The First LS1-Powered Pontiac Trans Am Was a Monster

The LS family of V8s are GM’s gift to those seeking affordable, reliable performance, and that was true 20 years ago. For 1998, Pontiac equipped the Trans Am with a 305-hp version of the LS1, and immediately, a new benchmark for cheap speed was established. As Motorweek notes in this 1998 review, the Trans Am offered “Corvette performance for a minivan price.”

The LS1 also helped the Trans Am leave the rival Ford Mustang in the dust. If you wanted a 1998 Mustang with as much power as a Trans Am, you’d have to step up to a Cobra—the base 4.6-liter V8 only offered 225 hp. And even then, the Cobra couldn’t match the Trans Am’s 335 lb-ft of torque.

Motorweek recorded a 5.5-second 0-60 mph run and a 14-second quarter-mile in a 1998 Trans Am WS6. Impressive, especially when you consider that pricing for the Trans Am started at $26,500, which is around $40,000 in today’s money.

Watching this 20-year-old review, it’s easy to see why the LS1 was such a big deal. It was the beginning of a beautiful thing.

Preview: New Netflix car show pits home built muscle against top supercars

What does it take to build a car in your garage that can beat the best modern supercars? A new Netlfix series called Fastest Car aims to show viewers the hard work necessary to topple an automotive giant with a homebuilt machine. It premieres on April 6.

According to Netflix’s description, each hour-long episode will feature three tuned vehicles taking on a supercar. The trailer for the series (above) mostly shows the cars drag racing against each other, but it at least hints that some of the challenges might take place on a racing circuit, too.

The range of machines on display, at least in the trailer, is generally the type of vehicles you would expect to see someone building in a garage. There are lots of tuned pickups, including a great looking hot rod, and some more modern muscle like a 90s Chevrolet Impala SS and 80s Monte Carlo. A modded Honda Odyssey minivan is an odd sight, though. Meanwhile the supercars include a mix of Ferraris and Lamborghinis, including one in a hideous chrome wrap, but a previous generation Ford GT makes an appearance, too.

Unfortunately, the trailer suggests that the show might follow the familiar reality show trope of trying too hard to inject personality onto the cast. The video portrays the folks with homebuilt machines as underdogs. Conversely, the supercar owners come off as pompous, ostentatious jerks that don’t really understand their vehicles. A brief snippet even has a Lamborghini driver talking about learning about his car on YouTube.

Extensively modifying a car to this level of performance requires an admirable effort involving hard work, careful planning, and long hours. Perhaps, the real show mostly highlights this labor of love, and the contrived conflict with supercar owners is just something for the show’s trailer.

Lithium metal batteries could triple EV ranges, and they’re getting closer

If you ask people for their number one concern about making the jump to an electric vehicle, driving range will pretty much always be the answer. No matter how many press releases automakers send out touting incremental improvements, people still worry about being left stranded. The reason is simple: even with Level 2 equipment, it still takes several hours to charge up an EV, and people know they don’t have that kind of time. Even a DC Fast Charger (if your car supports it) takes most of an hour if you want more than 80% of your range.

There are two ways that automakers can increase the range of an existing EV platform. They can put in more batteries, or they can improve the energy storage capacity of the batteries. Adding more batteries means more weight and more expense, which makes increased capacity the holy grail of EV development. That’s what researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada have been pursuing, and one good answer may be found in lithium metal battery technology.

What is a lithium metal battery?

Lithium metal batteries are not new. You can find them at any grocery store checkout line. Typically, the difference between a lithium metal battery and a lithium-ion or lithium polymer battery is that you can recharge the ion and polymer versions, but not the lithium metal variety.

The increased storage capacity could triple EV ranges compared to existing battery tech.

Lithium is considered the best available battery anode material because it carries the highest theoretical capacity and lowest electrochemical potential of all known candidate elements. But the material has several drawbacks. Repeated charge and discharge cycles can cause microscopic structural changes that lead to internal short circuits, or merely to reduced battery life.

However, researchers at Waterloo University have made significant progress using negative electrodes made of lithium metal, and their work has the potential to dramatically increase battery storage capacity.

“This will mean cheap, safe, long-lasting batteries that give people much more range,” said Quanquan Pang, who led the research while he was a PhD candidate at Waterloo.

The increased storage capacity, which is also known as energy density, could boost EV ranges by a factor of three compared to existing battery technologies.

Overcoming safety challenges

There’s a problem with lithium batteries that stems from those internal short circuits that can develop. The batteries can explode because the lithium in them reacts to water, or to the water vapor that’s present in ordinary air. Lithium batteries are generally safe, but if a battery is damaged or has a manufacturing defect, it can explode or catch fire.

So, to make their new battery technology workable, Pang and some fellow researchers (including supervising  professor of chemistry and chemical engineering Linda Nazar) had to overcome two critical safety issues.

The first danger was to minimize the risk of fires and explosions caused by those microscopic structural changes. The second challenge involved a chemical reaction that creates corrosion and limits both how well the batteries will work and how long they can last.

Waterloo’s researchers solved both problems by adding a chemical compound made of phosphorus and sulfur elements to the electrolyte liquid that carries the actual electrical charge within the batteries. The phosphorus-sulfur compound reacts with the lithium metal electrode inside the battery and creates a very thin coating over the lithium. That coating protects the lithium from exposure to water.

“We wanted a simple, scalable way to protect the lithium metal,” said Pang, now a post-doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “With this solution, we just add the compound and it works by itself.”

Pang’s breakthrough specifically helps in the development of lithium metal battery technology for electric vehicles. The chemical compound makes batteries with greater storage capacity and therefore greater driving range possible.

Old-fashioned batteries are going away

While EVs and hybrids are the main beneficiaries of battery research, the conventional car stands to benefit from advances in battery tech, too. The old-fashioned wet cell lead-acid battery hasn’t changed much in the last 100 years, but now Mazda has partnered with ELIIY Power Company and Ube Industries to jointly develop lithium-ion batteries for use in gas-fueled automobiles. The three companies plan to work together to develop durable 12-volt lithium-ion batteries as a viable replacement for lead-acid starter batteries in motor vehicles by 2021.

dyson invent new lithium ion ceramics plans batteries

The benefits of this research include reduced weight in motor vehicles and reduced lead pollution in the manufacturing and disposal process of vehicle batteries. However, Mazda and its partners still have some problems to solve, because lithium-ion starter batteries will have to work for extended periods of time in hot, dirty engine bays. The new batteries must also be able to survive collisions without causing a secondary emergency.

More battery tech on the horizon

With the lithium-ion battery market currently expected to be about $33 billion in 2019, research into improved battery and charging technology is not limited to just a few universities or corporations. Researchers at the Universities of Surrey and Bristol in the UK are working with Superdielectrics on new polymer conductor technology that has the potential for faster energy transfer and greater storage capacity in the future.

“The present work, if it can be translated into production, promises to make rapid charging possible for electric vehicles … “

“The present work, if it can be translated into production, promises to make rapid charging possible for electric vehicles, as well as offering a much-needed low-cost method of storing the transient output from renewable energy systems,” said Dr. Donald Highgate, Director of Research for Superdielectrics. “Wind, wave and solar energy is available but it is intermittent and, without storage, cannot be relied upon to meet our energy needs. This new work would transform the energy system which underpins our entire way of life – it is the necessary development before we and our children can have a genuinely sustainable, environmentally safe energy supply.”

According to New Scientist Magazine, German company BASF is also working on improved cobalt-nickel battery technology that will provide the sought-after experience of a charging station that works as quickly as a gas fill-up and which provides roughly 300 miles of range in a standard EV.

“You will be able to recharge your electric sports car in the time it takes to drink a coffee, then drive 500 kilometers before needing to top up,” the magazine reported.

When an EV requires no more investment in time and planning than a gas-powered car, and costs far less to operate, it will become a true game-changer for the automobile industry. It’s not here yet, but people all over the world are working on it and making progress.2017-chevrolet-bolt-ev-interview_0017-720x720

2020 BMW i4 EV to have Tesla-beating range

The BMW i Vision Dynamics concept unveiled at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show previewed what a production full-electric four-door might look like. Now, BMW has confirmed that a production version will indeed arrive by 2020 and that it will have Tesla-beating range.

As reported by Auto Express, BMW CEO Harald Kruger says that brand’s fully electric eDrive line-up, which includes the i4, will be able to do 550-700 kilometres (340-435 miles) on a single charge. Last September, the concept was only mentioned to be able to reach 370 miles, so the projected range has improved significantly.

While it’s likely that the concept’s detailing will be significantly toned down by the time it becomes the i4, the general long-wheelbase, short-overhang, low-roof shape of the midsize concept will probably translate into the production car. The concept car’s front end functions as an “intelligence surface,” which hides autopilot sensors, and BMW designers have insinuated that the i Vision Dynamics concept’s radically different “kidney grille” will carry over to the i4.

Watch Tesla Model X pulling 250,000 lbs of muck rail cars out of the Boring Company’s tunnel

We knew that Elon Musk’s Boring Company is planning to use Tesla’s technology for the powertrain of its “electric skate” system, but now they are apparently also using Tesla’s technology in a different way.

Musk released a video of a Model X electric SUV pulling 250,000 lbs muck rail cars out of the Boring Company’s tunnel in Los Angeles.

With a mere 5,000-lb rated capacity, the Tesla Model X is already the passenger electric vehicle with the highest towing capacity currently available on the market. But some owners have been pushing the capacity of the vehicle recently. Earlier this year, a truck was stuck on a snowy road in Raleigh, North Carolina and a Model X driver showed up and helped the truck by pulling it up the road. It was captured in an impressive video.

Norwegian Model X owner Bjorn Nyland also performed several other Model X towing stunts including pulling a 95,000-lb semi truck in the snow.

Musk was boasting about the vehicle’s performance on Twitter this morning and shared our article about it:

He then “one-up” the feat by releasing a video of a Model X pulling four muck rail cars out of the Boring Company’s test tunnel.

The CEO claims that added up to about 250,000 lbs:

It was in response to the Model X’s capacity on an almost perfect surface, as opposed to snow, and rail is about as good as it gets.

It’s all about torque and traction since the Model X really only need to get the thing moving and then maintain the momentum.

With the Model X’s 9,500 Nm of wheel torque, it’s actually not that surprising albeit still an impressive use of the all-electric vehicle.

As we previously reported, Musk’s Boring Company reportedly already completed a 305-feet (100 meters) tunnel with an entrance in SpaceX’s parking lot in Hawthorne and they have received the green light to extend the tunnel by 2 miles in Hawthorne toward the Los Angeles International Airport.

It looks like the operation requires moving a lot of muck and they even put a passenger vehicle like the Model X to work.

VW Says The Beetle Will Stick Around For A While

A next generation is not being developed, but the current car won’t be discontinued in the foreseeable future.

Fans of the Bug fear not; your beloved Beetle is here to stay (for a while). While a new generation is not being developed, the current model will stick around for an undisclosed amount of time, according to a statement made by a Volkswagen spokeswoman. In an e-mail sent to USA Today, Jeannine Ginivan said the company does not have any plans for the time being to discontinue the car in the United States.

Also check out:

For how long you’ll be able to head to your local VW dealer and place an order for the retro-flavored model? Your guess is as good as ours. But with only 15,166 vehicles delivered last year, down by 3.2 percent compared to 2016, you might want to get one sooner rather than later.

There have been talks about rethinking the cutesy Beetle as well as the defunct Scirocco as pure electric models part of Volkswagen’s upcoming EV onslaught, but we’ll just have to wait and see about that. When the Bug will eventually be squashed, VW will then redirect you towards the T-Roc Convertible due in 2020 to act as a substitute not just for the Beetle Convertible, but also for the Eos and Golf droptops.

It will certainly be a sad day when the Beetle – one of the oldest nameplates in the business – will be phased out, but that’s how the cookie crumbles in the car industry. The model’s days are numbered as a result of a weaker demand, so don’t be too surprised if it will get the axe in a few years. Meanwhile, the cheapest 2018 Beetle money can buy right now in the U.S. will set you back $20,200 for the base S model, rising to $26,790 for the top-of-the-line Dune pictured here.

Source: USA Today

You might also like:

2016 Volkswagen Beetle Dune: Review

2018 Hyundai Tucson Sport – Pricing and Specs

Last year’s SEMA show saw the debut of a rather special Tucson SUV which proved very popular with the younger fans. That car was just a concept, but now there is a version of this car you can actually buy that does to some extent look and feel like it. It’s the 2018 Hyundai Tucson Sport and it comes with a powerful engine and lots of features. 

Priced from $25,150, excluding $980 freight, the 2018 Hyundai Tucson Sport is a lot more fun to drive, and look at, than the regular version. Available with a bright blue paint work, kind of like that of the SEMA concept, the Sport comes with revised front and rear fascia, chrome-tipped dual exhaust, and 19-inch alloy wheels with 245/45R19 tires. These exterior elements are complemented inside with leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

Powering the 2018 Hyundai Tucson Sport is a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder GDI producing 181 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard ‘box is a six-speeder manual, but you can order an automatic in which case the base MSRP rises to $26,550 (also excluding freight). The automatic model also comes with standrd AWD and windshield wiper de-icer. Notable standard features on all versions of the Sport include dual automatic temperature control, CleanAir Ionizer and auto defogger, keyless entry and go, Blind Spot Detection (BSD) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA) and Lane Change Assist.



The post 2018 Hyundai Tucson Sport – Pricing and Specs appeared first on Motorward.

M4 Competition Drag Races AMG C63 S Coupe; Germany Wins

V8 versus inline-six, Stuttgart versus Munich.

2018 is the year of the 21st FIFA World Cup, a soccer tournament that is scheduled to take place in Russia from June 14 to July 15. Germany has the ambition to defend its title and will face fierce competition from Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France, and others. But in today’s battle, Germany wins.

That’s of course possible because, in the video above, you can watch two of the fastest sports cars on sale today, both made in Germany, going on a direct drag race. On the left, from Stuttgart comes the Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe with its 4.0-liter V8 and on the right is the BMW M4 Competition with its biturbo 3.0-liter inline-six, representing Bavaria.

More Merc vs. BMW drag races:

On paper, this shouldn’t be a close battle. The Merc has 503 horsepower (375 kilowatts) and 516 pound-feet (700 Newton-meters) of torque, and its rival from BMW boasts “only” 444 hp (331 kW) and 405 lb-ft (550 Nm). But power is not everything – the M4 is much lighter with better weight distribution and, apparently, has a much better traction.

To put it simply, the additional power of the range-topping C-Class is just too much for only two drive wheels. During this drag race, the Merc spins its rear wheels all the way through third gear, always forcing the electronic stability system to reduce the torque delivery. What’s more, the M4 Competition is some 440 pounds (200 kilograms) lighter.

2016 BMW M4 Competition Sport

The drag race from the video is performed by our colleagues from at the Killarney International Raceway in Cape Town, South Africa, at air temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 Celsius). Their next video will put against each other the C63 S Coupe and the Audi RS5 – the heaviest and most powerful car from the trio against the оnly one with AWD system.

Source: on YouTube 

2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Promises 3.2 Liter/100 km!

Yep, we are talking here about a big, full-blooded, high-performance SUV, and it claims to be capable returning an average fuel consumption of 3.2 to 3.4 liter per 100 kilometers. Thanks to the magic of electrified petrol power, the 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid will be, in the words of Porsche engineers, a “100 per cent perfect” car.

That perfection, mind, is not just down to the amazing fuel economy. 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid will also be an uncompromising car as far as comfort, performance and reliability are concerned. That last one has been a point of particular importance for Porsche, as they have dispatched a crack team of engineers and technicians to test the new hybrid Cayenne in “temperatures of minus 40 degrees in northern Canada and plus 40 degrees in the deserts of Dubai.”

The vehicle is currently undergoing its final endurance tests in South Africa prior to its market launch later this year.

Of the performance figures and technical specs of the 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid little is known at the moment. The super-efficient luxury SUV features the same sort of hybrid powertrain as you find in the 918 Spyder hypercar, so it must be hugely powerful. What is more, it is capable of fully electric driving too, so those little shopping trips around town can be done with zero emission and fuel cost. Looks like the 2019 Cayenne hybrid really is 100 per cent perfect.

The full economy figures for the Cayenne E-Hybrid are as follows: Fuel consumption combined 3.4 – 3.2 l/100 km; CO2 emissions 78 – 72 g/km; electricity consumption (combined) 20.9 – 20.6 kWh/100 km.

The post 2019 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid Promises 3.2 Liter/100 km! appeared first on Motorward.