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The Mustang Mach-E is the exciting shape of the electric future




Ford just unveiled its first EV, and it’s stunning. Called the Mustang Mach-E, it appears to get a lot of things right. From the branding to little surprises, the Mustang Mach-E looks to be a hit.

“We knew we had to do something different and something exciting and something only Ford could do,” Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford North America said at a press event prior to the Sunday unveiling. I think he’s right. The Mustang Mach-E is the ideal shape of the mass-produced electric future. Henry Ford would be proud. This is an electric car for the masses.

It’s a Mustang

It starts with branding. I hate it. The car guy in me is sad that a Mustang will soon be available in a four-door version. And electric. And lifted. That’s not a Mustang, I want to say. A Mustang is a sports car. And yet a Mustang is an affordable, reliable vehicle, and that’s exactly why Ford is calling its first EV a Mustang.

Branding is critical for the electric future. Ford is using an established brand that resonates with buyers. Look for this again and again as car companies unveil an electric version of current and past vehicles. An electric Ford F-150 and an electric Jeep Cherokee.

Instead of inventing a new model line, like Chevy tried to do with the Bolt, companies will look to convert familiar models to electric. The switch should make for more comfortable transitions. With the Chevy Bolt, consumers understand it is electric, but are still left with new questions. How does the driver sit in a Bolt? Is a Bolt a low-end model? What will the resell value of a Bolt be in three years. With an established model, say a Chevy Cruze, Buick Regal or BMW 3 series, a lot of the questions are more easily answered. Consumers are familiar with the branding and the meaning behind the model.

With the Mustang Mach-E, Ford is addressing many questions with just the name. The Mach-E will be fast (it is), it will be smallish (it’s a small crossover) and it will be competitively priced (at $40,000, it is).

For example, other companies like Jeep, Honda and Subaru will likely follow the same scheme. It’s easier for the consumer to rehash current brands. An electric Jeep Cherokee would be a capable, mid-range vehicle with a tall ride height, sophisticated all-wheel drive system and seating for five. An electric Honda Civic would be a small, affordable car, while an electric Subaru Impreza would offer an electric powertrain on a car-based AWD platform.

Likewise, unnecessary questions arise if Jeep or Honda or any other car company bring an EV to market under a new name.

There is risk in using a legacy name. It can be offensive to die-hard and vocal enthusiasts. Ford is getting backlash with the Mach-E name. I find it offensive on a car-guy level. That’s not a Mustang, I want to yell. Taking a step back, it’s easy to see Ford’s justification.

Chevrolet re-released the Blazer last year and experienced a similar revolt. A Blazer is supposed to be a beefy off-roader, not the small, sporty crossover of the current version.

The Mustang brand is arguably one of the most valuable Ford assets. It’s been around for more than 50 years. Car companies invest fortunes in building and marketing brands and models. It often takes generations to get consumer buy-in, and, at that point, car companies treat them with careful consideration. With the Mustang Mach-E, Ford must have abundant data that shows a projected success.

The simple interior

The Mustang Mach-E follows the Tesla Model 3 design language: Big screen in the middle and not much else. The Mach-E builds on the Model 3 to make it a bit more palatable by including an LCD screen in front of the driver. The Bolt did this, too, but the Chevy didn’t go far enough. With the Mach-E and the Model 3, Ford and Tesla are utilizing smart manufacturing techniques, which will likely be replicated across the automotive industry — for better or worse.

Each car maker manufacturers switches and dials and screens that are installed throughout its models. A part bin, in car lingo. Often, switches are shared between brands. A switch in Audi could find its way into a Lambo, as both brands are in the VW family. This is done to reduce costs. Why make a different window switch for each brand when a window switch is a window switch?

The Model 3 and the Mach-E do not have any physical buttons in their center stacks. A massive screen handles climate control, media playback and more. Instead of making and installing gobs of little switches, Ford, Tesla and other automakers are using a single screen to do the same functions. This makes scaling across brands and markets easier. Suddenly, without buttons, car companies can reduce to a single device the number of parts, working hours and troubleshooting. This also makes building a car for different markets easier. Instead of building in a different language or for driving on the other side of the road, car companies only need to rejigger the software.

This single-screen setup needs the right software, and the Mach-E is the first to demonstrate Ford’s Sync 4 system. It looks great to me, with persistent controls for climate and a logical layout. Is it functional? I haven’t used it yet.

Thankfully, there’s still one physical knob: volume control. Volume should always be controlled by a spinning knob instead of a sliding bar. Always.

These screens allow car companies to integrate branding into the vehicles further. Expect Lincoln models to use similar software, but with a different design scheme from Ford models. Likewise, Acura software will be similar to Honda’s, but with a more sporty, upscale feel.

The little surprises

The Mach-E has several surprises, and that’s thanks to the electric platform.

The majority of the vehicles on the market right now run electric systems based on a decades-old system. It’s limiting, though carmakers are pushing it as far as it can go. The move to electric opens countless opportunities to designers and engineers. Features and details that were fantasy are now possible.

The Mach-E doesn’t have traditional door handles. Instead, it has small buttons that release the doors. What happens when the battery dies? For the most part, that’s highly unlikely, as the Mach-E’s electrical system doesn’t rely on a traditional battery and alternator.

The Mach-E has a front-based storage area — a frunk if you will. These are standard features on most electric vehicles. Ford did something novel, though, and made the Mach-E’s frunk out of plastic and added a drain plug. This lets owners pack it full of ice and store drinks in the frunk.

With electric vehicles, carmakers can open their playbooks and implement brand-specific features. Jeeps should get more Jeep-ie. Lexus models should be able to stand apart from their Toyota counterparts, and so on. The electric platforms are fundamentally more simple than internal combustion systems, freeing engineers and designers to be more creative with creature comforts.

The downside of these new features based around a new platform will come in a couple of years when repairs have to be made. It’s unlikely that most owners will be able to diagnose and fix systems, like with current vehicles. Instead, owners will have to rely on auto repair service centers that will look more like IT shops than garages.

Right now, this is an issue I have with my aging Chevy Volt. I live in Michigan, where the Volt was designed and built. I take it to one of the largest Chevy dealerships in the country for service, where there is only one technician certified to work on the vehicle. Repairs take much longer than I would like, and this issue will likely compound as more complex vehicles come to market. Vehicle techs will have to be retrained, and lower-cost third-party service centers will likely lag behind expensive dealerships.

It’s an electric future

The Mustang Mach-E is an EV done right. Ford took lessons from Tesla, Chevy and others with its first mass-produced electric vehicles. The Mach-E naming is unconventional at first glance, yet a closer look reveals its logic. The interior is exciting and yet scalable, and the model is full of surprises that will delight and could frustrate owners.

Eventually, the automotive landscape will be filled with similar models to the Mach-E: recycled branding, higher ride height and unique features around simple interiors.

It’s been said that the move to electric will produce stale, lookalike vehicles. That’s likely the short-term result as carmakers look to capitalize on familiar shapes and brands to get consumers onboard. Once consumers are comfortable with electric, that’s when the real fun begins. Expect the next generation of the Mustang Mach-E to be something more worthy of the Mustang name.

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Tesla’s next-gen Model Y from Giga Berlin aims to redefine ‘German engineering’




Tesla’s next-generation Model Y from Giga Berlin in Germany may redefine “German engineering.” A Tweet from CEO Elon Musk shows the company aims to improve build quality down to the micron, a unit of measurement that is equivalent to one-thousandth of a millimeter.

“German engineering” is a phrase that has been around for decades and commonly refers to the precision and accuracy that German products are known for. In the automotive industry’s history, German vehicles have highly been regarded as the most luxurious, highest quality cars that money can buy. In the early years of industry and engineering, Germany had the best machines and the most advanced processes for building basically anything, but cars were the specialty. Strict standards and an attitude that aimed toward perfection made German vehicles the cream of the crop in the automotive industry.

Tesla Gigafactory Berlin render (Credit: Tesla)

This theory still holds true in today’s industry in many ways. While other companies and other regions have highly effective processes for vehicle manufacturing, Germany still has a certain mystique about it. With brands like Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW, three of the most luxurious brands in the automotive market today, German engineering still holds a high standard.

However, Tesla has plans to reinvent the wheel when speaking about the term “German engineering.” In the last 18-or-so months since Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s first European Gigafactory would be in Germany, many developments have hinted toward Giga Berlin being the most advanced and most sophisticated factory that Tesla has in its arsenal. From a new, world-class paint facility to some of the most accurate automated machinery on the planet, Tesla is pulling out all the stops to keep up with Germany’s best brands.

In a Tweet earlier today, Musk said that Tesla is aiming for “extreme precision” with the next-gen Model Y. The company will aim for microns of accuracy, not millimeters, as Tesla aims to continue refining its manufacturing processes to make some of the highest-quality vehicles on Earth.

In the past, Tesla has been criticized for poor build quality with some of its vehicles. Some owners have highlighted panel gaps or paint quality issues with their vehicles, which has led to an overwhelming misconception that Tesla produces lackluster vehicles. The truth is that all vehicle manufacturers have issues with build quality from time to time. Things as simple as an increased production rate can affect the quality of a vehicle. Some, however, like automotive veteran Sandy Munro, have stated that Tesla’s build quality has improved significantly over the years. Munro went from highly critical of the Model 3 during a teardown several years ago to overwhelmingly impressed with the new builds of the car.

“This car has improved significantly,” Munro said. “The paint is great; it’s very impressive.”

The accuracy that Tesla is aiming for with the next-gen all-electric Model Y crossover is extremely precise. A micron is one-thousandth of a millimeter, so it’s a unit that is not necessarily visible to the human eye. If Tesla can refine its manufacturing lines in Berlin to reach this level, the definition of German engineering may once again be reconfigured to include Tesla’s near-perfect build quality.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below, or feel free to reach out to me directly at @KlenderJoey on Twitter or through email at [email protected].

Tesla’s next-gen Model Y from Giga Berlin aims to redefine ‘German engineering’

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Don’t Overlook this Simple Retention Tactic: Put Today’s and Tomorrow’s Customers in Need of Auto…




Sending out service reminders via e-mail or text, making follow-up calls, mailing postcards, scheduling next visits at the time of car delivery — there are many tactics automotive service-repair businesses can use to retain customers. But one simple tactic is often overlooked: empowerment.

The customers of today, and tomorrow, live in a digital world where they’re empowered by fast access to information. And they make quick buying decisions based on that information. For example, think about the last time you searched for a product or service on a major retailer’s website and made a buying decision quickly based on the information that was presented to you.

This shopping experience has become the new normal as the pandemic has drastically expanded the range of digital consumers far beyond millennials and Gen Z. All generations are now confirmed online shoppers.

So, what does this mean for automotive service-repair businesses?

In order to retain the customers of today and tomorrow, automotive service-repair facilities should be offering them the online shopping experience they’ve come to expect. For starters, that means communicating with customers in the ways they’re most comfortable with on their own timetable.

Text messaging has become universally popular because it’s quick and convenient, providing consumers added control over their time. It’s also, in part, what makes digital engagement tools like Openbay Otis so uniquely powerful.

1. Chatbot Trends Report 2021

2. 4 DO’s and 3 DON’Ts for Training a Chatbot NLP Model

3. Concierge Bot: Handle Multiple Chatbots from One Chat Screen

4. An expert system: Conversational AI Vs Chatbots

Otis serves as a virtual service advisor that appears on a shop’s website as a smiling icon that says, “Hi. Need help? We’re online now if you have questions.” Visitors type in a question or select from a menu of options. Otis — which is powered by artificial intelligence, or AI — then engages visitors in a text-style conversation.

It’s similar to the way Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or Google Assistant provide quick answers to commonly asked questions.

Otis can deliver price estimates for mechanical service and repair nearly instantly and book an appointment, too. Otis also has a full tire catalog that will generate tire options, pricing and installation fees based on vehicle year, make and model (and tire size too).

Roughly 35% of Otis conversations take place outside normal business hours. Otis gathers and records all information from each conversation. If necessary, service advisors can then follow up using the visitor’s preferred method of communication — a phone call, text or e-mail.

Otis eliminates the need for site visitors to navigate a shop’s website, search through menus or fill out forms as they look for answers to their questions. Instead, they’re able to get the information they want when they want it and how they want it. In other words, putting them in the driver’s seat.

Otis installs on your website in minutes and it’s easy to use.

Retaining customers starts with time-honored essentials: solid mechanical service using quality parts, good value, a comfortable experience, great communication and a personal touch. And businesses that are able to level up by allowing customers to drive their own experience — using automated digital engagement tools like Otis, for example — are poised to earn more customer loyalty now and into the future.

To discover how Openbay Otis, the intelligent, automated chat and messaging platform can boost customer retention and new customer acquisition, contact Openbay today.

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Tesla Cybertruck beats F-150 Lightning and Hummer EV in US electric truck survey




The Ford F-150 Lightning might be an extension of America’s best-selling workhorse and the GMC Hummer EV might be the electric iteration of a gas-guzzling monster, but it appears that the US electric pickup market is already looking towards its upcoming favorite. As per the results of a survey among US car buyers, it is the Tesla Cybertruck that stands to be the country’s most popular all-electric pickup truck. 

The survey, which was aimed at determining consumers’ sentiment on electric cars, was conducted by automotive research and shopping website CarGurus. The survey was conducted online, and it involved respondents that were balanced in terms of key demographics in alignment with the US census. The results of the study were published in March 2021. 


The respondents of the study were asked a variety of questions, one of which inquired if they were considering several electric trucks. The Cybertruck proved to be the most popular electric truck among the survey’s respondents, with 31% noting that they would consider the angular, brutalist steel truck. In comparison, 28% said that they would consider the Ford F-150 Lightning and 16% stated that they would consider the GMC Hummer EV. 

Interestingly enough, the Cybertruck proved even more popular among respondents who were most likely to adopt electric vehicles. Among those who plan to own an EV within the decade, 40% stated that they were interested in the Tesla Cybertruck. This was quite impressive considering that 32% were interested in the Ford F-150 Lightning and only 17% noted that they were interested in the Hummer EV. 

Credit: Eric Rihlmann/Instagram

The Tesla Cybertruck may be controversial due to its appearance and the fact that it is made by a company that has never produced a pickup truck in the past, but its potential is vast. Since its debut in late 2019, the Cybertruck has become an icon of sorts, with the vehicle proving very popular online. This was hinted at by Elon Musk in the past, when he noted that the demand for the Cybertruck has been very encouraging so far. 

“I have never seen actually such a level of demand at this — we’ve never seen anything like it. I think we will make about as many as we can sell for many years. So — as many — we’ll sell as many as we can make. It’s going to be pretty nuts. So, and I think actually, the product is better than people realize even (if) they don’t have enough information to realize just the awesomeness of it, it’s just great,” Musk said in Tesla’s Q4 2019 earnings call

The results of CarGurus’ survey could be viewed below.

CarGurus US 2021 EV Survey by Simon Alvarez on Scribd

Don’t hesitate to contact us for news tips. Just send a message to [email protected] to give us a heads up.

Tesla Cybertruck beats F-150 Lightning and Hummer EV in US electric truck survey

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McLaren Artura: What’s Hiding Under The Skin




The Artura may seem just like yet another McLaren supercar with a familiar design but it’s much more than that under the skin. It’s actually the brand’s first model to ride on the new McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture (MCLA), which can be best described as a complex carbon fiber puzzle consisting of more than 500 single pieces of carbon combined into 72 pre-forms. And that’s just the monocoque, which is a small piece of the big picture.

The Woking-based supercar manufacturer has released additional tech details about the Artura, following the car’s official debut in February this year. The lengthy press release focuses on the lightweight construction of the hybrid super with interesting details such as the electrical harness, which is 10 percent lighter than the harness in a 720S. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though, with the final result being that the Artura weighs in at 3,303 pounds (or 3,075 pounds dry) despite its hybrid powertrain. To put that number into perspective, the 720S Coupe weighs 3,167 lbs.

McLaren is also very proud of its all-new V6 engine. Designed and built from the ground up, the 3.0-liter unit is very compact in dimensions thanks to a short overall design and turbochargers positioned centrally within the 120-degree V of the cylinder banks. The compact V6 leaves more room in the engine bay for cooling and weighs just 353 pounds, around 110 pounds lighter than McLaren’s older V8.

The combustion engine is supported by an electric motor located within the transmission bell housing. It generates 94 horsepower (70 kilowatts) and 166 pound-feet (225 Newton-meters) of torque for a grand total of 671 hp (500 kW) and 593 lb-ft (804 Nm). The peak torque is reached at around 2,200-2,500 rpm, when the two power sources reach their maximum potential. With a power-to-weight ratio of 481 hp/ton, the Artura has the third-best coefficient in McLaren’s lineup behind just the Elva and Senna.

2022 McLaren Artura Transmission

Building on a winning formula, the Artura also uses a new multi-link rear suspension design that delivers significant dynamic advantages. For example, the lower wishbone is divided in two, while the track control arm is positioned in front of the rear axle rather than behind it as on previous McLarens. As a result, the rear toe stiffness is approximately 75 percent higher than in the 600LT.

Last but not least, the Pirelli tires of the Artura use a Bluetooth sensor attached to the inner side of the tire, constantly gathering data about the tire’s temperatures and pressure. This allows the supercar to be McLaren’s first car with a Track mode in which you can set up the tire temperatures on the system for monitoring purposes.

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