Review: Subaru Crosstrek finds sweet spot between value and drivability

Subaru

In a world where seemingly every auto manufacturer is making SUVs (hello, Lamborghini!) and crossovers, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. Alfa Romeo does it by making an insanely fast and sporty crossover. Range Rover goes for an incredibly sleek look and a separate screen just for climate control. By contrast, Subaru just tries to make quality vehicles. That strategy has served the company well with the Outback, which has been at or near the top of the station wagon sales charts for what seems like forever. But can that strategy work with crossovers? Enter the Crosstrek.

All new for the 2018 model year, the Subaru Crosstrek is a mini crossover built on Subaru’s new Global Platform, which Subaru says offers 70-percent more rigidity. The Crosstrek has a raised suspension with Stablex dampers for a smoother ride. The old, familiar Subaru Boxer engine remains—in this case the usual 2.0-liter, direct-injection, four-cylinder suspect capable of cranking out 152hp (113.3kW) and 145lb-ft of torque (196.6nM); if you’re thinking that sounds a bit light, keep reading. The all-wheel drive Crosstrek has a seven-speed automatic transmission, but Subaru offers a six-speed manual transmission in the base and Premium trims. If automatic transmission is your thing but you like to take over sometimes, the Crosstrek comes with paddle shifters.

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Source: Ars Technica

Electrify America will deploy 2,000 350kW fast chargers by the end of 2019

Enlarge / ABB, BTC Power, Efacec, and Signet will work with Electrify America on this new network of fast EV chargers. (credit: Electrify America)

As its legion of comment-posting fans love to point out, Tesla’s Supercharger network is a major part of that company’s success when it comes to selling electric vehicles. For over a century we’ve lived with cars that can be refueled in minutes, and old habits die hard. Even though the optimal solution is EV owners plugging in each night, the thought of being stranded with a slow-charging EV but hundreds of miles to drive in a day causes enough terror to rule out such cars for many potential drivers. If we want more people to make the switch, the answer then is more chargers and faster chargers. And Electrify America evidently agrees.

An offshoot of the Volkswagen empire created in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, Electrify America has a quite ambitious plan. This week it announced it had picked suppliers for a new network of fast chargers across the country. Between now and the end of 2019, it’s going to deploy 2,000 fast chargers at a total of 484 charging stations. There are still a mix of competing standards when it comes to EV charging, so Electrify America’s approach is to offer them all.

That means 50kW CHAdeMO connectors and then dual-handle CCS1 chargers, capable of 50kW as well as either 150kW or 350kW (using liquid-cooled cables). Vehicles capable of charging at that higher rate aren’t on sale yet, but by sheer coincidence that matches the specs of forthcoming Battery EVs from… Volkswagen Group.

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Source: Ars Technica

Velodyne invented modern lidar—it’s about to face real competition

Enlarge / Velodyne’s lidars aren’t the only game in town any more. (credit: Velodyne)

David Hall invented modern three-dimensional lidar more than a decade ago for use in the DARPA Grand Challenge competitions. His company, Velodyne, has dominated the market for self-driving car lidar ever since. Last year, Velodyne opened a factory that it said had the capacity to produce a million lidar units in 2018—far more than any other maker of high-end lidars.

Now Velodyne is starting to see some serious competition. Last week, lidar startup Luminar announced that it was beginning volume production of its own lidar units. The company expects to produce 5,000 units per quarter by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, Israeli startup Innoviz is also getting ready to manufacture its InnovizPro lidar in significant volume. The company declined to give Ars exact production numbers, only telling us it has orders for thousands of units. Innoviz believes it can scale up manufacturing quickly to satisfy that demand.

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Source: Ars Technica

Tesla, accused of improper worker-safety reports, calls news site “extremist”

Enlarge (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images)

Reveal News, a non-profit organization based in Emeryville, California, published a story Monday concluding that Tesla “has failed to report some of its serious injuries on legally mandated reports, making the company’s injury numbers look better than they actually are.”

In turn, Tesla retorted Monday that Reveal is a “extremist organization working directly with union supporters,” adding that the story “paints a completely false picture of Tesla and what it is actually like to work here.”

Ars specifically asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Twitter whether he agreed with the use of the phrase “extremist organization” and under what criteria he makes such an assessment. He did not reply. We also put the same question to Tesla spokespeople, who similarly did not respond.

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Source: Ars Technica

Owl Car Cam review: A data-connected dash cam for car lovers

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2018 Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid: Put simply, it’s complicated

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China to ease foreign automaker rules—with preference for electric cars

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The Nissan Rogue is a huge sales success, but is it any good? A review

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How debate around one unique skeleton shifted from aliens to mutations to ethics

Enlarge (credit: Bhattacharya et al. 2018)

In 2003, Oscar Munoz found a mummy in the Atacama Desert ghost town of La Noria. The six-inch-long mummy, now called Ata, has an elongated skull, oddly shaped eye sockets, and only ten pairs of ribs… which helped fuel wild speculation that she was an alien hybrid. Ata was sold several times—probably illegally—and ended up in the private collection of Barcelona entrepreneur and UFO enthusiast Ramón Navia-Osorio. A 2013 documentary called Sirius soon helped immortalize Ata, focusing heavily on the alien hybrid claims.

When a team led by University of California, San Francisco bioinformatics researcher Sanchita Bhattacharya recently sequenced the tiny mummy’s genome, however, it revealed only a girl of Chilean descent. There were a complicated set of genetic mutations, including some usually associated with bone and growth disorders and a few more that have never been described before. Those mutations, the researchers claim, may help explain her unusual appearance.

It’s easy to see why the team’s March paper attracted so much interest: a high-profile urban legend was fully debunked at last, but now there were hints at compelling medical discoveries. Most press outlets presented the results as conclusive, cut-and-dried science—except for a few UFO fan sites that loudly insisted the study was part of a cover-up. But even beyond the extraterrestrial exchanges, things have gotten very complicated, both in terms of the scientific claims and in terms of whether the research should have been done at all.

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Source: Ars Technica

People who paid Tesla $3,000 for full self-driving might be out of luck

Enlarge / Tesla CEO Elon Musk in 2015. (credit: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Tesla has an Autopilot problem, and it goes far beyond the fallout from last month’s deadly crash in Mountain View, California.

Tesla charges $5,000 for Autopilot’s lane-keeping and advanced cruise control features. On top of that, customers can pay $3,000 for what Tesla describes as “Full Self-Driving Capability.”

“All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go,” Tesla’s ordering page says. “Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts, and handle densely packed freeways with cars moving at high speed.”

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Source: Ars Technica

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