audio and video,One On One,What Drives Us episode

One on One #1 – We Welcome Our Hydrogen Fuel Cell Robot Masters

20 Jan , 2017   Video

Debuting a brand new show, One On One, where two people wrestle over a recent issue for an in-depth discussion. Today, Danny Cooper and Russell Frost talk about the real future of hydrogen, Toyota, Fuel Cell vehicles and also a little on factory automation and the future of jobs making things.

We cite these links during today’s One On One:

Toyota part of consortium spending 10.7B Euros on hydrogen

Another take on the press release above

Toyota chairman says hydrogen needs more time

Turns out, the rumors of hydrogen’s death may have been premature

Toyota claims to have an EV on the market by 2020

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Chicago Auto Show,Features

Tony at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show

12 Feb , 2016  

First stop: Toyota display.  That’s an easy one since they are front and center with something like 46,000 sqft of space.  New Prius on display.  Shocker, right?

Checked out the “Back to the Future” Marai fuel cell vehicle.  It’s “Back to the Future because of the gull-wing doors.  They say it’s a fuel cell vehicle but there’s clearly a Mr Fussion in the rear.  So which is it, Toyota?  Actually, I suppose it doesn’t matter because they are both equally as likely to work as a car fuel system.

Just took a ride-along in the new Rav4 Hybrid.  Very, very slick indeed.  All-time All-Wheel Drive.  Electric motor in the front and one in the back.  My favorite feature is the all-around camera.  Not only does it provide a bird’s eye view as though you are looking down at the vehicle from about ten feet in the air, it can perform a panoramic fly-around.  Really neat feature.  Perhaps this will eliminate really bad parking.  Doubt it.

Also on display at Toyota is the I-Road, the three-wheel personal transport.  The two front wheels hinge up and down as you lean into corners.  The third wheels is centered in the rear.  It certainly looks like it would be a lot of fun to drive, with the footprint of a motorcycle, and certainly protects you from the weather.  However, I’m not convinced it or the driver would fair very well in a collision with an actual vehicle.

Even more extreme is the FV2.  Two very large exposed side wheels and one large wheel centered in the rear.  There’s a smaller wheel in the front, as though Toyota’s trying to hide that one.  This is clearly a show-piece meant merely to get people to the Toyota display.  There is no part of this ‘vehicle’ that seems practical.

On to BMW.  Only two cars here interest me: i3 and i8.  Every time I see the i3 I like a little more.  It’s relatively unassuming and cute in its own way.  The suicide doors make entry and exiting very easy into the rear seats.  As luck would have it, when I was checking it out, there were sone who had never seen it.  I spied on their conversations and was pleased to hear that they were impressed by its overall appeal.  Dare I say that this car would cause them to consider an EV?  Oh yeah, I dare.

Then, of course, there’s the i8.  There’s nothing I could add to the wealth of articles already written about it.  It’s turned off and simply for show.  Getting into it is interesting due to its low-slung seats.  Getting out is not for the feint of heart.  The gull-wing doors, though, are really neat.  Certainly, this is a car you drive because you want to be seen driving that car.

Next Stop: Lexus.  I asked about the hybrid line-up and was provided the standard line of six hybrids in the Lexus fleet.  When I asked which ones were here, I was pointed to a CT200h and one SUV hybrid.  Then the other four hybrids were mentioned followed with “we didn’t bring that one.”  I consider the CT200h my fall-back vehicle in the event that I didn’t like the new Prius.  Yeah, I know, tough problem to have.  But sitting here, in this 200h, I have to say that I might be falling out of love with it.  I find the seats relatively stiff and the entire cockpit sort of cold.  Functional, very functional, but not much that makes me happy  to sit here.  Perhaps it’s the model they have on show here, but I would not like this one as my daily driver.

At Cheverolet.  2nd generation Volt has a lot of gawkers and, I must say, it deserves them.  There are certainly some refinements from the previous generation and that makes for a much improved driver and passenger experience.  One of my major turn-offs of the first Volt was the steering wheel which I thought felt a little cheap for the car.  Though the cabin is nice, it strikes me a little too Grand Prix-ish.  Gray plastic.  Soft, gray plastic, but still that 1980s plastic.  All of it: plastic.  And gray.  No doubt it probably comes in other colors and maybe even nicer finishes but this is the car show; pull out all the stops.  I hate to think this is as refined as it comes.  On the up note, of all the gawkers huddled around the car, I didn’t hear a single disparaging comment.  SOme liked the heated seats and heated steering wheel.  Some liked the overall look and comfort of the seats.  Only a few, though, remarked how cool it was to see an America company championing a plug-in vehicle.  Whatever it takes to get them into a plug-in is just fine with me.

The pre-production Bolt on display is not to be sat in.  At least that’s what the lady said as she shooed us out of the car and we scurried like pigoens in the park.  Actually, I think it was more like a herd of cats who had just been caught doing something we weren’t supposed to.  Back to the Bolt: I could really see myself in that car.  It’s got a nice profile, a good size, and is very comfortable to sit in (oops).  The BOlt will be manufactured in Detroit with LG batteries being imported.  Those batteries will deliver 200 miles of range per full charge.  Someone commented that with 200 miles it seels like it’s limited to being ‘a city car’.  How big is your city?  But yeah, it’s not for driving coast to coast but around town, you only need to plug it in every 3rd, 4th, or maybe 5th day.  And that’s not bad.  At some point, inductive charging for vehicles will become more readily available and you won’t even need to plug it in.  One can dream.

I’m not a minivan guy but there are many families that need a minivan for their kids and stuff.  To that end, I checked out the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in range-extended Hybrid.  Like the Bolt, no one is allowed inside. Unlike the Bold, they made made their point by making it inaccessible.  Talking with the representative, I learned that the Pacifica is expected to cover up to 30 miles on a full charge.  Add a full tank of gas, and you’re expected to travel up to 530 miles.  The hybrid has all the same features as the ICE version, except the stow-and-go seats because the floor is full of batteries.  The big idea here is that all those minivans idling in front of the school can be replaced with a minivan that’s just sitting there on battery power and not polluting the kids’ air.  The conventionally version of the Pacifica is due to deliver in the summer; the hybrid in the latter part of the year.

Quite possibly the meanest thing you could do at an auto show is to get lunch and eat it in front of the “product representatives”.  And no, I didn’t do it; I just happened to think of it.

The Ford C-Max remains mostly unchanged from last year.  The C-max body style is nice for a smallish family with a few things to haul.  The hatch back is easy to access and makes for a huge opening for loading and unloading.  The rear seats fold flat and there is tons of space for hauling things.  The hybrid is rated at 40mpg combined.  The Energi (plug-in hybrid) is expected to see 20 miles of full electric before switching over to the gas online engine for a total of 550 miles per tank.  While 20 miles is fine for haunting around town, I have to wonder if it’s enough anymore with other, higher mile, options coming to market.

And let’s not forget the Nissan Leaf.  Quite possibly the most famous EV.  Well, Pre-Tesla, that is.  Certain, the top-selling, consumer-priced EV.  Thanks to a model refresh, the Leaf’s batteries grew from 24kWh to 30kWh.  This 20% increase promises to boost the range from 84 miles to an estimated 107.  Inside, the new Leaf got updated software and new internal lighting touches.  Upper models feature a solar panel on the rear spoiler that trickle charges the 12v battery.  Nissan is extremely proud of the fact that the car and the batteries are both manufactured in Nashville.  There is no doubt the Leaf is another car that is high on my list.

Well, that’s it.  It’s 2:00 and apparently the floor closes at 2:00.  At least that’s what the “muscle” is saying as they shuffle me out.  So it was a six hour day for me from 8:00am to 2:00pm.  I got to see all the things I wanted but am sure there are some things I missed.

Tune in to next week’s podcast to hear a little more about my experience.  Also, Mark is at the Toronto Auto Show.  Might just be an all car show show next week.  ‘Til then, I’m signing out.

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audio and video,What Drives Us episode

#171 Heated Debate

27 Jan , 2016   Video

Douchebag is douchey

This just reeks of pump and dump to me
and their main site:

Why does every FCV cost $500 a month?

Trouble in Apple car paradise
Chief of Titan leaving Apple

WeFuel, personal fuel delivery, no, seriously

VW says the evil of silicon valley must be contained and they are just the evil organization to do the containing

Tesla’s very self-serving argument for their business model

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audio and video,What Drives Us episode

#158 Tesla Model X reveal

30 Sep , 2015   Video

Yes, we talk the inside, the outside and everything in between on the Tesla Model X this week, as well dissect some new Volt ads and briefly mention hydrogen.


Russell Frost

Tony Schaefer

Patrick Connor

Mark Coughlan

My 2MN:
One more reason why Jeremy Clarkson is an oversized douche

In addition to our two minute topics we’ll talk about…
Psychological issue is “real” (and it is)
Tesla goes euro opening Tilburg factory, eurodisney only sneers
Model X debut
More fallout from VW?
General follow up last week’s vivisection of the German prevaricator
LINKBAIT O’THE WEEK: Why stupid financial sites like “Seeking Alpha” can’t even figure out the right questions to ask…
real disruption won’t happen until BEVs become cheaper to make than ICE cars.
Patrick informs me otherwise.
Where the alt cars really don’t make sense, fuel cells, the quest for unicorn tears continues…
*Special thanks to Danny Cooper for the gear. Huge dude, huge.

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audio and video,What Drives Us episode

#149 Observing Korea

22 Jul , 2015   Video

This week Evan, Tony, Patrick and Russell discuss…

Next gen PiP to have 30-35 miles of EV range, according to an anonymous source

Toyota starts taking Mirai orders, unicorns everywhere cower in fear

Craig Scott, national alternative fuel vehicle manager at Toyota, “With batteries there is a fundamental science problem that we don’t know how to solve.”

Toyota recalls 625,000 Priuses globally (109,000 in the US)

Apple hires Doug Betts formerly of Chrysler

This week’s Tesla killer

Depends on how you define “hybrid”

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