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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Technology

Ford Focus Electric Gets Greener With Solar Charging

On: Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 4:31PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Focus Electric Gets Greener With Solar Charging test 2

Despite the fact that studies—like this one from the Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicle Data Center—have shown that the overall emissions of electric vehicles are less than gas-powered vehicles, the sentiment about electric vehicles not being clean because they rely on dirty, dirty electricity still prevails. Well, Ford is attacking that sentiment head-on with a new solar-charging option for the 2012 Focus Electric.

The Focus Electric, which will be giving the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt some competition when it starts hitting dealers in select markets later this year, has gotten a little greener. Ford announced recently that it will offer a solar-charging option with the compact. The 2.5 kW solar option, offered in conjunction with SunPower, hooks up to your home via a solar roof panel and provides enough juice for about 1,000 miles worth of Focus Electric driving per month. It will provide up to 3,000 kWh per year.

So, if you choose this option and average less than 1,000 miles per month, you won't be taking a drop of juice from the power grid. And then you can officially tell all those EV naysayers to shove it—shove it good.

2012 Jeep Wrangler Gets Engine Reduction?!

On: Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 12:09PM | By: Chris Salamone

3.6-liter Pentastar test 2

We’ve waited, and waited, and waited. Since the Wrangler’s inception, some of the vehicle’s strongest characteristics have remained its greatest weaknesses for everyday driving: low-end torque and gear ratios meant for off-roading. That potent mix of rock-crawling power has historically meant terrible gas mileage and unfortunate off-the-line acceleration times. Finally, as of 2012, Jeep has decided to rework the Wrangler’s engineering to try to maintain the vehicle’s legendary off-road prowess while improving fuel economy and quickness.

The devout Jeep driver may recall how the company has reduced engine size offerings over the years, fearing their beloved overlander would become just another ‘soft-roader’. But really, Jeep’s recent decision to utilize the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine over last year’s 3.8-liter makes perfect sense. Other than an ego-slashing drop in physical size, the latest Pentastar offers more torque, more horsepower, and greater fuel efficiency (up to 21 mpg).

Ford Revamps An Old Favorite - The 1.0-Liter

On: Mon, Aug 22, 2011 at 4:17PM | By: Chris Salamone

2011 Ford Fiesta test 2

The Big Three hasn’t graced the US auto market with a 1.0-liter engine since the early 1990s. But, rising gas prices combined with a sudden consumer appetite for small cars has captured the attention of at least one US automaker: Ford.

At the upcoming Frankfurt Auto Show, in September, Ford intends to showcase a 1.0-liter inline 3-cylinder engine which includes all the bells and whistles of modern technology. Their latest 3-cylinder looks to mark significant improvements over engines of yesterday, offering both efficiency and some modicum of fun-factor. In total, the latest 1.0-liter hopes to offer the same or better power as Ford’s current 1.6-liter normally aspirated engine while delivering better fuel economy and reduced emissions.

“No one’s ever built a three-cylinder engine quite like this,” stated Joe Bakaj, Ford Vice President of Global Powertrain Engineering. A bold claim indeed.

Cadillac Bringing Converj Hybrid To Market As ELR

On: Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 10:12AM | By: Chris Weiss

Cadillac Bringing Converj Hybrid To Market As ELR test 2

Well, that didn't take long. After news that Cadillac has made the decision to make a Volt-based hybrid production Converj broke last week, Cadillac officially confirmed with a press release. Though there are few details at the moment, as production has just gotten started, Cadillac confirmed that the car will take on the 3-letter structure of its other vehicles, being called the 'ELR' in production.

The name 'ELR' is inspired by the electric propulsion system of the car. The ELR will use an electric motor for primary motivation and a four-cylinder engine as a generator to greatly extend range. The car will store electricity in a T-shaped lithium-ion battery. Though Cadillac doesn't say it outright, the powertrain will likely be an updated version of the Chevy Volt's powertrain.


BMW Vision ConnectedDrive: Great For Stealing Jewelry

On: Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 3:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive test 2

BMW has a new video featuring its futuristic Vision ConnectedDrive concept hitting the roads. The video centers around a rather smug Romeo that uses his ConnectedDrive to help him steal a little something for his lass in the waiting. Frankly, it's a stupid video. But it's an awesome car, so, therefore, worth a watch.

BMW launched its Vision ConnectedDrive concept back at the Geneva Motor Show. Unlike most concept cars that are pretty hardware-focused, BMW was focused more on the road and environment surrounding the car. The ConnectedDrive system features all types of technologies designed to make driving easier, safer, smarter and more enjoyable.

Mazda Predicts Return Of The Rotary

On: Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 9:07AM | By: Chris Salamone

Mazda Rotary test 2

When Mazda announced the RX-8 would soon disappear from their vehicle lineup, rotary fans took a collective gasp of concern. The rotary engine, currently found in the RX-8, has become something of a defining characteristic of Mazda sports cars and an engine many people will be reluctant to lose permanently. In the face of public outcry, a senior company engineer told TheDetroitBureau.com that Mazda intends to reinstate an updated rotary engine later in this decade.

Patented in 1929 by German inventor Felix Wankel, the rotary still bears his moniker and is perhaps better known as the ‘Wankel’. Rotary engines operate differently from typical gas and diesel powertrains because they rely on a spinning triangular rotor instead of traditional pistons. The downside to rotary engines is also what makes them potent racetrack competitors—low gas mileage caused by high RPM.

New Transmission To Give Future Fiskers Veyron-Level Performance?

On: Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 9:01AM | By: Chris Weiss

New Transmission To Give Future Fiskers Veyron-Level Performance? test 2

Henrik Fisker. He's a man that I'm beginning to know for two distinctly different reasons. Reason 1: He designs a helluva beautiful car. Reason 2: He tends to make bold (exaggerated?) claims like few other top-level execs that I've seen.

A few months ago, Fisker prophetized that electric cars are poised to be as successful as smartphones and flat-screen TVs. Possible, but way too early to tell. Currently, that just looks like overconfidence and exaggeration.

This week, Fisker made an equally bold, possibly foolish, proclamation: a new gearbox that's under development will one day help electric cars to deliver "Veyron levels of performance."

AAA Announces EV-Charging Truck Program

On: Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 11:03AM | By: Chris Weiss

AAA Announces EV-Charging Truck Program test 1-1

Last month, the Nissan Leaf officially reached 3,894 U.S. sales. And yet, Nissan hasn't seen fit to send out a mobile charging station the way it did in Japan. So the staple of American motoring, traveling, and on-highway repairs is officially stepping in. AAA debuted the first mobile charging station in North America at the Plug-In 2011 Conference & Exposition last week.

Mercedes Unmasks Its All-New 2012 M-Class

On: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 11:10AM | By: Andrew W Davis

2012 ML350 4MATIC test 2

Mercedes has introduced the third generation of its middle-child SUV, the 2012 M-Class (which—FYI—is actually badged “ML” for some reason).

The vehicle that "began the industry trend toward SUVs with a more car-like ride” is all-new for 2012, though many of the changes (it being one inch longer and a half-inch wider, for instance) won’t register with the average consumer.

Fortunately for all involved, however, some of the major changes Mercedes made include its "striking" new styling, a new transmission, a new iPad Docking Station and more.

[The model that I can afford, however, is still in development. Apparently. Mercedes-Benz will not comment on the matter.]

Mitsubishi's Bright Idea Steps Into The Light: A Solar-Powered i Charging Station

On: Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 11:13AM | By: Andrew W Davis

Mitsubishi solar-powered charging station test 2

The folks that brought you the fearsome Evo X have gone to the other end of the scale by bringing a fully-electric car to market—the idiotically-named "i" (yup, one letter, and in lowercase no less)—and a way to charge it using nothing but millions of dollars and sun-sourced juice via a solar “charging facility” like the one the firm built at its Southern California HQ.

“Able to charge up to four vehicles at once, the station features three types of chargers with different voltages: standard level 1 voltage (110v) will deliver a 100 percent charge in 22 hours on the new Mitsubishi i; level 2 (220v) which can charge the vehicle in six hours; and level 3 CHAdeMO Quick Charger, which can charge to 80 percent battery capacity in 25 minutes.”

Flying Car Gets A Couple Thumbs Up From Government

On: Fri, Jul 8, 2011 at 9:18AM | By: Chris Weiss

Terrafugia Flying Car test 2

Look outside your window onto any crowded street or city sidewalk and you'll see throngs of disappointed adults. They may not show it on their faces at all times; they may even appear happy and jovial. But don't be fooled; they're disappointed deep down.

Thanks to cartoons and television programs like The Jetsons, these adults grew up with expectations of driving around skyways in flying vehicles. Not planes, but flying cars that could replace slower, more tedious ground driving. And, as of the year 2011, not so much as a single, multi-million-dollar flying car-for-the-stars exists.