Lucid (Formerly Known as Atieva) Will Be the Sole Battery-Pack Supplier for Formula E

Lucid tease for production electric carLucid’s Tesla Model S rival, expected to go on sale in late 2018, doesn’t even have an official name yet. But the company, which until yesterday was known as Atieva, is emerging from a self-imposed stealth mode and aims to find name recognition quickly among electric-vehicle enthusiasts and motorsports fans with this bit of news: Lucid will soon be the sole supplier of battery packs for FIA Formula E racing.

Peter Rawlinson, Lucid’s chief technical officer (and the former chief engineer of the Tesla Model S), has confirmed to C/D that the agreement will be part of a three-way partnership among McLaren Applied Technologies, Lucid, and Sony. Lucid will design and construct the battery and battery management software; Sony will supply the small-format, commodity-sized cylindrical cells within; and McLaren will manage the logistics and trackside support.

“Our batteries will power the entire Formula E race series for seasons 5 and 6,” said Rawlinson. “There are some major automakers entering that series—illustrious, well-recognized names—and they will all be running our batteries.”

“It was a very, very rigorous evaluation, with many bidders.”

Peter Rawlinson, Lucid chief technical officer

Rawlinson also pointed out that, while many larger companies are marketing their technology to Formula E, Lucid is being paid to supply the battery technology. Right now, Formula E cars have their packs swapped partway through the race, but the new pack is said to allow them to finish races uninterrupted and be lighter than with today’s Williams-supplied pack. That progress is enabled partly through the evolution of the cell technology itself and partly through the engineering of the California-based development team, C/D was told.

Rapid Progress from the Track

Racing drives technological progress for road vehicles in many ways, and this situation won’t be any different. The original FIA battery specifications included a 200-kilogram (441 pound) cell-weight limit, a 200-kW peak power limit, and a maximum usable energy of 28 kWh. In revised specs starting with Season 5, cell weight has been nudged to 250 kg (551 pounds), and peak power goes up to 250 kW (with usable energy very nearly doubled, at 54 kWh). For season 5, which runs in 2018 and 2019, the supplier must also demonstrate that the pack can be fully charged in 45 minutes or less. Lucid’s contract is contingent on several certifications yet to come, as well as a battery crash test by June 2017.

“It was a very, very rigorous evaluation, with many bidders,” said Rawlinson. Candidate submissions were due this past June, and the FIA hired a consultant specifically to vet the bidders and their battery tech.

Formula E testing at Donington ParkActual data—and showing that its packs are up to the torture and extreme regenerative-braking rates necessary to make it through the race—is what won Lucid the FIA contract, according to the company. So did its ability to use simulations. “People don’t often associate data science with car companies, but we have a team of data scientists who gather battery and powertrain data to really do a deep dive, to do this analysis and prevent failures from happening and optimize performance,” said the company’s director of battery technology, Albert Liu. “Batteries are very complex devices, and to have that data from out in the field is a gold mine.”

The physical battery packs will remain Lucid property, and the company will have access to the series data, but the FIA has to be made aware of all the data the company is using.

Lucid is working with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy lab based at Stanford University, and via a collaboration with the lab that uses CAT-scan-like methods, will look at physical degradation and the small-scale fractures within the battery that result from charge/discharge cycles. “It’s not just taking things off the shelf,” said Liu. “These chemistries are Lucid specific, and we consider that a competitive advantage.”

Production Bound: A Cooling System and Pack Up to the Task

The rigors of Formula E usage also will serve as a proving ground for Lucid’s custom architecture for battery cooling. The company not so subtly points to crosstown rival Tesla as an example of performance claims that only deliver under specific conditions. It has already designed intercell cooling around repeat acceleration runs, with its Edna test mule—the quickest van this editor had ever been in, as it covers zero to 60 mph in a claimed 2.9 seconds and boasts twin motors/inverters and 1200 horsepower—aiming to provide acceleration performance numbers that are reproducible not just in close succession but across the battery’s state of charge. And designing a pack that’s ready for potential 350-kW fast-charging parallels some of the cooling requirements for racing-level brake-energy recovery.

Liu cautioned that this is no indication that the company will go with cells from Sony—which is in the process of selling its battery business to Murata—for the production model. Lucid still is evaluating which exact size of cylindrical cell it’s going to use in the production sedan: the 18650 used by Tesla (supplied for that automaker by Panasonic) or the somewhat larger 21700. It’s working with suppliers who will assemble cells with a chemistry exclusive to the company.

“The technology that applies to the sedan, there’s a lot of carryover, but we’re still in discussion with multiple suppliers. It’s a good problem, that we have very attractive options right now,” Liu said. It’s also a rare opportunity for an automaker to be part of globally sanctioned racing prior to producing any vehicles whatsoever. So we’re especially eager to see what happens on the track and on the street with Lucid.

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2016 Cadillac CT6 3.6 AWD Test: The Power of Dynamics


By now you’re undoubtedly aware that the Cadillac CT6 is not quite what we anticipated in the countdown to its debut: an American challenger to the Lords of the Autobahn, specifically the Audi A8, BMW 7-series, and Mercedes-Benz S-class. The car that actually emerged is a half size smaller, putting it dimensionally between those grand Teutons and the next-size-down class, populated by the Audi A6, BMW 5-series, and Mercedes E-class. READ MORE ››

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Audi Reportedly Will Buy Back 25,000 V-6 TDI Vehicles in the U.S.

2011 Audi Q7 TDI Quattro

By now you’ve heard Volkswagen is offering to buy back its U.S.-market 2.0-liter TDI-powered cars affected by the ongoing diesel-emissions cheating scandal. Those buybacks could expand to Volkswagen Group cars equipped with noncompliant 3.0-liter TDI V-6 engines, too, as Audi will reportedly offer buybacks on some of its affected cars.

According to Reuters via German magazine Der Spiegel, Audi is in talks with both affected car owners and U.S. authorities about buying back 25,000 older vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter TDI engines. VW had said it hoped to avoid buybacks for V-6 cars, but German newspaper Der Spiegel reports that these 25,000 vehicles are too old to be fixed adequately. About 85,000 vehicles in total were sold in the United States with this engine.

There’s no word yet on whether Audi has decided on a specific fix for its remaining cars. The automaker released a statement to Automotive News regarding the matter, stating: “We are working hard with U.S. regulators to reach an agreement [on] an approved resolution for affected 3.0-liter V-6 TDI vehicles and thank our customers for their continued patience. The Court has scheduled a status conference for November 3, 2016, to discuss the matter further.”

The 3.0-liter diesel in question was offered in the Audi Q5 and Q7 SUVs as well as the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne.

Since every proposed fix for VW’s 3.0-liter V-6 diesels thus far has been rejected by U.S. regulators, it’s unclear if owners will ever receive a remedy to make these vehicles emissions compliant.

This story originally appeared on Road & Track.

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2016 Cadillac CT6 3.6 AWD – Instrumented Test

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Not Quite a Flying Car but Damn Close: Meet the Airbus Vahana

Airbus Group Vahana Jetsons flying car

It’s not merely the roads in and around Silicon Valley where advanced transportation systems are being developed and vetted. The sky above the Bay Area is a prime proving ground for the latest aviation technology.

The newest aircraft to join that field may soon be the Vahana, a yet-to-be-built aircraft from A³, the regional office of Airbus Group in San Jose, California. Engineers are working on a personal-transportation craft capable of vertical takeoffs and landings, making runways and roads obsolete. Also unneeded: pilots. If Airbus succeeds, the Vahana would use autonomous and unmanned technology to deliver people or packages to their destinations, potentially making the eight-rotor craft the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.

Without referencing a certain Hanna-Barbera cartoon that made the idea of a flying vehicle for everyday commuting a novel future proposition, that appears to be the precise use case for the Airbus venture.

“We seek to help enable truly vertical cities by opening up urban airways in a predictable and controlled manner,” wrote Rodin Lyasoff, the project’s chief executive officer. “We believe that full automation will allow us to achieve higher safety by minimizing human error. Our aircraft will follow predetermined flight paths, with only minor deviations if obstacle avoidance is needed.”

Airbus Vahana sketch

Early renderings of the craft were released last month; Lyasoff says the company has completed the vehicle design and intends to build a full-size prototype by the end of 2017, with a demonstrator to follow in 2020. Airbus established its Silicon Valley venture in May 2015.

The aircraft contains forward and rear wings each outfitted with four rotors that tilt into horizontal or vertical configurations for specific phases of flight. Vahana has not yet revealed which companies it is working with to build the prototype but says it will “share a deep dive on our system design and analysis” in a forthcoming update.

Sketches and design underpinnings of the aircraft appear to be based on the HyperCommuter concept that gained traction with NASA engineers two years ago.

The same technologies driving rapid changes in the auto industry—lightweight materials, more energy-dense battery options, autonomous technology, and obstacle detection—make the Vahana more affordable and potentially more plausible. But if there’s a theoretical downside to this futuristic concept, it’s that it continues the pattern of single-occupant commuting that clogs U.S. roads today. More than three-quarters of Americans drive to work alone in cars, so the skies of tomorrow could become as crowded as the highways of today.

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More Evidence Emerges: Next BMW M5 Will Have All-Wheel Drive

2013 BMW M5

The next-generation BMW M5 is adding all-wheel drive. At least that’s what an Australian automotive media site, GoAutowas told by a BMW representative at the Melbourne premiere of the new 2017 BMW 5-series.

While a spokesperson from BMW of North America was unable to comment on the next-generation M5, spy photos we published in 2015—including shots of front half-shafts—show the company has been actively testing at least one all-wheel-drive M5. The first inklings of this change, however, came as far back as 2013, when the head of BMW’s M division at the time, Friedrich Nitschke, acknowledged that such a drivetrain was under consideration.

Adding even more fuel to the fire is BMW M division CEO Frank van Meel’s recent admission to Autocar that an available all-wheel-drive system on the M5 is all but inevitable. He gave the impression that such a system would be an optional extra on the fast four-door. Whether or not this is the case when the car is unveiled remains to be seen. Regardless, expect a heavy rear bias from the M5 should it adopt all-wheel drive; GoAuto reported, citing the BMW representative, that 80 percent of the engine’s power will be routed to the rear wheels.

With competitors from Audi and Mercedes-AMG employing all-wheel drive in their supersedans, we can’t say we’re surprised the same technology is likely to come to the new M5. Still, we hope that BMW’s M division doesn’t abandon rear-wheel drive entirely. After all, an M2 with all-wheel drive just wouldn’t be the same.

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2016 BMW i8 Tested: The i Is All About the Eyes


The BMW i8 is comfortable in its own amazing skin. It needs to be. It looks like a buttressed spaceship trimmed with extraterrestrial blue and black. If the wheels were spat-covered, it’d be easy to convince people it’s actually levitating on the pride of Munich. Every person who catches a glimpse locks eyes on it, and you needn’t be clairvoyant to read pedestrians’ thoughts, which mostly boil down to, “What the . . . ?” READ MORE ››

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2016 BMW i8 – Instrumented Test

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Three Feet High and Rising: Things Get Wet for One Classic Z-Car


After rescuing his cats, dogs, and pet gecko from flood conditions, C.J. Todd of Zachary, Louisiana, floated a few miles over to his uncle’s house, where he spent a nervous night in bed, listening to several feet of water splash against the side of the house. Left in the driveway back home with Louisiana floodwater up to its pop-up headlights was his beloved 1985 Nissan 300ZX, which he calls Peaches.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on August 11 this year the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana received more than 30 inches of rainfall in just a few days. FEMA reported that more than 128,000 households registered for assistance and that $385 million has been allocated in relief funds for survivors so far. After flooding this intense, the new reality of having to clean up after the mess won’t be much of a relief.


C.J. said he was the first person in 13 years to register Peaches, and now he’ll be the first to install new carpets and trim in more than 30 years. Determined to keep this Peach from turning into a lemon, he started drying the car by removing door panels, carpets, seats, and the lower portions of the dashboard that had trapped debris when his Nissan was sitting in the flood. He also removed the spark plugs and cranked the engine by hand to help push water out of the cylinder heads. Watch below to see what drained out of the oil pan during the first oil change:

After he was confident the electronics were dry and the cylinders and intake were free of water, C.J. began snapping fittings back together one by one and watching the fuses to make sure the car didn’t go up in smoke. When he turned the key, the digital dash glowed and the engine cranked, but it still wouldn’t start. After that first crank, the fuel pump wouldn’t stop priming, so he turned that electrical gremlin to his advantage and used the constant pumping to drain the water-and-fuel mixture out of the gas tank.


A few weeks later, C.J. narrowed down the problem to fuel injectors that aren’t getting power. When we last checked in, he was waiting to try a replacement ECU and crank-angle sensor that, he hopes, will get Peaches back on the road.

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11th Takata-Airbag Fatality Confirmed, Honda and NHTSA Push to Get High-Risk Models Repaired

Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced yesterday that an 11th person has died in the United States as a result of a Takata airbag inflator that ruptured improperly. Delia Robles, a 50-year-old woman, died shortly after being involved in a crash in Riverside County, California, in which a Chevrolet Colorado turned left in front of her, according to the local newspaper, the Press EnterpriseRobles’s 2001 Honda Civic was first recalled in 2008 but never had the repair performed.

According to Automotive News, Honda had mailed more than 20 recall notices to the registered owners of this particular Civic since 2008, but the vehicle was never repaired. An Associated Press report noted that Robles, the crash victim, bought the vehicle at the end of 2015. The 2001 Honda Civic is on a list of seven models with airbag inflators that are at heightened risk of rupturing improperly: the 2001–2002 Honda Accord and Civic; the 2002 Honda CR-V and Odyssey; the 2003 Honda Pilot; the 2002–2003 Acura 3.2TL; and the 2003 Acura 3.2CL.

Both Honda and NHTSA are thus continuing to push for owners of remaining unrepaired vehicles to get their defective airbag inflators replaced as soon as possible, especially in hot and humid areas where the risk that airbag inflators will rupture is higher. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, for instance, sent urgent notices to affected owners, and the department has issued a call to action for those owners who haven’t yet taken their cars to a dealer. The fix is free of charge for all customers, and Honda and Acura dealers are required to provide a loaner car if necessary while the vehicle is being repaired or while dealers wait for parts to become available.

For more information, Honda urges owners to call 888–234–2138, visit or, or visit a local dealer to schedule a repair appointment.

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