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Toyota ad says fuel cell cars are inevitable

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    Toyota ad says fuel cell cars are inevitable
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    IRS won't, or can't, reveal how many plug-in vehicle tax credits are left
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    Renault Eolab is a hyperefficient, conventional-looking answer to VW's XL1 [w/video]
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    Nissan not shuttering Leaf EV battery plants, at least not yet
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Tesla wins in Massachusetts, tries for more in New Jersey

Posted Sep 19th 2014 9:18AM

tesla store

Another brick falls as Tesla fights to practice its direct-to-consumer business model. A Massachusetts high court has thrown out a lawsuit seeking to block the electric car company from selling vehicles the Tesla way in the state. The Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, along with two dealers, claimed that Tesla was in violation of a law that protects affiliated dealerships from oppressive practices from automakers.

According to the law, it is illegal for an automaker to operate "a motor vehicle dealership within the relevant market area of a motor vehicle dealer of the same line make." The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the plaintiffs didn't have a standing in this case because they weren't affiliated with Tesla, and because Tesla also doesn't have any franchise dealerships in the state. Judge Margot Botsford writes that the law, "was intended and understood only to prohibit manufacturer-owned dealerships when, unlike Tesla, the manufacturer already had an affiliated dealer or dealers in Massachusetts."

Armed with the Massachusetts win, Tesla is taking another whack at New Jersey.

Armed with that win, Tesla is taking another whack at New Jersey, which barred Tesla from selling cars directly to customers in the state. Tesla's appeal argues that the state franchise statute doesn't apply to it, as the automaker lacks any franchisor-franchisee relationship. Tesla also argues that the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission doesn't have the authority to enforce the statute, and that certain rules (requirements of minimum square footage, multiple display models and on-site servicing) violate the state Constitution.

In New Jersey, though, the appeal may become moot, as there are currently at least two pending bills that could grant exemption to Tesla, allowing it to sell cars directly to consumers. Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, says, "Something may be on the governor's desk and signed before they even decide to grant oral arguments at all."

Tesla recently won the right to practice its sales model in the state of Nevada as part of a deal to build its Gigafactory in Reno. Tesla is still barred from selling its cars in Texas, Arizona and Maryland.

News Source: Reuters, Automotive News

Image Credit: Rick Bowmer / AP

Toyota ad says fuel cell cars are inevitable

Are You A Handbrake Or A Trailblazer?

Posted Sep 18th 2014 6:58PM

Toyota fuel cell ad

Toyota's confidence in H2 technology remains as strong as ever. The company has released a new commercial that says it's not a matter of if we all start driving hydrogen cars, but when. In fact, the 70-second spot calls 2015 the turning point for the alternative powertrain technology.

Here's a bit of the voiceover for the animated spot, which to our eyes and ears comes off as more than a little defensive:

There will be the naysayers. The handbrakes, who say that it can't be done. that it's unsafe. That there's no infrastructure to support it. Then there'll be the trailblazers. The first to put up their hand, and put down their foot. The bold few, driven to be remembered as those who made a difference. And perhaps, the ones that made all the difference.

In the end, Toyota says, we're all going to be driving hydrogen cars, starting perhaps with the company's first H2 sedan which will go on sale next year. But, if the early comments on the video's YouTube page are any indication, then Toyota's might be a bit lonely driving down the hydrogen highway. Watch the ad below, then vote in our poll below and let us know what you think of Toyota's approach.

When it comes to hydrogen cars, I am:

News Source: Toyota via YouTube

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L promises 141 mpg, no door dings [w/video]

Posted Sep 18th 2014 4:29PM

Citroen C4 Cactus Airflow 2L Concept

Citroen C4 Cactus Aero 2L concept - rear sail area closeupI'm the president of Autoblog's chapter of the Citroën C4 Cactus Appreciation Club. Full Disclosure: I'm also probably its only member. Why am I fan, you ask? Because the C4 and its ding-resistant Airbumps offer the versatility of a five-door Ford Focus, but it's 350 pounds lighter than today's Mazda MX-5 Miata, tipping the scales at just over 2,100 pounds. And when equipped with a diesel, it returns 91.1 miles per gallon (European), all while looking like the epitome of French quirkiness and style. I can't think of anything not to like about it, aside from the fact that I haven't actually driven it (Citroën, call me, we can change this).

For the 2014 Paris Motor Show, Citroen is bringing a new concept version of the Cactus. Unlike the Adventure Concept shown at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the Airflow 2L Concept is focused on increasing the Cactus' already impressive fuel economy. Through a fanatical observance of aerodynamics and the shedding of a further 220 pounds of weight, the Airflow 2L Concept returns over 141 miles per gallon (in other words, it consumes just two liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, hence the "2L" in the name).

Aerodynamic drag has been reduced by 20 percent thanks to three adjustable intakes in the front fascia, which can open and close automatically based on driving conditions. Side deflectors divert air around the body while active shutters on the 19-inch wheels further cut down on drag even further. The old concept car trope of video cameras in place of traditional wing mirrors is present, ostensibly to further reduce drag, while Citroën has added an air curtain system on the front bumper to manipulate air around the wheels.

The Airflow's floor is carbon fiber, while carbon composites have been used in the roof, tailgate and doors. Aluminum has been extensively employed, both for structural components as well as the hood and engine cradle.

Under that hood sits the brand's latest Hybrid Air powertrain, which boasts a three-cylinder gas engine as well as a compressed air motor. Citroën reports that this new powertrain is responsible for 30 percent of the Airflow's improved fuel economy.

Take a look below for the full press release from Citroen, as well as a hefty gallery of images of the funky, fuel-efficient five-door. We'll have much more on the C4 Cactus Airflow 2L, as well as everything else the French brand is debuting, when we cross The Pond early next month for the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

News Source: Citroën, Q Cars via YouTube

IRS won't, or can't, reveal how many plug-in vehicle tax credits are left

No One At The Federal Agency Seems To Know What's Going On

Posted Sep 18th 2014 2:59PM

Stop, pay your taxes!

The IRS has set up a page to help track individual automaker sales figures, but it's a complete mess.

One of the benefits of driving a plug-in vehicle these days is a federal tax credit worth up to $7,500. Officially called IRC 30D, this credit is intended to make the high cost of new EVs sting less for early adopters. Of course, free government money doesn't last forever, and when the tax credit law was first passed in as part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, lawmakers built in a phase out. The rules say that the tax credit only lasts for each automaker until its first 200,000 EVs have been sold. After that, a company's qualifying vehicles (list here) will gradually net their buyers smaller and smaller tax credits – first 50 percent of the full amount for six months, then 25 percent for the next six months – over the following year until they're just gone. We've got the law's specific language at the end of this article.

Why This Matters

Let's be clear: no automaker has come close to selling 200,000 plug-in vehicles in the US. Nissan and Chevrolet are closest with over 60,000 each of the Leaf and Volt, respectively, and Tesla is catching up. Still, EVs sales are doing better than some might expect, and with around 250,000 EVs sold throughout the US from all automakers – up from just 130,000 a year ago – we're likely to hit the 200,000 target before we know it. With that in mind, it'd be nice to know how the various companies and plug-in vehicles are selling. Automakers are supposed to file their sales numbers quarterly and the Internal Revenue Service is supposed to share those official numbers with the public (more on this below), but when you try to look up the data, things quickly get messy. If if it's not clear how many the IRS says are sold, then how will anyone know when the tax credits run out?

The IRS has set up a page that is supposed to help buyers figure out how much time is left for plug-in vehicle buyers to get a tax credit, and it tracks individual automaker sales figures. Trouble is, it's a complete mess. There are years' worth of data that the IRS is not making available to the public. Or perhaps some of it's the automakers' fault. Some plug-in models – most of them, in fact – don't even show up on the chart. This all needs to be fixed before someone goes to buy a Leaf, for example, expecting to get money back and then is served a nasty surprise. We know that when incentives run out, sales tend to suffer.

News Source: Internal Revenue Service

Image Credit: Marc Norman / Getty

Meet Sparky, Nissan's Leaf-based, Frontier-bedded EV parts hauler [w/video]

Posted Sep 18th 2014 12:44PM

Nissan Leaf Frontier

For many enthusiasts, the concept of the ute – a car with a pickup bed – is somehow irresistibly appealing. On paper, it promises the marriage of a truck's utility and a car's superior driving dynamics, and for that reason alone, we'd love to see more of them. Yet while other parts of the world get them in good numbers, North America doesn't ever see them – at least not for long. Based on what we've seen of late, though, that's not due to a lack of motivation on the part of engineers.

BMW wowed us several years ago with an M3 ute, and earlier this year, some interns converted a Mini Paceman into the pickup-bodied Paceman Adventure. Loathe to let their rivals in Munich and Oxford have all the fun, Nissan has built its very own car-based pickup. Meet Sparky, the world's first Leaf Frontier.

Like the M3, this all-electric ute is used as a parts hauler for Nissan's engineering teams at its sprawling Stanfield, AZ tech center and proving grounds. "We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that truck and they go straight to 'What is it?' and they start looking at it, and it makes great conversation," Nissan's Roland Schellenberg said in a statement.

Schellenberg completed the months-long team-building project alongside fellow engineer Arnold Moulinet. "After [Schellenberg] told us it was going to be the Leaf that we would redo, I went home and stayed up til like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work. We basically got the stock Leaf, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed," Moulinet said in a statement. "My main job here is working on rough-road vehicles, rough-road testing. I'm pretty good at taking cars completely apart to the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing."

Take a look below for the video on the impetus behind Sparky, the build process and to see the final result in action.
Related GalleryNissan Leaf Frontier
Nissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf FrontierNissan Leaf Frontier

News Source: Nissan Newsroom via YouTube

Recharge Wrap-up: Free chargers for Canadian ELR buyers, Renovo gets funding for EV supercar

Chevrolet Express Van Offers Renewable Fuel Options; Renault To Build Fluence ZE In China; Germany Lifts Uber Ban

Posted Sep 18th 2014 8:00AM

renovo coupe ev supercar

Chevrolet offers versions of its Express passenger van with B20 biodiesel and E85 capability. Customers can buy the van with the Duramax turbodiesel V8, which is compatible with the 20-percent biodiesel blend. There is also a FlexFuel V8, which can use the 85-percent ethanol gasoline blend. It's a great option for shuttling the whole soccer team to practice using renewable fuels. Read more at Domestic Fuels.

Early buyers of the Cadillac ELR in Canada will get a 240-volt charger installed at their home for free. It should help convince some buyers to adopt the range extended luxury EV. Cadillac's Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus says, "Professional installation of the fastest home-charging unit is a natural way to mark the introduction of ELR to the luxury market." Read more in the press release below.

Renovo has received venture capital funding from California-based True Ventures to build its Coupe electric supercar. The impressive EV, with its 500 horsepower and 1,000 pound-feet of torque, is an inspiring vehicle built by a promising company, according to its financial backers. Toni Schneider of True Ventures says that Renovo has "created incredibly advanced technology and a beautiful machine that is well positioned to disrupt the automotive market." Read more in the press release below.

Renault says it will build its Fluence ZE electric car in China for an unnamed brand, pending government approval. Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn announced the plan at a test drive event in France on Monday. Renault has a partnership with Dongfeng Motors to build and sell its cars in China. Read more at Reuters.

Germany has lifted its ban on Uber. While the German court believes the ride-hailing service is operating illegally without proper licensing for drivers, it says Taxi Deutschland waited too long to file the case against Uber. The taxi association plans to appeal the decision soon. See more in the video below, and read more at The New York Times.

A new report from UC Davis claims that a global expansion of public transit could save 1,700 megatons of carbon dioxide yearly and over $100 trillion by 2050. A "high-shift scenario" would be necessary, wherein governments invest in rail and clean buses, expand biking and walking infrastructure and shift focus away from projects that encourage car use. This shift to public transit would especially be important in the US, China and India. Read more in the press release below.
Related GalleryRenovo Coupe EV Supercar
Renovo Coupe EV SupercarRenovo Coupe EV SupercarRenovo Coupe EV SupercarRenovo Coupe EV SupercarRenovo Coupe EV SupercarRenovo Coupe EV Supercar

News Source: Domestic Fuel, Cadillac, Renovo Motors, Reuters, New York Times, UC Davis

Image Credit: Renovo Motors

This guy sold his Camaro to buy a Smart EV, and loves it

Making The Shift To EV Can Be Hella Fun

Posted Sep 17th 2014 6:57PM

Mk II Chevy Camaro SS

The Dead Milkmen will be very displeased. Stephen Grinwis has decided to explain to Clean Technica why he sold his Chevrolet Camaro for – get this – a Smart ED electric vehicle. We can already hear the Milkmen, performers of the 1985 punk masterpiece Bitchin' Camaro, crying in their Stoney's Extra Stout.

But green is green, and this case, the man said he was going broke driving the Camaro by spending $550 a month on gas and shredding his $3,000 set of tires. His Smart ED costs him about $20 a month worth of electricity, and the maintenance costs are way lower. Grinwis also claims the Smart ED is more fun because he can floor it off the line without garnering any police attention. He also says lots of folks ask him about the car, perhaps because he's always zipping a full speed. He boasts of having an eco-driving rate in the ED of under 20 percent, making us wonder if his single-charge range is about the length of a driveway.

Grinwis is somewhat of a rare breed, in that just 1,390 Smart EDs were sold in the US through July (Smart, a division of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, still hasn't submitted its August numbers to AutoblogGreen). Through August, General Motors sold about 65,000 Camaros. And they're still bitchin'.

News Source: Clean Technica

Image Credit: JoeBenjamin/Flickr

Nissan ZEOD RC on track and from behind the wheel

Posted Sep 17th 2014 5:01PM

Nissan Zeod RC takes on the Top Gear test track

The Nissan ZEOD RC hybrid racecar has had mixed success in its competition life. It was invented to do a completely electric, high-speed lap at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which it was able to do in practice. However, when the big event actually came, the car lasted less than an hour before it had to bow out with transmission issues. Nissan hasn't completely given up on its experiment, though. The experience (and possibly some of the tech) is going to help with the GT-R LM racer next year, and now the ZEOD is getting its chance to see how it handles the Top Gear test track.

Unfortunately, it's not The Stig piloting the ZEOD; instead, the magazine's motoring editor Ollie Marriage is the lucky man for the job. The car's sharp shape seems to be a good metaphor for how it handles because it just seems to dart around the track. Its tiny, turbocharged 1.5-liter engine with 400 horsepower and two electric motors put out a claimed 750 horsepower, and that seems like plenty for the relatively short Top Gear course.

As usual of Top Gear, the cinematography here is fantastic, and a second video shows off a single lap of the course from around the car. It's amazing to watch, especially with its big screen constantly showing the camera view out of the rear. Scroll down to see both.

News Source: Top Gear via YouTube [1], [2]

Audi scores first CA autonomous car permit

Posted Sep 17th 2014 3:45PM

Audi Connect Autonomous Driving

Audi apparently knows how to get to the front of a line when it comes to driverless vehicles. The German automaker had the honor of being the very first company to receive one of California's new autonomous vehicle driving permits. It was a perfect followup to it being among the earliest ones to get a similar permit in Nevada a few years ago.

Getting the California permit is a big deal for the automaker because the state is also home to Audi's Electronics Research Lab. Among its current projects, Audi is working on the human-machine interface to communicate whether the person or vehicle is actually controlling the driving. All of this hard work is building toward offering autonomous motoring in freeway conditions in the next five years, Audi claims.

Obviously, autonomous vehicles from companies like Google have been testing in California for a while, but the new permits are meant to safeguard public safety when testing the driverless cars in public. The new rules include things like always having a person able to take control and more stringent standards like registering each autonomous car and the eligible drivers with the state. Any models testing on public roads also have to carry at least $5 million in insurance in case of injury, death or property damage.

Audi has been toiling away at getting autonomous technology to work for years now. In addition to the Nevada testing, it recently showed off its Traffic Jam Assistant, and the company's driverless TTS made it up Pikes Peak in 2010. Scroll down to read about its latest step forward with the next-gen tech.

News Source: Audi

ETC

Blink, CarCharging Group catching flack for EV charging price hike

Online Petition Says Per-kWh Charging Is Not The Right Move

Posted Sep 17th 2014 1:45PM

blink Syracuse

Joe Dugandzic of Phoenix, AZ doesn't like to see the cost for driving his EV increase. So much so that he started a petition against a recent price hike by CarCharging Group, Inc. (which owns Blink) asking the company to reverse the increase.

The change represents "a price increase of more than 200 percent."

The hike is somewhat hidden in the change to how Blink charges users for battery juice in some locations. The company used to charge people by the time they spent connected to the EVSE or, in the case of DC Fast Chargers, a flat rate. Starting earlier this month, though, some Blink chargers went to a price-per-kWh rate (state laws don't permit this type of charge in all areas), and the new method, Dugandzic says, can amount to "a price increase of more than 200 percent for users of Blink Level 2 commercial charging stations."

Dugandzic's petition says that, "the hidden price increase included in the new pricing model is a bad decision for the battery-electric vehicle industry" because potential EV drivers will shy away from the new technology. Also, he feels like CarCharging Group is taking "advantage of current and new EV drivers who do not have the ability to charge their vehicles at home using their own power, such as myself." Dugandzic believes that, "it is up to companies such as CarCharging, to do everything possible to help hasten the transition to electric vehicles, instead of seeking profits during these early years." The killer point? "For many drivers, it is now more expensive for them to charge their highly-efficient electric vehicles than to fuel a 40+ mpg gasoline vehicle," Dugandzic says.

In response, CarCharging's vice president of marketing and public relations, Suzanne Tamargo, sent AutoblogGreen a statement that basically says that different EVs charge at different rates and the new rates are more fair. They're also what's required to stay in business. You can read the full thing below, but the key line is this: "We simply cannot afford to make the mistakes made by other companies, including ECOtality, the former owner of the Blink stations, and continue to charge fees that are well below our costs." If you'd like to sign the petition, you can do so here.

News Source: Change.org, CarCharging Group

Image Credit: runJMrun / Flickr

Recharge Wrap-up: BMW i3 goes against Mercedes B-Class ED, Tesla good for business

EVs Get Cleaner; Zipcar In Paris; MIT's Nav System Eases Congestion

Posted Sep 17th 2014 10:29AM

mercedes-benz b-class electric drive

Car and Driver has published a comparison test pitting the 2014 BMW i3 against the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-class Electric Drive. The test not only measured the quality of the driving experience, but also all the quantitative details that are especially important when looking at electric vehicles. For instance, the Benz's real-world MPGe surpassed its own rating, but it still couldn't match the BMW. The B-Class, though, won in the range department. We won't spoil all the results, or Car and Driver's overall pick, but you can head over to the article to find out for yourself.

Tesla's expanding business, including the Gigafactory being built in Reno, NV, is encouraging growth in the locales and associated businesses. Some of Tesla's suppliers are talking of relocation, wanting to be close to the action stirred up by the electric automaker's expansion. It makes good business sense to be in the same neighborhood as Tesla. "We can react quickly, and our engineers are constantly working with Tesla," says Futuris General Manager Sam Coughlin. Brookings Institute fellow Jennifer Vey says, "The land around Tesla is being redeveloped and reimagined. It's a mash-up of an anchor campus, startups, housing and transit, in a physically compact area where companies can cluster and connect." Read more at San Jose Mercury News.

EVs are doing even more to reduce energy use clean up the air, according to new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists. According to findings, 60 percent of Americans now live in areas where EVs do more to reduce emissions than hybrids, up from 45 percent in 2012. Average electricity use is now 0.325 kWh per mile, down five percent from 2011. EV performance - in terms of mileage and emissions - is improving compared to traditional fuel vehicles, based on the sources of electricity in various regions. Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Zipcar's carsharing network has launched in Paris. Zipcar is expanding across Europe, and has already established itself in Austria, Spain and the UK. According to Zipcar France's General Manager Etienne Hermite, "In a highly populated city, Zipcar's model has been proven to remove up to 15 personally owned vehicles from the road for each Zipcar in service, reducing parking demand, congestion and emissions." Zipcar European President Massimo Marsili hopes that most Parisians will eventually be just a short walk from a Zipcar. The company also announced partnerships with Opel and Peugeot at its Paris launch. Read more in the press release, below.

The RoadRunner navigation system earned a best-paper award at Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress. Developed by researchers at MIT, RoadRunner directs drivers around congested roadways in a way similar to Singapore's toll system for congested areas. RoadRunner caps capacity for any certain zone, assigning tokens to cars in the area. When that capacity is met, cars are routed around the zone. Cars leaving the zone put a token up for grabs for another vehicle trying to navigate through the same area. The developers offer various ways the system could be deployed with or without including tolls. Read more in the press release below.

News Source: Car and Driver, San Jose Mercury News, Union of Concerned Scientists, Zipcar, MIT

Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz, i3: Sebastian Blanco / AOL

GreenTech Auto restarting production later this year

Posted Sep 17th 2014 8:00AM

GreenTech Auto's MyCar

Will the rubber really hit the road for GreenTech Automotive (GTA) this year? The company said "yes" last week after announcing that it finished building its factory in Tunica, MS. With that done, the company's low-speed neighborhood-electric vehicles (NEV) will start production by the end of 2014. In the meantime, the company is shipping its stuff over from a temporary factory in Horn Lake, MS, about 30 miles away.

GTA broke ground on the factory early this year and is prepping two models. One is an NEV called MyCar that has a single-charge range of about 65 miles. The other is the G2 battery-electric sedan. And, while no word is out on when the latter will see the light of day, MyCar is slated to start production this year.

GTA was founded in 2009 by Terry McAuliffe, who invested about $20 million in the company. He left GTA in 2012 and is now governor of Virginia. The latest wrinkle with the company is that it merged with VL Automotive this spring. VL is the company that had planned to take Fisker Karma bodies and bolt them on a frame with a V8 engine. Fun stuff, but a far cry from a little-bitty electric vehicle. Check out GTA's press release below.

News Source: GreenTech Automotive, Automotive News - subs. req.

Renault Eolab is a hyperefficient, conventional-looking answer to VW's XL1 [w/video]

260 MPG Concept Coming To Paris

Posted Sep 16th 2014 6:29PM

Renault Eolab

Watch out Volkswagen, Renault has your number. Debuting at the Paris Motor Show in a few weeks, this Renault Eolab concept aims to match the German automaker's XL1 space pod's fuel economy – without its out-of-this-world styling and offbeat packaging. The VW, which gets its name from its ability to go 100 kilometers on one liter of fuel (about 260 miles per gallon), will no longer be the only vehicle able to be that miserly with fuel use, at least on paper.

The B-segment Eolab (we keep typing Ecolab, like the hygiene company) uses a combination of low weight thanks to materials like magnesium and aluminum, careful aerodynamics and an updated version of Renault's Z.E. [Zero Emission] hybrid gas-electric powertrain to be so frugal. In fact, the car weighs just 400 kilograms – 880 pounds – which is crazy light and means less energy is required to move it down the road. The battery part of the Eolab's PHEV powertrain will offer about 37 miles of range. In all, Renault says there are "100 new, realistic technological developments" in this showcar that could come to upcoming Renault vehicles.

Sadly, Renault is calling this cool concept "an innovative showcase with an environmental core" for now, but we'd love to try one in the real world. We're eager to learn more about this car, and we look forward to hearing Renault officials expound on how a car like this could be mass produced within the next 10 years. For now, we'll just take a look at the video below.
Related GalleryRenault Eolab
Renault EolabRenault EolabRenault EolabRenault EolabRenault EolabRenault EolabRenault EolabRenault Eolab

News Source: Renault

ETC

Elon Musk is Vanity Fair's number one 'disrupter'

Posted Sep 16th 2014 5:54PM



Elon Musk's leadership of Tesla Motors has transferred well to pop culture. In this case, the electric-vehicle maker's CEO has popped up as Number 1 on Vanity Fair's annual "disrupters" list. Musk jumped from No. 5 last year and for 2014 came in ahead of Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin; Apple's Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive; and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. Pretty healthy company.

Vanity Fair pegged Musk's net worth at $12.9 billion, thanks in part to Tesla's stock climbing up about 70 percent in the past year (despite a recent dip) and has surged by a factor of 16 since the initial public offering in 2010. It also can't hurt that Tesla scored about $1.2 billion in government incentives when it agreed earlier this month to build its gigafactory in Nevada. Additionally, Vanity Fair feted Musk for his involvement in both space-exploration company SpaceX and home solar-panel provider SolarCity and described Musk's marital status as "complicated." VF just loves that stuff.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Musk was the only auto executive to end up on either the publication's "disrupters" list or its "powers that be" list. The latter was headed by Fox's Rupert Murdoch, Walt Disney's Bog Iger and Comcast's Brian Roberts and Steve Burke. You can read Vanity Fair's write-up of Musk here.
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