New Model News

Tesla Cybertruck controversially breaks the conventional truck mold

Last night, Tesla unveiled its long-awaited truck to the world.

Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Remember the time when Ford's aluminum bed and GMC's Multi-Pro tailgate were the most outside-the-box thing in the truck world? That was yesterday. Then, Tesla revealed its long-awaited electric pickup truck, the Tesla Cybertruck, to a collective gasp.

The gasp wasn't just from truck traditionalists, it was from auto enthusiasts and tech giants, stock brokers and EV startup companies. Many people expected many different things from the Tesla truck, but what they saw on stage next to Tesla CEO Elon Musk wasn't what most envisioned.

Off the bat, there are two words that come to mind looking at the truck - risk and chance. While Car Twitter bemoans the similarities between much of the vehicles in the crossover market day in and day out, the team at Tesla was taking inspiration from the film "Blade Runner" and designing something futuristic and unconventional.

Prior to the reveal, Musk teased the truck's design inspiration.

He tweeted that the truck could possibly be used on Mars (without revealing the logistics of any type of operation that would get it there).

There's been no word yet on who at Mars Tesla should write a check to in order to receive "Official Truck of Mars" status.

The truck has the traditional truck components. There's a cab and bed, wheels, power source, and a drivetrain. Sure, it's not a muscular beast like the Ford F-150 or even the Rivian R1T, but that doesn't make it less of a truck, does it?

Consider the stats. The Cybertruck has the ability to tow more than 14,000 pounds and can handle a payload of up to 3,500 pounds. Those numbers are head and shoulders above what the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Titan offer.

The bed has 100 cubic feet of cargo space. That's about twice what the 2018 Chevrolet Silverado short box delivered. None of the pickups currently on the market, with the exception of the Ridgeline, offer an under bed or frunk lockable storage area. Tesla is offering a frunk in the Cybertruck.

The body of the Tesla truck is made of steel, just like the body of most other trucks.

The design was risky and Tesla, a publicly traded company, took a chance. Love it or hate it, the Cybertruck is here. Well, at least one of them is.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The Nikola Badger will debut with a tap for drinking water.

Photo courtesy of Nikola Corporation

When it comes to emissions, there's little that beats the cleanliness of hydrogen fuel cell technology. Though it has a mineral-rich battery pack, the model is fueled by hydrogen. The only thing that comes out of the tailpipe is water vapor.

That water vapor can either be absorbed into the atmosphere or, in the case of the Nikola Badger, become part of a drinking fountain system, as reveled in a tweet earlier this week.

Take a look at the back end of the Badger. That's right, you will be able to tap that.

Nikola Badger The Nikola Badger can be reserved online today.Photo courtesy of Nikola Corporation

A recent tweet from Nikola Founder and CEO Trevor Milton promised that a drinking fountain would be in the truck. Inn fact, the company had already narrowed it down to two designs and chosen the winner.

A hot a cold tap are promised, with safeguards to prevent accidental emissions and splashing.

Aside from the engineering, the question about the safety of drinking the water is a valid one. There are technologies, including hydropanels, that capture water vapor and turn it into drinking water. Other technologies, like Akvo AWGs, do similar things via a different, multi-step process.

Toyota does not recommend drinking the water vapor from its hydrogen fuel cell-powered Mirai, however Hyundai touts the ability to do so, even going so far as to creating a publicity stunt wherein Olympic swimmer Mireia Belmonte ran on a treadmill inside a plastic bubble while the Nexo's tailpipe was hooked up pumping in emissions.

Hyundai Nexo y Mireia Belmonte 30" www.youtube.com

The engineering behind taking the emitted water vapor from the truck's tailpipe to a drinking fountain has yet to be seen. A prototype of the Nikola Badger has yet to be seen by the public despite the fact that top-tier reservations for the model have already sold out.

The Nikola Badger is slated to debut later this year as part of the festivities surrounding Nikola World.

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The new Lexus LS has most of its refinements underneath its hood and body.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

It's been around four years since the current generation Lexus LS was revealed and now the company is showing off a variety of updates to the car for the 2021 model year.

The latest round of upgrades focuses on three areas: comfort, soundproofing, and refinement. "The entire team united and tenaciously searched for elements that needed to be improved," said Yoshiaki Ito, Lexus International. "Placing importance on people's sensibilities, we thoroughly addressed every detail of the components and control systems related to driving performance, including quietness and ride comfort, ranging, for example, from the internal structure of the tires to the feel experienced when sitting in the seats and the acceleration response in daily driving."

2021 Lexus LS The automaker has implemented new paint technology that allows them to offer a fresh version of the typical silver paint job.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Underpinning the car is a new adaptive variable suspension that combines comfort with performance, allowing both to be translated to the driving experience. The vertical spring rate and run-flat tires combine with the stabilizer bars to execute this balance.

Lexus has changed the orifice inside the engine mounts allowing for less noise and vibration from the beating heart of the flagship to permeate the cabin. The models have undergone active noise control and engine sound enhancement refinement as well to deliver a quieter interior.

Lexus IS giving the LS the same adaptive high-beam system that debuted on the 2019 Lexus RX. Additional refinements to the exterior of the car include a vertical-themed character line at the corner of the front bumper with chrome trim wrapping around the lower edge of the bumper and up the sides. Deep headlights and quarish sub-radiator grilles sit on the face while the grille mesh has been changed to a dark metallic color. Chrome trim within the rear lights has been changed to Piano Black.

LS 500 F Sport models get a dedicated spindle grille and 20-inch wheels in a dedicated color.

2021 Lexus LS LS F Sport models get a dedicated dark paint color for the wheels and grille.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Buyers can get the car in Gin-ei Luster, a new exterior color that is enabled because of fresh paint technology. The paint is applied using the Sonic Method, a process that condenses the paint volume. It employs a aluminum evaporation coating that is spread over the surface at high density resulting in a smooth, mirror-like texture.

The LS 500h, the car's hybrid battery system delivers improved initial engine torque to deliver greater acceleration response. The car's shift timing has also been adjusted resulting in an automatic transmission that downshifts less frequently.

The LS features upholstery with deeper stitching points and underlying seat pads are made of low-resilience urethane, which helps absorb vibration and enhance comfort. New Nishijin & Haku ornamentation is available, taking its deign notes from a "path of moonlight on the sea".

2021 Lexus LS Rear seat riders can have an executive car experience.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus has also altered the controls on the steering wheel and center console, making them all black. Also, a switch for displaying on the touch display the controls for the often-used seat heaters and steering wheel heater has been added to the center console.

Additional features include a rearview camera mirror, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 12.3-inch infotainment touch screen.

Lexus is giving the LS Advanced Drive and Advanced Park driving assist technologies. Advanced Drive performs like many other hands-on advanced driver assist systems like Nissan's ProPilot Assist and Tesla Autopilot, allowing technology to guide a vehicle in its lane, maintain vehicle-to-vehicle distance, change lanes, and overtaking other vehicles when driving on expressways. According to Lexus, "The driver is freed from operation of the accelerator, brakes, and steering, allowing a reduction in driver burden during long drives and enabling safe driving in which the driver is able to pay better attention to the surroundings."

2021 Lexus LS New Nishijin & Haku ornamentation, seen here one the door panels, is available.Photo courtesy of Lexus

Advanced Park technology utilizes integrated cameras and ultrasonic sensors to park a vehicle. The system takes control of the car's steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes while the infotainment screen displays the ideal steering wheel positions for a safe parking experience.

The car will go on sale in Japan later this year with additional markets to follow.

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