Review: Ford crosses over into the mini-SUV segment with tiny EcoSport

Ford EcoSport on the road

Enlarge / The Ford EcoSport out on the highway. (credit: Ford)

The crossover and SUV market, being what it is, has been sliced and diced into discrete chunks. There are the behemoths: true full-size SUVs like the Chevy Suburban. There’s the luxury market, where the relevance of “utility” sometimes falls into question. Then there are the subcompacts, cars like the

A wee SUV

Ford

New to the US market in 2018, Ford’s bite-size crossover sits below the Escape in Ford’s soon-to-be-sedan-less lineup, and it has an attractive sticker price. The base model, the EcoSport S, starts at $19,995 and offers a 1.0-liter turbocharged, direct-injected three-cylinder engine. The model we tested, the SES, begins at $26,880. Engine size is doubled, with a 2.0L four-cylinder direct-injection Ti-VCT engine. That’s paired with a six-speed transmission and all-wheel drive (on the SES only; the other three models are front-wheel drive). Safety-wise, the EcoSport has side air-curtain tech for both the front and back seats, roll stability control, and Ford’s SOS Post-Crash Alert System.

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Source: Ars Technica

The coolest tech in Audi’s new e-tron electric SUV is banned in the US

Audi e-tron launch

Enlarge (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

SAN FRANCISCO—Luxury electric SUVs must be like buses: you wait ages for one and then three show up all at once. That’s certainly how it feels right now—first it was the Mercedes-Benz EQC, then last week BMW showed us the iNext, and on Monday night it was the Audi e-tron. This one is going to reach showrooms first—production just started at a carbon-neutral plant in Belgium in the past few weeks, and US deliveries are scheduled to begin in mid-2019.

That’s sufficiently far off that Audi is still in the process of homologating the US version for sale, so some of its vital statistics are still TBA. We can’t tell you how exactly much power you get for $74,800, although the European version is 300kW (402hp), if that helps. It hasn’t undergone EPA testing yet, so there’s no official word of how many miles of range the 95kWh lithium-ion battery provides. (Again, if it’s helpful, the e-tron earned a 400km range on the very different European WLTP test.)

And I’m sad to say the e-tron’s coolest feature—those side-view cameras—will require some changes to federal vehicle regulations before we can get them here in the US. That goes for the matrix-beam headlights, too. That’s a shame, because this is an electric Audi that was designed with the US in mind. The company expects us to be the biggest market for the e-tron, and it’s pitching this one straight into the mainstream. There are no flashy falcon wing doors or a massive panoramic screen like those in the bigger Tesla Model X. Neither are there futuristic design or racetrack credentials as with the Jaguar I-Pace.

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Source: Ars Technica

Report: Tesla facing criminal probe over “funding secured” tweet

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Enlarge / Elon Musk in Adelaide, Australia in 2017. (credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Elon Musk’s August 7 tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private has become the subject of a criminal investigation by the Justice Department, Bloomberg reports, citing two anonymous sources. The involvement of the Justice Department would be significant because the Securities and Exchange Commission—which has been investigating the case for several weeks—only has the power to bring civil charges.

Tesla’s share price dropped by about 6 percent in the minutes after Bloomberg reported the news.

While Musk’s initial tweet claimed he had “funding secured” to buy out existing shareholders, he soon admitted he didn’t actually have anything in writing. Days before the tweet, he had a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and emerged from the meeting convinced that the Saudis would be willing to fund a deal.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla’s most credible rival raises $1 billion from Saudi Arabia

Electric car speeds across desert.

Enlarge / The Lucid Air, due out in 2020. (credit: Lucid Motors)

Lucid Motors, the electric car startup we described as Tesla’s most credible rival last year, got a shot in the arm on Monday as Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund announced a $1 billion investment. The company aims to bring its first car to market in 2020.

Lucid has been building up to this moment for more than a decade. The company was founded in 2007 under the name Atieva to build technology related to electric cars—but not the entire car itself. In 2015, the Chinese state-owned automaker BAIC became Lucid’s biggest investor, and we learned that Atieva was pivoting to face Tesla head-on by building an electric car of its own.

The company rebranded as Lucid two years ago and has a number of Tesla veterans—including chief technology officer Peter Rawlinson—helping design its first car, the Lucid Air.

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Source: Ars Technica

British cave diver sues Elon Musk for defamation over “pedo guy” tweets

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Source: Ars Technica

We got our first good look at BMW’s new electric iNext, on sale in 2021

BMW

NEW YORK—You have to hand it to BMW. Our first look at its new Vision iNext concept car—a production version of which arrives in 2021—was certainly memorable. I’ve seen concepts unveiled at auto shows and at design studios, but this was definitely the first time I’ve seen one introduced in the belly of a Boeing 777F parked under a cover at Kennedy Airport in New York. Ars was invited to get up close and personal with the iNext, which is an important vehicle for BMW. When the production version goes on sale in 2021, it will be the first use the company’s new vehicle architecture and its first long-range battery electric vehicle.

BMW says we can think of the iNext as “Project i 2.0,” Project i being the sub-brand that has given us the rather good i3 and the sublime i8. But let’s be honest: both of those EVs served rather limited niches; a crossover is always going to have mass appeal. And so a crossover is what we have; one with bold styling and some thoughtful ideas for the future of UI, UX, and interior cabin design that BMW will hopefully iterate into production.

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Source: Ars Technica

General Motors activates OnStar Crisis Assist for Hurricane Florence

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Enlarge (credit: Getty / NOAA)

Earlier this week, Tesla made headlines when it announced it was temporarily unlocking extra battery capacity in a number of cars of customers affected by Hurricane Florence. The 60kWh configurations of the Model S and Model X electric vehicles—which were short-lived due to minimal demand—actually shipped with 75kWh battery packs, which could be software-unlocked for a fee. To help out any owners who need to evacuate from Florence, Tesla temporarily deactivated the software lock. But Tesla isn’t the only connected car company to take steps to help out those affected by Florence. General Motors is also doing its part, activating OnStar Crisis Assist for every vehicle in the storm area with the correct onboard hardware.

GM’s OnStar network is the granddaddy of connected car platforms, which started providing safety monitoring and a concierge service more than two decades ago. Since then, OnStar’s services have expanded. I’m not sure you can buy a new vehicle from GM that doesn’t contain an embedded 4G LTE modem and Wi-Fi, and the platform’s services can even tell you if your kid’s drivingor your own—needs improvement.

Not everyone chooses to keep paying for OnStar services after the initial free period. But for at least the next 30 days, if you have a Model Year 2006 or newer Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicle with OnStar hardware and you live in one of the mid-Atlantic states being attacked by Florence, GM wants you to have access to the service.

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Source: Ars Technica

Here’s what Formula 1 cars may look like in 2021 if the sport gets its way

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Enlarge (credit: Formula 1)

Formula 1 has become quite forward-thinking since getting new owners interested in more than just sucking as much profit out of the sport as possible. That was certainly on display in a series of concept cars for the 2021 season the racing series showed to the world on Friday ahead of this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix. All three ideas are much more dramatic in appearance than current F1 machinery, showing how the Halo cockpit protection can be cohesively integrated with the styling. It turns out that 18-inch wheels actually do look pretty damn good.

Of course, the three concepts are about more than just aesthetics. As we’ve previously discussed, the sport’s technical rulebook is going to be thoroughly revised for the 2021 season in an attempt to cure a number of ills including the inability of one car to follow closely behind another due to the effect of turbulent air.

“When we started looking at the 2021 car, the primary objective was to enable the cars to race well together,” said Ross Brawn, F1 motorsport director, in a post on the Formula 1 website. “Once the cars get within a few car lengths of each other, they lose 50 percent of their downforce. That’s a substantial amount of performance lost. So we set about understanding why that was and how we can improve it. I’m pleased to say we’re at about 80 [percent].”

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Source: Ars Technica

This Volvo concept could replace planes and trains with the automobile

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Source: Ars Technica

Boring Company approved to build a tunnel entrance inside a residential garage

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Enlarge / A carhole. (credit: The Boring Company)

The Boring Company recently purchased a parcel of land close to SpaceX Headquarters, on 120th St. near Prairie Avenue. Now, the small residence in an industrial neighborhood could house a private, prototype garage, according to The Beach Reporter.

Elon Musk’s young tunneling company was granted approval from the Hawthorne City Council today to build a shaft on the property. The shaft would go down to a tunnel that The Boring Company had built as a sort of tunneling laboratory. The shaft would one day house an elevator that could lower a car down into the tunnel without leaving the garage.

Although The Boring Company still needs to provide more detailed plans to the city of Hawthorne before it can start building, the initial plans suggest that the company is looking to test different ways that its tunnels could be accessed (and perhaps paid for).

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Source: Ars Technica

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