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NHTSA Requires Installation of Fake Sounds in Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

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Depending on how you will look at it, the barely audible sound that hybrid and electric vehicles emit can be a good thing or a bad thing. The humming sound they have is a big leap in reducing noise pollution in neighborhoods and highways. However, it can also pose a risk to people who are visually impaired or blind. Therefore, the United States federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is proposing automakers to include artificial motor sounds in the system of the said products.

Based on the latest developments, the NHTSA will be requiring carmakers to install a set of fake sounds in their hybrid and EV units. The agency is looking to limit the number of allowable fake sounds in the vehicles though.

The proposal modifies the set of rules that the US government released in 2018 that necessitate the inclusion of fake motor sounds in hybrids and EVs at low speeds so that people will notice them, particularly those who are visually impaired or blind. NHTSA has set the deadline for the full compliance of automakers to 2020. Meanwhile, the European Union has the same law that will be fully enforceable in 2021.

Without artificial sounds, the only noises that hybrids and EVs produce just come from wind resistance or tire noises. These are very evident during moderate and high speeds only.

With that, the new rule mandates that new EVs under 10,000 pounds should be fitted with audible artificial sounds when traveling under 20 mph whether going forward or in reverse. The agency is yet to specify which types of sounds it will allow. They explained that the fake motor sound is no longer required at high speeds because the tire and wind noises already “provide adequate audible warning to pedestrians”.

All-Electric Porsche Taycan Teases Interior Ahead of Official Launch

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The 2020 Porsche Taycan will make its official debut during the Frankfurt Motor Show, but the luxury carmaker already gave us a glimpse of its stunning interior.

The Taycan will be the brand’s first all-electric vehicle when it goes on sale in 2020. It will compete directly with the Tesla Model S. In this series of images, the German automaker gave us a glimpse of its elegant and much-talked-about interior, which the dashboard dominates.

This will be the first vehicle—even among its luxury-car contemporaries—to have a fully integrated Apple Music into its infotainment system. Because of this, its infotainment system will host a range of features and functions never before seen on other vehicles. The car’s voice control function was reconfigured to allow drivers to search for songs, albums, and playlists on their Apple Music accounts. Think Siri, but now you’re using Porsche’s technology.

All Taycans will have a free six-month subscription to Apple Music and also a complimentary three-year roaming internet connection. Buyers will get access to Apple Music playlists that are specially curated by Porsche for Taycan owners. To get more of this music experience, the Taycan is fitted with high-quality Burmester surround sound system as an option.

Earlier prototypes showed the Taycan will have a freestanding digital instrument display and a large infotainment screen, which is similar to the 10.1-inch display used on Audi cars. The same features should be found on the production-ready version of the car. Once Porsche decides to release a less restrictive set of images, we can expect to find a small toggle-style gear selector and a second touchscreen display for the center console. This will likely be used for the climate control system.

Although Porsche hasn’t given the exact specifications of the Taycan, the range-topping electric variants should come with two electric motors that will produce over 600 horsepower. Its lithium-ion battery aims to give 310 miles on a single charge.

Mini Set To Become An EV Brand?

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Rumors are swirling around the auto industry that the beloved Mini brand could be turning into a full-blown EV (electric vehicle) company. After it has introduced the electric version of its Hardtop, the company is again making waves that could change the auto landscape in the foreseeable future.

According to a report from Automobile, managers at parent company BMW Group canceled plans to develop and offer internal combustion engines in the next-generation Mini lineup. The cars will be developed as EV cars, instead.

The report also said that the new electric Minis will be based on a skateboard-style platform, the development of which we have no idea when or where will be. The platform will out the electric motor at the front axle. There will be a pack of battery—ranging from 35 to 50 kilowatt-hours—somewhere there.

The entire lineup will be fully electric, reports indicate. But these are not entirely new cars. The lineup should include replacements for the Hardtop and the Countryman too. There will be a new downsized Mini (as if the Mini wasn’t small enough even for one passenger) as well.

Plans for a downsized Mini were nothing new. A month ago, it was reported that the downsized Mini is based on the 2011’s Rocketman Concept.

Last year, BMW Group, which manages Mini, signed a letter of intent with Great Wall Motors in China to jointly develop and manufacture electric Minis in the Asian economic giant’s shores. Although there was no mention of when the partnership will take effect, reports said that the first jointly developed Minis will arrive by 2022 or 2023.

The question is, will Minis (whether regular or electric) still be made out of China? There was no mention of exclusivity in the partnership with Great Wall Motors. Rival company Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, signed an agreement with Geely in March to jointly develop and manufacture future Smart cars exclusively in China.

 

New All-Electric BMW iNEXT SUV Nearing Production

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BMW is nearing the production phase for its all-electric iNEXT SUV, which will join the market in competition with the Audi e-tron. The latest spy shots gave the best indication of the model’s new design. First unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles Motor Show, the iNEXT SUV will be the standard of the brand’s all-electric “i” range when it reaches the United Kingdom in 2021.

During the last six months, the German automaker teased us with spy shots of the iNEXT SUV, but this set is the first one to show the car’s interior, including the dashboard. While the SUV has many new features—a large dash-mounted infotainment system and a digital gauge cluster—it is the unconventional, squared-off, two-spoke steering wheel that takes the cake.

Squarish Steering Wheel

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According to BMW, the squarish steering wheel was designed to allow drivers to easily switch between autonomous and active driving modes. The shape of the steering wheel also allows drivers to easily determine the car’s steering angle.

The steering wheel is going to be fitted with optic fibers, which will inform drivers when autonomous driving is available. The same optic fibers will also emit sensors that will warn the drivers when it’s time to take control of the vehicle (when it is on autonomous mode).

Curved Infotainment Screen

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Recently, BMW also teased a revolutionary curved infotainment screen for the iNEXT. Similar to the floating system that was on the iNEXT concept, the curved infotainment screen eliminates the need for the smaller screen on the dashboard in front of the driver.

The infotainment system will be angled toward the driver. The screen itself will cover the width of the car’s interior but passengers won’t see the lightweight magnesium bracket that holds the system in place as a matter of aesthetic appearance. The screen is made of non-reflective glass.

Is GM Planning To Develop An Electric Hummer?

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Hummer fans, rejoice! It looks like GM is considering reviving the Hummer brand but under different circumstances. A Bloomberg report said that General Motors may be developing an electric version of the Hummer.

The discussions are still in their preliminary states, the report said, but the plan is part of GM’s organization of its range of electric trucks and SUVs. The company is reportedly mulling the idea of using the Hummer brand to compete with the demand for rugged vehicles.

GM is also supposedly looking at competing with Jeep for off-road vehicles with maximum passenger comfort and luxury as their selling point. The report from Bloomberg noted that designers and engineers are already working with Hummer concepts in the hopes of integrating these concepts to GMC-branded products as well.

But is it smart for GM to revive the Hummer only for it to be an electrified version? People love Hummer because it’s big, brawny, muscular, perfect for off-road conditions, and gas is relatively cheap at least for now.

American automaker Rivian has a different opinion, of course, seeing as the Rivian R1S has the same specifications that this rumored electric Hummer is aiming for. Based on Rivian’s investment on the electrified trucks segment, it looks like the hype around the segment is real. Still, an electrified truck worth $70,000 or more? That hasn’t been tested in the market.

Recent reports have indicated that GM is developing a new platform for an electric pickup truck but that does not mean this is anywhere near completion.

The last time we saw a Hummer was in 2010 when GM halted its production after it declared bankruptcy in 2009. Recession and high gas prices drove down Hummer’s sales but GM still has the brand under its portfolio. Wouldn’t it be nice to see an electrified Hummer in this market’s current obsession with SUV and crossovers?

 

3 Things To Know About The 2020 Aston Martin Rapide E


The Aston Martin Rapide E is the all-electric version of the company’s four-door sedan and also happens to be its first electric vehicle. We first saw it as a concept called the Rapide E in 2016 but the production model just made its debut at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show.

Instead of the 6.0-liter V-12 engine we’ve come to love in the regular Rapide, we’re faced with a battery pack and a pair of electric motors that can generate a whopping 602 horsepower and 701 pound-feet of torque. That’s 50 horses and 236 pound-feet of torque more than what the gasoline-powered Rapide S makes.

It Has Zero Emissions

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Aston Martin takes pride in the fact that its very first all-electric vehicle will have zero emissions. Thanks to the company’s collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering, this has been made possible.

Williams manufactures battery systems for Formula E cars, which gives it extensive knowledge on how high-performance electric drivetrains operates. Lagonda, a subsidiary brand under the Aston Martin name, will take over as the zero-emission luxury brand but the Rapide E will first introduce the market to the concept.

It Has Better Aerodynamics

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Technically, EVs have lower cooling requirements compared to gasoline-powered vehicles. This allowed Aston Martin’s engineers to redesign the front and rear fascias to minimize airflow and improve the car’s aerodynamics, which is important in trying to increase the car’s range. The result is that the Rapide E looks identical to the gasoline-powered Rapide design-wise but the aggressive styling brings it closer to the Rapide AMR.

It Has A More Modern Interior

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While Rapide’s brand suffers from having an outdated interior compared to Aston Martin’s newer sports cars and grand tourers such as the DB11, the Vantage, and the DBS Superleggera, the Rapide E thankfully addressed some of these concerns. Its interior still looks similar to the regular sedan but it now has a 10-inch digital instrument cluster that gives the cabin a more modern vibe compared to the regular Rapide. The display gives info about the car’s motor power levels, real-time energy consumption meter, regenerative performance, and battery status.

GM Is Planning An Electric Pickup Truck

 

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We might have just heard the first true plan from GM to come up with an electric pickup truck. During the company’s quarterly earnings call, GM CEO Mary Barra said they intend to create an all-electric future that has a complete range of electric vehicles, including full-size pickups.

The last we’ve heard, GM is merely “considering” the possibility of engineering an electric pickup truck, as well as a number of SUVs. When asked about the plans, Barra formerly said “stay tuned” in reference to the probability of GM creating a pickup truck that will compete with Tesla’s truck.

Barra’s statement now is a bit more specific than all the things we heard from GM’s official statements. Although still in line with the company’s generic and vague statements about an all-electric pickup truck, the GM CEO said the company believes that an EV future is where the company should be heading.

Both GM and Amazon previously had plans to invest in startup electric carmaker Rivian months ago, but it was only Amazon that inked the deal for a $700-million round of funding. Rivian introduced both an electric pickup truck and SUV, which impressed GM and Amazon.

Earlier this month, Ford also invested heavily in Rivian. The $500-million investment is said to confirm plans for Ford and Rivian to engineer an all-electric vehicle together.

With both Ford and Amazon riding on Rivian’s coattails and with no GM in sight, it looks like the latter will stay in-house for its EV plans. Just last month, GM said it would develop a Chevrolet EV that will be manufactured at the same factory that makes the Bolt EV. The new Chevrolet EV will reportedly use an “advanced version” of the Bolt’s architecture.

GM has been reluctant to reveal any substantial details about its plan to manufacture an electric pickup truck but judging from Barra’s statements, it looks like an EV truck is definitely in the pipeline for the company.

 

The BMW i4 EV Interior Is Just Your Average Joe

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The new BMW i4 EV has been spotted testing a couple of times before and its prototype gave us a good glimpse of how it will look like outside. These recent photos are going to give us more to talk about though. For the first time since we were first teased of its coming, the BMW i4’s interior came front and center.

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And does it really surprise us that it looks like an average BMW? In fact, it is so normal that there was nothing that stood out to us in the new spy shots. Since the BMW i4 looks like a regular BMW from outside, the fact that its cabin hasn’t been upgraded to a funky little number should not come as a shock.

We’re just a little curious why BMW did not follow the same path as the i3. Though the BMW i3 is a bit dated at this point, its interior is still funky cool and modern. But with the i4, even if it comes from its i division, the German automaker seems to want to return to being just a normal luxury car.

While most of the interior is still covered with camouflage, we now have a clear view of the infotainment screen, the climate control, and the gear shift. These major components of the car’s cabin are enough for us to judge that the i4’s interior is anything other than ordinary.

The direction that BMW took with the i4’s interior is in stark contrast to what the Tesla Model 3 is working on. Tesla is reportedly thinking of reinventing the typical car interior though we don’t have any proof that the EV maker is set on that path. Once both cars are on sale, we’ll see if BMW was right about keeping its EV’s cabin simple and practical.

There’s still a long way to go before we see the final production version of the BMW i4. The car is slated to enter production in 2021 and BMW has high expectations for it, promising a 372-mile range as the minimum. The car is said to be able to hit 62 mph from a standstill in under four seconds.

2020 Kia Soul EV Improves Range And Efficiency

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South Korean automaker Kia needs only one model-year to improve the driving range and efficiency of its newest 2020 Kia Soul EV. According to the latest rating by the EPA, the new Soul EV can last for 243 miles, up four miles compared to the Kia Niro EV.

It still lags behind Hyundai’s Kona EV, which has a 258-mile range. Interestingly, the Soul EV uses the same 64 kWh battery pack that’s found in the Niro EV and the smaller Hyundai Kona EV. This is a huge step up for the Soul EV as the 2019 model only has a rating of 111 miles from the EPA. The Soul EV started with a 93-mile range.

Each of the 64-kWh liquid-cooled battery packs has five large modules of pouch cells with three oriented lengthwise under the passenger floor and two stacked crosswise under the rear seat area. The difference lies in the fact that Kia used the cells from SK Innovation while Hyundai used the LG Chem cells.

This new Soul EV is also more energy-efficient. Its EPA combined rating is 114 MPGe versus the 108 MPGe rating for the 2019 model.

The current Soul EV has a starting price of $33,950 while the Kona EV is priced at $36,450. While we don’t have the official price range for the newest models, we imagine the prices will be in the same ballpark figure as the current models. The Niro EV should be competing with the Kona EV, though the former will be more expensive.

The 2020 Soul EV was unveiled during the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. The new model will also have 291 pound-feet of torque, just like the Kona and Niro EVs. But the 2020 model will come with a CCS DC fast-charging, allowing the Soul EV to charge at around 100kW for at least the first 50 percent of charge.

The car will enter the production phase by the second half of this year.

GMC Joins Bandwagon, Considering An Electric Pickup Truck

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GMC is joining the number of brands that will produce an electric pickup truck. The announcement comes after Tesla and Rivian also said they have plans to make an electric pickup. Ford added that they will build an electric version of the F-150 at some point in the future.

Duncan Aldred, the vice president of GMC, was quoted by Detroit Bureau that the company is considering developing and building an electric pickup truck.

But for now, all eyes are on the Rivian R1T, which debuted at the Los Angeles auto show in November. The model is said to have a range of 400 miles with its largest battery pack. We should be seeing it on the roads very soon.

Tesla, on the other hand, has given no details of its plan to build a pickup truck but Elon Musk said it might arrive after the release of the Model Y small utility. Given the problems that Tesla has been having with its Model 3 production, we’re not expecting the electrified pickup truck to arrive anytime soon.

Ford, for its part, has not provided clues about its plan for an all-electric F-150 truck.

It is still unclear when GM will introduce its potential pickup truck, though there are talks about it. Like with Ford, we might see the electric trucks way down the line when all the vehicles on the road start going electric. Then again, there’s also a possibility it will come sooner than expected. It was reported sometime back that GM is preparing a new electric architecture that will arrive by 2021.

The new electric architecture will first be used on a new Cadillac and it will also be the same platform that could fit an electric pickup truck in the future. GM wants to introduce as many as 20 new electric vehicles by 2023.

 

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