Ride of the Week: The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pickup Truck

Don’t panic. What you’re seeing is real — a Mercedes with a pickup bed. Mercedes Benz introduced its luxury X-Class truck at a swank reception in South Africa, but don’t get too excited — you won’t be seeing the X-Class in the US. A joint partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan, Mercedes touts the X-Class as “the first pickup from a premium manufacturer.” With all-wheel drive, a premium interior, a bed, and even an optional manual transmission, the X-Class checks all the truck boxes — although it’s certainly no Unimog. The X-Class comes to Europe in November 2017.

Ride of the Week: The 2018 Volkwagen Arteon

Just like that, Volkswagen is hopping on the Geneva hype train in unveiling their all new Arteon five-seater that head designer Klaus Bischoff claims, “…combines the design elements of a classic sports car with the elegance and space of a fastback.” Sounds like a winning combination to us, and after looking at the initial images of this thing, it looks like one too.

Featured under the hood of this ride are several turbocharged engine options with outputs up to 276 horsepower. It’s also slated to be built upon their MBQ platform, which comes standard on other offerings including the Golf and the new Atlas SUV. 4Motion all-wheel drive will come standard with these as well, as will as a set of LED headlights, a newly designed front end, and upgraded Discover Pro infotainment system with gesture control. The ride will also be made available with a diesel engine for those looking to up their fuel efficiency. They’re set to go on sale in Europe this June. No word on pricing just yet.

Tesla Will Roll Out Its First Mass-Market Electric Car Earlier Than Expected

Elon Musk isn’t afraid to think outside the box. Sometimes that is a good thing, like solar roof tiles that could become the norm. Sometimes it’s a very bad thing, like thinking free frozen yogurt is as good as a union. However, between the company’s cars, hyperloops, and trips to Mars, Musk and Tesla’s visions of the future have been rather expensive. Musk will try to change that this week when the Model 3, Tesla’s first mass-market car, launches.

The first Model 3, which will cost about $35,000 — still steep for the average car-buyer, but it’s a start — will roll off the line Friday, and Musk says production will steadily increase with a goal of hitting 20,000 a month by the end of the year. In comparison, in 2016 Tesla produced some 85,000 cars though with a price tag averaging nearly three times the cost of the Model 3 for its other cars.

Musk, however, appears to be betting big on the Model 3. The company built a $5 billion dollar factory in Nevada to produce the car’s batteries and is considering opening a plant in California. Earlier this year, the company raised over $1 billion through stock offerings and debt to offset recent quarterly losses. Investors so far seem to be buying in: Tesla shares are way up this year, leaving the company with higher valuations than traditional car-makers like General Motors and Ford.

The Mastercraft X22 Speedboat Is An Ideal Craft For A Fun Day On The Water

Capable of carrying up to 16 people and making sizable waves, the Mastercraft X22 Speedboat is an ideal craft for a fun day on the water. Its award-winning Surf System creates multiple zones of waves perfect for surfing, water skiing, and wakeboarding. Its innovative dual-screen interface adapts to the current usage mode — drive, tow, or chill — and gives you ample space to display maps, camera feeds — including from the onboard GoPros — and music controls for the Klipsch audio system. Whether you’re seated in the forward lounge, cockpit backrest, or being pulled behind the 22-foot vessel, you’ll appreciate the power of the three available GM-derived V8 engines.

Ride of the Week: Aston Martin Announces Production Of Its First All-Electric Car

No longer a concept, Aston Martin announced that it will be taking the RapidE all-electric super sedan into production. Limited to 155 vehicles, the RapidE will be the first all-electric Aston Martin, which we imagine will serve as the groundwork for the company’s future in electric mobility. The car will be based on the upcoming Rapide AMR and will feature a powertrain that will be developed in collaboration with the technology division of Williams F1, Williams Advanced Engineering. No specs on the powertrain have been revealed, but we imagine it will be a worthy alternative to their signature 6.0L V-12.

How To Survive Riding Your Motorcycle In Brutal Florida Heat

If you had a choice you probably wouldn’t choose to ride in extremely hot weather. But you don’t always have the option, like when you’re out on a road trip and need to be home sooner than later. Assuming shedding layers of protective gear isn’t an option—and for purposes of this discussion, it isn’t—how do you keep your cool when the very pavement you’re riding on is melting?

Gear Up

The first step is wearing the right riding gear. Most jackets designed for anything more serious than posing on Instagram come with zippered vents in the front and back to let air flow through the interior and cool you down.

For maximum cooling, mesh jackets are the way to go. Large areas of mesh admit every stray breeze, although you don’t want mesh in areas where you might contact the road in a crash.

There’s one more piece of gear you should stow away in your saddlebag for extreme heat, and that’s a cool vest. Some are just water bladders in the shape of a sleeveless vest that you fill with cold water and wear under a vented jacket. I have a lot of miles on the other kind, which is made of a polymer-based stuff sandwiched between a water-resistant inner liner and a ventilated outer layer.

Soak the vest in water for five or 10 minutes, wring out the excess, and put it on over your T-shirt. The moisture trapped in the vest speeds evaporative cooling and lasts for hours between recharges. I store mine in a one-gallon ziplock baggie, and pour the water directly into the bag to charge the vest.

If there’s a way to look at a helmet’s vent system and tell if it works without trying it out on your own bike, I haven’t found it. I have two helmets, both with vents. One flows air like a mini-tornado, the other admits a bare trickle of breeze. Size and placement have something to do with it, as well as the channeling molded into the comfort liner and EPS layer inside the shell.

Make Sure The Bike Is Right

The bike itself can affect how well your vented gear works. When I had a Gold Wing I rode it from Oregon—nice, cool, green, coastal Oregon—south to sere, brown, basically-a-desert Southern California in the middle of a record heat wave.

The big ol’ barn-door windscreen I loved so much during the winters at home became the focus of hatred and loathing. It shouldered aside the wind, routed it around me, and closed the stream about a foot aft of my back where it did me fuck-all good. I could have been wearing Speedos and flip-flops instead and I’d have still been roasting.

You’re certainly not going to buy one bike for cold weather and another for hot, and riding gear is an unpredictable variable until you road test it. But no matter what you ride and wear, there are things you can do to stay comfortable and safe during hot rides. Staying hydrated is one of the most important, and one of the most often ignored.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Your body sheds excess heat by sweating, and the more you sweat the more fluid you lose. Lose too much, and you get dehydrated. The symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, headache, extreme fatigue or sleepiness, and dizziness. Those last three are obviously not states in which you want to be at the controls of a speeding motorcycle.

It’s not really good enough to ride for an hour or two then stop and guzzle a couple of liters of water. Near the end of every stint, as you approach drink time, you’re at your worst, and you’re more likely then to make a critical error in judgment. Gulping down a bottle of water isn’t going to snap you back to 100 percent right away, either.

It’s better to smooth out the bumps in the curve by drinking water as you ride. A CamelBak water bladder with the drink tube clipped to your jacket lets you take a drink whenever you’re thirsty, and generally speaking, if you’re thirsty you’ve already waited too long to drink. It’s better to sip constantly to avoid triggering the thirst alarm at all.

Some of the long-distance riders of the Iron Butt Association mount 1- or 2-gallon coolers on the passenger seat when they know they’re going someplace stupidly hot, and fill them at stops with water and ice. I’ve done this myself, and it made a remarkable difference in the miles I was able to ride in hot weather.

Notice I’ve been referring to drinking water at stops, and not beer, soda, or coffee. Beer is a stupid choice for obvious reasons, but the caffeine found in coffee and many soft drinks, as well as the sugar in the latter, give you a short-term high that fades quickly, sometimes leaving you more tired than before. (Many people think drinking coffee makes you pee more often—I thought that myself—but the research says moderate caffeine consumption doesn’t have a significant diuretic effect, although alcohol definitely does.)

A doctor once told me that to help retain the water I drink, I should eat a salty snack, because the salt binds to the water and keeps it in my system longer. Or something like that; it was a long time ago, and I’ve forgotten the exact reason, but I do know it works. I stash a small bag of corn chips in my tank bag and munch a few every at every gas stop. That seems to be the right salt-to-water ratio for me.

Finally, ride smarter, not harder. If you know you’re in for a sizzler of a day, get up early, ride until the heat gets unbearable, then stop in the shade for a few hours during the hottest part of the afternoon.

Stake out a booth in a diner and drink iced tea while you look at maps, or find a library and settle in with a book for a while. Take a snooze on a picnic table in a park. As evening approaches you’ll be ready for another stint.

Ride of the Week: The 2017 ROUSH P-51 Mustang

The American P-51 Mustang was one of the most formidable fighter planes ever to grace the skies during WWII, the Korean War, and more. And it is from this classic aerial ace that ROUSH Performance has gotten the name for their latest release. It also happens to be the most powerful pre-titled American car ever built – meaning you can buy it as is from a dealership and drive it off the lot.

The 2017 ROUSH P-51 Mustang, as they’re calling it, acquired this accolade thanks to being equipped with a supercharged 727-horsepower ROUSH Eaton TVS Coyote 5.0-liter V8 engine – which is, frankly speaking, delightfully absurd. To cope with that power, it’s also fitted with a 3-way adjustable coilover suspension, Weld lightweight black forged wheels, and Continental ExtremeContact Sport tires. And you don’t have to sacrifice style for power, either, as the cab is loaded with custom P-51 Amaretto Tuscany leather seating, a ROUSH red shifter ball, performance pedals, and more. But, if you want one, you’re going to have to be quick about it. Only 51 are being made and they’ll retail for $42,500 above the base 2017 Mustang GT price – for a grand total of around $75,695 or more.

Uber Will Soon Let All Drivers Accept Tips

Amid increasing tensions between Uber drivers and its “Always be hustlin’” corporate bro-verlords, the currently CEO-less company has decided to institute a big change that could result in drivers taking home more money: For the first time, drivers nationwide will be allowed to accept tips from passengers via the Uber app.

Uber currently only allows tipping through the app in Seattle and Minneapolis, with Houston planning to join that small list later this month. Elsewhere, like in New York City, drivers may be allowed to accept tips, but only in cash — and they can’t ask for the tip.

That’s all about to change. As part of a 180-day overhaul of the beleaguered multibillion-dollar company, Uber will soon open up tipping to all U.S. drivers who want it.

The company says the update will be pushed to the driver app at some point before the end of July. Drivers will then be able to decide whether or not they want to offer tipping as an option to their passengers. If they do turn this option on, passengers will asked if they want to enter a tip when they rate their driver at the conclusion of the trip.

Passengers will be given some preset tip amounts to choose from, or they can enter in an amount of their choosing. Unlike taxis where you tip before you get out of the car, Uber riders will have 30 days from the conclusion of their trip to add a tip.

Drivers for UberEATS, the company’s food delivery service, will also be allowed to accept tips for their services.

Uber says the full tipped amount will be given to the driver; the company won’t charge any commission or fee beyond what it already makes on the fare.

There may be some awkwardness during the initial rollout of the tipping update, as both drivers and customers will need to have the latest versions of the Uber and UberEATS app. During those first few days, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear from drivers that they turned on tipping, but they aren’t consistently getting tips because passengers have outdated apps installed.

Other Changes Coming

In addition to the tipping update, Uber has announced a handful of changes that it hopes will please drivers.

• Paid To Wait
Drivers who are kept waiting by riders who can’t seem to get their life in order will soon be paid for their idle time. If the driver has to wait more than two minutes, they will receive a per-minute fee. That change will roll out nationwide by the end of August, says Uber.

• Paid For Last-Minute Cancellations
It usually takes a few minutes for an Uber driver to get from where they are to the spot where they pick the passenger up. If a passenger cancels a car more than two minutes after the driver has accepted the assignment, a cancellation fee will be charged and paid to the driver. This feature is available now in certain markets, and should be available to all drivers by the end of August.

‘Wired’ Roads Could Power Electric Cars As You Drive

A new wireless power system could help people avoid the inevitable jumbled mess of tangled cords and offer a more efficient way to charge electric vehicles on the go, according to a new study.

Researchers at Stanford University adapted a concept from quantum physics to produce a wireless charger that does something other wireless chargers cannot: automatically tune the frequency of the radio wave — the medium that transfers the power — to account for changes in the distance between the charging pad and the device. In an experiment, the team showed that its system transferred power with 100 percent efficiency up to about 27 inches (70 centimeters).

“The range is perfect for electric cars,” Sid Assawaworrarit, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering at Stanford University, told Live Science. “The floor of a car is about 20 centimeters [8 inches] away from the road’s surface. You could embed the charging pad below the road surface.”

Assawaworrarit and his colleagues reported their research in a study published online today (June 14) in the journal Nature.

Although other wireless-charging devices, such as those for phones, already exist, the efficiency drops dramatically if the device is too close or too far away from the charger. This means a phone has to be placed on top of a charging pad to work best, and an electric car needs to be parked directly over a pad to recharge efficiently. As such, electronic devices are still tethered, albeit invisibly, to their power source, according to Assawaworrarit.

The problem lies in the design of these wireless power systems. They typically consist of a source, which is the charging pad, and a receiver, which could be a phone or an electric car.

In the source, radio waves of a certain frequency are generated to excite electrons in a coil of wire, called a resonant inductor. The receiver in the phone or electric car also has a resonant inductor made from a coil of wires. When the two inductors are put near each other, the energy gets coupled from the source to the receiver. In the receiver, a component called a rectifier converts the energy from the radio waves to usable electrical energy for the phone or the car.

Finding the optimal frequency for the radio waves depends on the sensitivity of the equipment, the distance between the source and receiver and their orientation to each other.

Once the optimal frequency is found, deviations to the variables used to set it, such as changing the distance between the source and receiver, reduces the transfer efficiency. Assawaworrarit said a tuning circuit can, in theory, be built to adjust the frequency, but the design is complicated and puts limitations on how fast the device can be moved in relationship to the charging pad.

Assawaworrarit and his team created a wireless power system that doesn’t use a source for radio waves, nor does it require a tuning circuit. It also works even if the distance between the resonant coils fluctuates, the scientists said.

The researchers accomplished this by taking advantage of a concept from quantum mechanics called parity-time symmetry, or PT symmetry for short. Like other concepts from the field of quantum science, it’s peculiar, but systems built from it have symmetrically arranged parts that either absorb electromagnetic energy or emit it.

In an accompanying analysis of the new study published in the journal Nature, Geoffroy Lerosey a research scientist at the Langevin Institute, The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and ESPCI Paris, wrote that parity-time symmetry can work to tune different wavelengths of light from a multimode laser into a single-mode laser.

Here, Assawaworrarit and his colleagues simplified the whole setup. They built a system that has a source and receiver, just like in conventional systems. But instead of using radio waves to excite electrons in the resonant inductor, they used an amplifier designed to amplify the electromagnetic energy in the coil. The receiver has a resonant inductor and rectifier, just like in conventional systems, the researchers said.

The physics behind PT symmetry automatically selects the operating frequency that will result in a maximum amount of energy being transferred. It accomplishes this within tens of microseconds and the system, in its present form, can accommodate distances to a little more than 3 feet (1 meter), limited by the use of near-field coupling, according to the study.

“Over a range of distances, the PT physics is such that the gains compensate for the losses,” Assawaworrarit said.

Although the researchers tested their idea both in a computer simulation and in an experiment using an LED light bulb, it will take some time for such a device to reach consumers, they said.

In his review, Leroseynoted that the amplifier needs to be optimized, and he also questioned whether this concept will work if one coil is fixed and the other is moving, as would be the case with an electric car driving over a road embedded with charging pads.

“These questions need to be answered before this beautiful concept can have real-life applications,” Lerosey wrote. “However, it already builds an inspiring bridge between the worlds of quantum physics and engineering.”

The Self-Driving “Fisker EMotion” Could Be the Future of Electric Cars

Henrik Fisker has taken to Instagram to unveil his latest vehicular masterpiece; the self-driving Fisker EMotion EV. The state-of-the-art car can cover 100 miles in just nine minutes of charging, with its full range hitting 400 miles and a top speed of 161 mph.

But it’s not just the Fisker EMotion’s engine that’s impressive. The car features a carbon and aluminum structure mix, which means it’s 20 percent lighter than other cars of its size. The rear side windows and sunroof are made of Lipik Electrochromic glass that you can tint and untint via a button, and the side mirrors include panoramic 360 cameras, for easy parking and safer driving.

You’ll be able to pre-order the Fisker EMotion for $129,900 from the end of this month, with the car expected to be released sometime in 2019.