I have often dreamed of owning a Prius. I am certainly energized by thoughts of push-button ignition, sleek, egg-shaped driving fun, and of course 55 mpg. Unfortunately my dreams took a blow this week as I learned of Toyota’s resistance to the new energy bill, which calls for Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Despite the many ingenious strides forward in harnessing solar and wind power for personal transportation, theres still no greener ride than your basic human-powered bicycle. Two wheels, a set of pedals and a place to sit is all you need to get from A to B. You don’t need a sail blowing in the breeze or photovoltaics soaking up the sun. If you can move your legs, you can travel — regardless of the weather or the rising cost of gasoline.
The chain driven bicycle has been around for almost 125 years. It existed long before the green movement and it will certainly outlive the gas/electric hybrid (and perhaps even our planet’s oil supply). How do I know this? Because there exists no other vehicular device that’s as simple to operate and has so many practical uses, from transportation to recreation to exercise. The bike keeps pedaling on as other technologies disappear in its dust. And while computers have gotten smaller (as their memories have gotten bigger), the bike has stayed relatively the same for the past hundred years. It’s classic. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s untouchable; it’s just that there’s no need to touch it. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
General Motors, the not so flattering subject of Chris Paine’s documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, is feeling the pinch of previously pulling the plug on the EV1. I mean, duh. The recent launch of the flashy Tesla rubbing salt into their wounds can’t possibly feel good. But GM is putting a brave face on past errors by throwing themselves into the world of green. Their website proudly announces that they have the “most models with EPA-estimated 30 mpg or higher highway fuel economy.”
Ryan Mickle of Triple Pundit attended a recent presentation in San Francisco by GM Chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner, where he spoke on the future of the company with a firm focus on green technology. As we all know, after 76 years of being America’s number one car manufacturer, GM lost the top spot to Toyota — a move which can in part be attributed to the success of the Japanese carmaker’s green fleet, including the hugely popular Prius.
Just this morning, I encountered my first smart fortwo. It was parked behind my Toyota Yaris in front of the Los Angeles coffee shop I frequent. My first thought was a wish that I’d gotten one of these economical and forward thinking cars instead of a Toyota Yaris, which I purchased last summer after totaling my Prius and realizing I needed to downgrade price-wise. The smart fortwo starts at $11,590, which is half of the Prius’ lot price. I could save money and be driving around looking eco-chic again.
But alas, this is a fortwo. And seeing as how I have two kids, my car needs to be at least a forthree.
It takes a lot for me to mention my spouse in an article, but this one calls for it. DH (wow, I finally get to use that weird abbreiviation) is somewhere along route 80, last seen leaving Little Rock. He flew to Miami a week ago and is driving back to Los Angeles. For work, you see. No, he’s not a drug courier. He’s a screenwriter and is doing some research for an upcoming project. As a socially conscience guy, he dreamt of crossing this magnificent country, not in a cliched Mustang convertible, but in a Toyota Prius. However, he was shocked to discover that his American dream was actually mission impossible. None of the major car rental companies in Miami had Priuses, or any hybrids for that matter.
Which is why we personally applaud Enterprise Rent-A-Car’s recent announcement that they’ll be greening their fleet.
Enterprise, the nation’s biggest car rental company, announced last week that they’ll be opening four new “green branches” in Atlanta, where 60% of their cars will be hybrids or fuel efficient vehicles. Analysts say that the majority of hybrid renters will be of the socially conscious persuasion or those looking for an extended test drive. “Those who are looking for a value in terms of dollar for dollar will absolutely not get hybrids,” said Brian Chee, the head automotive analyst at MyRide.com. With hybrid premiums of $5 – $15 per day, auto experts reckon that this will outweigh fuel savings in short term rentals.
Is it just me, or are the Mercedes SUVs looking more and more like luxury station wagons? Not that I’m complaining; I personally think most SUVs are too effin big. If I’m driving and I can’t see over or around the car in front of me, I get frustrated. It’s a safety thing. Responsible drivers need to be aware of their surroundings. And if you can’t see anything because there’s some ridiculously large car in front of you, it’s time to change lanes and go around.
So, while I’d never fork over the amount of cash required to buy it, I’m liking the Vision GLK compact SUV. Especially upon hearing that a hybrid version’s in the works.
Cars get a lot of flak for helping to destroy the planet. And not unjustifiably so. But while it’s certainly true that automobiles contribute hugely to pollution from carbon emissions, it can also be said that the industry that produces them is one of the most progressively green around. Auto makers have been working on devising environmentally friendly vehicles longer than manufacturers of most other products. Even taking into account those still in the concept stage, the amount of hybrid, biodiesel, electric and hydrogen cars available far outnumber the amount of green products currently being produced by, say, the makers of electronics. After all, how many environmentally friendly options are there when buying a new TV? Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
In the case of advancing technology, it’s often said that great minds think alike. In other less fortunate cases, it’s alleged that the ideas of great minds are stolen by those not so great. That’s what Silicon Valley-based Tesla Motors claims happened with the trade secrets and design concept for their new hybrid sedan.
Green car fanatics have long been salivating over Tesla’s electric two-seater sports car, which has only recently become available in limited quantities. Up next on the production schedule is a four-door sedan, which, according to the New York Times has been code-named the White Star. It appeared to be smooth sailing for Tesla until from around the bend came news of the Fisker Karma sedan, which — like Tesla’s vehicle — is a “serial hybrid” powered by a battery that’s charged by a small gas engine.
For those of you who can sleep late every morning except on the day the noisy trash collector thunders down your street, you might want to consider moving to Sweden. Because that’s where Volvo is testing their new FE Hybrid Electric garbage truck. Not only does it provide increased fuel efficiency, it’s virtually noiseless.
“The future of refuse handling is already here,” claims Volvo’s press release, which touts the FE as “a perfect fit for ‘stop and go’ applications.” Like Volvo’s FM Hybrid, the FE is equipped with a 7-liter diesel engine coupled with an I-SAM (Integrated Starter Alternator) electric motor. The energy created by braking charges the lithium-ion batteries, which run the vehicle from startup to a speed of approximately 20 km per hour. Which does seem a perfect fit when you consider that the garbage truck simply goes from one house to the next and stops. Removing fossil fuel from the vehicle’s constant idling will cut gas and emissions 20 to 30 percent, they say.
The ever-evolving world of hybrid vehicles has yet another member. It’s not with every model that courtesy for passengers or pedestrians is taken into consideration. Who would’ve thought that smaller and thinner wheels would be used to reduce splashing while driving? And LED non-glare headlights? Enter Toyota’s 1/X (pronounced “1/Xth”), which made its North American debut at Chicago’s Auto Show in early February. With a super low curb weight of 926 pounds, due in part to the carbon fiber reinforced plastic throughout its frame, it under weighs the Prius by over 1,900 lbs.
Another innovative aspect of 1/X is the interior space, which is constructed to give passengers more visibility and help move easier. Ultra lightweight seats made of three-dimensionally knitted polyester fiber help make for a smooth ride. The roof is made of environmentally responsible bio-plastic comprised of the kenaf and ramie plants, which are some of the oldest fibre crops in the world, allowing for better heat insulation, more light and noise reduction.
There’s nothing like a large, dangling money-filled carrot to spur technological advances. At least that’s what the Santa Monica, California-based X PRIZE Foundation is hoping for. The organization has offered “$10 million to the teams that can produce the most production-ready vehicles that get 100 miles per gallon or more,” according to a recent CNN article.
Buying a new car has always been a big decision – even back in the days when oil was the only available fuel option. But today’s choices are more important than whether or not to spring for power windows or how many speakers you need to do justice to Led Zeppelin IV.
Today you must choose what your car runs on – which is a far more daunting choice than decking out the inside because it’s both a moral and a logistical decision. While you may want your new car to be more environmentally friendly than your previous one, you have to consider Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos