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March 2011 Archives

One-Third Of 2011 Ford F-150 Pickups Sold With EcoBoost V-6

This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

MPGs matter, it turns out, even to pickup buyers. Or, perhaps especially to pickup truck buyers.

Just four months after Ford launched a version of its top-selling 2011 F-150 pickup truck, the company reports that fully 35 percent of that model's sales are fitted with the more fuel-efficient 3.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine.

2011 Ford F-150 EcoBoost

"The No. 1 unmet need for full-size pickup truck owners has been fuel economy," said Doug Scott, marketing manager for the Ford Truck Group. He said the 2011 Ford F-150 now has "best-in-class fuel economy, best-in-class capability and power, and more powertrain choices."

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In: Driven

When the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid goes on sale about this time next year, it will be the first mass-production vehicle from Toyota that plugs in. Yet, despite that, the Plug-In feels more like a value-added version of the Prius than a model that will be itself iconic or radically new.

It's value-added, because owners will have some of the benefits of an electric vehicle, without the worry that they won't make it back on a charge. After a relatively short three-hour charge on standard 110V household power, you can drive approximately 12 to 15 miles without the gasoline engine contributing to propulsion. After that, it's just a standard Prius and gets about the same mileage as the standard-issue model (which has an EPA-rated 51 mpg city, 48 highway).

High Gas Prices May Soon Turn Your Lovely Suburb Into A Slum

Americans rarely think much about zoning, but it governs almost every facet of how we live our lives.

And unintended consequences of 50-year-old zoning codes may be about to turn some of our loveliest and quietest suburbs into the next slums.

Why? Simply because they've been built too far away from everything else, and we won't be able to afford the gasoline it takes to go to and fro.

Suburbs: slums of the future?

At least, that's the provocative conclusion of Peter Newman, one of the authors of a study released by the Planning Institute of Australia late last year.

The study looks at the future of suburban Australia, which has evolved in patterns very much like suburban America: sprawling, low-density, auto-dependent residential enclaves miles away from commercial areas and office parks.

"Urban sprawl is finished," Newman told The Age. "If we continue to roll out new land releases and suburbs that are car-dependent, they will become the slums of the future.''

Homes vs stores vs offices & factories

Following World War II, with the rise of affordable automobiles, cheap fuel, and an increasingly affluent society, the brand-new suburban house on its own half- or full-acre plot was the American dream.

The controversial D909 in the suburbs of Paris

Zoning codes adopted in the U.S. isolated residences from any commercial and industrial activities, often in curving cul-de-sacs sans sidewalks. Many developments could be entered only from a single point off high-speed arterial roads.

Selling A Used Car? Put A Gas-Mileage Sticker In The Window!

For every new vehicle that gets sold in the United States, four used cars change hands.

Those new cars have nice, big window stickers showing their EPA-rated gas mileage figures.

Used cars? All you get is the seller mumbling something like, "Oh, yeah, it always gets, ummmmm, at least 25 miles a gallon."

Until now.

You'll Pay $700 More For Gasoline This Year (If You're Average)

This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

According to the Department of Energy, the average U.S. household will pay $700 more for gasoline this year than it did in 2010.

In a weekly review of the oil market, the department's Energy Information Administration noted that prices will rise at least 10 cents more over the current national average of $3.50 a gallon, due to the lag in wholesale price rises reaching the pump.

It also projected that peak gas prices, which historically occur over the summer, will reach $3.71 a gallon. That's a full dollar higher than the average price at the same time last year.

And the DoE says the chance that gas prices will soar above $4 a gallon this year is higher (25 percent) than the likelihood they'll fall below $3 (10 percent).

2011 Toyota Prius

The current price rise is driven by uncertainty over the impact of political unrest in several oil-producing countries, most notably Libya.

Electric-Car Wars: Chevy Volt Still Outselling Nissan Leaf

This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

Battle of the Titans it ain't.

But for the third month in a row, Chevrolet sold more Volt range-extended electric cars than Nissan delivered Leaf plug-ins.

During February, Nissan delivered 67 Leaf battery electric hatchbacks, bringing its two-month total to 154.

Nissan LEAFs arrive in the U.K.

Adding in the 19 delivered in December since the first one went to Olivier Chaloub, there are now 174 Nissan Leafs quietly humming around the States.

With Green Cars, A License To Drive More?

Audi A4 fueled by biogasThis story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

Sweden has, for several years, led the world in per-capita green-car ownership. And it's managed to strengthen economically without increasing industrial carbon emissions.

But it's emitting more from its tailpipes. Swedes are driving more--enough to wipe away any the gains from greener cars--and overall vehicle emissions have risen in this land of sustainability and forward thinking.

Thanks to greener new cars--a combination of clean-diesel, bi-fuel (E85), and biogas (mostly compressed natural gas) vehicles--along with an aggressive program to scrap older guzzlers, the country has cut carbon dioxide emissions by 165,000 tons.

Electric Car Charging Arrives in Ontario

2012 Infiniti M Hybrid Priced From $53,700

This story originally appeared at Motor Authority

Power, efficiency, luxury--you can have it all, and the entry price is just $53,700. That's the price of the 2012 Infiniti M35 Hybrid, announced today ahead of the start of retail sales March 16.

Infiniti bills the M Hybrid as the only car in America to offer 350 horsepower in combination with a 30-plus highway mpg rating, and it looks secure in that title for the present. Only Porsche's brand-new Panamera S Hybrid looks poised to challenge it in the near future, and it costs about $40,000 more than the M.

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Delay: Deciding To Make It Make Noise, Always

This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

Hyundai is no friend to cheating spouses, that's for sure. Of course, neither is Congress (despite the recent Craigslist antics of former Representative Chris Lee).

But perhaps we should start at the beginning.

'Vast defect' ?!?!?

We've gotten several notes over the past few weeks from Colorado reader Bob A, saying:

Hyundai Sonata HYBRID again delays release of HYBRID cars in U.S. - vast defect suspected - Hyundai has NO hybrid Sonata cars at U.S. dealers - what's going on?

We are usually skeptical of "vast defects," but our suspicions grew when Hyundai refused to give Sonata Hybrid sales for January. It said only that it had sold 4,792 vehicles with EPA highway ratings of 40 mpg or better, which includes the high-volume new 2011 Elantra as well as the Sonata Hybrid.

Growing suspicions

Sales of the car have begun, but Hyundai won't say how many? Even Nissan copped to selling a mere 19 of its 2011 Leaf electric cars in December, and 87 in January. Hmmmmmm.

As it turns out, there was indeed a last-minute delay, although Hyundai Motors America CEO John Krafcik says the first 2011 Sonata Hybrid was delivered by Hardin Hyundai in Anaheim, California, in January.

2011 Hyundai Elantra

But a last-minute specification change made "amazingly late in the process," in November--with production scheduled to start in December--meant that Hyundai "ended up losing a couple of weeks of production timing," Krafcik said.

So what was this all-important change?

Do Battery-Pack Failures Reduce the Life of Hybrid Cars? A Reader Asks

This story originally appeared at Green Car Reports

Our reader Jonathan P asks:

I have a 1997 Saturn that, remarkably, is still running. It probably has the book value of a large watermelon, so if anything major goes wrong with it, that's the end of that.

If that Saturn were a hybrid, I'm guessing the battery pack would have died about four years ago, give or take. But replacing a battery pack would be a huge expense, no? And the older the car gets, the less incentive there is to incur this huge expense.

So it seems to me that hybrids have a significant built-in obsolescence factor--while at the same time their higher up-front cost means you need to hold on to them longer to recoup the cost.

What, then, is the logic behind buying a hybrid...or an electric, for that matter...over an efficient gasoline or diesel vehicle?

2004-1009 Toyota Prius battery pack, second generation

Good question, Jonathan.

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