Hyundai previews plug-in hybrid SUV concept ahead of LA motor show

Hyundai PHEV concept profile

‘Ground-breaking’ show car is an SUV-coupé with an active aerodynamic grille and Grandeur-inspired lights

Hyundai has released pictures and a video of a ‘ground-breaking’ plug-in hybrid concept car that it’s set to reveal at the upcoming Los Angeles motor show.

The concept is the seventh in a series of Hyundai Design Center concepts designed to express the brand’s “evolving Sensuous Sportiness global design language”.

It’s only partially revealed in the pictures, but several details can be discerned. The concept appears to have a sleek, crossover bodystyle, similar to the Lamborghini Urus but with a higher rear end. This is complemented by squared-off wheel arches. Hyundai claims the design themes of the new SUV-coupé model are ‘parametric fantasy and transcendent connectivity’.

Taking inspiration from the Le Fil Rouge concept and the recently facelifted US-market Grandeur, it also features a signature light design and a specially designed grille with air shutters that adjust to improve aerodynamics and therefore fuel efficiency.

Features from concept cars are frequently incorporated into future production models, but it remains to be seen whether this one will be relevant for Europe, as Hyundai UK couldn’t comment.

The Korean company doesn’t currently have a hybrid SUV above the Kona, but it plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid Santa Fe in 2020.

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Source: Autocar Online

Morris Commercial revived with 1940s-style electric van

Morris JE electric van official images - tracking front

Chinese-backed company is to launch J-Type-inspired electric van in 2021 with a 200-mile range

The Morris Commercial JE, an electric van with a 1940s design, has been unveiled ahead of a planned launch in 2021.

Revived thanks to unnamed UK and European financial backing, Morris Commercial’s first production model since the 1960s has a 200-mile range, a 1000kg payload and a 2.5-tonne gross weight.

It’ll be priced from £60,000 and set to be built in the UK at an undisclosed location, with the design an engineering taking place in a facility in Worcestershire. 

The van is new from the ground up, sitting on a new modular platform and featuring a 60kWh lithium ion powertrain said to endow it with a “power-to-weight efficiency that fully maximises the range of the vehicle”. It can fast charge to 80% in 30 minutes. 

Morris Commercial will be an electric-only brand that uses a powertrain claimed to be “UK-sourced”. “We will never make a vehicle with an internal combustion engine,” said the company.

This puts it in a different market segment to Geely-owned taxi maker LEVC, whose range-extender powertrain and chassis are being used for a cargo van variant.

Morris says further variants, such as a pick-up truck, minibus and campervan can be spun-off its modular platform. The JE’s bodywork is fashioned from lightweight carbonfibre and features a pair of full-width rear doors and a sliding door on the nearside.

In the load bay are claimed to be 5.5 cubic metres of volume and a flat floor with sufficient area for two pallets. Morris is expected to reveal further specification details at an event later today, but it claims in advance that the JE is “one of the lightest LCVs in the marketplace”.

The major selling point for the JE will be its retro styling, derived from the Morris J-Type, sold from 1949 until 1961 and achieving total production close to 50,000 units.

Morris Commercial ranks it alongside the Mini, Morris Minor and Land Rover Defender as a “truly iconic post-war British automotive design”.

In period, it was as familiar a sight on UK roads as the Ford Transit is today, and Morris hopes that its retro styling will have the same appeal of the Volkswagen Transporter Type 2 of similar vintage so loved today.

Retro features incorporated into the JE include a “pear-shaped” grille, a split windscreen and distinctive bulging wheelarches.

CEO and founder Dr Qu Li told Autocar that the production plan is for 1000 units annually for the panel van, with dditional variants adding extra volume. 

“We have had so much interest from large fleets that we might have to reappraise the volume. But that would mean more tooling and more funding”.

It is understood that SAIC, the Chinese automotive company that owns MG, has some involvement in the firm. It acquired the Morris Commercial name via its absorption of Nanjing Automotive, which picked up the remains of the collapsed MG Rover Group in 2005.

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Source: Autocar Online

Ferrari to reveal new model later today

Ferrari Instagram announcement

New car will follow the 812 GTS and F8 Spider onto market; a hardtop Portofino looks likely

Ferrari has confirmed that it will reveal a new model later today in a post on its official Instagram page

An accompanying image reveals little about the new car, but we can see a blurred grey silhouette travelling at speed, reflected in a pair of sunglasses. 

A video posted to the same account earlier this week features clips of famous Italian landmarks and traffic in urban areas, suggesting that it will be a less performance-focused model than the recently revealed F8 Tributo and SF90 Stradale

One possibility is that the firm will reveal a hardtop coupé variant of its entry-level Portofino sports car, following the unveiling last month of the 812 GTS and F8 Spider convertibles. 

In that case, we can expect it to retain the grand tourer’s turbocharged 3.9-litre V8, which produces 592bhp and 561lb ft. The new car is likely to offer a slight performance advantage over the drop-top, however, with the loss of a weighty roof mechanism. 

Full details of the new model will be available later today at Autocar.co.uk

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McLaren Elva revealed as 804bhp Ultimate Series roadster

McLaren Elva official reveal - static front

Range-topping V8 two-seater features clever aerodynamics – and no windscreen

McLaren has revealed the Elva, a 804bhp two-seat roadster with no windscreen, as its latest Ultimate Series model.

The new machine, which was first revealed by Autocar in the summer, joins the P1, Senna and Speedtail in the range-topping model line and is limited to 399 examples, priced from £1,425,000 (including UK VAT).

McLaren claims the rear-wheel-drive Elva is the lightest road car it has ever produced. Powered by the firm’s 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine, it is able to reach 62mph in “under three seconds” and has a claimed 0-124mph time of 6.7sec – faster than the track-focused Senna.

The Elva name is taken from the East Sussex constructor whose chassis was used as the basis for McLaren’s M1A, M1B and M1C two-seat sports cars in the 1960s, which serve as spiritual predecessors to the new road car. McLaren has acquired the rights to the Elva name.

McLaren boss Mike Flewitt says the Elva is “a uniquely modern car that delivers the ultimate connection between driver, car and the elements”. It features a bespoke, lightweight carbonfibre chassis, with no roof, windscreen or side windows.

To shield occupants from the elements, McLaren has developed an Active Air Management System (AAMS). Automatically activated at speed, this guides air through a large inlet in the splitter at the front of the Elva’s distinctive low nose and out of a clamshell ahead of the cabin. As a result, the air is channelled up and over the occupants to create a ‘bubble’ of calm. A small carbonfibre deflector rises from the front of the bonnet when the AAMS is active to direct the air, which is deflected through a number of carbonfibre vanes across the bonnet.

When not active at low speeds, the air flow is diverted into two low-temperature radiators to boost their efficiency. McLaren claims the radiators boost the output of the engine by cooling the oil in the seven-speed transmission. The firm says the AAMS tech means helmets are not required but can be worn if preferred, while a fixed windscreen will be offered as a factory option.

As well as the open front, McLaren has made the cabin as open to the elements as possible with low sides and by minimising the size of the twin rear buttresses by the use of an automatically deploying roll-over protection system.

The car has a number of features designed to maximise aerodynamic efficiency, including air intakes on the rear buttresses and an active rear spoiler. The latter works in conjunction with an extreme rear diffuser, which features vertical fences designed to accelerate air out from under the Elva’s flat floor.

McLaren’s traditional V8 engine has been tweaked for improved power output with a revamped exhaust system, while the car’s chassis has been optimised to “maximise agility and driver engagement and feedback”, with electrohydraulic steering and unique software settings and springs.

McLaren has yet to cite a weight for the car, but says that, as well as the open-top design, it has been minimised where possible through the extensive use of carbonfibre. The front clamshell is 1.2mm thick and is formed from a one-piece panel, while the large side panels are also single pieces. The small gullwing doors are carbonfibre too, mounted via a single hinge.

The sintered carbonceramic brakes measure 390mm, and McLaren claims they are the most advanced to be fitted to one of its road cars, with increased thermal conductivity that allows for reduced brake duct cooling.

McLaren has used a “blurred boundaries” design principle for the interior, with a carbonfibre element flowing from the rear buttresses into the cabin to serve as the central armrest between the driver and passenger.

The dashboard has been designed for a clean ‘pebble-like’ feel, with the only instrument cluster moving with the steering wheel to ensure optimum visibility.

The Active Dynamics controls are mounted on that instrument cluster for the first time in a McLaren. A central 8in touchscreen is used for many of the car’s functions, including a track telemetry system.

The interior features lightweight carbonfibre seats and is offered without an audio system as standard. The floor is exposed carbonfibre, with lightweight non-slip mats as standard. With the cockpit open to the elements, the Elva is offered with a range of trims designed to cope with exposure to rain, sunlight and other intrusions.

A small storage compartment, designed to house helmets, is located beneath the rear tonneau.

The Elva is available to order now, with customer deliveries due to begin late next year after the production run of the Speedtail is completed.

The story behind the name

The tiny Bexhill-based Elva Equipe (the name comes from the French phrase ‘ella va’, meaning ‘she goes’) played a key role in McLaren’s early sports racing cars, which the new Elva takes inspiration from.

Bruce McLaren established his eponymous team in 1963, developing the M1A sports car, powered by a mid-mounted 340bhp 4.5-litre V8, to race in both Europe and North America.

The car was quick, setting a number of lap records, and attracted much interest from potential customer teams. With his staff limited, McLaren teamed up with Elva to outsource production.

That led to the McLaren-Elva M1A, M1B and M1C, developed between 1964 and 1967. By that time, McLaren had developed the M6A, which the founder and team-mate Denny Hulme used to dominate the 1967 Can-Am Championship.

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Mazda CX-30 claims record score in Euro NCAP safety test

Mazda CX-30

Japanese firm’s SUV joined Mercedes-Benz GLB and Ford Explorer by claiming maximum five star rating

The new Mazda CX-30, Mercedes-Benz GLB and Ford Explorer have all scored the maximum five stars in the latest round of Euro NCAP safety testing – with the CX-30 achieving the highest-ever mark for protecting adult occupants.

The Japanese firm’s mid-size SUV achieved a record 99% score in the Adult Occupant Protection category. It achieved maximum scores in Euro NCAP’s full-width battier, side impact and side pole tests, the latter of which simulates a car running off the road and striking a tree.

Matthew Avery from Thatcham Research, which conducts Euro NCAP tests in the UK, described the CX-30’s score as “truly impressive”. He cited the structure and restraints of the SUV as key, adding that “in the event of an accident, there are few safer places to be than the front seats of the Mazda CX-30.”

The CX-30 also scored 86% for Child Occupant Protection, 80% for Vulnerable Road Users and 77% for Safety Assist features.

The GLB’s maximum score means that every Mercedes model tested since 2014 has been awarded five stars by Euro NCAP, while the Ford Explorer – sold in Europe although not in the UK – matched the top score that was also given to the latest Focus and Fiesta.

The new Vauxhall Corsa was awarded four stars, with Euro NCAP saying that it narrowly missed out on a maximum score due to the performance of its seat and head restraints in whiplash testing.

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Source: Autocar Online

Tesla to build first European factory in Germany

Tesla Model Y action

Plans to set up in UK scratched as Elon Musk announces Berlin-based manufacturing, engineering and battery site

Tesla will build its first European factory in Berlin, Germany, boss Elon Musk has confirmed. The facility will include an engineering and design centre and will be used to manufacture cars, batteries and powertrains. The first car to be built there will be its upcoming small SUV, the Tesla Model Y, according to Musk.

“Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding and that’s part of the reason we are locating our Gigafactory Europe in Germany,” said Musk.

Tesla has previously said its European factory would open in 2021, although Musk is known for announcing optimistic dates for building facilities from scratch.

The announcement dashes hopes that the facility could be constructed in Britain, something Musk had previously suggested was likely.

In 2016, prior to the Brexit vote, he said: “We have a lot of respect for the British automotive engineering talent,” the billionaire said. “Just look at Formula 1 – it amazes me how much British talent there is in that. We are likely to establish a Tesla engineering group in Britain at some point in the future.”

Tesla faces increasing competition from established car makers, but is now on-track to open new Gigafactories in China and Europe, adding to its established US operations to give it a global manufacturing base.

At present, 16 lithium-ion battery cell plants are confirmed or due to begin operations in Europe by 2023, underlining the level of competition that Tesla faces in future.

Musk made his announcement while he was on stage at an awards ceremony with VW Group boss Herbert Diess. When asked why other car makers were lagging in the race to build electric cars, Musk said: “I don’t think Germany is that far behind.” VW launches the ID 3 next year, and has set the goal of selling more than one million electric cars across 20 electric model lines by 2025.

Tesla has yet to record a full-year annual profit but it has posted positive quarterly results in the past 12 months. In order to boost profitability is has undergone a significant cost-cutting project in 2019, both improving its production processes and cutting jobs.

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Opinion: Less is more when it comes to F1 coverage

Dutch GP 1985

The last Dutch GP was in 1985. But it’s back on for 2020

Too many races spoil the broth as televisions become oversaturated and individual events lose their shine

It feels as though it were a parallel universe, but there was a time – when unsophisticated aero allowed Formula 1 cars to follow each other closely, and radios were an optional extra in your Ford showroom – when the result of an overseas grand prix could take a few days to reach the UK.

Races rarely received TV airtime before the late 1970s, daily papers tended to pay full attention only when a driver was seriously hurt – or worse – and Monday morning’s sports pages rarely carried more than the sketchiest details about who had won or why. Sometimes there was simply no information at all.

If you were living in the UK, chances are that you had to wait until the specialist weeklies arrived the following Thursday to discover the result of the 1973 Canadian GP. Treacherous conditions had triggered all manner of chaos – and F1’s first attempt to restore control through use of a ‘safety’ car made things worse. Experienced lap scorers lost track of who was where and debate about the final result continued long into the evening, way past UK press deadlines. There are some, indeed, who continue to this day to dispute McLaren driver Peter Revson’s victory…

This was frustrating for a 12-year-old who craved as much information as possible about all forms of racing but, at the same time, the sport’s frequent inaccessibility made it seem somehow special. Everybody knew about football and most kids at school could recite the previous 20 FA Cup winners without pausing for breath, but few knew – or indeed cared – that David Purley was dovetailing a limited F1 programme with a full season of Formula Atlantic in Britain.

To me, such details mattered. A lot.

Over time, obsession morphed into profession and I found myself being paid to photograph and, later, write about the sport that had snared me – a journey that led eventually to the F1 paddock and the irreversible privilege of attending about 300 grands prix. I enjoyed almost every moment, but as the calendar extended gradually from 17 races to 20, I wondered whether F1 was already beginning to spread itself too thinly.

TV coverage was moving away from the mainstream onto a subscription-only model, but if you were sufficiently interested to pay, you were able to watch not only every lap of a race weekend and the principal support events, but also a fair bit of pre-season testing. At the same time, Driver X’s every utterance about Rival Y would be masqueraded on a website as the news story it clearly wasn’t.

From next year, with the commercially driven reinstatement of the Dutch GP and rights holder Liberty’s first all-new fixture in Vietnam, the F1 calendar peaks at 22 races. Something that was once borderline anonymous is now almost inescapable. Smartphones can be programmed to buzz whenever Ferrari miscues a strategic call (about three times a fortnight, on average) or Sergio Pérez flat-spots a Pirelli.

I’m not saying the old ways were better, because there’s a stack of evidence that implies they weren’t, but saturation coverage has diluted a little of the sport’s bygone mystique. Somewhere, in the endless pursuit of progress, a little balance has been lost.

Colin’s dictionary

You could have been forgiven for thinking an imposter had emerged from one of West Surrey Racing’s BMW 330is as the 2019 British Touring Car Championship concluded at Brands Hatch. In ordinary circumstances, Colin Turkington is as mild of manner as he is precise of line, but on this occasion, the Ulsterman burst from the cockpit and punched the air repeatedly as a muffled “Yes, yes, yes!” echoed from somewhere within a fire-resistant balaclava.

The trigger for this uncharacteristic outburst had been a splendid rise from 25th on the grid to sixth at the flag – although that alone would not have been enough to clinch him a fourth series title. The pivotal moment came less than two laps from the flag, when brake failure sent rival Dan Cammish’s Honda into the tyre wall at Hawthorns. It was tough on Cammish, who had hitherto completed every racing lap of the season, but defeat would have been equally harsh on Turkington, who had been placed on the back foot after being punted from contention – by Cammish’s team-mate, Matt Neal – at the dawn of race two. Once he’d calmed down, Turkington described it as the “race of his life” – and with reason.

A teenage autograss racer from Portadown, Turkington began competing on the UK mainland in the late 1990s. There was no specific career plan – he had followed in the wheel tracks of his brother, Gary, who raced in Formulas Ford and Renault – but he drifted into professional racing after winning the 2001 Ford Credit Fiesta Zetec championship.

He made his BTCC debut the following season, in an MG ZS sponsored by pop trio Atomic Kitten, and he has been part of the landscape for all but a couple of seasons since. He secured his first race win in 2003 and his maiden title in 2009, when he joined a distinguished cast of alumni that includes Jim Clark, Jack Sears, Sir John Whitmore, John Fitzpatrick and Gabriele Tarquini. For 33 years, though, Andy Rouse had stood alone as the only driver with four championships to his name. As of now, he has company.

Cammish has succeeded at every other level he has contested – including winning all 24 races he started en route to lifting the 2013 British Formula Ford title. His time will come.

Second helping

Most of the entry for the women-only W Series has been confirmed for 2020, the top 12 performers from this year’s inaugural campaign having accepted the offer to race again alongside eight fresh recruits. The concept received mixed reviews when first announced, largely because motor racing – like equestrian sports – notionally permits men and women to compete on equal terms. Currently, however, the gender imbalance underlines that the present model doesn’t work as it should (notwithstanding Flick Haigh’s joint capture of the 2018 British GT Championship, or Amy Ruman’s two recent titles in the US-based Trans-Am series).

When the first W Series wound down at Brands Hatch, one of the most captivating aspects – apart from a dramatic on-track tussle as Alice Powell wrested the lead from champion Jamie Chadwick – was the paddock demographic. Everywhere you strolled, young girls sought autographs from those competing, or else a selfie. By inspiring a fresh generation of potential future racers, the W Series has already done a power of good.

Simon Arron

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From the archive: Vehicular pollution isn't really a problem

Pollution was not seen as a major issue in 1970

In 1970, as the US planned new emissions standards to combat Los Angeles smog, we examined the pollution problem

The New York Times recently wrote that “friendly generational relations” have broken between Gen Z and their elders. Indeed, it’s easy to apply blame for issues now present – above all, climate change.

One could certainly point an accusatory finger our way. In 1970, Autocar editor Peter Garnier called the emissions standards introduced in California to combat smog a “hoohah” with “very limited relevance to the rest of the world”.

Worry had been sparked in the city of Los Angeles due to the frequent presence of photochemical smog in the presence of strong sunlight, attributed to vehicular emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx). 

Facing pressure over the issue, US president Richard Nixon announced future plans to control exhaust emissions even further – “to such an extend that before long, the internal combustion will not be able to comply”.

“Suddenly, the world has become acutely conscious of the uncontrolled poullution of the environemnt by waste products of our own inventiveness,” responded Garnier. “So much is so that in 1970, European Conservation Year, an extensive effort is being made to get this under control before it is too late. A tiny facet of all this is the poullution of the atmosphere, brought to a head by the extraordinary and almost one-off geographical circumstances of Los Angeles.

“In a peculiar, emotional wave of worldwide publicity, this purely local problem has been thrust upon the car manufacturers who have been forced by the US government to modify engine design. Now, no car may be sold anywhere in the States unless it complies with very stringent standards governing its exhaust and other emissions. Reluctantly, we accept this as a fait accompli.”

Garnier continued: “For too long already, the motor industry has taken the blame for, and paid for the research to reduce, pollution. In January, the president of General Motors [GM], Edward N. Cole, tossed the political ball into the petroleum industry’s court, by calling in effect for the lead additives to be taken out of petrol, as this would cause ‘a reduction in hydrocarbon emissions of about 40-100 parts per million.

“Tetraethyllead is added to petrol to raise the octane number, so its removal would call for lower compression rations and reduced engine efficiency.”

This argument was only logical at the time, but by the end of the decade, we had learnt that lead ingestion has horrific effects on humans, including brain damage, hypertension and learning disorders in children and heart attacks, strokes, and other diseases related to blood pressure in adults. There has even been research indicating that it increases proprensity toward aggressive behaviours.

“If there were any evidence to indicate that harm is being done to people or plants by what is currently permitted to emerge from a car’s exhaust,” concluded Garnier, “we would be wholeheartedly behind the campaign for further drastic change. At the moment, there is no such evidence outside of Los Angeles and perhaps Oakland, up the coast. Whatever the motivations may be in the States, they seem neither to be well founded biologically nor even practicable.”

To explain the issues, Autocar went to expert Charles Goodacre.

First among the problems being drummed up,” he began” is exhaust emissions of carbon monoxide, unbumt fuel as unburnt hydrocarbons et cetera in the exhaust gas, as emitted to the atmosphere from the exhaust pipe. Lately, a new troublemaker has been added to the list in the form of NOx from the fuel burning in the cylinder in the presence of air, a mixture of approximately 20% oxygen and 80% nitrogen.

“The oxygen oxidizes the nitrogen as well as the hydrocarbon fuel or petrol in the combustion process in the cylinder, thus producing NOx, which are claimed to discolour the atmosphere and encourage the formation of photochemical smog in the presence of strong sunlight. It has been estimated that in a city like Los Angeles, with five million cars, 8000 tons of CO, and 900-1000 tons of unburnt fuel are emitted into the city streets every day.

Second, crankcase breather emissions, piston blowby of unburnt fuel and some leakage mainly under cold running conditions. Third, static emissions from the car after stops hot. These emissions come mainly when the carburettors absorb the heat rising from engine, causing the fuel to evaporate into the atmosphere. Also, there is the problem of evaporative loss in the petrol tank.

Fortunately, the latter issues were largely fixed, as most cars by 1970 were being sold with closed-circuit crankcase breather systems, referred to as PCVs. Fuel tank emission control prevention mechanisms, meanwhile, were well down the development path at both Chrysler and GM.

However, CO and hydrocarbon exhaust emissions were the “real headache”. Great resources were being ploughed into developing solutions and testing; one European firm, we reported, had already spent £2m on a bespoke laboratory and had 1000 engineers tasked there, with a doubling of scale already planned.

“Let us get one point quite clearly in our minds,” Goodacre sniped. “There is not one single shred of factual evidence that can be brought forward that proves that can be brought forward that exhaust emissions from motor cars, in any normal domestic service, are causing any harm to any person anywhere in the world today.”

Indeed, he almost saw it as a great conspiracy: “Since the automotive emissions problem was first brought up by California in 1949, it has snowballed into a wave of politics, emotion, hysteria, misconception, ignorance, some science and downright dishonesty allied to commercialism, to the point where tens of thousands of people today are making a good living out of automotive emissions. These people are not going to let go now.

“So, we are in for expensive solutions the the problems which do not appear even to exist. Whether we like it or not, we are going to pay the price of what is now required. In the process, the performance of our cars may be curtailed in terms of power, economy and increased maintenance to conform ewith the emissions laws, and the purchase price will go up.”

When you see the landscape of scientific understanding as it was in 1970, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to be angered by previous generations’ actions. What is often now perceived as ignoring the pollution problem was really ignorance of its existence.

In another half a century, how might future generations judge us? There are potentially huge missteps being taken right now, even with the best of intentions. Lithium ion batteries could well be one. Who knows what others there may be?



Source: Autocar Online

New Land Rover Defender to star in 25th James Bond film

2019 Land Rover Defender on James Bond set

Reborn off-roader will join Aston Martin’s Valhalla supercar in No Time to Die in April

Land Rover has confirmed that the new Defender will have a starring role in the next James Bond film. 

The latest instalment in the iconic secret agent series, No Time to Die, will be released in the UK on April 3 2020, and will feature the reborn off-roader taking part in a traditional car chase sequence. 

The exact nature of the Defender’s role is yet to be confirmed, but Land Rover claims the production’s stunt team have driven it in “the most extreme off-road conditions, demonstrating its unstoppable nature”. 

A video clip released by the firm shows a group of Defenders being driven at speed on challenging off-road terrain and jumping high into the air, with one clip showing the car seemingly rolling onto its side. 

The Defender selected for the film is the mid-sized 110 variant, which will arrive in UK dealerships ahead of the shorter 90 and longer 130. It has been specified in range-topping X trim, and equipped with optional equipment including darkened skid plans, 20in black alloy wheels and heavy-duty off-road tyres. 

Speculation that the Defender could appear in No Time to Die was fuelled by spy shots of the model on set in August, a month before it was officially unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show

The SUV will appear alongside Aston Martin’s upcoming Valhalla hypercar, which was confirmed as the hero car in June. The mid-engined hybrid is the latest in a long line of Aston models to feature in Bond films, following past appearances from the firm’s DB5, DBS, Vanquish, V8 Vantage and one-off DB10 models. 

Land Rover has also confirmed that its Range Rover Sport SVR will appear in the new film, alongside a selection of historic models including the Series III and Range Rover Classic. 

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Source: Autocar Online

Analysis: The future of hydrogen powered cars

Toyota Mirai charging

UK’s limited hydrogen infrastructure is seen as one impediment

Can car makers tap the potential of hydrogen or will battery-electric reign supreme?

The drumbeat of enthusiasm for hydrogen as a road fuel has grown steadily louder this year, despite a general industrywide acceptance that EVs will become the mainstream in most cases.

This culminated in Toyota’s huge investment in the recently revealed Mk2 Mirai. A substantial overhaul has transformed an oddity built in small numbers into a stridently confident saloon that will raise Toyota’s global ambitions for hydrogen next year.

The new Mirai will join the Hyundai Nexo SUV on the admittedly short list of commercially available cars powered by zero-emissions fuel cells, but others are in the pipeline. Mercedes could yet import its GLC F-Cell SUV to the UK and Toyota’s fuel-cell partner, BMW, will roll out a hydrogen X5 in 2022. The PSA Group has said it will launch a fuel-cell van by 2021 that’s likely to include a Vauxhall version.

In the UK, meanwhile, Wrightbus, the Northern Irish bus firm responsible for building London’s hybrid ‘Boris bus’, was rescued from bankruptcy earlier in October by a company aiming to switch the UK’s bus fleet to hydrogen.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said the fuel might be more suitable than battery-electric power for its largest SUVs as it works to cut emissions. “If you’re not careful, you end up with such big batteries [with EVs], you make it so heavy that when you race down the autobahn, the range disappears. So other technologies could come into play, potentially hydrogen,” said Nick Rogers, JLR’s head of engineering.

It’s easy to see the appeal. Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles emit nothing but water vapour, have a long range (414 miles for the Nexo) and can be filled almost as quickly as a petrol or diesel car. As the scale of the challenge to persuade us out of user-friendly combustionengined cars into EVs becomes clear, might fast-fill hydrogen be a better zero-emissions bet?

Not so fast, warns Carlos Tavares, CEO of the PSA Group. “Now people see EVs are going to be difficult, they are going to say: ‘Oh, what about hydrogen?’ You’re going to see lots of headlines about hydrogen and everyone’s going to have a hydrogen project,” he said at the Frankfurt motor show in September. Despite Tavares’ reluctance to be dictated to by headlines, the PSA Group has its own hydrogen project (the 2021 van), but Tavares warned that it would be “very expensive”.

Cost has always been a drag on fuel cells, which currently use around 30g-60g of the precious metal platinum on every stack. BMW has said a fuel-cell powertrain is currently still around 10 times more expensive than an equivalent electric one.

Other hurdles remain. It might be zero emissions at the tailpipe, but splitting water into hydrogen – the most common method of creating it – demands a lot of electricity. “It only makes sense if you’re creating hydrogen with renewable energy,” said Rogers. His predecessor, Wolfgang Ziebart, called fuel cells “complete nonsense” back in 2016 because of their poor ‘wheel-to-well’ carbon emissions.

The refuelling infrastructure is in desperate need of expansion. The UK has just 12 stations in operation, according to h2stations.org, and although early adopter California has more than 40, an explosion at a hydrogen production facility in June left many stations there without supply for weeks.

The safety fears haven’t gone away, either. In South Korea, resident groups are opposing new hydrogen filling stations in their neighbourhoods following an explosion in May at a hydrogen storage tank in the city of Gangneung, killing two.

Even if these issues were all suddenly ironed out, hydrogen lost to lithium ion a long time ago as an automotive fuel, argues Andy Leyland, head forecaster at battery materials analyst firm Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. “The amount that has been committed to the lithium ion supply chain, excluding charging infrastructure, is around $600 billion [£470bn]. Hydrogen is maybe $30bn or max $40bn. It’s a completely different scale,” he said. “In many respects, lithium ion is too big to fail over the next 10- to 15-year period.”

In the meantime, hydrogen is expected to fill niches where batteries can’t compete, such as for high-mileage commercial vehicles that are too busy to be idled while charging. “We think it’s good technology mostly for fleets and for cars that come back to the same point every night where you can leverage investment on the H2 refilling unit,” said Tavares.

The enthusiasm for the fuel in South Korea and Japan is expanding into partnerships, with car makers not so willing to start a programme of their own from scratch. Hence, BMW is linked with Toyota and Hyundai with Audi.

And the price will come down. “By the third-generation Mirai, we fully expect fuel-cell costs to be comparable with hybrids,” Toyota Europe head of sales Matt Harrison said. “We believe fuel cell vehicles have a huge potential.”

Nick Gibbs

READ MORE

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Hyundai’s hydrogen boss predicts sales growth will continue

Under the skin: Why hydrogen could be an easy cell



Source: Autocar Online

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