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  • Peugeot 508 PSE sedan, wagon unveiled – 360 hp/520 Nm dual-motor PHEV; 2.03 L/100 km, 0-100 km/h 5.2s

    Peugeot has premiered the 508 PSE, the high-performance dual-motor plug-in hybrid version of its 508 in sedan and SW estate bodystyles. This is the ‘quintessential expression’ of Peugeot Sport engineers’ expertise, says the firm, and here appear to rather closely resemble the 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered Concept that was unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show.

    Touted as Peugeot’s most powerful production model to date, powertrain for the 508 PSE is comprised of a 1.6 litre inline-four cylinder direct-injection turbocharged petrol engine that produces 200 PS at 6,000 rpm and 300 Nm of torque at 3,000 rpm, and this is mated to a pair of electric motors; the front axle motor produces 110 hp and 320 Nm of torque, while the rear unit makes 113 hp and 166 Nm of torque.

    Total system output is 360 hp and 520 Nm of torque sent to all four wheels, with an eight-speed automatic gearbox handling transmission duty on the front axle. Thus equipped, the 508 PSE does the 0-100 km/h sprint in 5.2 seconds, 80-120 km/h in 3.0 seconds and the standing kilometre sprint in 24.5 seconds. Top speed with full use of the powertrain’s outputs is 250 km/h, or 140 km/h in electric mode.

    The 11.5 kWh lithium-ion battery in the 508 PSE will take less than seven hours to reach a full charge from a standard domestic power outlet, or four hours from a 16-amp reinforced socket. The quickest recharging is done via a 32-amp wall box, which will fully recharge the battery pack in under two hours, says Peugeot.

    For reference, the 300 hp 508 and 508 SW Hybrid use a Type 2 connector, and those are rated for a four-hour charge time from a 3.3 kW 14-amp outlet, while an optional 6.6 kW 32-amp three-phase wallbox charger does a full charge in under one hour 45 minutes. The hybrid battery and drive systems do not encroach upon cabin space in both 508 PSE sedan and wagon versions, says Peugeot.

    Chassis upgrades over the regular Peugeot 508 range include adaptive damping with Comfort, Hybrid and Sport modes, a lowered seat plate as well as front and rear tracks widened by 24 mm and 12 mm respectively, four-piston front brake calipers on 380 mm brake discs, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres on 20-inch wheels.

    The Peugeot 508 PSE offers five drive modes – Electric, Comfort, Hybrid, Sport and 4WD – that control powertrain and chassis settings. Electric mode offers purely battery-powered driving up to 140 km/h, and has a battery-only range of 42 km. Combined fuel consumption is rated at 2.03 l/100 km according to WLTP testing protocol.

    Comfort is a hybrid mode with softened suspension settings for maximum comfort, Hybrid selects powertrain usage automatically for optimised fuel consumption, and Sport summons the full output of the hybrid powertrain and sharpens the throttle map, while steering and damping settings are altered as well.

    The powertrain is set to ensure the internal combustion engine keeps the battery fully charged for maximum output at all times, and the 4WD mode aids traction in slippery conditions. Inside, the 508 PSE adopts the French manufacturer’s i-Cockpit layout with a steering wheel that is given the Kryptonite (lime green) claw motif and Peugeot Sport Engineered branding. Audio comes courtesy of a Focal Audio system as standard.

    Meanwhile, the graphic animations for the driver’s instrumentation and the 10-inch HD infotainment screen also get PSE labelling to set the high-performance sedan and wagon apart from the more mainstream versions, and upholstery for the comfort-fit seats is a mix of leather, 3D-mesh and Alcantara, trimmed in Tramontane grey and Kryptonite stitching.

    Manufactured in Mulhouse, France, the Peugeot 508 PSE sedan and SW wagon is available Perla Nera (black), pearl white and the PSE-exclusive Selenium Grey, and the order books for the hybrid duo will open mid-October this year.

     
  • 2020 Hyundai i30 N facelift shown, adds 8-speed DCT

    Following in the footsteps of the Hyundai Veloster N, the facelifted i30 N is the next N model to get the South Korean carmaker’s new eight-speed wet dual-clutch transmission. Complementing the existing six-speed manual, the gearbox is said to provide a balance between engagement and convenience.

    Aside from the quicker shifts, the DCT also enables three new performance-enhancing features. The first is N Grin Shift, which engages the sportiest engine and gearbox setting for a maximum of 20 seconds, simply by pressing a button on the steering wheel.

    Meanwhile, N Power Shift engages gears more aggressively when more than 90% of the throttle is applied, delivering unlimited torque to the wheels and giving a more abrupt shift feel. Lastly, N Track Sense Shift, as the name suggests, detects when the roads are ideal for driving quickly – such as racetrack – and adjusts the shift points to suit.

    The 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine has also been upgraded. It still makes 250 PS and 353 Nm of torque in standard form, but cars fitted with the Performance Package now have 280 PS and 392 Nm at their disposal – increases of 5 PS and 39 Nm respectively. So equipped, the car gets to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than before, although it’s unclear if this is with the manual or the new DCT.

    Underneath, the i30 N gets retuned suspension and steering for better ride and handling, although adaptive dampers, the N Grin Control System with Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom drive modes, and the Performance Package’s electronic limited-slip differential continue to be fitted. On the Performance Package, the front brake discs are now 15 mm larger at 360 mm to provide greater stopping power.

    Hyundai has also sought to reduce the weight of this car with a couple of additions. The Performance Package adds new forged 19-inch alloy wheels that altogether weigh 14.4 kg lighter than the outgoing cast rollers, while available N Light Seats with integrated headrests and illuminated N badging shave off 2.2 kg compared to the standard pews.

    These additions go hand in hand with the revised exterior design, derived from the standard i30 facelift. You’ve got a wider front grille (here with an N-specific Y-shaped mesh), flanked by redesigned LED headlights with arrow-shaped daytime running lights. The triple air intake is similar to before, continuing to come with air curtain inlets that improve airflow around the front wheels.

    While the rear of the Fastback model remains unchanged, the hatch gets a new bumper design. There’s greater use of unpainted black plastic (especially around the number plate recess), and the rear fog lights have been moved further down for a cleaner look. The tail lights also get the same arrow-shaped graphics as the headlights. The twin tailpipes and distinctive triangular brake light remain.

    Inside, there are fewer changes, including Performance Blue seat belt accents and a larger 10.25-inch navigation touchscreen as an option, equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and the latest BlueLink connected services.

    Safety has also been improved with more SmartSense driver assistance systems, such as pedestrian detection for autonomous emergency braking, lane centring assist and – on the hatchback – blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert. Models with the DCT add braking intervention to blind spot monitoring.

     

  • Proton X50 – Geely explains downsizing move, three-cylinder vibration countermeasures for 1.5T engines

    Malaysians in general have a preconceived idea of how big an engine should be for each type or car. We’ve encountered many who dismiss 1.0L turbo B-segment cars because of engine capacity, despite the boosted motors having good figures and low end torque that would see them overtake 1.5L NA rivals. C/D-segment cars with 1.5T engines? “Can move ah?” is a common question.

    This is despite engine downsizing being with us for some time now, and plenty of evidence that a downsized turbo engine is capable of much more than its engine capacity suggests. In my opinion, VW Group models are the best poster cars for the downsizing movement (your first time in a modern GTI will tell you it’s all the car you’ll need), and we got to hat tip Honda for introducing downsized turbo engines in the Japanese mass market arena.

    It’s all about fuel efficiency and emissions, which are (rightfully) forced on carmakers. With turbocharging to compensate, an engine can get away with having lower displacement and fewer cylinders. A smaller engine is a more efficient one – they’re also lighter and smaller in size, which adds to the FC gains.

    Of course, many have been converted, and the mindset of most have changed, but the reaction of some to the new Nissan Almera’s 1.0 litre turbo engine proves that some are wedded to bigger is better. You’ve read what we think of this subject; now let’s see what Geely has to say.

    In an article focusing on the 1.5TD engine range and interviewing Hakan Sandquist, Geely’s director of powertrain strategy at CEVT (China Euro Vehicle Technology) in Gothenburg, the company explained the rationale behind the 1.5TD engine family – which houses the X50’s 1.5T and 1.5 TGDi engines – the reason for downsizing, and countermeasures for a three-cylinder engine’s inherent character.

    In addition to the efficiency positives listed above, Geely says that the three-cylinder engine is perfect for compact models for a variety of reasons: the smaller size leaves room for hybrid systems (the 1.5 TD engine range was from the onset designed to support electrification) and gives designers more freedom; while lower weight makes it easier to achieve a 50:50 chassis weight balance in front-wheel-drive models.

    Three-cylinder engines vibrate more; that’s just the way they are. But Geely and Volvo did not see this inherent three-pot characteristic as an unsolvable problem, because they already have the secret sauce for odd-numbered cylinder engines in the pantry. “For years, Volvo has utilised a five-cylinder engine and has extensive experience developing engines for the premium market segment,” Sandquist said.

    An army of measures are there to neutralise the enemy. The 1.5TD range features counterweighted crankshafts, dual-mass flywheel with centrifugal pendulum absorber damper, single balancing shaft, low noise timing belt, high stiffness oil pan, asymmetric oil pump impeller, and an engine compartment and vibration dampener. All these “have effectively eliminated perceivable engine vibrations,” Sandquist says.

    Geely claims that noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) in models powered by 1.5TD engines is on par or better than some equipped with four-cylinder engines. The carmaker says that electrified versions of the engine should further reduce vibrations, as most of the sensation is felt during engine start-up and at low engine speeds. In hybrids, the electric motor takes care of these situations before the ICE comes in.

    All Volvo Engine Architecture engines (VEA forms the foundation of the 1.5TD) are designed to accommodate a combination of turbochargers, superchargers and electric systems – this allows Volvo and Geely to offer consumers different levels of power outputs within the same engine family. Like building blocks.

    With the 1.5TD, Geely and Volvo set out to create a “highly responsive, compact and powerful premium-quality three-cylinder engine”. With a low inertia turbocharger, traditional turbo lag is minimised and “nearly imperceptible” while giving the engine the endurance it needs at higher speeds. Geely claims a smooth and linear power output similar to much larger NA engines.

    Built to be modular and electrification-ready, the 1.5TD has plug-and-play support for mild hybrid, range extender, hybrid, and plug-in hybrid systems. An example is the plug-in hybrid “Twin Engine” version of the Volvo XC40. Geely claims that the 1.5TD has the potential to meet future Euro 7 emissions levels, and global fleet CO2 targets past year 2030.

    Finally, durability. Volvo and Geely say that they tested and validated the 1.5TD above and beyond the prevailing industry standard. The engines are designed to last 15 years or a distance of 350,000 km, higher than the norm of 10 years or 200,000 km.

    Jointly developed by Geely and Volvo at Volvo’s R&D centre in Gothenburg, CEVT China Euro Vehicle Technology in the same Swedish city, and the Geely Research Institute in China, the 1.5TD engine range is produced around the world following the Volvo Global Manufacturing System. The engines share over 90% of the same global suppliers through the Chinese carmaker’s global joint procurement system.

    The 1.5TD family has three base variants. The range starts with the 1.5T PFI, which is the 1.5T in the X50 Standard, Executive and Premium. PFI stands for port fuel injection. The next one is the 1.5TD using direct injection – this is the 1.5 TGDi in the X50 Flagship. There’s also a 1.5T Miller designed specifically for hybrid applications. The variable valve timing in this PFI mill is adjusted to enable the engine to run on the more fuel efficient Miller cycle.

    All three engines in the 1.5TD family are 1,477 cc three-pot turbos with similar bore and stroke measurements of 82 mm and 93.2 mm. What differs is the compression ratio, which is expected because of the different fuel injection systems – it’s 10:1 for the 1.5T PFI, 10.5:1 for the 1.5TD (1.5 TGDi) and 11.5:1 for the 1.5T Miller PFI.

    The 1.5T kicks things off at 150 PS (110 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 226 Nm of torque available from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm; the 1.5TD (1.5 TGDi) does 179 PS (132 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 255 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm; while the 1.5T Miller is good for 143 PS (105 kW) at 5,500 rpm and 215 Nm of torque from 2,500 to 4,000 rpm. The 1.5TD figures will be 177 PS (130 kW) if tuned for RON 92 petrol, and 177 PS is what Proton quotes.

    The Malaysian carmaker has also revealed claimed fuel consumption figures – 6.4 litres per 100 km (15.6 km/l) for 1.5 TGDi Flagship and 6.5 litres per 100 km (15.4 km/l) for the non-DI 1.5T engine that powers the rest of the X50 range.

    We’ve already covered the X50 extensively from the media preview that happened last week, and you can check it out here. Below are the spec-by-spec differences that we know so far. Bear in mind though that the images you see here are of the top Flagship variant – Proton has yet to reveal the other variants in the metal.

    2020 Proton X50 1.5T Standard
    Gets as standard:

    • 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder MPI engine
    • Around 150 PS and 226 Nm of torque
    • Seven-speed (wet) dual-clutch automatic transmission with manual mode (no paddle shifters)
    • Four airbags (front and side)
    • LED headlamps and DRLs
    • 17-inch alloy wheels
    • Quad exhaust pipes
    • Full carbon fibre-print bodykit
    • Fabric seats
    • Rear air con vents
    • Digital instrument cluster
    • Eight-inch touchscreen infotainment unit
    • Reverse camera
    • Electronic parking brake with auto brake hold

    2020 Proton X50 1.5T Executive
    Adds on:

    • Six airbags (front, side, curtain)
    • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
    • Automatic headlamps
    • Front fog lamps
    • Leatherette seats

    2020 Proton X50 1.5T Premium
    Adds on:

    • Tyre pressure monitoring system
    • 18-inch alloy wheels with red brake callipers
    • Powered driver’s seat
    • 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment unit
    • 360-degree camera

    2020 Proton X50 1.5 TGDi Flagship
    Adds on:

    • 1.5 litre turbocharged direct injection three-cylinder engine
    • 177 PS and 255 Nm of torque
    • Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS)
    • Dual-tone exterior (black roof and pillars)
    • Panoramic sunroof

    GALLERY: 2020 Proton X50 1.5 TGDi Flagship

    GALLERY: 2020 Proton X50 colour options

    GALLERY: 2020 Proton X50 official images

     
  • Harley-Davidson exits India motorcycle market

    As part of its global restructuring plan, dubbed “Rewire”, Harley-Davidson will be ceasing sales and manufacturing operations in India, as well as reducing staff count by 70. This comes after a turbulent start to 2020 for the iconic American brand, including the appointment of a new chief executive officer, Jochen Zeitz, and a new chief financial officer from outside the industry, Gina Goetter.

    In a press statement, reported by Indian website carandbike.com, Harley-Davidson India said its manufacturing facility in Bawal will be closed down, and the sales office in Gurugram will be significantly downsized. However, there was no significant information on how Harley-Davidson will support its existing customer base in India.

    There are currently 33 Harley-Davidson dealerships across the Indian sub-continent with the report saying each will have different contract terms although there was no clear indication of how existing Harley-Davidson customer would be supported in terms of service and spares.

    With Harley-Davidson’s exit, this will likely mean the demise of the Street 750 model which is manufactured in India. It is speculated the India market will be supported by Harley-Davidson’s plant in Thailand but there is no concrete information thus far.

    Harley-Davidson entered the India market in 2009, opening its first dealership in July 2010 and leading sales figures for the premium motorcycle market there for several years. Sales numbers there were lead by the Street 750 model, followed by certain CKD models that were assembled in its assembly plant in Haryana.

    In the last financial year, Harley-Davidson sold fewer than 2,500 units in India, and between April-June 2020, only about 100 Harleys were sold in India. This made the Indian motorcycle market one of the worst performing international markets for Harley-Davidson with the overall downturn in its international sales and the Cover-19 pandemic.

     
  • 2020 Honda City: CKD production in full swing, Melaka factories upgraded to be on par with Honda Japan

    Local assembly of the 2020 Honda City at Honda Malaysia’s assembly plants in Pegoh, Melaka has gone in full swing, ahead of the fifth-generation B-segment sedan’s big debut in October. While not confirmed, there could be as many as four variants on offer, including the most advanced City RS e:HEV variant with the new i-MMD hybrid powertrain.

    Our source from Honda Malaysia said local assembly preparations for the City RS i-MMD hybrid began as early as five years ago. This timeline provided a sufficiently large window to equip both the No. 1 Line and No. 2 Line factories with upgraded machineries, robots and tooling. Improvements have also been made across the production lines, from assembling the shell and body panels, welding and paint processes, to final inspection phases.

    For welding, the fifth-gen City goes through an additional, fully robotised “inner welding” process, which helps improve the car’s structural rigidity. Then, it goes through a six-stage painting process, which includes submerging the entire shell in a pool of anti-corrosion agent, as well as a water bath to check for leaks.

    These steps are said to improve the production quality of its CKD cars, and at the same time accommodate some of Honda Motor Company’s most advanced production equipment. These upgrades were largely necessitated by the introduction of the City i-MMD hybrid in Malaysia, which is the first country in the world to get the car. This also means the plant is capable of producing other i-MMD models in the future.


    The new i-MMD powertrain and IPU

    In order for the City i-MMD hybrid to benefit from EEV tax breaks, at least 30% of all its main components (which includes the hybrid powertrain, driveline systems, body and interior parts) must be locally sourced. Even the hybrid battery pack, known as the Intelligent Power Unit (IPU), is methodically assembled by hand in a static-free, temperature controlled (constant 25 degrees) environment.

    Honda Malaysia said it has taken several measures to ensure that no faulty IPUs get delivered to customers. One way of doing this is to assemble and install the batteries in a car within 180 days from the date the lithium-ion cells are manufactured. This alone significantly reduces the defect rates, but in case a faulty IPU is produced, it either gets returned to the manufacturer, or responsibly recycled by Honda Assembly Malaysia.

    The i-MMD’s 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC engine is also assembled in this facility via a 19-step procedure. The previous Sport Hybrid i-DCD hybrid powertrain was also built in the same premise, by the way.

    Other upgrades include a more uniformly lit paint inspection bay (as seen in the picture above) to help reduce paint defects, as well as repurposing old spray booths for a new spray foam injection process to fill hollow cavities in the City’s lower frame. This process is claimed to improve NVH levels by 33%.

    Honda Malaysia has invested quite a sum to improve its CKD operations. Presently, the company said the new City i-MMD production line is just as sophisticated as Honda Japan. Production training for the fifth-generation Honda City also began well over a year ago, so now it’s all systems go.

    Production capacity, however, remains unchanged. Both plants are still capable of outputting 100,000 passenger cars (combined) annually. The facility also has a 2.1-km test track, an R&D facility, and several pre-delivery inspection centres with a combined capacity to house close to 16,000 new cars at a time.

     
  • 2020 Honda City RS i-MMD – more details and photos, variant features the full Honda Sensing safety suite

    More details of the 2020 Honda City – in its range-topping RS e:HEV variant form – have emerged. At the recent visit to Honda Malaysia’s assembly plant in Pegoh, Melaka, the company showcased production of the fifth-generation B-segment sedan ahead of its market debut next month and also offered more info on the particular variant with the intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) hybrid powertrain, part of an expected four-model line-up for Malaysia.

    First up, general dimensions. The new City measures in at 4,553 mm long, 1,748 mm wide and 1,467 mm tall, making it 111 mm longer, 54 mm wider and 10 mm lower than its predecessor. The wheelbase dimensions haven’t been revealed, nor has kerb weight and other relevant numbers.

    Exterior-wise, specifications include new LED headlights (only for RS and V), LED daytime running lights and new LED tail lamps. The Road Sailing variant comes with additional dress-up kit in the form of a gloss black front grille, a carbon-pattern front lip, a diffuser on the rear bumper as well as mirror covers and a ducktail spoiler finished in gloss black. The RS is the only variant to ride on 16-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, with the rest of the model range featuring single-tone silver wheels.

    The company still hasn’t revealed the interior of the local model, but we know that there will be rear-air-con vents, and the RS will come with an electric parking brake, the only variant to have it. Elsewhere, a remote engine start function (as seen on the Civic) for the variant is a segment first.

    As previously highlighted, the City will feature Honda Sensing. This suite of active safety features is not available in Thailand, meaning that Malaysia will be the first market to get the system on the City.

    It was not detailed earlier if the City would come with the full complement, but we can now report that it will on the RS. The Sensing suite consists of:

    • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
    • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
    • Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
    • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
    • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
    • Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
    • Auto High-Beam (AHB)

    The Sensing system now features a front wide view camera to better recognise road boundaries, as well as pedestrian and cyclist detection capability. The car will also get Honda’s LaneWatch side-camera system, and from what we can gather, LaneWatch will also be found on the variant just below the RS, the V grade, similar in execution to the HR-V, although the SUV doesn’t feature Sensing.

    The exterior colours for the car have also been revealed, and there are five to choose from, namely Modern Steel Metallic, Passion Red Pearl, Platinum White Pearl, Crystal Black Pearl and Lunar Silver Metallic.

    Otherwise, the rest of the info so far has been what was divulged previously. In terms of powertrain, Malaysia will be the first country in the world to offer the City with the two-motor i-MMD hybrid system, which is currently only offered on the Jazz.

    The hybrid system consists of a 98 PS/127 Nm 1.5 litre Atkinson-cycle i-VTEC four-cylinder engine, which does not power the car but functions mainly as a generator with the help of an integrated electric motor (which also acts as a starter).

    A larger second motor, which churns out 109 PS and 253 Nm, provides propulsion. As explained previously, because the electric motor mostly drives the car, the i-MMD system does away with a traditional gearbox, but the engine can provide direct drive at higher speeds using a lock-up clutch and a single-speed transmission, as it is more efficient than an electric motor at those speeds.

    Aside from the hybrid, the City will be available as a petrol-only model, powered by a new twin-cam (DOHC) 1.5 litre naturally-aspirated i-VTEC mill, which for the Indian market offers 121 PS and 145 Nm, paired with a CVT. While specific variant grades – or any hint of pricing – haven’t been revealed, it’s safe to expect the usual S, E and V variants when the time comes.

     
  • Great Wall plans to invest RM2.9 billion in Thailand

    Great Wall Motor is gearing up to increase its presence in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reports. The Chinese automaker is planning to invest 22 billion baht (RM2.9 billion) into business expansion in the Kingdom, with local assembly set to begin next year.

    The company is in the midst of upgrading the Rayong production facility it took over from GM earlier this year, and expects that upgrade works will be completed in the final quarter of the year. It will begin selling SUVs and pickups in the country early next year, but the long-term plan is to gain a foothold in the electric vehicle (EV) segment.

    The automaker will not just build internal combustion engine (ICE) models but is looking at electrification intently, with plans to introduce hybrid and battery electric vehicles. The country’s industry minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit, said the business plan would also create 3,435 jobs for the local populace.

    He said Great Wall was continuing its investment in Thailand because of the state policy to promote the EV industry as well as the strong market potential in Thailand and ASEAN countries. He added that the automaker will have 45% local material content in its initial production next year, but would increase the percentage to 90% by 2025.

    The Thai factory is the sixth overseas assembly plant for the company, and will provide it with a larger springboard for expansion into the ASEAN market. Earlier this year, Great Wall also agreed to purchase another GM plant, in India.

     
  • Tesla introduces tabless battery cell design – gains of 5x energy, 6x power for 16% improvement in EV range

    American electric vehicle maker Tesla unveiled its tabless 4680 battery cell design at its Battery Day event, featuring a new cell that is 80 mm tall and 46 mm in diameter, and promises five times the energy density and six times the power, in order to yield a 16% increase in battery range for electric vehicles.

    The manufacturer is about to begin manufacturing the new battery cells at its pilot 10-gigawatt manufacturing plant in Fremont, Tesla SVP of powertrain and energy engineering Drew Baglino said. The new cell manufacturing system isn’t actually in action yet, though it is ‘close to working’ at the pilot plant level, CEO Elon Musk said.

    There are three main components that make up a traditional battery; the anode, the cathode and the separator. In addition to the main battery structure, tabs enable energy to be transferred from the cell to an external source.

    In large-format lithium-ion cells, there is a ‘foil-to-tab’ weld to collect the foils and join them to the tab. Lithium ions flow from the anode to the cathode through the separator to discharge and charge the battery. The flow process has been the same for batteries for decades, and developments have been mostly in updates to the science of materials and changes to the size of the battery, notes Tech Crunch.

    Those changes to size in order to increase power and energy density come with thermal issues, said Baglino. “This was the challenge that our team set its sights on to overcome. We came up with this tabless architecture that removes the thermal problem from the equation, that allows us to go to the absolute lowest cost form factor and the simplest manufacturing process,” he said.

    The existing foils were laser-patterned, and enabled dozens of connections into the active material through a singled spiral, and the new design means simplified manufacturing, fewer parts and a shorter electrical path, which is how Tesla manages to achieve the thermal benefits it claims, said Baglino.

    In other words, though these are physically larger cells, they manage to keep temperatures comparable to smaller cells, and are able to cram more power into a given physical volume.

    Not only does Tesla’s battery development bring gains in terms of energy density, it will also enable the carmaker to form part of the car’s structure, which eliminates the need for conventional structural reinforcements in Tesla bodyshells.

    This appears to be inspired by the evolution of the aircraft wing, which in its early years contained the aircraft’s fuel tanks within the wings, but was otherwise a separate part from the rest of the wing assembly which had its own support structure. This then evolved to integrate the fuel storage as part of the wing’s structure, and enabled greater fuel capacity as a result.

    In the case of the upcoming Tesla battery pack design, the battery shell casings serve to stiffen the vehicle floor by connecting the upper and lower layers of the floorpan. Because the battery cells can be located closer to the centre of the vehicle, this does away with the need for additional structural reinforcements, thus improving volumetric efficiency, as well as centralising mass for improved handling.

    Having the battery cells more centralised also improves crash safety as they are further away from side impacts. With what Tesla calls a ‘revolution in body and battery engineering’, this results in a 10% overall mass reduction, a potential 14% increase in range and 370 fewer parts compared to existing construction methods.

    From the new battery cell design that enables greater power and energy density to an improved battery pack design that contributes a better vehicle structure, the ongoing developments mean that Tesla are confident that in the long term, it “can design and manufacture a compelling $25,000 (RM104,177) electric vehicle” in around three years, said CEO Musk, who added that it will be “also fully autonomous.”

     
  • Vespa Primavera [RED] in fight against AIDS, RM19.5k

    In a contribution to the global fight against HIV/AIDS, 100 USD (RM416) from the purchase of every Vespa Primavera [RED], priced at RM19,500 in Malaysia, will go to the [RED] fund. [RED], which began in 2006, provides each recipient of aid 500 days of HIV/AIDS medication.

    Based on the standard model Primavera S 150, the Primavera [RED] is finished in a striking shade of red with the [RED] logo on the front cowl. Additionally, a nubuck leather seat finished in a matching shade of red and similar to the unit used on the Vespa 946, is installed to set the Primavera [RED] apart from the standard model.

    Carrying a 155 cc air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder I-Get engine with three-valves, the Primavera [RED] gets 12.7 hp at 7,750 rpm and 12.8 Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm. The Primavera [RED] use a CVT transmission and belt final drive to the rear wheel, as is customary for scooters.

    Front suspension is a swing arm with single shock absorber while the rear end is held up with a single shock absorber that has four preload positions. Braking uses a hydraulic calliper clamping a 200 mm disc while the rear brake is a mechanical drum, with the Primavera [RED] rolling on 12-inch wheels, painted red to match the body colour with a white pinstripe.

    Fuel is carried in a 7-litre tank and seat height is set at 790 mm. Weight for the Primavera [RED] is claimed to be 117 kg and it has a claimed top speed of 95 km/h. The base model Vespa Sprint S 150 retails in Malaysia at RM16,900 while the Primavera S 150 Special Edition is priced at RM18,300.

     
  • 2020 Audi A5 Sportback facelift previewed in M’sia – 190 PS 2.0 TFSI and 249 PS quattro, now with AEB

    It’s been barely a year since the second-generation Audi A5 Sportback was introduced in Malaysia, and already the facelifted model is here to replace it. The late arrival of the previous car coincided with the local relaunch of the four-ringed brand, so this new one brings the A5 more in line with the global product timeline.

    The refreshed five-door fastback will be offered as a 2.0 TFSI, both in quattro form and a new, more affordable front-wheel-drive variant; the car you see here is of the top-spec version. No details on equipment and pricing have been released just yet, but we’ll know more when the car is formally introduced very soon.

    The engine is the familiar EA888 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder. In the base model, it makes 190 PS from 4,200 to 6,000 rpm and 320 Nm of torque between 1,450 and 4,200 rpm. It also gets a 12-volt mild hybrid system that allows the car to coast with the engine off and operate the start-stop system when decelerating from 22 km/h. It gets from zero to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds and has a top speed of 241 km/h.

    On the quattro all-wheel-drive model, those figures are bumped up to 249 PS from 5,000 to 6,500 rpm and 370 Nm between 1,600 and 4,500 rpm, which is very slightly down on power compared to the outgoing model. The zero-to-100 km/h sprint time is cut down to 6.0 seconds and the car will max out at 250 km/h. Both models get a seven-speed S tronic wet dual-clutch transmission.

    Dressed in a rather fetching shade of district green, this A5 wears Ingolstadt’s latest design language and bears a number of subtle changes to the handsome styling. At the front are a flatter Singleframe grille and a redesigned bumper with a full-width air intake design, plus some silver trim on this particular variant. You’ll also find matrix LED headlights with darkened internals and segmented daytime running lights.

    The svelte side profile sees few changes, with a sharper side skirt design and new 19-inch two-tone multi-spoke alloy wheels being the only discernible tweaks. The rear end sports new tail lights with a similar segmented design as the front DRLs, as well as a redesigned rear bumper with a black diffuser-like insert and integrated trapezoidal exhaust outlets.

    Inside, Audi has taken great care not to mess with a stylish, well-built cabin. The steering wheel gets a new design with an airbag boss that mimics the shape of the grille, while a larger 10.1-inch centre display sits proud of the dashboard. The latter is now a touchscreen, so the old rotary dial has been jettisoned in favour of a small storage compartment aft of the cupholders.

    Taking advantage of the new display is the latest version of the Multi Media Interface (MMI), with a more minimalist design, smartphone-like multi-touch gestures and a new voice control system that recognises natural language. The car seen here comes with MMI navigation plus, which also bundles in the 12.3-inch virtual cockpit instrument display.

    While we don’t know the full specs of this car, the quattro model looks to have broadly the same level of kit as its predecessor, coming with keyless entry, push-button start, triple-zone climate control, power-adjustable sports seats with driver’s side memory, faux and real leather upholstery, Silver Aluminium Ellipse trim, a ten-speaker, 180-watt sound system, a reverse camera and a powered tailgate.

    There are no adaptive dampers this time, but safety has been given a big boost. That’s because the A5 Sportback finally comes with pre sense city autonomous emergency braking, at least on this quattro variant. So equipped, the car is now on par with more conventional sedan competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz, although it remains to be seen if it will come with a commensurate increase in price.

     
 

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Last Updated 19 Sep 2020