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Posts Tagged ‘alternative power’

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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 CarsOfChange.com, 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.

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Toyota’s 2015 Hydrogen Car to Boast 300 Mile Range

Japanese maker is latest to revive interest in fuel-cell technology.

by on Jul.01, 2013

Toyota first showed the FCV-R fuel cell concept vehicle in Tokyo in 2011.

Toyota hopes that it can generate some interest in its planned hydrogen fuel cell car by ensuring the vehicle will deliver range comparable to that of a conventional gasoline vehicle – which means the zero-emissions vehicle will be able to travel about 300 miles between fill-ups.

The Japanese maker has said relatively little beyond confirming plans to go to market with a hydrogen car during the 2015 model-year.  It is now suggesting that the price tag will be somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000, comparable to something between a midsize BMW and a Tesla Model S, according to the Bloomberg news service.

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The production model is expected to draw influence from the FCV-R concept unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2011, and a more production-ready version is expected to be revealed during the next Tokyo show, this coming November.

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Resurrected Detroit Electric Reveals Big Plans for Battery-Car Market

“The realization of a dream.”

by on Apr.04, 2013

CEO Albert Lam pulls the covers off the new Detroit Electric SP:01 sports car.

Detroit has become home to a fourth U.S. automaker, albeit one with modest if promising ambitions to do things quite differently from the familiar Big Three.

Reviving a brand name that last built cars nearly three-quarters of a century ago, a small group of automotive and consumer electronics veterans have resurrected the old Detroit Electric badge and promise to have their first new product, the SP:01 sports car, in production by late this coming summer.

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Made of exotic lightweight materials including bonded aluminum and carbon fiber, officials promise the Detroit Electric SP:01 will be the fastest battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, on the market, launching from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds and topping out at 155 mph. They also promise a range of up to 180 miles per charge.

And while the first offering will carry a steep price, $135,000 before federal and other credits, the start-up maker is promising to follow up with four more mainstream models, including two due next year that will come in at barely a quarter of the SP:01’s price.

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Start-Up Automaker Takes Over Old GM Plant

Elio promising an affordable 3-wheeler by 2014.

by on Jan.04, 2013

Elio plans to sell the tadpole-shaped 3-wheeler for just $6,800. It promises up to 84 mpg.

A small start-up that hopes to begin producing a new high-mileage automobile in mid-2014 has taken over an abandoned General Motors plant near Shreveport, Louisiana.

Elio Motors plans to use about a third of the 1.8 million square foot facility, one of 89 properties GM shuttered in the wake of its 2009 bankruptcy.  The company hopes to begin hiring the first of 1,500 new workers about a year from now, though it is unclear whether it will seek out the employees who previously staffed the GM facility.

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“We go into production 18 months from now, and so we will begin hiring around 12 months from now,” said Elio CEO Paul Elio.

The plans call for the production of a significantly different vehicle than what GM had previously built in Shreveport, which included a small Hummer SUV and, just before the factory’s closure, the midsize Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups.  Elio is developing a tadpole-shaped 3-wheeler that promises to deliver high mileage for a low price tag.

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Ford Fusion Nabs Green Car of the Year Award

Judges swayed by mix of powertrain options.

by on Nov.29, 2012

Ford plans to play up its Green Car award in spots coming soon to a TV near you.

Despite the popular media’s fixation on battery power, automotive insiders are quick to caution that there is no “silver bullet” solution, no single technology that will likely meet all the needs for tomorrow’s clean and efficient automobiles.

That message was hammered home by the choice of the 2013 Ford Fusion as the Green Car of the Year, an award designed to focus the spotlight on the latest clean-tech automobiles.

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A key to the decision was the fact that the new midsize sedan offers a broad range of powertrain alternatives, from conventional gasoline power up to an all-new plug-in hybrid.

“That’s an example of automotive democracy,” said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal, the organizer of the annual award.

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