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Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show

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    Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show
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Watch Lotus F1 team careen through a mall in Renault Twizy EVs

Posted Nov 28th 2014 8:00PM

Renault Twizy at The Dubai Mall

The Lotus Formula One Team is sticking with drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado next year, but it's dropping Renault as an engine supplier in favor of Mercedes power. The 2014 F1 season is barely over, though, and that mean's there still a little time left to put those marketing dollars to work, while still having a little fun, too.

To that, Renault has put Grosjean and Maldonado behind the wheel of two Twizy electric cars and unleashed them on The Dubai Mall for an ad for the little buggies. The location is one of the world's largest shopping centers, and it also houses an aquarium, an ice skating rink and even a dinosaur. It's a big place, and unsurprisingly, the two F1 pilots drift the little buggies with ease around every part of the complex. Grosjean even gets some time on the ice. Check out the ad for the quirky EV in the video above.

News Source: Renault Middle East via YouTube

Image Credit: Related images copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Cadillac ELR update delayed over autonomous drive systems issues

Posted Nov 28th 2014 5:02PM

2014 Cadillac ELR, front three-quarter view.

Rumors had been circulating that the 2016 Cadillac ELR would bow in Los Angeles recently, featuring, in Cadillac's own words, "engineering enhancements." The rumors and that quote are as far as it got – the updated ELR pulled a no-show in LA, and no one outside of the brand appears to know when it will appear.

GM Inside News says its sources at Cadillac pinned the ELR's absence on some autonomous driving features not being ready to reveal. According to GMI, Cadillac insiders say the upgraded ELR will be a "highly autonomous vehicle," and the company needs more time to gets its systems polished. The site says "it's not unreasonable to assume that ELR will be [the] vehicle" that gets Cadillac's Super Cruise technology, but that seems a lot more involved than "engineering enhancements," and in September Cadillac said we'd see it sometime in the next two years.

It's possible the wait for the 2016 ELR and its secrets might only be a couple of months: the next-generation Chevrolet Volt, which shares a platform with the ELR and whose engineering updates we know quite a bit about, is scheduled to appear at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in January.
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India's ZipCar equivalent will rent you a car for 73 cents an hour

Posted Nov 28th 2014 3:59PM

Nepal Debt Showdown World on Edge

ZipCar is a great tool if you're the city dwelling, car-ownership-averse sort. It's even somewhat affordable, with prices from $6 a month and driving rates from $8 to $10 an hour. A ZipCar-like Indian company called Zoomcar India Pvt. is taking that affordability to the extreme, offering rentals of the Mahindra e2o, a small city-minded EV for just 73 cents an hour.

Now, obviously there's a currency thing at play here. With one US dollar translating to about 61 Indian rupees, and a cursory search for India's daily minimum wage yielding between $2.18 to $3.40, it's fairly clear that while the deal is is ludicrously affordable to Americans, there are still many Indians who will be priced out.

According to Bloomberg, there are three ZipCar-like companies operating in India, offering cars like the Ford Figo, Tata Nano and Volkswagen Polo for prices ranging from 70 to 99 rupees ($1.13 to $1.60). Fancy something bigger and one company will even let you snag a Mercedes-Benz E-Class for $19 an hour.

The growing rental industry, Bloomberg reports, is due in large part to India's youth joining the workforce while eschewing cars.

"Buying a car is a total waste of money," Shrinidhi Hande, a 31-year-old business analyst from Chennai told Bloomberg. "Using services such as Myles or Zoomcar, I get to drive the latest models without having to pay monthly installments, insurance or maintenance."

Quick! Someone cue up the story about how millennials are the same everywhere.

News Source: Bloomberg

Image Credit: Kevin Frayer / AP

Honda working on 'power exporter' to go with fuel-cell vehicle

Posted Nov 28th 2014 10:00AM

The bad news, as we've previously reported, is that Honda's first production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle won't debut until 2016, a bit later than expected. The good news is that the automaker may produce a device that will let that FCV's motor power up other devices as well. So it's a tradeoff of sorts.

The company is producing what it calls the Power Exporter Concept. Put simply, it's a device that can connects to the fuel-cell vehicle and produce AC power (the picture makes it look fairly small, but dimensions weren't disclosed). The device has a maximum output of 9 kilowatts. Honda isn't saying much else about the device, which was announced along with further details of the company's upcoming fuel-cell concept vehicle. Still, it's heady yet not terribly surprising stuff from a company that's long been a big player on the portable power generator industry.

Honda recently said its first production fuel-cell vehicle would see the light of day in early 2016 instead of 2015. The futuristic-looking vehicle will have a power output of about 130 horsepower and will be able to have its hydrogen tank filled up in less than five minutes. Take a look at Honda's press release below.

News Source: Honda

More details emerge on hotter BMW i8S coming next year

Posted Nov 27th 2014 4:00PM

BMW i8, front three-quarter view.

The BMW i8 recently won the Autoblog Technology of the Year award, and it's going to get even better. In October, Automobile magazine reported that BMW's i brand is working on an i8S that would be stiffer and more powerful, and celebrate the marque's centenary in 2016. At the time, one of two power unit combinations was suggested, either one of them good for more than 500 horsepower.

Car magazine has added more info on the coupe said to be called Project M100, saying that in addition to being a birthday gift for BMW, it will also be a going-away statement to current chairman Norbert Reithofer, who is expected to retire in 2016 or 2017. It will also be so thoroughly reworked that there will be plenty of daylight between it and the standard i8: a more integrated carbon fiber and aluminum chassis, a wider range of materials used in the build, a larger luggage bay due to the omission of rear seats, a more aggressive suspension supporting heartier brakes and wider tires, and - perhaps - a different aero and ground-effects package to be visually different and make the most of the alterations.

As for that power unit, Car says that the two options mentioned by Automobile are still under consideration, being either a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder with 320 horsepower and a 204-hp electric motor, or a 3.0-liter straight six with 480 hp and an electric motor with 109 hp. Either choice gets an integrated starter motor good for another 27 hp, and a total torque number of roughly 520 pound-feet, 100 additional lb-ft than the current car. Word is that it will be shown for the centenary in 2016 then go on sale by the end of 2017.
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News Source: Car via World Car Fans

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Happy Thanksgiving! Autoblog is thankful for... [w/videos]

Posted Nov 27th 2014 12:01PM

The inimitable David E. Davis, Jr., once described himself as "...the luckiest guy in the world; a car enthusiast and I live in car-enthusiast heaven."

I think about that line a lot, but it seems ever-more poignant around this time of year, when families are gathered, stories are told and words of thanks are offered up more readily than on your average Thursday.

And even though, as a group, we wear a good deal fewer cravats than DED usually did, we can't help but feel as though we belong to that same Luckiest Guy group ourselves. Every man, woman and child of us.

So, keeping up with tradition, we offer you the 2014 version of our Thanksgiving List. Take a break from the carbo-loading, have a read, and then tell us which motoring wonders you're thankful for this year, in Comments.

Image Credit: Getty | Copyright 2014 AOL

Tesla will fix 1,100 Model S motors in Norway

Posted Nov 26th 2014 7:55PM

Tesla Model S with mountains

As far as we know, Tesla didn't build all of the Model S sedans it has sold in Norway at once, but it is just those vehicles that have been found defective and will soon be fixed. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the company will replace defective Model S drive units sold in the Northern European country. Not a great way to start the holiday season.

The issue involves a part that connects the Model S' drive motor to the gearbox, according to Dow Jones Business News. The part could break down because the company didn't apply enough grease to the part when the cars were produced. The issue may impact about 1,100 vehicles that had been shipped to Norway, though about one percent of those have already experienced "premature" wear and tear. The repairs for the couplings will take about a month.

We suspect the news won't put much of a damper on Model S demand in a country that's been on the leading edge of electric-vehicle adoption with its high subsidies and cheap electricity. In March, Tesla set an all-time monthly sales record for any type of vehicle in Norway, moving almost 1,500 units that month. In fact, on a per-capita basis, the Model S sold more than the best-selling Ford F-150 here in the states that month.

Audi following Tesla with 280-mile EV family car

Posted Nov 26th 2014 6:30PM

The Audi R8 etron at the Silvretta Rally, front three-quarter view.

The press days are finished at the LA Auto Show, but things said there are still making news. While in California, Audi technical development chief Ulrich Hackenberg told reporters that his employer plans to release an electric car with a range of 280 miles "around 2017." Hackenberg wouldn't say what kind of car - or crossover, perhaps - it will be, but one report said it would be "a large car, fitting five large people with ample luggage space." Most observers expect it to be a sedan to take on the Tesla Model S.

It's no secret that Audi respects Tesla, and there have been hints that The House of Quattro is ready to really flex its progress-through-technology muscles in Tesla's direction. Audi will be applying lessons learned in the development of the coming R8 E-tron to the future electric car, after it managed to double the range of the electric sports car thanks to new battery technology to 450 kilometers, or 281 miles.

This puts another tentative all-electric Audi in the mix and another Tesla competitor, after rumors of a possible electric Q8 from February of this year. If an electric Q8 does happen, it's expected to be a challenger to the Tesla Model X. And that might not be all: Bloomberg reported in June that Audi had "devised blueprints for several high-performance electric saloons and sport-utility vehicles."

News Source: AutoExpress

Tesla in talks with BMW about batteries, charging collaborations

Posted Nov 26th 2014 4:28PM

Tesla Motor's New EV unveiled

With Toyota and Daimler no longer holding Tesla shares, the electric vehicle company might be looking for a new partner – possibly a Bavarian one. In a new interview with Germany's Der Spiegel, CEO Elon Musk confirmed that he has had talks with BMW execs about future collaboration.

"We are talking about whether we can collaborate in battery technology or charging stations," Musk said in the interview, according to Reuters. However, a Tesla spokesperson has tempered things by saying no formal agreements are in place at the moment.

In the same interview, Musk reportedly praised BMW's use of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic in its i sub-brand offerings, and said he would like to have a battery factory in Germany in the next five or six years.

The possibility of technological cooperation between Tesla and BMW has been a hot topic this year. In June, Musk reportedly met with BMW execs, and the two companies were also rumored to have met with Nissan to discuss charging technology. When Daimler sold off its shares, there was talk of it opening the way for possible collaboration between the two automakers, as well.

News Source: Reuters

Image Credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP Photo

Renault-Nissan has sold 200,000 EVs, claims 58 percent global share

Most Of Those Are Due To Popular Leaf, Which Has Sold 67,000 In US

Posted Nov 26th 2014 1:56PM

Renault ev concepts

The all-electric Renault Zoe sold 10,000 units during its first year on sale and the French automaker has sold a total of about 51,500 EVs since starting sales of its four-vehicle EV lineup in 2011. Renault's collection also includes the Twizy two-seater, the Fluence sedan and the Kangoo van – just look at the awesome concepts from 2009 in the gallery above. Throw in the fact that the Nissan Leaf has sold around 150,000 around the world and some sales of the e-NV200 delivery van, and we get to a banner headline for the Renault-Nissan Alliance: the companies have sold over 200,000 EVs since the Leaf went at sale in the end of 2010.

The Alliance announced it crossed the 100,000 EV sales mark in July 2013, so we can calculate that the two companies are selling roughly 6,250 EVs a month, with the Leaf making up the bulk of that figure (the car is averaging around 3,000 units a month in the US alone). Nissan says that Leaf has cumulatively sold around 67,000 Leafs in the US, 46,500 in Japan and 31,000 in Europe.

The 6,250 sales per month is a rough estimate, since the Alliance says its sales are up 20 percent this year compared to last. Still, all told, Renault-Nissan claims it has 58 percent of the global market share for EVs, and its battery-powered vehicles have driven four billion kilometers (2.48-billion miles), which has prevented 450 million kilograms of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Who wants to bet when the 300,000 threshold will be crossed?

News Source: Renault-Nissan Alliance

Translogic 164: Driving the fuel cell vehicles of the 2014 LA Auto Show

Posted Nov 26th 2014 12:45PM

Toyota Mirai

The LA Auto Show is known for its environmentally friendly vehicle debuts. At last year's show, hydrogen fuel cell concepts from Honda and Toyota joined a lease-ready Hyundai Tucson FCEV to cast a green hue over the convention center. This year, automakers took us a step closer to a fuel cell future by offering drives of their hydrogen-electric hybrids.

Translogic host Jonathon Buckley takes a ride in the Toyota Mirai, which is headed for production in 2016. He follows that with a spin in the Volkswagen Passat HyMotion and the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro concept. Which of these fuel cell vehicles holds the most promise? Tune in to find out.

EPA: 2014 renewable fuel standards 'significantly delayed'

Biofuel Producers Get Happy, Frustrated

Posted Nov 26th 2014 10:36AM

NASCAR Texas Auto Racing

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not going to decide just yet how much biofuel to add to the national fuel supply in the future. Last year, the EPA said, for the first time ever, that it might reduce the biofuel component in American gas, but is now saying that the 2014 standards rule will be "significantly delayed."

The EPA said that, basically, since we're all using less gasoline, maybe we don't need as much biofuel (PDF):

The proposal has generated significant comment and controversy, particularly about how volumes should be set in light of lower gasoline consumption than had been forecast at the time that the Energy Independence and Security Act was enacted, and whether and on what basis the statutory volumes should be waived. ...
EPA has been evaluating these issues in light of the purposes of the statute and the Administration's commitment to the goals of the statute to increase the use of renewable fuels, particularly cellulosic biofuels, which will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted from the consumption of transportation fuels and diversify the nation's fuel supply.

Reactions to the delay are decidedly mixed. A number of ethanol producers rejoiced, including some in Brazil, since any action that could reduce the ethanol content is being put off. The Renewable Fuels Association says the news is a "cloud of uncertainty with a silver lining" and blames the oil industry for not promoting higher ethanol blends (E15 and E85, for example) in the national fuel supply. On the other hand, the National Biodiesel Board says that the EPA is hurting the industry with the delay, since there is no statue-based biodiesel standard and the new levels should have been published in November 2012. Iowa officials generally agree.

News Source: Domestic Fuels, ABC News, EPA, Domestic Fuel

Image Credit: Randy Holt / AP

Recharge Wrap-up: Porsche adds third 919 Hybrid for Le Mans, Audi to heat factory with geothermal

BMW i Invests In Zendrive; Chicago Petitions For E15

Posted Nov 26th 2014 7:54AM

porsche 919 hybrid le mans

Porsche will be running a third 919 Hybrid LMP1 car in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. The extra Porsche will race in the six-hour May 2 WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps as a lead-up to the legendary 24-hour race on June 13 and 14. Porsche hasn't announced the driver lineup for the third 919 Hybrid, but drivers will remain the same for the other two cars. Including the third car is meant to help further test performance and efficiency as part of development for future hybrid systems. Read more at Green Car Congress.

BMW i Ventures is investing in Zendrive, a driving focused data and analytics company. The cooperation of the two companies is meant to help advance safety and efficiency by making the "in-car mobility experience even smoother by optimizing commuting and driving patterns," according to BMW i's Ulrich Quay. The venture capital arm of BMW's i brand also invests in JustPark, Chargepoint, Life360, Chargemaster and MyCityWay, and says it will have more strategic investment announcements in the coming months. Read more in the press release below.

The Audi Hungaria factory in Győr, Hungary will soon be getting geothermal energy from a nearby plant being constructed in Pér. When the facility is finished, Audi expects to source 82,000 megawatt hours of geothermal energy per year from it, or about six percent of its total heating needs. The clean energy helps Audi move "step by step along a path to developing a CO2‑neutral production plant," says Audi's Dr. Hubert Waltl. "The mobility of the future must be CO2‑neutral – and that applies not only to the use of our vehicles, but also to their production." Read more in the press release below.

Supporters have begun a petition drive for the passage of an E15 ordinance in Chicago. Despite pushback from oil companies, the city council is close to passing the "Chicago Clean Air Choice Ordinance," which includes the requirement by retailers to sell the 15-percent ethanol gasoline blend in the city. The ordinance includes an exception for stations selling less than 850,000 gallons of fuel per year. More than 4,000 people have signed the petition so far, with others leaving messages to voice their opinion on the matter in opposition to Big Oil's attempt to block it. Read more at Domestic Fuel.

News Source: Green Car Congress, BMW, Audi, Domestic Fuel

Image Credit: Porsche

Autoblog Podcast #407

Posted Nov 25th 2014 5:45PM

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #407 of the Autoblog Podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, and Sebastian Blanco talk about the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, the Toyota Mirai, and the BMW 3 Series falling off the Car and Driver 10Best list. We start with what's in the Autoblog Garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #407:

In The Autoblog Garage:
Hosts: Dan Roth, Steven Ewing, Sebastian Blanco
Runtime: 01:07:55

  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Challenge Bibendum - 18:32
  • Toyota Mirai - 28:20
  • C/D 10Best - 44:52
  • Q&A - 53:52

Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
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Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

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