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% [?]
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% [?]
June 18th, 2009
Written by Andrew Williams, courtesy of Gas2.0
Subaru has become the latest in a long line of car manufacturers to start producing electric cars. The Japanese company plans to start selling a compact all-electric plug-in number called the Stella EV in Japan over the coming weeks.
Unusual for such a compact EV, the Stella boasts four seats and a top speed of 60 mph, which is likely to prove just about bearable to drivers using it as a second car for city use (photo gallery after the jump).
The Stella features a mains-charged li-ion battery, capable of a 15-minute fast-charge to 80% of the maximum, delivering a range of around 55 miles. Subaru has announced an initial run of 170 cars, which will available to Japanese customers in July. The price has been set at ¥4,725,000 (around $49,000) but buyers will be eligible to apply for a ¥1,380,000 (around $14,000) Japanese government subsidy through its Next Generation Vehicle Promotion Center program. Additional tax reductions are also expected to further encourage buyers following special measures brought in by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
No news yet on a global release but we’ll keep you posted.
Popularity: 5% [?]
May 25th, 2009
With the announcement of new fuel economy standards last week, the Obama administration made sure that the days of car company battles against fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles are safely in our rear-view mirrors. Numerous studies have shown that 75%+ of the energy used by a car over its lifetime is consumed in the operation of the vehicle, so this focus on efficiency is well-placed. But we shouldn’t forget about the other 25% of energy use or the environmental impacts that come with it - hazardous chemicals that off-gas when our cars sit in the sun, components that are difficult to recycle, and loads of plastics made from petrochemicals among them.
Green building practices are successful because they consider every aspect of how a house is built. Energy systems such as furnaces, water heaters, insulation and renewable energy options are important, but so too are sustainably harvested woods, countertops made from recycled materials, and paints or adhesives that don’t harm our health. Shouldn’t we expect the same from our cars, with their thousands of components sourced from around the world?
The good news is that manufacturers are starting to take the challenge of building efficient AND sustainable cars seriously. Ford Motors, for instance, highlighted the following initiatives last week:
- Soy-based polyurethane foam seat cushions and backs. In 2008, Ford used the soy foam in over 1,000,000 vehicles including the Escape (hybrid and standard), Focus and Mustang, cutting its use of petrochemicals by over 1,000,000 pounds.
- Post-industrial recycled content (good) and post-consumer recycled content (better) yarns in seat fabrics. Ford’s use of post-industrial recycled yarns in some models has reduced CO2 emissions and energy use by over 60%. Recycled plastic soda bottles are used to make the seat fabrics of the Taurus SHO and Lincoln MKZ models.
- Plastic underbody shields made from recycled detergent bottles, tires and battery casings. Use of these recycled materials in 2008 diverted over 25 million pounds of waste from landfills, and Ford is using the materials on all 2009 models.
Ford has more such projects on the drawing board, and is examining the use of plastics filled with natural / compostable fibers, the use of completely biodegradable plastics (PLA, made from certain vegetables) and soy-based materials in components throughout a car.
Other manufacturers are launching similar programs:
- Lexus uses plant-based eco-plastics in interior components, and Lexus plants recycle over 98% of manufacturing waste.
- Honda is working with suppliers to reduce the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) overall in car interiors. Low-VOC interiors are included in the 2008 (and we assume later) Honda Accord and the 2009 Acura TL among other models.
We’d love to hear more about efforts with other manufacturers, so if you have news please let us know in the comments to this post.
Popularity: 5% [?]
May 8th, 2009
Written by Christopher DeMorro, courtesy of Gas2.O
Sometimes when looking forward, you have to look back to really get inspired.
110 years ago electric cars were at their peak, representing over a quarter of all cars on the road in America, but Henry Ford and the mass-production gas motor changed all that. And while most of us have gotten used to the idea of an engine under the hood, a transmission, and sometimes a driveshaft as integral to our cars, Volvo is taking a nod from the first electric carriages and putting their motors where they are most needed: the wheels. The Volvo ReCharge is a plug-in hybrid concept that relys on four indepedant electric motors, one in each wheel, to move and power the C30-based concept.
The ReCharge concept is said to get 60 miles on electric power, and a small petrol engine sooths range anxiety. Volvo is also known for some of the world’s safest cars, and true to form the ReCharge boasts numerous safety advantages over its petrol-powered cousin. There is no driveshaft or transmission, which means a solid firewall and flat floors and increased energy efficiency. Should one motor fail, the other three can compensate for their fallen comrade and keep you moving. Also, there are no brakepads, but rather the motors do the stopping, which also serves to restore some lost energy via regenerative braking.
Volvo was in talks with the Swedish government for small-scale fleet testing of the ReCharge, which is said to be the basis for an upcoming 2012 production car from Volvo, though not much has been heard of the ReCharge since it debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show.
Popularity: 3% [?]