Automotive

Toyota concept car looks like it was built by aliens

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Toyota Concept-i

While lots of gadgets showcased at CES will grow up to become real products one day, others seem like they were dropped on Earth by alien spaceships.

A perfect example is the Toyota Concept-i, which is a concept car through and through. Just look at it; you can’t get anymore prototype-y than this!

Toyota Concept-i

Toyota Concept-i

Although the biggest attention-grabber is its futuristic design, Toyota is keen on highlighting its use of artificial intelligence to understand your needs and act accordingly.

The car’s software is called Yui, and it works a lot like Google’s Assistant or Apple’s Siri, but way better. It’s there for you to form a relationship with the car, according to Toyota. It’ll learn your behavior and driving patterns, then use that information to predict the best-possible moves.

Yui is geared more towards being a buddy, rather than a machine you command. By doing so, the driver’s bond with the car will be more organic and immersive, or so Toyota says.

Toyota Concept-i

In fact, it’s so immersive that there are biometric sensors on board to read your emotions. If you’re feeling angry or sad, the car can take over and drive you safely to your destination. A little creepy, huh?

The official website of the Concept-i is loaded with lots of ways on how the vehicle makes the driving experience a warmer and friendlier one. As an example, the headlights can wink at you — we’re serious!

On-road evaluations in Japan will apparently begin in the “next few years,” but expect to see this all over streets when your grandchildren have grandchildren, or maybe another few decades after that.

Toyota Concept-i

Automotive

Explainer: 4 electric car myths, debunked

What you should know about the car of the future

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Did you know that the first electric vehicle was invented by Scottish inventor Robert Anderson in 1832? Back then, electricity-powered cars were nothing but curiosities and novelties. Now, electric vehicles are readying themselves to take over the car industry in just a few decades.

As with all revolutionary technology, reception for electric cars is lukewarm at best. Most consumers are still wary with converting to full electric, citing an unstable and uncertain future for the industry.

With the car and fuel industry hanging in the balance, gas car companies have a lot to gain by downplaying the benefits of electric vehicles. Due to the lack of information available, unproven myths inevitably pop up. Myths, as always, need to be debunked especially when electric cars overtake gas car production.

Myth 1: Electric cars are more expensive than gas cars

The cost of an electric vehicle is the most hotly contested aspect of EVs. Admittedly, the world’s most famous electric car, the Tesla Model S, still falls under the luxury car category. The battery-powered car still hovers around the US$ 100,000 range.

Budget-friendlier alternatives are out now, but their price ranges are still a bit more than a conventional car. The Chevrolet Bolt and the Nissan Leaf both cost around US$ 40,000, for example.

Illustrations by Yanni Panesa

 

Additionally, installing a home charging station compounds that price by about US$ 600.

It’s no surprise that most consumers are turned off by the exorbitant costs of EVs. However, the one-time price tag fails to show how much cheaper it is in the long run.

Right now, the cost of one kilowatt-hour (the standard for EVs) is below the cost of one liter of gasoline. Roughly estimating, one kWh costs 20 cents, while one liter of gas costs US$ 1, according to today’s standards.

The Nissan Leaf carries a 40kWh battery. Charging it to full will cost 40kWh x US$ 0.20 = US$ 8. Meanwhile, a 40L gas car will cost 40L x US$ 1 = US$ 40. Added with a much steeper maintenance cost, gasoline vehicles will quickly overtake the cost of EVs in the long run. (Of course, actual costs will still vary on usage, real prices, and road conditions.)

Myth 2: EVs don’t perform as well as gas cars

Don’t be fooled. Even if EVs are remarkably silent on the road, they are hiding powerful engines that are quickly catching up to the standards of speed today.

At their core, gasoline vehicles are inherently faulty. Their emissions aren’t only a hit on air pollution; they also mean that a car wastes a huge portion of their energy through heat, smoke, and other harmful pollutants.

On the other hand, EVs convert up to 62 percent of their stored energy for movement. For comparison, gas cars only use up 21 percent of their energy.

In terms of mileage, EVs can travel up to 193 kilometers on a full charge, adequate for a day’s worth of traveling. However, gas cars still rule the road by hundreds of kilometers more. It’s only a matter of time before EVs catch up, though. The industry-leading Tesla Model S 100D already tops out at 530+ kilometers.

Finally, when it comes to speed, EVs can do well to catch up with you in traffic. For example, both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Bolt reach speeds of up to 150km/h. While the more widely available EVs can still be woefully left in the dirt on a straightaway, the Tesla Model X blazes through with a top speed of 250km/h.

Amid all of this, EVs do their jobs quietly. If you’re not paying attention, an EV can sneak up on you from behind. Besides air pollution, EVs avoid noise pollution, too.

Myth 3: Maintaining an EV is more trouble than it’s worth

Both an EV and a gas car take you from one place to the other. EVs just do it with far fewer components. Unlike conventional cars, EVs aren’t frequent visitors to the mechanics. Fewer parts mean fewer components to maintain.

That doesn’t mean that everything is breezy, though. Replacing the battery is a nightmare for your budgeting. For example, a Nissan Leaf replacement battery costs US$ 5,499.

Thankfully, batteries are a lot more durable than you would expect. The Nissan Leaf guarantees a battery life of eight years or 100,000 miles (or approximately 161,000 kilometers). Most electric car brands already offer warranties (including replacements) before their batteries expire. Moreover, electric car batteries are completely recyclable. You might even get a trade-in return for your old battery.

Currently, the only hurdle impeding an electric car’s maintenance is the lack of able mechanics who specialize in EVs. On the bright side, by the time that you’ll need a thorough repair on your EV, the employment industry will have evolved to accommodate your needs.

Myth 4: Electric vehicles are the saviors of the environment

There is no doubt that EVs eliminate the carbon emissions that gas cars will always emit. Even from their construction, EVs carry a design trait that puts them beyond gas cars: They don’t have a tailpipe.

Currently, 75 percent of air pollution comes from motor vehicles. With their energy-efficient design, EVs eliminate the pollution caused by carbon emission. Converting to an EV is one of the greenest decisions you can make to save the environment.

However, it has its own fair share of gray areas. Critics often share the myth that EVs only displace the emissions from the tailpipe to a coal plant’s smoke stack.

Which is partly true.

 

On their own, the world’s main methods of producing power are terribly unprepared for a sudden surge in demand. Despite recent developments in renewable energy, coal power is still the world’s leading generator of electricity.

Hypothetically, if everyone in the world adopted EVs right now, coal plants would have to exponentially increase their output, creating more smokestack emissions as a result.

Luckily, the world isn’t ready to go full EV yet. Early predictions still date the takeover to 2040. We still have a lot of time to adjust our energy consumption for more energy-efficient means, like solar, hydro, and nuclear.

In reality, EVs can’t save the world by themselves. The myth that they just displace damage is only half-true. However, the environment can’t survive with 50 percent solutions. It has to rely on us changing our perspectives on energy.

Electric vehicles are the future. But with unchecked energy consumption rates, that future can look quite grim.

SEE ALSO: The Best Car Tech of CES 2018

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Ford unleashes 2019 Ranger Raptor

The only factory-built performance truck across Asia Pacific

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Built Ford Tough indeed

The legendary F-150 Raptor now has a sibling and it also packs serious muscle.

Ford Motor Company has just launched its first Ranger Raptor in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s the company’s new off-road, performance pickup truck which combines Ford Performance DNA with the Ranger’s toughness and engineering that it has become known for. Think of it as the toned-down version of the F-150 Raptor.

When it comes to design, though, there is very little difference between the two.

The front shows a familiar grille with the iconic FORD lettering pressed proudly at the center. There’s also the frame-mounted front bumper and dent-resistant front fenders to further toughen it up for the wilderness.

Just like its older brother, the Ranger Raptor is huge from all angles. It stands 1873mm tall, 2180mm wide, and 5398mm long while ground clearance has further been lifted to 283mm. The truck has a towing capacity of 2500kg so it can definitely haul things for you.

What truly sets this apart is at its core. The Ranger Raptor’s chassis frame is specifically designed for traveling at high speeds off-road. Made of various grades of high-strength low-alloy steel, the frame is made to absorb the blows of off-road driving.

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road versus any other available production road vehicle in our markets, and still ride like a millionaire on-road,” said Damien Ross, Chief Program Engineer, Ranger Raptor, Ford Motor Company.

Under its wide hood sits a 2.0-liter Bi-Turbo four-cylinder diesel engine that pumps out 213PS of power and 500Nm of torque. This is then mated to the same 10-speed automatic transmission as the F-150 Raptor and comes with a unique electronic terrain management system featuring six drive modes (Gravel, Mud, Rock, Baja, etc).

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Ford vehicle without the host of safety features. It carries the advanced Driver Assist Technologies at the push of a button like the SYNC 3 voice assist system, SatNav, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, and Load Adaptive Control among others.

“It really is like a motocross bike, snowmobile, and an ATV rolled up into a pickup truck — it’s an incredible, awesome experience!” said Jamal Hameedi, Chief Engineer, Ford Performance

This macho vehicle is not to be confused with the Ford Ranger that was announced last month at NAIAS. The Ranger Raptor will be produced in Ford Thailand Manufacturing and will be available for the Asia Pacific region. Color palettes include Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White, and Conquer Grey.

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2018 Nissan Leaf is coming to Asia and Oceania

New electric vehicles are coming our way!

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Since its launch in 2010, the Nissan Leaf has sold over 300,000 units worldwide, making it the world’s bestselling electric vehicle. To further extend the reach of the most sought-after EV, the Japanese carmaker will bring the second-generation Leaf to seven new markets in Asia and Oceania.

The 2018 Nissan Leaf was showcased during the fourth edition of Nissan Futures, a three-day event in Singapore which focused on how new mobility solutions can help tackle challenges such as pollution, urbanization, and congestion. This was also the first time Southeast Asia got a preview of the new zero-emissions vehicle from Nissan.

The new Leaf features notable accretions in performance and range over the first-gen model. Its electric motor now produces 38 percent more power and 26 percent more torque at 110kW (148hp) and 320Nm, respectively. It also has a higher-capacity 40kWh lithium-ion battery that increased its operating range up to 400km which is more than double the previous model.

Among the new car’s features are ProPILOT Park — an automated parking function, guided by four high-res cameras and 12 “ultrasonic” sensors. The car isn’t fully autonomous but, at least, it can park itself.

It was revealed that the new fully electric Leaf will be available soon in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand. The company also plans to introduce it to other markets in the region, including Indonesia and the Philippines.

The exact date of the car’s arrival on said markets remains vague, but delivery should happen before 2019.

SEE ALSO: Nissan creates self-driving slippers for a Japanese inn

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