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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Hybrid / Green

Feds to Green Automakers: Your Cars Are Too Quiet!

On: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 3:10PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Quiet Cars test 2

It seems that the world of autos and cars has been changed forever with the advent of hybrid cars, ‘green’ cars, solar cars, and electric cars alike. Now these cars finally are falling to normal price levels, comparable to not-so-‘green’ cars. 'Green' vehicles are finally being manufactured by tons of automakers, and this market is ever so quickly expanding. As the world makes more demands on automakers to rise to the challenges of combating global warming, there is yet another hurdle that is being presented to green vehicles by the US government (and others): Apparently, they are too quiet!

Before I delve into this, let us first recognize one thing: the Feds, and most countries, have forever and a day, to be exact, vied for cleaner and more fuel-efficient and less emission-producing cars. But now, these cars drive so quietly and smoothly that governments are actually considering passing what they will call the Auto Safety Bill. This bill, in essence, would require the makers of such green cars to provide some sort of alert noise whenever, say, a pedestrian is nearby—so that they are safer on the roads.

But this is not a bad thing. No way. For sure, a smooth and quiet ride is very desirable to most consumers and has forever been a mainstay in the marketing of many different cars. However, did we really think that we would ever see the day when technology has them running so quietly that there are now bills being enacted into law to regulate that lack of noise? The last time I checked, they were passing bills for quite the opposite reasons—mostly by city and region—laws that would limit how loud a motorcycle could be, for example. In the area of auto safety, however, something is often overlooked: the street-side pedestrian. So this new bill is actually a good thing, if you ask me.

Ohio to Get New Plant for Manufacturing Electric Car Batteries for Coda Automotive

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:46PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

lithium-ion battery test 2

There is some good news for all of you hybrid-loving and ‘green’-going folks out there who have always thought that a really good electric car could be made in the US and not be as plagued with issues as some electric cars are. Coda Automotive, which is a newer electric car company based in California, has announced they will team up with some of the Chinese suppliers they use to make their revolutionary new Coda sedan, slated for a 2011 release. They are using a newer form of automotive-grade lithium-ion batteries that are supposed to offer a similar mile-per-gallon/mile-per-charge ratio as gas-powered cars do. Looking at their website (http://www.codaautomotive.com), the company states the car will get about 90-120 miles per charge, with a six-hour charging period required.

According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal, “Coda, which announced the move Tuesday, will final-assemble the electric car at a facility in the greater Los Angeles area with component modules produced in China. It will initially make the car available only in California, where it is targeting sales of 14,000 electric sedans by the end of 2011.”

But the fledgling automaker has been searching for a place to hunker down and really make these lithium-ion batteries in a more permanent setting in the US. This is because they are so costly to import from overseas. The same article sheds more light on why Coda is looking for a US-based lithium-ion batteries manufacturing plant.

New Power Stations For Nissan Leaf

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 2:38PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Power Stations For Nissan Leaf test 1-1

As the Nissan Leaf gets closer to delivery date, final orders are in at a whopping 17,000 consumers who want to purchase the all-electric car this year—that includes Japanese and American buyers. As it stands today, Nissan has the capacity to deliver only about 12,000 Leafs by March of 2011, but with all of the those new electric plug-ins on the road—and many more to come—how will motorists power up?

EV-Charge America is currently installing Smart EV Charging Stations across the country. The electric vehicle charging stations are being located in public and private parking areas, municipalities, governments, city streets, and Interstates. In San Diego alone, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced that it will work with Electric Transportation Engineering Corp. to build 1,500 public charging stations and 1000  home-based points, in preparation for the 2011 Nissan Leaf all-electric car. The stations are targeted to be complete by July of 2010. 

Coda's 2011 Electric Sedan Is Looking Pretty Good

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Coda 2011 Electric Sedan test 2

This startup, fledgling automaker based in Los Angeles, California is getting some pretty decent attention in the news as of late. I have been seeing articles and reports from all over about this new electric car line that promises one of the most advanced electric batteries to ever be used in any electric car. This is because the car uses a Chinese-made Lithium-ion (LiFePO4) battery that is configured with 728 cells (104s7p), and that, according to the specs on their website (http://www.codaautomotive.com/tech_specs.html), gets around, “6 hours from 220V (30AMP)” driving time. The battery can easily be charged overnight, in about 5-7 hours.

The car is an impressive and roomy four-door sedan that is both sugary-looking and aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. And it’s pretty safe too. According to the safety specs on the car, which can be easily found at their website in the ‘Tech Specs’ section, the car is equipped with, “Intelligent 6 air bag system (two advanced frontal, two seat-mounted side, and 2 side curtain airbags), Occupant Detection.”  But they also offer the always desirable Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS), and Electronic Stability Control, as well as three point seatbelts. The overall federal safety rating, according to their website, will be an, “Anticipated 5-Star NCAP (New Car Assessment Program).”


Tesla, Toyota's Fremont Revival of the NUMMI Auto Plant Has Residents Estatic

On: Mon, May 24, 2010 at 11:43AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

New United Motor Manufacturing Inc test 2

The city of Fremont, California is buzzing with giddiness. This is for a very good reason. After taking a huge economic blow during the housing market collapse (which greatly affected the state), as well as the combined decline and near fallout of the auto market, the city is starting to rebound. This is because Toyota—who co-owned with GM the NUMMI auto plant in Fremont, which employed around 5,000 autoworkers, but was closed down early in 2010 by both entities due to declining auto sales—has announced that they plan to reopen the plant in the near future to start producing a new line of electric cars to be branded by Tesla.

This could not come at a better time for the residents, the businesses, and the entire town of Fremont. Bringing back thousands of high-paying jobs to the area could really revive this once prosperous but now struggling town. And the Mayor of Fremont could not be any happier about this prospect.

In an interview with Mercury News, Bob Wasserman, the mayor of Freemont, expresses his gratitude and explains why he is thrilled about the NUMMI plant being reopened. “In a great big hurry, our fortunes have changed. We're thrilled to see something good happening with that property. It'll employ a lot of the folks who just lost their jobs, but it'll also be a catalyst to bring.”

2011 Chevy Volt Could be Big Jolt for GM

On: Mon, May 24, 2010 at 10:28AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

2011 Chevy Volt test 2

The latest innovation from GM, as they try to break into the growing world of electric cars, is their newest vehicle: the 2011 Chevy Volt electric car. When it becomes available in November, this vehicle will actually have much to offer to the world of eco-friendly and earth-conscious car drivers the world afar, and for many good reasons too. For one, the car uses a different, newer and very intuitive type of design in the way that their engine actually runs. The electric battery that is housed in the car offers up to 40 miles on a single charge, and according to Chevy (on their website),— it can be easily recharged overnight. If you are running around town and you find that your electrical charge is about to expire, Chevy has that base covered as well.

According to their website, “Volt uses a range-extending gas generator that produces enough energy to power it for hundreds of miles on a single tank of gas.” The Volt's expected total range on one tank of gas is more than 300 miles, according to GM.

Toyota Buys Into Tesla Motors

On: Sun, May 23, 2010 at 10:10AM | By: John Welch

Toyota Buys Into Tesla Motors test 1-1

Akio Toyoda is determined to erase Toyota's staid, Big Brotherish reputation. First mandating more passion be injected into Toyota's marginally boring line-up, now he is doing his best to instill a entrepreneurial spirit into Toyota's corporate philosophy. By dropping $50 million into Tesla Motors, Toyoda has found a use for the dormant NUMMI plant, as well as provided his company with some much needed positive motivation.

“I’ve felt an infinite possibility about Tesla’s technology,” said Toyoda, chief executive officer of Toyota, founded by his grandfather. “By partnering with Tesla, my hope is that all Toyota employees will recall that ‘venture business’ spirit.”

For Tesla, this is the second $50 million investment received in as many years. Diamler bought into Tesla in 2009, though they have reduced their stake since. The Toyota-Tesla partnership doesn’t impede Daimler’s cooperation with the California automaker, said Brigitte Bertram, a Daimler spokeswoman. Tesla is supplying Diamler with battery packs for a test fleet of electric Smart minicars.

The most important news here is the revival of the NUMMI plant in California, a joint venture between Toyota and GM for nearly 25 years. NUMMI produced the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe twins most recently, but fell on hard times after 2008. The death of Pontiac and Toyota's moving Matrix production to Japan left NUMMI with little to do. First GM, then Toyota pulled out of the plant, leaving all of its 4,700 employees looking for work.

Though not rehiring that much man power right away, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has a comprehensive plan for providing as many jobs as possible. Tesla has hired back about 90 former NUMMI workers and expects to add about 50 a month, Musk said. The plant’s restart “is welcome news for the state’s economy and workers after the closing of this highly productive plant,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement.

Toyota plans to use Tesla's technology to produce short-range plug-in Hybrids, similar to the Chevrolet Volt. The first plug-in Prius should turn a wheel in the fall of 2012.

Automakers Agree with Minimum Standards for Electric Vehicle Noise

On: Thu, May 20, 2010 at 3:47PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Automakers Agree with Minimum Standards for Electric Vehicle Noise test 1-1

In recent car news, The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers met with the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council for the Blind which resulted in an agreement that electric vehicles should be mandated to a minimum noise standard for safety of pedestrians with visual impairment.

New vehicle sales is projected to be just over 11 million this year, and, although a recent McKinsey report predicts that electric vehicles will capture only a small percentage of total vehicle sales in the future (as little as 3–8%), the all-electric motors are virtually silent. Safety issues concerning the risk of blind pedestrians getting hit by electric vehicles has been a topic of concern within advocate groups for the blind for many years. A recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2009 concluded that electric vehicles are prone to be at higher risk for accidents involving pedestrians than vehicles with regular engine noise, such as combustion engine automobiles.

Officially Official: Fiesta Tops 40 MPG Highway!

On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 2:56PM | By: John Welch

Officially Official: Fiesta Tops 40 MPG Highway! test 1-1

In the Mighty "Kei-Car MPG Wars" of the late Aught-Aughts, one car will go down as the fuel-sippinest, non-hybrid efficiency Overlord. Honda Fit maybe? Toyota Yaris? The Volkswagen TDi's or the Hyundai Accent (BARF) perhaps? Could it possibly be a newcomer, a stranger to Americans, a high plains drifter? A virtual "Car without a name"!? A transportation appliance that will get us to work and back on a thimbles-worth of gasoline? Could it be that I watched one too many spaghetti westerns this weekend?

No, no, nope, no. Yes, Ford Fiesta, yes, aaaand . . . yes.

The hard numbers inside yonder post . . .

First Solar Cars to be Road Tested in Japan

On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 12:38PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Mazda Demio test 2

It seems that the day and age of the next generation of truly hybrid vehicles is finally upon us. For eons—or so it feels like it—there has been much banter over electric cars and hybrid cars (which are still powered by gas, but use advanced fuel cells to charge up as the car drives, allowing them to effectively use less gas by alternating between the built-up electrical charge from driving, and then switching back to the gas source once that power has been all used up). Namely, the big oil companies really would not be all that happy to see their business drop, and in massive numbers, if say, the world were to suddenly stop using gas-powered cars.

Does the 2011 Porsche Cayenne SUV Stack Up for the Price?

On: Mon, May 17, 2010 at 11:34AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

2011 Porsche Cayenne SUV test 2

The 2011 Porsche Cayenne SUV is supposed to—according to some rumors circulating around the web, and according to bits that have been pitter-pattered online—offer a more refined exterior, a sleek and leaner interior, and, of course, that oh, so desirable, Audi supercharged 3.0-liter V-6. Last year’s model had the six-cylinder VW Group engine, but not this time around. With a bit of a lighter chass—is, according to rumors, and less weight overall, combined with a faster, more fuel-efficient and powerful engine, the Porsche Cayenne SUV is one robust off road vehicle.