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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ford, General Motors and Toyota Motor

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 24, 2017 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Ford (NYSE: F – Free Report ), General Motors (NYSE: GM – Free Report ) and Toyota Motor (NYSE: TM – Free Report ).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

Shanghai Auto Show Goes Electric

The Shanghai Auto Show has opened to the public today and will continue through Apr 28. It is a huge affair with over a thousand automakers participating and expected to attract over 100X that number in car enthusiasts. There will be 1,400 cars on exhibition, of which 159 will be new energy vehicles (NEVs), including fully electric and hybrid cars. Given the Chinese government’s focus on clean energy, 96 of these 159 cars will be of Chinese make and the rest of foreign make.

A Little Background

Today, China is the world’s largest auto market having lapped up 28 million cars in 2016 itself. Four-wheel SUVs were 40% of this while NEVs were less than 2%. The reason for low NEV sales is similar to the U.S.: less variety, limited distribution and relatively cheaper fuel costs boosting demand for SUVs. This year, the Chinese government might be the cause of a fourth reason: reduced subsidies on green cars by a fifth to ultimately phase out subsidies altogether by 2020 with the goal of creating an independent EV market (this will, however, increase cost of manufacturing and therefore raise prices).

This year, the Chinese auto market growth rate is expected to drop off from last year’s 13.7%, but it will still be a decent 5%, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The drop-off isn’t so much a question of weaker demand as the fact that tax incentives on smaller engine cars are being rolled back.

It isn’t clear what percentage of this year’s sales will be NEVs. But it’s worth noting that China is also the world’s largest market for fully electric cars having grown 65% last year to 400,000 units (state-owned Beijing Automotive Group and Warren Buffett-backed BYD were the largest players). Moreover, in September, the government proposed a credit system that would require automakers to make NEVs 8% of sales this year, going up to 10% in 2019 and 12% in 2020 (a downward revision in these targets is expected).

Bottom line: Automakers have to balance the high demand for SUVs with the government demand for NEVs while factoring in the increased cost/lower subsidy. It’s expected that more stringent fuel efficiency standards will in any case drive manufacturers to greener alternatives.

Tales from the Show

Not all cars are production ready, and where they’re not, there are promises of things to come over the next few years:

Ford : Ford (NYSE:F – Free Report ) expects to launch a plug-in hybrid sedan called the Mondeo Energi by 2018 and is also working on a fully electric SUV over the next five years. Its luxury brand Lincoln launched its first gasoline-electric hybrid based on the MKZ midsize sedan model. It also had a concept SUV called Navigator that will start selling later this year.

Ford has a Chinese JV partner in Chongqing Changan Automobile Co Ltd., with which it expects to launch hybrid or fully electric versions of all models built in China by 2025. But the company isn’t in any hurry with company executives maintaining that the volume of cars sold is dependent on things like government subsidies, regulatory policy, as well as cost and refueling speeds of these vehicles.

General Motors : General Motors (NYSE: GM – Free Report ), which operates in China through a JV with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industries Corp (SAIC) announced the Buick Velite 5 plug-in hybrid. The Buick is very popular in China as a premium brand but GM will be discounting it by 36,000 yuan ($5,233) because of uncertainties about the amount of government subsidy that may be allowed this year. GM is targeting the launch of at least 10 NEVs by 2020 and has already built a battery assembly plant in Shanghai to deliver battery packs next year.

Volkswagen : The Volkswagen I.D. Crozz four-door coupe-style vehicle will also have self-driving technology. It expects to have 13 NEV models by 2020 and 30 by 2025, by which time it expects to sell a million cars annually. The company is also in talks with Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC) to form an NEV JV in China.

Audi : The company showcased the e-tron Sportback electric car concept that will launch in 2019, after the electric SUV called e-tron that is expected to launch next year. The car uses Volkswagen Group’s C-BEV electric car platform. Earlier, the company said that it would have three electric cars by 2020 and thirty by 2025.

Toyota : Toyota Motor (NYSE:TM – Free Report ) will begin testing its hydrogen fuel cell concept later this year with the tests expected to continue through 2020. As part of the project, it will open a hydrogen refueling station at its Chinese RD center to take care of fueling aspects. Hydrogen cars emit only water vapor, so they are very good for the environment. As a result, Toyota has made this technology a key part of its long-range powertrain plans.

The company also has plans for the EV segment where it plans to build plug-in hybrids at home in Japan and then sell into the Chinese market. The hybrids are expected to ship next year, but the company hasn’t yet allotted a timeline for its fully electric offerings.

Renault : The French company showed off the RS2027 Vision concept car for formula one racing in ten years from now.

Lynk Co : The Chinese company’s Volvo Cars brand, bought from Ford in 2010, will launch an all-electric car based on the economy-size CMA platform in China and the rest of the world. The car will start selling in 2019.

Conclusion

China is the world’s largest auto market and also one of the fastest growing. Plus government initiatives to drive NEVs are creating a new market. But because of the protectionist economy, many of the largest car makers are partnering with local players including government-owned entities. This definitely seems like the way to go.

Will You Make a Fortune on the Shift to Electric Cars?

Here’s another stock idea to consider. Much like petroleum 150 years ago, lithium power may soon shake the world, creating millionaires and reshaping geo-politics. Soon electric vehicles (EVs) may be cheaper than gas guzzlers. Some are already reaching 265 miles on a single charge.

With battery prices plummeting and charging stations set to multiply, one company stands out as the #1 stock to buy according to Zacks research.

It’s not the one you think.

See This Ticker Free

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About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They’re virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today’s 220 Zacks Rank #1 “Strong Buys” were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free .

Get the full Report on F – FREE

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Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.

Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

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support@zacks.com

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The SP 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
Ford Motor Company (F): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
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Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zacks-analyst-blog-highlights-ford-133001186.html

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Apple, Alphabet, Ford and Tesla

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 25, 2017 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL – Free Report ), Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL – Free Report ), Ford (NYSE: F – Free Report ) and Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA – Free Report ).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free .

Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

Will Self-Driving Cars Push Apple (AAPL) to New Highs?

Reuters said that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL – Free Report ) has “outlined” a plan to “train” self-driving car operators, giving an insight into its closely guarded self driving car/technology efforts. Reuters cited documents released exclusively to it by California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

For a while now, there has been tremendous speculation about Apple’s autonomous car technology development efforts, which is apparently codenamed Project Titan. As usual, Apple has refrained from commenting on the matter so far as it loves to maintain secrecy regarding projects it’s working on.

Per latest report from Reuters, Apple’s 41 page application submitted to DMV, CA, comprises a 10 page training plan that includes a document called “Automated System: Development Platform Specific Training Overview.” The objective of Automated System: Development Platform Specific Training Overview is “to train safety drivers in various automated driving conditions,” Reuters further adds. However, these documents don’t reveal a lot of things, like the kind of sensors attached to the vehicles or the self driving car platform mechanism.

Last week, it was reported that Apple had secured a permit to test self-driving vehicles. The permit is issued to test drive three vehicles (2015 Lexus RX450h models) with two drivers each, added DMV.

Apple’s Project Titan has been in the news since 2014–2015. Initially, it was reported that Apple was working on an “iCar.” There were numerous reports of the company making sound talent acquisitions as well as collaborating with the likes of BMW for the car design. VP of Product Design, Steve Zadesky was permitted to set up a 1K strong workforce for the project.

Later on, the “iCar” rumors lost steam as the project was reportedly marred by conflicts and management troubles. Following this, Apple decided to prune some of its 1K strong workforce assigned to the project. In Jan 2016, with the resignation of Zadesky, things became more blurred. However, reportedly, Bob Mansfield was brought on board to once again spearhead the project in July 2016.

It is now speculated that Apple may not be designing a full fledged car but an autonomous self driving car technology platform.

Apple’s fortunes remain tied to its flagship offering, iPhone, at least in the near term. With iPhone 7 and 7 Plus performing relatively well and the excitement building up for iPhone 8 (dubbed as a super cycle), Apple can breathe easy.

However, increasing competition from cheaper handsets is emerging as a big concern. Apple is under great pressure to introduce new products. Apple Pay, Apple Watch, Apple Music are some of the new ventures undertaken by the company.

Also, revenues from App Store are growing. Apple is also working on developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality/ virtual reality (AR/VR), which are fast emerging as lucrative business opportunities. The company’s interest in the autonomous car project is understandable as this is now being labeled as a big business opportunity.

According to Boston Consulting Group estimates, the autonomous car market will be worth $42 billion by 2025 and $77 billion by 2035. Per Statista, the market for fully autonomous vehicles will grow to almost $6 billion while partially autonomous vehicles market will reach $36 billion by 2025.

Self-driving technology gained immense importance in the past few years with tech and auto behemoths like Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL – Free Report ), Ford (NYSE:F – Free Report ), Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA – Free Report ), Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, Uber and Lyft directing resources to develop this technology.

However, analysts are skeptical about self-driving cars being feasible before 2020, at least.

Zacks Rank and Stock Price Movement

Currently, Apple has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

Over the past year, shares of Apple have registered growth of 35.40% compared with the Zacks categorized Computer Mini industry’s gain of 34.86%.

More Stock News: This Is Bigger than the iPhone!

It could become the mother of all technological revolutions. Apple sold a mere 1 billion iPhones in 10 years but a new breakthrough is expected to generate more than 27 billion devices in just 3 years, creating a $1.7 trillion market. Zacks has just released a Special Report that spotlights this fast-emerging phenomenon and 6 tickers for taking advantage of it. If you don’t buy now, you may kick yourself in 2020. Click here for the 6 trades

Today, Zacks is promoting its ”Buy” stock recommendations. Get #1 Stock of the Day pick for free .

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Strong Stocks that Should Be in the News

Many are little publicized and fly under the Wall Street radar. They’re virtually unknown to the general public. Yet today’s 220 Zacks Rank #1 “Strong Buys” were generated by the stock-picking system that has nearly tripled the market from 1988 through 2015. Its average gain has been a stellar +26% per year. See these high-potential stocks free .

Get the full Report on AAPL – FREE

Get the full Report on GOOGL – FREE

Get the full Report on F – FREE

Get the full Report on TSLA – FREE

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/zacksresearch

Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Zacks-Investment-Research/57553657748?ref=ts

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.

Media Contact

Zacks Investment Research

800-767-3771 ext. 9339

support@zacks.com

https://www.zacks.com/

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The SP 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit https://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
Apple Inc. (AAPL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Ford Motor Company (F): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Tesla Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
Zacks Investment Research

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/zacks-analyst-blog-highlights-apple-133001590.html

2017 Honda Civic Type R Sets FWD Nurburgring Lap Record [Video]

2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-1082017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-108

Like the tech industry’s lightning-fast progression, the auto industry’s titles for Best, Fastest, or Quickest car are prestigious but often fleeting. Just ask the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport S; its record as the fastest front-wheel-drive production car to lap the Nürburgring has just been crushed by the 2017 Honda Civic Type R, only months after it was set last October.

The Japanese automaker claims that the all-new Type R lapped the 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife in just 7:43.80. That is 3.39 seconds faster than the limited-run Golf GTI Clubsport S and 6.83 seconds faster than the previous-generation Europe-market Civic Type R, which had held the record before the Clubsport flared its nostrils (twice). There is one catch, however.

2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-1102017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-110

This Type R was a preproduction development vehicle that Honda claims was “technically representative of production specification.” It wore Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires at the Nürburgring, Honda said, although the production model will get Continental ContiSportContact 6 performance tires as standard (Honda won’t yet say whether the Michelins will be a factory option in the U.S.). For safety purposes, a full floating roll cage was added to the Type R, but it supposedly did not add any extra rigidity to the vehicle. The added weight of the cage was offset by the removal of the display audio system and rear seats. Sticklers might take issue with that type of asterisk; we saw with the Lamborghini Huracán Performante just how skeptical people are of claims surrounding these records.

The heart of the new Type R is a U.S.-made 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is paired with a six-speed manual transmission. And although some people have already been complaining that that’s not enough power, it’s the hot hatchback’s handling dynamics that really allow it to excel. The Type R is a claimed 38 percent torsionally stiffer than the previous generation.

“The cornering speed achieved in the new Type R is higher because the car features a wider track and tires, a longer wheelbase, a new multilink suspension in the rear, and optimized aerodynamics that improve stability,” the lead chassis engineer for the Honda Civic Type R, Ryuichi Kijima, said in a release. “For example, drivers typically enter the corner after Metzgesfeld at around 93 mph. Even at this medium-speed corner, the speed is around 6 mph higher due to the new Type R’s excellent stability. So, with improved cornering performance, we can increase the speed throughout the lap, helping the new Type R to achieve a much quicker lap time.”

Honda has yet to even release zero-to-60-mph times for the Type R, so this is the first indication of what the car is capable of.  With video below to document the accomplishment, it’s safe to say fanboys will be lining up for the Type R once it goes on sale later this spring.

2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-REEL2017-Honda-Civic-Type-R-REEL

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/2017-honda-civic-type-r-sets-fwd-nurburgring-lap-record-video/

Developing hydrogen beyond the car market

Japan dreams of a hydrogen society

TOKYO — What will Japan’s hydrogen society look like beyond the car market?

Imagine a city where houses and businesses have their own on-site fuel cell stacks that turn hydrogen into electricity for lights, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners.

Japan calls these cogeneration systems “ene-farms.”

The country began deploying ene-farms in 2009, and some 200,000 residential ones are already in operation today, connected to the municipal gas supply. The first step is reforming that gas into hydrogen. The hydrogen is then fed into the fuel stack in a process that generates heat and electricity. The electricity powers the house while the heat helps generate hot water.

Japan’s goal is to have 1.4 million ene-farms for residential use by 2020 and 5.3 million by 2030. Japan will introduce them for commercial and industrial use this year.

Cost is key. The 2020 target assumes a cost structure that will allow buyers of the ene-farms to recoup their investment within seven or eight years. By 2030, the goal is to shrink that time to five years.

In the intermediate term, ene-farms will convert natural gas to hydrogen on-site. But long term, as demand grows, Japan envisions replacing its infrastructure of natural gas pipelines with hydrogen pipelines. That would feed hydrogen directly into homes and businesses.

Meanwhile, as consumers slowly warm up to the idea of hydrogen for their daily driving, Japan plans to introduce hydrogen fuel cell buses, forklifts and other industrial vehicles, such as those that pull planes at airports.

The idea is to simultaneously drive down the costs of making fuel cell powertrain components and boost demand for fuel and fueling stations.

Tokyo launched its first hydrogen fuel cell city bus in March, a 77-seater made by Toyota. It is the first of some 100 fuel cell buses Tokyo wants in operation by the time the capital city hosts the 2020 Summer Olympics, to shuttle visitors and athletes. Toyota, a top sponsor of the games and a leading proponent of fuel cell technology, has a big stake in making it happen.

The bus shows how Toyota aims to eke out economies of scale wherever it can, by sharing components already developed for the four-seat Mirai fuel cell sedan. Each hydrogen bus, for instance, uses two of the Mirai’s fuel cell stacks and 10 of its high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

And by logging long routes every day, buses are a key demand driver. One bus, for example, uses as much hydrogen fuel in a year as 45 fuel cell cars such as the Mirai, said Taiyo Kawai, a hydrogen fuel cell general manager at Toyota’s rd management division.

“The impact of the fuel cell buses is very significant because it spurs demand for fuel,” said Kawai. “We can’t achieve cost performance if we manufacture fuel cells just for vehicles.”

Meanwhile, a Japanese consortium, including the cities of Yokohama and Kawa-saki as well as Toshiba Corp. and Japanese energy company Iwatani Corp., launched a test fleet of hydrogen-powered forklifts last year to service warehouses and factories along the Tokyo Bay waterfront.

It helps that Toyota Group company Toyota Industries Corp. is the world’s biggest manufacturer of forklifts. A Toyota executive projected last year that there could be as many as 100,000 of these industrial vehicles powered by fuel cells in use here by 2030.

Article source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20170424/OEM06/304249967/developing-hydrogen-beyond-the-car-market

4 Cars Complete Race without a Human Driver

Article source: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/plugged-in/4-cars-complete-race-without-a-human-driver/

Second Officer: Honda Pilot Might Spawn Cheaper Two-Row Variant

2016 Honda Pilot Elite AWD

Honda might expand the Pilot crossover lineup by, well, shrinking it. According to a report from WardsAuto, a new, smaller version of the Pilot is in the works to fill the gap between it and the smaller CR-V. The new junior Pilot apparently will have a shorter wheelbase and only two rows of seats as opposed to the current model,  which comes standard with three rows. Adding a smaller version could drop the Pilot’s starting price below $30,000 and give Honda a more direct competitor against two-row crossovers such as the Ford Edge and the Nissan Murano.

This new model could end up sharing the Pilot name in the same way that Hyundai offers the three-row Santa Fe and the two-row Santa Fe Sport. A wheelbase somewhere in between the CR-V’s 104.7-inch stretch and the Pilot’s 111.0-inch figure would likely end up close to the Santa Fe Sport’s 106.3-inch wheelbase.

Honda has otherwise hinted at an expansion of its crossover lineup recently: Last month, the company announced an $85 million expansion of the Lincoln, Alabama,  plant that builds the Pilot. The investment is for greater production and, as Honda said in a statement, “future models.” With construction scheduled to finish sometime next year, it may not be too long until this new junior Pilot hits showrooms.


Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/second-officer-honda-pilot-might-spawn-cheaper-two-row-variant/

Electric Semis Won’t Just Be Cleaner, They’ll Be Quicker [Video]

Toyota hydrogen fuel cell-semi

When Tesla introduced its Ludicrous mode, that might have been the turning point for some to see electric cars in a new light. Soon, however, semi-trucks might become the greatest evangelists for the merits of electric powertrains, and for the same reason: because electric semis could be a heck of a lot quicker. 

Case in point: Toyota’s Project Portal heavy-duty semi-truck, revealed this week, leaves its diesel-drinking cousin in a cloud of . . . well, nothing except a little water vapor. And it makes a strong argument for electric powertrains in semis, whether fed by hydrogen fuel cells or battery packs.

As shown in the video below, the hydrogen-fuel-cell-powered electric semi, loaded with cargo to a gross vehicle weight of 35,000 pounds, took 8.9 seconds to go approximately 400 feet—that’s about a third of a quarter-mile, for those familiar with the drag strip—versus 14.6 seconds for an equivalent Class 8 diesel truck carrying the same load.

According to Takehito Yokoo, senior executive engineer with Toyota Motor Research Development, there are two things that allow the fuel-cell truck to beat the diesel so soundly, especially at lower speeds. One of them is gearing. Diesel semis can have gearboxes with up to 18 speeds and need to be kept in a relatively narrow rev range—often 1300 to 1500 rpm—for best acceleration. The fuel-cell truck, on the other hand, is a fixie; its set reduction ratio of about 15.5:1 gives it good motor pull from a start and allows it to cruise at a normal U.S. highway speed.

Also key to the Toyota project’s strong (and almost silent) performance is a 12-kWh battery pack that behaves almost like a capacitor, recharging during lower load conditions and discharging rapidly to release an extra 200 kW at full throttle, for about a minute, adding to the two fuel-cell stacks’ combined 228 kW and contributing to the motor system’s 670 horsepower and 1325 lb-ft of torque.

Faster-moving semis could increase the efficiency of the rest of us, too, easing congestion on urban freeways, where merging semis can clog the right lane. Electrified heavy-duty hauling might not be ludicrous at all.

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/electric-semis-wont-just-be-cleaner-theyll-be-quicker-video/

WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Car broken into; bicycle found

In West Seattle Crime Watch, two reader reports:

CAR BROKEN INTO: Ashley reports, “My boyfriend’s 2013 Mazda CX-5 was broken into on 41st and Edmunds, they went through everything, only took some change. Just wanted to give anyone else who parks on that street a heads up.”

BICYCLE FOUND: From Jason, the photo and report:

Picture attached of a bike, probably stolen and ditched, without a seat. Been sitting just south of the pedestrian bridge on Fauntleroy Andover for a couple of days.

Article source: http://westseattleblog.com/2017/04/west-seattle-crime-watch-car-broken-into-bicycle-found/

Simu-Stick: How the “Manual” Transmission Could Be Saved

Simu-Stick: How the Manual Transmission Could Be Saved

Diminishing take rates haven’t curbed our enthusiasm for stick-shift automobiles. The fact is, our latest brainstorm could invigorate our Save the Manuals! agenda.

Carmakers no longer have the luxury of designing, engineering, manufacturing, and certifying two totally different transmissions to serve every customer whim, especially when they know their stick-shift sales will be modest. So our idea is to assign a conventional dual-clutch automatic transmission to the dark reaches of every vehicle. To provide a choice between stick and automatic shifting, the cockpit would be outfitted with what looks, feels, and acts like manual or automatic controls.

It’s a snap for the automatic half of the equation. Provide the usual console lever along with paddles near the steering wheel to offer the driver fully automatic operation when that’s preferred, with the option of going crazy with their own gear selections when traffic-free mountain passes are the venue. This is the new SOP for any car or crossover with sporting intentions.

Imitating a manual transmission demands creativity. As noted above, the box of clutches, gears, shafts, and servos living under the floor is, for all intents, identical to the automatic edition. The difference is mainly control-strategy software plus a fresh approach for the clutch-pedal and stick-shift mechanisms.

The third pedal becomes a clutch-by-wire device. When it’s activated by the driver’s left foot during launch and while shifting, an electrical message is dispatched to the dual-clutch transmission’s controller in lieu of a mechanical or hydraulic signal. That’s trivial. The challenge is contriving a means of providing driver feedback replicating a conventional clutch. This can be done with a computer-controlled servomotor, but tuning such a device is an engineering project.

Porsche 7-speed Manual and 7-speed PDK Automatic Transmissions

Now turn your attention to the shifter. This also becomes a by-wire mechanism linked electrically, not mechanically, to the transmission controller. Imagine a metal box mounted securely to the center tunnel and covered by a familiar H-pattern plate with a shift lever sprouting out the top. The cool stuff lives inside the box. Electrical contacts note which gear position has been selected, info that is sent by wire to the transmission controller. To give the shift lever a convincing feel, it moves through the H pattern exactly as if it were attached to a manual gearbox. Springs and the ball detents found inside conventional manual transmissions would be fitted and tuned to accurately mimic stick-shift sensations. The stick itself could be toggle-switch tiny or as long as the one your great-grandpa used in his ’39 Ford, depending on the manufacturer’s motives.

Our concept does have some historical precedents. Porsche’s Sportomatic transmissions, available from 1968 through 1980, combined a four-speed manual transmission with a torque converter and a conventional clutch to provide one-hand operation with no clutch pedal or foot action required. Touching the shift lever cued a servo-controlled clutch. Several other European brands shared this approach to semi-automatic transmissions. Tiptronic, Porsche’s better idea that arrived in 1990, used thumb switches (later superseded by paddles) to manually control an otherwise conventional four-speed torque-converter automatic, with manual and automatic modes available at the console lever. The PDK dual-clutch automatic and seven-speed manual transmissions currently available in Porsche 911s share a basic case design and several internal components.

Instead of applying for a patent covering this “technology,” we hereby bestow our Simu-Stick idea to any and all carmakers interested in pursuing its use. From our point of view, every manual saved is a manual earned, even electronic ones.

Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/simu-stick-how-the-manual-transmission-could-be-saved/

Volkswagen Sentenced for Conspiracy and Fraud; Penalties Total $4.3 Billion

2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Volkswagen was sentenced Friday in federal court after pleading guilty in January to multiple criminal charges and $4.3 billion in penalties surrounding its diesel emissions scandal.

The sentence, read by U.S. district judge Sean Cox in Detroit, formalizes the company’s plea to pay $2.8 billion for criminal charges including “conspiracy to defraud the United States” in violation of the Clean Air Act, obstruction of justice for “destroying documents related to the scheme,” and making false statements about emissions compliance on importing all 590,000 affected cars into the United States. VW must now pay an additional $1.45 billion to settle civil violations with the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Lastly, VW will pay a $50 million civil fine for violation of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act for underwriting loans and leases for the affected cars. Larry D. Thompson, a former deputy U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush, will oversee VW as a corporate compliance monitor for the next three years. According to Automotive News, without the plea agreement VW might have faced a penalty of $17 billion to $34 billion.

“The laborer at VW is going to lose millions of euros in bonus money,” Cox was quoted as saying during the hearing. “The bonuses have shrunk and will shrink because of the billions of dollars VW has had to pay because of the fraud.”

Cox said he doesn’t think VW will end up in criminal court again after this.

“Hopefully, the other corporations involved in the manufacture and supply of automobiles will learn from this and think twice,” he said.


Article source: http://blog.caranddriver.com/volkswagen-sentenced-for-conspiracy-and-fraud-penalties-total-4-3-billion/