Tesla Model 3

model-3-tesla.jpg
Photo: Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 is now for sale and on the road! (In California and a few other states as of this writing.)

The first iterations were “delivered” to a captive audience at the world headquarters in Mountain View, California, at the end of July 2017.

Not only is the car finally in production but we finally have finalized specs for the Baby T: Starting with size, the Model 3 is 184.8 inches in overall length compared with 196 inches for the Model S, and a 113.2-inch wheelbase compared with 116.5 inches for the Model S.

 

model-3-motortrend
Photo: Motor Trend

 

Power in the Baby T is down as well but definitely no slouch. Tesla says the Model 3 will get to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 or 5.6 seconds (depending on battery size). Speaking of which, battery size is now in range, rather than kilowatt hours, of either 220 or 320 miles (standard and long range, respectively).

Speaking of changes…totally free, unlimited Supercharging is out of the question for all Teslas that were purchased after January 1, 2017 (unless you purchased the vehicle using another owner’s referral, or paid a large, one-time fee). What those owners do get is annual “credits” that equate to around 1000 miles of free supercharging. For the new Model 3 owner, though, it seems as though those credits are not in play as, according to the Tesla website, Model 3 Supercharging is “pay per use”.

So the Model 3 definitely looks like a Tesla but it has a different look with almost a smile on its face but it’s definitely not a hatchback, which is a bummer since the trunk opening isn’t as big as the hatch on the Model S.

 

model-3-motortrend_2
Photo: Motor Trend

 

Another notable difference between the Model S and Model 3 is the center touchscreen in the Model 3. It’s the instrument panel/HVAC/radio/everything screen that will take some people a while to get used to.

 

model-3-cnet
Photo: CNET

 

model-3-theverge
Photo: The Verge

 

Here’s all the specs currently from the Tesla website:

 

Safety

  • Automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance
  • Eight airbags
  • Electronic stability and traction control

Convenience

  • 15″ touchscreen with onboard maps & navigation
  • Wi-Fi and LTE internet connectivity
  • Keyless entry and remote climate control with app
  • Voice activated controls
  • 60/40 split folding rear seats

Standard Interior

  • 15” touchscreen display
  • Dual zone climate control system
  • FM/Internet streaming radio
  • Textile seating
  • Center console with open storage and two USB ports

Premium Upgrades

  • Premium heated seating and cabin materials throughout, including open pore wood décor and two rear USBs
  • 12-way, power adjustable front seats, steering column and side mirrors, with custom driver profiles
  • Premium audio system with more power, tweeters, surround speakers and subwoofer
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with covered storage and docking for two smartphones

Warranty

  • 4 year, 50,000 mile limited vehicle warranty
  • 8 year, 100,000 mile battery warranty (Standard)
  • 8 year, 120,000 mile battery warranty (Long Range)

Here is one of the more comprehensive looks at the Model 3

Me? I’m still waiting for the Tesla Minibus!

tesla_minibus_render

Thanks for reading!

…See You Down The Road!

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2017 RAM Rebel

If you’ve been waiting for the day to get a new Ram 1500 Rebel in Delmonico Red then your wait is over. Unveiled at the Houston Auto Show, the Rebel in Delmonico Red is now a fashion leader with its fancy new paint job to go with all its other features at no extra cost.

Now the seventh color option for the Off Road capable Rebel, Delmonico Red joins other colors such as Bright White, Granite Crystal Metallic, and Mojave Sand.

For those who do not know, the Rebel is a Ram model that shares off road aspirations of other factory models like the Ford F-150 Raptor. It comes only in the short wheelbase crew cab configuration. What makes a Rebel is a factory lift with Bilstein shocks, skid plates, tow hooks, and 33-inch all-terrain tires.

Power for the Rebel comes in three forms: a 4×4 with the venerable 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 along with the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission with 305 horsepower and 269 lb.-ft. of torque; a 4×2 with the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 that features variable valve timing, fuel-saver technology that makes 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to the TorqueFlite; or a 4×4 with the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that features cylinder shut-off and VVT and produces 395 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Ram Rebel starts at a reasonable $45,095, with a destination charge of $1,395. Expect to see these bad boys at a dealer near you in May 2017.

Another announcement at the Houston Auto Show was the availability of a slick tailgate option on Limited trim package equipped Ram Truck models; monochromatic lettering for an alternative appearance. Coupled with the also announced cab-length body-colored running boards and you’ve got one sharp truck.

There’s definitely a lot going on at Ram these days!

Thanks for reading!

 

…See You Down The Road!

Cadillac Escala Concept

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior_1Perusing through the news after a long weekend, trying to find the gumption to dive into beast-mode at work, I came across a story about a new concept from Cadillac that was shown out west for the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s a sharp looking car with less of the sharp lines of previous Caddys and is definitely more streamlined.

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior-005What really caught my attention was the first thought that came to me as I was ogling…I mean viewing…the wonderful pics from the press launch.

…This thing screams Lincoln to me.

The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac des
The Escala Concept introduces the next evolution of Cadillac design.

There’s something about how the roofline meets the rear in the side view…or how the tail lights come together. I can’t put my finger on it but it’s there.

2016-Cadillac-Escala-Concept-Exterior-002I first saw the Escala on TheVerge.com and the headline read “Cadillac’s fantastic Escala concept is more New York than Detroit”. I think the author maybe meant to say “more Lincoln than Cadillac” but you be the judge.

Cadillac’s Escala concept previews craftsmanship and technical
Cadillac’s Escala concept previews craftsmanship and technical ideas in development for future models.

Watch the unveiling here:

 

Here’s the official press release in all it’s glory:

  • Concept showcases future design and technical systems in development
  • Flagship Sedan is a concept for a more expressive, expansive companion to the recently launched CT6
  • Dual-Theme interior includes Curved OLED displays, next-gen connectivity designs, ingenious details

The Escala Concept debuts in California tonight, introducing the next evolution of Cadillac design and previewing the craftsmanship and technology being developed for many future models. Following a series of private previews, Escala will be displayed this weekend at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

The Escala Concept previews the design and technical ideas driving the next phase of Cadillac’s ongoing expansion.

“Escala is a concept with two clear objectives,” said Johan de Nysschen, president of Global Cadillac. “First, Escala is a statement of intent for the next iteration of the Cadillac design language, and also technical concepts in development for future Cadillac models. Secondly, Escala builds Cadillac’s aspirational character, signaling the brand’s return to the pinnacle of premium.”

Cadillac has released a new slate of models bristling with expressive design and exhilarating performance, driver’s cars taking Cadillac into a new chapter of its storied 114-year history.

“Escala is a concept car, but one based upon the unrelenting rise of our product substance,” de Nysschen said. “Depending on the development of market segment for large luxury sedans, Escala is a potential addition to our existing product plan.”

Escala — Spanish for “scale”— is a concept for a larger, more elite and expressive companion to the recently launched 2016 Cadillac CT6, the brand’s remarkable new range-topping prestige sedan. Escala is also the third in a series of concepts Cadillac has debuted at Pebble Beach in recent years, following the Ciel convertible (2011) and Elmiraj coupe (2013).

Escala is designed to be both a driver’s car and an indulgent flagship sedan. The large 4-door sedan features an expansive liftback design emphasizing the car’s considerable scale and versatility. At 210.5 inches in overall length, Escala is roughly 6 inches longer than today’s CT6.

Escala features a new and evolved face of Cadillac design that will begin appearing on production models soon. This includes a new expression of Cadillac’s vertical lighting, a brand signature since 1948. Organic light emitting diode (OLED) lighting elements are thinner and set deep within the fascia, creating a sinister look, day and night.

The concept’s details invite closer inspection, including a three-dimensional precision pattern in the grille design and 22-inch wheels with two layers of spokes.

“This concept shares how Cadillac will bring forward a new experience that is uniquely American, and unmistakably Cadillac,” says Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac Global Design. “Escala is an expressive symbol of reward and an exhilarating driving experience. On the interior, we pushed further. It’s about precision and ingenuity in craftsmanship, and the artistic integration of technology.”

Escala features a “dual personality” interior crafted with distinctly different zones: The front is about intensely focused modern technology, while the rear delivers relaxation.

“My brief to the designers was to create a car you desperately want to drive, and also one in which you want to be driven,” Smith said. “So rather than a single design, this interior consists of two themes. It was an opportunity for our designers to break the rules a little bit, exactly what Cadillac should do from time to time.”

An array of three curved OLED screens is a prominent feature in the front of the cabin. The very thin, curved displays are layered in front of the driver, with the back sides wrapped in hand-stitched leather embossed with the Cadillac script. The array of screens consolidate the traditional “cluster” of driving gauges with the “center stack” into one integrated unit.

Escala includes new designs for connectivity and control, providing a prototype for the user experience in development for future production models. The system features a central control module that enables the driver to execute tactile commands across the spectrum of connectivity functions, in addition to voice and gesture control technology. Inside the controller sits a new edition of Cadillac’s “flying Goddess” icon, a nod to the brand’s illustrious heritage.

Like all Cadillac models today, the interior is assembled using hand cut-and-sewn techniques. However, Escala presents several new and unique touches, blending overt luxury with covert technology. Escala makes broad use of hand-tailored fabric on the door trim and seating areas. Inspired by suiting material used by Cadillac’s partners in the fashion industry, the fabric provides a new level of hand-applied craftsmanship and color, unique in today’s auto interior landscape.

The Escala Concept utilizes Cadillac’s new RWD-centric large luxury car architecture, featuring one of the world’s most advanced body structures, which debuted on the new CT6. The mixed-material construction enables unprecedented agility and efficiency.

Escala uses a new 4.2-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, a prototype of a new system in development for future Cadillac models. The advanced engine utilizes Active Fuel Management technology, enabling fuel-saving 4-cylinder operation.

###

Cadillac Escala Concept Basic Specifications

Model Escala Concept
Body Style 4-door expressive flagship sedan, with lift-back rear opening
Height 57.3 in / 1455 mm
Width 76.7 in / 1948 mm
Length 210.5 in / 5347 mm
Wheelbase 127.1 in / 3228
Engine 4.2-liter Twin Turbo V8

…See You Down The Road!

Must…Have…Now

So Tesla will be producing much more than just a couple of awesome cars in the future, as laid out in a few tweets and blog post from Elon Musk, the president, founder, and all around billionaire guy who runs the company.

That blog post, entitled “Master Plan, Part Deux“, basically publicly outed how Tesla plans to move forward in its world domination of all things electric vehicle and technological awesomeness. And of course the Internets are all a flutter of what it all means.

To get you up to speed, the first part of Tesla’s electric world domination looked like this:

  1. Create a low volume car, which would necessarily be expensive: Tesla Roadster
  2. Use that money to develop a medium volume car at a lower price: Tesla Model S and X
  3. Use that money to create an affordable, high volume car: Tesla Model 3 (or III?)
    And…
  4. Provide solar power.

The next steps are:

  1. Create stunning solar roofs with seamlessly integrated battery storage: think on buses and other large vehicles
  2. Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments (emphasis mine)
  3. Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning
  4. Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it

Number 4 is quite intriguing….make money by letting other people drive your car when you’re not. hmmm.

But what I want is the Tesla Minibus!!!!! Especially if it’s going to look anything like the render posted by Jalopnik:

tesla_minibus_render

Click the pic to head over to their site to see their write up.

2017 FIAT 124 Spider

Soon there will be more to FIAT in North America than the 500. Recently announced at the LA Auto Show was the FIAT 124, a roadster based on the Mazda MX-5, but with the FIAT 1.4-liter MultiAir (read turbocharged) four cylinder putting out 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. The Mazda version has 155 horsepower and 148 lb.-ft. out of a non-turbo 2.0-liter. That engine is the one found in the FIAT 500 Abarth and will likely turn the little car into a roadster rocket compared with the MX-5 due to the leap in torque. Here is the original 124 for comparison: And here is the new one: Why would someone take a Mazda MX-5 and slap some different sheetmetal on it to make it their own??? Especially someone as big and full of great cars like FIAT! Granted, it’s easier to bring a model to the US market that has already passed safety and emissions testing, and the MX-5 is perpetually lauded for its handling prowess, but this has the propensity to be either a boon for FIAT or a bust. That judgement will have to wait until that production vehicles make it here. We should all be grateful that the 124 can be had with either the wonderful six-speed manual or six-speed automatic found in the MX-5 So that’s the bad. The good is that the new 124 indeed looks like the original and this adaptation promises to be a wonderful performer and welcome addition to the FIAT portfolio in the US. On the safety front, the 124 has advanced features like adaptive front headlamps, blind-spot monitoring and a backup camera.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X Front Falcon Doors

Tesla has done the unthinkable. They have taken their fast, very fast, Model S sedan and grafted an egg-shaped SUV body onto it and are calling it the Model X. Yes, they’ve been hyping the Model X for a few years now and had some production issues (most notable due to the design of the rear passenger doors) but the official unveiling and first delivery just happened.

Now that we have official specs let the nitpicking begin.

Tesla Model X Rear Wing

There are two models of the Model X slated so far; the 90D and P90D. With the 90D you get all wheel drive, and EPA estimated range of 257 miles, 4.8 seconds to 60 miles per hour and two 259 horsepower electric motors, one for each axle. The P90D (P for performance) gives you a 250 miles estimated range, 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds and one electric motor powering the front wheel with 259 horsepower and one electric motor powering the rear wheels rated at 503 horsepower! Your range may vary.

Tesla Model X Side

Now, about those rear passenger doors. Tesla is calling them Falcon Wing doors. In concept they are like gull wing doors in that they open upwards but that is where the conceptual likeness ends. Falcon Wing doors are hinged near the top of the window glass so that the doors open almost straight up and then out rather than simply opening out. this design facilitates quite a few interesting and awesome ideals; you can stand in the rear seat, it’s easier to get child seats into and out of the vehicle and the children along with them and you can open the doors with about a foot of room between the Model X and the nearest obstacle. And for you ninnies who will complain about low overhangs, there are sensors built in that will detect a low garage ceiling or other obstruction.

Tesla Model X Side 2

One thing that might be a deal-breaker for some people is the lack of folding rear seats. That second row, with either two or three seats, is rigid and not much has been shown yet as to how it works to get people into the far back seats. We do know that they do not fold for cargo purposes like the far back seats do. It will be interesting to see how this pans out once more people get their hands on these machines.

Tesla Model X Rear Tow Rack

Pricey? Yes. But these are not for the mainstream as we know it. No, these are for those on the bleeding edge, those who need to have the latest and greatest technology no matter the cost…and also for those looking for bragging rights. “I’ve got the new Tesla. What do you have?”

Here are some manufacturer’s specs for your reading pleasure:

-Falcon Wing rear doors with built in sensors, which automatically adjust to the optimal opening arc in confined spaces or small garages.
-Automatically deploying rear spoiler
-Maps and navigation with real time traffic updates
-Daytime running lights
-Power-folding and heated side mirrors
-Front trunk with room for luggage, strollers or two golf bags
-Full size rear cargo area for your gear
-Free long distance travel on Tesla’s expanding Supercharger network
8 year, infinite mile battery and drive unit warranty
-Automatic keyless entry, with automatically opening front doors
-GPS enabled Homelink
-Parking sensors, blind spot warning and side collision avoidance
-Automatic emergency braking to assist in avoiding collisions, even at highway speeds
-Seating for up to seven adults
-Four LATCH child seat attachments, two in each passenger row

P90D Performance All-Wheel Drive:
250 miles range (EPA est.)
3.8 seconds 0-60 mph
3.2 seconds with Ludicrous Speed Upgrade
259 hp front, 503 hp rear motor power
155 mph top speed

90D All-Wheel Drive:
257 miles range (EPA est.)
4.8 seconds 0-60 mph
259 hp front, 259 hp rear motor power
155 mph top speed

Stow everyone’s gear in Model X’s large front trunk, rear cargo area and under passenger seats. The front trunk is large enough to hold two golf bags and the rear cargo area can easily hold large items like bicycles, skis and snowboards. Hitch mounted accessory carriers hold additional gear. Model X is the first electric vehicle with a 5,000 pound towing capacity.

Model X has the largest all glass panoramic windshield in production, providing an unparalleled view of the stars and sky above. Optimized solar tinting and obstruction-free view creates unlimited visibility for the driver and all passengers.

Model X is able to achieve 250 miles of range in part because it is the most aerodynamic SUV in production. At 0.24, Model X’s drag coefficient is 20% lower than the next best SUV. In addition, an active spoiler deploys from the rear liftgate to optimize highway efficiency and stability.

Falcon Wing doors allow easy access to second and third row seats from even a tight parking space, while traditional SUV doors or Minivan sliding doors would not grant any access.
With only a foot of clearance on either side, Falcon Wing doors articulate smoothly up and out of the way, allowing passengers to enter from both front and rear directions. The side and overhead opening is so large that parents can buckle children in without ducking or straining and without bumping their child’s head on the roof.

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck ConceptThe North American International Auto Show is always a big deal when it comes to new vehicle introductions and future-looking concept cars. Take the surprise announcement from Hyundai of the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept. It’s a small trucklet that looks very much like the Honda Ridgeline and seems to have similar functionality.

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck ConceptHere’s what Hyundai has to say about the Santa Cruz, “The Santa Cruz crossover truck concept meets the unspoken needs of a growing Millennial lifestyle we call ‘Urban Adventurers’,” said Mark Dipko, director, corporate planning, Hyundai Motor America. “This new crossover allows them all the expandable utility they need throughout their active week, from work-life professionalism, to social interests, to a whole variety of outdoor pursuits, without the typical compromises they have come to expect from the industry’s current product offerings.”

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck ConceptThe interesting part of the passenger compartment is the doors. They look like those found on extended cab pickups and the Honda Element and the third door on the Hyundai Veloster, the rear doors open backwards and cannot be opened while the front doors are closed. It’s an efficient package that takes some getting used to but works really well.

The tailgate, according to the pics, has built-in extenders which is a great addition to a short-looking bed. We’re not sure if the tailgate will drop and swing out like the Ridgeline.

SANTA CRUZ CROSSOVER TRUCK CONCEPTSANTA CRUZ CROSSOVER TRUCK CONCEPT

SANTA CRUZ CROSSOVER TRUCK CONCEPT

It’s an attractive concept that will be an attractive alternative to a “regular” compact utility vehicle.

Here’s what the PR scribes at Hyundai have put together on the Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept:

Santa Cruz Crossover Truck ConceptURBAN ADVENTURERS

Modern urbanization is impacting the market in a broad way, and this trend is especially strong with young adults, who face tighter parking on streets and parking garages, and increasing congestion overall. These trends are not confined to one specific region of the U.S.; they’re happening in urban hubs everywhere. These “Urban Adventurers” have a different mindset, being very active both socially, and in their communities, bringing a pioneering spirit to make their neighborhoods a better place to live and work.

So whether it’s loading up friends and firewood for a bonfire at the beach, coaching the youth soccer team, volunteering for a community restoration project, or a quick drop-off at the local recycling center, they need a vehicle versatile enough to accommodate both passengers and gear, while being efficient enough to fit into their unique urban lifestyle.

SANTA CRUZ CONCEPT

To meet the specific needs of these Urban Adventurers, Santa Cruz doesn’t focus on all the same attributes as traditional pickups. It’s designed to meet more of their desires for expression, efficiency and maneuverability. Hyundai designers created a bold design that conveys this lifestyle, with a wide, sure-footed stance and an aggressive side-profile rake. The front view features an upright, hexagonal grille with cascading lines framing the sides, dual lens-free, honeycombed headlamp projectors, and prominent LED fog lamps. The side profile is highlighted by oversized wheels, Michelin® tires with a special tread design, center-locking hubs and yellow Brembo® brake calipers.

For ease of access to the rear seats, Santa Cruz features convenient, rear-hinged rear doors which integrate seamlessly with the front door design. The wheel arches, roof, and bed rails offer convenient tie-down cleats for securing cargo of all shapes and sizes. From the rear, the concept presents highly-contoured bed forms, and for extra utility, the expandable bed can be easily reconfigured for longer cargo, using a unique drawer-like sliding function.

Efficiency is a key attribute of its advanced powertrains, with an environmentally-friendly 2.0-liter turbo diesel powertrain delivering 190 horsepower and 300 lb.-ft. of torque, while achieving fuel economy in the high 30 mpg range. Santa Cruz also offers Hyundai’s HTRAC® All-wheel drive system, so there’s no anxiety about getting those snowboarding “fresh tracks” right after a storm moves through.

The concept is purposefully compact, and although it has four doors and seating for five, its overall footprint is similar to a small CUV. These dimensions make it ideal for navigating the urban jungle or a tight parking spot that most pickup drivers often have to pass by. It offers typical CUV driving character, but with a versatile cargo bed that provides separated storage for all they want to bring along, whether it’s a trip to the recycling center, a surf or paddleboard session, or a couple of mountain bikes for the trails. Whatever the day’s activity might bring — all that dirty, sweaty, wet, sandy, bulky gear remains in the back of the truck, cleanly separated from the passenger compartment.

During the work week, gear for that early morning hike or after-work hockey game stays securely locked in the back, under an integrated, rigid tonneau cover that conveniently retracts when not needed. It not only keeps items safe and out of sight, it also keeps the interior clean and fresh. Santa Cruz is the perfect vehicle for those that want the attributes of a CUV, but still have dirty stuff that belongs “in the back.”

INNOVATIVE TAILGATE EXTENSION

Sometimes, there are those needs that call for even more cargo room; that’s why Santa Cruz offers an innovative tailgate extension that allows the bed length to be expanded whenever those “just in case” moments arise. The extension is perfect for everything from an epic mountain bike trip to bringing home an antique chest or classic motorcycle that’s ripe for restoration. When fully extended, Santa Cruz’s bed length is similar to a mid-size pickup, providing the ability to carry much more than its compact footprint would suggest, yet only when needed. Santa Cruz was designed to accommodate whatever the Urban Adventurer’s lifestyle calls for, whether expected or unexpected.

Some of the industry’s past attempts to blend truck-bed flexibility with passenger-car attributes were limited because they didn’t deliver the practical benefits the customer expected. Most tried to straddle the line by attracting traditional truck buyers with compromised products at a similar price point, failing to deliver any differentiating benefits. Santa Cruz, by design, isn’t an alternative to a truck, so towing, payload and ground clearance were not primary goals. Rather, Santa Cruz is intended to attract CUV and sedan buyers who are seeking greater utility, without the compromises that traditional trucks often require.

MORPHING LIFESTYLE DEMANDS

Hyundai research revealed that not everyone who wants an open-bed vehicle is willing to accept the tradeoffs that come with it. As evidence of this, industry pickup truck share is down over five percent in the last 10 years, with the biggest shift among young adults, reflecting a need for something that more closely matches these morphing lifestyles. In the past, small trucks accounted for half of pickup sales, and they were particularly popular with younger buyers. Today, that same young truck market is almost non-existent, and millennials under 30 represent just seven percent of all pickup purchases. Women, who buy more than half of all CUVs sold, now account for only 10 percent of pickup sales. Santa Cruz is intended to meet the customer needs that the current truck product offering is simply not fulfilling.

Santa Cruz is for the growing population who sees and pursues the world differently, those who want all the traditional attributes of a small CUV, but need the day-to-day versatility of an open bed. It’s the crossover truck that meets the unspoken needs of Urban Adventurers.

HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA