Tesla Also Showed a Pickup During its Semi Presentation

Tesla made waves last night with the debut of its first-ever semi truck and its second-generation Roadster sports car, but those weren’t the only new Tesla products shown.

The automaker also debuted a rough design for a pickup truck during the presentation. As you may be able to tell from the sketch above, Tesla’s idea for a pickup is far from ordinary. This design concept is for a pickup based on the Tesla Semi and, as you can see, it would theoretically be capable of carrying a regular sized pickup in its bed. Unlike a regular, diesel semi-truck, however, you wouldn’t need a special license to drive this beast – just your standard Class D license.

Whilst this idea is neat, it’s far from being a reality. Tesla has a lot on its plate right now between the production ramp-up of the Model 3 and bringing the Semi and Roadster to market, so we doubt this zany idea for a huge pickup is a priority. If anything, it’s an interesting design exercise to help Tesla gauge the interest in electric pickup trucks both with consumers and commercial entities.

This article appears also at AutoGuide.com

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Volkswagen Blitzing China with $12 Billion Dedicated To Electric Vehicle Production

Volkswagen is substantially investing in Chinese electric vehicle production having announced $12 billion dollars earmarked for development and building electric vehicles in that burgeoning market.

The increase in VW’s commitment comes in response to upcoming regulations, including a 2019 requirement for automakers in China to adhere to EV production quotas. Its action plan includes the production of 15 new energy vehicle models (NEV) and 25 locally produced vehicles. Its local vehicle launch will start in the first half of 2018, in conjunction with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motors), Volkswagen’s joint venture partner.

The goal is to leverage JAC Motor’s local expertise and platforms to meet government regulations until Volkswagen is capable of venturing out on its own.

In a statement ahead of the Guangzhou Auto Show, Jochem Heizmann, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group China, said that Volkswagen hoped to increase new energy vehicle sales to 400,000 a year by 2020, breaking a 1.5 million NEV annual sales goal by 2025.

“China is leading the way to the final breakthrough in the adoption of e-mobility and Volkswagen Group China is determined to be at the forefront,” said Heizmann.

All in all, Volkswagen’s long-term broader vision is to build electric versions of all of its 300 models, with expenditures of $24 billion dollars by 2030, per Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller’s September announcement ahead of the Frankfurt Auto Show.

China has been one of the world leaders in tighter emissions control regulations over the past year, with new schemes designed to increase EV production.

Among them is a mandate authorizing that 8 percent of Chinese vehicle sales account for electric vehicles, a credit system, and an outright ban on all petrol and diesel cars by 2040. These mandates have helped cooperation efforts between U.S. automakers and Chinese partners.

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Ford Files Autonomous-Drive Patent to Help Off-road Vehicles Navigate that Odd Rock Formation

This week Ford secured a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a new off-road autonomous driving system.

The patent focuses on off-road obstacle detection and response, with Ford describing a semi-autonomous/autonomous system using a combination of sensors, radar, LiDar, topographical map data, and cameras to digest and interpret data regarding off-road obstacle passage, redirection, and avoidance. An obstacle capable of being sidestepped or crossed over would alert and calibrate the vehicle’s active suspension system to move forward. A second alert warns passengers in the event an obstacle cannot be cleared.

A variety of new applications have been attributed to Ford’s latest offroading patent. Rollover risks would alert passengers to exit, and unsafe routes could trigger the system to suggest an alternative route. Multiple settings could be activated, such as a rock crawling, ditch crossing, or ground clearance avoidance modes that adjust the vehicle’s suspension accordingly.

Suspension settings would also adjust the vehicle’s suspension in full autonomous or semi-autonomous modes, calibrating its computer-controlled springs, shocks, roll-bars, ride height, and others.
Ford’s patent application includes details of a remote device override capable of nullifying the off-road system’s autonomous output to use the driver’s discretion.

Several diagrams produced by Ford describe the system in greater detail, illustrating scenarios with sketches and flowcharts with decision paths and outcomes based on a set of conditions (e.g., when the system detects a rollover risk.)

To date, there have been relatively few offroad autonomous or semi-autonomous assistance systems. One example is Toyota’s Crawl Control technology, which equips the Land Cruiser, 4Runner TRD, and Tacoma TRD with sensors to detect driving conditions and toggle acceleration and braking settings to each wheel for greater control. However, Ford’s patent enables the computer to take control of the entire vehicle without driver intervention.

No details have yet to be provided on a timetable or plan to put Ford’s new off-road autonomous driving system into production.

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Tesla semi, Roadster surprise too, Clarity Plug-in price, Jeep Wrangler MPG: Today's Car News

Tesla SemiToday, it’s almost all about Tesla: introduction of its future Semi, a surprise new Roadster too, and the most important question for the company. Also, aggressive pricing on the Honda Clarity Plug-In, some long-ago electric-car history, and a billion dollars for Nio. All this and more on Green Car Reports. Late last night, the Tesla Semi was…

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500-Mile Range Tesla Electric Semi Has Several Advantages Over Diesel

Last night Tesla introduced an electric Semi it hopes will begin the process of upending the diesel standard of the trucking industry as much as electric cars are in process of upsetting the automotive world.

Shown by CEO Elon Musk, the Semi projected for 2019 production beats diesels in most performance metrics – vital to selling it to fleet buyers who do not purchase vehicles for emotional reasons, but because they are tools that serve their business, and must pencil out.

Tesla’s truck actually stands to appeal to emotions as well, however, as the vehicle with cd of 0.36 – better than a 0.38 Bugatti or 0.65-70 of a standard truck – zips un-laden to 60 mph in a scant five seconds. And, at 80,000-pounds with trailer attached, the class 8 truck will still make the 60-mph run in 20 seconds – twice as quick as a diesel, and even only 4-5 seconds longer than a Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid when driving in all-electric mode.

All that power comes from four Model 3 motors, with battery capacity unspecified, but range is to be as much as 500 miles. Musk said even with two motors out, it would still beat a diesel.

Charging is to come from solar-fed “Megachargers” which can replenish 80-percent charge in 30 minutes, about the normal time drivers might take a break, and comparable to 15 minutes to refuel a diesel truck.

Other meaningful stats include ability to traverse a five-percent grade at 65 mph fully loaded, instead of the 45 mph crawl diesel drivers may now experience, said Musk.

Inside, the avante garde big rig’s cockpit has the driver centrally perched with commanding view and flanked with two Model 3 screens to provide data for the driver.

The truck shown was a day cab model, but a longer chassis to accommodate a sleeper cab is also in the works.

Naturally, Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot semi-autonomous system is included, with an end goal of full autonomy, and ability for the trucks to platoon, or run nose-to-tail in a formation. This saves energy and promises to be competitive with freight trains, operating on principle similarly to them.

“Tesla Semi can also travel in a convoy, where one or several Semi trucks will be able to autonomously follow a lead Semi,” said Tesla.

Unstated is what regional laws would allow, as each truck plus 53-foot trailer would make for a veritable traffic-impeding road train, so expect only open-road use cases, and how this would actually play out remains to be seen.

Otherwise, safety is being touted as well, and as has been stated of Tesla’s automobiles, the goal is for the Semi to be one of the safest trucks. This would come via safety systems including a stability control system that prevents jackknifing, surround-view cameras to reduce blind spots, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning.

Price for the big truck is unstated at this time, and other open questions include how this paradigm shift will take off to supplant diesel semis.

Since solely reliant on Megachargers, the network promised to grow worldwide will be required, and as noted it all must make financial sense to fleet buyers. And while the range of 500 miles beats 200-300 speculated earlier, it is much shorter than diesel trucks which can carry upwards of 250 gallons, and return an average 5.5 mpg. Diesels with 1,000-1,400 miles range are not uncommon, so stops to recharge would of necessity be far more frequent if Tesla is contemplating long-haul driving.

Until now, other manufacturers venturing into electric powertrains have emphasized they are ideal for limited route driving just as are city buses and smaller delivery trucks and so forth. If contemplating a drive from California to New York, Tesla does have its work cut out for it, and a development path similar to the growing Supercharger network for cars would be likely.

As with Tesla’s cars, you can be sure a large part of the sales pitch will center on offset costs to counter what will likely be a sales price above a conventional diesel. These advantages include electricity at 7 cents per kWh to counter fluctuating and rising diesel prices, and reduced maintenance costs and resultant revenue-sapping downtime.

The truck even has “thermonuclear” glass to prevent a scenario today that Tesla describes as an average two windshield breaks per year. The electric powertrain itself is to provide a million miles reliability and less upkeep along the way with fewer moving parts.

With regenerative brake energy up to 98 percent, Tesla also anticipates negligible wear of the friction brakes, and no doubt Tesla will work on its value proposition proposal to miss no advantages over diesel as the electric Semi nears production.

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