• chevron_right

    Formula E’s most successful racer shares his ideas on racing technology / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 18:59 · 1 minute

A black formula e car is followed by a red formula e car

Enlarge / Lucas Di Grassi leads Jake Dennis in the 2022 London ePrix. (credit: Sam Bloxham/Formula E)

Formula E will close out its season this weekend with its first visit to Seoul, South Korea. It's not just the end of season eight and the last race for the Gen2 electric race cars but also marks the series' 100th race. The sport has come a long way since its first ePrix in Beijing in 2014, with more powerful cars, bigger batteries, and an ability to put on an exciting race at Monaco, something that Formula 1 hasn't been able to say for several decades.

Lucas di Grassi was the winner of that first ePrix and has raced in every ePrix since. He's still visiting victory lane, most recently in last Sunday's London ePrix, and this weekend may score his 1,000th career point in the series. With a background in Formula 1 and then Audi's mighty R18 e-tron Le Mans program , di Grassi knows his way around a race car. So he's usually a good person to talk to about the future direction of the sport.

Next season the sport gets a new car, one that's much more powerful—and lighter, too. But it's not quite as bold, technology-wise, as the concept di Grassi lobbied for . Although that car has yet to even race in anger, the various minds that contribute to Formula E's R&D road map are already thinking about Gen4 . Since we had the chance to speak with the driver ahead of this week's Seoul ePrix, I wanted to know his thoughts on where the sport should go next. As I hoped, he had plenty of them.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    Volkswagen starts building the first of six battery gigafactories / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 July - 14:20 · 1 minute

A woman wearing a hardhat and anti-shock gloves dismantles a battery pack

Enlarge / A VW worker dismantles an electric vehicle battery pack for recycling. (credit: Volkswagen)

Volkswagen Group announced on Thursday that it is consolidating its battery development and production in a new project called Mission SalzGiga. The name refers to Salzgitter in Germany, where VW has built more than 63 million internal combustion engines—it has now broken ground on a massive new battery factory at the site, the first of six planned for Europe. Each plant should be able to accommodate an annual production capacity of 40 GWh, sufficient to power 500,000 electric vehicles.

To that end, the company has set up a new Salzgitter-based business unit called PowerCo that will cover all of the automaker's global battery activities. VW says it will require more than $20.4 billion (€20 billion) in investment between now and 2030, but with an equal potential in revenue, plus the addition of 20,000 new jobs.

"In building our first in-house cell factory, we are consistently implementing our technology roadmap," said Thomas Schmall, VW board member in charge of technology. "PowerCo will become a global battery player. The company's major strength will be vertical integration from raw materials and the cell right through to recycling. In future, we will handle all the relevant activities in-house and will gain a strategic competitive advantage in the race to take the lead in e-mobility."

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    The rise and precarious reign of China’s battery king / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 29 June - 20:43 · 1 minute

Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL), poses for a photograph in Ningde, Fujian province, China, on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.

Enlarge / Zeng Yuqun, chairman of Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. (CATL), poses for a photograph in Ningde, Fujian province, China, on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. (credit: Bloomberg | Getty Images )

The headquarters of battery giant CATL tower over the coastal Chinese city of Ningde. To the untrained eye, the building resembles a huge slide rising out of the urban sprawl. It is, in fact, a giant monument to the company’s raison d'être: the lithium-ion battery pack.

You may have never heard of CATL, but you’ve definitely heard of the brands that rely on its batteries. The company supplies more than 30 percent of the world’s EV batteries and counts Tesla, Kia and BMW amongst its clients. Its founder and chairman, 54-year-old Zeng Yuqun, also known as Robin Zeng, has rapidly emerged as the industry’s kingmaker. Insiders describe Zeng as savvy, direct, and even abrasive. Under his leadership, CATL’s valuation has ballooned to 1.2 trillion Chinese yuan ($179 billion), more than General Motors and Ford combined. Part of that fortune is built on owning stakes in mining projects in China , the Democratic Republic of Congo , and Indonesia , giving CATL a tighter grip on an already strained global battery supply chain.

Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    The driving enthusiast’s dilemma with electric cars / ArsTechnica · Friday, 17 June - 15:37 · 1 minute

The driving enthusiast’s dilemma with electric cars

Enlarge (credit: Andrew Hedrick/Porsche)

As I'm fond of saying, electric motors just make cars better. Regular readers will notice that most of our automotive coverage is about electrified cars, but the other kind still represents more than 95 percent of all new cars sold in the US, so we have reason to drive a few of those from time to time as well. And when we do, it's often an exercise in frustration—even a performance car like a Porsche 911 Turbo can't match the immediate slug of torque from an electric motor doing its thing.

And that's good. Electric cars need to be the future of personal transportation if we want to avert the worst ravages of climate change, albeit only alongside everyone walking, cycling, and taking public transport more. (We could do with a comprehensive redesign of our built environment to make all that safer, too, but I realize I'm veering dangerously into a post-scarcity utopia there, whereas it currently looks like we're in the Mirror Universe .)

But the uncomfortable truth for the EV-loving driving enthusiast is that while EVs make perfect sense for getting from A to B—absent the occasional edge-case like an emergency cross-country trombone delivery—I'm not sure they're quite there yet when it comes to that last bit of fun.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    Cadillac’s electric flagship will be hand-built, use extensive 3D printing / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 16 June - 14:52

The taillight of the Celestiq show car is one of the few images Cadillac has released of its next flagship.

Enlarge / The taillight of the Celestiq show car is one of the few images Cadillac has released of its next flagship. (credit: Cadillac)

Cadillac's transformation into an all-electric vehicle brand is about to get underway. The first new Cadillac EV will be the Lyriq , which has just entered production; Ars is driving it next week, and we'll be able to tell you about it on June 28.

With a starting price of $59,990, the Lyriq looks reasonably priced to enter the competitive luxury EV SUV space. But the Cadillac EV that follows will be a much more exclusive machine. It's called the Celestiq, and so far, details are scarce ahead of a formal reveal of the show car in late July. Cadillac has said that "from first approach, the striking silhouette of the Celestiq show car leaves a lasting impression, challenging the ultra-luxury space with the spirit of futurism and the avant-garde."

On Wednesday afternoon, Cadillac revealed that it will hand-build the Celestiq and will spend $81 million to set up production at General Motors' Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    The Hummer EV is an electric truck for people who think EVs are stupid / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 7 April - 13:00 · 1 minute

A white Hummer EV

Enlarge / The 2023 Hummer EV has gone from idea to production in just two years. (credit: Jonathan Gitlin)

GMC provided two nights in a hotel and a flight from Washington, DC, to Phoenix and back so we could drive the new Hummer EV. Ars does not accept paid editorial content.

PLEASANT VALLEY, Ariz.—The headline figures verge on the ridiculous: a thousand horsepower. A curb weight so heavy that you'd need a special license to drive it in some countries. A lithium-ion battery that's almost twice the capacity of anything else on the road. A zero to 60 mph time of just three seconds. And despite the worst efficiency of any electric vehicle we've driven to date, it still has more than 300 miles of range.

If all that sounds like overkill to you, or if you already think EVs are a good idea, you are not the target audience for GMC's new Hummer EV.

Instead, GMC is positioning the Hummer EV as "an all-electric super truck with zero emissions and zero limits" (except perhaps a road's weight rating). It's meant to convert the electro-curious over from gasoline or diesel to electrons. So think "off-road recreation Rivian R1T rival" rather than "blue-collar Ford F-150 Lightning fighter."

Read 18 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    Big-battery F-150 Lighting exceeds range estimates in official EPA testing / ArsTechnica · Monday, 21 March - 17:21

A Ford F-150 Lightning drives off road with a dirt bike in the back.

Enlarge / The F-150 Lightning will be offered as a SuperCrew cab with a 5.5-foot bed. (credit: Ford)

When Ford announced the F-150 Lightning , the company's first electric pickup truck, the automaker pledged that the Lightning's $40,000 base model would travel 230 miles on a full charge—and that the extended-range model would reach 300 miles. Not too shabby for a 6,500 lb truck with a not-insignificant drag area .

It turns out that at least one of those numbers was conservative. Ford said today that the base Lightning model did reach its predicted 230 miles under EPA testing and that the extended-range model sailed past estimates to reach 320 miles.

“We are laser focused on continually improving our energy consumption efficiency for Lightning, and the team is really happy to deliver these results for our customers,” said Linda Zhang, the trucks’s chief program engineer.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

  • chevron_right

    Slinky, stylish Audi A6 Avant e-tron previews future EV station wagon / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 16 March - 23:01

Audi A6 Avant e-tron concept front

Enlarge / Audi designers closed off the grille for better aerodynamics without eliminating the company's trademark front end. Owners can customize the daytime running lights using the matrix LED headlights. (credit: Audi )

Today, Audi answered a question that many enthusiasts have been asking for years—when will they be releasing an electric station wagon? The company has a long history of producing lusty “Avant” models, and the brand’s new electric endeavors made such a car seem inevitable. But Audi has been mum on the topic—until now.

Today, Audi unveiled the A6 Avant e-tron. While this vehicle may be called a concept, it strongly hints at the production version due in 2024. Audi designers said the final wagon won’t deviate much from what you see here. And from our perspective, that’s not a bad thing.

“I can promise you that a lot of what you see now will be available on the road,” said Wolf Seebers, who led the car’s exterior design.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments