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Engadget: ‘PUBG Mobile’ update adds a self-driving Tesla Model Y

PUBG Mobile probably isn’t the first game you’d expect to have an electric vehicle tie-in, but it’s here all the same. Krafton and Tencent Games have rolled out a 1.5 update for the phone-focused shooter that includes a raft of not-so-subtle plugs for Tesla and its cars. Most notably, you can find a Model Y on Erangel that can drive itself when you activate an autopilot mode on the highway —not that far off from the real Autopilot mode.

You’ll also find a Gigafactory on Erangel where you can build the Model Y by activating switches, and self-driving Semi trucks roam around the map dropping supply crates when you damage the vehicles. No, despite the imagery, you can’t drive a Cybertruck or Roadster (not yet, at least).

The additions are part of a larger “technological transformation” for Erangel that includes an overhaul of the buildings and new equipment, including an anti-gravity motorcycle.

As is often the case, you shouldn’t expect these updates in regular PUBG — the battle royale brawler for consoles and PCs has a more realistic atmosphere. The PUBG Mobile update is really a not-so-subtle way for Tesla to advertise its EVs in countries where it doesn’t already have strong word-of-mouth working in its favor.i

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Engadget: Volvo’s C40 Recharge is a solid second stab at an EV

Volvo has made no secret of its plans to go green by 2030, first unveiling the XC40 Recharge SUV in 2019, then partnering with the Geely corporation to develop its performance EV Polestar line. And come early next year, the XC will be joined by a sleeker, curvier sibling dubbed the C40 Recharge. The C stands for coupe.

Understand, the XC40 and C40 are very much the same vehicle, at least under the hood. The two — along with the Polestar 2 — all share the same Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform that Volvo plans to build its future EV fleet on top of. As such, the C40 and XC40 offer literally identical performance profiles. They share a 78 kWh (75 kWh effective) battery pack which produces 408 HP and 486 lb-ft of torque across all four wheels, giving both cars a 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds, a 112 mph top speed and an estimated 210 miles of range.

And, like its predecessor, the C40 Recharge will do so at rates up to 150kW on an L3 DC charger, enabling it to refill its power cells from basically dead to 80 percent capacity in 40 minutes. The C40 Recharge can also accept power from Level 2 (220V) sources, requiring around 8 hours to fully charge. You can, technically, charge the C40 on a standard 110V outlet — Volvo includes an adapter for doing so standard — but the company is positioning that charging level as more of a trickle-charge, topping-off option than one for actually, fully refilling a completely depleted battery.

As a Volvo rep explained to Engadget on Wednesday, the company envisions drivers using Level 3 DC fast charging stations located along their commutes more as quick recharge points — stopping for 5-10 minutes at a time, grabbing a cup of coffee as they wait — while using an in-home L2 charger to fully replenish the charge overnight, like an drivable cell phone.

On the outside, the C and XC are easily discernible. While the XC40 adheres to the classic tenets of SUV styling, the C actually stands around 3 inches shorter overall and features a broadly curved roofline that falls away into an upturned spoiler — resulting in the coupe designation. I for one am smitten with the styling, especially the Fjord Blue paint scheme, which mimics the color of Sweden’s local waters, as well as the all-glass roof.

The interior is even more impressive. For one thing, you won’t find a speck of leather in there. The floor mats are produced from recycled water bottles, as are the startlingly realistic faux-suede seats. “It’s a very practical, sustainable solution, trying to get us away from traditional luxuries,” Volvo’s design rep told Engadget. “I think our future of luxury is more about the simplicity of something. Not, how many layers of wood and how many buttons you can have, it’s more about the experience.” One unique aspect of that experience are the highlight panels that run throughout the C40 Recharge’s cabin, which depict topographical features of a Swedish national park.

The cabin itself is quite minimalist though you’ll find a host of storage spaces subtly placed around the front seats with slick holders for everything from travel mugs to credit cards. The dashboard consists of the front-and-center Android Auto infotainment system, a series of physical buttons and knobs controlling the audio playback, front and rear defrost, and hazards sit just below. While I personally am a fan of tactile controls, C40 drivers won’t have a whole much use for them on account of the ever-present Android Assistant. You’ll be able to control the stereo, make calls, send texts, adjust the climate controls and even turn on the heated steering wheel. The Assistant’s knack for locating and evaluating charging stations along your route should prove especially helpful to range-wary EV adopters, Volvo reps explained on Wednesday, by not only alerting drivers to where these stations are but also what kind of connections they offer and the status of the vehicle’s battery once it arrives.

Volvo has yet to officially announce its MSRP for the C40 Recharge so it’ll be interesting to see how it might compare to its expected competition, assuming the C40 ends up being priced roughly around $54,000 like its XC predecessor. For example the Model Y Long Range starts from $52,490 and gets a 100 miles-plus more distance using an equivalently sized battery pack. The Audi Q4 e-tron on the other hand manages to achieve the same range on a surprisingly tiny 52 kWh pack. To be fair though, its 0-60 is 9 seconds flat and they’re only for sale in Europe for the moment. Then you’ve got the ID.4 which starts at $40,000 and boasts 50 miles more range but, in my opinion at least, doesn’t offer quite the same level of refinement that I saw in the C40 Recharge.

The C40 is expected to hit US streets in the first quarter of 2022 but it will not be available for sale through Volvo dealerships. You’ll be able to see them at the dealership, sure, as well as test drive them, pick yours up from there and get it serviced there if you buy one. However the purchase process itself happens exclusively online. You can reserve one today for $500 at the Volvo website.

This is but the second step in Volvo’s efforts to transition to EVs. The company plans to release a new electric model every year until 2025 as part of its larger goal of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2040. Rumored to be coming next: a fully-electric XC90 Recharge.

Source: Engadget

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Tesla’s new Model S will automatically shift between park, reverse, and drive

Tesla’s redesigned Model S and Model X will have a very unconventional and possibly controversial feature: automatic shifting between park, reverse, neutral, and drive (or PRND). There will be an option to change drive modes on the touchscreen, but CEO Elon Musk made the case for automatic shifting on Twitter late Wednesday night.

“Car guesses drive direction based on what obstacles it sees, context & nav map,” Musk tweeted. “After you drive without using a PRND stalk/stick for a few days, it gets very annoying to go back & use a shifter! You can override on touchscreen.”

An internal Tesla document obtained by Electrekexpands, slightly, on what Musk means by “guesses”:

The vehicle uses its Autopilot sensors to intelligently and automatically determine intended drive modes and select them. For example, if the front of Model S/X is facing a garage wall, it will detect this and automatically shift to Reverse once the driver presses the brake pedal. This eliminates one more step for the drivers of the world’s most intelligent production cars.

That’s just one example, and we’ve asked Tesla for more, though the company reportedly no longer has a PR department and has not responded to questions The Verge sends to its general press line since September 2019.

The general idea behind the decision fits into the larger Silicon Valley ethos that Tesla subscribes to, though, of “eliminating friction.” The consequences of trying to automate PRND won’t be clear until people start taking deliveries of these new cars, which is supposed to happen in a matter of weeks.AUTOMAKERS HAVE TINKERED WITH PRND SELECTORS FOR YEARS, TO SOMETIMES DEADLY EFFECT

Automakers have tinkered with the look and location of drive mode selectors for years, enabled by the rise of automatic transmissions and the ability to change modes via software (also known as “shift by wire”). Many companies have ditched the classic steering wheel stalk in favor of a knob on the dashboard or the center console or separate physical buttons.

Others have tried to mix hardware and software, but it has not gone well. Fiat Chrysler had to recall more than 1 million Jeeps, Dodges, and Chryslers because the interface — which involved a lever and a button that always returned to center position — caused enough confusion that some people were run over by their own vehicles. In fact, this “rollaway” problem is likely how actor Anton Yelchin died.

So-called “mode confusion” is a real concern even in simpler designs. In 2018, one of Fiat Chrysler’s own commercials showed actor Kathryn Hahn mistaking the Pacifica minivan’s rotary gear selector for a volume knob.

The removal of the PRND stalk that the Model S and Model X previously featured is part of a wider overhaul of the interior design of those vehicles, but it’s not the only one to conjure a debate about safety. Tesla has ditched its circular steering wheel in favor of one that’s U-shaped — a decision that Roadshow reports has already drawn the interest of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the federal safety regulator for motor vehicles.REGULATORS HAVE BEEN CONCERNED ABOUT MODE CONFUSION FOR DECADES

When asked whether NHTSA is looking into Tesla’s decision to automate PRND, the agency answered with a fairly stock response: “Manufacturers must certify their vehicles [to] meet applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards before putting them on the road,” and that it will require vehicles found noncompliant or that contain a safety defect to be recalled and may impose fines if a manufacturer does not recall vehicles in a timely manner.” The agency said it’s in “regular communication with manufacturers to discuss potential safety concerns” and that it reviews consumer complaints and company data to screen for safety risks.

While federal motor vehicle safety standard number 102 spells out the specific sequence of PRND, and number 114 covers some really basic rollaway issues, it does not appear that any others would necessarily preclude Tesla’s automation or the lack of a physical selector. That’s despite NHTSA saying this all the way back in 1999 in a response to BMW about using alternate gear selection methods like touchscreens, keypads, or voice controls:

We are concerned that, as new designs for automatic transmissions that do not use a shift lever come into the market, there is nothing in Standard No. 102 to prevent misshifting in those vehicles.

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SEGWAY POWERSPORTS COMES TO CYPRUS

J.L Motorace reaches agreement with SEGWAY 

NICOSIA, CYPRUS (December 22, 2020) J.L Motorace Ltd, one of the leading distributors in the motorcycle industry has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with tech giant SEGWAY for all Powersport vehicles.

The new Segway ATV and UTV lineup includes the Snarler 570 and Snarler 1000 ATVs, Fugleman 570 and Fugleman 1000 Utility UTVs, and the Villain 1000 Sport UTVs.

Along with the new machines, Segway also has built a smartphone app to track the vehicle’s performance, mileage, speed and more.

“This is a cutting edge technology and design at affordable pricing which we trust superior to anything in the marketplace at this price range,” said Mr. Jack Lambrou, the Founder of J.L Motorace. “We feel that this collaboration comes at a great time giving the maximum value vs price to the end user.”

“We are very glad to work with Motorace in the Cyprus market. After exploring various options, we have concluded that Motorace is the ideal partner to represent our brand on the island. Through their experience in the industry and professional approach we are confident that this is the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship” posted SEGWAY on their social media channels.

J.L Motorace Ltd is the proud representative of multiple prestigious and world leading brands and has great experience in serving clients at the highest level. The company’s mission is to provide the best available value vs price across all sectors it is involved in.

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Electric scooter maker Gogoro is entering the US, but not how you’d think

Gogoro is a Taiwanese-based electric scooter and battery manufacturer that has gobbled up market share while competing against traditional gas-powered scooters in its home market. Fans of the company’s electric scooters and novel battery swap technology have long pined for Gogoro to enter the US and Europe. And now that company has announced plans to enter the US market in May under the brand name Eeyo, followed by a European entry later this summer.

But there’s a catch.

They’re going to bring an electric bicycle first.

Gogoro entering the US on two wheels

Gogoro reached out to Electrek with the announcement and was able to share just a few details at the moment.

The electric bicycle line from Gogoro will be known as Eeyo. It is set to launch in next month in the US, which will be the first market that Eeyo enters.

The e-bike won’t be available in Gogoro’s home market of Taiwan until later this summer. At that time, Gogoro will also roll the Eeyo brand into Europe.

We don’t have many other details yet, but we do get one more clue courtesy of Eeyo’s Facebook page. A question remained about whether Gogoro’s upcoming electric bicycle would be similar to US and European bicycles, with traditionally large wheels and narrow seats, or more like popular Asian electric bicycles, which often feature smaller scooter-style wheels and moped seats.

Gogoro’s latest teaser reveals a large diameter bicycle wheel and narrow tire, indicating that the Eeyo will be a more traditional electric bicycle. The company goes on to refer to the Eeyo as “A truly ultralight ebike. Nothing else even comes close.” There also appears to be a Presta valve in the wheel, further supporting the theory that the Eeyo will be closer to a lightweight road bike than a traditionally heavy electric scooter or moped.

Eeyo to be Gogoro’s first US product

While Gogoro’s international ambitions have been clear for some time, the Eeyo electric bicycle move comes as a surprise. The company rolled out a new line of smaller electric scooters destined for the international market, with the first scooters soon headed for Tel Aviv, Israel.

Gogoro has traditionally marketed itself as a battery company or an energy company, based on its popular and innovative battery swapping architecture designed for its electric scooters.

The company has thousands of battery swap stations around Taiwan, where riders can pull in and swap a battery in seconds. The stations can also be used for energy storage, powering the local grid during blackouts.

It is too soon to say whether Gogoro will use the same batteries in its upcoming Eeyo electric bicycles. The move would be unlikely though, as the batteries hold approximately 1.3 kWh of energy. That’s more than twice the battery capacity of a standard electric bicycle and is likely more battery than a self-claimed “truly ultralight ebike” would carry.

But considering May is baring down on us, we’ll likely have more details soon.

Until then, help us speculate wildly in the comment section below. What will the specs be? What will the bike look like? I want to hear your thoughts!

Source: Electrek

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Xiaomi’s cheap electric bikes are getting better with new $350 and 50-mile rear suspension e-bike

Xiaomi’s Youpin crowdfunding platform has been used to launch a number of affordable electric bicycles over the last few years. And with each new model, the bikes seem to become increasingly attention-grabbing. Take for example the new Himo Z16 electric bicycle just unveiled for $352.

At first glance, the Himo Z16 looks like several other e-bikes recently launched on Xiaomi’s platform.

But a closer look reveals a number of interesting features.

First of all, the aluminum alloy frame sports true swingarm suspension in the rear — a feature normally seen on full suspension mountain bikesmopeds, and motorcycles.

The 22.5 kg (49.6 lb) bike rides on 16-inch mag wheels and is rated for riders up to 100 kg (220 lb).

The Himo Z16 folds in three locations (handlebars, frame, and pedals) and uses magnetic clasps to keep the bike folded during transport.

The Himo Z16 e-bike’s display is a high-definition LCD rated to IPX7 waterproof levels and the frame houses front and rear integrated LED lights.

The electric bike even has regenerative braking — or at least I think it does, based on the best machine translation I could get, which resulted in: “The motor generates reverse resistance, which effectively eliminates the amount of electricity loss and increases the mileage.”

The rear wheel houses a 250W geared hub motor, though the 14 Amp controller means that the system actually pulls a peak power of 500W.

The Himo Z16’s 360Wh battery is hidden within the frame, where it is lockable and removable. The battery is rated for 55 km (34 mi) of range on throttle-only and 80 km (50 mi) of range on pedal assist, though those ranges were achieved under testing at the slow speed of 15 km/h (9.3 mph). I’d wager that the range at the bike’s top speed of 25 km/h (15 mph) is likely around two-thirds of those figures.

A 360Wh battery isn’t huge, but is actually around twice the size of a standard battery for a Himo bike of this size, especially considering the low price of RMB 2,499 (US$352). Most 360Wh batteries in the West cost as much as this entire bike.

For now, the Himo Z16 e-bike is only available within China on Xiaomi’s Youpin platform. However, many of Xiaomi’s inexpensive e-bikes have made it to the international market rather quickly.

Late last year the Himo H1 electric bike debuted on Youpin for $425. Just a few months ago, it made the jump to Indiegogo and is available internationally with only a slight price increase to $465 for early-bird customers or $499 for everyone else. And full disclosure: I actually bought one. It’s a ridiculous little e-bike, but I wanted to test it out and have some fun on it. There’s still a week left on that campaign, if you want to snag one of your own.

It’s not even the first cheap Himo e-bike I’ve bought after finding it on Xiaomi’s platform. I also picked up the $261 Himo V1. It’s a hilarious little e-bike with a few surprising features that I haven’t seen on $2,000 e-bikes in the US, such as an integrated on board charger. I did a whole unboxing and test video that just passed 1M views, if you want to check that out too.

Suffice it to say that Xiaomi’s inexpensive e-bikes aren’t just getting more popular, they’re getting better. I’m going to try to get my hands on one of these new Himo Z16 e-bikes to see how it works in the real world. But with realistic (i.e. not tiny) 16-inch wheels, rear suspension that looks decently effective, an HD LCD screen and a load rating of up to 220 lb, this is a lot of e-bike for $350. Color me impressed. I’d love to have seen a higher top speed, but Chinese laws restrict e-bikes to 25 km/h (15 mph), so this is the best we’re going to get unless they offer a derestricted model for international markets. And front suspension would have been perfect for a bike like this, though I imagine cost and weight considerations left it out.

At this price though, can you really complain about much? I’ve ridden e-bikes that cost 10 times as much and didn’t have front or rear suspension!

Source: Electrek

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Tesla releases Model Y production and testing footage, officially announces deliveries

Tesla has released Model Y production and testing footage, and it is announcing the official start of deliveries in the US.

The automaker was planning to start Model Y deliveries on March 15, but as we reported on Friday, Tesla started to deliver a few cars ahead of time.

We got reports of a few dozen deliveries Friday and over the weekend.

Tesla also appears to have shipped out hundreds of Model Y electric SUVs from its Fremont factory.

Deliveries have been reported not only in California, but also all over the US.

Tesla has now officially announced the beginning of Model Y deliveries and released a video with new production and testing footage:

In order to help new owners, the automaker has also started releasing instructional videos about the electric SUV.

One of the most interesting videos is about Model Y’s awesome trunk cargo system and capacity.

Tesla has also released the Model Y’s owner’s manual in full so that owners and prospective buyers can familiarize themselves with their new electric vehicle.

Source: Electrek

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Harley-Davidson’s latest swipe at relevance: Android Auto

Android Auto is finally making it to the world of motorcycles a little over two years after Apple’s CarPlay started showing up on two-wheelers. Harley-Davidson recently announced Android Auto support on any of its bikes with the Boom Box GTS operating system, meaning basically all of the company’s bigger touring motorcycles.

New touring bikes will come ready to work with Android Auto, while owners of existing and slightly older bikes with Boom Box GTS will either have to update the operating system via USB or take their motorcycles to a dealer to have it done. Riders will still have to plug in and stow their smartphones to use Android Auto, just like they do with CarPlay. But it won’t be compatible on LiveWire, the company’s first electric motorcycle. That bike uses a different operating system that pairs to smartphones using Harley-Davidson’s app, which mimics a lot of the same features.

It’s a small addition but possibly a significant one in the sense that Harley-Davidson could use as much help as it can get as it fights to turn around a flagging business. I’m not going to rehash the whole story of what’s gone wrong here. (Erik Shilling and some of the other people over at Jalopnik have done a really great job over the last few years doing just that, so if you’re interested, start there.) Simply put, though, the company’s 2019 sales were its worst in 16 years, and the launch of its first electric motorcycle has not gone particularly well.

While ridership is still somewhat strong in the US, new motorcycle sales never recovered from the 2008 financial crisis. Harley-Davidson was particularly hard hit even before it got caught up in President Trump’s trade war, and it recently changed out its CEO in order to help turn things around. Android Auto is essentially a table stakes addition at this point, but having it is better than not having it. The last thing the company would want to do is extend a ton of effort to draw in new, younger riders, only to turn them away when its motorcycles can’t do what they expect.