A few years back, we introduced you to EcoATM, a San Diego-based start-up that had just hit the scene with an innovative kiosk that lets consumers trade in old phones for cash on the spot.
In the early days of the internal combustion engine, gas stations were generally spaced a tank apart, or the distance the average car could go on a single tank. History is repeating itself with Tesla's announcement it would build a network of fast charging stations on major traffic corridors around the U.S.
The first six stations have already gone up in the California towns of Folsom, Gilroy, Harris Ranch, Tejon Ranch, Los Angeles, and Barstow. The placement seems designed to support road trips from San Francisco to Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, and from Los Angeles to Las … Read more
If cleanliness is next to godliness, then ecology must be right there beside it, as this week the Pope took possession of a new electric vehicle, built specially for his Holiness by Renault.
The new Popemobile is based on the Kangoo Max Z.E., an electric van-type vehicle not sold in the U.S. The drive system, composed of a 44-kilowatt electric motor and 22 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack, is similar to that used in the Nissan Leaf. The Pope will be able to ride for about 110 miles on a charge.
Instead of the simple rear bench or … Read more
Honda can boast just as much hybrid history as Toyota, yet Honda's hybrid cars have not met with the same level of success. Where the Prius can drive under pure electric power at low speeds, especially useful when creeping along in traffic, Honda's hybrid system was not as robust, its motor merely giving extra boost to assist the engine.
For a time, Honda offered an Accord Hybrid with this system, but it only lasted three years. Now, Honda is ready to bring a Accord Plug-in Hybrid and Accord Hybrid back, with an entirely new hybrid drive system.
The … Read more
Here's the problem with solar panels. Most of the time they're static and unable to rotate with the sun, which in the end means less electrical output. Menlo Park, Calif., based startup Qbotix has built a commercial prototype that offers an answer. It's called SolBot, and it's a set of mobile robots that quickly move around a railroadlike track and mechanically pivot the panel.
The engineers at Qbotix say their setup is different than conventional tracking systems, which require each photovoltaic panel to have a controller and motor. One mobile robot can manage up to 200 … Read more
After more than a year of negotiations between government agencies, auto manufacturers, and other interested groups such as the United Auto Workers, the Obama administration has finalized rules that will raise the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) to 54.5 mpg by 2025.
The administration had already set aggressive targets, previously calling for a CAFE of 35.5 mpg by 2016. As new advances in fuel-saving technologies showed that this target could easily be met, rules were drafted for the higher mark.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation devise the formula by which CAFE is calculated. The … Read more
Solyndra may be bankrupt, but that doesn't mean its California facility is out of commission. Disk-drive maker Seagate is making an offer for the property, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Seagate has offered $90.3 million to buy the sprawling Solyndra solar-panel factory in Fremont, Calif., the Merc reports. That price is about 70 percent below the $300 million it cost to construct the plant, according to bankruptcy court records cited by the newspaper.
The Obama Administration, via the Energy Department, essentially underwrote the formation of Solyndra with a $535 million loan guarantee.
If Seagate's offer succeed, … Read more
Internal combustion cars dominated the last century, but led to pollution and unpleasant foreign entanglements due to oil imports. Electric cars solve both of these problems through much greater efficiency and the multitude of means by which electricity is generated. The cars reviewed here look to be the first generation of the kind of vehicle that will dominate the new century. All of them are pricey compared with gasoline-fueled equivalents, but they cost considerably less for both electricity and maintenance. … Read more
When I took the wheel of the Toyota RAV4 EV during an event in Los Angeles, two things stuck out: a Prius shifter on the console and the all-digital instrument cluster. Clearly, this SUV would not be a typical RAV4. That feeling was accentuated when pushing the start button produced a silent system check, the car booting up, as opposed to the crank of an internal combustion engine.
The exterior of the RAV4 EV also offered a few clues to the nature of its drivetrain, not least of which were the EV and Electric logos on all sides. By comparison, the lack of a large front grille seemed almost subtle.
One cue that few would notice without a spec sheet was the LED low-beam headlights, tucked away in their casings next to standard projector high beams. Toyota made a smart move here, reducing energy usage of the low beams, while reducing costs on the high beams, which get less use.
Driving a blue Honda Fit EV down El Segundo Blvd. in Los Angeles, I began to feel a bit guilty. To my left stretched a massive complex, a big stretch of beachfront property devoted to a Chevron oil refinery. As the Fit EV whispered by this facility, which Wikipedia told me later was founded in 1911 and gave the town of El Segundo its name, I thought of all the oil workers the little electric car I was driving would put out of a job.
Lacking a gas tank and exhaust pipes, this Fit EV would never need to sully itself at one of the many gas stations I passed on this drive through Los Angeles, except maybe to top off the air in the tires.
The Fit EV represents one of the new breed of electric cars, which current battery technology is making more practical for daily use. And in my drive I found the Fit EV the best of the bunch.