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October 2008 Archives

Ford Makes Green More Fun with New Hybrids


The release of the new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid and Mercury Milan Hybrid.is still months away, but Ford Motor Company has given us a sneak peak at their newest gadget; the SmartGauge with EcoGuide.


Ford found that the key concern with hybrid owners was that they are maximizing the efficiency of their car, so Ford has added a series of programs to let the driver know when he or she is doing a good job conserving fuel.  The system consists of a set of LCD screens flanking the analog speedometer on both sides, and there are four different modes that display not only the normal gauge cluster readouts (fuel level, engine temperature, etc), but also a variety of information about the vehicles electrical drive system.  Also, as the car is driven, the driver is rewarded by seeing leaves and vines grow, and the more efficiently the driver controls the vehicle, the more leaves and vines grow.  For those less interested in the theatrics, there is also a typical graph readout to let you know how youre doing. 

BMW to Offer Green Rival to the Audi R8

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BMW debuted their M1 Hommage Concept at the Concorso d'Eleganza at Villa d'Este earlier this year to celebrate the 13th birthday of the legendry M1.  This sleek mid-engine sports car had obvious styling cues from the original M1, with a modern touch of flare.Rumors have surfaced that BMW is now working on a production model based on the M1 Hommage, and the most exciting portion of those rumors are around the drivetrain. 

Rolls Royce CEO Calls for Electric Phantom

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After recently taking a new electric powered Mini for a drive, new CEO Tom Purves decided that the company that some may consider the grandfather of super high end luxury cars should offer a green solution.  While someone who can afford the nearly half million dollar model likely doesn't worry about dealing with the prices at the pump, concerns about the availability of gasoline, along with government restrictions of vehicle usage in major cities has Purves concerned.  He feels the considering the amount of Phantom owners who live in major cities around the world, that it would be important to offer a completely electric powered package.

Chrysler Makes Big SUVs Greener.


General Motors was the first to hit the streets with a full size sport utility hybrid, but Chrysler countered with their Aspen and the Dodge Durango.  Initially, there was no clear leader in the class, but with the 2009 models, Chrysler has pulled ahead in the segment, thanks for the fact that the two-mode hybrid system coupled with the 5.7L Hemi engine makes a whopping 400 horsepower and 380lb-ft of torque.  This makes the Durango and Aspen the most powerful full-size SUVs, and with their new EPA hybrid mileage ratings of 20 in the city and 22 on the highway, the Chryslers Utes are the most efficient AND the most powerful.


The BMW Group will be the world's first manufacturer of premium automobiles to deploy a fleet of some 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic. The MINI E will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery, transferring its power to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox nearly without a sound and entirely free of emissions. Specially engineered for automobile use, the battery technology will have a range of more than 240 kilometers, or 150 miles. The MINI E will initially be made available to select private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in the US states of California, New York and New Jersey. The possibility of offering the MINI E in Europe as well is currently being considered. The MINI E will give its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19 and 20, 2008.


The MINI E's electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Newton meters, delivering seamless acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 152 km/h (95 mph). Featuring a suspension system tuned to match its weight distribution, the MINI E sports the brand's hallmark agility and outstanding handling.

Plug-In Convention Draws 650 in San Jose

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The soaring price of gasoline and diesel fuel have many consumers demanding an alternative, and while E85 offers a slight break in cost and current hybrids offer a more economical take on things, the automotive community is still want more...or rather less fuel consumption.  The leading source of interest from the electric powered vehicles is the idea of a vehicle that you can simply plug-in when not in use, and while nothing of this sort is available in the American market, General Motors plans to launch its Volt plug-in for the 2010 model year, and they have also commented on the production of the Saturn Vue with plug-in capabilities. 

BMW joins the Hybrid party.


When Lexus debuted their LS600h, we all knew that it was only a matter of time before the "big German luxury companies", namely Mercedes Benz and BMW, would show their hand.  BMW decided that the Paris Motor Show would be the prime location to debut their offering, and they did so in the form of the BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid.  Many expected BMW to use a similar setup to that found in General Motors' hybrid SUVs, but they have gone with a far less fuel efficient, yet far more powerful option.

Obama Wants More Hybrids


Barrack Obama released his plan for addressing energy issues on August 4, 2008, and this presidential hopeful looks to make an impact on the automotive industry should he be elected.  Part of his plan is to push for Americans to purchase American-built hybrid vehicles that are capable of "up to 150mpg", and by 2015 he hopes to see 1 million of these vehicles on the road and available to the public.


There has been a tremendous amount of press in the Kentucky area lately as provisions have been made to entice the makers of the Zap Xebra to move their production location from China to Kentucky.  ZAP, a California based electric automobile manufacturer originally struck a deal with the Youngman Automotive Group to produce their new Xebra in China, but a partnership with Integrity Manufacturing could land the new Zap plant in Kentucky.

Loud Pipes Save Lives...?

That has been the credo of lovers of loud exhaust since the car was invented, but with the recently growing trend of gas-electric hybrids, a very real concern has surfaced.  With a car that makes virtually no sound while driving in electric mode, there is a possible safety issue to blind pedestrians who cannot see the car coming, but also from the point of joggers with headphones or bicyclists who may not hear the near-silent car coming.

Fisker to Add Three New Models


Almost centered on the floor, and located near the European exotics, Fisker Automotive released its Karma sedan to the 2008 North American International Auto Show crowd.  This super-sleek and sporty 4-door has a distinctly European luxury look, but with a design that gives it the shape of a sports coupe.  The most exciting portion of the Fisker Karma was the drivetrain, as it uses a high tech lithium-ion battery pack with full plug-in-hybrid capacities for their "Q Drive" powertrain.  Offering maximum torque from a stop, with a 0-60 time of under 6 seconds and a top speed of around 125 miles per hour, this super efficient sports sedan could make a great deal of noise in the high end hybrid market.

Better Economy for the Prius?


The Toyota Prius currently stands relatively unchallenged as the most popular gas-electric hybrid car sold in the US, but new entrants into the hybrid market have sent Toyota back to the drawing board, and what they've come up with will add another "first" to the Prius' accolades.  As early as 2009, consumers can expect the roofline of their premium Prius to be lined with solar panels, a source of energy which has not been used on any production vehicle.

Sunmotor takes "innovative" approach to design


The SMART fortwo has gradually made its way into the American market and into economy-minded Americans hearts, and in light of that success, other start-up companies have popped up to try to enter the growing Electronic Vehicle market.  One such company, is Boston-based Sunmotor, and they have announced that they will debut their first vehicle by the end of the 2008 calendar year.

Can your sidewalk clean the air?


It might be able to if researchers at the Dutch University of Twente can prove that their new paving stones do what they claim.  These stones, made from a variety of non-harmful chemicals, take the nitrogen oxides given off by vehicles as a byproduct of the combustion process (which are linked to acid rain and smog), and convert them into completely non-harmful nitrates.

Infiniti G35 Hybrid


Nissan Motors recently revealed plans to produce a completely electric powered vehicle, and along with it, the plans to introduce a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) option for their popular G35 Sedan.


The unnamed Electronic Vehicle, which many assumed would be based on the Japanese market "Cube", has been announced as not being based on any current Nissan vehicle, so this front wheel drive, electric-only vehicle will be all new, and fitted with plenty of Nissan technology.

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt

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Since the Volt concept debuted, there has been much speculation as to what, if anything, we would see from Chevrolet with the Volt as far as a production model.  At first, many were skeptical that the unique vehicle would ever see the showroom, but with rising fuel prices and a now-booming market based around alternative powered vehicles, the electric Volt isn't that unusual.  However, the sharp, sporty angles of the Volt Concept had many people excited, as the current super-efficient hybrid models like the Toyota Prius obviously paid for more attention to economy than to style.

Here is another official glimpse of the new Prius straight from the Prius Team

Discussion Thread Here
Here is another official glimpse of the new Prius straight from the Prius Team

The X6 ActiveHybrid Sports Activity Coupe

In addition to the world debut of its all-new X6 Sports Activity Coupe at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, BMW will also present the North American debut of an innovative hybrid concept like no other in the world - the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid. The vehicle is the world's first Sports Activity Coupe to feature a unique design of hybrid drive like never seen before, combining the Ultimate Driving Machine with significant enhancement of all-round efficiency.

Through its drive concept alone, the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid allows far greater driving dynamics than a conventional hybrid car and at the same time reduces fuel consumption by up to 20 percent versus a comparable car running on a combustion engine alone.

Worldwide Prius Sales Top 1 Million Mark

prius-ad.jpgToyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announced today that worldwide cumulative sales of the Toyota Prius--the world's first mass-produced gasoline/electric hybrid vehicle - have passed the 1 million mark, with approximately 1,028,000 units sold as of the end of April this year*1. Currently, Prius sales are robust in more than 40 countries and regions, particularly in Japan and North America.

Based on sales figures collected up to April 30, 2008, TMC believes that Prius vehicles worldwide have contributed to a reduction in CO2 emissions (considered a cause of global warming) by producing approximately 4.5 million tons*2 less CO2 when compared with gasoline-powered vehicles in the same class and of similar size and driving performance.

The Prius was launched in Japan in 1997 and began selling in Europe, North America and other markets in 2000. In 2005, Toyota began first overseas production of the Prius in Changchun, China, and sales of Prius vehicles in South Korea are expected to begin in the latter half of 2009.In 2003, the second-generation Prius, equipped with the Toyota Hybrid System II, was introduced with improved environmental performance and power. In August 2007, Prius G, S and S "Standard Package" Japan models achieved a fuel efficiency of 29.6km/l in the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport's newly introduced JC08 test cycle. (The Prius S and S "Standard Package" models achieved 35.5km/l in the older 10-15 test cycle.) The Prius is also one of the first vehicles to meet the new 2015 Japanese fuel efficiency standards set out under the Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy.


Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), today announced the RechargeIT initiative (http://www.rechargeit.org) that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil dependence by accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles ("plug-ins"). As part of this initiative, Google.org awarded $1 million in grants and announced plans for a $10 million request for proposals (RFP) to fund development, adoption and commercialization of plug-ins, fully electric cars and related vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.

In addition, Google Inc. announced that it has switched on the solar panel installation at its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters, which will help the company reduce its environmental footprint and power its plug-ins with clean solar electricity. At 1.6 megawatts - and with an electricity output capable of powering approximately 1,000 average California homes - the Google project is the largest solar installation to date on any corporate campus in the United States and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

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