Apr 23, 2012
Chris Salamone

MotoEnvy, Electric Style

If you didn’t want a motorcycle before, you’ll want one now. Brammo, the company responsible for dominating the Isle of Man electric motorcycle race, has officially unveiled their latest close-to-production version super bike – the Empulse. Until recently, electric motorcycles seemed like an impossible dream. Subsequent battery technology just couldn’t handle the high speeds or minimum storage space commonly associated with bikes.

That is, until now. On May 8, Brammo will officially debut the company’s latest electric sensation. One quick look at the vehicle’s specs and you’ll become an electric motorcycle believer.

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Apr 6, 2012
Chris Salamone

Chevy Sparks Sub $13,000 Price

Consumers won’t see too many big changes in the 2013 Chevrolet model lineup, except for one little – but glaring – introduction. The Chevy Spark will be offered in a myriad of jubilant colors and at a price we won’t soon forget, which the company hopes will translate to greater sales success over industry competitors like the Scion iQ and Smart ForTwo.

The Spark arrives in three trim levels and at a starting MSRP of $12,995, including destination.

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Mar 30, 2012
Chris Salamone

Spark EV Hits Pavement, Closer To Production

Back in October, General Motors made some big electric vehicle predictions. Among them, the good General believed the company’s soon-to-be megahit Chevy Volt would start to sell big volumes. While many spectators rationally dismissed the Volt’s projected sales target, some were eager to learn more about GM’s future production of an electrified Chevy Spark – the traditionally petrol powered sub-subcompact.

Count your lucky stars, because the Spark EV has mobilized for a 65% development drive. Whatever that means.

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Mar 22, 2012
Chris Salamone

Sweden Considers Electrifying Highway

From a global perspective, the concept of electrifying a road, instead of each individual car, is well known. After successful applications in San Francisco and other major city centers, there can be no doubt that overhead electric cables are an efficient way to operate public transit. But little and less is understood about how the public, or industry, might benefit from a similar system. Volvo and Sweden hope to change all that.

In June, the Swedish Traffic Administration will consider a proposal to build a fast-track electrification project near the country’s northern perimeter. The plan aims to boost a 62 mile segment of road which connects a new mine and train depot – streamlining the shuttling of iron ore.

We shouldn’t be too surprised though. As a matter of policy, Sweden intends to become fossil fuel free by 2030.

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Mar 16, 2012
Chris Salamone

Wacky Swiss Man Adds Wood Stove To Volvo

What’s the strangest eco-friendly thing you’ve seen this week? Feces powered vehicles step aside, one Swiss man actually decided to install a real deal wood-burning stove into his 1990 Volvo 240. If life were some kind of exotic variety show, Pascal Prokop might just take home the automotive gold.

Prokop’s design actually looks somewhat functional – and it had to be. The Swiss Technical Inspection Authority has already granted permission for this Volvo wood burner to tear up the streets: classified as a “Sedan with a wood oven.”

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Mar 7, 2012
Chris Salamone

Ford Focus Electric Buzzes Into Life

Way back in December 2011, Ford began production of the Focus Electric at the company’s Michigan Assembly Plant. A lot of speculation has occurred as to what kind of numbers the latest Ford EV might produce, but apparently our waiting has not been for naught. The Focus Electric was recently EPA certified to achieve 110 MPGe in the city and 105 MPGe combined, making this the most fuel efficient five-passenger vehicle in America.

As if high fuel economy weren’t enough, Ford is taking direct aim at the Nissan Leaf. And don’t expect this to be a lightweight sparring match. The Focus looks like a true heavyweight contender, in a small package…of course.

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Feb 16, 2012
Chris Salamone

Obama Budget Throws Giant EV Bone

Say what you will about our President, but the man knows his logical reasoning. The big problem with EV sales is that only America’s financial elite can afford to go electric and take advantage of the $7,500 tax credit. In point of fact, GM recently came out and admitted that Chevy Volt buyers are some of the company’s most wealthy customers, averaging about $170,000 in income per year.  And since Obama has a goal of having one million “advanced technology vehicles” on the road by 2015, clearly the President cannot rely on an exclusive class of citizenry.

In an effort to make electric vehicles more attainable for your average Joe, President Obama’s federal budget will include a provision to change the EV tax incentive from a credit to a rebate and increase the dollar amount from $7,500 to $10,000.

While a credit can be very useful for high income earners, as a method of deducting total taxable income, a rebate will function as an immediate incentive for all consumers to go electric. Thus, $10,000 would be chopped off that Chevy Volt’s sticker price at the point of purchase, not during next year’s tax season as a deduction. Suddenly EVs could look at lot more affordable.

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Feb 13, 2012
Chris Weiss

New Mitsubishi i Tops Green List

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its Greenest Vehicles of 2012 list, and the all-new Mitsubishi i (previously and sometimes still called the i-Miev) bumped the Honda Civic Natural Gas from its comfortable place at the top. The i is the first electric car of the new EV era to be recognized as the list topper.

After eight years of reign, the Honda Civic NG is no longer king. The 2012 Mitsubishi i is awarded the ACEEE’s highest score (58) based on its performance in fuel efficiency, tailpipe emissions, emissions from the fuel and vehicle manufacturing processes, and other environmental factors. The i is the first electric vehicle to win the top spot since the GM EV-1 was recognized 12 years ago.

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Feb 9, 2012
Chris Salamone

Prius Plug-In Posts Potent MPGe

Since Toyota Motor Corp. announced plans to develop a Prius Plug-In Hybrid, industry analysts have speculated time and time again how the company’s top gun hybrid would perform with a plug-in system – especially relative to other electric-trend automakers General Motors and Nissan. To appease the media community, Toyota released an initial MPGe estimate back in September of 2011 which projected an average of 49 mpg during hybrid mode and, more importantly, 87 MPGe with frequent battery charging.

At first blush industry competitors might have looked down on 87 MPGe. The Nissan Leaf is currently rated at 99 MPGe, without using an ounce of gasoline. And even the Chevy Volt, an American whale by comparison, delivers a strong showing at 94 MPGe. But unlike other automakers, Toyota chose to remain modest about the Prius Plug-In’s potential.

The company now expects the rechargeable Prius to be capable of at least 95 MPGe, which effectively attaches a sinking anchor onto the pricey, less-efficient Volt and Nissan’s range anxiety-inducing Leaf.

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Feb 1, 2012
Chris Weiss

Chevy Volt Owners Could Get Renewable Charging With Innovative OnStar App

Chevy Volt owners clearly care about the environment or they wouldn’t be coughing up a big premium for series-hybrid technology. GM may give these owners even more power to clean up their commutes by launching a unique renewable-energy program for OnStar.

With the proposed system being developed in conjunction with Google, OnStar would receive a signal from PJM Interconnection showing the available renewably-sourced energy within the grid. PJM Interconnection is a regional electricity transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in more than a dozen eastern states.

The information would be uploaded to OnStar’s Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS), where OnStar could use it to automatically match up charging Volts with renewable energy. A mobile app would let owners know when renewable energy is available.

“In the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy,” said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development. “As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources.”

The system is still in the prototype stages and may or may not become commercially available. If it does, GM says that Volt owners will need only sign up to opt in. OnStar will take care of the rest.

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