Getting to the bottom of the Chevy Volt fiasco, beaming your iPod screen on your dash, the littlest Aston Martin gets a green light, and the world's most advanced driving simulator.Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 189 SHOW NOTES
As the international auto show season begins, Nissan has gone sketch happy, teasing us with drawings of cars that might be unveiled. A few weeks ago we had the Infiniti electric vehicle, and today we get the next generation of the Nissan Versa.
Nissan's least expensive vehicle, the current Versa has a frumpy design; it's a high cab built for practicality and comfort.
The sketch shows a car with contour lines down the sides and a gracefully sloping roof reminiscent of Hyundai's new Sonata. The grille shows a tighter trapezoidal shape than on the current Versa or … Read more
Nissan and Original Wraps today launched Nissan Graphics for the Cube, and soon for the Juke, Frontier, and other models.
The decorative wraps come in graphics for side, front, and hood. The decorations are all printed on automotive-grade 3M Scotchprint On-Demand vinyl and are fade-resistant.
The catalog features stars, stripes, polka dots, and flowers, so the images should appeal to tastes ranging from subtle to bold.
Prices range from $100 to $300 with installation.
Teasing its electric car slated for 2013, Infiniti showed a drawing of how it might look.
The sketch shows a more cab-forward design than current Infiniti models, likely due to the lesser need for space under the hood. Departing from Infiniti's design language, the hood comes up higher than the fenders and a substantial contour line stretches down the sides.
The wheels are oversized, but designers typically put large wheels on concepts.
Infiniti does not have much to say about the car, merely describing it as a "stylish, compact, high performance, five-seat luxury car." The term "… Read more
Paris is noted as a fashion center, so we weren't surprised to find a number of very stylish concept cars at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
As one example, French carmaker Citroen teamed up with Lacoste to design a very fun-looking car built for fun in the sun. Meanwhile Renault offered the very sexy DeZir concept in luscious red with pronounced curves.
But other regions of the world were not left out. Jaguar offers up the incredibly sleek C-X75 and Nissan came out with a funky utility car.
And BMW fans finally got treated to a taste of what … Read more
DETROIT--Robert Bosch GmbH is supplying the navigation system installed in the Nissan Rogue compact crossover and Juke small crossover. The system will be standard in the Rogue SV and Juke SV and optional in the Juke SL.
Bosch's dashboard unit includes AM/FM, satellite radio, and a CD player. It also plays MP3 music files via a USB slot or auxiliary input. The navigation system provides route guidance with visual or audio cues. The unit displays nearby gas stations, parking lots, restaurants, hotels, and other points of interest. The system also indicates real-time traffic conditions and calculates the shortest … Read more
Japan's three largest automakers are making a push to extend their alternative-fuel power train offerings in the next two years.
Toyota Motor will bring two electric and six hybrid-electric models to market in the next 24 months, including a plug-in Toyota Prius. Lexus will move into entry-luxury with the CT 200h hybrid hatchback in 2011.
Nissan Motor will launch the all-electric Nissan Leaf sedan in five markets in December. Infiniti will introduce the M35h hybrid next spring and an all-electric four-seater in late 2012 or early 2013.
Honda Motor engineers are working on a hybrid platform for such large … Read more
Popular Mechanics magazine today unveiled its sixth annual Breakthrough Awards winners, honoring 10 products that its editors identified as solving existing problems in all new ways.
The products range from two different approaches to electric cars to the smallest ever camera with interchangeable lenses to a thermostat that can provide a wealth of data even as it responds automatically to changing conditions. The magazine will name the individuals it chose for the Breakthrough Leadership award and Breakthrough Innovators awards later this week.
For six years, a group of the magazine's editors have sifted through countless products, looking for the selections for the year's best inventions. According to science editor Jennifer Bogo, the team tasked with choosing the 2010 awards--which comprised editors from Popular Mechanics' automotive, home, technology, science and online departments--searched for a roster of products that they felt satisfied their rigorous criteria.
Each of the editors on the team nominates their favorite candidates, and then the list is vetted to ensure that each winning product is "really, truly unique," Bogo said.
"We look at things that do more than work well," she explained. "We look for things that actually solve a problem and things that do that in a genuinely new way. [These are] products that take advantage of new materials, or which are networked in a new way, or which can pack more processing power into a small space."
And while the precise variety of selections varies from year to year, it's clear from this year's choices that the editors are sticking with the same general set of themes that Jerry Bellinson, the magazine's deputy editor, spelled out in an interview with CNET in 2009: alternative energy and products and designers that push categories forward. … Read more
We all want to save the world. It's just that some want to save it for longer than others.
So along comes the Nissan Leaf, the 100 percent electric car that tries to persuade us that the world is worth preserving for more than just the next few years. How does it do that? By proving that the Leaf makes polar bears extremely happy.
How would I know? Well, please feast upon the new Leaf ad that is set to launch in Thursday's exciting NFL game between the New Orleans Saints and a team from the Midwest quarterbacked … Read more
What will happen when millions of electric vehicles plug into the grid at at the same time? If ZigBee Alliance's blueprints for the SmartGrid go according to plan, not much.
The ugly specter of mass blackouts caused by hoards of EVs rolling into garages and plugging in at the same time is just one of the many arguments EV detractors use against electric vehicles and plug-ins. But EV adoption is inevitable, and the smart grid should make sure that energy loads will be balanced and shifted as needed to recharge them without causing widespread power failure. And eventually, ZigBee predicts, electric cars and plug-ins will become part of the energy solution supplying power to the grid.
But let's back up.
If you haven't heard of the ZigBee Alliance, you're not alone. Before I started this article, I'd never heard of it until I was forwarded one of its press releases. Named after a little-known Nordic elf that has nothing to do with wireless networks or energy, the ZigBee is a standard for wireless sensor networks on which the Smart Grid operates. "And the domain name was available," says Bob Heile, who is chairman of the curiously named group and one of the founders of 802.11.
More than 300 metering, computer, chip processing, electronics, and automotive companies are members the ZigBee Alliance. By incorporating ZigBee's technology in their products, many of these companies are laying the infrastructure that will enable utility companies, networked homes and buildings, and appliances to communicate wirelessly and automate metering as part of the smart grid. That includes electric vehicles.
Electric and plug-in vehicles will undoubtedly be a significant drain on the smart grid--each plugged-in EV has the equivalent drain of another house for hours at a time. But they're also uniquely designed to be able to give back.
"They are essentially batteries with wheels," says Heile. "Ultimately, long after the EV infrastructure is in place and consumers adopt them, there will be opportunities to load shift."
This means that at peak hours people can sell the energy stored in EV batteries back to utility companies. But don't think you can offset the cost of a new Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt by becoming a homespun energy trader of sorts--that technology is still years away.
The typical EV and smart meter rhetoric goes something like, "You can charge your car overnight when electricity rates are cheaper." But the technology isn't entirely there to support that rational. Right now if you don't own a smart meter (you would know if you do) and you plug an EV into an outlet, it doesn't know what the device is or who it belongs to, or when to charge it other than right now. But in the future, it will know who you are by the car you drive so that when you charge at a friend's house, you'll get the bill. Or so the theory goes. … Read more