Category: Green

By on March 24, 2017

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid – Image: © Timothy CainIf you want to beat Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray or Rafael Nadal, you have to be better than Roger, Novak, Andy, and Rafa.

It doesn’t matter if it costs less to train you. It won’t matter if you’re better looking. It will never be sufficient to merely stack up better on paper; to be taller and stronger and younger.

You have to be better.

Sorry to have to break it to you this way, but, you’re not.

To upset a paradigm that’s been in place for two decades, the 2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid can’t merely be less expensive than the Toyota Prius. People are willing to pay a premium for a superior known entity. The Hyundai Ioniq can’t merely be more attractive. Indeed, how could the Ioniq not be more attractive than the 2017 Toyota Prius? Moreover, the Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid won’t succeed simply because of superior on-paper achievements; of greater cargo space or hiproom or horsepower.

If the Ioniq Hybrid is to succeed at weaning green car buyers off their beloved Prii, the Hyundai Ioniq must be a better Prius.

It is. Mostly. Read More >

By on March 22, 2017

2017_toyota_prius_prime_premium_014_8d5a6573abb048f9ab660135c367b951ccab9f15

Can a hybrid vehicle really shine when there’s a plug-in sibling hogging both the spotlight and the technological podium? For some automakers new to the game, time will tell. But at Toyota, which first made “hybrid” a household word, it seems the introduction of a new Prius variant has tentatively confirmed doubts about the viability of the stock Prius.

We’ll gain better perspective as 2017 plays out, but so far, it’s looking like the Prius Prime plug-in is doing well, and the Prius is maintaining the status quo. Which is to say, it’s not doing well. Read More >

By on March 21, 2017

AstonMartinRapide

We’re all used to driving curvaceous V12 sedans, right? Now, how would you react to news that your luxury automaker of choice planned to strip all fossil fuel-related hardware from it just to satisfy some squares with exceptionally strong regulatory powers?

That’s the situation for fans of the Rapide S, which Aston Martin claims is — in AMR guise — the world’s fastest four-door vehicle. Aston claims it just can’t keep building all of these 12-cylinder beauties in Europe’s regulatory environment. For some vehicles, gas has to go. And guess which model takes the first hit? Read More >

By on March 17, 2017

Fisker Karms (Image: David Villarreal/Flickr)

Automakers would have to fund a larger share of future green technology projects if the Trump White House’s budget blueprint passes as written.

The administration proposes to do away with a little-used — and sometimes controversial — U.S. Energy Department loan program, as well as a grant program dedicated to spurring advanced fuel-saving technologies. Read More >

By on March 9, 2017

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Office of the Inspector General is preparing to conduct preliminary research to determine whether the Environmental Protection Agency’s internal controls are effective at detecting and preventing emissions fraud.

While the EPA has proven itself capable of stopping cheaters in the past, the federal oversight group wants to check in on the National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Office of Transportation and Air Quality in Washington D.C.

This investigation comes amid the current administration’s proposal of a 25 percent reduction in the EPA’s $8 billion budget, the elimination of almost 3,000 jobs, and the suspension of agency-backed programs and departments — including the environmental justice office. Automakers are also begging President Trump to rollback emissions standards after 2016 ended up being the first year since 2004 that U.S. light vehicles did not exceeded the industry-wide fuel economy targets. Regardless of intent, any appraisal of the EPA’s ability to act effectively will either serve to validate its existence or help rationalize its dismantlement.  Read More >

By on March 8, 2017

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Fiat Chrysler intends to make the upcoming 2018 Wrangler a Jeep for everyone — single adventurers, families, cargo haulers and those whose hearts bleed at the thought of environmental harm — but it’s the latter category of buyer that Jeep isn’t quite sure how to please.

While the 2018 Wrangler remains on track for production late this year, the automaker recently pushed back the introduction of the much-anticipated pickup version. It now looks like any hybrid variant is also a ways off. That means buyers who hoped to emit slightly fewer hydrocarbons while crushing saplings and insects will need to wait before they save the planet. Read More >

By on March 1, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Automakers have promised us a near future filled with all the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles we could ever want and, of course, time will tell whether that dream sinks or swims.

Key to keeping the electric momentum going is a combination of growing demand, which automakers are banking on in the future, and steadily declining production costs. A company getting into the EV game might be willing to lose money on a niche vehicle, but not an entire fleet.

Still, the promises are out there, and the models are starting to roll out. The green tide, whether it ultimately makes electricity the dominant source of automotive propulsion or not, is spurring a different kind of green wave — but not for automakers. This wave is made of cold, hard cash, and it’s soaking careful investors. Read More >

By on February 24, 2017

tires

Remember when recycling was new and sexy and every 1980s sitcom included it as a subplot in at least one cringe-inducing episode? It was around the time that McDonald’s took away that convenient styrofoam container — you know, the one that stored a Big Mac on one side and a delicious pile of fries on the other.

Times change. Recycling is mundane, but it’s bigger than ever — and there’s no doubt about the environmental benefits. Unfortunately, there can also be unforeseen financial benefits for less-than-honest operators, especially if a program’s creator doesn’t keep watch on who’s minding the till.

If that creator is the government, things can get messy. Consider this cautionary tale of a massive program that went rotten so badly that it had to be scrapped. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

Scott Pruitt (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

The Environmental Protection Agency has a new administrator.

Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney general and President Donald Trump’s first choice for the role, was confirmed today following a 52-46 Senate vote that fell mainly along party lines, with some exceptions.

In an odd twist of fate, the man who once sued the EPA multiple times is now the man running it. Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

2016 GMC yukon Denali

President Donald Trump is poised to order changes at the Environmental Protection Agency once a new administrator is confirmed, sources at the regulator claim.

In a meeting Tuesday, EPA employees were told to expect two to five executive orders, Reuters reports. While the news will likely cause anxiety among the nation’s environmentalists, U.S. automakers are likely crossing their fingers for a different reason. Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

automobile_exhaust_gas (Wikimedia commons)

Contrary to the popular mantra, there is a replacement for displacement. The problem is tiny engines that harness technology to boost power output aren’t the greenest things on the road. In fact, the emissions created by small two, three and four-cylinder engines are often out of all proportion to the mills’ Lilliputian displacement.

Volkswagen, realizing it’s staring down the barrel of regulatory non-compliance, has vowed to stop searching for the latest gas- and diesel-powered micro-wonder. Small is out. Normal-sized is in. Read More >

By on January 19, 2017

pumping-gas-1631638_1920

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said he plans to review the Obama administration’s recent decision to secure fuel efficiency standards through 2025.

Last week, outgoing EPA administrator Gina McCarthy bumped up the timeline for the final determination on the fuel efficiency rule in the hopes of maintaining the Obama administration’s climate legacy.

“It merits review and I would review that,” Pruitt said at yesterday’s Senate confirmation hearing. Later that same day, Pruitt confirmed that he would not permit California to continue operating under its own rules as part of its 2009 advanced clean cars program and zero emission vehicle mandates.

As predicted, California isn’t interested in being told what to do.  Read More >

By on January 3, 2017

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields didn’t completely walk back the company’s long-range production plans today, but the automaker pull a hard U-turn on one goal.

In a speech at the automaker’s Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant this morning, Fields said he was “encouraged” by President-elect Donald Trump’s “pro-growth policies.” Because of this, the Blue Oval’s planned $1.6 billion small car plant in Mexico is now off the table. Instead, the automaker will expand and modernize Flat Rock as it brings a slew of promised hybrid and electric vehicles to production. Read More >

By on December 18, 2016

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Image: Mitsubishi

After inking the deal that brought Mitsubishi Motors under his corporate umbrella, Nissan-Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn said the acquisition would have a “massive” impact on the struggling automaker.

By sharing the alliance’s technology, platforms and engines, Mitsubishi can look forward to a brighter, product-filled future, he claimed. Full integration is still years away, but a new report sheds some light on the first all-new product born of the $2.29 billion deal. Read More >

By on December 12, 2016

2017 Bolt

Anyone living north of the border who’d like a Chevrolet Bolt for Christmas might have to wait a while, depending on where they live.

The first 238-mile electric subcompacts should trickle into dealers in California and Oregon before the end of the year, but there’ll be new calendars on the wall before any Canadians get behind the wheel. Even then, the Bolt won’t stray far from the public money spigot. Read More >

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