Tesla Motors is in the midst of planning stages for a new “gigafactory” to be located in the American Southwest that would have the capacity to produce 50,000 lithium-ion battery packs annually for use in the company’s future vehicles. Set to become operational at full capacity by 2020, the move would allow the fledgling automaker to save money by taking advantage of economies of scale and moving all parts of battery production under one roof. The factory would produce more lithium-ion car batteries in-house by 2020 than were produced worldwide in all of 2013.
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We’ve all heard rumors and news swirling of self-driving cars in our not too distant future, but if they were here today, what form would they take? What would the interior look like if optimized for enjoying leisure time during fully autonomous driving mode? That’s the question “idea factory” Rinspeed attempts to answer in its new Rinspeed XchangE Concept, based on the Tesla Model S EV and coming to this year’s Geneva Motor Show next month.
With 20 possible different seating positions in a versatile interior, the XchangE features front chairs that swivel rearward for better watching of a 32-inch 4K ultra-HD screen in the rear. There’s also four screens in the dash for all manner of driving and productivity tasks, and the drive-by-wire steering wheel is placed at the center, ready to be slid toward the driver should manual control be needed (see below).
There’s even the world’s most expensive watch winder on board, Rinspeed says, which uses an electric motor to wind a special Carl F. Bucherer Patravi TravelTec watch that’s mounted in the steering column. Why, you ask? Well, why not? After all, this is one over-the-top concept car.
As for nuts and bolts, making use of an LTE high-speed data network from Deutsche Telecom for an always-on connection, the XchangE uses a data network created by linking multiple cars together for the greatest possible safety during autonomous driving on the road. If all cars were linked in this fashion, first on special “self-driving car-only lanes”, for example, the system would allow the vehicles to interact with each other to keep things in line as well as the network being instantly aware of changing road conditions. The more vehicles connected to the network; the better the network works. At least that’s the plan, Rinspeed says.
The XchangE is just a concept and won’t be coming to a dealer near you anytime soon, but this cloud-connected car tech cannot be stopped in its march toward the mainstream. Will Rinspeed be the first to bring it to market? Check out the video below.
As Tesla Motors rides high on a wave of good reception for its pioneering Model S Sedan luxury electric car, the company has sunk considerable resources into creating a nationwide network of “Superchargers”, or fast-charging stations that will give Tesla cars a quick-charge to 80% capacity in just 30 minutes.
By selling 22,610 examples of its pioneering Nissan LEAF electric car in the ‘States in 2013, Nissan USA more than doubled the total number of LEAFs (Leaves?) sold in 2012. You can thank a big drop in price and some key upgrades for that, as well as increased consumer acceptance of electric cars. And the LEAF had its best month ever in December, selling a rock-solid 2,529 units.
But the LEAF’s strong total still wasn’t quite enough to make it the best-selling electric car this year.
The recent fire affecting the complex network of lithium-ion battery cells powering a Tesla Model S electric sedan has left potential buyers alarmed and sent the company’s recently high-performing share price into a tailspin. According to Tesla, the fire occurred when a piece of road debris was kicked up and made contact with the car’s battery packs. The fire, significant in its scope and potential damage to occupants, does not appear to have been caused by a defect in the Model S’s design, according to evidence presented by the company.