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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Hybrid / Green

Ford to EcoBoost Its Entire Line

On: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 4:39PM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford to EcoBoost Its Entire Line  test 1-1

In an effort to revamp its image and sales, Ford has been expanding EcoBoost options across its line over the past year, most recently with the addition of the 2.0-liter V4 Ecoboost in the all-new 2011 Explorer. According to a Detroit News report, this will be a part of Ford's greater strategy to offer EcoBoost options in all of its vehicles over the coming years.

Production-Ready Fisker Karma to Debut in Paris

On: Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 4:13PM | By: Chris Weiss

Production-Ready Fisker Karma to Debut in Paris  test 1-1

Long teetering between promising luxury plug-in hybrid and vaporware, the Fisker Karma finally appears to be ready for production. Fisker announced today that it will debut a full-fledged, production version of the Karma at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, which begins in about two weeks. The car combines flowing, sporty looks with an economic hybrid powertrain delivering up to 100 mpg.

Lexus Releases Fuel Economy Numbers For CT 200h

On: Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 11:09AM | By: Chris Weiss

Lexus Releases Fuel Economy Numbers For CT 200h test 1-1

If you'd like a little more luxury in your hybrid than the Toyota Prius is willing to provide, you'll have to be prepared to pay in both money and miles per gallon. Lexus released fuel economy figures for the 2011 CT 200h, Toyota's luxury answer to the Prius, and its 42 mpg combined lags behind the Prius' 50 mpg. The rating has not yet been verified by the EPA.

Tokyo's Electric Taxi Experiment

On: Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 5:18PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tokyo's Electric Taxi Experiment test 1-1

In Tokyo Japan, a taxicab company has been experimenting with an all-electric, zero-emissions cab powered by  changeable batteries. One river, Yoshihiko Takahashi, says that customers ask him the same questions daily, such as “How often do you have to recharge? How far can you go? Does this car really have no emissions?”


Hints At a McLaren Hybrid

On: Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 3:46AM | By: Chris Weiss

Hints At a McLaren Hybrid test 1-1

One of my favorite types of auto or tech leaks is the unavoidable job posting leak. The company in question clearly needs some new blood to help it step into a new direction and it can't help but advertise. And while company execs are busy trying to bulk up their team toward future production, the media world is scouring the ads and making educated guesses as to what the company is up to.

Hybrid Market Projected to Decline Over the Next 6 Months

On: Thu, Sep 9, 2010 at 2:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Hybrid Market Projected to Decline Over the Next 6 Months  test 1-1

It has been predicted by experts in the automotive industry that the hybrid market may decline as gas prices level off in the next 6 months. JIm Farley, Ford's group vice president of global marketing, sales and service said: “You can't sell a hybrid in today's market,” although Ford still plans to launch the 2011 luxury Lincoln MKZ hybrid sedan this fall.

Farley’s prediction of the hybrid market stems from his belief that fuel prices will go down over the next 6 months which would be detrimental to the hybrid industry.
The impact on the hybrid market has already began to take effect when one looks at the Honda market, for example. Sales of the Insight have gone down by over 50% compared to last year, and Toyota Prius has seen demand down 38% last month to only 11,799 units. 

A year ago the hybrid market was up due to the Cash for Clunkers program, so low sales records are actually falsely inflated, meaning that the hybrid market is even worse than it appears to be.

The overall light vehicle market is up 8% this year, as compared to Prius and Insight sales, which are comparatively much slower so far in 2010.

Farley stated that although the launch of the MKZ hybrid is just around the corner, that Ford does not expect to sell even 10,000 units, even though prices for the Lincoln MKZ hybrid are not projected to be at a premium. Ford designed the vehicle because according to Farley, “it's the smart thing to do and it rounds out the product lineup.”

Ford is serous when they say they want to establish “a green image,” and that the plan is not to simply chase the market.

Coulomb Technologies Opens First of 4,600 Car Charging Stations

On: Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 9:10AM | By: Chris Weiss

Coulomb Technologies Opens First of 4,600 Car Charging Stations test 1-1

Everyone loves to talk green vehicles nowadays. However, not everyone loves to drive green vehicles. And no one really loves the idea of getting stranded out on US-50 in eastern Nevada due to a drained pack of lithium-ion.

Range anxiety is a formidable opponent of the electric vehicle industry, and until the country begins to address this issue with action, EVs aren't likely to fly out of dealerships. At least not at the rate they could be flying out of dealerships with the right charging infrastructure.

Well, if you happen to live in Michigan, that process is under way. The proverbial ribbon-cutting ceremony on the nation's first free electric charging station under the ChargePoint America program took place last Thursday. The new charging station stands in front of the NextEnergy in downtown Detroit. The electric juice stand is one of 4,600 that will be installed across the United States under the ChargePoint America program.

Michigan, which is set to be one of the first launch markets for the Chevy Volt, will get several hundred of the free charging stations in areas like Flint, Dearborn and Detroit. Charging stations will go to  businesses, communities and homes. The equipment will come free of charge under the federally funded program, but owners will have to pay the installation fees.

Coulomb Technologies of Campbell, California is spearheading the $37 million nationwide installation program, which includes about $15 million of federal stimulus funding. On their own, each station would otherwise cost between $1,700 and $5,000, so the new program should help defray some of the costs for starting up a charging infrastructure. Installation can cost anywhere from $250 to $4,000.

Coulomb CEO Richard Lowenthal summed up the importance of getting an infrastructure in place: "With cars like this, you’ll never go to the gas station. But you need a place to charge them. If you can’t fuel your vehicle, you won’t buy one."

Chevy to Begin Volt Production on Veterans Day

On: Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 9:57AM | By: Chris Weiss

Chevy to Begin Volt Production on Veterans Day  test 1-1

We've known for some time that the Chevy Volt will be hitting the market this November, but the exact date when the assembly lines would begin churning out Volts has been a mystery until this week. According to an exclusive on AOL Autos, Chevy will ramp up production on Veterans Day. That's November 11 for you unpatriotic folk.

A national holiday seems like an odd day to begin production, but according to GM it's merely a coincidence. GM spokesman Rob Peterson is quoted by NY Times Wheels as stating: " “We’ve said our target of mid-November is tied to many things — suppliers, engineering, production facilities. It’s definitely not tied to a holiday.” That's good, because Veterans Day didn't seem to have a whole lot to do with Chevy's buzzed up range-extender.

The Volt is scheduled to be a gradual release vehicle beginning in California. GM plans to produce 10,000 Volts this year, but has not yet indicated how many Volts will be going to individual dealers. The company plans to do that on November 17 after production begins. Other initial markets will include New York, Michigan, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey and Washington D.C.

Chevy plans to build between 30,000 and 45,000 Volts next year. GM reportedly intends to make numerous headlines around the time Volt production begins, engaging in a concentrated media blitz. The company may tie the Volt launch media campaign in with its upcoming IPO offering.

The Volt is a range-extending plug-in hybrid that uses a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine to boost the 40-mile range of its 111 kW electric motor to over 300 miles. Owners will be able to charge the lithium-ion battery in about 10 hours via regular 120 V outlets or in about four using a dedicated 240 V outlet. The car carries a base price of $41,000 and will be available for lease starting at $350 per month.

Initially, Chevy advertised fuel economy numbers for the Volt as high as 230 mpg, but has since abandoned those claims as the EPA restructures the way that economy ratings are calculated for hybrids and electrics.

Given the amount of buzz that has been surrounding the Volt for years, GM has a lot riding on a successful launch.

The Aftermath: Toyota's Sales To Drop After Incentives Dry Up

On: Thu, Sep 2, 2010 at 4:04PM | By: Chris Weiss

The Aftermath: Toyota's Sales To Drop After Incentives Dry Up  test 1-1

If the average person had to guess how Toyota's sales have been over the past year, I'd imagine he'd guess that they've been rock bottom. Toyota's public persona has been one of an embattled automaker struggling desperately with dire safety problems and government investigations.

In reality, however, things haven't been that bad for Toyota. In fact, according to the company's numbers, U.S. sales for the first half of this year actually increased by about 10 percent year-over-year from 2009. And after its fiscal year ended in March, Toyota reported a $2.25 billion profit. Not only does that figure make the $16.4 million fine imposed by the NHTSA over recall delays look paltry, it represents a significant leap forward from the previous year when Toyota actually lost money.

Sales incentives, both from programs like Cash for Clunkers and from Toyota itself, played a major role in keeping U.S. sales strong despite ongoing image problems. Now the automaker faces a new set of hurdles in Japan, where the impending end of government incentives is expected to cause a major sales decrease in auto sales. Toyota and the greater Japanese auto industry are bracing for the hard times to come.

EPA Introduces Two New Fuel Efficiency Labels For Public Comment

On: Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 9:53AM | By: Chris Weiss

EPA Introduces Two New Fuel Efficiency Labels For Public Comment test 1-1

The Environmental Protection Agency together with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have proposed two new designs for fuel economy labels. The labels are required to appear on the windows of all new cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. and provide comprehensive information about a given vehicle's fuel economy and emissions and how they compare with the greater market. The designs have been introduced for public comment.

Under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, the EPA and NHTSA are charged with redesigning the fuel efficiency label that is required for new cars and light trucks. The current label includes information about miles per gallon, average annual fuel cost and comparative market fuel economy. 

The more radical of the two redesigns takes the emphasis off of numerical comparisons and uses a more distinguishable letter grade system. It shows a large letter grade at the top of the sticker, outlined in yellow. According to the Detroit News, the system ranges from A+ to D with the industry median at B-.

Electric vehicles would be in the A+ category; plug-in hybrids in the A category and other hybrids in the A- category. On the other end of the spectrum, most SUVs and all vans would be at a C+ or lower. An A+ would constitute 59 mpg or more and a D would constitute under 14 mpg. That label design also includes a figure on average fuel cost savings over five years versus an average vehicle.

The "Bio-Bug" Methane Powered Volkswagen

On: Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 2:03PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The "Bio-Bug" Methane Powered Volkswagen test 1-1

Popular Science magazine is making an analogy between a new concept car in the UK and cars that run like “crap.” Yes, the high tech writers have stooped to an all-time low in using bathroom slang as adjectives, but how else should a car that runs on sewage be described? It seems that a Volkswagen Beetle has been transformed by Wessex Water (a sewage utility near Bristol UK) to operate on human waste byproducts. If all goes well, the Water Company plans to build a slew of what they call “Bio-Bugs.”

The methane gas produced by the sewage treatment plan has been utilized to power the facility for some time, but after noticing that there was an excess of methane left, the facility decided to design a green vehicle so that the methane was put to good use. According to the press release; human waste from the toilets of 70 homes can power the “Bio-Bug” for an entire year, provided the car is driven an average of around 10,000 miles. Wessex Water describes in its press release that compressed natural gas is used quite extensively in other countries, such as China and India.