Wired Nextfest | Monoco Knows Zero

boise solar gliving Wired Nextfest | Monoco Knows Zero

There aren’t too many things that will get me to drive to the LA Convention Center… The L.A. Auto Show (I’m there every year), some killer music or, last but not least, something “G”. WIRED Nextfest 2007 had some cars of the future, a few things G and as for the music? Lets just say I went for the Solar Car and the future of Green Pavillion.

The first thing to catch my eye was the Astrolab electric concept car, the first high-performance solar vehicle to be commercialized in the world. For the record, Monoco got there first – and for a small country, that’s a big feat. Venturi Automobiles created this ping-pong-table-meets-sportscar covering 3.6 sqm of photovoltaic cells. The Astrolab goes 70 mph for up to 70 miles per trip.

My first question was, “Does this thing just go forever as long as you have sun?” The answer was no. It’s an electric car. The solar panels only assist in the recharge — left alone with no driving, the panels charge the battery about 10 miles per day. Still pretty cool, if you ask me. BTW, how do you get in? It comes with a metal plate you put over the sides to sit on while you swing your legs into the cockpit.

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Electric eBox Laps Gas Powered Scion XB

eboxupdate02 Electric eBox Laps Gas Powered Scion XB

Update Autoweek takes The eBox for a Test Drive: "Just before he drove off, silently, in his new eBox, Hanks observed,There are three electric cars sitting on the moon, and now another one in my garage. The eBox makes even more sense in Los Angeles than in the Taurus-Littrow Valley of the moon. I can drive all weekend, hauling dogs and helping my friends move, and the only reason I’ll need to stop at a gas station is for beef jerky and lottery tickets.

How far we’ve come. The AC Propulsion eBox—a Scion xB converted to run solely on electricity — has ultraefficient lithium-ion batteries, which are better than the NiMH (nickel metal hydride) batteries the EV1 got by the 1999 model year and which powered the Honda EVPlus during its short lifetime. An eBox can go 150 miles on a charge if you take it easy and 120 if you don’t. The eBox’s Li-Ion batteries offer 355 volts and 35 kilowatts and weigh only 595 pounds, including the cables and battery box. Consider that you toss out the engine, transmission and much other stuff when you convert an xB to electric drive, and that weight gain isn’t so bad. Curb weight of a stock xB is 2395 pounds and goes up to 3050 as an eBox.

Now, on paper, that suggests that the xB might outperform the eBox, but our results surprised us—the eBox out-performed the stock Scion xB by a large margin in every parameter we tested. The eBox got from 0 to 60 mph in 7.02 seconds, versus 9.71 for the xB we tested four years ago. Braking from 60 to 0 took 126 feet in the eBox and 132 in the xB. The slalom went by at 42.6 mph in the eBox and 40.9 in the xB. AC Propulsion didn’t change tires, springs or shocks on its car, either, so all those numbers came up with the same setup Scion sent out from the factory. The eBox benefited from a lower center of gravity and from the instantaneous torque inherent in an electric motor."

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The Toyota Prius: Love it or Leave it?

boise dent prius01 The Toyota Prius: Love it or Leave it?

If I haven’t told you lately… I love my ’03 Toyota Prius. Let me count the ways: 39mpg / 385 miles to the tank, $30 to fill up, drive solo in the carpool lane and free meter parking. What’s not to love?
But my life has changed. As a retired commercial actor, I no longer drive all over L.A. on auditions. My job’s at G Living. My car sits at home and I bike to work. Perfect reason to get rid of my car! BTW, my lease is up, too, which means it’s time to either give it back or buy it outright.

So, come with me as I explore my options and get into something totally “G”.
The greenest thing to do would be give it back. I know plenty of people who’d jump at a used hybrid with those kinds of perks. I looked at buying it and then selling it on eBay, but I’ve never done that before and it seemed like too much hassle.
The wife’s ride is a 2001 Prius with high miles, so we had a family meeting and came up with a solution: find something “G” and trade them both in: two for one. Brilliant? We’ll shall see…

The parameters:
– $20,000-30,000 ride
– 2006 or newer; used is okay
– electric or hybrid a must
– a body style we like
– a dealer who will accept both of our cars as trade-ins

teslaurban The Toyota Prius: Love it or Leave it?

The Tesla Roadster At $100,000 it’s way out of our price range. Although the future is all electric engines (0-60 in 4 seconds) with 2 person sports car bodies made of carbon fiber, this is not meant to be. Even if I were rich and had the $50,000 deposit, I can’t wait until 2008. My lease is up August 30th. (Tesla Motors/ More info)

electrictruck01 The Toyota Prius: Love it or Leave it?

Second Option: The Phoenix Motor Car Electric SUT (sport utility truck) 100+ miles per charge, 95mph, 95% charge in 10 minutes. Sweet. Also comes in an SUV that seats 5. Rumored at $45,000 with only 6,000 vehicles available for 2008 — out of our price range, too much competition for limited quantity and not available now. (Phoenix Motorcars / More info)

ngm electriccar The Toyota Prius: Love it or Leave it?

Third Option: The NmG Myers Motor Car I’ve had my eye on this since it was the Sparrow at the 2000 L.A. auto show. It’s a three-wheeled hard top motorcycle and it goes 75mph. $25,000, gets 30+ miles in distance and takes 4-6 hours to charge. Sounds sweet, but that leaves no room for the wife (or me, depending on who gets in first). Great idea, but a one passenger vehicle simply doesn’t get it done for a two person family. (Myers Site / More info)

prius2 The Toyota Prius: Love it or Leave it?

Fourth Option: The Prius Which takes us back to where we started… to the Toyota line of hybrid vehicles. We researched used hybrids and found a low mileage Highlander SUV at a local dealership. I test-drove the Luxury Limited, but it was out of our price range ($38,000) and a bit too much vehicle (third row seating?). We don’t want the Corolla sedan, nor do we want another other make and model (like a Ford Escape or Nissan).
So, back where we started: the Prius. You may wonder why we didn’t just start there and stay there. Well, call us old school, but we like the pre-2004 body style. It’s compact and has the same interior space as the new Prius, but it’s not so big on the outside. Unfortunately, the pre-2004 body style is just that… pre-2004. So, we looked at a 2007 Prius Touring Edition, which gets gets 50+ mpg with upgraded features for less than $30,000!

We called the dealership where my wife bought her Prius in ‘04 and was told they’ll gladly take our older models. That puts them back on the road replacing non-hybrids and gives us a great deal on a 2007 model before the 2008s hit the lot in a few months. On Friday, we’re going into the dealership with the cars that have been so good to us, some cash in hand (if needed) and our best kept secret: we’ll call him Justin. He’s the Winston Wolfe of car shopping (“Pulp Fiction” reference). We will drive to the largest Toyota dealership in the nation and get ourselves a 2007 Toyota Prius Touring Edition. At least that’s the plan.

The search has taken the better part of a month and we had to act fast. While it has not resulted in us getting a cool, futuristic, modern electric vehicle with amazing fuel to miles savings… the only difference: we are back in a hybrid vs. an all-electric vehicle. My memo to Tesla, Phoenix and Myers Motor Car Companies: mass produce a $20-30,000 electric vehicle and give me a call. I’ll put one in my driveway and power it on solar energy. Until then, the more things change, the more they stay the same. I love my Toyota Prius. Again.

The Flexible and Adaptable Spider Ship or WAM-V

spider ship01 The Flexible and Adaptable Spider Ship or WAM V

The odd but very “G” new thinking behind this odd styled water craft called the WAM-V or Wave Adaptive Modular Vessels. This spider looking vessel has many “G” features, some of the coolest ones we think are that the entire thing packs into a shipping container, uses very little fuel, runs shallow, and can be configured for many different uses. This isn’t your one function vessel, it can reconfigured in a very short time to take on a new mission. To use re-thinking tech to be smart is what “G” is all about.

Checkout the amazing details behind this craft. The specially designed pontoons by several components that actually move in relation to one another. Springs, shock absorbers and ball joint articulate the vessel and mitigate stresses to structure, payload and crew. Two engine pods, containing the propulsion and ancillary systems, are fastened to the hulls with special hinges that keep the propellers in the water at all times. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

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