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Posts Tagged ‘alternative power’

Honda Has Broader Plans for New Hydrogen Car Platform

Along with new fuel-cell model, battery-car, plug-in hybrid models to follow.

by on Nov.19, 2015

The new Honda Clarity will soon offer a plug-in hybrid and pure battery option, along with the hydrogen-powered version soon going on sale.

Honda has become the latest automaker to launch a fuel-cell vehicle on the U.S. retail market, unveiling the production version of the Clarity hydrogen car at the L.A. Auto Show on Wednesday.

But the project is creating a bit of confusion because Clarity is more than just a hydrogen car. It is actually a flexible platform that will eventually be used for a wide variety of alternative-power vehicles, including a plug-in and a pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, American Honda chief John Mendel told


Clarity “will be the platform for at least two” other clean models, Mendel explained during an L.A. interview, adding “It will be another pillar for us,” allowing Honda to expand its alternative offerings “in a more mainstream way.”


GM Wants to Profitably Redefine Personal Mobility

CEO Barra outlines $5 bil investment in autonomous vehicles, carsharing and other game-changers.

by on Oct.01, 2015

GM is "working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility," says CEO Barra.

With autonomous vehicles, car-sharing programs and alternative powertrains reshaping the auto industry, some manufacturers have begun referring to themselves as “personal mobility companies.” The challenge is finding a way to profit from that transformation, said General Motors CEO Mary Barra, as she opened the maker’s “Global Business Conference” with investors and financial analysts.

General Motors is exploring ways to expand the services it offers customers around the world and expects to invest $5 billion in the effort as part of an effort to meet the competition from new challengers such as Apple, Google and Tesla,  Barra said, during the conference at the GM Proving Grounds an hour outside Detroit.


“We’re working to redefine our relationship with customers and personal mobility,” Barry explained, adding that “We want to own that relationship inside and outside the vehicle.”


Will You Even Recognize Your Car in the Near Future?

Plenty of “disrupters” about to transform what we drive.

by on Sep.18, 2015

Poster courtesy United Artists.

In the 1973 film, “Sleeper,” Woody Allen is revived after being frozen following a botched operation. To escape the inept police state trying to terminate him, he steals a car that looks like a bubble, with frosted windows and no steering wheel. He simply tells it where to go.

The comedy was supposed to take place 200 years from now but, at least when it comes to the car, it could just as well happen in little more than a decade from now. A recent concept vehicle from Mercedes-Benz, the F 015, can black out its windows, use voice commands to safely drive automatically to a destination, and passengers can swivel their seats to turn the big sedan into a mobile living room.

Welcome to the Future!

At least, that’s the grand vision – but it’s creating nightmares for an auto industry facing tough new mileage, emissions and safety regulations and the need to invest tens of billions of dollars in new and largely untested technologies. And traditional automakers face the threat of new and well-funded challengers, such as Tesla, Google and Apple.


Conventional Gas-Powered Cars Will Be in Minority by 2017

“No single technology will dominate,” says new study.

by on Dec.23, 2014

Even Cadillac may opt for an alternate approach when it launches its Gen-4 CTS-V.

With gas prices down to less than $2.00 at a growing number of pumps around the country, a growing number of American motorists have been flocking back to showrooms for pickups, SUVs and muscle cars. Yet, despite that sudden surge, the days of the classic V-8 and V-6 may be coming to an end.

In fact, a new study suggests that less than half of the vehicles that will be sold around the world by 2017 will be powered by conventional gasoline engines. Alternative fuels, electrified vehicles and more advanced internal combustion systems will make up the majority of the global mix, according to a new report from Navigant Research.

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And the pace of that transition will only accelerate in the years ahead. Even in the U.S., tough new fuel economy standards set to go into effect by 2025 will force major changes under the hood, industry insiders concur.


2015 Cadillac ELR Takes Green Car Tech Award for “Regen on Demand”

System gives Caddy ELR a more sporty feel – and longer range.

by on Jan.23, 2014

Cadillac's ELR allows a driver to send more energy back to the battery with the tap of a paddle shifter.

Paddle shifters have become increasingly commonplace in recent years, a way for motorists to get a more sporty feel from vehicles equipped with an automatic gearbox – but Cadillac has taken an alternative approach with its new ELR plug-in hybrid which uses its paddle shifters to increase the amount of energy that can be regenerated and stored in its battery pack.

Dubbed Regen on Demand, the new system was honored as “Green Car Technology of the Year” during a ceremony at the 2014 Washington Auto Show, beating out nine other environmentally friendly technology including a new Audi turbodiesel, a super-light carbon fiber body from BMW and Hyundai’s new hydrogen fuel-cell system.

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“Ever-increasing efficiency is crucial to our driving future,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of the magazine Green Car Journal, which organizes the annual award, who called the Cadillac Regen on Demand technology, “an intriguing feature that adds a new dimension to the driving experience.”


US Fuel Consumption Falls 11%

And downward trend likely to continue.

by on Nov.19, 2013

Motorists are using a lot less fuel these days.

Smaller vehicles and new technology — as well as changing driving habits — have combined to reduce the fuel consumption of American drivers of light-duty vehicles by 11% since 2004, says a University of Michigan researcher.

In a follow-up to two reports released earlier this year, Michael Sivak, of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, or UMTRI, examined recent trends in fuel consumption by cars, pickup trucks, SUVs and vans in the U.S. fleet from 1984 to 2011.

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“The decline of 11% since 2004 reflects the decline in distance driven and the improvement in vehicle fuel economy,” said Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI and director of the Sustainable Worldwide Transportation research consortium.


Hyundai Debuting New Hydrogen Car in LA

Korean maker joining Honda, Toyota with new fuel-cell vehicle.

by on Nov.18, 2013

Hyundai CEO John Krafcik will introduce Hyundai's new hydrogen car in LA later this week.

Hyundai Motor America plans to be the third automaker to unveil an ultra-clean hydrogen-powered vehicle at this week’s L.A. Auto Show.

Considered by many to be the zero-emission alternative to battery power, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have been regaining momentum in recent months as manufacturers like Hyundai look to overcome the limitations of current battery technology.

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“A fuel-cell car is an electric vehicle for the impatient,” said HMA Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik, who noted the introduction of fuel-cell vehicles will mean that electric propulsion will come in two different “flavors.”


First Drive: 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid

Tipping the Scales at 50 mpg.

by on Oct.18, 2013

After a short absence, the Honda Accord Hybrid is back for the 2014 model-year - with an all-new drivetrain.

While Toyota and its Prius hatchback have dominated the hybrid market in recent years there was a time when the Japanese giant was locked in battle with its Asian rival, Honda.  But the smaller maker’s original alternative, the quirky 2-seat Insight, as well as latter models, failed to generate near the following, in part due to shortfalls with the original Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA, hybrid drivetrain.

A dozen years after it got into the battery-electric market, Honda is making another big push, this time with a trio of alternative hybrid systems, including the lower-priced, single-motor technology introduced on the latest Civic. A high-performance, three-motor hybrid package will soon be introduced for Acura models including the MDX, RDX and reborn NSX supercar.  But perhaps the most promising system – at least on a mass-market scale, is the two-motor hybrid debuting on the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid.

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We could probably sum up the biggest part of its appeal in four words, “50 miles per gallon.” That’s a hard number to argue with and comes within a hairsbreadth of the 54.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard that the Obama Administration has put in place for 2025.  But there are other reasons to be impressed with the new Accord Hybrid.  Unlike so many other mainstream gas-electric offerings it actually delivers a reasonable amount of performance. Add a well-appointed interior and Honda has a package that should appeal to those who want more than just a mileage miser.


Diesel, Gas-Powered Models Dominate Green Car of the Year Finalists

Jurors focus on diesels, other high-mileage options.

by on Oct.17, 2013

Jurors picked two diesels, inclluding the new BMW 328d, the maker's first 4-cylinder "oil-burner" to reach U.S. showrooms.

Green cars are going mainstream.  American motorists no longer have to look for stone-pony-slow econoboxes or premium-priced specialty vehicles to drive something clean and fuel-efficient, and that has made for an interesting round of choices as the sponsors of the Green Car of the Year reveal their five finalists.

Significantly, while there’s been much media attention on electrification in recent years, the list includes only one battery-based model, the 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid, with not a single additional plug-in or pure battery-electric vehicle making the cut. By comparison, there are two new diesels and a pair of models using new technologies to boost the fuel efficiency of conventional gas vehicles.

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The finalists for the 2014 Green Car of the Year, in short, underscore the general perception within the industry itself that there is no single, silver bullet when it comes to reducing emissions and improving fuel economy.

“The diversity of this field of finalists illustrates not only that ‘green’ has gone mainstream, but also that there is no single approach to achieving ever higher levels of fuel efficiency and environmental performance,” says Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and, which sponsor the annual award.

The five finalists for 2014 include:

GM, Army Team Up to Push Fuel Cell Development

Partnership could put hydrogen power on highways – and in war zones.

by on Oct.01, 2013

A hydrogen fuel cell prototype undergoing testing as part of a joint GM - Army program.

The U.S. Army and General Motors Co. have teamed up on the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles.

What may seem like an odd couple alliance actually reveals a common need for clean, alternatively powered vehicles that not only can run on public highways but potentially serve at remote military applications where access to petroleum-based fuels might be severely limited.

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Fuel cells have often been referred to as “rechargeable batteries” because they provide a steady flow of current to drive electric motors. In contrast to conventional batteries which require long charging cycles, however, hydrogen tanks can be refueled in a matter of minutes.

“We believe hydrogen fuel cell technology holds tremendous potential to one day help reduce our dependence on petroleum and we are committed to building on our leadership through the continued development,” said Charlie Freese, executive director of GM’s global fuel cell engineering activities.