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

Monster Tajima Drives and Loves the Tesla Model S [Video



When it comes to opinions which should matter and should be taken into consideration, concerning car handling and more recently EVs, is that of Nobuhiro ‘Monster’ Tajima, nine-time winner of the Pikes Peak hill climb.

He was recently put at the helm of a Tesla Model S, which he drove on some distinctly Californian roads (narrow and quite twisty).

At the wheel of the Model S, Tajima has a constant grin on his face, and he even bursts into laughter several times, being really impressed by the performance of the car. He appreciates its superb handling, excellent weight distribution and low center of gravity, as well as its style and green credentials.

Tesla have done themselves a real favor by having a legend like Tajima drive and ultimately love their product. At the end of the video, he declares that he wants one – some of the best publicity Tesla has ever gotten.

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Expects 20,000 Sales in 2013



With the official deadline for first customer deliveries drawing ever nearer, and with the first car already delivered to a board member, Tesla are aiming high with their Model S. Despite requiring only 8,000 sales per year to stay in business, they are envisioning 20,000 to be sold in 2013.

That number is expected to rise in 2014 to 35,000 as Tesla will add the Model X crossover to their range. Despite the air of optimism, Tesla isn’t actually doing that well at the moment, as they have reported first quarter losses of 84% compared to 2011. They have sunk their money into the production of the Model S and have yet to benefit (financially) from their investments.

Another plus point for the Model S is its very good crash test rating, receiving 5 stars from IIHS. Definitely a big selling point nowadays. We expect the Model S to do very well, and BMW’s 5-Series may have a new, much more advanced rival on its hands – a rival which it cannot beat in the manner in which it beats its other rivals, a rival which is so fresh, people may forget the BMW.

The EV is the next step in the evolution of the car and it has been suppressed over the years to maintain our oil addiction. The Model S is the first EV people actually want to buy by the thousands (after GM’s EV1 which so mysteriously disappeared) and if it proves reliable, the sky is the limit for tesla.

Story via autonews.com

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla Working on 3 Series Challenger, Considering EV Pickup

Tesla Working on 3 Series Challenger, Considering EV Pickup

We’ve already seen Tesla’s Model S and Model X, but we now hear that the electric automaker is working on a midsize sedan to take on the BMW 3 Series, and may also have its sights set on the pickup truck market.

So far, Tesla has only produced the Lotus-Elise-based Roadster and Model S large hatchback, but with the latter car’s bespoke platform done, the sky’s the limit. The Model X all-electric sport utility vehicle is already planned with its crazy falcon wing-style door and is slated to start production late in 2013, reaching dealers early in 2014.

2012 Tesla Model S rear three quarter 300x187 imageWe hear from Autocar that Tesla’s followup to the Model X will be a midsize premium sedan, in the vein of the BMW 3 Series. The car would be smaller than the Model S and also have a smaller price tag than the current car’s $49,000 sticker — Tesla design chief Franz Von Holzhausen said that company bosses are shooting for the car to have a $30,000 price on the base model.

The addition of a 3-Series-sized car to the Tesla EV range makes sense — it would give Tesla a larger customer base — but what Von Holzhausen said next was a bit more puzzling. “There will be a time and place for us to develop something around a pickup,” he told Autocar.

At first glance, the idea of Tesla leaving its eco-luxury roots and making a workhorse pickup truck seems odd, but Von Holzhausen did say that the Tesla’s electric powertrain would have suitable torque to make a good pickup truck. If Tesla could make an all-electric pickup at or near the same $30,000 price point as the upcoming 3 Series fighter, it would be an interesting entrant into the shrinking market of fuel-efficient pickups, especially now that midsize pickups like the Ram Dakota and Ford Ranger have died.

The 3 Series rival could bow as early as 2015, with the pickup following some time later.

Source: Autocar

By Ben Timmins

Official: 2012 Tesla Model S To Be Given Creep Option

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

Enlarge Photo

To creep or not to creep? That is the question.

As many hardened electric car fans will tell you, unlike gasoline cars with automatic gearboxes, not all electric cars move forward — or creep — when you release the foot brake. 

When Tesla launched the 2012 Model S, it, like unlike the two-seat Tesla Roadster which preceded it, did not come with creep function enabled. 

But after numerous requests from its customers, Tesla has announced it will soon be offering a remote software update to all 2012 Tesla Model S cars which will enable the function.

Without visiting their local service center, Tesla customers will be notified of the update to their Model S’ operating system. 

Once installed, it will add a new option to the car’s preferences, allowing customers to enable or disable automatic creep. 

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

2012 Tesla Model S, brief test drive, New York City, July 2012

Enlarge Photo

Tesla’s creep function upgrade was quietly announced in a recent webpage update covering its 2012 Model S servicing plans

“By default, Model S does not slowly move forward when you release the brake pedal like cars equipped with automatic transmissions,” Tesla says on its webpage. “With an electric motor there’s no need for this, but some early customers miss it. Using software updates, we can upgrade every Model S with a ‘creep’ option which customers can enable using the 17 inch touchscreen.”

Tesla hasn’t detailed how long Tesla owners will have to wait for the update, or if it will come standard on Model S cars which have yet to leave the factory, but we assume the additional optional feature will be made available to existing customers shortly. 

For those who are used to driving gasoline automatic cars, the option of creep simulation will be a welcome addition to first-time electric car drivers. 

But would you like to choose if your electric car has it or not?

Let us know in the Comments below. 

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By Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield

Tesla Model X revealed, but is it cool enough to fend off the new Rav4 EV?

Tesla Model X Front

Tesla teased us with a mysterious shot of its Model X crossover at the beginning of the month, and now a prototype of the vehicle has been unveiled at its design studio in California. Hot on the heels of the Model S, the Model X is based on the same, but slightly lengthened, platform as the sedan.

Externally, the Model X has more than a whiff of the bulbous BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo about it, particularly at the rear, while the front end recalls the Model S. Inside the space has been put to good use, with seating for seven in total. Despite this, there’s still plenty of luggage space, as the engine compartment can also be utilized for storage along with the trunk.

Falcon doors

The Model X uses so-called “falcon” doors at the rear, which lift up like gullwing doors, but hinge in the center to make them easier to open in tight spaces. Are they really any better than regular doors? Possibly for the passengers in the very back, but as the front doors look to be conventional — and massive –any parking space will still have to be pretty sizable.

Tesla Model X InteriorInterior shots of the car reveal a similar look to the Model S, and while the styling on the outside may be acceptable, the inside is less successful. Leaving aside the unfortunate use of wooden trim, the center console is dominated by a huge 17-inch touchscreen display, which appears to have been stuck there as an after-thought.

There’s still time for this to be improved before the car goes into production though.

Performance

But nobody is really going to buy the Model X because of its looks, as it’s all about the electric motor. Right now, it looks like Tesla will offer two battery pack options — 60 or 85 kilowatt-hours — but owners should expect a 10-percent drop in range over the Model S due to the vehicle’s weight.

Performance sounds good, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk saying it’ll do 0.60mph is 4.4-seconds. Both a rear-wheel drive and an all-wheel drive model will be made, with the latter using another set of motors for the front wheels, and a computer to split the power between all four wheels depending on the road conditions. It’s reminiscent of the system Acura plans for the new NSX.

Is it cool?

In a recent interview, Mr. Musk said the Model X was going to be “cooler than any SUV or minivan on the market.” so now we’ve seen it, do you think his team has succeeded? To some, those falcon doors may be cool, but to others they lost their sheen after being featured on countless other cars, all of which are considerably better looking.

As 95% of SUVs are inherently not cool, the Model X may have to rely on its exclusivity and electric power to be desirable. But will this be enough to fend of its biggest challenger, the electric Toyota Rav4? After all, it’s going to be built using the same power plant, looks good and could be more competitively priced too. That’s before we take into account Toyota’s well-established reputation for producing decent electric hybrid cars too.

Tesla plans to start production of Model X in 2013, with the first vehicles going on sale the year after. Pricing will start at $49,000 and could rise to as much as $90,000 depending on the options selected.

Tesla Model X Doors

Tesla Model X Rear

By Andy Boxall

Tesla Expanding Supercharger Network, Introducing Faster Charging Tech

Tesla Expanding Supercharger Network, Introducing Faster Charging Tech

With sales of the Tesla Model S exceeding expectations, the automaker has been busy increasing production of the electric sedan and paying back its Department of Energy loans nine years early. While the EV maker has built just under 10 Supercharger charging stations along major corridors in California and the East Coast, this week, Tesla announced a substantial increase in the number of planned Supercharger stations.

Tesla Supercharger station 1 300x167 imageBy the end of next month, the number of operational Supercharger stations will triple, and the company claims that within six months, there will be enough Superchargers to service most major metro areas in North America. A year from now, the company says, Superchargers will provide coverage to 80 percent of the population of North America and 98 percent a year later.

The automaker also announced that new technology will significantly cut charging times. While the chargers at 120 kW are in beta test mode (versus 90 kW currently), the faster chargers will be ready this summer. At 120 kW, Tesla claims it will only take 20 minutes to replenish three hours of driving in the Model S.

Some Tesla Supercharger stations have roof-mounted solar panels (from Musk-owned SolarCity) that are said to pump more electricity back into the grid than what is used to recharge cars. Since the Tesla Supercharger has a unique charger receptacle, the stations can’t charge other EVs. Currently, Model S cars with the 85 kW-hr batteries can recharge for free, while those with the 60 kW-hr model can do the same once they purchase Supercharger capability. Musk says all future Teslas will be capable of using the Superchargers.

So what’s next for Tesla? The company is still kicking around the idea of a sub-$40,000 electric sedan as well as a high-torque electric truck and a second production plant in Texas. Of course, those models would likely arrive after the Model X crossover goes on sale around late 2014 and early 2015.

Source: Tesla

By Jason Udy

Tesla All-Electric Supercar Coming in 2017



Tesla has proved to everybody that they can build very good and well engineered cars which genuinely work and can be used with little-to-no compromise, when it comes to range and usability. We are not going to bore you with the excellent figures which back up the Model S, except for one – 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 4.4-seconds (4.3, as some who have tested it have found out).

The Model S is a big family sedan, yet it can outaccelerate a BMW M5. Imagine what Tesla could do if they made a dedicated all-electric supercar… Our imaginations are running rampant with excitement, yet we still have a few years to wait before such a machine becomes a reality, if Tesla’s outspoken CEO, Elon Musk really meant what he said, when he stated that the company is studying the possibility of making a Ferrari-rivaling supercar, powered only by electricity.

Apparently, the supercar should have made its debut earlier, but Tesla need to concentrate on the development of their cheaper 3-Series rival, to sell alongside the Model S and Model X, in order to have a solid foundation on which to allow the construction of a ‘halo car’.

Story via autonews.com

By Andrei Nedelea

Tesla to Create 100-Strong ‘Supercharger’ Fast Charging Network in US



Elon Musk has recently announced that Tesla Motors will be opening over 100 ‘Supercharger’ fast charging station, throughout the US, by the year 2015. Six of them are already active, in California, and they can reportedly charge the 85 kWh battery pack up to 250 km (150 miles) of range, in around 30 minutes, making it the perfect solution for those who want to travel cross-country in their EV.

But how is the system this fast? Well, at 90 kW of power, the Supercharger delivers 4.5x more electricity into the battery, than regular Twin Chargers, thus making it possible to charge the battery in record time. Elon Musk seems optimistic on the matter, and when the head of the company genuinely inspires confidence in a product, perhaps it is worth noting.

Furthermore, they are planning on making these Supercharger stations very aesthetically pleasing, using an ‘alien’ design philosophy, in order to make them stand out in a positive way, especially when placed next to the kind of drab buildings one usually finds at petrol or service stations, dotted along the US’ highways.

Check out the Tesla to Create 100-Strong ‘Supercharger’ Fast Charging Network in US photo gallery

By Andrei Nedelea