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Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

  • Official
    Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory
  • Rumormill
    2016 Chevy Volt to make auto show debut this season
  • Motorsports
    Refuel 2014: Shane Turpin sets SportElectric TT record aboard Brammo Empulse RR [w/video]
  • Report
    Total government incentives in Japan could top $30,000 for hydrogen cars
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Tesla, Panasonic officially partner up for Gigafactory

Posted Jul 31st 2014 8:29AM

Tesla Gigafactory rendering

The first of perhaps 'hundreds' of gigafactories is now one step closer to reality: Tesla and Panasonic have announced their official agreement to work together on the gigafactory. The two companies have worked together for many years on electric vehicles, but this new deal takes the partnership to a whole new level.

The basic gist, since the agreement itself has not been released, is that Tesla will take care of the exterior (the "land, buildings and utilities") while Panasonic will pay for the machines inside in order to, "manufacture and supply cylindrical lithium-ion cells" that Tesla will then use to, you know, build battery packs. Panasonic's machines will take up half the space while a network of as-yet unnamed suppliers will be involved in the other half, according to the press release announcing the deal. Read it below.

There's been lots of speculation as to where the Gigafactory will be built, but the exact location probably won't be revealed until later this year, so don't expect any battery packs from the Gigafactory to be coming any time soon. That's why Panasonic is still going to be building Tesla cells in Japan for the time being.

As previously announced, the Gigafactory is expected to make batteries for around 500,000 EVs a year as well as more for stationary storage needs. That means 35 GWh worth of cells and 50 GWh worth of packs each year by 2020. We expect more information to trickle out today along with Tesla's quarterly earnings.

Chevy Volt 'acceptable,' Nissan Leaf 'poor' in new IIHS safety tests

Batteries In Both Plug-in Vehicles Considered Safe

Posted Jul 30th 2014 7:44PM

Ford C-Max Hybrid also scored "acceptable" rating.

With US Nissan Leaf sales up almost 30 percent during the first half of the year, the only thing that might be able to stop the battery-electric vehicle is a good, stiff barrier. Unfortunately, thing's aren't always pretty when that happens in the real world, according to new tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Things with the Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in are a little bit rosier, though.

The two plug-in vehicles were part of a batch of a dozen vehicles that just went through the IIHS's "small overlap" test, in which the driver's side front corner of the vehicle is crashed into a rigid barrier at 40 miles per hour. Out of the dozen, only the Mini Cooper Countryman was given a "good" rating. Five vehicles, including the Volt and the Ford C-Max Hybrid, were rated "acceptable," two were "marginal" and two, including the Leaf, were "poor."

Plug-in vehicles are unique in the crash-test context because of their relatively large battery sizes. In the Volt's case, the driver had a "low risk" of injury, said the IIHS. But the Leaf's crash substantially pushed back the instrument panel and steering column, creating a scenario where the driver was "likely" to sustain leg injuries. The batteries in both the Leaf and the Volt passed safety tests specifically targeted at things like thermo and electrical properties and overall integrity.

"Nissan is proud of the Leaf's 'Good' rating in all other IIHS tests, a 4-star NCAP rating from NHTSA and its IIHS Top Safety Pick rating in all previous years since the car's release," the company said in an e-mail sent to AutoblogGreen. "As for the performance of the 2014 Leaf in the 'small overlap frontal test,' Nissan will continue to review these and other results from the IIHS 'small overlap frontal test' as we seek opportunities for improvement."

Check out the IIHS's press release and small car crash-test video footage below.

News Source: IIHS via Hybrid Cars, CNN

Image Credit: IIHS

Elon Musk to get spot on The Simpsons

Posted Jul 30th 2014 6:33PM

Tesla Motors IPO

It's hard to believe that The Simpsons is moving into its 26th season, but there's good news for auto enthusiasts, especially of the EV variety. The show's executive producer, Al Jean, confirmed on Twitter that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk would have a guest spot on the show in the upcoming season. Even better, it sounds like a pretty significant role.

According to Automotive News, Jean first announced the episode during a panel at San Diego Comic-Con. It's titled "The Musk Who Fell to Earth" and has Mr. Burns somehow losing all of his money to the Tesla boss. With his name prominently in the title, it gives the indication that Elon's role is going to be a lot bigger than just muttering a few lines in one scene and then walking away.

This is technically Musk's second appearance on The Simpsons. An earlier episode featured Elon Musk as a fragrance of the fictional ASK Body Spray. Tesla put up a screenshot of it on their blog and said, "You know you're famous when you get featured on the Simpsons." Apparently, the CEO is an even bigger deal now with this guest-starring gig.

Of course, The Simpsons has made at least two, great contributions to the automotive world – the Homer and the Canyonero. Our only hope is that Musk can somehow feature EV versions of them both in his episode.

News Source: Twitter, Automotive News - sub. req., Tesla Motors

Image Credit: Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales reach 33,000 worldwide

High Demand From Europe, Japan Mean No US Version For Now

Posted Jul 30th 2014 5:27PM

Plug In 2014: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

It can be difficult to see from the US, where the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is not yet available, but the all-wheel drive SUV is a big hit in Europe and Japan. In fact, we learned at the Plug In 2014 Conference in San Jose, CA this week that Mitsubishi has sold over 33,000 copies of the PHEV around the world.

The breakdown is that Mitsubishi has delivered 15,000 units in Japan and 18,000 in Europe. Fuminori Kojima, Mitsubishi Motors North America's senior manager of incentives, told AutoblogGreen that the country with the highest sales rate in Europe is Holland, with about 6,000 units sold that thanks in part to generous incentives for plug-in hybrids there. The Euro-spec version on hand in San Jose has three regen levels (the normal D mode, plus B1 and B2). We got to take a spin around the block, but the battery was mostly depleted (it was a popular attraction in the Ride & Drive) and so we were driving on gas.

In the gallery from Plug In 2014, you'll note that the Outlander PHEV requires at least 95 octane (RON) unleaded fuel, which is 91 octane (AKI) premium fuel in the US. We don' know what the US version will need, but we've heard it will be "completely different." The Outlander has a 12-kWh battery and should have an EV range of around 30 miles. Whether or not it will have a CHAdeMO fast-charging port in the US is still undecided, as is the question of whether it will have a 3.3 or 6.6 kW onboard charger.

The timeline Kojima gave for the Outlander's US arrival was October or November of 2015, since the SUV still needs to be tested and homologated for the US, Kojima said, but the real problem is that Mitsubishi can't build enough. "The battery production capacity is limited," he said. "So that's why, [the] first [focus is the] domestic market and Europe showed more demand." As as an example, he mentioned not only the incentives but also said that the charging infrastructure is more built up in Europe. "We'd like to have it [in the US ] as soon as possible, of course," he said.

According to numbers from the European group Transport And Environment (see press release and sales chart below), overall plug-in vehicle sales have been doubling each year since the new breed was introduced in 2010. Last year, almost 50,000 plug-in vehicles were sold in the EU, with the Renault Zoe EV, Outlander PHEV and Volvo V60 Plug-in at the top of the pack.

News Source: Mitsubishi

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

Icon Helios streamliner with Tesla bones is a dream from which we don't want to wake

Posted Jul 30th 2014 3:33PM

Icon Helios Streamliner

Icon Helios StreamlinerWhen it comes to truly, genuinely interesting automotive design and craftsmanship, Icon is one of the finest outfits in the game. We've covered the company and its founder, Jonathan Ward, in the past, and have remarked on just how fully and intricately done the automotive art it turns out is. The company's next big thing, though, is a far cry from the modified Land Rovers and Chevy Thriftmaster pickups.

The sketches you see above are of the Helios, Icon's latest mad creation. While still remarkably early in the planning phases, it's safe to say that the streamlined, Art Deco-inspired, boat-tailed (every vehicle should be boat-tailed) coupe is the company's single most ambitious vehicle yet.

"Although almost all of our projects thus far have been recreations inspired by vintage vehicles, I am fascinated about the concept of revisiting history in our own way," Ward told Jalopnik staffer and former Autoblog editor Damon Lavrinc. "The most interesting way to do this is by celebrating a particular era of design, or design language."

Technically speaking, the era that Ward is referring to never existed.

It's a world where there was no Black Friday, or Great Depression or second world war. Instead, man's fascination with aircraft and aerodynamics soldiered on untarnished by war and poverty, translating to four-wheeled creations so extreme they'd make the radical, rocket-inspired designs of the 1950s blush.

It is a stunning concept as a simple vehicle – you could drop this onto a Honda Civic platform and it'd still be a marvel. But it's Ward's plan for a powertrain that ups the already ample dose of outlandishness inherent in the Helios.

"In keeping with the founding premise at ICON, of fusing vintage design with the best modern drive experience and technology, I can think of no better platform to build this on, than the Tesla," Ward told Jalopnik.

In particular, Ward is targeting the upcoming Model X.

"I want to take the new Model X platform – so selectable AWD, 380-mile range, pure electric – and fuse it with this lost language," Ward said, adding that he's actively trying to score a meeting with Tesla founder Elon Musk and that he "will move mountains to figure out how to get [it] built."

Here's hoping that he can make that happen, because the automotive world sorely needs something this wild, this extreme and this utterly, utterly breathtaking.

You can expand the images above or head over to Jalopnik for a closer look at the Helios. After that, be sure to visit the Comments. We really want to hear from you on this one.

News Source: Jalopnik

Image Credit: Icon

2016 Chevy Volt to make auto show debut this season

GM Moving Electric Motor Production From Mexico To Michigan

Posted Jul 30th 2014 1:30PM

2016 Chevy Volt spy shot

Ever since we saw that spy shots of the 2016 Chevy Volt, we've been hungering for more information on the next-gen version of GM's green halo car. It appears we might not have long to wait, at least for an official tease.

An inside source that wishes to remain anonymous told AutoblogGreen that GM will make two announcements regarding the second-gen Volt at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI next week. The first, and most intriguing, is that that we will get our first glimpse of the new Volt at some point during the upcoming auto show season. That means either Los Angeles later this year or else Detroit, Chicago or New York in early 2015. The second bit of news is that GM will be moving production of the electric motors from Mexico to Michigan.

Details and official confirmation are, of course, missing and Chevrolet declined comment to AutoblogGreen. We should know more next week.

Recharge Wrap-Up: Georgia lawyers love the Nissan Leaf, 2B vehicles by 2035

The Hybrid Shop Certified Female Friendly; Interpreting Tesla's Battery Codes

Posted Jul 30th 2014 12:57PM

nissan leaf

Loads of lawyers at a firm in Georgia are taking advantage of the state's EV tax credit. Georgia offers a tax credit on leases and purchases of electric vehicles for 20 percent of the car's value, up to $5,000. This has created a trend among lawyers at Arnall Golden Gregory, who one after another have been switching from gas-powered cars to the all-electric Nissan Leaf. They appreciate the environmental benefits, as well as toll exemption and access to HOV lanes, but the tax credit seems to be the biggest motivation to switch. Says lawyer Scott Wandstrat, "Everybody is signing up, now that all the cool kids are doing it." Read more at Daily Report. (Thanks to Kevin D. for the tip!)

There's an easy way to see what kind of battery pack a Tesla Model S is using. Underneath the car on the passenger side, just behind the front wheel is a sticker on the outside of the battery pack. At the top is the battery size, 60 kWh or 85 kWh. Below that is a part number, followed by a letter. According to this Tesla Motors Club wiki, those numbers denote new or refurbished battery packs. The A, B or D following that number refers to the generation of battery, which also corresponds to charging capabilities. Knowing how to decode a Tesla pack could be useful if you ever need to replace your battery. Get more details at Teslarati.

There will be 2 billion vehicles in use by 2035, according to a forecast by Navigant Research. The group who brought you the fuel consumption figures we shared with you previously estimates that there are currently almost 1.2 billion light-duty vehicles in use today. Navigant expects stop-start technology to grow, with 45 percent of vehicles on the road being equipped with it by 2035. Read more at Green Car Reports.

The Hybrid Shop, which specializes in reconditioning batteries, is now an AskPatty Certified Female Friendly Auto Repair Facility. AskPatty, an automotive website which offers advice for women, credits The Hybrid Shop for providing a safe and comfortable environment for women, as well as offering valuable automotive services. The Hybrid Shop has launched its own corresponding microsite, which offers the resources most requested by women. Learn more in the press release below.
Related Gallery2013 Nissan Leaf
2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf

News Source: Daily Report, Teslarati, Automotive News, Green Car Reports, The Hybrid Shop

Image Credit: Nissan

2014 Nissan Frontier Diesel Mule [w/poll]

Posted Jul 30th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Nissan Frontier mule with Cummins diesel engine - front three-quarter view

Last August, Nissan shook the truck world when it officially announced plans to source a diesel option from Cummins for its long-overdue Titan replacement, its full-size pickup that's slated to drop this January at the Detroit Auto Show. The 5.0-liter V8 turbodiesel is expected to make somewhere around 300 horsepower and north of 500 pound-feet of torque. This combination of an all-new truck with this new powerplant promises to dramatically change the competitive landscape, splitting the difference between the heavy-duty goliaths from the Detroit Three and the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel. And the intrigue moved a step further when the Frontier Diesel Runner Concept showed up at February's Chicago Auto Show, as it displayed a growing relationship between Nissan and Cummins in a very interesting potential future product.

That concept would melt its clear acrylic hood if the engine ran too long, but this month, we got a chance to test drive a production mule, an otherwise normal Frontier with a Cummins 2.8-liter diesel four-pot under the hood and a ZF eight-speed automatic changing gears. The powertrain figures to be a direct competitor to the 2.8-liter Duramax promised for General Motors' Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins, but will Nissan build it? All signs point to probably. Officially, Nissan is taking no position on the future of this program, but a concept followed by putting journalists into a test mule suggests the company is considering the option very seriously. Here's what we gleaned from a brief drive around the posh suburbs of Nashville:
  • Before we get too deep into this Quick Spin, realize this Frontier is absolutely a mule, not a prototype. More or less cobbled together with duct tape and baling wire, it's not meant to be representative of a finished product, or even a started product. The transmission and shifter is straight out of a Chrysler 300 and the shifter surround is cut out of a panel of plastic. The "Low Sulfur Diesel Only" sticker is, well, just stuck on. We're looking at a "What if?" mockup.
  • The engine is essentially a tweaked version of a Chinese-built, gray-iron 2.8-liter four cylinder. With 16 valves, the obligatory turbocharger and common-rail injection, this Cummins engine is already used for on- and off-highway applications. In things like generators, small earth-moving machines and large turf-management equipment (giant lawnmowers) it carries the "QSF" label, and for cabover trucks in Asia and other on-road applications, it's dubbed ISF. Some tunes offer as few as 49 hp, but it'll run until the sun explodes.
  • This truck gets an intercooler up front wedged behind the grille, and combined with the base software, it develops 200 horses and a stout 350 lb-ft of torque, but this is not yet the smooth, quiet modern diesel we've come to expect. She's a rough character, albeit with a caveat: There has been zero software tuning done for the Frontier mule. Smoothness in a diesel comes from precisely controlling combustion, and while the engine is capable of eight fuel-injection events per cycle, there are only two with this software. Clatter, clatter, clatter, clatter.
  • It may be loud at idle and under acceleration, but this dog offers bite to match its bark. Tons of torque and eager throttle response at times overwhelms the ZF gearbox (which also hasn't really been tuned) and a "ka-chunk!" shift squawks the rear tires. Midway through full-throttle acceleration, the turbo's wastegate locks closed and the engine really takes off, revving ahead quicker than the bottom of the range.
  • At cruising speed, though, this is a surprisingly smooth and easygoing engine, almost quiet even. That shouldn't really be a surprise since tugging the weight of a truck and passengers is akin to a quarter horse pulling a little red wagon.
  • Although nobody ever confirmed the product plan before Nissan's PR team put the clamps on its engineering staff, we were able to gather a few juicy tidbits about the program. One unnamed official let slip that engineers are targeting 2019 diesel emissions and particulate requirements for the rig, which may indicate potential production timing. Another interesting item is Cummins would consider shifting to a compacted graphite iron block with an aluminum head to cut down on weight and improve performance. Finally, Cummins prefers to build where it sells, so US domestic production for the engine would be seriously considered if a Frontier Diesel gets a green light.
Keep an eye on this space. A modernized Cummins ISF in the next-gen Frontier would offer buyers good power and fuel economy without needing a step stool to reach the seats. It all comes down to price.

Would a next-generation Nissan Frontier Cummins diesel be a success in the US?

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Ben Wojdyla / AOL

Toyota Mirai might be the name of new fuel cell car; it means 'future'

Posted Jul 30th 2014 10:01AM

Toyota hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle

Anybody remember the Ford Futura? It wasn't exactly a world-beater of a car, so we don't think the name Toyota's has apparently chosen for its first production fuel-cell vehicle is a tribute of sorts. Though one never knows. Maybe Toyota just likes 18-inch-tall EVs.

The Japanese automaker has apparently settled on a nameplate for its fuel-cell model, and the name will be "Mirai," which means "future" in Japanese, Bloomberg News says, citing a person familiar with the process that it didn't identify. Bloomberg couldn't get anyone with Toyota to comment on record about the name – and neither could AutoblogGreen – but we do remember that Toyota has bandied this name about before, so we're not setting anything down in stone quite yet.

Last month, Toyota said the new fuel cell car would debut in Japan next April and would be priced at about $69,000 before any sort of government incentives kicked in. The company hasn't revealed details about a US release date or pricing here, but indicated that US sales would start where there's already some semblance of a hydrogen-refueling infrastructure. That pretty much means California and nowhere else in the states. The fuel-cell model is said to have a full-tank range of about 435 miles and that the tank can be filled up in about three minutes, similar to a gas-powered vehicle. In other words, the future.
Related GalleryToyota FCV Reveal
Toyota FCV RevealToyota FCV RevealToyota FCV RevealToyota FCV RevealToyota FCV RevealToyota FCV RevealToyota FCV RevealToyota FCV Reveal

News Source: Bloomberg News

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Jonathon Ramsey / AOL

Audi readying diesel PHEV models for US and Europe

Posted Jul 30th 2014 8:00AM

Audi Q7: Spy Shots

With the racing pedigree provided by the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the German king of Le Mans is capitalizing on the connection between its road cars and race cars at every opportunity. Maybe there's an entire range of Le Mans Editions for the automakers diesel-hybrid offerings, with perhaps Tom Kristensen acting as the brand's spokesperson for the technology in Europe. You'd be wrong, though, because despite the R18's overwhelming successes in endurance racing, Audi the road-car manufacturer doesn't offer a single diesel-hybrid production car.

This factoid will hopefully be as short lived as it is disappointing, though, as a diesel-electric is around the corner, according to the brand's tech boss, Ulrich Hackenberg. In fact, it gets better than a mere diesel-hybrid; it will be a plug-in diesel-hybrid, only the second to hit the market, alongside the European-market Volvo V60.

According to Hackenberg, the new tech will be the result of a marriage between the brand's well-received 3.0-liter, TDI V6 with an electric motor. The next-generation Audi Q7 (shown above) will be the initial recipient, confirming previous reports that claimed a PHEV TDI could come to the next-gen CUV. Its MLB architecture, meanwhile, would allow the plug-in-hybrid-diesel powertrain to be fitted easily enough to the A8 luxury sedan. While the new Q7 should hit the market at some point in 2015, it's unclear when the PHEV TDI model could see the light of day.

Still, it's a combination that Hackenberg seems bullish on, and based on his comments, it's a virtual certainty that it'll arrive in some capacity in the US market.

"The hybrid will be another argument to go for diesel in the US," Hackenberg told Automotive News Europe. "We have the combination of low CO2 emissions, necessary to meet market demand and regulations, and we have the diesel which gives a lot torque, which is very necessary for driveability."

"In the USA if you look to sportiness it is very important to be quick away from the traffic lights. In combination with the electric engine, a diesel hybrid delivers very good torque from the start," he added. We'd wholeheartedly agree.
Related Gallery2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots
2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots2015 Audi Q7: Spy Shots

News Source: Automotive News Europe - sub. req.

Image Credit: CarPix

Refuel 2014: Shane Turpin sets SportElectric TT record aboard Brammo Empulse RR [w/video]

Posted Jul 29th 2014 8:00PM

Shane Turpin lifts the wheel of the Brammo Empulse RR at Refuel

The faded blue eyes of the corner worker lit up and his tanned face, furrows plowed deep by the California sun, cracked a bemused smile as the Brammo Empulse RR, like a yanagi blade taking a sliver of sashimi from a fresh fillet, smoothly sliced its way through the corkscrew. Minutes earlier, I'd overheard his thin lips spit out a lament about racing without its traditional sonic hyperbole. Though his judgment about the electric competitors might stay unchanged until his last breath, it seemed in that moment, at least, a heretical thought had occurred.

I am at the 2014 SportElectric TT, the competitive portion of the Refuel electric vehicle event put on annually by Speed Ventures. From my track-side seat I watch carefully as a number of adventurous souls, each with their own allotment of time and space, sling various vehicles through the curves and corners of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, my camera attempting to freeze fleeting moments of skill, courage, and luck. It's pretty awesome.

News Source: Copyright 2014 Domenick Yoney / AOL

Jaguar XE promises to net 'over 75 mpg,' just not for us [w/video]

Posted Jul 29th 2014 5:31PM

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE Platform InfographicWith around a month away from its world debut on September 8, Jaguar continues to issue a constant drip of updates about its upcoming XE compact luxury sedan that's aiming to take on the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Where the company's last bit of info focused on the car's suspension setup, this time Jag's putting the spotlight on the new model's modular platform and making some big promises about it, too. How big? Try over 75 miles per gallon big.

That's the headline figure that Jaguar is claiming for its new sedan, but it's keeping mum on just what powertrain will realize that figure. Furthermore, that result is on the European test cycle, which is more lenient than America's EPA testing regime. In any case, when the XE hits the road, Jag says it will be the most efficient vehicle from the company, ever.

That's thanks in no small part to the aluminum-intensive monocoque chassis underpinning the sedan. It's constructed from a new grade of the lightweight metal called RC 5754 that uses a high portion of recycled material. "The Jaguar XE body uses over 75-percent aluminum content, which far exceeds any other car in its class. This gives us a body structure with unrivaled low weight: it's light but also immensely strong with extremely high levels of torsional stiffness," said Dr. Mark White, Jaguar Chief Technical Specialist; Body Complete.

Considering that the XE is also using some of Jag's cutting-edge Ingenium family of engines, maintaining a low mass and high efficiency should be easier goals reach. The real question is still how it feels will feel to drive. Europeans get to find out in 2015, but North American buyers will have to remain patient until 2016. Hopefully, it'll be worth the wait. Scroll down for a video explaining more about the platform and for the full release.
Related GalleryJaguar XE teaser
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News Source: Jaguar via YouTube

Recharge Wrap-up: Panasonic, Tesla on Gigafactory deal?

CO2 Capture Vs. Fuel Cycle Analysis; MBAs Get Chevy Volts; 2035 Fuel Consumption Predictions

Posted Jul 29th 2014 4:37PM

chevrolet volt mbas across america

Bentley has been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for reductions of carbon, water use and waste production in manufacturing. The Carbon Trust is an organization that helps groups such as businesses and governments reduce carbon emissions, use of energy and resources, and waste output. From 2011 to 2013, Bentley reduced CO2 emissions by 16 percent per car manufactured, curtailed water use by 35.7 percent, and saw significant waste reductions. Darran Messem of Carbon trust says, "Bentley is clearly passionate about continuing to improve its environmental performance, which is reflected by the fact the company has consistently invested in new technology." Read more in the press release below.

Chevrolet is giving 12 Volts to MBAs Across America. The organization will use the range-extended electric cars in its efforts to help MBA students learn from and work with small business owners. As part of the MBAs Across America program's first year, four students drove 8,000 miles to provide entrepreneurs with free business counseling. The program has expanded, and this year, teams of MBAs will use the Volts to travel to 25 cities to offer their services. Learn more about the partnership between Chevrolet and MBAs Across America in the press release below.

A professor from the University of Michigan has found fuel cycle analysis to be too flawed to be relied upon for measuring CO2 impacts of transportation fuels. Professor John DeCicco of the university's Energy Institute feels that the flaws in calculating the carbon footprint of liquid fuel production and combustion make such lifecycle analysis impractical. He suggests, instead, to focus to carbon capture. Since capturing CO2 directly from a vehicle is probably never going to happen, DiCicco believes the solution is to capture carbon from the atmosphere in sectors outside of transportation. Says DiCicco, "Research should be ramped up on options for increasing the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and on programs to manage and utilize carbon fixed in the biosphere, which offers the best CO2 removal mechanism now at hand. Such strategies can complement measures that control the demand for liquid fuels by reducing travel activity, improving vehicle efficiency and shifting to non-carbon fuels." Read more at Green Car Congress.

Global transportation energy consumption is expected to increase by 25.4 percent by 2035, according to a report by Navigant Research. That represents an increase from 81.1 quadrillion British thermal units (BTU) in 2014 to 101.7 quadrillion BTU in 2035, with 85 percent of that coming from conventional fuels. Alternative fuels are expected to make up 16.4 percent of global consumption in 2035, up from the current 7.4 percent. And while the global 0.5-percent figure for the electric and hydrogen sounds (and is, frankly) dismal, that number also represents the efficiency of those types of fuel. According to the report, though, "The most impactful fuel savings strategy is likely to come from fuel efficiency improvements in the conventional vehicle platform and the internal combustion engine." Read more at Green Car Congress.

Panasonic has reached an agreement with Tesla to supply manufacturing equipment for Tesla's battery production plant, according to the Nikkei. Panasonic will invest around $1 billion of the total expected $5 billion for the plant. Does this mean we'll soon know where the proposed Gigafactory will be? Read more at Reuters.

News Source: Bentley, Chevrolet, Green Car Congress, Navigant Research, Green Car Congress, Reuters

Image Credit: Chevrolet

How platform problems are delaying next-gen Prius

Posted Jul 29th 2014 2:33PM

Toyota Prius

Short-term pain for longer-term gain? That may be the prognosis for the next-generation Toyota Prius, the world's best-selling hybrid. But, hey, the new version might get holiday season debut, now.

Toyota is upgrading some of its most popular models and trying to cut long-term costs with components that can be used on multiple models on the new Toyota New Global Architecture platform, Automotive News says. That means more parts that can be used for the Camry, Avalon (not big stretch, since the Avalon is basically a rich man's Camry) and Corolla in addition to the Prius. The downside, of course, is that this takes a bit more engineering and certainly more time. In the case of the Prius, that means pushing back the start of production from next summer to December 2015. But Automotive News also says the Prius may have an all-wheel-drive option. Happy Holidays.

The report is in update from Automotive News Europe, which cited folks familiar with the process who were not identified and said late last month that the production of the fourth-gen Prius would be pushed back by about six months as engineers continue to tweak the hybrid powertrain for maximum efficiency. The goal is around a 10 percent improvement in fuel-efficiency thanks to an upgraded powertrain and lower vehicle weight. Toyota spokeswoman Amanda Rice told AutoblogGreen in an email that the company doesn't comment on future products, so we'll just have to keep an eye out.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: KGP Photography


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