We didn't expect a tuner car from Chevy, but the Cobalt SS measure up in all ways. Two-liter four cylinder engine, check. Variable valve timing, check. Turbocharger, bonus. With 260 horsepower, the Cobalt SS has more power than a Honda Civic Si, and the Cobalt SS' limited slip differential, stabilizer bars, and suspension tuning lead to good handling in the corners. Put it in launch-control mode and you can achieve maximum grip and acceleration off the line. Chevy also steps up a bit in cabin tech, giving the Cobalt SS iPod integration and a bass-heavy Pioneer audio system.
Will Apple's decision to use Nividia chips in its new MacBooks be a catalyst for change?
With all the hoopla surrounding Apple's choice of Nvidia graphics in its new MacBooks fading, it remains to be seen if Nvidia's GeForce 9400M has legs.
Intel has a successful integrated graphics franchise and is the leader in laptop graphics. Before I get slammed, let me be clear that I'm not talking about performance. I'm referring to market share. Many laptop suppliers--particularly in the low-cost and ultraportable segments--default to Intel graphics because it offers adequate performance, reasonable power efficiency, … Read more
What will race cars look like in 2025? The Los Angeles Auto Show, in its fifth annual Design Challenge, posed this question to automakers' design studios. Entrants from Audi, BMW, GM, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Volkswagen show off differing takes of what will be required for future racetracks.
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.
GM gives the Chevy Volt its first auto show exposure at the 2008 Paris Motor Show. With a game-changing power train, the Volt is as relevant in Europe as it is in the U.S. The Volt uses a series hybrid system, using an electric motor to drive the wheels with a gas engine to generate more electricity once the car's lithium ion battery pack is depleted.
Under electric power alone, the car has a 40-mile range and can be recharged at any AC outlet. For many people, that range will cover their daily commute, which will result in … Read more
What happens when you let Scandinavians design a convertible? Well, for one, you end up with the very successful Saab 900 convertible, which launched in 1985. Saab has taken another shot at it with the 9-X Air, a concept vehicle unveiled at the 2008 Paris Motor Show that uses a unique convertible soft top, plus quite a few other good concept car touches.
It's all been very gentlemanly so far. No name calling. No punches thrown.
But a fight is brewing between heavyweights Toyota and General Motors over the way the government should support plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Robert Wimmer, a Toyota research manager, told a Senate committee last week that proposed legislation "redefines plug-in electric vehicles to seemingly eliminate consumer tax credits for all but one plug-in vehicle design. Toyota believes this approach is counterproductive."
He didn't identify the Chevrolet Volt by name. But the GM hybrid would be the main beneficiary of the bill, which would provide … Read more
LEBANON, N.H.--Mascoma is a biotech firm engineering its way into the energy business.
At its core is a staff of brainy Phds with expertise in microbial technology and cellulosic ethanol. But rather than design pharmaceuticals or crop seeds, Mascoma scientists are researching ways to make a cheaper fuel.
Its part of an industry-wide race to make ethanol from non-food sources, such as wood chips and grasses, at commercial scale.
If done right, cellulosic ethanol promises to be far better than the current feedstock--corn--from a commercial and environmental standpoint.
There are many techniques for making cellulosic ethanol, including gasification … Read more
GM unveiled the 2011 Chevy Volt this week, and is obviously so hungry for publicity that it even had Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of Global Product Development, appear on The Colbert Report. It was an odd interview for a show that usually features politicians and writers, but the hook seemed to be Bob Lutz's previous statement that global warming is a crock of expletive deleted. Stephen Colbert, as the (faux) arch-conservative talk show host, suggested that producing the Volt showed that Lutz was giving in to the tree huggers. Lutz stuck by his position on global warming, although modifying … Read more
GM has rolled out the "production" version of the Chevy Volt this week (a cheeky move since it won't go into production for another two years) and it was received more warmly for proving the Volt is real than wowing us with styling.
But looks aren't the point of the Volt: lofty and sustainable miles per gallon is. Here's a look at the car in motion with some thoughts on its challenges as it begins the longish road to showrooms.