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Coal-rolling Ram dually does tandem beer-shooting burnout with ATV in bed

Posted Jul 25th 2014 8:03PM

A Coal-Rolling tandem ATV burnout

Sometimes a video comes around that just makes you shake your head in disbelief. Take for example these guys from Nebraska in their dually diesel flatbed Ram, doing a smoky burnout. Lighting up the tires is nothing new, but these folks take things a step further by having another guy on an ATV in bed that is also smoking the tires. Finally, people are sitting on a couch in the bed taking the whole show in, as beer cans shoot out of the stacks.

There have been several stories recently about the scourge of rolling coal, i.e., diesel trucks modified to lay down a thick, black smoke screen, sometimes for vaguely political reasons. Whatever your opinion is on it, breathing in this much nasty stuff isn't exactly great for your health. Of course, it turns out that burning rubber is pretty awful, too. Both diesel and tire emissions contain cancer-causing Group 1 carcinogens. Combine them with the cigarette smoking here, and these guys are an oncologist's nightmare. Scroll down to take it all in for yourself. Warning, there is a little explicit language.

News Source: 1320 Video via YouTube

In China, Tesla Model S is missing one basic feature

Posted Jul 25th 2014 6:44PM

Tesla Model S Nav Screen

There were questions about the nav system in the Tesla Model S when the vehicle launched in the US, and there are still people who don't like it. But here's the thing: the US version at least has a nav system. With the luxury electric vehicle now available in China, drivers are discovering that the car is shipping without a working navigation system at all.

As China EV blogger Alysha Webb reports, Tesla's explanation for the lack of a nav system is that "Google maps are not supported." At least the company is working on an alternative map database for the land where Google doesn't work right. We've confirmed with Tesla PR in the US that Webb's report contains an official Tesla response, which includes the following:

Currently there isn't a navigation system in Chinese Model S as Google maps are not supported in the country. However, teams are currently working on a solution with Chinese text and voice recognition. We plan to introduce navigation to Chinese cars later this year (as already communicated to our customers). Once it's available, maps will be pushed to customers' vehicles through software updates.

One interesting quirk is that Tesla can't yet push the updated map to everyone over the air, since, "remote over-the-air software updates are not yet supported in Chinese Model S." Instead, Tesla will have to rely on its backend system to update the EV to what most American customers would consider standard equipment in a car in this price range. You can read the whole thing here.

Tommykaira ZZ ready for a customizable EV closeup

Posted Jul 25th 2014 5:53PM

Tommykaira ZZ Electric Roadster

Tesla Roadster? What Tesla Roadster? Japanese automaker GLM and Japan racing-car maker Tommykaira are putting the finishing touches on one very cool electric roadster. No word on when it will reach the US but it looks worth waiting for.

The Tommykaira ZZ is said to be able to go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 3.9 seconds, about the same as a Tesla Roadster, according to Tech In Asia. The advantage is that Kyoto-based GLM specializes in what it calls "adaptable" chassis, so the flexibility and customization possibilities may be far beyond what's typical for a high-end sports car, much less an EV.

The model, priced at about $80,000, has sold out of its initial small batch in Japan, but the companies say broader production for markets such as Europe and Taiwan may start next year. Mitsubishi Capital and Globis Capital Partners are among companies who helped fund the development of the Tommykaira ZZ.

We'd reported on Tommykaira back in early 2010 when the company gained from renown for offering special body and wheel kits for hybrids such as the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. But this is far more impressive. Check out the really cool 87-second video of the electric roadster (yes, right-hand drive) in action below.

News Source: Tommykaira, Tech In Asia

AAA finds stop-start could save you $179 a year

Posted Jul 25th 2014 3:56PM



That silence you hear? It's a month's worth of payments on the family car-insurance plan not being spent on an idling engine. That's one way to look at new numbers out from the AAA that say stop-start engine technology will save drivers a solid chunk of change in the form of lower refueling costs. If only more automakers would embrace the tech for their vehicles.

AAA says a typical US driver can save $179 a year if they drive a car with a stop-start system, which automatically shuts off the engine when the car's not moving. By typical, AAA means a driver putting 15,000 miles a year on a car that gets 20 miles per gallon. AAA figured this out by running a commuter simulation with a 2013 Ford Fusion, a 2014 Mercedes Benz CLS550 and a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu.

Hybrid Cars noted in 2011 that as much as 42 percent of new vehicles in 2016 would offer start-stop technology, and the lack of incentives prevented that number from being higher. Part of the problem with introducing the technology to the US is that the EPA's testing methods don't factor in real-world driving factors (yet) that can be boosted by stop-start technology. Therefore, the current tests underestimate the technology's fuel-saving benefits.

The lack of incentives appeared to take hold, as the US didn't get its first midsize family sedan with stop-start technology until the 2013 Ford Fusion offered it as a $295 option in the fall of 2012. Ford estimated at the time that the stop-start-equipped Fusion would save drivers about $220 a year in refueling costs relative to other midsize sedans, making it a good investment. Chevy now offers stop-start standard in some versions of the 2015 Impala.

Late last year, German automotive component maker Bosch estimated that stop-start systems may cut fuel use by about 10 percent. Bosch made that claim right after Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler said the EPA was underestimating fuel economy achieved by its sedans equipped with stop-start. Check out AAA's press release below.

News Source: AAA

Recharge Wrap-up: EV torque secrets, UC Davis maps future of biofuels

New Street-Legal Polaris Utility EV; Formula E Is Free At Long Beach

Posted Jul 25th 2014 2:15PM

fiat 500e

A UC Davis white paper maps out "Three Routes Forward for Biofuels," balancing investment risk with carbon benefits. The first option is "incremental," in which we tinker with the existing biofuel manufacturing infrastructure for small improvements over time. The "transitional" plan suggests integrating cellulosic production and other innovations with existing operations. The third route, called "leapfrogging," would mean building refineries based on new technology such as cellulosic and algae-based biofuels. The paper suggests ways the US could use these three routes together in different areas, and predicts the payoffs in terms of carbon emissions could be significant if the right people are willing to risk the capital. After all, financial advisers are always telling investors to diversify their portfolios to manage risk and rewards in the same way. Read more over at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies.

The Formula E Long Beach ePrix will offer free admission. The seventh round of the inaugural all-electric race season, which was moved from Los Angeles to the streets of Long Beach, will offer fans free grandstand and general admission. The race, which takes place on April 5, 2015, will use a 1.6-mile portion of IndyCar's Grand Prix of Long Beach. Read more at LA Times.

Polaris is now offering its 2015 GEM electric vehicles, including the new street-legal eM1400 LSV. The passenger and utility vehicles come in two- to six-passenger configurations, many of which are street legal on roads with posted speed limits of up to 35 miles per hour. The eM1400 LSV utility vehicle seats two, offers 1,250 pounds of payload, 1,250 pounds of towing capacity, a top speed of 25 mph and a range of up to 45 miles. Its on-board charger plugs into any standard 110-volt outlet. Read more at Hybrid Cars and check out all the different configurations yourself at the Polaris website.

In EVs, more torque does not always equal faster. Green Car Reports found this out when driving the Fiat 500e (with 147 pound-feet) against the similarly weighted Chevrolet Spark EV (with 400 pound-feet). The secret is, at least in part, in the gearing. The Fiat has a 9.6:1 reduction gear, making it quicker at lower speeds despite having far less available torque, while the Chevy uses a 3:1 ratio. The trade-off though, is in top speed. Furthermore, Chevy electronically limits the torque delivery at low speeds, as 400 pound-feet is a lot of launch for the little Spark EV to handle. Learn more in the article over at Green Car Reports. It's enlightening.
Related Gallery2014 Fiat 500e
2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e2014 Fiat 500e

News Source: UC Davis, LA Times, Hybrid Cars, Polaris, Green Car Reports

Image Credit: Fiat

A window into China's low-speed electric vehicle revolution

Over 200,000 Low-Speed EVs Sold In 2013

Posted Jul 25th 2014 11:56AM

Chinese Low Speed EV

China is the largest market for electric vehicles in the world. Not highway-speed passenger electric automobiles but low-speed electric vehicles, which in China do not qualify as automobiles.

There are literally hundreds of low-speed electric vehicle manufacturers in China and they manufactured over 200,000 four-wheel low-speed EVs in 2013. This low-speed electric vehicle revolution has put over half a million EVs on the roads in China while nobody was looking. Even in China, most people don't realize how invasive these vehicles have become or how powerful the low-speed EV industry in China has become.

Low-speed EVs in China combine automobile design practices from the 1930s with modern manufacturing processes to produce the cheapest electric vehicles in the world.

The cheapest low-speed EVs sell for $2,000 while a top-of-the-line vehicle can sell for $12,000. Luxury models include power steering, power brakes, heating and air conditioning. Keep in mind that a cheap new gasoline automobile sells for only $5,000 in China. Low-speed EVs in China are usually based on a welded steel frame with a stamped steel body on top. These vehicles combine automobile design practices from the 1930's with modern manufacturing processes to produce the cheapest electric vehicles in the world. Bodies are stamped using low-cost, low-volume stamping dies and then cut using three-dimensional laser cutting robots.

An entire stamped steel body for an electric vehicle can now be tooled up for less than $1 million, which is incredibly cheap and unheard of in the automobile industry outside China. An entire metal stamping industry has grown up to service the low-speed EV market. Amateur car designers are now financing their own EV projects, creating some cars which just three years ago would have never seen the light of day, as you can see in our accompanying gallery.

The low-speed vehicle market has also fostered the growth of component manufacturers for electric automobiles. China is home to a half-dozen electric heating/air conditioning systems manufacturers and another half-dozen manufacturers of electric power brake systems. Five years ago there were none. This supplier growth will benefit China's electric automobile industry in the years to come.
Related GalleryChinese Low Speed EVs
Chinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVsChinese Low Speed EVs

Smart updating EV, cabrio models for the Fortwo

Posted Jul 25th 2014 10:03AM

Smart

For Smart, the future is now, or at least this fall. That's when the next-generation versions of Daimler's Smart line of compact vehicles, which were unveiled earlier this month, reach European showrooms, Automotive News says. They might be the first of a broader range that would follow them to stores shortly thereafter.

The two-seat Smart Fortwo and the four-seat Forfour will start European sales in November, and the word is that a convertible model and a battery-electric version will follow. We don't know when the next-gen Fortwo will reach the US but that Forfour is unlikely to ever be sold stateside.

A broader vehicle line from Smart may be necessary for the badge's longer-term survival. The company has registered the term "Formore," indicating the possibility of an extra-long version of the Forfour that would be earmarked for the US and China. The Forfour may get a convertible version (it already has a fabric roof), while another, sportier roadster-type model could also be developed, Australia's Motoring.com says, citing an interview with Smart's design director Kai Sieber.

Earlier this month, Smart unveiled the look of the 2016 Fortwo and Forfour, whose powertrains range from 60 to 90 horsepower. A bit more aggressive looking the new Smarts will keep their colorful options with as many as 40 mix-and-match exterior color schemes.
Related Gallery2016 Smart Fortwo
2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo2016 Smart Fortwo

Drive an EV and you, too, can pay the equivalent of 75 cents a gallon

Posted Jul 25th 2014 7:57AM



One in six households can party like it's 1979 by purchasing a plug-in vehicle. Add a thumpin' sound system to that vehicle and you can celebrate by pumping out an appropriate hit from that year, too. We think Chic's Good Times would be appropriate.

Thanks to special rates for households with battery-electric of plug-in hybrid vehicles, about 21 million households (a sixth of the country's total), can drive their car for the equivalent of about 75 cents a gallon. The numbers come from a study from Northeast Group. Seventy-five shiny pennies for a gallon is about a fifth of what current gas prices are today and is equal to what folks were paying way back during the waning days of disco in 1979. Let's get down.

There was new on the lower rates for EV-charging last month when Minnesota became the first US state to mandate that investor-owned utilities offer plug-in vehicle owners such discounts. In addition to Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Maryland and Texas were among the 14 states with utilities offering EV-friendly electric rates. Sounds like it's time for 36 states to catch up.

News Source: ChargedEVs

How fast can a Formula E racer go? This fast

Posted Jul 24th 2014 7:57PM

lucas di grassi formula e lap video

Formula E completed its first testing session at the Donington Park circuit, where the electric racing series' headquarters are located. Lucas di Grassi, driving for Audi Sport Abt, was kind enough to attach a GoPro video camera to his helmet to give us a pilot's-eye view of what its like to steer Formula E's Spark-Renault SRT_01E around the track at full speed.

Formula E rules state there is to be an FIA-limited maximum speed of 225 kilometers per hour (140 miles per hour), and an estimated 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) time of 2.9 seconds. It appears the cars are capable of a little better. According to the video's description, the car can do 0-62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and reaches speeds of over 230 kph (143 mph) on this track. It's not quite Formula 1 speeds, but it's not slow either, which is clear in the video. Also, with many of the drivers being Formula 1 veterans, we can look forward to some ace driving this season.

During the five days of testing, drivers got used to the cars, worked out some of the kinks and got the chance to shave seconds off their lap times. Lucas di Grassi was the second fastest, with a lap time of 1:31.2. Sébastien Buemi was best over all, with a lap of 1:31.083.

Check out the video below for a lap around the circuit with di Grassi. Maybe start with the volume turned low. There's quite a bit of wind noise. It is an open cockpit, after all. If you're curious about the sound of the car, check out the video in this article.

News Source: Hybrid Cars via YouTube

Image Credit: YouTube

Nissan: We lose money on each Leaf replacement battery

Posted Jul 24th 2014 6:24PM

nissan leaf

Nissan has been playing its cards pretty close to its chest when it comes to the production costs for Leaf battery packs. The company recently put a price on replacement batteries for customers at $5,500 plus the requirement to return the old battery. If the decommissioned battery is worth $1,000 to Nissan, as they have stated, that means the battery costs about $6,500 to make, right? Maybe even less if Nissan wants to turn a profit, as automakers are wont to do? Wrong.

Green Car Reports spoke to Nissan about these battery costs, and found that the automaker actually loses money on selling the replacement battery for the Leaf at the current price. Jeff Kuhlman, Nissan's vice president of global communications said, "Nissan makes zero margin on the replacement program. In fact, we subvent every exchange." All you English majors will know that "subvent" is a fancy way to say "subsidize." Kuhlman added, though, "We have yet to sell one battery as part of the program."

The fact that Nissan offers its replacement batteries for less than it costs to manufacture them is telling of a company both cares about what its customer needs and is dedicated to the success of its product. In this case, both of those things encourage people to give up fossil fuels and adopt electric mobility, which is heartening. As more people switch to battery-powered driving, though, battery technology should become better and cheaper, and the scale of production should cause manufacturing costs to decrease. Eventually, Nissan could easily see itself breaking even selling the Leaf battery replacements.

Nissan Leaf replacement battery is covered under the same eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty as the battery in a new car.
Related Gallery2013 Nissan Leaf
2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf2013 Nissan Leaf

News Source: Green Car Reports

Australia's Sunswift claims new EV distance speed world record

Solar Panels Were Switched Off During 311-Mile Attempt

Posted Jul 24th 2014 3:58PM

Sunswift

With a name like Sunswift, optimism must abound. So let's start with the fact that the team behind it has built a great looking solar-powered car. And Australia has plenty of road and more than enough sun, the pieces are coming together.

Australia's University of New South Wales first put together its Sunswift team of vehicle builders in 1995 and students and other volunteers have been churning through the program ever since. The team, which continues to crowdfund in an effort to raise cash for more research, set a land-speed record in 2011 for a solar-powered vehicle, which was 55 miles per hour at the time. That may not please Sammy Hagar but we're impressed.

This week, Sunswift set out to beat a 20-year-old long-distance speed record for the fastest average speed by an electric vehicle over a 500-kilometer (311-mile) stretch. The previous record was 73 kilometers an hour (45 miles per hour) but under. This week, on a track outside Geelong, Victoria, the Sunswift managed to go an average of 100 kph (62 mph) for the entire 311 miles. Once the team gets the numbers approved by the FIA, they can claim a new world record.

The car has carbon-fiber components to help keep weight down to just 660 pounds and is covered in photovoltaic cells that deliver as many as 800 watts of power under cloudless skies. Under normal conditions, that power could complement the vehicle's lithium-ion battery, but the panels were switched off for the world-record attempt. This was a test of the efficiency and the power in the battery, and it appears to have been a success. Find out more on the record-breaking attempt in Sunswift's two-minute video below.

News Source: Sunswift via Hybrid Cars

40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

Posted Jul 24th 2014 12:59PM



The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the "Gas Guzzler Tax" – considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 – when I was driving Dodge's new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I'd been loaned, I didn't really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven't changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car's combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it's off the hook ­– trucks, minivans and SUVs are all exempt from the GGT – if the rating is lower, per vehicle taxes range from $1,000 to $7,700 for the very thirstiest.

Simple, right?

News Source: EPA, FuelEconomy.gov

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 AOL

2015 Acura NSX burns to the ground at the 'Ring [w/video]

Posted Jul 24th 2014 11:30AM

2015 Acura NSX fire

Assuming all goes to plan, automakers test their vehicles to the breaking point in the months and years leading up to that vehicle's actual release into the public. Which is good, because it's much better for a car to break in glorious fashion in the hands of the company that produces it than in the driveway of an owner who just spent their hard-earned cash to get it.

Such was the case with this production-guise Acura NSX prototype that we saw running around the Nürburgring just the other day. We can't be 100-percent certain, but the burned-out carcass is wearing the same number plate as the car that was spotted earlier, so it's likely the very same NSX. We have no idea what was the cause of the blaze that turned this Acura into the car-b-q you see pictured above, but our spy shooters on the ground in Germany say it was not involved in any collision, having caught on fire all on its own with engineers behind the wheel.

The good news is that nobody was hurt, though the car is quite clearly a complete loss. We're sure there's another ready to to test in the burned car's place... just as soon as the engineers at Honda figure out exactly what went wrong. Have a look at the smoldering aftermath up above, and feel free to scroll down below to see a video of the car in much better circumstances.

Image Credit: CarPix

Recharge Wrap-up: Lexus CT 200h is NWAPA's favorite hybrid, 'No Charge to Charge' in LA

97 Percent Of New Chevy Malibus Have Stop-Start; California Schools Gets EV Buses

Posted Jul 24th 2014 9:56AM

lexus ct 200h

The Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) has given the Lexus CT 200h its Favorite Hybrid title. It named the compact luxury hybrid its favorite of 2014 at its Drive Revolution in Portland (where it also named the new Volkswagen Golf TDI the Northwest Green Car of the Year). According to NWAPA president Nik Miles, the CT 200h earned the honor for "impressive combination of state-of-the-art small car luxury and hybrid technology." For 2014, the Lexus CT200h got an updated front end, including the spindle grille we've been seeing on new Lexus vehicles, plus a redesigned steering wheel and sliding sun visors. Read more in the press release below.

Chevrolet credits the Malibu for helping make stop-start mainstream. Chevrolet started including stop-start technology standard in Malibus equipped with the four-cylinder engine. Chevy has sold about 83,000 of that model, so 97 percent of 2014 and 2015 Malibu sales include stop-start. Now, that technology has made its way into the 2015 Impala. With drivers idling an average of 16 minutes a day, stop-start can significantly reduce harmful emissions and save fuel. According to Navigant Research, we can expect annual sales of cars equipped with stop-start technology to surpass 55 million by 2022. Read more in the press release below.

Nissan Leaf customers in Los Angeles will get access to free charging beginning August 15. Nissan is extending its "No Charge to Charge" promotion to LA, which will allow customers to charge at public charging stations at no cost. Leaf customers - including those who bought or leased their car from the participating dealerships on or after July 1 - will get an EZ-Charge card, allowing them to use ChargePoint, Blink, CarCharging, AeroVironment and NRG eVgo chargers for free. Rapid chargers can charge the Leaf's battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Nissan plans to offer the "No Charge to Charge" in at least 14 more markets in the US, bringing the total to 25, within the next year. See the press release below for more details.

California will get six all-electric school buses for three school districts as part of a demonstration program. The California Energy Commission awarded a grant of $1.4 million for the program to National Strategies LLC; this is in addition to a $2.2-million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The EV buses use vehicle-to-grid technology, allowing them to sell energy back to the grid when it is needed. They are also equipped with vehicle-to-building tech, which can provide power during an outage or disaster. The six emissions-free buses will be used in Torrance, Kings Canyon and Napa Valley Unified School Districts to evaluate their performance. Learn more in the video below.

News Source: Lexus, Chevrolet, Nissan, @evschoolbus

Image Credit: Copyright 2014 Chris McGraw / AOL

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