Category: Green

By on April 20, 2017

Yosemite national park mountains

It’s looking like some sites just might not be feasible. Still, BMW, in partnership with the National Park Foundation, National Park Service and Department of Energy, has hatched a plan to lure electric vehicles out of their safe urban confines and into the wilderness.

It’s starting in New Jersey, about 12 miles west of New York City. (Hey, you have to begin somewhere.)

While the first EV charging station installed by the group can be found, fittingly, at Thomas Edison’s Glenmont laboratory in Llewellyn Park, NJ, plans are afoot to add up to 100 stations in or near national parks in the near future. Read More >

By on April 20, 2017

2015_Toyota_Prius_c_007

Automakers, both domestic and come-from-away, all want you to do the next best thing if your meager funds aren’t enough to get you into a showroom: borrow a car.

Ride-sharing services provide mainly urban dwellers with the car they so desperately crave, without the years of payments or need to find permanent parking. And, if an automaker partners up with a service provider — or creates its own — there’s still money flowing back to the offices of Big Auto. Win-win, no?

The growing trend is hard to ignore, and it means that automakers — already new to the game — face ever greater competition, even from unlikely sources. The latest company to offer a ride-sharing service isn’t a manufacturer at all. It’s the American Automobile Association. Read More >

By on April 18, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

If the future is electric, it’s also crossover heavy. Volkswagen and Audi plan to dominate two tiers of that fledgling segment by the turn of the next decade with the production version of two crossover EVs revealed today.

The selection of the Auto Shanghai 2017 show for the unveiling wasn’t a fluke of timing. Both automakers plan to field a slew of electric models in China, while saving certain high-profile products for North American and European markets.

Bet on these two models eventually making the cut. Read More >

By on April 18, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

If Tesla CEO Elon Musk knows what’s good for him — and his bottom line — he’ll arrange a product placement in a Hollywood remake of Smokey and the Bandit, probably starring Ryan Reynolds. Maybe that Stifler guy, if he’s still bankable.

America’s electric-only automaker figures it has the conventional EV passenger car and SUV markets covered, so it’s time to fulfill a promise made last year: trucks. Specifically, a pickup and a semi truck, the first of which is due for an unveiling this year. Read More >

By on April 15, 2017

2016_nissan_leaf_12

How do you keep a very long-in-the-tooth model alive when competitors have bypassed it in terms of technology and practicality? Offer sweet deals, obviously.

Nissan’s venerable Leaf, which saw its first U.S. sales in late 2010 and still hasn’t confirmed a North American successor, needs all the help it can get. Not only are electric cars a tough sell in America, but the Leaf faces a growing crop of rivals that top its paltry driving range by roughly 2:1.

Nissan wants to know: would you feel differently if it was much, much cheaper? Read More >

By on April 7, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

So far, there’s no evidence the Trump administration plans to extend the federal tax credit incentive for the purchase of electric and plug-in vehicles.

Designed to kick-start the fledgling technology, the credits — totaling up to $7,500 per vehicle — will run out after automakers finish selling their first 200,000 eligible vehicles — a date that could occur as early as next year for some companies. This means a segment still as embryonic as the infrastructure meant to serve it could soon bite the dust.

A recent report from Edmunds predicts what will happen if the credits die, using a cancelled state credit as a crystal ball. Despite the hype around EVs, those incentives are an intravenous bag keeping the patient alive. Read More >

By on March 24, 2017

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid – Image: © Timothy Cain

If 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 >

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