The past few decades have seen plenty of electrified concept vehicles come and go. Many were merely design or technology exercises to generate interest and excitement for an automaker’s future direction. Some concepts led the way to production vehicles in the short years ahead. One that stands out as being well ahead of its time is Volkswagen’s Space Up! Blue concept that was unveiled in 2007. The interesting thing about this concept is that it clearly shared a vision that has led the way to the VW I.D. Buzz concept of today, and the production version of this newest iteration of the microbus that’s being revealed this coming March. This article shares details of VW’s early exploration of an electrified microbus some 15 years ago, presented as it originally ran in Green Car Journal’s Winter 2007 issue.
Take a look at the Volkswagen Space Up! Blue concept car, and the company hopes you’ll conjure up fond memories of the 1950s VW Microbus. With four roof windows, butterfly doors, and a motor at the rear, the concept resembles a modern, 7/8th scale take on the original. But unlike the ‘hippy van’ of yore that came to symbolize the eco lifestyle, this concept’s powerplant actually bears it out.
Replacing the boxer engine is a 60 horsepower electric motor that draws its power from a dozen lithium-ion batteries. These batteries provide enough energy for a 65 mile all-electric trip. After that the Space Up! Blue is either refueled by plugging into an electrical outlet or seamlessly powered by an on-board fuel cell for another 155 miles. A nice touch is provided by a large solar panel on the roof that feeds up to 150 watts to the battery.
Fueled by an underbody compressed hydrogen tank, the fuel cell is a new high temperature unit developed by VW’s dedicated research center in Germany. A new high temperature membrane and electrodes allow operating temperatures of up to 320 degrees F, far beyond current low temperature fuel cells whose water-containing membranes are limited to water’s boiling point. VW points out that higher operating temperatures mean a much simpler cooling and water management system is needed, making the whole system more compact, affordable, and efficient.
The Space Up! Blue concept is the third variant of VW’s new small family of concept cars to appear at major auto shows in just a few months, following the Up! concept from Frankfurt and the larger Space Up! concept from Tokyo. Despite the resulting unwieldy naming scheme, the concepts collectively offer VW’s vision for a new kind of small car that is cleverly packaged and simply styled. Now with electric drive, plug-in capability, and advanced fuel cell technology, we like where this vision is aimed.
One of the most highly anticipated electric vehicles in recent memory is the F-150 Lightning, Ford’s all-electric pickup that’s making its way to our highways this spring. In fact, with almost 200,000 reservations on the books for the electrified F-Series, Ford now plans to nearly double its initial production plans and build 150,000 F-150 Lightnings annually. Another milestone is taking place as the first group of reservation holders is receiving e-mails inviting them to move forward and place orders for their trucks.
While the F-150 Lightning isn’t the only electric pickup to choose from – initial deliveries of small numbers of GMC Hummer EV and Rivian R1T electric pickups have already been made – it is the highest profile electric truck of the bunch. Others are in the wings as well like the coming Chevrolet Silverado EV and the oft-delayed Tesla Cybertruck.
None of those other companies– not even GM – has as much skin in the pickup game as Ford, which is proud of the fact that the F-Series has been the top-selling pickup truck for four decades and counting. FoMoCo has no plans to cede that ground, so an electric F-150 has to be a heart-of-the-market, genuine pick-’em-up, albeit one with enough cutting-edge technological features to appeal to the early adopters who are shopping for a vehicle with both bed and batteries.
Ford’s F-150 Lightning delivers. In the metrics that traditionally measure a pickup’s ability – towing and payload capacity – the F-150 Lightning lands in the middle of gas-powered F-150 SuperCab territory, able to tow up to 10,000 pounds and haul up to 2,000 pounds. Dual electric motors will, when hooked to the optional extended-range battery, produce a targeted 563 horsepower and 775 lb-ft torque, the most torque produced by any F-150, says Ford. That same extended-range battery should deliver 0-60 acceleration in the mid-4-second range and go 300 miles between charges. The standard battery’s range is estimated at 230 miles.
From the outside, the F-150 Lightning looks like a dressed-up version of the conventionally-powered, standard-bed F-150. In fact, the two trucks share the same cab. This traditional approach was based on customer feedback, we’re told. They wanted a truck that was ‘distinct, but not different,’ one that ‘didn’t look like a doorstop or a spaceship.’ (Cough, Cybertruck, cough).
Under the skin, though, Ford worked to maximize the Lightning’s utility and make the most of its lithium-ion battery pack, the largest one Ford has put into a vehicle. For example, when the Lightning is plugged into the optional Ford Intelligent Backup Power system, it can provide 9.6 kW of electricity to a household during a power outage for up to three full days. Once power is restored to the home, the system automatically reverts to charging the truck. Likewise, that 9.6 kW can be used through 11 onboard outlets to power tools, electronics, recreational gear, and so on. With Ford’s optional Pro Power Onboard system, the Lightning also offers vehicle-to-vehicle charging capability that can provide 240-volt, Level 2 charging to another electric vehicle.
Four outlets, plus two USB chargers, are found in the Lightning’s front trunk, which Ford calls the Mega Power Frunk. It’s a huge space, able to swallow 400 liters of volume and 400 pounds of payload. The dry, lockable compartment ‘gives you your cabin back,’ says Ford, though it also has a drain hole and can be hosed out after stowing wet or dirty gear. When the frunk opens (via dash-mounted button, key fob, or the Ford Pass smart-phone app), what was the conventional F-series grille rises with the hood, reducing load-in height to bumper, not over-the-fender, levels.
The Lightning seats five in a cab trimmed in light-colored materials. The premium Lariat and Platinum versions are equipped with a huge, 15.5-inch touchscreen in the center of the instrument panel to operate Ford’s new SYNC 4A infotainment system, which has voice controls, cloud-connected navigation, and wireless access to Apple Car Play and Android Auto. The Lightning can also receive over-the-air software updates to ‘add features, improve performance, and fix bugs,’ says Ford.
It’s expected these days that a battery-electric vehicle’s navigation system will include charging stations on a programmed route. The Lightning also has on-board scales monitoring the payload – including passengers – and provides that information to the nav system for accurate range calculations.
A feature called Pro Trailer Hitch Assist brings the same kind of technology that allows a vehicle to parallel park itself to the trailer hook-up process. Once the driver positions the Lightning relative to the trailer, guided by targets in the backup camera screen, the truck will control the steering, throttle, and brake to align the ball hitch under the trailer coupler.
The lithium-ion battery that drives all that computing power – and the Lightning itself – is housed in what Ford calls a metal exo-structure under the floor. It has its own cooling system and is further protected by skid plates to keep it safe when the Lightning ventures off-pavement. With inboard-mounted motors at both axles, the Lightning is a full-time AWD vehicle with independent suspension front and rear – the latter a first for a Ford pickup. The IRS is designed to be capable, Ford says, while also working in concert with the truck’s low center of gravity to improve the F-150’s ride and handling.
A terrain management system provides four driving modes: normal, sport, off-road, and tow/haul. Off-road mode activates an e-locker to maximize traction, while tow/haul mode maximizes energy recapture when the Lightning is decelerating or braking. One-pedal driving is available through the SYNC 4A screen.
The Lightning, like all Ford battery-electric vehicles, comes with a mobile charger that can be used on a 240-volt outlet with a 32-amp connector for an estimated 21 miles per charging hour, or with a 120-volt outlet with a 12-amp connector for about 3 miles per charging hour. The optional Ford Charge Station Pro (which powers the Intelligent Backup Power system) can add an average range of 30 miles per charging hour and can charge the truck from 15 to 100 percent in about 8 hours. On a 150-kW fast charger, a Lightning with the extended-range battery can add approximately 54 miles of range in 10 minutes or go from 15- to 80-percent charged in just over 40 minutes.
Ford is proud of the fact that the Lightning is being built in the USA, alongside the F-150 PowerBoost hybrid, at the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn. Ford has invested some $700 million into the historic Rouge assembly plant, transforming it into an environmentally friendly ‘step on the path’ of Ford’s plan to be carbon neutral by 2050.
One of the notable features of the F-150 Lightning is its approachable base cost, which is in stark contrast to its first few electric pickup competitors with their six-figure asking prices. Ford’s F-150 Lightning starts at a reasonable $39,974. Like all pickups these days, it can be seriously optioned up with an array of high-end packages and features, topping off at about $90,000. That under-40K base price, though, is a major attraction that’s no doubt motivating so many electric truck fans to sign up for the Ford brand.
GMC’s Hummer EV Edition 1, the heavily-optioned model available at launch, is one powerful electric pickup. It incorporates an Ultium system consisting of a 24-module, double-stacked array of nickel-cobalt-manganese-aluminum (NCMA) batteries being produced in Lordstown, Ohio, through a joint venture with LG Energy Solution.
Power is delivered through three separate motors in two Ultium Drive units. One motor in the front unit drives both front wheels, while the motors in the rear drive unit independently power each rear wheel, with the ability to vary torque at each wheel to optimize traction under varying conditions. GM estimates the system will produce more than 1,000 horsepower, and when multiplied through the front and rear drive unit gear ratios, more than 11,500 lb-ft torque.
Driving range for the Hummer EV Edition 1 is estimated at over 325 miles, pretty remarkable for a heavy-duty electric pickup weighing in at over 9,000 pounds. Also impressive is that it’s expected to accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 3 seconds. Subsequent models available after launch, the Hummer EV 3x, Hummer EV 2x, and Hummer EV 2, will produce somewhat less power and, in the case of the 2x and 2 models, have two drive motors rather than three.
Among the features of the Hummer EV’s Ultium battery pack is technology that mechanically switches the batteries from parallel to series mode during recharging, which allows the pickup to use public fast-charging stations of up to 350 kW. At that rate, the Hummer EV can add 100 miles of range in about 10 minutes of charging, says GM.
The structural rigidity provided by the Ultium platform allowed GM designers to give the Hummer EV an optional Infinity Roof, which consists of four panels that can be removed for an open-air driving experience, enhanced with the lowering of the cab’s optional power back window. The Hummer EV’s cabin seats five. Amenities include a 13.4-inch central infotainment screen, 12.3-inch driver information display, driver-controlled Regen on Demand and one-pedal driving capability, and the latest generation of GM’s Super Cruise driver-assistance system.
Hummer EV Edition 1 is equipped to offer serious off-roading ability, from its 35-inch-tall mud-terrain tires to its independent front and rear suspension and locking front and rear differentials. It features five-mode Drive Control, an adaptive air suspension system with Extract Mode that raises the Hummer about 6 inches, UltraVision underbody cameras, and the ability to ‘crab walk’ around obstacles at low speeds thanks to four-wheel steering.
First up is GMC’s uplevel Hummer EV Edition 1 being delivered before the end of the year at a premium price of $112,595. Those looking for an entry-level Hummer EV should be prepared to pay $79,995 and be patient, since that model isn’t expected to be here until 2024. The $99,995 EV3x is coming in 2022 with the $89,995 EV2x hitting the market in 2023. Also coming is the 2024 Hummer EV SUV that’s expected in late 2023.
Reservations for Hummer Edition 1 are now full, but those wanting to get in on the action can reserve coming models at gmc.com/HummerEV.
Canoo’s out-of-the-box approach to its fully electric pickup truck is evident from the first look at its cab-forward design, which to a certain generation may resemble a 21st century take on Volkswagen’s venerable Transporter-based pickup. Yet the layout is no nostalgic homage. Instead, it maximizes space efficiency, incorporating a configurable cabin and a cargo bed with the dimensions of a full-size pickup into an overall footprint smaller than most mid-size trucks.
It’s clear that a lot of thought went into the design of the pickup bed. Its standard 6-foot length can grow to 8 feet thanks to a pull-out extender stored below the bed floor. Bed-extension gates housed within the side-hinged tailgate doors enable the bed to be enclosed at its extended length. Canoo developed a modular divider system for the bed to separate items when necessary, and the flat bed floor (no wheel housings intrude into the space) can easily accommodate that yardstick of every working vehicle, the 4x8 sheet of plywood. Configurable wheel chocks and tie-down hooks allow the securing of all kinds of recreational- and work-related gear. There’s a multi-accessory charge port built into the inside of a bed wall, and the bed can be lit from several sources, including an overhead light on the back of the cab’s roof and perimeter lights build into the bed.
Adding to the bed’s versatility, the bed sides fold down to create work benches. Hidden drawers ahead of the rear wheels pull out to provide extra storage as well as a step for bed access.
Freed of a conventional engine compartment, the Canoo pickup has enclosed storage in its nose. The front gate doubles as a fold-down worktable when open. As with the bed, there are multiple power outlets in the storage area for wall plugs, USBs ,and mini-USBs.
The pickup’s cab features four doors in an extended-cab configuration with front-hinged front doors and narrower, rear-hinged rear doors. Two front seats are standard, while the rear area can be configured for additional seats or customized storage capability. The rear window rolls down for access to the bed from the cab, a handy feature if the truck is equipped with a camper shell. Canoo has developed optional roof racks for the pickup that can accommodate as much as 18 square feet.
What makes the truck’s layout possible is Canoo’s multi-purpose platform, which packages the powertrain, Panasonic cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, and suspension components into a flat, skateboard-like chassis. A drive-by-wire system eliminates the steering column that normally protrudes into the passenger compartment. Likewise, control arms, transverse fiberglass leaf springs, and frame-mounted dampers make up a suspension system that is contained below the height of the tires.
The platform can be equipped with a single rear-mounted motor or dual motors, with a target of 500 horsepower and 550 lb-ft torque for the dual motor version. Canoo estimates the pickup’s range at 200-plus miles. Payload capacity is quoted at 1,800 pounds, which is comparable to most mid-size and even some full-size pickups. No towing capacity figures have been released, though the truck will have a receiver for a tow hitch.
Canoo’s Pickup, Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle, and Lifestyle Vehicle are available for preorder on the company’s website. First to market will be the Lifestyle Vehicle, a minivan, that’s set for production and delivery late in 2022. Next up are the Pickup and MPDV that will come “as early as 2023,” says the company. While pricing for Canoo’s Lifestyle Vehicle has been disclosed as $34,750 to $49,950 for Delivery, Base, and Premium models, pricing for the MPDV and Pickup variants have yet to be revealed.
Canoo recently tapped Bentonville, Arkansas, as the location for its headquarters and low-volume production facility for the MPDV, along with Fayetteville, Arkansas, for its new R&D center focusing on powertrains and advanced vehicle electronics. Netherlands-based VDL Nedcar is the contract partner that will manufacturer the Lifestyle Vehicle for the U.S. and European markets.
Hyundai’s IONIQ 5 is meant to be noticed. Sharp and angular bodylines define the model, along with a V-shaped front bumper, distinctive daytime running lights, and a clamshell hood to minimize panel gaps and enhance aerodynamics. Attention to efficiency is exhibited in many ways, one of these a low drag coefficient enhanced with flush door handles and 20 inch, aero-optimized rims. The new electric crossover rides on an extended 118.1-inch wheelbase that’s nearly four inches longer than Hyundai’s Palisade SUV, offering short overhangs that allow for more expansive interior space.
Inside is a cabin focused on comfort and functionality, featuring what Hyundai defines as a ‘living space’ theme. Since it uses a dedicated EV platform with batteries located beneath the floorboard, IONIQ 5’s floor is flat without the requisite transmission tunnel of combustion engine vehicles, thus lending additional interior design freedom.
Drivers are treated to a configurable dual cockpit with a 12-inch digital instrument cluster and 12-inch touchscreen. A new-for-Hyundai augmented reality head-up display delivers needed information in a way that essentially makes the windshield a handy display screen. Of course, the latest driver assist systems are provided, with Hyundai SmartSense offering the make’s first use of its Driving Assist plus driver attention warning, blind spot collision avoidance assist, intelligent speed limit assist, and forward collision avoidance assist.
Interesting touches abound, like a moveable center console that can be positioned normally or slid rearward up to 5 1/2 inches to decrease any impediment between front seating positions. Both front seats take reclining to a whole new level and even provide first-class style footrests. Those in the rear are also treated to more comfortable accommodations. Front seat thickness has been reduced by 30 percent to provide more room for rear seat passengers, and those passengers can also recline their seats or slide them rearward for increased legroom. Sustainability is addressed with the use of eco-friendly and sustainable materials sourced from recycled thermoplastics, plant-based yarns, and bio paint.
There are plenty of powertrain configurations to fit all needs including 48 kWh and 72.6 kWh battery options, plus a choice of a single rear motor or motors front and rear. At the top of the food chain, the AWD variant with the larger battery provides 301 horsepower and 446 lb-ft torque, netting 0-60 mile acceleration in about 5 seconds. The best range is achieved by the 2WD single-motor version, which is estimated at just over 290 miles, though that’s not based on the EPA testing regimen used in the U.S. Top speed is 115 mph in all configurations. IONIQ 5’s multi charging system is capable of 400- and 800-volt charging, with a 350 kW fast charger bringing the battery from 10 to 80 percent charge in just 18 minutes.
As an added bonus, the IONIQ 5’s V2L function enables it to function as a mobile charging unit to power up camping equipment, electric scooters, or electric bikes. You can take it all with you for those power-up opportunities, too, since IONIQ 5 is rated to tow up to 2,000 pounds.
The fully electric, five-passenger Lucid Air luxury sedan is a study in superlatives. It has generated significant attention thanks to some impressive numbers: up to 1,111 horsepower, 0 to 60 times as quick as 2.5 seconds, sub-10-second quarter-mile times, and an EPA rating of 125 MPGe. Its charging-system technology allows for 900-plus volts of fast charging, capable of quickly energizing the battery for up to 300 miles of range in just 20 minutes. Then there’s the Lucid Air’s groundbreaking EPA rated driving range of up to 520 miles, far beyond any other electric car on the road today.
It features an overall length of 195.88 inches and 116.54-inch wheelbase are nearly identical to a Tesla Model S. It’s narrower than the S by about an inch, lower in overall height by an inch and a half, and its key interior dimensions are about an inch or so bigger than the Tesla. Lucid reports the Air has a very slippery 0.21 coefficient of drag, nearly the same as the 0.208 Cd of the Tesla S.
Lucid was able to create generous interior room within that sleek body package by designing the Air around its Lucid Electric Advanced Platform (LEAP), which positions the batteries low in the floor and makes use of relatively small motors, in terms of exterior dimensions. They produce up to 670 horsepower yet weigh just 163 pounds.
The Lucid Air is offered in four models, from the $77,400 Air Pure to the top-of-the-line $169,000 Air Dream Edition. The Dream Edition is the first available — reservations are closed, but there is a waitlist for the hopeful — with all-wheel drive, dual electric motors producing a combined 1,111 horsepower, and the aforementioned EPA rating of 520 miles. As a first edition it has exclusive paint and interior materials, special 21-inch wheels, ‘future-ready’ hardware for eventual Level 3 autonomous functionality, and the ability to receive over-the-air updates. The $139,000 Air Grand Touring and $95,000 Air Touring models also have dual motors and AWD, while the Pure is rear-wheel-drive with a single motor and the option for dual motor/AWD.
Inside is a 34-inch, 5K glass cockpit display with touch controls for wipers, lights, navigation, climate, and the audio system. A retractable Pilot Panel display in the lower center of the dash augments the cockpit display controls. Touch controls for media and Lucid’s DreamDrive are built into the steering wheel. DreamDrive is Lucid’s suite of driver assistance and safety features, which receives information from a total of 32 cameras, radar, LIDAR, and ultrasonic sensors positioned around the car. Among the interior options that are now, or will be, available is a glass canopy roof and an Executive Rear Seating Package with the ‘jet-style experience’ of two reclining back seats. Miniaturizing the Lucid Air’s powertrain has made room for a spacious bi-level rear trunk and a front trunk that Lucid claims is four times larger than other electric cars.
Lucid Motors is headquartered in California’s Silicon Valley with its cars assembled at a 500-acre greenfield manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Porsche’s addition to the Taycan line now means that fans of the marque not only get scintillating electric performance, but a more crossover-like persona to go with it. The Gran Turismo features with a longer and somewhat flatter roofline while retaining all the features that make the Taycan sedan so desirable. In an era where crossover SUVs get enormous attention and enjoy brisk sales, the addition of the Cross Turismo to the Taycan lineup makes perfect sense.
Here’s where it gets interesting. All Taycan Cross Turismo models are all-wheel drive due to their use of motors front and rear, and to a one they are serious performers. But there are a few choices that bust out the performance numbers entirely. At the top of the list is the Taycan Gran Turismo Turbo S that’s powered by dual electric motors churning out 460 horsepower and 774 lb-ft torque, with an impressive bump to 560 horsepower in boost mode that lasts for the first 2.5 seconds.
All that power makes its way to pavement via a single-speed front transmission and a two-speed dog-ring transmission at the rear, catapulting the Turbo S from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.6 seconds. Top speed is 161 mpg. Performance numbers moderate just a bit in the Gran Turismo Turbo and 4S, with those models delivering 3.0- and 3.8-second sprints from 0-60 mph, respectively. Top speed for the 4S is 161 mph with the Turbo topping out at 155 mph.
While not aimed at harsh off-roading, off-pavement and recreational functionality is built into the Taycan Cross Turismo with features like adjustable air suspension, unique rocker panels, rugged front and rear fascia, and fender extensions. Additional body cladding and a slight increase in right height are gained with an available Off Road Design Package. A driver-selectable Gravel Mode optimizes traction in gravel, sand, and mud by adjusting the Cross Turismo’s torque management, suspension height and firmness, and traction control. Integrated roof rails are standard fare, allowing the use of a roof transport system for bulky items, while accessories like a rear-mounted Tequipment bike rack are available.
Beyond its notable performance, the Taycan Grand Turismo is also quite high-tech and connected. Inside is a comfortable command cabin with handsome appointments and a center 10.9-inch infotainment screen. Its Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system controls an array of vehicle functions and now offers Android Auto for the first time, joining Apple CarPlay integration that’s been part of the Taycan from the start. A panoramic glass roof is standard. A full suite of safety and driver assist systems are standard or optional. There’s even optional Remote Park Assist, while allows remotely controlling parking via a smartphone from outside the vehicle.
The Taycan Gran Turismo seems to have it all, in one very stylish, zero-emission package. You can carve turns in ways one would expect from a Porsche, turn heads with an eye-catching design, enjoy the latest in advanced electronics and driver assist systems, and recreate with accessories that can bring your gear along for the ride. Plus, of course, while minding the speed limit there’s the knowledge you could get wherever you’re going at blazing speed…if only circumstances allowed it.
For a lot of folks, Volkswagen’s all-new ID.4 introduced last year checked off all the boxes, except maybe one. It powered its rear wheels only with a single electric motor. Now a new ID.4 AWD model adds a second electric motor up front for better overall performance and all-wheel drive traction.
Power in the base rear-wheel drive ID.4 is delivered by a 201 horsepower permanent magnet motor featuring 229 lb-ft torque. The AWD version adds a second 107 horsepower asynchronous electric motor up front that not only provides all-wheel drive capability, but a boost to 295 horsepower total output and 339 lb-ft torque.
Energy is stored in an 82 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. In the single motor version this delivers a driving range of up to 260 miles at an EPA estimated 99 combined MPGe fuel efficiency, with the more powerful AWD version achieving up to 249 miles of range at 97 MPGe. Charging with a 240-volt Level 2 charger takes about 7 to 8 hours, with 30 miles of range provided in about an hour. Level 3 fast-charging can add around 60 miles of range in just 10 minutes. VW ID.4 buyers get three years of DC fast-charging through Electrify America public chargers for free.
The ID.4 rides on MacPherson struts and coil springs in the front and a multilink suspension in the rear, with anti-roll bars at both ends. It also sports VW’s electronic stability control system as standard equipment. ID.4 features a 108.9-inch wheelbase and a 62.5-inch track, making it quite maneuverable in tight city driving situations. It rides on either 19- or 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels with all-season tires to keep a good grip on the road. A low 0.28 coefficient of drag enhances the model’s overall efficiency. Because the ID.4 is designed as a utility vehicle, the standard version is designed to tow 2200 pounds with the AWD capable of handling 2700 pounds.
True to its German roots, the interior of the ID.4 emphasizes a purposeful design with clean styling and minimal frills, while offering all the functional equipment expected in a modern vehicle. The driver is treated to a commanding driving position behind a sporty three spoke steering wheel fitted with all the primary control buttons the driver might need. It has an overall interior volume of 99.9 cubic feet, roomy for the vehicle’s overall footprint. VW’s Car Talk allows the vehicle to communicate with the driver through voice commands so the driver’s eyes never need to leave the road. IQ.DRIVE, Volkswagen’s suite of advanced driver assist technologies, provides an array of desired features such as hands-on semi-autonomous driving, lane assist, and active cruise control.
Both single and dual motor ID.4 models are available in Pro and Pro S trim, with prices starting at $39,995 to $43,675.
The 2022 Kona Electric from South Korean automaker Hyundai stands out in the ever growing electric car market on many fronts. Trim and nimble, this compact SUV has plenty of punch to deliver a spirited driving experience, yet has great electric range at a price point that makes it a real value. Base price for the Kona Electric starts at a reasonable $34,000. EPA-estimated range comes in at 258 miles, with the Kona Electric’s. EPA fuel economy rating up there with the best in the industry at 132 MPGe in the city, 108 on the highway, and 120 combined.
Power is stored in a 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery pack that energizes the model’s 201 horsepower electric motor. Hyundai says expect a full charging time in just over 9 hours with a Level II home or public charger. Charging time shortens considerably to 64 minutes for a 10-to-80 percent charge at an available public 50 kW Level III quick charger and just 47 minutes if charging at a 100 kW Level III charging station.
Exterior styling is markedly cleaner on the 2022 Kona Electric compared to the previous year’s model. It looks sleek and purposeful with a more aggressive stance and on road presence, featuring a stretched hood, revised front and rear fascia, and air inlets in the bumper corners. The charging port is cleanly built into the front fascia/bumper for easy connections when pulling straight into a charging spot, a welcome feature for those accustomed to charge ports mounted on the side of an electric vehicle. Night driving is made safer with the addition of high intensity halogen projector beam headlights and LED daylight running lights make the Kona easier to spot by other drivers. The taillights are also bright energy saving LEDs.
Kona Electric is very welcoming on the inside. The driver is treated to an 8-way adjustable seat with power lumbar support with the passenger provided a 6-way adjustable bucket seat, both of them heated. A Harmon Kardon engineered and tuned multi-speaker audio system includes a center console-mounted sub-woofer. The system is Apple CarPlay and Android compatible and controlled through a 10.25 inch color LCD touch screen at the center of the dash. A second 10.25 digital cluster is located in front of the driver. Interior panels are accented by trim with the look of brushed aluminum.
A full suite of driver assist and advanced safety systems is available . Among these are Smart Cruise Control with stop and go, Lane Following Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, Highway Drive Assist, Blind Spot Collision Avoidance, and more.
The Kona platform is right-sized for many mobility missions, compact for easy city maneuverability and parking but also accommodating enough to provide a comfortable experience for driver and passengers. It measures in with an overall length of 165.6 inches and is built on a 102.4 inch wheelbase chassis, offering welcome ride-quality for around-town driving and longer daily commutes.
In the company’s words, the $129,990 Tesla Model S Plaid is ‘beyond ludicrous,’ with a new, three-motor powertrain producing a combined 1,020 horsepower, 0 to 60 times of 1.99 seconds, and 9-second quarter-mile sprints. It’s rated as delivering a 398 mile driving range, though that’s figured in a typical EPA test regimen. Given that buyers of the Model S Plaid are likely in it for the car’s performance potential, driving this car to its potential will certainly mean commensurately less range. Other models like the even more range conscious Model S Long Range can go an estimated 405 miles using dual motors producing 670 horsepower.
Recently, a Model S Plaid was dragstrip tested by Motor Trend in an attempt to independently verify Tesla’s claimed sub-2-second 0 to 60 time. They were successful in doing so on a surface fully-prepped with VHT, a resin-based compound typically used at dragstrips. On asphalt without a sticky coating of VHT, the Plaid took 2.07 seconds, making it the quickest production car that publication ever tested.
The Model S has been facelifted for 2022 with new front and rear fascia and fender bulges to fit wider wheels and tires. The new look continues inside with a more spacious cabin and an all-new interior design, featuring an aircraft-style yoke to replace the conventional steering wheel. ‘No stalks, no shifting’ to distract from the pure driving experience, says Tesla.
In the center of the dashboard is a 17-inch, landscape-oriented cinematic display that controls the navigation, infotainment, and tri-zone climate controls. The rear seat has been redesigned with extra head- and legroom for three passengers, and a stowable center armrest has storage compartments and wireless charging. The rear seat also folds flat to accommodate lengthy cargo. There’s a video monitor in the rear of the front armrest; Tesla says the Model S has up to 10 teraflops of processing power, enabling console-like in-car gaming. Wireless controller capability allows game play from any seat.
Tesla owners can take advantage of more than 25,000 Supercharger stations globally. On a Supercharger, the Plaid can charge at up to 250 kW, which has the capability to 200 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
The Model S is equipped with front-, side-, and rear-facing cameras to provide a 360-degree view around the car. In addition there are 12 ultrasonic sensors to assist in the car’s self-driving features, which include Autopilot, Auto Lane Change, Summon, and AutoPark. Over-the-air software updates enable instantaneous upgrades as they become available.
Karma’s new GS-6 is offered in Standard, Luxury, and Sport models, all sharing the sleek exterior design of the company’s upmarket Revero GT. The three GS-6 variants are powered by a transversely mounted, 400 kW twin-motor rear drive module (RDM) energized by a 28 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers 61 miles of battery-electric range. The combination, which produces 536 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of peak torque, comes with an EPA rating of 70 combined city/highway MPGe. Range increases to 330 miles with additional electricity from a 1.5-liter, turbocharged three-cylinder gas engine spinning a 170 kW generator.
The driver can select one of three modes that control how the motor is powered: Stealth mode uses the battery pack only; Sustain mode accesses the generator to create electricity to power the car; Sport mode uses both the batteries and the generator to supply power directly to the motors.
The drive system’s Sport mode is available in all GS-6 versions, not just the Sport model. The line-topping Sport model is differentiated from the other GS-6 versions by its 22-inch wheels (21s are standard on the others), red Brembo brake calipers, and torque vectoring from the RDM.
The GS-6’s leather interior is available in a choice of five colors and accent trim that range from carbon fiber to reclaimed wood from forests burned by California wildfires. The car’s Human-Machine Interface enables driver control of features including steering feel, accelerator pedal aggressiveness, and its Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). Controls in the haptic steering wheel give the driver command of the sound system and phone, driving modes, adaptive cruise control, and a three-mode regenerative brake system. The center touchscreen contains controls for the HVAC system, heated and ventilated seats, audio, and lighting. Also controlled through the center screen is the GS-6’s Track Mode, which provides data ranging from lap times and g-forces to energy use and even tire pressure and temperature.
The ADAS aboard the GS-6 has a long list of assistance and safety features including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane-keep assist, automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring/rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, and parking distance monitoring. Onboard cameras provide a 360-degree view around the Karma. Apple Car Play and Android Auto capability are built into the GS-6, and it can receive over-the-air updates for remote diagnostics and software upgrades.
While it sells vehicles globally, Karma's operations are in Southern California with headquarters in Irvine and a production facility in Moreno Valley.
The all-new five-door, five-passenger BMW i4 is right-sized for fans of the marque, similar in overall length and wheelbase to its 3 Series stablemates. Both i4 variants utilize BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, which combines an 83.9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack with either a single electrically-excited synchronous motor on the rear axle (in eDrive 40) or motors front and rear (in M50). BMW expects up to 300 miles of driving range in the single motor i4 and an estimated 245 miles in the M50.
Taking its Ultimate Driving Machine strategy a step further, the all-wheel-drive i4 M50 – the first fully electric performance model from BMW’s M Group – ups the 335 horsepower of the standard i4 eDrive40 to a combined 536 horsepower. In addition, special attention is paid to chassis tuning and powertrain responsiveness in the M50 so it delivers the level of driving engagement expected from a BMW with the M badge.
The i4’s combined charging unit accepts either home-based AC power, at a rate of up to 11 kW, or up to 200 kW of DC power at a fast-charging station. BMW has partnered with EVgo to provide i4 owners access to EVgo and partner charging network stations. The partnership includes $100 in EVgo charging credit for buyers and lessees of qualifying BMW electric vehicles.
Helping to boost the i4 models’ efficiency are their adaptive energy recuperation systems, which use data from the navigation and driver-assistance systems to vary the intensity of brake energy recuperation. The driver may also select high, medium, or low brake energy recuperation via the iDrive menu. Putting the gear selector in drive mode B provides enough regen for one-pedal driving with little or no use of the brakes, depending on driving habits and current driving conditions.
The i4’s handling dynamics benefit from the battery pack’s location in the floor, which lowers its center of gravity below that of a 3 Series sedan. Both models are equipped with a rear air suspension using a self-leveling and lift-related shock system that controls damping force based on spring travel. An adaptive M suspension, optional on the eDrive 40 and standard on the M40, enables the driver to adjust shock settings electronically at each wheel.
Inside the i4, the BMW Curved Display puts the 12.3-inch driver information display and 14.9-inch control display behind a single piece of glass. Features in BMW’s new iDrive 8 system can be operated via the Curved Display or by voice commands. Among them is the new Cloud-based BMW Maps navigation system, which combines real-time information with forecasting models to improve navigation accuracy. Both Apple Car Play and Android Auto are programmed into the i4.
There are more than 40 driver assistance systems available for the i4 as either standard or optional equipment, including some Level 2 automated driving functions such as speed limit assist and route guidance when the optional active cruise control is engaged. Collision warning, pedestrian warning, and lane departure warning are all standard. Cross-traffic warnings, blind-spot detection, and rear-collision prevention are part of the optional driving assistant system. Optional parking assistant will control the i4 when entering or exiting parallel or perpendicular parking spaces, while its back-up assistant offers automatic reversing for up to 50 yards. A Driving Assistance Professional system utilizes three front cameras, one front-facing radar sensor ,and four side-facing radar sensors “to build a detailed picture of the car’s surroundings,” says BMW. That data is used for such functions as active navigation, steering and lane control assistant, lane-keeping assistant, emergency stop assistant, and evasion assistant.
The BMW i4 eDrive40 can be preordered now starting at $56,395 with the performance-oriented i4 M50 coming in at $66,895. Availability here in the States is spring 2022, according to BMW.
Similar in size to Audi’s Q5 SUV, the Q4 e-tron is powered by one or two electric motors depending on configuration. The base Q4 40 e-tron sends an estimated 240 horsepower to the rear wheels through a permanently excited synchronous motor. The Q4 50 e-tron quattro and Q4 50 Sportback e-tron quattro add a temporary on-demand asynchronous motor to drive the front wheels as needed. The second motor brings total output to an estimated 290 horsepower. When not in use, the front motor doesn’t consume any energy or add any load resistance, so the drivetrain’s efficiency is like that of the rear-wheel drive system.
Both drive configurations are powered by a single 77 kWh battery located between the axles to optimize weight distribution. Preliminary estimates put the Q4 40 e-tron’s range at approximately 250 miles.
The drivetrain is configured to regenerate energy using what Audi calls intelligent recuperation, which incorporates navigation and topographical data in addition to the three regen modes selectable via steering wheel paddles and brake pedal modulation. The battery can be charged using either alternating or direct current, up to 11 kW with AC and up to 125 kW DC using a high-speed charger.
The Q4 e-tron interiors feature a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver and a second, 10.1-inch touchscreen to operate the infotainment and navigation systems. A new steering wheel has seamless touch surfaces to control the instrument cluster. Available as an option is an augmented reality head-up display, which superimposes relevant driving information over the real-world view out the windshield at what is perceived to be a distance of 30 feet ahead of the driver, “creating an integrated and eyes-forward experience,” says Audi.
Several driver-assist systems are packaged into the Q4 e-tron models, ranging from High-Beam Assist to Adaptive Cruise Assist. Combined with Traffic Jam Assist, the adaptive cruise control can guide the SUV through its entire speed range. A Predictive Efficiency Assist program optimizes energy consumption over the duration of a trip.
Audi expects to produce the Q4 e-tron models at its Zwickau, Germany, plant with a net carbon-neutral footprint. Zwickau will incorporate renewable electricity to help achieve this certification. The Q4 e-tron SUVs should be on sale in the U.S. in late 2021 with a starting MSRP of less than $45,000.
Volvo’s positioning of the C40 Recharge is interesting in an era where an abundance of new models are identified by their makers as SUVs, though many could just as easily be called large hatchbacks. This is in reverse. Volvo doesn’t describe the C40 Recharge as an SUV – thought it certainly could be categorized that way – but rather, says it ‘has all the benefits of an SUV’ like a high seating position, but with a sleeker body design. We’ll chalk it up to marketing.
However you define it, the model is powered by a 78 kWh battery driving front and rear electric motors for zero-emission driving. Anticipated range is estimated at about just over 200 miles on a charge, with an official EPA rating still to come. Range is expected to improve over time with over-the-air software updates, Volvo says. The battery is configured to be fast-charged to 80 percent in about 40 minutes. Buyers of the C40 Recharge, and all-fully electric 2022 Volvo vehicles, will receive 250 kWh of complimentary charging for the first three years of ownership using Electrify America’s charging network. After that, owners will be eligible for Electrify America’s Pass+, with Volvo picking up the membership fees for the first year.
The C40 Recharge is the first Volvo with a leather-free interior. Upholstery options include renewable wool fiber or a combination of suede textile (made of recycled plastic) and micro-tech material. The carpet and much of the interior panels and trim are also made using recycled plastics.
Other interior features include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front and rear seats, a heated sport steering wheel wrapped in a synthetic material, a 12-inch driver display instrument panel, and a 9-inch center display panel. The infotainment system in the C40 Recharge was developed with Google and is based on the Android operating system. Google services, such as Google Maps, Google Assistant, and the Google Play Store are built in, and owners have access to Google apps using the car’s unlimited data.
Driver aids built into the C40 Recharge include Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Aid, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and Road Sign Information, which displays information alerts – speed limits, do not enter and other signs – in the speedometer.
Starting at a base price somewhat south of $60,000, the C40 Recharge is available through online orders only. It will come with a convenient care package that includes service, warranty, roadside assistance, insurance, and home-charging options. To simplify the online ordering process, the C40 Recharge will be available in one trim level called Ultimate. This model has ‘every available feature,’ says Volvo, including a panoramic fixed moonroof, pixel LED lighting, 360-degree surround-view camera, and Harmon Kardon premium sound.
While performance is a given at any level, it’s been Tesla’s highest-end, dual-motor models that really set the bar for the ultimate in electric drive thrill seekers. While Tesla has pretty much had a lock on this for some time, serious competition has been in the pipeline. Audi’s new-for-2022 e-tron GT not only considerably extends the reach of Audi’s unfolding all-electric e-tron lineup, it presents a compelling option to those who would otherwise consider a Tesla.
Sleek and sinewy, the e-tron GT is what electric performance should be about. If Audi’s 610 horsepower, V-10 powered R8 supercar screams performance, then the more luxury-oriented electric e-tron GT simply exudes it in a refined and luxurious sort of way, without making a fuss. The e-tron GT is beautifully designed with a sloping roofline, a long wheelbase, wide stance, and large 20-inch alloy wheels as standard fare, with the uplevel RS variant offering available 21-inch alloys.
And performance? As expected. Front and rear permanently excited synchronous motors in the GT – 235 horsepower at the front and 429 at the rear – offer a net combined output of 469 horsepower for exhilarating acceleration. A greater 522 horsepower with overboost and launch control is delivered for a brief 2 1/2 seconds as needed. This delivers a 3.9 second 0-60 mph sprint and a top speed of 152 mph. The RS e-tron GT uses the same front motor but integrates a more powerful 450 horsepower motor at the rear, offering 590 horsepower overall and 637 horsepower with overboost. It reaches 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, matching the breathtaking performance of Audi’s V-10 R8.
Power in both versions is delivered to the road via a two-speed transmission that accentuates quick acceleration while providing a second taller gear for extended highway driving. All-wheel steering, available in GT models and standard in the RS e-tron, provides a maximum of 2.8 degrees of opposite direction in the rear to increase low-speed agility at speeds up to 30 mph, and in the same direction at higher speeds to aid stability. Three-chamber air suspension is standard to enable tuning for comfort or performance.
Energy is delivered to the motors by a 93.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack housed within an aluminum frame. Audi estimates a 238 mile range for the GT and 232 miles for the RS GT based on its own testing approximating EPA test cycles. Both are standard and fast charge capable, with the latter bringing the e-tron’s battery from 5 to 80-percent charge is just over 22 minutes.
Arriving this year, the Audi e-tron GT quattro Premium Plus carries an MSRP of $99,900, with the GT quattro Prestige upping the ante to $107,100 and the RS e-tron GT to $139,900.
Henrik Fisker is one of the most fascinating figures in the auto industry today. After a distinguished career designing memorable vehicles for others like the Aston Martin DB9 – and notably the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin V8 Vantage famously driven by James Bond – he set off on his own path. His first effort, featuring the gorgeous plug-in Fisker Karma of his own design, ended abruptly in 2013. But everyone loves a good comeback story, and Fisker is delivering one with Fisker Inc., the company he and CFO wife/cofounder Geeta Gupta-Fisker launched in 2016.
RON COGAN: You’ve designed some amazing and iconic vehicles for legacy automakers. What drove you to become an automaker yourself?
HENRIK FISKER: “I felt like in my corporate career I had hit the ceiling, and the pinnacle was designing two cars for Aston Martin, the V8 Vantage and DB9. I wanted to get out and get my hands dirty, and start doing something where I challenged myself. I really had a passion for the idea of coming up with sustainable vehicles that were also emotional and exciting. That’s how I started Fisker Automotive, originally with the Fisker Karma.”
RC: What are the most important lessons you’ve learned from your experience with the former Fisker Automotive, and how are you applying those at Fisker Inc. today?
FISKER: “If you have the ability to de-risk something, then do it. That’s lesson number one. An example would be, originally with Fisker Automotive, we didn’t really have a choice of a battery maker. There were only three and we were left to take the third one, which was A123, because Panasonic was with Tesla at the time and I think LG Chem had an exclusive with GM.
“Today we have the possibility to either choose some untested battery technology from a new startup, or we take tested battery technology from a large battery maker. We have chosen the latter, because I believe there’s too big a risk there, and we don’t really need to take that risk because the technology is getting better and better. We think it’s going to take a lot longer to come up with radical new battery technologies than we, and a lot of people, originally thought…I think we’re at least seven to 10 years away.”
RC: How will you stay ahead of the advanced battery curve?
FISKER: “When you buy a car today, any new car, the technology in that car is probably three to four years old, because it was decided three or four years ago. What we are trying to do is shorten that time down to 18 to 24 months, where we can decide on technology that late. When you get our car in the next year, we decided on the battery technology this year, which means we have the latest, newest technology.
“To give you an example, when we looked at technology in 2020, only a year ago, we estimated a range of 300 miles. Because we could delay that decision to now, we now can have a better, more energy-efficient cell and a more energy-efficient pack, which means we are getting up to about a 350-mile range. That is the advantage of being able to choose technology very late in the development process.”
RC: Any other lessons learned?
FISKER: “Number two, I would say, is financing. Originally, at Fisker Automotive we had many, many financing rounds, and we saw other companies as well, like Tesla, having many financing rounds. What happens is you end up having delays, because you never get the financing when you need it. When you have a delay developing a car you actually end up increasing costs because time is cost. The other lesson learned: Go and get the total amount of money you need for your first car.”
RC: Does that mean you have enough now to fully produce the Ocean?
FISKER: “We needed slightly less than a billion dollars to get the Fisker Ocean to market, and said we aren’t going to kick off the program full speed until we raised the entire amount of money. We decided last year to do a SPAC merger, where we went public and we raised over $1 billion. To this date we have had no delays. We are going full speed, and we are still on target to launch the vehicle next year.”
RC: Can you share insight into your asset-light business model?
FISKER: “The advantage is that you’re taking less risk, specifically in manufacturing. We have seen what Tesla has gone through, ‘manufacturing hell.’ They have been pretty clear about it. I don’t know that either investors or customers have the patience that they may have had many, many years ago, where it was still the early adopters that bought electric cars.
“I think the competition is a lot stronger today, and I think the expectation is a high-quality car on par with any other traditional OEM out there. This was really important for us. Yes, there might be some car enthusiast fanatics that feel it’s super cool if you make your own car, but the reality is that I don’t want to risk our company or the quality just to prove we can manufacture a car better than Toyota. I don’t think it has any real relevance to our stakeholders or to our customers, quite frankly. Nobody questions the fact that Apple doesn’t make its own phones.”
RC: So you’ve contracted your manufacturing out to Magna.
FISKER: “Magna is probably one of the best automotive manufacturers in the world, manufacturing some of the highest-quality cars out there, for German luxury makers to even one large Japanese conglomerate. We know this is their job. We are paying them to do it, and they will deliver a high-quality vehicle straight out of the gate.
“If you are manufacturing in your own plant and you’re still in the learning process, that means you’re going to spend more hours per car, and that is cost. I’ll bet you our vehicle is actually at a lower cost-per-vehicle to manufacture than any of our startup competitors, because they aren’t going to make perfect vehicles in the lowest amount of time straight out of the box, like Magna can do it. They will do it at the right man-hours per vehicle, and therefore our costs per vehicle are already fixed. This gives us an advantage, which is why we can already announce pricing on our vehicle, because we know those costs.”
RC: How important is your deal with Foxconn to your future plans?
FISKER: “I think it’s extremely important and it has accelerated our business model. Through this partnership, we are able to get to an even more affordable vehicle much quicker than the Fisker Ocean. It also gives us the opportunity to revolutionize the future of the automobile in a way that would have taken longer under normal circumstances. We are partnering with a group that was part of the smartphone revolution, quite frankly, and they’re an amazing partner for making a revolution in the automotive industry.”
RC: Can you share more details?
FISKER: “It’s going to be very futuristic. I’m going to take a lot of risk in terms of design and certain features in this vehicle to really shake up things, and look at maybe new ways of usability in what I would call a mobility device. Let’s call it that right now. I think this vehicle will be hard to categorize – in the way we normally say, ‘it’s a sedan or an SUV, or so on’ – and it’s on purpose.”
RC: What’s ahead?
FISKER: “You can’t forget the fact that a car company really, in my opinion, only becomes a car company once you have multiple models. We did not want to launch the Fisker Ocean and then start the next program, because that way you’re waiting another two and a half years for the next vehicle. Instead, we are actually working on multiple vehicles right now, so we can have a quick cadence of products. Our plan is to come up with four vehicles before 2025, and so far, we are on course for that.”
Electrification has not been a primary interest at Mazda. Efficiency? Yes, SKYACTIV technology. Family friendliness? Yep, with four crossover/SUVs of varying stripes. Performance? Well, yeah, Mazdas are fun to drive and the MX-5 Miata is a perennial sports car favorite, plus the brand is competitive in all sorts of racing.
There clearly hasn’t been any urgency to embrace electrification at Mazda, even as most of its competitors have done so. The brand has dabbled, though. There was a Miata EV concept in the 1990s and a short-lived Demio EV demonstration project in Japan back in 2012, but little else. Now things have changed.
Enter the 2022 Mazda MX-30, a model representing the first step in this automaker’s journey toward electrification. Aimed initially at the California market this fall with a likelihood of expanding to other ‘green’ states, the electrified crossover is powered by a 144 horsepower electric motor with 200 lb-ft torque driving the front wheels. Energy is provided by a 35.5 kWh lithium-ion battery. Mazda has not provided U.S. range estimates for its new electric, though the MX-30 is rated at delivering 124 miles of single-charge driving range on the European WLTP testing cycle. Translating that to the more conservative EPA testing cycle is not a science, but you could reasonably conclude that a full battery would deliver about 100 miles of driving on U.S. roads.
Yes, that’s pretty limited range given the direction of new electric vehicle offerings in the U.S., which skew toward 200 miles of driving range or better, courtesy of larger battery packs. Charging via a standard 220-volt wall charger is convenient and assures that when you’re home for the night, just plug in and you’ll have a full charge in the morning. If you’re on the road or just want to pick up additional range while out, plugging into a rapid-charger will bring the battery from 20 to 80 percent charge in about 36 minutes.
Mazda has more in store for the MX-30 beyond this initial all-electric version. Coming later is a range-extended variant featuring the addition of Mazda’s signature rotary engine, with this powerplant operating exclusively as a rotary generator that creates electricity to augment battery power. This, in effect, creates a series-hybrid electric MX-30 with the ability to motor on long after battery power is gone.
Inside the handsome cabin is a floating center console with an electronic shifter and command knob. A 7-inch display is provided and flanked by controls. Adding to the new model’s innovations are rear doors that are hinged at the rear and swing outward at the front.
A handy MyMazda app allows locking doors, monitoring state-of-charge, and adjusting climate controls via a user’s cellphone. A full suite of the automaker’s i-Activsense safety and driver assist systems will be offered, though details about this and the model’s suggested retail price have not yet been revealed.
The MX-30 represents the first of Mazda’s electrification thrust, with a hybrid crossover option coming and a plug-in hybrid variant to be offered in a new large-platform SUV. All promise expected Mazda driving dynamics courtesy of an enhanced SKYACTIVE vehicle architecture. Base price of the MX-30 is $34,645 plus destination charge.
The EV6 paints a bold picture of Kia’s take on the booming electric vehicle experience. A close cousin to the Hyundai IONIQ 5, EV6 is compact and efficient yet also aggressive, with this five-door hatch presenting a sporty fastback profile. It offers the muscular styling cues of Kia rally cars with sleek and clean lines while prioritizing a spirited driving experience. It has a long wheelbase for the car’s overall footprint that should add to both on road stability and overall ride quality.
This is the first Kia model to be built on the South Korean automaker’s dedicated Electric-Global Modular Platform. It was designed from the ground up aa a pure electric vehicle, rather than being derived from an existing internal combustion engine model. Kia is signaling a serious commitment to the electric car market with the introduction of the EV6.
While diminutive on the outside, EV6 manages a very spacious interior due to the intelligent packaging of electric drive components. In fact, interior volume compares favorably to that of a midsize to large crossover or SUV, with its roomy cabin translating into a comfortable space for five occupants. Recycled materials are used throughout the cabin. Naturally, all the latest electronic driver assist tools are front-and-center in the EV6 cockpit, along with other innovative systems like an augmented reality head-up display that projects driving info in the driver’s line of sight, plus alerts from the car’s driver assist system.
Kia will offer the EV6 with a variety of drivetrain and battery pack options, including a choice of standard 58 kWh and long-range 77.4 kWh packs. Two- and all-wheel drive versions will be available. The standard range two-wheel drive model uses a 168 hp motor powering the rear wheels or a 232 hp motor powering both front and rear wheels. The longer range variant integrates a 225 hp motor driving the rear wheels with a 320 hp motor delivering power to front and rear.
Those who desire a real performance rush will be interested in the high torque, high power EV6 GT that turns up the volume to deafening levels. Powered by dual motors producing 576 hp, this all-wheel drive EV6 accelerates from 0-60 in about 3.5 seconds, true supercar performance territory.
EV6 enables both 400 and 800 volt charging capability without the need for adaptors, delivering quick charge times and greater flexibility on the road. A high-speed charge bringing the battery from 10 to 80 percent in any EV6 variant takes just 18 minutes. Those in a hurry will find their 2WD 88.4 kWh model gaining about 60 miles of driving range in less than five minutes with a high-speed charge. EV6 features multiple drive modes to accommodate a range of driving styles, from aggressive regenerative braking with a one-foot driving experience to a sail mode that disengages the powertrain to deliver extended coasting.
Kia is planning to launch the EV6 in 2022 and round out their EV portfolio with a total of 11 electric models by 2026.