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February 06 2014

Tesla Becomes Fifth-Best Automaker for U.S. Consumers, Study Says
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Already a hit with geeks and technology moguls, electric car manufacturer Tesla reached a new milestone on Wednesday: finally penetrating the mainstream consciousness, according to a new survey from Consumer Reports

Tesla, the company created by SpaceX founder Elon Musk (pictured above), now ranks at number five on Consumer Reports’ Car-Brand Perception Survey, just behind traditional automakers such as Chevrolet, Honda, Ford and Toyota, which snagged the number one slot

This jump up to fifth place is a huge leap for the company, which was ranked way back in tenth place in 2013. Consumer Reports’ survey polled 1,578 U.S. car owners in the U.S. in December, focusing on getting the respondents to list their top car brands in terms of performance, value, safety, quality, design and technology Read more...

More about Cars, Automobiles, Elon Musk, Tesla, and Electric Cars

January 06 2014

Toyota Shows Off Fuel Cell Vehicle Powered by Hydrogen, Air
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LAS VEGAS — Toyota showed off on Monday at the 2014 International CES show its fuel cell vehicle (FCV) electric concept car, which combines hydrogen with air to power the vehicle.

The four-door mid-size sedan has no emissions, with the exception of water vapor, and is essentially an electric car without the need to be plugged in. The combination of hydrogen and air creates both water and electricity, which is then used to power the car. The vehicle is expected to go on sale in 2015

“Hydrogen works beautifully with oxygen to create water and electricity and nothing more,” a company spokesperson said. “For years, the use of hydrogen gas to power an electric vehicle has been seen by many smart people as a foolish quest. Yes, there are significant challenges. The first is building the vehicle at a reasonable price for many people. The second is doing what we can to help kick-start the construction of convenient hydrogen refueling infrastructure.” Read more...

More about Toyota, Ces, Electric Cars, Tech, and Fuel Cell

December 18 2013

5 Surprises You'll Find in a Tesla Model S
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There are 52 Tesla showrooms in the U.S. and Canada. That may sound like a lot, until you consider that Ford and Chevvy have 3,000 dealerships each in the U.S. alone. So finding a Tesla store in your neighborhood is a rare thing.

The Tesla Model S is even more of a rare beast. The all-electric, $110,000 sedan has been on sale in the U.S. since 2012. The car has survived more than its share of hype, praise and scorn. Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk (the Tony Stark of our generation) has the run his auto business more like a tech startup. He has been quick to tout his wins, and almost as fast to address criticism and build a better charging infrastructure. Read more...

More about Cars, Elon Musk, Electric Cars, Tesla Model S, and Tech

December 11 2013

Leonardo DiCaprio and Other Big Names Back Electric Car Racing
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Leonardo DiCaprio is the latest big name to back an electric-car racing association meant to merge the interests of NASCAR fans and the environmentally concerned

DiCaprio has entered the fray in a combined effort with Monaco-based Venturi Automobiles. Together, they're backing the 10th team that will participate in the first season of the Formula E car-racing championship. Richard Branson's Virgin Racing team will also participate, as will as entrants from Audi and Andretti Autosport.

DiCaprio announced his participation, as well as some of the motivation behind Formula E, via Twitter: Read more...

More about Electric Cars, Entertainment, and Sports

December 05 2013

Man Spends Night in Jail for Taking 5 Cents' Worth of Electricity
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A man was arrested for charging his Nissan Leaf electric car at a Georgia middle school in November, according to a local ABC News report.

Officers charged Kaveh Kamooneh with misdemeanor theft of what a local NBC station reported to be five cents' worth of electricity. The police officer checked with the middle school and determined that Kamooneh had not been given permission to charge his car with the school's electricity. He then spent just over half a day in jail before being released on $150 bail.

"I'm waiting for them to arrest water drinkers and cell phone chargers," Kamooneh said, according to the news report. Read more...

More about Georgia, Electric Cars, Dev Design, Us World, and Us

October 30 2013

Building Cars Out of Batteries Isn’t as Crazy as It Sounds
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The high cost and limited range of electric vehicles can make them a tough sell, and their costliest and most limiting component are their batteries.

But batteries also open up new design possibilities because they can be shaped in more ways than gasoline tanks and because they can be made of load-bearing materials. If their chemistries can be made safer, batteries could replace conventional door panels and other body parts, potentially making a vehicle significantly lighter, more spacious and cheaper. This could go some way toward helping electric cars compete with gas-powered ones.

Tesla Motors and Volvo have demonstrated early versions of the general approach by building battery packs that can replace some of the structural material in a conventional car. Dozens of other research groups and companies are taking further steps to make batteries that replace existing body parts, such as body panels and frames. Read more...

More about Cars, Volvo, Battery, Electric Cars, and Tech

August 21 2013

Electric Car Folds in Half for Crowded City Streets
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Engineers at the Graduate School for Green Transportation at KAIST in South Korea debuted a foldable electric car called the Armadillo-T. The two-seater car folds up after the driver and passenger leave the vehicle, making it a nice space-saver on Asia’s crowded city streets.

It doesn’t quite make sense to fold the car after parking it (especially if parallel parked). However, the vehicle is so tiny that you could just drive it straight into the curb with the front directly facing the sidewalk, and the car would still fit. It’s just 110 inches at full length. When folded, it’s only 65 inches long. In Southeast Asian countries, where most people travel via motorbike or small car, this makes even more sense. Read more...

More about Automobile, South Korea, Electric Cars, Electric Car, and World

December 14 2011

6 Tech Trends That Won’t Happen in 2012

It’s that time of year again when media outlets pour out predictions of which cutting-edge technologies are expected to heat up in 2012. But according to ABI Research, there are a whole slew of projections that aren’t likely to come to fruition.

SEE ALSO: 8 Big Trends That Shaped the Mobile Phone Industry in 2011

From smash-proof smartphones to web-enabled cars, here’s a look at some trends ABI Research said not to expect next year:


1. Mobile-Internet World





The world will use various devices, including mobile phones to access the Internet in 2012, but they won't use any of them exclusively according to ABI. Since many can afford mobile phones over computers, some analysts predict that consumers will primarily use the Internet on mobile devices in the future. “Make no mistake about it: there will still be workplaces, libraries, cyber cafes and – most importantly – schools to connect people.” However, ABI Research also noted that for the majority of the world’s population, mobile phones will, for many years, represent the primary – and often the only – form of regular Internet access.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: 3D, cars, electric cars, Google Maps, technology


September 02 2011

Volkswagen’s Radical Electric Roadster of the Future [PICS]


Volkswagen has designed a unique single-seat electric sports car it calls NILS.

The radically designed concept vehicle is inspired by open-wheel F1 race cars. While its electric motor can only crank out 30 hp, the 10-foot-long aluminum-framed vehicle is so small and light, you might think you’re in a race car when its torque-rich little engine delivers that neck-snapping acceleration of which we are all so fond.

Low-speed acceleration notwithstanding, you won’t want to enter it into any impromptu street races, because its 0-60 time is a leisurely 11 seconds, with its top speed a rather tame 80 mph.

Volkswagen says this electro-cart only needs a couple of hours to charge from a 230V electrical outlet. The downside is its range is only 40 miles on each charge. Still, that’s farther than the average commute.

Wondering when you can get one? Like most concept cars, this one’s not for sale. The car maker plans to show off NILS at the upcoming auto show in Frankfurt this month.

Even if you won’t be getting behind its wheels soon, the design exploration gives you a sneak peek at the cars you might be driving a few years down the road.


VW Electric Roadster





2-Hour Charge Time





Gull-Wing Doors




[via Gizmag]

More About: concept car, Electric Car, volkswagen

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July 04 2011

Scientists Discover Large Deposit of Rare Minerals Used in iPads

ipad image

A huge deposit of “rare earth” minerals has been discovered on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, Reuters reports.

Japanese scientists announced their analysis of the deposits Monday, claiming the area around Hawaii is especially rich in minerals that help build iPads, LCD TVs and other electronic devices.

Prior to this discovery, manufacturers and environmentalists alike expressed concern over the limited and dwindling supply of rare earth minerals. However, experts report that the minerals found in the Pacific may reinforce known land supply by 1,000 times.

The mud is rich in rare earth minerals like gadolinium, lutetium, terbium and dysprosium, which are especially important in the manufacturing of technology like hybrid cars and flat screens. China, which currently produces 97% of the world’s rare earth metals, has at times threatened to cut exports of the materials, leading to fear that the prices of electronic devices could soar.

Now, China’s near monopoly is threatened as scientists say that ocean bed extraction from this particular region should be relatively simple using acid leaching techniques.

“The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one sq km (0.4 sq mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption,” Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo, said in a Guardian.co.uk interview.

More About: environment, ipad, japan, pacific, Science, tech, technology

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July 01 2011

Toyota Scion iQ Electric Car Coming in 2012 [PICS]




Toyota’s been teasing us with its Scion iQ electric car for more than a year. Now the company has officially announced the iQ will be sold in the United States in 2012.

If you’re looking for a cute car, this micro-subcompact fits the bill nicely. But if you have a long commute, you might want to wait until battery technology improves. Toyota says the Scion iQ can only go 50 miles on a charge. That means this car will be hard-pressed to compete against the similar Nissan Leaf, whose battery can propel it about twice as far until it needs charging.

It’s great news that this car has gone beyond the concept stage and will be sold in the U.S., but its price will be the determining factor in its success. Toyota just teamed up with Tesla Motors, but we’re wondering if one of the obvious benefits of that partnership — the exchange of battery technology — will bear fruit in the Scion iQ.

That 50-mile range suggests it’s not using the full complement of batteries inside the Tesla Roadster. Perhaps that’s a good thing, because the Roadster’s lithium-ion batteries are one of the items that pushes its price up to well into the six figures.

We’ve contacted Toyota to find out when this electric rollerskate will be available and at what price. The automaker hasn’t shared that information with anyone yet, so we’re not holding our collective breath.

As you’ll notice in our gallery below, the iQ is scarcely larger than a golf cart:


Scion iQ





Scion iQ





Scion iQ





Scion iQ





Scion iQ





Scion iQ





Scion iQ




[via Autoblog]

More About: cars, Electric Car, Toyota Scion iQ, Vehicles

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June 23 2011

Tesla Discontinues Roadster; Long Live the Model S [PICS]



The Tesla Roadster electric car is dead (see update below). Tesla Motors announced Thursday it would stop taking orders for the $109,000 vehicle in two months, concentrating instead on the development of its next-generation Model S electric car, a four-door sedan that will cost about half as much.

The iconic Tesla Roadster, now in version 2.5, has been a specialty two-seater from the get-go. It impressed reviewers with its snappy acceleration, sporty carbon-fiber body designed (update: and built) by Lotus, and relatively long 245-mile-rated range. But that $109,000 sticker price for the hand-built car — a “base price” that usually went much higher with sport options — proved too steep for the mass market.

For mainstream drivers, Tesla announced plans for a lower-priced electric car in 2008. The Model S will sell for around $57,400 (up from its previously announced $49,000) when it’s ready for sale in mid-2012, according to The New York Times.

We caught our first glimpse of a flashy Model S prototype at the Consumer Electronics Show last January, where we were awestruck by its sleek design and huge instrument panel powered by an Nvidia graphics processor.

Update: While the Tesla Roadster as we know it is on its way out, a Tesla Motors spokesperson tells us “a version” of it is coming back: “The Roadster will always be the cornerstone of Tesla, and we look forward to bringing back a version of the supercar that takes full advantage of our advanced electric powertrain in the next several years.”

Take a close-up look at the Model S, on which all of Tesla’s hopes are now pinned:


Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES





Tesla S at CES




Photos by Curtis Joe Walker

More About: electric cars, roadster discontinued, Tesla Model S, tesla motors, Tesla roadster

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June 09 2011

Google Offers Employees 30 More Electric Cars To Share [VIDEO]

Google has shored up its environmental bonafides by adding more than 30 electric vehicles to Gfleet, its employee car-sharing program. And it’s providing free charging for Googlers with electric cars.

Google is adding Nissan Leafs and Chevy Volts to its existing fleet, which are used for running errands and other activities. As the company explained in its Official Blog on Thursday, there were no electric vehicles on the market when Google launched its RechargeIt sustainability initiative in 2007. So, Google bought Toyota Priuses and Ford Escapes and had them retrofitted with A123 Hymotion batteries

The company now offers more than 200 chargers for electric vehicles at its Mountain View, California, Googleplex campus and plans to add 250 more soon. Google’s goal is to electrify 5% of its parking spaces. The company has about 23,000 employees, and most of them are stationed at the Googleplex.

Google calculates that it’s taking 2,000 cars off the road every day because of the charging program, Gfleet and its employee shuttle.

More About: Chevy Volt, electric cars, Google, Nissan Leaf, sustainability, Toyota Prius

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June 06 2011

7 Unique Eco-Friendly Company Transportation Alternatives


This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Sperm bikes, electric cars and biodiesels, oh my!

Converting your company’s transportation fleet to an environmentally friendly one can be a daunting and costly process, but oftentimes the change brings significant cost savings. Not only that, you’re helping preserve our planet, which is a noble cause not to be taken lightly.

These seven companies have introduced innovative ways to make their companies’ transportation more eco-friendly. Read on for more details and let us know about interesting alternatives you’ve seen around your neighborhood.


1. Nordisk Cryobank's Sperm Bike




Nordisk Cryobank, a European sperm bank, recently launched its "Sperm Bullitt," a sperm-shaped bicycle with a custom cooling system for transporting sperm samples to nearby fertility clinics.

The Sperm Bullitt is also a moving advertisement for the Copenhagen-based sperm bank. The website URL written on the side of the bike translates to "Become a sperm donor." Users visiting the website are greeted with information on how to get started with sperm donation.

The bike serves as an environmentally-friendly method of transporting sperm, as well as a way to attract new donors. We applaud the creative thinking that went behind this idea.

Image courtesy of European Sperm Bank


2. Gowalla's Employee Bikes




Gowalla CEO Josh Williams issues all employees Gowalla-branded bikes, complete with the employee's name painted on his or her bike.

Over half of all Gowalla employees use these bikes to travel to and from work every day. "The decision to do this was a way to both be eco-friendly and to promote Gowalla's mission of being active and exploring from inside the company as part of its culture," a company representative explains.

The bikes were created by Pro Cycle Works, an eco-conscious bicycle shop in Austin, Texas.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Keegan Jones


3. Scotts Valley Police Department's Electric Motorcycle




The Scotts Valley Police Department of Santa Cruz County, California, is the first police department in the United States to add an electric motorcycle to its fleet, according to a Zero Motorcycles representative.

Zero Motorcycles, a Santa Cruz-based electric motorcycle manufacturer, recently donated the Zero DS motorcycle to the police department.

With a top speed of approximately 67 MPH, the Zero DS isn't well suited for high speed chases. The Scotts Valley Police Department uses it for special events, such as a recent bicycling race fundraiser, where it made its first policing appearance.

Lieutenant John Hohmann explains that the motorcycle's small build makes it perfect for off-road patrolling, enabling the department to reach park and trail locations that it couldn't otherwise reach with its current cars and larger, gas-powered motorcycles. The department has uncovered marijuana groves in places it previously couldn't reach, for example.


4. Radio Taxis' Carbon Neutral Cars




Radio Taxis Group calls itself "the world's first carbon neutral taxi company."

With 2,500 traditional London black cabs, the company took the step several years ago to offset all of its carbon emissions. The offsets, purchased through The CarbonNeutral Company, allow for the funding of environmentally friendly projects around the world.

The company is audited every year on its emissions as part of its effort to reduce its carbon footprint. It has experienced cost savings in other areas as a result of going carbon neutral. "The more you save in emissions/electricity, the less you pay in offsets," explained a Radio Taxis Group representative.


5. Rent-A-Green Box's Delivery Truck




Rent-A-Green Box is an eco-friendly company with the mission "to change the way America packs and moves without trashing our planet."

The company's primary product is called the Recopack (Recycled Ecological Packing Solution). Crush- and tear-proof, these rentable green moving boxes are the center of Rent-A-Green Box's ecological solutions.

The company also prides itself on its entire green delivery system. Its delivery trucks use both waste vegetable oil and bio-fuel on a dual-tank system. Running on alternative fuels has helped the company reduce its CO2 emissions by up to 78%. The total cost savings from running on alternative fuels for the past 6 years exceeds $700,000, says Spencer Brown, founder and "chief tree hugger."

"We also use pure nitrogen air in our tires and aerodynamic cab air-flows and optimize our city engine idle settings to complement our delivery and pickup logistics to increase and maximize our gross fuel consumption," says Brown.

Image courtesy of Spencer Brown of Rent-A-Green Box


6. Einstein Bros. Bagels' Chevy Volt & Free Charging Station




Steve Reimer, an Einstein Bros. Bagels franchisee, opened up shop in Reno, Nevada, in December, making sure to install a free electric charging station. His business is the first to offer free electric vehicle charging to Renoites.

Reimer's shop also uses a Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle produced by Chevrolet, to complete all catering deliveries.

Reimer hopes to go completely electric in the near future. He has put an order in for the new Ford Transit Connect Electric, an all-electric, commercial van. "We thought the extra space and the ability to have the van wrapped with our restaurant name and with information that it is a fully electric vehicle would serve both deliveries and advertising efforts," says Reimer. "We are very excited about being a pioneer in the green initiatives of restaurants and catering."


7. Maine Root's Vegetable-Powered Diesels




Matt Seiler, co-founder of Maine Root, an all-natural, handcrafted soda company, decided to convert his Volkswagen Jetta into a biodiesel vehicle that would run on recycled fryer oil collected from local restaurants. With boat-making experience, Seiler had the mechanical know-how to convert the Jetta on his own.

Since those early days, Maine Root has added another biodiesel to its fleet. The Dodge Ram 12-valve Cummins Diesel (pictured above), is used for general deliveries and transportation to meetings with potential customers and events. It runs on a dual-tank system.

Mark Seiler, co-founder of Maine Root and brother of Matt Seiler, estimates that the company saves approximately $5,000 per year by operating on alternative fuels.

Let us know about your favorite innovative and eco-friendly company transportation alternatives in the comments below.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Keegan Jones

More About: biodiesel, business, carbon emissions, carbon footprint, carbon reduction, eco-friendly, Einstein Bros. Bagels, electric cars, gowalla, Maine Root, motorcycles, Nordisk Cryobank, Radio Taxis Group, Rent-A-Green Box, Scotts Valley Police Department, small business, sperm bike, taxis, transportation

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May 06 2011

Electric Jaguar Hits the Road in 2013 [PICS & VIDEO]


It wasn’t long ago when Jaguar presented its C-X75 electric supercar as a concept at the 2010 Paris Motor Show. Now the company says the car’s going into production, hitting the streets in 2013.

If you missed its rollout as a concept car, here’s a quick review: This thing is a monster. It’s a plug-in hybrid electric car that works like the Chevy Volt, running on electric power that’s replenished by a gasoline engine. But that’s where the similarity ends.

This road rocket has a 145kW electric motor on each wheel, powering it from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds with a top speed of at least 200 mph. According to Top Gear, those motors are expected to generate roughly 800 horsepower.

When it runs out of battery power (after traveling about 30 miles), the car’s batteries are recharged by a turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine. Unfortunately, the twin micro-jet engines that recharged the concept car didn’t quite make it into the production model, but Top Gear says, “the fiery cannons of goodness might make it into a later section of the production run.” See what the twin microturbines look like through the rear window in the gallery below.

Want one? The lowest estimated price we’ve seen for the Jaguar C-X75 is in the neighborhood of $1.1 million. Snap one up quick when 2013 rolls around, because Jaguar is only making 250 of them.


Shape From Above




See those microturbines peeking out the rear window?


Nice Kitty




Move over, here comes that electro-jag going 200 mph.


High/Behind POV




Looks like a flying saucer from this angle


Interior




For a million bucks+, this baby better have a good GPS on board.


Twin Turbines




These two micro-jet engines won't be in the car at first, but might appear in later production runs.


Doors Ajar




No gull-wings here, but watch Jay Leno open the doors in the video below.

And here’s what Jay Leno thought of the Electro-Jag:


Graphics courtesy Jaguar

More About: electric cars, Exotic, future, Jaguar C-X75

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April 26 2011

How Scooters Are Saving the Planet [INFOGRAPHIC]


Need to justify that gratuitous Vespa purchase? According to research from the Environmental Protection Agency, AAA and other sources, using scooters — even occasionally — can help reduce carbon emissions, save gasoline and increase worker productivity by stunning amounts.

For example, if U.S. cities were made more scooter friendly, we could save almost 4 billion gallons of gas annually by 2020 — and that means decreasing our dependence on foreign oil to $21.4 billion per year. The savings would also include 77.3 billion pounds of CO2 emissions each year.

The research was compiled into a friendly graphical presentation by the folks at VespaUSA (who clearly have an interest in promoting the economic and ecological benefits of the scooter) and Mint.com, Intuit’s personal finance app for consumers.

Click image to see the larger version.

Lead image courtesy of Flickr, lord enfield

More About: environment, green, infographic, mint, mint.com, scooter, scooters, vespa

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April 24 2011

Car of the Future Looks Like a Supersonic Road Rocket [GALLERY]



What will cars look like 10 years from now? Here’s one award-winning vision of the future from Serbian designer Marko Lukovic, showing a three-wheeled electric car that’s packed with futuristic technology.

Chosen as one of the winning projects among 1000 contestants worldwide, this concept car design was honored at the 10th Michelin Challenge Design 2011.

Lukovic calls his design “Supersonic,” and although the car won’t travel past the speed of sound, it looks like it could. Designed to resemble a supersonic aircraft, the car’s two back wheels each have an electric motor attached, driving the narrow, rocket-like vehicle that carries two people — a driver and one passenger — with one sitting in front of the other.

Designer Lukovic envisions a future where lithium-ion batteries are much smaller, compact enough to remove from the vehicle and take with you, charging them inside the home or office just as you do with your cellphones now. And check out that glass on the top and sides — it’s a photosensitive liquid crystal canopy with adjustable transparency for filtering bright sunlight or prying eyes.

One of our favorite features is the autonomous ability to drive itself that Lukovic calls “automatic pilot (driver) mode,” a capability we’re thinking will be commonplace 10 years from now. In that case, maybe the driver’s seat could swivel around to face the passenger seat, where the car’s two occupants could enjoy their morning coffee and quiet conversation while reading their tablets on the way to work.

So this is how we’re going to get around the year 2021? Let’s hope so. Check out the gallery below and let us know if you think this is an accurate vision of the future or a pipe dream.


Hop In!




The canopy opens from the front.


Instrument Panel




Controls are mounted on a thick stalk that projects into your lap. Maybe it'll be retractable when you place the car in autopilot mode.


Bristling with Electronics




Check out that photosensitive glass, already available today but not quite cost-effective enough for ordinary cars. Yet.


Tandem Seating




The car's narrow design is more aerodynamic, necessitating this single-file seating arrangement.


Badass Silhouette




It vaguely resembles those "streamlined" locomotives from the art deco era.


LED Lights




Stunning looks.


3-Wheeler




Could this be the electro-tryke of the future?

Graphics courtesy Marko Lukovic

More About: cars, Design Concepts, electric cars, Marko Lukovic, road rocket, supersonic

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April 21 2011

Nissan Leaf Becomes First Electric Car To Win Global Auto Prize


The Nissan Leaf won the 2011 World Car of the Year award at the New York International Auto Show, beating out the short list of three finalists — the Audi A8 and the BMW 5 Series. The Leaf was the first electric vehicle to win the award.

According to the jurors, Nissan‘s electric car has a lot going for it:

“The Leaf is the gateway to a brave new electric world from Nissan. This 5-seater, 5-door hatchback is the world’s first, purpose-built, mass-produced electric car. Dropped onto a unique platform and body, the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery modules and electric motor generate 108hp and 206 lb ft of torque, propelling the hatch from zero to 60mph in 11.5 seconds and a top speed of 90mph. It has a range of over 100 miles on a full charge (claims Nissan), takes around 8 hours to recharge using 220-240V power supply and produces zero tailpipe emissions. Its low center of gravity produced sharp turn-in with almost no body roll and no understeer. The good news? It feels just like a normal car, only quieter.”

We think another reason the Leaf deserves the New York International Auto Show‘s World Car of the Year award is because of its Carwings system that leverages crowdsourcing to enhance its fuel economy.

What happened to the Chevy Volt, which costs $8,200 more than the $32,780 Nissan Leaf? It was still deemed cool enough to win the Green Car of the Year award at that same auto show.

We’ve driven the Volt and, as the jurors said about the Nissan Leaf, the Volt feels like a normal car, too. What really makes it feel normal is after you’ve run down its batteries, its gasoline engine allows it to keep going for just as many miles as conventional vehicles.

More About: Chevy Volt, electric cars, ev, Nissan Leaf, world car of the year award

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February 21 2011

BMW Launches New, Green Sub-Brand & Tech Venture Fund


BMW is establishing a new, sustainability-focused sub-brand, and along with it, a venture capital fund for finding and helping the best and brightest tech startups in the fields of mobility and travel.

The sub-brand, called BMW i, is designed to integrate the not-so-disparate concepts of luxury and sustainability and has launched with the tagline “Born electric.” The brand will include concepts the company has worked on since 2007, including alternative drive trains that feature electric and hybrid power.

And of course, the brand will continue to focus on driving performance, a core tenet of its history and provenance. For example, the company says of its electric engines, which can easy spin up to 12,000 RPMs “without strain… the entire torque of the electric motor is available from a standing start, and you can accelerate right up to maximum speed without any interruption. This makes vehicles with electric engines extremely agile and a joy to drive.”

Additionally, the information-driven side of BMW cars, such as ConnectedDrive, is expected to see significant improvements in the i brand. Look out for parking spot finders, local information and premium car-sharing tools.

The first two i cars, the electric, city-driving i3 and the sporty, hybrid i8, should enter production in 2013. Here’s a deliberately vague look at the concepts for both cars, courtesy of BWM i:

Meanwhile, BMW i Ventures, a VC fund with $100 million to spread around among early- and mid-stage mobility and travel tech startups, has already launched in New York City. The fund will help supplement the BMW Group’s current mobility offerings with new tech from new companies.

The fund’s first investment target was MyCityWay, a suite of location-aware apps for urban navigation. The terms of the deal are unknown.

BMW i Ventures is currently seeking other startups with great ideas about mobile, location, and travel technologies; the fund is accepting applications now.

More About: BMW, electric cars, hybrid, startups, venture capital

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February 18 2011

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