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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

Automobile Magazine awards Tesla Model S 2013 Car of the Year

Tesla Model S

The electric car has received a positive image boost, and perhaps more mainstream validation, as Automobile Magazine has named the Tesla Model S its “2013 Car of the Year.”

For those unfamiliar with Tesla Motors ambitious EV, the Model S is an all-electric luxury sport sedan and the California start-up’s second battery-powered vehicle after the well-received Tesla Roadster.

Okay, so it’s powered by electrons. But what makes the Model S worthy of such an accolade? “It’s the performance that won us over,” Automobile Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings said in the magazine’s January 2013 issue. “The crazy speed builds silently and then pulls back the edges of your face. It had all of us endangering our licenses.”

Indeed, Tesla’s green speed-machine is capable of rocketing from zero to 60 miles per hour in a mere 4.2 seconds when outfitted with an 85 kilowatt-hour battery – this, despite weighing more than 4500 pounds. “It’s alarming to jam the accelerator of such a big car and have it surge forward so quickly and so quietly,” said copy editor Rusty Blackwell.

Of course, a lot of cars are fast, very fast, and while it’s no doubt impressive that the Model S can scamper down a straight line with ease, it’s not the only reason the folks at Automobile were smitten with it, citing the vehicle’s excellent handling dynamics, ability to soak up road noise, and nuanced steering. “All that speed, along with powerful braking, superflat handling, and sharp steering, gives you the sense that you’re invincible,” reads Jennings’s evaluation of the vehicle on a test track.

And then there’s the inside. The Model S might be packing a lot of impressive tech, battery and all, but it’s the car’s command center cabin that proved equally drool-worthy. Having already sat inside the Model S ourselves over the course of the year, we are more than aware of the tech-laden wonderland that is the Model S’ cockpit. Instead of dials, buttons, and knobs, virtually everything inside the Model S is operated via its gigantic, 17-inch iPad-like center touchscreen. Want to open the panoramic sunroof? Swipe the screen. Climate controls? Same deal. Drivers can even surf the Web and access their email while on the go.

Interestingly, Tesla’s status as a start-up was taken into consideration before the final decision was made, according to Automobile’s senior editor Joe Lorio. “What if we give the car this honor, and a year from now the company disappears in a ball of flakiness?” he said “Are we going to feel foolish?”

Ultimately, though, the Model S was given the award based on its merits as a standalone vehicle and not the politics or position it may or may not see itself in down the road. “The car is here now, and we think it’s a significant milestone,” Lorio explained.

The Model S is available in three different battery sizes: 40 kWh, 60 kWh, and 85 kWh. Pricing for the 40kWh Model S starts at $57,000, $67,00 for one outfitted with a 60 kWh battery, and $77,000 for an 85 kWh model like the one tested by Automobile. (All prices exclude a $7,500 federal tax credit). Estimated range for the base Model S sits at 160 miles on a single charge, 230 miles for the 60 kWH, and 300 miles for the 85kWh.

The Tesla Model S went into production this summer, with 250 deliveries having taken place as of October. According to Tesla, roughly 13,000 people have placed $5,000 deposits towards a Model S. The company expects to sell about 3,200 units by the end of 2012.

[Update] Tesla Motors representative Shanna Hendricks had this to say to about the Model S being named Automobile Magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year, “We’re thrilled to receive this endorsement from AUTOMOBILE Magazine. This recognition underscores our goal to build a great car, not just a great electric car.”

By Amir Iliaifar

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

All Eyes on Cal Crutchlow



Yamaha Tech 3's main rider Cal Crutchlow is the man of the moment. He is not leading the provisional standings and he hasn't even won a GP race this season; yet, he is the man of the moment for several very good reasons.

One of these reasons is that Crutchlow has showed that a satellite bike can beat its factory siblings. Some might add that Lorenzo had problems, and Rossi is still not 100 per cent "back there" on his M1… and be right. However, in the end it's the result that matters, and that result showed Cal beating the works Yamaha machines fair and square. So it's possible, if one rides well.

We're also paying attention to the Brit because he's becoming better and better, race by race. In his case, it's more than Marquez' talent: it's hard work (just like pretty much any responsible rider puts in) and a granite-hard determination.

Is he looking for a victory in 2013? We simply won't be surprised at all to hear the British anthem after one of this year's rounds… because Crutchlow showed that beating the factory machines on a satellite bike is possible.

Would his Tech 3 ride beat the Hondas? In normal conditions, I'd say it would not, but with Cal riding as hard as he does now, making no mistakes and with a bit of luck he definitely could squeeze in front of them, by all means.

While we're only 5 rounds into the 2013 calendar, one thing is impossible to forget: Crutchlow's contract with Tech 3 ends at the end of the season and "what next?" is a question all those interested are asking today, hoping for a good answer before the final round in Valencia.

As far as what things look like right now, Cal Crutchlow has three roads ahead, and which one will he tread remains to be seen. To put things bluntly, it seems like these paths are named Suzuki, Ducati or Tech 3, which is the least likely, given the present order of things.

Tech 3

I tend to rule Tech 3 out because it's a satellite team and Crutchlow was rather explicit as he mentioned he was looking to ride a factory bike in 2014. Now, it may be that the 2014 MotoGP will no longer be a works vs. CRT business (details here) so adding the MSMA tag to Tech 3 could possibly calm things down a bit.

With Yamaha planning to lease their M1 engine to the CRT teams, the bikes using it will have a better shot at glory, though everybody knows they will not be THE M1 machines. And this looks like it won't be enough for Crutchlow. Or maybe they can find an offer too good for him to refuse…

The Brit is as close to the technical limits of his Tech 3 machine and it's little he, or the team, could do to make it better. Again, with just a tad of luck, he’s proved that he is good enough to beat the factory riders, remember that.

On the other hand, there have been some discussions between Yamaha officials and Aleix Espargaro's brother Pol. With Rossi in the last straight line of his career, the Tuning Forks should be ready for the change, but what this change will be is a question to which only Yamaha's boss Lin Jarvis seems to have an answer.

Will they go for young blood and hope Pol will be the next Marc Marquez, or will they prefer a very good, prove rider to be Lorenzo's next teammate? I dare not say. Talking to Autosport about Yamaha and Pol Espargaro, Crutchlow is quite blunt: ”Everybody thinks the next guy up is going to be as good as Marquez, but Marquez is like Valentino was 15 years ago; he is unbelievable. Pol is not going to beat Marquez. Would he [Espargaro] beat me? No." No need for too much psychology to sense Crutchlow's (normal, I daresay) irritation.

Crutchlow leaving Yamaha is not nice, from a sponsor's perspective: he has a deal with Monster and Monster loves him, because he is truly an emblematic presence: fast, joyful, witty and charming, but at the same time, a ticking time-bomb.

Crutchlow has that special edge which, we must all admit, has little to do with the corporate, politically-correct BS sometimes: he is all about racing and less about playing Ken's (remember Barbie dolls?) role.

And just to prove I am right, here are his words via Moto Matters: "[Yamaha] have signed Pol, as far as I am aware. It's none of my business and I don’t really care, but one thing is for sure, I won’t ride under Pol Espargaro in my team. So I will be leaving, that’s clear. I won't ride there if he has a factory contract and I don't."

So, I am really open to any suggestions: what could Yamaha do if they want to keep Crutchlow? Will they find a way to offer Cal an offer he can't refuse?

Ducati

Nicky Hayden is also becoming "free" at the end of the 2013 season, as his one-year deal with Ducati comes to be fulfilled, and this could mean seeing Crutchlow riding again with Andrea Dovizioso, his former teammate.

Could such a move be a good one? By all means, yes, as Cal gets a factory ride and he also gets to play an important role in the development of the machine. As for Ducati, things could also work out just great, as they'd have a skilled rider helping them build the new GP bike alongside Michele Pirro, thus increasing the speed of their comeback.

Ducati made a huge progress since winter, when even their fans started to be so mad as to start petitioning them to leave the MotoGP and I was wondering whether their fate was indeed sealed.

With Herr Gobmeier as the new Ducati Corse boss and Audi backing, the Borgo Panigale factory managed to steer well outside the path of ridicule and disgrace they seemed bent for and things are looking well once more. Of course, there is still a lot to do, but the wind is now favorable, and with Crutchlow in the team (and possibly with some Monster money, too), 2014 could be the first of the rest of the good years…

With the Yamaha MotoGP machinery being obviously tuned to Lorenzo's riding style, we see Crutchlow trying to emulate the Spaniard's way of riding, in order to make the bike work for him, instead of battling it. And this means adaptability while retaining high-class racing quality and results… two more aces the Englishman has up his sleeve.

With Ducati, he could tailor the bike (already suitable for his aggressive style) to his preference and this may be a winning combo. Ducati seems to have great potential once more, and upping it with a rider of Crutchlow's class would certainly be a thing quite interesting to watch (for us) and… profitable.

Suzuki

The third way leads to Suzuki. First rumored to come back to MotoGP and now awaiting for the official “go”, the Suzuki factory team are bringing a new engine to the game.

They ditched the V4 and their new in-line machine is said to become better with each passing test. Randy de Puniet went to Motegi this week and rode it, and I can't wait to see how will it fare in the first official tests.

Though no official timings came from these tests, it looks like the new Suzuki is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 seconds slower than the fastest Motegi laps… pretty much where Ducati were 5 months ago. Given Ducati's example, it's obvious that Suzuki could reduce the gap as they've been in racing for such a long time now. Question is if they can really afford the price of this…

MotoGP racing is expensive and developing a really competitive bike is eating up much of the money pouring in. Suzuki is not exactly in their best period now, after their US automotive division bankruptcy, and not even the best intentions and dedication from engineers, riders and pilots alike could compensate for the needed dough.

Ducati has had a fair share of frustration not being able to bring the factory riders to the COTA… and in case Suzuki is not able to cope with the top-level racing expenses (engineering, development, testing and all the upgrades), we might just see them “hi-bye” once more.

Just as I’ve written recently, this almost looks like a soap opera, with so many possibilities and options, things we don't know, scheming and various moves which are out of sight and out of mind, even.

However, there is one major difference between MotoGP and soap operas: while one could easily stretch the story across thousands of episodes (remember The Young and the Restless?), the 2013 MotoGP season ends in Valencia on November 10. And things must be settled by then.

Until then, it's just "Go Cal!" for this Sunday.

By Florin Tibu

Tesla Model S Update: 3,000th Electric Sedan Delivered In CA

Tesla Model S parked in Menlo Park, California, March 2013 [photo: Eugene Lee]

Tesla Model S parked in Menlo Park, California, March 2013 [photo: Eugene Lee]

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In the last few weeks, it’s almost become a cliche: drivers in Silicon Valley say they see as many Tesla Model S electric luxury sedans on the roads as they do Nissan Leafs or Chevrolet Volts.

With a likely total production of perhaps 6,000 cars thus far, the Model S is outnumbered on U.S. roads by both Volts (34,000-plus) and Leafs (11,000-plus).

But Model S owners may be disproportionately concentrated in California, as a new piece of random data tossed out by Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] goes to show.

In a post last night on the “Inside Tesla” blog, the company’s George Blankenship notes that, “today we registered our 3,000th Model S in the Golden State.”

If random sightings, blog posts, and our own observations are to be believed, large numbers of those cars seem to be concentrated in a 50-mile radius of Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Right outside our own High Gear Media headquarters in downtown Menlo Park, it’s now common to see not just one but sometimes two Model S sedans at stoplights.

The photo above was snapped by one High Gear Media staffer en route to lunch: just another $80,000-plus Tesla Model S all-electric luxury sport sedan parked at a public meter.

In any case, the industry and electric-car advocates alike will be waiting eagerly to see what sales numbers Tesla provides for the first quarter of 2013.

Those numbers won’t arrive until Tesla files its quarterly 10K statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in late April or early May, since (as we note routinely) Tesla doesn’t see fit to provide monthly sales numbers like every other operating automaker.

We’ll also see if Tesla provides an actual number or continues with the practice it started last quarter of stating “approximate” deliveries.

In any case, industry analysts who watch Tesla data obsessively can take note: The company says there are now 3,000 Model S cars on California roads.

Which is clearly a laudable accomplishment.

Now we’ll wait for those first-quarter delivery numbers.

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By John Voelcker

Tesla Blasts New York Times for "Ethics Violation"



It's been two weeks since we last reported about the Elon Musk vs. New York Times feud, and it seems like the infamous Tesla S review debate is far from over.

After claiming that the erroneous review could cost Tesla no less than $100 million in company shares, Musk came back to slam NYT's John Broder for "low-grade ethics violation".

"I would call it a low-grade ethics violation," Musk said on Saturday. "Not a Jayson Blair-crazy-fabrication variety, but I would call it low-grade. It was not in good faith – that's an important point."

"I have no problem with negative feedback, nor do I have a problem with critical reviews," Musk added. "I have a problem with false reviews."

Tesla Motors Inc. has accused New York Times reporter John Broder of faking a Model S road test and claiming the EV automaker is misreporting the vehicle's estimated driving range. Musk's company immediately backed its story by releasing the vehicle's driving logs, which actually did prove that the New York Times editor's review was not based on real facts.

Story via Automotive News

By Ciprian Florea

New Features in Tesla Model S’ Hidden Menus [Video]



Tesla’s Model S EV saloon will get some new options in the future, as the adjacent video reveals some non-functional features currently hidden in three secret menus.

The short video shows that if you keep touching the Tesla logo on the big 17-inch screen on the central console, it will ask you for a security code. Once filled with the proper numbers, some new menus will be displayed.

While the APPS section of the menus shows options like Sketch Pad, Image Viewer, Scheduler and some other “office” apps, the DATA area displays configuration options for Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Detection and Lane Departure Warning System, features that are not available for the current Model S. This leads us thinking that Tesla is currently developing such options to be fitted to the car in the near future.

Take a sneak peek at the incognito Model S menus, as the guys from Drag Times show how to unlock them in the clip bellow.

Source: Drag Times

By Gabriel Brindusescu

Tesla Claims New York Times Faked a Model S Road Test



Tesla Motors Inc. boss Elon Musk has accused a New York Times reporter of faking a Model S road test and claiming the electric automaker is misreporting the vehicle's estimated driving range.

To give you a glimpse of the background, New York Times' Tesla Model S review that was published last week said the car got around 200 miles on a single charge, instead of the 265 mile range advertised by the EV company.

It didn't take too much for Elon Musk to respond, the Tesla CEO calling the New York Times story a fake and slamming the writer's report in an interview with Bloomberg.

"[...] He then took an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan, through heavy traffic, instead of going on the interstate to the charging station. He also exceeded the speed limit quite substantially, which decreased his range. If you do all those three things, which we were clear should not be done and obviously common sense suggests should not be done, then you will not be able to go as far," said Musk.

To back up his claims, Tesla's boss threatens to publish official telemetry data that proves that the New York Times didn't used the car according to its user manual.

For those who don't know, each Tesla vehicle has the option of logging data such as speed and GPS coordinates. While this is only enabled at the owners request, the reviewers' cars are always coming with active logging that transfers all the data directly to Tesla.

New York Times denied any of Musk's accusations, so now we'll just have to wait for that official telemetry blog post to arrive to find out who's right in this year's biggest automotive scandal yet.

By Ciprian Florea

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