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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Hybrid / Green

LA Auto Show Design Challenge: The 1,000 Pound Car

On: Fri, Oct 22, 2010 at 9:29AM | By: Chris Weiss

LA Auto Show Design Challenge: The 1,000 Pound Car  test 1-1

At the Paris Motor Show, Lamborghini made a big splash when it cut hundreds of pounds off a concept that it called the Sesto Elemento. Using all kinds of  stripping and composite construction, Lamborghini created a V10-powered concept that weighed just 2,200 lbs.

Now that the LA Auto Show is on the way, some automakers will be making an even bigger splash by showing designs that weigh less than half Lamborghini's Sesto Elemento. This year's Design Challenge at the show involves creating four-seat vehicles weighing no more than 1,000 lbs.

Brammo Doubles The Range On Its All-Electric Enertia Bike

On: Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 3:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Brammo Doubles The Range On Its All-Electric Enertia Bike  test 1-1

Brammo is an Ashland, Oregon-based manufacturer that has been raising the bar for electric bikes. The company's Empulse electric bike, which was introduced this past summer, is capable of speeds up to 100 mph and a range of up to 100 miles. It looks like a respectably muscular motorcycle, too. Suddenly electric bikes are looking better than ever.

For those who don't need speeds of 100 mph and would rather save a little money, Brammo just introduced the Enertia Plus. An upgrade to its regular Enertia bike, the model doubles the electric range from 40 to 80 miles.

Porsche to Offer Hybrid Version of Every Model

On: Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 11:59AM | By: Chris Weiss

Porsche to Offer Hybrid Version of Every Model test 1-1

It's not yet clear if we'll ever get a chance to see the baby Cayenne (hoping not), but if we do, we'll also be seeing a hybrid version sometime thereafter. Porsche is in the process of some priority shuffling now that new chief Matthias Mueller is holding the reigns, and one of its priorities is making its line a little greener with a full injection of hybrid powertrains.

Porsche development chief Wolfgang Dürheimer told Auto News: "In the future we will have hybrid drive in every model." The automaker will use hybrid powertrain options to help it cut the carbon footprint of its line. It also indicated that it's considering using direct-injected turbo four-cylinder engine options to assist in cutting emissions.

Tesla Received $ 60 Million for RAV4 Production

On: Mon, Oct 18, 2010 at 12:37PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tesla Received $ 60 Million for RAV4 Production test 1-1

Tesla recently negotiated a $60 million dollar contract with Toyota to develop the drive-train and other parts of an all-electric version of the Toyota RAV 4 SUV. Tesla plans to modify its lithium-ion battery packs, motors, power electronics, software, and gearbox in order to adapt to Toyota’s RAV 4 compact sport utility vehicle.

According to Tesla, the California-based automaker: “The terms of the deal, initially announced in July, were completed Oct. 6."

"Its initial investment in Tesla shows Toyota has decided electric cars aren't going to be fringe vehicles,” said James Bell, executive market analyst at Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California. “Companies like Nissan and GM are heavily committed to electric car programs, and it looks like Toyota has decided to step up its efforts.”


Enterprise Rent-a-Car Continues to Get Greener With Coda Electrics

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 3:53PM | By: Chris Weiss

Enterprise Rent-a-Car Continues to Get Greener With Coda Electrics test 1-1

The Coda electric car might not be as well-publicized or anticipated as the Nissan Leaf, but the car will appear alongside the Leaf at Enterprise rental outlets in select states. In a continued effort to distinguish itself as a more eco-friendly car rental operation, and to give its customers access to new EVs, Enterprise announced that it will be adding a fleet of 100 Codas by next year.

Enterprise has not made a final determination as to what markets will get the 100 Coda EVs. Coda is set to launch its vehicles in California sometime next year, and Enterprise plans to make California a market for Coda rentals. What cities in California and what other areas will be added remains an unknown, though Columbus, Ohio has been speculated as one possible market.

A relatively unhyped electric vehicle, Coda comes from California-based start-up Coda Automotive. The electric cars feature a 134-hp electric motor. The company uses a unique 33.8 kWh lithium-iron phosphate battery that provides a different look from the lithium-ion batteries that are more common among EVs and hybrids. Range varies between 90 and 120 miles, and a battery management system displays projected ranges based on driving conditions (traffic, aggressive driving, and open-road cruising). Not likely to be particularly popular with Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts to compete with, the Coda will carry a base price of $44,900, well more expensive than either the Volt or Leaf. It offers far less of a range than a Volt and a comparable range to a Leaf.

Fisker Moves One Step Closer To Production With Karma Configurator

On: Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 9:24AM | By: Chris Weiss

Fisker Moves One Step Closer To Production With Karma Configurator  test 1-1

The Fisker Karma was originally debuted as a concept at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show. In the nearly three years that followed, production on the plug-in hybrid has been delayed several times. Despite Fisker's green but powerful design, it had looked at times like the Karma was going to be nothing more than a fancy concept.

Finally, Fisker appears ready for production. The company brought its final production Fisker Karma to the Paris Motor Show and now it's launched a configurator so that potential buyers—and those who just like to fiddle around with fancy cars—can see what their dream Karma will look like.

Chevy Volt, What The Heck Is It?!

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 11:53AM | By: John Welch

Chevy Volt, What The Heck Is It?! test 1-1

The controversy surrounding the Chevy Volt has turned into the sort of PR nightmare that General Motors is famous for, and has famously tried to avoid. Is it a hybrid? An electric car? A plug-in hybrid?! Any categories I'm forgetting? I can give you my personal opinion, which I have formulated over the last week by myself. This isn't the AutoShopper's opinion in any way—we have had a constant inter-office argument going since Monday. Each editor has his own thoughts on the Volt and what exactly it is; they are welcome to share their thoughts in the comments . . . so are you, dear AutoShopperBlog reader!

The media, including our blog, has muddied a few of the issues here. A hybrid car, by definition, consists of an electric motor piggybacked on top of an internal combustion engine. The Volt, by comparison, features an internal combustion engine piggybacked on an electric motor. Okay, so, by definition, the Volt isn't a hybrid, contrary to what Motor Trend and others seem to think. The Volt does not operate without its electric engine, its main source of locomotion, so clearly, it doesn't fit in the box created by the accepted definition of a "hybrid".

Toyota Prius MPV Gets Big Teaser Photo

On: Thu, Oct 14, 2010 at 9:17AM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Prius MPV Gets Big Teaser Photo test 1-1

Just a few days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported about two new Prius models, a large and a small version to make the current model medium. Both models will launch by 2013, with the larger model offering 50 percent more interior space than the current-generation Prius. Toyota has officially teased the big boy of the Prius family, using a billboard to show what the Prius MPV will be all about.

Actually, there's little of the Prius MPV to see in the billboard, which was put up in celebration of the Prius' 10-year U.S. anniversary. In a smart teaser, Toyota plants the Prius MPV behind the standard Prius, so that all we can see is the added length and height.

The MPV model is expected to gain about 300 mm of length, which will help to accommodate an extra row of seats in the back, allowing for up to seven passengers. The billboard ad also demonstrates that the roof is higher and less sloped to provide more headroom and accommodate the rear-most passengers. Overall though, the Prius MPV's footprint isn't significantly larger than the current Prius', indicating that it shouldn't hurt fuel economy numbers too much.

Toyota Prius Family To Get a Little Bigger By 2013

On: Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 3:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota Prius Family To Get a Little Bigger By 2013 test 1-1

Despite being the best-selling hybrid around, the Toyota Prius isn't quite for everyone. Some may need or want more interior space to fit their families and all their haulage, and some may feel the Prius isn't small and efficient enough. Both those segments will be getting the Prius they yearn for in just a few short years.

According to a Wall Street Journal report based on discussions with two dealers that were briefed at a company dealer conference last week, Toyota will be introducing both a smaller and a larger Prius to market by the end of 2012. The larger model will give drivers 50 percent more interior space while the smaller model will be comparable in size to the Yaris.

Toyota is already the world leader in hybrid sales, and the two new Prius models will be among six new hybrids that Toyota plans to introduce over the next two years. Since its introduction in 1997, the Prius has sold to the tune of two million, and Toyota plans to drive hybrid sales to the point of a million per year with its expanding family. It hopes to offer a hybrid version of every one of its vehicles by the 2020s.

Another model that's expected by the end of 2012 is the Prius Plug-In. It features the same engine/motor combination as the standard Prius: 98-hp 1.8-liter engine with an 80-hp electric motor, but uses a lithium-ion battery instead of a nickel-metal-hydride battery. The plug-in can travel for up to 13 miles under electric-only driving and can recharge in three hours.

Nissan Considering Free, One-Week Rental Car Loans For Leaf Owners

On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 12:31PM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Considering Free, One-Week Rental Car Loans For Leaf Owners  test 1-1

Simply defined, range anxiety is the fear of being stranded by a dead battery in an electric vehicle. Just the way your cell phone can die in the middle of a conversation, the lithium-ion battery in an EV can die out in the middle of the road. But instead of just ending a call early (which could be a positive), a dead car battery will leave you without a means of getting home, and possibly in harm's way.

Range anxiety is one of the huge obstacles that purveyors of all-electric vehicles face, and is one of the key weapons for automakers that want to sell hybrids. The technology just isn't quite there to feasibly offer electric vehicles that have ranges comparable to gas models, and without a charging infrastructure to rival the gas-fueling infrastructure, range anxiety remains a prominent concern.

Nissan is considering a new way of addressing the fear by offering a free rental of a traditional, gas-engined car for up to one week a year. The idea behind this program is that it would quell owners' fears of running out of juice on extended road trips—say when jetting across the desert between LA and Vegas—while still letting them cash in on the environmental benefits of an all-electric vehicle on more controlled trips, like the daily commute.

Critics Say GM Lied About Chevrolet Volt

On: Tue, Oct 12, 2010 at 12:27PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Critics Say GM Lied About Chevrolet Volt test 1-1

Just one month before the official launch of the Chevrolet Volt, there is a controversy brewing over whether or not the Volt is truly an electric vehicle. General Motors claims on its website that the Volt is not a hybrid, but an "extended-range electric vehicle", but many are saying that the car’s engine uses gasoline as the primary energy source for an electric generator subsequently turning the wheels of the vehicle—exactly how hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius engine, operate. GM has been representing the Volt for the past 3 years as an all electric vehicle, not a hybrid like the Prius.

According to Jim Hall, of 2953 Auto Analytics Inc.: "You have a PR problem with any one of these vehicles." Hall also stated, "GM had this sort of schizophrenic thing about doing its best to manage perception and at the same time going off into traditional old-style GM hype."

General Motors has promoted the Volt for 3 years as a green vehicle that would run on electric power and get 230 miles per gallon. The $41,000 Volt was assigned a unique marketing strategy in hopes that the Volt’s image would be differentiated from the Toyota Prius, giving the vehicle an edge in the market.

The EPA has not released an official rating on the Volt as far as fuel economy, and GM has released a statement that some consumers may realize lower fuel ratings.

Auto critics from  Motor Trend and Popular Mechanics are saying that the Volt uses its combustion gas-powered engine to charge an electric generator which powers the wheels—just as a hybrid operates. They deem the Chevrolet Volt to be an electric plug-in hybrid, NOT the all-electric vehicle that General Motors has claimed for years the Volt would be.

A recent Edmunds review of the car contains the headline that reads, “GM Lied: Chevy Volt is not a true EV.”