• Tesla Model S owners claim P85D hp rating is exaggerated

    September 29, 2015

    A few Tesla Model S owners have cried foul over alleged horsepower exaggeration for dual-motor variants such as the P85D.

    “The P85D was marketed as making 691 horsepower. It doesn’t,” the letter claims, according to excerpts posted on HybridCars. “We believe, based on various testing methods and tools including dynamometer testing and testing with professional performance data loggers that the maximum energy output is 415 [kilowatts], which results in a maximum horsepower of 557 … Even without factoring in drive train loss, this is almost 20 percent less than the advertised horsepower.”

    Following the complaints, Tesla published a blog post clarifying its methodology for estimating “equivalent” horsepower ratings for its dual-motor vehicles. The company “took the straightforward and consistent approach” of specifying the combined capability of both electric motors front + back.

    “With the shaft horsepower coming out of the motors the situation is not always as simple as front + rear,” wrote Tesla CTO JB Straubel. “As we have pushed the combined motor horsepower higher and higher, the amount of times where the battery chemical horsepower is lower than the combined motor horsepower has increased.”

    The executive suggests the discrepancy is rarely experienced in the 85D and 70D, as the combined motor shaft power almost always stays within a range that can be supported by the battery. The shaft power of the P85D’s motors, however, “often exceeds the battery electrical horsepower available.”

    The company quietly changed its website to specify horsepower ratings for the individual motors — 259 hp front and 503 hp rear in the case of the P85D. The combined total is no longer listed and, interestingly, the basic “front + rear” methodology described by Straubel results in an even higher total of 762 ponies.

    “The missing horsepower is quite noticeable at highway passing speeds,” the disgruntled owners added. “For example, from 70-90 mph … the P85D is easily outperformed by an Audi RS7.”

  • NHTSA mulls order to expand Takata airbag recall

    September 29, 2015
    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reportedly considering an order that would further expand the Takata airbag recalls.

    The agency has sent letters to Mercedes-Benz, , Jaguar Land Rover, Suzuki, Tesla, Volvo Trucks, Volkswagen and Spartan Motors, asking for more information on vehicles outfitted with Takata inflators, according to an Associated Press report.

    “It is expected that the scope of the current Takata recalls may expand as time goes on and will likely grow to include vehicles that are outside the scope of the current recalls,” the letter said.

    Government investigators are said to be asking for details of every vehicle that uses an inflator powered by ammonium nitrate, a controversial chemical that may be prone to degradation via moisture exposure over time. Additional details remain unclear, though the scope of the requests suggests the NHTSA could push for a blanket recall on airbag inflators that use ammonium nitrate.

    The ongoing Takata recall campaigns have so far affected more than 19 million US vehicles.

  • Group claims VW, others cheated on gas emissions

    September 29, 2015
    The firestorm currently enveloping Volkswagen over its emissions-spewing diesel engines could soon spread to its gasoline-powered cars after a new study found that some of the automaker’s vehicles consumer far more fuel than advertised.

    Belgian-based watch group Transport & Environment released its latest Mind the Gap report on Monday, which analyses the difference between a vehicle’s stated economy and its recorded real-world mileage. The study focused on cars sold in the European market.

    The study found that gas-powered versions of the VW Golf were spewing about 40 percent more pollutants in real-world driving than they were during lab simulations. T & D didn’t find any evidence of a “cheat” device like the one used in VW’s diesel cars, but the organization believes VW is somehow gaming the system.

    “Like the air pollution test, the European system of testing cars to measure fuel economy and CO2 emissions is utterly discredited,” Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said. “The Volkswagen scandal was just the tip of the iceberg and what lies beneath is widespread abuse by carmakers of testing rules enabling cars to swallow more than 50 percent more fuel than is claimed.”

    Wider than VW
    As Archer alluded, the T & D study found that several other vehicles from a number of automakers were returning significantly worse economy in real-word driving than they were in lab testing. T & D specifically called out Mercedes-Benz’s A-, C- and E-Class vehicles, which the organization claims have more than a 50 percent variance between stated and real-world CO2 emissions.

    The study found that on average about two-thirds of the fuel economy gains over the last seven years have been the result of cheating the system rather than actual improvements.

    “This widening gap casts more doubt on how carmakers trick their customers in Europe to produce much better fuel efficiency in tests than can be achieved on the road,” Archer said. “The only solution is a comprehensive investigation into both air pollution and fuel economy tests and all car manufacturers to identify whether unfair and illegal practices, like defeat devices, may be in use. There must also be a comprehensive overhaul of the testing system.”

    The United States hasn’t opened a formal investigation onto VW’s gas-powered cars, but the EPA has intervened over false economy claims in the past. Most recently the EPA forced Hyundai and Ford to revises some of thier overly optimistic mileage claims.

    Photo by Mark Elias.

  • Next-gen Toyota Prius to offer electric AWD?

    September 29, 2015

    Toyota’s next-generation Prius will reportedly introduce an all-wheel-drive system for the first time.

    Higher trim levels will be available with the feature, likely powered by a second electric motor added to the rear axle, according to an alleged staff manual published by Japanese site Minkara and translated by IndianAutosBlog.

    All-wheel-drive could be an attractive option for buyers in snowy locations. The technology is also expected to improve driving dynamics, which will also benefit from a lower center of gravity, a wider stance, suspension refinements and improved torsional rigidity.

    The all-wheel-drive system reportedly carries a fuel-efficiency penalty, reducing mpg by approximately 10 percent. In contrast, Tesla Motors achieves longer range in its dual-motor Model S variants, despite extra weight, by managing the front-rear power split to run each motor in a more efficient state.

    Toyota has achieved an estimated 10-percent increase in mpg for the front-wheel-drive Prius, pairing a 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle engine with a single electric motor. Power figures and official EPA mpg estimates have not yet been announced. An ‘Eco’ variant with even better fuel efficiency will eventually be added to the lineup.

    More details will likely be announced in the near future.

  • Audi confirms cheat software in 2.1M cars; EU prosecutors eye ousted CEO

    September 29, 2015
    Audi has confirmed that Volkswagen’s emissions-cheating software has been installed in approximately 2.1 million of its luxury vehicles worldwide.

    The vast majority were sold in Europe, including 577,000 units in Germany, a spokesperson told Reuters. Affected models include select diesel-powered variants of the A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, Q3 and Q5.

    The numbers are comparatively minimal in the US market, where the company sold just 13,000 A3 sedans outfitted with the offending 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel engine.

    Reports surrounding Volkswagen Group’s emissions crisis have mostly focused on the US market, where the company faces potential fines of up to $18 billion, numerous civil lawsuits, several criminal investigations and a tarnished brand. With 11 million cars affected globally, however, the damage is beginning to spread.

    Less than a week after VW ousted CEO Martin Winterkorn, the executive now faces a criminal investigation in home Germany, according to The Wall Street Journal. He recently claimed to be “unaware of any wrongdoing on my part.”

    The government inquiry will attempt to determine if he or any other executives can be charged for their roles in the alleged fraud.

    “We are investigating Winterkorn and other responsible people,” a spokesperson for the prosecutor said. “We are pursuing every possible lead.”