cars as well.

According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the cost for this system will be about $350 to the total of the car. Not much for the guarantee of safety, right? I don’t know. Bugs are prominent in technology, and if society puts too much trust into this safety mechanism, accidents will still occur. Hopefully that’s not the case, but sh*t happens, right?

Actually, in Ann Arbor, 3000 vehicles driven by volunteers are being tested in real-world conditions with the vehicle-to-vehicle communication system. The experiment is looking promising.

Time will tell if this new tech advancement will change the world for the better, but until then, stop texting while driving, dummies!

Tesla: Best warranty in the industry? Hyundai, move over.

In the last five years, Hyundai and its subsidiary, Kia, have been awarded more “Car of the year” awards than any other car company and are at the top of J.P. Powers “Initial Quality” awards list. This is due in part to their exquisite styling in the past few years which has blurred the lines between value and luxury, and also due in part to their famous 100,000 mile 10 year warranty. There has not been a warranty to match theirs in quality and usefulness, until now.

Hyundai-Logo.-Picture-courtesy-of-autoblog.com_ 

Tesla has just recently announced an “infinite mile warranty” for their Model S production electric vehicle, raising the previous warranty cap from 4 years and 50,000 miles. Basically, this “infinite” warranty means “unlimited”. the time limits for the warranty however are applied to be the same limits as the battery pack. So, however many miles you can drive in 8 years, it’s still covered. What gives Tesla even more of an edge over Hyundai’s warranty is that the “infinite mile warranty” is transferable to however many owners a particular Model S has. So used vehicle or new, whichever you buy, You will have a warranty! That essentially soundly defeats Hyundai at any angle in this matter as Hyundai’s famed powertrain warranty is only transferable to immediate family members.

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We all know everyone had their doubts when Tesla first came out with their vehicles.

“It’s got a great range, but it has no backup generator to get power. What do I do if I run out of range?”
     Well what do you do if you run out of gas in a normal car? Fill up. So that’s what Tesla did. They built 105 Superchargers across the damn continent. Yes. Continent. North America. 
 
“It’s a nice car, but what about safety? “
      Tesla reinforced the base p[late of the Model S after accidents that punctured the battery pack caused fired, with a titanium alloy that will crush concrete blocks. Don’t believe me? Check this out.
 
“It’s a nice car but too expensive!”
           Of course, this is also the reason I wasn’t able to buy a Tesla. What many of us fail to realize in the first look is that Tesla wasn’t just made to compete with other compact cars like the Leaf. It was made to give Electric cars a luxury feel, not a wimpy under powered innuendo. That’s why it outsells others cars in its class such as the Audi A7 and Mercedes Benz S Class. And, that’s also why they are working on the Model III aren’t they? $35,000 will get you a small size Model S that can compete with cars like the BMW 3 series. 
 
To be quite frank, I am an admirer of Tesla Motors and Elon Musk for their technological advancements, courage to change the automobile industry, and innovation to carry that out. As a bit of an environmentalist, I love the idea of cars that don’t rely on fossil fuels. But as a journalist, I force myself to not blindly bandwagon this car and speculate every fault I can to see why it should be better than conventional gasoline or diesel cars. Much to my excitement however, it seems Tesla is doing everything they can to make us believe that electric cars are really the way to go as Musk states in the following quote.
 
“If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines … then our warranty policy should reflect that.” – Elon Musk
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Elon Musk does one thing that I like. He did not just introduce an electric car and hoped it would take off. He took and is still taking every step possible to ensure that Electric cars will be better than conventional combustion engine cars in anyway–just so that it will spur the entire automobile industry to follow suite. That is the only way to make sure that the EV age takes off  and the only way we can ever hope to change our fossil fuel guzzling transportation industry. 
 
 
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Tesla offers Replacement Battery Packs for Roadsters

Historically, car companies have not offered upgrades to powertrains. However, the relative simplicity of electric car technology may allow that to change.

It has been a good two years since Tesla stopped manufacturing their Roadster, their first production model.

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Tesla Roadster Battery Bay

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors is now suggesting a production of replacement and upgrade battery pack option for their first production car, the Tesla Roadster. The Roadster, originally sold from 2008-2012, had a pretty impressive 245 mile range to start with. Not much information about pricing was released but Musk stated that the new replacements might have around a 400 mile range.

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Similarly, Nissan offered a replacement battery pack for their electric car, the Leaf, for a relatively small price of $5,500, and it will also feature some of the newest battery cell technology.

Next Gen Accord? Just not for us.

The other day I witnessed something i thought was truly peculiar. I saw what was a spitting image of the Acura TSX model, but with a Honda badge. At the time, I knew no such car model existed (at least in the United States). I also was very confused about why anyone would go ahead and put a Honda badge on an Acura. (For those of you who do not know, Acura is the Luxury version of Honda, just as Lexus is to Toyota, Audi to VW, Cadillac to GM, Lincoln to Ford, etc.)

Honda Spirior Current. (Acura TSX)

After doing some research these past couple of days, I came across another car just by chance. Forgive me interwebbers for not knowing this car but it isn’t sold in my country in my defense. The car is the Honda Spirior, Honda’s next generation Accord based on the TSX platform for the European and China markets.

Honda Spirior Concept

What I am here to discuss though, is the new Spirior concept that is heavily influenced by the new Acura TLX and has debuted in China.The new Concept set to start production later this year is currently exclusive to Dongfeng Honda manufacturing and is not set to debut anywhere else. I think it’s a nice looking Accord, and hopefully we will see it as the Acura TLX soon.

 

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