Car Tech

  • Clunkers

    The very first working four-cycle internal-combustion engine was invented by Niklaus Otto in 1876, and in due course it changed the world. A quarter of a century later, gasoline engines, steam-powered vehicles, and electric drive competed on an equal basis, but by 1915, it was clear the gasoline engine would triumph. The next 100 years brought more than 1.2 billion vehicles to the surface of our planet, the vast majority fueled by gasoline burned in internal-combustion engine. DON'T MISS: China developing timetable to end sales, production of gasoline cars Six weeks ago, state media in China...

  • Electric motor, shown in 'How Does an Electric Car Work?' video by Learn Engineering
    Rare-earth metals in magnets for electric-car motors: what you need to know

    It's not surprising that the powertrains of electric cars differ quite a bit from traditional internal-combustion engines. Although they have fewer moving parts, the rare-earth magnets that help power electric cars can be quite complex to fabricate. So, what is there to know about rare-earth...

  • Smart Vision EQ ForTwo concept, 2017 Frankfurt auto show
    The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo is a self-driving electric matchmaker

    The Smart Vision EQ Fortwo wants to be a self-driving electric matchmaker. Ahead of its global unveiling at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, Smart on Wednesday took the wraps off of an urban-oriented, self-driving electric concept car that can supply power back to the grid when it's not in use and...

  • Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack
    Better alkaline batteries, made rechargeable, to power electric cars?

    Alkaline batteries have been a staple energy source for decades, but their potential has been capped by their chemical properties. Notably, alkaline batteries cannot be recharged, which means their application is often limited to single uses in small devices such as flashlights and remote controls...

  • BMW engine
    New engine development at German makers to end by 2025, says supplier

    Continental, a major supplier for automakers around the world, has come out with a bold prediction: internal-combustion engine development by German automakers will essentially end by the year 2025. The supplier, which makes exhaust-gas-cleaning systems for diesel cars and nitrogen oxide-measuring...

  • 2017 Mazda MAZDA3
    2019 Mazda 3 to feature world-first HCCI engine for efficiency: report

    It's a technology that's been a sort of Holy Grail in the auto industry for at least a couple of decades. Now Mazda, one of the smallest global automakers, plans to introduce it in a radical new engine to be used in a future Mazda vehicle in 2019. It's called homogeneous charge compression...

  • Tesla Motors - Model S lithium-ion battery pack

    The report that Toyota is planning an electric car with a solid-state battery for 2022 has led some fans and advocates to suggest huge new leaps in electric cars are imminent. The 2011 Nissan Leaf had an EPA-rated range of 75 miles combined; the comparable figure for a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV is 238 miles. That's remarkable progress, and clearly lithium-ion battery costs have come down faster over those seven years than anticipated a decade ago. CHECK OUT: Mentioning Moore's Law For Electric Cars: Sign Of Ignorance (Sep 2013) But don't be fooled into believing electric cars will improve...

  • Felix Kramer and his fleet: Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, Plug in Prius
    Green Car Glossary: vehicles, emissions, fuels, electric cars, powertrains energy (updated)

    As rules to boost fuel economy and lower carbon emissions in vehicles around the world continue to stiffen, acronyms like EREV, CNG, and MPGe are becoming more and more common. Ever wonder what they all mean? This glossary is your chance to enter a veritable Twilight Zone of terminology--and find...

  • Electric motor, shown in 'How Does an Electric Car Work?' video by Learn Engineering
    Better electric motors can boost electric-car efficiency

    One of the greatest challenges faced by modern electric cars is the vehicle's range, which is largely proportional to the energy capacity of the battery. Range anxiety often keeps buyers out of electric cars and in their fossil-fuel powered counterparts. Most of the attention given to solving the...

  • 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium
    Why two-motor hybrid systems are better than those with just one

    Six years ago, we wrote that a number of single-motor hybrid systems were about to enter the market. They represented a new approach to a technology pioneered in 1997, when the first-generation Toyota Prius was launched in Japan. Through 2010, all the full-hybrid vehicles introduced by Ford and...

  • 2017 Tesla Model S
    Why would Tesla want to start its own streaming music service?

    It seems every other day Tesla CEO Elon Musk has news about the next big project for the electric-car maker. This time, the news is about a project that seems relatively achievable, but one that produces as many questions as it answers. According to reports, Tesla is looking into starting its own...

  • Electric motor, shown in 'How Does an Electric Car Work?' video by Learn Engineering
    Video explains how electric cars work, battery and motor technology included

    While many drivers generally understand the concept of an electric car, understanding generally stops there. It's a car, and you plug it in to get power to run it. That's fine as far as it goes. Beyond that, things get hazy pretty quickly, we've found. DON'T MISS: Plug-in hybrid problem: buyers...

  • 2017 Toyota Prius Prime Premium

    The challenge of reducing the energy used by traditional heating systems in battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars is one automakers still grapple with today. Reduced battery range in cold temperatures, combined with batteries working overtime to heat the cabin, can produce drastic declines in EPA-estimated range figures. The Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, however, uses an advanced heat-pump design to minimize the loss of range. DON'T MISS: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime: first drive of new plug-in hybrid Toyota and Denso engineered the heat pump to include components from stationary...

  • Dynamic wireless electric car charging testing using a Renault Kangoo Z.E.
    Renault, Qualcomm show off electric-car road charging at 60 mph

    It's long been an inspiring futuristic concept: electric cars that can recharge continuously at speed, driving along roadways with built-in inductive charging. Think a modern-day version of slot cars, but at 1:1 scale. Now French automaker Renault has demonstrated a prototype of just such a system...

  • Prototype EVgo 350-kw fast-charging station Fremont, CA
    Could water be the secret to faster electric-car battery technology?

    Electric vehicles aren't always associated with speed and performance, but researchers at North Carolina State University may have discovered a breakthrough to change those qualities inside their batteries. Of all things, water may hold the key to faster electric-car battery technology. Researchers...

  • Liviu Tudoran's "Apple iMove" design study
    Apple self-driving car plans emerge: how will it play with automakers?

    Last year, techies, auto journalists, and Apple fans spent a great deal of time debating the existence, technology, and potential prospects of an "Apple car" project that the company never officially acknowledged. The idea that Apple would move from fast-turn, high-volume, very profitable consumer...

  • 2012 Toyota RAV4 EV, Newport Beach, California, July 2012
    Why Toyota's 'agonizing' U-turn toward electric cars? Because China says so

    Large auto companies are likely aircraft carriers: it takes a long time for them to change direction, and far longer yet to get them aligned on a new course. To various degrees, the world's carmakers have started to produce and sell vehicles that plug-in, whether for some or all of their travels...

  • Mercedes-Benz integrated starter generator (ISG)
    Don't start-stop systems wear out your car's starter?

    Some are almost unnoticeable, others make the car shudder each time they activate—but start-stop systems are here to stay. First rolled out in Europe and Asia, where crowded city driving requires cars to spend more time at a standstill, they switch off the engine when the car's not moving...

  • Riding in prototype of fully autonomous Nissan Leaf electric car, March 2017  [video: Fully Charged]

    It's been a vision of the future for decades now: self-driving cars that let you get in, specify your destination, and then curl up for a bit more sleep, waking when you arrive. That kind of anywhere-any-time autonomy remains some years in the future, most engineers suggest. Automakers are already adding individual active-safety systems that will be the building blocks of future self-driving cars, however, including adaptive cruise control, lane-correction assist, automatic emergency braking, and others. DON'T MISS: What is a self-driving car? (SAE levels explained) Now Robert Llewellyn of...

  • Chevrolet Bolt EV self-driving prototype
    What is a self-driving car?

    Self-driving cars are a popular topic in both the auto industry and general media coverage these days, with several makers testing vehicles and promising fully autonomous cars at some future point. But when it comes to self-driving cars, different automakers may not be talking about the same thing...

  • Achates opposed-piston two-stroke diesel engine, as it would be packaged for truck installation
    Full-size diesel pickup truck that gets 37 mpg? Achates says yes

    Could a full-size pickup truck ever get a fuel-economy rating of 37 mpg? California-based Achates Power believes it can, and its novel engine uses a design that dates back to the earliest days of internal combustion to do so. The company announced its two-stroke, opposed-piston diesel engine for...

  • 2017 Mazda CX-5
    Mazda to launch homogeneous-charge compression engine next year

    The differences between gasoline and diesel engines lie not only in their fuels, but in how those fuels are ignited. Gasoline engines use spark plugs, while diesels simply use compression. But it is possible to ignite gasoline in an internal-combustion engine with compression, as in a diesel. DON'T...

  • 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
    What will you be driving 10 years from now? Poll results

    With news stories literally every day about autonomous vehicle tests, and the growing number of plug-in electric vehicles on sale, the future is ... well, up in the air. Readers of this site tend to be more future-oriented than many car buyers, so we polled our Twitter followers about their views...

  • 2016 Toyota Prius, Catskill Mountains, NY, Dec 2015
    Toyota changes course, offers to share hybrid technology with rivals

    Over the past six months, Toyota has made some remarkable decisions about its present and future car technologies. After years of staunch opposition to battery-electric vehicles, it committed to launching one by 2020. Now, the company has decided to offer its proprietary hybrid technology in volume...