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Hyundai unveils its smallest EV based on the 45 concept car

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It’s hard to forget the wedge-shaped body style of Hyundai’s 45 concept vehicle. First seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show last year, the 45 will lead Hyundai’s assault in the EV segment along with the shapely Prophecy concept vehicle. But now, Hyundai is in a playful mood, and we mean literally.

Feast your eyes on the 45 mini EV. Yes, it’s a toy similar to McLaren’s 720S and Senna Ride-On, but it’s essentially a miniaturized version of a full-size 45 minus the roof. Also, notice the centrally-mounted driver seat like in a McLaren F1 and Gordon Murray’s T.50 supercar? Hyundai said the seat location ‘boosts driver confidence’ and takes inspiration from the motorsports arena.

Hyundai’s yet-to-be-named 45 mini EV is crafted from sustainable wood. It has a pair of DC electric motors, enough for a top speed of around 4.5 mph (7 kph). According to Hyundai, the 45 mini EV utilizes Emotion Adaptive Vehicle Control (EAVC) technology to increase the vehicle’s driving range. Hyundai didn’t specifically mention how this new tech works, but it did say the ‘driver’s laughter is believed to fuel the vehicle to travel further.’

Will this new tech finally rid future EVs of range anxiety? Only time will tell, but it’s interesting to see how smiles, giggles, and laughter may soon power future EVs. Meanwhile, we’re loving the blue and orange theme of Hyundai’s mini EV, and it somehow reminds us of the Veloster N’s signature hue. This mini EV is just a concept for now, but it may reach Hyundai dealers sooner than expected.

In the meantime, the full-size 45 EV will enter production near the end of 2020, while the curvaceous Prophecy EV is set to replace the Ioniq starting next year. Hyundai plans to unveil nine new EVs in the next three years, with up to 13 electrified vehicles in its portfolio by 2022. We’re not sure if the 45 mini EV is part of that count, but it’s an interesting little toy, nevertheless.

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Both Volkswagen and Tesla are preparing cheaper EVs

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A new report is going around that claims new, more affordable electric vehicles will be coming to market. According to the report, both Tesla and Volkswagen have given new EV programs the green light to create cars selling for between $25,000 and $30,000. That is a price point that will undoubtedly make transitioning to electric vehicles more affordable for people worldwide.

Pricing is one of the main concerns cited by vehicle shoppers for not choosing electric vehicles compared to a traditional car. Many have been waiting for EVs to reach price parity with similarly equipped traditional vehicles. That parity has been achieved in some parts of the luxury segment making EVs more popular in that part of the market.

Advancements in batteries have helped bring the price of electric vehicles down as the battery pack is one of the most expensive parts of the car. More drivers are interested in EVs as driving ranges have increased significantly in recent years. One barrier that remains in the way is the lack of charging infrastructure in many parts of the world.

Many also cite long charge times as a reason they’ve yet to adopt an electric vehicle. With new electric cars in the $25,000-$30,000 price range, one more barrier of entry will be removed. Tesla announced in September that it was planning a smaller long-range electric car using new battery technology that would start at $25,000. Elon Musk also noted that the vehicle will be fully autonomous and revealed a timeframe of about three years from now. The VW car is dubbed the Small Battery Electric Vehicle.

Volkswagen is aiming at a car about the size of its Polo. Volkswagen has offered no indication of when exactly its vehicle might come to market. Reports indicate that the 2024 through 2025 model range is a good guess for when the vehicles might arrive.

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Hyundai and Kia fined $210 million over vehicle recalls due to engine trouble

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced consent orders this week with Hyundai and Kia related to recalls of vehicles equipped with the Theta II engines. The automakers were hit with combined penalties amounting to $210 million. The NHTSA found that Hyundai and Kia conducted untimely recalls of over 1.6 million vehicles that used the Theta II engines.

The NHTSA also found that the automakers reported certain inaccurate information to it during the recalls. The consent orders establish monetary and non-monetary measures that will enhance Kia and Hyundai’s safety practices. Kia will create a new US safety office headed by a Chief Safety Officer. Hyundai will build a US test facility for safety investigations.

Both companies have promised to develop and implement a sophisticated data analytics program to better detect safety concerns. The agreements will also see each company retain an independent, third-party auditor who will directly report to the NHTSA. These auditors will conduct comprehensive reviews of the Safety Act practices and compliance with the consent order.

The NHTSA is also making both companies commit to substantial organizational improvements to enhance their ability to identify and investigate potential safety issues in the US while consistently and transparently communicating with the NHTSA. Hyundai is subject to a total civil penalty of $140 million with a $54 million upfront payment. It’s obligated to spend another $40 million on specified safety performance measures and an additional $46 million deferred penalty that will become payable if specified conditions aren’t satisfied.

Kia is subject to the total civil penalty of $70 million with a $27 million upfront payment. It’s obligated to spend another $16 million on specified safety performance measures with a $27 million deferred penalty payable if certain conditions aren’t satisfied. The consent orders don’t impact other ongoing investigations by the NHTSA regarding allegations of fires not related to crashes in Hyundai and Kia vehicles equipped with the Theta II engines.

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The NHTSA is opening an investigation into the Tesla Model S and Model X

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The NHTSA announced this week that it was opening a preliminary investigation into potential safety concerns raised by owners of Tesla Model S and Model X cars. The agency has received 53 complaints alleging failures of the left or right front suspension fore links. Of those 43 complaints, 11 incidents occurred while driving.

In its statement issued about the investigation, the NHTSA says that the complaints appear to indicate an increasing trend with 34 complaints received in the last two years, with three of them occurring at highway speeds. The agency intends to assess the scope, frequency, and consequences of the alleged fault.

The investigation will cover Tesla Model S cars ranging from 2015 through 2017 model years and Tesla Model X SUVs made from 2016 through 2017. As these vehicles age, they could be prone to defects that didn’t surface when they were newer. As of now, there has been no official statement from Tesla on the investigation.

There is also no indication that a recall has to be issued at this time. Tesla vehicles have had their share of issues with fire potential from battery damage during accidents. Several fatal accidents have also been blamed on inattentive drivers and Tesla Autopilot driver assistance systems not recognizing hazards in the road.

On Wednesday of this week, Tesla announced that it was issuing a recall on over 9000 Model Y and Model X vehicles due to issues with bolts. The Model X also had an issue where roof trim could detach over time, leading to potential accidents or road hazards. Despite the recalls, Tesla shares are booming, having gained more than 600 percent in 2020 despite the pandemic.

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