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2015 Green Car Of The Year finalists announced, run alt-fuel gamut

Short List Includes Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, VW Golf

Posted Oct 21st 2014 10:00AM

VW e-golf 2015 Green Car of the Year Finalist

The 2015 edition of the Green Car of the Year award is following right in the footsteps of previous years with a variety of alt-fuel powertrains making the just-announced finalists list. You've got your plug-in vehicle (the BMW i3), your compressed natural gas (the Chevy Impala Bi-Fuel), your high-efficiency diesel (the Audi A3 TDI), your 40+ mile-per-gallon gas engine (the Honda Fit) and, finally, a car that can do a little bit of everything (the VW Golf).

The Golf is available – at least in some parts of the US – with three different powertrains: a 2.0-liter diesel, a gasoline engine and all-electric drive. The Impala can burn either natural gas or gasoline in its 3.6-liter engine. The A3 is an efficiency champ, able to get 73.5 mpg on some European tests. The i3 can be a pure electric vehicle or come with a short range extending engine. And the Fit brings 41 miles to the gallon in a practical, affordable package.

The GCOY award is announced every year at the Los Angeles Auto Show by Green Car Journal. The committee doesn't just take the fuel-saving technology into account, but also a vehicle's "availability to the mass market." Last year, the Honda Accord Hybrid/Plug-In Hybrid won top honors, following up on wins from the Ford Fusion models (plug-in hybrid and hybrid) for 2013, the Honda Civic Natural Gas for 2012 and the Chevrolet Volt for 2011.

News Source: Green Car Journal

New BMW i3-like Visio.M EV concept uses lightweight resin

Replacing Glass With Plastic Has Its Benefits

Posted Oct 21st 2014 7:52AM

SABIC, BMW, Technical University of Munich and Daimler's EV Concept

It's not a new version of the BMW i3, but an updated version of a lightweight concept car from SABIC, BMW, the Technical University of Munich, Daimler and others does bear a certain resemblance to the well-designed plug-in city car. From the black "glass" in the hatch to the angled line tail lights to the up-and-down window line, you can see a sort of family resemblance (see an i3 comparison photo here). And, of course, they both have an electric powertrain.

But the changes made to the new lightweight urban electric concept vehicle is more of an exercise in what's possible rather than a way to evolve the i3 and i8 into a broader i family of vehicles. Even so, what we see here is interesting, since SABIC found all sorts of new ways to take weight out of the car as part of the Visio.M (Visionary Mobility) project, which was first announced in 2012.

Let's start with the window material, which as you might guess from the quotation marks above, is not made of glass but is instead SABIC's Lexan polycarbonate (PC) resin plastic. The lower weight (the PC helps shed about 29 pounds) adds two miles of range while the PC resin has better thermal conductivity compared to glass and so does even more because the HVAC system can be more efficient. According to SABIC's computational fluid dynamics analysis, an extra 9-10 miles of range, in fact. Without the battery, this concept weighs just 992 pounds. Remember, BMW already made a lot of weight-reduction measures in the i3 thanks to carbon fiber reinforced plastic, so to make the "glass" lighter would only help boost efficiencies on a production vehicle that uses a resin like this. Read more below.

News Source: SABIC

Watch Alta RedShift perform on the track, pose for our camera

Electric Motorcycle Speeds Around Dirt, Asphalt Tracks

Posted Oct 20th 2014 8:00PM

Alta RedShift SM

If you've read our post about the newly revealed RedShift from newly renamed Alta Motors, you might have gotten the sense that some of us here at AutoblogGreen are a bit taken with this bike(s) – it comes in both motocross and supermoto flavors. If so, you'd be correct. So taken, in fact, that one of us spent some eight hours driving to the AIMExpo in Orlando, FL and back, to have a first-hand look. To be fair, there were some other electric motorcycles we hoped to see in the metal, and people with whom we wanted to shake hands, but really, the RedShift was our primary motivator.

For the launch, the company only released a handful of photos, but we took our trusty Pentax and this writer's rusty shooting skills and tried to capture the sense of what it's like to see these machines in person. You can judge the results for yourselves in the attached gallery.

What's better than looking at a motorcycle on its stand? Seeing it in action. Though initially unavailable at the launch, Alta has now released footage of its test mule taking flight (literally) and tearing up a pair on tracks – one dirt, one asphalt. It's a bit brief and we can't hear the helical gears whir or the high-RPM motor whine, but we are left with the sense that this is one capable bike.

While we look forward to hearing the various views of reviewers, and perhaps even grasping the handle bars ourselves, for now we'll have to content ourselves with the video that awaits your eyes below.

News Source: Vimeo

Video proof that LaFerrari has a pure electric mode

Posted Oct 20th 2014 6:59PM

Ferrari LaFerrari

Typically, a hybrid car, with its gas engine and an electric motor/battery pack is able to run on both forms of propulsion independently of each other. That means you can sip gas, run on pure electricity or some variation there of. The Ferrari LaFerrari is not like other hybrids.

See, the successor to the Enzo has batteries, an electric motor and a great, thumping V12 engine, but unlike its rivals from McLaren and Porsche, it has no standalone electric mode. That's been Ferrari's party line since day one. But have the Italians been exaggerating a bit? Judging by this video, it seems like a real possibility.

The video comes from what we're guessing is a European track day. It shows a black LaFerrari stealthily sailing through a tunnel on pure electric power, which it shouldn't be able to do, before its 789-horsepower V12 fires to life.

So, what does this tell us? Well, it's quite obvious that you can drive a LaFerrari on nothing but electric power. As for why Ferrari doesn't advertise this fact, we're inclined to agree with the folks at Jalopnik, who uncovered the video. It's more than likely that the hypercar's EV range is so pitifully low that Maranello doesn't see it as worth mentioning.

What do you think? Does an EV mode for a 949-horsepower, 205-mph hypercar even matter? Should Ferrari include it as an actual, driver-accessible item, even if the range is low? Have your say in Comments.

News Source: CarloDelucis via YouTube, Jalopnik

Recharge Wrap-up: Detroit Electric teaser video, Nissan Leaf is Good Housekeeping "Tried and Tested"

New Ethanol Plant Capable Of 25 Million Gallons Annually; Chevrolet Bi-Fuel Impala Runs On Garbage And Sewage

Posted Oct 20th 2014 5:29PM

detroit electric sp:01

Detroit Electric has a new teaser video and has updated its brand in preparation of the introduction of the SP:01. The refreshed logo uses a blue and white color palette, and the company has also given its website a new look. The teaser video, which gives a sneak peek at the exterior of the SP:01, shows the car taking form in the midst of an electrical storm. Watch the video or learn more in the press release below.

Abengoa is celebrating the grand opening of a commercial scale cellulosic ethanol plant in Hugoton, KS. When running at full scale, the refinery will produce up to 25 million gallons of ethanol a year. The plant will also generate enough electricity to power itself and put some back into the grid. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz was on hand for the dedication, saying, "Every gallon of cellulosic ethanol produced and used to fuel our vehicles reduces the impact of harmful greenhouse gas emissions by greater than 60 percent as compared to conventional gasoline." Learn more at Energy.gov.

Good Housekeeping has named the Nissan Leaf one of its "Tried and Tested" vehicles. The magazine called the Leaf SL its top "Roomy Electric" vehicle in its November issue. The magazine's research institute evaluated the EV based on track and road driving, ergonomics and convenience features. Good Housekeeping made note of the car's "impressive" range, but according to Nissan's Fred Diaz, "the real beauty of the Nissan Leaf is that it's roomy and, best of all, fun to drive." Read more in the press release below.

Quasar Energy Group produces compressed natural gas from sewage and garbage. It uses things like grains leftover from brewing Budweiser, food waste from a baseball stadium and sewage sludge to produce the gas through anaerobic digestion. The compressed gas can then be used to power cars like Chevrolet's Bi-fuel Impala, which goes on sale later this year. Chevrolet likens the situation to the Delorean time machine in the Back To The Future movie series, which uses garbage to fuel its fusion generator. Watch the video and read the press release below to learn more.

News Source: Detroit Electric, Nissan, US Department of Energy, Chevrolet

Image Credit: Detroit Electric

Porsche 918 Spyder already almost sold out?

Posted Oct 20th 2014 4:01PM

Porsche 918 Spyder

Still planning on getting your hands on a Porsche 918 Spyder? You'd better act quickly, because word has it that the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out.

While Porsche has reportedly only delivered a little over 30 of the 918 examples of the Spyder it plans to manufacture in total, Automotive News says that production is sold out through late March or early April – just a few months shy of when production is set to wrap in July.

That's pretty impressive for a car with a base price of almost $850,000, especially one requiring a $200,000 deposit just to get your name on the list. Still, that sum is significantly less than its competitors get for the McLaren P1 or LaFerrari, both of which sell for over a million (if you can actually get on one at that price), though in fairness, production of each is limited to less than half of the 918 Spyder.

News Source: Automotive News - sub. req.

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Michael Harley / AOL

Translogic 161: Detroit bike culture explored

Posted Oct 20th 2014 12:31PM

Detroit Bikes

Detroit is known as the Motor City due to its rich automotive history and deep affinity for cars. So, what are all these people-powered, two-wheeled wonders doing everywhere?

Bike culture has taken over Detroit, from group rides that attract massive crowds to new manufacturing in old factories. Translogic host Jonathon Buckley heads to the D to investigate the trend, meeting with the head of assembly at Detroit Bikes, chatting up the co-founders of Detroit Slow Roll and taking a cruise with the East Side Riders.

Join us for this new episode of Translogic as we see how Detroit's motorized past may be contributing to its pedal-powered present.

Ford Focus Electric gets $6,000 price drop, now starts at $29,995

Is It Now Ready To Compete With Top Seller Nissan Leaf?

Posted Oct 20th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Ford Focus Electric

In early 2013, the Nissan Leaf shed a massive $6,500 from its $35,200 base price to offer a new starting price of $28,800. Since then, we have seen numerous other plug-in vehicles get smaller price tags, from the Honda Fit EV (lower lease price) to the Chevrolet Volt (around $5,000 lower) to the Mitsubishi i (a $6,130 drop). Last year, Ford lowered the $39,200 price of the Focus Electric by around $4,000, but that hasn't been enough to get the Ford EV to really compete, saleswise, with other plug-in vehicles on the market.

But wait, as they say, there's more. This past weekend, Ford lopped another $6,000 from the price of both the 2014 model year Focus EVs currently on dealer lots as well as the redesigned 2015 models that are now rolling out (they're basically the same car, minus some appearance changes). Ford spokesman Aaron Miller confirmed to AutoblogGreen that the Focus EV will now start at $29,995 and said that reducing the price should make the Blue Oval's only pure EV competitive. "We hope by reducing the price we're giving consumers another reason to consider it," he said.

Through the end of September 2014, Ford has sold just 1,534 Focus EVs in the US (the model sold 1,335 in the first nine months of 2013). For comparison's sake, the Nissan Leaf starts at $29,010 and sells around 3,000 units a month in the US. Miller notes that the Focus EV has been selling the best on the West Coast, and is also doing well on the East Coast. After that, he said Atlanta and the Great Lakes area also see decent sales of model's admittedly small pie. We can only assume that offering the EV for under $30,000 will make that pie somewhat bigger.
Related Gallery2015 Ford Focus EV
2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV2015 Ford Focus EV

News Source: Ford via Left Lane News

EV buyers not exactly happy with dealership experience

UC Davis Finds Room For Improvement

Posted Oct 20th 2014 10:33AM

Autos Hybrid Electric Boom

If Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk was an I-told-you-so type of guy, here's his chance to do so. It turns out that plug-in vehicle buyers are generally less satisfied with their dealership experience than conventional-vehicle buyers. And the dealers themselves don't like the process much, either. So says a study from the University of California, Davis.

The report cited 43 interviews with automakers and dealers that sell in California as well as the JD Power 2013 Sales Satisfaction Index. The study found customer-satisfaction scores to be "much lower" for plug-in vehicle buyers than others. Maybe that's because the dealers themselves are less patient and find that selling plug-ins are more time-consuming, labor-intensive and stressful. And that's just getting the car out the door. More complications arise when dealing with the federal tax incentives issue.

Of course, Tesla scored well, relative to the other dealerships. And all that gives more credence to the company's insistence on selling its vehicles directly to customers and without a third-party dealership network. Representatives of some of these dealership groups have been lobbying against the prospect of Tesla getting direct-sales rights. Michigan is the latest battleground between Tesla and pro-dealership entities. See below for an abstract on the UC Davis report and then read more here.

News Source: UC Davis via Green Car Congress, Green Car Reports

Image Credit: David Zalubowski / AP

Amsterdam's Schiphol airport launches fleet of 167 Tesla electric taxis

Posted Oct 20th 2014 7:51AM

Tesla Model S taxis at Schiphol

Traveling by jet airplane may not be the greenest mode of transportation, but if you're landing at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, at least you'll be able to get into town under pure electric power.

The Dutch airport has inaugurated a new fleet of 167 Tesla Model S taxis, giving it the largest fleet of all-electric taxis of any airport in the world. The cabs will be operated by two taxi companies – BBF Schipholtaxi and BIOS-groep – who will shuttle passengers to and from the airport with zero emissions.

"This represents a crucial step in our efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and become one of the world's three most sustainable airports," said Schiphol Group CEO Jos Nijhuis. Last year, the airport authority brokered a deal to buy Europe's largest fleet of electric buses to shuttle passengers to, from and between terminals as well. So whatever you may be planning to burn while in Amsterdam, at least it doesn't have to be fossil fuels.

News Source: Schiphol Group

Ducati Testastretta DVT borrows VW tech for more power from less fuel [w/videos]

Posted Oct 19th 2014 4:33PM

Ducati Testastretta DVT

Just as much as (if not more than) any other automaker, the Volkswagen Group is all about synergies: making the most out of the considerable resources it has at its disposal, and letting one division help the other. But if you wonder what benefit Volkswagen could possibly get from its acquisition of Ducati, and vice versa, wonder now more. Just a few weeks ago VW demonstrated one thing it's gotten out of the Ducati takeover with the XL Sport concept, and now Ducati is showcasing its side of the bargain with the new Testastretta DVT motorcycle engine.

Shorthand for Desmodromic Variable Timing, this V-twin is the first motorcycle engine to employ independently variable timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts – a technology borrowed from its new German parent company. With continuously adjusting valve timing, the engine churns out an impressive 160 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque from a 1.2-liter two-cylinder engine, all the while returning 8-percent better fuel efficiency than the non-variable version, further enabled by a new fuel injection system that sprays directly into the intake valve instead of the intake port wall.

The DVT system in Ducati's new engine is just the latest advancement in motorcycle propulsion, arriving hot on the heels of the supercharged engine Kawasaki recently revealed and the turbocharged v-twin showcased by Suzuki nearly a year ago.

Want to delve deeper into the technical details of Ducati's new engine design? There's plenty to geek out on in the press release and pair of videos below.
Related GalleryDucati Testastretta DVT
Ducati Testastretta DVTDucati Testastretta DVTDucati Testastretta DVT

News Source: Ducati

Meet Tecnicar Lavinia, Italy's first electric supercar

New EV Boasts 789 Horsepower, 180-Mile Range

Posted Oct 19th 2014 8:31AM

tecnicar lavinia ev electric supercar

Italian supercars are the objects of lust of people from all walks of life all over the globe. Many of us are guilty of having unframed posters of classic Ferraris taped to our childhood walls (maybe even those of our adulthood), and nothing turns heads quite like a Lamborghini cruising down the block. But what about EV enthusiasts? Must our fantasies of shouting "arrivederci!" and racing off into the sunset in a sexy Italian supercar be tinged with the guilt of guzzled gasoline?

Meet Tecnicar's newest project, the Lavinia. The Sicilian company, whose prior work includes an electric city car called the Genius, aims to build this all-electric supercar boasting an output of 789 horsepower, according to Inhabitat. That's enough to do 0-62 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds before heading to its top speed of 186 mph. Range isn't terrible either, with the Lavinia able to go 180 miles on a single charge. As you can see in these renderings, it's all packaged in an appropriately exotic-looking body.

The Lavinia isn't finished yet, though. Tecnicar is building a prototype that it aims to have ready in time for a debut at Top Marques Monaco in April. We don't have a lot of the details about the car yet (it's easy to imagine some tarmac-warping torque figures), but we'll learn more when the Lavinia makes its way to the show circuit, if not sooner.

It's easy to be cynical about cars like this, and the likelihood of them becoming a reality, but the Tecnicar Lavinia is just one of many electric supercars in the works around the world. Perhaps one day it'll end up as a poster on the wall of some budding auto enthusiast, right between the Ferrari and the Lamborghini.
Related GalleryTecnicar Lavinia
Tecnicar LaviniaTecnicar LaviniaTecnicar LaviniaTecnicar LaviniaTecnicar LaviniaTecnicar LaviniaTecnicar LaviniaTecnicar Lavinia

News Source: Inhabitat

Image Credit: Facebook - Tecnicar

Pay a visit to Elio Motors factory, where life is returning

We're One Year Out From Job One, Apparently

Posted Oct 18th 2014 4:27PM

Elio Motors Factory on KTAL NBC 6 Screen Grab

Elio Motors continues to move forward on building a high-efficiency three-wheeled vehicle for the masses. For proof, take a look at a new local news clip of the inside of an old General Motors factory in Shreveport, LA. This is where Elio is going to build the lightweight, 84-mile-per-gallon vehicle, and it has started opening the doors to the media.

Elio started in 2008 with its fanciful, efficient dream. The reality is that it takes a lot to build a car and founder Paul Elio realizes that when he's in the still fairly empty plant. "It's kinda eerie," he told KTAL NBC 6. "Kinda like there should be, like ghosts of workers here." The factory should be full of workers and building cars a year from now, he said. Watch the video below.

As of last week, the company claimed to have 35,373 reservations, which is an impressive number and way higher than the 10,000 reported back in February. It should be noted, though, that those reservations did not require anyone to put down the full $6,800 MSRP. Reservations could be had for as little as $100. Still, 35,000 people showing an interest in a cheap, odd-looking and highly efficient vehicle is certainly an impressive number.

News Source: ArkLaTex via Elio Motors

How CARB's next meeting could dramatically change the EV landscape

Intermediate Automakers Could Get EV Reprieve

Posted Oct 18th 2014 9:45AM

Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Will October 23 be a day of reckoning for some US automakers? Could be, since that's when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is meeting up and may tweak its mandates for zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) compliance for some of the world's largest carmakers. Green Car Reports says the news may be good.

So far, the six largest-selling automakers in the state are selling electric vehicles in order to meet that mandate. While Nissan is easily meeting its requirements thanks to the Leaf, other models – like the Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV and, sort of, the Ford Focus Electric – represent so-called "compliance" vehicles. Those models are produced in limited numbers (and, likely, at a pretty hefty loss) in order to continue having the privilege of selling cars in the most populous US state.

The October 23rd meeting, though, could change things for the so-called "intermediate" automakers like Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volvo. For them, CARB may adjust its mandate so that, instead of having to sell pure electric vehicles in the next couple of years, they can meet their requirements using plug-in hybrids, possibly with more of them than the EV rules had required. That's great for Mitsubishi, which is working to bring its Outlander plug-in hybrid stateside. Not bad for Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo, as both companies also have PHEVs in the works. As for Mazda and Subie? Well, neither of them have any plug-ins on the horizon, so it's merely California Dreamin' for them.

News Source: Green Car Reports

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Sebastian Blanco / AOL

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