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Surprise Costs Have A Cost: Why we turned down the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

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    Surprise Costs Have A Cost: Why we turned down the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell
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    Tesla announces 'infinite mile warranty' for Model S EV drive unit
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Adomani EV school bus approved for use in California

Posted Aug 20th 2014 7:55AM

adomani electric school bus

Your children or grandchildren may very well be riding an electric bus to school soon, and probably sooner still if they live in California. We've just recently seen the funding of the National Strategies demo buses. Now another fully electric school bus has been approved in the Golden State. The California Highway Patrol has greenlighted the Adomani EV bus for use in the Gilroy Unified School District (GUSD).

Lucky pupils in the Garlic Capital of the World will be riding a 2007 Blue Bird All American school bus, converted from diesel to electric by Adomani. It has a range of 40 miles, plenty of charge to meet the route's 22 miles. The EV bus uses the same charging plug as the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt for easy charging. The GUSD has installed solar panels to power its charging station, making the Adomani Blue Bird truly capable of emission-free rides.

The bus was apparently quick to be approved upon inspection, with verbal approval coming just one day later. Newly appointed Adomani board member Jim Reynolds, a school bus industry expert, says, "That is by far the fastest I have seen approval come in. I was anticipating a few months of processing."

Adomani wants to convert more school and commercial buses, providing up to 100 miles of electric range, and says it can retrofit the vehicles in a matter of a couple weeks. The company, pleased with the swift turnaround of the Gilroy project, is moving its headquarters from Florida to California. Adomani founder and CTO says, "After the conversion for Gilroy, moving to California seemed like the right fit, though we plan to retrofit vehicles throughout the country." Learn more in the video below or over at Domestic Fuel.

News Source: Domestic Fuel, NBC Bay Area

Image Credit: NBC Bay Area

Looking back at the Citation IV concept that likely shaped the GM EV1

How Chevy's Time In The Wind Tunnel Taught GM An Aero Lesson

Posted Aug 19th 2014 7:45PM

1984 Chevy Citation IV Concept

GM EV1Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. We're not sure how that applies to the GM EV1, but we'd still like to share something from Autoline Daily, an online automotive new show with our friend John McElroy. He's been covering the business for decades now and recently found something interesting: pictures of the 1984 Chevrolet Citation IV concept, seen above.

Displayed half a decade before the first electric concept that would become the EV1 (inset), McElroy says it's now clear that the elegant, aerodynamic EV1 took a lot of styling cues from the Citation IV, which was developed in part thanks to GM's new-at-the-time Aerodynamics Laboratory. We agree with him that the spats over the rear wheels, the flush glass, and the covered headlights all bear a certain kind of similarity between the two cars. That the colors almost match is a nice coincidence. The Impact (the concept version of the EV1) looked "frumpier," McElroy says, because it wasn't as long as the Citation.

You can read a lot more about the Citation IV here and check out McElroy's thoughts in the video below. Find the Citation starting at around 3:45.

News Source: Autoline Daily via YouTube

Surprise Costs Have A Cost: Why we turned down the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

Dealer Added $70 A Month To Advertised Price, Which Tipped The Scales

Posted Aug 19th 2014 5:44PM

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

They say you can always tell the pioneers. They're the ones with the arrows in their backs. Unfortunately, that was our experience pursuing – and eventually rejecting – the new hydrogen fuel cell-powered Hyundai Tucson.

I first heard about Hyundai's new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2013. As a tech buff, the thought of driving a new, clean technology vehicle sounded exciting. Best of all, Hyundai was wrapping the new vehicle in a smart, familiar package, as a loaded current-generation Tucson SUV. The FCV Tucson was billed as $499 a month with $2,999 down, with free fuel and free maintenance. Our family needed a new, small, fuel efficient SUV, so I signed up for information on the upcoming lease program.

Someone has to go first. Why not us?

In the spring of 2014, I learned more at a Clean Fuel Symposium, held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. The panel was packed with experts on alternative fuel vehicles. One spokesperson outlined the chicken or egg problem with alternative fuels like hydrogen: fuels first or vehicles? Another said something that I should have heard more clearly. "If the argument [to move to alternative fuel vehicles] has to start with a change of behavior from consumers, that's a hard row to hoe." I would soon to learn what an FCV would really cost, both in hours and in dollars.

Nonetheless, I was ready to try jumping the hurdles and get an alternative fuel car. A low impact on the environment, plus free fuel and a solo car pool lane sticker? What could go wrong?

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL, Hydrogen Pump: Michael Sohn / AP Photo

Thieves stealing copper from EV charging stations in Vancouver

Posted Aug 19th 2014 1:59PM

Copper Wire

In Europe, most EV charging stations don't have a wire permanently attached. Unlike North America, European EV drivers need to carry a cable around with them. This is a bit of a hassle, but it's far easier than pulling up to an EVSE and finding the cable simply cut out. That's what's happening to some Level 2 EVSEs in Canada. We have no idea how widespread this problem is – and we note that this isn't the first we've heard about vandals attacking EV charging stations – but vandalizing charging stations sure seems like a needless setback to the EV community.

Transport Evolved reports that a number of EVSEs in and around Vancouver, BC have had their cords removed recently, likely for the valuable copper inside. The vandals hit the charging stations with bolt cutters and sometimes manage to attack the same station multiple times, since the station owners spend the money to fix the damage. Transport Evolved says that the high price for some of the copper ($4 Canadian per pound) means that stealing one EVSE cable can offer a "tidy profit." Street lights in the area have been targeted as well.

Copper theft is not a problem limited to cool Canadian cites. The American automotive capitol can tell you stories, since Detroit has suffered all sorts of problems because of copper thieves, from potentially worse floods to darkness. Earlier this year, Michigan enacted a new law that puts a $25 limits on metal-for-cash transactions at scrap yards and requires scrap yard owners to mail checks to people selling them oft-stolen items like copper wire.

News Source: Transport Evolved

Image Credit: Theen / Flickr

Autoblog joins Elon Musk and Danica Patrick in accepting ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted Aug 19th 2014 1:30PM

Autoblog team gets ready for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you've been living in an off-the-grid cabin in the woods for the last couple of weeks or abstain entirely from social media activities, you've probably seen someone you know dump a bucket of ice and water over their own head recently. While the origins of the so-called Ice Bucket Challenge are shrouded in a history typical of Internet memes, its effectiveness in raising money and awareness for the ALS Association has been astonishing.

Celebrities from the worlds of entertainment, sports, technology and more have generated untold millions of video views in support of the organization that is helping patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease), and generated a much needed influx of cash, as well. Recent reports have some $15.6M raised in the last two weeks.

Of course, the big-hearted world of automotive celebrities has taken part in the drenching charity effort as well. Follow on below for some of the biggest names on four wheels getting iced for charity, with a smattering of your favorite Autobloggers thrown in for good measure.

And, if you've taken the challenge yourself (or have had the gauntlet thrown down), share your own video by leaving us a link in Comments, or tweeting us with #IceBucketChallenge to @therealautoblog. You can also skip the fuss and just donate to ALS directly, but make sure you at least watch Elon Musk get soaked before you do.

Recharge Wrap-up: Venturi to break electric world record, app shows where bike lanes are needed

Roger Penske, Rick Hendrick Among First BMW i8 Customers; Uber Ban Lifted In Berlin

Posted Aug 19th 2014 11:14AM

bmw i8 customers pebble beach

Electric automaker Venturi hopes to post a new electric land speed record this week, despite Bonneville Speed Week being cancelled. The VBB-3, developed with Ohio State University, is powered by two 1,500-hp electric motors. If the salt flats are sufficiently dry, the team hopes to set a new electric world speed record of over 600 kilometers per hour (373 mph), and possibly 700 kph (435 mph). The Venturi BB-2.5 set a record of 495 kph (307 mph) in 2010. Read more at Electric Autosport, and keep abreast of Venturi's progress at its Twitter account.

A new app is trying to fix Wiesbaden, Germany's bike problem. A bike organization named the city the worst in the world for cycling. In response, a local group developed an app that uses crowdsourced routes to suggest where bike lanes and paths should go. The app tracks users routes as they ride, and maps them to show where the city could benefit from improving its infrastructure. The app and its results have the attention of government officials, too. See the video below, or read more at Fast Company.

BMW has delivered the first i8s at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California. The first customers include Roger Penske, Rick Hendrick and Tony Fadell (founder and CEO of Nest). The lucky new owners were also treated to a gourmet meal from Chef Thomas Keller, who was also among those to receive the i8 at the event. As mentioned, BMW also auctioned off a special edition i8 at Pebble Beach for $825,000, considerably more than the car's base MSRP of $135,700. Read more in the press release from BMW, below.

Uber's Berlin ban has been suspended by a local court. The city banned the car-hailing app for failing to meet passenger safety standards. The court will now decide whether to uphold the ban or toss it out. This was the second time this year that Uber had been deemed unlawful in Berlin. Uber continued to operate throughout its ban, despite threats of fines. If upheld, Uber could be fined $34,000 for picking up a passenger. Read more at The New York Times.
Related GalleryBMW delivers first i8s
BMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8sBMW delivers first i8s

News Source: Electric Autosport, Fast Company, BMW, New York Times

Image Credit: BMW

100-mile EVs offer plenty of range, for now

Oak Ridge Says The Numbers Show We Should All Be Happy With Double-Digit Range Limits

Posted Aug 19th 2014 7:56AM

Nissan Leaf charging

We've heard that the next big paradigm shift in electric vehicle acceptance will come with more 150- or 200-mile EVs. But a new study called Optimizing and Diversifying Electric Vehicle Driving Range for US Drivers says that cars that can go that far really won't make sense for anyone to buy until the battery cost can be dropped to $100 per kilowatt hour. Automakers today are incredibly secretive about how much each kWh in a pack costs, but it's safe to say we're nowhere near that goal just yet. Informs says that, until that threshold is reached, "the majority of US consumers for battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be better off choosing an electric vehicle with a range below 100 miles."

Why? Well, the study looked at 36,664 sample drivers and found that it is more important to focus on "deployment of charging infrastructure to improve usability of short-range BEVs" instead of building EVs that have longer ranges. Tell that to General Motors and Tesla. GM execs have talked publicly about a new EV with a 200-mile range and, well, Tesla's cars can already go the distance and we know that a cheaper version with that much range is coming. Still, the study found that cheaper batteries and a more robust charging infrastructure will have the biggest impact on optimizing EV range, not these newfangled EVs.

The study appeared in the journal Transportation Science, published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). The research was done by Zhenhong Lin, senior R&D staff member at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Knoxville, TN. Does it ring true with you?
Related Gallery2013 Nissan Leaf
2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf

News Source: Informs

This anti-Tesla conspiracy theory isn't nearly as creative as it could be

Posted Aug 18th 2014 7:56PM

Tesla

Here we go again. Remember the anti-Tesla "truther" leaflets that were going around San Francisco a few months ago? There's another bit anti-Tesla message making the rounds, but this time we just don't find the same level of creative detail.

As published on Gas 2.0 and copied for your reading pleasure below, the screed claims that a number of Senators and White House staffers were bribed to allow the "toxic tesla crime-mobile" on the street. You know, the one that "is full of lies and cancer causing material." And there's also this bombshell: "Some of the people involved have worked at Tesla and claim to have witnessed: 'Organized crime on a first hand basis.'" Well, then, let's call the cops right this moment.

But wait, the conspiracy runs deep, apparently, "Members found out that major media outlet owners (Engadget, Google, AUTOBLOG GREEN [sic], Gizmodo, Jalopnik, etc.) had stock in the Tesla and battery cartels and, thus, covered up the first investigation results." For the record, none of us here at AutoblogGreen have or are allowed to have Tesla stock, so we can knock that rumor down right now. But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

All in all, this little tirade isn't nearly as good as the last one, but we'll take this sort of creative fiction any day. The truth is out there.

News Source: Gas 2.0, Boycott Tesla

Image Credit: Copyright Paul Sakuma / AP

How VW's hyper-efficient XL1 will influence the next Golf

Posted Aug 18th 2014 6:31PM

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI, front three-quarter view.

In 2007, the European Union mandated fleet average CO2 emissions of 158.7 g/km. For 2015, that figure will drop to 130 g/km, and the target for 2020 is an ambitions 95 g/km. Thanks to some German politicking, that target will be phased in from 2020 to 2024, but it will still apply to 80 percent of passenger cars in that first year. In US miles per gallon, that's the equivalent of going from about 35 mpg to 42 mpg to 57 mpg. The current Volkswagen Golf is rated from 85 g/km of CO2 to 190 g/km depending on model – and zero for the e-Golf, so for the next-generation MkVIII hatch due in 2019, to meet the goal, Volkswagen engineers will need to introduce a bunch of new tricks. According to a report in Autocar, VW be mining its hyper-efficient XL1 for some of them.

Predictions for the next Golf include a variable-compression engine, an electric flywheel and an electric turbo, along with taking greater advantage of coasting. Volkswagen could be getting help from Audi with the electric turbo and variable-compression engine and electric turbo, with Audi already having shown off the former and brand technical boss Ulrich Hackenberg confirming the VW Group is working on the latter. It's possible the flywheel system could also have the mark of The Four Rings: Autocar mentions a British system that Volvo is testing, but the R18 e-tron Quattro racer has been using one for years.

The need for such features is because the company won't be able to net enough future gains from just aerodynamic improvements and advanced materials. As price will be a factor (the regulations are expected to "add hundreds of euros to the cost of building a car"), adding much more aluminum or carbon fiber is an unlikely option. We're told the next generation won't be longer or wider than the current car, and being Europe's most popular model, VW doesn't want to make a big bet on futuristic aero, but the report says the MkVIII will "likely" have "the most aerodynamic treatment yet seen on a production vehicle," the area where lessons learned from the XL1 will truly be seen.

News Source: Autocar

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

First BMW i8 in US sells for $825,000

That's Six Times Base MSRP, But At Least Jay Leno Was There To Give The Car Away

Posted Aug 18th 2014 4:14PM

BMW i3 Pebble Beach Auction Edition

Here are some numbers. The standard BMW i8 starts at starts at $135,700. The first i8 in the US was auctioned off at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance this past weekend and the auctioneers, Gooding & Company, said before the gavel was lifted the fist time that they expected the i8 with unique Frozen Grey Metallic and other upgrades to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 for the Pebble Beach Company Foundation. Turns out, the car eventually sold for $825,000 to an unnamed buyer.

Along with the honor of having the first i8 on these shores, the special plug-in hybrid comes with Dalbergia Brown leather upholstery, a set of Louis Vuitton luggage and something called a "professional edition" charging station along with laser headlights (subject to regulator approval).

A number of other i8s were delivered to a few wealthy car shoppers who managed to make their way to Pebble Beach over the weekend, including automotive guru Roger Penske and Nest CEO Tony Fadell. The special edition was presented at the auction by Jay Leno and BMW North America president and CEO, Ludwig Willisch. You can't put a price on that. Just kidding. You can, and it's apparently $825,000.

News Source: Yahoo News

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Brandon Turkus / AOL

Recharge Wrap-up: DOE's $55M in clean car funding; Volt, Fisker leader Posawatz to INRIX

Charge Ahead California Continues Forward; Formula E Finds Another TV Outlet

Posted Aug 18th 2014 1:16PM

formula e

The US Department of Energy is investing over $55 million in 31 projects for more efficient vehicles. 19 of the projects seek to help achieve the goals of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, by making plug-in hybrids as affordable as gasoline cars by 2022. 12 projects are aimed at making passenger vehicles and commercial trucks more fuel-efficient. The Army is providing another $3.7-million in co-funding for battery technology, reducing friction and wear and testing fuel-efficient tires. Read more at the Energy Department's website.

Formula E fans in France, Andorra and Morocco will be able to watch the races live on Canal+. The channel, which also airs Formula 1 and WRC in France, will offer a highlights program covering the race weekend, podium presentation and interviews with the drivers in addition to live race coverage. Canal+ has an audience of about six million households. Most of us, though, will be watching the races on Fox Sports, ITV4 in the UK, TV Asahi in Japan and CCTV in China. Formula E says it will have more television deals to announce before the beginning of the inaugural race season next month. Read more at Formula E's site.

Tony Posawatz, the former Chevrolet Volt developer and Fisker CEO, is going the board of directors at big data technology company INRIX. INRIX is known for its driver navigation app, INRIX Traffic, which uses traffic information to plan routes. Posawatz worked at General Motors for 30 years, before leaving to become president and CEO of plug-in hybrid carmaker Fisker from 2012 to 2013. He then founded clean car consultancy firm Invictus iCar. "Tony's experience leading the automotive industry forward through the adoption of breakthrough technologies is invaluable to INRIX," said INRIX CEO Bryan Mistele, "as we expand collaboration with automakers beyond traffic to a variety of other data-driven services in the Connected Car." Read more at Automotive News.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee has approved the Charge Ahead California initiative. The bill, which seeks to put one million EVs on California roads in ten years, will now head to the full assembly for its vote. Charge Ahead California includes an extension and reworking of the state's Clean Vehicle Rebate Project, and also seeks to improve access to clean transportation for disadvantaged populations through carsharing, and clunker-scrapping incentives. The goal of putting more electric cars on the roads is driven largely by a desire for cleaner air. Read more in the press release, below.
Related GalleryFormula E
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News Source: US Department of Energy, Formula E, Automotive News, Environment California

Tesla announces 'infinite mile warranty' for Model S EV drive unit

Posted Aug 18th 2014 11:28AM

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors has a way with words. From Superchargers to 'auto pilot,' Tesla likes to set itself apart by calling things other things. What, fast charging and autonomous drive not good enough for ya? The same thing just happened with the announcement of a new 'infinite mile warranty' for the drive unit. That's infinite, not unlimited, but whatever it's called, the new policy lifts the warranty mileage cap on the 85-kWh version of the Model S that had previously been set at four years and 50,000 miles.

The new rules say that the drive unit will have the same 'limits' as the battery pack, which means as many miles as you can put on the car in eight years. Tesla will also honor the warranty no matter how many people have owned the car and is applying the warranty retroactively, so feel safe buying that used 2012 Model S until 2019 if you still want some warranty coverage.

"If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines ... then our warranty policy should reflect that." – Elon Musk

Tesla has gotten some criticism recently for quality issues in Model S EVs that have been on the road for a while now. Consumer Reports, for example, described problems with their Model S after owning it for 17 months. In the warranty change announcement blog post, Tesla CEO Elon Musk admitted that Tesla made a mistake imposing a limit in the first place. "In hindsight, this should have been our policy from the beginning of the Model S program," he said. "If we truly believe that electric motors are fundamentally more reliable than gasoline engines, with far fewer moving parts and no oily residue or combustion byproducts to gum up the works, then our warranty policy should reflect that." Now it does.

Tesla is warning its investors that the short-term impact might be negative, but "by doing the right thing for Tesla vehicle owners at this early stage of our company, I am confident that it will work out well in the long term," Musk said. You can read the short announcement below.

News Source: Tesla Motors

We could have electric buses that recharge in 15 seconds

Posted Aug 18th 2014 8:02AM

tosa quick charging but stop

First, Swiss watches. Now this. Switzerland is home to a system that will allow battery-electric buses to get their juice in 15-second increments at bus-stop-mounted electric chargers. High-tech, indeed.

Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) is leading of a group of public and private entities that is developing something called the TOSA bus system. TOSA buses get recharged via a robotic arm that connects the roof-mounted bus batteries to an electric charging system mounted on the bus stop. The buses can hold up to 133 people and the "flash charging" provides enough juice in a 15-second charge to get the bus to the next electrified stop without delaying the route. The researchers say such buses could be put into regular service in Geneva by 2017.

Bus electrification has been topical because of the traditionally low fuel economy of diesel-powered municipal buses as well as the troublesome electrification systems that require overhead lines for electric power. With that in mind, companies like China-based BYD have been developing battery-electric buses. This spring, BYD started making electric buses at its California factory and, earlier in the year, said it received an order for 1,200 electric buses from Dalian, China. There's a 100-second video about the TOSA system below.

News Source: EPFL

New Saab parent NEVS: we're not totally broke

Posted Aug 17th 2014 8:59PM

2014 Saab 9-3

The many fans of 1987's The Princess Bride will recall Billy Crystal's Miracle Max character optimistically referring to the protagonist Westley as "mostly dead." It looks like National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), the company that now owns the Saab brand, fits that description. Of course, Westley does end up surviving and getting the girl.

NEVS put out a statement last week saying that, while it doesn't have the cash to pay off all of its outstanding debt (hey, who of us does?), it is "not insolvent" because its assets are greater than its debt. Its suppliers will get paid, but that NEVs "cannot say exactly when."

NEVS, the partnership between a Chinese company and a Japanese investment firm that acquired the Saab name in 2012, restarted production at its Trollhattan plant in Sweden last year and had promised a vehicle line that would include a battery-electric version of the 9-3 sedan. Instead, NEVS stopped the production line that was only making about a half-dozen vehicles a day (the gas-powered, turbocharged 9-3) in May because it said shareholder Qingbo Investment Co. didn't provide the agreed-upon cash. NEVS now says it held positive talks with two manufacturers this summer, and that once funding is secured, it will rewrite its business plan with its new partners to resume production. The supplier that filed a bankruptcy petition is withdrawing it based on this new information, says NEVS.

Saab made its first cars in 1947 and was eventually owned by General Motors before being sold to Spyker in 2010. Bankrupt by the end of 2011, Saab was acquired by NEVS the following year. Check out NEVS's most recent press release below. And have fun storming the castle.
Related Gallery2014 Saab 9-3
2014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-32014 Saab 9-3

News Source: NEVS via Green Car Congress

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