Archive for the ‘Autos & Transport’ Category
July 27th, 2009
Written by Andrew Williams, courtesy of Gas2.0, originally published on July 26, 2009
Rumors are gathering pace that Toyota is working on a two-door coupe version of its ultra-popular Prius hybrid, possibly scheduled to hit the market sometime in 2012.
The latest reports suggest that the Japanese outfit is currently developing a compact 2+2 Prius-based hybrid sports coupe featuring a beefed-up version of its 1.8-liter 2ZR-FXE four-cylinder engine, capable of achieving around 134 hp – 36 hp more than the sedan counterpart.
Although the higher power levels are likely to affect the Prius’s impressive fuel mileage, insiders are speculating that the company’s Hybrid Synergy Drive system will keep this to a minimum.
If the coupe does see the light of day, it is expected to be around 100 mm shorter than the sedan and feature the same interior spec as the standard Prius.
At this stage, there’s no indication of a name for the new coupe or any news on whether or not it will be sold in the US.
Image Credit - Autoblog
Popularity: 3% [?]
July 15th, 2009
Written by Andrew Williams, courtesy of Gas2.0, originally published on July 10, 2009
US-based car-share giant Zipcar Inc. has launched its first ever Electric Vehicle Pod, featuring an all-electric Citroen C1 and a Plug-In Toyota Prius. The vehicles, among the most efficient and technologically advanced on the road today, can be hired by the hour for a fraction of the cost of owning one.
The company figures that EVs are ideally suited for early, large-scale use in Zipcar’s car sharing platform since the average Zipcar trip lasts just under four hours and less than 25 miles, well within the range of a typical EV. (more…)
Popularity: 7% [?]
July 14th, 2009
What produces less carbon emissions: Driving from Los Angeles to Chicago, or making the same trip by train? That depends — on how many people are in your car. Drive alone, and even moving in an ultra-green hybrid will be less green than taking the train. But carpool with 3 other friends and your per-person carbon footprint will actually be less than a train rider’s — even if you and your friends are in a gas guzzling SUV!
That handy number crunching comes courtesy of Trip Footprint, a new website that lets you easily compare the environmental impact of various modes of travel. Just plug in your start and end cities and the number of travelers to get the numbers displayed in an easy-to-read graph. Above are the L.A.-to-Chicago results for a solo traveler; below are the same results for four travel buddies that stick together.
Trip Footprint gets its numbers from a Union of Concerned Scientists study called Getting There Greener: The Guide to Your Lower-Carbon Vacation, which curious number-crunchers can check out for details on the methodology behind the numbers. Beyond that, Anirvan Chatterjee, co-developer of Trip Footprint, says the site does its best to calculate actual travel distances: “For planes and trains, we try to use realistic airport and Amtrak routings, and take into account the type of plain and train models used on those routes.” In addition, Trip Footprint’s numbers try to take into account the non-CO2 carbon impacts of aviation — something most carbon calculators do, according to Anirvan, but Getting There Greener does not.
Of course, while Trip Footprint’s numbers certainly provide quick, understandable data, figuring out the best way to travel isn’t so cut and dry as Trip Footprint’s bottom-line statements like “You should definitely drive. Even a typical SUV is better than the best plane!” For one, Trip Footprint’s numbers look simply at the carbon cost of the trips themselves, without taking into account the total lifetime costs of each mode of travel.
This means that the travel comparisons don’t include the carbon emissions that are created by, say, building rail lines and stations, expanding airports, or putting in miles and miles of highways that have to be constantly repaved and upgraded. If Trip Footprint included the infrastructure costs of all modes of travel, the data would likely look significantly different.
A recent study, for example, revealed that when those sunk costs are taken into account, flying can actually be even more efficient than taking the train! That study also took into account the fact that in some places, train stations aren’t ideally located — and thus ended up being extra carbon intensive because people had to drive to get to the train station in the first place — and the station has to build large parking structures to accommodate these drivers.
And as advocates of new urbanism and walkable communities will point out, there’s more to consider than simple trip carbon emissions when taking a trip. Supporting a mass transit infrastructure that lets people get rid of their cars altogether will go a long way towards creating pedestrian-friendly communities that foster more neighborly interactions and fewer unsightly freeways and cul-de-sacs.
Still, Trip Footprint certainly gets us thinking more deeply about greening our travel. To me, the application shows exactly how wasteful single-passenger car trips are. I’m ever more determined to find a carpool partner to go anywhere that requires driving!
One thing I’d love to see in the Trip Footprint is the time and money required for each mode of travel. We know it would take a Kenyan runner a whopping 3 years to get from L.A. to Chicago — but the same details aren’t yet included for the more realistic modes of travel. Since the Obama administration’s put its money and support behindnan expanded rail network, I’m hoping that we’ll see faster, cheaper train travel soon — which will get more people out of their cars and onto mass transit simply to save money, time, and stress — thus improving their quality of life while traveling green.
Popularity: 8% [?]
July 10th, 2009
Not a fan of those isolated eco-mansions that require driving to get anywhere? Sure, a LEED-certified building’s nice — but not if that means you’ll be cut off from the community around you by your car-dependency, relegating you to a daily driving habit that’s hardly eco-friendly.
That isolation and carbon-intensive lifestyle’s exactly what a new website — Estately — aspires to help you avoid. Estately’s a website that mashes up real estate listings with eco-lifestyle aspirations for the walking, cycling, public transit-taking environmentalist.
Click on a listing and a Walkscore automatically pops up, showing you how amenable that neighborhood is to a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle. In fact, if only a pedestrian paradise of a neighborhood will do, you can even refine your search to only give you listings with a certain walkscore.
Public transit fans get their own dues too. Know a rail or bus line that’ll drop you off right in front of your office? You can plug in that line number into the search to find all the listings within a quarter mile to 2 miles from the route! This application isn’t yet perfect — a quick search for properties near my neighborhood Big Blue Bus line turned up no results, despite the fact that some nearby houses are definitely on the market — but works for most bus lines. Above are just some of the listings that are near Los Angeles’ Metro #33 bus line!
Of course, Estately has all the other info any home hunter would want, like listing details and histories for each property, an easy-to-use mortgage calculator, and an online showing scheduler. The website also makes great use of Google Maps mashups, showing you at a glance what schools, parks, places of interest, and transportation options are near the property.
Last but not least, LEED-certification enthusiasts can still search for “Leed” or “energy efficient” in the search boxes to seek out properties that come with must-have eco-properties. So head over to Estately to start your eco house hunt — in your new walkable neighborhood-to-be!
Screenshots via Estately
Popularity: 6% [?]
June 19th, 2009
So as far as I can tell there are now THREE great reasons why this is the time to get rid of your old hunk o’ junk and upgrade to a cleaner, greener car.
1) It is the right thing to do for the environment. Remember your car is one of the biggest ways you personally contribute to global warming.
2) There are ridiculous deals on cars right now. Dealers are suffering and you can negotiate with abandon.
3) Congress has just passed the “Cash for Clunkers” legislation that will allow consumers to get up to $4,500 for turning in an inefficient vehicle and buying a new, more efficient one.
So hop to it people!
The new bill would even allow consumers to buy a wide range of vehicles — including large pickup trucks — with the government money when they scrap an older, less-efficient model. The cars that are offered for trade-in must get 18 MPG or less, be built in 1984 or later, and be in operating condition. The new car purchased must be at least 22 MPG for a car, 18 MPG for a light truck or 15 MPG for a heavy-duty truck. To learn more about the requirements for the new cars click here.
The proposed program would subsidize the purchase of 600,000 to one million vehicles,
Popularity: 6% [?]