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10 American Cities with the Greenest Car Shoppers

Go West, young eco-buyer!

by on Apr.16, 2015

The Tesla Model S has won over many buyers with its performance, as well as its eco-friendly nature.

Spend some time out in Los Angeles and you’ll spot a seemingly endless stream of Ferraris, Maseratis and other exotic sports cars. In fact, Southern California is the world’s largest market for high-performance Mercedes-AMG models.

But Tinseltown drivers also love their Teslas, and Toyota Prius hybrids, making L.A. one of the country’s largest markets for green machines, as well.

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Just in time for Earth Day, the folks at probed their search data to see which cities have the most eco-friendly buyers. And they were in for a few surprises. For one thing, the Top 10 was made up entirely of West Coast cities this year. And while it might seem reasonable that places like Portland, San Francisco and LA made the cut, there were some smaller cities represented as well.


Toyota Launching Hydrogen Car by Year-End

But new fuel-cell vehicles could carry steep price tag.

by on Jun.09, 2014

Toyota unveiled its FCV hydrogen concept vehicle at the Tokyo Motor Show last autumn.

Toyota will launch production of its first commercially available hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle before the end of the year, according to a report from Japan. That would appear to be months ahead of its original plans.

Toyota, which hasn’t changed its stance of “2015 or sooner” for the release of the car, first revealed plans to get into the hydrogen car market last autumn, at the biennial Tokyo Motor Show. It has produced a number of prototypes in years past, but the Japanese giant has been suggesting that it might go the fuel-cell route as an alternative to depending on battery-electric vehicles to meet tough new Zero-Emission Vehicle, or ZEV standards.

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The first Toyota battery cars would come in at around 8 million yen, according to the Japan Times, which would work out to a hefty $78,000, though the English-language publication noted that by the beginning of the next decade, Toyota would like to trim that to somewhere between 3 million to 5 million yen, or between $30,000 and $50,000 at current exchange rates.


Award Highlights Best in New Green Technology

Automakers push technological envelope with entries.

by on Dec.17, 2013

The Honda Accord won Green Car Journal's "Green Car of the Year" honor. The magazine also honors the Green Car Technology of the Year for innovations that help vehicles save energy.

Buyers of new vehicles often consider the awards those cars and trucks have racked up, especially those wanting an environmentally friendly ride. However, it behooves them to look beyond just the simple honors, like Green Car of the Year.

The 2014 Green Car Technology Award will be handed out in late January and should play a role in any research new vehicle buyers are doing as part of their due diligence.

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The award, which is given by the Green Car Journal, lauds automakers that come up with the best ideas that lead to vehicles that save energy. (more…)

Toyota Prius Named “Greenest” Vehicle

by on Jan.16, 2013

The Toyota Prius C is hailed as America's "Greenest" car.

The Toyota Prius C, the newest member of Toyota Prius “family,” has been named the nation’s “Greenest” vehicle by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.  At the other end of the spectrum, the ACEEE tarred the Ford F-350 as the “Meanest,” or dirtiest vehicle on the road.

The organization, which describes itself as a “catalyst to advance energy efficiency,” hailed the growing number of hybrids, plug-ins, pure battery-electric vehicles and other environmental friendly vehicles now coming to market and noted that new products dominated the dozen models on its “Greenest” vehicle list.

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“The vehicles at the top of this year’s rankings are proof that automakers are really ramping up their offerings,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan. “There are more hybrid and electric options on the market this year than ever before and the race for a spot on the Greenest list is increasingly competitive. Automakers have revamped their offerings to meet the growing demand for efficient vehicles and new fuel economy standards.”


Photos of Fisker’s Next Plug-in Hybrid Leak Out

Price of sporty "Atlantic" expected to be half that of Karma.

by on Apr.02, 2012

The Fisker Atlantic has until now gone by the codename "Project Nina."

There are no secrets in the auto industry.  Not many, anyway, as the U.S. auto show season continues to grind on.  The latest maker to find its plans in disarray is Fisker Automotive.  It had planned to introduce an all-new “affordable” plug-in hybrid in New York, later this week, but photos have leaked out a bit earlier than the California-based start-up had anticipated.

The second program from Fisker, which took its name from company founder and Danish designer Henrik Fisker, it had been going by the code-name “Project Nina.”  But according to images that have somehow landed on a Czech website, the new, coupe-like model will be designated the Fisker Atlantic — at least that’s what’s on the shot of the rear license plate.

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Fisker had planned to unveil the new model during a small gathering prior to this week’s NY Auto Show – though the Atlantic was not going to be displayed on the show floor itself.  It appears we’ll still have to wait until Tuesday night for specifics, though some details have been showing up already.

What’s absolutely certain is that the new model will use a plug-in hybrid platform, just like the Fisker Karma.  But unlike the GM-derived four-cylinder gas engine in the current, $102,000 sports car, the Atlantic is expected to use a small engine derived from BMW.


Ford, VW, Toyota Win Kudos

Makers hailed for environmental, human rights practices.

by on Oct.24, 2011

Ford was one of three automakers honored for its environmental and social leadership.

Three automakers – Toyota Motor Corporation, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG – have been recognized for their leadership in environmental policies and practices, human rights and their impact on the automotive supply chain through the development of strong workplace policies and programs, and leading product safety policies and practices.

“Global automakers are making major strides in the right direction on several key issues,” noted Rebecca Henson, an analyst for Calvert Investments.

The Calvert Sustainability Research Department reviewed the environmental, social and governance, or ESG, practices of leading automakers before naming the three as industry leaders.

“This is an encouraging development that reflects the emergence of more thoughtful industry leaders who recognize that ESG considerations are now essential. Companies like Ford, Volkswagen, and Toyota are industry leaders on certain ESG issues, in ways that should inspire and guide other automakers that still have some way to go to catch up to them,” she added.

Calvert’s investment evaluation of auto companies took into consideration seven environmental, social and corporate governance criteria including workplace practices, human rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, governance and ethics, product quality and safety, community relations and environment.

The Calvert Report included an assessment of U.S. manufacturers Ford and General Motors; the largest  European auto company, Volkswagen; the largest Japanese manufacturer, Toyota; and a leading luxury/performance company, BMW.

The review found that, despite the recent economic turmoil, the American auto industry has emerged with a fundamentally different and more positive approach to sustainability, more focused on making cleaner, more efficient vehicles and less resistant to more aggressive fuel economy and emissions standards. The review has also found that the industry appears more focused on vehicle safety, particularly in light of recent unintended acceleration problems. Moreover, some automakers are increasingly trying to stay ahead of the curve on emerging sustainability issues, such as concerns over conflict minerals.

Calvert’s Sustainability Research Department routinely reviews the sustainability performance of an industry segment to keep the company abreast of emerging ESG issues and to update the Calvert Signature Strategy sustainability criteria. This process allows the department to refine its analysis of industry developments and provides the basis for updating sustainability criteria and its application to individual companies.

First Look: 2012 Ford Focus Electric

Detroit maker begins push to electrify its line-up.

by on Jan.07, 2011

Ford shows off the new Focus Electric battery car during a CES preview.

This is the year of the electric vehicle, or so proponents would like to believe, as a wave of battery cars make their debut and the first actually roll into showrooms.  Following last month’s debut of the low-volume Transit Connect Electric delivery van, Ford Motor Co. is rolling out what it hopes will be a more mainstream offering: a battery-powered version of its newly-redesigned compact hatchback, dubbed the Ford Focus Electric.

With an estimated range of 100 miles per charge, Ford’s offering won’t reach market until 2012, well behind the introductions of the Nissan Leaf battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, and the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.  But what the Focus Electric loses by not having first-mover advantage Ford is hoping to more than make up for by offering a wealth of features on its first battery-based passenger car.

The Ford Focus Electric is visually similar to the gas-powered compact, which is offered in both sedan and hatchback configurations.  But there will be a number of changes designed to improve its efficiency, critical when trying to maximize battery power.  That includes a revised grille, an enclosed underbody and special wheels meant to improve aerodynamics, as well as low rolling-resistance tires.

Meanwhile, an LED “light ring” will surround the electric charger port – repurposed from the fuel filler door on a conventional Focus.  Soft blue lights will flash to indicate the Focus Electric is charging and then to signal the battery has been topped off.


Just How Clean Is The Chevrolet Volt?

California regulators raise some concerns about emissions.

by on Oct.25, 2010

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt takes a hit in California's emissions tests.

Just how green is the Chevrolet Volt?  Not nearly as much as you might think – at least according to the results of a new test by the California Air Resources Board.

The agency has ruled that General Motors’ new plug-in hybrid falls short of not only conventional hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight but even the new diesel-powered Jetta TDI in a key test.  As a result, Volt not only doesn’t get a coveted PZEV (for Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle) rating but misses the next-best SULEV category and slips into the rankings as a ULEV vehicle.

But observers caution that the 2011 Chevy Volt may be taking hits because of its own efficiencies, ironically.  And California regulators may take steps to modify their rules so vehicles like Volt, designed to run primarily in electric mode, get the technical benefit of the doubt.

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The eagerly-awaited Volt has faced its fair share of controversy lately.  Earlier this month, a debate began swirling over what the Chevy battery car actually should be called.  Since the debut of the original Volt concept, GM had argued that it was an “extended-range electric vehicles,” since the car’s wheels, according to the maker, would only ever be driven by its two electric motors.


Green Car Finalists Revealed

Battery-power dominates.

by on Oct.22, 2010

Battery power dominates this year's Green Car of the Year finalist tally.

Battery power dominates the finalist list for the increasingly significant Green Car of the Year award.

The much-publicized Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are two of the most anticipated models to land on the list, along with the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

But it’s not all batteries all the time, jurors have made clear, adding the 2011 Ford Fiesta, with its fuel-efficient but conventional gasoline powertrain to the finalist’s tally.

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“These five 2011 Green Car of the Year finalists reflect an auto industry in transition,” said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and editor of “It wasn’t long ago when electric drive was a novelty. Now, it’s expected that auto manufacturers will include electric drive in some form among their model offerings.”


Toyota Links Battery Cars, Home With Smart Center

System to improve charging, reduce energy usage.

by on Oct.07, 2010

When the Prius plug-in comes to market, in 2012, Japanese buyers will be able to link it to the home.

Toyota is releasing a new system, dubbed Smart Center, that is says will reduce energy usage at home while making it easier to charge one of the maker’s upcoming battery-electric vehicles.

Smart Center, one of the first so-called “smart grid” systems, could cut energy consumption in a home by as much as 75%, the maker claims.

The technology will be available in Japan, where Toyota is already in the housing business.  It is unclear whether it will make the Smart Center available in the U.S. or other parts of the world, but there are a number of other companies, including software giant Microsoft, that are coming up with similar technologies that let consumers see where energy is going in their homes and offer a way to reduce usage.

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The timing of the Toyota Smart Center launch isn’t random.  It debuts just as the maker gets ready to bring its first plug-in electric vehicle to market.  A version of the Toyota Prius, it is already in fleet testing around the world and will make a retail debut in 2012.