Ford Makes a Bid for UK Police Service

In the UK, police will trail the new Ford Ranger Raptor and Ford Focus ST estate as law enforcement considers these new Ford vehicles for full-time, UK police service.
The new Ranger Raptor, well a modified version, will be trailed by South wales Police.

While some question the Ranger Raptor’s 105mph top speed—which at a glance would be unlikely to concern a criminal—Ford believes the vehicle has plenty of power to keep up with criminals making an escape across gravel, mud and sand. New features like Fox-brand shock absorbers and their so-called Baja desert race mode are intended to improve law enforcement’s ability to chase bad guys across rugged or rural terrain.

At the moment, South Wales police force is the only one putting the Ranger Raptor through trials. Though Ford claims that several other special police units of made inquiries about the new rugged terrain vehicle. And Ford experts think that law enforcement interest will only increase as the Ranger Raptor is put through paces.

Cumbria police force will test the Ford Focus ST estate. The ST has a top speed of 155mph and Ford thinks these specialized vehicles will help police catch the bad guys on regular roads and highways. The ST is are made by the Special Vehicle Prep team at Ford and come with a full assortment of police style add-ons, both hardware and software.

Info on New Ford Mustang Mach-E Electric SUV Leaked

Information about Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E electric SUV has been “leaked” through their online configurator just a few days before its official release at the LA Motor Show.
The Mustang Mach-E, which Ford conceived as a high-end, performance oriented rival to Tesla’s Model Y. Until now the vehicle had only been described as “Mustang inspired” but no name, specs or other information was available.

The available information indicates the Mach-E will be made available with several options of power output. 0-60mph times, it seems, will vary from mid 3 seconds to mid six seconds. The EPA rating system for range puts the models between 230 and 300 miles. Additionally, the models will feature either rear wheel or all wheel drive.

Some are speculating that this move means that Ford intends to use the Mustang legacy to grow a fuller line of car models. This would allow them to take advantage of their heritage among US consumers and could lend credibility to new Ford models in foreign markets.

After its official reveal, according to Ford, they will begin taking deposits for the Mach-E in the US and Europe. The first wave of buyers will be offered a supped up performance First Edition model. However no additional pricing or spec information was made available.

Volvo Will Pay British Customers’ Electric for a Year

In an effort to encourage drivers of their plug-in hybrids to use them in the greenest way possible, Volvo is offering new hybrid customers a free year of electricity.

Volvo is calling it their “Take Charge” offer. This was announced when they revealed the new XC40 Recharge EV recently. This incentive is available to any British customer who chooses one of several plug-in hybrids. The offer is good through June 2020.

While Volvo has an electric version of any car in their cadre, the plug-in hybrid style of vehicle is available in their V90, V60, S60, S90, XC40, XC 60 and XC90 models.

Volvo will require users to record their average electrical use for a charge through the “On Call” app. Customers will then get a rebate based on their average energy usage.

Volvo stated that their purpose was multi-faceted, they want make it clear that hybrids are a sustainable transitionary vehicle or a greener option of those who don’t favor full-electrics. Also, to fight the belief that plug-in hybrids are bought only because of the tax incentives then never plugged in.

Bentley’s New App Gives Users Virtual Tours and Drives

Bentley is rolling out a virtual experience app for its 3rd gen Flying Spur vehicle. Users will be able to experience the new vehicle before it is delivered to dealerships in early 2020.

The app is free for users to download through Google Play the Apple App Store. While it is intended primarily for potential buyers, Bentley suspects many fans of the brand will enjoy the virtual experience of the luxury car the app will provide.

Bentley fans will be able to explore the exterior and interior of both versions of the new Flying Spur. There is a luxury featured version with a gun metal exterior and the specially tailored interior. The performance-oriented model is also included in the app for virtual touring as well and users can view the new black accent.

Bentley had previously employed a similar app for its EXP 100 GT concept car which allowed fans to tour the car and place the car virtually onto different locations, even their own driveway. These features all remain in the new app for the Flying Spur but Bentley has added the option to take a virtual test drive, which will likely hold wider appeal.

For serious buyers Bentley has included contact options directly in the app for their dealerships and configurators.

Japanese and Chinese Companies Team Up to Reuse old EV Batteries

Itochu (Japanese trading house) and BYD (China’s top EV producer) have come together on a project that seeks to find a second life for automotive batteries as storage for renewable energy. Disposing of these batteries improperly can be an environmental hazard.

As we move into the electronic vehicle age, what to do with used auto batteries, most of which use lithium ion cells, is a question the Itochu/BYD venture seeks to answer. The power duo will team with Shenzhen Pandpower who recycle vehicle batteries. By 2020 the trio want to create global business in which the reused auto batteries become container-type storage for renewable energy.

The typical battery lasts about 8-10 years and that means the first fleets from Nissan and BYD will start aging into needing new batteries. Even though these batteries can no longer power a vehicle, their capacity remains at a level that they can be used for simple storage. To store solar or wind energy for fluctuations in weather and usage many of these small batteries would be put inside a 40-foot container and become a 1,000 kWh storage battery.

It is expected that these will be used primarily in the industrial and commercial sectors, though the Itochu/BYD says one container, fully charged, could meet one day of energy needs for 100 households.

Mazda EV Details Leaked Just Before Tokyo Motor Show

The Japanese media has leaked info on the new Mazda EV just before the official reveal at the Tokyo Motor Show. The new model will be called the MX-30. It will feature a 35.5kWh battery and will be powered by a single electric motor at 138bhp and 195lb ft of torque. It will be front-wheel drive and a single speed transmission.

The MX-30 will follow in the direction of the recently available Mazda3. The MX-30, available next year, features a coupe style cabin and gets its light look from a unique door concept. The front end is meant to have a friendly expression, according to Mazda.

Mazda chose interior materials that are supposed to be comfortable, yet eco-friendly. And the cabin, pin pointed around the center console, is supposed to create a closeness between the driver and passenger seats.

The leaked imagine shows the MX-30 has adopted an SUV type body to make room for underfloor battery packs. The range will be somewhere in the 120-150 mile range, which lands the new EV’s range around average in the market. It will take both a domestic 6.6kW charge as well as public rapid charge at 50kW.

See you on the streets next year MX-30!

Porsche and Boeing Working on Flying Car Prototype

Just when it seems that the flying cars Futurism promised us sink back into the fog of fiction, someone resurrects the idea into a prototype that makes it feel as if flying cars are in our near-future reality.

Now Porsche and Boeing have teamed up to see how far they can push the concept into reality. The duo announced recently that they are in the planning stages of a concept vehicle that would feature a “fully electric” vertical takeoff and landing ability they are calling EVTOL.

As one might expect from Porsche concept designers the sketches of the version so far look like something a superhero might drive. This project actually involves three partners (kind of)—Porsche, Boeing and the Boeing owned Aurora Flight Sciences. AFS works on unmanned aerial vehicles. And AFS did release a new one recently, but it looks more like a traditional aircraft. Together the three are going to explore what kind of market might exist for premium flying vehicles.

Boeing’s NeXt unit is in charge of their so-called urban air mobility projects and use Aurora’s resources to develop the EVTOL craft.

Among the EVTOL rivals are Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk project which was granted testing approval from New Zealand and NFT which has developed an SUV sized vehicle that can drive and fly. NFT thinks it will begin selling vehicles around 2025 which is approximately when Porsche believes their sales will begin.

Smart Cars, Dumb Drivers

If you weren’t already aware Tesla has been working on a feature they’ve dubbed “Smart Summon.” This feature allows Tesla’s to navigate a parking lot to an owner’s location totally unmanned. Which might immediately sound like a scary idea to some, while anyone who has every forgotten whether they parked in area Blue 7 or Pink 9 of a giant amusement park lot might look at it as a godsend.

Not without a shade of irony and probably not to the surprise of some, people have already started doing some really stupid things with “Smart Summon” (which isn’t even out of beta yet).

One YouTube user “Dirty Tesla” (who is a Model 3 owner) uploaded a video in which he tries to walk in front of the vehicle while the Smart Summon feature is engaged. Luckily, the Model 3 is smarter than this particular owner and its cameras see Dirty Tesla before it runs him over. However, on the second try the vehicle looks as if it is going to roll over its owner’s toes as he comes at the car from a blind spot.

Undoubtedly this is not the kind of beta testing Tesla is encouraging. And does it need to be said that this is a terrible, awful idea? (Just in case, this is a really bad idea!)
Tesla’s own release notes on their Version 10 upgrade (the one featuring Smart Summon) states specifically that the owner is responsible for the vehicle at all times and should keep it in their line of site as it may not see all obstacles.

Even drivers using the Smart Summon feature responsibly have had minor accidents using the new Smart Summon. One Twitter user, David Guajardo, reported someone dinged his Model 3’s bumper while he was trying to test Smart Summon.

Jaguar Develops 3D Printed Glove to Aid and Protect Workers

In recent news a variety of automakers like BMW, Ford, General Motors et al have announced prototypes or trials of exoskeletons or other worker-aid devices. Jaguar has joined the party with something simple, but innovative: a glove, 3D-printed, that helps prevent musculoskeletal disorders.

These types of injuries are about 30% of workplace injury according to Jaguar. The glove is lattice-type structure meant to protect the hands of workers on assembly lines.

Initially Jaguar’s glove was meant specifically just for workers who deal with clips and fasteners but Jaguar found the glove useful for many workers.

Understandable. There are 100s of conditions and injuries that make up one third of employee compensation payouts.

Jaguar’s Gaydon site in the UK where the company is developing 3D printing technology invented the glove whose structure supports the hand to reduce muscle fatigue but also had to be comfortable enough to wear and flexible enough so workers could complete their task.

The glove team is already working on a second-generation glove that includes padding intended to absorb impacts. The future of the glove could include not only preventing injury and repetitive movement injuries but also help patients recover.

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When Racing Tradition Meets Toy Cars

The Little Car Company and Bugatti teamed up to create luxury level toy car and possibly the ultra-high-end holiday gift of the year—a ¾ scale, electric powered, 1924 Type 35 Lyon Grand Prix replica.

The Baby II takes its que from the Baby, a 1920s ½ scale 35 Lyon. The features include everything a classic racing fan could want. Hollow front axle, Michelin tires, aluminum dash, eight spoke wheels. In short: the works.

While Bugatti chose French Racing Blue for the prototype they say the production run can be painted any modern color in the Chiron range. Historic colors and those attached to famous racers can also be ordered. However the production run will be limited to just 500 Baby IIs.

And like you might expect from a toy car starting just a tick over $37K the customization possibilities continue. The basic Bugatti Baby II will come stock with a composite body. The Baby II Vitesse gets a carbon fiber body, while the third option of the Baby II Pur Sang gets a hand-crafted aluminum body. Both the Pur Sang and Vitesse will come with speed keys that get child drivers an extra 10kW of power and turn-ff the speed limiters. So watch out for speeding toddlers.

The Baby IIs will see production from 2020 to 2021.