What the hell-eramota is Acceleramota?

In September 2022, I was staring out the window of an Icelandic tour bus at the picturesque landscapes of the Golden Circle when I accepted the reality that something in my life had to change. The trajectory of my career was not at all what I imagined it would be. Sure, I was a college dropout making six figures by the time I was 24, but as a buddy recently said to me, “Money comes and goes, my friend. You will replenish.” And he has an Alfa 4C, so he knows a little something about money going. In fact, he is one of many amazing people I’ve met at NYCars & Coffee, our local venture here in NYC.

Miserable as the Lead Editor of a shopping site owned by Daily Mail (who wouldn’t be?), I sought an outlet for my real passion: cars. To anyone I knew as a kid, that may come as a shock. I was never really a car guy. But as the story often goes, everything changed when I bought a Miata. All I wanted was a fun little convertible to doot around in, and now it’s in my wedding photos.

For as long as I can remember, I was always more into tech and gadgets. Computers, video games, jailbreaking my iPhone – all that fun stuff. But as I started paying attention to the automotive space (again, because Miata), the overlap was apparent. From mechanical engines and transmissions to lithium-ion batteries and infotainment systems, it’s all tech. Always has been.

Graphic: Acceleramota

One of the main reasons cars had never appealed to me in my adolescence was the lack of coverage from the sites I visited to keep up with the latest tech. Until recently, cars were largely relegated to enthusiast magazines adapted to the web. Maybe you would read about the car market from a business angle in the Wall Street Journal or a broad overview of the most important developments in the New York Times. But automotive coverage from tech publications was shoddy and inconsistent. Despite being among the largest economic drivers in the United States, cars simply don’t make enough money for the geniuses at the top. At least that’s what I’m told. 

Then again, neither does anything else, apparently. In 2023, layoffs are rampant, and I’m not immune. Back in February, I was let go for the second time in six months. Yet, even with a VP title slapped at the top of my resume, my job-hunting efforts were futile. Hell, most of my applications never yielded a response. Soon enough, it became clear that writing cover letter after cover letter was getting me nowhere. Meanwhile, NYCars & Coffee steadily continued to grow. We had gained enough traction that Adam Scott (yes, that Adam Scott) showed up one time because he found us on Google.

It was only a matter of time before I said, “Fuck it. I’m going all in on cars.”

By this point, I’d started an automotive verticle for my previous employer, and my EV stories from CES were a breakout success. I had a strategy in place to grow the section and build an audience. I had an Instagram page with more than 30,000 followers, and I’d already given it a name. All I needed was funding. By the end of April 2023, the same month I formed Acceleramota LLC, I also had that.

The internet’s cars and coffee ☕

But what about our mission statement? That wasn’t quite as clear. Shortly after founding Acceleramota, I hired a designer to create a social media graphic for a charity event we co-sponsored. As luck would have it, she was also an accomplished brand strategist, with high-profile clients such as Nike and Jeep. While workshopping ideas for the promo image, she implored me to simplify my messaging. We needed our own “Just do it” to inspire not only our readers, but also our staff.

That’s when I arrived at “the internet’s cars and coffee.” It was a natural fit. My intent for Acceleramota was always to be the online counterpart to the events we hold in real life. Before founding NYCars & Coffee back in October 2022, I was interested in cars but my automotive knowledge was surface level. I could point out the exact make and model of a car parked half a mile away, but I couldn’t tell you much about what’s under the hood. But now, although what you’ll often find under the hood is nothing more than a frunk, I’ve learned a fair amount just by talking to people who know more than me.

Photo: Gabe Carey (NYCars & Coffee)

Our main goal with Acceleramota is to keep our audience informed about the latest developments in automotive technology, bridging the gap between internal combustion and electrified engines, without putting you to sleep. There is a genuine, mainstream interest in EVs – both positive and negative, and we’re leaning into both! But the average reader, at least online, doesn’t want to suffer through flowery language or incomprehensible jargon to learn about the vehicles of the future.

We see our readers as enthusiasts waiting to bloom. We want to get you as excited about cars as we were when we first fell in love with driving or tuning or modding, whatever. Behind every byline on Acceleramota is a person, each with their own unique perspective, drawing personal connections between the cars they drive and the lives they’ve led. We’re here to tell stories. We’re here to tell many stories.

But we’re also here to help, answering the most commonly asked questions tailored specifically to the topic at hand. Engaging in conversation as if you overheard us talking shop at a bar (or, you know, sipping coffee at a car meet). You hear the word “EV” and politely interject. Being the neighborly crew that we are, we enthusiastically respond with confidence and authority. If we have to use jargon, we’ll explain it concisely or cite trusted sources offering intuitive explanations.

We’ll take care of the research, the testing, and the reporting back our findings in an approachable style. All we ask is you support efforts so we can reinvest in ourselves and do an even better job of delivering consistent, high-quality work. Not just in writing, but in our expansion into other avenues like social media and video. In addition to our paid subscriptions on Patreon, we also have a free newsletter. Both help us grow our audience, which in turn means securing more resources.

We’re committed to providing editorial coverage our readers find insightful, relatable, and sometimes makes you laugh. While other sites discourage writers from putting their full personalities on display, we embrace it. Unlike the publishers that see writers as expendable, favoring cheap content devoid of passion – emotionless, soulless, and unable to resonate through irreplicable first-person narratives – we’re here to tell stories. We’re here to tell many stories. Blog hard or blog home.

About the founder – Who is Gabe Carey?

Image credit: Victoria Song

From 2015–2018, I covered video games extensively for Digital Trends, starting two months after I could legally sign a 1099 contract. Then I found my niche in writing about computers and networking. Before long, I landed jobs at TechRadar, PCMag, and eventually PC Gamer in tandem with GamesRadar. Living the dream – except the pay sucked, the culture was exclusionary, and due in part to both of those factors, my interest in gaming eroded. I figured, if I’m going to work a soul-crushing job, I might as well get paid a decent salary doing it.

That’s when I went full Business Mode and sold my soul to affiliate marketing. Once I racked up enough XP at what is now Dotdash-Meredith, I reached a turning point. While my wife was a reporter at Gizmodo, the site’s parent company, [Redacted], was hiring a Commerce Editor and an Affiliate Manager. I applied for the editor gig in the hopes I could sneak a little me in my work, as a treat.

Both roles were, each in their own way, focused on growing The Inventory (the product recommendations site Kinja Deals was folded into) and identifying monetization opportunities on sites including Gizmodo, as well as Jalopnik, Lifehacker, Kotaku, and other blogs I once loved. Multiple rounds of interviews ensued, and I presented a few slides demonstrating my ability to inform editorial decisions using data without skimping on quality. All because I wanted to shitpost. With the final boss defeated, I was offered both jobs, my official title being Commerce Content & Affiliate Strategy Manager or some overwrought nonsense like that.

All things considered, I’d say it was two jobs well done. I mean, they brought me back within six months of my resignation – even after I published a scathing goodbye blog that’s still up because no one reads past the headline! Between writing and editing, I published more than 500 articles at The Inventory, sold more than half a million dollars in sponsored content, and boosted our Google Search presence by over 250%. Because we were big enough to do so, I also ditched an exclusive contract with a third-party platform in order to establish our own direct affiliate partnerships, effectively bumping up our revenue from merchants outside of Amazon by 65%. Still, I don’t think I’ll be invited to the next holiday party.

Finally leaving The Inventory behind me was liberating, but it also left me feeling cold. What could have been the perfect cross between bloggin’ and bizznus regressed into a grueling cycle of defending why the first part was important. That pattern followed me to my next media job, and the one after that. It seems to me companies of all sizes like the thought of hiring a young, competent person with fresh new ideas they can take credit for. Until carrying out those ideas means taking even the slightest risk. That’s why I’m here, to rid myself of that mentality and try new things.

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Once the best-selling EV on the market, the Nissan Leaf isn’t long for this world

Since its 2010 debut, the Nissan Leaf has been a flagship EV for the Yokohama, Japan-based automaker. The affordable electric car was even the top-selling plug-in-electric (PEV) model until 2020, when it was surpassed by Tesla’s Model 3. The 2024 Nissan Leaf carries on the legacy of being a great entry-level EV option.

Despite a significant refresh in 2017, Nissan announced in mid-2022 that they would be phasing out the Leaf in favor of more advanced models. As a result, it’s not surprising that the 2024 Nissan Leaf lacks major updates from previous model years. In fact, the file name of the photo above (when you download it from Nissan’s press site) is “2023 Nissan LEAF_38-source.jpg” — so make of that what you will.

The 2024 Nissan Leaf’s starting MSRP is under $30,000, meaning it is a great budget option if you’re looking to join the world of electrified motoring — but it comes with some drawbacks. It’s clear that the Nissan Leaf line is no longer a priority for the carmaker, who has pledged to make 40% of its line electric by 2030. Most glaringly, the 2024 Nissan Leaf remains the last production model EV using the CHAdeMO connector rather than the more common CCS connector. To say the least, EV charging standards are undergoing a radical transformation that will make the Leaf feel dated before it even hits the lots.

2024 Nissan Leaf price and trim level options

A 2023 Nissan LEAF electric car serves as a stand-in for the 2024 Nissan LEAF, which nissan has not provided images of.
Image credit: Nissan

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The 2024 Nissan Leaf is available in two “grades,” the Leaf S and the Leaf SV Plus. The Leaf S has an MSRP of $28,140 for the barebones model and the Leaf SV Plus starts at $36,190.

Let’s take a look at how the 2024 Nissan Leaf’s trim options match up:

2024 Nissan Leaf S

  • Starting Price: $28,140
  • Lithium-ion battery capacity: 40kWh
  • Electric motor power: 110-kW / 147hp / 236 lb-ft of torque
  • EPA-estimated range: 149 miles

2024 Nissan Leaf SV Plus

  • Starting price: $36,140
  • Lithium-ion battery capacity: 60kWh
  • Electric motor power: 160-kW / 214hp / 250 lb-ft of torque
  • EPA-estimated range: 212 miles

Available upgrades and accessories include:

  • Factory installed options
    • Premium paint (2-Tone): $695
    • Premium paint: $395
    • Cargo cover: $220
  • Port installed accessories
    • Protection package: $280
    • Splash guards: $245
    • USB charging cable set: $90
    • Floor mats and cargo area mat cargo organizer: $285
    • Rear cupholders and stash tray: $260
    • Kick plates: $160
    • Safety kit: $100

Since the Nissan press release cites the 2023 Leaf’s “refreshed exterior design, including an enhanced front grille, bumper molding and headlights, plus interior upholstery changes and a new 17-inch wheel design for SV Plus,” it’s safe to assume the exterior and interior options will remain unchanged.

2024 Nissan Leaf exterior color options:

  • 2024 Nissan Leaf S only
    • Glacier white
  • 2024 Nissan Leaf S and 2024 Nissan Leaf SV Plus
    • Brilliant silver metallic
    • Gun metallic
    • Super black
    • Deep blue pearl
  • 2024 Nissan Leaf SV Plus only
    • Scarlet Ember tint coat (premium color) (Leaf SV Plus only)
    • Pearl White tri-coat (premium color)
    • Pearl White tri-coat + Super Black (2-tone premium color)

2024 Nissan Leaf interior options:

  • Black cloth
    • Leaf S interior accents: gray
    • Leaf SV Plus interior accents: gloss black

Interior and tech

The interior of a 2023 Nissan LEAF electric vehicle.
Image credit: Nissan

Another sign that Nissan’s media team is sunsetting the Leaf model is that they haven’t provided any new photos of the 2024 Nissan Leaf’s interior. Once again, it’s a safe bet to infer that relatively little has changed, so the image above is from the 2023 Nissan Leaf’s press release. Do with that information what you will.

The interior console of a 2023 Nissan Leaf electric car, which is unchanged for the 2024 model.
Image credit: Nissan

As far as interior tech bells and whistles go, the 2023 model boasted “a new brand identity badge on the steering wheel and a new start-up video on the instrument panel screen,” because who doesn’t love a fun little video?

Interior space:

  • Front seat headroom: 41.2″
  • Rear seat headroom: 37.3″
  • Front seat legroom: 42.1″
  • Rear seat legroom: 33.5″
  • Front seat hip room: 51.7″
  • Rear seat hip room: 50.0″
  • Front seat shoulder room: 54.3″
  • Rear seat shoulder room: 52.5″

Exterior dimensions:

  • Wheelbase: 106.3″
  • Overall length: 176.4″
  • Overall width: 70.5″
  • Overall height: 61.5″
  • Track width (front/rear): 60.6″ / 61.2″

Tech features:

  • NissanConnect infotainment system:
    • 8-inch color display
    • Apple CarPlay
    • Android Auto
    • SiriusXM
    • Four USB ports
    • Charging timer,
    • HVAC timer (for pre-heating or pre-cooling the cabin)
  • Nissan Leaf SV Plus infotainment upgrades:
    • Nissan door-to-door navigation
    • NissanConnect services
    • NissanConnect EV smartphone app (free 3-year trial included)
  • Nissan Safety Shield 360
    • Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection
    • Blind spot warning
    • High beam assist
    • Lane departure warning
    • Rear cross-traffic alert
    • Rear automatic braking.
  • Driver assistance and convenience features
    • Rear door alert
    • Rear parking sensors
  • Leaf SV Plus additional features
    • Intelligent Driver Alertness (ID-A)
    • Intelligent Around View Monitor (I-AVM)
    • ProPilot Assist (combination steering assist + Intelligent Cruise Control)

2024 Nissan Leaf electric range and charging times

A 2023 Nissan LEAF electric car charging at a charging station. The 2024 Nissan LEAF model looks pretty much the same.
Image credit: Nissan

Keep in mind, Nissan’s decision not to update the CHAdeMO adapter on its 2024 Nissan Leaf models could negatively impact its resale value, causing it to depreciate more than it would already. For those of you on the fence, might I interest you in the similarly priced, higher spec, and tax credit-eligible Chevy Bolt?

If you’re dead set on a Leaf, definitely lease it. All leases qualify for the federal tax incentive and most reputable dealers will pass the savings onto you. Just ask before signing anything, and if they don’t budge? Walk away and keep your phone on standby. You’ll hear back.

  • Leaf S
    • Electric range: 149 miles
    • Charging time: Charges to 80% in 40 minutes
    • Quick charge port: 50 kW (CHAdeMO)
  • Leaf SV Plus
    • Electric range: 212 miles
    • Charging time: 80% in 60 minutes
    • High-output quick charge port: 100 kW (CHAdeMO)

Engine and performance

We see under the hood of a 2023 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle. The 2024 Nissan Leaf has the same motor and electric system.
Image credit: Nissan

For an entry-level EV, the 2024 Nissan Leaf has quite a bit of power.

  • Leaf S
    • Lithium-ion Battery Capacity: 40kWh
    • Electric Motor Power: 110-kW / 147hp / 236 lb-ft of torque
  • Leaf SV Plus
    • Lithium-ion Battery Capacity: 60kWh
    • Electric Motor Power: 160-kW / 214hp / 250 lb-ft of torque

Design changes

While the overall design is unchanged from the 2023 model, it’s worth calling out that the 2024 Nissan Leaf SV Plus trim level comes standard with this futuristic-looking 5-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheel.

2024 Nissan Leaf review (to come)

The badge of a 2023 Nissan LEAF, which will be unchanged on the 2024 Nissan LEAF model.
Image credit: Nissan

The Nissan Leaf has been a stalwart in the world of electric vehicles, and at one time it was the most popular EV in the world. Past models were praised for their surprisingly spacious interiors and efficient, powerful motors (for an entry-level hatchback.)

Seeing as the 2024 Nissan Leaf is very much a rehash of the 2023 model, we’d expect a review to line up pretty solidly with our expectations. That is to say, despite being on its way out, the 2024 Nissan Leaf remains one of the few truly affordable EVs, though if you’re not in a rush, you could always save up an extra $7,000 over the next year for the 2025 Volvo EX30. While this will be a new model in Volvo’s electrified lineup, the Swedish carmaker has proven itself a serious contender in the EV space with the revered XC40 Recharge.


Is the Nissan Leaf being discontinued?

Yes, in 2022 the Japanese carmaker announced it would be phasing out the Leaf model. Still, Nissan still plans to develop electric vehicles, with its “Nissan Ambition 2030” pledge aiming for 40% EVs by 2030.

How much does a Nissan Leaf battery cost?

Lithium-ion batteries aren’t cheap! Should the worst-case scenario happen and your Nissan LEAF’s battery needs replacement, you’ll be looking at a hefty bill, according to findmyelectric.com.

  • 40 kWh battery: $6,500 – $7,500
  • 60 kWh battery: $8,500 – $9,500

Where can I charge my Nissan Leaf?

The 2024 Nissan Leaf’s CHAdeMO port limits the number of charging locations when you’re out and about. Check PlugShare for an updated list of CHAdeMO stations.

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Underwater cars: How James Bond’s Lotus Espirit inspired a real-life car submarine

Last week, the world was gripped by news that an OceanGate submarine on a $250,000-per-ticket journey to the wreck of the Titanic may have met a similar fate to the legendary ocean liner. As a result, a lot of discussion of submersibles has re-surfaced (for lack of a better phrase). This led me to wonder, has there ever been a submarine car? The answer may surprise you. (The answer is yes, there is one.)

Can you swim?

1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me features an iconic stunt where James Bond (Roger Moore) and Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) fly off the end of a dock in a modified Lotus Espirit S1. Upon hitting the water, the super-spy’s supercar transforms into a submarine as the pair escape an enemy helicopter.

James Bond's Lotus Espirit jumps into the water before transforming into "Wet Nellie" the car submarine.
You might be surprised to learn that this is nothing more than “movie magic.” Image credit: 007.com

Eschewing miniatures, filmmakers enlisted Perry Oceanographics to build a functional submarine out of an Espirit S1 shell — which they nicknamed “Wet Nellie” because it was the 70s and everyone was a little gross back then.

Although the vehicle could operate underwater, it was what’s called a “wet sub,” meaning the operators had to be wearing scuba suits during the shoot. Steering and stopping were also not a high priority, meaning the stunts were every bit as breathtaking to perform as they were to 70s audiences.

The Lotus Espirit S1 that has been modified to "Wet Nellie" (a submarine car) is seen underwater with two divers approaching.
Image credit: Everett Collection

Perry fitted four electric submersible drive units to the Esprit’s retractable rear tray, each with steering vanes in the propeller stream. The vertical fins were blocked off and only functioned as stabilizers while the car’s center section was packed with oil-filled battery units to avoid pressurization and sealing problems.

Wet Nellie was fitted with twin-mirrors to help give the driver a view of the bottom. The car had no reverse thrust and no brakes, this put the underwater film crew at risk of being hit by the 15-knot submarine. To stop this from happening the crew would switch off the car’s motors and pray that the divers could haul it in before a coral head loomed up.

Thato Mokau for HotCars.com
The Wet Nellie james Bond submarine car is seen on display at RM Auctions.

Since its big screen moment, Wet Nellie has had quite the journey. First, the movie prop was found, Storage Wars-style, by a couple in Long Island who had purchased an abandoned storage locker for $100. After restoration, Wet Nellie was eventually bought at auction for $1,000,000 by none other than Elon Musk. Musk, to his credit, has claimed that the iconic Bond car’s angular body was the inspiration for Tesla’s forever-forthcoming Cybertruck.

As of writing, Elon Musk has not (yet) volunteered Wet Nellie for the OceanGate submarine search — odd considering how vocal he has been about submersibles in the past.

The dream of a submarine car becomes reality — sorta

Some 30 years after James Bond took the plunge with Wet Nellie, Swiss concept car marker Rinspeed introduced the sQuba, the “world’s first real submersible car.”

The Rinspeed sQuba submarine car is seen being piloted underwater.
Image credit: Rinspeed

Debuting at the Geneva Auto Show in 2008, the sQuba can be piloted underwater at depths of up to 10M, setting it apart from traditional “amphibious” vehicles like duck boats. Auto show crowds were wowed by the sQuba’s sleek design, zero-emission electric motor system, and built-in air tanks and scuba masks for driver and passenger.

Although the sQuba was teased over 15 years ago, Rinspeed founder Frank M. Rinderknecht admits that the technical challenges of creating a vehicle that can operate both on land and underwater would make scaling production untenable. The sQuba prototype cost roughly $1.5m to build, according to Rinderknecht, so it’s unlikely we’ll get to drive one any time soon.

It’s also unclear from Rinspeed’s website whether or not the tuxedo is required driving attire:

A promotional image for the sQuba submarine car, we see a guy in a tuxedo driving with a scuba mask on.
Image credit: Rinspeed

Even if a production-model car/submarine hybrid never sees the light of day, at least we know the Rinspeed team had a good time with the sQuba promotional materials. At the end of the day, isn’t that what really matters?

The sQuba is seen in street driving mode with a man dressed as James Bond and a woman adjusting his bowtie in front of it.
Image credit: Rinspeed

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The best racing games, driving sims, and overall car games of all time, according to enthusiasts

In the documentary Apex: The Story of the Hypercar, Dan Greenawalt, the creative director behind the Forza Motorsport games said video games are the catalyst for the next generation of car enthusiasts. That carmakers have “fundamentally changed their relationship to video games” and have “empowered us to actually stoke passion” in a younger crowd. That’s not to say all the best racing games are new releases, but as driving simulators become increasingly more realistic so too does the dream of a motorsports career for non-trust fund babies.

That said, today’s car games aren’t just for the aspiring racecar drivers training for the Nurburgring. If you’re new to the genre, don’t worry, the urge to squeeze 741 horsepower out of a Toyota GR Yaris comes later. As is the case with most modern video games, there’s a “best racing game” for everyone in 2023. F1 weirdos like Sheilah have, well, F1. Even the indie snobs get to do a little racing, as a treat, in The Art of Rally. Depending on who you ask, Need for Speed is back or it sucks or it never went away.

As we near the imminent arrival of heavy hitters including Forza Motorsport and Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown, these are the best racing games, driving simulators, and otherwise, interactive car-related media you can check out or revisit in the meantime.

Gran Turismo 7

by Gabe Carey

Image credit: Polyphony Digital

While the Forza Horizon series was the key to the ignition of my automotive interests, Gran Turismo 7 was the fuel that fired up the cylinders. Driving in the open-world Forza Horizon games is realistic but in a way that also harkens back to the classic arcade-style racers like Burnout and Need for Speed which had declined in popularity by the mid-2010s. It combined high-production visuals and sound but the handling was more forgiving than what you’d get with a capital ‘S’ Sim racer.

In true Japanese game developer fashion, Polyphony let an entire console generation pass between the release of Gran Turismo 6 and its successor. Sure, there was Gran Turismo Sport for the PlayStation 4, but GT‘s brand recognition had already dwindled in favor of Assetto Corsa during Gran Turismo 7‘s lengthy development cycle. But unlike Assetto Corsa, Gran Turismo 7 was not made for the lifelong car enthusiast who grew up playing the classics. You know, that car kid from your childhood that had a tuned WRX with BBS rims and a tint by the time they hit puberty?

Gran Turismo 7 is Car Culture 101 for the next generation of enthusiasts who don’t know where to start. It’s at once an automotive history lesson and a performance driving school disguised as a video game. Even more so if you splurge on a decent wheel like the Logitech G923 or the primo Thrustmaster T-GT II. When you boot it up for the first time, Gran Turismo 7 serves you 8 minutes of glorious unskippable cutscenes showcasing the evolution of the automobile. Then it’s off to the races. Well, sort of.

The campaign is then broken up into more than 60 “menu books” found at the GT Café (sound familiar?), each with its own unique challenges themed after a different type of car. Along the way, you’ll not only unlock multiplayer, but you’ll learn a lot if you take the time to read. My one complaint is the notable lack of accessibility options in Gran Turismo 7 for adjusting the text size on both the PS4 and PlayStation 5.

Forza Horizon

by Jeric Jaleco

Image credit: Playground Games

I wanted to pick the easy answers. Gran Turismo 4, Need For Speed: Underground, etc. But who am I kidding? I was a pipsqueak when those legends came out, and as iconic as they’ll be, now and always, what did they really do except teach me Skylines were fast and racing is cool? To elementary school me, not much. But the OG Forza Horizon, that now-11-year old Xbox 360 masterpiece? Utterly life-changing. And that’s no hyperbole.

The then-new concept rocked gamers and car enthusiasts alike. You mean this game is halfway between arcade and sim racing in an open world centered around a massive music and motorsports festival? Yeah. High school me found that pretty damn influential. The car list was mesmerizing, and the in-game dynamics made any car fun. Hell, a stock FR-S was just as hellacious Initial D’ing my way down Red Rock Canyon as a Ferrari 458. Try saying that about any recent Need for Speed game. Oh, and don’t forget this was the first and (so far) only Forza with a legitimate story, complete with drawn-out cutscenes, boss races, an overarching plot, and a main antagonist – eat a dick, Darius Flynt!

Perhaps most groundbreaking of all was how it molded me into the gearhead I am today. All my friends love Horizon too, as it’s one of the few games we can all collectively play, and it’s undoubtedly been a big inspiration for us to seek new adventures on distant roads. One of our ultimate goals as a group is to fully realize our Horizon dreams and attend a #GRIDLIFE festival, racing all day and jamming all night. This game showcased new cars that became dream cars of mine, and the soundtrack featured certified bangers that are still on my road trip and childhood nostalgia playlists today. So yeah. The original Forza Horizon is the winner for me. I’ll see you at the festival, superstars. 

Need for Speed Underground 2

by Nathan Meyer

Image credit: Electronic Arts

This is the game that put Need for Speed on the map. My high school sweetheart made me choose between Need for Speed Underground 2 and her – let’s just say, my virtual MK4 Golf GTI and I had some good times after that.

It doesn’t have sim racer physics, but there’s a fun factor that even Forza Horizon has yet to replicate. It’s the first game in the franchise to have an open world. AI racers will challenge you while you’re cruising. You aren’t chasing your tail all the time because there’s no police. No fast travel means you spend your time just enjoying the game, and the hidden shops give the map purpose. The world feels vibrant. You can take your car for magazine shoots!

The customization is like In-N-out. After you build your car here, everything else just doesn’t hit the same. You can take your car to the Dyno and tune it the way a mechanic would. 2000s licensing costs mean that your favorite car parts brands like HKS and GReddy are in the game. There’s an endless amount of body kits, rims and paint options. You can even put massive subwoofers in the trunk.

Speed Crew

by Sheilah Villari

Image credit: Wild Fields

Speed Crew for Nintendo Switch and PC has effortlessly cruised into my go-to spot for a relaxing game to wind down with after a long day. While it’s not overly complicated, it certainly presents a thrilling challenge as you accelerate through its 48 levels. Here, you step into the fast-paced shoes of a pit crew member, starting off in the vibrant 70s racing circuit. Your mission? To be the absolute best within the allotted race timeframe.

The game’s journey propels you toward championships, with each new level advancing not just your skills, but the decade you’re in, too. This nifty feature adds a delightful visual flair, transforming the game’s aesthetics and the design of the characters as you progress.

And what characters they are! Each one brimming with charm and moving with the lightning-quick hustle you’d expect from an actual pit crew in any motorsport. Select from four unique character options, name your team, and hit the tracks. I made sure to stay on-brand, naming mine “Alfred Romeo Racing,” and keeping company with creatively named teams like “Jilliams,” “McFlaren,” and “Red Hullers.”

With an option to play alongside up to four friends, Speed Crew could easily slide into your Mario Kart night for a change of pace. Yet, it’s equally satisfying to fly solo, changing tires, repairing damaged fenders, or swapping engines after a long day at the business factory. But remember, keep your eyes on the racing monsters roaring in, and the ticking clock. Just like in real racing, penalties fly as fast as the cars, impacting your leaderboard standing. With future updates promising new levels and modes, I’m excited to see how Speed Crew evolves.

Burnout 3: Takedown

by Joe Tilleli

Image credit: Criterion Software

I’m sorry but with all due respect, no one here knows what they’re talking about. Great games all around but nothing matches the adrenaline-fueled sensations of the Burnout series – particularly Burnout 3: Takedown. Originally released to the PS2 and original Xbox, this smash hit was adored by critics and regular folk alike with its Metacritic score ranking it as the second greatest game of its release year, and the best racing game of the Xbox generation.

Burnout 3 has a more arcadey feel than more modern racing games due to its fast pacing and emphasis on vehicular carnage. The premise is simple – elbow your way into pole position, but here, the elbowing is lethal. Players spend races ramming their cars against opponent vehicles forcing them to crash in what the game calls a Takedown. Playing Burnout 3 is like taking the wheel in your very own Justin Lin-directed Fast and Furious movie.

Like any good racing game, there are several modes to choose from including standard races, Road Rage where the goal is to see who can score the most Takedowns, World Tour which acts as a single-player career mode, and lastly Crash Mode. In that last one, you’re set not far from a high-traffic intersection while tasked with causing as much monetary damage as possible. It scratches that lizard brain itch in our head that makes us want to push our foot all the way down on the gas pedal and see what happens. 

And while all of this is happening, you are listening to a soundtrack that is just banger after banger. Just watch this intro set to Lazy Generation by The F-Ups and tell me I’m wrong.

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

by Roger Feeley-Lussier

This one is a bit of a layup. Everyone knows Mario Kart. If you spent even an hour in a college dorm in the past 30 years, you’ve probably played (or at least seen someone playing) one of the now 14 games in this series. Check out The Gaming Historian’s YouTube Essay about Super Mario Kart if you want a deep dive into the history of this genre-defining franchise. 

I chose Mario Kart: Double Dash!! because it’s the entry I’ve put the most hours into. My sister gave me her GameCube when she graduated from college and it only came with a handful of games. Fortunately, this meager collection included Double Dash!! In the mid-00s I got to play it a bunch more thanks to the Wii’s backwards compatibility. I spent countless nights in my 20s dodging bananas and tossing blue shells carelessly from the back of the pack. One of my roommates became so obsessed he memorized all the courses, making it considerably less fun to play with him. 

In the mid-to-late 00s, Mario Kart found its way into every aspect of my life. Around that time, my band was playing an all-ages show at a church in Allston, MA. We were opening for a group called New Years Day, who – and I’m not throwing shade here – were huge on Myspace. Before the show, they invited me to their van and showed me a Nintendo 64 rigged to a small CRT, primarily for playing Mario Kart 64 on long drives. I challenged them to a few races and thought nothing of it, heading back to play our set. I think I taught one of them to drift.

The next day the band’s singer, who also had a big following on Myspace, added me to her top 8. I’ll never know why. Maybe I was just that good at Mario Kart.

Gran Turismo 4

by Chris Teague

Image credit: Polyphony Digital

I’m going to take a step back in time to Gran Turismo 4, one of the first racing games I became obsessed with. As a total Nintendo kid growing up, I didn’t even realize how many other game systems there were until well after I started college, which didn’t help my GPA at all. 

Armed with a job and a little disposable income, Gran Turismo 4 arrived at the point in my life when I was shopping for shitboxes and started tinkering with my own cars. Since it came out only a few years after the first Fast and Furious film, Gran Turismo 4 fed my JDM cravings and opened my eyes to more than the most popular car brands.

Now, at 40 years old, it’s fun to look back at GT4, though I have to agree with Gabe that Gran Turismo 7 is one of the best racing games ever. Even so, it won’t make the impact on my life the fourth iteration did, and for that reason above all others, Gran Turismo 4 is my pick. 

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EVs Explained: What is a kilowatt-hour, and while we’re on the subject, what is a kilowatt?

“Now presenting our brand-new (insert new EV here), with a 50-kWh battery pack and 300 kW motors,” exclaims some extravagant press release from yet another startup. While it’s quite nice of you to spill all the beans like that, I’m still left wondering what the heck some of these measurements mean, and I’m sure some of you are too.

Welcome to this blooming age in the automotive landscape, where electrified cars stand on as big a pedestal as traditional dinosaur-powered performance vehicles. So many newfangled machines. So much innovative tech. Yet, interestingly, there’s not much in the way of explanation behind some of the most basic terminology, and what few definitions do exist lie buried under mounds of glitzy press material and spec sheet drag racing.

We’ve all read the brochures and the magazine reviews, diving into the colorful world of fully electric cars and plug-in hybrids. They’ll toss around new terminology like it’s already in the common vernacular, ignoring the fact that this is still relatively fresh tech being drip-fed to the world. Therefore, many terms haven’t fully clicked in people’s minds. But hopefully, this new explainer series should clear the fog around these words that are becoming as household as “horsepower” or “miles per gallon.” 

Our inaugural lessons to kick off this series: what the heck even are “kilowatts,” how do they relate to electric cars, and how do they pair with the equally-tossed “kilowatt-hours?” Well, I’m glad I asked – and hopefully drove enough interest to entrap you here – because it’s time to get schooled in five minutes or less.

Rivian R1T Charging in the desert
Image credit: Rivian

What is a killowatt?

This frequently-spoken term is not exclusive to EVs or electricity and can trace its core components back to pretty much any of our high school science and math classes. Anyone who has ever stumbled across a German auto magazine will likely guess where this is going.

Kilowatts are merely a metric measurement of power output, just like horsepower. Plain and simple.

Renault Mitsubishi Alliance Exposed Motors
Image credit: Renault Group

A kilowatt (kW), which translates to 1,000 watts (W), is the alternate unit of measurement if you’re too cool for horsepower. If you want to click with your new friends from Frankfurt, talk about how many kilowatts the straight-six in their 1995 C36 AMG makes. There’s even a brainless, one-step formula for converting kilowatts into ponies. Simply multiply your kilowatts by 1.341. 

For instance, let’s say you stumble across aforeign auto magazine talking about how the E92 M3 GTS had a power output of 331 kW – again, metric, so 331,000 W if you wanted to break it down. Before you scroll another line down the spec sheet looking for a pre-calculated conversion, you can multiply that 331 by 1.341 to get 443.87, on par with the manufacturer-claimed 444 horsepower. 

Bingo! Easy, right?

Lucid Air Sapphire
Image credit: Lucid Motors

Shift over to electric cars. Just as horsepower has become the ubiquitous unit of power measurement for internal combustion engines, the kilowatt has achieved a similar status for electric motors and may be used to denote output before official horsepower and torque ratings are published. The methodology for translating power measurements remains unchanged from pistons and cylinders to stators and magnets. Imagine some gilded brochure for the Tesla Model S Plaid that states that its motors’ combined output equals 760 kW. Multiply that by 1.341, and bam! 1,019.16, in line with its 1,020 horsepower rating. 

Tracking? Heck yeah, you are!

But the way that kilowatts relate to EVs is only half the story. One must also understand their relation to battery packs.

What is a kilowatt-hour?

While electric motors measure power output by kilowatts, battery packs measure energy capacity by kilowatt-hours. If you’ve read this far and decided you can’t stand me, please consult this handy YouTube video below for its breakdown of what a watt hour is and how it’s calculated. However, should you despise video explainers more than my written words, then please bear with me, as there’s a bit more to it than what we’ve discussed so far.

“How battery capacity is measured and what is Wh? (Watt Hour)”

A kilowatt-hour (kWh) determines how much energy can be expended over a unit of time, which, in the context of EVs, directly relates to a vehicle’s maximum power output and range. While the kWh is now a standard unit for measuring EV battery capacity, it’s long been a common unit of measurement for energy consumption in homes and appliances.

Lucid Air Sapphire - Exposed Car Internals - Top View
Image credit: Lucid Motors

Back to the Model S Plaid, let’s say you’re flooring it down the highway at a perfectly legal speed. Your foot’s all the way down on the throttle, extracting every bit of that 760 kW output. Welp. Congrats. You’ve killed it. The car dies within seven to eight minutes or roughly 0.13 hours after starting with a full charge, as the Model S Plaid’s battery has a capacity of 100 kWh, meaning it can expel 100 kW of power over roughly an hour. 

Now, let’s switch things up and say you’re on your way home from doing Tesla owner things, such as hot yoga and overpaying for bread with avocado on it (this is satire, by the way, so relax.) You’re taking it easy and hypermiling every stretch of the way, probably only expending an average of 50 kW during your drive. You’ll likely see about two hours’ worth of use and be able to travel a significantly farther distance with that 100 kWh battery than if you were to demand maximum attack from the electric motors a majority of the time.

Humorously, if you build some Frankenstein bastard child of a project car using the Plaid motors hooked up to a base model Nissan Leaf’s 40 kWh battery and went flat out, the party would be over in less than three minutes. Do with that information as you will, project car YouTubers of the world. 

That’s perhaps the simplest way to explain its relevance to prospective consumers. Smaller battery packs with lower capacities will result in shorter overall ranges and limit how much power an EV can reasonably output, while larger battery packs flip the script, enabling longer distances and more kW of power.

Lucid Air Action Shot
Image credit: Lucid Motors

It’s why you often see the pricier, long-range variants of electric vehicles sport more powerful motor setups and longer overall ranges, thanks to their higher kWh rating. And it’s partly why some performance variants with even more powerful motors wired to the same batteries (or even slightly bigger) may have shorter ranges, as their elevated performance now demands more from the battery, in addition to other factors like stickier tires, thermal challenges, and aero changes.

“Watt do you mean it can’t charge any faster?”

Last tidbit! Before we go too deep down a rabbit hole that’d require another article, let’s discuss how kilowatts and kilowatt hours pertain to charging your EV. Yes, everyone’s least favorite part. 

Just as kilowatts measure the power coming out of your EV, kilowatts can very much be used to measure the power going back into your EV, hence why we also measure chargers’ outputs in kW.

For example, a 50 kW charger will theoretically fully replenish a 50 kWh battery from next to nada in roughly an hour. A 100 kWh “fast charger” should be able to do the deed on the same battery in approximately 30 minutes. Ever wonder how these fast chargers can get monstrous powerhouses like the Model S Plaid, Lucid Air, or Taycan Turbo S up and ready to rock in less than an hour? Because fast chargers can output anywhere between 150 to well over 300 kW.

Rivian R1S closeup
Image credit: Rivian

Note other limitations can hinder how quickly an electric car can charge, including the set kilowatts an EV can accept. For instance, the new Volvo EX30 only has a maximum charge rate of 153 kW, which is more than enough for its 64 kWh battery, but far behind the 350 kW max charge rate of a comparable Hyundai Ioniq 5.

Class dismissed… for now.

Of course, there are so many other smaller factors that feed into the performance, charging, and discharging of an electric vehicle, which we can spin into another piece. But that’s the basic jist of the relationship between the fat K-W and the new wave of electric chariots.

For now, remember that kilowatts measure the power the car uses and produces while kilowatt-hours represent the energy stored in the battery pack, which directly impacts the EV’s range and output. And to any prospective owners out there, I hope this lesson has better equipped you to shop with confidence – or at least read Euro auto mags without scratching your head at the power figures.

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2024 Volvo EX30

Volvo’s affordable EX30 crossover SUV is for the kids

Volvo, like most of its cohorts, has accepted that the future of passenger vehicles is fully electric. By now, we all know California and New York have both set a 2035 deadline to phase out the sale of new gas-powered vehicles. What’s unclear is how, in a country that hasn’t seen a minimum wage increase since 2009, the average youth is supposed to afford the hefty price tags holding back EVs from widespread adoption. Could the Volvo EX30 be the solution?

The Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker believes its subcompact crossover SUV is sized and priced just right for the gen Z and millennial buyers its competitors have overlooked. Neither Tesla’s Model 3 nor the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Ioniq 6 have managed to dip below 40 grand before tax credits. The 2025 Volvo EX30, on the other hand, starts at just under $35K. The smallest SUV in Volvo’s current lineup, the EX30 claims a surprisingly reasonable electric range, absurdly capable performance, and a price tag that makes it the EV to beat for those on a budget.

2024 volvo ex30
Image credit: Volvo

2025 Volvo EX30 price, release date, interior, and specs

When it launches next summer, the 2025 Volvo EX30 will offer two drivetrain options at launch, with the rear-wheel drive (RWD) model starting at $34,950. While Volvo is accepting reservations as we speak, more specific details regarding trim levels, packages, and a la carte options will be revealed this fall, presumably during the Geneva International Motor Show, which takes place in October.

Though small, it has a long wheelbase and short overhangs, giving it a spacious interior and stable handling. The single-motor base model gets RWD, producing 268 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. Volvo will offer a dual-motor upgrade with all-wheel drive, a combined 422 horsepower, and 400 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 5.1 seconds with the base setup and just 3.4 seconds with the dual-motor system. We’ll even see the iconic Cross Country or XC branding returning for the EV as Volvo plans to release a more rugged version later on.

Volvo’s range estimates reach 275 miles for the base single-motor variant and 265 for the dual-motor. Both models get a usable battery capacity of 64 kWh and a 10-80 percent charge time of 26.5 minutes on a DC fast charger. That said, the EX30’s maximum charge rate is just 153 kW, making it slower to charge than Hyundai and Kia’s latest EVs. 

We don’t have a full list of interior features, but the EX30 appears to carry a similar display to the portrait-oriented screen in the larger EX90. Volvo moved to a Google-based infotainment system, which brings Google Assistant, Google Maps, and third-party apps from the Play Store like Waze to replace Google Maps—and more. The EX30 also gets a robust suite of advanced safety features, including some new tech. For example, the Park Pilot Assist system lets drivers select a parking space in a 3D interface and can handle steering and braking through the whole process. 

2024 volvo ex30
Image credit: Volvo

Volvo electrified: EX30 vs. XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge 

Volvo repurposed the XC40’s underpinnings for use in the XC40 Recharge and C40 Recharge. Both are considerably more expensive than the EX30, and their reliance on a gas vehicle platform means that Volvo made some compromises on interior space and other packaging to accommodate the battery. They also lack the EX30’s range, as the XC40’s estimates land down at 223 miles. 

The trio of EVs all get similar tech features, and Google runs the show in each, but the EX30’s screen is larger and more prominently mounted in its interior. Volvo also removed most physical controls in favor of on-screen buttons, but the XC40 and C40 Recharge were already mostly bereft of buttons. 

Besides price and some equipment differences, the EX30 is not a wild departure from Volvo’s existing EVs. The brand clearly defined its intent with electrification and has so far followed it closely. That results in sustainable materials throughout the EX30 and older models, and Volvo noted that it was able to reduce the EX30’s carbon footprint over 124,724 miles of driving to less than 30 tons. 

2024 volvo ex30
Image credit: Volvo

What else is going on with Volvo?

Volvo has focused on technology improvements and vehicle development in recent times and has two brand-new EVs to show for it. At the same time, the brand has seen an uptick in sales over the first two quarters of 2023 and has picked up accolades for new models such as the S60 and XC60, which earned high accolades from reviewers.

The automaker plans to build the upcoming EX90 at its factory in South Carolina, but no such plans have been announced for the EX30. Because of their foreign manufacturing locations, none of Volvo’s current EVs are eligible for federal tax credits in the U.S. However, the EX90’s domestic assembly location may qualify it for at least half of the $7,500 credit. 

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Hummer EV running Android Automotive

Android Automotive OS: Full list of cars with Google’s standalone operating system in 2023

In a world where our phones, homes, and even watches are smart, it should come as no surprise that our cars are following suit. While traditional in-vehicle technologies like Bluetooth pairing and infotainment systems have been around for years, the shift to more comprehensive, intelligent operating systems in our vehicles is becoming increasingly evident.  Among the front-runners in this domain is Android Automotive OS (AAOS), Google’s vehicle-specific operating system, not to be confused with Android Auto. As we see the projected number of cars equipped with Android Automotive expected to double by the end of this year, it’s clear that this technology is swiftly becoming a major focus for manufacturers.

General Motors (GM) announced earlier this year that it would phase out Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing the company to replace both systems with an integrated operating system based on AAOS. GM will partner with Google — the brains behind Android Auto and Android Automotive. This move aims to facilitate GM’s collection of data on driver behavior and EV charging patterns, and allow for improved system integrations, such as battery preparation for accelerated charging.

Understanding the difference: Android vs Android Automotive

Infotainment system tethered to phone using Android Auto
Image credit: Toyota

Despite their similar names, it’s important to understand that Android Auto and Android Automotive OS (AAOS) are fundamentally different systems. Android Auto operates as a phone projection app, essentially mirroring your phone’s screen and apps onto the vehicle’s infotainment display. Conversely, AAOS is a standalone system, fully integrated into the vehicle, eliminating the need for phone connectivity. It also offers direct control over an array of vehicle functions, including remote access, climate control, windows, lights, ride settings, and so forth.

Google brings native YouTube, Zoom, and Waze to your dashboard

With the upcoming release of Automotive OS 14, Google is now implementing apps like YouTube and Waze, and video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex into AAOS. It’s also adding multi-display support, allowing for shared viewing across multiple screens. Initially, the latest models from Polestar will be the first to offer these features, before progressing to other brands. 

These developments reflect a broader focus on expanding in-car entertainment, with other car manufacturers like BPD and Hyundai collaborating with Nvidia to integrate its video game streaming service, GeForce Now, into new vehicles. Tesla has also offered in-car video games, having integrated with Valve Corp.’s Steam game distribution platform last year.

Creating car apps is a complex task due to stringent worldwide safety regulations, posing a big challenge for small developers. Google mitigates this by offering pre-approved “app templates” to streamline development and ensure regulatory compliance. However, this method restricts app types and functionality, with different limitations on platforms like Android Auto and AAOS. Google allows only six types of apps: Media, Messaging, Navigation, Point of Interest, Video, and Internet of Things. Car manufacturers can include their own software, but these have to comply with safety regulations and are often designed not to work while the car is moving.

List of cars with Android Automotive

Top-down view of a Volvo EX30
Image credit: Volvo

Android Automotive remains in the early stages of adoption, meaning only a handful of models currently support this technology. As of May 2023, the following is a comprehensive list of cars equipped with Android Automotive:















Renault (Europe only)

  • Renault Austral
  • Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric
  • 2024 Renault Espace

This list is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years, with companies such as Ford and Volkswagen seeking to incorporate Android Automotive widely across their vehicle lineup, possibly in future iterations of the F-150 Lightning as well as the upcoming VW ID.2all. Meanwhile, Porsche is in discussions with Google to incorporate the system, and Mercedes-Benz is preparing to feature its own open-source version of it. By 2024, the majority of car manufacturers are anticipated to offer models equipped with the OS.

It’s important to keep in mind that manufacturers can personalize the OS’s interface to fit their needs, meaning it won’t look the same in all cars. For example, the user interface of a Polestar 2’s Android Automotive may look different from that of a GMC Hummer EV, even though both vehicles use the same OS. Just like Android phones, there are many ways that Android Automotive can be implemented – with different features, different processors, and so forth.

Cars with Google Automotive Services (GAS)

It’s also worth keeping in mind that only certain models with Android Automotive get shipped with Google Automotive Services (GAS). GAS is essentially a suite of Google apps and services made for Android Automotive, including Google Assistant, Google Maps, and the Play Store. Models without GAS won’t allow you to download third-party apps unless they’ve been approved by Google. Rivian, Lucid, Dodge, Chrysler, and BMW currently don’t support GAS.

Should I buy a car with Android Automotive?

While Android Automotive has the potential to advance in-car technology, it’s still in its primitive stages. Many of its features are comparable to Android Auto, and some apps available via phone projection may not be compatible with your version of AAOS. Users have also mentioned some issues with the system, like the interface being a bit slow or awkward to use, and the streaming quality not hitting the mark (worse than simply streaming via Bluetooth). As Android Automotive matures, it will undoubtedly offer a more advanced and feature-rich experience. Until then, it probably shouldn’t be a major consideration for most prospective car buyers.

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VW ID.2all on stage

Volkswagen ID.2all: the affordable EV Americans say they want, but probably wouldn’t buy

Volkswagen is rapidly expanding its electrification efforts globally, including in the United States, with the VW ID.4. The automaker recently unveiled the new ID.7, and we anticipate unleash of the ID. Buzz van very soon. It’s shown us its vision of a small electric hatchback in the ID.2all concept car, a surprisingly Golf-looking hatchback that will sell for under €25,000, or a little over $26,000. Unfortunately, that car is unlikely to reach the US, as Americans are terrible at buying anything but enormous SUVs and trucks. However, even without a domestic launch, the car promises affordable thrills and offers clean styling.

The gas-powered VW Golf was discontinued in the US in 2021. Now all that remains are the Golf GTI and Golf R Mk8 models, two sportier takes on the standard Golf you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find at your local car meet – I know we’ve seen our fair share at NYCars & Coffee. No doubt because of its popularity with the enthusiast market, according to Motor1.com, the GTI had outsold the standard Golf three-to-one in 2018 before getting the axe. So while we might not see the ID.2all stateside, we’ll likely get the souped-up performance variants, if the ID.2 really is the Golf’s successor.

VW ID.2all price, specs, and trim levels

VW ID.2all front profile
Image credit: Volkswagen

We don’t know the exact pricing yet, but we expect VW to stick to that sub-€25,000 pricing model outlined with the concept car launch. There will likely be higher-priced variants offering more range and better performance. However, the base model’s 280 miles of range presents an excellent value for the price. Higher trims or battery configurations could add a few thousand to the MSRP, but there’s nothing wrong with the baseline estimate.

Volkswagen does a stellar job at including solid features and upgrades with each trim level without gouging for dollars in packages or standalone options packages. Buyers will have a choice of trim level and likely a couple of battery and powertrain options. With the ID.4, VW initially offered a standard-range model with rear-wheel drive and a Pro model with a larger battery pack and available all-wheel drive. Now, there are several trims that build on those basic configurations.

In terms of features, expect Volkswagen’s distinctive upscale interior finishes with a large screen and digital gauge cluster. Unlike some automakers, VW hasn’t completely ditched its physical HVAC controls.

The ID.2all’s size means it’ll have a tiny back seat. Though if it’s on the Golf’s level, the rear bench will be surprisingly spacious for the car. Advanced safety features are almost guaranteed, though the configuration and availability of the tech may differ depending on the country. 

Volkswagen electrified: ID.2all vs. ID.4 and ID.7

Volkswagen recently announced the ID.7 for the American market, which will join the ID. Buzz electric van and ID.4 crossover. The automaker is unlikely to release the ID.2all here because small hatchbacks don’t sell anywhere near as well as larger SUVs and trucks, and all of the American market EVs are larger than the diminutive hatchback. They’re all made by the same company, so shared DNA is inevitable. 

VW ID.2all interior and tech

Like the ID.4, the ID.2all may get LED lights and standard IQ.DRIVE safety equipment. Its price means it will likely do without some features, including wireless charging and heated seats. Higher trims may add larger wheels, ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, and a sunroof. Volkswagen has a focus on sustainable materials, so the car’s interior may lean into that philosophy with the upholstery and trim made from recycled materials.

The ID.7 is a large sedan, so the differences between it and the ID.2all will be evident out of the gate. The ID.7’s interior is more upscale than we expect from the ID.2all and has much more space. At the same time, the ID.7 has a unique hatch-trunk that technically makes it a hatchback, but the space underneath it is far more generous than what we’ll see in the ID.2all.

Volkswagen news

With the imminent release of the long-awaited ID.Buzz, Volkswagen is at a critical juncture. The automaker’s earlier EVs have sold reasonably well. Here in the States, however, the ID.4 faces a concerning recall because some drivers have reported the doors opening at random times. Globally, Volkswagen has been criticized for moving too slowly on EVs and maintaining a manufacturing presence in China, where there are big questions about forced labor and human rights.

The company has also shown how complex in-house technology management can be. Its CARIAD division has chewed through leaders like a football team at a pizza buffet. These difficulties have caused delays in models from other VW Group brands, including Porsche. The software will do exciting things for VW once it’s finished, including providing the backbone for its autonomous driving program.

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F-150 Lightning in the dirt

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning: an electric truck that still looks like a truck

The Ford F-150 Lightning, known colloquially as the Ford Lightning, takes a traditional approach to electrification in that it’s not trying to be an interstellar spaceship on wheels. This truck looks and performs like a truck. I’ll be damned. The F-150 Lightning offers strong towing and payload numbers, a spacious and upscale interior, and a long electric range.

Though it has been on sale for a couple of model years, Ford still struggles to keep pace with demand, and the wait for a new truck extends to a year for some configurations. Still, if you do find a Lightning for sale, the pickup offers actual truck capability without the need for gas, and that’s a compelling proposition for many buyers. 

Ford Lightning price and specs

Ford has raised prices on the Lightning a few times since its inception, moving it from the sub-$40,000 starting price to almost $60,000 at the bottom end.

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Pro

  • Price: $59,974
  • Range: 240 miles (standard), 320 miles (extended)
  • Horsepower: 462 hp (standard), 580 hp (extended)
  • Torque: 775 lb-ft
  • Curb weight: 6,015 lbs (standard), 6,361 lbs (extended)
  • 0-60 time: 4.1 seconds (standard), 3.8s (extended)

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning XLT

  • Price: $63,474
  • Range: 240 miles (standard), 320 miles (extended)
  • Horsepower: 462 hp (standard), 580 hp (extended)
  • Torque: 775 lb-ft
  • Curb weight: 6,015 lbs (standard), 6,361 lbs (extended)
  • 0-60 time: 4.1 seconds (standard), 3.8s (extended)

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Lariat

  • Price: $75,974
  • Range: 240 miles (standard), 320 miles (extended)
  • Horsepower: 462 hp (standard), 580 hp (extended)
  • Torque: 775 lb-ft
  • Curb weight: 6,015 lbs (standard), 6,361 lbs (extended)
  • 0-60 time: 4.1 seconds (standard), 3.8s (extended)

2023 Ford F-150 Lightning Platinum

  • Price: $98,074
  • Range: 320 miles
  • Horsepower: 580 hp
  • Torque: 775 lb-ft
  • Curb weight: 6,893 lbs
  • 0-60 time: 4 seconds
Image credit: Ford

Ford options most Lightning trims with either a standard- or the pricier extended-range battery. Not only does the extended-range battery give you an extra 80 miles of juice, but it also adds nearly 120 horses, bringing the Lightning’s official 0-60 time from 4.1 seconds to under 4.

Naturally, the Platinum comes standard with the extended-range battery. The tradeoff is more than 800 lbs of added weight. And sure, that can add a fraction of a second to your 0-60 time, but who’s complaining about a 4-second pickup truck? Remember the Ram SRT-10? That thing had a Viper engine and just barely managed under 5. Besides, trucks are all about how much you can haul before you stall, which the Ford Lightning has in spades. With 775 lb-ft of torque gracing the lineup, it’s rated for a towing capacity up to 10,000 pounds – although, if we’re being real, you probably shouldn’t go over 2,000.

Buyers can add towing packages, upgraded wheels, power side steps, and a myriad of interior upgrades. That said, the F-150 Lightning is expensive and has only gotten pricier as time has gone on. Part of that is due to inflation, but it’s the opposite of the actions Ford took with its other mass-market EV, the Mustang Mach-E.

The F-150 Lightning currently competes against the Rivian R1T seemingly for the titles of Most Expensive and Hardest to Find. In the near future, the Ram 1500 Revolution, Chevrolet 1500 EV, and GMC Sierra EV will land, giving the Lightning a whole host of electric rivals. The Ram is more traditionally styled like the Ford, but the two GM EVs are futuristic in appearance. Pricing for all is expected to be close to the Ford’s MSRP, so we’re in for an expensive electric future in which we’ve subbed burning gas for burning cash.

Ford F-150 Lightning interior and tech

Just like its gas-powered brethren, Ford offers several upgrades and customization options for the F-150 Lightning. While the top Platinum trim brings all the goodies, including leather upholstery and a panoramic sunroof, lower trims can be outfitted with much of the high-end kit through packages and standalone options.

As with most modern vehicles, but especially the electric ones, the 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning follows the polarizing trend that is replacing physical HVAC controls with an oversized tablet. The 15.5-inch touchscreen display in the F-150 Lightning’s center console runs the automaker’s own Sync 4A software for all your truck specific needs. Thankfully, for everything else, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (not to be confused with Android Automotive) still remain.

Unlike GM, whose electric Silverado and Hummer trucks have taken to Android Automotive, Ford is sticking to the proprietary stuff, for better or worse. On one hand, because Sync 4A is built by Ford for Ford drivers, its interface is tailor-made to fit the F-150 Lightning. In the main control panel, for instance, the first selection you’ll see highlighted is the onboard scales feature – as long as you have the tow technology package. This lets you check the weight of your payload to make sure you didn’t overdo it on the supplies for your latest home improvement project.

Like the onboard scales utility, some of the more exciting tech is exclusive to certain packages or options. The 360-degree exterior zone lighting, ambient interior lighting, leather seats, and moonroof are all add-ons, as are the upgraded B&O speakers. Even the trailer brake controller is locked to the tow technology package. But no matter how it’s configured, the Ford Lightning comes standard with a host of different drive modes, tons of hidden storage as well as a frunk, built-in navigation, and a stow-away shifter that converts your center console into an in-car workstation.

Ford electrified trucks: F-150 Lightning vs F-150 PowerBoost hybrid

Image credit: Ford

The Ford F-150 Lightning offers similar configurations and options to the standard F-150, including the PowerBoost hybrid truck. They both provide in-bed generators and traditional truck capabilities, but the similarities do not extend to their powertrains. The hybrid powertrain delivers 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque, giving it stout towing and hauling capabilities – but it still uses gas. 

The Lightning offers up to 320 miles of range on a charge and can use DC fast charging to charge from 15 to 80 percent in around 40 minutes for the extended-range battery. The challenge with an electric truck is that doing any “truck stuff” reduces the range. Towing and hauling put more strain on the electric drivetrain and can zap range. Additionally, cold weather can drain the batteries faster, as using the heat and other accessories takes more power. 

Pricing is another significant difference between the two trucks. The Lightning easily crests the $100,000 mark in its top configuration with options, while adding the hybrid powertrain to the standard F-150 drives the price upward by about $3,300. Of course, the hybrid requires gas purchases, and despite its improved fuel economy, it can be more expensive to operate. Charging costs money, but it can be cheaper than refueling. Some configurations of the Lightning are eligible for federal tax credits of up to $7,500, but some are too expensive to quality. 

Ford Motor Company news

Ford is deep into its electrification strategy and has made progress on its Blue Oval City EV and battery production facility in Tennessee. In addition to the F-150 Lightning, the automaker sells the Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit EVs in the United States. Ford has partnered with Volkswagen and others to produce and sell unique EVs in other countries, but there’s no indication that those models will make it to North America.

Ford has struggled with quality in recent years and has faced multiple recalls from all corners of its vehicle catalog. Consumers tend to rate EVs poorly for quality and satisfaction, so it’s not just a Ford problem, but the company has spent a ton of time and money fixing quality issues that could have been resolved on the factory floor. CEO Jim Farley has acknowledged the problem and promised a plan to fix the quality issues, but Ford has work to do.

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Android Automotive OS vs Android Auto: Wait, there’s a difference?

With technology taking center stage in modern car production, things like making calls, sending texts, and using apps from your dashboard have increasingly become the norm. In shopping for a new car, you might have heard terms like ‘Android Auto’ and ‘Android Automotive’ thrown around and assumed they’re the same thing. Sadly, Google has done us the disservice of putting the burden on our plate to shed light on the real head-scratcher of a conversation that is Android Automotive vs Android Auto.

While services like CarPlay and Android Auto rely on your phone to function, Google has taken a cue from Tesla, building an entire operating system (OS) from the ground up to ensure you’re never without internet, nor is your phone battery going to take a beating from the endless hours spent streaming music and navigating from place to place using Google Maps. On the surface, that’s the main difference: Android Auto is powered by your phone and Android Automotive is powered by the car itself.
Much like the mobile version of Android, you would find pre-installed on a Samsung Galaxy S23, for instance, Android Automotive is a standalone operating system built into the head unit in what is currently a limited selection of vehicles. Unlike CarPlay or Android Auto, it isn’t necessarily tethered to your phone, even if they share many of the same accounts to access essential apps like Google Maps and Spotify.

Android Automotive OS vs Android Auto

Image credit: Google

While Android Automotive is a dedicated OS programmed to work with a vehicle’s hardware, Android Auto is a platform within your car’s own native OS – usually developed in-house by the manufacturer – that mirrors supported apps from your phone. 

Once connected, Android Auto opens your car’s existing OS up to display certain apps from your phone – navigation, calls, music playback, what have you, without suction cupping it to your windshield or mounting it to your AC vent. Android Automotive works independently of your other devices, so you can use it even if you own an iPhone. 

Although both Android Automotive and Android Auto are both in-vehicle solutions made by Google, Android Automotive has utility outside of software alone. With it, you can use it to adjust climate controls, the sunroof, windows, mirrors, and even massage seats if you have ’em. Android Automotive is more akin to what Tesla has in its cars, an all-in-one infotainment suite with a hand in everything your car does.

A significant disparity between Android Automotive vs Android Auto is the compatibility requirements. While Android Auto necessitates you own a smartphone running Android 6.0 or later, Android Automotive is limited to just a few vehicles that arrive on the lot with it already installed – in other words, if you buy a car without it, there’s no option to add Android Automotive to your vehicle later on. But, once you have it, Android Automotive is the more reliable platform, as its services won’t be interrupted in the event your phone dies.

What is Android Automotive OS? 

Android Automotive is a version of Google’s Android OS designed specifically for vehicle infotainment systems – the big tablet or normal-sized display, depending on your make and model, sitting in your center console. 

Because we’re in an awkward stage of automotive technology where there is no uniform approach, sometimes the infotainment OS is a stand-in for HVAC controls, and in other cases, it’s not. Either way, since it’s designed to scale across many different vehicles, Android Automotive lets you adjust climate controls, organize your apps into folders, talk to Google Assistant, and more. It especially comes in handy for EV owners as it can provide accurate charge level information.
Volvo and Audi were the first auto brands to partner with Google in building Android Automotive for their next-generation vehicles. Although Google revealed Android Automotive to the public in 2017, it didn’t officially debut until the Polestar 2 came along in 2021.

What is GAS (Google Automotive Services)?

In addition to Android Automotive, some supported vehicles also ship with Google Automotive Services (GAS). In this case, you can download third-party apps found on the Google Play Store. Without GAS, Android Automotive users are limited to apps authorized by Google.

What is Android Auto? 

Android Auto is an app for Android phone users to display content from their mobile devices to the infotainment display in their cars. Often bundled with CarPlay, Apple’s iPhone equivalent, Android Auto has been a mainstay since Google announced it in 2014.

The Hyundai Sonata made history as the first model to come with Android Auto, paving the way for nearly every new model year to support it today. Google claims over 500 models are compatible with more to be added soon. Don’t expect to find Android Auto or CarPlay if you’re thinking of getting a Tesla, though. Without a warranty-defiant workaround, the House of Musk still gives drivers no choice but to use its own proprietary software. 

Android Auto gets frequent over-the-air system updates and bug fixes, always doing its best to deliver the optimal on-the-road experience for Android folks. You can use Android Auto either wirelessly or with a USB cable, though compatibility varies from car to car. Only 2020 models and newer support wireless connectivity.

Which is better – Android Automotive OS vs Android Auto?

Image credit: General Motors
After axing CarPlay and Android Auto, future GM vehicles like the Silverado EV will feature Android Automotive.

While many see Android Automotive as a replacement for Android Auto, it’s unlikely Google will discontinue the latter. Android Auto. Despite its limitations, Android Auto greatly improves the driving experience for those otherwise stuck with software designed by the manufacturer. 

On the other hand, it’s possible automakers themselves will ditch Android Auto and CarPlay in favor of full-service solutions like Android Automotive, as General Motors recently announced it’s doing, to avoid developing and maintaining their own software. Contrary to the recent backlash that decision sparked, it appears to be the inevitable next step for automakers. GM is just bearing the brunt of the outrage because it’s pushing ahead first.

If you can find a car you like within your budget that has Android Automotive already installed, it is without a doubt the more complete product. However, while the list of supported vehicles is growing, Android Automotive is still in its early days. Unless you can spend upwards of $60K before dealership fees and taxes on a brand-new set of wheels, Android Automotive isn’t an option for most people right now.

Both Android Automotive and Android Auto come in handy, but their increased adoption raises concerns about cybersecurity threats. As cars and tech evolve to become one, drivers open themselves up to unprecedented vulnerabilities. Not only do you have to worry about packing your kids’ lunch and getting to work on time, but now there’s also the risk of having your assisted driving systems hijacked by a malicious assailant. In other words, as Ubisoft predicted years ago, Watch_Dogs is one step closer to becoming real.

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