Monday, October 21, 2013

BMW i3

If you've been following us around the social sphere this week, then you already have a pretty good idea of what's going on in the green automotive world, but if you aren't, we've created a quick recap just for you.
We reported our results from the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage's gas mileage test, and we drove the new electric 2014 BMW i3. Stay tuned for our driving impressions of that BMW i3, as they'll be coming soon.
ChargePoint is trying to convince consumers to switch from Blink charging stations, and people are talking about the New York City taxi situation. There's also a question of whether public quick-charging should be a marketing cost for businesses.
Chevrolet announced the Impala will be offered as a bi-fuel model with a natural-gas tank, and then there's the question of whether Tesla's done what Israel couldn't? Last but not least, there's new that Fisker Automotive has been sold to a Hong Kong tycoon investor group.
If all of this is new to you, then you clearly aren't following us on social media. No worries: you can correct this issue by immediately following us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and, of course, YouTube.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is Chevrolet readying a CNG-powered Impala?

When it comes to fleet vehicles, the Chevrolet Impala definitely plays an important role for General Motors, and it looks like GM is hard at work developing the next-gen Impala for bulk-buying businesses. The Motoring Journal recently spotted a handful of Impalas testing in Colorado with minor camouflage, but upon closer inspection, these appear to be test mules for a new compressed natural gas (CNG) model – a powertrain combination far more likely to find favor with fleet buyers than everyday consumers.

Aside from the obvious "CNG" stickers affixed to the decklid, these cars also have different exhaust outlets than what we saw on the V6-equipped Impalas during our first drive of the sedan back in March. Images also show under the hood with a different engine cover and plenty of exposed wiring as the CNG system continues testing. There was also an electrical connector poking out of the front fascia, and at least one of the sedans had a receiver-style trailer hitch.

During the launch of the 2014 Impala, Chevrolet said that it is looking to flip the current fleet-to-retail from 70:30 to a more profitable and resale-friendly 30:70 ratio, and this new CNG Impala could be a good way to retain some of that 30-percent fleet business. We reached out to GM for word on when a CNG Impala might arrive, and received this response:
Our best guess is that it could debut for the 2015 model year, since the ninth-generation model is carrying over for fleet-only sales as the 2014 Impala Limited.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Acura NSX to be built in Ohio in 2015

Honda today confirmed that the forthcoming Acura NSX hybrid supercar will be built at a brand-new facility in Ohio. This will be the company's third plant in Ohio, and will come as the result of a $70 million investment. Honda first hinted that NSX production would be coming to Ohio when the original concept car was revealed at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show.

Honda's new facility, called the Performance Manufacturing Center, will encompass a 184,000-square foot space inside of the automaker's former North American Logistics building and will employ 100 associates. As you might expect, the Performance Manufacturing Center is located just a few miles from Honda's American-based R&D facility, as well as the Marysville auto plant, where production of the 2014 Accord Hybrid will kick off this fall.

"The location of this facility is in the midst of one of the greatest collections of engineering and production talent in the world. So it makes sense that we will renew the dream and build this high-tech, supercar in Marysville, Ohio," said Hidenobu Iwata, president and CEO of Honda of America, in a press release.

Production of the Acura NSX will begin sometime in 2015. We have already seen the hybrid hero several times in conceptual form, with the latest reveal at this year's Detroit Auto Show giving us a glimpse at the car's interior.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Galileo Cryobox feeds with LNG the turbines of the fastest and environmentally cleanest ferry in the World 

Buenos Aires, 2nd May, 2013 - Seven Cryobox® LNG nano stations, designed and manufactured by Galileo, will fuel the tanks of the 'López Mena', the world's first high speed passenger RO-RO ship powered by Gas Turbines fed on LNG, which will daily cross the River Plate between Argentina and Uruguay.

It will also be the first time that a sea transportation company, such as Buquebus, becomes its own self supplier of a fuel, which is in turn the environmentally cleanest alternative. Developed and patented by Galileo, Cryobox® is the newest LNG production technology that enables this paradigm shift.

So far, the production of LNG was unaffordable for private business companies interested in a clean burning, low-cost and light weight alternative source of energy. Only oil & gas major exporting countries could afford and manage the complex value chain and facilities necessary for its production and delivery.

Cryobox® nano LNG station overcomes these hurdles through a cost effective solution, characterized by a high-pressure thermodynamic cycle that converts natural gas into liquid by cooling its temperature below -153 °C. Having a customizable LNG production capacity, it can reach a peak of 12 tpd (tons per day) or 7,000 gpd (gallons per day). It is a small-scaled mobile and packaged LNG production plant, which is ready to be shipped anywhere on a trailer for its immediate start-off.

Operating together, the seven Cryobox® nano stations commisioned by Buquebus will be able to produce 84 tpd or 49,000 gpd of LNG and then trucked from the surroundings of Buenos Aires to the Buquebus? wharf. The 'López Mena' is an innovative ferry in all respects, being the LNG usage one of the most ambitious. This 100 metre ship will be the largest catamaran operated by Buquebus on the River Plate waters; and the fastest, environmentally cleanest, most efficient, high speed ferry in the world.

With capacity for 950 passengers and approximately 156 cars, it has a projected lightship speed of 53 knots, and an operating speed of 50 knots. The passenger cabin will include tourist, business and first class seating. Launched in Australia by Incat Tasmania Pty Ltd it is the first high speed craft built under the British Code of Safety for High-Speed Craft (HSC code) powered by Gas Turbines using LNG as the primary fuel and marine distillate for standby and ancillary use.

This is a huge step in a new era of eco-sustainable heavy duty transportation. 'The integration of Cryobox® Galileo?s technologies in this challenge will demonstrate that LNG is the most suitable and cleanest power alternative for long-haul trucks; delivery fleets; buses; ships, barges and ferries; and railroad locomotives, when long distances should be covered, even when the odds of refueling are widely scattered. Since LNG has a superior energetic density than any other diesel substitute, it is possible to charge more fuel to cover longer distances in the same tank,' said Osvaldo del Campo, CEO of Galileo.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NYC launches electric taxi 'fleet' with six Nissan Leaf EVs  

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg drove up to the news conference in Rockefeller Center that introduced the first-ever all-electric NYC taxi in the back seat of - you guessed it – an EV taxi. Nissan and NYC chose Earth Day, today, to launch a zero-emission taxi fleet.

The six donated vehicles begin a year-long pilot program as soon as next week, after installation of recharging units is completed. That includes charging units in the homes or garages of participating owner-operated taxis and fleets, and several fast-chargers in strategic spots around Manhattan, which can provide 80-percent battery power in around 30 minutes.

Taxis average 70-100 miles a day in NYC. The 2013 Nissan Leaf has an official EPA range of 75 miles (aka 84 miles), and probably more in the stop-and-go of urban traffic, thanks to regenerative braking, so drivers might not have to recharge at all during their shift. "We want to demonstrate that drivers can integrate the technology without losing business," said David Yassky, the city's taxi and limousine commissioner.

The first Nissan Leaf taxi driver, London-born Uppkar Thind, told me his 12-year-old son thinks the EV taxi is "cool," and that the vehicle is stable and sturdy. Thind was one of more than 100 owner-drivers and fleets who applied for one of six pilot program Leaf vehicles, which requires drivers to provide feedback to Nissan, the city and other governmental agencies and utilities. But that's a small price in return for avoiding the time and expense of gas pumps.

All participating drivers received training from Nissan on adapting their driving style for electric, including feathering both gas and brake to get full advantage from EV torque. All the pilot Leaf taxis are production models, to which meters and the taxi TV screens have been added.

Monday, April 22, 2013

2014 Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid is one mean green machine

The entire Porsche Panamera lineup gets a refresh for the 2014 model year, and new additions to the range include two long-wheelbase models and this E-Hybrid fuel-sipper that makes its debut here at the Shanghai Motor Show. And, well, we say "fuel-sipper" lightly.

Porsche has packed its hybrid Panamera with 416 horsepower and 435 pound-feet of torque, and that certainly makes for one quick sedan-hatchback-thing. Hitting 60 miles per hour will reportedly take just 5.2 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 167 mph. And while Porsche hasn't revealed specific powertrain details, the company says that the S E-Hybrid "improves upon the concept offered by the previous Panamera S Hybrid with a more powerful electric motor," which leads us to believe that the supercharged 3.0-liter V6 engine at the heart of it all still remains intact.

Fuel economy numbers (or estimates) have not been released as of this writing, but we expect to have that information closer to the car's on-sale date later this year. As for the new battery system, Porsche says that when plugged into a 240-volt charging station, it can be fully charged in just two and a half hours. When topped off, the Panamera S E-Hybrid should have an electric driving range of around 20 miles at speeds up to 84 mph, though, obviously, not at the same time.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fiat 500e priced at $32,500, leases start at $199/month

Something interesting happened on the way to make the 2014 Fiat 500e a real car. As the idea for the car was bandied about in public for many years, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne complained bitterly, saying the only reason the car was coming to market was because mean ol' California was forcing Fiat to do so. This was after he said that Fiat would lose $10,000 on each one they sell. That's all pretty boilerplate stuff. What's interesting is that Fiat has gone ahead and priced the Fiat 500e so competitively that you'd think they wanted to sell a million of these things. Or lease a million, at least.

That's the message we take away from the surprisingly affordable lease price of $199 a month for 36 months with $999 down. Those are the same numbers as if you went in to lease a gas-powered 500 Pop. If you want to buy the little electric vehicle outright, it'll cost you $32,500, but that's before a potential $7,500 federal tax credit and – since the car will only be sold in California, at least for the first year – the state will kick in another $2,500. Fiat is also promising company rebates that could drop the price down to $20,500, which puts the 500e well into the range of most of the people we know of in the EV buyer demographic.

The 500e is officially rated at 122 MPGe in the city, with highway efficiency at 108 MPGe, for a combined 116 MPGe. The official range number is an impressive 87 miles, and from what we've seen, that might be a low estimate. Throw in up to 12 days of free rental cars through Enterprise and something called the Fiat 500e Pass program and you've got a non-Tesla EV that allows drivers a long-distance solution when needed. The electric Cinquecento goes on sale in California this summer. Want one? Have your say in Comments.