• Tesla CEO responds to battery fire

    October 5, 2013
    Outspoken Tesla CEO Elon Musk says that his electric car building automaker’s products are “safer” than gas-powered vehicles after reports about a battery fire circulated in the media, pushing the company’s stock down.


    “For consumers concerned about fire risk, there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery,” a blog post attributed to Musk says.

    Tesla stock closed at $173.31 last night following news that a Model S caught fire in Kent, Washington.  Shares were at a record-high $191.83 the day before the fire was reported. Today, the stock closed at $180.98. 


    A report published by the Kent Regional Fire Authority states the driver of the Model S hit a piece of debris in SR-167′s HOV lane about 20 miles south of downtown Seattle and pulled off the freeway when the car started running poorly.  The S smoked and quickly burst into flames towards the bottom of the off-ramp, but the driver had enough time to get out safely and call for help.


    Fire fighters say spraying water made the flames worse so they put out the initial blaze using a dry chemical extinguisher.  When the smoke cleared, they realized the car’s lithium-ion battery pack was still burning but they couldn’t access it so they were forced to take apart the front end of the vehicle and puncture several holes in the pack to help the water reach the flames.


    A jack was used to gain access to the underside of the car, which was still on fire, but there was no way to reach the battery pack so firefighters cut a hole through the front structural member to spray water on the last remaining flames and put the fire out once and for all.


    Tesla blames the fire on the collision with a “large metallic object” and points out the flames did not reach the passenger compartment or spread to the entire battery pack thanks to the Model S’ safe design.


    “Because each module within the battery pack is, by design, isolated by fire barriers to limit any potential damage, the fire in the battery pack was contained to a small section in the front of the vehicle,” explained a company spokesperson in a statement.


    No other Model S fires have been reported since the car went on sale in June of 2012.


    (Warning: Video contains strong language)<![CDATA[
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  • 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray automatic rated at 16/28 mpg

    October 5, 2013
    The EPA has released fuel economy figures for the six-speed automatic-equipped 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.

     
    The self-shifting version of America’s sports car is good for 16 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, numbers that each represent decreases of one mpg from the seven-speed manual model.

     

    All Corvette Stingrays utilize a 6.2-liter LT1 V8 equipped with direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. In standard form, the pushrod mill is good for 455 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, while an available performance exhaust system ups output to 460 ponies and 465 lb-ft of twist.

     

    In September, the Corvette Stingray’s first full month on the market, 38 percent of the 451 examples delivered were equipped with the stick shift. That’s a more than respectable take rate for a manual in the U.S., but Chevrolet believes it won’t last; early Corvette adopters tend to be enthusiasts, and once more mainstream customers enter the mix, the automatic’s sales percentage is expected to climb.

     

    Rumors have suggested that Chevrolet is readying a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox to replace the existing six-speed auto, a move that could increase automatic transmission demand even further.


    Photo by Andrew Ganz. <![CDATA[
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  • Nissan extends payment help to buyers hit by U.S. shutdown

    October 5, 2013
  • BMW introduces M Laptimer App [Video]

    October 5, 2013




    BMW has launched a new M Laptimer app designed to furnish iPhone-wielding, track-going owners with a wealth of performance information.

     

    Available as a free download from the iTunes store, the app performs many of the functions of a pricey data logging setup by utilizing info from the vehicle’s onboard computer and GPS systems to generate track maps and record lap times.

     

    A wide variety of other details can be accessed, including throttle and braking inputs, engine rpm, g-force and ambient temperature. Users can zoom in and out, rewind and fast forward through the track recordings.

     

    A Comparison Mode displays individual or dual runs in real time – including laps shared by other users – so amateur racers can hone their skills by seeing where more experienced drivers tackled a course differently.

     

    For those feeling particularly good about their lap times, a social media function lets users share results on Facebook and Twitter.

     

    Notably, the BMW M Laptimer App is compatible only with vehicles – both M Division and normal models – equipped with BMW Apps, a system that cannot be retrofitted after the vehicle leaves the factory.

     
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  • Chevrolet restarts tours at Corvette factory

    October 5, 2013