Top 5 Hybrid/Electric Cars in India

India is heading on to take upon the electric and hybrid car segment. The catch is that the cars are not only pricey but their maintenance is expensive too. And when it comes to alternate fuels, we have relied more on LPG and CNG instead of electric energy. That has however not dampened the car manufacturers’ hopes in India as they have gone ahead and introduced clean and green vehicles. Not all the cars are expensive, some of them might befriend your price while some might seem shockingly expensive. Either ways, if you’re planning on buying a hybrid, you’d not be disappointed considering the focus some manufacturers are paying towards the price. Here is a list entailing 5 of the most popular hybrids/electric cars available in India:

5. Mahindra e2o:

Portrayed as a concept car back in the 2012 Delhi Auto Expo, the e20 from Mahindra found its way to the Indian market. Manufactured at its facility in Bengaluru, the Mahindra e20 rolls out as the first all-electric in India. The e20 from Mahindra comes powered by a 48V maintenance-free Lithium-ion battery that helps churn out around 25 bhp and 53Nm of torque. Speed is out of the question on this car but if you’re willing to go slow and safe, this ride tops a speed of 81 km/hr. Though a full charge takes 5 hours, Mahindra also has Quick Charge that helps charge the car in just about an hour. Once fully charged, it can cover a distance of 120Km, which is sufficient for city travel. The interiors on the e20 get s a large touch-screen interface as well as a monochrome digital speed information pod. The price expectancy of this vehicle ranges from 4.79 lakhs to 5.34 lakhs.

4. Toyota Prius

India was first introduced to hybrids when Toyota launched the Prius in 2012. It can run on both, petrol and electricity, so the customers get the best of both worlds.

Fun fact: The Prius is the world’s first mass production hybrid car.

Powering the Prius is a 1.8-litre 2ZR-FXE, 4-cylinder, inline, twin-cam petrol engine that puts out 97bhp and 142Nm of torque. It also gets a sealed Ni-MH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) battery, which increases the total power output to 134bhp. The Prius gets 3 modes, namely, EV (Electric Vehicle), Eco, and Power.

As green as the Prius may sound, it does come along with a hefty price tag. There are 2 variants on offer in India – the Z5 and Z6 – and even in city conditions; combined fuel economy stands at 23.91Km/l. The price of the Prius ranges from 38.10 lakhs to 39.80 lakhs.

 

3. Toyota Camry Hybrid

Toyota has another green car up its sleeve – the Camry hybrid. However, if you think you’ve driven the Prius, and this one will be something similar, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Just like the standard Camry, this one gets Toyota’s DOHC VVT-i 2.5-litre petrol unit, but it’s tweaked to accommodate the electric motor. The output tally of the hybrid system stands at 202bhp; 158bhp from the petrol motor, and 44bhp from the electric motor. The power-split device helps deliver seamless power to the wheels, and also to the generator that keeps on charging the battery. The battery is nickel metal hydride, unlike the usual lithium-ion, and is placed under a plastic cover inside the boot.

There are three driving modes to choose from – EV, Eco and Normal. The e-CVT (electronically continuously variable transmission) takes a bit of time to push itself off the starting line, but eventually offers utter smoothness and refinement.

Toyota has generously provided features that make it an ideal chauffeur-driven car. The 3-zone climate control for the driver, front passenger, and rear passengers, cooled front seats, cruise control, powered rear seats that recline, and a rear armrest that houses the controls for the recline functions, all find their way inside the car.

Toyota claims that the Camry Hybrid delivers 19.6Km/l (ARAI figure), which is truly impressive for a car of this size. The Camry hybrid carries a price tag of Rs. 31.19 lakhs.

 

2. Maruti Suzuki Ciaz Hybrid

Known commonly as the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz (Smart Hybrid Vehicle), the vehicle is priced in the range of Rs. 8.23 lakh – Rs. 10.17 lakh. Interestingly, the company the Ciaz’s old diesel range has been replaced by the SHVS-equipped variants.

The Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS gets an integrated starter generator, a larger capacity battery, and start-stop technology that help the vehicle return better mileage. While the old Maruti Ciaz diesel had an ARAI certified mileage of 26.21Km/l, the Ciaz SHVS returns an outstanding 28.09Km/l. This effectively makes the Ciaz SHVS hybrid India’s most fuel-efficient car.

Incorporated with an ISG (Integrated Starter Generator), Suzuki’s new mild hybrid system – SHVS – offers engine power assistance using the motor, and thus achieves efficient power generation. With the help of ISG, the system also provides assistance to the engine start-stop technology that automatically stops the engine during traffic light, and starts when the clutch is released.

 

1. BMW i8

This beauty is just too good to be true. From the time when it was launched in India till date, the i8 holds its ground as one of the most thrilling car to be designed in a futuristic manner.

Under the hood, the i8 comes with a 1.5-litre, inline 3 petrol unit and a 7.1kWh lithium-ion battery. Power from the gasoline engine stands at 228bhp, while the electric motor punches out 129bhp, thus taking the combined tally to a massive 357bhp. In all-electric mode, the BMW i8 boasts of a top-speed of 120Km/h. In Sport mode, the i8 delivers a mid-range acceleration from 80 – 120Km/h in 2.6 seconds. The electronically controlled top-speed stands at 250Km/h.

BMW started the car’s deliveries in August, 2014, and had already managed to sell 1,741 units by December, 2014. Furthermore, the first batch of BMW i8 to arrive in India has already been sold. The car carries a whooping price tag of 2.29 crores.

Fisker Automotive: The Karma Hybrid and VLF Force 1 V10

Fisker Automotive was an American hybrid car manufacturer from California. The California based car maker introduced the Karma and was pivotal in creating the industry’s premium hybrid car segment. Despite the Karma receiving positive reviews, the company was unable to generate enough profit to stay afloat and CEO and co-founder Henrik Fisker resigned from the company.

Soon after Fisker filed for bankruptcy as well. Prior to its acquisition by Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang Group, Fisker focused on developing premium hybrids that made clever use of unique materials such as wildfire hardwood and premium animal free leather. We take a look at what Fisker aimed to be as a car maker before and after its acquisition by Chinese auto part conglomerate Wanxiang.

 

Fisker Karma

Design

Henrik Fisker was originally a designer and played a pivotal role in the designs of iconic cars such as the Aston Martin Vantage V8, the DB9 and the BMW Z8. As a result, the Fisker Karma has been endowed with a beautifully sculpted shell. The front end’s notable characteristics include a chrome accentuated large split grille, solar panelled roof and a chiseled bonnet. The roof slopes gently into the rear end that features all LED taillights and an auxiliary brake light mounted in the middle of the trunk.

Front thee quarters of the Karma hybrid
Front thee quarters of the Karma hybrid

Interior

Passengers are greeted by a tastefully designed cabin replete with leather, aluminium and wood work. The center console features a large touchscreen infotainment system that controls most of the Fisker Karma’s features such as the air conditioning, safety mechanisms and entertainment system. Drivers are treated to a premium leather wrapped three spoke steering wheel that features aluminium accents and a fully digitized instrument cluster. The combination of various shades of hazel leather, wood and minimal use of aluminium creates an pervading tone of luxury with sporty undertones. In keeping with the theme of reduce, reuse and recycle, the Fisker hybrid features an interesting mix of components that include rescued California wildfire hardwood, fossilized leaves and recycled metal.

Interiors of the Fisker Karma
Interiors of the Fisker Karma

Under the Bonnet

Although the Fisker Karma does house a petrol powered engine, it merely serves to power the electric motor that actually drives the car. The permanent synchronous motor sends 235 hp to the rear wheels via a 1 speed direct drive gearbox. However, the Fisker Karma’s electric motor can work in tandem with the inline turbocharged 4 cylinder petrol engine to bump up the horse power numbers to an impressive 402 hp and 959 lb-ft of peak torque.

The Fisker Karma employed a hybrid drivetrain
The Fisker Karma employed a hybrid drivetrain

Fisker VLF Force 1 V10

Design

With a change in time comes a change in priorities. Although Fisker originally started out as an hybrid manufacturer that focused on building earth friendly products, the all new Force 1 V10 is a far cry from what Fisker Automotive originally sought to achieve. Developed in conjunction with VLF, an American luxury car maker, the Force 1 V10’s design is based off the Dodge Viper. As such, the Force 1 V10 sports a long bonnet, numerous air scoops, exaggerated wheel arches, a massive front air dam and heavily sculpted bodywork. The dramatic persona of the Force 1 V10 is further enhanced by its large 21 inch wheels, concave front end and muscle car like proportions.

Front three quarters of the Fisker VLF Force 1 V10
Front three quarters of the Fisker VLF Force 1 V10

Interior

Fisker has endowed the Force 1 V10 with a beautifully crafted cabin. With ultra luxury components such as bespoke quilted Alcantarra seats, suede and champagne bottle holders, the interior is stark contrast to the track focused outer shell of the Fisker VLF Force 1 V10. The large center console that runs along the length of the cabin plays host to a large touchscreen infotainment system and controls for various aspects of the car such as the climate control mechanism, alternate driving modes and others. The driver is greeted by a leather wrapped three spoke steering wheel that sports gloss black accents.

Interiors of Fisker's latest creation
Interiors of Fisker’s latest creation

Under the Bonnet

Powering the Fisker VLF Force 1 V10 is a massive 8.4 l V10 engine borrowed from the Dodge Viper. While the stonking V10 produces a mere 645 hp, the folks over at VLF have managed to churn out a whopping 745 horsepower and a peak torque of 638 lb-ft.  The massive V10 is mated to an six-speed manual and an optional six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Fisker VLF claim its latest creation manages to hit the 100 km/h mark in under 4 seconds with a top speed of an unimaginable 350.83 km/h.

The V10 is derived from the Dodge Viper
The V10 is derived from the Dodge Viper

Although Fisker started out as a manufacturer seeking to re-imagine hybrids as suave vehicles of comfort and opulence, the car maker was marred by legal hassles, budgetary constraints and overall poor inital reception of its maiden product. As a result, the once promising hybrid manufacturer has ditched its eco-friendly efforts and moved on to developing products in a segment that is populated by prospective customers looking to indulge and shows no signs of slowing down.

Chevrolet Bolt: World’s First Accessible Long Range Electric Car

interiors chevrolet bolt

Electric vehicle technology has not seen the same levels of adoption as hybrids from major automakers. This is partly due to the ungodly sum required for the ground up development of such cars and the general lack of infrastructure supporting such vehicles in most countries. However, with mounting fuel prices and the governments offering vast tax benefits for EVs, the race to build the first truly accessible long range electric vehicle was on.

With names such as Tesla and BMW being experts’ favorites, GM surprised the world by unveiling the Chevy Bolt earlier this month at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show and beat its rivals to showcase the world’s first accessible long range EV. We take a look at what the Chevy Bolt offers and whether the American hatch can really replace its petrol powered rivals.

 

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle provides 200 miles of range and is priced well below any other close rival.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle provides 200 miles of range and is priced well below any other close rival.

Design

The upcoming Chevy Bolt is a stylish hatchback similar in many aspects to the Spark (better known as the Beat here in India). The front fascia sports an all black plastic grille that features tastefully inserted detailing. Both the grille and the bumper lack the conventional air dams in most fossil fuel driven cars to improve aerodynamics. While petrol and diesel driven vehicles require cooling in the form of air flow to the engine bay, the Bolt’s electric drivetrain allows for a more interesting front fascia design.

 

GM beat electric giant Tesla and newcomer Faraday Future by delivering the world's first truly accessible long range electric vehicle.
GM beat electric giant Tesla and newcomer Faraday Future by delivering the world’s first truly accessible long range electric vehicle.

The rear plays host to a pair of full LED tail lamps with a heavily sculpted bumper better suited on more muscular cars such as the Colorado or the Canyon. The mix of muscle and urban sport makes for an extremely attractive electric vehicle.

 

The Chevy Bolt is a four door compact hatchback comparable to the Beat or Suzuki Swift
The Chevy Bolt is a four door compact hatchback comparable to the Beat or Suzuki Swift

Interior

The interior of the Chevy Bolt is far more modern than any of its conventional rivals. The dashboard plays host to a large landscape oriented display for the infotainment system with controls for seat adjustment and climate control located beneath it. Chevy has done away with analog displays for the instrument cluster and has replaced it with a high res multi function LCD display. The driver is greeted by the instantly familiar three spoke Chevy steering wheelWhile the dashboard is one of the best in the hatchback market, little else within the cabin is pleasing to the eye. The dull gray/white upholstery is rather conventional and is a far cry from the Bolt’s exterior and dashboard design. Chevy has also managed to fit in numerous cubby holes around the interior to further increase usability. Although the Bolt sports a seemingly ordinary cabin for an revolutionary product, one must keep in mind that the Bolt is to be an accessible EV.

 

The interiors are fairly standard and the Bolt is as well equipped as its petrol powered rivals
The interiors are fairly standard and the Bolt is as well equipped as its petrol powered rivals

Under The Hood

Powering the Chevrolet Bolt’s motor is a 60 kWh lithium ion battery. The motor produces an impressive 200 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, 59 horsepower more than Chevy’s other electric hatch: Spark. However, the new Bolt is a whopping 290 kg heavier than the Spark. Chevy’s electric hatch can also deliver upto 50 miles of range with 2 hours of charge on a 240 V socket. The American automaker also stated that with a 480 V DC power supply, the Bolt hatch can get 90 miles of juice in half an hour. While the Bolt does not feature record breaking performance stats, the car’s main selling point is its range. Chevy claims that the Bolt EV can manage 200 miles on a single charge, one of the longest in the market.

Powering the Bolt is a 60 kWh battery that offers over 200 miles of range.
Powering the Bolt is a 60 kWh battery that offers about 200 miles of range and a mere half an hour of charge offers 90 miles of range.

With a base price of 37,500 USD prior to any incentives that may be applicable in the US, the Chevrolet Bolt is one of the most accessible electric hatchbacks money can buy. Although the BMW i3 provides a more futuristic experience, the Bolt aims at being an affordable, comfortable car that also avoids terrorizing the atmosphere.

With its snazzy exterior, well equipped interior and high range, the Chevrolet Beat makes for more than just an impressive EV; it makes for an impressive car in general
With its snazzy exterior, well equipped interior and high range, the Chevrolet Beat makes for more than just an impressive EV; it makes for an impressive car in general

Top 5 Concepts at CES 2016

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has evolved into more than just a platform for new innovations in the field of technology. Over the past few years, car makers from around the world flock to Las Vegas to showcase their latest advancements in their upcoming cars. CES has given rise to numerous interesting technologies such as Audi’s Piloted Driving, Volvo’s Vehicle to Vehicle Communication System and of course the debut of hyped Tesla rival, Faraday Future. We take a look at the most interesting concepts that debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show.

1. BMW i8 Convertible

BMW’s got its hands in every segment of the auto industry from six seater family MPVs to high performance saloons. The German car maker has various divisions within which some of its most impressive works are born. BMW’s i section is one such division. The i division is to hybrids what the M division is to performance:  a section of the company solely focused on  hybrid vehicles and drivetrains.  With continually restricting emission norms and the loss of power associated with smaller powerhouses, the i division’s opening act was the phenomenal i8, an example of how small engined hybrids can pack a punch strong enough to knock down even the most blue blooded sports cars. For those who felt the i8’s cyberpunk styling and swan doors were not enough, BMW has now revealed an advanced convertible concept of the i8 at CES 2016.

 

bmw i vision future interaction concept
The BMW iVision Future Interaction Concept is a convertible variant of the critically acclaimed i8 hubrd sports car.

Dubbed the i Vision Future Interaction Concept, BMW’s latest concept previews numerous updates that may make it to the next iteration if the i8 hybrid. The dashboard features a large 21 inch display towards the passenger side that acts as the main control unit for various elements of the car. Similar to the Porsche Mission E concept showcased sometime ago, the German sports car features gesture control that allows the driver to interact with the UI. Similar to Tesla’s infotainment system, the German car maker’s AirTouch system eliminates the need for physical input mechanisms such as buttons or knobs. As such, the cabin is far more minimal and is in stark contrast to its exterior design.

2. Chevrolet Bolt

The Chevy Bolt was a welcome surprise at this year’s CES. With GM launching the first ever accessible long range EV, the American automakers has beaten crowd favorite Tesla to the future of mobility. Although the Bolt may not feature radical styling or massive amounts of tech to soothe its passengers, the $37,500 price tag prior to government incentives makes it the very first budget long range electric vehicle to hit the market. The American hatchback currently has no direct rivals. However, Chevrolet will soon have to contend with Tesla’s Model 3.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle provides 200 miles of range and is priced well below any other close rival.
The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle provides 200 miles of range and is priced well below any other close rival.

3. Volkswagen BUDD-e Concept

VW’s presence at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show was heavy on agenda. Following the largely publicized scandal regarding the car maker’s diesel engines, Volkswagen has entered into damage control mode. To regain the faith of the general public, the German auto giant has opted to showcase a dizzying array of concepts and new models that are either eletric vehicles or hybrids to showcase the company’s keen intentions of conserving energy and the environment.

The Volkswagen BUDD-e concept is an all electric concept van. The micro-bus seeks to re-imagine car pooling.
The Volkswagen BUDD-e concept is an all electric concept van. The micro-bus seeks to re-imagine car pooling.

4. Faraday Future FFZERO1

Faraday Future’s FFZERO1 concept stunned eager EV enthusiasts all over the world. Instead of a compact, affordable electric sedan, the public was treated to a cyberpunk themed dedicated racer. While most fans were disappointed in Faraday Future’s choice of concept/model to showcase, the FFZERO1 was one of the few concepts in the past few years to evoke a sense of awe and wonder when revealed.

The FFZERO1 is a dramatic concept designed to express the company's image of itself. The car features a four wheel drive system and is propelled by over 1000 hp
The FFZERO1 is a dramatic concept designed to express the company’s image of itself. The car features a four wheel drive system and is propelled by over 1000 hp

5. Rinspeed Etos

Few can argue that the BMW i8 lacks power and cutting edge technology. However, a boutique Swiss designer feels otherwise. The Rinspeed Etos is a self driving BMW i8 that also features its own drone. The Rinspeed Etos’ interior marks a significant departure from the contemporary approach of the current generation i8. With two 21.5 inch curved display monitors and a foldable steering wheel, the dashboard of the Rinspeed Etos embraces autonomous driving technology like no other manufacturer before it.

The Rinspeed Etos also makes numerous cosmetic upgrades to the i8.
The Rinspeed Etos also makes numerous cosmetic upgrades to the i8.

Faraday Future: Does Tesla has future?

The EV industry has been ramping up extensively over the past five years. With mainstream manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes Benz, VW and GM now focusing heavily on hybrid and electric vehicles, it won’t be long until we begin seeing a large influx of fully electric vehicles that offers levels of convenience similar to that of the tried and tested fossil fuel powered locomotive. Out of all the manufacturers big and small, one name stands out as the leading horse in this race: Tesla Motors

The American automaker has been making major headway in this field with cars such as the Roadster, Model S and the recently launched Model X. With Tesla selling cars in the luxury sedan and crossover markets since 2012, it seemed that the EV industry soon became a one horse race.

However, at CES 2016, mysterious indie electric car maker going by the moniker Faraday Future showcased its first ever vehicle for the public. We take a look at what Faraday Future and its concept, the FFZERO1 hopes to achieve and if its enough to topple EV giant Tesla.

The FFZERO1 is a dramatic concept designed to express the company's image of itself
The FFZERO1 is a dramatic concept designed to express the company’s image of itself

Although the general public and media remained largely clueless about the manufacturer’s plans, a considerable amount of hype was built around the newcomer’s debut earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Expo and was even touted to be a Tesla killer. For the brand’s first big preview, the car maker showcased a futuristic concept that supposedly represents the company.

Dubbed the FFZERO1, the concept has been designed as an exercise in publicity with the actual production model being closer to an affordable mid size sedan than an out and out sports car. While the FFZERO1’s exterior shell is more 2500 AD than 2016, the car does feature numerous components that will make it to the more conventional production ready car.

The car features styling elements that will make it to the car maker's first production model
The car features styling elements that will make it to the car maker’s first production model

The buzzword of the future of automobiles is modular and the FFZERO1 features a modular framework that allows the same underpinnings to be used in a vast array of differing scenarios. Faraday Future claims that its framework can be scaled based on the need to produce front wheel drive sedans to four wheel drive SUVs. Key characteristics of the start up’s Variable Platform Architecture is a layer of batteries found below the floor of the car. Faraday Future claims that the use of multiple batteries eases the burden of swapping or changing batteries.

The FFZERO1's underpinnings is modular and can be implemented on a wide array of body types and drivetrains
The FFZERO1’s underpinnings is modular and can be implemented on a wide array of body types and drivetrains

Visually, the FFZERO1 is absolutely stunning. The concept is a single seater that features completely radical implementations of regular car features such as entry & exit, infotainment system, instrument clusters. The exterior sports a ton of aero bits aiding in the wow factor. Its front end features a horizontal line that wraps around the car that is claimed to be the signature characteristic of all future models. The massive diffusers and spoiler adorning the rear of the FF concept is mildly reminiscent of the ultra rare Veneno from Lamborghini. Drivers enter the cockpit via the fighter jet inspired glass canopy.

Inside, the driver’s safety is managed by the car’s Halo Safety System that is even capable of delivering water and oxygen through his helmet. The carbon fibre steering wheel features a mount for a smartphone that displays instance specific information such as navigation. Similar to recent concepts, the FFZERO1 comes with autonomous driving technology as well.

The actual production model is kept under heavy wraps and will likely stay that way until near production stages
The actual production model is kept under heavy wraps and will likely stay that way until near production stages

The powertrain specifics have not been revealed save for the fact that the car is driven by four motors mounted on each wheel and produces over 1000 hp. Although Faraday Future’s all new car will be of a more conventional type, the FFZERO1 harks back to the times when manufacturers would bring out obscenely dramatic concepts to fuel the ambition and desires of petrol-heads from around the world. For the more grounded of the lot, Faraday Future has also given us a slight sneak peak into what could be their first production ready model.

The car is likely to compete directly with the Tesla Model X with cars such as the BMW X6, Mercedes Benz GLE-Class and Audi Q7 hot on its heels. Let’s wait and watch to whom the future belongs to…

Internet of Things in the Automobiles

The Internet of Things is fast becoming a hot topic and a major field in technology. For the uninitiated, the Internet of Things is a network of physical objects that can be anything from heart monitors to vehicles that are capable of internet connectivity and actively exchange data between one another to achieve various outcomes such as remote monitoring, dynamic warning systems, feedback mechanisms etc. The car is more than just a tool for transportation.

It acts as a platform for mechanical and electronic breakthroughs pushing for better engineering ingenuity. As such, locomotives aren’t that far behind dish washers and thermostats in the implementation of IoT.

IoT in cars has a vast array of applications. We go through some of the most popular (and interesting) concepts currently in production and development.

Autonomous Control & Vehicle to Vehicle Communication

Driverless vehicle technology is the next big thing in the automotive industry. Manufacturers such as BMW, Audi and Tesla have made major strides in this field. However, while their systems do not incorporate IoT in its strongest form, we may see a shift in this mindset soon after self-driving cars become mainstream and the infrastructure allows it. Here, instead of a car operating independently–constantly scanning its surroundings with algorithms running to detect high danger scenarios — IoT will allow for communication between vehicles in real time.

Vehicle to Vehicle Communication will prove to be a useful system in the near future
Vehicle to Vehicle Communication will prove to be a useful system in the near future

As a result, more information regarding a car’s environment and other vehicles within a given area of effect is fed into its main processing units which gives rise to better, more accurate details with which the vehicle can calculate its next move. Consider this situation: an accident has occurred five kilometers ahead in the path of a traveling driver-less car that has resulted in a blockade. Although the car cannot “see” this accident, information regarding the accident has been recorded by vehicles via a host of sensors and on-board computers within the accident area. To prevent further traffic congestion, this information is passed onto cars that are set to use this route to reach their destination. Incoming vehicles receive this information and dynamically alter their routes to keep travel time at a minimum and clear the road ahead for any emergency services that may arrive at the scene.

Smart Sign Posts

Smart sign posts are traffic sign posts that display information via a digital display. The information displayed on the sign post changes dynamically with respect to changing traffic conditions to help drivers optimize driving techniques. Consider the very same example above. Soon after the emergency services arrive and clear the area of any casualties, debris from the accident must then be collected. This usually results in the concerned authorities setting up a small perimeter around the crash site and thereby reducing the number of usable lanes. A smart sign receives information of this act and reduces the speed limit displayed with an additional icon indicating road work ahead. The sign also transmits this data across to cars in its vicinity to let autonomous vehicles adjust current speeds and swap lanes if needed.

Smart sign posts allow drivers to learn additional context based information when on the road
Smart sign posts allow drivers to learn additional context based information when on the road

Over The Air Updates

Recalls happen all the time. While manufacturers test cars extensively, some errors or faults do fall through the cracks from time to time and make it to production. Currently, even if the fault can be fixed by minor changes to software, one must send the vehicle back to a service center for an update. With IoT however, updates can be pushed over the air (OTA) to reduce the hassle of actually driving the car to the service center. OTA updates can also add security fixes to a vehicle’s on-board computer system to reduce the risk of hacking and decrease manufacturer response times for such scenarios. Similar to a smartphone, a car’s infotainment system can also be updated over the air to ensure passengers have the very latest OS on board.

OTA updates improves convenience
OTA updates improves convenience

The concept of Internet of Things provides an almost infinite number of possibilities for the coming generations. IoT offers a future that provides increased safety and comfort unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. However, IoT does have a dark side. With more and more devices connected to the cloud, hackers will no doubt target such devices as well. While one can ensure exhaustive testing is done on security systems, software is never fully secure and will result in relatively harmless acts of mischief or open up a window for high profile terrorist attacks.

Alternate Energy Sources for Cars

Fossil fuels are fast depleting and the automotive industry is rapidly adapting to stricter emission norms and regulations. As such, most cars these days feature smaller displacement engines that produce an increased power output via turbocharging or supercharging.However, in the coming decades, fossil fuels are soon expected to run so low that it might prove far too expensive or even non-existent in some areas. Some manufacturers have already begun research and development into alternate energy sources for cars to ensure their survival in the future. Although electricity is currently the most popular alternate energy source, car makers are still looking for new technologies that provide good range at low costs. We take a look at some of the more obscure but equally relevant fuel sources manufacturers are currently exploring.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Hydrogen was a major element in the construction of zeppelins during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s due to its lightweight properties and simple production techniques. However, the gas was far too volatile and resulted in numerous accidents including the infamous Hidenburgh disaster. The major accident coupled with the poor political and economic conditions of the world during that time resulted in the fall of Zeppelins.

The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Concept in its production avatar
The Honda Clarity Fuel Cell Concept in its production avatar

Recent advancements in fuel cell technology have resulted in hydrogen resurfacing as a viable fuel source due to its high energy output. Honda, one of the giants of the industry is a major proponent for hydrogen fuel cell technology. The car maker also showcased a production ready model of its Clarity Fuel Cell Concept late last year. The car, expected to be priced around 60,000 USD prior to tax rebates and dealership discounts will be the very first of its kind to hit mass production.

Unlike Toyota’s “look at me” philosophy for its popular hybrid, Honda has adopted a more restrained design language for its Clarity sedan. The Japanese four door saloon is an elegant sedan that draws inspiration from the Honda NSX and the more accessible Accord. Similar to conventional automobiles the Honda sedan’s main source of energy rests within the bonnet of the car. Producing 175 hp and offering 300 miles (483 km) of range between refills, the Japanese hydrogen powered sedan truly is a alternative to traditional fossil fuels. However, the lack of stations around cities still proves to be a major downside.

Biodiesel

Biodiesel can refer to two things, vegetable oil or animal fat based diesel. Biodiesel is unique in the fact that it can be used in conventional diesel engines without any modifications whatsoever. As such, the biodiesel holds a major plus point against most other fuel sources on this list. However, biodiesel does have its drawbacks such as increased wear and tear within the engine, increased viscosity and lower fuel economy.

Most diesel cars can run on biodiesel without the need for any modifications to the engine
Most diesel cars can run on biodiesel without the need for any modifications to the engine

Ethanol

Ethanol is another type of biofuel which is an alcohol created during the process of fermentation of corn, sugarcane and other starch crops. Similar to biodiesel, bioethanol too can be used in regular engines without the need for any mechanical changes. One of the most extreme cars capable of an increased power output with bioethanol as its fuel source is the Koenigsegg Agera.

This hypercar is capable of even more oomph with biofuel
This hypercar is capable of even more oomph with biofuel

LPG

LPG or Liquid Petroleum Gas is a popular alternative to petrol and diesel here in India. Overseas however, the scene is very different. While LPG is a relatively cheaper option when compared to petrol or diesel in this country, the same is not the case for coutries such as the US, UK and Middle East. With fossil fuel prices so low, retro fitting LPG kits to use more expensive fuel is currently not viable.

An LPG system depicted pictorially
An LPG system depicted pictorially

CNG

CNG, otherwise known as compressed natural gas mainly comprises of methane. It is far safer than petrol and diesel in terms of the exhaust chemicals produced and in the case of spillage as CNG is lighter than air, it disperses quickly. However, the use of CNG requires large amounts of storage space for its tank and most retro-fitted units occupy most of the space in the trunk of the car. Certain manufacturers already offer CNG as a variant of some of their cars in their lineup that eliminate this issue by placing the tank underneath the body of the vehicle. CNG is a commonly used source of fuel in South America and Asia. However, countries such as Belgium, Germany and Turkey are also proving to be major markets for such vehicles as the cost of CNG is far lower than petrol or diesel.

A Toyota Prius converted to use CNG
A Toyota Prius converted to use CNG

Compressed Air

Compressed air powered systems have been around for decades now. However, the inefficiency of such engines resulted in the vehicles being used only as concepts. In recent years however, compressed air has gained momentum once more with Peugeot showcasing their Citroën Hybrid Air concept at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

While compressed air engines are still quite inefficient, the technology is getting better and better
While compressed air engines are still quite inefficient, the technology is getting better and better

The Hybrid and Electric Automotive Scene in India

The Indian automotive industry has always been a little late to adapt to the changing times. While markets such as America and UK have embraced hybrids and electrics by offering vast tax benefits and infrastructure to promote the use of such vehicles, the Indian government has not yet made alternative fuel powered vehicles as accessible as some of budget hatchbacks currently in the market. However, Mahindra, BMW and a few other car makers are now investing in hybrid and electric vehicles for the Indian market. We take a look at some production models and concepts from manufacturers that showcase the progress in these niche segments.

BMW i8

The BMW i8 was the car that showed us how exciting moderately powered hybrids can be. First showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, the i8 made its big debut early last year. Despite being powered by the same 1.5 l three cylinder motor found on newer Minis, the i8 can propel itself from 0 to 100 kmph in a staggering 3.6 seconds. The immense speed coupled with the cyberpunk styling and swan doors, endows the i8 with hypercar levels of charisma. Sadly however, despite its breakthroughs, the i8 is far beyond the reach of the general public.

front view BMW i8
The BMW i8’s high price tag puts it far beyond the reach of common man

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius has been on sale here in India for quite a few years now. However, while markets abroad are treated with the all new Prius, Toyota Kirloskar is still selling the older model for the Indian market. Although the Prius is touted as an accessible, entry level hybrid, the staggering price of INR 38 lakhs keeps it out of reach for the majority populace.

The Toyota Prius' older generation is still on sale here in India
The Toyota Prius’ older generation is still on sale here in India

Mahindra e2o

Soon after Mahindra acquired the REVA electric company, the Indian car maker launched the new and improved e2o EV. Unlike the bare bones Reva electric, the e2o features numerous hardware and software features that put the vehicle well ahead of its time. Priced at a reasonable INR 5.96 lakhs, the two door, four seater electric hatchback features interesting features such as full LCD instrument cluster, touchscreen infotainment system and projector headlights. While the electric motor that drives the front wheels produces a meager 26 hp, the car’s lightweight and small size ensure the motor isn’t overworked.

The Mahindra e2o is a much better product than its predecessor
The Mahindra e2o is a much better product than its predecessor

Mahindra Halo

The Mahindra Halo was a concept sports car showcased at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo. Although Mahindra has made no recent headlines for the future of its Halo concept, the electric sports car showcased the car maker’s plans for the future. Although exact details were not revealed, Mahindra did claim that the Halo concept can reach speeds of up to 200 km/h.  The interiors feature a combination of current and next gen elements such as the conventional glove box, large touchscreen infotainment system and the sporty flat bottomed steering wheel.

Mahindra's Halo concept is an electric sports car capable of 200 kmph
Mahindra’s Halo concept is an electric sports car capable of 200 kmph

Toyota Camry Hybrid

At INR 31.9 lakhs, the Camry Hybrid sedan, is far cheaper and better equipped than the Prius. However, the lackluster styling and overdose of chrome is rather jarring in a segment populated by cars such as the Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz CLA Class. The car produces a total of 158 bhp @ 5700 RPM and a peak torque figure of 213 Nm @ 4500 RPM. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six speed automatic gearbox.

The Camry Hybrid is a fuel saving luxury executive saloon
The Camry Hybrid is a fuel saving luxury executive saloon

Maruti Suzuki Ciaz SHVS

Maruti Suzuki, one of the biggest manufacturers of the Indian car industry has its grasp in almost every segment. However, similar to other car makers, up until now Maruti Suzuki lacked the initiative to launch hybrid or electric vehicles due to their high cost of research and low return. With the 2015 Ciaz SHVS, Maruti Suzuki has taken the first small step into the still niche mainstream hybrid car segment. Unlike traditional hybrids such as the Prius and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the Ciaz SHVS implements a host of small fuel saving techniques to earn the moniker of a hybrid. Some of the fuel saving features the Ciaz SHVS makes use of are the automatic start-stop system, Deceleration Energy Regenerating function and the Engine Power Assist function. With added bonus of a fairly reasonable price tag (INR 8.23 lakhs) and the exemption from Delhi’s odd-even rule, the Ciaz was one of the most interesting launches of last year.

The Mahindra XUV500 Diesel Hybrid is yet to hit production
The Mahindra XUV500 Diesel Hybrid is yet to hit production

Mahindra XUV5OO Diesel Hybrid

The Mahindra XUV500 is one of the most popular SUVs currently on sale. Its impressive exterior, feature laden cabin and attractive price tag was more than enough to catapult the indigenous SUV to the top. At the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo, Mahindra also showcased the XUV5oo hybrid, which was touted to be India’s first diesel hybrid. However, the XUV500 is yet to reach production stages and hopefully we might see the full fledged hybrid later this year.

Royal Enfield Continental GT – A BLAST FROM THE PAST!

“A café racer is a lightweight, lightly powered motorcycle optimized for speed and handling rather than comfort – and for quick rides over short distances. With bodywork and control layout recalling early 1960’s Grand Prix road racing motorcycles, café racers are noted for their visual minimalism, featuring low-mounted handlebars, prominent seat cowling and elongated fuel tank – and frequently knee-grips indented in the fuel tank.

Royal-Enfield-Continental-GT

The term developed among British motorcycle enthusiasts of the early 1960s, specifically the Rocker or “Ton-Up Boys” subculture, where the bikes were used for short, quick rides between cafés – in other words, drinking establishments.”

And Royal Enfield has left no stone unturned in making sure it fits that definition.

This stunning piece of eye candy looks absolutely stunning in the bright set of colors it comes in – Red, Yellow and Black; and looks exactly as if it just popped out of a 70’s automotive magazine. But amazingly though, the engineering that has gone into making the 535 cc. EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection) engine is the exact opposite. The dynamic “Butterfly” chasis along with the Brembo disc setup on both the front and back along with braided brake cables work like a charm. And so does the instrument cluster which comes with a digital odometer and trip meter, much unlike other Royal Enfields, except the latest Thunderbird ofcourse.

Its an amazingly nimble and fast machine even though it weighs near about  184 kilos. The motorcycle looks really premium from a distance, but on close inspection, the plastic mudguards on the front and rear along with welding marks throughout the entire chasis really makes you lose the premium feel.

The bike felt really compatible for the highway but on the city roads it felt like a pain in the butt. I’ve made a city ride and review video on the motorcycle which you can see below.

Well if I had to reach a final verdict on this bike, then I’d have to say that one should not buy this motorcycle if they want it for all round use. This definitely isn’t an everyday bike. The price it comes for is also not on the very affordable end; 2.35 lakhs on-road. But for the occasional tourer hiding inside of you which only loves coming out on weekends and holidays, this is the bike that best fits your taste.

Thank you for reading this review. If you like it, please Like, Share and please feel free to drop a comment below. 🙂

Also take a look at my YouTube channel for more interesting videos, powered by Turbozens – Grea-Z Monkey

Top 7 Hybrid and Electric Cars

The fossil fuel era is slowly coming to an end. Although we might not see mainstream full electric or hybrid vehicles crowding the streets of Bangalore and Delhi for a few more decades, mass production manufacturers as well as boutique car makers are now exploring the possibilities offered by hybrid and electric mechanics. While most high end electric and hybrid vehicles are still well beyond the reach of the majority population, the following cars will serve as a preview to what’s in store for the rest of the world in a few decades:

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive:

One of the very first high performance fully electric sports cars from a major name in the auto industry, the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive employs a four motor system that produces a combined total output of a whopping 740 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. Despite its electric roots, the gargantuan power figures puts the SLS AMG Electric Drive right at the top as the German car maker’s most powerful two door coupe ever made. Sadly however, the total claimed range of German electric sportscar is a mere 155 miles (250 km) and most cars do not offer the exact same range as stated.

Mercedes Benz SLS Amg ED
The Mercedes Benz SLS Amg Electric Drive

BMW i8:

The BMW i8 was heralded as a technological milestone and has gained international critical acclaim since its debut. Initially premiering as a concept in the form of the BMW Concept Vision Efficient Dynamics, the i8 hybrid retains the majority of its prototypes’ pantomime exterior while working in legal requirements such as rear view mirrors, appropriate ride height and mass production spec wheels.

front view BMW i8
The BMW i8

Powering the hybrid Bimmer is a tiny 1.5 l turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine that works in tandem with a pair of electric motors that produce a combined total of 357 hp with a peak torque figure of 420 lb-ft. The i8 makes use of two transmission systems. While on only electric mode, a two speed transmission is available and on hybrid mode, the six speed automatic with manual shifting comes into play.

Tesla Model S (P85D):

The Tesla Model S is another milestone in the automotive community. One of the first electric sedans to combine the practicality of a full size sedan with the performance of a AAA sports car, the Model S is easily the best all rounder on this list. The American car’s large multi-function touschreen infotainment system eliminates the clutter on the dashboard commonly associated with high end cars. As a result, the four plus one seater sedan gives rise to a cabin that is both airy, spacious and high tech.

The Tesla Model S
The Tesla Model S

Porsche 918 Spyder:

The Porsche 918 Spyder was part of the holy hybrid trinity that was launched last year. Although the 918 may be low on power when compared to its McLaren and Ferrari counterpart, the Porsche is the most well equipped of the lot. The 918 is also the only model in the hypercar trio that is a cabriolet as well. The 918 Spyder also features four wheel drive and four wheel steering providing better control for the less experienced.

The Porsche 918 Spyder
The Porsche 918 Spyder

McLaren P1:

The McLaren P1 is the long awaited successor to the legendary F1 supercar. Thus he P1 does for this decade what the F1 did for the 1990’s: redefine speed. Powering the hybrid supercar is a tiny 3.8 l twin turbocharged petrol engine that produces a not so tiny 727 hp and 531 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a 176 hp electric motor for a combined total of 903 hp. Similar to the Porsche 918, the McLaren P1 can also operate solely on electric power alone.

The McLaren P1 in Bahrain
The McLaren P1 in Bahrain

LaFerrari:

Revered by the automotive community as the pinnacle of mechanical and electrical engineering, the LaFerrari is the most powerful mass production supercar from Maranello ever made. The LaFerrari is to the Enzo what the McLaren P1 is to the F1, the official successor as the brand’s flagship product. With a name that literally translates to “The Ferrari”, the Italian car maker has endowed its most powerful machine with a moniker that conjures up an image of the last spartan, the Omega. With the launch of the 488 GTB, a turbocharged successor of the 458 Italia, Ferrari is now slowly but definitely moving with the times and the LaFerrari may well be the final naturally aspirated V12 from the manufacturer’s stable.

"Stylish and powerful"
LaFerrari, Ferrari’s magnum opus

Koenigsegg Regera:

Koenigsegg is a little known manufacturer outside the automotive community. Despite being in the industry for several years now, the bouteique hypercar maker is yet to garner mainstream fame partly due to the reserved nature of its founder and the rather confusing Swedish name.

Koenigsegg_Regera_fronttwist

The automaker’s cars however are far from reserved and its latest creation, the Regera is a hybrid plug in that completely obliterated the holy trinity in terms of sheer power alone by producing a tantalizing 1500 hp with an all new special one speed transmission system.