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New Genesis Brand to Add Plug-In Hybrid Power

Taking aim at key German and Japanese rivals.

by on May.10, 2016

The Genesis Sport Sedan concept uses a hybrid drivetrain, but we can expect the production Genesis G70 to add a conventional gas engine and a performance, version.

Hyundai’s new Genesis luxury brand is set to add a plug-in hybrid to its line-up, and could eventually add more than one of the green models, according to its top U.S. executive.

The move is in line with what key competitors, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus are planning. Luxury brands are making an especially aggressive push into plug-based powertrain technology, in part, to help offset the lower mileage and higher emissions of their conventional, gas-powered products.


“We believe alternative-propulsion engines are going to be really important,” Dave Zuchowski, the CEO of Hyundai Motor America, and head of Genesis operations in the U.S., told Automotive News. (more…)

Tokyo Goes Green – and Autonomous

Concept hydrogen and battery cars in abundance at 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

by on Oct.30, 2015

The design of the IDS Concept hints at the direction Nissan will take with the second-generation Leaf.

When the Olympics roll into Tokyo in 2020, visitors from around the world are likely to get a glimpse of the future as they race to the various sports venues now under construction around the sprawling, crowded city.

One choked by pollution, Tokyo plans to use the Olympics to showcase groundbreaking environmentally friendly – and safe – automobiles. But there’s no need to wait four years. The 2015 Tokyo Motor Show is already offering a glimpse of what’s coming.

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Among the futuristic models introduced at the show this week, Nissan’s IDS – short for Intelligent Driving System – can be driven autonomously and, with its 60 kilowatt-hour battery pack, can clock about 200 miles between charges. That intelligent drive system, claims CEO Carlos Ghosn, is capable of learning the habits of its owner to modify the way it drives, even to recommend places to stop for a bite. (more…)

BMW i3 Named Green Car of the Year

“Validation” of a breakthrough concept.

by on Nov.20, 2014

BMW's Tom Plucinsky,left, accepts the Green Car of the Year award from Green Car Journal's Ron Cogan.

Squaring off with four tough – but environmentally friendly – competitors, the BMW i3 claimed victory as the Green Car of the Year, an award the maker says “validates” the costly development program behind the breakthrough battery-electric vehicle.

The i3 is the smaller and more affordable of two new battery-based vehicles being offered by the German maker’s new brand-within-a-brand, BMW i. It is offered as either a pure battery-electric vehicle, or with an optional range-extending internal combustion engine that automatically fires up when the batteries run down.

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The i3 “breaks the mold” not only with its battery drive system but by bringing the use of lightweight carbon fiber down to the mainstream, said Ron Cogan, the publisher of Green Car Journal, which sponsors the award program. (more…)

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Drives Off with Green Truck of the Year

Truck beats out ballyhooed all-aluminum F-150 for the title.

by on Nov.07, 2014

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel captured the Green Car Journal's "Green Truck of the Year" award for 2015.

The Ram 1500 EcoDiesel walked off with another big award, this time the 2015 Green Truck of the Year from the Green Car Journal, which has been singling out the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S. for more than two decades.

The Ram beat out four other trucks, including another Ram – the 1500 HFE – to win the honor. The other finalists included Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and the Ford F-150. The magazine made the announcement at the 46th annual San Antonio Auto & Truck Show.

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While pickups aren’t normally associated with the word “green,” auto companies have been working diligently at making trucks more fuel efficient. In addition to the EcoDiesel, Ford has been heavily promoting its EcoBoost-powered F-150s in recent years and Chevy has been pumping up the mileage figures for its full-size pickups too. (more…)

Green Car Finalists Announced

Battery power vies with diesel, CNG and advanced gas options.

by on Oct.21, 2014

The BMW i3 is one of five cars up for the 2015 Green Car of the Year award at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

There’s been plenty of attention paid to electric vehicles over the last several years, but not all green machines have a battery under the hood.

To underscore that point, just check out the five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year. The nominees for the annual award, which will be presented at the Los Angeles Motor Show next month, present a mix of alternatives that include not only the requisite EVs, but also a diesel, a bi-fuel package and a conventional gasoline-powered model. The list is dominated by three European models with one each from Japan and the U.S.

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“These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” (more…)

Japanese Supplier Admits Price Fixing

Will pay $18 fine in Justice Dept. probe.

by on Oct.31, 2012

Supplier Tokai Rika likely wasn't delighted at the reality of being convicted for price-fixing.

A Japanese supplier has pled guilty in a probe by the U.S. Justice Department into price fixing in the auto industry, which continues to grow and has now snared nine different companies on three different regions of the world.

Nagoya, Japan-based Tokai Rika Co. Ltd. has agreed to plead guilty and to pay a $17.7 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices of heater control panels installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced.

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Tokai Rika has also agreed to plead guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice related to the investigation of the antitrust violation. The company’s American arm is based in Plymouth, and it also has units in Battle Creek and Jackson.


Fiat to Reveal 500E Battery Car at LA Show

Making “economic lemons” into lemonade.

by on Oct.26, 2012

An early Fiat 500E prototype.

Fiat/Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has made no secret of his disdain for electric vehicles, declaring them “economic lemons” during a discussion with reporters earlier this year and all but killing off the U.S. side of his company’s battery-car program.

So, why is Fiat ready to introduce a new electric version of its little 500 model at the upcoming L.A. Auto Show? Because it doesn’t really have a choice.

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Under increasingly stringent California requirements – copied by nearly a dozen other states – all major makers will either have to offer low-volume “zero-emissions” vehicles or pull out of a state that generates more sales than most countries.


First Drive: 2013 Mini Countryman Cooper S John Cooper Works

Mini to turn JCW into new performance sub-brand.

by on Dec.27, 2011

Faster than a speeding skier...the new 2013 Mini Countryman S John Cooper Works.

You’re likely to be halfway down the slopes by the time you can pronounce the full name of Mini’s newest – and fastest – crossover model, the Mini Countryman John Cooper Works.  Take our word for it, as we had our first chance to check out the Countryman JCW during a snow-covered preview in the Tyrolean Alps.

One of the semi-finalists for North American Truck of the Year, the Mini Countryman has generated more than its share of controversy since its 2010 debut.  No surprise: it’s not only the biggest offering ever from Mini and the first to fall into that gray space between car and truck, but it also was the first to offer all-wheel-drive – and four doors.

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But buyers seem to be dismissing the debate and focusing on the Countryman’s blend of functionality and fun-to-drive dynamics– making it the brand’s new best-seller.  So, we wondered as we packed up our ski gear, what would happen when you pack in some more punch?


First Look: Nissan LEAF Battery-Electric Vehicle

Automaker unveils what could be first in a proposed electric vehicle fleet.

by on Aug.02, 2009

Nissan plans to put the Leaf battery car into limited production in a year, and begin retail sales in 2012.

Nissan plans to put the Leaf battery car into limited production in a year, and begin retail sales in 2012.

Nissan is hoping to turn a new Leaf. The automaker this weekend pulled the wraps off its long-promised battery vehicle, a product the Japanese manufacturer hopes will put it in the forefront of the industry’s push for cleaner, more fuel-efficient automobiles.

While Nissan is by no means the only automaker pushing for “electrification” of the car, the maker has been racing to form an array of government and private partnerships that it believes will help it turn battery power into a commercially viable concept faster than competitors like Toyota, General Motors or Honda.

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Dubbed Leaf, Nissan’s 5-door hatchback is roughly the same size as the gasoline-powered Tiida – which it markets in the U.S. as the Versa.  In current configuration, the battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, is expected to deliver about 100 miles per charge, though company insiders tell that their mid to long-term goal is to bring range up to 200, and perhaps even 250 miles as lithium-ion battery technology continues to improve.