Tag Archives: BEVs

Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot dashboard

We tested a Level 3 self-driving Mercedes, and it’s better than expected

As I watch YouTube videos and catch up on my emails, traffic flows around me on the 10 freeway headed east toward Downtown Los Angeles. Eventually, I look up – yep, still bumper to bumper with no hope of respite. I send a few texts, then glance around at the drivers stuck next to me, most driving every bit as distracted as me. If a CHP officer passed, they’d be breaking the law. Not me, though, because I’m behind the wheel of an all-electric EQS equipped with Mercedes-Benz’s new Drive Pilot system.

Mercedes recently brought a fleet of cars out to LA hoping to show media the industry’s latest and greatest in the inevitable, yet sluggish, crawl toward self-driving vehicles on public roads. Benz also brought a team of engineers along to answer any questions we might come up with while testing the first and only Level 3 system approved for use in the United States — and yes, there were many questions worth asking and answering.

What’s the difference between Level 1, 2, and 3 autonomous driving?

Before I let a German robot pilot me around the universe’s main hub for rush-hour traffic, I spent some time giving myself a quick primer on what exactly the autonomous driving levels 1 through 5 actually mean. And the differences bear repeating to fully comprehend Mercedes-Benz’s achievement as the first automaker to earn official Level 3 approval (at least in California, but more on that later). 

Levels 1 and 2 are already commonplace: Level 1 is either adaptive cruise control or lane keep assist programs that still require a human driver’s hand on the wheel while Level 2 is able to take on multiple functions of steering, acceleration, and braking with a human’s oversight still present. Tesla’s Autopilot and GM’s Super Cruise, for example, qualify as Level 2 autonomy — though systems that can manage a lane change are now sometimes called Level 2+.

Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

Level 3 ups the ante into a realm much nearer to true autonomous driving, albeit bounded by very tightly defined scenarios. On paper, Mercedes-Benz calls Drive Pilot “SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving” to satisfy the requisite legalese. In short, that means the system will only work on some roads, at some speeds, and within frameworks that clearly delineate risk management and liability for the system hardware, software, and programming.

To an extent, Level 4 remains somewhat theoretical, taking the onus off the driver entirely and letting the car intervene in every scenario. A human can still override in the case of emergency, though — think robotaxis and delivery shuttles undergoing tests across the planet for the past few years. Level 4 only exists currently in certain parking garages in Germany, which are very controlled environments, to say the least. 

Level 5, meanwhile, is the full dreamboat, with no driver required and possibly not even steering wheels or pedals in the vehicle. We’re talking full robotic overlords — a new world order that will likely require separate roads with no humans to throw off the synchronized dance too much.

To clarify, the technology to enable Level 5 autonomy already exists. While Tesla led the charge (pun fully intended) toward Level 2, Elon Musk’s vision was limited (literally) by using only video-based analysis of road conditions. Level 3 so far requires more detection hardware, in Mercedes-Benz’s case a combination of stereo multipurpose camera angles to simulate three-dimensional vision, along with long-range radar that scans the road and environment using electromagnetic waves, and long-range lidar that scans with swiveling laser beams at various heights. The combined radar, lidar, video, and even audio (to detect far-off emergency sirens) includes many hardware redundancies to prevent a single failure from bricking the system or causing potential gaps in analysis that might lead to an accident.

Which Mercedes-Benz models come equipped with Drive Pilot?

Benz’s backups and redundancies run the gamut, from two separate electric steering motors to double ECUs, a rear camera dedicated to emergency vehicle overtaking, microphones inside the cabin, a new antenna for satellite positioning accurate to one centimeter, maps that take into consideration continental shift over time, and even a road moisture sensor that detects the sound of water within the front wheel arches. Model year 2024 EQS and S-Class cars will be available with the suite beginning in early 2024 — surprisingly, at no additional cost upfront.

Actually using the hardware requires committing to a subscription of $2,500 per year, though, and only customers in California and Nevada get the option because Drive Pilot is only approved in those two states. To achieve that certification, Mercedes-Benz mapped out over 100,000 miles of testing in California within what engineers called Drive Pilot’s “operational design domain” (ODD), which means on freeways where stop-and-go traffic is common. Challenges included teaching the computer to recognize lane stripes versus reflective dots, mapping GPS locations for multi-level freeways, and sorting out the proper use of carpool lanes. 

The California Highway Patrol actually worked closely with Mercedes to develop the system and even requested a potentially novel turquoise light visible outside cars using Level 3 programs so that emergency responders can identify what they’re dealing with more easily. Nevada, on the other hand, only required self-certification (because of course, it’s Nevada).

Drive Pilot’s ODD requires speeds below 40 miles per hour, clear lane markings, not too much road curvature, clear weather and lighting conditions, and a high-definition map to be available in the system’s memory. Mercedes declined to confirm exactly how many miles within California and Nevada the system currently covers, though, presumably because the stat will pale in comparison to Autopilot or Super Cruise.

How to use Drive Pilot

Many fewer miles might sound less than ideal in headlines, but Drive Pilot theoretically delivers an entirely different level of capability. So how well does it work? I got assigned an EQS at random, with a quiet, knowledgeable engineer in the passenger seat. First, we watched a mandatory educational video on the large center console screen, which all customers will need to complete before being allowed to activate Drive Pilot. Then I purposefully drove us into rush-hour traffic headed towards Downtown LA from Santa Monica — exactly what I try to avoid on a Friday afternoon. As soon as we hopped on the 10, we hit a bumper-to-bumper jam. Perfect!

Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

The EQS immediately recognized the situation and blue lights above the two buttons on the steering wheel lit up. The gauge cluster also prompted the fact that Drive Pilot was now available. I touched the button and slowly felt the steering wheel begin to shift underhand. Hesitant, of course, I hovered for a few seconds to make sure everything stayed hunky-dory. Then I laughed.

After all, at this point, we’re not too far removed from the Level 2 systems I’m used to testing. But for those, I can usually count to only 10 seconds before the cars start dinging for me to give the steering wheel a nudge with my hand and fake like I’m paying attention. Not so here. Time to mess with robots, then.

Trusting the ghost in the machine

First, I picked up my iPhone to see exactly how distracted Mercedes believes is too distracted. No problem, until I essentially buried my face in the phone to the point that the infrared eye-tracking system could no longer detect my eyes for an extended period. Ding ding, time to take over driving again. After a few seconds with my hands on the wheel, the blue lights illuminated again and I ceded control back to the car again.

Next, I reclined the EQS’s sumptuous seat, which reps had earlier said would cue a warning. Not so, I found, until my eyes once again lost sight of the infrared camera’s viewing angle. Once more I straightened out with my hands on the wheel and activated Drive Pilot. This time around, I put on sunglasses — which the Lexus RX500h I tested earlier this year struggled with during even Level 2 driving. Not the case here.

Finally, I started fiddling with YouTube and pulled up some rally racing videos as a proper distraction. Not only did the Dolby Atmos sound system blast those banshee engines screaming past, but I could click around and fully absorb in finding good vids without Drive Pilot fretting. All the while, the EQS kept a comfortable following distance from the car ahead of me and I even noticed the car almost imperceptibly shifting over in the lane a few times when motorcycles came up from behind while lane-splitting — a uniquely Californian concern for autonomous driving software.

Image credit: Michael Van Runkle

I never pushed the limit much past 30 seconds of dinging, but Mercedes-Benz reps explained that should I have been completely derelict in my duties, videos playing on the center console would have frozen, a yellow message would have lit up, red lights and acoustic warnings would have increased, and then the seatbelt would have jerked for 10 seconds. In the off chance a driver still remains unresponsive, the car will then slow to a standstill while staying in its lane and, assuming a medical issue may be underway, turns the hazard lights on, calls emergency response automatically, and unlocks the doors.

Staying in the lane is a critical point here. But so is the top speed of 40 miles per hour (or 60 kilometers per hour in Germany, where Drive Pilot began customer sales earlier in 2023). If traffic clears up enough for the car to exceed that speed, Mercedes-Benz’s Level 2+ system can initiate, with lane keep and adaptive cruise activated and lane changes allowed up to 85 miles per hour.

Other than the physical hardware and computing power to analyze the data from all those sensors and cameras, Level 3 also requires human programmers to finetune the way Drive Pilot interacts with a human driver. And I found myself almost concerned by how quickly I developed confidence in the Level 3 system. Dropping back down to only Level 2, on the other hand, requires a bit of a mindset shift that needs to be very clearly delineated for the driver — and Benz nailed that transition, too. 

We’ve come a long way from Level 1 and 2 autonomy, largely because of the smoothness by which Drive Pilot steers and manages speed. No lurching or sudden braking, no ping-ponging off lines or cracks in the road, no random freakouts in my hour-plus of driving (or riding, I suppose, would be more accurate). I only drove the EQS, though, and no S-Class. Theoretically, an EV might be better for modulating speed and braking.

Theory in practice… and liability

You might have noticed my frequent use of the word “theoretically” to describe many of Drive Pilot’s capabilities. But this is the real world, and autonomous driving theory is now being enacted in real life. I went into this day of testing with Isaac Asimov on my mind, ready to apply the three rules of robotics to the best of my abilities. But Mercedes-Benz clearly designed Drive Pilot’s Level 3 ODD to reduce liability the best it could.

The Mercedes reps I spoke with declined to share any stats about how Drive Pilot’s debut in Germany has performed, other than to say that no major incidents have occurred so far. But we don’t even know how many customers shelled out that annual fee this year. Still, I brought up the classic conundrum: What if the Drive Pilot needs to make a split-second decision between hitting a pregnant mother or two children? 

Highly unlikely on the 10 freeway, was the answer, though I’ve seen stranger things — like when I was testing Super Cruise in a GMC Hummer EV and an E90 BMW came crawling across traffic at a full right angle. Super Cruise balked in that scenario and forced me to a full ABS stop in a 9,000-pound brick. Would Drive Pilot pick up the E90 on lidar or radar earlier and response quickly enough? I don’t know, but I do know that the EQS would not leave its lane to miss the BMW in that scenario. The ODD wouldn’t let it.

More realistically, imagine a motorcycle cuts into the lane without signaling and brakes hard. Driving 40 miles per hour, would Drive Pilot slam on the brakes and risk being hit by a hypothetical semi truck following too closely behind? Probably, because that would put liability on the semi-truck driver even if the resultant accident would be more damaging than swerving into the side of an SUV in the next lane while avoiding the motorcyclist.

But therein lies the big question: liability. Even if Drive Pilot was truly programmed with liability in mind, who exactly makes the final determination of liability in the case of an accident becomes a critical question. 

The liability question fits into the definitions of Level 2 and 3, to an extent: In Level 2, the driver is responsible but for Level 3, the vehicle is responsible. As long as the driver uses a Level 3 system as intended — which does require keeping the car well maintained so that all the hardware and software can operate as intended — then if the system fails, Benz is on the hook.

I asked whether Drive Pilot records the passenger compartment video to make sure that drivers didn’t cause problems. Apparently not. Next, I can’t help but wonder whether insurance companies will be happy sorting out the blame game when robots and massive multinational conglomerate legal teams get into the mix. Sure, California and Nevada (well, Nevada sort of) legally approved Level 3 in such strict scenarios, but we all know how these things play out when big money enters the picture.

For Benz, the next step for Drive Pilot will involve ramping up to 80 miles per hour in Level 3, exponentially increasing the following and stopping distances. Therefore video, radar, and lidar range are required. But then the system will work for real road-tripping, rather than requiring a step back down into Level 2+ (even if Level 2+ works quite well, too).

For me, the most important question only came to mind after the fact. I’m competitive with the robots that will one day take over my driving duties, so I need to know: In an EQS, does Drive Pilot improve EV range versus a smooth, conscientious human driver? Answering that question will require much more testing, but for now, the future of autonomous driving is here — in an admittedly limited, yet still very impressive, capacity.

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The Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Model 2 and Tesla CyberTruck

Every new Tesla (supposedly) coming in 2024, 2025, and beyond

Tesla, the American automaker owned by electronic musician Grimes’ on-again-of-again “situationship” Elon Musk, continues to be one of the most popular and ubiquitous electric vehicles on the road. Despite the bad press surrounding the erstwhile richest man in the world’s stewardship over X (formerly known as Twitter), the enthusiasm for new (and used) Tesla electric vehicles remains high – and not just among Musk fanboys, as one might assume.

Elon Musk greets his fans at an event.
Elon Musk in happier times. Credit: AP/Andrej Sokolow

Since becoming one of the pioneering electric-only car companies, Tesla has had its fair share of controversies, blow-ups (both literal and figurative), and general bad vibes. The quintessential example of the adage “no such thing as bad press,” Tesla’s engineers are known for setting the pace within the industry (for better or worse) and the end result has been consistently impressive – with sales to match.

Chart credit: Statista

The Tesla landscape in 2023

If you’re thinking about going all-in on Mr. Musk’s latest mystery machines, some patience might pay off in the long run. Tesla continues to cut the MSRP for its cars, with further reductions expected following yet another earnings miss and waning investor confidence. Otherwise, you can find a used Tesla for less than the price of a base Nissan Altima, especially the Model 3.

For some bleak outsider comedy, the transcripts from the earnings call are out there – and they feature moments like this one that prove Elon totally knows what pennies are and also definitely watched Game of Thrones.

It’s like Game of Thrones but pennies. I mean, first approximation, if you’ve got a $40,000 car, and roughly 10,000 items in that car, that means each thing, on average, costs $4. So, in order to get the cost down, say, by 10%, you have to get $0.40 out of each part on average. It is a game of pennies.

Elon Musk – Tesla Q3 2023 Earnings Call

What’s next for Tesla in 2024 and beyond?

Now that we’ve got that all out of the way, let’s get to the fun stuff. As mentioned above, Tesla continues to innovate in the electric vehicle space. The American automaker’s upcoming roadmap includes a production fleet of Tesla Semi trucks, a refreshed Roadster 2.0, the diminutive Model 2 (or Baby), and of course the elephant-colored chunk of metal in the room – the Cybertruck.

Four of Tesla's upcoming electric vehicles, the Tesla Semi, The Tesla Roadster 2.0, the Tesla Model 2, and the Tesla Cybertruck.
Clockwise from top left: Tesla Semi, Tesla Roadster 2.0, Tesla Model 2, and Tesla Cybertruck (image: Acceleramota)

There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start with the long-promised reboot of the electric car that put Tesla on the map: the Roadster.

Roadster 2.0

When the original Tesla Roadster was announced for production in 2008, the upstart carmaker’s first release boasted some eye-popping stats. The sleek, futuristic design felt right for the advanced electric motor hidden within that could accelerate from 0 to 60 in 3.9 seconds. Throughout its lifespan, the Roadster has seen MSRPs for competitive models balloon, making the 2009 edition’s $98,000 price tag seem quaint in comparison. The original run of Tesla Roadsters ended in 2012 despite the 2010 model being Elon’s daily driver of choice. Since getting blasted off into literal space on the back of a goddamn rocket, the O.G. Tesla hasn’t made many headlines, so a refresh shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Elon's red Tesla Roadster which was mounted to the Falcon Heavy Rocket and shot into outer space. You can see the earth placidly behind the car.
“Elon’s Roadster” mounted on the Falcon Heavy Rocket (Credit: Wikipedia)

While official details are hard to find, it’s clear that the new model of the Tesla Roadster will pick up where version one left off. It will be sleek, it will be stylish, it will be full of next-level tech, it will be fast, and you’d better believe your ass that it is going to be expensive. The Tesla Roadster is not an entry-level electric vehicle and we can’t wait to see how it compares to the original. Unfortunately, for now, all we can do is poke around the internet for some concept art and dream of yet another high-performance vehicle we simply cannot afford.

Concept art of the Tesla Roadster 2.0
Image credit: Tesla

Tesla Roadster 2.0 info:

  • Expected model year: 2026
  • Expected MSRP: $200,000 (Founder’s edition: $250,000)
  • Expected acceleration: 0 to 60 in 1.9s
  • Expected top speed: 250mph (403kmh)
  • Expected battery storage: 200kwh
  • Expected battery range: 620 mi (998km)


Let me start this section with an apology. If you follow me on Twitter or know me IRL, you’ve probably heard me make fun of the Cybertruck. Maybe you’ve seen me make fun of the way it looks, or the door panels don’t align, or how it couldn’t jump a small curb in “off road mode”, or how its basic design flaws were costing the company untold millions. You definitely would’ve seen me make fun of the time he revealed the Cybertruck to investors by smashing its supposedly unbreakable window with a rock.

So yeah, there’s been a lot to make fun of with the Telsa Cybertruck, but this past week Elon completely redeemed himself. Oh no, I’m still joking, all he did was shoot it with a danged Tommy Gun – surely this will make the Cybertruck the #1 choice of getaway vehicle for old-timey scofflaws, rascals, and ne’erdowells.

There isn’t really much else to say about the Tesla Cybertruck that hasn’t already been said. At the moment of writing, Tesla is claiming a production run that’ll start in 2024, but even long-time fans are starting to lose faith. As a recent post on r/RealTesla (the Subreddit for Tesla drivers who haven’t “drank the Elon-Ade”) calls out:

While I have little faith in humanity left, surely nobody is going to actually buy a CyberTruck, right?

I just can’t imagine the shame.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be “that guy”?

Would you confuse all the smirking attention for admiration? I can’t get my head around the mental gymnastics it would take to buy, own and drive one.

Additionally, can you imagine the type of person who would buy one? Like, just think about it for a second. It’s horrible!

u/St3fanz on r/RealTesla
Concept art of the stainless steel Tesla Cybertruck on a desert somewhere.
Image credit: Tesla

The long and short of it is, we don’t really know when the Cybertruck will be available. The prototypes are breaking down like crazy and the model year just got pushed, this time to 2025. It certainly doesn’t inspire much confidence that Elon Musk is saying things like “[Tesla] dug our own grave with the Cybertruck” on investor calls.

Tesla Cybertruck Info:

  • Expected model year: 2025
  • Expected MSRP: $60,000 (single motor) $70,000 (dual motor) $80,000 (triple motor)
  • Expected acceleration: 0 to 60 in 6.5s (single motor) 4.5s (dual motor) 2.9s (triple motor)
  • Expected top speed: 120mph (193kmh)
  • Expected towing: 7,500 lbs (single motor) 10,000 lbs (dual motor) 14,000 lbs (triple motor)
  • Expected battery storage: 250kwh
  • Expected battery range: 250 mi (single motor) 300 mi (dual rotor) 500 mi (triple motor)
  • Expected seating: 6 adults
  • Expected cargo bed: 6.4ft (100 cu ft of volume)

Tesla Model 2 (Q/C)

When it comes to more practical electric vehicles in the works from Tesla, the Model 2 absolutely has the Cybertruck beat – but basically every EV available has the Cybertruck beat. Sometimes referred to as the Model Q or the Model C by the Tesla nerds who hopefully won’t find this article and “punish” me by clicking on it angrily (and repeatedly), the Tesla Model 2 promises to be a smaller, more-futuristic-seeming hatchback.

Tesla Model 2 teaser rendering
Image credit: Tesla

Taking design cues from both the popular Model Y and (apparently) [sigh] The Cybertruck, the Model 2’s real headline will be its price. In early teases about the new model, it appears the automaker is targeting a $25,000 MSRP for the base-level edition. Very little is known about the Tesla Model 2/Q/C, but we’ll be sure to update this page as soon as more information becomes available.

Tesla Model 2/Q/C Specs

  • Expected model year: 2025
  • Expected MSRP: $25,000
  • Expected acceleration: 0 to 60 in 5s
  • Expected top speed: 120mph (193kmh)
  • Expected battery storage: 75kwh
  • Expected battery range: 279 mi (single motor)

Tesla Semi

Concept art of the "New Tesla Semi" semi truck.
Tesla Semi concept art (Credit: Tesla)

The Tesla Semi truck was called “badass” when the company announced it way back in 2017 and while the aggressively futuristic freight vehicle has impressed in the abstract, the rollout has been a bit of a mess. Musk’s notoriously dodgy PR is at least partially to blame for the confusion, according to my new favorite website Freight Waves,

Trucks in the United States are allowed to weigh a maximum of 80,000 pounds, including the tractor, the trailer and everything you’re fitting inside. Electric trucks, like the Semi, are allowed to weigh 82,000 pounds. Companies typically want to haul as much as they can in a single truck, so getting close to that 80,000-pound limit is ideal.

However, Tesla, which did not respond to a press inquiry, has not released information on how much the truck actually weighs.

That limits what the Semi is able to haul, and for how long. Right now, snack and beverage behemoth PepsiCo is the only company to have received its Tesla Semis. It has three dozen electric big rigs servicing two California warehouses.

From one base in Modesto, California, 15 Tesla Semis are hauling Frito-Lay products up to 425 miles, according to a 2022 Reuters article. That means potato chips and other snack foods — a (literally) low-lift task. From another base in Sacramento, California, 31 Tesla Semis are hauling loads of soda. It’s a much heavier load, but these trips are around 100 miles, per Reuters. 

That would make the Tesla Semi a less versatile truck than a traditional option, where you know what it weighs and how long a distance it can handle. When communicating to a commercial audience, it’s crucial to include those details.

Rachel Premack – Freight Waves

Most recently, the Tesla Semis that have been put into use had a major safety recall after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered the electric trucks could “fail to move into the park position when the parking brake is activated,” which is kind of an important thing for a 30,000+ lb truck to be able to do.

New Tesla electric semi trucks parked at the Pepsi plant in Sacramento.
Image credit: PepsiCo
  • Expected model year: ??
  • Expected MSRP: $250,000+
  • Expected acceleration: 0 to 60 in 20s
  • Expected maximum gross combined weight: 82,000 lbs
  • Expected battery range: 300-500 mi


So, there we have it, every new vehicle Tesla claims will be released in the next few years. We’ll keep this page updated when more details come in, but candidly I would not be surprised if at least one of these models fails to materialize before 2030. Maybe I’m being a pessimist, but then I look at the Cybertruck and I know deep in my soul I am right.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Roadster 2.0?

The Second-Generation Tesla Roadster was teased in 2017, but hard details are difficult to find. At the time of publication, the Tesla Roadster 2.0 is rumored to be part of the 2026 model year.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Cybertruck?

Your guess is as good as ours. Right now it’s looking like the 2025 model year will be the first full production year for the Tesla Cybertruck, but we won’t hold our breaths.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Model 2/Q/C?

While Tesla has been teasing it for a while now, details about the hatchback Tesla Model 2 (also known as the Model Q or Model C) are scarce. This entry-level electric vehicle will have an MSRP of around $25,000 and could be part of the 2026 model year.

When will Tesla release the Tesla Semi Truck?

A fleet of Tesla Semi Trucks was delivered to PepsiCo in Sacramento, CA late last year, but the production model has not yet surfaced. Based on the relative lack of updates, we’re anticipating more information in 2024 and beyond.

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Toyota North Carolina Battery Plant construction site

Toyota goes all in with new $8 billion investment in North Carolina battery plant

Toyota is serious about EVs. It announced an $8 billion cash injection into the North Carolina battery plant. This comes after the 2021 $1.29 billion investment in the new Liberty plant, bringing the total investment to $13.9 billion. It will create around 5,000 new jobs and be an economic boost for the area. However, this timeline and location are not surprising at all.

On October 4th, Toyota announced its partnership with LG Energy Solution to supply EV batteries. This multi-pronged approach is motivated by material and skills shortages already brought to light by the Toyota Bz4x and Cadillac Lyriq production issues. Although, you could pick a legacy automaker from the hat, and you won’t find one without EV production issues. Toyota know it cannot afford to stumble in the transition to BEVs and PHEVs.

The plan is to add eight BEV/PHEV battery production lines to the two previously announced. Four of these will support hybrid battery production. Another two will support BEVs. The North Carolina battery plant will operate by 2025 (without delays) and will be Toyota’s first automotive battery plant globally.

This additional investment comes off the back of the Treasury Department’s Inflation Reduction Act announcement that the government will not give EV tax credits to vehicles manufactured outside of the U.S. 

The big bet on North Carolina

Toyota Bz4x side view on the road.
Image Credit: Toyota

Piedmont, which supplies Tesla with Australian lithium, will also provide LG Chem with Spodumene (raw lithium) for the next four years. Additionally, it will supply more processed lithium hydroxide from an under-construction North Carolina processing plant. It even plans to mine lithium from a Spodumene-tin deposit in the state.

So it’s almost as if Toyota did its research before even thinking about constructing the North Carolina battery plant!

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Japan Mobility Show Graphic

The Japan Mobility Show gives us hope for the future of the fun EV

The Japan Mobility Show is back! After a four-year hiatus in the wake of that dastardly pandemic, the show formerly known as the Tokyo Motor Show is now at the forefront of Japanese mobility, rather than purely focusing on automobiles.

But at Acceleramota, we are here for the car concepts. And even though there has been a steady stream of PHEVs in 2023, the Japan Mobility Show always brings funky concepts. There also seems to be a focus on driving pleasure from many companies this time around, which the South Korean boys across the pond seem to be focused on too, cough, cough Ioniq 5 N.

Obviously, the future of the automobile is electric. Almost every vehicle this time around includes some sort of EV powertrain and with the amount of EV tax credits being thrown around, they better be!

Nissan Hyper Force EV

Front right grill shot of the Nissan Hyper Force EV at the Japan Mobility Show
Image Credit: Nissan

Hyper Force! The name is straight out of No Game No Life into reality at the Japan Mobility Show. Nissan certainly brought its A-game with this all-electric, cyberpunk-esque sports car. Beneath the surface is a (theoretical) solid-state battery and an advanced form of Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel control technology. And oh yeah, the Hyper Force has a high-strength carbon-fiber body and plasma-actuated active aero. So you can actually use the supposed 1,341 horsepower on track.

Nissan isn’t trying to hide that the Hyper Force EV is a successor to the GT-R. I mean, it used current GT-R badging (just for the Japan Mobility Show), and it has R and GT drive modes. Although it’s just a concept for now, most of the more tangible and conventional tech and design features will make it past the Japan Mobility Show.

If none of that piques your interest, Nissan brought the cockpit to life together with Polyphony Digital, the team behind Gran Turismo. When in R mode, you’ll see red ambient lighting and side screens with track data. GT mode gives you the iconic blue lighting, and Gran Turismo-inspired A/C and suspension settings graphics.

Mazda Iconic SP

Showroom shot of the Mazda Iconic SP at the Japan Mobility Show
Image Credit: Mazda

Rotary is back, baby! Under the core pursuit of the “Joy of Driving,” Mazda unveiled the Iconic SP at the Japan Mobility Show. 

It uses a two-rotor engine and an EV system powered by batteries. The two-rotor system can be powered by hydrogen or other carbon-neutral fuels, and the electric motors by a conventional EV battery. This center-mounted powertrain allows for a high power output combined with a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution. Even Mazda’s proposed specs are quite impressive, as seen below.

Overall length x width x height164.5 × 72.8 × 45.3 in
Wheelbase 101.9 in
Power-weight ratio8.7 lbs/hp, 3.9 kg/hp
Horsepower364 hp
Weight3,196 lbs, 1,450 kg
Credit: Mazda

It’s a looker too! The Iconic SP is painted in a new vivid Mazda color, Viola Red, which is lighter and brighter than the current Mazda hallmark, Soul Red. Other exterior features include the usual sharp Mazda front headlights, a swooping Miata-like silhouette, and double crescent rear lights. Safe to say, Mazda killed it at the Japan Mobility Show.

Mitsubishi D:X Concept

Front side shot of the Mitsubishi D:X Concept
Image Credit: Mitsubishi

No, it’s not a new Yu-Gi-Oh! game, it’s Mitsubishi’s return to the Delica brand at the Japan Mobility Show. Dubbed the Delica of the future, the D:X is a futuristic electric crossover MPV. 

A design embodying “Maximum Space and Safety for Humans, Maximum Off-Roader for Boundaryless Adventure”

Mitsubishi Motors

For maximum spaciousness, it’s got a Delica-style side window and a front windshield that wraps around to the bottom, making the hood area see-through. A minimalist exterior design is not revolutionary. But some distinct Mitsubishi T-shaped front and rear laser lights give it some much-needed character in an ocean of boring EUVs. Front, side, and rear skid protection adds to the rugged feel and protects the copper paint when you’re out glamping.

Of course, the D:X also has a plug-in hybrid EV powertrain. You can use the hybrid mode for long trips and the EV mode when driving daily. A reinforced rib-bone monobox used in the Delica D:5 also makes its return.

Inside, the D:X has a minimalist tan leather accented cabin plus six old-school swivel fabric seats. A smaller addition is the 3D Yamaha sound system, which should make Oktoberfest trips a blast. Really, there’s a lot to like about Mitsubishi’s appearance at the Japan Mobility show and the future of the company.

Toyota Electric Land Cruiser Se

Side front shot of the Toyota Land cruiser Se
Image Credit: Toyota

Toyota’s full-size SUV is back in electric form. The Land Cruiser Se uses a monocoque body construction rather than the previous body-on-frame for a quieter BEV experience. It also improves on-road handling with a bit of sacrifice on the durability end.  Toyota also plans to manufacture the Land Cruiser Se along with other EVs in the U.S. with LG supplying the EV batteries.

The most radical changes are on the outside though with distinct Land Cruiser side vent graphics. It retains the square shape but the more minimalist lines seem to indicate a new Toyota era is on the way.

Toyota FT-Se

Rear View zoom shot of the Toyota Ft-Se
Image Credit Toyota

The FT-Se is Toyota’s version of a sports car future. Rumored to be the spiritual successor to the much-loved Celica and MR2, the FT-Se is an all-wheel drive EV and will be fueled by a “prismatic” battery. Although the two-seater format indicates it could be close to the Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ. One of the most interesting features is a “manual mode” to simulate gear changes in the name of driving fun. Toyota president, Koji Sato, also noted that other future BEVs could have the feature as well.

The FT-Se shares major components with the FT-3e. Toyota set out to create a car that will grow with the driver through software updates.

Toyota is keeping its cards close with this one but announced at the Japan Mobility Show that it could see production in late 2027.

Toyota FT-3e

Image Credit: Toyota

If you’re thinking Toyota is slowing down anytime soon, the FT-3e has you already beaten. Rumors of this mid-size SUV started swirling in 2022. So, it’s almost guaranteed that Toyota will release a multitude of different vehicles on this future BEV platform. Its Lexus sister brand unveiled its LF-ZL, a more luxurious version with similar body proportions.

The focus of this SUV is sustainability. Toyota’s interpretation of this is adding an exterior upper door section display which shows the battery state of charge. Additionally, it shows the interior temperature, and air quality when the driver approaches the car.

Toyota EPU (electric pickup truck)

Side shot of the Toyota EPU in front of the beach
Image Credit: Toyota

You’re a truck guy. So you’ll probably be the first in line for Toyota’s pickup truck future. The EPU is a mid-size electric pickup truck based on the current Hilux. North America will likely receive an American-size version like the Tacoma, but details further than the concept itself are scarce, so there’s no guarantee. You can’t help but compare it to the Rivian R1T though, which may be a testament to how Toyota has fallen behind in the EV race and seems to be playing catch-up already.

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Tesla Cybertruck fleet moving on outdoor articulation ramps

‘We dug our own grave with the Cybertruck’, says Elon Musk, in rare moment of self-reflection

Tesla concluded its Q3 earnings earlier today, in which Elon Musk commented that the company has “dug its own grave” with the questionable rollout of its controversial Cybertruck. Musk said he has driven the Cybertruck – calling it “an amazing product,” according to comments recorded by Business Insider. He added, “There will be enormous challenges in reaching volume production with the Cybertruck and in making the Cybertruck cash-flow positive.”

It’s been about 4 years since the polygonal design of the Cybertruck made its public debut. The first batch of the stainless-steel sensation – or, depending on who you ask, misshapen-metal monstrosity – is slated for delivery on November 30, allegedly. However, the Tesla CEO made sure to emphasize we “temper expectations.” Musk admitted, “We dug our own grave with the Cybertruck.”

As it stands, Giga Texas (the Tesla manufacturing plant in said state) has the capacity to make 125,000 trucks a year. By 2025, Musk claimed its annual Cybertruck production will reach 250,000 trucks. The main bottleneck is Tesla’s choice to build the Cybertruck out of stainless steel, coupled with unforgiving flat expanses of bodywork. Or, if you ask Musk, it’s taking so long to arrive because of how “radical” and “special” the Cybertruck is compared to something like the Ford F-150 Lightning and perhaps the upcoming Fisker Alaska.

In addition to the Cybertruck update, we’ve gotten a look into Tesla’s latest figures – and they aren’t looking so hot. Year-on-year gross profits have fallen by 22% — the weakest performance since the pandemic hit in 2020 Q2. Reported sales for this quarter are at $23.4 billion which did not hit the forecasted $24.3 billion. Around midday Thursday, Tesla shares fell to $220 – a 9% drop.

For more Tesla news, read up on what’s to be expected with the 2025 Tesla Model 2 and a look into the new push being made for Tesla Semi production. Then maybe, I don’t know, subscribe to our newsletter?

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Leaked images of new Charger leave a lot of unanswered questions

The year was 2005, I was a junior in high school and going through my American V8 phase of automotive enthusiasm. And what a time it was. GM’s LS engines were proving to everyone that push rods were still relevant, Ford was tinkering with its Mustang to try and make it faster than a 3-year-old Camaro, and Chrysler took to the stage to give the world the new Dodge Charger

Fast forward to today, the Camaro is on the outs again, and the Dodge Charger we all know and love, based loosely on some old Mercedes architecture, is ending production as well. And before announcing the end of the Charger, Stellantis, the faceless conglomerate that owns Dodge, announced its replacement: a two-door coupe with long sweeping lines and a wide, low stance. A callback to the Charger from the late 1960s, an icon of the American muscle car and Dominic Taretto’s daily driver. But it’s electric, which is great for some people. Many enthusiasts weren’t so thrilled about it, however.

For a while now, all the Mopar enthusiasts had to go on was the Daytona EV concept from 2022. And when it comes to Dodge and their concept cars, you can’t take anything to heart. But people had a lot of questions and received no answers. Dodge even came out to SEMA only to show off the new Fratzonic chambered exhaust designed to mimic the sound of a V8. Mopar fans were left a bit disappointed. 

New insider photos give a few clues about what Stellantis has planned for its production version of the Dodge Daytona EV concept.
Image credit: LX & Beyond Nationals

On Tuesday, some wonderful person who we can assume works at a Stellantis assembly plant leaked three photos of what everyone is assuming is the new Charger. Obviously, we don’t have any information on who leaked the photos, probably because they want to keep their job. The photos don’t tell us too much. They are just the main bodies of the cars, a cryptic image that has left the internet rife with speculation about what it could mean.

Image credit: LX & Beyond Nationals

The biggest takeaway from the images is the front portion of the unibody looks wide enough to accommodate an engine assembly. Backing that up is what appears to be a transmission tunnel, though, in my eyes, it looks a bit shallow. This leaves a lot open to assumption. Stellantis does have the Hurricane inline six, and there have been videos of what looks and sounds like a TRX testing with said Hurricane engine. Maybe, with the recent cooling trend of the EV market, Stellantis is planning on releasing the Charger as an ICE-powered vehicle before going full EV. Or there will be multiple options available as far as the powertrain goes. 

Image credit: LX & Beyond Nationals

Again, this is purely speculation, and Stellantis hasn’t released any kind of statement about the images.

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2024 Chevy Silverado EV

General Motors delays production of Silverado EV

General Motors took notice of the recent slowing of EV sales, including Ford’s current struggles with its F-150 Lightning, and announced Tuesday it will delay the planned upgrades to the factory set to make the highly anticipated Silverado EV and the GMC Sierra EV. 

The affected plant is in the Orion Township in Detroit, Michigan. General Motors is using the factory in its current configuration to finish off Bolt and Bolt EUV production. Once all of those happy little cars are finished, GM was planning to invest 4 billion dollars in retooling the factory to produce its new electric pickups on the Ultium platform to help meet its ambitious plan to make 400,000 electric vehicles by 2024.

One thing on everyone’s mind, does this have to do with the ongoing UAW strike? According to General Motors Senior Director Kevin Kelley, it doesn’t. They’re just figuring things out, I guess.   

“General Motors today confirmed it will retime the conversion of its Orion Assembly plant to EV truck production to late 2025, to better manage capital investment while aligning with evolving EV demand. In addition, we have identified engineering improvements that we will implement to increase the profitability of our products.” 

At the moment, the plan is to produce the Silverado EV and its GMC counterpart at Factory Zero, which sits in Detroit and the city of Hamtramck, Michigan.  It is currently used for the production of the GMC Hummer EV and is GM’s first dedicated electric vehicle factory. The workers from the Orion Township plant will be able to transfer to Factory Zero when the Bolt ends production at the end of the year.

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Toyota FT-Se

Toyota unveils two new epic FT electric car concepts

The Japan Mobility Show is fast approaching, and Toyota is ready to showcase what they have in mind for the “future of mobility” with a duo of BEV concept cars. While there’s not a lot of information surrounding these vehicles yet, or if they’ll even enter production, there are some key takeaways that hint towards what Toyota has planned. It’s also worth noting that Toyota says these vehicles share “major components.”

The FT-3e is a low-slung vehicle with sharp lines and an aggressive angle to the rear window with wrap-around taillights. The side profile shows off an almost box-flared look to the fenders and rear quarter. A display on the lower part of the body displays information to the driver as they approach, including charge status, interior air quality, and cabin temperature. Dare I say it? This could be a battery-electric wagon

The other one, which Toyota calls the FT-Se is a sports car that is reminiscent of the early days of the GR Supra concept, with a long hood and aerodynamic shape. Complete with the integrated spoiler. However, it looks wider, and the lines are more pronounced. A shot of the interior shows a trio of screens, all driver-facing, and a yoke-style steering wheel. There is a prominent GR badge affixed to the front fender, which helps drive home the claim that the FT-Se is part of their vision for the next generation of performance driving.

These two concepts represent a bright future. In a future where Toyota hopes vehicle ownership will become more than just a point A to point B appliance, it will become a bond between the owner and the machine.

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Toyota bz4x

LG will supply EV batteries for Toyota electric cars

Toyota has over 20 million hybrids worldwide, more than any other automaker. So, no one can question that Toyota has been at the forefront of hybrid electric vehicle production, which was an important step in the electrification of the automobile. But as the world moved towards battery electric vehicles (BEVs), Toyota began to fall behind. However, in recent months, Toyota has made numerous announcements about its commitment to producing more BEVs across its product line. They have even said they plan to have 30 BEVs across their product line and up production to 3.5 million globally by 2030.

Anyone can see that this is a lot to get done in a short amount of time, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Toyota. And they’ve just made a major move to help solidify that goal by signing a deal with LG Energy Solution to produce NCMA battery modules at LG’s facility in Michigan. Investing 3 billion dollars to fit their factory with the needed assembly lines to meet their 2025 goals of producing 20 GWh annually. The modules will then be shipped off to Kentucky, assembled into complete batteries, and find their way into Toyota’s planned 3-row electric SUV.

A picture of LG Energy Solutions in Holland, Mi
Image credit: LG Energy Solutions

“Having secure supplies of lithium-ion batteries at scale with a long-term relationship to support Toyota’s multi-pathway approach and growth plans for BEVs in North America is critical to achieve our manufacturing and carbon reduction plans,” states Tetsuo “Ted” Ogawa, Toyota’s North American president and CEO. “Working with LG Energy Solution, we are excited to be able to offer products that will provide the performance and quality our customers expect.”   

Image: Lexus

LG, like Toyota, has a long history of supplying quality products to companies and consumers around the world. This is their largest agreement with an automaker for battery production and also means they now supply batteries to the Top 5 global automakers. And if all goes as planned, this partnership should help to push Toyota to the upper echelon of the BEV market. Soon, it won’t just be hybrids like the Prius making headlines, but a Toyota-branded electric car as well.

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2028 Lamborghini future electric car side profile

2028 Lamborghini Lanzador: Can the first fully electric Lambo live up to its gas-powered predecessors?

The 2028 Lamborghini Lanzador concept tells no new story. At least not new to us. It seems once in a generation, a famed marque embarks on yet another cash-grab quest to line their pockets with fresh moolah to fund their next generation of sports cars, and that’s exactly what Lamborghini must have planned for this all-electric, four-seat leviathan. Behold their latest vision and enter a new age for the artisans at Sant’Agata Bolognese as they ford new waters and enter the EV arena.

Weight? I don’t know. Range? Good Question. Okay, performance? Beats me. But it’ll surely be as quick as a Lamborghini and certainly look like one too.

Little hard facts are known about the Lanzador, and even less is known about what production model will spawn from it. But knowing Lamborghini’s trend with concept cars over the past decade or so, it’s safe to say this will be a clear look at what’s their take on a mass-market, all-electric Lambo, with swagger and speed to match. 

Lamborghini Lanzador price & specs

There’s so much up in the air for the Lanzador, a concept still in gestation that isn’t due until 2028. But one thing is certain: It will be a ferociously quick luxury charm, with asphalt-tearing, rear-end-puckering speed and acceleration.

PriceTBA: $200,000 – $300,000 USD est.
Battery CapacityTBA: 80 kWh – 100 kWh est.
Electric rangeTBA: 300 – 400 miles est.
0-60 accelerationTBA: quick enough
HorsepowerTBA: 1,340 horsepower (concept)
2025 Lamborghini Lanzador specs and cost

The concept car presented during this year’s Monterey Car Week boasts 1,340 horsepower. For anyone coming from our EVs Explained corner of the house, that’s 1,000 kW or one whole-ass megawatt. That far exceeds the output of the Lucid Air Sapphire, Porsche Taycan Turbo S, or Tesla Model S Plaid, and matches the Koenigsegg Agera One:1.

Image: Lamborghini

Being of that maniacal breed of mega EV, it wouldn’t be delusional to believe the production Lazandor can easily clock a 300-mile range, minimum. Maybe 400 with a special long-range model while managing zero-to-sixty times of three seconds or below. Also, expect MPGe to be fairly average given its expected size and weight but charging rates to be rapid like other premium Volkswagen Group electric vehicles.

If Lamborghini’s current money-maker, the Urus SUV, is anything to go by, expect a production Lanzador to hover between $230,000 and $300,000, depending on trim and motor/battery configuration. Lamborghini’s exuberant collection of option packages will easily add tens of thousands of dollars on top of that.

Lamborghini Lanzador interior and tech

We know little about the tech Lamborghini will implement, but we can easily speculate what sort of ultra-fast, ultra-luxurious electro barge will come.

“With the fourth model concept, we are opening a new car segment: the Ultra GT. This will offer customers a new, unparalleled Lamborghini driving experience thanks to pioneering technologies,” claims CEO and Chairman, Stephan Winkelmann.

Image: Lamborghini

Expect the production Lanzador to be as opulent and well-appointed as any Lamborghini. The concept appears a bit ergonomically questionable, but what concept car isn’t? Think heated and vented bucket seats with multi-function steering wheels and digital displays galore. There will likely be a push-button starter with a red fighter jet-style flip cover, a digital gauge cluster, and a suite of simple safety goodies, from parking sensors to adaptive cruise and semi-autonomous driving. 

The concept bears no centralized touch screen like the Huracan, Aventador, Urus, or all-new Revuelto. But expect the production version to follow suit and incorporate some sort of interface into the Lanzadaor’s interior design language. Given the relatively cavernous interior layout, something that will easily carry over could be the concept’s passenger display screen and the multi-color ambient lighting that turns the Lanzador from a sports sedan to a VIP nightclub. 

An interior fit for the badge

The Lanzador Concept is poised as a “2+2 Gran Turismo” and the brand’s “Ultra GT,” with two massive doors and four thin but elegantly styled buckets. While I expect the four seats to remain, if not replace the rears with a three-across arrangement, the final product will most likely be a sedan, much like the now-15-year-old Estoque concept car of 2008. 

The concept sports copious trunk space and a decent frunk. All of that grocery-getting capability will be afforded by a typical skateboard-type battery pack comprising the Lanzador’s floor. This design seems to have worked, as you can now store, uh, not one but two Lamborghini-branded designer luggage sets in the ass end. Can’t say that about the Revuelto.

If this formula sounds familiar, well, that’s because it is. Lamborghini is ready to join the pantheon of luxury EVs, hoping that affluent commuters will fund their future projects. As such, it’s unsurprising that the Lanzador Concept follows this now-common practice, albeit a new frontier for the brand itself. However, it can still differentiate itself from its peers by capitalizing on the tricks Lamborghini knows best.

Image: Lamborghini

One. Whole. Megawatt.

Tricks like speed! Power! Rage!

However, is this level of performance really that surprising in an age where Rimac exists? Perhaps not, but the fact you can let your kids experience black-out g-forces on the way to school is still one hell of a flex and the kind of batshittery that will undoubtedly be expected of the production Lanzador. Chances are that kind of speed won’t be that old in 2028.

The concept has been snatching headlines for its still-impressive 1,340 horsepower, which equates to one megawatt of power, a feat matched or beaten by few cars. Trims will also vary in performance for the production car, but we all know Lambo doesn’t know slow. Expect base models to push 500 or even 600 horsepower, with neck-snapping torque to match. All models will certainly have some degree of ultra-high-performance pretense, so expect dual motors as standard with tri or quad-motor setups in the highest tiers.

Leave it to Italy to build a driver’s EV

Image: Lamborghini

Further differentiating the Lanzador will be proper handling chops, at least for its size and weight, which we expect will be on the portlier side, perhaps rivaling or exceeding the Urus. It shouldn’t be a difficult feat for the brand, given their experience with magnetic suspension and active aero, which the Lanzador will certainly receive, as well as the battery’s low center of gravity and the electric motors’ infinitely adjustable torque vectoring.

One thing Lamborghini seeks to pride itself on will be the immense amount of sensors and actuators going into the Lanzador. They seek to make this tremendous level of hardware and tuning capable of delivering a more precise driving experience, broaden the range of characteristics between drive mode presets and individual modes, and improve driver feedback.

With beauty and grace (sort of)

Secondly, you can’t put off that punch-in-the-face Lamborghini styling. Visual swagger and all that’s dapper is the Raging Bull’s signature.

Well, you know. Naturally aspirated screamers would be the other, but strip that away from the Lazandor, and you must take the other half of the brand’s soul and run away with it. Whether you love or hate the concept, it’s certainly worth talking about. 

The two-door design will likely give way to a four-door sedan, but the concept certainly radiates lifted Koenigsegg Gemera vibes. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lamborghini kept it and sought to emulate such a design with Italian flair. As with the interior, the exterior is a wonderful blend of extroverted excess, straddling the line between gaudy and really gaudy. The 23-inch wheels are a bit much, but they contribute to the raised height, elevating this EV’s appeal on battered highways, steep driveways, and dirt roads near the winter cabin. 

The overall design is a hodgepodge of Lamborghini and (insert miscellaneous EVs). The ride height and black cladding are plucked straight from the Huracán Sterrato and vaguely remind me of a Polestar 2. The profile resembles a concept sketch of the offspring between a Huracán and a Cybertruck with a bed cap. And the taillights are definite callouts to the Sian and Aventador.

Image: Lamborghini

Is the Lanzador actually coming?

Yes. The Lanzador will soon grace the garages of rich people, even if it bears a new name or face. This concept is very much a serious announcement of the direction Lamborghini will take for electrifying the lineup, culminating in a mass-produced production car in 2028. 

By then, the Revuelto will likely be due for a mid-cycle refresh, and we’ll have had the Huracán successor for a few years. And the purists can cry all they want, but they’d be missing the point.

Image: Lamborghini

While the supercars carry the torch for high-revving tomfoolery, it will be the Lanzador EV and the Urus – if it’s still around – that will draw maximum profits and fuel development for potential hybrid powertrains to keep their naturally aspirated engines on life support. Even if you disagree with its existence, the Lanzador will contribute heavily to ensuring a future for Lamborghini supercars as we know them and for the company as a whole.

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