Tesla Model S will gain range in “sleep mode” software update





Tesla figures owners of its Model S all-electric sedan will happily trade a little dashboard start-up speed for a few more miles of range. That’s the crux of a software update from the luxury EV maker that will include a so-called “sleep mode.” That mode powers everything off when the car is shut down.



The upshot is that there will be what Tesla says is a “modest increase” in the amount of time the car’s instrument panel “wakes up” from sleep mode (don’t we all have that problem?). The good news is that the car’s range increases because of sleep mode. In fact, folks willing to put their cars into sleep mode will get about eight more miles of range for every day that the car’s not used and not plugged in. In other words, a non-sleeping Model S loses roughly a mile of range every three hours its just sitting there. Tesla says the software update will also improve voice-command and media-browsing features.



Tesla said late last month that it is boosting the price of the Model S by $2,500 for US customers, putting the base price at $59,900 and the top end hit at $94,400. Those prices don’t factor in the federal tax credit worth up to $7,500. Details can be found in Tesla’s announcement for the software update below.

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By Danny King

Elon Musk explains why Tesla has its own stores, defends service program





Elon Musk is taking his argument for a different kind of customer-dealer relationship directly to the people. In this case, the Tesla Motors CEO writes on his company’s blog to list the reasons why the luxury electric-vehicle maker decided to own all of its dealerships instead of offering franchises.



Musk, who said the Tesla Model S sedan aspires to be “the best car of any kind” in his new post, says that using the traditional dealer franchise model would have created conflicts of interest withing the salespeople. The reason is that any energy used to educate the public about electric vehicles would detract from conventional-vehicle sales. “It is impossible for them to explain the advantages of going electric without simultaneously undermining their traditional business,” Musk writes.



Additionally, most buyers purchase the same make as their previous vehicle, which means there are few buyers who would walk into a multi-brand dealership and be willing to take the time to learn about Tesla. Musk added that Tesla would have 19 dealership stores in the US by the end of the year, up from 10 at the beginning of the year.



While the Model S has been universally praised, its pricey service program has not. Earlier this month, David Noland, a Model S reservation holder, wrote that Tesla’s $600-a-year service program is more than 10 times the cost of the service program for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in hybrid. Tesla has argued that its service plan is more comprehensive than usual because it includes an inspection, replacement parts such as brakes and windshield wipers, roadside assistance, system monitoring, remote diagnostics and software updates.



Finally, Musk addresses the recent lawsuits over Tesla’s stores. As you might expect, Musk doesn’t back down:

Regrettably, two lawsuits have nonetheless been filed against Tesla that we believe are starkly contrary to the spirit and the letter of the law. This is supported by the nature of the plaintiffs, where one is a Fisker dealer and the other is an auto group that has repeatedly demanded that it be granted a Tesla franchise. They will have considerable difficulty explaining to the court why Tesla opening a store in Boston is somehow contrary to the best interests of fair commerce or the public.

We’re sure the case will be made, though, and we’ll see how well it’s delivered.

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By Danny King

Tesla Stock Rises After Elon Musk Teases ‘Exciting Announcement’

tesla-badge

Elon Musk and Tesla have been making headlines the last couple of months, from dealing with The New York Times to promising an affordable electric car within five years.

The American automaker’s stock rose the most in nearly five weeks yesterday after CEO, Elon Musk tweeted that the company plans a “really exciting” announcement next Tuesday. According to Musk, he’ll be putting his money where his mouth is in a very major way. The announcement was originally going to come Thursday, but Musk later stated that it’ll come a few days later so that there would be no end of the quarter distractions.

SEE ALSO: BMW 3 Series Rival “3 to 4 Years Away” Says Musk

Tesla surged as much as 5.2 percent after the announcement, but closed 2.5 percent higher. The 5.2 percent was the biggest intraday jump for the automaker since February 19th.

It’ll be interesting to see what the news is, considering Tesla has no plans to display at the 2013 New York Auto Show.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com

By Jason Siu

Developer sues Tesla over proposed New Mexico Model S plant

Tesla Model S - front three-quarter view



New Mexico may be The Land of Enchantment, but at least one developer from the state is less than charmed with Tesla Motors.



The electric-vehicle maker has been sued by Rio Real Estate Investment Opportunities for what the developer says was an agreed-upon deal for Tesla to produce its Model S battery-electric sedan in New Mexico, according to website Gigaom.



Tesla allegedly reached an agreement in early 2007 to have Rio Real Estate build a 150,000-square-foot factory and lease it out to the automaker for $1.35 million a year for 10 years. Instead, Tesla decided to start Model S production in California after reaching an agreement with Toyota in 2010 to make the cars at the old NUMMI Toyota-General Motors joint venture plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. We asked Tesla for comment on the matter, but Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks told AutoblogGreen that the company does not comment on pending litigation.



Tesla, which in June started deliveries of the Model S, said last week that its second-quarter loss widened by 84 percent to $106.5 million because expenses jumped and revenue fell as the company geared up for the car’s debut.

Related GalleryFirst Ride: 2012 Tesla Model S Beta

By Danny King

Tesla Model S Top Speed, Child Capacity Tested – Rumor Central

Tesla Model S Top Speed, Child Capacity Tested

We’ve tested our 2013 Automobile of the Year, the Tesla Model S, extensively. But some people are curious to see what else the electric sedan is capable of, as these two amateur test videos show. In one clip, a driver tries to find the Model S’ top speed, while the other seeks to find out if you can squeeze a kindergarten class into the EV.

As we’ve seen in other videos, the Tesla Model S can out-accelerate such powerful sports sedans as the BMW M5, and this new video gives us an idea of how fast it will go if you keep your foot on the gas pedal. The video shows a man driving his Model S Signature Performance equipped with the 85-kW-hr battery on a sparsely populated highway. As he mashes the “throttle,” there’s a subtle hum but otherwise the cabin is eerily quiet. There’s no physical needle to peg, but the digital display finally tops out at an indicated 133 mph.

In the second video, a group of kindergartners questions the Model S’ seven-passenger capacity. The five- to six-year-olds, who are all naturals in front of the camera, count out loud as they appear out of the car’s cargo area, cabin, and frunk. By the end of the video, a total of 16 kindergartners are found stuffed in the Model S’ various orifices.

Check out both videos below.

Source: YouTube





By Alex Nishimoto

Dan Neil eats crow, donates $1,000 to charity on behalf of Tesla CEO Elon Musk

2012 Tesla Model S



Dan Neil, he of the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism fame, has made a decent living peddling his automotive snark, and for good reason, as Neil is unquestionably one of the best and funniest at what we do. Tesla CEO Elon Musk – also an outspoken salesman of some merit – differs from Neil in one primary respect, which is that Musk is worth some $2 billion and thus doesn’t have to drive someone else’s cars around.



When these two agreed to resolve their disagreement over Tesla’s seemingly pie-in-the-sky production plans by means of a wager, those of us familiar with both affable egos were deeply amused. Neil most certainly did not expect to lose his end of the bet: That Tesla would fail in its promise to deliver its second model on time. What with the prevailing view at the time being that Tesla’s game plan was merely to get bought out by some larger entity and that the Model S was just vaporware, a means to that end, we probably would have gone with Neil had someone forced us to take sides. Of course, we can all learn a lesson here, which is that you don’t bet against the guy who owns the casino.



Musk and Tesla clearly kept up their end of the bargain, so Neil’s public mea culpa ran in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. He states that he’s made his $1,000 contribution to Doctors Without Borders, the penalty for the loss being far less than Musk’s promised $1 million debit. Neil’s pride is likely hurting more from the comeuppance than the cash outlay dented his savings account, but as he writes, “I lost, and happily so. As a proponent of electric mobility, I have said many times that I wanted to lose the bet… As a critic, I’ll reserve judgment on the Model S until I get a chance to drive it.”

By Jeff Sabatini

Tesla’s Musk Says Roadster Kicks Ferrari’s Ass; Is He Right?

Tesla’s Musk Says Roadster Kicks Ferrari’s Ass; Is He Right?

“This kicks the ass of any Ferrari except the Enzo.” — Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk regarding the Tesla Roadster.

We took a good long look at Tesla’s SEC filing and IPO road show presentation on Monday, and there was a lot to cover. One detail we skipped was this quote from Tesla’s commander-in-chief Musk, a man known for his over-the-top statements. He and Tesla have made a lot of bold claims about their company and their product, but this just might be the boldest.

Musk says his Roadster can go toe-to-toe with any Ferrari that isn’t an Enzo. Can it? We dug through our test numbers and pulled out the top-shelf Tesla Roadster Sport and seven Ferraris we’ve tested to find out. Unfortunately, we only have partial numbers on some of the cars, because getting a free Ferrari to flog on the track is difficult for even us. For comparison’s sake, we even threw in the mighty Enzo itself.

Take a look at what we measured for all the cars and tell us what you think of Musk’s proclamation.

2010 Tesla Roadster Sport

0-60: 3.7 secs
1/4 Mile: 12.6 secs @ 102.6 mph
60-0 Braking: 113 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.98 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight: 24.6 secs @ 0.81 g (avg)
Power: 288 horsepower/295 pound-feet
Base Price: $130,450 (with $7500 Federal tax credit)

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2008 Ferrari F430

0-60: 4.2 secs
1/4 Mile: 12.3 secs @ 120.7 mph
60-0 Braking: 107 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.95 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight: 24.6 secs @0.80 g (avg)
Power: 483 horsepower/343 pound-feet
Base Price: $191,775

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2008 Ferrari F430 Scuderia

0-60: 3.1 secs
1/4 Mile: 11.2 secs @ 126.7 mph
60-0 Braking: 93 ft
Power: 503 horsepower/347 pound-feet
Base Price: $272,306

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2008 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano

0-60: 3.2 secs
1/4 Mile: 11.3 secs @ 126.4 mph
60-0 Braking: 104 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.95 g (avg)
MT Figure Eight: 25.0 secs @0.79 g (avg)
Power: 612 horsepower/448 pound-feet
Base Price: $317,595

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2010 Ferrari 16M Scuderia Spider

0-60: 3.8 secs (sub-optimal surface)
1/4 Mile: 11.8 secs @ 122.7 mph (sub-optimal surface)
60-0 Braking: 96 ft
Power: 503 horsepower/347 pound-feet
Base Price: $313,350

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2010 Ferrari California

0-60: 3.5 secs
1/4 Mile: 11.9 secs @ 117.4 mph
60-0 Braking: 100 ft
200-ft Skid Pad: 0.99 g (avg)
Power: 454 horsepower/357 pound-feet
Base Price: $192,000

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2011 Ferrari 599 GTO

0-60: 3.4 secs (mfr)
Power: 661 horsepower/457 pound-feet
Base Price: $450,000 (est)

2011 Ferrari 458 Italia

0-60: 3.4 secs (mfr)
Power: 557 horsepower/398 pound-feet
Base Price: $213,500 (est)

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By Scott Evans

Tesla now delivering 60-kWh Model S

tesla model s



A Tesla Model S for hoi polloi? Not quite, but the luxury electric vehicle maker apparently has started deliveries of its “middle-ground” sedans fitted with 60-kWh batteries, Green Car Reports says, citing threads from the online Tesla Motors car club.



Tesla hasn’t yes confirmed 60-kWh Model S deliveries, which has a base price of $62,400. That’s a $10,000 “discount” from the 85-kWh versions already on the road. The trade-off is a single-charge range that’s about 75 miles less than the 285-mile range of the top-of-the-line battery. For buyers who want to spend even less, the better news is that Tesla’s 40-kWh version should start deliveries by the middle of 2013, offering a single-charge range of about 145 miles (and no Supercharging) for another $10,000 less.



Earlier this month, Automotive News reported that Tesla was on the verge of hitting full production capacity of 400 new vehicles a week, about double Tesla’s pace three months ago. The Model S won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award last November.

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By Danny King

Toyota Chooses Canada for RAV4 EV Production

Toyota Chooses Canada for RAV4 EV Production

Toyota will build the upcoming electric-powered RAV4 alongside the gasoline-powered variant at its Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, Inc. (TMMC) in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Production is slated to begin in 2012.

Many plants were being considered for RAV4 EV production, including the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California. Tesla Motors, which has been assisting in the development of the electric-powered SUV, will build its 2012 Model S family sedan at NUMMI. Toyota says building the electric version of the RAV4 alongside the gasoline version will “maximize production efficiencies and quality control.”

“The Tesla-Toyota joint development team has agreed that building the vehicle at the Woodstock plant on the same line as the gasoline-powered RAV4, will streamline and simplify the production process and guarantee the highest level of quality control,” said Ray Tanguay, TMMC Chairman, in a press release. “This is a great example of Toyota’s determination to collaborate with companies with leading edge technology.”

Toyota will pay Tesla $100 million for the RAV4 EV’s electric powertrain, which includes the battery module, electric motor, gearbox, and electronic components. Tesla will gain insight into Toyota’s manufacturing and engineering processes.

Tesla will build RAV4 EV powertrains at a smaller plant in Palo Alto, California, and then ship them to TMMC for installation in the compact SUVs. Tesla is busy retooling the NUMMI plant preparing for Model S production.

Toyota will announce volume and pricing of the RAV4 EV at a later time.

Source: Toyota

By Jason Udy

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013 – Rumor Central

Cocktail Chatter: February 22, 2013

What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s cocktail comes by way of Automobile Magazine contributor Bob Merlis, who served The Christie at his Palm Springs pool party this past week. The Christie is made my mixing vodka and fresh grapefruit juice (Merlis recommends plucking a grapefruit from a tree and giving it a squeeze, since they grow all over Palm Springs); the proportions between juice and liquor and use of ice are up to the drinker’s discretion. Top with sparkling water, a splash of pomegranate juice, and a squeeze of lime. Read more about Merlis’ party below.

Ready for Bed: It actually has lights! Who wouldn’t want to tuck their kids in this Corvette bed? Now if only they made it an adult-size.

Tom Hang, Graphic Designer

BaT Hits the Big Time: We’ve long been fans of Bring A Trailer, the daily email with picks of the most interesting vintage cars for sale. We’ve even interviewed its founder, Randy Nonnenberg. Recently, BaT received the endorsement of bona fide celebrity car guy Jerry Seinfeld, in his recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Seinfeld suggests that BaT might be the place to find a vintage ride for Dave, for Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” The question is, what would be the right car for Letterman?

Joe Lorio, Senior Editor

Review Sparks Outrage: John Broder’s review in The New York Times of the Tesla Model S, our Automobile of the Year, drew nasty tweets from the automaker’s chief, Elon Musk. Public reaction seems to favor Musk and his electric car, though I have no doubt that Broder followed Tesla’s instructions in his test of the company’s East Coast Supercharger network, resulting in a dead car. The Model S is a high-tech wonder, with an impressive electric-car range. It’s not for the uninformed, uninvolved customer, even the rich ones, who plans to drive it every day, in all conditions. Musk may be a visionary, but he’s a thin-skinned one, used to sycophantic press clips from an adoring Silicon Valley press corps. Buck up, Elon; new car reviews, like the car business, aren’t easy.

Todd Lassa, Executive Editor

German NASCAR: We got fired up for the sports car racing season last week at Daytona Int’l Speedway as BMW introduced its new car for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the BMW Z4 GTE. It looks like the snakiest Z4 in captivity with its unique, wide-body aero bodywork for the U.S., plus it has a 480-hp version of the latest 4.4-liter BMW V-8. Compared to the former M3 GT’s V-8 with its 180-degree crankshaft, this new BMW V-8, with its even-fire crankshaft, sounds like a NASCAR engine. In fact, NASCAR exec Mike Helton made a brief appearance in pit 1961 cadillac coupedeville r34 224x300 imagelane to see the program, and as the BMW Z4 GTE roared past on the banking, he said, “Now that sounds like a proper racing car.”

Mid-Century Magnificence: This weekend Palm Springs wraps up Modernism Week, which is the annual celebration of Mid-Century Modern design in the resort town in the California desert. Last Monday the Modernism Week car show took place in front of the convention center, a modest event of about 60 cars. Contributor Bob Merlis was predictably one of the ringleaders, as he knows everyone in Palm Springs who owns a cool car from the 1950s and 1960s. Merlis and his wife even hosted a pool party where Modernism Week performer Lou Christie – famous for his three-octave singing in the early 1960s — was the honored guest. Now that it’s cool to own a car that you might see in Mad Men, our Connecticut-bred Merlis wears a 1950s porkpie hat like he was born to it.

All in the Family: Contributor Ronald Ahrens was at Daytona Int’l Speedway last weekend as the 2014 Chevrolet SS was presented to the public. It made sense, since the rear-wheel-drive SS is the template for Chevrolet’s new-generation NASCAR racer that will appear in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. GM North America president Mark Reuss was the key spokesman, which seems only fair, since he was the general manager of Holden in Australia when the platform beneath the SS was first developed for the Pontiac G8. Some noticed that many wore a T-shirt emblazoned, “L. Reuss Garage: Excellent Used Cars, Darmstadt, Ill.”  This is the car lot owned by Reuss’s grandfather, and Reuss’s father grew up there to become first an important GM engineer and then president of the whole corporation. This might seem like vanity move by Mark Reuss, but today Detroit feels like a family enterprise more than ever, because every person on every street depends on the car business for a livelihood and lives and dies with its successes and failures more than ever. Grandsons on the assembly line and daughters in the engineering office – everyone. It’s no longer fashionable at Chrysler, Ford and GM to be a Wall Street bagman and pretend it’s all just about business. In Detroit, it’s not just business. It’s personal.

Michael Jordan, Senior Editor

The End of Road Rage?: After I stumbled upon some illustrations of hovering cars the other week, I’m just now reading about Google’s new driverless car and the impacts it could have on roads, legislation and, really, how we live our everyday lives. The advent of these cars raises an important question: what happens when a driverless car is in an accident that might normally provoke road rage? It’s easy enough to get angry with the driver of a fellow car, but when it’s actually the car and not the driver that’s responsible for the accident, do you instead unleash your furry on an inanimate object?

John Kalmar, Graphic Designer

AWD AMG: Realizing that its E-Class needed major work, Mercedes-Benz implemented some serious changes for the mid-cycle face-lift of its high-volume mid-size car. The change that strikes me most is the move to standard all-wheel drive (sorry, 4Matic) for the AMG performance edition. Mercedes-AMG will soon go from offering zero all-wheel-drive cars to four (E63, CLS63, A45, and CLA45), in addition to the quartet of all-wheel drive SUVs already for sale. Is this a good thing? That depends on whether you’d rather get superb lap times on track days or perform sensational powerslides for magazine covers. BMW says that its M cars will remain rear-wheel drive, but German car companies often behave like lemmings, so I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW follows Mercedes, which followed Audi anyway.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

Million Dollar Rides: It turns out that Will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas is the owner of that crazy $900,000 Dick Tracy from the future car. Yeesh.

Kelly Murphy, Creative Director

Marketing Madness: Driving a Chrysler 300 Glacier Edition, I couldn’t help but to wonder why someone would buy one of these over the 300 S. The Glacier is based on the S, but eschews things like full leather seats and 19-inch wheels, while adding little more than one unique paint color, special floormats, and not-even-trying-to-look real carbon fiber interior trim. Unless you’re jones-ing for a 300 painted in Glacier Blue Pearl with 17-inch wheels, there’s little reason to opt for the special-edition car over the 300 S. We get it Chrysler – you’re trying to remind us that you have an all-wheel drive sedan in your dealerships, but I think your marketing money might be better spent just reminding people that the 300 is quite a good car, no special edition needed.

Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor

Navigation Niggles: I spent Monday and Tuesday driving a Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was a spectacular car that handled Death Valley as well as it did a blizzard (thanks to the snow tires). But the navigation system is severely lacking. The Hyundai Azera I’m driving around Los Angeles has a faster, more logical navigation system. Then again, I suppose anyone driving a Bentley has already arrived.

Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor

CDs? What are Those? I’m generally a fan of services like Rdio and Pandora to stream music, but I was recently reminded how good CDs—derided as relics of a bygone era—still are. I purchased Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” with my Sunday morning Starbucks and popped it into the Buick Regal GS’ optional Harmon/Kardon stereo; the combination of high-quality audio, surround sound algorithms, and about 500 watts of power turned “When It’s All Over” (one of the album’s most adventurous, and most satisfying, tracks) into an aural masterpiece. I’m sure that I could have replicated the experience in some cars with Bluetooth, or HD Radio, but CDs remain the most consistently awesome medium for listening to high-quality tunes.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

World’s Worst Drivers? There was no shortage of video footage of the asteroid that hit Russia last week thanks to the fact that so many drivers in that country have dash-mounted video cameras in their cars. Curious as to why this is so, The Washington Post  looked into it and reports that the dash cams are there as a reaction to Russia’s high incidence of hit-and-run crashes and false accident-liability claims. One result of all those dash cams is that the internet is chockfull of compilations of Russian traffic accidents. Go to YouTube or Google and type in “Russian car crash” and you’ll find scores of video compilations of Russian traffic accidents. You’ll be alternately entertained by the crazy driving maneuvers and the fender benders that result and dismayed by the widespread disregard for public safety. But once you start watching, you might not be able to stop. It is, literally, like watching a train wreck – er, make that a car crash.

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor

Bling Bling: If that spiffy new 2013 GL in your driveway lacks a certain something, Mercedes-Benz has something that might literally light up your life. The automaker’s accessories wing is now selling kits that illuminate the gigantic three-pointed star grille emblem with LEDs at night. Pricing remains unknown, as does the illuma-star’s compliance with federal safety standards. Part of me kind of hopes Mercedes-Benz develops this for its European Actros semi truck, as that emblem is about the size of an extra-large pizza.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

Mulling Over Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz USA product planners and PR reps visited this week and gave me a few things to think about:

They talked more about the upcoming CLA250, the so-called baby CLS four-door coupe that will have a price point just below $30K (before destination charge) when it goes on sale later this year, thus undercutting the current least expensive Mercedes-Benz, the C-class sedan, by some five or six thousand dollars. The CLA appears to be a beautiful car (I’ve seen it only in photos), and I don’t think the target buyers in the United States will give a fig that it’s built on a front-wheel-drive platform rather than rear-wheel drive. (All-wheel drive will arrive early in 2014.) But it got me thinking about this difficult business of premium brands reaching down the price scale. I thought about the BMW 318 hatchback of the mid-90s, which started in the low to mid $20,000s. I thought about the early-2000s C-Class, which was heavily advertised as being a Mercedes for less than $30,000. Neither one of those cars really did much for their brands. I think the jury is still out on whether a premium brand like Mercedes can dip this low in the American market without losing its cachet.

Mercedes-Benz USA’s head of product planning, when asked about the recent announcements of a Chevrolet Cruze diesel and a Mazda 6 diesel, was ecstatic, telling us that nothing can be better for acceptance of diesel automobiles in America than affordable, mass-market diesel sedans. Mercedes, which has been selling BlueTec versions of its E-Class and S-Class sedans and its M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, has done everything it can to educate Americans that modern diesel engines are smooth, powerful, reliable, and efficient, but they’ve had a very difficult time spreading the message beyond a core group of true believers. So it was interesting to me to see a representative of a premium brand so excited about what’s going on at two mass-market brands.

Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor

XL1ent: The news that Volkswagen will put its XL1 into limited production is great for the auto industry. Sure, the teensy, slow, and likely very expensive car is nowhere near as thrilling as the latest supercar from Europe — but it involves just as much clever engineering. The challenges needed to build a car that can drive 261 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel are just as (or perhaps more) interesting than those needed to build a 900-horsepower supercar. Just like a supercar, the Volkswagen XL1 will be somewhat expensive and thus will have limited appeal, but also like a supercar, lessons learned from the XL1 will eventually trickle down to other models. This car is the future — and I would love to drive it.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

88 MPH: Universal Studios recently announced that a crack team of geeks restored a DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise. This “Time Machine Restoration Team” reminds me of when a Midwestern DeLorean club visited my high school.

I woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove to our garage to clean and paint suspension components for a 1965 Ford Mustang. About an hour after I arrived, the first one pulled up. Then the next one. Then the next. The stainless-steel locusts filled the lot adjacent to the garage. I studied the cars only until I saw their owners. “88 MPH” t-shirts tucked into the elastic waistbands of 99-cent sweatpants. One guy silently walked around with a clipboard. One guy put his car up on a two-post lift, looked at its underside for a few minutes, then decided to cut a line that subsequently spilled transmission fluid all over the floor. One guy enthusiastically gloated that he’d installed a clear, neon-lit steering wheel in his car.

I’ve seen my hell, and it’s full of aspiring “Time Machine Restoration Team” members.

Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor

Extreme Makeover: Lots of new cars have claustrophobic interiors. In some cases, like that of the Chevrolet Camaro, this is driven by conscious (if not quite wise) design. But even family cars like the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion—vehicles put on earth to haul people and things—seem to have oppressively big dashboards, door panels, and roof pillars. The real culprit is all the stuff that’s found its way into our cars in the last few decades—airbags, touchscreens, multi-zone climate control, super-strong roof pillars. No wonder people think they need big crossovers.

Enter the Visteon e-Bee concept. The supplier essentially gutted a Nissan Leaf and rebuilt it with some new components and new thinking. The climate control hardware is smaller and has been relocated from under the dashboard to the nose of the car. The front airbags move into the ceiling.

All this obviates the need for a big dashboard, which as one Visteon designer reminded me, exists solely to hide ugly parts like the A/C blower motor. This opens up space for the front passenger. That passenger, in turn, sits on a fixed seat, saving the weight and cost of rails. Capacitive screens replace just about every physical control, something we’re already seeing on production cars with mixed results. Here, two small screens are placed on either side of the steering wheel, almost like shift paddles. This placement theoretically reduces the hands-off-wheel time and replaces the bulky center stack. Visteon is also working on software that “learns” a driver’s climate and media preferences, so one wouldn’t constantly need to dig through menus to flip on seat heaters and tune to a favorite radio station.

Some of Visteon’s ideas are a bit radical. I don’t think, for instance, most American buyers would give up floor carpeting (saves weight) or a rear window (ditto). But the general direction is brilliant. Car interiors cannot continue to look exactly like they did twenty years ago, only with more stuff, because the stuff is crowding out the passengers.

David Zenlea, Associate Editor

By Automobile Staff