HYPERLOOP: Is this the future of traveling?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where brilliant minds explore, innovate and create something exceptional is what our article is going to take us through. Historic innovations, latest technology legendary things have happened here.

The MIT team is one of the several ones working on the future of traveling. Yes, I am talking about the Hyperloop, a vision for insanely rapid travel put forth by Silicon Valley’s most interesting and one of the most successful men, Elon Musk.

We know the Tesla man in the automobile world but he is the driving force of Hyperloop. The commute from San Francisco to Los Angeles that is currently a few minutes shy of 5 hours or approximately an hour’s journey by flight could be cut to just 30 minutes.

Yes, Hyperloop is definitely the future of travel.

So,What is Hyperloop?

Hyperloop is a conceptual transport system in which passengers are loaded into pods and fired through vacuum tubes at more than 600mph (1,000km/h). This sounds more like something you’d see right off some sci-fi movie or a spy movie. However, prototype pods have already been tested and a running along magnetic tracks much like the maglev trains that are currently used in countries such as Japan.

Air pumped out of the tubes reduces resistance that allows high speeds to be achieved. This potentially used less energy than a normal train.

This breakthrough idea could most certainly reduce journey times over long distances. That being said, there is more to it than meets the eye and the eye looks at various challenges before the idea becomes reality.

Mr Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX published a white paper outlining a way to use airtight tubes to propel pods at speeds of up to 1130 km/h, he set a challenge to anyone and everyone who wanted to build the technology.

There’s a small twist to it. Mr Elon is not paying the firms. However, he has committed to funding a series of tests. His target is set to the year 2021 where humans would travel on Hyperloops around the world. The MIT team is one of more than 20 non-commercial groups also designing a Hyperloop pod – with money coming from SpaceX in the form of a competition.

Phases:

The project was split over 2 phases. A design contest that MIT, had won in January and an on-track test, which is coming up in summer. This might either be it or it could also be a colossal waste of time. The barriers to Hyperloop becoming a reality are enormous.

How does Hyperloop work?

With all that’s said, the obvious question arises. How does Hyperloop work?

Air Bearings or Maglev:

FRICTION!!!

That’s one of the major problems that anything that moves faces. Friction against surfaces and the environment. But, Hyperloop proposes to move away from traditional wheels by using air bearings for pods instead. This will have the pod floating on air. This concept is similar to maglev in which the electromagnetic levitation of the train means that there is no friction like a traditional train that runs on tracks.

  • Fun Fact: The Maglev can achieve speeds up to 500 km/h in Japan.

There is another proposal from Hyperloop Transportation Technologies that uses passive magnetic levitation. This means magnets are on the trains and work with aluminum tracks. Current active maglev needs powered tracks with copper coiling, which can be expensive. Hyperloop will take this technology to another level and would take traveling through low-pressure tubes.

The Hyperloop is built in tunnels that have had some of the air sucked out to lower the pressure. So, like high altitude flying, there’s less resistance against the pod moving through the tunnel, meaning it can be much more energy efficient, something that’s highly desirable in any transit system.

The air bearing and passive maglev ideas are designed not only to levitate the pod, but also see the pod moving through the air, rather than pushing the air in front of it and dragging it along behind. The air cushion will see the air pumped from the front of the pod to the rear via these suspension cushions.

The tunnels envisioned are metal tubes, elevated as an over ground system. Musk has suggested that solar panels running on the top of the tunnels could generate enough electricity to power the system. It could also run as an underground system too.

 

Proposed speeds:

Hyperloop is being proposed as an alternative to short distance air travel where the system will be much faster than existing rail networks and much cleaner than flights.

Speeds of over 700mph are suggested for journeys, but there are practical implications that have to be considered on a short stop-start journey, such as the acceleration and deceleration sensation that passengers would go through.

Hyperloop in Action:

Currently, Elon Musk has barely announced much about the Hyperloop. There is going to be a 1-mile track built by SpaceX adjacent to Hawthorne, its California headquarters. The plan is to have a competition for students with their various pod designs in the summer of 2016.

The planning documents that have already been shown off planned a route between LA and San Francisco, a 354-mile journey, which would cost around $6 billion in construction. This is based on a passenger-only model whereas one that can also transport vehicles too would be $7.5 billion. This extra expenditure would be worth it since more people could use the system, offering potentially larger returns.

How much will Hyperloop cost to a layman?

According to Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO Dirk Ahlborn the cost of a ticket should be around $30 mark to get a passenger from LA to San Francisco. That, he says, should allow the company to pay back its initial costs in eight years. Weather this will actually be the final price of a ticket remains to be seen. To my opinion, you’ve got to have some deep pockets in order to commute on Hyperloop. But, its totally understandable that the company needs to achieve its ROI at the earliest.

Bottom Line:

Innovation is exciting. You’d definitely want to travel once in a life time on the Hyperloop if not commute.

Arch Motorcycles- The Keanu Reeves brand

Matrix superstar Keanu Reeves is an absolutely marvelous person by heart and in the motorcycle world. Sounds a bit absurd right? Well, the 50 year old actor’s dream (just like most celebrities) started off by wanting a custom made bike. Instead, Keanu ended up owning a bike company (sigh!! Celebrities and their lifestyle)

Anyhow, the actor says that he had a “Harley Davidson Dyna” that he wanted to customize and what he was doing was, well lets just say “up to the mark”

That’s when Reeves says “I met Keith Oliver at Bill Walls, who was doing some custom seats, and I wanted a sissy bar. And he was like, ‘Yeah, this dude needs some help.’ He called Gard Hollinger, and we rode over later that day. Hollinger just looked at me and said, ‘You know, I don’t make sissy bars, but why don’t you come inside and see what we do here?’

 

ARCH:

Keanu Reeves chose the company’s name “Arch” because an arch “Provides strength, connection and passage.” Many models were bandied about- Enemy, Nemesis as well as Rival. Later, they settled on the alphanumeric KRGT-1.

"Arch Motorcycles"
“Arch Motorcycles”

So, What’s this bike all about?

Arch’s first motorcycle looks pretty modish and built for the 21st century. The bike comes with its proprietary S&S powered 2032 cc Twin Cam V-Twin phone that is a Harley Davidson “clone” motor however, the styling of this bike is of a “sport cruiser” the likes of which haven’t been since Victory’s V92SC. This bike is just downright impressive and it should be. Bikes such as these come from a 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility and there is definitely something with it.

It has a 2-piece gas tank that isn’t something you’d probably be reminded of the Fat Bob. It comes machined from aluminum billet and it also houses a K&N air cleaner that comes accompanying a downdraft induction system.

SPECIFICATIONS
|Arch KRGT-1
ENGINE TYPE|OHV V-twin
DISPLACEMENT|2032cc
SEAT HEIGHT|27.8 in.
FUEL CAPACITY|5.0 gal.
CLAIMED DRY WEIGHT|538 lb.
PRICE|$78,000

 

Design:

The road race-style solo tail is engineered from billet and is weight-bearing. This bike carries plenty of design touches that are stunning. The arch double-cradle steel frame is coupled to the billet swing arm along with billet side plates. The bike has a billet oil tank that accompanies the engine and its gearbox. It also carries a bandit belt working with right-side chain final drive. It also has an upswept yoshimura exhaust with carbon-fiber end cap. That said, it also has a cove-style reflective Led taillight along with tidy bar-end mirrors. Buyers have the liberty to choose 2 or 3-inch bar risers, forward or mid-controls along with narrow or wide-mounted foot pegs. All of these come machined from billet and they are created using a sophisticated computer-aided design program. Strangely enough, this bike has no brand name or model designation anywhere on the bike except the dash.

"Arch Motorcycles"
“Arch Motorcycles”

The KRGT-1 has a long 68-inch wheelbase and its 613 pounds heavy. The bike comes with heavy muscle and respectable composure along with ISR brakes that carry twin 6-piston calipers up front that provide immense stopping power. Its rear suspension is also designed in such a way that makes up for an exceptional cruiser. The rear 240/40-18 Michelin commander tire makes the KRGT-1 feel like nothing so much as a Diavel. It comes with a 6-speed baker gearbox that helps immensely. The KRGT-1 that’s based on a custom Harley-Davidson Dyna that Reeves brought to Arch co-founder Gard Hollinder half-finished with a passenger seat and sissy bar. It’s almost a café racer.

"Arch Bikes"
“Arch Bikes”

Costs:

This is by far something that makes a boutique brand unique from the rest. Wondering about the costs that go into making the KRGT-1? Well, you’ve got to know that the company plans to sell only 50 units of this motorcycle. Here comes the major part, this motor cycle is priced at a whooping $ 78,000/-. It’s certainly stunning to hear such a huge price tag. Many would consider settling in for a luxury car rather than settling in for this expensive a bike. But, if you are really in for limited edition bikes and you want to settle for nothing less, this is certainly worth the dollars you spend. After all, its got Keanu Reeves vouching for it.

 

“Keanu’s Bike”

Bottom Line:

The KRGT-1 is an exceptionally designed motorcycle that comes at a premium price. This isn’t a bike that you would come across every day. It redefines a completely new sector named sports cruisers. It’s bikes like these that will set a rider apart from the rest.

Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100- self-driving luxury

If you’ve got enough dough to drive around in a chauffeur driven ultra-luxury car, here’s a car that defies all that you’ve believed in and give you an entirely different perspective.

The idea of self-driving cars isn’t something that you might find fresh. But, like every other car manufacturer, Rolls Royce wanted to join the league but differently.

Rolls Royce Vision Next 100

On the 16th of June, Rolls Royce, at a press event held in London, the luxury carmaker unveiled its newest concept car that goes by the name Rolls-Royce 103EX, its vision of what the future of one-percenter travel will look like. Without further wordplay, here’s what the Vision Next 100 looks like:

Interiors:

Open the single door that brings you into a space that is uniquely designed for the disgustingly wealthy people. The interiors comprise of a cream colored textured finish with a whole lot of wood paneling.

Seats? Oh that? Well, that’s quite old school. Here’s something better:

Rolls, instead of seats have opted for a silk-covered couch. Or, to use the company’s own words: “A beautifully textured, ivory-colored luxurious throne upon which our passengers are conveyed, and from which they command.”

 

This happens to be Rolls Royce’s vision of the next 100 years of extravagant automobiles and this is certainly next generation. The car comes with incredible technology, the most advanced features and plenty more.

It also seems to have some sort of holographic internal display that forms its logo out of semi-luminescent specs that swirl around the interior of the car. According to a video from Rolls-Royce, it’s an AI assistant with a “soul,” called Eleanor. It’s unclear whether this would be part of an additional upgrade package, or a futuristic version of OnStar.

Very soon, Eleanor will become a Rolls-Royce owner’s personal digital assistant and chauffeur. The future system’s artificial intelligence allows ‘her’ to remind occupants about itineraries, schedules, appointments and other tasks which apps such as Siri, Cortana, and Google Now already do.

However, Eleanor can do something neither of the aforementioned assistants can do: drive your Rolls.

Exteriors:

The outside of this palace styled car looks like something ripped right out of the retro-futurist settings of a Tim Burton Batman film. Although, this is a concept car, the Vision NEXT 100 not only continues the spirit of Rolls-Royce’s elegance, but steps into the world of advanced driver assists by introducing the “Voice of Eleanor” (Eleanor is the winged female visage gracing each Rolls-Royce hood).

The concept car is electric, has a self-stowing luggage compartment, and doesn’t need a steering wheel or dashboard, as those would be “superfluous in this model,” Rolls-Royce claims.

Once at its destination, the VISION NEXT 100’s glass canopy will lift, giving room for occupants to stand while still being sheltered from the elements. The doors of the Rolls-Royce VISION NEXT 100 will then automatically open and a running board will slide out with a splash of red light simulating the red carpet entrance every time a person exits the car.

Narrow, 28-inch wheels created from 65 individual pieces of aluminum will convey owners to their destination in a “futuristic catamaran”. Through Rolls Royce VISION NEXT 100 ‘Grand Sanctuary’ concept, customers will be surrounded by handcrafted wood paneling (similar to many other Rolls-Royces) with a generous OLED screen viewable from the rear passenger ‘sofa’.

Since this view of the future is a fully-autonomous vehicle, there’s no need for unsightly steering wheels or other inconvenient contrivances. In fact, the VISION NEXT 100 could be mistaken for a small viewing room on wheels, filled with a transparent screen, pillows, sumptuous interior materials, and drapery.

In the similar fashion that the ‘Spirit of Ecstacy’ design was used for the vehicles of the past, the Voice of Eleanor will be the guiding theme for vehicles of the future. And, of course, the graceful Eleanor figure will still stand front-and-center on the ‘futuristic catamaran’.

The designers say the 28-inch wheels; hand built using 65 individual sections of aluminum is enclosed creating the impression that the car is skimming across the road’s surface.

“The Rolls Royce patron will continue to be a famous figure in the future” says the director of design, Giles Taylor.

“I envision that the Rolls-Royce Vision Next 100 will play a key role in these people’s lives, guiding and conveying them effortlessly through their life’s journey in an exquisite sanctuary where they can reflect in peace ahead of arriving in the grandest style.”

Bottom Line:

While there’s no guarantee that a vehicle like this will be hitting the streets of the nicer parts of town anytime soon—or even at all—it does show that Rolls Royce has a plan for bringing its distinctive brand of conspicuous consumption into the self-driving age. “In a future where transport is commoditized—void of beauty, space and form-RR will definitely stand apart” the company said on its webpage.

Chevrolet Volt Hybrid

Volt, not Bolt!!!

Chevrolet Volt is quite a familiar car in the U.S. This plug-in hybrid car is manufactured by General Motors and marketed and rebadged as the Holden Volt in Australia and New Zealand and also carries different fascia as the Vauxhall Ampera in the U.K and as the Opel Ampera in the rest of Europe.

The Volt started making its appearance on roads in U.S during mid-December 2010. This was the start and then the Volt made it big in the European market and international markets in 2011. Global sales combined, the Volt and Ampera family sold about 1,10,000 units by the end of March 2016. The U.S was the leading market with over 96,000 Volts delivered through May 2016.

The Volt II is a new concept that envisages newer boundaries and better sales than ever. The new Volt proves that GM’s novel idea for enviro-hybrid has cleared the tower of experimentation and is on full-powered ascent into regularly producing a sustainable vehicle.

Either way, the new Volt’s styling makes a 30-year thematic leap to contemporary windswept sensuality, and the interior is no ­longer something out of the Apple catalog c. 1999. The silly touch-sensitive capacitive controls are gone, replaced by a mosaic of conventional push buttons set in a pleasingly organic fan of interior plastics and complemented by an elegantly integrated infotainment screen.

No doubt some Voltifosi will lament the car’s reach toward design normalcy, toward looking a lot more like a Honda Civic. But the car both looks and functions a lot better, especially since GM makes a terrific effort to cater the car’s controls to the needs of EV buyers and especially their hyper-miling radical elite. And Volt lovers can rejoice that the basic four-door-hatchback envelope is essentially unchanged, with just about a half-inch inserted in the wheelbase and 3.3 inches added overall, mainly for styling and to give rear-seat passengers a little more legroom. Indeed, the frontal area and claimed drag coefficient of 0.28 are essentially as they were before.

Engine:

GM had marching orders from its wide range of customers demanding more range in EV mode. The engine was loud and the customers wanted a quieter and a spunkier car. The old power train that paired an iron-block 1.4-liter four-cylinder to one large propulsion/regen motor/generator and one smaller multi­purpose electric machine, got a complete rethink. Now, the company has added a more powerful engine named the Atkinson-cycle 1.5 liter aluminum-block engine that works in concert with two smaller motors that are housed inside a transaxle to drive the differential through a chain instead of gears as the vehicle did before.

The reason behind choosing the 1.5 is because a bigger engine turning more slowly can be remarkably efficient and quiet. A T-shaped battery pack still lies under the tall center tunnel, but its capacity climbs from 17.1 kWh to 18.4, with fewer but larger liquid-cooled prismatic lithium-ion cells to generate more power from a lighter but slightly larger package.

You can drive it around 50 miles a day and recharge it overnight. The Volt runs on electric power until it depletes the usable portion of the battery, and then seamlessly switches to a combination of gasoline and electricity.

Aesthetics:

Although the Volt has an eco-friendly image, the car is actually pretty fun to drive. The car cuts down all the range of anxiety of the otherwise known electric cars. The gasoline-hybrid power train is pretty impressive all by itself. The engine delivers greater efficiency, and better acceleration. The all-electric range is 53 miles; after that, the gas engine starts up to recharge the battery and keep you going. Total driving range is 420 miles. There are five seats, but the middle rear seat is almost unusable. Charge times are 13 hours on 120V and 4.5 on 240V. Aesthetically, the car has 17” x 7” 5-spoke painted aluminum wheels. The vehicle gets a fresh looks and the noticeable attractions such as headlamps, LED low-beam, halogen reflector high beam, automatic exterior lamp control are a few additions. The car also has tail lamps with LED illumination and solar absorbing glass.

 

Interiors:

Inside, this car has plenty of additions that make quite an impression. The Volt has front bucket reclining seats with adjustable head restraints, 60/40 split rear seats. The center console comes with covered storage bin with front and rear dual cup holders and 12-volt rear power outlet. It also has floor mats, carpeted front and rear, tilt and telescopic steering column, leather wrapped steering wheels, steering wheel controls with mounted audio controls. Entertainment has also been given a lot of attention.

The vehicle has an 8-inch color digital reconfigurable LCD screen with driver information center, compass, trip fuel information, vehicle information and vehicle messages. It also supports On Star, Remotelink app and can be paired with the smart phone. Additional features include keyless ignition, push start button, passive unlock and lock on all doors, Remote start, panic alarm and delayed charging override functions. Cruise control, electronic with set and resume speed comes as an addition. Lastly, this car has umbrella pocket, bottle holder, Map pockets and front passenger seatbacks.

 

Bottom Line:

The Volt has been quite a successful car throughout and has been awarded the 2009 Green Car Vision award, the 2011 Green car of the year award, 2011 North American Car of the year, 2011 World Green Car, 2012 European Car of the Year,and 2016 Green Car of the Year. With plenty of credibility at stake, the new Volt should continue the legacy just fine…

Formula E: Decoded!

Vehicle racing has been around for decades now. There has always been something magical surrounding the idea of competition. The thrill of the chase, the rush of adrenaline and the glory soon after; All these separate but interrelated sensations all culminate to give birth to an experience inimitable by anything else. And with the invention of the motorcar, this competition was further extended to encompass games involving one’s skill behind the wheel.

Soon after, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) was set up as a governing body to manage numerous auto racing events. Among these events, Formula One is of the highest class and serves as the ultimate proving ground for many a racer. However, over the years, the rising concern for the environment and the fast depletion of naturally occurring non-renewable resources, Formula One has been increasingly looked upon as an indulgence we cannot afford. As a result, Formula E was conceived as a means to satiate our thirst for competition without undue damage to the environment.

Formula E's official insignia
Formula E’s official insignia

History

Conceived back in 2012, Formula E kicked off its first season in 2014 with official support from the FIA. For the series’ first season, eleven races were held in ten different cities with the last two rounds held in London. The season kicked off on the 13th of Spetember in Beijing’s Olympic Green Circuit. The street track is noted for being one of the longest (3.43 km) in Formula E. The track runs along the circumference of the Olympic Stadium used during the 2008 games. Lucas di Grassi, a part of Audi Sport ABT’s team became the very first race’s winner. ABT Sportsline is an auto tuning and motor racing company headquartered in Germany. Although the team managed to clinch the first spot in the very first race of Formula E, Audi Sport ABT ended the season in the third position.

Nelson Piquet Jr: The world's first Formula E Champion
Nelson Piquet Jr: The world’s first Formula E Champion

The winning team of world’s first Formula E championship was Nelson Ângelo Tamsma Piquet Souto Maior, better known as Nelson Piquet Junior. Son of three time Formula One world champion Nelson Piquet, Nelson Piquet Jr. has had a long history in racing including representing Renault in Formula One. Sadly however, due to a scandal orchestrated by the senior members of the team, Piquet Jr.’s career came to an unfortunate and abrupt end in Formula One.

With the Piquet name bowing out of one of the most prolific race events in human history, Formula E offered redemption. Representing China Racing, the Brazilian stole the championship from Buemi and Di Grassi, the season’s other front-runners. Other notable names that entered the very first season of Formula E was Nicolas Prost, Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld.

The Car

Coming to the actual car, the first season saw every team race with an identical machine. Dubbed the Spark-Renault SRT_01E, the chassis is composed of a lightweight carbon fiber composite with the driver enclosure made of aluminum that offers better crash protection. The entire chassis is designed and built by an Italian firm named Dallara.

The Spark SRT_01E race car
The Spark SRT_01E race car

Similar to most racing cars or track only cars, the steering wheel or “command center” of the Formula E racer consists of a radio button, speed limiter for the pit lane, a button that engages a boost mechanism, a knob for adjusting the electric motor’s power outputs, paddle shifters and a display indicating the current battery levels.

Since the races occur in both tracks and common streets, the SRT_01E features a set of 18 inch wheels designed for all weather performance. The battery pack, consisting of 164 Li-ion batteries was designed by British racing firm Williams F1. Producing 30 kilowatt-hours, the battery pack does not offer more than 20-30 minutes of range. As a result, each team comes with two fully charged cars. Once the battery in one car almost discharges, the driver makes a pit stop and swaps out his current unit with the fully charged unit.

In any electric car, the BMS (Battery Management System) plays a pivotal role in the efficiency and power delivery rates. The BMS is also required to ensure that the battery is in normal working condition and is operating within permissible levels of variation. The task of building a BMS for cars used in high intensity racing brings a whole new level of difficulty due to the rapid charging/discharging of the battery. For Formula E vehicles, the BMS consists of a dizzying number of sensors (far more than any conventional electric vehicles’s BMS). Each second of battery use sends somewhere around 350,000 discrete values regarding the battery to the software that handles the health and performance of the battery pack. The motor, sourced from English automotive heavyweight McLaren is the same motor used in the P1 hypercar.

Current Status

With season 2 currently underway, Formula E has not fizzled out in its opening inning. The electric racing tournament has also seen the entry of English premium car maker Jaguar in the latest season. With Jaguar returning to motorsports, other car makers that had backed out of racing events may soon see a return; Hopefully in Formula E.

Jaguar has made an entry into Formula E
Jaguar has made an entry into Formula E

Buick Lacrosse HEV Hybrid Unveiled

Things did not seem too bright for General Motors, the appeal of the brand Buick in the Chinese market has however, saved the brand from peril. Pontiac had seen the darkest of times, but Buick was smart enough to redeem itself. General Motors, since then has been giving the Chinese market much needed attention. Owing to that, the Buick La Crosse HEV that just made its global debut at the 2016 Buick Day event held at Shanghai took its dibs. In addition, Buick also released the new “Buick Blue” logo, which is prominently displayed on the LaCrosse HEV’s rear deck lid.

The Executive Director of Global Propulsion Systems, Larry Nitz says, “GM’s leadership in electrification technologies, now and in the future, are coming to Buick in China. In fact, over the next five years, we will roll out more than 10 new energy vehicles in China, including several models for Buick. That includes full hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and extended-range electric vehicles.”

Getting into the Hybrid division has been quite exponential for Buick. It’s now clear with the company’s eco-friendly models such as LaCrosse eAssist and La Crosse Eco-Hybrid that the HEV is a sure shot success.

The new LaCrosse HEV shares pretty much the same style and design cues as the all-new Lacrosse in the US. However, the new Lacrosse features a specific power train and some other electric goodies that help it achieve excellent gas mileage. So, with that said, let’s dive on in and review the newest hybrid from Buick.

 

Outside:

The Lacrosse HEV is pretty much an identical twin to the Lacrosse. The vehicle features the same grille that was inspired by the Avenir and has a gorgeous looking sculpted hood. That said, the car also includes little vents on the fenders and the chrome-cladding strip on the doors. In fact, the only real difference on the outside is Buick’s new “Buick Blue” logo and the “HEV” badge it is connected to on the rear deck.

Considering it has all of the standard car’s good looks, but an energy-efficient drive train, it should do pretty well on the Chinese Market. The similarities in the design aside, the vehicle’s performance is better than its predecessor.

Inside:

Step inside and the cabin gets the same Avenir-inspired cabin that was presented in the Lacrosse that made its debut in the U.S. The car has a wraparound dash that features plenty of curves and a unique padding structures that make the car even more comfortable and luxurious. The insert on the passenger side of the dash looks to be an ash-colored wood, with the grain running horizontally to give the cabin a wider feel. The same inserts are used on the doors around the door handle. The trim inserts on the center console, and around the infotainment display are painted flat black.

Its seats, door pull handles, padding on the center console as well as the padding on its lower portion of the dash are all wrapped in white leather. This adds to the upscale looks of the HEV. The infotainment system in this car is equipped with Buick’s latest IntelliLink system that comes with an 8-inch display as Apple CarPlay & Android Auto. It also has other goodies such as acoustic-laminated windshield as well as front side windows, triple-sealed doors as well as noise path sealing.

Engine:

The Lacrosse HEV comes powered by a 1.8-liter SIDI engine that is connected to an electric variable transmission. The engine is mated to a 1.5 kWh high-performance lithium battery unit. The vehicle can achieve a fuel economy of 4.7 liters per 100 km.

Price:

Since Buick is keeping some secrets about the car for now, it’s no surprise that the price details are yet to be revealed. The 2017 Lacrosse base model is expected to fetch approximately $ 32,000. The current, 2016 LaCrosse eAssist model claims $34,500.

Wrap up:

For the Chinese market, the Buick Lacrosse happens to be a big deal. The advantage this vehicle has over the others is that the Lacrosse has better fuel economy and better performance than other hybrids. It’s no surprise that this model broke cover in China, considering the Chinese market seems to express more interest in hybrid vehicles than in the U.S. Both the Buick LaCrosse HEV and the Buick Avista Concept will be making another appearance at Auto China 2016 in Beijing on April 25th, at which time further information about Buick’s new Hybrid vehicle will be revealed. More updates coming soon, stay tuned for more. J

Maruti Suzuki Swift Hybrid – Anticipatory preview

Perhaps India’s top selling Hatchback, the Maruti Suzuki Swift is at their top game yet again. The Baleno that was launched a while back has taken a throttle over the modern hatchback enthusiasts. That makes the older cousin (Swift) a little less desirable. Main reason you ask? Well, for one, the design language hasn’t changed a tad since the launch.

However, all of that might change. Sources/ rumors and various motorheads suggest the launch of the Hybrid version Swift is on its way. This seems like an effort to lure  buyers towards electric and hybrid vehicles in the country. In fact, the Government of India has recently introduced the FAME India scheme- Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India’ – as a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Under the new scheme, the Government announced to offer incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of upto 29,000 for two-wheelers and 1.38 lakh for cars.

Various carmakers such as Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki are working on such products for the Indian Market. One such product could be the Maruti Swift Range Extender, which has been showcased at multiple events including FAME. However, the company has clarified that it will develop its hybrid models only after getting further clarity about the schemes and incentives.

“The company will develop their hybrid models commercially only after getting further clarity on key aspects, including technology development fund, charging infrastructure and demand incentive.”, said CV Raman, executive director (engineering), Maruti Suzuki.

 

Swift Range Extender

“Range Extender” dubbed the hybrid variant of Swift was previously being considered to be supplied to the government of India, although this pilot project was shelved for unknown reason, but it seems that the Japanese auto giant is now contemplating to launch it in India for commercial use. The FAME India scheme might bring out this vehicle.

Power will be derived from a low displacement petrol engine, which is likely to generate pretty decent power output something against its low capacity stance. There will be three modes on which this hatchback will be driven around. The launch date is far away, speaking hypothetically, launch is likely to happen sometime this year. On the price front, the hatchback will be priced more than the regular version but we believe that MSI will tag the hatchback competitively.
Meanwhile, here is some information that is based out of speculation and expert opinions:

Maruti Suzuki Swift Hybrid Range Extender Engine:
Sources close to development have revealed that the Maruti Suzuki Swift Hybrid is likely to get a low displacement, 658cc, three cylinder, petrol engine. The gasoline mill is expected to work in conjunction with a permanent magnet synchronous motor. This engine will work in tandem with a 55kW electric motor mounted on the front-axle. There will be a 5kWh lithium ion battery, which can power the car for a range of 25.5km, and will take around 90 minutes to get fully charged via a 200V socket. The Swift Range Extender might be around 130kg heavier than its conventional petrol-engine that is smashing sales records in India, which weighs around 960-990kg. Maruti claims that the Swift Range Extender offers a combined fuel efficiency of up to 48.2kpl.

Swift Hybrid

Expected Mileage
One of the highlights of the hybrid version of Swift is the expected fuel economy, it is being speculated that Sift Hybrid will be able to run up to 48.2 km per litre. The electric driving range of the vehicle is around 25.5 kms. That’s something that made Maruti Suzuki a desired brand in India.

Expected Price
One of the most vital factors before buying a car is its Price. Maruti Suzuki has always been on the greener side with its pricing. The record-breaking sales are proof enough. The Swift Hybrid is likely to be priced a tad more than the regular version of the hatchback for obvious reasons. Sources have revealed that Maruti Suzuki Swift Hybrid price in India could range between Rs 9 lakh to Rs 12 lakh owing to the high import duty and such factors.

Extender Expected launch date
As far as the launch of this highly anticipated hatchback is concerned, it is believed that there is still time for that. If we go by rumors, it suggests that Maruti Suzuki India  could roll out Swift Hybrid in domestic market between February 2017 to May 2017. It means there are still two years for that and we can expect to see glimpse of the hatchback at the 2016 Auto Expo.

 

Bottom Line:

With all that’s said and done, there is no confirmation yet on where Maruti stands in terms of its pilot project, or whether the commercial launch is any time soon, the company did showcase the model again on the occasion of World Environment Day (June 5). The carmaker is understood to still be working out the feasibility factor. Since the engine, electric motor and the battery pack are all imported, the pricing is likely to be on the higher side. But, considering the government’s keenness on promoting hybrids, the vehicle might be launched sooner than expected.

 

Sweden’s Zbee Helps India

Zbee car

Clean Motion, a Swedish company has launched its advanced electric commercial vehicle, ‘Zbee’ in India.

The Zbee looks pretty much like a rickshaw. However, this 3-wheeled electronic ride is here for a major transportation and economical change.

Zbee India

Zbee is already running successfully across Europe and Indonesia, and would be used as last mile connectivity in the CyberHub area of Gurgaon as an active toll of green vehicles in the first phase. Post its launch on February 10, the company flagged off its commercial operation. As part of a cluster, 25 Zbees will provide last-mile connectivity from the CyberHub to nearby offices of DLF Cyber City and later on to the metro stations. The zero-emission Zbee is currently imported as a CKD kit.

Under its pact with DLF, Zbees will function from various retail formats in Delhi-NCR. Homologated by ICAT Manesar and certified by government authorities as an electric vehicle with a registered number plate, about 100 Zbees per month will be locally assembled at Faridabad; local manufacturing is being explored at a later stage. The Zbee is currently sold in Sweden and Indonesia and India will be the third country on its radar.

 

Why is this a fun to drive electric you ask?

Build:

The Zbee is made from a fibre reinforced plastic body, the lightweight EV weighs around 270kg enabling it to strike a balance between its light body structure and safety requirements. The Zbee weighs in just within the 1500 kilogram limit, thereby making it quite nimble.

Energy Efficient:

The perfect vehicle for short distance transportation of up to three people and smaller goods. The vehicle, through its energy efficiency and zero emissions will improve the environment both logically and globally.

Zbee

 

Fun to Drive:

The Zbee is quite a practically built, fun to drive vehicle that lets behind all the efforts and delivers safety. Zbee also offers parking ease, because this vehicle can even be parked inside your home.

Zbee Fun to drive

 

Practical:

Zbee is weather protected, seats three people with ease and features a protected luggage compartment. The parking brake has a lock and protects the vehicle from theft. It’s designed around your actual needs. Since when did you need a vehicle weighing 1500 kg, with a top speed of 200 km/h, just to go shopping?

Zbee Practical

 

Economical:

The battery powering the hi-tech motor charges quickly and needs little service. It costs only about a dime per 10 km of driving. The advanced lithium ion battery allows the Zbee to be driven for up to 50 kilometers. Recharging takes an hour, says Clean Motion. Later a rapid charging device, which enables a recharge within 30 minutes,  will be introduced.

The company claims that three Zbees fit into a single parking lot. Operating cost is 30 percent of the cost of a fossil fuel vehicle. It can seat two passengers and the driver and has a top speed of 45kph. In addition, it comes with a parking brake to prevent theft.

Fossil fuel-run vehicles have contributed significantly in adding to the carbon footprint and emissions in our environment. To combat this, we started developing technology which is lean, clean and safe and can be a potential alternative transport solution. This led to the Zbee,” says Goran Folkesson, CEO of Clean Motion.

Expanding footprints in India:

Clean Motion has so far invested over $1 million (Rs 6.6 crore) in its Indian operations and plans to invest another $10 million (Rs 66 crore) by 2017 for expanding its reach across India. An upcoming IPO to raise a capital of $5 million this April will go towards setting up a manufacturing facility for the Zbee in the vicinity of Faridabad, confirms Folkesson.

The target is to achieve about 70 percent localisation of parts over the next 6-8 months so as to bring down the production cost by 2017. At present the Zbee costs Rs 5 lakh and with indigenisation the product cost is expected to down by 50 percent within a year according to Anil Arora, country head of Clean Motion India.

The Faridabad assembly facility can roll out around 3,000-5,000 units annually and a new modern manufacturing plant is expected to have an annual production capacity of 5,000 units as well. The target is to set up multiple micro factories for producing the Zbee in close proximity to its customers as it expands across the country.

At a rough estimate, each micro factory will require an area of 500-1000 square metres and involve an investment of Rs 4 crore producing 5,000 units annually. Franchisees will be tasked with marketing the Zbee.

It would soon be marketed in Delhi, Noida, Jaipur and other smart cities. The company aims to sell over 1,000 Zbees in India by March 2017.

The company plans to train women drivers for Zbee and would work with Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd and other organizations in this regard. It is expected to be a viable energy-efficient solution to the critical issues of pollution and last-mile connectivity in urban metros.

Besides, the company has entered into an arrangement with DLF to operate Zbees from various retail format in Delhi-NCR. Zbee has a fibre-reinforced plastic body, which is light as well as strong from a safety perspective. It comes with an advances lithium ion battery and a full charge allows it to be driven for up to 50 km.

Clean Motion has invested over $1 million in India so far and would be pumping in $10 million by 2017. Currently, Zbee is being assembled in India at Faridabad and the India team expects to bring down the production cost significantly by 2017.

Meanwhile, environmental body, CSE has said that the high number of diesel vehicles in the recently concluded Auto Expo shows a scary trend of high pollution causing models hitting the market despite 2,000-cc diesel engines being banned in the NCR till March 2016. CSE claimed that as many as 27 per cent of all displayed car/SUV models in Auto Expo were in the bracket of 2,000-cc diesel engines.

 Bottom Line:

We hope to see more Electronic vehicles that serve a better purpose in India soon. Hope you enjoyed the article? Please feel free to share/like/comment.

2016 Upcoming Cars In India

The following article should drive you through the various upcoming cars that will add splendor to the Indian market. So, watch out for these new hot rides that should help confuse you a little more with your buying decision:

Toyota Rush:

Toyota’s collaboration with Kirloskar motors has brought quite the reputation to the Indian Automobile market. With a wide range of vehicles, the company is now planning to introduce a new model named Toyota Rush. The Rush looks like a robust sports utility vehicle that is expected to be launched sometime in 2016. This car is already available in Malaysia.

Exteriors:

The sporty looking Rush is quite the compact that you’ll ever need. This vehicle certainly reminds us about the Fortuner that is running quite successfully in India. The front façade with a perforated radiator grille along with the logo as well as a chrome strip adds to the style. This vehicle will be a compressed version of the Fortuner.

Toyota Rush

Interiors:

The interiors of the Rush will be quite spacious and plush with 2 tone color scheme.  That said, this vehicle is most likely to feature a 2-DIN infotainment system along with high quality speakers.

Engine:

The Toyota Rush might come with a 1.5 litre petrol power train with 1495 cc capacity. This 4 cylinder enabled car will feature 16 valves. This mill is tuned to return a decent mileage along with an impressive top speed. Moreover, it also has the ability to churn out a maximum power of 107.5bhp in combination with torque output of 141Nm, which is also good.

Further info:

The Toyota Rush might carry a price ranging from 8 lakh to 12 lakh. This car will compete with Maruti Brezza, Hyundai Creta, Ford Eco sport and Renault Duster.

 

 

RENAULT LAGUNA:

The French automobile giant, Renault, has launched plenty of cars in India.  The latest offering is the Renault Laguna which will hit the Indian roads probably during the end of 2016.

Exteriors:

The front look of the Renault Laguna looks similar to the Renault Fluence. Although the Fluence did not do too well in India, Renault has hopes with the Laguna. The car has am elegant looking design with the company’s logo placed between the headlamps. The C-segment sedan should amaze various corporate customers due to its sophisticated looks.

Renault Laguna

Interiors:

In terms of interiors, the Renault Laguna should carry pretty much the same offerings as the Fluence, only a bit more elaborate. The car will have an excellent set of speakers, great infotainment system and plush interiors.

Renault Laguna

Engine:

The same K9K engine powering the Duster and Captur will also power the Laguna in its higher state of tune. The 1,461cc four-cylinder engine develops 109bhp at 4,000rpm and 240Nm of torque, mated to six-speed manual transmission. A 1.2-litre M9R petrol engine is available in the international Laguna, which is not expected in India. The car will bear a new name when launched in India.

The car comes with disc brakes front and rear, making it easy and convenient to handle. This convenience is further enhanced by the power steering. The Laguna is capable of an impressive top speed of 210 kmph. It has a turning radius of 11m. The average mileage of the car is not known but it is expected to be quite competitive. This is one of the first cars to be given a five star safety rating by the European NCAP.

Further Info:

The Laguna is expected to be priced between Rs 18 to 25 lakhs. It is a car of the D+ segment which will be in direct competition with Honda Accord, Skoda Superb and the Volkswagen Passat. The Renault Laguna in India is expected to be available in two variations. One is the Renault Laguna Expression 1.4 and the Renault Laguna Dynamique 1.4.

 

 

 NISSAN GT-R:

This vehicle you just can’t miss because this is the Porsche Killer. The GT-R, ecer since its launch has evolved to become one of the fastest and yet highly practical supercars of all time. What’s even more impressive is the fact that developments on this all-wheel drive coupe has never really slowed down, with Nissan introducing yearly updates with more power and upgraded mechanicals. Now, Nissan is finally planning to bring the GT-R to India by the end of this year to take on the mighty Porsche 911 Turbo.

Exteriors:

Speed is the only thing that you can expect out of the GT-R and so, the design is kept as aerodynamic as possible. While the uninspiring look of the front-end isn’t the most impressive piece of design in the supercar world, the GT-R makes up for it with its jet fighter-style canopy, striking multi spoke alloys and that massive rear wing. Lastly, the signature Skyline look at the rear is courtesy the traditional four-ring taillights, while air flow below the vehicle is handled by the carbon fibre underbody diffuser.

Nissan GTR

Interiors:

This should come as no surprise because the GT-R’s interior is nothing less than a tech-fest. It has plenty of computers and high-tech sensors that monitor even the tiniest of movements of this car. The GT-R may be termed as a four-seater but it essentially features a 2+2 configuration.

Nissan GT-R

 Engine:

The GT-R is powered by a 3.8-litre V6 engine. Now it may not sound like a lot in supercar space, however, Nissan has backed this highly advanced engine with two turbochargers. The end result is 542bhp of power and 612Nm of torque. This massive powerful brute does 0-100 in less than 3.8 seconds.

Further more:

The GT-R is certainly a force not to be reckoned with. The price tag is quite steep. The car crosses the 1 crore rupee limit.

 

 

VOLKSWAGEN UP:

Volkswagen is planning to launch one more compact hatchback in the Indian car market that’s going to be named UP. This is expected to be the first ever smallest and cheapest vehicle against its competitors like Hyundai, Maruti, Chevrolet and Ford. The best part of this car is the vehicle comes in 3 different body styles namely; 2 door hatchback, 4-door hatchback and 4 door wagon versions.

Exteriors:

The vehicle looks quite captivating with a new radiator grille, attractive halogen lights and interesting bonnet. The vehicle is overall an attractive looking package.

Volkswagen UP

Interiors:

The interiors of the Volkswagen UP has dual tone color scheme. The cabin has an advanced instrument panel that displays the aspects like vehicle’s speed, a digital tachometer, fuel level and provides several warning notifications for keeping the driver updated. It also has a leather wrapped steering wheel is mounted with audio and call control switches for additional comfort. Its center fascia has a high gloss black finish and is integrated with a proficient AC unit along with a lot of storage spaces.

Volkswagen UP

 Engine:

As per the speculations, the upcoming Volkswagen UP model series is going to be fitted with a 1.0-litre, petrol engine, which displaces 999cc. It is integrated with three cylinders and twelve valves using a double overhead camshaft based valve configuration. This turbocharged power plant has the ability of churning out a maximum power output of 58bhp at 5000-6000rpm in combination with a peak torque output of 95Nm in the range of 3000 to 4300rpm.

Further more:

The Volkswagen UP is expected to bag a price tag starting from Rs. 3.5  lakhs.

 

 

Honda Vezel:

Japanese carmaker Honda is planning to introduce its all-new compact SUV named Vezek in India. This car made its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Exteriors:

Looks have certainly not been compromised on. This good looking compact SUV has sloping lines along its well planned C pillars and has sharp exteriors curves. This vehicle has a brilliant crossover appearance.

Interiors:

What’s good on the outside is sure to be brilliant inside. Honda is sure to add a couple of interesting goodies that will entertain the passengers. The cabin space will also be quite commodious as per its looks. The speakers and the infotainment system will also be built quite brilliantly.

Engine:
Honda will offer the all new Vezel in 1.5-litre petrol and 1.5-litre i-DTEC diesel engines with two-wheel drive (2WD) option. In Japan, the Mini SUV is available with only petrol engines. The 1.5-litre, four cylinder petrol unit produces a peak power of 132bhp and a torque of 155Nm. There’s one more electric motor version, but with the same 1.5-litre petrol engine. Both the petrol mills are made available with a CVT or seven speed CVT in two-wheel drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) configuration.

Furthermore:

The Vezel will compete against competitors like Ford EcoSport, Renault Duster and will carry a price tag ranging from Rs. 9 lakhs to Rs. 13 lakhs. It is expected to be launched somewhere in November 2016.

Tata Megapixel vs Chevrolet beat Electric

Tata motors have created  much hype with its upcoming electric car that’s going to be named Mega Pixel. This vehicle has (as sources suggest) been specifically designed to cater to the European markets. Bringing quite the futuristic look and feel to the market, this car is the upgraded version of the small car Pixel that is based on Tata Nano.

On on the other side of the competition, presenting the Electrically charged Chevrolet Beat. The beat has been quite a successfully running hatchback car in the Indian hatch segment. The Beat diesel version was the most sought after vehicle that created quite the buzz. With eager anticipation, here is a small review on the upcoming Beat Electric version.

 

Exteriors:

A complete in house house project from Tata motors that adds quite the European design to make it look pretty futuristic. This car was a debutant at the wood festival of speed in UK. The Megapixel surely knows how to impress. This car looks more like a production ready car rather than a concept. The practical designing of this compact hatch is really commendable. The car doesn’t features scissor doors similar to its younger sibling pixel. Instead, it comes with double sliding doors which make it easy for you to go in/out of the car and they look quite attractive also. The single piece face of Megapixel features angular headlights on both sides which gel well with the black colored radiator grille of this car.

The small bonnet of this car leads to its long and wide front windshield which makes it look extremely aerodynamic. The black colored air dam of Megapixel makes it look like a typical Tata car. The bulgy wheel arches and 16 inches alloy wheels add muscularity to Megapixel. The noticeable running lines on its doors nicely merges into the boot of this car. The tall look at the back adds visual bulk to this car. The tall positioned LED tail lights of Megapixel look sporty with its C-pillar. The rear glass eats up most of the space at the back and looks nice with its bulky rear bumper which features black colored air inlets. Overall, it is just the perfect blend of style and sophistication.

Tata Megapixel

General Motors on the other side of the wheel has taken a crack at revving fading customer interest in the Beat. The new Electric version is the essence of massive elegance that made this car so popular. The car features elegant bumpe s, new mirrors, a sporty looking rear spoiler alongside its LED inserts. It’s re-profiled head and tail-lights are quite prominent too. The slim seats give you optimum support and space. Megapixel is perfect for four adults. The double sliding doors not only give you easy access to this car but also improve the space inside. The panoramic roof also enlightens the mood inside and makes it look premium.

The dual tone dashboard of Megapixel will feature a big touch screen at its centre with AC vents on both sides. The instrument console and glove box will also be fitted in this dashboard. Tata may offer this car with door pockets, cubby holes and its spacious floor can also be used as a storage space. The bonnet of Megapixel is likely to act as the boot of this car similar to its younger siblings.

Chevrolet Beat Electric

 

Interiors:

Tata megapixel comes with a futuristic design. Tata Megapixel is likely to get dual tone interiors. The positioning of everything looks quite perfect and the cabin feels quite up-market. The floor and cabin feels quite spacious. The lack of B-pillar is the biggest reason which gives you more space inside this car. The slim seats give you optimum support and space. Megapixel is perfect for four adults. The double sliding doors not only give you easy access to this car but also improve the space inside. The panoramic roof also enlightens the mood inside and makes it look premium. The dual tone dashboard of Megapixel will feature a big touch screen at its centre with AC vents on both sides. The instrument console and glove box will also be fitted in this dashboard. Tata may offer this car with door pockets, cubby holes and its spacious floor can also be used as a storage space. The bonnet of Megapixel is likely to act as the boot of this car similar to its younger siblings.

Tata Megapixel

 

The Chevrolet Beat electric’s cabin looks pretty mum similar to the existing Beat models. With uniquely styled instrument cluster that’s made up of an analog speedometer and a digital pod for the tachometer that resembles a mid-’90s electronic Casio organiser and may not appeal to everyone. The front seats lack a bit of thigh support, but leg room is adequate. From the driver’s seat, the slightly high cowl and smallish rear windscreen hamper visibility, especially for new drivers. The equipment list is adequate. The vehicle sports features like airbags on both the sides, ABS, CD plays along with USH steering mounted audio controls as well as alloy wheels and power windows.

Chevrolet Beat Electric

 

Engine and Gearbox:
Technically, Megapixel is a futuristic and advanced car. Megapixel gets four electric motors, one on each wheel. These are lithium Ion Phosphate 13KWh batteries with induction charging system. They take 30minutes to get charge up to 80%. Megapixel is also equipped with a single cylinder 325cc single cylinder petrol engine. This 4-stroke engine is low on CO2 emission and generates a peak power of 30bhp. This engine is mated with an automatic transmission.

The Electric Beat on the other hand is supposedly powered by a Lithium powered battery with a maximum power of 20 kWh. This vehicle comes with a 5 speed manual transmission.

Suspension and Brakes:
Megapixel is likely to share its suspension system with its younger sibling, Pixel. It will feature McPherson struts at its front with independent coil spring suspension system at the back. The car might feature ventilated discs at its front or it may debut with drum brakes of 180mm on its all wheels. ABS with EBD and brake assist will further help you to stop this car accurately.

The Beat Electric on the flipside is likely to carry McPherson Strut brakes along with Compound Link Type Suspension.

Price:

The Megapixel is likely to carry a price gage between Rs. 5 lakhs to Rs. 6 Lakhs.

The Beat Electric is expected to be around the Rs. 6 lakh ball park.

Bottom Line: 

It is really difficult to decide which car is better than the other. Based on the design, the Mega pixel seems to hold more style. The Beat Electric on the other hand holds promise thanks to its predecessor models.