Category: Green

By on August 10, 2017

2015 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited

Screenshots of preliminary information added to the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealer network computer system suggest the next-generation Jeep Wrangler, due for a late-November reveal, breaks with tradition in more than a few ways. The largest break involves how the 2018 Wrangler puts its power down to all four wheels.

The dealer system images, shared by JL Wrangler Forums, show the Wrangler adopting a Selec-Trac full-time four-wheel-drive system, among other drivetrain details. Is this a goodbye to the manly transfer case lever? Read More >

By on August 8, 2017

Mazda CX9 Skyactiv Turbo engine - Image: Mazda

There’ll still be spark ignition available, but Mazda doesn’t expect you’ll get a whole lot of use out of it. With its just-revealed Skyactiv-X engine technology, the gasoline-loving automaker has added a new way of making power to the automotive realm: the compression ignition gas engine.

It’s something we’ve known about for a while, but today saw its confirmation. Mazda’s Skyactiv-X engine, bound for its vehicle lineup in 2019, adopts technology forever associated with diesel engines and combines it with a lighter, much cleaner fuel. Apparently, going green needn’t require batteries and AC motors. Read More >

By on July 31, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: Chevrolet

When you think about it, it all adds up. There was no way the powertrain of the Chevrolet Bolt, America’s first reasonably priced long-range electric vehicle, was ever going to remain solely the domain of one vehicle. General Motor’s CEO, Mary Barra, alluded to as much following the Bolt’s introduction.

While the 238-mile Bolt is already sold in Europe as the Opel Ampera-e, and in China as the Buick Velite 5, those vehicles don’t amount to much more than simple badge swaps. However, a new report claims U.S. buyers could see a Buick crossover based on the Bolt, and soon. Read More >

By on July 31, 2017

2017 Jeep Compass

It’s no secret that hybrids and fully electric vehicles are about as appealing to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne as a crisp, button-up shirt. The FCA boss once famously railed against his company’s sole electric offering — the tiny, money-losing Fiat 500e — for losing $10,000 for every unit sold. Placating California doesn’t come cheap.

Still, Marchionne isn’t alone in distrusting the plug. Subaru and Mazda have shown a similar aversion to electrification, though even those automakers concede it’s a losing battle. In a conference call with investors late last week, Marchionne admitted defeat, outlining a plan to add electric motors to a significant chunk of FCA’s fleet in the coming years. One division stands to go the way of Volvo, with electric motors planned for each new car introduced after 2019.

What prompted the shift in thinking? Diesel, and the public’s growing distrust in compression-ignition engines. Read More >

By on July 29, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Perhaps the most anticipated automotive event of the year (Tesla disciples might say millenium) took place in California last night, as electric car guru Elon Musk handed over the first 30 production Tesla Model 3 sedans to customers — most, if not all, of them employees — at a glitzy, livestreamed event.

Eyesight was restored to the blind. Others rose from their wheelchairs, walking for the first time in years. Okay, that’s not true, but the depths to which some Tesla fans deify Musk and his car company cannot be understated. Certainly, after seeing the final production model, learning its specifications, and hearing Tesla’s lofty production plans, even a cynic drowning in a vast ocean of media-driven hype can’t help but feel impressed.

Hailed as the first affordable, long-range, mass-produced electric car — a crown stolen by the Chevrolet Bolt months ago — the Model 3 will retail for $35,000 before federal incentives, but not just yet. The only version available at launch is the $44,000 Long Range model, good for 310 miles of range per charge.

The 220-mile base sedan, which carries that vaunted lower sticker price, won’t be available until this fall. So, what can the roughly 500,000 reservation holders expect? If they’re on a budget, black had better be their favorite color. Read More >

By on July 28, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Outdoorsman Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

The light-duty Chrysler diesel is back. After a bevy of undeclared emissions control devices sank Fiat Chrysler Automobiles into a cauldron of hot water back in January, U.S. regulators have certified 2017 models powered by the company’s 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6.

Having spent the last half-year cooling their heels, unsold Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee oil-burners are once again legal for sale to torque- and economy-obsessed buyers.

FCA earned itself plenty of bad PR after the Environmental Protection Agency all but accused the automaker of a Volkswagen-like scheme to deceive the U.S. government and cheat on emissions tests. The undeclared software amounted to a violation of the Holy Grail of environmental legislation: the Clean Air Act. Software tweaks have now rendered the engine compliant, earning a certificate of conformity (also known as a thumbs up) from the EPA.

Too bad about that Justice Department lawsuit. Read More >

By on July 27, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

Nearly two years after the mother of all automotive scandals yanked nine years’ worth of Volkswagens out of the “law-abiding citizen” category and into the environmental slammer, U.S. regulators have approved a fix for older VW 2.0-liter diesel cars.

The fix, which many believed would never happen, received an official thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board today. The move means potential salvation for 326,000 otherwise doomed VW and Audi vehicles in the United States. Read More >

By on July 11, 2017

nissan leaf charging electric car

California wants to fund more generous rebates for electric vehicle buyers as part of a massive agenda to support the adoption of zero-emission vehicles. In addition to federal incentives, the state has its own rebate program and has made plans to add additional state-sponsored tax breaks for EV buyers.

However, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy, California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate program has almost run out of funding — for a second time — after Governor Jerry Brown neglected to include it in the state budget.

As a result, the program can no longer offer rebates to purchasers of zero-emission vehicles and has placed those who made a purchase after June 30th on a refund waiting list. It’s bad news for anyone in California who wanted to by an electric car. Well, unless you’re poor, because the State of California really wants to convince low-income households to buy electric for some reason.  Read More >

By on July 8, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Volt

If the Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius are presented as solutions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, it may be a toss-up as to which one wins.

This is according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fueleconomy.gov website, which lets consumers determine tailpipe plus upstream emission. The difference on a nationally averaged basis is negligible, while regional variations see one car or the other pulling ahead. Read More >

By on June 30, 2017

mercedes-gas-i6

While we knew Mercedes-Benz’s AMG sub-brand had plans to dabble in electrification for upcoming performance models, details of what that could mean for the sub-brand’s products remained pretty thin on the ground.

Daimler R&D head Ola Källenius explained back in January that future AMG-badged vehicles will gradually become “more and more electric.” Never mind the limited-production Project One hypercar that’s in the works — that model is just a plaything for the Dubai set. Well, now we know exactly what AMG has planned for the new rung in its model range, and it indeed makes use of charged particles to lend some extra grunt to the overall package.

It also brings a very sweet inline-six to the table. Baby steps, people. Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

nissan leaf charging electric car

Federal tax credits for electric vehicles won’t last forever, especially under the Trump administration. While it’s difficult to quantify exactly how many people saw the $7,500 rebate as the deciding factor to “go green,” there is little doubt that it factored into the final purchasing choice of some buyers.

California has made the promotion of zero-emission vehicles a matter of great concern. With General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla all gradually approaching the 200,000-unit quota for vehicles eligible for the tax rebate, the state doesn’t want to see buyers lose purchasing incentives prematurely. With that, California is considering a bill that would provide discounts to EV shoppers at the time of purchase, essentially reducing the sticker price before the car even leaves the lot.  Read More >

By on June 28, 2017

Ford GoBike, Image: Ford

Let’s say it altogether: Mobility! That’s what Ford Motor Company is up to in the tech-obsessed Millennial enclave of San Francisco. No longer will you have to turn to a truck, SUV or Mustang for rear-wheel Blue Oval motivation, and emission levels from the automaker’s latest vehicle depend solely on where the rider ate.

Yes, Ford has diversified itself right into the realm of bicycles, but don’t think for a second you’ll be able to take one home for a quick custom job. These rides must remain factory stock. While the automaker’s plan to blanket the Bay Area in bicycles might seem like a quick way to score green points for the Super Duty maker, there’s actually a team devoted to creating more of these ventures.

Still, Ford’s new GoBike network isn’t immune from the same challenges faced by its automobile division. You see, competition looms on the horizon. Competition with more power. Read More >

By on June 27, 2017

2017 chrysler pacifica hybrid

Conflicting reports claim Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has either restarted, or is poised to restart, production of the Pacifica Hybrid minivan in Windsor, Ontario.

This comes after a tumultuous month for the automaker’s headline-grabbing plug-in minivan. First, a voluntary safety recall saw all Pacifica Hybrids built to date recalled for faulty inverter diodes, following incidents in which several vehicles lost power while underway. The recall then led to the shadowy shutdown of hybrid minivan production. Read More >

By on June 26, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid (left) and Chrysler Pacifica (right) - Image: FCA

Despite being lauded for its high level of content, smooth ride, and all-electric range, Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid minivan has hit a large roadblock. After voluntarily recalling all Pacifica Hybrids due to a safety defect that could see the minivan go dark at inopportune times, it seems the assembly line has ground to a halt in Windsor, Ontario.

A recall earlier this month saw Fiat Chrysler Automobiles call back 1,368 vehicles in the U.S. and 309 in Canada following complaints of loss of propulsion. The issue reportedly stems from defective inverter diodes. While the wonky electrified powertrain hasn’t resulted in any crashes or injuries, electrified cars that suddenly stop sending current to the motor aren’t something customers or the automaker can tolerate.

It’s a serious stumble for FCA’s green halo car. Read More >

By on June 21, 2017

Polestar logo, Image: Volvo Cars

Think of it as a green brand known for producing some very blue cars. Polestar, Volvo’s performance wing, will be spun off into an electrified automaker under a new plan from the Swedish car manufacturer.

Expected to do battle with the likes of Tesla and BMW’s i sub-brand, future Polestars — like their gasoline-powered predecessors — will stake out space in the performance arena, only this time in a different niche. Read More >

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