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2015 Ford Focus Electric hides in plain sight

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    2015 Ford Focus Electric hides in plain sight
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    2015 Toyota Camry ushers in 'sweeping redesign' [w/poll]
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    Volvo S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid is the full package
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    2016 Chevy Volt spotted testing its electric beating heart
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2016 Audi A3 Sportback headed to US under diesel power [w/video]

Posted Apr 17th 2014 10:21AM

2015 Audi A3 TDI Sportback

Every get the feeling that automakers aren't really listening to what it is that you want in an automobile? Well, Audi is. Following what it calls "an outpouring of enthusiasts' support," the German automaker has announced that it is bringing the new, 2016 A3 Sportback to the US under diesel power, in the summer of 2015.

Unveiled today at the New York Auto Show, the new A3 TDI Sportback joins an expanding range of A3 models available Stateside. Whereas the Sportback hatch was until now only slated to be offered in E-Tron hybrid form, and the TDI only as a sedan, this model combines the bodystyle of the former with the power of the latter. The new TDI slots into the family alongside the gasoline-powered A3 and S3 sedans and A3 Cabriolet as well.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four with 150 horsepower and mated to a six-speed S tronic transmission. Because it's still a year away from launch, Audi tells us it hasn't determined figures for performance, fuel economy or carbon emissions numbers, but when it joins the company's considerable diesel offerings (which already include the A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7) as part of the new A3 rollout over the course of the next 18 months, you can bet it'll provide that combination of low-end grunt and long-range capability that diesel enthusiasts crave. In the meantime you can scope out the details and b-roll footage below for a closer look.

News Source: Audi

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Audi A3 named 2014 World Car of the Year

Posted Apr 17th 2014 10:00AM

2015 Audi A3

As usual, the second press day of the New York Auto Show was kicked off by the World Car of the Year Awards. Rather than fluff things up, we'll cut right to the chase: top honors go to the brand-new Audi A3, which bested the Mazda3 and BMW 4 Series for the all-important award.

Of course, the wonderful thing about the World Car awards is that there isn't just one big announcement – other honors are given out for specific categories. Here are the other winners from this year's ceremony: Have a look at our list of finalists to see which cars didn't make the cut, and be sure to let us know if you agree or disagree with the winners, in Comments.
Related Gallery2015 Audi A3: First Drive
2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive2015 Audi A3: First Drive

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Toyota Europe boss says 'reasonable number' of fuel cell vehicles on the way

Posted Apr 17th 2014 8:31AM

Didier Leroy, Toyota Motor Europe's President

We know that Toyota is gung-ho about delivering its first hydrogen fuel cell sedan to early-adopter markets like southern California and part of Japan next year. The Japanese automaker's European H2 plans have long been part of the mix, but a new press release shows just how committed Toyota is to hydrogen all around the world.

"The volume will be limited, but they will be visible on the streets" – Didier Leroy

Toyota says hydrogen fuel cells are a "major, but logical next step" after the company's pioneering work on gas-electric hybrids for 15 years. Didier Leroy, president of Toyota Motor Europe (pictured), said in a statement that he knows there will be H2 hurdles, and so Toyota will start with "a reasonable number of cars" in Europe. "The volume will be limited," he said, "but they will be visible on the streets."

Karl Schlicht, Toyota Motor Europe executive vice president, compares Toyota's current hydrogen progress with where the company was with hybrid's in the not-too-distant past. When it comes to infrastructure and cost, he said, "There is of course a long way to go, as with any game-changing technology, but remember the same was said about hybrid only 10 years ago." You can read the full PR below.

We don't remember a lot of people saying the infrastructure for hybrids simply wasn't there in 2004, but maybe we missed that memo.

News Source: Toyota

2015 Ford Focus Electric hides in plain sight

Posted Apr 16th 2014 7:00PM

2015 Ford Focus Electric

The styling changes to the 2015 Ford Focus were shown off at the recent Geneva Motor Show, so what the EV version looks like is not that much of a surprise. Still, the 2015 Focus Electric is making its world debut here at the New York Auto Show, so we wanted to know what changes we are looking at compared to both the internal combustion engine version and the earlier EV models.

The exterior visual distinctions between the ICE and EV are minimal, and basically nonexistent from the A-pillar to the rear. Up front, you can see the charge port, of course, but the front fascia has also undergone a bit of an adjustment. The front doesn't have the ICE version's flattened grille and the EV's Ford logo creates a bump in the hood line where none exists on the ICE. The 2015's grille is also different than the one on the 2014 Focus Electric, being slightly smaller (you can see this better if you compare pictures in our new gallery above to these of the 2011 Focus Electric and these of the gas-powered 2015 Focus).

The updated 2015 interior – which we couldn't access ourselves – has things like a new center stack, improved cupholders and is basically identical between the gas and electric models. With the car off, you can't even tell if you're in an EV or ICE, Seema Bardwaj, the US brand manager for the Focus, told AutoblogGreen. The only things that are different, she said, are extra menu screens to show EV powertrain information to the driver.

There is also a minor powertrain upgrade in the '15 EV compared to the '14 model: a single-digit increase in kW rating for the electric motor. The range (76 miles) and MPGe (105, combined) numbers for the 2015 MY are the same as they were before, Bardwaj said.
Related Gallery2015 Ford Focus EV
2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

2015 Volkswagen Jetta is new, we promise

Posted Apr 16th 2014 6:40PM

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Look closely, kids – you're staring at the face of a refreshed Volkswagen Jetta. Yeah, it's hard to tell, what with the only noticeable changes consisting of slightly updated headlamps and taillamps, and some other aerodynamic tweaks. But the big news for the 2015 Jetta is what you can't see.

For starters, there's a new version of Volkswagen's ever-excellent 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder diesel engine. With 150 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque on tap, it isn't vastly different in terms of output, but the big gain here is fuel economy. Volkswagen claims that with the six-speed manual transmission, the 2015 Jetta TDI will achieve up to 45 miles per gallon on the highway. And based on our experience with prior Jetta TDI models – our 2011 long-term car comes to mind – we don't think it'll be hard to crest 50 mpg every now and then, while still being pretty great to drive. The rest of the Jetta range will still be powered by 1.8- and 2.0-liter turbocharged engines, and the Hybrid and GLI models carry over with LED lamps.

Other noticeable changes are found in the Jetta's cabin, where there's a wealth of new driver assistance technology. Beyond that, chrome trim is available on mid- and high-range models, and there's a new multifunction color display. Nifty.

It might not look like much, but these updates to the compact Jetta should be enough to keep it fresh until the all-new model arrives in the not-too-distant future. Scroll down for more details in the official press blast.

VW previews retouched Touareg for Beijing

Posted Apr 16th 2014 6:00PM

2015 Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen is in New York this week showing off its new Jetta and Golf TDI SportWagen concept. But in less than a week, the German automaker will be off to China for the Beijing Motor Show, where it will showcase the revised Touareg you see here.

A subtle update on the Touareg that's been on the market in its current form for four years now, the facelifted model features reworked styling front and rear, an updated interior and a host of new technologies to keep it current in the highly competitive SUV market. Among those new features are larger bi-xenon headlights, coasting function, Google Maps integration and a post-collision braking system designed to prevent a second crash.

VW will offer the new Touareg with a variety of engines around the world, but in North America it'll carry over the same six-cylinder powertrain options as the outgoing model: a 3.6-liter V6 with 280 horsepower, a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 with 240 hp (though torque isn't listed, we'd expect around 406 pound-feet, same as last year) and a hybrid that marries a 3.0-liter supercharged V6 to an electric motor that combine to deliver 380 hp.

Reduced friction from the tires, wind and eight-speed automatic transmission mean, however, that fuel consumption is improved by six percent. And when you're driving a big SUV, every little bit helps. Scope out the full details in the press release below.
Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Touareg
2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg2015 Volkswagen Touareg

News Source: Volkswagen

Nissan will expand free* charging incentive to 25 Leaf markets

New EV buyers can use EZ-Charge card for two years

Posted Apr 16th 2014 5:57PM

Nissan Leaf

Nissan has proof that giving away a bit of electricity makes buying a new Leaf all the more enticing. Thanks to a deal that offers free charging to some Leaf owners in Texas, one dealer there claims his Leaf sales have tripled. We don't see national sales climbing quite that high starting July 1 2014, but an announcement made today at the New York Auto Show will likely give the EV a boost.

New Leaf buyers will get to charge for free at public chargers for two years. Within limits: a max of 30 minutes at CHAdeMO and an hour at Level 2 stations.

Nissan will expand its "No Charge to Charge" promotion to at least 25 markets across the US. The deal means that new Leaf buyers will get to charge for free at public chargers that accept the new EZ-Charge card, within limits. That means a maximum of 30 minutes at CHAdeMO DC fast chargers and just one hour at Level 2 stations, Brendan Jones, director of Nissan EV infrastructure strategy and development, told AutoblogGreen. This should be plenty of time, Jones said, since the average Leaf driver comes to a CHAdeMO station with 35-40 percent state-of-charge on the battery and the average time they stay is around 16-17 minutes. A half hour is fine at a fast charger, since the battery will get to 80 percent full within that time, but we're less impressed with the one-hour limit at a Level 2 station, since that will only put maybe 20 miles into the battery.

The EZ-Charge card is compatible with four of "the leading EV charging networks," which here means ChargePoint, Blink, AeroVironment and NRG eVgo. Nissan says the 25 markets make up over 80 percent of all the US Leaf sales. Anyone who buys a new Leaf in one of the specified markets - or bought one on or after April 1 of this year - will get the free-to-use EZ-Charge card (others can still get the card, which means only carrying one charger company fob instead of four). The promotion starts July 1 in 10 markets (San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Washington, DC) and then expands to the next 15 by the end of June, 2015. Nissan would not specify which markets these will be, but they will be where the Leaf is selling well and there are DC fast chargers. That means, we suspect, places like Chicago, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Fred Diaz, senior vice president of sales and marketing, aftersales, US, said during a meeting with journalists that over 90 percent of new Leafs are ordered with the CHAdeMO fast-charging option. We were curious if Nissan's emphasis on making charging easier – Diaz said the goal of this project is to build range confidence and drive additional sales - means the automaker isn't as interested in developing a longer-range Leaf, but Jones said that making charging easier and does not exclude a 150-miles EV. Plus, he said, there will always be a need for chargers.
Related Gallery2013 Nissan Leaf
2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf

News Source: Nissan

VW Golf TDI SportWagen really is a concept, sort of

Posted Apr 16th 2014 4:21PM

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Concept

We know it doesn't look like a concept, but the Golf TDI SportWagen being shown at today's New York Auto Show is not (yet) a production model. There will indeed be a production car bearing the same name coming to these United States early next year, and it will look very much like the showcar seen above, but there are decisions that still need to be made lying under the wagon's skin before any of that can happen.

When the Golf SportWagen hits a dealership near you as a replacement for the departing Jetta Sportwagen, it will be equipped with one of two engine options, a standard 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder unit running on gasoline and mated to either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission or an optional 2.0-liter TDI mill sending its torque-rich diesel drippings to the front wheels through a six-speed manual or DSG automatic gearbox. What's questionable is whether or not we'll see optional 4Motion all-wheel drive, as this concept version is equipped with, here in the US.

We wouldn't hold our breath for 4Motion, honestly, but Volkswagen says it's "under consideration," so there's that. In any case, check out the diesely goodness of the Golf TDI SportWagen Concept in our live image gallery above and read the press release below for all the details.

News Source: Volkswagen

Image Credit: Live photos copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

That time Elon Musk got a speeding ticket showing off the Tesla Model S to Johnny Depp

Posted Apr 16th 2014 1:00PM

Tesla Model S

Transcendence is a Johnny Depp vehicle that opens at movie theaters this weekend. The Tesla Model S is a Elon Musk vehicle that easily transcends the speed limits. What do these two seemingly unassociated facts share in common? A speeding ticket.

It seems a few cast members of the sci-fi film – which is not at all remotely anything like The Lawnmower Man – including the aforementioned Depp, were being given an on-road demonstration of the all-electric sedan by the automaker's CEO when they were pulled over for speeding.

According to a report in the Sun tabloid, Musk visited the set where he was introduced to Depp by director Wally Pfister. This led to the trio, along with co-stars Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany, all piling into the car for a bit of a joy ride. Apparently, Musk got a little too joyous with the accelerator and they were soon pulled over by an officer of the law, who was neither star-struck nor amused by the antics of the assembled celebrities. Depp is quoted as saying, "Elon had a good sense of humour about it. The cop did not. He needed a humor chip. But it was a good time, nonetheless."

We don't know if the excursion led to any Model S sales, but we can say that the prolific movie star definitely enjoyed the adventure. "I had one of the best experiences I've ever had," Depp said. While we (sadly) don't have footage from the incident to share, you can scroll below for the official trailer from Transcendence.

News Source: The Sun via Transport Evolved

2015 Toyota Camry ushers in 'sweeping redesign' [w/poll]

Posted Apr 16th 2014 10:27AM

2015 Toyota Camry

2015 toyota camryWith a dozen years atop the nation's best-selling car charts, you might think that there wouldn't be a lot of incentive for Toyota to rework its Camry, particularly so early in the life of the current model. But despite its unassailable sales totals, the midsize sedan has come in for substantial criticism for its milquetoast dynamics, piecemeal interiors and bland design.

As part of CEO Akio Toyoda's mantra to build more exciting cars, the 2015 Camry has arrived with a fresh new look and content that goes far beyond the Japanese automaker's typically slight mid-cycle redesigns. Featuring some 2,000 new parts, the 2015 Camry casts a 1.8-inch longer shadow and stretches across a widened track (0.4 inches). And it won't be just the widened track that should help deliver a more dynamic performance – Toyota is citing a stiffer chassis thanks to additional spot welds along with a rejiggered suspension, retuned electric power steering and a new two-stage brake booster for improved braking feel.

A new XSE trim promises the sportiest performance yet, including model-specific shock absorbers and springs, stiffer bushings, unique stability control programming and 18-inch wheels to go along with a unique front end treatment featuring mesh grille inserts and a revised fascia.

But Camry sales have rarely been driven by performance – millions of the things have been purchased due to the family sedan's ironclad reputation for attributes like reliability, strong resale value, comfort and ease of use. The latter two aspects often help secure the former, and to that end, Toyota has made a lot of changes to the Camry's interior, both seen and unseen. Visible changes include a redesigned gauge cluster with a new 4.2-inch TFT display, richer materials, a redesigned center stack and a console tray with available wireless charging. Hidden alterations include 30-percent more sound insulation to help deliver a serene ride.

Despite all these changes, the Camry's powertrains appear to be largely carryover, with an available 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 3.5-liter V6 engine, both yoked to conventional six-speed automatic transmissions. The Camry Hybrid will continue to be offered with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder paired with an electric motor and electronic continuously variable transmission. As previously reported, the Camry Hybrid is joined by a new SE trim with a firmer suspension and retuned steering. So far, Toyota is keeping performance metrics close to the vest – there's no word yet on power, acceleration or fuel economy figures.

Most of the discussion coming out of today's New York Auto Show is likely to be centered on the Camry's very different looks – particularly in sportier XSE trim. With scowling headlamps, gaping new lower fascia and a sharply creased hood, this new model as far more attitude than its predecessor.

What do you think? Have a look in our gallery above, then vote in our poll.

What Do You Think Of The Looks Of The 2015 Toyota Camry?

News Source: Toyota

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

Volvo S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid is the full package

Posted Apr 16th 2014 10:02AM

Volvo S60L Petrol Plug-in Hybrid
At next week's Beijing Motor Show, Volvo is set to introduce a new member of its plug-in hybrid family. The company has had success with the world's first diesel PHEV, the V60 plug-in hybrid, but the new S60L is dubbed a PPHEV. The extra P stands for petrol.

"This is our most technologically advanced powertrain ever" – Peter Mertens

Unsurprisingly given the debut location, the S60L PPHEV is a vehicle that is destined for the Chinese market. Volvo says the car should arrive in "early 2015" after production starts at the company's Chengdu plant. There is a chance that China-built Volvos will make their way to the US at some point, but whether that invasion fleet includes the S60L PPHEV is difficult to predict at this point.

Similar to the V60 PHEV, the plug-in S60L mates up a four-cylinder, 238-horsepower Drive-E turbo engine with a 68 hp electric motor fed by an 11.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack to be, "an electric car, hybrid car and high-performance car all rolled into one," Volvo claims. The two power sources provide 350 and 200 newton meters of torque (258 and 148 pound-feet), respectively. The torque is routed through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the whole package uses just two liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (the equivalent of 117 miles per gallon) in default hybrid mode. All-electric range is a solid 30 miles. In a prepared statement (available below), Volvo's senior VP of research and development, Peter Mertens, called the setup, "our most technologically advanced powertrain ever." If it's that good, Volvo, go ahead and sell the car worldwide.

News Source: Volvo

BYD bringing Tang plug-in hybrid, G5 sedan to Beijing

Posted Apr 16th 2014 8:15AM

BYD Tang PHEV

BYD G5 Sedan BeijingThe Beijing Auto Show kicks off next week in China and BYD has revealed its plans with the announcement of the Tang plug-in hybrid, G5 sedan and something called "542 Technology."

Details are pretty sparse for now, but the short press release (available below) says that the Tang PHEV is going to be the first to use the automaker's "542 Technology." We assume those numbers mean something, but all that BYD is saying is the vague promise that it "is aiming at setting the standards for key performance of the upcoming new energy cars. The traditional standards for power, safety and fuel consumption will be once again redefined."

As for the vehicle itself, BYD says the Tang has a "tri-motor arrangement," with high-performance electric 4WD and the ability to go from zero to 100 kilometers and hour (62 miles per hour) in 4.9 seconds. To our eyes, the Tang has a Nissan Rogue-esque front end and the rest looks like any generic small CUV, which isn't a terrible thing but certainly not trendsetting. The G5 is not focused on any fuel-saving features and instead "shows BYD's IT advantage and abundant leading IT functions." We should have more from Beijing next week.

News Source: BYD

Koch Brothers are killing rapid bus transit in Tennessee

Posted Apr 15th 2014 7:58PM

Nashville AMP Bus Rapid Transit

Last week, the Tennessee Senate voted 27-4 against the very idea of Rapid Bus Transit in the state. The vote, which is oddly specific about its target – the Amp bus rapid transit (BRT) project in Nashville – was supported by the wealthy Koch brothers, Charles and David, and their group Americans for Prosperity. WIRED calls the ban "mind-boggling" and we have to agree.

The Amp is not dead yet, because the state House of Representatives still gets a say - would be a 7.1-mile BRT line running through Nashville at an expected cost of $174 million. Local business groups supported the public transportation option - the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce issued a call of support today - but there has been some local resistance and the project drew competing Facebook pages (pro and con). But it is the direct lobbying work by Americans for Prosperity and the broad language of the law that is what is raising eyebrows.

According to The Tennessean, "The Senate bill would block bus rapid transit not only there but in any other portion of the city. It would ban mass transit projects that load and unload customers in the center lane, a core element of The Amp's design." You can read the bill over at the Tennessee General Assembly website. Opponents say the BRT poses safety concerns since riders will have to cross half the road to get to the Amp. An Amp spokesman pointed out that regular bus riders sometimes have to cross the whole street in some instances.

A promotional video about the Amp BRT from last year is available below. Interestingly, the state Senate recently voted unanimously in favor of studying a monorail proposal for Nashville.

Hybrid Tech just made $65 million from bankrupt Fisker loan

Posted Apr 15th 2014 6:26PM

2012 fisker karma

We can now see at least one possible reason for why Hybrid Tech Holdings LLC bought the US Department of Energy's loan to Fisker Automotive last year for $25 million. The purchase is apparently worth $90 million today.

The number is part of a settlement agreement that has come out of the company's asset auction which was won by China's Wanxiang Group Corporation in February for $149.2 million. Hybrid Tech said that the secured DOE loan it owned was worth all of that $149.2 million, but the new agreement says that Richard Li's company is due $90 million instead. The rest of the money will be divvied up between the unsecured creditors (who will split $20 million plus $15 million in equity in Wanxiang affiliates) and "priority claim holders" ($8 million). Delaware media has been interested in the case since Fisker bought an old General Motors plant near Newport and now reports that the state does not expect to get a whole lot back from its $20-million investment.

Fisker filed for bankruptcy in late 2012. The asset auction is officially known as "In re Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc., 13-bk-13087, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington)."
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