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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Hybrid / Green

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.

The Prius Plug-In Hybrid is Delivered for Testing in Canada

On: Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 1:52PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

The Prius Plug-In Hybrid is Delivered for Testing in Canada  test 1-1

Toyota Canada has delivered a Prius Plug-In Hybrid (Pruis PHV) to its testing partners (the Province of Ontario Ministry of Energy and Transportation) in Ontario today in a ceremony dedicated to honoring the new hybrid electric plug-in concept car.

Many prestigious Canadians showed up to observe the ceremony, including the Deputy Mayor of the City of Toronto, and Toyota Canada’s President Yoichi, to name a few.

According to a spokesperson for the Minister of Energy: "The McGuinty government is pleased to be a partner in this pilot project, which will help provide us with data needed to build province-wide charging infrastructure for electric vehicles—a core element of our Smart Grid vision." Brad Duguid also stated; "The Smart Grid will not only play an important role in achieving our goal of having one electric car for every 20 vehicles on the road by 2020, it will also make it easier to bring smaller renewable energy projects on-line under our Green Energy Act."

Toyota says that the Prius PHV, with its upgraded hybrid synergy drive system powered by lithium-ion batteries, is projected to reach speeds of up to 62 mph on electricity alone. It has the ability to sustain 62 mph on electric-only power for up to 12.5 miles. Additionally, the vehicle will be able to accelerate up 62 mph from a standing start without using its gasoline engine, though Toyota makes no mention of how long it will take to reach 62 mph in full EV mode.

Toyota To Offer Optional Noise Maker On Prius

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 2:31PM | By: Chris Weiss

Toyota To Offer Optional Noise Maker On Prius  test 1-1

There has long been a public push for some sort of noise-making system on hybrids that will warn outsiders of the cars' presence, and an NHTSA study last fall that found that hybrids run into more pedestrians and cyclists than gas vehicles only intensified that push. The National Federation of the Blind has been a strong voice in the push for noise-making technology, and has worked with GM toward pedestrian warning systems for the upcoming Chevy Volt. The two major auto industry groups: the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturer have also called for legislation that would require manufacturers to outfit hybrids and electric vehicles with some for of audible warning system.

Well, Toyota has answered the bell and announced that it will be offering a noisemaker for Prius models beginning at the end of this month. The system will initially be available only in Japan, and arises out of work with the country's Committee for the Consideration of Countermeasures Regarding Quiet Hybrid and Other Vehicles.

Toyota described the new system in a release: "“The onboard device automatically emits a synthesized sound of an electric motor when the Prius is operating as an electric vehicle at speeds up to approximately 25 km/h. The sound — aimed to alert but not annoy — rises and falls in pitch relative to the vehicle’s speed, thus helping indicate the vehicle’s proximity and movement.”

Peugeot to Debut First Diesel-Electric Hybrid In Paris

On: Thu, Aug 26, 2010 at 9:02AM | By: Chris Weiss

Peugeot to Debut First Diesel-Electric Hybrid In Paris  test 1-1

Given the growing push by government regulators and automotive manufacturers toward cleaner, greener vehicles it's surprising that we had to wait this long to see a diesel-electric hybrid. Peugeot plans to debut the 3008 Hybrid4 at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. The crossover hatchback features a diesel-electric powertrain that offers up to 62 mpg. The new car will launch in Europe next spring after its debut in October.

The 3008 Hybrid4 is based on Peugeot's 3008 hatchback. It is fitted with a 163-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine and a rear-mounted 37-hp electric motor. That combination provides a total output of 200 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Shifting for the diesel engine is provided by an electronically-controlled automated manual transmission. The electric motor is powered by a high-voltage nickel metal hydride battery pack. An 8 kW starter-generator on the engine provides start/stop capabilities and can deliver charging to the battery pack. The electric motor can charge the battery through regenerative braking.


Finland Proposes World's First

On: Tue, Aug 24, 2010 at 9:29AM | By: Chris Weiss

Finland Proposes World's First  test 1-1

The Loviisa municipality in Finland is leading a project to build what it calls the world's first ecological highway. The highway, which would be built on an 81-mile stretch of road connecting the coastal town of Turku with the town of Vaalima, would feature electric charging stations as well as pumps stocked with locally-sourced biofuels in an attempt to become carbon neutral. The project is aimed at providing a model for the rest of the world. 

Loviisa is located near the beginning of the proposed green highway and has taken the lead on the project. Currently, the project is a potpourri of green brainstorming with ideas ranging from pumps offering biofuels and electricity made from local waste products to geothermal heat pumps to "smart" lighting that automatically turns on and off based on weather and traffic patterns. The town is working on a study to see if the green highway will be feasible and expects to publish a report by next spring.

Production could begin as early as the second half of next year and hopes are that the highway is done by 2016. The cost is projected at around 700 euros ($900 million), a sum that would include both public and corporate financing.

A representative from Loviisa, Aki Marjasvaara, was quoted by AFP in explaining the project's significance: "The aim is to create the model for an ecological highway that could be used even on an international level. No other such project exists. This would set an example to the world."

Kia's Conceptual, Four-Wheeled Bubble Coming to Paris

On: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 9:43AM | By: Chris Weiss

Kia's Conceptual, Four-Wheeled Bubble Coming to Paris test 1-1

Kia previewed a new mini urban commuter concept this week that it calls Pop. A fitting name since the car resembles a four-wheeled version of the Pop-O-Matic bubble that every kid and former kid will recognize from the game of Trouble. Look at it from the top and it's hard not to want to give it a lil' pop. The new zero-emissions concept will make its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in late September.

In the purple and silver preview pictures, we can see an odd, otherworldly contraption that sports a rounded, futuristic look. The concept features a bulbous windshield that extends into a glass roof panel and capsule-shaped side windows that look more space age than automotive. The lines on the side and low door handles indicate that the doors open upwards--something that would continue the theme of the concept's spacy look. Up front, the Pop has a rather insect-like appearance with its extended fenders taking on the look of antennae or pincers and its multi-light headlamps giving it fly-like eye balls.

Cars Run on Glenkinchie Scotch Whiskey

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 1:27PM | By: Chris Weiss

Cars Run on Glenkinchie Scotch Whiskey  test 1-1

Researchers at the Edinburg Napier University are determined to offer a new green fuel option: booze. Or more specifically: booze byproducts. From one of the only places in the world that has a liquor named after it comes a new form of butanol that is significantly more efficient than ethanol and could become the next great alternative fuel.

The University's Biofuel Research Center is in the process of pushing the new product called biobutanol. The fuel was created from the byproducts of whiskey distillation including pot ale and draff, which were supplied by Diageo's Glenkinchie Distillery. The two-year research project culminated in the production of a biofuel that claims to offer 30 percent more output power than ethanol, while using nothing more than a waste product. This extra output means that cars could be fueled directly with biobutanol rather than requiring mixing with petrol gas the way that ethanol does.

Ethanol, a fuel that is found at pumps in the United States, is a clean-burning grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn. As such, it helps to reduce dependency on foreign oil and provide a cleaner form of fuel for the environment. However, ethanol is not used as a dedicated fuel, and must be blended with petroleum-based gasoline for use. According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, about 70 percent of the gasoline used in the United States contains some ethanol, but the majority of that only uses a 10-percent blend known as E10. Blends that include more ethanol such as E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent unleaded gasoline) are only used in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

China Develops a 2-Lane Straddling Bus

On: Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 9:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chinese Bus-o-Tron Attempts to Devour Hapless American Pig-Dog test 2

Many metropolitan areas have problems with traffic jams causing delays and increasing the level of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Adding subways can be very expensive and the more buses a metro area has, the worse traffic conditions become.   

The answer, according to innovative Chinese technology, is a 3-D Fast Bus (that looks more like a gigantic double tram than a bus) that is able to transport passengers throughout the city by carrying commuters above the street level, straddling the traffic lanes underneath the bus with an open design like a tunnel allowing cars to literally drive through the bus.

The Chinese company, named Shenzhen Hashi Co., developed the idea for the massive Fast Bus that provides commuters with a ride on a fixed route. The bus is powered by the city’s municipal power grid coupled with solar energy that originates from the roof top of the bus. 

The Fast Bus has a top speed of just a little below 40 mph, so it would be inappropriate for long trips, but was intended for metropolitan transit purposes, targeted at large highly populated cities such as those that are common in China. The Fast Bus system can transport 1,200 passengers and is ideal for inner city commuting.

Hyundai Looks to Lead the Way in Efficiency

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 11:43AM | By: Chris Weiss

2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid test 2

Hyundai announced intentions of averaging 50 mpg across its entire line by 2025, pushing to continue its leading role in fuel efficiency. Hyundai's plan, which was announced earlier this week, pushes ahead of U.S. government requirements that dictate an average of 35.5 mpg by 2016. Prior to the NHTSA requirements of 35.5 mpg by 2016, Hyundai had announced intentions of reaching 35 mpg by 2015. Hyundai is clearly embracing the future of efficient technology and looking to maintain an industry lead that it's enjoyed since 2008.

Tesla Posts Second Quarter Loss

On: Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 11:32AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5 test 2

In its first earnings report since its initial public offering in June, Tesla Motors Inc. reported a second quarter loss of $38.5 million, or $5.04 a share, up from about $10.8 million or $1.56 per share in the same quarter last year.

According to Musk the number one goal for Tesla this year is to build a prototype of the S Model Sedan that is very close (80-90%) to the final production model.The initial public offering was in fact, one of the few lucrative IPO’s in 2010.  Tesla actually raised approximately $226 million when it offered 13.3 shares for sale to the public.  Historically, this was the very first United States automobile companies to go public since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Palo Alto-based Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA.O) reports second quarter revenue of $28.4 million, up from $26.9 million in the same quarter last year.

Nissan Offers the Same 8-Year, 100,000-Mile Battery Warranty As GM

On: Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:35AM | By: Chris Weiss

Nissan Offers the Same 8-Year, 100,000-Mile Battery Warranty As GM test 1-1

Last week, GM announced that it would offer an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion batteries that power its upcoming Chevy Volt range-extending electric vehicle. Not to be outdone, Nissan this week matched GM's industry-leading battery warranty on the lithium-ion batteries in its upcoming Leaf electric vehicle. The two vehicles are set to compete for their share of the mainstream electric vehicle market beginning later this year.

Also announced this week, the Chevy Volt will cost over $7,000 more than the Nissan Leaf when it hits the market in November. The Volt will carry a base price of $41,000 while the Leaf bases at $32,780. Volt and Leaf buyers will be eligible for federal tax credits, cutting costs by as much as $7,500.

While the Volt will cost more, Chevy plans to offer a leasing option that is nearly identical to the Leaf's $349/month option. Chevy's lease agreement will cost $350/month over 36 months. Chevy will require $2,500 down, while the Nissan Leaf's 36-month lease requires $1,995.