Tuesday was more par for the course in the automotive news world, with a few product releases announced.
Self-Driving Bolts Produced on Line
Chevrolet has announced that they have added 130 autonomous-equipped Bolt EV’s to their testing fleet spread throughout the United States. The existing fleet of 50 vehicles will continue testing in major US cities—which allow autonomous cars, such as San Francisco—with the added 130 merely expanding the number of test miles. Developed with Cruise Automation, Chevrolet’s autonomous program used the press release to shoot a friendly barb at other autonomous vehicle producers, namely Tesla;
“GM became the first company to assemble self-driving test vehicles in a mass-production facility when its next generation of self-driving Chevrolet Bolt EV test vehicles began rolling off of the line at Orion Township in January.”
Look for driver-less Bolts prowling the streets of San Francisco, and potentially at your dealer in the next decade.
Hyundai Kona: A New Millennial-Mobile
Hyundai has announced the upcoming release of their now-smallest SUV, to compete in the up-and-coming ‘B’-Segment among SUV’s. Hyundai knows their market, and is very upfront about it, as their own press release says—describing the features and design elements of the car—that they are, “a combination designed to appeal to the Millennial demographic”. Any Millennial sucked in by Hyundai’s marketing will find many tech-based features, including the most advanced suite of safety features in the segment. Featuring many acronyms like FCA, BCW, and RCCW, it is safe to assume that if there is some sort of sensor-based safety feature, the Kona will come equipped with it.
Lugging around all this tech, and whatever junk people can fit in the most spacious interior in-class, are a selection of engines. For the US market, we can choose from an anemic 2.0L N/A engine and 6-speed automatic, which is quoted at 10secs to 60mph, or a 1.6L turbocharged “Gamma” engine and 7-speed DCT transmission. This set-up is similar to the Veloster Turbo, and produces markedly more torque, providing a 7.7sec 0-60 time. Other markets will have a smaller, 1.0L turbo engine to choose from with the same 7-speed DCT or a 1.6L diesel, with an as yet unspecified transmission.
In Korea, look for the Kona next month, with global sales beginning the month after.
‘New’ BMW model: 6-series Gran Turismo
Consistent naming is key to brand recognition. With BMW’s simple number-based system, it would appear to be easy enough to follow: odd numbered models feature four-doors, while even-numbered are the more stylistic coupe models. It was nice; it was simple. I say was because over the past few years BMW has seemed intent to confuse everyone with their model line, including journalists. In a further blow to consistency, BMW announced the addition of a new model to the 6-series—Even number, 2 doors, right? —the Gran Turismo. Essentially the second-generation of the 5-series GT hatchback, BMW seems to have arbitrarily gifted the model to the 6-series name. The new GT is available with a single engine, transmission, and AWD as standard. Dubbed the 640xi GT, the model is powered by BMW’s very good 3.0L turbocharged straight-six. Producing 335hp to all four wheels through an 8-speed transmission, the 640xi GT should be comfortable and able to move out of its own way, with a 0-60 time .3secs slower than a 540xi at 5.1 seconds. Those .3secs are not much of a sacrifice considering the cargo room goes from 18.7 cubic feet to 31 cubic feet between the GT and a comparable 5-series.
Look for the 640xi GT at your local dealership soon.
Gran Turismo Sport: Further Details
This weekend’s E3 gaming convention already gifted us with the Porsche 911 GT2 RS release, and now more gearhead excitement has dropped in further Gran Turismo Sport details. The next iteration in the much-loved series is set to release in the Fall of 2017, giving them a bit of leeway. This iteration will focus much less on ‘car collecting’ and much more on the driving simulation aspect of gameplay. This means players will have *only* 140 cars to choose from. These cars are going to be capable of rendering in both 4k and virtual reality, depending on the platform you are playing on. Further cementing the simulator-feel of the game, FIA has announced they have sanctioned a digital race series built into the game. Part of the new GT Academy game-mode, this racing school and series will reward the best player in the world with an actual seat in Nissans racecar.
Video game nerds and wanna-be racecar drivers stay tuned for more details as the game nears release this Fall.
Bloodhound SSC Gets a Little More Real
Some people just want to go fast. For former-British Royal Air Force fighter pilot Andy Green, he really likes to go fast. Not only did he fly fighters for Country and Queen, he is the current land-speed record holder with the Thrust supersonic-car at 763mph. Not quite satisfied with that, Green has been at the center of a new project, the Bloodhound SSC (SuperSonic Car). Aiming at a nice, round 1000mph, the project has been put off and off for the past 3 years. Considering the speeds involved and what is required to reach those speeds—a series of rockets and a jet engine from a Eurofighter Typhoon—delays are probably well-thought out and required. Safety first, second, and third after all.
The delays seem to be over, as testing has been announced and approved for October of this year, with a record-run in the Summer of 2018 (probably dependent on the testing). Here is to hoping that the testing goes well, and if you would like to show your faith, the company has announced the sale of spectator tickets for the 2018 record attempt. Stay tuned for the results of the testing sessions.
Travis Kalanick Steps Down from Uber
Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick has been relieved of his responsibilities indefinitely by the board of Uber amid allegations of a persistent culture of fostered sexual harassment. His responsibilities will be split among existing board members, as well as being assumed by an as-yet to be hired chief operating officer. As an attempt to fix their culture problems, this move is telling of Mr. Kalanick’s personality. If he were to ever return to Uber, his responsibilities will forever remain diminished. Good luck Uber. You will need it in the coming months.
I recently recieved a degree in History from the University of Nevada, Reno.