Hyundai, Kia to put solar panels on vehicle roofs

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Hyundai Motor Group said Wednesday that future Hyundai and Kia models will be equipped with solar panels capable of generating electricity as a way to increase fuel-efficiency and range and lower CO2 emissions.

Hyundai says the solar panels will feature in the rooftops or hoods of select vehicles “after 2019” and will supplement traditional internal combustion, hybrid and battery-electric vehicles. The parent group said it’s developing three different types of solar roof charging systems comprised of a solar panel, controller and battery.

The first generation will be a silicon solar panel system mounted to the rooftops of hybrid models and capable of charging 30 to 60 percent of the battery per day, depending on weather conditions and other factors, starting as early as 2020. The second generation involves a semi-transparent solar roof system applied to a panoramic sunroof and capable of charging an electric-vehicle battery or a battery mounted on a gasoline engine. Hyundai says the latter configuration will help it increase vehicle exports, since solar-equipped ICE vehicles will be able to adhere to regulations limiting CO2 emissions.

A third-generation system is being tested right now. It will add solar production capability in the hood and roof of EVs – but the companies don’t provide more detail than that at this moment.

“In the future, various types of electricity-generating technologies, including the solar charging system, will be connected to vehicles,” said Jeong-Gil Park, executive vice president of engineering design at Hyundai Motor Group. “This will enable them to develop from a passive device that consumes energy to a solution that actively generates energy. The paradigm of the vehicle owner will shift from that of a consumer to an energy prosumer.”

To date, solar vehicle charging technology has mostly been for light-duty tasks, like cooling off the interior or trickle-charging a conventional battery, such as the system offered in the previous Nissan Leaf. Systems that do more than this have typically come with a very steep pricetag for modest capabilities. Panasonic has developed a 180-watt solar roof available for the Japanese version of the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid that is capable of adding up to 3.7 miles of range per day – at an unspecified (as of this writing) but undoubtedly high cost. Elon Musk, unsurprisingly, has also discussed making a solar roof optional for the Tesla Model 3. Karma revived the Fisker Revero plug-in hybrid as its own nameplate, complete with a solar roof. And Audi has worked with a Chinese firm to develop solar cells into a sunroof for an upcoming EV.

Considering the modest output of solar panels small enough to fit on a vehicle’s roof, and the high cost, it’ll be interesting to see whether Hyundai and Kia can make a practical argument for this move, or if it’s just a marketing move. Then again, all the easy efficiency plays have already been made, and any tiny gain adds up.

[Source: Autoblog]

Jeep Scrambler truck to debut at L.A. Auto Show next month

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Jeep is planning to premiere a pickup truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month. We all know what that means: It’s Scrambler time, folks. This news comes courtesy of a press release talking about the show in general. It casually mentions that “a pickup truck from Jeep” is coming. Up until now, we weren’t sure when the Wrangler-based pickup would make its debut, but that’s not a problem anymore. There sure aren’t any other pickups from Jeep in the works we know about.

The release details a few other debuts happening at L.A. as well. Audi confirmed we’ll be seeing the E-Tron GT four-door concept. Mitsubishi is planning to show off a new concept car — it better not be an SUV with any Evo references. Hyundai is debuting an “all new” vehicle, and Kia is apparently planning on multiple new vehicle debuts.

All of that is great, but the biggest splash is almost guaranteed to be the highly anticipated Scrambler. Everything is still speculation, but we’re expecting the Jeep truck to offer both the Wrangler V6 and turbo four-cylinder powertrains at launch. We anticipate a diesel showing up at some point down the road, but almost certainly not at this auto show.

L.A. mostly plays host to a whole lot of mobility pod news, but there are always a few big reveals like this one. Porsche fans will be able to see the 992-generation 911 on the show floor that we’ve already seen about 10 times over in spy photos too.

[Source: Autoblog]

2020 Ram Heavy Duty spy shots show updated lighting and new grille

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We saw the all-new 2019 Ram 1500 nearly a year ago, but we have yet to get a full look at the new heavy-duty models, the Ram 2500 and Ram 3500. We’ve seen a number of spy shots of the new truck — including the new Power Wagon — but it’s been hard to make out details through the camouflage. These new spy photos give us our best look yet at the new heavy-duty pickup’s exterior.

The Ram 3500 pictured here appears to have the updated headlights and taillights from the Ram 1500. There are multiple headlight designs on the 1500, each depending on trim, so expect a similar variation on the Heavy Duty models as well. The grille, too, appears to have ditched the crosshair in favor of the new “RAM” badge in large lettering. One photo shows a single-pane sunroof, so it’s unclear if the Ram 1500 Limited’s panoramic glass will carry upward. One other notable addition is power-retracting running boards.

While we don’t have a good look at the truck’s interior, past spy photos show that the Ram 1500’s dashboard will carry over. We’re hoping the rest of the truck’s interior makes its way to the 2500 and 3500 models, too, as it’s easily the best-in-class for the current crop of trucks. Stay tuned for more news on the new Ram trucks in the next few months.

[Source: Autoblog]

2019 Ford Series 1 Mustang RTR arrives with Vaughn Gittin Jr. drift car looks

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Ford is offering a limited-edition Mustang for 2019 called the Series 1 Mustang RTR. Built as a collaboration with Vaughn Gittin Jr. and his RTR team, the car consists mostly of aesthetic modifications to a Performance Pack 1-equipped Mustang GT or EcoBoost.

The one big performance enhancement it does get, though, is a Ford Performance suspension with adjustable sway bars. When you see Gittin Jr., it’s normally in a Mustang sliding sideways, so that’s why this Mustang gets the adjustable suspension. You can set it up to best suit track time, drifting, drag strip runs or normal road driving. It’s compatible with both the standard shocks and MagneRide suspension option. A 19-inch wheel package finishes the running gear changes.

To set it apart from your run-of-the-mill Mustangs, the Series 1 changes up the front end design with an RTR grille, lighting and graphics package. An aero package is highlighted by a spoiler with an RTR gurney flap. Of course, there are plenty of RTR badges throughout, and you get a serialized dash plaque for authenticity. There will only be 500 Series 1 Mustang RTRs made for the 2019 model year.

This whole package will be treated as a dealer installed option, and comes with the normal Ford warranty for the Mustang. It’s slated to be available at dealerships in early 2019 for the time being. Chances are that buying this won’t turn you into a drifter like Gittin Jr., but you can get a Mustang with some of the looks now.

[Source: Autoblog]

With Ram truck sales surging, FCA may continue production in Mexico

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ new CEO is tired of being No. 3 in U.S. pickup truck sales.

With a strategy of loading up its revamped Ram 1500 full-size trucks with new features — ranging from 12-inch touchscreens on the dashboard to large battery packs and 48-volt electric motors to help adjust speed and gears and conserve fuel — the automaker is banking on a sustained surge in demand.

So Chief Executive Mike Manley is now reconsidering a decision announced in January to stop building Ram Heavy Duty pickups at a plant in Saltillo, Mexico. That plant, and another in Warren, Michigan, between them would produce other Ram models and free up manufacturing capacity to make even more new trucks to eat into sales of Ford’s F-Series or General Motors’ Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

“We need to get ourselves into second” place, Manley told Reuters exclusively in his first interview since taking over the No. 7 global automaker after Sergio Marchionne died suddenly. “Frankly, I don’t care which of the two I take share from.”

U.S. pickup sales

When U.S. President Donald Trump was threatening action that would have imposed a 25 percent tariff on Mexican-made pickup trucks earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler said Saltillo would be “repurposed to produce future commercial vehicles.”

In 2017, Marchionne had raised the possibility his company could move heavy-duty pickup production out of Saltillo, saying U.S. tax and trade policy would influence the decision.

Now, the United States, Mexico and Canada have a tentative trade agreement that imposes no ceiling on shipments of pickups to the United States from Mexico, provided they meet thresholds for the share of parts produced within the region.

“With a combination of Warren and Mexico building what we call the classic truck, we have enough production to increase output next year if it’s required,” Manley said. “In my opinion it will be required. We are gaining share. Obviously I am looking for that to continue, but it’s an incredibly competitive segment,” he added.

Three-way fight

The new Ram 1500, meanwhile, is built at Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, also in the Detroit area.

The Ram and Jeep brands underpin the automaker’s North American business — which accounted for nearly 85 percent of Fiat Chrysler’s second-quarter pre-tax profit — and offset the struggles of its legacy Fiat business in Europe and operations in China.

Ford’s F-Series trucks have led the segment for four decades. In 2017, Ford had a 35.6 percent share of U.S. retail truck sales, followed closely by GM at 34.2 percent and FCA with 22.3 percent.

Pickup trucks are the single biggest contributor to the Detroit Big Three automakers’ profits, so there is plenty at stake as they fight for market share.

In the battle for pickup customers, GM launched a new version of its Silverado truck designed with a focus on slashing weight and trimming production costs to compete with market leader Ford.

Fiat Chrysler, which reports third-quarter results on Tuesday, took a different tack with the new Ram. The automaker stuffed more features into the vehicle — including an optional 12-inch touch screen and partial electrification that saves fuel and helps with acceleration and cruise control — on a bet that customers would pay more in return.

So far, the gamble appears to be paying off. The new Ram 1500’s average sale price for the year to date through late October hit $46,856, higher than the $42,389 average for the Ford F-150, according to industry data.

Hayden Elder, owner of Elder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Athens, Texas, said three times in under a month he has had families trade in nearly-new large SUVs made by FCA’s rivals for a new Ram 1500.

“This new Ram is the biggest leap I’ve ever seen from one version to another,” Elder said. About 70 percent of the 800 vehicles he sells annually are trucks.

‘Haven’t found the ceiling yet’

Phil Jansen, Fiat Chrysler’s head of product development, said when his team began redesigning the Ram 1500, they decided a lighter, all-aluminum body — which Ford uses for its trucks — was too expensive. GM executives reached the same conclusion.

But Fiat Chrysler took a chance that GM did not, and added a large battery pack and electric motor that assist with acceleration and shifting, plus deliver a smooth start-stop function that idles the engine when stopped in traffic, boosting fuel economy.

“It can save about this much fuel at an average stop,” said FCA electrification manager Brian Spohn, holding up a small tumbler of water.

The decision to offer a larger dashboard screen than its rivals have came late in the design process. Initially, the big screen was offered in the top three of the truck’s six versions. Fiat Chrysler has since decided to offer it on an additional version.

Demand is so high, the company has pushed the screen’s supplier for as many screens as it can provide, according to a source familiar with production plans.

“We haven’t found the ceiling yet” for what U.S. customers are willing to pay for additional features, said Jim Morrison, head of the Ram brand in North America.

Fiat Chrysler had problems earlier this year accelerating production of the new Ram truck on a highly-automated production line installed at Sterling Heights, which previously made slow-selling sedans.

Among the problems: Dropped bolts and other debris would shut down automated vehicles that carried truck frames through part of the assembly process. The solution was to put debris-sweeping skirts on the carriers, FCA executives said on a recent tour of the plant.

Now, the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant is cranking out around 65 trucks an hour, 20 hours a day, six days a week — a pace of about 400,000 vehicles per year.

“It is capable, if we wanted to, to push it up more from there,” Manley told Reuters. “Clearly, having the capacity to fulfill our ambitions is important.”

Reporting By Nick Carey

[Source: Autoblog]

Hyundai N Performance division working on ‘exotic’ halo model like the RM16

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This is the year of Hyundai N Performance. After three official launches, the division’s leadership has made imprecise noises about a halo car since this summer. Brand boss Albert Biermann said, “Right now, we don’t need a halo car in N. We have to get in a routine with N cars, and not just hit a peak.” Around the same time, VP Thomas Schmera said, “Rest assured we are coming up with something,” that something being a halo car. Reports expected either a two-seat coupe or a four-door sedan like the Kia Stinger. In a recent interview with AutoRAI, Schmera narrowed the focus, saying, “Think of the Hyundai RM16 and you have a bit of an idea of ​​what is possible.”

The RM16 is the third iteration of the mid-engined Veloster RM first showed at the Busan Motor Show in 2014. In 2015 the RM15 debuted at the same motor show, followed in 2016 by the RM16. By then, the performance specs listed a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 296 horsepower, an electric compressor and electronic differential, rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual. The bodywork, draped on an aluminum spaceframe, channeled the spirits of other outrageous mid-engined hatchbacks like the Renault 5 Turbo, Renault Clio V6 Renault Sport, and Lancia Delta S4.

Four months after showing the RM16, Hyundai took a running prototype to the Nürburgring (pictured). Earlier this year we heard tale of a new Theta III engine suited for front- and rear-wheel drive, and mid-engined applications. With the ability to be tuned to 350 hp, this led to suspicion that there could be a mid-engined Hyundai sports car on the way. The evidence is circumstantial, but now we have Schmera telling us to consider a long-lived mid-engined concept as the potential template for a future N Performance halo car.

The idea of Hyundai rolling out a mid-engined coupe sounds crazy. It sounds doubly crazy when Biermann has said of the i30 N, “This is a halo car that can make [the company] money, so what better halo can we get?” Hyundai knows its math better than we do, but we don’t see how the carmaker makes money in a segment ruled by the Porsche 718 twins under $100K, and by a number of storied brands above that figure. The triple crazy comes when Schmera told the Dutch outlet in the same interview, “This is going to be a great machine, something nobody expects from Hyundai, something really exotic,” and, “It will be a car in the super sport segment….”

Whatever is on the way, it could be a limited edition, it might include a hybrid system, and it likely won’t break cover for a couple of years, but we’re already looking forward to it.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford rolls out 7 wild off-road and performance F-Series trucks for SEMA

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Ford is bringing an F-Series truck for everyone to the SEMA show this year. Whether you fancy off-road madness or fast street trucks, there appears to be one of everything. Here’s the rundown:

Gen-2 Full-Race Motorsports ‘Freak-O-Boost’ F-150

This truck (pictured above in the gallery) is for the off-road enthusiasts. A three-inch lift kit and Icon Vehicle Dynamics suspension along with some Raptor bits give it extra capability off the pavement. Bead-lock wheels and all-terrain tires are there to help as well. There’s apparently plenty of power to be had, as Full-Race Motorsports applied a twin-turbo upgrade, cat-back exhaust, HeadGames Motorworks cylinder heads and a high-flow fuel pump. This particular F-150started out life with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, but all these changes transform it into quite the off-road beast.
Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Transfer Flow F-150

If you were looking for the ultimate adventure truck, Transfer Flow seems to have it covered. Starting with the 3.0-liter diesel V6, this truck gets an off-road air suspension by Hellwig Products. Big off-road tires give it the rugged appearance to go with the extra capability. There’s a 50-gallon fuel tank on board, along with a 40-gallon in-bed auxiliary toolbox combo with a refueling kit too. Yeah, you’ll probably have enough fuel for some adventuring here.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Kurt Busch and ZB Customs F-150

But maybe you wanted 1,000 horsepower, as any reasonable person might desire. Enter the 5.0-liter twin-turbo V8 F-150with exactly that much power. This truck has JE forged pistons, Ford Performance forged rotating assembly, oil pan and pump and side-exit exhaust. The suspension is dropped two-inches and it rides on JRi Shocks’ hydraulic ride height system. PAC Racing coilovers and sway bars should help keep the 1,000 horsepower in line a little bit better too. Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar tires are brought to a halt by eight-piston Brembos up front and four-piston calipers in the rear.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Speedkore F-150

This one doesn’t have 1,000 horsepower, but it does have the 5.0-liter V8 with the Ford Performance supercharger tacked on. Lowered by three inches, it has some MaxTrac suspension components and the same eight-piston Brembos from the previous truck. Tons of exterior enhancements make the sport truck look the part, and a side-exit exhaust should grab people’s attention who didn’t see the stealthy truck at first.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Wilderness Collective F-250 Super Duty

Here’s another lifted adventure truck, this one designed and put together by a tour company, Wilderness Collective. It gets a two-inch air lift kit along with off-road wheels and tires. This truck is one of the few that doesn’t get a big power bump, but the focus here is on being able to take it anywhere. It has a full radio communications kit and lights everywhere to illuminate your way ahead. Plenty of camping and wilderness friendly add-ons are found tied to or mounted all over the truck too.

Extang F-350 Super Duty

Extang F-350 Super Duty

This truck is designed to be the ultimate tailgating accessory. It has a slide out game table, BBQ grill and cooler plus a 65-inch 4K TV to watch all the games on. Mechanically, it features a specially designed air suspension along with 24-inch wheels. It literally comes with everything you might need when hanging out before a big game.

Ford F-Series 2018 SEMA

Deberti Design F-250 Super Duty Work Truck

Most of the trucks here weren’t made for the average work truck needs, but this one strives to be the best work truck it can be. There’s a twin-turbo kit from Midwest Diesel & Auto that pumps the power all the way up to 900 horsepower. Adjustable Fox shocks and Hellwig airbags make up the important suspension modifications, while bead-lock wheels and off-road tires give it some extra ability when the worksite is extra gnarly.

[Source: Autoblog]