Archive for December, 2011

The sun is his gas station


Here’s a great example of how we can turn the tide toward totally sustainable transportation:

Sun powers Orlando man’s electric car

In fact, the story’s headline headline is somewhat misleading. The Chevrolet Volt has an electric motor that is powered by a gasoline generator, so it’s really a hybrid. Still a great car, but not fully electric.

If Bob wants to have true solar-powered transportation, he should look into a Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi MiEV or Coda sedan. Those are true electric vehicles available on the market today.

Here’s a look at the nine electric vehicles coming to the U.S. in 2012.


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Kia’s new EV — short range, cool name

Kia has revealed its first electric vehicle — the Kia Ray EV. They call it a city car because it has a range of only 86 miles on a charge, which is plenty for around-town driving.

It’s currently only available in Korea, but could be a glimpse of things to come in the U.S. as well.

One of the novel features of the new Kia Ray EV is a navigation system that will guide the driver to the nearest electric charging stations.

The Ray EV also has a navigation system specially designed for electric vehicles, with a 7-inch screen that and provides information that is important to EV drivers, like the location of the nearest charging stations. The display also shows a circular area representing the vehicle’s range, so drivers can see which destinations they can reach without recharging the battery.

Read the full report from the Wall Street Journal here.


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Here’s a real green car — and it gets decent mileage too!

Mazda has been rolling out some pretty exciting and creatively designed vehicles these days . . . many featuring the most uncreative names. You’ll find the Mazda 3, Mazda 5, and Mazda 6 (all totally different models), and don’t forget the CX family of CX-5, 7 and CX-9. And then there’s the Mazda Miata MX-5 . . .

But rest assured that once you figure out the naming issues, you will have no confusion recognizing the quality and performance that is truly Mazda’s middle name.

This tasty little temptation is the 2012 Mazda 2, a sporty hatchback that scoots around with spunk fueled by a very nimble four-cylinder engine producing up to 100 horsepower. Those numbers are timid compared to others on the road, but then how many of those can claim a top fuel mileage of up to 35 miles per gallon?

And while small, the hatchback and folding seats provide plenty of space for active families who want to get out on the road with sports gear handy for whatever adventure ensues.

Everything about the Mazda 2 is fun — even the front end looks like it is smiling.

Check out this quick video review:

2012 Mazda2 — Fun and efficient

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Prius’ popularity prompts 2-4 percent price increase

Toyota announced today the pricing for the 2012 Toyota Prius lineup and the 2012 RAV4.

While the prices for the RAV4 show a minimal increase from 2011 — and a decrease in some models — the Prius pricing shows a moderate increase across all models of the hugely popular hybrid.

With over one million units sold in the U.S. alone, the midsize Prius Liftback has helped Toyota’s Prius brand become the most popular hybrid vehicle nameplate by offering consumers the most proven hybrid technology available.
In 2012, the Prius Liftback will be joined in the showroom by other members of the Prius Family; the versatile Prius v, the Prius Plug-in Hybrid, and the subcompact Prius c.
The Prius Liftback receives updates and enhancements to its available content for the 2012 model year. The 2012 Prius Liftback MSRP ranges from $24,000 for the Prius Two model to $29,805 for Prius Five, reflecting a price increase ranging from 2.0 percent to 4.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the RAV4 compact SUV shows a slight price reduction in some models.

The Toyota RAV4 is offered in three distinct grades – RAV4 grade, Sport and top-of-the-line Limited – and with a choice between the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or a 269 horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Each engine can be teamed with either front-wheel drive or electronic on-demand four-wheel-drive. The roomy RAV4 offers optional third-row seating on RAV4 and Limited grade models.
The 2012 RAV4 receives an overall price increase of $100, or 0.4 percent, with some models receiving a price decrease, helping the RAV4 retain its excellent value. The base MSRP will range from $22,650 for the RAV4 four-cylinder 2WD model with a four-speed automatic transmission to $28,650 for the Limited V6 4WD model with a five-speed automatic transmission.

Read Toyota’s full press release, with pricing table, here.

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New plug-in hybrid coming from Ford

Ford has announced that it is developing a pair of new hybrids under the C-Max model label. One will be a plug-in hybrid, the other a traditional gas-electric hybrid, and both will complement the introduction of the all-electric Ford Focus and Transit Connect.

Here’s the story from Michael Kanellos of

Ford Trots Out Electric Focus, Promises Its Hybrids Will Trump Toyota, GM

Ford Motor Company won’t be the first automaker to release a plug-in hybrid, but it claims it has worked out more of the kinks in the concept than Toyota or General Motors.

Next year, Ford will release two new hybrids–the C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid–to complement the all-electric Ford Focus that has just started to roll off the lines at the Michigan Assembly Plant.

The company claims that both hybrids will get better mileage than, respectively, the Toyota Prius and the Toyota Prius Plug-in and provide advantages over the Chevy Volt. The electric Focus, meanwhile, gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, although, of course, it doesn’t consume fuel.

The all-electric Focus, new hybrids, and other developments (Ford also has an new, unnamed electric likely coming in 2013) all underscore the dominant theme at the automaker for the past several years: cutting fuel. Even before President Obama unfurled the new U.S. goal of raising the average mileage for new light trucks and cars to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, Ford was already turning in the direction of saving energy. (There’s more with the Forbes chat with Bill Ford here.)

Read the rest of the story here.

We got a chuckle reading the last line of Michael’s story, in which Ford is quick to point out the differences in Ford’s battery pack from those of GM’s Chevrolet Volt that have had some technical issues (fire) in recent months.

(Kapp also noted that while Ford and GM both get their battery cells from the same supplier, the battery packs are different. Thus, you can’t extrapolate the Volt flames onto Ford.)

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Hawaii welcomes first all-electric Mitsubishi i

The Mitsubishi i, an all-electric vehicle just hitting the market, landed on the shores of Hawaii today as the very first customer retail delivery took place on the island of Ohau. You gotta hand it to the Mitsubishi PR team, they know how to do a great photo-op! Here’s the gist:

Mitsubishi Motors, Governor of Hawaii and Cutter Mitsubishi Hand Over Keys to First 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Retail Customer

HONOLULU, Dec. 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Representatives from Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA), along with the Honorable Neil Abercrombie, Governor of Hawaii, and personnel from Cutter Mitsubishi of Aiea, Hawaii, made the very first customer retail delivery of the 100% electric-powered 2012 Mitsubishi i featuring Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle (MiEV) technology in a formal ceremony today at the historic Hawaii State Capitol Building in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Bryson and Bridget Nishimura of Waipahu, Hawaii.


“We purchased the 2012 Mitsubishi i primarily to save on gas – we currently spend about $70.00 a week on fuel. But it should cost us only around $3.00 for a full charge of electricity – that’s going to be a great savings for us! Long-term, the Mitsubishi i should save us at least $3,000 a year,” said Mr. Nishimura, retired from a career with Hawaiian Telephone.

“I think the car is so cute,” Mrs. Nishimura added enthusiastically. “Plus, I like that it’s roomy and it’s a hatchback. It’s going to be so good for the earth – we’re both way on board with it. And Cutter Mitsubishi has been great to work with, too.”

Here’s the rest of the news release.

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E cars pose powerful problems for mechanics

In today’s Sacramento Bee, auto writer Mark Glover covers the challenges that conventional auto mechanics face as new electric vehicles start showing up in their garages.

Those electric vehicles popping up in driveways all over California look a lot like their gas-powered cousins. But under the hood, they’re different machines, and their potential problems are foreign to many drivers and mechanics alike.

In California, the nation’s No. 1 market for sales of hybrids and EVs, the stakes are potentially huge.Jesse Toprak, an analyst for the Santa Monica-based, noted California’s “sheer numbers” of people, along with its “concentration of early adopters in terms of technology and environmentally friendly purchasers.”

A report released last week by San Francisco-based nonprofit Next 10 said California attracted global investments totaling $467 million in electric vehicle-related sectors in the first half of this year. In all of 2010, investments totaled $840 million.

From 1995 to 2010, Next 10 said, electric vehicle industry jobs in California went from 740 to 1,800. That growth is expected to continue. Next 10’s study showed California and Michigan in a tie for EV technology patents, both generating 300 from 2008-10.

The report flatly states: “California is leading the nation in the growing electric vehicle industry.”

The story goes on to say that mechanics are facing an educational challenge in learning how to work on the new e-car technology.

Rising EV numbers have created challenges in the vehicle repair/service industry.

“It’s a huge challenge,” said Doug Brauner, the “Car Czar” TV/radio host who’s also a certified mechanic and runs auto shops in Sacramento and Citrus Heights. “We’re just now after all of these years seeing an acceptable number of techs that have the appropriate amount of hybrid training.”

When it comes to fully electric vehicles, he said, “I have yet to see anybody in this marketplace who has received appropriate and reasonable training.”

Brauner said the auto service industry was “slow to react to hybrid training. I hope our industry is a little more proactive” with EVs.

Read more: Sacramento Bee

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