2021 Acura TLX First Drive | The mojo is returning

Buildup for the 2021 Acura TLX started more than a year ago when Acura released the stunning Type S Concept. It was long, low, wide and graced with gorgeous rear-drive proportions. Plus, it was slathered in some of the best blue paint we’ve ever seen. Acura could not have thought of a better way to say, “Hey, we’re back!”

It’s no surprise that the Type S Concept is a dead ringer for the production TLX. Acura designers told us the car was just about finished when the concept debuted. So yeah, the new TLX and TLX Type S were always going to look this good. The latter won’t be arriving until next spring, but our first drive of this next-gen base TLX has us hopeful for the Type S and its 3.0-liter turbocharged V6. And maybe just a little nervous, too. 

The bones are really good. Acura developed a new, unique platform for this TLX that was built with performance in mind from the get-go. It’s not just an Accord in a fancy suit. With crossovers on the rise, Acura says its shrinking number of sedan buyers are more passionate about driving dynamics than crossover buyers, allowing them to focus on performance to an even greater degree. It makes sense. We heartily approve.

The result of this performance focus is the most rigid body in any Acura not named NSX. You’ll find more advanced materials like aluminum and press-hardened steel in its makeup than any previous Acura sedan. It has a wider track (+1.2-inch front and +1.6-inch rear), a 2.2-inch wider body, a 3.7-inch longer wheelbase and a 0.5-inch shorter height. Lastly, the dash-to-axle dimension is 7.8 inches longer, giving it those sweet rear-drive proportions despite being a front-wheel-drive platform.

If you’re expecting more rear passenger and trunk space with the extended length, keep looking. Rear legroom is up 0.4 inch, and trunk space by 0.3 cubic-feet to 13.5 – paltry gains for how much larger the car got. The size growth benefitted style and body proportions more than it did functional considerations.

Then, there’s the new suspension: double wishbones up front and a five-link rear. Acura previously used a MacPherson strut design in the front suspension and the move back to a double-wishbone design is great news for driving enthusiasts. Acura’s well-regarded TL and TSX of the mid-2000s had double wishbones up front, as did many of Honda’s greatest hits of yesteryear (Integra, Prelude, Civic Si, etc.). Acura says the return of double wishbones increases lateral stiffness, ensures the optimal tire contact patch in at-the-limit cornering and improves steering feel/response. It worked. We’re happy to report that the car’s entire driving experience is tangibly better.

As for the powertrain, it’s essentially a direct lift from the RDX crossover. All TLXs will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque — wave goodbye to the naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6. Fuel economy is down compared to the weak old four-cylinder, but the combined rating is up 1 mpg (23 mpg to 24 mpg) when compared to the outgoing all-wheel-drive V6 model.

Forward momentum is plenty brisk with the full 280 lb-ft coming on at 1,600 rpm. The shorter first gear ratio gets you up and moving in a hurry, and we estimate the 0-60 mph time to be about 5.5-6.0 seconds. It sounds growly and bigger than its 2.0 liters of displacement. That said, Acura does pipe some artificial engine noise into the cabin, and it increases in noise level depending on drive mode.

A 10-speed automatic is the only transmission available. In a vacuum, its shift speed is acceptable, smooth and well-optimized. It’s especially well-tuned to work with you in successive corners in Sport mode, holding onto gears through corners and downshifting on braking. However, its responses are too slow in manual mode and a clear step behind several rivals, including the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Alfa Romeo Giulia. Additionally, Acura won’t let you wring the engine out to the 6,800 rpm redline, automatically shifting up about 300-400 rpm before the tach reaches the red. We ultimately just kept the car in automatic mode. Acura needs to improve this for the Type S, especially considering there is no manual transmission option in the cards.

Front-wheel drive is also standard, but we tested a pair of SH-AWD models. Now in its fourth generation, Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive continues to not only vary torque distribution front-to-back (up to 70% rearward), but thanks to a trick rear differential, can also vary 100% of that torque output to the left or right rear wheels. This is a tremendous advantage for grip and lateral acceleration in addition to foul weather traction, as it claws and shoots you through corners with your foot down. It didn’t skip a beat in our couple of hours behind the wheel. Acura even says the system overdrives the rear axle by 2.9% — it will wag its tail, but only a little bit.

A new variable-gear-ratio electric steering system has quickened steering response significantly. Acura says initial response directly off center is 15% quicker and becomes 22% quicker as steering input increases. It’s not quite as quick to respond as the ultra-fast Alfa Romeo Giulia’s steering, but the feeling of agility is heightened dramatically. There’s zero sense of slop or unease on the road, as the car flies through corners unperturbed. 

The Advance trim gets adaptive dampers, but like the RDX, the sportier A-Spec doesn’t get them. Its passive dampers are still tuned to provide a sporting driving experience, but the duality of the electronically controlled adaptive dampers is a worthwhile upgrade. The TLX rides better in Comfort mode (with a hint of controlled float) with them, and the car is a hair stiffer than the passive shocks when cranked all the way up to Sport mode. Acura says the shocks are a similar design as the previous generation TLX’s, but they’re running a new tune.

The drive mode controller is the same prominently placed knob in the center control stack as what you’ll find in the RDX, but for the first time in an Acura, there’s a customizable “Individual” mode. Like those found in rival sport sedans, it can independently adjust the powertrain, steering, adaptive dampers, lighting and start/stop system. There’s also preset Comfort, Normal and Sport modes.

One element not controlled by the drive modes is the electro-servo brake system that effectively migrates to the TLX from the NSX. Response from this brake-by-wire system is spectacular, with a stiff pedal and short travel. Engineers told us they found a middle ground between the NSX’s pedal and the old TLX’s braking system, and we like the compromise for daily driving and spirited driving. Although cars like the Corvette and BMW M8 allow you to change brake pedal feel, Acura told us it considers doing so to be a potential safety issue.

The cabin is lightyears ahead of the outgoing TLX as it adopts the same new style introduced with the RDX. It’s purposefully sporty and full of sharp, aggressive lines, while the wood and metal trim are the real deal. The infotainment system has also been upgraded with new software. The hardware is the same 10.2-inch screen as found in the RDX, but the little palm rest aft of the unique touchpad controller has been redesigned. There’s a new conveniently-placed, console-mounted volume knob and seek button as well. All are welcome improvements.

Seat type varies by trim level. The A-Spec’s leather/suede combination looks best in the available red leather, and the suede inserts did a decent job of keeping us in place. But, we wish the bolsters were just a hair more aggressive. Acura somewhat solves this with the Advance trim and its adjustable side bolsters, but how come they aren’t available on the sportier trim?

Other interior highlights include Acura’s new ambient lights that are arranged into 27 themes (carrying different color combinations) named after famous racetracks, roads or locations. The optional 17-speaker ELS Studio audio system is being touted as a huge step forward in audio quality for the brand — there are eight speakers in the ceiling, and it uses a new twin-subwoofer design in the trunk. Audiophiles may find more to love, but to us, it simply sounds like a crystal clear, rocking audio system with great sound that retains its clarity all the way up into high volume levels. It seems like it can stand toe-to-toe with the various high-end audio systems offered by other luxury brands.

And really, that’s the case with the entire 2021 TLX. Both the design and handling are top-tier. The interior styling, features and tech meet (or exceed) the Germans at the TLX’s price point. A base trim front-wheel-drive model will run you $38,525. Add $2,000 for all-wheel drive or $6,750 for the A-Spec. The A-Spec adds all the tech extras in the Technology Package along with a significant design and styling overhaul for a much sportier look. If you want every option on the books, the SH-AWD Advance trim tops out at $49,325. Unless you happen to be dead set on a rear-wheel-drive sport sedan, the TLX’s driving experience is going to appeal to you. And now that many of its previous shortcomings are on better footing, there’s no reason to skip out on giving one a spin.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Autoblog is turning beautiful car photos into jigsaw puzzles

Autoblog may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability is subject to change.

If haven’t heard, Autoblog has been in the merch game for a little while. On our Redubble store, we’ve got everything from shirts, to coffee mugs, to throw pillows, and much more. Recently, we expanded our offerings to include washable face masks and now we’re adding another exciting product to the store: automotive jigsaw puzzles. We’ve been lucky enough to travel the world reviewing cars and on our adventures we’ve been able to capture some pretty stunning shots. We figured what better way to showcase those photos than on custom jigsaw puzzles! Check out the new puzzles as well as a handful of our other favorite products available on the store, below.

McLaren on a Mountain Jigsaw Puzzle (1,000 pcs) – $37.00 at Redbubble.com

Autoblog Senior Producer Chris McGraw took all of the photos we’re featuring on the puzzles, so we asked him to recall some of the epic shots. This one is of a McLaren coming around the bend during a Pikes Peak run. According to Chris, on this trip “I was shooting on the side of Pikes Peak for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. The June air was brisk and thin, but the views were unlike anything I had ever seen. This McLaren happened to be taking practice laps at the time when I shot this photo.” You can snag this photo not only as a puzzle, but printed on several other items in our store. It looks great on a coffee mug too!

Ford GT on a Track Jigsaw Puzzle (1,000 pcs) – $37.00 at Redbubble.com

This photo was taken by Chris at a track day, and fun fact, the car is actually being driven by our very own editor-in-chief, Greg Migliore! “I’ve spent a lot of days at the track, but driving the already sold out Ford GT in Utah definitely ranks as one of the best. I wanted to get a wide angle shot of the engine, so I mounted a camera on the car’s back wing as Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore did his test laps.” It looks great as a photo, and creates quite the challenging puzzle. You can pick it up here.

Road to Nowhere Jigsaw Puzzle (1,000 pcs) – $37.00 at Redbubble.com

We colloquially call this photo the “Road to Nowhere” because it depicts an open road that seemingly goes on forever, something that many of us dream about. According to our Producer, “I snapped this photo on the Ford Raptor launch. I was out in the California desert where the views lasted for days. We pulled over and I took a few shots with no one else in sight.” You can grab this puzzle as well as several other items featuring this print right here.

Road to Nowhere Mug – $15.76 at Redbubble.com

Speaking of the “Road to Nowhere,” we figured we’d feature one of our coffee mugs using the shot as well. We’ve got several mug options, but these new offerings might be some of our favorites. You can pick them up featuring the Autoblog logo or any of the photos above, with more to come. Learn more about them right here. 

Autoblog Logo Face Mask – $12.49 ($9.99 when buying 4+) at Redbubble.com

Of course, with everything going on in the world right now, it’d be pretty silly to have a merch store without face masks! Per Redbubble, the masks are “two layers of soft 95% polyester / 5% spandex fabric with sublimation print on the outside layer” and they feature “over-ear elastic straps for a snug fit over mouth and nose.” And if you’re wondering, yes, they’re washable! You can check out the masks featuring all kinds of autoblog-centric designs right here.

All White Autoblog Tach Logo Pullover Hoodie – $39.90 at Redbubble.com

You can’t have a merch store without hoodies. This pull-over is a “heavyweight 9oz preshrunk cotton rich fleece made from 80% Cotton, 20% Polyester,” has a front pouch pocket, and comes in colors like black, heather grey, and blue. And of course, it features the all-white version of the Autoblog tachometer logo! You can check out this exact hoodie and several other variations right here. 

Cars Pullover Sweatshirt – $34.85 at Redbubble.com

Sometimes, you don’t want to rep a brand. We get it. Brands can be fickle. They can be unreliable. One minute, you’re telling everyone about how much you love your favorite car and the next minute the CEO of that company is embarrassing you by making weed jokes on Twitter. It happens. One thing we can all agree on, though, is that the simple concept of cars will never let us down. That’s why we we’re offering this simple design on a few pieces, paying homage to the thing we love the most. You can check out this design and others by clicking right here. 

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost has a fascinating new part to make it one of the most comfortable cars in the world

One of the neat things about Rolls-Royce is the extraordinary lengths the company will go to for maximum comfort. It’s like how supercar builders will look for every little advantage to make their cars a tenth of a second faster. On the 2021 Rolls-Royce Ghost, the company is employing something called the Planar Suspension System, a nebulous designation for the collection of systems and parts employed. Some are straight forward, such as the four-wheel independent air suspension, and the way the GPS and forward cameras inform what level of firmness should be employed on the road. But one part left us perplexed: the upper control arm damper. We spoke to Jon Simms, lead engineer for the Ghost, for more information, and now we have a better grasp on what it is and what it does.

As for what it is, it’s the roughly horseshoe-shaped object highlighted in purple in the above photo. The yellow parts are bumpstops, and it’s mounted on the same joint as the upper control arm. And it turns out it’s a pretty simple piece of equipment. It works very much like the harmonic balancer on the end of an engine. It’s a weight with a rubber-y flexible hinge, and going over smaller bumps, it absorbs some of the extra vibration and movement from the suspension. Those bumpstops in yellow give the damper some extra purchase on the control arm, and they absorb impacts from larger bumps that may move the control arm suddenly so that the arm and damper don’t bang into each other.

This may seem like a pretty minor thing, but remember, Rolls-Royce and its buyers are out for maximum comfort, so there’s reason to invest in ironing out every possible ride quality issue, no matter the size. And even if it’s a minor improvement, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Simms told us that existing Ghost customers they talked to during development had one key request about the driving experience: “don’t break it.” So making sure that the new car was basically like the last one, but a bit better, would seem to be what customers would want.

The Ghost is the first Rolls-Royce to adopt this full suite of Planar Suspension System parts, though other Rolls-Royce models have had pieces of the system. And considering the fact the Ghost shares its platform with the Phantom and Cullinan, now, we wouldn’t be surprised if later versions of those models pick-up parts like this damper.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Join Autoblog AMA on Thursday at noon ET | Bring your Bronco, Tesla, ID.4 and any other questions

QUICK LINK: JOIN THE AMA (or sign up for an email reminder) HERE

We’ve done a few “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions on Reddit in the past, but now we’re hosting our own, live, right here on Autoblog. We’d love to get in touch directly with our core readers and users. We’ll be live right here, for an hour beginning at noon Eastern, to answer any burning, thoughtful or off-the-wall questions you might have about cars, the automotive industry or anything else you feel like talking about.

Got questions about our long-term Subaru Forester, Volvo S60 T8 or any other car we’ve driven? Wanna talk Bronco or Corvette? Curious about our favorite pickups or EVs? Need some car buying advice, or just some fall beer recommendations? Fire away.

Maybe you’re already a regular commenter. Maybe you’re a long-time reader who hasn’t had much to say. Maybe you’re new to Autoblog and want to get to know more about us and what we do. Either way, stop by and join us. Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore and Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder will be on hand to answer your questions.

If you have specific questions for another staff member, shout them out, too. We can pass it along, or maybe rustle them out of whatever car they’re driving or filming to answer you directly.

Again, we’ll be going live right here, at this link, where you can also sign up for an email reminder ahead of the AMA. We’ll start answering questions on Thursday at noon ET / 9:00 a.m. PT. We look forward to talking with you.

Source: AutoBlog.com

Why the Volkswagen ID.4 is a Very Big Deal

Why aren’t Americans buying more electric cars? There are myriad answers, but one is certainly the current, Titanic-sized gap that exists between cars like the Chevrolet Bolt and Hyundai Kona Electric, and then ritzier choices like the Tesla Model S and X, Audi E-Tron and Jaguar I-Pace. This Electric Gap is one of both size and price. A Bolt is too small for the average American family. An E-Tron starts at nearly twice the price of the average car sold in this country.

Ah! But what of the Tesla Model 3? Indeed, that comes closest to filling the price gap with its starting price of $37,990. It also goes 250 miles on a charge and, as a Tesla, actually carries with it some desirability and brand awareness. It’s therefore not surprising that the Model 3 is selling very well.

However, the Model 3 does not fill the size gap. It’s effectively a compact luxury sedan, not unlike a BMW 3 Series. The vast majority of families in this country drive compact or midsize SUVs as well as midsize family sedans. There’s also the fact that if you want extra equipment on the Model 3, you have to make a massive price jump up to one of the Premium Interior cars (there’s also the Model 3’s widely reported build quality issues). The Model Y comes close in terms of size and body style, but it’s hardly the most utilitarian SUV and still starts at $49,990.

This brings me to the new 2021 Volkswagen ID.4, which comes the closest yet to filling the Electric Gap. It is fully electric with the same 250-mile range as the Model 3. It will benefit from three years of free charging at Volkswagen’s growing Electrify America network. Importantly, however, it starts at $39,995. That’s within striking distance of the average car transaction price ($37,851), but remember that there’s a $7,500 federal tax credit that brings the base MSRP down to $32,495 (Tesla no longer qualifies for the tax credit, which doesn’t seem right, but that’s a point for another article). There could also be additional state incentives. The dual-motor all-wheel-drive version that arrives later in 2021 will start at $43,695, while two optional packages named Gradient ($1,500) and Statement ($4,500) add mostly superfluous extra features.  

However, the ID.4’s price only addresses whether the average American family can buy one. Filling the size gap is more important in terms of addressing whether they will buy one. At 180.5 inches long, it is virtually the same length as a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Ford Escape, which, if their gargantuan collective sales are an indication, seems like the Goldilocks zone for size. It has 37.6 inches of back seat legroom, which is basically the same as the RAV4. Its cargo volume behind the raised back seat is 30.3 cubic-feet, which is several cubes less than the CR-V and RAV4, but those are jumbo-sized outliers in the compact SUV segment. The ID.4 should be comparable to a Mazda CX-5.

In other words, the ID.4 is effectively the exact size and body style the majority of American car buyers are seeking (besides pickup trucks). It’s priced within the same range as the average new car transaction price, especially when tax credits are considered. This is the most “people’s car” a new Volkswagen has actually been since … well, it’s definitely been decades.

There are still X factors that won’t show up on paper, however. Will people connect with its design and, importantly for an electric car, find that it sufficiently broadcasts its uniqueness and electrification? Will it be good to drive? Will the interior, though spacious and well-equipped, be constructed of cheap, scratchy plastics (my main concern given other recent Volkswagens). Will the Electrify America charging network actually be useful?

Those are all questions that will be answered with time and eventual reviews. Yet, the Volkswagen ID.4 at least has the potential to be a very big deal and is hopefully just the first of many new vehicles on their way that will fill the Electric Gap.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Toyota GR Super Sport Hypercar Will Have Well Over 1,000 HP

It isn’t known how these motors will be positioned in the car, but the combined output will reportedly be around 1,400 hp, which would make it over 400 hp more powerful than the original concept. This also means it could hit 0-62 mph in less than 2.5 seconds.If these rumors are true, the Koenigsegg Jesko, Aston Martin Valkyrie, and Mercedes-AMG One will be getting some tough new competition from Toyota. We may not have to wait very long for Toyota’s new hypercar to break cover either, as an “advanced concept” version of the GR Super Sport road car will reportedly be revealed as early as next month previewing the production car.
Source: carbuzz.com

2022 Tesla Model S Plaid coming with three motors and more than 1,100 horsepower

Remember those modified Tesla Model S prototypes lurking around the Nürburgring last year? They looked significantly more mean than your typical Model S Performance. And now we know they didn’t just look mean. The company announced during its “Battery Day” presentation that it will launch the Model S Plaid at the end of next year with some truly incredible numbers.

Unlike other Model S sedans, the Plaid gets three motors. The exact layout wasn’t given, but we would expect dual motors at the rear for torque vectoring. We do know that all three motors make a lot of power, more than 1,100 horses. The company estimates that the Plaid will be able to do 0-60 in under 2 seconds, and the quarter-mile in under 9 seconds. Furthermore, the company has done testing at Laguna Seca, and the current fast time with the car is 1 minute 30.3 seconds. During the presentation, it was suggested they could shave off another 3 seconds. That would make it about as fast as the current production car record holder, the McLaren Senna, which lapped the track in the hands of Motor Trend in 1 minute 27.62 seconds. As for the Nürburgring, Tesla hasn’t said anything yet. Besides outright power, Tesla says the Plaid will have an electric range of more than 520 miles.

Some of these claims are, surely not coincidentally, a close match to claims Lucid is making about its Air sedan, especially the “quicker than quick” three-motor version that was teased out earlier in the day. The Air shown in the video apparently has done the quarter-mile in 9.62 — and aims to do better — and three Lucid motors are capable of 670 horsepower per, meaning the car could theoretically sport over 2,000 horsepower.

The trailer Tesla showed didn’t reveal much about what the Model S Plaid looks like. What we could see showed a big rear spoiler, like what we saw on prototypes last year. The fenders might be a bit wider, and there may still be a bit of diffuser leftover from the prototypes. But in the glimpses we could see, it seems slightly less intense than what we’ve previously seen.

The first Plaids will be delivered late next year, but you can put in your order for one right now. Not surprisingly, the Model S Plaid is not cheap. It costs $139,990, or $141,190 with destination charge. That’s about $50,000 more than a Model S Performance. That price also splits the difference of the 522-horsepower Porsche Taycan 4S that starts at $105,150, and the 670-horsepower Taycan Turbo that starts at $152,250.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line revealed with subtly aggressive design

We’ve known for a while that there would be a 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line. We’ve even driven it. But only now are we finally seeing the hopped up midsize sedan. And it looks fine.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s still as handsome as any of the other Sonatas. The sedan in general is a gorgeous car with killer details, such as its trick daytime running lights. But the N Line doesn’t look that much more aggressive than the Sonatas in every other trim from SEL to Limited.

The front fascia has reworked grilles, with the outboard ones a bit larger and the lower one smaller. Those outboard grilles have the pointing chevron design that appeared on the Elantra N Line. The main grille has a very similar mesh insert to the SEL-and-up Sonatas. The side skirts appear to be slightly deeper, and the rear bumper has more of the diffuser section painted black, but otherwise features the same exhaust tips and diffuser fins as the other Sonatas. The N Line also gets unique 19-inch wheels.

The interior has more substantial changes. Most notable are the sporty seats in a unique gray fabric upholstery. They feature embroidered N logos, red piping and red stitching. The rest of the interior’s brightwork is replaced with dark chrome accents. The steering wheel is leather-wrapped and N-badged.

Oddly, Hyundai didn’t provide final specifications for the Sonata N Line. We do have preliminary specs from our first drive several months ago, though. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder making around 290 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The Sonata N Line also gets a variety of handling upgrades, though we don’t have specifics on those changes. Final pricing and availability are also unknown, though the car is expected to go on sale by the end of the year.

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Source: AutoBlog.com

Elon Musk describes vastly better EV battery cell that costs half — but not soon

CEO Elon Musk outlined Tesla Inc’s plans to cut electric vehicle battery design and manufacturing costs so radically that a $25,000 car that drives itself will be possible, but the automaker’s shares slipped as Musk forecast the change could take three years.

Musk acknowledged that Tesla does not have its ambitious new vehicle and battery designs and manufacturing processes fully complete. Tesla has frequently missed production targets.

Tesla expects to eventually be able to build as many as 20 million electric vehicles a year. This year, the entire auto industry expects to deliver 80 million cars globally.

Tesla shares, which closed Tuesday down 5.6%, fell another 4.5% in after-hours trade.

To help drive down vehicle cost, Musk described a new generation of electric vehicle batteries that will be more powerful, longer lasting and half as expensive than the company’s current cells at Tesla’s “Battery Day” on Tuesday.

Tesla’s new larger cylindrical cells will provide five times more energy, six times more power and 16% greater driving range, Musk said, adding that full production is about three years away.

“We do not have an affordable car. That’s something we will have in the future. But we’ve got to get the cost of batteries down,” Musk said.

To help reduce cost, Musk said Tesla planned to recycle battery cells at its Nevada “gigafactory,” while reducing cobalt — one of the most expensive battery materials — to virtually zero. It also plans to manufacture its own battery cells at several highly automated factories around the world.

Tesla will produce the new battery cells initially on a new assembly line near its vehicle plant in Fremont, California, with planned output reaching 10 gigawatt-hours a year by the end of 2021. Tesla and partner Panasonic Corp now have production capacity of around 35 gWh at the Nevada battery “gigafactory.”

Tesla aims to rapidly ramp up battery production over the next years, to 3 terawatt-hours a year, or 3,000 gigawatt-hours — roughly 85 times greater than the capacity of the Nevada plant.

The automaker plans to produce the new cells via a highly automated, continuous-motion assembly process, according to Drew Baglino, Tesla senior vice president of powertrain and energy engineering.

Musk acknowledged that Tesla does not have its new battery design and manufacturing process fully complete.

At the opening of the event, which drew over 270,000 online viewers, Musk walked on stage in a black t-shirt and jeans as about 240 shareholders — each sitting in a Tesla Model 3 in the company parking lot — honked their car horns in approval.

Ahead of the event, Tesla shares closed on Tuesday at $424.23, down 5.6% after Musk tweeted late Monday that the battery improvements to be unveiled at the event would not reach “serious high-volume production” until 2022. Shares bounced up and down in after-hours trade.

As automakers shift from horsepower to kilowatts to comply with stricter environmental regulations, investors are looking for evidence that Tesla can increase its lead in electrification technology over legacy automakers who generate most of their sales and profits from combustion-engine vehicles.

While average electric vehicle prices have decreased in recent years thanks to changes in battery composition, they are still more expensive than conventional cars, with the battery estimated to make up a quarter to a third of an electric vehicle’s cost.

Some researchers estimate that price parity, or the point at which electric vehicles are equal in value to internal combustion cars, is reached when battery packs cost $100 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

Tesla’s battery packs cost $156 per kWh in 2019, according to electric vehicle consulting firm Cairn Energy Research Advisors, which would put the cost of a 90-kWh pack at around $14,000.

Tesla currently produces batteries in partnership with Japan’s Panasonic at its $5 billion Nevada factory, while South Korea’s LG Chem <051910.KS> and China’s CATL <300750.SZ> supply cells to its Shanghai factory.

Tesla is also building its own cell manufacturing facility at its new factory in Germany in addition to the new plant in Fremont.

Source: AutoBlog.com

2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S First Drive | S is for ‘spicy’

Even in the domestic car bubble that is Greater Detroit, a 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S in Papaya Orange will garner some attention. While you might expect most foreign cars to be objects of derision in the heart of America’s auto industry, as it turns out, southeastern Michigan is pretty much like the rest of the world when it comes to retina-burning super-sedans. Heads will turn.

The 2021 Turbo S is the latest iteration of Porsche’s most potent gasoline-powered Panamera. While it plays second fiddle to the Turbo S E Hybrid in terms of overall power, it’s now pretty darn close, thanks to a bump in power, some mild chassis revisions, and a few nip-and-tuck styling tweaks front and rear.  

Porsche’s luxury sedan has polarized from the outset, though less for its more luxurious, four-door mission than for some of its more superficial features. It has not been as viciously demeaned by Porsche’s fanbase as its sibling, the Cayenne SUV, but the faithful have not wholeheartedly embraced it either. But while the Panamera has never been the prettiest sedan out there, its competence has never really been in question. As the lineup has matured and sprung wild, high-performance, electrified variants, the sedan has only further grown on us.

The updates to the 2021 Panamera were rather extensive given the fact that its fundamental underpinnings are unchanged. Just about every model in the lineup got something new, from some minor cosmetic enhancements (including the uninterrupted rear lighting strip and the Sport Design front fascia becoming standard on all models but the Turbo S) to the rather extensive powertrain enhancements for this new Turbo S sedan.

Those include a fairly comprehensive overhaul of the Panamera 4.0-liter V8, including a revised crankshaft, connecting rods and pistons; new injectors and redesigned turbines; and its compression ratio was reduced from 10.1 to 9.7:1 to accommodate the added boost from updated turbochargers. The result is an increase of 70 horsepower, bringing output to 620 hp and 604 pound-feet of torque, and a new name: Turbo S, replacing the plain-old “Turbo.”  

With a little help from its eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and launch control, Porsche says the new Turbo S sedan and its Sport Turismo wagon-lite sibling will crack off a 0-60 run in just 2.9 seconds, which is a full half-second quicker than the outgoing Turbo – not bad for “just” another 70 horsepower.

In addition to the engine enhancements, the 2021 Turbo S received some recalibration of its various driveline and chassis systems. From the steering to the Porsche Active Suspension Management system (PASM), just about everything received attention, though Porsche engineers emphasized that most of the updates were on the software side, rather than full-blown hardware upgrades. Inside, most of the upgrades are minor, with the notable exception of the steering wheel, which was lifted from the 992. Porsche has also made Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s available as an option, but we can’t imagine it will be a popular one outside of the warmest, driest climates, as its minimal tread profile will not inspire confidence in an unexpected deluge. Nevertheless, getting them isn’t a bad idea. Our test car had the standard summer tires – Michelin Pilot Sport 4S – and we managed to get them talking on multiple occasions.

Remember, besides having all that power, the 2021 Turbo S sedan is a big, heavy car at 198.8 inches long and 4,691 pounds. And it gets bigger. Porsche offers the Turbo S in its long-wheelbase Executive format if you need more backseat room, and there’s always the Sport Turismo. It adds another 100 pounds, but that seems trivial considering the upgrade in both styling and practicality (of course, that’s a minority opinion in the United States where only 10% of sales go to the long-roof version. It’s nearly 50/50 in Europe).

So, while it’s no Hellcat, Porsche still tuned this big, heavy, obscenely powered car to boogie. Get on the throttle with steering dialed in and the rear end will step out eagerly, but not violently. The all-wheel-drive system responds deliberately but progressively to rein in your shenanigans and get you headed off in your desired direction post haste, but we have to admit, its innate playfulness is incredibly alluring. There’s even some tire slippage when using launch control, which was a bit surprising.

Thankfully, though, the Panamera doesn’t feel as big as it is. The steering response and feedback are superb, which is due, at least in part, to the fact that the electric rack shares some of its wizardry with the 911’s. And since this is a Turbo S, Porsche was free to pull back slightly on the luxury elements of the driving experience in the name of engagement, especially when you crank the rotary drive mode selector to the Sport Plus setting, which firms the ride up significantly and allows some wicked exhaust barks when you shift gears.

While the 911 and 718 variants can be a bit punishing if cranked to their sportiest settings on the street, the Panamera Turbo S strikes a far more civilized balance, befitting its four-door layout. Even in Sport mode, the exhaust note is not overly intrusive, nor will the suspension completely liquify your kidneys on America’s broken urban concrete. You’ll be more comfortable on longer highway trips with both dialed back, but neither rises to the level of unpleasant under normal circumstances.

The Turbo S should slot in just below the S E Hybrid model in terms of pricing, as the regular Turbo did before. However, we expect it to cost more than its predecessor owing to both the 2021 enhancements and the fact that it sprouted an “S” at the end of its name. We’ll know for sure once we get a closer to its formal U.S. launch early in 2021.

The 2021 Porsche Panamera Turbo S is a status symbol with substance. It’s effectively a practical toy for those who can afford a little extra fun and frivolity with their luxury, and by those standards, it’s immensely satisfying. It’s not a great value, nor is it supposed to be, but this is about as engaging as big gasoline-powered luxury sedans get. It’s just practical enough to be justifiable but wild enough to scratch that high-performance itch from time to time. And if you’re a little worried about your carbon footprint, there’s the Turbo S E-Hybrid and its all-electric range. Win/win? We think so.

We don’t want to go too far down the “911 of sedans” rabbit hole, but there’s something to it. Taking the theme more broadly, the 911 itself is on the rawer end of the grand touring spectrum, and so too is the Panamera with regard to luxury sedans. Every new model the company produces inevitably has to prove itself worthy of the Porsche badge and the revised 2021 Panamera more than passes muster.

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Source: AutoBlog.com