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Greenlings

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    Greenlings: Why do automatic transmissions now get better fuel efficiency than manuals?
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    Not so long ago, it was common for automatic transmissions to be referred to as slushboxes, since that's how they often behaved. Rather than use a mechanical clutch, traditional automatic transmissions use a fluid coupling between the engine and the gear-sets to transmit drive torque. This ...

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    Greenlings: Who will be the main players in the electric vehicle space?
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    2012 Renault Fluence Z.E.
    Electric vehicles (EVs) are about to arrive in big numbers in the streets of America and, if you haven't already, you will soon experience your first sighting. Maybe not next month and maybe not this summer, but rest assured, sometime in the next 18 months it is very ...

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    Greenlings: Which is greener, having two wheels or four?
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    Vespa S 50 – Click above for high-res image gallery
    So, you want to go green. There are many obvious ways to reduce your environmental impact, and one of them is by driving a cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicle. But that raises a number of questions, doesn't it? What are your choices when ...

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    Greenlings: What realistic electric vehicle recharging options are there for apartment dwellers?
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    One of the challenges to making electric vehicles (EVs) "work" in the real world is figuring out how, where and when to recharge them. If you have a garage, then those questions kind of answer themsleves. You come home, take 15 seconds to plug the car into the wall and undo the plug in the ...

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    Greenlings: How do hybrids and electric vehicles blend regenerative and friction braking?
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    Following last week's announcement by Toyota that it would recall several hundred thousand units of the 2010 Prius and Lexus HS250h to update the brake control software, there have been numerous questions about how these systems work. Vehicles with strong hybrid systems like those built by ...

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    Greenlings: What's a light-duty truck, and why should we care?
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    2009 Chrysler PT Cruiser – Click above for high-res image gallery
    When is a truck not a truck? Well, that depends on your definition of truck, it seems, as many vehicles currently on dealer lots all around the country carry the truck designation from their manufacturers while most rational ...

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    Greenlings: Can racing really be green?
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    Humans are competitive creatures who have raced against each other in one form or another for millennia. The practice that likely evolved from hunting and the struggle to survive has adapted to advances in technology over time, moving from foot races to eventually involve vehicles such as ...

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    Greenlings: What's the point of concept cars?
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    Honda P-NUT – click above for high-res image gallery
    Remember the Honda P-NUT? The unusual vehicle (pictured above, full details here) was unveiled at the 2009 LA Auto Show and ... well, now it's gone. Who knows if we'll ever see it again. Each automaker has their own graveyard museum of ...

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    Greenlings: PHEV? DSG? VMT? A guide to common green vehicle acronyms
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    Deciphering the new vocabulary of the green car movement can sometimes be a real head scratcher. To alleviate as much confusion as possible, we would like to present our readers with a list of common acronyms and what they mean, with plenty of links for more information. If you have some TLAs ...

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    What's the difference between kW and kWh?
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    Understanding electric and plug-in vehicles requires a slightly different knowledge set than what mechanics and drivers have needed to know for decades. One of the most obvious new concepts is the large battery pack and electric motor added to the car. The capacity values of these devices can be ...

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    Why does mileage drop in winter?
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    This week's Greenlings topic came to us from another reader tip. Don asked why his fuel economy suffers so much in winter weather. In his own experience, mileage drops about 10 percent when the temperatures go from the 60-70 F range to near freezing. This is consistent with our own experience and ...

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    How do I plug my electric vehicle in at home?
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    As electric vehicles begin to find their way to peoples driveways and garages, knowing what's involved with charging up the batteries becomes more necessary. Over the years, electric vehicles (EVs) have used different kinds of batteries and employed different types of chargers and connectors, so ...

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    How does weight affect a vehicle's efficiency?
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    Over the last few decades, the average weight of a vehicle sold in the U.S. climbed steadily after we got over the oil embargoes of the 1970s. Today, though, auto companies are putting a lot of effort into reducing weight – Lotus set up an entire lightweight structures division, BMW is ...

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    Why can't Americans have good, small diesels?
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    2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI – Click above for high-res image gallery
    The question is often asked, "Why is it that drivers in Europe can get all of these amazing high-mileage cars that get 50, 60 or even 70 mpg but we have to celebrate when we get half of that?" There are plenty of reasons, but ...

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    What is CAFE?
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    It was big news when the Obama Administration updated CAFE requirements in May to a new and higher national MPG standard of 42 mpg for cars (26 mpg for light trucks) by 2016. The higher standards will start increasing with 2011 model year vehicles. But what is CAFE? And how do these new numbers ...

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    Will we ever replace the standard rear- and side-view mirror?
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    Recently, we received the following question from a reader:

    Rear view mirrors inevitably create blind spots. They add untold fuel costs by resisting airflow past the automobile at speed. Since the first back-up camera and display technology came on the scene they have been obsolete. What is ...

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    Should I switch to straight veggie oil? What is holding SVO back?
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    We like to answer reader questions with our Greenlings series whenever possible, and thought that Timothy H. had a good topic. He sent in the following question/suggestion about straight vegetable oil (SVO):

    I have seen several articles dealing specifically with SVO, but not as it concerns the ...

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    How can we "refuel" electric vehicles today and tomorrow?
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    Renault Zero Emission line-up - Click for high-res image gallery
    Among the many claimed advantages of electric vehicles are the ability to "refuel" your vehicles at home, never visiting a gas station again. In principle, the only thing you need to "fuel" an EV is a working plug. However, in life, ...

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    How important is the appearance of a green car?
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    2011 Chevy Volt - Click above for high-res image gallery
    There has been quite a spate of green car designs in the past few years that seem penned to prove the adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Indeed, some eco-intentioned vehicles appear to be the end result of an ultimate death ...

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    What are the promises and pitfalls of carbon fiber?
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    For the last century or so, cars and trucks have predominantly been formed from one material in particular: steel. It's not hard to see why – steel is relatively inexpensive, highly abundant and easy to form into somewhat complex shapes that can be repaired with mostly basic ...

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