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EPA: Four 2014 Mini Cooper models need to drop mpg numbers

  • EPA: Four 2014 Mini Cooper models need to drop mpg numbers
  • Video
    Michigan Gov. signs 'anti-Tesla' bill, but says rules could change *UPDATE
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    Translogic 161: Detroit bike culture explored
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    Ford Focus Electric gets $6,000 price drop, now starts at $29,995
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Former Fisker CEO has some advice for Tesla Motors

Tony Posawatz Questions ZEV Credit Sales, Suggests More Effort Go Into Model 3

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 5:56PM

Former Fisker Automotive CEO and ex-Chevrolet Volt vehicle-line director Tony Posawatz has some words of caution for Tesla Motors. The long-time automaker executive questions the California automaker's long-term viability – and gives some praise – in a talk with Benzinga, which you can listen to below.

While the all-wheel-drive D that Tesla unveiled earlier this month in Southern California wowed a packed crowd, Posawatz (starting at around minute 4:45 in the interview) says Tesla would've been better off taking the resources it expended toward that Model S upgrade and directed them towards speeding up the development of a more affordable plug-in. Perhaps a number of investors agreed, since the company's stock fell the day after the D was announced.

Posawatz says Tesla has been over-reliant on the sale of ZEV credits.

Posawatz also says that Tesla has been over-reliant on the sale of zero-emissions vehicle credits in California for its earnings and questions whether the automaker will ever work at a large enough scale to sufficiently drive down costs and make consistent profits. Tesla CEO Elon Musk would take issue with this characterization.

Posawatz first made his mark in the plug-in vehicle world when he was the vehicle-line director at General Motors for the Volt extended-range plug-in from 2006 to 2012. Later that year, he joined extended-range plug-in maker Fisker Automotive as its CEO, though quit that job during the summer of 2013 as the company was descending into insolvency. He joined the Electrification Coalition this past March.

News Source: Benzinga

Recharge Wrap-up: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive goes on sale in Europe, Spain gets Nissan Leaf taxis

Hyundai Delivers First ix35 Fuel Cell Vehicles To UK; China's EV Plans Increase Demand For Aluminum; Formula E Reveals Miami Track Layout

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 5:06PM

mercedes-benz b-class electric drive

The new Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive goes on sale in Europe on November 3, with deliveries starting before the end of the year. Developed with the help of Tesla, the new electric B-Class offers more than 132 kilowatts (177 horsepower) and 250 pound-feet of torque. It features Economy Plus, Economy and Sport driving modes. An optional radar support system uses the collision prevention assist sensors to help make smarter decisions about when and how to use the regenerative braking. The B-Class Electric Drive also offers an optional Range Plus button, which can unlock more battery capacity when charging for the occasional longer drive. Learn more in the press release below.

Racing returns to the streets of Miami for the first time in more than a decade for the Formula E Miami ePrix on March 14, 2015. Formula E has revealed the track layout, which takes the race around the Miami Heat's home court, American Airlines Arena, along the Biscayne Bay. "This event will help to make Miami more of a sports city," says Mayor Thomas Regalado. "In addition, we will show the younger generations that you may have motor racing without noise or pollution." Read more about the event at the Formula E website and see the track layout in detail here.

Hyundai has delivered the first ix35 Fuel Cell vehicles to customers in the UK, including clean energy company ITM Power. ITM is responsible for three of the hydrogen refueling stations being built around the EU as part of the Hydrogen For Innovative Vehicles project - the same project that helped bring the Hyundai ix35 (also known as the Tucson) Fuel Cell to Europe. ITM's 700-bar hydrogen stations will be built in London by Spring 2015, each with its own electrolyzer system on site. In the meantime, ITM will use the ix35 for commutes between London and Sheffield, refueling at a site that uses wind-generated electricity from an on-site turbine to power the electrolyzer to make the hydrogen. Learn more in the press release below.

Demand for aluminum is expected to climb as China builds more electric cars. Aluminum supplier Novelis says demand will likely increase 30 percent annually for the next 10 years in China, Japan and Korea, and possibly more depending on how China's plan to increase EV use and decrease air pollution shakes out. Read more at Bloomberg.

Barcelona and Madrid have received their first all-electric taxis in the form of Nissan Leaf EVs. The electric cabs are meant to help ease air pollution in Spain's two largest cities. The Leaf taxis also have the benefit of not contributing any extra noise to the bustling city centers. Says taxi driver Antonio Berzal Prieto, "In addition to the environmental benefits, the costs of ownership are highly competitive and the car's performance is excellent." Read more in the press release below.

News Source: Mercedes-Benz, Formula E, ITM Power, Bloomberg, Nissan

Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz

BMW i8 with 500+ horsepower in the cards?

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 3:30PM

2015 BMW i8

While BMW makes plenty of machinery to keep enthusiasts interested, its most enticing models are often based on more ordinary ones. That's what made the arrival of the i8 so captivating, emerging as the first stand-alone BMW sports coupe since the M1. But if its dual purpose – trying its best to both embrace the earth and traverse it rapidly – somehow left you disappointed, the next development could prove to fix that.

According to Automobile, BMW is working on a more potent i8S model. The hardcore version of the hybrid sports car would offer more power and a stiffened chassis to make it that much more aggressive. The Bavarian automaker is reportedly still evaluating two potential powertrain options: The first would pair a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder good for 320 horsepower to an electric motor with another 204 hp. The second would use a 3.0-liter straight six with 480 hp and an electric motor with 109 hp. Both would be mated to a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and an integrated starter motor packing an extra 27 hp.

Either way, we'd be looking at a combined output well in excess of 500 horsepower – far more than the existing i8's 228-hp turbo three and 129-hp electric motor – dropping the 0-62 time down from 4.1 seconds to an estimated 3.5. Couple that to a more advanced carbon chassis, wider tires and other goodies, and the i8 would be transformed into a far more capable performance machine than it already is.

Automobile says the project is not being undertaken by the M division but by the i brand that developed the i8 in the first place – including new program director Roberto Fedeli who came over from Ferrari. Its arrival would be timed to coincide with BMW's centenary celebrations in 2016.
Related Gallery2015 BMW i8
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News Source: Automobile

Tesla about to sell 50,000th Model S

California Start-Up Keeping Up With Nissan and Leaf Sales

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 1:58PM

tesla model s

Nissan sold its 50,000th Leaf a total of two years and two months after introducing the EV to dealerships. Tesla isn't as established as Nissan, and its Model S - with its higher levels of luxury and performance - costs multiple times more than the Leaf. Consider the Tesla's starting price of $70,000-plus (and easily much more with a bigger battery and a few upgrades), and compare that to the Leaf's base MSRP of just a bit over $30,000 before its 2013 price cut. It would make sense, then, that it would take the Model S longer to hit 50,000 unit sales.

But, no. The Model S could meet the 50,000 sales milestone before the end of October (in fact, it may already have done so). This is just two years and three months after it launched in late June 2012.

The Model S could meet the 50,000 sales milestone before the end of October.

Tesla hasn't released its sales report for the third quarter, but the Palo Alto-based automaker sold 39,128 units of the Model S through June. Previously, Tesla estimated it would have 7,800 third quarter sales (putting it at 46,928 through September), other independent estimates put Tesla at 50,000 sales in late October. The Model S may not have beat the Nissan Leaf to 50K, but it's not hard to see how this is a win for the California automaker.

Arguably, this is a case where we all win. Anytime some buys an EV instead of a traditionally powered vehicle - regardless of marque - that's less energy consumed while driving, fewer emissions and an example set to others who have yet to make the switch. It's hard not to be impressed by Tesla's relative success. Furthermore, Tesla coming so close to Nissan in selling 50,000 EVs is, above all, a testament to the desirability of the Model S, despite the Leaf's clear advantage in terms of attainability.

EPA: Four 2014 Mini Cooper models need to drop mpg numbers

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 11:28AM

Mini Cooper

After the huge problems that Hyundai/Kia experienced with its mislabeled fuel economy labels, you'd think that any time an automaker has to adjust its mpg numbers, heralds would be shouting from the rooftops. But, after Ford admitted to three big mistakes with its numbers for the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Mercedes-Benz had to lower the fuel economy rating for the C-Class, we understand if those heralds are a bit tired by now.

The models affected include the 3-door and the 3-door S.

Still, today's news is that BMW has to lower the fuel efficiency numbers for four versions of the 2014 Mini Cooper thanks to an audit conducted by the EPA and then some joint re-testing. The models affected include the 3-door with the 1.5-liter engine and the 3-door S with its 2.0-liter powerplant, with both manual and semi-automatic transmissions. As with the Benzes, the rating changes are not big ones, around one or two miles per gallon. The big exception is the manual S 3-door's highway number, which lost four mpg from 38 to 34. You can see all the numbers, new and old, in the press release below, but the EPA isn't saying what caused the problem this time. The Agency's new test procedures can't come fast enough.

It should be noted that the 2015 Mini Cooper was recently delayed a bit because of the extra time it took to get the EPA numbers right. There's no confirmation that these two items are connected, but we would not be surprised to hear they were.

News Source: EPA

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

Daimler divests remaining interest in Tesla

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 10:15AM

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Back in 2009, Daimler acquired over 9 percent of Tesla. A couple of months later, it sold 40 percent of that stake to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments. The following year, Tesla listed on the stock exchange and Daimler's interest was reduced to 4 percent. But now the German industrial giant has announced it is selling that 4 percent and divesting from Tesla altogether in a liquidation that is expected to raise approximately $780 million for Daimler. The divestment has also triggered speculation that the move could make room for rival German automaker BMW to take an interest in Tesla.

Despite the divestment, Daimler insists that its technological partnership with Tesla will remain unaffected. Mercedes sources the batteries for its B-Class Electric Drive (pictured above) from the Californian outfit in a deal that is not set to change as a result of the financial realignment. A similar collaboration was in place for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, however, now that the new generation of Smarts developed with Renault is on its way, it's possible that a next-generation Fortwo ED will use French tech instead as an extension of the partnership between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.

Daimler has also taken the occasion to point out that, between the Mercedes, Smart and various truck brands, it offers "the industry's biggest portfolio of electric vehicles," including pure EVs, fuel cells and hybrids. The automaker says it will introduce ten new plug-in hybrid Mercedes models by 2017.

News Source: Daimler, Forbes

KTM might not make E-Speed scooter after all

Then Again, It Might

Posted Oct 22nd 2014 8:02AM

KTM E-Speed electric scooter

Scooter lust is as improbable a condition as it sounds. Yet, when we turn our gaze to the KTM E-Speed, we can't help but fall fast into an urban-riding reverie. A fantasy in which city-center congestion is carved into asphalt ribbons with cuts left and right, made quick with easy flicks of this two-wheeled blade. It is a dream, however, that may never happen.

Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

Rumors have surfaced claiming the Austrian outfit has shelved the project because the electric scooter doesn't quite fit with its image. This is disappointing. Especially since, last we heard, KTM executive board member in charge of business development (among other things) Harald Plöckinger was making very positive noises in the wake of the enthusiastic reception the E-Speed received at its Tokyo Motor Show reveal.

Hearts broken and hopes dashed, we turned to the company for confirmation of the rumor and to maybe get some closure, and in doing so, learned a couple things. First, don't believe everything you read on the Internet. (We know. Shocker, right?) Second, while there currently isn't a production program in place, we were also told, "never say never." In effect, don't stop believing.

For our part, we won't. Tesla has taught us that a premium product with proper performance bona fides can creates market niches that didn't previously exist. Could it work with an awesome electric scooter? Well, there's only one way to be sure.

Though still slightly pessimistic that an invitation to ride the E-Speed will ever arrive in our inbox, we leave you with video of another product once previously thought to have been dropped: the KTM FreeRide E. Look below for footage of a pair of the machines being playfully ridden by brand ambassador Danny MacAskill and none other than the extreme-enduro prodigy, Jonny Walker.
Related GalleryKTM E-Speed
KTM E-SpeedKTM E-SpeedKTM E-SpeedKTM E-SpeedKTM E-SpeedKTM E-SpeedKTM E-SpeedKTM E-Speed

News Source: KTM, Asphalt & Rubber

Image Credit: Schedl R.

Nissan edges out Tesla for most ZEV credits sold in California

2014 Numbers Show New Companies On Top, Bottom Of List

Posted Oct 21st 2014 7:58PM

Nissan Leaf

When it comes to California zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) credits last year, Nissan was selling and Mercedes-Benz was buying. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) put out its ZEV-credits numbers for the year that ended September 30, which is why we now know that Nissan, maker of the battery-electric Leaf, transferred 663.6 ZEV credits out of its account last year. That just edged out the 650.195 credits that Tesla sold. Chrysler's Fiat affiliate was a distant third, but its limited-production Fiat 500E was still able to generate some ZEV credits and then transfer out 235.2 of them. We don't know how much the buyers paid for these credits, since those details are kept private. It's an ever-changing rulebook over at CARB, anyway.

On the flip side, Mercedes-Benz had to buy 663.6 ZEV credits in order to comply with clean vehicle-sales mandates in the most populous US state, indicative of the German automaker's gas-guzzling tendencies. Honda has cars that get better fuel economy than your average Benz, but its plug-in vehicles represent just a fraction of total sales and so it had to shell out for 542.5 ZEV credits. Chrysler-Fiat basically tread water, since the 237.8 ZEV credits it required for compliance canceled out gains on the other side of the ledger. Those Dodge Ram pickup trucks don't exactly help matters. Last year, Tesla sold the most ZEV credits while GM purchased the most.

Overall, Californians bought about 3.5 million vehicles for the year that ended September 30, including 38,000 battery-electric vehicles, 30,000 plug-in hybrids and 570,000 conventional hybrids. The longstanding ZEV program means that California now has more than 100,000 ZEVs on its roads. Read this for more details on ZEV credit transfers in California.
Related Gallery2013 Nissan Leaf
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Recharge Wrap-up: Tesla will sell Model S on Alibaba in China, Wrightspeed electrifies garbage trucks

Hillside Leisure Makes RV From Nissan e-NV200

Posted Oct 21st 2014 5:59PM

tesla model s

Tesla will sell cars in China using Alibaba's Tmall website. Customers will be able to use the Chinese shopping site to place an $8,200 deposit toward a Model S. Tmall will feature 18 preconfigured versions for customers to choose from, which won't offer quite the level of customization as Tesla's US site. Bloomberg's Jamie Butters calls it a "defensive move" on Tesla's part, and still expects the company to sell cars in China the traditional way. Watch the video at Bloomberg or read more at Bidness Etc.

Tesla co-founder Ian Wright's company Wrightspeed is converting garbage trucks to EVs. The same brand that created the exciting X1 EV is making trash collection much cleaner. "Garbage trucks are the perfect driving cycle for us: they get two or three miles per gallon, drive 130 miles a day with 1,000 hard stops that chew on the brakes," says Wright. The system puts an electric motor at each of the truck's drive wheels, and includes an on-board generator that runs on diesel or natural gas to extend driving range. Read more at Xconomy.

British company Hillside Leisure is converting the Nissan e-NV200 into a camper van. The electric RV, called the DalburyE, debuted at the UK's Motorhome and Caravan Show in Birmingham. It sleeps up to four people, and features a pop-up roof, a gas stove, fridge, sink and other amenities. It's a great way to take full advantage of an RV park's electrical outlet to charge the van while camping in it. Read more at Transport Evolved, and see more photos at Hillside Liesure's blog.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
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News Source: Bloomberg, Bidness Etc, Xconomy, Transport Evolved

Image Credit: Tesla

Michigan Gov. signs 'anti-Tesla' bill, but says rules could change *UPDATE

One More State Goes Against Tesla's Direct Sales Model

Posted Oct 21st 2014 2:43PM

Governor Snyder Michigan Anti-Tesla Bill Screen Grab

*UPDATE: GM has issued a statement in support of the governor's actions. We've added it below.

Don't look for a Tesla store in Detroit anytime soon. Even though the company says a Motor City service center is "Coming Soon," another hurdle was placed in the company's way today when Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 5606 into law. The law was introduced by State Representative Aric Nesbitt, who said it is not "anti-Tesla at all." Still, 5606 does clarify and strengthen the state's laws against an automaker selling vehicles directly to consumers, which is why Tesla called on its supporters last week to ask Snyder not to sign the bill into law. That didn't work.

The bill passed the Michigan legislative chambers with overwhelming support last week (106-1 in the House, 38-0 in the Senate) and Snyder said that his team's research found it "doesn't change current law at all." He nonetheless thought it was worth signing, and you can watch him explain why in the video below. He also mentions a letter he attached to the bill saying he's open to future discussions regarding direct vehicle sales. He does not mention his campaign support from numerous auto dealers.

We have asked Tesla for a comment on this latest development and will let you know when we hear back. Last week, the California automaker called the legislation "harmful to consumers."

News Source: Gov. Rick Snyder

Georgia EV advocates ready to stand up for tax incentives

Posted Oct 21st 2014 2:01PM

General Motors New Jobs

Like the University of Georgia and its punchy Bulldog mascot, Georgia's electric-vehicle advocates are about to get a little more pugilistic, says the Atlanta Business Chronicle. That's because, for the second straight year, some state politicos may look to end Georgia's electric-vehicle subsidy. Count the EV Club of the South among those looking to take up the fight.

The issue at hand is Georgia's $5,000 state tax credit for plug-in vehicles. That figure, among the highest in the country, has helped spur EV sales in Atlanta, especially given the relatively low EV incentives in neighboring states like Tennessee and South Carolina. In order to keep the status quo, EV advocates plan to ratchet up their fight during next year's legislative session. Some Georgia lawmakers proposed a law earlier this year saying that the aggregate EV incentives over the course of a year would be capped at $10 million. That would mean that the incentives would stop once 2,000 EVs were sold in a particular year. But the vote on HB 257 was never taken, as Georgia legislators ran out of time during the session. That sound you just heard was EV advocates saying a Nelson-from-The Simpsons-like "Hah, hah!"

Georgia EV supporters are getting it from all sides. This summer, the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association stepped up its efforts to try to revoke Tesla Motors' dealer license, joining a bunch of other states looking to maintain the no-direct-automaker-to-customer vehicle sales status quo. Tesla wants to triple its dealer count in the Atlanta area (to three).

News Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Image Credit: David Goldman / AP

EPA to scrutinize auto fuel economy tests, issue revised guidelines

Posted Oct 21st 2014 11:15AM

EPA Proposes Changes To Ethanol Mandate In Gasoline

Following the lowering of estimated fuel economy figures from companies like Ford, Hyundai, Kia and even a handful of Mercedes-Benz sedans in the recent past, the Environmental Protection Agency is cracking down by mandating new mileage testing procedures by the end of the year, after first considering some changes months ago. The improved evaluations should make the numbers that buyers see on the window sticker of a vehicle closer to what they experience in the real world.

The most significant alteration is issuing specific protocols governing the coast-down test, according to Automotive News. The examination gathers data on things like drag, rolling resistance and drivetrain friction as a vehicle cruises from 80 miles per hour to a complete stop. That information is then used to program dynamometers for further driving analyses, but currently, the exact procedure varies by company. Inaccurate figures from the assessment were reportedly responsible for Hyundai and Kia's fuel economy mark down and one of the changes for the Ford C-Max.

The other big change closes a loophole that allows automakers to test the fuel economy for a single model and then apply it to others with the same powertrain and weight class. This is the same issue that forced Ford to re-rate the C-Max in 2013.

According to Automotive News, the agency is also planning to continue with successful policies like auditing the fuel economy of more models to make sure they match manufacturers' ratings. It may also force companies to double-check mileage results from pre-production examples against the final version of a vehicle.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

2015 Green Car Of The Year finalists announced, run alt-fuel gamut

Short List Includes Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, VW Golf

Posted Oct 21st 2014 10:00AM

VW e-golf 2015 Green Car of the Year Finalist

The 2015 edition of the Green Car of the Year award is following right in the footsteps of previous years with a variety of alt-fuel powertrains making the just-announced finalists list. You've got your plug-in vehicle (the BMW i3), your compressed natural gas (the Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel), your high-efficiency diesel (the Audi A3 TDI), your 40+ mile-per-gallon gas engine (the Honda Fit) and, finally, a car that can do a little bit of everything (the VW Golf).

The Golf is available – at least in some parts of the US – with three different powertrains: a 2.0-liter diesel, a gasoline engine and all-electric drive. The Impala can burn either natural gas or gasoline in its 3.6-liter engine. The A3 is an efficiency champ, able to get 73.5 mpg on some European tests. The i3 can be a pure electric vehicle or come with a short range extending engine. And the Fit brings 41 miles to the gallon in a practical, affordable package.

The GCOY award is announced every year at the Los Angeles Auto Show by Green Car Journal. The committee doesn't just take the fuel-saving technology into account, but also a vehicle's "availability to the mass market." Last year, the Honda Accord Hybrid/Plug-In Hybrid won top honors, following up on wins from the Ford Fusion models (plug-in hybrid and hybrid) for 2013, the Honda Civic Natural Gas for 2012 and the Chevrolet Volt for 2011.

News Source: Green Car Journal

New BMW i3-like Visio.M EV concept uses lightweight resin

Replacing Glass With Plastic Has Its Benefits

Posted Oct 21st 2014 7:52AM

SABIC, BMW, Technical University of Munich and Daimler's EV Concept

It's not a new version of the BMW i3, but an updated version of a lightweight concept car from SABIC, BMW, the Technical University of Munich, Daimler and others does bear a certain resemblance to the well-designed plug-in city car. From the black "glass" in the hatch to the angled line tail lights to the up-and-down window line, you can see a sort of family resemblance (see an i3 comparison photo here). And, of course, they both have an electric powertrain.

But the changes made to the new lightweight urban electric concept vehicle is more of an exercise in what's possible rather than a way to evolve the i3 and i8 into a broader i family of vehicles. Even so, what we see here is interesting, since SABIC found all sorts of new ways to take weight out of the car as part of the Visio.M (Visionary Mobility) project, which was first announced in 2012.

Let's start with the window material, which as you might guess from the quotation marks above, is not made of glass but is instead SABIC's Lexan polycarbonate (PC) resin plastic. The lower weight (the PC helps shed about 29 pounds) adds two miles of range while the PC resin has better thermal conductivity compared to glass and so does even more because the HVAC system can be more efficient. According to SABIC's computational fluid dynamics analysis, an extra 9-10 miles of range, in fact. Without the battery, this concept weighs just 992 pounds. Remember, BMW already made a lot of weight-reduction measures in the i3 thanks to carbon fiber reinforced plastic, so to make the "glass" lighter would only help boost efficiencies on a production vehicle that uses a resin like this. Read more below.

News Source: SABIC


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