Archives for September 9th, 2013

Hyundai and Kia Adding Google Maps

2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo CAPTIONS ON | OFF

Google Maps is looking to get into cars through more than just a cell phone, and Hyundai is more than happy to oblige.

Hyundai has announced that they will integrate Google Maps into Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics platform and Kia’s UVO eServices system. The 2014 Kia Sorento will be the first to feature the integration later on this year.

It should prove to be a wise decision for Hyundai to get on the Google bandwagon. Tom-Tom and other standalone GPS devices might become obsolete soon enough, considering that anyone with a cell-phone and Google’s free downloadable Maps app has access to driving directions and maps at their fingertips (data service fees from your carrier do apply).

Hyundai Blue Link has several features and applications that will be bolstered by the integration of Google Maps. This includes Send to Car, Point of Interest Search and Local Search by Voice. And of course, Google search is included in the package. Send to Car means you could research your travel plan online at maps.google.com and send it straight to your car where it’ll be waiting for you. Google constantly updates their Places database to assure that drivers can always find their destinations. Street View even gives you a glimpse of what the place you’re heading to looks like.

Hyundai is also looking into smartphone applications that will allow users to unlock doors and perform remote starts from their phone, thus eliminating the bulkiness of an actual key.

Similarly, Apple showed off a Chevy Spark with an integrated Siri (the talking, search assistance interface) onboard at the LA Auto Show preview in 2012. Could Google be answering back by taking this next step? Rumor has it that Google is working alongside Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla Motors in using Google Maps technology in their telematic systems as well.

“Google is a leader and innovator in search, content and technology, offering incredible tools,” said Barry Ratzlaff, director of Customer Connect at Hyundai Motor America. “Blue Link makes it easy for our owners to find and navigate to their destinations. The integration of Google Maps makes Blue Link even more effective. We look forward to continuing work with Google to bring innovative solutions to Hyundai owners.”

“We’re always looking for ways to make it easier for people to discover more relevant information to help them make informed choices, whether that’s where to go for a coffee, or where to take dry cleaning,” Tarun Bhatnagar, head of enterprise geo at Google, said in a statement. “It’s great to see that more drivers now have access to fresh, web-based content while on the go.”

Should be a win-win for the Korean automakers and Googlers alike. I wouldn’t doubt seeing Google Maps in most cars in the near future. If not, there’s always your smartphone that’ll do the job.

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By James Deaton

2012 Tesla Model S Drives From L.A. To Las Vegas On A Single Charge


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The MotorTrend editorial team must have spent more time behind the wheel of the 2012 Tesla Model S than any other automotive journalists to date.

Not only did MotorTrend get to borrow the personal 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Sport belonging to Tesla CEO Elon Musk for a few days to test the real-world range of the $100,000 luxury sedan, but it took it on a road-trip from Los Angeles, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Setting out from the Los Angeles basin, Motor Trend’s Jessi Lang and Frank Markus set out on their 210-mile trip, aiming to get to Sin City on a single charge. 

Range anxiety

Even though Lang and Markus knew the flagship Tesla sedan had the theoretical range to easily drive 210 miles, the first part of their trip included two 4,000 foot mountain passes, giving Markus some serious range anxiety.

After some serious calculations using Tesla’s own energy-use curves for the Sedan, the duo deduced the best option would be to drive the first part of the trip at a sedate 55 mph, with the air conditioning switched off. 

The result? a blistering 104-degrees Fahrenheit inside the luxury sedan, and numerous frustrated drivers piling up behind as they paced themselves up the mountain passes at the slowest legal freeway speed. 

More than enough

L.A. to Las Vegas In Tesla Model S (MotorTrend)

L.A. to Las Vegas In Tesla Model S (MotorTrend)

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After several hours of what we assume was fairly tortuous driving, Lang and Markus hit the top of the second mountain pass, having used around one half of the Model S’s 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack. 

With only 75-miles to go to their destination, the pair started to relax, increasing their speed and making use of the car’s welcome air conditioning on the final part of the trip.

The result? Lang and Markus arrived in Las Vegas with an estimated 65 miles of range to spare, proving that it was at least possible to drive the Tesla Model S between the two cities on a single charge. 

Possible, but would you do it?

MotorTrend’s resulting video of the trip is entertaining enough, but as Lang and Markus admitted to camera several times during the experiment, the journey was hardly an everyday occurrence. 

For a start, we can’t think of that many car drivers, who would be content driving along in blistering 100+ degree heat without air conditioning on. 

Then the’s the matter of speed. As we’ve asked before, just who would drive a 2012 Tesla Model S at 55mph? 

Ultimately, Tesla expects to install its superchargers on regular inter-city routes, allowing Tesla Model S owners to drive at 80 mph instead of an embarrassingly-slow 55mph, stopping for a 30-minute, 90-kilowatt rapid top-up charge mid-way.

For now then, if you’ve got a 2012 Tesla Model S Signature Sport, we recommend that you don’t attempt the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single drive. 

Unless you’re really fond of saunas and truck lanes, that is. 

Would you have made this trip? Did it prove anything, or did it do more harm than good for electric cars? 

Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

GM and Volkswagen try to take down Tesla in a green version of the legendary Monte Carlo Rally

Opel Ampera rally

For the past five years, one of motor sport’s most legendary events has gotten a green makeover, and this year the competition will be more intense than ever. The Alternative Energy Monte Carlo Rally, which starts tomorrow, is a race for electric and alternative-fuel vehicles. This year, it’s attracted the attention of General Motors and Volkswagen, whose company-sponsored teams should make the sixth edition of the Alternative Energy Monte Carlo Rally very interesting.

GM will field six Opel Amperas, European versions of the Chevy Volt. The cars will be almost completely stock, except for new tires, GPS units, and safety equipment. That means the Ampera will rely on an electric motor and a 1.4-liter, four cylinder gas engine, giving it a maximum 149 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Rallies are held on public roads, so the cars tend to be closer to showroom models than most race cars.

While GM showcases its technological achievements, Volkswagen is going for efficiency. The German company is entering two Up!s, powered by bioethanol. The Up! is Volkswagen’s new city car, designed for the European market. In stock form, the Up! gets 74 hp and 65.7 mpg from a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine.

Unlike the regular Monte Carlo Rally, the goal is not to set the fastest time. Instead, drivers will try to use the least amount of energy over the course of the race. The rally lasts four days and takes competitors across the French Alps to Monaco.

The Alternative Energy Rally will take place on the same course as the conventional race, with narrow mountain roads and plenty of hairpin turns to challenge drivers. To qualify, cars have to emit less than 115 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Competitors are divided into four classes: mass-produced electric vehicles, mass-produced electric vehicles that can be driven daily, hybrid-electric vehicles, and vehicles powered by other alternative fuels such as ethanol, hydrogen, and biodiesel.

Opel and Volkswagen will be 146 teams competing in this year’s rally, including cars from Fiat, Mitsubishi, and Tesla, which won last year’s race. When car companies bring their technical knowledge and cash to the table, they usually produce competitive teams. With GM, Volkswagen, and others looking to de-throne Tesla, this could be a quiet a slugfest.

Of course, manufacturers aren’t just doing this for fun. Racing is a great form of advertisement, hence the adage “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” That is especially true of Monte Carlo and rallying in general. The Mini Cooper became an automotive star after it won Monte Carlo three times, and cars like the Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution are based on successful rally racers.

The Ampera and Up! are all saving the planet, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. They could be just as economical on a legendary rally course in southern France as they are on the morning commute.

By Stephen Edelstein