Electric Vehicles

Volvo implementing blockchain to help trace lifespan of cobalt used in batteries

Volvo has announced plans to use blockchain to help trace the life path of the cobalt it uses in its electrified vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Volvo Cars

Cobalt production is on the rise to support the growing needs of the automotive industry as automakers set electrified vehicle adoption targets worldwide. The calls for the adoption of sustainable business practices are growing larger as well, with Volvo announcing last week that it will lower its carbon footprint by 40 percent.

Volvo Cars will become the first automaker to implement global traceability of cobalt used in its batteries by applying blockchain technology. The technology will allow for transparency when it comes to sharing reliable data on the supply chain of the materials that cannot be simply altered undetected for profit.

"We have always been committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials," said Martina Buchhauser, head of procurement at Volvo Cars. "With blockchain technology we can take the next step towards ensuring full traceability of our supply chain and minimising any related risks, in close collaboration with our suppliers."

The Swedish automaker gets its batteries from CATL of China and LG Chem of South Korea, who have also agreed to be part of this tracking program when it kicks off later this year.

Technology firms Circulor and Oracle will operate the blockchain technology in CATL's supply chain following successful testing during a pilot program over the summer. The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, RCS Global, and IBM are rolling out the technology in LG Chem's supply chain.

In the case of cobalt, blockchain will record the material's origin, attributes including weight and size, chain of custody, and supplier behavior.

The agreements regarding blockchain technology between Volvo Cars, CATL, and LG Chem cover the supply of batteries over the coming decade for next generation Volvo and Polestar models.

What is blockchain? A blockchain is a digital ledger that includes records linked to each other via cryptography. When used in the constrains of supply chains, the technology is used to create records of transactions which cannot be altered. It also sets a standard for what data can be recorded. Blockchain allows participants to verify and audit transactions independently.

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E is here.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

After years of development, test mules, and spy shots, Ford has finally pulled the wraps off its long-awaited Mach E all-electric crossover. Set to go on sale in late 2020 and early 2021, the Mach-E made its debut in Los Angeles just days before the 2019 L.A. Auto Show. Here's a quick look at everything you need to know.

There will be five variants (and lots of numbers).

Select: Available in early 2021, this base model will start at $43,895 (all prices exclude $1,100 destination and any state or federal tax incentives). The Select will come with rear-wheel-drive and 230 miles of range, while the AWD will have 210 miles of range. Both versions will have 255 horsepower; RWD will have 306 pound-feet of torque and AWD will have 417 pound-feet of torque. It's worth noting that this is the only Mach E variant that will not allow for 150kW DC fast-charging so beware if fast-charging is your jam.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The rear of the Mustang Mach-E has some of the design hallmarks of the Mustang coupe.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Premium: This second-tier version will be available in late 2020 and will start at $50,600. It will come in standard range or extended range as well as RWD or AWD. Standard range will have 230 miles of range in RWD guise; 210 miles in AWD. Extended range will have 300 miles of range in RWD, 270 miles in AWD. Standard-range models will have 255 horsepower, extended-range RWD will have 282 horsepower and extended-range AWD will have 332 horsepower.

California Route 1: This trim level is essentially the Premium Extended Range RWD plus some added options, so its number line up: 300 miles of range and 282 pound-feet of torque. It will start at $52,400 when it goes on sale in early 2021.

First Edition: This limited-edition model starts at $59,900 and will be available in late 2020 (order soon). It features similar specs as the Premium Extended Range AWD: 270 miles of range and 332 horsepower. It also adds a variety of interior and exterior trim upgrades and limited availability to the mix.

GT: It's the big daddy of the Mustang coupe lineup (excluding Shelby versions) so it's the big daddy here. For $60,500 buyers get AWD, 235 miles of range and a healthy 459 horsepower and 612 pound-feet of torque, good for 0-60 runs in the mid-three-second range. This version adds the requisite 20-inch forged wheels, Brembo brakes, an adaptive Magnaride suspension, and exterior trim upgrades.

Gobs of tech will be standard.

This includes a 15.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system (ala Tesla) that will run Ford's Next-Generation Sync operating system and will feature over-the-air updates (also ala Tesla). Drivers will have the option of using their smartphone as a key; the Mach E will detect phones paired via its bluetooth system and unlock and adjust settings to that driver's preference.

The Mach E Premium and GT models also come pre-hardwired with a driver-monitoring system, which Ford will activate at a later date to provide a hands-free driving system. The system uses an infrared camera mounted on top of the steering column to watch the driver's attentiveness.

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E The interior is sparse in design but full of high-tech features.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Three drive modes are included.

Here's another Tesla-inspired feature: three drive modes that alter the nature of the Mach E's performance. 'Whisper,' 'Engage' and 'Unbridled' will each allow increasingly aggressive performance and handling features. Not unlike Tesla's well-documented Ludicrous mode. Fun fact: the 'Unbridled' mode in the Mach E was originally to be called 'Stampede' and one of the test-mules we rode in on a media briefing in LA last week still had this setting name. Within each drive mode, numerous elements of the Mach E will be configurable, including regen levels for one-foot driving, if drivers so choose.

Yes, there's a Frunk.

Would it be an EV without one? But Ford says theirs is better since it has a drain plug at the bottom; apparently owners of other EVs told Ford researchers that they often found themselves wanting this.

Room for everyone.

The Mach E seats five adults comfortably, with plenty of legroom and headroom for the six-footers out there (we know since we've sat inside). This, despite the sloping, coupe-like profile of the crossover. Most models also come with a fixed panoramic glass roof that does wonders for opening up the cabin.

This year the Chevrolet Tahoe celebrates its 25th anniversary. When it debuted, the 1995 Chevrolet Tahoe was positioned as a short-wheelbase truck with the functionality of four doors. It was a multi-purpose family vehicle, with the versatility to tow a trailer, go off-roading, or take the family on a road trip.

Today, the Tahoe is the best-selling full-size SUV in the U.S. That's thanks in no small part to its evolution as a larger people-hauler and as a government vehicle with tens of thousands of the model being sold each year for work as police pursuit and special service vehicles.

2012 Chevrolet Tahoe PPV Police agencies across the U.S. use the Tahoe as their PPV.Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

You can take a look at different generations of the model by driving down most streets in America. But for history's sake, here's a closer look at what the 1995 model had versus what is found in the 2019 edition.

Features

1995 Tahoe

2019 Tahoe

Infotainment

  • AM/FM stereo with Seek-Scan
  • Cassette deck
  • Compact disc with theft lock
  • Speed compensated volume
  • High-definition color touchscreen
  • Bose premium 9-speaker audio system
  • Wi-Fi hotspot with 4G LTE data
  • Apple CarPlay
  • Android Auto
  • Wireless charging

Advanced
Technology

  • Speed control and tilt steering
  • Power windows and door locks
  • Insta-Trac system on 4X4 models
  • Independent front suspension
  • Solar-ray tinted glass
  • Rear wiper/washer with defogger
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Head-up display
  • Standard Rear Vision Camera
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • IntelliBeam automatic high-beam control
  • Tire pressure monitor
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • Keyless entry and push-button start

Safety Features

  • Standard driver-side air bag
  • Standard four-wheel Anti-Lock Brake System
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Safety alert seat
  • Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning
  • Low Speed Forward Automatic Braking
  • Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert

Horsepower
and Torque

  • Up to 200 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque
  • Up to 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque


Max Trailering

  • Up to 7,000 lbs.
  • Up to 8,600 lbs.

Max Seating

  • Up to five
  • Up to nine

The next-gen 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban will be unveiled in December, furthering the story of the two popular SUVs.