Category: Green

By on May 23, 2017

Tesla Supercharger

Chatty Tesla owners who compel their friends and family to consider buying a Model S or X are apparently behind the company’s U-Turn on paid Supercharger use.

At the beginning of the year, Tesla, in a bid to fund a doubling of its fast-charge network, withdrew a big perk from the purchase of one of its vehicles: free Supercharger use. No longer would new buyers be able to sail off in their new Tesla, confident in their ability to juice up at one of the 750-plus stations scattered across North America. Owners who purchased their vehicle prior to January 1st were grandfathered.

Supercharger hogs were also slapped with an “idling” fee, all in the hopes of freeing up space at the stations. While the pricing structure remains — new buyers receive 400 kWh of annual free charging with their purchase, after which a variable fee applies — there’s now a way to get unlimited free power. Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

Will anyone notice? Mercedes-Benz certainly hopes so, as it recently choose to ditch gasoline powerplants altogether and make the Smart sub-brand an all-electric affair.

The automaker announced pricing and specifications for its 2017 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive coupe and convertible today, billing the two-seater as one of the cheapest EVs you can buy. The droptop variant remains the only electric convertible you can get your hands on, should that be your thing.

While many scratch their heads and wonder why Smart continues to exist in North America, the automaker hopes to entice consumers with a lower starting price and added range. Read More >

By on May 22, 2017

2018 outback

With the exception of Mazda and — until its Outlander PHEV finally lands on U.S. shores — Mitsubishi, Subaru remains one of very few automakers to completely eschew electrified powertrains.

Despite lacking any fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid model (the unloved Crosstrek Hybrid met a quiet death last year), Subaru’s U.S. customer base continues to expand at a rapid clip, but a gas-only strategy can’t survive forever. Environmental regulations the world over insist Subaru should follow the lead of its rivals and build something without pistons.

Well, Subaru plans to. However, unlike many of its rivals, the automaker has indicated it might take a different path towards this goal. Read More >

By on May 16, 2017

[Image: BYD]

For those of you not glued to the latest in Chinese electric car news, the BYD (Build Your Dreams) E6 was the best-selling electric vehicle in the world’s most populous country last year. Forget about Nissan or Tesla — BYD is the real electric stud overseas.

The E6 is a conventional-looking four-door crossover (or tall hatch, if you prefer) offered in a number of markets, including the United States. However, here the E6 is marketed as an “electric taxi” and offered only to fleet buyers. A handful have arrived already, but the Berkshire Hathaway-backed automaker has larger plans for the U.S. Read More >

By on May 13, 2017

[Image: Nissan]

The success of Nissan’s e-Power system in the Japanese-market Note hatchback has company brass considering a trans-Pacific trip for the technology.

Should it arrive stateside, e-Power stands to give Nissan an edge in low-priced electrification — potentially undercutting the price of compact hybrid rivals by thousands. Unlike conventional hybrids and plug-in models, Nissan’s system burns gasoline every moment of the drive, despite an electric motor doing all the pulling work. Read More >

By on May 6, 2017

2017 Jaguar F-Pace - Image: Jaguar

Ralf Speth isn’t having it. Across Europe governments are cracking down on the use of diesel vehicles in a bid to lower air pollution, especially in the Jaguar Land Rover CEO’s own country. London has announced plans to levy stiff charges on anyone driving a diesel-powered vehicle through central areas of the capital starting in early 2019, adding fuel to the anti-diesel fire. Paris, Berlin and Athens also plan to ban the technology.

With compression ignition still a significant part of the automaker’s engine lineup — both in Europe and North America — Speth recently defended the technology’s importance in a finger-pointing spiel. The world needs diesel, he claimed, and the media (and Volkswagen) haven’t done anything to help the situation. Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

1-Ethanol-Gas-006

Higher-octane fuel holds more energy than bargain basement gasoline, giving it the potential to generate more horsepower and deliver highly marketable fuel economy figures to automakers. It should be at the top of every car manufacturer’s wish list. But, because an extra-high octane rating would warrant an extra-large bill at the pump, muscle car owners are left hunting for that one station that sells 94.

Unlike Europe, it’s a low-octane lifestyle here in North America, though hushed, tentative first steps are being taken to give car manufacturers what they so desperately crave.

Still, no automaker wants to say it. Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

2017 Volkswagen model range – Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen Group is about to drop gas and diesel engines like names at a swank party.

The automaker’s CEO has announced a multi-billion push to prepare the company for a much more stringent marketplace, part of which includes giving its internal combustion engine lineup a haircut.

Speaking at an auto industry conference in Vienna, Matthias Müller said the company needs to boost the efficiency of its engines by 10 to 15 percent to stay ahead of picky European and American regulators, Reuters reports. Reaching that goal carries a price tag of $11 billion, spread out over the next five years.

Up to 40 percent of the company’s engines won’t survive the operation, Müller claims. Read More >

By on April 25, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport, Image: Nissan

Less cargo capacity, less horsepower, a lower entry price and … worse fuel economy? That’s the reality for buyers of the 2017 Nissan Rogue Sport, also known as the Nissan Qashqai in Canadian and overseas markets.

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its thirstiness rating for the slightly smaller compact crossover, which was tossed into the Nissan’s North American lineup to fill a narrow gap in the brand’s utility offerings, and some might find the official numbers disappointing. Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

[Image: Tesla Motors]

With the “affordable” Tesla Model 3 on its way to an anticipated July production date, the company has promised to double the number of fast-charge plug-in points to feed the company’s growing fleet.

The electric automaker has already installed over 5,400 Supercharger outlets and about 9,000 lower-voltage Destination Charging connectors at various locations around the globe. In North America, Tesla promises a 150-percent increase in the number of charging points. However, don’t expect many of those stations to look like the photo above. Read More >

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 >

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