performance vehicles

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JAXA launches radiation belt research satellite on enhanced Epsilon rocket. 

Marking its first operational launch, an enhanced version of Japan’s Epsilon rocket blasted off carrying a mission to study how Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts could affect future astronauts and robotic missions.

The Exploration of Energization and Radiation in Geospace launched from the Uchinoura space center at 8pm Japan Standard Time (6am EDT), beginning a 13-minute climb to a highly elliptical orbit. Epsilon’s three stages performed flawlessly, clearing the vehicle towards operational status.

Operated by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, ERG will work in conjunction with NASA’s dual Radiation Belt Solar Probes, which were launched in 2012. Together, the three spacecraft will study high-energy electrons and their interactions with space weather. ERG, in an elliptical orbit, will measure conditions downstream from the RBSP probes, which are closer to Earth’s equator.

RBSP was approved by NASA for an extended mission in 2014 with the intent of working jointly with ERG; JAXA received funding from the Japanese government for ERG largely in part to the two agencies plans to incorporate the two missions.

Once ERG successfully reached orbit, JAXA renamed the satellite Arase, after a dynamic river flowing near the Uchinoura launch base.

UPDATE: Official JAXA highlight video from the Arase mission:

I used Amazon's Alexa to control a Ford Fusion and I'm convinced it's the future of driving

(Amazon)

Amazon’s Alexa is coming to all kinds of devices. 

Bluetooth speakers, TVs, even light bulbs are getting the Alexa treatment these days. But Amazon is also targeting automakers with the technology. 

The internet giant has partnered with a number of car companies to work with them on integrating the smart voice assistant into new vehicles. 

In January, Ford became one of the first automakers in the US to begin rolling out the technology in select cars. 

Owners of the Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi, and the C-MAX Energi can currently use Alexa while at home to perform certain vehicle functions.

For example, owners can use their Amazon Echo or Dot at home to do things like lock or start the car remotely by simply saying “Alexa, ask my FordMobile to lock my car,” or “Alexa, ask my FordMobile to start my car.”

This summer, Ford owners with SYNC 3 access will also be able to use Alexa in the car to do things like check the weather, play audiobooks, and even control smart home devices. 

I recently had the chance to check out a 2017 Ford Fusion Energi, which is one of the vehicles that has the Alexa home-to-vehicle features enabled, and was pretty impressed with how useful the technology was.

(The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi is a hybrid that has an all-electric range of 22 miles.Cadie Thompson/Business Insider)

Currently, there are six tasks you can ask Alexa to perform with the Fusion Energi.  

You can control the locks, check the vehicle’s range (both electric and gas), remotely start and stop the vehicle, check the odometer, check the battery charge, and check the tire pressure. You can do all of this via a simple voice command to your at-home Amazon Echo. 

There were several times I parked the vehicle and forget whether or not I had locked the doors, but instead of leaving my apartment and running down the street to check the vehicle, I simply asked Alexa to handle it. I also just enjoyed the novelty of asking Alexa to check the range of my car from bed before heading out. 

But the most useful part of the home-to-vehicle integration was definitely using Alexa to start the car ahead of my morning commute so that by the time I got in it, it was nice and toasty. 

(Before you can use Alexa to access your car, you must enable the MyFord Mobile skill in the Alexa app.Cadie Thompson/Business Insider)

These are all admittedly pretty simple tasks that Alexa can be used for at home, but they are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible with the technology. 

Once Ford rolls out Alexa’s vehicle-to-home integration, owners will be able to use voice commands to control all of Alexa’s skills. For example, while driving, users can add items to shopping lists, listen to their news briefing, and search for nearby restaurants and stores. Users could even access the Starbucks Alexa skill while driving to order a cup of coffee on their way to work. 

Drivers will also be able to control Alexa enabled smarthome devices, like a connected thermometer or smart lights, from their vehicle. 

Ford’s adoption of Alexa is just the beginning of the company’s plans to connect its cars to the world around it. 

As cities become smarter and cars become autonomous, it will become more important for vehicles to be connected to the world around them, Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering, said at a press event in January at CES. 

“This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s teaching us and it’s giving us the experience of how to interface two totally different ecosystems to create a great new experience,” Washington said. 

“You can just imagine a future where this ability to connect by voice, or to connect Ford’s digital ecosystem with another ecosystem will be extremely important,” Washington said. 

Ford, though, isn’t the only major automaker integrating Alexa into its vehicles. 

Volkswagen announced in January that it plans to integrate Alexa into its new vehicles, and BMW and Hyundai have also said they will offer Alexa-enabled features in select cars.  

NOW WATCH: 7 little-known benefits of Amazon Prime



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Ripsaw EV2 (Extreme Vehicle 2) is one of the world’s most sought after high performance, luxury vehicles.  Originally designed and built for the military as a high speed super tank, its base platform the “Ripsaw” proved to be the fastest dual tracked vehicle ever developed, as it graced the covers of magazines such as Popular Science and won awards for invention of the year.   Since 2013, Howe and Howe Tech has spent thousands of man hours developing this cutting edge technology for the high end, luxury market.  From 12 inches of suspension travel, to its luxurious interior and over 600 diesel horsepower, The Ripsaw is in league of its own when it comes to capability, speed and luxury.  

Note: The Ripsaw EV2 is a handcrafted, limited run, high end luxury super tank, developed for the public and extreme off road recreation.   These vehicles take up to 6 months to fabricate and can cost well into the 100s of thousands depending on desired luxury and performance packages.    

Tesla's business just got much more complicated

(Elon MuskDrew Angerer/Getty Images)
Earlier this month, Tesla filed its annual report with the Securities and Exchange commission.

Annual reports — 10-Ks in financial parlance — are pretty boring documents, but they can provide some valuable insight into companies.

Tesla’s annual report for 2016 is interesting from the get-go because the company no longer describes itself as primarily a carmaker, due to its acquisition last year of SolarCity, a $2-billion-plus deal.

“We design, develop, manufacture and sell high-performance fully electric vehicles, and energy storage systems, as well as install, operate and maintain solar and energy storage products,” the report reads.

“We are the world’s only vertically integrated energy company, offering end-to-end clean energy products, including generation, storage and consumption,” it continues.

“We have established a global network of vehicle stores, service centers and Supercharger stations to accelerate the widespread adoption of our products. Our vehicles, engineering expertise across multiple products and systems, intense focus to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport, and business model differentiates us from other manufacturers.”

That’s the macro overview of what Tesla is all about.

Now let’s take a look at what this all means financially, by touring the balance sheet.

First, assets

As you can see, there have been major changes since 2015. There’s about $3 billion more in cash on hand, which is pretty impressive for an epically cash-burning company like Tesla. But there’s also a massive uptick in “Solar energy systems, leased and to be leased” — a $6-billion addition to the balance sheet, all attributable to absorbing SolarCity, which leases panels to customers and held the value of those assets on its own balance sheet.

Tesla expects to spend pretty much all its cash to launch its Model 3 later this year, necessitating a recent capital raise of more than a billion to keep the cash situation where the company likes it. 

But the big new piece on the assets front, helping Tesla’s assets to more than double from 2015 to 2016, came as a result of SolarCity.

(Tesla)

Now, liabilities

The thing to zero in on here is the increase in long-term debt — mostly the SolarCity debt, more than $3 billion. Tesla has also issued new convertible debt as part of its most recent capital raise, and the company has previously issued convertible debt coming due next year. Compared with 2015, the 2016 balance sheet is far more debt-laden.

(Tesla)

Finally, losing money

Tesla lost less in 2016 than it did in 2015, but it still lost a lot. Compared with 2014, it lost hugely more. But it also brought in far more revenue.

(Tesla)

What’s the takeaway?

The positive about Tesla, the newly vertically integrated company that mostly loses money selling electric cars and has done something daring by merging with SolarCity, is that the firm has a cash position that it would have envied in its past. That sets it up to successfully launch the Model 3 later this year — a $35,000 mass-market car that already has almost 400,000 pre-orders.

The negative is the additional debt — placed against Tesla available cash, the SolarCity debt pretty much zeroes the situation out — and perhaps the SolarCity assets that now have to be accounted for. Tesla is now managing billions in what look to me like illiquid leased solar panels and long-term debt, while preparing to blow through billions in cash.

The losses are actually neutral. Nobody expects Tesla to show consistent profits until 2018 at the earliest, once the revenue for the Model 3 begins to roll in.

Obviously, the SolarCity acquisition has had the biggest impact on Tesla’s balance sheet — and transformed Tesla into a different type of company. In 2017, the challenge will be getting the Model 3 off the assembly line and into customers’ driveways.

NOW WATCH: Tesla will begin selling its Solar Roof this year — here’s everything you need to know



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Ford Falcon T3 TS50, 2001. The last of the Tickford Falcons was also one of the last Fords to use a “Windsor” V8, the TS50 was fitted with a 5.6-Litre “stroker” version which produced 335hp. Tickford Vehicle Engineering (TVE) was responsible for numerous automotive projects and upgrades for Ford Australia between 1991 and 2002. In 2002, the upgrade program moved to Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) coinciding with Tickford’s global operations being taken over by Prodrive. Tickford produced 224 T3 TS50s

I used Amazon's Alexa to control a Ford Fusion and I'm convinced it's the future of driving

(Amazon)

Amazon’s Alexa is coming to all kinds of devices. 

Bluetooth speakers, TVs, even light bulbs are getting the Alexa treatment these days. But Amazon is also targeting automakers with the technology. 

The internet giant has partnered with a number of car companies to work with them on integrating the smart voice assistant into new vehicles. 

In January, Ford became one of the first automakers in the US to begin rolling out the technology in select cars. 

Owners of the Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi, and the C-MAX Energi can currently use Alexa while at home to perform certain vehicle functions.

For example, owners can use their Amazon Echo or Dot at home to do things like lock or start the car remotely by simply saying “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile to lock my car,” or “Alexa, ask MyFord Mobile to start my car.”

This summer, Ford owners with SYNC 3 access will also be able to use Alexa in the car to do things like check the weather, play audiobooks, and even control smart home devices. 

I recently had the chance to check out a 2017 Ford Fusion Energi, which is one of the vehicles that has the Alexa home-to-vehicle features enabled, and was pretty impressed with how useful the technology was.

(The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi is a hybrid that has an all-electric range of 22 miles.Cadie Thompson/Business Insider)

Currently, there are six tasks you can ask Alexa to perform with the Fusion Energi.  

You can control the locks, check the vehicle’s range (both electric and gas), remotely start and stop the vehicle, check the odometer, check the battery charge, and check the tire pressure. You can do all of this via a simple voice command to your at-home Amazon Echo. 

There were several times I parked the vehicle and forget whether or not I had locked the doors, but instead of leaving my apartment and running down the street to check the vehicle, I simply asked Alexa to handle it. I also just enjoyed the novelty of asking Alexa to check the range of my car from bed before heading out. 

But the most useful part of the home-to-vehicle integration was definitely using Alexa to start the car ahead of my morning commute so that by the time I got in it, it was nice and toasty. 

(Before you can use Alexa to access your car, you must enable the MyFord Mobile skill in the Alexa app.Cadie Thompson/Business Insider)

These are all admittedly pretty simple tasks that Alexa can be used for at home, but they are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible with the technology. 

Once Ford rolls out Alexa’s vehicle-to-home integration, owners will be able to use voice commands to control all of Alexa’s skills. For example, while driving, users can add items to shopping lists, listen to their news briefing, and search for nearby restaurants and stores. Users could even access the Starbucks Alexa skill while driving to order a cup of coffee on their way to work. 

Drivers will also be able to control Alexa enabled smarthome devices, like a connected thermometer or smart lights, from their vehicle. 

Ford’s adoption of Alexa is just the beginning of the company’s plans to connect its cars to the world around it. 

As cities become smarter and cars become autonomous, it will become more important for vehicles to be connected to the world around them, Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering, said at a press event in January at CES. 

“This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s teaching us and it’s giving us the experience of how to interface two totally different ecosystems to create a great new experience,” Washington said. 

“You can just imagine a future where this ability to connect by voice, or to connect Ford’s digital ecosystem with another ecosystem will be extremely important,” Washington said. 

Ford, though, isn’t the only major automaker integrating Alexa into its vehicles. 

Volkswagen announced in January that it plans to integrate Alexa into its new vehicles, and BMW and Hyundai have also said they will offer Alexa-enabled features in select cars.  

NOW WATCH: 7 little-known benefits of Amazon Prime



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Ford Sheds Light on First Mass-produced Carbon Fiber Wheels

For the all-new Shelby GT350R, the most track-ready road-going production Mustang ever, Ford dreamed of using the ultimate high-performance material for its unique wheels – carbon fiber. With a little help from Space Shuttle technology, Ford helped reinvent the wheel.

But while the automotive aftermarket and a low-volume supercar manufacturers have offered carbon fiber wheels, Ford and Australian supplier Carbon Revolution took on the challenge of crafting the first mass-produced, track-capable carbon fiber wheels as standard equipment for Shelby GT350R.

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4

BMW 435i ZHP 335hp Coupe

Fulfilling the desires of true enthusiasts, the BMW 435i ZHP Coupé is a factory-built performance vehicle that truly defines the Ultimate Driving Machine: Improved optics and aerodynamics; notably quicker with more precise handling. BMW of North America embraced the thirst for the unique BMW 435i ZHP Coupe Edition once more resulting in the unique collaboration between factory options and key elements from the exciting BMW M Performance Accessory catalogue.
Smart Homes Meet Connected Cars: X Marks the Spot

Several factors have contributed to the sudden expansion of connected car services available or coming to the market, most notably the expansion of mobile broadband networks, high penetration of smartphones in the consumer market, and auto manufacturers’ re-evaluation of connected services as a competitive advantage and means to generate new revenues.

While the connected car and smart home ecosystems haven’t yet entered the mainstream, neither is in its infancy. Crossover between the two markets is evident and offers a unique opportunity for the ecosystem players.

Keep reading

I used Amazon's Alexa to control a Ford Fusion and I'm convinced it's the future of driving

(Amazon)

Amazon’s Alexa is coming to all kinds of devices. 

Bluetooth speakers, TVs, even light bulbs are getting the Alexa treatment these days. But Amazon is also targeting automakers with the technology. 

The internet giant has partnered with a number of car companies to work with them on integrating the smart voice assistant into new vehicles. 

In January, Ford became one of the first automakers in the US to begin rolling out the technology in select cars. 

Owners of the Ford Focus Electric, Fusion Energi, and the C-MAX Energi can currently use Alexa while at home to perform certain vehicle functions.

For example, owners can use their Amazon Echo or Dot at home to do things like lock or start the car remotely by simply saying “Alexa, ask my FordMobile to lock my car,” or “Alexa, ask my FordMobile to start my car.”

This summer, Ford owners with SYNC 3 access will also be able to use Alexa in the car to do things like check the weather, play audiobooks, and even control smart home devices. 

I recently had the chance to check out a 2017 Ford Fusion Energi, which is one of the vehicles that has the Alexa home-to-vehicle features enabled, and was pretty impressed with how useful the technology was.

(The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi is a hybrid that has an all-electric range of 22 miles.Cadie Thompson/Business Insider)

Currently, there are six tasks you can ask Alexa to perform with the Fusion Energi.  

You can control the locks, check the vehicle’s range (both electric and gas), remotely start and stop the vehicle, check the odometer, check the battery charge, and check the tire pressure. You can do all of this via a simple voice command to your at-home Amazon Echo. 

There were several times I parked the vehicle and forget whether or not I had locked the doors, but instead of leaving my apartment and running down the street to check the vehicle, I simply asked Alexa to handle it. I also just enjoyed the novelty of asking Alexa to check the range of my car from bed before heading out. 

But the most useful part of the home-to-vehicle integration was definitely using Alexa to start the car ahead of my morning commute so that by the time I got in it, it was nice and toasty. 

(Before you can use Alexa to access your car, you must enable the MyFord Mobile skill in the Alexa app.Cadie Thompson/Business Insider)

These are all admittedly pretty simple tasks that Alexa can be used for at home, but they are just the tip of the iceberg of what’s possible with the technology. 

Once Ford rolls out Alexa’s vehicle-to-home integration, owners will be able to use voice commands to control all of Alexa’s skills. For example, while driving, users can add items to shopping lists, listen to their news briefing, and search for nearby restaurants and stores. Users could even access the Starbucks Alexa skill while driving to order a cup of coffee on their way to work. 

Drivers will also be able to control Alexa enabled smarthome devices, like a connected thermometer or smart lights, from their vehicle. 

Ford’s adoption of Alexa is just the beginning of the company’s plans to connect its cars to the world around it. 

As cities become smarter and cars become autonomous, it will become more important for vehicles to be connected to the world around them, Ken Washington, Ford’s vice president of research and advanced engineering, said at a press event in January at CES. 

“This is the tip of the iceberg. It’s teaching us and it’s giving us the experience of how to interface two totally different ecosystems to create a great new experience,” Washington said. 

“You can just imagine a future where this ability to connect by voice, or to connect Ford’s digital ecosystem with another ecosystem will be extremely important,” Washington said. 

Ford, though, isn’t the only major automaker integrating Alexa into its vehicles. 

Volkswagen announced in January that it plans to integrate Alexa into its new vehicles, and BMW and Hyundai have also said they will offer Alexa-enabled features in select cars.  

NOW WATCH: 7 little-known benefits of Amazon Prime



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The Cadillac CTS-V Crystal White Frost Edition

Introducing the Cadillac CTS-V Crystal White Frost Edition sedan, which starts at $94,990(US). Only 29 Crystal White Frost sedans will be available at retail.

All 2016 Cadillac CTS-V Crystal White Frost Edition sedans include the following in addition to the CTS-V standard features:

Keep reading

Beast on every ground! 

The Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé. Via AMG Driving Academy.

[Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S Coupé | Combined fuel consumption: 11.9 l/100 km | CO₂ emissions: 278 g/km | http://mb4.me/EfficiencyStatement]