Jaguar Gets Back to Sports Sedans w/ Techy New XE

Even though your typical Jag showroom today is going to be a hoard of up-scale SUVs, the British car maker isn’t abandoning its roots. As evidenced by the XE sport sedan shown at the NYC international Auto Show.

The 2020 XE is all traditional Jag. Literally the only thing some diehards may miss is the “Leaper” hood decoration—the namesake cat now lives in the middle of the XE’s big grille. Despite this change, the XE hasn’t changed all that much in basic line and shape. It has drawn some inspiration, of course, from the F-Pace SUV. In particular the front end is wider, lower and has more “muscle” with J-shape running lights.

Also, all lighting, to no great surprise, has gone LED. The bumper and taillights get a revision as well.

The major upgrades are all tech, like the video mirror system that helps with the limited view caused by the roofline. A flip-switch gives the driver a view captured by outside camera. However, the view is wider than a regular mirror display, taking some getting used to. Other tech updates also include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the wireless cell charging system Qi.

In New Business Move Toyota to Offer Access to 24k Patented EV Parts

Toyota’s electric vehicle department head revealed that the carmaker has got offers from 50 some companies since it made a recent announcement that the Toyota company would give free access to important patents for power control units and EV motors.

The potential partnerships are seen by Toyota Motor Corporation as a way to decrease outlays in expanding hybrid and electric car component manufacturing in Japan, China and the U.S.

Becoming a supplier to their rivals would increase, perhaps exponentially, the scale of production for such hardware like electric motors and controller units which are essential components of electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, plug-in hybrids and gasoline-electric cars.

The plan outlined by Toyota offers automakers and auto parts suppliers royalty-free access to some 24,000 technologies that are owned exclusively by Toyota Motor Company. Overall the company sees this as an opportunity to decrease cost and to create a new source of revenue.

VW Tests Level 4 Autonomous e-Golf in Hamburg City Center

Volkswagen, German car maker, publicized that it will be testing for the first time e-Golf vehicles equipped with Level 4 automation. This will be done in actual traffic and in the Hamburg, Germany city-center no less.

Volkswagen has never before attempted such a test—not with this level of technology nor in such conditions. Five e-Golf vehicles have on board eleven laser scanners, seven radars and fourteen cameras. New software has been installed for these specific tests which will take the vehicles through 3 kilometers of Hamburg city roadway.

It may seem unbelievable, but in the trunk of each of the test e-Golf vehicles there is what equates to the processing power of about fifteen laptop computers which are able to communicate information at about five gigabytes per minute during testing, tests which last several hours.

The immense about of data being collected form the other apparatus equipped on the experimental e-Golfs will include information about pedestrians, other cars, cyclists, priorities, intersections, parked cars, lane changes and more. All this data has to be capture and analyzed in fractions of a second so the car my safely navigate as a skilled and attentive human driver would.

While for autonomous driving enthusiasts this may all already sound exciting—what does it all mean for the lay person? Remember these experimental e-Golfs are “level 4” meaning their driving system id considered to be 100% autonomous and driver intervention would only be needed in a crisis of extreme circumstance, while “level 5” would, theoretically, never require human intervention.

Supermini Honda Jazz Goes Hybrid-Only in Europe

At launch next year the newest generation Honda Jazz will be offered as hybrid-only. The best-selling Honda model in the UK is set to be revealed at the October motor show in Tokyo. It is thought the Jazz will be the first in the Honda stable to go hybrid-only, though the brand promised to go hybrid only in Europe by 2025.

At this time, the only model that offers hybrid at all is the CR-V. This hybrid replaced a former diesel variant. Honda is still selling a gasoline version of the CR-V in Europe as well. The CR-V hybrid as done well for Honda, accounting for an impressive 60% of model sales.

To follow the hybrid Jazz in 2020 will be the electrified version of the Civic in 2021.

The Jazz, more than likely, will take is powertrain setup from the CR-V hybrid. The CR-V employs two electric motors and a 2.0 liter gas engine combined with a CVT transmission. The Jazz will, however, have a smaller gas engine and less power given its smaller size and “supermini” status.

Honda’s goal with the new Jazz is for it to remain familiar to old customers—remember its Honda’s best European seller—yet bring in new customers to Honda through the entry level Jazz model.

 

McLaren Prototype Helping Brand Loose Weight For 2024 Hybridization Goal

The Monocell carbon-fiber tub, McLaren’s new prototype tub, has been sent from their Composites Technology Center in Yorkshire to the Working, Surrey production facility. Known also by its codename PLT-MCTC-01, this initial ultra-lightweight prototype is a first move towards a whole brand overhaul to shed pounds in preparation for 100% hybridization in 2024.

Before the first Monocell production model can be released, this prototype tub will undergo extensive crash testing in McLaren’s program centered in Woking. The Monocell is scheduled to go into full production next year with factory staff growing from just 60 to probably more than 200.

McLaren is currently sub-contracting carbon-fiber tub construction for production models to the Austrian company, Carbo Tech. These tubs will go into the Speedtail hypercar and new grand tourer. The MCTC facility is producing for the Monocell only; however when the Monocell goes into production, the total percent of British content of McrLaren cars will jump 8% to 58%.

Currently McLaren is parting with the University of Sheffield to construct pre-production Monocell tubs.

Europe Finds Cheap, Effective Answer to Emissions Testing

Inventors trying to solve the problem of pollution from cars have come up with some effective, inexpensive devices to test particle filters’ effectiveness. This would allow unsafe vehicles off the road meanwhile not resorting to unfair blanket bans for vehicles.

Cities in Europe are struggling to figure out how to meet new clean air rules and not invest billions in the infrastructure it would take to replace current vehicles with electric vehicles, they also do not want to ban diesel outright. The best-case scenario would be an inexpensive way to measure the actual output emissions of individual vehicles, but with inexpensive, effective equipment.

Some inventors have may have made the best-case scenario a reality with some easy to use devices that are hand-held and powered by batteries. These devices, in only minutes, can measure a vehicles’ actual emissions while idling.

Costing only about $9k, these devices are something that police forces and garages could actually afford to do inspections.

These devices will start appearing on the field for use in Europe this year. The devices could also restore the reputation of diesel after the scandals with car manufacturers fudging numbers to get diesel vehicles on the road.

Alfa Romeo Reveals Tonale CUV Concept in Geneva

The Geneva Motor Show was the event Alfa Romeo took advantage of to show the world its hybrid, plug-in crossover—the Tonale. For now the Tonale is merely a concept, but is supposed to be rolled out for production in 2020.

Hopes are that the production model won’t differ from the concept much as its styling among CUVs is unmatched. Supposedly all the fabulous features like the SZ/Brera triple headlights, the dashboard lines, and the Stradale wheels will all make it to the show room in 2020.

The crossover market is currently crowded and the Tonale will likely need such fancy features to outshine its competitors. Things like its full width taillights, roof spoiler, and it the stylish wrap-around glass in the rear are all modern style features the prototype can’t afford to loose in production.

As for the interior of the Tonale concept, there are two digital screens: one 12.3 inch screen for driver instrument display; the second 10.25 screen will belong to the infotainment system. The vents event come with ambient lighting provided via LED to create a welcoming atmosphere inside the vehicle.

It seems that styling and tech options are the play that Alfa is making with the Tonale, as the plug-in hybrid powertrain will be available when the Tonale rolls out onto the showroom floor.
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VW’s Spanish Brand Name Seat to Reveal ‘el-Born’ Concept

VW Group’s Spanish brand name—Seat—will provide a first-look at its full electric concept car at the annual Geneva auto show. The model, el-Born, will offer autonomous features and connectivity options. The concept vehicle takes its namesake from an famous neighborhood of Barcelona.

In the WLTP test cycle the concept vehicle el-Born achieved a range of 261 miles according to Seat. Taking an 80% charge in just 47 minutes the el-Born concept’s 62 kWh battery is companionable with supercharging to a rate of 100 kW DC. The concept car has a power output rating maximum of 150 kW and will hit 62 mph in about seven and one-half seconds.

El-Born also employs an innovative thermal managing system to maximize the concept vehicle’s range even in radically hot and cold environments. El-Born’s heat pump minimizes the electrical heat consumption which in turn saves up to 60km in autonomy.
The el-Born production model will be created from the parent company’s MEB electric-car’s construction. This will underline the Volkswagen brand family identity along with their Skoda models and the Audi EV compact.

Seat’s production el-Born is slotted to be available in the coming year.

The New BMW and Daimler Mega-Group of “Now” Vehicle Services

BMW and Daimler have joined forces to create a multimodal travel company mega-group. The new venture will invest a combined 1 billon GBP to create electric charging stations, ride hailing, ticket free parking and car sharing. The new mega-group will take the lead overtop of BMW’s short-term rental services Car2Go and DriveNow.

ChargeNow will become the biggest world-wide provider of electric charging stations with 100K access points in twenty-five countries. ParkNow includes a 30 million driver costumer base in eleven hundred cities on two continents. FreeNow has a fleet of a quarter million drivers and twenty-one million customers in Europe and South America.

The mega-group of five companies claims a massive total 60 million customers. The “Now” mega-group will stack its headquarters in Berlin among other German tech start-ups and will create, worldwide, another 1,000 jobs.

When Will I Be Able to Buy Real Autonomous Vehicle?

While autonomous vehicles account for much of the automotive news’ headlines, you won’t see a “true” self-driving car in anyone’s driveway in the next couple of years (at the least).

SAE international standards rate the cars on a five-point scale in which a 0 rating means a vehicle is 100% human controlled and a 5 rating means the vehicle would never need intervention on the part of human driver.

Lots of people are driving cars with a rating of 1—these cars feature things like cruise control and backup cameras. Cars with ratings of 2 and 3 do exist, like many Tesla models, or Benz E-Class, a Volvo S90 and a Cadi CT6. Vehicles that fall under these ratings have features that allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel, the cars may even change lanes or park themselves.

Cars rated at a 4 or 5 aren’t on the consumer market yet. Vehicles rated at a 4 are good at navigating familiar places and probably wouldn’t ever leave their city or state. They are being developed for ride sharing and delivery purposes and are currently being tested in the real world. Cars rated at a 5 would mimic a human’s ability to drive—though hopefully they would be much safer drivers than many human drivers are! These cars, in theory, would be able to make quick decisions and navigate anywhere on their own.