Plug-In 2010: Electric cars on the cusp of mainstream success, but challenges remain

Wednesday July 28th, 2010 at 9:77 AM
Posted by: AKramer


What a difference a decade makes.

After GM pulled the plug on its groundbreaking EV1 in 1999, it seemed like the goal of driving mass-produced electric cars had also been flushed down the drain.

Fast forward ten years and we have two plug-in vehicles being released by major manufacturers that are targeted towards mainstream car buyers, the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, with models from Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, Honda, and BMW coming in 2012.

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Alternative Fuel Vehicles Found in San Jose

Thursday June 24th, 2010 at 1:66 PM
Posted by: Derek

toyota-prius-plug-in-hybrid-conceptHybrid cars are expensive and only considered a short term answer towards relieving our dependence upon foreign oil sources. To really decrease America’s dependency and reduce our overall consumption of a non-renewable resource, there are many alternative fuel cars in the pipeline – compressed natural gas, hydrogen, 100% electric vehicles, PHEV, and bio-diesel are the alternative fuels being explored by many car manufacturers and independent companies looking to offer conversions.

Alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and hydrogen fuel cells, are also being tested by many companies. Ford is testing a CNG powered F-150 with a range of 190 miles on 10 gallons of CNG. Taxi cabs are also a target using CNG as a fuel source. On average, a NY taxi cab can run up 50,000 miles a year. Using CNG, this translates into a savings of approximately $38,000.

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Car-Sharing Goes Green in Baltimore

Thursday June 25th, 2009 at 7:66 AM
Posted by: m35man

Electrovaya electric car-sharing programThe nation’s first all-electric car-sharing program debuted earlier this week in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, with manufacturer Electrovaya hoping urban residents seeking to go green and curious tourists will take the concept for a spin. Electrovaya Inc. is offering its Maya 300 for rent at the Maryland Science Center. The car can go up to 120 miles on one charge of its lithium-ion battery system, and it gets its juice from a regular 110-volt outlet.

This is a great step in the right direction. There are many car-sharing programs out there in this country right now, and they all seem to work best in large metropolitan areas. We have one in San Francisco that is very successful, because it doesn’t make sense for a lot of people to own a car in this city. Think about it—you can save on payments, insurance, fuel and repairs.

But, now Electrovaya is offering the city of Baltimore the best of both worlds—a GREEN car-sharing program. You can’t buy the kind of positive press they will receive for this brilliant marketing move. I had never heard of Electrovaya before today and now I am blogging about them (and you’re reading about them) so you can see what I mean.

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Mitsubishi bringing the i-MiEV to the world and that includes the U.S.

Thursday April 9th, 2009 at 12:44 PM
Posted by: Derek

Mitsubishi representatives officially announced that the i MiEV electric vehicle – already a hit in test drives and closely involved in joint programs with power companies across the world – will be coming to the U.S. This move has been hinted at for a long while, but now we know for certain that the electric jellybean, based on the “i” minicar, is coming.

Official details are scarce, but company representatives told us ahead of schedule that the car would be available here sometime “before 2012.” The problem isn’t the technology (a left-hand drive model should go on sale in Europe in 2011 after the right-hand model hits Japan this summer and the UK, maybe in 2010), but guaranteeing a supply of lithium. If GS Yuasa can’t produce the batteries, Read the rest of this entry »

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Bentley's Future: Less Weight, Diesel and PHEV

Wednesday March 25th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Bentley Motors

Here’s a bit of a surprise, Bentley, long seen as a car of excess has begun to look at things in a little more frugal manner. Coming to market along with the next gen Continental model will be new powertrains and more than just that, weight reduction will also be part of the program.

Franz-Josef Paefgen Bentley CEO mentioned at this years the Geneva Motor Show that an all-new powertrain would appear in Bentleys by 2012. He did not give specifics, but the rumors flew that it would be a diesel, since Bentley is part of the Volkswagen group. A diesel would be an obvious choice with its high torque being a good match for the big British luxury machines. All of the current Continental variants are powered by very impressive twin-turbo W12s with VW DNA.

If Bentley forgoes the diesel route, another option theorized would be a plug-in electric vehicle. Since Bentleys already cost you an arm and a leg, they could more easily absorb the cost of batteries and hybrid hardware. The hybrid system being developed by VW and Porsche, and most probably headed for SUVs, is modular enough that it could be adapted to other vehicles. Adding plug-in capability would be technically easy, and could allow the Continental to operate silently at lower speeds on electricity.

Now about that diet. The new Continental SuperSports that bowed in Geneva actually started as a weight reduction project, and THEN flex-fuel capability was added to the engine. The next gen Continental is expected to drop about 400 lbs through increased aluminum and high strength steel. Good, these cars were pretty hefty to begin with.

Source: AutoBlogGreen

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Chevy Volt Rebadged as a Holden

Thursday March 12th, 2009 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: tonyb

Holden Volt

Not all the car news is coming out of Geneva these days, there’s big, if low-key news that came out from the auto show in Melbourne Australia. Much has been made about just what GM would do with its highly anticipated Volt hybrid besides selling it in North America. There were rumors of an Opel variant for the Euro market, but other than that, it was a big question mark.

But now GM makes the obvious, yet great move of rebadging the thing as a Holden, a raises the possibility of selling them in the Australian market. The Holden Volt shown at the Melbourne Auto Show is right-hand drive but other than that and the badges, it does not differ in any way from its Chevy counterpart. The Volt, in either GM or Holden form, can travel up to 64 kilometers on electricity before using petrol or producing exhaust pipe emissions, will be launched in Australia in 2012. When compared to similar sized petrol-powered vehicles, the Volt will save Australian motorists up to 1892 liters of fuel a year.

GM Holden Chairman and Managing Director Mark Reuss said, “We think Volt has the potential to change the game in Australian motoring. Since we announced our plans to introduce Volt to Australia, we have been overwhelmed by public interest in the car and the technology that makes it work. At Holden, we believe Volt will play an incredibly important role in our efforts to make motoring better for the environment.”

Source: CarScoop

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To Air Is Human: AirPod Unveiled at Geneva Motor Show

Friday March 6th, 2009 at 6:33 AM
Posted by: m35man

airpod car - geneva motor show

What a concept! Instead of cars polluting the air, now they can run on it! Say hello to the AirPod. This could be the greatest invention since hot pockets! A car that runs on compressed air is being unveiled this week at the Geneva Motor Show and creating an understandably major buzz.

I started hearing about this technology more than a year ago. I told some of my friends about it and they asked me what I was drinking. A car running on air is not something the average person finds plausible, but now it’s no longer just a theory. It’s a reality and quite possibly our biggest chance to say adios to fossil fuels forever.

You’ll still need to plug this car in to charge it, unless you live near an air fueling station. Once these vehicles become popular, I am sure that these stations will crop up faster than Starbucks locations. The gas companies must be scared to death of this car. At least hybrids require some gasoline. All these need is the air we breathe (and some electricity). The price is also highly attractive—only $7,500!

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ZAP Zips Up Manufacturing Deal

Friday January 16th, 2009 at 7:11 PM
Posted by: m35man

ZAP carBy Edsel Rollin

ZAP, headquartered in Santa Rosa, Calif., has been on the leading edge of all-electric transportation for a long time now, with some amazing electric vehicles on the market and in development. They make electric sedans, trucks; even scooters and ATVs. Two veteran automotive executives, H. Dennis Kammerer and Rodger L. Cornish, recently noted that electric car pioneer ZAP is already building all-electric models, and the US government should offer support to companies who are already building plug-in transportation.

I sat down with representatives from ZAP last year at the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Annual Exposition, held in San Francisco, and I could tell from the way they talked about their vehicles that they’re extremely passionate about making vehicles that are emission-free and planet friendly. The company has come a long way in a short time.

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Toyota Unveils New FT-EV at Detroit Auto Show

Wednesday January 14th, 2009 at 1:11 PM
Posted by: m35man

Toyota FT-EV conceptLast Sunday as part of the opening festivities for the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Toyota unveiled their new FT-EV concept car, scheduled for release in 2012.

I like the idea behind it (“green and lean”) but couldn’t Toyota come up with a design that doesn’t look like something out of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”? I keep expecting a Oompa Loompa to pop out from under the hood of this thing. If Scooby Doo and Shaggy lost their van, they would probably drive something like this, if the Great Dane could fit in it. No gear head worth his weight in engine grease would be seen dead driving this thing. It looks like grandma’s golf cart and even she might find it a little too cutesy.

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Move over smart car, the Mitsubishi i MiEV has arrived

Saturday November 22nd, 2008 at 12:1111 AM
Posted by: Derek

By Derek Mau

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the city’s buzzing hive of urban workers, a quiet ceremony was taking place in front of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) San Francisco offices. A handful of reporters, the occasional curiosity seeker walking by, and a few employees on break were around to witness the delivery of Mitsubishi Motors (MMC) all-electric vehicle, the i MiEV (Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle), to PG&E for some extensive testing over the next few years.

The i MiEV is an all-electric powered vehicle based on the Mitsubishi i sold in Japan.The original i is a sub-compact car that has the size and dimensions of a “light car” (classified in Japan as “keijidousha” class) with an engine displacement of up to 660cc. The car looks tiny on the outside but is fairly spacious on the inside. Looking somewhat like a jellybean on wheels, it’s a tad over 133 inches from end to end. With the car’s 15-inch wheels pushed all the way out to the corners, the overhangs are zero. As a result, it has a 100-inch wheelbase and a very stable ride. For the sake of comparison, the 5-door VW Rabbit’s wheelbase is 101.5 inches. This translates into a surprising amount of interior passenger room — much more than you’d expect from such a small car.

(Video and photos if the Mitsubishi i MiEV below the jump)

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