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Three-Wheel, 84 MPG Elio Moves Closer to Production

Start-up maker partners with Comau at Shreveport assembly plant.

by on Feb.11, 2014

Elio will sell the tadpole-shaped 3-wheeler for $6,800.

The quirky little 3-wheeled Elio, a low-cost, high-mileage vehicle named for its founder, has moved a step closer to production.

The start-up maker has contracted with Italy’s Comau to pull together the manufacturing operations at an old GM plant in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Though running a bit behind its original schedule, Elio Motors promises to have the new model in production by the fourth quarter of this year, with dealers set to start delivering the first vehicles by the beginning of 2015.

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“Comau technology is used by car manufacturers all over the world and Elio Motors is fortunate to have their expertise and experience as part of our team,” said Paul Elio, Founder and CEO of Elio Motors.

Elio describes the new car as “the next big thing in transportation.” It features two wheels up front and one in the back, and despite a promised starting price of just $6,800, it will offer three airbags, with the company aiming to earn a five-star federal crash rating.


Audi Developing Hydrogen-Powered A7

Fuel cell technology regains momentum.

by on Jun.03, 2013

Audi will begin testing a hydrogen-powered version of the A7 this summer.

With automakers showing a renewed interest in hydrogen, Audi appears to be the latest manufacturer to be looking to develop a car that can use the light, clean-burning fuel.

According to a report from Europe, Audi plans to begin testing a prototype fuel-cell vehicle based on its popular A7 coupe-like sedan. It would become the latest addition to an expanding line-up of “tron” vehicles from Audi using alternative propulsion systems including battery-power and compressed natural gas.

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The new hydrogen-powered A7 would debut in August, according to Britain’s Autocar magazine, quoting an interview with Audi’s technical director Wolfgang Durheimer.


Detroit’s EcoMotors Signs $200 Mil Deal to Build OPOC Engine Plant

Chinese deal to lead to generator, off-road and possibly passenger vehicle applications.

by on Apr.09, 2013

The Chinese venture could be the breakthrough test for the promising opoc engine.

Detroit-based powertrain company EcoMotors has landed a $200 million deal to produce its new opoc motor in China, a deal that initially will see the “breakthrough” engine design used for stationary generator applications – though the U.S. company’s chairman says off-road and commercial use, as well as automotive applications could follow.

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Short for opposed piston-opposed cylinder, the opoc has generated significant interest in recent years because of compact size, low emissions and high efficiency. EcoMotors claims it can be as much as 50% more efficient than an advanced turbo-diesel, though the strategic agreement with Zhongding Power, based in Zuancheng, China, may be the real test to prove that advantage in the real world rather than a laboratory test bench.

Zhongding plans to begin producing its version of the opoc in 2014 and hopes to have capacity in place for up to 150,000 of the engines annually – projecting potential revenues of “over US $1 billion.”


Diesel Soon to Outsell Gasoline, Forecasts ExxonMobil

Growing demand in the U.S. could push it over the top.

by on Mar.12, 2013

The Chevrolet Cruze diesel is one of a wave of new "oil-burners" coming to the U.S. market."

The number of diesel models available in U.S. showrooms is soon to expected to double, according to one trade group, and though many Americans are still skeptical about the energy-dense fuel, the increase in demand could soon lead to diesel surpassing gasoline as the most popular transportation fuel, forecasts energy giant ExxonMobil.

Where demand for gasoline will stay fairly flat in coming decades, predicts a new report, sales of diesel will rapidly grow – much of that increase driven by the commercial vehicle sector.

The study also sees a growing role for hybrid-electric transportation, though even combined with plug-ins and pure battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, ExxonMobile envisions “electrified” vehicles will still account for less than half of the global market by 2040.

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Diesel will surge past gasoline as early as 2020, and continue to gain share for at least another two decades, forecasts the company’s new study, “Outlook for Energy: A View to 2040.” Over the more than a quarter century covered by the report, diesel demand is expected to account for 70% of the growth in all transportation fuels.


Ford, Daimler and Nissan form Fuel Cell Alliance

Move comes days after BMW and Toyota team up on the technology.

by on Jan.28, 2013

Mercedes-Benz has begun marketing its hydrogen-powered F-Cell in Southern California.

Ford, Daimler and Nissan will now team up in a push to bring hydrogen fuel cell technology to market as early as 2017, the makers have announced.

They collectively hope to produce as many as 100,000 fuel-cell vehicles, or FCVs, they revealed during a news conference in Nabern, Germany. Super-clean fuel cells could serve as an alternative to the battery-electric technology all four of the makers have been trying to sell to a so-far skeptical market.

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“This technology has the biggest potential for emission- free driving,” said Dr. Thomas Weber, Daimler’s technology chief. “This cooperation gives us the opportunity to bind together the know-how of three experienced partners” to enable commercial production of cars running on the powering system.


Nissan’s Ghosn Seeks U.S. Government Support for Alternate Power

“There must be some kind of vision,” says CEO.

by on Nov.14, 2012

Government support for battery power and other alternatives is critical, says Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

In the wake of the superstorm that swept through much of the Atlantic coast, there’s growing debate over the steps that must be taken to prevent similar disasters – with even some traditional skeptics now conceding their concerns about global warming.

For his part, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn believes “some kind of vision” about alternative vehicles must be included in any plans for the future.

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The continued dependence on oil for most of the world’s transportation needs “cannot continue,” Ghosn declared during a speech at the Wall Street Journal CEO forum in Washington, D.C.  “There are a lot of (alternative) technologies available,” he asserted.


Chevrolet Confirms New Spark EV Coming to LA

GM’s 1st battery car to share stage with other electrics.

by on Nov.14, 2012

An inside-out look at the new Chevrolet Spark EV.

Battery car proponents are getting charged up about the upcoming LA Auto Show. Chevrolet is the latest maker to confirm it will have some electrifying news to announce at the annual event – in the form of the new Spark EV.

The Chevy minicar will be General Motors’ first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, since the much-heralded GM EV1 was pulled from the market after the 1999 model-year.

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“The Spark EV and next-generation of MyLink (Chevy’s new infotainment system) demonstrate Chevrolet’s commitment to delivering the advanced technologies that today’s consumers will be eager to adopt and truly value,” said Chevrolet General Marketing Manager Chris Perry.


Germans Push to Lead in Battery Car Drive

Berlin pitched as European showcase of electromobility.

by on Nov.13, 2012

With German government backing, the country's automakers are investing heavily in alternative propulsion - like the Mercedes' F- and E-Cell models shown here.

Apparently Germans are getting serious about electric vehicles.

The City of Berlin is preparing to expand its effort to become the showcase metropolis in Europe for electromobility.  After a rather slow start, the public charging infrastructure within the German capital is to increase from 100 to 300 by 2013 and to 800 by the end of 2015.

It’s part of a broader German effort to set up a country-wide network of as many as 1,000 or more service facilities that will offer Autobahn drivers the ability to both charge up their battery cars – or fuel up vehicles that run on hydrogen rather than gasoline.

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“There is certainly a lot to do, but the trend lines show that if conditions are right, electromobility in Germany will become more than just a short-term hype. Two recently passed laws that offer tax incentives to buyers and users of electric cars will come into effect in 2013,” said Stefan Di Bitonto, electromobility expert at Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin.


How Automakers Will Get to 54.5 MPG

Battery cars are only part of the answer.

by on Aug.29, 2012

At 47 mpg, the new Ford C-Max will be one of the market's most efficient vehicles. But it still has a long way to go to meet the new 54.5 mpg CAFE standard formalized this week.

When Ford launches its new C-Max hybrid microvan later this year it will deliver a solid 47 mpg in the EPA’s combined city/highway test, making it one of the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the road. Yet that’s still about 15% short of the target the White House has set for the auto industry with the new mileage standards that will be phased in between now and 2025.

Most major automakers signed onto the compromise regulations announced last year and officially released on Tuesday. But most echo John Krafcik, the CEO of Hyundai Motor America, who admits “We don’t yet know how we’ll get there.”

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Electrification will almost certainly play a role, in some form or another.  But don’t expect to see America switch to battery cars, most industry analysts contend.  The technology will likely remain too limited and too expensive over the next dozen years – and the infrastructure just won’t be there, contends Jim Hall, of 2953 Analytics.


Ford Amps Up Investment in Electric Vehicles

Maker targets more battery vehicles at a lower cost.

by on Aug.16, 2012

Ford plans to rapidly increase the number of battery vehicles in its line-up and boost production capacity while also driving down costs.

Ford Motor Co., despite the feeble growth of sales of hybrids and electric vehicles, has no intention of backing off its ambitious plans to build more electric vehicles.  Instead, the automaker has announced plans to invest another $135 million to design, engineer and test future battery-based vehicles.

Joe Bakaj, Ford vice president of powertrain engineering, said the investment will include hiring more engineers to work on electric vehicle projects alongside the 1,000 experts it already has working on EV projects at its engineering campus in Dearborn at what the company is now calling the Advanced Electrification Center. Ford continues to build its electrified team having hired 60 engineers in the past year with plans to fill more positions in the next few months.

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While the price of gasoline continues to fluctuate, the long-term trend in fuel prices is upwards and consumers around the world are demanding greater fuel efficiency, Bakaj said. “Sixty percent of our customers say they would consider a hybrid if the price was equal to a vehicle with an internal combustion engine,” he said.