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Recharge Wrap-up: Atlanta Falcons electrify with ChargePoint, LiquidPiston unveils X Mini engine

Firm Invests Millions In The Hybrid Shop; EVs Could Mitigate Grid Destabilization Events

Posted Nov 24th 2014 4:58PM

liquidpiston x mini rotary engine

ChargePoint is partnering with the Atlanta Falcons to provide more EV charging stations at the team's facilities. The chargers are used by players, employees and fans and ChargePoint has donated additional stations for installation throughout the city of Atlanta. The city, county and state are all seeing growth in the number of EVs on their roads, with Fulton County doubling its EVs from 3,063 to 6,027 in the first half of 2014. Georgia currently boasts more than 14,200 plug-in vehicles. ChargePoint and the Falcons will host an official activation event at the Georgia Dome before the game against Pittsburg on December 14. Read more in the press release below.

The Hybrid Shop has announced a multimillion investment from a Northern Virginia investment firm. Funds managed by the multibillion dollar firm now own 38 percent of The Hybrid Shop, a network of dealers providing maintenance services for hybrids and EVs. "The fact that a multibillion dollar investment firm would want to invest in an early stage company serves as affirmation of our brand, business model, and future potential," says The Hybrid Shop CEO Dave Crawford, "as well as recognition of our success to-date in our ongoing efforts to achieve a position of innovation and fast-growth in the rapidly-evolving hybrid and electric space." Read more in the press release below.

LiquidPiston has unveiled a prototype of the power dense X Mini gasoline engine. The 70cc rotary engine is quite small and simple; with just two moving parts, it fits in a box as small as 6.6 inches by 6.2 inches by 5.4 inches. In testing, the X Mini produces 3.5 horsepower at 10,000 rpm, but LiquidPiston expects the final product to weigh just three pounds and produce more than five horsepower at up to 15,000 rpm. The X Mini could be used to power lawn equipment, UAVs, mopeds, EV range extenders and the like, as well as new applications not yet discovered. LiquidPiston also says its low NVH will help with comfort and product life. Read more in the press release below.

A new study says using EVs for energy storage could help during grid disturbances. Researchers showed that EVs can be signaled to respond appropriately to disturbances by discharging a certain amount into the grid rapidly when power is low, and storing energy quickly when there is a spike in surplus. This reduces grid fluctuations and allows the grid to resume stable operation more quickly after a destabilizing event. Too many EVs connected to the grid in this way, though, can cause an overreaction to events, which lessens the benefits of the vehicle-to-grid system. Read more at Phys.org.

News Source: ChargePoint, The Hybrid Shop, LiquidPiston, Phys.org

Image Credit: LiquidPiston

Car2go turns your smartphone into carsharing key with Mobile Access

You No Longer Need A Card To Share A Car

Posted Nov 24th 2014 2:59PM

Calgary Car2go

Car2go Mobile AccessFor all the smarts in the Smart cars used in Car2go, the cars haven't been smart enough to talk to users' smart phones. At least, not in the way you might want them to talk to each other. Until now, Car2go users have had to carry a special card with them to gain access to the broad network of carsharing vehicles. Now, you can get in and drive using your phone and the Car2go app.

Previously, the app would let you find a Car2go vehicle, but an update to allow Mobile Access. As long as you can update your app to version 2.0 (on iOS or Android), you can now use your phone to find, reserve and unlock a Car2go to start your trip and then lock up and end your trip when you're done. The standard card still works, as well.

The slick new feature works on all 12,500 Car2go vehicles in North America. The service was also recently updated with Regional Access to allow any user in North America to use a Car2go in any other North American city. When the European fleet gets integrated, we'll be even more excited. Read more below.

With your phone replacing the card, Car2go has gotten a lot easier to use. I've certainly missed out on drives when I've forgotten my cars. With one less thing to carry, I've got one more reason to share a car.

News Source: Daimler

How Tesla is getting around Michigan's 'no sales' law

Turns Out, Canada Is Right Next Door

Posted Nov 24th 2014 12:01PM

Tesla Model S

A fully-charged Tesla Model S can get from Detroit to Toronto if the driver doesn't have a lead foot. A more important US-Canada city tour would be from Detroit to Windsor, Ontario, which is only a two-mile journey through the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. This is key, because Tesla is thinking some Michigan folks will make that trip to check out the all-electric Model S, perhaps rattling some political cages as well.

The California automaker recently drummed up some Detroit/Windsor-area exposure by holding Model S test rides in Windsor, according to CBC News. While the act itself isn't that brazen, it's a not-so-subtle dig at the state that the Big Three US automakers call home and which recently joined the ranks of states that take a hardline approach against Tesla legally selling its vehicles directly to customers. Michigan joined states like Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Arizona requiring the automaker to work through third-party dealerships. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said that House Bill 5606, "doesn't change current law at all," but if Canada all of a sudden gets a lot of positive attention for being more open and Tesla's online sales rise, perhaps some minds will change.
Related GalleryTesla Model S
Tesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model STesla Model S

News Source: CBC News

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco/AOL

Audi boosts A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid production to 50 a day

Posted Nov 24th 2014 10:30AM

AUDI AG

Should we try to translate "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead" into German? Audi might force us to do that. That's because the German automaker has stepped up production of its new plug-in vehicle – the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid – which is never a bad thing.

Audi was circulating prototypes of the PHEV as early as 2012 and launched production this summer at a clip of 30 vehicles a day. Now, the company is saying that it's upped that daily production rate to 50. That's not exactly Ford F-150 manufacturing territory, but it's a pretty good sign that more Europeans are clamoring for the plug-in than Audi expected.

The A3 E-Tron is priced at about $51,000 in Germany and pairs a 1.4-liter gas-powered engine with an electric motor to produce 204 horsepower and get the car from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than seven and a half seconds. More impressively, the A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid can go 30 miles on electricity alone plus another 550 miles on gas power, and gets a Euro-based fuel-economy rating of a monstrous 156 miles per gallon. Check out Audi's press release below and take a look at our drive impressions here.

News Source: Audi

Formula E spools back up for round 2 in Malaysia [w/video]

Electric Racing Series Takes To The Streets Of Putrajaya

Posted Nov 24th 2014 8:01AM

2014 Formula E Putrajaya ePrix

It's been over two months since the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship kicked off with its first race in Beijing. And after an extended break, the action got back under way this weekend with the second race in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

The qualifying session saw Nicolas Prost (son the of three-time Formula One champion) land on pole but his lingering penalty from Beijing dropped him down to tenth. Oriol Servia was thus elevated to first place on the starting grid, with Sam Bird alongside him and Daniel Abt in third. Jarno Trulli, Karun Chandhok, Nelson Piquet Jr, Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna – former F1 drivers all – followed with Matthew Brabham (grandson of the late Sir Jack) completing the top ten.

With the new FanBoost function in place, Bruno Senna, Katerine Legge and Nick Heidfeld were awarded extra bursts of power to use during the race. But who would take the checkered flag in the 2014 Putrajaya ePrix? Head on down below to watch the race highlights and to read how the race unfolded.

News Source: Formula E

Nissan's London Black Cab postponed because it can't meet emissions targets

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 1:03PM

Nissan NV200 Black Cab

Emissions concerns in London are causing headaches for Nissan, as the company continues its efforts to bring its Black Cab to the city's streets. A proposed ultra-low emissions zone could lead to standards in the city center that are so strict the gas-powered taxi can't meet them, AutoExpress reports.

It's unclear just how low the new emissions standards may be, although AE references London's mayor, Boris Johnson, and his drive to make every London taxi emissions-free by 2018 as a particular thorn for the Japanese automaker.

It's worth noting that the NV200 taxi is both cleaner and more fuel efficient than London's current fleet of iconic black cabs. That alone makes it seem like reason enough to get the new cabs on the streets. But it's the strictness of the proposed standards and the apparently set-in-stone nature of the NV200's current engineering that is holding up the cab's future.

While Nissan offers an emissions-free e-NV200, it would reportedly need to completely reengineer the NV200-based cab to meet the future standards if they're approved.

Whether that will happen, though, remains an open question.
Related GalleryNissan NV200 London Taxi
Nissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London TaxiNissan NV200 London Taxi

News Source: AutoExpress

Image Credit: Nissan

UK's 2014 Next Green Car Awards fetes VW e-Up!, Tesla Model S

Posted Nov 23rd 2014 8:47AM

Volkswagen e-Up!

They like the Tesla Model S across the Pond, too. The California-made electric vehicle was one of about a dozen models given props by the UK's Next Green Car Awards. And the prizes ran the gamut between conventional, diesel, plug-in and battery-electric powertrains because who doesn't like variety?

Leading off in the Next Green Car awards was the Volkswagen e-Up!, which took home the City Car award. On the smaller side, the Vauxhall Corsa 1.0 Ecotec and Peugeot 308 1.6 BlueHDi were also praised for their low emissions.

Moving up on the weight scale, the Ford Mondeo 2.0 Hybrid took the Large Family car award, while the Crossover award went to the Citroen C4 Cactus 1.6 BlueHDi. Americans may associate "Family Estate" cars with huge, fake-wood-paneled station wagons of the '70s and '80s (and with Clark Griswold), but NGC gave the Family Estate award to the far-more-fun Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid.

The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer 216d, Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, Nissan e-NV200 Combi and Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric were also all given props. Finally, the Tesla took home the top-of-the-line "Executive" prize. Check out Next Green Car's press release below or this PDF.
Related GalleryVolkswagen E-Up!
Volkswagen E-Up!Volkswagen E-Up!Volkswagen E-Up!Volkswagen E-Up!Volkswagen E-Up!Volkswagen E-Up!Volkswagen E-Up!

News Source: Next Green Car

Vitruvian Energy crowdfunding to make EEB, a trashy biofuel

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 4:02PM

vitruvian energy eeb biofuel

When sewage is treated at a wastewater treatment facility, biosolids are the byproduct. After being separated from the water, biosolids are usually sent to a landfill or incinerated. That doesn't mean that they're without value, however. Vitruvian Energy has created a process to make a usable fuel out of this human waste product, and while the source is pretty gross, it is undeniably abundant, and the results are much cleaner.

EEB can be made for less than $4 a gallon.

In a process that Vitruvian Energy claims is energy efficient, biosolids are femented and introduced to a type of bacteria to create PHA plastic. Reacting the PHA with ethanol creates the ethyl-3-ethoxybutyrate (EEB) biofuel. Vitruvian says EEB can be blended up to 20 percent with gasoline or diesel without any engine modifications. This lowers the carbon footprint of the fuel it's blended into, and serves to oxygenate diesel, leading to fewer harmful emissions. EEB can also be made using other organic waste products, such as corn stover, rice straw and distillers grains.

EEB can be made for less than $4 a gallon and isn't subject to the maddening market fluctuations and international politics of fossil fuels. Furthermore, EEB's carbon footprint is 70 percent less than that of fossil fuels. Vitruvian also sees potential for EEB to be used on its own to power vehicles or burned to produce electricity for the grid.

So far, Vitruvian Energy has used grants from the California Energy Commission and National Science Foundation to develop EEB, and has tested the fuel in a Pontiac Solstice at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Now, Vitruvian is wants to test EEB on a larger scale in the real world in order to prove EEB's viability to interested parties in the wastewater treatment industry. In an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, Vitruvian Energy hopes to raise $200,000 to build a prototype EEB production line and to run a test vehicle for a year on an EEB-diesel blend on the streets of Seattle. Donors can score some interesting perks such as shirts and bumper stickers that say "Get Clean with Poopaline." Learn more about EEB in the video and press release below.

News Source: Vitruvian Energy

Recharge Wrap-up: Couple wins Toyota Mirai; Tesla Gigafactory wages reported

National Biodiesel Board Elects Leadership; DOE Reports Progress In Hydrogen Production

Posted Nov 22nd 2014 8:00AM

toyota mirai winner

A couple who won a Toyota Mirai at the Los Angeles Auto Show are among the first people to own the new fuel-cell sedan. Marianne Ellis bought the winning ticket - auctioned off by the Environmental Media Association to fund environmental programs - as a possible 30th anniversary gift for her husband, David. The excited couple picked up their ceremonial keys at the LA Auto Show on Wednesday. "For us, it's about being at the cutting edge of change," says Marianne Ellis. "It's a chance to support environmental causes and clean energy, while showing it's possible to make a car like this part of your lifestyle." The Mirai will go on sale in California in the fall of 2015. Read more in the press release below.

The salaries for 6,500 full-time employees at Tesla's Gigafactory battery production facility have been reported. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the 4,550 production associates and 200 material handlers will be paid $22.79 an hour. 460 equipment technicians and 360 quality technicians will get $27.88 an hour. 930 engineers and senior staff will earn $41.83, or $87,000 a year. Tesla plans to staff 6,500 people at the Reno, Nevada-based Gigafactory by 2020. Read more at the Reno Gazette-Journal or at Teslarati.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has elected its governing board members. The board leaders include Sprague Operating Resources Chairman Steven J. Levy, Minnesota Soybean Processors Vice Chair Ron Marr, American Soybean Association Treasurer Mike Cunningham and Nebraska Soybean Board Secretary Greg Anderson. NBB also filled four more spots on the board, discussed federal policies, began program planning and recognized outstanding member involvement in the biodiesel industry. Read more at Biodiesel Magazine.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has reported progress on renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production. The DOE calls electrolysis, photoelectrochemical, biological and solar-thermochemical key areas of hydrogen production and has made advances in each. The DOE is looking into technological advancements in making the clean fuel and ways to reduce production costs. The DOE has also outlined various plans for the 2015 fiscal year with regard to advancing hydrogen technology, with the goal of getting hydrogen prices in line with other fuels. Read more at Green Car Congress.

News Source: Toyota, Biodiesel Magazine, Green Car Congress, Teslarati, Reno Gazette-Journal

Image Credit: Toyota

OPEC isn't too worried about EVs

Posted Nov 21st 2014 7:57PM

chart showing number of passenger cars in the world


OPEC writes that "pure plug-in electric cars are unlikely to gain a significant market share in the foreseeable future."

Do you notice those thin pink and salmon-colored lines representing plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles up in that chart up there? Yeah, it took us a while to spot them, too. That's pretty much what the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) thinks about the prospects of worldwide adoption of plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles in the near-term – or, heck, pretty much long-term – future.

According to OPEC's 396-page World Oil Outlook report (PDF), plug-in vehicles will represent what's essentially a fraction of a fraction of new-car purchases for the next quarter-century or so. Sure, hybrids are going to take an increasingly large chunk, as well natural-gas vehicles, but plug-ins? Not so much.

In fact, OPEC writes that "pure plug-in electric cars are unlikely to gain a significant market share in the foreseeable future" in part because of relatively high purchase prices, single-charge range limits and questionable battery performance in inclement weather (if you're looking for that part, the section starts on page 100 of the report, which is actually page 126 of the PDF). Of course, if the rate of plug-in vehicle adoption sped up at a more rapid rate, there'd be less of a need for OPEC, wouldn't there? Check out the report here and draw your own conclusions.

News Source: OPEC via Gas2

Image Credit: OPEC

2015 Ford F-150 to get up to 26 miles per gallon

Posted Nov 21st 2014 2:17PM

Ford F-150

The 2015 Ford F-150 is one of the most important US vehicle debuts in years, be it in the pickup segment or the entire marketplace. While we've already known about the truck's engine lineup, its payload ratings and we've even learned a bit about how it drives, the truck's EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings have remained a mystery. The wait is finally over. Ford has announced numbers that put the latest F-150 as the mileage leader among gasoline-powered, full-size pickups in the US, with its new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 topping the charts.

Starting with the entry-level naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6, the rear-wheel-drive F-150 is rated at 18-miles-per-gallon city, 25-mpg highway and 20-mpg combined. Opting for four-wheel drive drops those numbers slightly to 17/23/19.

If fuel economy is your absolute priority, then upgrading to the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 is the hot ticket. It improves things further to 19/26/22 in rear-wheel drive trim or 18/23/20 with four-wheel drive. The carryover naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 is rated at 15/22/18 as a 4X2 or 15/21/17 as a 4X4. Finally, the flagship 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 tops the range in available torque and offers buyers 17/24/20 ratings with rear-wheel drive or 17/23/19 with four-wheel drive.

"We are delivering with the toughest, smartest and most capable F-150 ever – and now the highest EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings of any full-size gas-powered pickup in America," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development, in the company's announcement.

Depending on engine and drivetrain configuration, Ford contends that the 2.7-liter EcoBoost's top rating puts fuel economy up between 5 and 29 percent over the current generation, thanks in large part to the truck's lighter aluminum construction.

Obviously, these are EPA estimates, and your mileage may vary – ours has. Recently, Autoblog team members have had real difficulty even approximating government mpg estimates on many EcoBoost models, including the new F-150. Scroll down to read Ford's full announcement, including comparisons to rival models.

News Source: Ford

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Drew Phillips / AOL

Elon Musk goes deep, says 'Nobody should be CEO forever'

Posted Nov 21st 2014 11:54AM

Elon Musk

When someone achieves as much as Elon Musk has, it's easy to become fascinated not just with what the person is doing, but who that person is on a personal level. Sure, many of us are curious about what the future of Tesla or SpaceX looks like from inside the mind of its CEO, but some of us are also curious what he eats for breakfast. In a recent interview with Auto Bild, the German interviewers do a great job of getting Musk to open up about his business plans, his daily habits and even some of his deeper, more meaningful musings.

"Nobody should be CEO forever." – Elon Musk

Musk says he would likely remain CEO of Tesla Motors for three or four more years, at least long enough to see volume production of the upcoming Model III and building of the Gigafactory (for which Musk was able to command enormous incentives from the state of Nevada). "I will never leave Tesla forever, but I may not be CEO forever," Musk said. "Nobody should be CEO forever."

When hiring, Musk looks for "evidence of exceptional ability" and "a track record of exceptional achievement." That does not necessarily include a college degree. "If you look at, say, people like Bill Gates or Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, these guys didn't graduate from college, but if you had a chance to hire them, of course that would be a good idea."

At an interesting point in the conversation, the interviewers ask Musk to describe himself. He says that he has an innate sense of drive and that he seeks the truth, but it's interesting to watch him dig deep to come up with an answer. "All these introspective questions are interesting," he said. "I don't get asked these very often."

Musk goes on to talk about how he originally expected both SpaceX and Tesla to fail, how he lived on borrowed money to keep his companies afloat and even how he'd like to die on the planet Mars. While we didn't get to hear any more about the demon that is artificial intelligence, the video is an interesting journey through the life and mind of an exceptional person. Watch the whole thing below.

News Source: Hybrid Cars via YouTube

ETC

Car and Driver 10Best list cracked by Tesla Model S, BMW 3 Series left off

Posted Nov 21st 2014 11:30AM

Tesla Model S

Car and Driver 10Best LogoCar and Driver is keeping new blood pumping into its annual 10Best cars list with three new entries making it on for 2015 and a perennial favorite falling off. Among the biggest shocks this year is that the BMW 3 Series and 4 Series are no longer named, despite years of some portion of that lineup earning a mention. In another surprise, the Tesla Model S (specifically in S 60 trim to fit under the $80,000 cost cap) makes it to the 2015 roster and is the only electrically motivated member of the group.

Despite the loss of the 3 Series, BMW isn't entirely shut out this year, because the M235i gets its name on the list. Car and Driver argues that the little coupe feels like a welcome throwback to the E46 chassis M3 of the early 2000s. In addition to the Model S, the final newbie to the annual group is the 2015 Ford Mustang GT. The inclusion of these new members knocks the Audi A6/A7 family and Ford Fiesta ST out from the 2014 rundown.

The other seven models carry over from last year, including the Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Honda Accord, Mazda3, Mazda6, Porsche Boxster/Cayman and Volkswagen Golf/GTI.

The 2015 10Best cars list certainly seems to have something for everyone from the hot hatch fan to the family man and even the green car driver, thanks to the addition of the Tesla. Head over to Car and Driver to read its detailed explanations for each vehicle's inclusion, but if you've got a difference of opinion or just really like the list, let us know in Comments.

News Source: Car and Driver

Image Credit: Car and Driver, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Porsche, Tesla, Volkswagen

Is BMW ready to increase i8 production?

Posted Nov 21st 2014 10:20AM

BMW i8

The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid is really fast. But the car is getting to customers really slowly. The German automaker might be doing something about that.

Bimmer executive Ian Robertson, speaking with reports at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, commented on the high demand for the super-PHEV and said the company may step up production in Germany, Automotive News Europe says. That's because the wait list for the i8 is approaching 18 months in some global markets. And Robertson would like to get that timeframe down to about six months.

No details were disclosed about how fast the i8 is being produced or how much faster that production rate may get. The i8, which retails for about $135,000, started sales in Europe in June and in the US two months later.

As for the smaller, slower i3 electric vehicle, BMW is making about 2,000 units a month, and wait lists are down to about four months. Part of the reason for that is because BMW shifted distribution rates for that model towards the US to meet higher-than-expected demand from stateside consumers and slow German sales. Through the end of October in the US, BMW had sold almost 4,300 i3 vehicles and 271 i8 models, including 204 i8 units last month alone.
Related Gallery2015 BMW i8: First Drive
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