Cadillac just debuted the ELR extended range electric vehicle last week at the Detroit Auto Show. The ELR is the production version of the Converj concept and is based on technologies from the Chevrolet Volt. Csaba Csere from Car and Driver interviews the engineering, design and marketing minds behind the ELR to get to some of it’s finer details. Right off the bat, this new model is a lot more than a badge swapped Chevrolet Volt. Even though the drive train shares components, the controls programming allows for more power output due to a better understanding of the battery discharge profiles. Cadillac has also decided to add more driving modes including one where the battery energy can be saved for a specific part of your journey. This is great for people whose commute starts on the highway and ends in the city where the electric motor is more efficient. A version of the hold-mode was first available on the European version of the Volt, the Opel Ampera. The ELR will also allow the driver to dial in specific amounts of regenerative braking with shift paddles located behind the steering wheel. The exterior of the ELR was specifically styled “not to scream electric car” which is to say it looks sporty and aggressive. It’s a 2-door coupe that will be about the size of the ATS (which is almost the exact same size as a BMW 3-series). The chassis has also been upgraded with 20 inch wheels, wider tracks and different suspension components for better handling. Cadillac thinks they’ll be pioneering a new market segment with the premium sport luxury extended range electric vehicle. Lets hope they’re not the only ones.
Csaba Csere of CAR and DRIVER got to tag along with the CEO and Head of Development of AMG as they worked on the new 2014 E63 AMG. The E-Series is receiving a pretty extensive mid-cycle refresh next year with the E63 AMG getting the most drastic changes. Not only was this a preview of what was to come on the new car, we also get an inside look at AMG’s history and the way they work. The new car is moving to all wheel drive with a performance variant of the Mercedes-Benz 4matic system. Instead of adapting the regular 4matic E-series systems, the AMG guys specified their own 30/70 front/rear torque split and custom front suspension geometry. They have the freedom to change whatever they need to achieve a balanced performance chassis that can also be daily driven. You can see what they’re doing is working in the shots of the car hustling through the course at El Toro airfield. The new E63 AMG is definitely going to mix it up in the sport luxury category when it goes on sale late next year.
Car and Driver’s contributing editor Csaba Csere takes the 2012 Fisker Karma out for a test drive as well as chatting with Henrik Fisker about the first car from his company. The Karma has always been kind of a oddity in the electric vehicle world because Henrik Fisker comes from a design background. When you listen to Elon Musk talk about Tesla’s cars, the focus is always on technological innovations and engineering. During Fisker’s interview with Csere, they discuss how the Karma has larger wheels and rides lower than other cars in the category. Csaba has to talk about the vehicle architecture, power, range and mileage on his own later in the video. In many ways that demonstrates the things I dislike about the Karma. Yes the car looks great, but is being ugly the main reason EV’s don’t have social acceptability?
The problem is that many of the important engineering aspects of the Karma took a back seat to it’s styling. The car is massively expensive yet weighs as much as a Chevy Tahoe and gets mid 20’s mpg when the Ecotec engine is recharging the batteries on the go. Csere says the drivetrain feels unrefined to boot. That means that beyond making a fashion statement, there is no real incentive for somebody to spend the extra money for the Karma over a regular luxury car that costs far less. That’s why I don’t see Fisker’s customer base extending very far beyond Hollywood movie stars. The worst part about the way Fisker has developed this car is that it reinforces all of the worst stereotypes about electric vehicles being expensive and mediocre technology that taxpayers have footed the bill for.
The Tesla Model S represents a pretty big milestone in the rise of the modern electric car simply because it’s a well thought out and executed car. It’s not a novelty based on outlandish looks or isolated performance statistics. Here is a practical electric powered car that you can purchase and use on a daily basis because it has enough storage space, performance and range to do so. If you are shopping for a car in this price range, then the Model S represents an electric option with very few compromises when compared side by side with its combustion engine competitors. Car and Driver’s contributing editor Csaba Csere brings us an in-depth review of the details of the entire car. The Model S certainly still has it’s own quirks, but I think it’s going to redefine a lot of people’s perception of EV capabilities.
Interesting fact: the touchscreen in the Model S is essentially a Mac Book Pro screen with no power consumption restraints.