A new tech barge in old SUV clothing, the Dodge Durango Hybrid features an impressive array of cabin tech and one of the most advanced power trains in a production vehicle. This truck is big, with seating for seven, plus cargo space, all riding high in classic SUV fashion. But environmentalists could learn to love it as it turns in fuel economy equivalent to a V-6 sedan. We take a close look at this behemoth, maximizing our city mileage and testing out the cabin tech.
In the world of racing, everyone knows that the easiest way to get more speed out of a car is not to upgrade the car, but to upgrade the driver. The same goes for green driving. A driver trained in efficient driving can extract better fuel economy from a Honda Fit than a driver with poor technique in a Prius hybrid. Auto manufacturer Fiat thinks it may have found a way to teach drivers to get the best fuel economy out of their Fiat vehicles with the new eco:Drive program.
The eco:Drive program consists of a downloadable Adobe … Read more
RUF, tuner of Porsche cars, is working on a new concept based on the Porsche 997, but it seems they've forgotten to put in the fantastic Porsche engine. In its place, they dropped a 150kW electric motor and about 1,200 pounds of batteries. Yes, the new E-RUF concept is an electric vehicle. It's green, but is it any good?
The electric power train outputs 200 horsepower (meh) and 479 pound-feet of torque (wow!). Gobs of torque available instantly make for a decent 0-60 time of about seven seconds, despite the fact that the E-RUF weights close to … Read more
The first fuel cell car was developed by which company, when?
Surprise answer: General Motors, in 1966. (Sound of jaws dropping in the audience, no doubt...)
The Electrovan looked like a GMC van on the outside, but inside it looked like Mad Scientist City. Developed by Craig Marks and associates, the Electrovan had a Union Carbide fuel cell that used liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Yes, it was rocket science. Hydrogen fuel cells need oxygen, which, while amply available here on Earth, is a "bring your own" commodity in space. Fuel cells, at that time, were space-capsule technology.
I saw the Electrovan in person when the California Fuel Cell Partnership hydrogen-refueling station in West Sacramento, Calif., was opened back in 2000. It was a static display, and a fascinating piece of history. Think Leonardo da Vinci's helicopter, only actually built. Well, maybe not quite that futuristic, but close.
Last week I had the opportunity to drive Ford's latest hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. Based on a Focus sedan, it was remarkable for being unremarkable in operation during my maybe 5-mile test drive on city streets. The interior was devoid of the obviously added-in cables, specialized instrumentation, and switches of an engineering prototype, and the car was exceptionally smooth in operation--not surprising, considering that with an electric motor, a transmission is not required. It wasn't completely quiet, as the compressor for the fuel cell's hydrogen system made a whine like a jet engine on the taxiway, but … Read more
We were recently given the opportunity to kick the tires of a wide variety of hybrid electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
There were a few clean diesels, including a CR-V with a 2.2-liter four cylinder that we should see reach production in a diesel variant of the 2010 Acura TSX. Ford brought out its hydrogen fuel cell, Focus, and a pair of hybrids, one of which was a plug-in model.
According to Ed Kjaer, a representative from Southern California Edison, plugging in electric hybrid vehicles on an overnight cycle is better for the electric grid, because it evens out … Read more
Despite a backlog of unfilled orders and lots of good press for its electric cars, upstart Tesla Motors is finding that reaching full production is complex and costly. Late last week, the Silicon Valley company announced cutbacks to conserve cash.
Tesla is closing its recently opened engineering center in suburban Detroit and laying off an undisclosed number of its 200 U.S. workers. The company is delaying development of a new electric sedan as it consolidates operations at its San Carlos, Calif., headquarters.
Production of the Tesla Roadster, which is based on a Lotus sports car, started in March. Fewer … Read more
Mini just revealed the Mini E on Friday, scheduled to be revealed at the 2008 LA Auto Show. The E stands for electric, as the major difference between this and the standard Mini is the all-electric drivetrain. The Mini E will be produced in a limited quantity of 500-1000 units and leased to customers in a few major cities.
The Mini E's 204 horsepower electric motor also puts out 162 pound-feet of torque with juice being supplied by advanced lithium ion battery tech. Charge time is expected to be about 8 hours with a range of about 150 miles … Read more
Want to see a bunch of alternative-fuel vehicles? Going really fast? Head to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, near Monterey, Calif., this weekend, October 17 to 19, for the final races of the 2008 American LeMans Series (ALMS) calendar.
Don't look for "Gasoline Alley" at the track. The cars run on E10, 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline; E85, 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline; or clean diesel. The ethanol part of the E85 of choice is celluosic, made from waste wood, not corn, and the diesels are among the quickest cars in the world.
ALMS … Read more
Lexus invited us to test drive its entire lineup of Hybrid vehicles. Along the way, we got a peek at how luxury living and sustainable living can go hand in hand.
We took delivery of the Lexus GS450h in Berkeley, Calif. This was to be the first of the three Lexus hybrids we'd be driving over the weekend. Using the Lexus' crisp and colorful touch screen and GPS navigation, we selected our first location--San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel--and took the GS for a spin.Check out the photos of the Lexus Hybrid Living Tour.