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2014 Zero S and SR

  • Review
    2014 Zero S and SR
  • Official
    Zero Motorcycles puts blinding polish on new 2015 lineup [w/video]
  • Review
    2014 Cadillac ELR
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    Bob Lutz says Tesla remains 'fringe' brand
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A BMW i3 will cost you $100,000 in Brazil

Posted Sep 30th 2014 7:54PM

BMW i3

Brazil is a long way from the US, and the price of the BMW i3 in that South American country is even further away from what Americans pay for the same electric vehicle. But that hasn't stopped a few wealthy Brazilians from taking the plunge.

The BMW i3 REx – i.e., the one with the gas-powered range-extender – is the first mass-produced vehicle of its kind to be imported to Brazil (there are a few Nissan Leaf vehicles in fleet use), and those intrepid buyers are forking over about $100,000 to own the vehicle, according to Just-Auto. The country's first 100 i3's were recently received in Sao Paolo, and about 30 of them have been sold. That pricetag is a wee bit higher than in the US, where the i3 starts under $42,000. BMW did open a $261-million factory in Brazil this year, but the i3 continues to be produced exclusively in Germany.

It's not just fancy new plug-in cars and World Cup tickets that cost a lot in Brazil. The Volkswagen Golf, which retails for less than $18,000 in the States, costs about $23,000 in Brazil and the Economist ran a series of articles last year explaining how currency changes have resulted in the dollar-to-Brazilian real exchange rate surging in recent years.
Related Gallery2014 BMW i3: First Drive
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News Source: Just-Auto

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco/AOL

This is how GM is hiding new Chevy Volt in public

Posted Sep 30th 2014 6:00PM

camouflaged new chevy volt

General Motors is letting the public know that, well, it's not about to let the public know anything else about the next-generation Chevrolet Volt. But the automaker is willing to talk about its camouflaging process for upcoming versions of the extended-range plug-in. So it's a half-hearted secret, at best.

GM actually has a "camouflage engineer" charged with creating ways to disguise the styling of new vehicles. In the Volt's case, the company is applying black and white swirly color patterns on top of the materials, such as plastics, vinyl and foam, that are used liberally across the body.

It's all part of a teaser campaign that started last month with pictures of part the 2016 Volt. Earlier this month, GM said it was keeping track of Volt drivers' habits as it works on the next-gen model. The company noted that more than four out of five trips are being made in all-electric driving mode, and that 60 percent of Volt owners use a plain-old 100-volt outlet to recharge their cars.

The car is slated to make its global debut at Detroit's North American International Auto Show next January, and the early word is that performance and all-electric range will be improved (we should hope so). The car will also be sleeker. By how much, we can't tell yet, because of those darn swirly patterns. GM's got more non-details in its press release below.

News Source: General Motors

Recharge Wrap-up: LA Auto Show may feature updated Cadillac ELR, Uber expands Chicago HQ

Kentucky Man Builds Electric 1939 Dodge; Elon Musk Will Speak At Automotive News World Congress; Toyota Rav4 EV Production Ends

Posted Sep 30th 2014 4:00PM

2014 cadillac elr

A Kentucky man has converted his 1939 Dodge pickup to an electric vehicle. Al Gajda of Lexington built the electric truck, which he now uses as his daily driver. "I take advantage of any excuse to drive it; just banging around town, errands, short runs on the interstate, delivering my granddaughter to school in the morning," he says. It is powered by a lithium-ion phosphate battery, which is mounted in a wooden box on the truck bed, and gets about 100 miles per charge. Read more at the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Elon Musk will speak at the Automotive News World Congress in January. The Tesla CEO is a featured speaker for the program, "Setting the Pace in a Thriving Market." The event takes place in Detroit, which could lead to an interesting mix of people in the audience, and Musk will speak on January 13. Read more at Automotive News.

Production of the Toyota Rav4 EV has ended. The shipment of the final Toyota EVs concludes Toyota's deal to source batteries from Tesla. Of the 2,600 Rav4 EVs to be produced, there are probably just a few hundred left to be sold, most of which are likely to be gone by the end of October. Read more at Inside EVs.

Cadillac will likely show an improved version of the ELR at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The 2016 ELR will include unspecified "engineering enhancements," according to Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell. There will be no 2015 model, as the 2014 model will be sold until the 2016 ELR goes on sale in the first half 2015. Read more at Edmunds.

Uber executives, along with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, have announced a major expansion of the ride-hailing company's Chicago headquarters. Uber also plans to add 420 jobs by the end of 2016. "Uber's new expanded headquarters will allow the company to continue its rapid growth and serve its riders and drivers throughout Illinois," says Governor Quinn. Last month, Quinn vetoed legislation that would have put restrictions on companies like Uber in the state. Read more in the press release below.
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News Source: Lexington Herald-Leader, Automotive News, Inside EVs, Edmunds, Office of the Governor Pat Quinn

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

2014 Zero S and SR

A First Ride In Every Sense

Posted Sep 30th 2014 1:29PM

The Zero S and SR outside of company headquarters

I recently learned how to summon the ultimate power of the universe. Perhaps surprisingly, it didn't come about by bending a knee or popping a potion, but rather, through twisting my wrist. I'll tell you more about this revelation, but first, a confession.

Faithful readers may suspect that I am a bit taken with electric motorcycles. I write about them frequently for AutoblogGreen and spend a lot more time reading about them and following various racing and development efforts. Yet, despite my infatuation, I had never actually ridden one before showing up at the headquarters of Zero Motorcycles in Scotts Valley, CA a few weeks back. In fact, I'd never previously piloted any sort of motorcycle on the street. Something I may have neglected to mention to my generous hosts.

I grew up in Canada, and early on my Dad decided snowmobiles would be a better sort of recreational vehicle for our family's somewhat rural existence than motorbikes. He was probably right. I raced through tight forest trails and across open fields whenever there was snow on the ground (and sometimes when there wasn't), and it opened up the great outdoors to me far more than any sort of two-wheeled vehicle could. You can't easily ride twenty miles down a frozen river on a motorcycle, for instance. Heck, in a pinch one could even power a sled across a couple hundred feet of open water after a sudden thaw of the mighty Petitcodiac. (Note to my Mom: I never did this. Especially not twice.) But I digress.

Vital Stats

50 kW Motor
67 HP / 106 LB-FT
Single Speed

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Domenick Yoney / AOL, Zero Motorcycles

Ram increasing EcoDiesel production [w/video]

Posted Sep 30th 2014 11:30AM

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Production

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel shot out of the gate with strong sales by filling its initial allocation of 8,000 orders in just three days, in February. At the time, Ram expected that the oil-burning variant would account for around 10 percent of 1500 output, but it knew there was room to grow if the demand was there. Apparently it is, as the truck maker is doubling the diesel's production mix for the 2015 model year to 20 percent of the pickup's total volume.

Since hitting the market, the EcoDiesel has been a smashing success, according to Ram. The company claims that nearly 60 percent of its sales have been conquests from other truck brands, and its popularity has boosted the 1500's average transaction price, as well. In an accompanying video, brand president Bob Hegbloom said that customers have been demanding more of them.

"Innovation sometimes comes with risk, but being first to market with a diesel engine for the half-ton segment has shown to be a great decision for the Ram Brand," said Hegbloom in the company's release.

Now, Ram has a new deal with engine supplier VM Motori to allocate it even more of the EcoDiesel's 3.0-liter V6s for the 1500. They will be shipped to the recently enlarged Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Michigan and Saltillo Truck Assembly Plant in Mexico, and the actual production increase will be complete by the end of November.

While we might see more of them on the road, the 2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is essentially carried over from last year's model. It still uses the same 3.0-liter V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Scroll down for the video from Hegbloom explaining the decision and the full release from Ram.

News Source: Ram Trucks, Chrysler Group LLC via YouTube

Harry Reid in favor of $10,000 federal EV tax credit

Posted Sep 30th 2014 10:00AM

Reid Nuclear Waste

Harry Reid says the federal government should commit more funds towards incentives for electric-vehicle purchases. We'll wait for readers' shock to sink in. Now, here are the details.

The Senate Majority Leader (D-NV) is backing President Barack Obama's efforts to raise federal incentives for EV drivers to $10,000 from $7,500, according to The Detroit News. He's also big on the US Energy Department boosting its vehicle-research budget to help bring down the cost of EVs. Reid notes that Tesla Motors' $5-billion Gigafactory, which will be built near Reno, will provide $100 billion worth of economic value to the state. He also pointed out that Tesla paid off its $465-million loan from the US Energy Department last year, nine years early.

There's a way to read this as some sort of quid pro quo for the new battery plant, since Nevada's providing about $1.2 billion (over a 20-year period) in incentives to Tesla and factory-building partner Panasonic and cutting EV prices for the average could help Tesla. But Reid has been speaking out in favor of more green cars for a while. In 2009, he helped promote a bill that would provide more incentives for people driving natural-gas powered vehicles. The year before that, Reid went on record saying that the US needed "a crash course to develop alternative and renewable energy." And in 2007, he called the debate over a more stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard pointless because, he said, they were a given.

News Source: The Detroit News

Image Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Zero Motorcycles puts blinding polish on new 2015 lineup [w/video]

Adds ABS, Showa Suspension, Pirelli Rubber, More

Posted Sep 30th 2014 3:00AM

2015 Zero SR electric motorcycle in action

Excuse us while we fetch our sunglasses. Zero Motorcycles has just introduced its 2015 lineup to the world and we have to admit we are a bit bedazzled. Sure, sitting on the stand at this year's Intermot, the new crop almost looks like a carbon copy of the current incarnation, which, in turn, is a refined version of its vastly revamped 2013 offerings. From the saddle, however, the polish put on these new battery-powered bikes will be blindingly brilliant.

The basic designs remain the same. The Zero S is still the brand's standard-bearer, from which is derived the very popular SR performance variant – think zero-to-60 in 3.3 seconds – and the dual sport interpretation, the DS. As well, the FX "Stealthfighter" hoon machine returns with its unique frame and swappable batteries. So, what's new? The riding dynamics. Everything that interfaces with the rider and the road has been upgraded. Absolutely everything.

News Source: Zero Motorcycles

Totaled Tesla Model S is a case of buyer beware

Posted Sep 29th 2014 7:00PM

Rutman Tesla Model S

Getting a Tesla Model S for just $50,000 is a steal, but when it's a salvage title car and was written off as totaled by an insurance company, the bargain might not be worth the headache. That's what a San Diego man is learning now that he's having trouble getting his fancy but damaged electric vehicle to work.

Tesla has a different version of the story, of course.

Peter Rutman has spent $8,000 in repairs for his EV, but there's one important bit of help he still needs: official activation from Tesla. Rutman is steaming mad at Tesla, telling San Diego 6 that, "Tesla has created a situation where there is nowhere to go. They've blocked every avenue." Tesla has a different version of the story, of course, and says that they're happy to look at the car (and certify it to run if it's in good shape), but said in a statement to AutoblogGreen that Rutman isn't willing to sign a waiver to let Tesla's mechanics get at the car.

"We have strong concerns about this car being safe for the road, but we have been prevented from inspecting the vehicle because Mr. Rutman refused to sign an inspection authorization form. That form clearly states that in order for us to support the vehicle on an ongoing basis, we need to ensure the repairs meet minimum safety standards," the company said. You can read the full statement below.

San Diego 6 says that one of the problems is Tesla's direct-sales model, which means that there's only one place for a customer like Rutman to go for assistance: the company itself. Right now, Rutman says, a Tesla-certified mechanic has to trigger some switch before the car will charge. And that can't happen until he signs the aforementioned authorization form.

Rutman told the local TV station (video also below) that, "The document they wanted me to sign didn't indicate they were going to do any repairs to the car, or get it up and running. They can take the car. They can keep it. They can do whatever they want with it." Tesla says this isn't true, and also denies there is any sort of black list in effect.

News Source: San Diego 6

Kia showcasing Optima T-Hybrid concept in Paris [w/video]

Posted Sep 29th 2014 5:35PM

Kia Optima T-Hybrid Concept

At the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, Kia showcased a new diesel hybrid powertrain. And at the rapidly approaching Paris Motor Show, it will present that new technology in the Optima sedan concept you see here.

Called the Kia Optima T-Hybrid, the concept mates a 1.7-liter diesel with both a turbocharger and electric supercharger to a small electric motor and a 48-volt lead-carbon battery. The mild hybrid setup allows it to travel in electric-only model at low speeds and at cruise, regenerating brake power to recharge the battery. Kia said it chose the lead-carbon battery pack over lithium-ion because it's easier to recycle and does not require active cooling.

Because the powertrain is still under development, Kia isn't saying what kind of fuel economy or emissions figures it gets in the Optima T-Hybrid concept, but it is targeting a "significant reduction" in emissions and fuel consumption, while delivering 15 to 20 percent more power. Check out the system in action in the video below.

News Source: Kia

Jaguar details new Ingenium four-cylinder engines [w/video]

Posted Sep 29th 2014 4:57PM

Jaguar XE

When Jaguar lifted the veil on its new XE sports sedan earlier this month, it only revealed details on one engine – that being the 3.0-liter supercharged V6 in the flagship XE S. But we already knew that the British automaker's new entry-level model will offer many other powertrain options, and now it has revealed a little more.

Jaguar has been developing a new family of 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines it calls Ingenium, which will be offered in a wide array of configurations and specifications. In advance of its debut at the upcoming Paris Motor Show, the Leaping Cat marque has announced the specifications of the two diesel versions. The first will offer 161 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque and some of the best environmental credentials on the market. There will also be a more potent version with 177 hp and 317 lb-ft, which Jaguar says is "one of the highest torque outputs in the class." Either way, both versions feature variable exhaust valve timing, cooled low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation and selective catalytic reduction technologies to help meet the stringent Euro 6 standards.

That's all well and fine, but considering that Jaguar doesn't offer diesels in North America, the chances of these oil-burners making their way Stateside seem slim. But if you watch the video below, you'll also find basic specs on their gasoline counterparts as well. Like the diesels, they're turbocharged and displace 2.0 liters, but in petrol form, they offer 197 hp and 206 lb-ft of torque, or 236 hp and 250 lb-ft.

Though we're only likely to get the automatic version in America, globally speaking Jaguar will offer both six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions. Whatever the specification, though, the new engines are set to roll off the line at the company's new plant in the West Midlands at a rate as high as one every 36 seconds, should the demand exist.
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News Source: Jaguar

Recharge Wrap-up: Reverse graffiti powered by Nissan Leaf; BMW introduces Wallbox Pro

Local Motors 3D Printed Car A Success

Posted Sep 29th 2014 4:00PM

nissan leaf reverse graffiti

BMW has a new, faster version of the Wallbox home EV charger. The Wallbox Pro offers 7.4 kilowatts, and can charge the BMW i3 to 80 percent in under three hours. It features a seven-inch touchscreen and proximity sensor, plus an 11.5-foot cord. The Wallbox Pro can also be used with smart home systems such as lighting and heating. The Wallbox Pro is available in Europe, and will come to the US later in the year. Read more at Hybrid Cars.

Nissan is using the Leaf to power the creation of "reverse graffiti" in London. The company has commissioned artist Moose to selectively wash dirt off of a wall outside of a subway station, leaving behind a mural of London landmarks. Moose used a jet washer powered by the Leaf's battery to create the piece. The goal is to highlight the amount of pollution in London and other large cities, which is not a new idea. "It is a reminder that electric vehicles don't have an exhaust to emit the kind of air pollution which has stained the wall Moose has created his piece on," says Nissan's Jean-Pierre Diernaz. See the artwork in the gallery, and read more in the press release below.

Local Motors used a 3D printer to make the Strati electric car in 44 hours. The car was printed with 212 layers of carbon-reinforced ABS thermoplastic. After printing, the team then spent two days finishing the car to make it run. It is powered by the drivetrain from a Renault Twizy, and is capable of 40 miles per hour. Now the question is if this sort of small-scale car manufacturing using 3D printing technology will catch on. See how a car gets printed in the time-lapse video below, and read more over at Treehugger.

News Source: Hybrid Cars, Nissan, Treehugger

Image Credit: Nissan

Lamborghini Asterion leaked in print ahead of Paris debut

Posted Sep 29th 2014 2:55PM

Lamborghini Asterion leak

Lamborghini concept leakThe first purportedly leaked images from an Italian magazine of Lamborghini's new vehicle for the Paris Motor Show are on the web, and they closely echo the model's silhouette from the teaser. However, there's no official mention of a name to confirm that this is being called the Asterion, as rumored.

The profile image (right) definitely suggests this is the same model that Lamborghini is previewing for Paris. It features the same slightly arcing hood and roof, and it has a rear air intake behind the door. The shape also seems to support the belief that this concept has a 2+2 seating arrangement to echo earlier Lambo models like Espada.

According to, which has posted the images, the vehicle may use a hybrid V10 with three electric motors to produce in the neighborhood of 900 horsepower. Furthermore, it claims that this might be just one of two concepts that Lamborghini is bringing to the Paris show. For now it's still a mystery, but all should be revealed on October 2 for the vehicle's unveiling.
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News Source: via Autoguide

Image Credit:

Porsche 918 Spyder burns to ground in gas station conflagration

Posted Sep 29th 2014 2:15PM

Porsche 918 Burns at Toronto Gas Station

There's one fewer Porsche 918 Spyder zipping along the roads of Toronto, Canada, today. A fire at a gas station over the weekend claimed one of the hybrid supercars in a massive blaze, and a portion of the inferno was caught on video.

According to our partners to the North at Autoblog Canada, the cause of the fire hasn't been officially confirmed yet, but witnesses reportedly claimed gasoline somehow came into contact with the hot exhaust outlets that exit out of the top of the supercar's engine bay. This was just one of two 918s believed to be in the Toronto area.

Other than a possible broken heart from the owner, the fire reportedly caused no injuries, and only the Porsche and gas pump appeared to sustain serious damage. Warning, the video of the conflagration does contain some explicit language.

News Source: Autoblog Canada, David Jenkins via YouTube, Facebook

2014 Cadillac ELR

Posted Sep 29th 2014 11:57AM

2014 Cadillac ELR

Well, this is awkward.

A few years ago, Audi Of America's boss Johan de Nysschen went on record describing the Chevrolet Volt as "a car for idiots." Fast-forward to earlier this summer, and the well-regarded executive suddenly found himself in a new office with new business cards bearing the title: President, Cadillac. That means that among other challenges, de Nysschen is now tasked with selling the ELR, a car that is, at its core, a Volt in a sportier, less utile frock wearing a price tag that's twice as expensive.

Frankly, it's not a prospect we imagine the South African executive and recent Infiniti boss relishes. Just about nobody is buying the ELR – Cadillac has sold but 774 examples of its plug-in hybrid coupe this year and it presently has an almost a 200-day supply according to Automotive News. What's more, those numbers actually represent big improvements over just a few months ago, before GM started heaping on the incentives. The cynic in us says that the bad news for De Nysschen is that he's got a borderline sales-proof car in his new corporate garage. The good news? Cadillac customers apparently aren't idiots.

Before we go any further, let's get back to that elephant in the room: price. There's no way to be kind here – General Motors has saddled its 2014 Cadillac ELR with a scarcely believable bottom line: $75,000. Even arithmophobes like us can work out that that means it costs as much as a base ATS Coupe and a Chevrolet Volt combined. That, in our book, is unforgivably bad math – the sort of computation logic understood only by buyers of the Aston Martin Cygnet, or perhaps those who signed off on the Allante's assembly process back in the '80s, an arrangement that involved flying uncompleted cars over the Atlantic in custom-outfitted Boeing 747s. Twice.
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