Watch: Audi Summit 2017 Live Now

Audi Summit 2017 is happening live right now at Barcelona. Audi has some of the most exciting line ups for launching today. The A8, Audi AI and a few others we hope. Previously seen as a tease from the Spider Man Homecoming commercial and from the movie itself, Audi A8, where Happy hogan is seen showing off a portion of it’s capability in the movie.

Audi has been at the forefront of innovation when many other manufacturers have been hesitant to change over the years. We’re more keen on seeing what Audi has to offer.

This is a developing story, please follow the video to get the updates.

 

Baidu CEO Robin Li pulls a Driver-less Car stunt, gets fined

Robin li of Baidu does a driverless car stunt, gets fined in China.

After announcing this week its partnership with 50 companies for launching driverless car project, Robin Li, CEO of Baidu has landed himself in big trouble!

China’s Tech Giant company, Baidu’s CEO on the aspect of doing a stunt landed himself in trouble. Robin Li, CEO of Baidu recently rode a driver-less car on the roads of China and live streamed his ride to an AI developer’s conference quoting them how smooth the ride was, sitting comfortably on the passenger’s seat. Well, this act hasn’t exactly gone down well with the Chinese government, as driverless cars have been banned in China.

 

Robin Li is seen conversing with the developer about his experience in front a thrilled audience.

Though, a person was sitting on the driver’s seat, he didn’t touch the wheel while driving down the busiest Chinese Highway. During the conference he explained how smoothly the car rode on autopilot mode even though there was heavy traffic.

Recommended: UBER’s Driverless truck enters Guinness record, by delivering a ton of beer

Robin Li had already taken out his car for test drive in 2015. The traffic policemen said that it will be investigated and actively verified. China’s policy of “Do first and act later” has taken toll on its policies. They seem to be slow in adopting new technologies and abiding laws.

The stunt didn’t go down well with the police as when the live video footage was checked, it was found that the car was facing issues while changing lanes. It did change lanes when a car was right behind it, and at points it tried changing lanes when a car was next to it. This was not at acceptable, though Robin was seen calmly sitting in his car, but some traffic laws were broken. The car needed some more work to be done on it!

The fine for a driver without a license is 20 euros but for driver-less cars, no such rules has been made. So, for now the car has been confiscated. The laws have still not be constructed for allowing driver-less cars on the roads. Baidu has refused to comment on the matter.

Now, with Robin’s new stunt let’s see how the Chinese government will react to it. Let us know in the comment section what you think about the future of driver-less Cars in China.

Interesting Startups in the Autonomous Self-Driving vehicle space.

Driver less cars startups

This is the age of AI ( Artificial Intelligence ). One area where AI is creating real disruption is the Automobile space. AI powered Self-driving is the talk of the town. Lets take a look at the top 10 interesting startups working in the Autonomous Self-driving vehicle space.

Drive.ai

This is one of the most talked about startup in the Autonomous Self-driving space. Drive.ai initially raised around $12 Million in funding and is founded by Sameep Tandon. Adding to it recently the company raised another $50 Million in funding. The founders of the startup has good expertise in the Deep learning vertical and are trying to solve a lot of Driver-less car issues via. extreme Machine learning. The startup has an ambitious goal of connecting all the dots in the self-driving vehicle space ( Sensors, Camera, Human to Car communication, Car to car communication etc. ) via. deep learning techniques.

Recently Sameep Tandon quoted saying: “What we are building at Drive.ai is the brains for self-driving cars, We think self-driving cars are going to make roads safer, give us our time back, and re-imagine our cities.”

Drive.ai also creates the Roof top kits that can turn any existing vehicles into Self-driving Autonomous vehicles. The startup has recently bought in Andrew Ng ( who headed the AI divisions in Baidu and Google ).

The startup which has been in stealth mode for so long has just come out to the public to show case its capabilities. Still there is not much information mentioned on their website or their press releases. We will keep this post updated on more info.

Smart Car Tech

While a lot many Self-driving Autonomous vehicle startups concentrate on solving or improving the vehicles itself, Smart Car tech works on building an AI powered ‘Car Rental Software’ for Car Rental businesses. Based out of Bangalore India, the startup is completely Bootstrapped with many Car Rental companies around the world already using their software suite.

One of the areas which is going to be deeply impacted by the Driver-less cars is the Car Rental Space. Existing companies like AVIS, HERTZ and thousands of Small, Medium vehicle rental companies run of software and mobile apps using which they manage their fleet, Take bookings, payment etc,. When Driver-less vehicle’s come into picture, they would surely need to upgrade their existing software to ones that support Driver-less cars. This is where Smart Car Tech is focusing on.

Apart form creating Car Rental Software for these businesses, the startup also is working on technologies to easily implement Smart contracts for Automobile insurance and accident management algorithms for the Self-driving vehicles era.

nuTonomy

nuTonomy is a hot startup focused primarily on supplying Autonomous Self-driving technology and mobile robots to businesses. The Startup is based out of Singapore and US. Doug Parker is the COO of the startup that has raised near $20 Million. Nutonomy is considered the official partner of the Singapore government for all Self Driving related research and progress in the region. The company has landed an impressive deal with the ride-hailing business “Grab” to supply autonomous self-driving vehicles and related technology.

Note: GRAB Taxi has recently raised near $750 Million in funding.

In a statement Mr Karl Iagnemma, the CEO of Nutonomy said, “Partnering with Grab to expand our public trial in Singapore will yield valuable feedback and consumer insights as nuTonomy readies our on-demand self-driving car service for commercial launch in 2018”

Nutonomy is currently involved in testing its fleet of self-driving vehicles at 1 North district of Singapore. The company has plans to launch at-least 1000 such driver-less vehicles by 2018. Nutonomy has fitted 6 cars( Renault Zoe, Mitsubishi i-MiEV ) with the Autonomous driving kits to test drive them on road.

Embark

This is an interesting Autonomous Self-driving startup particularly focused on the Logistics space. As they have rightly mentioned on the site: While most of the companies, startups and billions are spent on the passenger vehicles ie. Cars, Van, GPs etc. Embark focuses on commercial trucking.

This is interesting owing to the fact that UBER is also bullish on the driver-less commercial trucking vertical with its acquisition of OTTO & Google Waymo’s latest interest in Self-driving Trucks.

Embark is a startup spun off from Y-Combinator and is recently funded with $4.5 Million dollars, by Maven ventures  ( YC & Maven were also the investors the Cruise which was a Billion dollar exit ).  Founded by Michael Skupien and Alex Rodrigues, the team is backed by engineers with steep expertise in Robotics, Machine Learning, AI etc.

Autonomous Self-Driving Trucks can reduce a lot of human error due to stress, long hauls, drowsiness etc,. It is a big and incredible market to address 🙂

Amber Mobility

An interesting Netherlands based startup that works on creating the Autonomous Self-Driving vehicles as well as a car sharing platform that dispenses Driver-less cars on-demand. The Dutch government is very bullish on promoting and implementing Driver-less Autonomous vehicles by 2019.

Amber is a startup founded by Steven Nelemans and Joep Sloot. The company has already been testing their Self-Driving BMW i3 cars for sometime now and they also have ABN AMRO bank already using their mobility platform.Amber has also managed to design its own self driving Autonomous car and its called the Amber one ( a futuristic looking model that is light weight, can be used to travel long ranges, customizable and has a long life span.

Autonomous self-driving driver less startups

Amber mobility plans to offer its services as an on-demand cab dispatch service for employees of businesses & as a personal on-demand car for private users.

Apple Inc. partners with HERTZ for Driver-less cars testing.

Apple Hertz self driving car

Tip: HERTZ as we all know is one of the leading Car Rental providers in the world. From Airports to Malls, there are thousands of HERTZ outlets in all the leading cities in the world. Due to declining profits and market speculations on what will happen to the CAR RENTAL industry once DRIVER-LESS cars hit the road, the stocks of Hertz holdings have taken a lot of beating. The price has reduced nearly 75% over the past 12 months.

Apple Inc. has always been known to be the forerunner and innovator in any new vertical. From revolutionizing the way you hear music to how you use your mobile phone, they have always been the pioneers of innovation. But this time with the upcoming DRIVER-LESS cars, they are lagging behind Goolge’s WAYMO and TESLA. But this has not stopped the technology giant from proceeding. Apple Inc. has also been silently testing its Driver-less cars technology for the past couple of years ( partnering with a variety of providers ). Many have sighted Apple testing a fleet of Self-driving vehicles powered by tis technology in and around SFO. But now, they have announced this interesting partnership with the Car Rental major Hertz to test their Autonomous technology.

Apple Hertz self driving car

Apple will be leasing the Lexus RX 450h sports vehicle from Hertz ( at their Donlen fleet management unit ). When Apple announced its Car project some years ago, there were huge speculations if APPLE was getting into manufacturing cars. But Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple Inc. has made it very clear that the company will focus more on developing a fantastic technology that would power any Self-driving car than manufacturing the entire car itself. The project is called ‘Titan’ and is headed by Mr. Bob Mansfield.

Apple’s partnership with Car Rental provider Hertz is very interesting as recently Google’s Waymo has partnered with another Rental giant AVIS. This has bought some good hope in the mind’s of investors ( who were worried about the Car rental market ). The shares of Hertz spiked a whooping 13% on release of this news.

What we see is there are 2 sides to this entire Driver-less cars equation. On one side are the Car manufacturers trying to get their vehicles ready for the Autonomous revolution. On the other side are core technology companies that are using the opportunity to develop Software and algorithms required for this market. Jumping into this band wagon are also the good old Microprocessor and chip making companies like Nvidia, Intel etc. As more and more of the game un-folds we will see the raise and change of many industries.

Volvo Joins hands with Nvidia for its Driver-less cars.

Volvo driver-less car

Tit Bits: In CES 2016, CEO of Nvidia Mr. Jen-Hsun Huang revealed the Drive PX2. This is nothing but a supercomputer developed exclusively for the upcoming Driver-less cars. The Drive PX2 comes with the power of 150 Mac Book Pro’s and 12 CPU cores. Nvidia believes that the cars of tomorrow need extensive processing power under its hoods to instantly process inputs from the numerous sensors and cameras that would be equipped in the self-driving cars. Such super powered processors can help Autonomous vehicles even detect things in heavy snow!

The more interesting news is that VOLVO is partnering with NVIDIA to make use of this tremendous computing power. On the other hand Volvo is working with AutoLiv to power the Artificial Intelligence in its own Driver-less cars. VOLVO as we know is the leader in manufacturing safety first cars. They are now bullish in bringing out the most fascinating Driver-less cars by 2021. With such strong partnership and technology, there is no question that VOLVO is going to manufacture a truly amazing and safe Autonomous car.

Nvidia Drive px2 self driving

Volvo and Autoliv have created a joint venture under the name Zenuity. NVIDIA along with Zenuity is hoping to create next generation Machine Learning and deep learning systems that will power the underlying AI to be super aware of any objects, movements and safety threats around the Driver-less cars. It is expected that AutoLiv will also sell this product to other OEMs via. its existing network.

In a statement, the CEO of Autoliv Mr. Jan Carlson said: “We now have full access to the leading computing platform for autonomous driving. Autoliv, Volvo Cars and NVIDIA share the same vision for safe, autonomous driving. This cooperation will further advance our leading ADAS and autonomous driving product and solution offerings to the market.”

Note: VOLVO is known for inventing the SEAT BELT. They made the patent open source so any automobile company can use it for the safety of the passengers.

Volvo driver-less car

The race to create the most intelligent and flawless Driver-less car is getting heat day by day. More and more Car manufacturers ( in fact All ) are jumping into the bandwagon and spending billions of dollars to get their technology ready for this autonomous revolution. We will soon see more and more of partnerships among companies to share and utilize the expertise of each other.

While Tesla and Waymo are leading the run in the Self-driving car space, other Automobile giants like Mercedes, Fiat, Ford, Volkswagon, Volvo are catching up fast. The Driver-less car space has reached extreme maturity and any player not willing to participate can cease to exist in the near future. This has created a lot of heat in the automobile space and every player is spending huge budgets in getting their play right.

What does the Google Waymo deal with AVIS Budget mean?

Driver less cars Waymo Avis

Ok, there are 3 parts to this story.

  1. AVIS Budget: One of the biggest Car Rental companies in the world with thousands of branches word wide.
  2. Google Waymo: Pioneer in developing Driver-less cars software and hardware. Been testing its technology on road for many years now & trying partnership with companies like UBER, LYFT etc. to bring its technology to the roads.
  3. Driver-Less Cars: The hot and happening trend across the globe ( or at-least in leading cities ). Nearly all research firms have unanimously agreed that this is going to be a multi-trillion dollar industry in the very near future.

WAYMO ( the self driving unit inside Google ), has been into Driver-less cars research for many many years. But in the recent years the tech giant seem to slip slightly behind TESLA in being the leader in this Self-Driving cars space. Thanks to the vertically integrated approach by TESLA, they are able to stand out in the Autonomous vehicle race ( as they own both the hardware & the software piece ). Being a car manufacturing company, TESLA was able to go ahead and integrate its Driver-less cars technology into its own cars without any process over-heads and complexities. This led to TESLA to quickly bring the commercial cars on the road with the technology built-in.

Now, its WAYMO’s move & they are doing what they have been doing good historically. ie. Make partnerships with leaders in the space to integrate its technology and hot the road running.

AVIS Budget as we all now does a fabulous job in its niche ie. Car Rentals & can easily be said as the leader in the industry. They have millions of vehicles under their belt serving millions of customers worldwide. With this deal, Waymo an easily get the much wanted advantage to take its Self-Driving technology to the roads in real-time.

Driver less cars Waymo Avis

As of now the deal allows Waymo to deploy its Driver-less cars for testing in Phoenix AVIS facilities. If this works out fine, they can roll it out in more AVIS locations. For AVIS Budget group, its a very important step, as it gives them an early foothold in the Driver-less car rental space ( which is obviously the future of Car Rentals ).

On Monday, Avis officially announced that it would provide the required ” Fleet support and maintenance services ” to the self-driving Waymo cars in the city of Phoenix. And much the amusement of the people in the city, Waymo is offering free rides 🙂

John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo earlier said, “Avis Budget Group is an ideal partner to provide fleet support and maintenance. With thousands of locations around the world, Avis Budget Group can help us bring our technology to more people, in more places.“.

The entire Car Rental industry stocks have been going down steep on speculations about “What will happen to this industry once Driver-less cars comes into scene”. This new deal between Google Waymo & Avis Budget group has bought in positive sentiments & clarity to investors. Avis stock has raised a whooping 14% as a reaction to this partnership.

But still the big question remains. What will happen to the thousands of other small & medium Car rental businesses around the globe. Would they need to create partnerships with such giants to survive? Or is there an alternate solution coming up? Lets wait and see.

Tesla Preparing to Launch ‘Uber-Style’ Mobility Services

Smart car manufacturer and one of the most prominent car innovators, Tesla motors are gearing up for their premium launch of their “Uber-Style” mobility services in the forthcoming year. The news comes fresh off Tesla’s website on self-driving capabilities of the new Models S vehicle that will roll out with fully autonomous features.

Although this service currently remains unnamed Tesla Network, the electric automaker is preparing to enter the field and ride-hailing services that were first introduced CEO Elon Musk in his master plan in July.

“Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car-sharing and ride-hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year,” read the website’s disclaimer. The market potential for Tesla Network had interested Barclays analyst Brian Johnson enough to write about it in a note to investors quite interestingly. Although a Tesla Network could “excite the market” over its potential earnings stream, it was a costly proposition, he wrote.

“While we think ride-sharing/hailing is the future of mass-market mobility, we have some financial concerns with the idea of an OEM-owned fleet,” Johnson wrote.

Details of these have remained sparse and Tesla says that it will roll out the details on the “Tesla Network” that are to start off next year. Some of the details of these were first released in Elon Musk’s “This past July. Master Plan quote from Musk below:

 

“You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on the Tesla phone app and have it generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation, significantly offsetting and at times potentially exceeding the monthly loan or lease cost.

This dramatically lowers the true cost of ownership to the point where almost anyone could own a Tesla. Since most cars are only in use by their owner for 5% to 10% of the day, the fundamental economic utility of a true self-driving car is likely to be several times that of a car which is not.”

 

The Tesla Network apparently goes hand-in-hand with full self-driving at some point too. Musk envisions your car being put to use while your at work, or sleeping or doing something else that doesn’t require use of your own vehicle. Like plenty other automakers, Tesla has been planning on adding mobility services for some time. In Elon’s “Master Plan”, Part Deux” in July, Musk included a system in which a Tesla owner could add a car to a shared Tesla fleer using a simple mobile app.

For the owner of Tesla, it would offer and opportunity to generate income and lower the cost of ownership. In cities where car ownership is lower, Tesla would operate its own fleet, Musk wrote elaborately in his master plan.

Global growth in Uber’s ridership, along with its Pittsburgh self-driving car test project has brought a great deal of attention to the ride-hailing company. Alliances with Toyota and Volvo were formed this year, while potential partnerships with Google and Tesla appear to be fading away.

It’s an interesting fact that Google had invested $ 258 million in Uber as the technology giant explored mobility services that could fir with its self-driving car project. But in May, Google had begun testing a carpooling service that could take business away from ride-hailing leaders Uber and Lyft.

David Drummond, Google parent company Alphabet’s executive said in August that he resigned from Uber’s board because of the increasing competition between the companies, according to the Wall Street Journal. Uber had been using Google’s mapping software for its drivers, but recently began developing its own maps. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick said that when Tesla’s vehicles become fully autonomous, he would be interested in buying every one of them. The comments had been relayed by a venture capitalist during a Silicon Valley awards dinner, and so far appear to have been more of a conversational topic than a business alliance.

 Bottom Line:

With the start of a new era, General Motors has been leading the way this year is mobility services through its investment in Uber’s competitor Lyft and through starting up its Maven car sharing division. Ford had also taken the opportunity to introduce Smart Mobility and announced acquisition of Chariot that happens to be an app-based, crowd-sourced shuttle company and collaboration with Motivate to launch Ford GoBike in San Francisco. An interesting fact is that mobility solutions have gone way beyond automakers could ever imagine. Around $ 27 billion dollars into the ride services sector have been invested in the past decade. Let’s wait for more mobility solutions worldwide.

 

Alternative fuels and fuel-powered vehicles

Fuel isn’t getting any cheaper but with the rise in population, there is plenty of demand for vehicles. While there are various alternative fuels, alternative vehicles to gasoline, there are hybrids, electric cars too. But, what if there were cars that run on alternative fuels that sound too wacky to be true? Sounds like I’m goofing around right? But, the following article speaks otherwise. You’re sure to be baffled and stunned after reading the various alternative sources that can power vehicle.

With the price of $ 4.00 a gallon, gas prices aren’t a distant memory and hence alternative fuels are all the rage to cut expenditures. What would happen if the vehicles ran out of the existing fuels, how would travel be possible then? Between hydrogen fuel cells, bio diesel, electricity and compressed air, the industrialized world is hard at work creating the next generation of non-oil consuming vehicles. These new, eco-friendly chariots deserve at least as much attention and fanfare as the fuels that power them, especially these 7 models that are certainly worth propagating.

7. Hydrogen fuel cells:

Hydrogen powered cars… Hmmmm, why didn’t I think of that? Well, anyways the prospect of hydrogen-powered cars has been enticing eco-friendly motorists for years. In fact, car-makers are grappling with a whole host of technical challenges to efficiently store hydrogen in a vehicle or how to prevent it from freezing and/or catching fire and this has not stopped the creation process of fuel-efficient, hydrogen-powered proof of concept cars. Mercedes Benz is one such company that has taken that one extra step to bring out a luxuriant bad boy into the market with a hefty price tag.

6. Compressed air:

Compressed air? You’ve got to be kidding, or may be not. This is quite tantalizing among all other alternate fuel sources because its Compressed AIR!!.  That’s pretty much what it takes to get this car on the go. The concept was designed by French engineers and was supposed to be available to American drivers by 2010. The AIRPOD works on a similar concept and albeit its challenges, it is noteworthy. The concept that was designed on compressed air required nothing more than compressed air to cruise around at the speed of 35 MPG. The advantage is that this car is supposedly an affordable one and is to bag a price tag of $ 20,000/-.

5. Vegetable Oil:

This is a drool worthy concept to environmentalists and tree huggers. The idea of developing a car that runs on Vegetable oil seems pretty wacky to say the least. Ever since the idea was first proposed, the reality is pretty much in existence from its proposed state. Experts at Volkswagen have developed with their clean conscience a bio diesel-powered beetle and this requires very little waiting time. There is a fleet readily available for sale/rent. HQ in Maui, this is the nation’s first ever Bio-Beetle, so yaay for environmentalists.

4. Ethanol

Most of us are already using ethanol in our vehicles, as federal law requires a certain percentage of it to be in the gasoline we buy. But by 2010, Suzuki Motor Company begin selling cars that are completely, 100% powered by it. Where’s the car if its real you ask?

There’s a picture below that proves the point. The first ever car to run on this technology was the E25 sedan that was to go on sale in Brazil.

 

3. H20 (Gulp!! Yes, you read that right…WATER!!)

Japanese car (called the Genepax) can travel roughly 80 kilometers per hour, for an hour, on just one liter of water as its fuel source. Hydrogen electrons from water power this car in order to produce electricity that in turn is used to power up this car. To all the critics who so dismissively assumed no car could ever run on water, the Genepax is a most welcome retort!  Meanwhile, there is another car being developed in India by a small autopreneur who is using a similar concept.

2. Electrical power

Bzzrrrttt, hell yeah!! If a car can run on veggie oil, why not electricity? Believe you me, this is possible and this is no fantasy. There is a vehicle that has been designed by the French automaker we all love (Peugeot) who conceptualized this car and this car looks pretty space age-ish with its flaunt worthy 2 seats and such. Its 2 huge front wheels can also rotate at different speeds and swivel a full 360 degrees. There has been no announcement on when this car would come to reality, but doesn’t just reading all of this motivate you? I sure am!!

1. Wood pellets (aka Biomass)

“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?”

If the above astonishments haven’t taken you by surprise, then how about a dose of wood? The car pictured here literally rubs on wooden pellets. That’s right – essentially the same thing one might burn in a wood stove or campfire for heat is what powers this rugged, outdoors-y vehicle. Its all part of what is known as biomass, a catchall term referring to living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel.

Bottom Line:

Hope these alternative sources have blown your mind, if not try some vegetable oil 😛

 

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW is a known player in the field of plug-in hybrid vehicles or PHEVs. After having debuted its super fabulous i8 super car in the year 2014, the bars have certainly been raised and now its time to perform better. Its 2016 and the market demands more, owing to change in the trends and preferences, the company has launched the X5 xDrive40e series that also happens to be BMW’s 1st non i-brand PHEV. This also entails upon the German automaker’s entry into the small yet expanding luxury PHEV SUV segment. Albeit it’s new entry, the xDrive40e is built on the tried and true X5 car platform.

This is reminiscent of the X5 that was one of the first luxury SUV’s that had debuted around 17 years ago and now the X5 xDrive 40e takes the same tradition that involved combining sophisticated utility along with fun, performance along with standard all-wheel drive together in one fat and luxurious package. BMW adds to this limited electric-only operation via a lithium-ion battery pack and emission-free operation—but it all comes at a premium price.

What powers this machine?

The 2016 BMW X5 xdrive 40e comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline powered engine that has 240 HP power and an additional 111-horse power electric motor. The total power generated by this beast is 308 Hp and that’s no joke. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission with Sport and Manual shift modes.

Interiors and features:

In terms of features, this vehicle comes equipped with xenon adaptive headlights with dynamic auto-leveling along with Corona rings, LED fog lights, hill descent control, adaptive cruise control, power-folding and heated side mirrors, four-way power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support and driver’s seat memory functions, keyless entry and ignition, a sliding panoramic moon-roof with a power interior sunshade, front and rear parking sensors, and interior ambient lighting. On the tech side, you get the BMW Assist tele-matics system, Bluetooth for phone and audio, BMW Online and BMW Apps connectivity, the iDrive infotainment interface with a touchpad controller, a navigation system with a 10.2-inch display and real-time traffic information, 3D maps, and a 200GB hard drive.

The standard audio system features CD/DVD, AM/FM HD Radio, satellite radio, USB, aux-in, and 20GB of storage for audio files. Special PHEV tech includes BMW eDrive with range and charging-status display, charging station search, charging timer, and cabin preconditioning via the My BMW Remote app.

The M Sport trim adds 20-inch M wheels, an aerodynamic kit, special exterior trim, an M steering wheel with paddle shifters, aluminum roof rails, multi-contoured front seats, interior wood trim, and an anthracite headliner.

How technically sound is this car?

The biggest technical advantage of the BMW X5 x Drive 40 e is the PHEV technology that comes on board. An eDrive button in the center console is used to click through the power train settings. The default Auto mode allows the gas engine and electric drive systems to work together, while Max locks the vehicle into all-electric mode until the battery is depleted. There’s also a Save Battery setting that conserves the battery’s energy for Max use later. There is an iDriver controller and a touch pad on top that although takes some getting used to but it’s a nice and convenient management option. As with all BMWs, the xDrive40e uses hybrid connectivity, so some features are available via an embedded SIM card, such as online search, while others, like several streaming music services, are delivered through the BMW Apps platform and your smart phone.

 

Pricing:

Getting onto the most essential part of this article, the pricing. In terms of pricing, the 2016 BMW X5 xdrive 40e comes with an introductory price of $ 62,000 and comes available in various trims. Pay an extra $ 1100 and get the luxury line, while the xLine is priced at $ 2000 extra. The Sports costs $ 4350 more. The additional accessories carry a separate price tag in case you require any of them.

Performance:

In terms of performance, the xDrive40e offers superb spirited performance that comes with quick acceleration and incredible handling. A point to be noted is that this car only has a minimum of 14 miles of electric-only range and has a fuel economy of 25 mpg on highways. It takes around 3 hours to charge the battery with the 3.6 kW onboard charger with 240-volt. While the factory-supplied 120-volt charging cord that plugs into any standard wall socket takes about seven hours to recharge a completely depleted battery. That’s sadly a turnoff for electric cars.

Bottom Line:

The main question arises that is this vehicle worth the money and is the worth spending 60K+ on? Well, if you take plenty of short trips in electric-only mode, the vehicle would be a safe bet.

 

 

Kia boosting hybrid; electric rides by 2020

Kia is increasing its plans to get into the market and it is continuing its plans to significantly increase the number of green cars in its future lineup. The company is the child company of Hyundai and they hope to become the second biggest seller of green cars worldwide after Toyota.  This is going to involve more hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric cars and some hydrogen fuel-sell cars.

Michael Cole, in a tellurian lineup’s European trainer pronounced, “the sum will embody new variants of existent models, such as a hybrid chronicle of a Kia Optima hire automobile sole in Europe, and a plug-in hybrid chronicle of a Niro hybrid application vehicle”.

The total of this is going to include a new variant of existing models, such as a hybrid version of the Kia Optima station wagon sold in Europe, and a plug-in hybrid version of the Niro Hybrid utility vehicle. Its hybrid and plug-in hybrid power trains are lifted from the Hyundai Sonata, which shares a platform with the Optima.

In 2016 Chicago Auto Show, the Niro is Kia’s first dedicated hybrid model and Kia calls it a crossover, but the Niro’s styling is somewhere between wagon and SUV, and it will launch with only front-wheel drive available. The Soul EV will most likely be the only battery-electric model for now. The electric version of the funky compact Soul is only sold at certain dealers in the U.S states deemed by Kia to be sufficiently electric-car-friendly. European boss Cole also said Kia will launch its first production hydrogen fuel-cell car “around 2020.”

The proposal suggests that the new model would likely use the second-generation fuel-cell power train being developed for parent Hyundai’s next hydrogen model. The next fuel cell Hyundai is expected to roll out in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in South Korea. A Kia variant would likely follow, though little else is known about it at this point. Hyundai has hinted that its next fuel-cell vehicle will be another crossover, replacing the current Tucson Fuel Cell.

Kia may follow Hyundai’s lead and offer a fuel-cell crossover as well, but no details about the model have been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the launch of the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery-electric power trains will likely go a long way toward meeting Hyundai/Kia’s ambitious green-car goal.

Here’s and example as to how Kia is setting up measures of creating hybrids, the 2017 Kia Niro cuts a fine example on how the strategy is working slowly but on the right track.

 The 2017 Kia Niro:

The 2017 Kia Niro is a dedicated subcompact hybrid crossover; the only one on the market, and it offers a good way to combine high fuel efficiency with ever-more-popular crossover styling.

The 2017 Kia Niro breaks new ground as the first dedicated hybrid crossover SUV–which is to say, there’s no gasoline-only Niro. It joins the world’s limited roster of dedicated hybrids, which is headed by the Toyota Prius, now in its fourth generation. The latest entry besides the Niro is the Hyundai Ioniq hatchback, which shares underpinnings with the new Niro.

Given the surging popularity of car-based crossover utility vehicles, the subcompact Niro may find an audience among buyers of small SUVs who want high fuel efficiency–Kia is targeting an EPA rating of 50 mpg combined–but avoid conventional hatchbacks. While the newest Kia has a crossover shape, however, Kia has not yet mentioned offering all-wheel drive–but we suspect it’s on the way. And for the smallest SUVs, often used mostly in cities, that may not be as much of a drawback as for larger family haulers.

The lines of the Kia Niro neatly split the difference between what could be considered a conventional wagon and a genuine utility vehicle. It’s just thick enough through the cowl and front end to qualify as a sleek crossover, led off by the characteristic Kia grille and etched in smoothly rounded lines. Think of it as a sleeker, butcher version of the similarly sized Kia Soul tall wagon, if you like.

 

Power train:

That power train uses a 103-horsepower direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, running on the ultra-efficient Atkinson Cycle, combined with the company’s own six-speed dual-clutch transmission. In between those two components, a 32-kilowatt (43-hp) electric motor contributes its own torque and can propel the car on its own under some driving conditions. Kia quotes combined power output at 146 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The company said its “strong and confident” look is atypical of dedicated hybrids, and indeed there’s almost nothing in its lines to indicate the advanced powertrain underneath. Despite the crossover shape, though, Kia says careful aerodynamic work has reduced the drag coefficient to 0.29, low for any kind of utility vehicle.

Bottom Line:

Kia seems like a pretty confident brand guided by its parent company, Hyundai. The company seems to have plenty of promise and potential that should give a boost of hybrid cars by the year 2020.