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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Soul EV Like ‘Sugar High’ Says Carguy Keith Re: Electric Vehicle from Kia


By Carguy – Keith Turner

I love the car. The vehicle is a joy to drive.

The Soul EV zips around town like a child on a sugar high.

Unfortunately, coming down from a sugar high can be bad news, as is searching for a location to charge an EV during my daily driving. Because I live in an apartment complex, there is virtually no way for me to link the EV into an electric outlet. And even if there was, who would be paying for and regulating that electricity?

Driving an EV these early days of EV charging equipment availability, one is forced to search for open charging stations on or hopefully near one’s path.

If this were a conventional gas-burning vehicle, like its Soul sister, I wouldn’t have to worry about re-fueling for some 400-plus miles.

But the top range for the Kia Soul EV is 93 miles on a charge, and that goes faster than you might think. Especially when you include in the stress factor of not knowing where you will be when you clock down to your final kilowatts of range.

These were my Top 5 thoughts during my entire week driving the EV:

• How much range (miles) do I have?

• Where is the nearest charging station?

• Is it available?

• How much time do I need to kill waiting for it to charge?

• Why can’t I just pull into a gas station to fill up?

These thoughts definitely raised my stress needle beyond what I usually feel during daily driving.

Here are some impressionistic highlights of my week in search of electrons:

1) Having been delivered the EV with only 20 miles range left, I immediately began looking around for public charging stations and found about 10 at the Sacramento International Airport, just about four miles away. I found them in the airport’s five level parking garage and each and every one of them was spoken for by various models of EVs including the Nissan Leaf, Ford C-Max, Tesla S, and even a Chevrolet Volt, which has its own gasoline engine as a back-up.

So I scrambled around the entire parking lot and finally I created some space in a “no parking zone” right next to a silver Leaf that was suckling on the teet of an electric charger. Then, in an act of desperation, I unplugged the silver Leaf and plugged the charger into my blue Soul.

Then, I sat in my Soul EV in the no parking zone for about three hours, when it was charged enough for me to feel safe continuing my commute. Then, I plugged the charger back into the Leaf, knowing that it should be fully charged by the time that the owners returned from their travels.

2) Finding a charging station directly across from my workplace. It’s dead. Internet comments show that the charging station has been dead for years. Calls to the help line listed on the station went to a full voice mail box.

3) Charting my day around being able to charge at one of several stations in the gold rush town of Auburn, California, but finding that the stations required one to have previously registered on a website, and then downloaded a mobile app. I had done none of that in advance, so I called the number of the station and got a recording. The second number I called gave me a charming administrative lady who was very understanding of my plight, but had no additional information to provide — she just worked for one of the businesses in the corporate business park where the chargers were located.

I gave up on that location and found another just a few blocks away that was both available and free. I spent about three hours taking care of errands and having lunch with my daughter and walked back to my fully-charged Soul EV.

I found some stations in various plubic places, such as a Walgreens parking lot; the historic Colfax railroad station, and in the parking lot of Sacramento’s Arden Fair Mall, where a sign urges parking and charging for a maximum of four hours – long enough to shop or have dinner, but not monopolizing the charger for well over your need.

The Kia Soul’s ability to scope out charging stations is based in a touchscreen system that provides data about battery percentage and range, plus lists all the nearby charging stations providing turn-by-turn navigation to the hallowed ground of electrical regeneration.

All of which is very cool.

As will be the day when many more chargers are readily and conveniently available.

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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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No new EVs were uncloaked, but a dozen existing electric vehicles were revealed

We were surprised that there weren’t any big new EV announcements at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, but that doesn’t mean there were no electric vehicles around. Existing EVs seemed to abound.

EVs were found in the AFTERMARKET area, where they were revealed to be in service at the Los Angeles Department of Water (LADWP) connected to an EATON charger, and also were discovered at the Automobile Association of America (AAA), which is also mobilizing emergency charging roadside service vehicles.

EVs were located in the show’s exhibition halls, where they were integrated into auto maker line-ups after already being introduced at previous shows. These included the smart EV, the VW e-golf, and a couple fun Toyota personal mobility EV concepts for the near future.

The EVs were also found in the parking lots, where we discovered the Ford Fusion energi charging at a blink charger.

EVs seem to be on the road to becoming almost as ubiquitous as hybrids are these days, even though no new EVs were heralded at the LA Auto Show.

And which vehicle was the 2014 Green Car of the Year at the show?

Though we don’t want to spoil the end of the video for you, its name is the combination of only one letter and a number less than 10.

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Luxurious e-cars take the high road toward sustainability

Tesla S Ocean white

2015 Tesla S

When researching electric vehicles, today’s eco-friendly minded shopper will find a cornucopia of choices on the market, ranging compact, golf cart-sized cars to mid-sized SUVs.

In fact, there are currently dozens of automakers featuring electric – or electrified – models in their lineups, with styles and options to fit just about any taste. Over the past decade hybrid vehicles have been paving the way by combining gasoline engines with electric motors to extend a car’s fuel mileage without sacrificing distance traveled between fill-ups.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt

Today, nearly every automaker features a hybrid model in its lineup, with many achieving an impressive 40-50 miles per gallon of gas. Plug-in hybrids, such as the Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in, Porsche Panamera and others, extend that range even further by running on electric-only charge for a short distance – such as driving around town – before the gasoline engine kicks in for longer distances.

But true electric vehicles take the technology a step farther. E-cars rely solely on electricity for power, with no gasoline needed at all. They are charged through electrical outlets – at home or at commercial charging stations – and store the power in batteries built into the vehicle. The battery technology is rapidly developing to be able to provide a longer lasting charge without adding hundreds of pounds of weight to the vehicle.

When it comes to range – the distance that the car travels on a single battery charge – most of today’s electric vehicles are achieving approximately 80-100 miles per change, making them great for around town driving and short commutes. But longer trips – like weekend getaways to Palm Springs or Mammoth Mountain – are virtually out of the question for most e-cars because a mid-trip recharge would be required.

Tesla Model S
There is, however, one e-car automaker that stands out from the crowd when it comes to battery range. Tesla, headed by billionaire visionary and entrepreneur Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and current CEO of SpaceX, is way ahead of the competition.

Tesla interior

Stunning interior of the Tesla S

The Tesla Model S, a luxuriously appointed sedan, is creating a clear case of “range envy” among other e-car makers. With its own, proprietary battery design and rapidly expanding fast charging network, Tesla has achieved a range of 265 miles per charge and a super re-charging time from empty to full in about 20 minutes. This means you can travel from San Diego to Santa Barbara and still have enough battery life left to go shopping and out to dinner before the need to re-charge.

In addition, Tesla’s next car, the P85D, will have two motors and all-wheel drive, giving it rocket-like quickness off the starting line, equal to the McLaren F1 and a slightly farther driving range of 275 miles per charge over the current rear-wheel-drive Model S. For those who prefer safety over high performance, the new Tesla Model S will have an “auto-pilot” feature that allows the car to automatically avoid danger and come close to driving itself. (Starting MSRP: $71,070 to $120,170).

BMW i3
The maker of the “ultimate driving machine” has been flirting with electric power for quite some time, and finally is delivering the all-new BMW i3 hatchback that boasts 170 horsepower and a range of up to 110 miles on an electric charge.


BMW i3

The i3 is a brand new model to the BMW family sporting a unique design that is sure to turn heads in any parking lot. The sensually curved hatchback is so striking that it collected two of the most prestigious international awards soon after its market launch: the World Car Design of the Year Award as well as the World Green Car Award for 2014.

And while the i3 can be recharged in just about 3.5 hours, BMW recently added a range extender motor option for 2015, a two-gallon on-board gasoline motorcycle engine that kicks in to assist in recharging the batter when it hits a certain (low) level. This option extends the range of the i3 to about 150 miles before a full re-charge is needed. (Starting MSRP: $41,350; rage extender: $3,950). Check out our test drive video here.

Mercedes B-Class Electric

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric
For those desiring to include a second e-vehicle to their garage, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive fills the need for an efficient around town commuter, perfect for dropping the kids off at school, trips to the golf course or shopping with friends, all without sipping a single drop of gasoline. The B-Class, which rolls into limited U.S. markets in 2015, is a practical, yet luxurious five-door crossover that can accommodate people and packages as well as any small SUV, yet can travel up to 85 miles on a single charge.

Inside, the B-Class is all Mercedes with premium features befitting a Benz, including hand-finished leather and wood, driving assists that watch your blind spot, prevent collisions and even allow you to park your car hands-free. (Starting MSRP: $41,450)

2015 Soul EV

2015 Kia Soul EV

Other fully-electric cars currently on the market include the Kia Soul EV, Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Electric, Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda Fit EV, and the Volkswagen E-Golf. All of these models achieve between 80-100 miles per battery charge, making them best for short-to-medium commutes and daily driving duties. If your needs carry you further afield, then you might want to consider a plug-in hybrid.

So pack up your bags and hit the road, and be sure to smile as you watch your last gas station fade into the past. Go electric!

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Lexus NX 300h – Hybrid with “Kickdown”

The Lexus NX 300h hybrid version features a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gas engine with a new automatic transmission and E-Four proactive all-weather drive system and a kickdown feature (to place the transmission into a lower gear) for improved mileage. Marking the sixth – count ’em SIX – hybrid in the Lexus lineup, the NX 300h uses an electric motor to drive the rear axle while the front axle is propelled by either gasoline, electric or a mixture of both for optimum power and performance.

The E-Four saves energy and fuel by only using the all-wheel drive when needed. By sensing when there is a loss of traction of the front wheels, the system reduces the electric power to the traction motor in the transaxle and increases the supply to the motor in the rear axle. In addition, the rear motor acts as a generator when the NX is in regenerative braking mode, increasing the amount of kinetic energy recovered.

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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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