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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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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.

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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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Honda Accord’s family of fuel-efficient models win Green Car of the Year Award

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Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Automobile Operations at American Honda and the 2014 Honda Accord.

The Honda Accord is the 2014 Green Car of the Year.

In fact, it’s not just one model of the ever-popular Accord that wins the award — it’s the family of three, four-cylinder, fuel-efficient Accords.

LOS ANGELES — The 2014 Honda Accord, America’s top-selling car with retail car customers, has been named the “2014 Green Car of the Year” by Green Car Journal. The award recognizes the class-leading environmental performance of the Accord family of vehicles, including the fuel-efficient and low emissions Accord 4-cylinder and V-6 Coupe and Sedan, the EPA-rated 50 mpg city Accord Hybrid and the EPA-rated 115 MPGe combined Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

“Led by the 2014 Accord Hybrid, the entire Accord lineup really embodies the promise of the Honda brand to deliver both fun-to-drive enjoyment and outstanding fuel efficiency at the highest level,” said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Automobile Operations at American Honda. “I want to say thank you to Green Car Journal, not just for honoring Accord, but for shining a spotlight on the environment and our shared vision for an ultra-low carbon future.”

2014 Green Car of the Year jurors selected the Accord as the winning model for many reasons, not the least of which is its ability to offer an efficient choice for a wide range of buyers, from those seeking better fuel efficiency in a conventionally powered model to those desiring the milestone efficiency of a world-class hybrid or plug-in hybrid. In addition to the “Green Car of the Year” honor, the Accord was earlier honored as one of Green Car Journal’s ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2014’ and additionally earned the magazine’s ‘Green Car Product of Excellence’ distinction.

The 2014 Accord is the second Honda brand vehicle named as “Green Car of the Year” in the past three years, joining the 2012 Civic Natural Gas, which netted the distinction in 2011.

According to Accavitti, winning the Green Car of the Year Award signals a new era at Honda that focuses on a broad range of alternative technology.

“What you’re seeing at Honda is a development and innovation of our hybrid technology.

“We are one of the only manufacturers that have . . . a natural gas car, a battery car, a plug-in car, three different types of hybrids and an internal combustion car. ”

We have the one-motor system that we offer now in our Insight and the brand new two-motor system that we offer in the Accord Hybrid, again delivering great fuel efficiency. It’s a different, new solution and I encourage you to learn more about the Accord Hybrid because it’s not what the other guys’ got. It’s a new solution that enables us to achieve best-in-class fuel economy.”

But that doesn’t mean Honda is focused on just hybrid technology, said Accavitti.

2014 Honda Accord group.

The Honda Accord family includes fuel efficient 4-cylinder and 6-clyinder models, a 4-cylinder gas/electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid sedan.

“We showed yesterday that our vision for the future is fuel cell technology, but we are not hanging our hat on just one specific technology,” he explained. “At Honda, we have a portfolio of alternative fuel technologies that we are developing right now. We are one of the only manufacturers that have, on the road now, a natural gas car, a battery car, a plug-in car, three different types of hybrids and an internal combustion car. So we feel that wherever the market goes we will be in a real good position to take advantage of it.”

The 2014 Honda Accord lineup features Honda’s innovative Earth Dreams Technology powertrains, including Honda’s next-generation 2.4-liter, direct-injected 4-cylinder engine with continuously variable transmission or 6-speed manual transmission. The Accord Plug-In, with an 115 MPGe combined EPA fuel-economy rating, and the Accord Hybrid Sedan, with a class-leading 50 mpg EPA city fuel-economy rating, are powered an all-new highly efficient Atkinson cycle engine and two-motor hybrid system2. Fuel efficiency is the best ever for Accord in the EPA Midsize class, with 4-cylinder models earning a 36 mpg highway EPA rating and the V-6 models garnering a 34 mpg highway EPA rating.

In addition to fuel economy ratings leadership, the Accord has continually led the industry in meeting strict emissions standards. The Accord Plug-In is the first vehicle to achieve SULEV 20 emissions standards, with the lowest tailpipe emissions of any ICE vehicle currently available. Additionally the Accord was the first vehicle to meet ULEV (1998) and SULEV (2000) emissions standards.

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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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