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Falcon Wings give flight to all-electric Tesla X

TeslaX.Nov.15The long-awaited and highly anticipated Tesla X, an all-electric SUV was recently unveiled and even though it offers a range of 240 miles per full battery charge and top speed of 155 mph the most impressive part of the car is the fact that it has wings . . . “Falcon Wings.”

The wings open up (not out) to provide easy access to the two rear rows of seats.

Here’s a look at the new Tesla X in our article starting on P. 34 in the November issue of FINE Magazine:

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Bio-based diesel fuel now pumping at Northern California gas stations

SACRAMENTO, CA — Clean, bio-based diesel is now available at the pump in 17 gas stations across Northern California following Wednesday’s first-fueling launch of “Diesel HPR” at a downtown Sacramento gas station.

The High Performance Renewal (HPR) fuel is low carbon diesel fuel that is created using Neste Oil’s NEXTBTL renewable diesel that meet petroleum specifications for use in all diesel engines.

Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels, pumps the first tank of low carbon diesel fuel.

Rob Elam, CEO of Propel Fuels, pumps the first tank of low carbon diesel fuel.

The fuel is bio-based – yet does not contain biodiesel – and is devised from fish and vegetable oils and animal fat that is sustainably produced, yet includes one percent diesel fuel in order to meet regulatory standards. Production of the fuel takes place in Singapore before it is imported to California, where it is destined to help the state meet its low carbon fuel standards.

The result is a clear liquid that resembles clean water, yet produces better performance and dramatically lower emissions than conventional diesel fuel including significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, NOx emissions and particulates (PM).

The new HPR fuel will now be available to all owners of diesel vehicles at Propel Fuel stations in Sacramento, Fresno and the Bay Area.

Watch the video here.

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Chevrolet Volts surpass half a billion electric miles

2014 Chevrolet VoltWhile General Motors may be experiencing some major issues in other areas of its auto manufacturing programs, the Chevrolet Volt has been cruising along in gas-assisted electric mode for nearly four years and is exceeding customer expectations.

Today GM announced that owners of the Volt have surpassed more than a half a billion miles driving in all-electric mode.

Here’s the announcement from GM:

After 30 months of use, a sampling of Volts shows consistent all-electric range

DETROIT – Since its launch in late 2010, Chevrolet Volt owners have accumulated more than half a billion all-electric miles.

Additionally, based on a General Motors’ study of more than 300 Volts in service in California for more than 30 months, many owners are exceeding the EPA-rated label of 35 miles of EV range per full charge, with about 15 percent surpassing 40 miles of range.

“The fact that most of the folks who purchased the Volt at launch are still enjoying EV range performance on target with when they took delivery is testament to the attention to detail our team paid to delivering on our promise of most people driving all electrically most of the time,” said Pam Fletcher, Chevrolet Volt executive chief engineer.

2014 Chevrolet Volt-Volt owners are doing more than 63 percent of their overall driving in EV mode. While the driving range in EV mode can be greatly impacted by temperature, driving technique and terrain, the ease with which Volt drivers are avoiding gasoline use further shows the Volt’s suitability for almost any lifestyle.

Volt owners who charge regularly typically drive more than 970 miles between fill-ups and visit the gas station less than once a month. The 2014 Volt provides owners with fuel economy of EPA estimated 98 MPGe (electric) and 35 city/40 highway on gasoline power, saving $1,450 in annual fuel costs with no change in daily driving habits.

In an independent study conducted between July and December 2013, Volt drivers who participated in the Department of Energy’s EV Project managed by Idaho National Labs totaled 1,198,114 vehicle trips of which 974,692, or 81.4 percent, were completed without the gasoline-powered generator being used.

Since the Volt was launched in 2010, owners have helped to reduce gasoline consumption by more than 25 million gallons, the equivalent of no gasoline being used in Washington D.C. for 2½ months.

The Volt continues to attract new buyers to Chevrolet with 69 percent of Volt buyers new to GM. The Toyota Prius is the most frequently traded-in vehicle for a Volt.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Honda installs advanced fast-fill hydrogen refueling station

Honda Next Generation Hydrogen StationHonda has repeatedly said that fuel-cell vehicles are the wave of the future for alternative fuel transportation. Now, after introducing the FCEV Concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, the company is paving the way with fast-fill hydrogen fueling stations.

Here’s one just announced for Torrance, CA.

Honda Media Newsroom – Headlines – Honda R&D Installs Advanced Fast-Fill Hydrogen Refueling Station.

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Volvo introduces “Drive-E” for efficiency and future electrification

At first glance, one might think that Volvo’s new “Drive-E” powertrains mean that the Swedish carmaker is rolling out a fleet of pure electric vehicles. But that is not the case. In fact, the “E” in Drive-E stands for efficiency – as in better fuel mileage with fewer emissions — but not through the use of electrified motors.

Not yet, at least.

We went to the Nevada desert oasis of Las Vegas, which knows a thing or two about electricity, to learn about what Volvo calls its “60 cluster” of car models: the S60 sedan, V60 sport wagon and XC60 crossover, all of which in 2015 will feature a choice of two Drive-E engines with a dizzying array of all-wheel-drive and front-wheel drive choices and horsepower.

Here’s how Volvo explains it:

“Two gasoline Drive-E engines are offered in the United States, a 240 horsepower version and a higher performance 302 horsepower version. In the United States, Volvo will continue to offer its current lineup of AWD powertrains, along with DriveE, currently front drive only. As a result, U.S. customers can choose between the new engines and some current engines until Volvo transitions solely to DriveE. DriveE powertrains efficiently deliver performance that was once only thought possible with six or eight cylinders.

Those possibilities will further expand in the future when the Drive-E engines are teamed with electrification. The first model to offer this combination will be the all new Volvo XC90 plug-in
hybrid.

The smaller, lighter engines — by nearly 100 pounds on the higher performance engine — also offer considerably lower emissions and higher fuel economy savings (240 horsepower and 37 mpg highway) — ranging from 13 to 26 percent depending on the engine to which they are compared.”

So there you have it, the Drive-E powertrains are lighter, smaller and more efficient than previous Volvo engines, and are designed to be electrified in future models, with the XC90 plug-in hybrid coming first. For the 2015 “60 cluster” a T6 engine will offer a turbo only or turbo and supercharger to increase air flow through the engine, giving it 302 horsepower. The mechanically linked supercharger compressor starts to function immediately at low revs while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up.

Another Drive-E benefit is a new ECO+ fuel-saving function that when activated by the driver can improve fuel economy by five percent, depending on driving style, temperate and climate. ECO+ features a start/stop function, ECO coast that disengages the engine “brake” to enable the vehicle to coast at idle when the accelerator is released; and ECO climate that disconnects the air conditioning to reduce the energy load on the engine.

All of these Drive-E attributes translate into estimated fuel averages of up to 37 mpg on the highway (29 mpg combined) in the front-drive V60, which starts at $33,300.
Here’s how the entire “60 cluster” models line up:
Model MSRP City / Highway Combined

S60
S60 T5 DriveE FWD $33,300 25 / 37 29

S60 T5 AWD $34,800 20 / 29 23

S60 T6 DriveE FWD $38,150 24 / 35 28

S60 T6 RDesign AWD $42,700 19 / 28 22

V60
V60 T5 DriveE FWD $35,300 25 / 37 29

V60 T5 AWD $36,800 20 / 29 23

S60 T6 RDesign AWD $44,300 19 / 28 22

XC60
XC60 T5 DriveE FWD $35,750 24 / 31 27

XC60 3.2 AWD $37,250 18 / 25 20

XC60 T6 DriveE FWD $40,050 22 / 30 25

XC60 T6 AWD $41,550 17 / 24 20

S60 T6 RDesign AWD $45,800 17 / 24 20

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Mitsubishi drops price on all-electric i-MiEV

2014Mitsubishi i-MiEVSo you think that electric cars are too expense? Think again!

Mitsubishi just announced that the 2014 version of it’s all-electric i-MiEV will cost just over $15,000 with all the rebates and federal tax incentives figured in.

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV Cheaper And Better Equipped – HybridCars.com.

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Scion iQ is small in stature, but brings big benefits

2012ScionIQ015.OceanA recent story in Green Car Reports provides a hint that Toyota may be considering dropping the Scion iQ mini subcompact due to lack of sales. This report came out just as we were testing the 2013 Scion iQ, and as our review shows, we were very impressed. The fact that the Scion iQ actually has a back seat that holds people and/or cargo makes us believe that it could certainly hold its ground against the Smart FourTwo — its direct competition.

Here’s our review and video.

When a couple of cousins who are six-feet-tall plus get together to review the diminutive Scion iQ, you’d expect some wisecracks about how it might be better suited for short folk and Smurfs. But the Family Car cousins came away genuinely impressed by the roominess of Toyota’s micro sub-compact sedan.

Thanks to its uniquely designed interior, the Scion iQ is able to fit an adult in the rear seat behind the passenger, while a child, pet or small package can fit in the rear seat behind the driver.

That’s right, there’s a rear seat in this spunky runabout and it folds down completely flat to provide ample cargo space. Rear leg room and space for stuff too? The iQ may look compact, but it’s big on versatility.

The four-cylinder, 1.3-liter engine is plenty powerful for this little pup, and fuel mileage is a combined 37 mpg. Not bad for a daily commuter and shopping hopper.

The 2013 Scion iQ is priced at $15,495 to start.

The iQ is also available in a battery-electric version — the Scion iQ EV — a four-seater that is designed for car-sharing programs, in urban and campus environments.

As Americans continue to search for smarter transportation choices, it would be a shame to discontinue vehicles like the Scion iQ before they even are given a chance to succeed. Even a Smurf deserves a second chance.

Here’s the video:

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