When I first conceived this week's blog theme starring some of the biggest "clunkers" of all time, I envisioned it as a week long series of potshots and cheap guffaws at images of cars you couldn't pay modern folk to drive. But as I've gone along with this concept and researched related video for this topic, I've unearthed clip upon clip of car enthusiasts who take some of the most historically laughable cars and transforming them into cars that not only run, but run like champs and look damn good at the same time. … Read more
Chevy Volt gets 230 miles per gallon (for a day) while Nissan says we can play that game, too. BMW gets hybrid religion (again), and we take you for a ride in an Audi Q5 and point out what we love and what we wish we could.Subscribe now: iTunes (audio) | RSS (audio) SHOW NOTES
MILFORD, Mich.--It was brief, but my ride in a Chevy Volt was decidedly fun, even exciting.
On Tuesday, I visited the sprawling Milford Proving Grounds in southeastern Michigan, where General Motors vehicles have been put through the paces since the 1920s.
I was one of the lucky few who got the last ride of the day in a pre-production version of the Volt, which was "almost stolen" from the car's development team by Frank Weber, the global vehicle line executive for the Volt, to give journalists a taste of the upcoming plug-in electric sedan.
In addition to being a key figure in the Volt's development, Weber clearly has got a car engineer's love of driving. His high-speed tour around the track gave me a feel for the "driving experience" GM executives tout with the Volt, which is due late next year.
I was prepared for the zippy acceleration. Models will vary of course, but electric vehicles can boast great acceleration--the Tesla Roadster is faster off the line than many sports cars, for instance--and they deliver their full torque at all speeds.
What surprised me though was the handling. As Weber dipped around the couple turns we took, the car seemed to really stick to the road, and I didn't slide off my seat at all.
It makes sense that it felt like the car "hugged" the road. The large, 400-pound battery pack, which is positioned under the back seats, gives the Volt a low center of gravity, and the car has a good weight distribution, GM executives said.
During the drive, Weber--obviously enamored with its performance--said that you feel much closer to the electric car when you drive because of the responsive acceleration. "It's more like flying than driving a vehicle," he said. And, of course, the ride was very quiet as the car was running on batteries.
I've never taken a Lamborghini or Ferrari around a test track, but I can say the Volt's acceleration and handling are noticeably sportier than sedans like the Prius or the alternative fuel SUVs I also drove at Milford.
Watching the video, you can get a feel for how Weber showed off the Volt's acceleration and, on the last turn, the handling.
Under construction Earlier in the day, I took a tour of GM's pre-production facility at its Tech Center in Warren, Mich., where I gained a bit more insight into the interplay between the Volt's two power sources--its batteries and the internal combustion engine. … Read more
The Zune HD is coming in colors. But none of them are brown. And do you really care? We also talk about the ePub format. Will it change the landscape of eBook publications? And also, while we're at it, how the heck should we express fuel efficiency in electric cars? So many questions. At least Kernels are now bug-proof.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) Episode 1041
China backs off Green Dam http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125013563611828325.html
Now we know what colors the Zune HD will be … Read more
WARREN, Mich.--General Motors' announcement on Tuesday that it expects that the Chevy Volt will get an eye-popping 230 miles per gallon begs an obvious question: how can the mileage of electric vehicles be compared to gasoline ?
It's a problem that the Environmental Protection Agency is working on with the Department of Energy, the Society of Auto Engineers, and California, an EPA representative said on Wednesday. But that system for testing mileage is still in development and not yet public.
The EPA also put out a statement on Tuesday saying that it has not tested the Volt for mileage yet and "cannot confirm the economy values claimed by GM." GM said that its mileage estimate, including triple digit combined city and highway driving, was based on a draft methodology developed by the EPA.
The lack of verifiable tests, however, hasn't stopped automakers from tantalizing consumers. The all-electric Nissan Leaf, due in late 2010, boasts the equivalent of 367 miles per gallon, and the electric Tesla Roadster claimed over 100 miles per gallon mileage as well.
Pressed on how mileage numbers for the Volt were arrived at, GM executives offered some details, saying that the number will vary depending on how far people drive before they replenish the car's batteries.
The draft EPA methodology figures that a plug-in electric vehicle driver will go a certain number of miles on batteries alone and then another portion on the gasoline engine, explained Frank Weber, the global vehicle line executive for the Chevy Volt. To arrive at the mix between battery versus gasoline, the EPA is studying average American driving patterns, executives said.
The EPA is also developing another, less familiar metric for electric vehicles. In the Volt's case, it will take 25 kilowatt-hours to go 100 miles. Weber said the models behind the EPA methodology are "robust," adding that he expects the EPA to disclose more about the tests later this year.
To come up with 230 miles per gallon for city driving, GM assumes that Volt owners charge the car's batteries once a day, which enables them to do the majority of their driving from electricity drawn from the socket. The Volt, due late next year, is designed to run 40 miles on electric charge and then use a gasoline engine to sustain the battery for longer trips.
Misleading? Triple digit combined fuel efficiency is certainly impressive--the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight hybrids both sport combined mileage of about 50 miles per gallon depending on driving style.
But immediately after GM's announcement, people began complaining that the claim is misleading.
After debuting the final chapter in our 404 Superhero series (thanks Hayato!), we break into chats about the next-gen air-con, an Xbox autographed by Palin, cell phone crackdowns, and a Nintendo inflatable cushion that raises questions of hygiene...yikes!
Thanks again to Hayato Shimizu for making the image you see above, which features all three of The 404 hosts as their respective superheroes in the Four-Oh-Force! You can always depend on us to save you from a bad day! Well...except for Sundays, you're on your own there.
Lots of stories to get into today, like this Nissan car with a built-in revolutionary air-conditioner that blocks "unpleasant smells" from entering your car. Having driven with Jeff and Wilson before, I can say without hyperbole that I'm more worried about the smells coming from inside the car, but I'm sure that invention is in development as well.
We also talk about San Francisco cracking down on cell phones in the car and a Sarah Palin autographed Xbox 360 fetching 1.1 MILLION DOLLARS on eBay, but the weirdest story of the day comes from Nintendo, who is developing an inflatable cushion for the Wii used to simulate riding on the back of an animal or being in the driver's seat of a vehicle. There are a million and one jokes to be made here, and we get to about 4,297 of them in the second half of the show, so be sure to check that out. Nintendo has officially lost its marbles.
A big apology goes out to everyone who couldn't leave a voice mail last night--we've since cleared it all out, so please call us back at 1-866-404-CNET and leave another message!EPISODE 402 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
We started by reporting on the amazing technology that allows pacemakers to wirelessly transmit diagnostic info to a bedside device making the pacemaker safer and doctor visits shorter. But we found the most compelling fact the idea that this would be WiFi. Which we think should mean hotspots and a mesh network. It solves a lot of problems. Think about it. Also no Apple, Twitter or Google news today. Sorry. There is a robot story.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 1039
Facebook buys FriendFeed http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10306560-36.html… Read more
Jeff's back and gives us a rundown of his minivacation to Atlantic City, N.J., and his love affair with pinball machines. A lot of other stories to talk about today, like the Zune HD, the new Chevy Volt, Spielberg taking over the Halo movie, and Hayato Shimizu's interpretation of Jeff as the superhero COMMODORE!
The team is back together now that Jeff is back from his trip to Atlantic City, where he reportedly spent the majority of his time playing blackjack and a series of analog video games like Batman: Dark Knight pinball, skeeball, and bubble hockey. In celebration of Jeff's return, we surprise him with the image you see above, the final superhost of The 404--COMMODORE! Defending the world from positive vibes with his giant hockey stick, Commodore also wields the might Power Glove, which, unfortunately, is incompatible with today's villains, but it still looks cool! Big thanks goes out to Hayato Shimizu for his great work with all three characters, maybe we'll even seen a picture featuring LaserJet, G-Force, and Commodore battling crime for the future of podcasting!
As usual, we have a lot to talk about today, and kick it off with some rumor mongering about the latest Zune HD. CNET's own Donald Bell reports that Amazon is showing off retail pricing for the portable media player, listing the 16GB Zune HD at $219 and the 32GB at $289. The rumor mill continues to churn over Steven Spielberg taking over as producer for the Halo movie adaption, although the three of us are still skeptical about any long-form video game story adaptation, as we all remember what happened with CHUN-LI. We also look at the latest commercials for the Chevy Volt and its how viral advertising is affecting viewer participation.
Finally, Wilson G. Tang took it upon himself to create a 404 Dashboard Widget for video or the audio version and have the show play in the background while you finish "working." Best of all, this blog description populates nicely into the widget as well, making it super easy to auto-update and listen to your favorite episodes! Download them and let us know what you think!EPISODE 401 OS X users! You can download the Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
WARREN, Mich.--The gas-electric Chevy Volt will get triple-digit mileage, including an estimated 230 mpg for city driving, General Motors said Tuesday.
The 230 mpg--teased in a stealth advertising campaign on billboards and during baseball games--is based on a draft methodology for electric vehicles developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, GM CEO Fritz Henderson said here.
The struggling auto giant held a media event to offer an update on its product and technology plans as it tries to stimulate sales following a bankruptcy and restructuring that has left it 60 percent owned by the U.S. Treasury Department and 11 … Read more
Updated at 12:00 p.m. PT with comments from GM representative.
Even as GM develops the electric power train for its Chevy Volt, the company has plans to design a hybrid platform for sedans, according to a report.
The hybrid technology will be used in a midsize sedan as well as other vehicles and offer better mileage than its current technology.
"What we are trying to work towards is 'Yes,' we will have other hybrid vehicles (besides the Volt) but we are trying to work towards a dedicated hybrid," Ed Peper, GM's general manager of Chevrolet, … Read more