Driving by construction sites I can’t help but notice the massive dump trucks loading, unloading, and polluting the air. And with gas prices being so high, I can imagine that owning and operating one of these is pretty costly. Could there be a solution on the way? Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) thinks so.
MFTBC started the journey toward creating green dump trucks in October 2005 when they released the Shin Caterpillar, which employed Advanced Combustion Emission Reduction Technology (ACERT). According to Mitsubishi’s website, they also created new designs for the air intake and exhaust to prevent gas from being mixed with the air that travels through the cylinders, while their “CAT” monitoring system helps to track fuel efficiency and emissions.
In July 2006 Mitsubishi started production on a model dump truck called the Canter Eco-D. Recently unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Canter Eco-D uses a hybrid system and has a lightweight build and an emissions control that help ensure that the truck cuts back on pollution.
Here’s something that I think few people know about hybrids (at least I was oblivious): technology and price can differ significantly based on the engine, not the manufacturer. At this month’s Detroit Auto Show, GM/Saturn showed off its different versions of the Saturn SUV, The Vue.
The Vue currently in production sports the BAS (battery, alternator, starter) hybrid engine which is not much more expensive than full gas power. In this system, the batteries turn a beefed-up fan belt that then turns the pistons in the engine without using gas. The batteries are recharged through braking and the engine shuts off at stoplights, just like other hybrids. The catch is that the efficiency benefits are marginal – only about 5 mpg – yet still significant and one step cleaner.
What’s that black thing crawling along your neighbor’s lawn? It looks like an enormous bug or Darth Vader after an unfortunate encounter in the trash compactor. But it’s not. It’s the Automower Solar Hybrid.
Yes, the lawnmower has gone the way of the Prius. Sort of. A Prius with a brain and an agenda.
Believe it or not, this is the world’s first ever automatic lawn mower. Not only does it cut your lawn while you’re at the office or inside helping the kids with their math homework, it has a solar panel that at least partly powers it. (For extended or night mows, you’ll need to have charged it with some AC.)
Solar power. That’s great. But are they kidding about it cutting the lawn by itself?!?
Paris Hiltons new dream car, the Porsche Cayenne hybrid. I have a big white car! I wish I knew the make and model, but I’ve lost the owner’s manual and the letters on the trunk have peeled off. Although, I’ve narrowed it down, using a unique process of finding people over the age of eighty who still drive. I’m 100% confident it’s some type of Oldsmobile or a 1996 Ford Taurus. That being said, I’m not your typical car guy.
I did have a brief love affair with automobiles as a child. I think all little boys do. I built models, wrecked matchbox cars, worshiped my Lamborghini poster, and hauled my lunch box filled with micro machines everywhere. Little boys’ minds are fueled on fantasies of fast cars, skipping showers and staying up late — a playful life with no strings attached. As a child, I dreamt of cruising in my Porsche, on my holiest birthday, scoring the head cheerleader, and blaring Wu Tang. Instead, sadly, I got my first white car, a Buick Le Sabre. Soon after, I broke up with my fantasy cherry Corvette, was involved in a domestic dispute with my yellow banana Lamborghini poster and had my heart broken by the fast and easy Porsche. From there, my prized matchbox collection ended up as small pieces of metal retired to collect dust in my childhood attic.
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.
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.
Sometimes in a practical and efficient world, style must give way to function. That said, when looking at the new Toyota Hi-CT concept car, I wonder just how much style we have to give up in order to achieve said practicality and efficiency.
Imagine, for a moment, a Mini Cooper. Nice looking car, right? Now take its nose and smash it so that it extends slightly further than the windshield. Welcome to the Toyota Hi-CT.
It’s like a car after a botched nose job.
But looks aren’t everything. True, the Hi-CT will facilitate travel in cities where traffic congestion is high, but along with its compact size, it’s the vehicle’s power source that’s of real interest here. The Hi-CT is powered by a hybrid drive-train, which combines a 1.5-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor.
There are two distinct theories of gas-electric hybrid design. The first is to make them look different from typical internal combustion engine cars, so that people driving them feel apart from the rest of the pack. The second is to bury the hybrid system in an otherwise conventional car, making for a stealthy application of the same technology.
Strangely enough, given that the last Honda Insight rolled off the assembly line last year, the Toyota Prius is currently the only example of the obvious hybrid. The Toyota Camry, on the other hand, may well be the best current example of a stealth hybrid — and that’s because they don’t come much more conventional than the Camry.
Ford is up to something and I like it. Maybe you’re starting to tire of the new concept cars; it seems like they are all starting to look the same. When I saw the Ford Airstream, I thought, “yawn, there’s a concept SUV/van” — but then I saw the inside Continue Reading / See Additional Photos
If George W. Bush is right, then gas is akin to crack.And I think using less crack is something we can all get behind.
Gas is worse than crack, in that most everything we take for granted in the western world is built on it. So cold turkey is really not an option, and battery technology isn’t where it needs to be to fulfill our energy storage needs.
Enter the hybrids, which will go down in history as the bridge to whatever will replace gas on the roads.
When it comes to luxury hybrids, the Lexus RX 400h is the start and end of the list. With all the accoutrements a well-lined wallet can afford –- and at around $42,000, some $6,000 cheaper than it was when originally introduced -– the definition of luxury is changing. And, we can hope, getting more efficient.
Members of Ford Motor Company’s Sustainable Mobility team recently joined Southern California Edison in the hopes of perfecting the plug-in hybrid. Sounds like a good team when you consider that it was Ford who brought us the world’s first hybrid SUV and that Edison currently holds the nation’s record forthe largest and most advanced electric vehicle fleet.
The problem with existing plug-in vehicle technologies, according to an article at Ford.com, is that they’re not competitive or commercially viable – mainly because the current batteries needed to run them aren’t up to consumer demands in terms of price, durability or reliability. But Ford and Edison are striving to change that, to develop a plug-in that will take over the masses, that will consume the consumer.
The advantage to fueling at the plug instead of the pump is obviously that it’s less expensive, it reduces petroleum-based greenhouse gases and, if charged at night, would help balance the nation’s energy grid by utilizing electricity during off-peak hours. According to their website, Edison is already offering a substantial savings to customers who charge their electric vehicles between 9:01 pm and 11:59 am.