Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
2012 Tesla Model S - waiting for our 90-second rideEnlarge Photo
Sometimes it's all about being in the right place at the right time. That's how we got our ride in the world's only running prototype of thejust before midnight last night, joining a long line of owners and soon-to-be owners, potential customers, and the occasional friend-of-Elon.
With the cheerful Zak Edson
Zack as our driver, the ride was all of 90 seconds, including getting in and out. Very quick impressions:
- PERFORMANCE: It's no Roadster, but you wouldn't expect it to be. Rather than the Roadster's pure-jet-engine thrust, the Model S accelerates away quickly and smoothly.quotes 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds, and we'd say that felt about right.
- SOUND: Like the Roadster, the Model S is all but silent as it moves off.
- STYLING: It's a handsome car in the flesh, and getting in and out of the rear isn't too tough. The rear-quarter heaviness we sometimes see in photos isn't apparent when you're looking down at the car.
- INTERIOR: The rear seat is close-coupled but comfortable, with large bolsters on both sets of seats. The 6'4" rider next to us, David Brussin, fit fine in the rear--and really loved those seats.
- INSTRUMENT PANEL: The huge display and control screen is as cool as it looks, though in our 90 seconds, we couldn't work out which parts were live and which were just a simulation.
We noticed the prototype's anti-lock brakes don't seem to be working yet. On a run after ours, Zack slammed on the brakes just 50 feet from the waiting crowd and locked up both front tires in a haze of smoke. But since this is still one of the handsomer development mules on the roads, we can't ding it for that.
Our total seat time was far too short, but given the procedures--sign up for a ride, wait to be paged, acquire pink ticket, cross highway, wait in line--we were happy to have had it.
- BOTTOM LINE: For a development mule, the 0-40 mph acceleration feels like it meets the promised speeds. The interior is comfortable and lives up to the standards of the class.
- TBD: Ride comfort. Range. Durability. Production schedule. Option list. Final pricing for battery-pack options. Cost of new 480-Volt charging system. Build quality.survival.
Our ride was held inside the cavernous Chelsea Piers sports complex, across the West Side Highway in Manhattan fromswanky Model S New York launch party, held yesterday evening in the bluelit lobby of architect Frank Gehry's IAC Building.
We rode withfan and soon-to-be-owner David Brussin, CEO of startup Monetate, who'd come up to NYC from Philadelphia to see the Model S in person and chat with other owners. Brussin expects the Sport he ordered to be delivered this summer. We hope he enjoys his Roadster as much as we did the one we road-tested.
2012 Tesla Model S - Your Ride, Sir?
2012 Tesla Model S - instrument panel display screen
2012 Tesla Model S - and away they go
Tesla Model S launch party guests
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Japanese automakers have released the details of the concept cars to be unveiled at the upcoming 2007 Tokyo Motor Show (October 26 to November 11). Here is a roundup of some of the more fantastic designs.
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- Toyota RiN
Designed to promote harmony with nature and evoke a warm, fuzzy feeling inside, the eco-friendly Toyota RiN concept car features heated ergonomic seats, an oxygen level regulator, a spot humidifier, a “mood training” steering control system that monitors the driver’s psychological state, and greenish glass that protects against UV and infrared light while enhancing the natural beauty of the view outside. The exterior design was inspired by Japan’s old-growth Cryptomeria trees known as yakusugi, which are found on Yakushima island, a natural World Heritage Site known for its pristine, ancient forests.
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- Toyota Hi-CT
The Toyota Hi-CT, billed as a cool and fun next-generation urban assault vehicle, is built specifically for narrow city streets and features a hybrid engine you charge by plugging into a wall outlet. Batteries are stored under the floor for a more compact, upright design, and interior 100V AC outlets provide passengers a convenient way to power their portable electronic devices. The rear deck is big enough to haul bicycles and surfboards, or it can be outfitted with a detachable luggage trunk.
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- Mazda Taiki
The hyper-aerodynamic Mazda Taiki is the fourth vehicle in Mazda’s Nagare series of cars based on the concept of “flow.” Inspired by Japanese koinobori (decorative carp-shaped streamers), Taiki’s design is meant to visually express the flow of air (incidentally, taiki means “atmosphere” in Japanese). With outstanding environmental and driving performance, Taiki’s next-generation rotary engine and front-engine rear-drive layout may well figure into Mazda’s future sports cars designed to help achieve a more sustainable society.
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- Honda PUYO
The eco-friendly design of the Honda PUYO fuel-cell vehicle is meant to create a soft, friendly impression and entertain the occupants as well as the people around it. The “seamless soft box” design gives PUYO a spacious interior and the charm of a cute pet that begs to be touched. PUYO’s “gel body” made from soft materials is designed to enhance safety, while embedded headlights and other illumination shine through the soft, translucent skin in the hope of fostering a more tender relationship between human and machine.
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- Nissan Pivo 2
(Nissan Pivo 2)
Like Nissan’s original Pivo, the electric-powered Pivo 2’s four individually-powered wheel units turn 90 degrees to move the car in any direction, while the 360-degree rotating cabin allows the driver to face forward at all times. Pivo 2’s most notable upgrade is the dashboard-mounted NEC Papero robotic agent who can carry on conversations and read facial expressions to monitor the driver’s condition. In addition to assisting with basic vehicle functions, Papero can help navigate streets and look for parking spaces, suggest where to stop for coffee if the driver looks sleepy, and lighten the mood by nodding and acting happy. (Watch video of Pivo 2.)
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- Daihatsu Mud Master-C
(Daihatsu Mud Master-C)
Daihatsu worked with mountain bike star Raita Suzuki to design the Mud Master-C, a compact and lightweight transporter ideally suited for MTB support duty. The Mud Master-C features a tough body-on-frame construction, an innovative hub reduction system and 16-inch off-road tires that provide more than 37 cm (14.5 inches) of ground clearance, allowing it to venture deep into mountain bike territory. Three giant gull-wing doors make it a snap to load and unload cargo.
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- Mitsubishi i MIEV Sport
(Mitsubishi i MIEV Sport)
A pair of in-wheel motors drive the front two wheels of the eco-friendly Mitsubishi i MIEV Sport electric minicar, while another motor drives the rear wheels. The i MIEV Sport has a range of 200 kilometers (120 miles) and is powered by lithium ion batteries, with extra juice provided by auxiliary solar cells mounted on the roof, a generating fan mounted in the front grille, and a regenerative braking system that recovers energy as the car slows down. Further efficiency is achieved with power-saving LEDs and heat-absorbing window glass, and the interior features lots of bioplastic components.
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- Suzuki X-HEAD
The versatile Suzuki X-HEAD crossover utility vehicle is built for off-road adventure and city cruising, and can be outfitted with a variety of load-bed units suitable for different situations. The “Camper” unit can be attached to provide sleeping space for two adults, the “Fashion” unit allows for stylish urban mobility, and the “Rescue” unit is ideal for emergency rescue operations in extreme environments.
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- Suzuki Sustainable Mobility (PIXY + SSC)
(Suzuki Sustainable Mobility (PIXY + SSC))
Suzuki’s Sustainable Mobility concept vehicle consists of two units — a low-speed personal transport pod called the “PIXY” and a minicar-based mobility unit called the “Suzuki Sharing Coach” (SSC). Ideal for short trips around town, the PIXY is designed to transport individuals along sidewalks and into buildings. The PIXY fits inside the SSC for longer trips, and a shared control system allows the driver to operate the SSC from inside the PIXY. The PIXY can also be coupled with a sports car unit called the SSF and a boat unit called the SSJ.
June 13, 2006 - A Fast and Furious movie just wouldn't be complete if it didn't have a bright colored car wrapped in an extravagant body kit. Nine times out of ten, these garish cars are the brainchild of some old movie executive that thinks he knows what the kids want to see on the movie screen. This explains why this film franchise has had cars that looked like anime covered cotton candy and Louis Vuitton handbags. However, the Fast and Furious car you see here wasn't created on some movie back lot... no, this RX-7 was built by VeilSide Japan.
RX-7 you see here was built by VeilSide for the 2005 Tokyo Auto Salon. Those of you that attended this show (like we did) are probably scratching your heads right now as you can't remember seeing this car at the VeilSide booth. It was there, only it was a dark red. We'd show you a picture of it, but the only one we have was taken by a crappy point-and-shoot digital camera, and as such it's all blurry. We'll get you guys next time...
Anyway, Universal bought the car as-is and then went to work changing it up for the movie. The first thing to change was the paint: the original red/burgundy paint was ditched for a more movie-friendly bright orange. And after that... well, that's about it, actually.
This RX-7 got to keep its VeilSide Fortune kit, which is probably for the best as this kit is one of the most extravagant and exotic kits in the world. This Fortune kit changes every line of this rotary ride save for the front glass, side glass and the roof. This means that the front fascia, front fenders, hood, doors, rear fenders, rear window and rear fascia have all been re-done. However, the VeilSide kit is so well-made, those not "in the know" would have a hard time telling that the entire car has been re-skinned.
Those not "in the know" will also have a difficult time telling that this Fortune kit is seriously wiiiiiiide. In fact, this Fortune kit makes this RX-7 almost a foot wider than its stock sibling. With an extra 5-6 inches on each side, a stock wheel just won't fit, so VeilSide bolted on some very wide 19-inch Andrew EVO-Vs to all four corners. Just how wide are these wheels? Try 9 inches wide up front and a full 12 inches wide in the back. These are some seriously massive wheels, kids. Take a minute to take a gander at the lip on the rear wheel -- one can practically live in that thing.
Sitting right behind these Andrews is a Rotora brake system complete with massive discs and four piston calipers. With a body kit this wide and rims this big, any sort of fender gap would be a huge no-no. As such, a full set of A'PEXi N1 coilovers was installed. Not only do these A'PEXi pieces eliminate any unsightly fender gap, they also tighten up the handling.
With all of the body pieces and "bling" found on this car, it would be easy to assume that this RX-7 is all show and no go. Well, you'd be wrong. Remember, this is an award-winning Tokyo Auto Salon car, so the rotary engine under the hood is as tricked-out as the exterior. The factory turbos were ditched in favor of a larger HKS T04Z unit. This HKS turbo sends its charged air down through the custom-made VeilSide intercooler piping to the V-mounted HKS intercooler. Waste gasses, on the other hand, are sent into the atmosphere via a VeilSide titanium exhaust.
As this RX-7 started life as a Tokyo Auto Salon vehicle, its interior is actually pretty tricked out (unlike the interiors of the rest of the Fast and Furious cars we've been featuring). Alpine audio equipment is all around this car, from the 8-inch monitor in the dash to the custom-enclosed amps and woofer. This car's occupants are held in place thanks to the VeilSide D1 race seats, but only the driver gets to experience the tactile pleasure that is the Sparco steering wheel.
The original interior of this car was a true one-of-a-kind. From what we remember, the interior alone cost over $20,000. However, that kind of coin is just pocket change to Universal, so they went in and spray-painted over the whole thing. Take a close look at the e-brake boot and the dash to see remnants of the interior's original color.
Even though this car was "destroyed" for the movie, it still came out looking pretty decent. We wouldn't have spray painted the interior or painted the car bright orange, but Universal could have done a lot worse. We could have seen this car outfitted with 20 pounds of neon lights and an extra 30 pounds of vinyl...
If you want to see this WeilSide-equipped rotary rocket for yourself, check out The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift when it hits theatres this weekend. If you can't wait, then go on and click on the Media Gallery below. Enjoy!