Shubhang Mittal

A pure petrol head. Soon to be Automobile Engineer, Top Gear and F1 Fan. EDM Lover.

Harley Davidson – LiveWire… the electric machine!

Electric bikes have been around longer than you expected. The first electric motorcycle was patented in 1897. Then, there was no progress in the electric motorcycle development for about a 100 years. Now, a lot of manufacturers are taking interest in the electric motorcycle and one of the most conservative, conventional and traditional manufacturer, Harley Davidson, has taken interest in the electric motorcycle and started project LiveWire.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire
LiveWire Badge

It is good to see the company progressing and coming up with such new ideas.

Harley-Davidson kicked off a US tour travelling through 30 Harley dealerships and it also intends to do the same across Europe and Canada. All this to show the product and take a customer survey.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire bikes
Prototype LiveWire’s

Anyone who thinks about Harley’s, the first thing that comes to mind in a beautifully thumping V-Twin Motor. The Project Live Wire is nothing like that. It is an opportunity for Harley Davidson’s customers to get on an all electric motorcycle and give Harley Davidson a little feedback on what they feel.

We as human beings have a tendency to resist change. It’s just a natural phenomenon. Over time we then come to accept these changes. The traditional Harley riders are a little skeptical about this change and want to stick to the traditional loud bikes but the feedback from the newer generation riders has been amazing. The bike is pegged for female riders and customers from other brands too.

Harley Davidson does not intend to change over to these types of bikes. The V-Twin powered bikes will continue to be produced alongside.

The biggest problem with any vehicle powered by electricity is range. The range on this concept has been optimized as a demonstration vehicle of 53 miles. They are taking feedback from riders about what sort of range they would like on the bike.
The battery technology is fast growing and over time, when this motorcycle does come into production, it will have a really optimized range.

The design team who makes the Harley’s, have their design centered around the jewel of the bike, the v-twin engine, similarly, the design of the LiveWire was designed to focus and highlight on the longitudinally mounted motor. The motor looks like an in-line 4 cylinder engine when you look at the casing.

The bike uses a traditional Harley Davidson belt drive and is a single speed gearbox. This gives amazing throttle response and a 0-100 kmph just under 4 seconds.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire speed
Harley Davidson LiveWire

The stance of the bike is aggressive, which features an ultra light cast aluminium frame weighing just above 6 kgs. The whole bike weighs 210 kgs. A adjustable rear mounted mono shock suspension, fully adjustable inverted front forks.

The bike is really comfortable for people of all sizes and girls as well.

The design is a blend of both old and new, the lights are are a combination of both reflector and projector LED technology and all the lights are full LED. LED’s certainly are expensive but they are light, compact and consume very less power and at the same time provide bright illumination.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire looks
Full LED front Headlamps and Indicator Stocks

The instrument cluster, a touchscreen interface, isn’t completely integrated into the design and looks like a large smartphone or tablet.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire dashboard
Touchscreen Instrument Cluster

The bike is great for new riders as it has no clutch, no gears to shift and is a complete get on and go bike. The only things that need a service are the brake fluids and the tires.

The team made some deliberate decisions as far as the sound of the bike is concerned. Unlike other electric bikes which are distinctly silent, the LiveWire makes a characteristic sound. It’s best described as the sound of a jet engine. The sound is based on a gear noise and not artificially generated. The longitudinally mounted motor which is transmitted up a bevel gear which helps make its characteristic sound.

To start the bike, flick a switch from the off position to the run position which is activated by the key fob, similar to the key-less entry systems on cars. Then press and hold the start button.

Before starting off, riders have to choose between a range mode and a power ride mode which run for 59 & 29 miles respectively on full charge. However, to switch over you need to stop.

The ride is pleasant at speed and the bike is light weight and handles it really well. Top speed is 92 MPH. The re-gen is just amazing and the brake pads are hardly used. Both used in conjunction is really amazing and the bike has only one disc on the front. This is more than sufficient. The throttle is progressive and at no point does it lurch or jerk in any way.
Compared to the traditional Harley’s with the foot clutch and hand shift this is the complete opposite to ride.

The LiveWire is a running prototype that will set the baseline for the models that Harley’s generate, based on the same concept.

Harley Davidson - LiveWire specifications
Harley Davidson LiveWire

I commend Harley Davidson from sticking their head in the sand and making the same thing year in and year out. It is the reason why we saw the demise of many British motorcycle companies and also Indian. As traditional a manufacturer as Harley Davidson may be, it is good to see them thinking ahead about the future.

In a couple of years when electric bike’s become faster and more convenient, that is when the revolution is going to start and i am confident that Harley Davidson will be one of the leaders to be a part of this revolution.

All you need to know About the EURO NCAP Testing

Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) is an organization dedicated to car safety performance assessment to help buyers choose the safest car on the market. 

Even though governments across the world have regulations regarding crash safety, they are not as stringent as what Euro NCAP follows.

Star Based Rating System for Euro-NCAP
Euro-NCAP Assessment Rating

Let us look into some of the features of the Euro NCAP Testing of vehicles.

How does Euro NCAP choose which cars to test and how are they sourced? 

With the number of cars available on the market, it is not possible to test each and every variant. The most popular models are chosen for the test. As for the variant, the fastest moving one is chosen.

These cars are sourced from the dealers anonymously. If they are testing a car that is not available to the dealers yet, they randomly select cars from the production line. These tests are so detailed that Euro NCAP requires a total of 4 cars for a complete assessment.

This causes the tests to be unbiased and prevents from manufacturers making changes to one off models that will effect the test results.

The Euro NCAP members are obligated to sponsor at least one car model every year.

How are the cars graded? 

With the quickly increasing standards in terms of safety, the Euro NCAP updated their scoring scheme in 2009 and the same is being followed.

Pre 2009, Euro NCAP released 3 ratings per car, i.e., Adult, Child and Pedestrian Protection. The manufacturers concentration revolved around the adult occupant protection. This lead to neglect in the areas of child occupant protection, pedestrian safety, whiplash, active safety systems etc. Hence the new system of assessment devised in 2009 encouraged manufacturers to give it an holistic approach rather than focus on adult occupant protection that was being used as a marketing tool to sell volumes.

They new system calculates a score based on Adult Protection, Child Protection, Pedestrian Projection and safety assessment systems.

The overall score is calculated by comparing the four individual scores with respect to each other and it is made sure that no single area is underachieving.

Depending on the on board safety systems, an additional score is provided for features such as seat-belt reminders, speed limiters, Electronic Stability control etc.

VolksWagen Polo Airbags India Crash Test
Comprehensive Rating of the Indian Spec Volkswagen Polo ( With Two Airbags Fitted)

Adult Protection involves a front & side impact test, the pole test which mimics a crash into a tree or lamp pole and a whiplash test to check protection against spinal injuries.

Child Protection checks the design of the car seat and instructions provided by the manufacturer so that the user installs the child seat correctly.

Pedestrian Protection asses the car design and if it is able to minimize head and leg injuries for adult and child pedestrians.

The new rating system, Safety Assist, rewards active safety systems, i.e., systems that help avoid a crash in the first place or to minimize the effect of the crash. These include stability control systems, seat belt reminders and speed limiting devices. This may include any other radical new safety systems developed and installed by the manufacturer.

What are the various Tests that the cars undergo?

Autonomous Emergency Braking 

Euro NCAP tests the automatic breaking system in various scenarios such as city and inter urban driving conditions. Even within this, various scenarios that are regularly faced are emulated.

Frontal Impact 

This is the most frequent of road crash. The vehicle is driven into a fixed deform-able barrier at 64kmph at an offset. Data is then collected from the crash test dummies. The things that are assessed are the car’s structural safety, and how effective systems like the seat belts and airbags are.

Car crash test
BMW 1 Series – Frontal Impact Testing

Car to Car side impact 

After the frontal collision test, the side impact takes the place of the 2nd most important test. Euro NCAP simulates this type of crash by having a ‘mobile deform-able barrier’ hit the driver’s door at 50kmph. The intrusion into the side is checked and this test has driven manufacturers to fit side airbags on most cars.

front side impact car crash test
Frontal Impact & Side Impact

Pole Side impact

The test car is propelled sideways at 30kmph into a rigid pole which sees a major penetration into the side of the car. Cars with curtain airbags which will prevent the drivers head from passing through the window fare well in this crash.

Whiplash

A low speed rear end crash are the most common reason for whiplash. The car seats are checked for anti-whiplash properties and upto what extend they reduce the effect of the rear impact.

whiplash rear impact car crash test
Whiplash

Child Protection

This test is performed alongside the front and side impact tests dummies representing 1½ and 3 year old children are placed in the rear of the car in the type of child restraint recommended by the car maker. The overall child protection score is determined by the child seat dynamic performance and the instructions for the child seats, airbag warning labels, and the car’s ability to accommodate the child restraints safely.

Pedestrian Protection

Various tests involving adult and child pedestrians accidents are replicated at 40kmph. Instead of using full body dummies, specific body parts such as the head and legs are used and they are hit to certain sections of the cars. The deformation on the vehicle body and the dissipation of the energy is checked.

pedestrian impact tests
Pedestrian Safety Test

Electronic Stability Control 

ESC is an active safety system that prevents the crash happening in the first place. The new rules at euro NCAP state that a 5 start safety rating will not be provided unless 85% models sold in its range are fitted with this system.

Were any Indian Cars tested by the Euro NCAP?

Yes! You won’t be happy to hear, but they didn’t fare well in the tests. The benchmark for safety in India is set so low that Indian manufacturers show no obligation to increase the safety standard of domestic cars.

The cars that were tested include the TATA Nano, The Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, Hyundai i10, Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo.All these cars were Indian made models and were selected at random from dealers and shipped to the NCAP testing facility as per standard Euro NCAP protocol.

Some of these models when sold abroad feature airbags and other safety systems but as the sold in India models do not feature them, they didn’t sell so well. The Volkswagen Polo variant with two airbags was a saving grace and awarded 4/5 stars and 3/5 starts for Adult & Child Safety Respectively. All other cars in the test were awarded 0 stars.

The General Motors Recall Fiasco

General Motors has taken the throne for the largest number of recalls in the history of the world wide automotive sector. It has continuously been plagued by recalls right from 2006. Ever since its first recall it has been down hill with the latest recall calling over 8.4 million vehicles world wide and is expected to set the company’s kitty back by over $1.2 billion.

General Motors Logo

The Ignition Switch Snafu

An issue with the ignition key switch was identified and dealerships handed out key inserts to solve the problem to 474 of the cars. Tests almost 5 years earlier by GM engineers showed this problem. So early, that the car was in a pre-production stage. The mechanism that holds the ignition key in place was at fault and it was redesigned.

In 2003, a service technician observed something peculiar. A Saturn Ion was stalling when the car was being driven by several other keys on the key ring. According to his report, “the additional weight of the keys had worn out the ignition switch”

A similar problem started appearing in the Chevrolet Cobalts which share a similar mechanism. A redesign of the head of the key was proposed and this idea was later scrapped because the fix was too expensive. However, the supplier was informed and the change was made to the newer models coming into production from 2007. During this change the part number wasn’t updated so no one at the operations or production stage knew about this fix.

At an auto safety regulations meeting, a 2005 cobalt crash was brought up during which the airbags of the car did not deploy. Over the period of the year, 10 such fatal incidents are discovered by GM.

GM then allocated an engineer to look at why these crashes saw no airbags being deployed. He discovered something shocking, in four of the nine crashes, the ignition switch was not at the run position. They were almost going to be investigated by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration but the official wanting to investigate was stopped by others in his department citing lack of warrant for the investigation.

In the year 2011, a fresh investigation was started for front crashes involving frontal impacts of cobalts where airbags did not deploy. The ignition switches from the defunct vehicles were picked up and tested. By 2012 the complete fraud involving the change of switches from 2007 model vehicle models were revealed.

Further assessment confirmed that the design was indeed changed for the models produced after 2007. A committee considers the recall of all pre 2007 models of Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5’s.

General Motors Recall Fiasco

The recall was initiated in the first week of February 2014 when over 8,00,000 Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiag G5’s were called in to fix the problem. In a couple of weeks another 6,00,000 vehicles like the Chevrolet HHR, Saturn Ion, Saturn Sky and the Pontiac Solstice were called in.

Simultaneously the U.S. Auto Safety Regulator investigates if GM acted quick enough to fix the problem. The GM CEO, Mary Barra goes into damage control mode by defending how they were managing the recall and promises an internal review.

GM CEO Mary Barra

“We will hold ourselves accountable and improve our processes so our customers do not experience this again. Repairs to recalled cars should start in early April.” – GM CEO

Immediately, they hired a couple of external legal firms and they started investigation into the series of events that led up to this recall.

The justice department too launches a criminal investigation to find out why the recall was delayed as the problem was known at a very early stage.

GM then expands its recall by calling in 8,24,000 cars that were sold in the US. This brought the grand total to over 2.6 million cars worldwide. All for the same problem with the ignition switch.

Barra and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Administrator David Friedman testified before congress this April. She said that she had no idea why it took 10 years to recall the cars and that GM is working on determining how to compensate victims involved in the crashes. Friedman contended that GM was not reveling critical information that would have helped identify this defect.

A Check Plan Issued by GM
A Check Plan Issued by GM

The recalls began in the second week of April where all affected vehicles were repaired free of cost. Three days later, an additional problem is discovered by GM in the already recalled vehicles and the additional part is also replaced to solve the problem.

2014 chevrolet camaro ss

A faulty key for the Camaro saw 5,12,000 units of the iconic car being recalled.

This complete fiasco saw a complete re-structure in their engineering and quality departments, 15 employees being dismissed and saw the company pay a fine to the tune of $35 million to settle the federal probe and a package of $1 million is offered as compensation to the families of victims involved in crashes involving defected cars manufactured by GM.

Last month an additional 8.4 million vehicles, yes, 8.4 million are recalled for a faulty ignition switch.

The Wiring, Seat Belt & Overheating Related Recalls. 

Problems didn’t end for GM with the ignition switch recall. In May, the recalled 3 million cars including the 2004-2012 Chevrolet Malibu, the 2004-2007 Chevrolet Malibu Maxx, the 2005-2010 Pontiac G6, as well as 2007-2010 Saturn Auras.

The wiring problems caused the brake lights to fail and they wouldn’t light up when the brakes are applied and they would light up when the brakes were not depressed. This could also lead to features such as Cruise Control, Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control and Panic Braking Assist to malfunction.

A problem which saw the front seat belt separate from the car during a crash situation saw the recall of 2.4 million cars and trucks in the US that included the Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. 

Further, 2,18,000 Chevrlet Aveos (Optra in the US) were recalled due to the overheating of the DRL (Day Time Running Light) module which had risks of catching fire.

Bottom Line: 

This simply shows that the value of a life is irreplaceable and there is a structure in place in countries abroad to prevent mishaps due to faulty engineering from the companies side. Even the company feels socially responsible to fix such issues.

I wonder how long it will take for such measure to enter the Indian market and how many cases that will come tumbling out of Indian manufacturers who are simply ignorant on such matters. An industry where safety is not even on the list of design objectives and where price, space and fuel economy take precedence over safety.

2014 German Grand Prix – Rosberg Extends Lead on Home Turf

The race for the Drivers Championship is all intensified at the British Grand Prix as Hamilton kept his championship hopes alive  and finished at the top of the pack and closing in at just 4 points behind the championship leader and team mate Nico Rosberg.

The British GP was followed by mid season testing and then the complete pack moved to Hockenheim for the German Grand Prix.

German Grand Prix 2014

Things didn’t go well in qualifying at the German Grand Prix for Hamilton as he crashed into the barriers at turn 13 due to the front-right brake failure. The Briton was taken to the medical center relatively unscathed.

2014 German Grand Prix

 

Nico took the pole position with the best time for the weekend at 1 min 16.540 seconds. Luckily for Nico, he is fitted with a brake system supplied by a different manufacturer.

The drivers at Williams finished 2nd & 3rd at qualifying and Kelvin Magnussen finished 4th for McLaren. The 3rd row of the grid was occupied by RedBull drivers Daniel Ricciardo & Sebastian Vettel. Alonso of  Ferrari, Daniil Kvyat of  Toro Rosso and Force India Drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez formed the top 10 of the grid.

With the FRIC (Front & Rear Interconnected Suspension) being removed by the teams at the German Grand Prix and people speculating about the speed of the silver arrows because of its competitive advantage, Mercedes continued to be the fasted on the grid.

Race Day:

Rosberg won the German Grand Prix and extended his lead to Hamilton by 14 points! He is the first German to win at Hockenheim after Michael Schumacher’s victory in 2006.

“Wow, what a great day after so many great events for me this week! I came here hoping for a win and it worked out perfectly. My Silver Arrow was so dominant, thanks to the team for this fantastic car. Before the race I was worried that without the FRIC system the gap in the race would be smaller. But we were again the quickest out there.” – Nico Rosberg

Things didn’t go well for Hamilton after the crash at qualifying as after a change of gear box led him to fall further down the pack by 5 places forcing him to start at the penultimate row at 2oth place but Hamilton had an amazing stint by gaining 17 places over the course of the race and finished the race in 3rd place. He couldn’t pass Williams driver Botas at the end of the race as his super-soft tires wore quickly. During this, he also had a little collision with former team mate at McLaren, Jenson Button after which he waved apologies as he passed by. Williams claimed 2nd place making it their 30th podium finish.

“I had a little collision with Jenson. I really thought he was opening the door for me; he has been very good like that in recent races. So my bad on judgement there. – Lewis Hamilton

It was all drama in Hockenheim from the start as Fillepe Massa and Kelvin Magnussen collided in the first corner tipping the Williams upside down calling for the safety car to be deployed.

“Luckily I am ok but I am not happy. I was in front going into the corner, and so to have another race ended by another driver is not easy. I am doing my best, the team are doing their best, and we just aren’t getting the chances we need.” – Fillepe Massa

German 2014 Grand Prix

The battle for 4th place too intensified and saw stints of wheel – to – wheel racing between Vettel, Alonso & Ricardo. Vettel took 4th followed by the Ferrari at 5th and team mate Ricardo at 6th place.

“It was fun with Fernando today – we started maybe where we left off in Silverstone! It was quite entertaining the first half of the race and at one point it was quite tight with both the Ferraris, but we managed to stay ahead.” – Sebastian Vettel

Force India’s Hulkenberg & Perez finished an impressive 7th and 10th adding points to their constructors championship. The McLarens finished 8th & 9th on the grid.

“We were expecting to be stronger in the race today, but the drop in temperatures didn’t help us and both drivers struggled to show the pace we had seen during our long runs on Friday.” – Robert Fernley, Force India Deputy Team Principal

Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen was unable to score any points by finishing 11th on the grid.

“It’s a real shame the way my race went, because this weekend, I felt more comfortable and today, on fresh tires, I was going well. Unfortunately, twice I found myself squeezed between two cars and on both occasions my front wing got damaged and that compromised my race.” – Kimi Raikkonen

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat’s race ended early at the 46th lap as his car burst into flames to an engine problem. He was visibly frustrated as he was seen hitting the barrier.

“It’s a shame how my race ended today, especially because yesterday went very well. My first stint was looking okay until the contact with Perez, which made me lose ground.” – Daniil Kvyat

German GP 2014

Adrian Sutin of Sauber had a spin at the start-finish straight on lap 50 stalling his car. The race director had to decide if to deploy the safety car which would have led to Rosberg being pulled back. He chose to continue the race and the car was moved in a couple of laps.

German Grand Prix winner

Overall it has been a dream couple of weekends for the German as he married his girlfriend, watched Germany win the world cup, signed a contract extension with Mercedes and have his forth victory of the season on home turf!

Race Standings:

1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes1hr 33m 42.914s 67 laps  – 25 Points
2. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes +20.7s – 18 Points
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes +22.5s – 15 Points
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault +44.0s – 12 Points
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari +52.4s – 10 Points
6. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault +52.5s – 8 Points
7. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes +01m 04.1s – 6 Points 
8. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes +01m 24.7s – 4 Points
9. Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap – 2 Points
10. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes +1 lap – 1 – Point

11. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari +1 lap 
12. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Lotus-Renault +1 lap 
13. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault +1 lap 
14. Esteban Gutierrez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap 
15. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari +1 laps 
16. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Caterham-Renault +2 laps 
17. Max Chilton Briton Marussia-Ferrari +2 laps 
18. Marcus Ericsson Sweden Caterham-Renault +2 laps 

Rtd. Adrian Sutil Germany Sauber-Ferrari 47 laps completed
Rtd. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault 44 laps completed 
Rtd. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 26 laps completed 
Rtd. Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes 0 laps completed 


Fastest lap: 
Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 19.908s Lap 53 

Driver’s Championship Standings:

1. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes – 190 Points
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain Mercedes-Mercedes – 176 Points
3. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Red Bull-Renault – 106 Points
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari – 97 Points
5. Valtteri Bottas Finland Williams-Mercedes – 91 Points
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault – 82 Points
7. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes – 69 Points
8. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes – 59 Points
9. Kevin Magnussen Denmark McLaren-Mercedes – 37 Points
10. Felipe Massa Brazil Williams-Mercedes – 30 Points
11. Sergio Perez Mexico Force India-Mercedes – 29 Points
12. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari-Ferrari – 19 Points
13. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Renault – 9 Points
14. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault – 8 Points
15. Daniil Kvyat Russia Toro Rosso-Renault – 6 Points
16. Jules Bianchi France Marussia-Ferrari – 2 Points

Constructor’s Championship Standings:

1.  Mercedes AMG Petronas – 366 Points
2.  Infiniti Red Bull Racing – 188  Points
3.  Williams Martini Racing – 121  Points
4.  Scuderia Ferrari – 116 Points
5.  Sahara Force India – 98 Points
6.  McLaren Mercedes – 96 Points
7.  Scuderia Toro Rosso – 15 Points
8.  Lotus F1 – 8 Points
9.  Marussia F1 – 2 Points
10. Sauber F1 – 0 Points
11. Caterham F1 –  0 Points

 

Tesla – an Electrifying Performer!!!

 

Tesla Motors was launched in July 2003. The founders, Marc Tarpenning & Martin Ebhaed’s first effort, to show the world what electric cars are capable of and hence developed the Tesla Roadster.

Less than a year later, Elon Musk entered with a large wad of cash. BTW who is this Elon Musk ? He is the co-founder of Space X, Paypal and zip 2. E-Bay bought Paypal giving Musk 165 million to play with. This he used to fund Space X, the commercial space exploration company, and Tesla Motors. Musk, earlier the Chairman and the largest investor had to take some really hard decisions to safeguard his investment and for his ideas to survive. Over time, Musk took over as CEO.

tesla-model-3

The Tesla Roadster was the first electric car to combine performance of a sports car and a never before seen range in an electric car of over 200 miles per charge. The Roadster was based on a Lotus Elise and had a 0-97 kmh time on a mind blowing 3.9 seconds. The amalgamation of performance that could shame the Ferrari’s with an amazing range that was never before seen in an electric car was a real game changer. The roadster sold at $110000 – Expensive, yes. But this was to prove to the world what an electric car can do. Lotus may have made the chassis specially for Tesla but the power-train and battery pack came from the experts at Tesla.

Tesla_Roadster_Japanese_display

Yesterday, Elon Musk Announced that the 2600 roadster owners can now upgrade to a battery pack which will give them a jaw dropping 400 mile range.

Now obviously Tesla cannot keep selling very few models for “Hundred Thousand Dollar a Car” to sustain….

So here comes in the Secret Tesla Motors Master Plan!  Their ultimate plan was to build a wide range of models including affordable family cars. Not to forget, Musk put in most of his personal money into this company at a time when electric cars just didn’t seem practical.

So why start off with an expensive and high performance sports car? Why not start working on building an affordable design from day one? A handful of high speed electric cars are not going to help reduce emissions. Developing new technology means putting in that money for research and development. This cost has to be pushed to the consumer. That’s just how any company works. So by targeting people with the spending power and then slowly entering the volume markets, you will make the company sustainable.

Next in line – the Tesla Model S!

A selling price of close to $90,000 a car

When Tesla showcased the model S in March 2009 it promised to change the electric car market. Three months later, the US Department of Energy gives a $465 Million Loan. They Kept a $ 100 million aside and the rest goes into retrofitting a manufacturing facility in Fremont, California which was a defunct joint venture of Toyota and GM.

A year Later, in June 2009, the company goes public.

Flash forward by three years. The model S is launched. Year 2012 they sold over 2600 units. Tesla set a target of 21,000 units for 2013 and shattered this target by selling a little under 22,500 units.

The game changing Tesla Model S.

Bro-e3zCEAADFr-

Sold in two states of tune, one 60 and another 85 kW-h batteries that power a 310 kW motor. ( Note : this is electric car territory, bhp in not a preferred unit of power measurement )

The motor(The size of a Watermelon) drives the rear wheel and the battery pack sits in a neat bed like structure below the chassis. This gives the car a perfect 50/50 weight distribution.

tesla_model_s_battery_13

This give the Model S some amazing interior space including 2 huge boots. The rear boot has optional folding seats making a total seating capacity to seven. The front Trunk which has been aptly named frunk can house a full grown man. I’m Serious. Check the video below !

The Model S has the ride quality of a sedan and the responsiveness and agility of a sports car.

Because it runs off electricity, there is no lag in the power delivery. A push of the throttle will accelerate you to 97kmh in 5.6 seconds. You have all the power on the word GO!

Features of the Model S

Active Air Suspension

Air suspension systems do provide the best comfort. The system in the Model S goes a step further. At high speeds, the car hunkers down. Making it highly aerodynamic giving it performance and range. What about tricky road situations? Open up the large touchscreen and adjust the height to ‘Rise Above the Problem’.

Key Fob & Vehicle Dynamics.

download

The key is a mini Model S model. It features a mini model S model that you touch and squeeze to activate various parts of the car. The car senses the presence of the key and unlocks itself. The door handles don’t present themselves until you tap on them. They sit flush with the car body. All this to reduce unwanted drag increasing the efficiency of the vehicle. These small but many design considerations makes the model S one of the “Slipperiest Cars on Road“.

Charging the Model S.

The model S charges at a rate of 100km per hour at a standard home socket. This is really impressive but what is really amazing is Tesla’s Super Charging Network. A charge of 50% of full capacity in just 20 minutes!

Walk into the station, drop your model S for a charge, grab a hot cup of coffee and something to munch and bam! You’re ready to move along. The supercharging stations are planned to seamlessly connect the eastern to western coast in the US. Similar plans to cover Europe too! The range problem? Solved!

The Red Indicates Completed Superchargers and the Cones indicate the ones under construction.
The Red Indicates Completed Superchargers and the Cones indicate the ones under construction.

The Control Center

On the inside, there are almost no buttons. Everything, literally everything is controlled by a humongous 17″ touchscreen.

tesla_model_s_13_in1

Stream music from the internet radio, or a device connected from one of the two USB ports or Bluetooth.

Control your lights, doors, locks, temperature control, maps, navigation, rear view camera, sunroof, vehicle setup and config. It this wasn’t enough, you can browse the internet too!

Safety:

If a petrol powered vehicle catches fire it’s just another normal day. No one bats an eye. In 2013, two model S’s were involved in an accident and caught fire. However, the on-board security systems kept the occupants safe. This certainly did get Tesla some bad publicity. The chances of a fire in a gasoline powered catching fire is 1 in 8000 vehicles and Tesla’s figure 5 times less!

To counter this problem, an Over – the – Air update (No i’m not talking about your mobile phone) upgraded the cars software to increase the car’s ground clearance at highway speeds. All while the owner was sound asleep and had no idea that his car was being made safe without even going to the service center. To be double sure, Tesla retrofitted all existing model S’s with a triple under-body shield, free of charge.

The track record still remains. Zero deaths or permanent & serious injuries. There is no safer car on the road than a Tesla.

Remember the Tesla Master Plan? 

The next step has been announced! 

Taking on the BMW 3 series, a $35000 sedan the Model 3 is coming. A good half the price of the model S and expected to launch in 2017.

2017 seems so far away? Oh wait, 2015 will see the Tesla Model X, a complete electric crossover, 4 wheel drive and the best part – the falcon doors!

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All this aside. I want to give you the biggest news that shook the entire world. Tesla has patents to their electric car designs and They have released all their patents for the world to use for FREE !

The wall of patents have been pulled down and replaced by this.

Bottom Line:

Such a bold move only to make the world a better place to live in. All the conspiracy theorists can keep away!

Visit Tesla motors webiste: http://www.teslamotors.com

 

A Guide to Valet Parking

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We all remember the horrific crash last week involving a white Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder at the Le Meridian Hotel in New Delhi that involved the hotel’s valet driver losing control of the car and hitting the back of another car and crashing into a barrier at the end of the porch all while narrowly missing a staff member of the hotel. I am really quite sure that these star studded hotels have a large number of really expensive cars coming through the doors which would’ve given sufficient practice and experience to the drivers. So what happened on the day when this unfortunate driver crashed this Gallardo Spyder that cost the owner over half a million dollars to import ?  In fact the whole world did not stop thinking about how the valet or the other people involved in the crash fared.

Yes the car was expensive and had a massive crash, but are the damages being claimed with the insurance company – worth more than a human life?

Assume it was your car that had crashed like that. It may not cost over “half a million dollars”, does not have scissor doors, a folding roof or a 5.0L v10 engine. I’m sure the trauma you undergo will be on par with what the owner of the Lamborghini. So what steps can you take to prevent your car from being involved in a crash like this?

Find your own parking spot

It isn’t always mandatory to hand your car at the valet. You can park it yourself too. As soon as you enter the premises, start scanning the area where you could squeeze in your car. In this way, you are in control of your own car. Even if you do shunt, the blame is on you and it is much easier to claim insurance.

I agree it’s not as glamorous as getting off your car with people opening the doors for you and a person quickly coming down to collect your key and only gives you a small token in exchange as a proof that the car belongs to you. But walking that few meters helps you keep your car keys in your pocket and not in a small box that is filed with keys of all the cars in the area. So it is a small price that you have to pay to ensure that your car is safe.

If you have no other option but to hand it over to the valet…

Brief him about the niggles in your car:

There must be some problem that you are aware of and the driver simply isn’t. He will not know about the problem until you tell him about it. So when you are handing him your keys, give him a brief about the problem. This will reduce the chances of him messing up and he knows what to expect rather than it being a surprise.

If you have a really powerful vehicle…:

If you are one of those driving around in a really expensive and cool car and by the minutest of chances is reading my post, when you do give it in to the valet, tell him that the car is really powerful & expensive and ask him to be really light with the throttle. Tell him in a way such that you don’t scare him. Just give him a gentle reminder.

You can spot the experienced drivers:

When driving into the drop off zone, head to the valet where you feel have the most experienced drivers. If you visit a place often, request that the same valet who you know is experienced to pick up your car every time.

Tip Before and After:

We usually tip the driver only when we have received the car. Tipping before can also help, as the driver will tend take good care of your car. Paying a small tip running into a maximum of Rs. 50 will save you a bill of repairs that will run into thousands.

Keep that valet ticket safe:

Valet Parking

If you are unsure where to keep it and think it may fall off your pocket, keep it in your wallet.

Plan and take everything that you need before handing over your car:

Let’s consider a scenario where you’ve forgotten something in your car. You call for the valet to bring out your car, you pick up what you need and ask him to park it again. Most of the parking lots used by the hotels involves multistory’s, a large number of pillars, and hundreds of other cars crammed into the tightest of spaces. What you are doing here is simply doubling the chances of your car being dinged.

Finally, Check your Vehicle:

When you receive your vehicle, have a quick walk around to check for damage on the vehicle. If you happen to spot the damage after you get home, it will be really difficult to prove negligence/wrongdoing by the hotel management.

How the 2014 Union Budget will effect the Auto Industry?

The Indian automotive scene has a seen quite a slump and the industry was expecting a boost from the newly-elected government.

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Some of the industry expectations from this year’s budget included a cut in Excise duty to 10% on automotive parts, timeline for the introduction of the GST, Fleet modernization scheme, withdrawal of the 1% National calamity Contingent Duty (NCCD) and fund allocations for National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.  Here are some points that are a part of the new budget that effect the industry and the industry reactions.

Implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST)

This is something that the auto industry has been demanding for a long time and the finance minister, Mr. Jaitley said that it will be implemented within this fiscal year itself. This will replace all direct taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian central and state governments. The industry hopes for an early implementation of GST.

Arvind Saxena

“The corporate sector was expecting a timeline for the roll out of GST. But the government’s intention to introduce CenGST and also the DTC after review is very encouraging news.” – Arvind Saxena, Preseident & MD, General Motors India

FDI in Insurance to go up to 49%.

Expect increase in the competitiveness in the insurance sector. Also a change in the way your insurance premium is calculated, considering factors such as past history of claims, location of home & work (Parking conditions and safety), age group, safety features on the cars, nature of work and gender beyond the standard consideration of make, model, service history and life of the vehicle.

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“This would encourage foreign investment and will further augment free flow of knowledge and intellectual cross-fertilization,  benefiting the insurance sector as a whole” – K K Mishra – CEO & MD, Tata AIG

Development of Road Infrastructure.

There is no doubt that if proper infrastructure in terms of roads and connectivity plays a major role in the auto sector. An allocation of 37,880 crores for National & State Highways and 14,389 crores for rural roads will help increase the complete transportation frame work. This benefits the industry in the long term.

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“We welcome the announcements related to infrastructure growth such as development of 100 smart cities and rural roads development.” – Joe King, Head, Audi India

National Electric Mobility Mission Plan

An allocation of 24 crores through the ministry of heavy industries provides an initial boost for electric and hybrid vehicle research and manufacturing. However no direct incentives for electric vehicles were announced.

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“We did expect an announcement on incentives for electric vehicles which did not come through” – Dr. Pawan Goenka, Executive Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

Reduced Excise Duty Rates to be retained for now

The interim budget saw an announcement for reduced excise duty. This has been extended and the industry hopes that these rates of duty are extended even into the next calendar year.

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“Excise duty benefits announced in the interim budget have been extended till December 2014 and any further changes would depend on the demand in the automotive sector in the next five months.” – Abdul Majeed, Partner, Price Waterhouse Coopers

No Measures for the Commercial Vehicle industry

The commercial vehicle segment has seen slump for more than 2 years now. No measures have been taken for the recovery of this sector. However, indirect measures such as emphasis on growth in infrastructure and manufacturing sector will help boost Commercial Vehicle Industry growth.

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“With mining activity expected to pick up, we also expect a demand trigger for commercial vehicles which has been seeing negative growth till now,” -Umesh Revankar, MD, Shriram Transport Finance Co.

Reduced Steel Prices & Elimination of Customs Duty on Auto Components

Steel is one of the most important input material used in the industry.The elimination of customs duty will be a relief to companies who are trying hard to localize components to keep production costs under check. This is a huge boost we hope to see some of it being passed on to the consumer.

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“Aspects like the continuation of excise duty concessions along with reduction in steel prices and elimination of customs duty on auto components bode well for the sector.” – Kencichiro Yomura, President, Nissan India

Investment Allowance

A proposed allowance of 15% to companies who invest more than 25 crore in a year in new plant and machinery. This is expected to stay for 3 years.

Bottom Line: 

Although the industry expected bolder reforms, measures such as reduced steel prices, extension of excise duty concession and elimination of customs duty of auto components are all a silver lining for the industry. The overall budget has tried to balance from all quarters. The budget is realistic with a long-term view rather than a quick fix treatment and has stayed away from populist measures.

Hyundai Eon 1L – an expert review

When you plan to buy a car in the entry level segment, your options are large and for sure will include the Hyundai Eon, The Suzuki Alto K10 & the Datsun GO, to name the front runners.

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Picture Credit : Hyundai Press Release

The Hyundai Eon boasts of an excellent packaged interior and the design is based on the fluidic concept and is sure to turn heads. The only thing that was a let-down was its engine option. A mear 800cc engine was shadowed by the 1l engine in the Alto K10 and the 1.2l under the hood of the Datsun Go.

Fortunately, Hyundai identified this problem and has introduced the Eon with a 1L engine. This engine is derived from the i10 sold in Europe and has come to the Indian shores for the first time. Based on the Kappa-2 Series of engines, it spews out 69ps and 9.6kgm of Torque. The older 800cc unit had only 56ps and 7.6kgm of Torque.

The exterior package of the Eon remains the same. The only thing that will differentiate the Eon from a normal spec Eon will be the 1L badge of the tail gate. The interiors too remain the same.

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Picture Credit: Zigwheels.com

The 3 cylinder engine with VTVT (Variable Valve Timing) technology has an Aluminium engine block and head which makes it light. Along with this it features a low-friction timing chain and piston cooling jets, that keeps the car frugal. Although it is slightly down on fuel economy front,  it is still a winner at 20.3 KMPL (ARAI Figures)

On the inside, the engine start grunt by itself differentiates it from the standard eon. The vibrations coming into the cabin and through the gear stick are much lesser. The engine even idles smoothly. However, an aluminium engine translates to a noisier cabin. The soft suspension makes it a breeze for pot holed areas of the city. The car is well insulated to keep out wind and road noise.

The gearbox being the same seems better mated to the new engine and is much more comfortable. However torque at lower RPM is not available. You don’t need to work the gears much and the engine is happy at higher gears at lower rpm’s. This combo of engine with the gearbox has a time faster by 2.6 seconds to 100 kmph which is quite large. The Eon has always been a good city run-about with its smaller engine which did its duty perfectly in the start-stop traffic. This new engine makes it comfortable on the highways too. The 800cc engine felt inadequate and out of place on a highway.

Hyundai Eon:

Over all the Eon is a better place to be in than its competitors. The cabin just has a premium feel to it and the overall feeling is that you are in a car that is from a higher segment. There are no additional features on the interiors to set this variant apart. The car is available in only one variant which is the Magna +. This variant has power windows for the front, key less entry and internally adjustable outside mirrors. The integrated music system with USB & Aux input is an optional extra. The Airbags are also not a part of the package here.

At the time of launch, the MD & CEO of Hyundai Motors India Limited said “Hyundai Eon has been a trendsetter of style, performance, design and finesse in its segment and has received good acceptability and appreciation from its customers. Hyundai consistently innovates to meet and exceed the demands of the customer and the 1.0-litre Kappa engine now offered in Eon is an extension of our modern-premium brand philosophy and will delight our customers with unparalleled driving experience and further consolidate Hyundai’s position in the domestic market.

Bottom-Line:

The Eon is a futuristic & modern design when compared to its competitors. The only problem that existed was the small engine. This has been solved by getting this engine option. The overall package is really enticing as the car has been priced at 3.83Lacs – Ex Showroom Delhi.