Toyota sets new Nürburgring electric car speed record

Toyota TMG EV P002 NürburgringGermany’s Nürburgring racetrack has become the de facto proving ground for all sorts of cars, so why not electric cars? Toyota recently took a prototype to the track known as the “Green Hell” and set a record lap time.

Toyota originally set the record last year with its TMG EV P001, so it only had itself to beat. The improved TMG EV P002 set a time of 7:22.329, beating last year’s car by about 25 seconds.

That time puts this prototype Toyota in the same ballpark as supercars like the Nissan GT-R, Porsche Carrera GT, and Ferrari Enzo.

The Toyota prototypes look like mini Le Mans racers, so its not surprising that they set the benchmark for electric propulsion at the ‘Ring. The P002 has two electric motors and a 42-kWh lithium-ceramic battery pack. Combined, they produce 469 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque, propelling the P002 to a top speed of 149 mph.

Complementing the new record, Toyota Motorsports unveiled an equally fast charging system for its electric cars. The TMG DC Quick Charger was designed for race teams, who can use it to charge cars in the pits or at roadside without the need for an outlet.

The compact charger fits in the back of a small van and includes the same 42-kWh battery pack as the P002 car. That battery does need to be charged through a conventional outlet, but then it can be plugged into the Quick Charger apparatus to make a mini mobile charging station.

The record-setting lap will certainly garner headlines, but don’t expect a version of the P002’s powertrain in any production Toyota anytime soon. The company recently announced that it is scaling back its electric car plans in favor of more hybrids. The small batches of RAV$ EVs and eQs already approved for production will be Toyota’s only all-electric vehicles for the forseeable future.

Regardless, the combination of P002 and Quick Charger has yielded impressive results so far, and there aren’t any obvious challengers to dispute them. The current record for an electric production car, 8:09, was set by the Audi R8 e-tron earlier this year. However, the P002 is not a production car, so it isn’t really a fair comparison.

Mercedes-Benz’s SLS AMG Electric Drive has 740 hp and a theoretical top speed of 197 mph. It weighs much more than the tiny Toyota, but the Benz just might be able to muscle its way to a faster time.

Emerging Tech

SeaBubbles’ new electric hydrofoil boat is the aquatic equivalent of a Tesla

What do you get if you combine a Tesla, a flying car, and a sleek boat? Probably something a bit like SeaBubbles, the French "flying" boat startup which offers a fresh spin on the hydrofoil.
Deals

Here are 20 portable tech gadgets you’ll want to use every day

If you're looking for portable tech to keep you charged up while on the go (or for some great small gift ideas), we've rounded up 20 must-have gadgets. You'll find everything from a mini gaming controller to a folding Bluetooth keyboard.
Cars

Nissan is using old Leaf batteries to power and connect off-the-grid campers

Nissan has teamed up with trailer manufacturer Opus to design a mobile, weatherproof power pack built with battery cells sourced from the first-generation Leaf. Called Roam, the pack stores enough electricity to power a camper for up to a…
Cars

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.