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The Price Is Right plays One Away with Tesla Model S

  • Video
    The Price Is Right plays One Away with Tesla Model S
  • Official
    Elio Motors $185-million request advances under DOE's restarted ATVM loan program
  • Official
    2015 VW e-Golf scores 116 MPGe, 83 miles of range from EPA
  • Report
    Former Fisker CEO has some advice for Tesla Motors
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UberTaxi now operating in Seoul using licensed cab drivers

Posted Oct 25th 2014 8:58AM

South Korea Taxi Driver Protest

In countries across the globe, ride-hiring app Uber has faced criticism from taxi drivers, who claim the service is unfair, citing the way its (unregistered) drivers can be hired, eliminating the need to stand on a corner hailing. In the South Korean capital of Seoul, though, Uber and the taxi drivers are living harmoniously, thanks to a new service.

Called UberTaxi, the app has signed up a number of official, registered cab drivers who can be hired from a smartphone. Drivers won't be paid a commission, according to The Wall Street Journal, although they'll receive a $1.90 subsidy for each fare they handle that's been ordered by the app.

While the new pairing is a positive sign for Uber, the app's core service, the low-cost UberX, remains illegal in South Korea. WSJ also reports that the country is taking aim at the premium UberBlack livery service, and is even going so far as to develop an app that would give taxi drivers the same capabilities without using the ride-hiring service.

News Source: Wall Street Journal

Image Credit: Ahn Young-joon / AP

Recharge Wrap-up: onshore wind energy is cheapest, Tesla Model S teardown videos

Dutch Artist To Turn Smog Into Jewelry; DOE Funds Biofuel Growing Projects; Renault's Sustainable Mobility Website Turns 5

Posted Oct 24th 2014 3:58PM

wind turbines

Renault's sustainability mobility website is celebrating its fifth anniversary. The site focuses on electric and hybrid cars, cycling, public transport as well as policy and events regarding getting around in a clean, green way. It also features a monthly forum where scientists, bloggers, politicians and other experts weigh in on sustainable transport. Visit the website, or read more in the press release below.

Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde wants to turn Beijing's smog into jewelry. Roosegaarde plans to capture particulate matter from a park using a giant air purifier, then turn it into gems. This would give the particular park the cleanest air in the city. The smog gems would them be set in rings and sold. Each ring would represent 1,000 cubic meters of clean air in Beijing. Read more at Treehugger.

A study commissioned by the EU shows that onshore wind electricity is cheaper than natural gas, nuclear and coal power. The study takes into account climate change, human health and the like for a more complete total cost of energy production. The study found that the cost per megawatt-hour is about $133 for onshore wind, $235 for offshore wind, $168 for nuclear, $207 for gas, $274 for photovoltaic and between $205 and $295 for coal. European Wind Energy Association's deputy CEO Justin Wilkes says, "Not only does the Commission's report show the alarming cost of coal but it also presents onshore wind as both cheaper and more environmentally-friendly." Read more at Domestic Fuel.

The US Department of Energy is offering $14 million in funding toward landscape design projects for cellulosic feedstock. The DOE wants landscape designs that incorporate the bioenergy resources into agricultural and forestry systems already in place. It targets high-impact, sustainable production with a goal of 1 billion gallons of biofuel a year. Applications are due January 12, with concept papers due November 11. Read more at Ethanol Producer.

IHS Technology did a complete teardown of the Tesla Model S. In two videos, IHS Technology's Senior Director of Teardown services Andrew Rassweiler talks about the findings and features of some of the car's most interesting components. The videos offer materials, specifications and analysis for the media control unit, instrument cluster, battery and more. Get to know the Model S more intimately in the videos at IHS Technology.

Toyota sells off Tesla shares, too

Posted Oct 24th 2014 2:15PM

Tesla Toyota

The incredible rise of Tesla's stock price has done little to now stop two major shareholders from ditching their stake in the American EV manufacturer. First, Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, ditched its four-percent stake, and less than a week later, Toyota is doing the same thing, selling off an undisclosed bit of its Tesla investment.

The move comes as Toyota winds down sales of the RAV4 EV, which gets its batteries and electric motor from Tesla at the company's Fremont, CA factory.

"We have a good relationship with Tesla, and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects," Toyota spokesperson Kayo Doi told Bloomberg via email.

According to Bloomberg, Toyota maintained a 2.4-percent stake as recently as March 31, making it the tenth-largest of Tesla's investors. As the Japanese shed an undisclosed percentage of its shares, though, another automaker might be eyeing the California company.

Value Walk has a speculative story that claims BMW could be looking at tying up with Tesla, based on a reported meeting between execs from the two companies. The fact that the Munich-based company's carbon-fiber expertise fits nicely with the Palo Alto company's EV knowhow is apparently the driving force behind this speculation. But as usual, take this with a grain of salt.

News Source: Bloomberg, Value Walk

Image Credit: Paul Sakuma / AP

The Price Is Right plays One Away with Tesla Model S

Posted Oct 24th 2014 12:45PM

The Price Is Right gives away a Tesla Model S

When it comes to game shows, The Price Is Right is about as mainstream as American TV gets, beaming lust for fancy new prizes into millions of homes every day. Recently, the show held its annual Dream Car Week, which this year included a Tesla Model S along with a Porsche Cayenne, a Land Rover Range Rover Sport, a Maserati Quattroporte and an Aston Martin V8 Vantage.

The contestant invited to come on down an take a crack at the bright-red Model S was Vanessa Ansoorian, who told host Drew Carey that she had originally promised her brother a car if she won one, but once she saw what it was, she began rethinking her stance. Of course, before being able to drive away with the electric car, she needed to win the game, which in this case was One Away. That means that she got a string of numbers – 6-8-4-1-1 - and needed to move each digit up or down one to find the car's price. Can you get it? We won't give away the right answer, or if she won the car, but we look forward to your guesses in the comments below, where you can also watch the tense video clip.

In 2010, The Price Is Right also offered up a Tesla (in that case, a Roadster) on Earth Day. You can see how that attempt went here.

News Source: TVLubber3 via YouTube

Aging Prius, dropping gas prices putting hurt on hybrid, EV sales

Posted Oct 24th 2014 11:32AM

Toyota Prius

"As Prius represents by far the biggest chunk of the hybrid marketplace, where Prius goes, the segment goes," – Ed Kim, Autopacific

Fuel prices in the US have been tumbling for the last several weeks, with the average price of a gallon of gas at $3.120 as of October 20, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That price reflects a serious recent drop from $3.299 on October 6. Reports have even suggested that those low numbers might not change for a little while, perhaps as long as years. While drivers certainly love paying less at the pump, the change may be hurting the market for more fuel-efficient models, including the Toyota Prius.

According to a report from National Public Radio, sales of hybrids, plug-ins and EVs are down around 5 percent for the year, but trucks and SUVs have seen a 17 and 20 percent improvement, respectively. Autoblog Green's By the Numbers reports indicate similar figures of around a 5.4 percent drop so far in 2014. In fact, as of September, green-car sales have endured their fourth straight month of declines. That segment of the market fell 11 percent year-over-year in August and 9.6 percent in September.

"As Prius represents by far the biggest chunk of the hybrid marketplace, where Prius goes, the segment goes," Ed Kim, Vice President of Industry Analysis at AutoPacific tells Autoblog. That paints a bleak picture for hybrids, because at the moment, the Prius is doing pretty poorly. For the year through September, its sales are down 11.39 percent, off by 10.15 percent for just that month.

Of course, the Prius also has things twice has hard. Not only does it have to deal with the falling fuel prices like the rest of its segment-mates, it's about to be replaced. Rumors suggest that some versions of the next generation could get as much as 60 miles per gallon. "I do think that the next Prius will reignite interest in the segment, especially if it offers the 10-percent fuel economy improvement that Toyota has been claiming," said Kim.

That improvement still might make things tough, though. According to Autotrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs speaking to Autoblog via email, "The next-generation Prius – and other hybrids and electrics – have a big challenge against traditional gas vehicles, which keep improving with every version in terms of fuel economy."

Meanwhile, the overall US auto market is booming. As of August, the Seasonally Adjusted Sales Rate showed the best figures since 2006, at about 17.5 million units. "Right now, gas prices are dropping, sales of fuel-sippers are also falling (or at least not growing) and sales of pickup trucks and SUVs, including big ones, are way up," said Krebs. Scroll down to listen to the full report from NPR.
Related Gallery2011 Toyota Prius
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Porsche rules out Macan, 911 hybrids

Posted Oct 24th 2014 10:16AM

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid

Believe it or not, between the 918 Spyder, the Cayenne and the Panamera, Porsche offers more plug-in hybrid models than any other brand. Yes, Porsche. But don't expect that trend to continue. At least, not in the immediate future.

According to Top Gear, the E-Hybrid powertrain in the Cayenne and Panamera is too big to fit into the smaller Macan. A future hybrid system could be small enough to fit, but with the current technology still fresh, that'd still be some ways down the twisting road.

It stands to reason, then, that if the system wouldn't fit in the Macan, it wouldn't fit in the Boxster or Cayman, either. But what of the 911? Surely Porsche would like to stick it to BMW and its new i8, and proved it could do a hybrid 911 when it rolled the GT3 R Hybrid (pictured) out onto the race track over four years ago. But Zuffenhausen is reportedly in no rush to put that idea into production – not for the current 911 and not for the next one, either.

Porsche has indeed proven its performance hybrid chops with the 918 Spyder and the 919 Hybrid LMP1 racer. But for now, it looks like the current trio of Porsche PHEVs will have to carry on by themselves.

News Source: Top Gear

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek gets more infotainment, safety tech

Posted Oct 24th 2014 8:45AM

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

A couple of months ago, Subaru rolled out a series of minor enhancements for the Impreza, and now it's performed a similar upgrade to its more rugged counterpart, the XV Crosstrek. For 2015, the XV benefits from available EyeSight driver assistance suite, steering-responsive fog lights and a new 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system (with a seven-inch version on higher-spec models).

Otherwise the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek and XV Crosstrek Hybrid are essentially the same as the 2014 models they replace. The requisite 2.0-liter boxer four drives to all four wheels as always, with or without hybrid assist, through either a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission. Look for the updated model to reach dealers this December, and in the meantime, feel free to peruse the press release below.

News Source: Subaru

Elio Motors $185-million request advances under DOE's restarted ATVM loan program

Paul Elio's 84-mpg Trike Constantly Getting Closer To Reality

Posted Oct 24th 2014 7:59AM

Paul Elio With 84-mpg trike

Controversial, helpful and finally put on hiatus, the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program from the Department of Energy (DOE) has had a tremendous impact on the current flock of plug-in vehicles. Before being paused in 2011, the ATVM handed out money to Ford ($5.9 billion), Nissan ($1.6 billion) Fisker Automotive ($528.7 million), and Tesla Motors ($465 million). That took care of around $8.3 billion of the Bush-era program's original budget of $25 billion, leaving around $16 billion with nowhere to go. In April, the DOE announced it would restart the program, this time focusing on suppliers.

Speaking at the SxSW Eco conference in Austin, TX a few weeks ago, DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz said that the next wave of ATVM loans will be for the supply chain to "provide the new components that the advanced vehicles will need" as well as funding projects that will help end coal dependency because, "We think it is important now to get more and more financial institutions in the game of these cleaner projects."

But there is still room for vehicle manufacturers in the program. Today, Elio Motors announced it has passed the first review phase for this next round of ATVM loans and its application is "substantially complete." Elio is working on a $6,800, 84-mile-per-gallon three-wheeled vehicle and is getting ready to build thousands of units in Shreveport, LA in 2015 and is asking for a $185 million loan "to accelerate the company's plans to begin production" of the efficient trike. Find out more in Elio's press release below.

News Source: Elio Motors, Secretary Moniz

Honda execs take 'quality-related' pay cut after Fit Hybrid's 5th recall

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 7:00PM

2015 Honda Fit Hybrid

Generally, the best policy in life is to admit when you're wrong and just accept the consequences. However, that attitude generally seems to be a bit less common in the world of business – at least without some government or legal prodding. So, it's especially surprising to learn that top Honda executives in Japan are taking a pay cut for the next three months following the fifth recall of the Fit Hybrid (pictured above) in the last 12 months.

According to Reuters, Chief Executive Takanobu Ito is taking a 20-percent pay cut to make amends for the quality issues. Also, 12 other high-ranking executives are taking 10 percent drops in their salaries. In addition to those temporary changes, Honda is creating a new position in charge of monitoring vehicle quality.

The latest recall fixes "noise-related defects," according to Reuters, on both the hybrid and naturally aspirated versions of the Fit, both variants of the Vezel (the sibling to the future HR-V in the US) and the N-WGN. There have also been three recalls for problems with the hybrid's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. None of them have caused reported injuries or deaths, and these issues haven't affected US models.

Still, the quality concerns come at a rough time for Honda globally. While it tackles these problems in Japan, over five million vehicles in the US could potentially still need repairs due to faulty airbag inflators from Takata.
Related Gallery2015 Honda Fit Hybrid
2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid2015 Honda Fit Hybrid

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Honda

Recharge Wrap-up: Carmakers exceed CAFE standard, EVSR sets two electric lap records

Sierra Club Helps Buyers Choose An EV; CREW Takes EPA To Task Over RFS

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 6:05PM

evsr electric racecar

New cars have outpaced the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for the 2012-2014 model years, according to a new report from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The CAFE standards target a five-percent reduction in CO2 per mile each year through 2025. Based on fuel economy ratings, cars have exceeded this standard - and NHTSA's expectations - for the first three years of the current standard, which started in 2012. "If the current trends in annual improvements continue," the report concludes, "future achieved CAFE performance is expected to continue meeting or exceeding the projected performance levels (and desired GHG reductions) contained in the latest CAFE standards." Read more at the UMTRI website.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washingtow (CREW) is suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over transparency failings with regard to industry influence. Earlier, CREW filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for EPA documents regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), and called for an investigation by the EPA's Office of Inspector General. In addition to creating a flurry of acronyms, CREW hopes to shed light on the relationships between government and businesses like the Carlyle Group and Delta Airlines, both of whom lobbied for a reduction in the RFS. "Even though it is nearly 2015, the renewable fuel standards for 2014 still haven't been released," says CREW Executive Director Malanie Sloan. "Is this to avoid potential political fallout in the mid-terms for siding with the oil industry over the biofuel industry?" Read more at the CREW website.

The Sierra Club has launched a new online tool, called Pick A Plug-in, to help people shop for EVs. The tool asks basic questions about driving habits and needs, access to an outlet, budget and certain personal preferences, and provides the user with a list of suitable electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. It displays the model, its price after government incentives, seating, electric range and states where it is available. The Sierra Club also has a tool to learn about any state and local incentives. Try Pick A Plug-in for yourself or read more about it in the press release below.

EVSR took first place in an SCCA event on at New Jersey Motorsports Park, setting an electric lap record at Thunderbolt Raceway. The event took place on October 18 and 19, and the lap record of 1:33.582 was set during the race on day two, driven by Todd Reid. Earlier in October, EVSR also set an electric lap record of 1:27.482 during practice at the Watkins Glen short course. EVSR Project Manager and Chief Engineer Charlie Greenhaus was behind the wheel for that lap, which clocked an average speed of 100.8 miles per hour. See the record lap at Watkins glen in a video below, where you'll also find a press release.

News Source: UMTRI, CREW, Sierra Club, EVSR

Car2go brings incentives to charging in San Diego

Park Your EV Downtown, Get Free Minutes

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 4:01PM

car2go san diego

car2go san diegoPlugging in a vehicle to get power makes sense when that vehicle is owned by one person or family and – like most of the cars on the planet – sits still for most of the day. But when you're trying to share an EV, or a few hundred of them, charging time becomes doubly important. You need those electrons to move but every minute spent charging is time the car can't be shared.

So, in San Diego, the all-electric Car2go program is changing how it gets more juice into its battery-powered Smart cars. While Car2go users have always been able to park at a charging station and plug in, Car2go has needed to use a fleet team to move the cars around and make sure they're charged up. To encourage users to leave the cars in a new downtown "Incentive Zone" (where, we presume, the fleet team will have an easier time recharging the cars), they can get free drive time just for parking the car in the right area. If the drive is over 10 minutes, they'll get a 10-minute credit. Since the Smart EDs can take up to six hours to charge, parking them in a central are should simplify things. The new policy started yesterday and the free minutes will last until the end of the year.

News Source: Car2go San Diego

2015 VW e-Golf scores 116 MPGe, 83 miles of range from EPA

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 2:00PM

2015 VW e-Golf

The e-Golf has official EPA ratings of 126 MPGe (city) and 105 (hwy).

When the 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf arrives in "select states" in the US, it will be the only model sold here that could also be purchased with a diesel or standard ICE powertrain. It will also be the most efficient compact EV. That's according to new numbers out today from the EPA, which rate the new e-Golf with a 116 mile per gallon equivalent number (combined). That's just enough to beat out the best-selling Nissan Leaf, which has 114 MPGe.

The electric Golf's official range limit is 83 miles (the Leaf is rated at 84 miles), but VW is saying that somewhere between 70 and 90 miles should be expected, depending on driving style. The e-Golf also has official EPA ratings of 126 MPGe in the city and 105 on the highway. The EPA measures MPGe using a formula that says that 33.7 kW/hour is equal to the energy in one gallon of gasoline energy.

The e-Golf comes with standard SAE Combo fast charging that can fill up an empty battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes, if you can find a plug. A Level 2, J1772 connector will take less than four hours, thanks to a 7.2-kW onboard charger while your standard 110 outlet will need 20 hours to fill up the 24.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The e-Golf will only be available in one trim line, the SEL Premium, for $35,445.

For the record, current models of the Chevy Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Honda Fit EV and the BMW i3 have higher MPGe ratings than the e-Golf (119, 116, 118 and 124, respectively), but they're in different classes. Of course, there's a case to be made that all of these numbers aren't exactly helping the EV cause, so perhaps it's better to forget that last sentence.
Related Gallery2015 VW e-Golf
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News Source: Volkswagen

Toyota JV will sell Leahead EVs in China next year

Will Young, Hip Buyers Come Knocking?

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 11:52AM

China Auto Show

You may have read that Toyota is about to establish a new electric vehicle sub-brand in China called Leahead that will focus on "cheap electric cars aimed at young and hip car buyers in China." This isn't 100 percent true, but the Japanese automaker is revving its electric motors for EVs in China, in a fashion. It makes sense for automakers to push for more EVs in China, given government support for the technology and the proven success of Tesla there. Low-speed EVs are popular, as well.

Indirectly, Toyota is going to sell electric vehicles to Chinese customers next year.

We've heard reports before that Toyota is interested in going electric in China, with a different Toyota JV and thus a different brand but now we have an official word on Toyota's future EV moves in China, direct from Jana Hartline, the environmental communications manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA. Hartline told AutoblogGreen that Toyota just celebrated the 10-year anniversary of GAC Toyota Motor Co., Ltd (GTMC), its joint-venture manufacturing company in China. And it is GTMC, not Toyota directly, that is the company behind Leahead (called Ling Zhi in Chinese).

Leahead will begin selling EVs under the Ling Zhi brand starting in 2015. So, yes, indirectly, Toyota is going to sell electric vehicles to Chinese customers next year. There are rumors that the new EVs will be electric versions of the Corolla EX and/or the Yaris L, but we've got nothing confirmed on that front. We will be waiting for more new at the Shanghai Motor Show next April.

News Source: Toyota, Car News China, Gas2

Image Credit: Kin Cheung / AP

Insurance company's numbers show EVs cheaper to insure, run

Average Policy Savings Are $200

Posted Oct 23rd 2014 10:00AM

Vehicle running costs chart

Coverhound Insurance has sold around 20,000 auto policies, and that's been enough for the online comparison-shopping site to notice an EV-friendly trend: electric vehicles are cheaper to insure. An average of $200 cheaper, in fact, according to CoverHound CEO Keith Moore.

Moore spoke to The Los Angeles Times, and said that when you add in lower fuel costs, the disparity gets even bigger. The insurance benefit likely comes from the idea that EVs drivers are "more responsible," Coverhound says, and that they are "therefore less likely to get into an accident or get a traffic violation." Not everyone who shifts from an ICE to an EV will lower their insurance rates. Coverhound estimates that switching from a Ford F-150 to a Chevy Volt could raise your insurance rate by up to $200. The purchase price of an EV is also obviously higher in almost every case, compared to a similar ICE vehicle.

Still, with price drops coming all over the place, running costs are getting the attention they deserve. Coverhound (drawing on total cost of ownership numbers, which include "depreciation, taxes and fees, fuel, insurance, maintenance, repairs and tax credits," from Edmunds) estimates yearly fuel costs for the Leaf starting at $300 in the first year and then going up to $328 in the fourth year. The Toyota Corolla, by comparison, starts at $1,675 in year one and hits $1,830 in year four. You can see the total cost of ownership for those two cars, plus the Chevy Volt and Hyundai Elantra, in the chart above and more detailed numbers below. Aside from year one, the Leaf comes away a total winner.

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