Tag: Car

Aston Martin Is Converting Classic Cars To Electric Rides

Aston Martin learned a lot about electric technology while developing a battery-powered variant of the Rapide sport sedan.

It’s now applying some of these lessons to the world of classic cars in order to offer enthusiasts a zero-emissions alternative to carburetors.

The central component of the electric powertrain is what Aston Martin refers to as an EV cassette.

It’s a lithium-ion battery pack that’s attached to the body via the original engine and transmission mounts, meaning there’s no need to cut or weld anything under the sheet metal.

The battery pack zaps the electric motor via wires, just like it does in a modern-day electric car. Aston also integrates a screen to the interior to let the driver keep an eye on the power management in real time.

To demonstrate what it’s capable of, the firm installed its electric powertrain into a 1970 DB6 MKII Volante (pictured).

It looks fully stock — it even keeps its exhaust system even though it no longer needs it.

There’s no word on how the electric conversion affects performance and handling, however, and Aston Martin hasn’t provided technical specifications.

We learned from a spokesperson that the EV cassette will be a weight-neutral replacement for the internal combustion engine. It will deliver a quicker zero-to-60-mph time, and match the original car’s top speed of 120 mph.

Aston Martin noted the conversion is reversible, so owners can return their car to its original configuration at any time.

The company claimed it’s the first firm to offer a reversible electric car conversion, but that’s not entirely accurate. The E-Type Zero that Jaguar introduced in 2017 can be converted back to gasoline, too.

Classic car enthusiasts who want to drive electric will be able to commission the conversion starting in 2019.

Aston will perform all of the work in-house, so owners will presumably need to ship their car to the company’s headquarters. Pricing information hasn’t been released yet.

Aston Martin said that the powertrain is modular. It was designed to replace the six-cylinder engine in a variety of models including the DB4, the DB5, the DB6, and the DBS.

Buyers who would rather drive a more modern electric Aston will need to hope they can get their hands on one of the 150 examples of the Rapide E.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Peugeot’s E-Legend Concept Is A Muscle Car For The Electric Age

Rotating phlegmatically beneath an immodest #UnboringTheFuture banner at the Paris Motor Show, Peugeot’s e-Legend Concept might be my favorite of all the electric concept cars I’ve seen this week.

Its design is inspired by the classic Peugeot 504 coupe, with a more aggressive styling that reminds me of Ford’s latest Mustang GT.

But beneath that old-school muscular look is a fully autonomous, connected, all-electric vehicle. It’s a car that looks to the future without devaluing the brand’s past, and I love the result.

Peugeot’s premise with the e-Legend is that you shouldn’t have to compromise on anything. The car has four driving modes, with the two autonomous ones seeing the steering wheel retract into the dashboard and opening up access to a 49-inch curved widescreen display.

The Soft mode would reduce distractions and disturbances to a minimum, while the Sharp option would be a nightmare scenario of “maximum connection to your digital activity” like social networks.

When you do want to drive, Legend mode would be your default, with a Boost mode turning up the driving excitement.

Switching driving modes, opening and closing the electrical doors, and controlling music would be done with — you guessed it — a voice assistant tailored for autonomous driving.

A version of this assistant, Peugeot says, will be making its way to production vehicles from the company within the next two years.

Fellow French company Focal has partnered with Peugeot on the integrated sound system of the e-Legend Concept.

That includes neat audio zoning features like sending navigation instructions only to the driver and creating an “audio bubble” for each passenger.

So we can be aloof and distant even within the enclosed space of a car. In another patriotic collaboration, Peugeot has even had Parisian parfumerie Ex Nihilo develop two custom scents for the e-Legend Concept.

Alas, I wasn’t able to get inside the show car at the Paris Motor Show to be able to report on exactly how immersive those fragrances are.

In terms of road-going capabilities, the Peugeot e-Legend is built around a fully electric drivetrain that delivers 340kW to the four wheels and gets it from 0–100 km/h in under four seconds.

Peugeot promises a 370-mile (600km) range, and fast charging will let you top up more than 80 percent of that in 25 minutes. Inductive charging would also be an option.

For all of its technical promises, some of which are obviously still speculative, the thing that excites me most about the e-Legend is its exterior design.

Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the thrilling car chases I’ve seen in the movies, but the look of this electric vehicle definitely lives up to Peugeot’s bold claim that “boring” isn’t in its DNA.

Whether you take the wheel or let it drive itself, a car like this would look awesome under all circumstances. And that’s important.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

2018 Aston Martin DB4 GT Continuation

Supply and demand be damned. The principle of a self-regulating market is clearly too vulgar for the rarefied world of classic Aston Martins.

The all-new, all-old “Continuation” DB4 GT—a factory-built facsimile of the original—manages to goose Adam Smith by turning the long-established economic theory on its head.

The arrival of 25 more DB4 GTs represents a substantial increase in the total supply: Just 75 were produced the first time around between 1959 and 1963.

Yet rather than depressing the values of the existing cars—not even to the equivalent of $2 million that Aston Martin Works is charging for the Continuation cars—it has actually boosted values of the originals.

Since Aston announced plans to build this car in late 2016, you’d have needed to find at least $2.5 million for a half-decent GT and even more for one of the ultra-rare Lightweights that the Continuation model is patterned after.

A 1959 example, the first built, sold last August at a Pebble Beach auction for $6.77 million.

The GT isn’t a restoration or one of those attempts at a made-better restomod. Every part is new, including frame, engine, and gearbox. Concessions have been made to safety, equivalent to those an original DB4 would need to compete in vintage racing.

The prototype we drove had a modern roll cage, racing-grade bucket seats, and six-point harnesses, plus a fire extinguisher and a battery-cutoff system.

Everything else is as the original, with the cars hand-built by Aston Martin’s in-house restoration division, Aston Martin Works, implementing the same techniques used for the originals, including hand-beaten aluminum bodywork.

Some parts have even been made by the same suppliers, more than half a century on, including the Borrani wire wheels.

Paul Spires, Aston Martin Works’ managing director, reckons about 4500 hours of work go into assembling and painting each car.

Not that improvements haven’t been made. The new cars are built to more exacting standards, after scanning of several original examples showed that they were all substantially different from one another.

The Works engineers also realized that the earliest cars had all been built with a slightly kinked chassis, possibly because they were produced at one of David Brown’s tractor plants, and this has been corrected rather than replicated.

These new cars are built at the Aston Martin Works facility in Newport Pagnell, England, making them the first “new” cars assembled there since 2007.

Panel gaps and shutlines are assembled to tighter tolerances, and the paint finish is to a far higher standard than you’d find on any car in 1959.

The Continuation has also been required to pass the same intense durability tests as Aston’s current endurance race cars, including a 2500-mile drive completed at Italy’s Nardò track last summer.

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Pass it on: Popular Science


Nuro’s Self-Driving Vehicle Is A Grocery-Getter And Errand-Runner

Not every self-driving car has to be able to move passengers from point A to point B.

Take, for example, Nuro: The startup just revealed their unique autonomous vehicle platform, which is more of a mobile small logistics platform than a self-driving car.

The company, which has been working away in stealth mode in Mountain View until now, has raised a $92 million Series A round led by Banyan Capital and Greylock Partners to help make its unique vision of autonomous transport take shape.

Nuro’s vehicle is a small, narrow box on wheels, which is about half the width of a regular car, and which is designed to be a lightweight way to get goods from a local business to a customer, or from one person to another within a neighborhood or city.

The platform is just one example of what Nuro wants to do, however; the startup bills itself as a product company focused on bringing “the benefits of robotics” to everyday use and ordinary people.

Nuro’s AV also operates completely autonomously, and looks like something you’d see on a Moon base in a retro-futuristic sci-fi show.

There’s a pin pad for user interaction, so that only the right customer can access the contents stored within, and a top-mounted sensor array that includes LiDAR, optical cameras and radar.

The young startup’s goal is to partner with businesses to set up transportation services.

You can easily imagine this slotting in nicely to something like Uber Eats, and bringing food from the local lunch spot to offices around where people are hungry but can’t make the trip out to their usual places in person.

Or, these could support Amazon’s last mile needs for in-city delivery, for example. Nuro isn’t yet talking about specific partnerships, however.

This fit-for-purpose vehicle and dedicated focus could help Nuro accomplish some of the vision that Ford has for its AV program, for instance, with potentially fewer barriers to deployment in limited markets and specifically bounded environments.

It’s still early days for the startup, however, and it’s also competing in some ways with more established young companies like Starship Robotics. Still, it’s a neat first product and an interesting vision.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Self-Driving Cars Let’s You Choose Who Survives In A Crash

One of the issues of self-driving vehicles is legal liability for death or injury in the event of an accident.

If the car maker programs the car so the driver has no choice, is it likely the company could be sued over the car’s actions.

One way around this is to shift liability to the car owner by allowing them to determine a set of values or options in the event of an accident.

People are likely to want to have the option to choose how their vehicle behaves, both in an emergency and in general, so it seems the issue of adjustable ethics will become real as robotically controlled vehicles become more common.

With self-driving vehicles already legal to drive on public roads in a growing number of US states, the trend is spreading around the world. The United Kingdom will allow these vehicles from January 2015.

Before there is widespread adoption, though, people will need to be comfortable with the idea of a computer being in full control of their vehicle.

Much progress towards this has been made already.

A growing number of cars, including mid-priced Fords, have an impressive range of accident-avoidance and driver-assist technologies like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, lane-keeping and parking assist.

People who like driving for its own sake will probably not embrace the technology.

But there are plenty of people who already love the convenience, just as they might also opt for automatic transmission over manual.

After almost 500,000km of on-road trials in the US, Google’s test cars have not been in a single accident while under computer control.

Computers have faster reaction times and do not get tired, drunk or impatient. Nor are they given to road rage.

But as accident-avoidance and driver-assist technologies become more sophisticated, some ethical issues are raising their heads.

The question of how a self-driven vehicle should react when faced with an accident where all options lead to varying numbers of deaths of people was raised earlier this month.

This is an adaptation of the “trolley problem” that ethicists use to explore the dilemma of sacrificing an innocent person to save multiple innocent people; pragmatically choosing the lesser of two evils.

An astute reader will point out that, under normal conditions, the car’s collision-avoidance system should have applied the brakes before it became a life-and-death situation.

That is true most of the time, but with cars controlled by artificial intelligence (AI), we are dealing with unforeseen events for which no design currently exists.

Let’s say the car maker is successful in deflecting liability. In that case, the user becomes solely responsible whether or not they have a well-considered code of ethics that can deal with life-and-death situations.

Code of ethics or not, in a recent survey it turns out that 44% of respondents believe they should have the option to choose how the car will behave in an emergency.

About 33% thought that government law-makers should decide. Only 12% thought the car maker should decide the ethical course of action.

In Lin’s view it falls to the car makers then to create a code of ethical conduct for robotic cars.

This may well be good enough, but if it is not, then government regulations can be introduced, including laws that limit a car maker’s liability in the same way that legal protection for vaccine makers was introduced because it is in the public interest that people be vaccinated.

In the end, are not the tools we use, including the computers that do things for us, just extensions of ourselves? If that is so, then we are ultimately responsible for the consequences of their use.

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Pass it on: New Scientist