Toto Wolff says Mercedes did not back off from the saga surrounding the FIA’s private settlement with Ferrari regarding the legality of Scuderia’s 2019 Formula 1 engine, and is continuing to “monitor the situation”.
The FIA announced in February it had reached a private settlement with Ferrari after investigating Ferrari’s power unit after a number of questions were raised by rivals concerning its legality, despite falling short of a formal protest.
Seven teams were considering legal action over the matter, but Mercedes was understood to have stepped back from the group ahead of the planned season-opener in Australia.
Speaking on Friday in Austria ahead of this weekend’s race, Wolff said that Mercedes had not backed away from the matter, and was continuing to monitor the situation as it unfolded.
“We didn’t back off,” Wolff said. “We decided in Melbourne that for the start of the season, this additional controversy, plus corona, starting to get really bad in Italy, it was not the opportune moment.
“In this day and age of transparency, it’s extremely important, and good governance is extremely important. It may well have been good governance, but if you don’t know, it’s difficult to judge.
“The position that we are in is that we are monitoring the situation. We are not happy about last year. It has stretched all of us to a point to be competitive against Ferrari, where it was difficult to cope.
“Let’s wait and see how the season starts and get going, and we will then re-assess for ourselves and probably with the other guys where it stands.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was more vocal in his criticism of the case, calling on Ferrari to agree to release the details of the settlement.
“It does sit uncomfortably that there is an agreement that has been entered into about the legality and conformity of a car,” Horner said.
“That immediately draws you to think what is in that agreement, what does it comprise of. In our mind, a car is either legal or illegal.
“The questions have been raised with the FIA. The FIA have said they would be happy to disclose that document, but of course they need the clearance from the other signatories.
“It does nothing but promote suspicion when there are private agreements about legality and conformity, so the healthiest thing would be to get it on the table so everybody sees what it comprised of.
“The FIA said they were willing to do that. It would be great if Ferrari were willing to do the same so it puts it all to bed.”
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said that while he hoped for greater transparency on the matter, he did not think Ferrari would change its position anytime soon.
“It would be good to understand what happened, what they found, what the solution is,” Brown said.
“It was last year, so hopefully we won’t see on the data that we maybe saw last year. I think at some point you do close last year out, and as long as you feel it has been addressed.
“In today’s transparent world, I think it would be good to understand what was the case.
“But it doesn’t seem like that is going to come forward from them anytime soon.”
Skoda has unwrapped the complete Octavia line-up, which now offers a choice of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid powertrains
Skoda has unveiled the fourth-generation Octavia vRS line-up in full. The range is due to go on sale in the UK this autumn and when it arrives, it’ll act as a more practical alternative to traditional hot hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Renaultsport Megane.
Buyers will be offered their pick of either a hatchback or estate, as well as a choice of three engines, which includes a petrol, a diesel and a plug-in hybrid powertrain – a first for the vRS.
New 2020 Skoda Octavia vRS iV plugs in with 242bhp
The petrol engine is the Volkswagen Group’s familiar turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, which is also found in the Golf GTI. It produces 242bhp and 370Nm of torque and it sends power to the front wheels via a seven-speed automatic gearbox – all of which offers a 0–62mph time of 6.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph.
Skoda’s diesel Octavia vRS uses Volkswagen’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit, which develops 197bhp. The engine will be offered with a choice of either front- or four-wheel-drive and a seven-speed DSG transmission – although Skoda is yet to officially confirm the engine’s performance specs.
Finally, the plug-in hybrid Octavia vRS iV is powered by a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a 113bhp electric motor. It’s the same powertrain as the new Golf GTE, developing 242bhp and 400Nm, while CO2 emissions could be as low as 30g/km under WLTP rules.
As well as that CO2 figure, Skoda claims that this hot Octavia can go from 0–62mph in 7.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 139mph. And that’s all while being able to cover 37 miles on electric power only – just as long as you can regularly recharged the car’s 13kWh battery pack. Power is sent to the front axle only, via a six-speed DSG gearbox that can be controlled using paddle-shifters found behind the steering wheel.
Skoda has also fitted a range of chassis upgrades across the vRS line-up, including 15mm lower sports suspension, adaptive dampers, a unique steering profile and a limited-slip differential for the petrol-powered models. The TSI versions also feature 17-inch disc brakes all round, while the diesel gets 16-inch brake up front and 15-inch brakes at the rear.
Design and interior
Elsewhere, the latest Octavia vRS gets a sporty visual transformation. It has a body kit with new, aggressive cuts, and air vents with gloss-black surrounds, a new front bumper, rear diffuser and roof spoiler, while wheels of up to 19 inches can be specified. Gloss-black 18in wheels come as standard, along with full LED-matrix headlights and LED tail-lights.
• Best hot hatchbacks on sale now
Inside, the Octavia vRS gets an Alcantara headlining and dashboard trim, Alcantara sports seats, aluminium pedals and a pair of 10-inch screens – one behind the steering wheel and one mounted in the centre of the dashboard. The new sports steering wheel is also a unique three-spoke unit, compared with the two-spoke wheel on the normal Octavia.
2020 Skoda Octavia vRS: pricing
Prices for the plug-in iV version are likely to start from £32,000, and it will be positioned as the most expensive version of the new Octavia vRS trio. UK specifications and standard equipment levels have not yet been finalised, however.
Do you like the look of the new Skoda Octavia vRS iV? Let us know your thoughts below…
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson says Chevrolet understands that his first IndyCar test in a Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda next week is all about getting track time.
Johnson, who has competed in a Chevrolet in NASCAR his entire Cup career, originally had a test scheduled in April in an Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet at Barber Motorsports Park, but that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hendrick Motorsport driver is competing in what will be his final full-time season of NASCAR racing but has remained steadfast he is not done racing and has expressed interest in trying other forms of racing, including IndyCar road courses.
The opportunity arose to conduct a test next week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with Ganassi following the inaugural NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend and he didn’t want to pass on the opportunity.
“Everybody has been super-understanding that I just want to get on track and experience an IndyCar and see if it’s something I want to do in the future,” Johnson said Friday.
“I feel like it is, but I have a great relationship with Chevrolet and they were understanding that laps for me and any experience I can have in an IndyCar is the most important thing.
“As we all know, I had a test scheduled April 6 with McLaren in a Chevrolet and was very, very hopeful to find a date with them and test in a Chevy-McLaren. Honestly, any testing I can get right now I want to take and get every lap I possibly can.”
Johnson acknowledges the manufacturer conflict but said he was thankful everything came together so quickly with CGR with the testing opportunity.
Johnson said he has “a lot of options” to compete in an IndyCar race.
“I’ve had a lot conversations with a lot of teams other than just CGR and McLaren,” he said. “It’s still in the very early days. It’s been more about getting to the track and teams to look at me and form their opinion of my abilities in one of their race cars and certainly I have that same opportunity to see what I feel about each team and what an IndyCar feels like.
“It’s in the very early stages of all this and it’s hard to read too far into things at this point but most importantly I’m just thankful teams are listening and willing and able to take me to the track just so I can learn.”
Johnson said in preparation for next week’s test, he has been talking a lot with Ganassi driver and five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
“As you know I was at COTA earlier this year (during a test) and I have a lot of friends in the garage area,” he said. “As the opportunity to test in April many reached out and many have reached out now and said if I need anything to lean on them.
“It gets tricky when you get outside a certain team. So, from where I sit right now, I’ve just been leaning on Dixon to get ready for this test.”
Before the test, Johnson still has one final opportunity to win another Brickyard 400 at IMS on Sunday.
A win would not only be his fifth in the prestigious race but break a career-long winless streak and qualify him for the NASCAR playoffs.
Asked what it would be like to get one final win at Indianapolis, Johnson said, “Storybook to say the least. I certainly hope it happens. We have a great starting spot, starting fourth, and my team is doing an amazing job and we’re ready.”
He argues that there are several key factors that will prove him right.
Vincent Cobee is Citroen’s executive vice president and he believes the post COVID-19 pandemic world will be a more EV-friendly world. He argues that between governments’ new incentive plans meant to boost the sales of EVs and buyers’ newfound environmental awareness, more of them will find homes in the near future.
It has to be said, though, that we’re still not in a post-pandemic world quite yet, as many areas are still struggling with hundreds or even thousands of newly infected people every day. And that’s just in the places that do a lot of testing, so we can’t say when Cobee’s prediction will come into play.
The Citroen boss talked about this expected trend on the sidelines of the new C4 launch. The model is also available as the fully-electric e-C4, which is expected to account for up to 10 percent of all new C4 sales in Europe.
“The last four months have seen a transformation of society and one of the ways out is the transformation of regulations, with a push towards low-carbon vehicles. So we are expecting that the unexpected could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised if the market share of EVs moves towards 20% very, very rapidly, especially with a car like the C4.”
And added that even though EVs are more expensive to buy, their running and maintenance costs over time should prove lower. He thinks that once buyers become more aware of this fact, the shift towards EVs will be even greater.
Which brand of commercial EV charging station costs the least to own and operate? We check the numbers.
When we wrote about the new Grizzl-E Power Control and Payment Solution recently, many were skeptical such a system could ever turn a profit, let alone as quickly as Grizzl-E claims. The skepticism is warranted; commercial charging systems as we know them today do not make money. Businesses buy and operate them at a loss as an benefit for their customers, but are unlikely ever to recoup the cost of the hardware and ongoing fees they’re charged.
How are we going to electrify our entire fleet with that approach? Millions of commercial chargers will not be built without a financial incentive to do so. Grizzl-E’s solution is the first one to disrupt the existing paradigm and offer an actual return on investment. So let’s let the numbers tell the story and compare the costs of running a Grizzl-E commercial charging system versus similar systems from ChargePoint and JuiceNet.
It’s clear to see the initial cost of a Grizzl-E commercial charging system is significantly less than one from ChargePoint or JuiceNet. The reason why is Grizzl-E’s unique Power Control and Payment Hub (PCPH).
The Grizzl-E system consists of individual chargers, which cost $499 apiece, and the PCPH, which costs $2,000. The PCPH is a single smart control device that manages up to 42 individual chargers and does things like control power flow, accept payments, print receipts, and store the system’s data.
Gallery: Grizzl-E Power Control and Payment Solution
No car is perfect, and this Tesla owner admits that. However, the Tesla Model Y may be perfect for some families.
Ben Sullins is a hardcore Tesla fan. In fact, he was one of the original Tesla YouTubers that joined the revolution that has now exploded into a multitude of Tesla owners producing video content about the brand. Since Sullins has had plenty of experience with Tesla vehicles, it has been interesting to get his take on the Model Y.
Like many Tesla owners, he has had positives and negatives to share, which is exactly what we expect. No car is perfect, though Sullins does go so far as to say that the all-new Tesla Model Y is the “Perfect Family Crossover.”
Would the Model Y be perfect for you? It’s not fair for us to answer that question or for Sullins to suggest that with absolute certainty. What’s perfect for him and his family may not work for you. However, he sits down with his wife Jennie to go over the Model Y’s family-friendly details.
What makes a car good for a family? Well, it depends on many details that only you are aware of. Do you have children? Are they still in car seats and strollers or are they adult-sized teens? How big is your family? Do you plan on transporting bikes or towing something?
The Model Y is a special vehicle in that it’s a sporty crossover with plenty of all-electric range, as well as lots of practicality. There really isn’t another vehicle on the market today that checks all these boxes, aside from the much more expensive Tesla Model X. If the Model Y is out of your price range ($53,000-$61,000), check out the Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV, and Tesla Model 3. In addition, if you wait it out, the Model Y should come to market in cheaper versions in the future.
In the meantime, watch Sullins’ video and then leave us your thoughts in the comment section below.
We had earlier reported that the Mahindra TUV300 was not being upgraded to meet BS6 emission norms and hence had been removed from the website.
However, it is now said that the BS6 version of the SUV is likely to be launched soon. According to an employee of Mahindra’s Pune plant, the car is likely to go on sale in July 2020.
The TUV300 was seen testing in July 2019. Along with a new powertrain, the updated TUV300 is expected to get a few exterior updates.
The BS4 version of the sub-4m SUV was powered by a 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that produced 100 BHP @ 3,750 rpm and 240 Nm @ 1,600-2,800 rpm. It was paired with a 5-speed manual gearbox or a 5-speed AMT.
Thanks to BHPian locusjag for sharing this information with other enthusiasts.
Ferrari Formula 1 team boss Mattia Binotto insisted Sebastian Vettel was the team’s “first choice” for 2021 and explained that the change in circumstances caused by the COVID-19 crisis led the team to opt for a change of driver.
Vettel admitted on Thursday in Austria that he was “surprised” when Binotto phoned and told him that his contract would not be extended beyond the 2020 season, having previously understood that he would be kept on.
The team subsequently announced that it had signed Carlos Sainz from McLaren.
Binotto reiterated on Friday that over the winter Vettel was indeed the team’s first choice, but the crisis and the rule changes that came with it triggered a change of plan.
“Certainly we have always said to him during the winter time privately and publicly that he would have been our first choice, which I confirm,” Binotto said.
“It’s normal that during the winter time many drivers ask us if there are any opportunities to drive for Ferrari, so we have certainly been contacted. That didn’t change our position, so Seb was our first choice.
“What happened since then? I think the virus and pandemic situation, which changed the entire world, not only our motorsport, our F1. The budget cap has been changed by quite a lot, and is a lot more strict, the regulations have been postponed from ’21 to ’22, which somehow was something important for us.
“Cars which have been frozen, or almost frozen, for 2020 and ’21. So let’s say the entire situation has changed.
“And on top of that the season has not started, so there has been no opportunity even for Seb to be back on track to prove how much he was really motivated to drive for Ferrari, which has been somehow unfortunate for him.
“So during the shutdown as Ferrari we had to eventually reconsider our position. We took a decision, so certainly that was our decision, that is our responsibility, and we communicated to him.
“I heard that he was surprised – I remember that he was surprised, yes certainly, I understand it, it’s pretty normal to be surprised. While he accepted our decision I would say even today he’s not fully happy with it, which again I would say is something which is normal and obvious.”
Despite the obvious tensions in the camp given the impending split, Binotto was keen to praise Vettel and the contribution he has made over the years.
“I think it has been a great period, five years so far, six with the current season. He’s a great champion, but he’s as well a great person. I think that everybody in Ferrari, our fans, the people working internally, really love the time with him.
“I think that’s something we fully respect. I personally respect him a lot, him as a professional and as person, and I think that is fully unchanged compared to our decision.”
If you were looking to nominate a technology as the most influential of the early 21st century, batteries would be a logical choice.
This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX, which makes and sells aftermarket Tesla accessories. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs, nor have we been paid by EVANNEX to publish these articles. We find the company’s perspective as an aftermarket supplier of Tesla accessories interesting and are willing to share its content free of charge. Enjoy!
Posted on EVANNEX on July 03, 2020 by Charles Morris
Cheap, compact batteries made smartphones and mobile computing possible, and larger and more powerful batteries represent the enabling technology behind electric mobility, renewable energy and the smart grid.
As is the case with any new technology, the applications of battery storage expand as its cost falls. Increasing demand leads to more production, which drives continuing cost reductions and performance improvements in a virtuous circle.
Over the past decade, battery costs have seen a dramatic drop—from over $1,000 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to around $156 per kWh in 2019, according to BloombergNEF. That’s getting very close to the “magic number” of $100/kWh that many believe will bring EVs to price parity with legacy vehicles, and end the Oil Age. What factors have contributed to this rapid reduction in prices?
Timothy B. Lee, writing in Ars Technica, points out that Tesla has played a major role, not only by bringing electric cars into the mainstream, but by focusing on the importance of battery tech from the start. “Tesla has been a battery company as much as it is a car company,” Lee writes. “Tesla recognized the potential scale of the battery market before most other companies, and has become a leading player in the market for grid storage.”
Tesla followed a classic tech-industry strategy of starting with a low-volume, high-cost product (the Roadster) and progressing to lower-cost mass-market offerings (Models 3 and Y). This iterative process was enabled in large part by falling battery costs. “Model S was designed and introduced about five years after the Roadster, and we saw improvements of around 40 percent on the battery technology, the fundamental chemistry, the packaging of the battery pack itself,” JB Straubel said in 2014. “That directly translated into how we can get close to 300 miles of range in a Model S, almost 85 kWh of energy storage in a pack that’s actually smaller than the Roadster pack.”
As more batteries get produced, economies of scale kick in, and companies learn how to streamline production processes and squeeze out costs. As Mr. Lee explains, economists measure this cost reduction in terms of the learning rate, defined as the percentage decrease in cost for every doubling of manufacturing output. BloombergNEF estimates that, in 2019, the learning rate for batteries was 18 percent. In other words, battery costs fall by 18 percent every time global battery output doubles.
Bloomberg believes that the industry will reach the portentous $100/kWh price point by 2023. Some industry observers suspect that Tesla is already close to achieving the Grail, and will make a historic announcement at Battery Day on September 15.
It isn’t just cars that are driving demand for batteries. Stationary storage for utility applications is a huge growth area—Elon Musk has said that Tesla’s battery business may someday outgrow its automotive angle.
Justin Rowlatt, writing for the BBC, agrees. “Gigantic batteries connected to our electricity grids are going to be central to the great renewable energy revolution,” he writes.
Professor Paul Shearing, a battery expert at University College London, told the BBC that the world is entering “a nearly exponential growth phase.” He points out that Tesla’s vaunted “million-mile battery,” expected to be revealed in September, will not only be good news for EV sales. Longer-lasting batteries are also essential in stationary storage applications.
Utility-scale storage systems use a lot of batteries. In 2017 Tesla installed the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system at the Hornsdale Wind Farm in Australia, with a storage capacity of 129 MWh—equivalent to 2,000 Model 3s or 10 million smartphones. This year, the site’s capacity was increased to 185 MWh. Even so, it will be dwarfed by the planned Manatee Energy Storage Center in Florida, which is supposed to have a capacity of 900 MWh and go online in late 2021. Clearly, more economies of scale, and corresponding price reductions, are coming.
Another avenue to lower cost would be reducing the costs of raw materials such as lithium. Despite the scare stories you may have seen, there’s no risk of a shortage—lithium is plentiful around the world. However, it could emerge as a bottleneck as demand mushrooms, because current methods of extracting lithium from salt deposits are slow and inefficient. Mr. Rowlatt writes that, at the Salar de Atacama in Chile, the evaporation process used to produce lithium salts takes months, and recovers only 30% of the available lithium.
Various companies are working to develop improved refining methods. The BBC reports that EnergyX is developing a new type of nanoparticle filter, which it hopes will be able to recover lithium from a salt solution at a 90% efficiency rate, while reducing the time required from months to days. Another innovator is Lilac Solutions, which is testing an ion-exchange process on the rich lithium deposits at California’s Salton Sea. Tesla, meanwhile, hopes to exploit a huge and easily exploitable trove of lithium in so-called Lithium Valley, just a couple hundred miles north of Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.
So, we see that Tesla is working on several fronts to keep battery costs coming down. As a recent article from Loup Ventures points out, other automakers are falling farther and farther behind. As Gene Munster writes, “We believe Tesla has a competitive advantage in batteries that is under-appreciated by investors. In the future, we expect that advantage to widen.”
By all accounts, Tesla’s batteries are the best in the industry—but that’s not the only advantage the California company enjoys. Its battery supply chain is more mature and robust than that of other automakers. Munster points out that Tesla has strong relationships with battery suppliers. Most of the company’s battery cells are manufactured by long-time battery partner Panasonic at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. Loup Ventures believes that over 60% of Panasonic’s battery cell production is currently going to Tesla.
Above: A broad overview of battery electric vehicles using Tesla’s Model S as an example; Note: Since this video aired, Model S range has increased to over 400 miles of range (YouTube: Bloomberg Technology)
Recently, Tesla has also begun working with China’s CATL and South Korea’s LG Chem. As if that weren’t enough, the company is also widely believed to be working on its own battery cell design, which likely uses a new, proprietary chemistry. With its recent acquisitions of Maxwell Technologies and Hibar Systems, Tesla has secured access to cutting-edge battery tech that is sure to lead to further cost reductions. Maxwell’s “dry electrode” manufacturing process could allow Tesla to remake its battery production line, saving loads of money, time and factory space.
Written by: Charles Morris; Source: Ars Technica, BBC, Loup Ventures
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has urged Red Bull to be “sensitive” to the dangers of overshadowing Formula 1’s season opener in Austria ahead of a potential protest against his team’s DAS (Dual Axis Steering) System.
With Red Bull poised to seek clarification about the legality of the innovative Mercedes device, which could go as far as a formal protest, Wolff is mindful about the risk of F1’s first race back getting bogged down on Sunday night.
Asked if he was worried that what should be a celebration of F1’s comeback could turn sour, Wolff said: “All teams are pretty much aware that we are in a sensitive situation with going racing.
“It’s the first race, and I think on one side, it’s fair enough to seek clarification, [but] on the other side we are aware that we don’t want to end up with a big debate on Sunday.
“I think Christian [Horner, Red Bull boss] is going to take the right actions. Controversy and different judgement on engineering innovation has always been a part of Formula 1, and this is what’s to be be expected in a way and it’s part of the risk.”
Red Bull had indicated before the original season opener in Australia that it would protest the DAS system, which allows Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to adjust the toe angle of their front wheels through pushing and pulling the steering wheel.
Horner said on Friday that questions his team had on the legality of the device had not been fully answered yet.
“It’s a very clever system,” he explained. “All credit to the ingenuity behind it, but I think the fundamental question for us is, you know, does it comply with the regulations in what is a fundamentally grey area?
“Obviously we do want clarity on it, because it does have an impact regarding the rest of this year. It’s something that’s been outlawed for next year. But the question is, is it right for this year? So these are the questions that we’ll be asking of the FIA through the necessary channels.”
Wolff added that Mercedes felt comfortable with the legality of DAS and was ready to fight its corner if there was a formal protest.
“I respect Christian’s position,” he said. “Clarification is always good. We think we are on the right side. There was a lot of talking and exchange with the FIA.
“That is the reason why we have it on the car, so we will both bring our arguments forward and then let’s see.”