Self Driving And Electric Are The Future Of Automobiles.

future_of_luxury_0Autonomous vehicles with no human backup will be put to the test on publicly traveled roads as early as next year in what may be the first attempt at unassisted autonomous piloting.

Automotive electronics and parts maker Delphi and French transport company Transdev plan to use autonomous taxis and a shuttle van to carry passengers on roadways in France.

The companies on Wednesday said they plan to combine Delphi’s self-driving technology with Transdev’s knowledge of mobility operations. Transdev operates trains, buses, ferries and other transportation services in 19 countries, including the U.S.

Two on-demand Renault Zoe autonomous taxis will be deployed in Rouen, Normandy, and a shuttle van will run between a rail station and campus in the university district of Paris-Saclay. Both will start with humans on board later this year, with the intent of going fully autonomous sometime in 2018.

xc_24_dwn_20_2014_hresFrom the start, the shuttle van won’t have a steering wheel or pedals, and humans will be inside solely to communicate with passengers, said Leriche, chief performance officer at Transdev Group.

But humans at a central dispatch center would still be able to take control of the vehicles, said Glen De Vos, Delphi Corp.’s chief technology officer. “We’re confident that in the event they would need to intervene, they can,” he said.

The companies also plan a similar test in North America and are scouting locations, De Vos said.

He believes they’ll go through several iterations of self-driving software and systems before the French vehicles are fully operational sometime in 2019.

Transdev plans to gradually spread the technology throughout Paris and other cities that it serves, so the autonomous vehicles will be on roads along with human drivers.

AAVA160_VZ939_H-626x383It may take a while for people to trust the vehicles enough to use them, but Leriche said acceptance may not be that hard to get. Transdev has surveyed users in autonomous shuttle tests about the service and quality, and more than 90 percent were excited about the service. “They were not afraid of the fact that there was no driver,” he said.

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina who tracks self-driving cars, said the Delphi-Transdev project would be among the first to carry passengers on roads without human backup drivers. Similar projects are ramping up in California and the Netherlands, he said.

self-driving-cars-doors-openThe partnership comes less than a month after U.K.-based Delphi joined with BMW, Intel and Mobileye to develop autonomous vehicles. Delphi, which has U.S. operations just outside of Detroit, makes the computing platform that brings together information from the car’s sensors, cameras and computers.

These Are the Best All-Electric Cars on the Market

bigstock-electric-car-and-gasoline-car-47540728-small-e1395854469297The selection of all-electric vehicles is growing quickly, as more automakers are releasing competing models (or compliance cars). Not only are there more cars to choose from, but range is growing and prices are dropping. Keep in mind that when you purchase an electric car, you still get the $7,500 federal tax credit – at least for now.

This show offers an exhaustive list of all-electric vehicles (EVs) currently available in the U.S. Also mentioned are some upcoming models, as well as exciting updates for the 2017 model year.

2017 FIAT 500e

Photo: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

No. 9: 2017 FIAT 500e

Overall Score: 7.1 out of 10 / Range: 87 Miles / Price: $31,800 (Details Below)

The FIAT 500e sports a bubbly look, and comes in many fun colors. It is a bit peppier than the gas version, due to the instant torque of the 111-horsepower electric motor. Pricing starts at $31,800 before federal tax rebates.

Fiat’s tiny offering is not the car for you if you plan on hauling cargo or transporting passengers. Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), advised consumers not to purchase the car as it is a compliance car and is causing FCA to lose money. Nonetheless, it has a stylish, retro interior full of tech features, and critics say that it is an exciting car for lively city driving. It will take you 87 miles on a charge, with a top speed of just 88 mph.

2017 Smart Fortwo ED

Photo: Mercedes-Benz USA

No. 8: 2016/2017 Smart Fortwo ED (Electric Drive)

Overall Score: 7.7 out of 10 / Range: 68 Miles / Price: $25,000 (Details Below)

The Smart Fortwo ED is the only available convertible EV. It is also one of the least expensive EV options on the market. This micro two-seater has a top speed of 78 mph and an all-electric range of 68 miles. Its small size makes it very efficient and fun to drive.

Pricing starts around $25,000 prior to federal tax rebates, with the convertible Cabriolet model adding around $3,000. While the gas-powered second-generation 2017 model is already available in the U.S., the new electric model won’t appear until sometime in 2017. Until then, you can still get 2016 model.

2016 Nissan LEAF

Photo: Nissan North America, Inc.

No. 7: 2016 Nissan LEAF

Overall Score: 7.7 out of 10 / Range: 107 Miles / Price: $29,010 (Details Below)

The Nissan LEAF has been a standard-setter for affordable electric vehicles. It is the best-selling all-electric vehicle of all time when considering only vehicles that can be driven on the highway. The 107-horsepower compact car will take you up to 107 miles on a charge in SV and SL trims. The base 2016 LEAF has a range of 84 miles.

The LEAF offers a smooth ride and poised handling. It seats five adults more comfortably than most compact cars. The rear seats have room for tall passengers and the driver’s seat is spacious for the class. A 2016 Nissan LEAF starts at $29,010 before the federal tax credit. You can get a 2017 model (107 mile range standard on all trims) starting at $30,680.

2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Photo: Volkswagen of America, Inc.

No. 6: 2016/2017 Volkswagen e-Golf

Overall Score: 8.3 out of 10 / Range: 83 Miles / Price: $28,995 (Details Below)

The 2016 e-Golf is much the same car as its parent vehicle, the gas-powered Golf. The battery is placed in such a way that cargo and passenger space remain intact. It will take you 83 miles on a charge, however, Volkswagen is promising that the 2017 model will have a range boost to 124 miles. It enters production this month and will be available early next year.

2016 Ford Focus Electric

Photo: Ford Motor Company

No. 5: 2016 Ford Focus Electric

Overall Score: 8.4 out of 10 / Range: 76 Miles / Price: $29,170 (Details Below)

The Ford Focus Electric gets up to 76 miles per charge. The big news is that the 2017 model, which started production in November, will come with a 33.5 kWh battery and a range bump up to 115 miles. It will also cost less than the 2016 model, starting at $29,170, making it one of the more affordable, longer-range EVs on the market.

The 143-horsepower midsize car is much the same as the gas-powered model. The upscale cabin seats five and is packed with all of the typical features found in the Focus. Cargo space is reduced marginally, due to the battery.

2016 BMW i3

Photo: BMW of North America, LLC

No. 4: 2016 BMW i3

Overall Score 8.5 out of 10 / Range: 81 Miles / Price: $42,400 (Details Below)

The BMW i3 is one of the most efficient vehicles on the road today. It is remarkably light and boasts 170-horsepower. It handles and performs as one would expect from a BMW and the futuristic interior features an abundance of intuitive technology. To add to its “green” appeal, much of the interior is constructed from recycled and renewable materials.

The base i3 has an all-electric range of 81 miles on a charge, and starts at $42,400 prior to rebates.

2016 Kia Soul EV

Photo: Kia Motors America

No. 3: 2016 Kia Soul EV

Overall Score: 8.8 out of 10 / Range: 93 Miles / Price: $31,950 (Details Below)

While the Kia Soul EV arrived later to the market than many competing EVs, it is evident that the company took some time to get it right. The Soul is a hip, stylish vehicle with ample room for five passengers and top-notch cargo space. It achieves an all-electric range of 93 miles.

The Soul EV delivers 109-horsepower and plenty of instant torque for a confident driving experience. It starts at $31,950 before federal incentives. Unfortunately, the Soul EV is not available in all states.

2016 Tesla Model X

Photo: Tesla Motors

No. 2: 2016 Tesla Model X

Overall Score: 9.3 out of 10 / Range: 250 Miles / Price: $80,000 (Details Below)

When it comes to being unique, the Tesla Model X belongs in its own category. Features like the enormous panoramic windshield, the industry’s largest touch-screen, Autopilot and Summon modes, over-the-air software updates, and the exclusive Supercharger network, put it well beyond the competition. However, all of this doesn’t come with a cheap price tag ($80,000-$115,500).  

The Model X, No. 1 in luxury midsize SUVs, offers easy access to rear seating due to the signature falcon wing doors. A seven-seat model is standard and a new five-seat model boasts class-topping cargo space. Its towing capacity of 5,000 pounds is not generally found in all-electric vehicles. The SUV is the quickest vehicle in its class, racing from zero to 60 mph in under three seconds, and can travel over 250 miles per charge.

2016 Tesla Model S

Photo: Tesla Motors

No. 1: 2016 Tesla Model S

Overall Score: 9.4 out of 10 / Range: 315 Miles / Price: $68,000 (Details Below)

The Tesla Model S, No. 1 in luxury large cars, is the predecessor of the Model X and much the same vehicle in many ways. It has been rated as one of the safest cars on the road today. It has acceleration that tops even some of the fastest gas-powered supercars. The Model S P100D is the fastest production car in the world, blazing from zero to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds.

2017 Hyundai Ioniq

Photo: Hyundai Motor America

Honorable Mention: 2017 Hyundai Ioniq 

Range: 155 Miles

We haven’t scored or ranked the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq yet because it won’t arrive until late January or so. But we do know that the EPA has released final figures rating the Ioniq at 155 miles of range. Hyundai recently reported that the 2018 model will exceed 200 miles.

2017 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Photo: Mercedes-Benz USA

Honorable Mention: 2017 Mercedes-Benz B-Class 

Range: 87 Miles / Price: $39,900

While the 2017 Mercedes B-Class is not currently in our rankings, due to limited availability in many states, it surely deserves mention. It is Mercedes’ direct competitor to the BMW i3 and it succeeds in many ways.

The B-Class, with a powertrain provided by Tesla, boasts 177 horsepower and 251 pound-feet of immediate torque, and will travel 87 miles on a charge. You can get one in the ten ZEV states, and in Washington, D.C. Otherwise, you may be able to order one. Hopefully, the B-Class will be available everywhere at some point.

2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Photo: Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.

Honorable Mention: 2017 Mitsubishi i-MiEV 

Range: 62 Miles / Price: 22,995

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV is advertised as America’s most affordable electric car, with a starting price of $22,995. It also comes with a lengthy 8-year/100,000-mile limited warranty (which includes the battery). With the low price comes a basic subcompact with 66 horsepower and 62 miles of range. Reviewers say that for the money – especially when considering the extremely low price after the federal rebate – it performs surprisingly well.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

Photo: General Motors

Honorable Mention: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt 

Range: 238 Miles / Price: $36,620

The first batch of GM’s highly anticipated Chevrolet Bolt EVs left the Lake Orion, Michigan plant and are on the way to dealerships in California. Before long, the Bolt will be available throughout the U.S. It will be the first mass-marketed all-electric vehicle with over 200 miles of range – 238 to be exact. The Chevrolet Spark EV is no longer available, due to the release of the Bolt.

The 200-horsepower five-seat hatchback starts at $36,620 before the federal tax rebate. Although the Bolt is not yet on the roads, it was named 2017 Motor Trend Car of the Year, 2017 Car and Driver 10Best, 2017 Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year, and is one of three North American Car of the Year (NACTOY) finalists.

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