Tesla’s new Fremont factory clinic gets slammed by Reveal in worrying report, doctor denies

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently announced that Tesla’s Fremont factory has a new clinic to provide health care to employees amid reports of safety concerns at the factory.

Now Reveal slams the new clinic in a worrying report and the doctor in charge denies the accusation. more…

The post Tesla’s new Fremont factory clinic gets slammed by Reveal in worrying report, doctor denies appeared first on Electrek.

Source: Charge Forward

Road Test: 2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

No Speed Demon, But Adept Handling and Communicative Steering Won Me Over

Now in its third year year, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 continues as a head turning subcompact crossover. It’s available in three trim levels: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring that are available with either front- or all-wheel (AWD) drive models. As part of its standard equipment, the 2018 CX-3 gains Mazda’s Smart City Brake Support. New options this year include a heated steering wheel, full-color Active Driving Display and a power driver’s seat with memory.

2018 Mazda CX-3

A few quirks, but the package wins us over

Mazda added its third crossover SUV in 2016. Smaller than the compact CX-5 and the three-row CX-9, the name suggests it’s a high riding version of the Mazda 3 compact car. But that’s not the case; the CX-3 is more closely related to the subcompact Mazda 2 hatchback, a car no longer sold in America.

Pricewise, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 is right in the thick of things, with a starting MSRP of $21,085, including $975 destination charges, for the well-equipped Sport; $23,170 for Touring edition; and $27,145 for the range-topping Grand Touring. All-wheel drive adds a further $1,250 at each trim level.

Mazda’s trademark sporty handling and a stylish, well-equipped cabin with a standard touchscreen interface make it a standout in the now crowded subcompact crossover segment. Another welcome CX-3 trait is its thrifty fuel economy. Front-wheel drive models check in with an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 35-mpg highway/29 city/31 combined, and AWD models are rated at 32-mpg highway/27 city/29 combined. That’s about as good as it gets in this segment and earns it an entry to Clean Fleet Report’s 30-MPG AWD Club.

First-Class, Outside and In

Design-wise, outside and in, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 looks much more expensive than it is.

The exterior is a superb execution of what Mazda calls Kodo design direction. One thing is clear, the CX-3 is easily the most stylish of the new breed of subcompact crossovers. It looks long, low, lean, and much more muscular than bigger brother CX-5.  In the front, the face is familiar Mazda territory. Signature arches in the bodywork add surface detail in different lighting, while bold character lines combined with short overhangs, give a taut appearance.

2018 Mazda CX-3

The Highlight of the CX-3 is inside

However, the highlight of the CX-3 is its interior. It’s beautifully executed, classily appointed and feels significantly more expensive than the price tag would indicate. Simple features like the rotary dial control for the standard infotainment system add a tangible touch of class. Look elsewhere, and you find quality plastics, soft-touch materials, perfect fit lines and elegant brushed metal. Front seats, which are firm, yet comfortable, offer legitimate all-day support in the buyer’s choice of cloth, leatherette or leather, depending on trim. Combined with the tilt/telescoping wheel, nearly everyone should find a comfortable driving position.

That said, the CX-3’s front cabin is marred by a clumsy center console design. With the shift lever positioned far forward, cupholders are placed rearward and the armrest must be raised out of the way for access. If you want the armrest down, you can’t use the cup holders plus, access to the infotainment’s controller knob becomes awkward.

2018 Mazda CX-3

Space is at a premium until you drop the rear seats

As you’d probably expect, the second row is tight, especially if you have long-legged occupants up front. Headroom is also at a premium in the second row, and taller adults won’t like being stuck back there on longer drives. The second row split folds forward to liberate extra luggage space, which will be needed for a weekend or longer trip. With just 12.2 cubic feet behind the rear seat, a couple of carry-on bags nearly fills the space. Add the Bose sound system and that space shrinks to a tiny 10.1 cubic feet.

Tech Rich

For an affordable small crossover, the CX-3 is surprisingly tech rich. For starters, all models receive a backup camera, keyless entry, power windows and locks, air conditioning and push-button start. Mazda Connect, the automaker’s infotainment system featuring a 7.0-inch display screen, is also standard across the lineup along with Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player and a pair of USB ports. A deal breaker for some is neither Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is available.

2018 Mazda CX-3

More tech than you’d expect in this crossover class

Minor shortfalls aside, Mazda’s tech focus extends to other areas of the CX-3 as well. It can be had with cornering LED headlamps with auto high-beam control, radar-based cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, and lane-departure warning, most of which are unusual features at this price point.

Behind the Mazda CX-3 Steering Wheel

I pushed the engine start button, and a head-up display popped up on the windshield that shows speed and navigation, another unexpected feature for this class of vehicles. Mazda calls it Active Driving Display, and while it looks like something cheap mounted on the dash, it does its intended task.

With an elevated driving position, our Grand Touring CX-3 AWD test vehicle gave a good view out over traffic. While over-the-shoulder visibility was restricted, the same can be said of the Mazda’s rivals.

Go power was supplied by Mazda’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, standard on all trim levels. Tuned for this application, it is rated at 146 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 146 pounds-feet of torque at 2,800 rpm. Like others of its ilk, it didn’t take very long to yearn for more horsepower, especially when merging onto freeways with fast-moving traffic.

2018 Mazda CX-3

A little loud, but ready to take you there

At idle up to around 35 mph, the engine sounded like a sick sewing machine on steroids. Very, very annoying. Fortunately, the cabin became much quieter as the speed increased. 

The six-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and the way in which it worked with the engine, was excellent. It was smooth regardless of how hard I worked the accelerator, and it shifted back down through the gears with equal aplomb. There was plenty of engine noise entering the cabin again as I accelerated though, and the smoothness of the gearbox couldn’t iron that out.

There was, however, a go-kart-like feel to the way the CX-3 behaved around town. The steering was sharp and direct, there was plenty of lateral grip and I could easily hustle the little ute through tight, inner city streets effortlessly.

It’s worth noting that on twisty roads, I could stretch the CX-3 a little and it didn’t kick back violently. In fact, it felt like it enjoyed the challenge, which again, is a little counter-intuitive to its crossover DNA. It showed a little duality of character, even though most owners will never coax it out of its comfort zone.

These handling characteristics were a little surprising given that the suspension—Macpherson strut up front, rear torsion beam in the rear—is quite ordinary. But Mazda has long enjoyed a hard-earned reputation for producing some of the most entertaining to drive cars in the business. Despite its basic design, the CX-3 delivered.

During our week with the CX-3, we drove 215 miles, mixing city and highway driving with some sporting back country roads, and ended up with a combined fuel economy average of 30 mpg, besting the EPA’s 29 mpg combined rating.

In the Marketplace

Our CX-3 Grand Touring AWD had a sticker price of $29,625. That included three optional trim items and a $718 premium package with an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, driver’ power lumbar support, driver’s seat memory and heated steering wheel. Approaching $30,000 for a subcompact crossover is not out of phase within the segment for a fully loaded model.

2018 Mazda CX-3

Mazda’s CX-3 is the one to chase

Crossover crazy Americans will find the compact segment is not lacking for variety, so the 2018 Mazda CX-3 faces stiff competition. First up would be Honda’s HR-V, which doesn’t provide the fun factor driving experience, but does have comparable fuel economy and a larger cargo space. Then there’s the Jeep Renegade that brings true off-road capabilities, and Toyota’s feature-filled, easy-to-drive CH-R small crossover with good fuel economy, but with a higher price. Others to consider are the Fiat 500X, brand-new Nissan Kicks, Ford EcoSport, Mini Cooper’s Countryman and others.

The Mazda CX-3’s clumsy center console arrangement was a turn off for me, but the strength of its looks, driving dynamics, interior polish, fuel economy and technology won me over, except when I couldn’t use the arm rest because there was bottle of water in the cupholder.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Subcompact Crossover Competition

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Road Test: 2018 Subaru Crosstrek

Road Test: 2017 Jeep Renegade Altitude

Road Test: 2017 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk

Road Test: 2016 Honda HR-V

Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500X

Road Test: 2015 Chevrolet Trax


Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

The post Road Test: 2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring appeared first on Clean Fleet Report.

Source: Electric, Hybrid, Clean Diesel & High-MPG Vehicles

Chevy Bolt EV Test Drive Makes Food Critic A BeliEVer

Have you heard the good news? The electric car is here.

It should probably go without saying: almost every person currently driving electric was once driving on fossil fuels. At some point, something has to click. Something to trigger that interest. A friend or family member might pick up a Nissan Leaf. Maybe a neighbor’s Tesla catches the eye of a Prius driver. The more electric cars hit the streets, the more non-enthusiasts will be drawn to EV ownership.

Recently, journalist/food critic Gail Ciampa got the EV itch. To scratch that itch and get a feel for driving electric, she took a 2019 Chevy Bolt EV for a spin.

So what appealed to her most about her first time driving electric? The usual stuff of course. Quick off the line. Powerful but nearly silent. No oil changes. Lower maintenance costs. Filling up the tank with gas every week is a thing of the past. In fact a Chevrolet representative told her that a driver in New England can save $13k in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle.

On the Chevy Bolt specifically, Ciampa loves the long range of the vehicle. With 238 miles at her disposal, she can “leave Providence and drive to mid-coast Maine or central Vermont and still have miles to spare. Or you can commute to work for days.” Like most owners, she also enjoyed the one pedal driving and the infotainment center that gives tips on improving efficiency.

Her takeaway: “an electric car is not something to fear but a new way of driving.”

Several features caught her eye that EV fanatics might not even think about. “My Android phone synced up easily with the infotainment center. That’s not something I take for granted.” She writes, praising the 4G LTE and myChevrolet Mobile App for the amount of commands available to her with the Bolt.

Most of us enthusiasts focus on battery pack size, charging rates, efficiency and OTA updates. But the average driver likely has very different needs. It is always good to see someone experiencing and embracing electric driving for the first time. Hopefully her enthusiasm will trigger the EV curiosity in some of her readers as well.

Check out the full article below!

Source: Providence Journal

Source: Electric Vehicle News

Panel Gaps Be Damned: Tesla Patents New Fix

What gaps?

The company is working on a new type of clamping assembly that will hopefully result in a noticeable improvement in vehicle build quality in the near future.

While I may be subject to the Tesla crowd burning a Ford Mustang in front of my apartment building, the fact is that the build quality of some Tesla vehicles leaves a lot to be desired. One of the most pressing items on their short list of urgent tweaks & improvements is clearly the issue with loosely fitting body panels. However, the carmaker seems to be on it – as revealed by a recently published patent.

Tesla is working on a new type of clamping assembly that would allow them some flexibility between panels during manufacturing. This would then allow their workers to fine tune the alignment and fitment of the body panels during the vehicle’s final assembly process.

This newly published patent is called “Clamping Assembly for Securing Together a Pair of Adjacently Located Panels.” In the patent application, the carmaker describes a simple, but a rather effective way of addressing the misaligned body parts issue. Furthermore, Tesla notes how the conventional clamps – usually used to attach various body panels to the frame of the vehicle – are not effective in connecting body panels and their individual tolerances due to their rigid structure.Diagrams depicting Tesla’s design for its new clamping assembly. [Credit: US Patent Office]

Tesla explains new system like this:

“The present invention was derived in light of the foregoing challenges, and it is an object of the present invention to provide a clamping assembly that provides flexibility in securing parts that are manufactured to larger dimensional tolerances and in which play is necessary between adjacent parts during, or after, assembly. The clamping assembly of the present invention can accommodate misalignment of the part or parts owing to variances in one or both parts during manufacture and/or necessary play between the parts by allowing flexibility in adjusting the positions of the parts relative to one another in one direction while still securing the parts to one another. That is, the clamping assembly secures together a pair of manufactured parts, in which the manufactured parts require play along at least one direction while confining the movement of the parts in a second direction.

Diagrams depicting Tesla’s design for its new clamping assembly. [Credit: US Patent Office]


“According to certain embodiments of the present invention, the clamping assembly includes a retainer member. The retainer member may have a U-shape groove that allows for the insertion of a tab member and a narrow retaining throat that confines a bulbous portion of the tab member in multiple directions. For example, once inserted into the groove of the retainer member, the tab member with the bulbous portion is confined from moving vertically and horizontally. Once inserted into the groove of the retainer member, movement of the tab member with the bulbous portion is possible by sliding the tab member and the bulbous portion thereof relative to a plane P 2 of the groove, i.e., by sliding the tab member and the bulbous portion into or out of the page. Thus, with use of the clamping assembly disclosed herein, some play or flexibility between two panels is possible, and the panels can be adjusted relative to one another during assembly.”

In more ways than one, the Tesla Model 3 is an amazing vehicle. However, the alignment and quality issues are something you can’t disregard. The quality issues most notably came to light when Detroit’s Sandy Munro started his teardown of an early production Model 3. It was then when he discovered that the vehicle’s panel gaps were so inconsistent, that they reminded him of a Kia from the 90s.

Naturally, Elon Musk tackled the issue and issued a company-wide statement. The recent batches of the Model 3 showcase significantly improved build and quality control. And this patent should improve the builds even more.

Source: Teslarati

Source: Electric Vehicle News

Jaguar I-Pace gets official EPA range of 234 miles as questions about efficiency arise

Jaguar’s first all-electric vehicle, the I-Pace, is slowly starting to make its way to some customers, and they are getting some real-world experience.

Now, the I-Pace received its official EPA range of 234 miles as questions regarding efficiency and range are beginning to arise. more…

The post Jaguar I-Pace gets official EPA range of 234 miles as questions about efficiency arise appeared first on Electrek.

Source: Charge Forward

Tesla Tops All In Customer Loyalty


Some brands are well known for their customer loyalty. Subaru customers, for instance, are famously devoted and, according to Autoline host Sean McElroy (forward to the 3:31-minute mark) who cites a report from Experian Automotive, 72.1 percent return to that brand when it’s time to get a new vehicle. That’s just high enough to edge out Ford, who sees 72 percent of its customers return to the Blue Oval. Despite these high customer retention numbers, they don’t have anything on the industry leader in this metric. Tesla beats them all and it’s not even close.

McElroy says, “Over 80 percent of people who buy a Tesla, go back and buy another one.” While it’s obvious there’s is a great advantage to having so many owners return to the big electric T — the precise figure is 80.5 percent — McElroy points out that, for traditional companies, at least, there is another reason to celebrate this kind of loyalty: advertising expense. To get new customers, the established automakers spend a lot of money on ads and other things to convince consumers to darken their doorways.

The California automaker famously doesn’t buy ads. You won’t see a Model X during half-time of the Superbowl, for instance. At least, not on Tesla’s dime. Instead, they rely on giving customers a positive experience. There are no intense sales pitches from staff in their stores. For many issues, Tesla service can come to the customer rather than the other way around. And then there are the vehicles.

Not only do Tesla owners enjoy the experience of an electric drivetrain, but the software in the cars is constantly improved, sometimes dramatically. For free. This is something that company CEO Elon Musk contends is responsible for the value retention of its vehicles. Said he on Twitter recently (embedded below) “Continuous, free over-the-air software updates is a big part of why a Tesla retains so much value over time.”

Of course, being a human endeavor, the California automaker is not perfect, but as these numbers show, it’s definitely doing something right.

Source: Autoline via YouTube

Source: Electric Vehicle News

Lime skips scooters in Seattle to reportedly test out small electric car rentals

Lime is reportedly preparing to upgrade from Lime bikes and scooters to small Lime electric cars, with tests planned soon in Seattle. The move would put them in increasingly direct competition with ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft.


The post Lime skips scooters in Seattle to reportedly test out small electric car rentals appeared first on Electrek.

Source: Charge Forward

Buemi: Software Now The Formula E Equivalent Of F1 Aero

Nissan e.dams driver Sebastien Buemi reckons Formula E software updates are now the championship’s equivalent of Formula 1’s aerodynamic development war.

While updates to powertrain hardware are frozen by FE’s regulations from the moment teams homologate their technology ahead of each season, software is left open for squads to introduce new variations.

When asked by Motorsport.com if software updates are now being introduced by FE squads in a similar fashion to how F1 teams implement new aerodynamic devices, Buemi said: “Exactly, yes, it is completely.

“You know [with] the hardware everything is more or less frozen when you go in the new season but there are so many things that you can do on the software.

“[This] helps with either the management of the energy or on a performance lap – there are many things we can try to have to make the car quicker.

“At some point of course it remains a compromise between having the best possible set-up, mechanically on the car. But the systems and the software are nearly the biggest performance tool you have today.

“So, we work a lot on that and we keep improving the car by adding new systems throughout the season, so yeah you can compare it to that clearly.”

FE teams can introduce powertrain hardware changes once their designs have been homologated, but only “for the purpose of improving reliability or safety may be approved by the FIA and/or after full consultation with all other manufacturers”, according to FE’s 2018/19 technical regulations.

Teams must wait for a 30-day period to expire prior to event scrutineering if the request is related to safety, reliability or driver comfort and 60 days if the change is “regarding a technical modification to a car”.

Buemi – the 2015/16 FE champion – also outlined the need for FE teams to evaluate their software updates to avoid costly mistakes rather than just adding them in constantly.

A software change led to a problem that cost the Techeetah team in qualifying for the season four finale in New York, as drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer exceed the maximum power allowance as a result of a glitch.

“It’s at some point quite important to stop and just make sure that everything you have is working well and you don’t try to bring new updates constantly,” said Buemi.

“It is very easy to do a small mistake in the software world or the coding world and then the car stops on the track.”

Source: Electric Vehicle News

Air Race E aims for world’s first electric airplane racing championship in 2020

As electric airplanes seem riper than ever for takeoff, Air Race E is seeking to accelerate the adoption and acceptance of electric aviation with a (hopefully) highly-entertaining, high-speed, all-electric airplane race. more…

The post Air Race E aims for world’s first electric airplane racing championship in 2020 appeared first on Electrek.

Source: Charge Forward