Ever since 2009, Audi has been showing off enticing electric cars under the E-tron name, its brand for any electrified power train. I finally got to drive one during a green industry conference in San Francisco, but it was a far cry from the original sporty-looking E-tron concept. However, the A3 E-tron looks a lot more like a car that Audi would put into production.… Read more
Each year, Green Car Journal names its Green Car of the Year at the Los Angeles Auto Show. For the upcoming award, the field has narrowed down to five contenders, each using technology to achieve high fuel economy.
Here are this year's nominees:
Dodge Dart Aero Ford C-MAX Ford Fusion Mazda CX-5 SkyActiv Toyota Prius C
The Aero version of the new Dodge Dart uses aerodynamic components, low rolling resistance tires, and a grille shutter to get 41 mpg highway from its turbocharged 1.4-liter engine. However, its combined city/highway fuel economy is only 32 mpg.
Ford gains … Read more
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
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
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.
In the last decade, BMW's motorcycle division dabbled in scooters as a green solution for crowded urban centers, producing the C1 for a few years. Now BMW is showing off the final fruits of a new project, an electric scooter designed to achieve the performance specifications of a gasoline-fueled scooter.
The C Evolution is the third generation of an electric scooter that BMW has previously shown in concept form. This two-wheeler uses an electric motor and an 8 kilowatt battery pack to drive the rear wheel. BMW says that it can go 62 miles on a full charge. Although … Read more