economy cars

economy cars

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Discontinued in 2012 as Saab was filing for bankruptcy, the 9-3 sedan made a surprising return in 2013, when the brand was revived under National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) ownership. But instead of launching the third-generation model that was in the works before Saab went bankrupt, NEVS started building second-gen cars at the company’s Trollhattan production plant. Identical to the 2012 model, the "new" sedan arrived in dealerships without the trademark griffin logos and with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-banger under the hood.While NEVS is undoubtedly working on a modern replacement for the 9-3 , the next-generation vehicle won’t be launched for at least two more years. Instead, the Swedes are reportedly looking to reintroduce the 9-3 SportCombi and have already confirmed plans to offer an electric iteration of the current sedan.

The EV is still not ready to go into production, but NEVS has just unveiled the prototype that will become an actual Saab product in the near future.

Click past the jump to read more about the Saab 9-3 EV Prototype

Nissan seems to be taking a play right from Tesla’s electric car playbook, as the automaker introduces its “No Charge to Charge” program. As the program’s name suggests, it allows new Nissan LEAF owners to charge their all-electric cars at any one of Nissan’s growing network of charging stations. Already live in 10 markets across the U.S., the 2,600 public charging stations and 200 quick charging stations will accept Nissan’s EZ-ChargeSM card.

Acting like a credit card, the EZ-ChargeSM card will give owners the change to fill their batteries, but without a bill at the end of the month. Nissan is planning to grow the network of quick-charging stations by an additional 500 units at Nissan dealerships, and local businesses and municipalities across the country. Those businesses and municipal partners will include those who’ve partnered with Nissan in key LEAF markets.

The EZ-ChargeSM card also opens up the nation’s leading five EV charging networks that include ChargePoint, Blink, CarCharging, AeroVironment, and NRG eVgo. The stations are accessible in the top-10 LEAF market across the country including the cities of San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, Seat Seat tle, Portland, Oregon., Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston and Washington, D.C. The dealer network will then extend into another 15 additional EV markets outside those cities.

LEAF owners will be able to charge their vehicles up to 80 percent in roughly 30 minutes at the quick-charging stations. Obviously the conventional charging stations will take longer to charge a depleted battery.

Click past the jump to read more about the Nissan LEAF.

Hypermileing is a growing trend these days as folks try to conserve as much fuel and money as possible. But even the best efforts are vain attempts when compared to a driver with a good tool. Turns out, the best tool (most efficient) is the upcoming Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid . Fitted with a diesel engine, an electric hybrid drive system, and the factory-optional large-capacity fuel tank, the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid can drive an amazing 1,223 miles on one tank of fuel.

The feat was accomplished by British automotive journalist Andrew Frankel in a massive undertaking of driving from Tangier in Northern Africa to the United Kingdom. The journey trekked through two continents, four countries, and three time zones in a total of 27 hours of drive time.

Frankel and the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid’s final destination was the Goodwood Festival of Speed , slotted to show off the car’s amazing fuel efficiency and range at the ‘First Glance’ paddock. Even with hitting heavy rain and thick traffic, the car still averaged 73.6 mpg. The larger, 21-gallon fuel tank used is a regular factory option, costing £100, or roughly $170 U.S. dollars as of 7/1/2014, helped ensure the trip would be completed without a single fuel stop.

When Frankel arrived at Goodwood, the fuel readout still showed another 100 miles worth of driving range. If he’d kept driving, the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid could have potentially covered 1,323 miles of road without a single stop.

Click past the jump to read more about the Mercedes-Benz E-Class .

The culture of open-source information just got a massive supporter. Tesla Motors has voluntarily revoked every patent the company previously held in the field of electric-powered vehicles, opening up other companies to use Tesla’s original ideas for free.

The unprecedented move comes as Tesla Motors’ founder and CEO Elon Musk released a statement citing his passion for zero-emissions vehicles and his belief in the growing need for such vehicles. “Given that annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis.”

With that, the company is now open to sharing its discoveries and innovations in developing, building, selling, and recharging electric vehicles. Well-established automakers like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Corporation, and others will now have free access to Tesla’s once-protected innovations.

Musk further elaborates in his candidly written letter that the electric car industry and eventually the world will benefit from having access to open-sourced and rapidly evolving technology.

Tesla originally held patents on its developments out of fear the large automakers would copy the technology and snuff out Tesla’s small operation. However, now that Tesla has made a such a name for itself and has a well-established (yet still rapidly growing) network of Supercharger recharging stations, that likelihood has diminished. What’s more, Musk points out that out of the 100-million vehicles produced annually, less than one percent of those are zero emissions. Thus far, Tesla’s competition seems noticeably absent.

Click past the jump to read more about Tesla’s giveaway.

When it comes to Japanese sports roadsters, there’s nothing better than the Mazda MX-5 . That much a lot of people can agree on. But while the MX-5’s status within this segment is undisputed, a host of automakers are determined to break in and make a name for themselves.

One of these companies is Honda and a few month ago at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show , we were introduced to the Honda S660 Concept , a prototype mini roadster that pays homage to the beloved 90’s model, the Honda Beat.

The Beat ended its production in 1996 but it seems that a successor in the S660 is expected to be produced in the near future. According to a report from Japanese site Response, Honda is preparing to build a production model of the S660 Concept at the company’s plant in Yokkaichi. Yes, that’s the same factory that built the Beat, so there’s a little case here of the Japanese automaker coming full circle with its entry-level sports roadster.

Honda reportedly expects to see a production model of the S660 next year so we’re looking forward to seeing how that one’s going to look and perform. There’s a chance that we’re not going to see anything bigger than a 660 cc, three-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces just 64 horsepower.

But we’re crossing our fingers that Honda opts for a full liter under the production S660. If anything, it deserves as much if its going to line up against the Mazda MX-5.

Note: Concept version pictured here.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2016 Honda S660.

The first wave of BMW i3 units have come ashore here in the United State, with the first few i3 sales going to some prominent figures within the green community. BMW i3 No. one was delivered to Boston resident Charles Rabie who is also a Tufts University professor of practice, electric vehicle proponent, and current owner of a BMW ActiveE.

The i3 represents BMW’s first all-electric vehicle intended for mass consumption. It utilizes a hybrid-synchronous electric motor that produces 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque powering the rear wheels with a range up to 100 miles. Power is stored in a 22-kWh lithium-ion battery that can be recharged in 30 minutes when connected to a fast-charge station or roughly eight hours with a conventional home charger.

What’s more, a range-extender model is available with a 650 cc, two-cylinder gasoline engine. The little engine only produces 34 horsepower, but pushes the i3’s total range to 180 miles of everyday driving. The engine works well for doubling the i3’s range, but it also increases the car’s overall cost by some $4,000. Then again, on a car costing over $46,000, an additional $4k isn’t a bad price for the ability to drive twice as far.

Also atop the list of folks getting an early i3 is Ashlan Gorse Cousteau. She is a former E! Entertainment correspondent and the wife of Philippe Cousteau, who happens to be the grandson of Jacques Cousteau, the famous French explorer. It surely is a small world.

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW i3

Ever since the Nisan Versa came to the U.S. back in 2007, the little car proved that cheap transportation didn’t have to be so dreary. While it’s no GT-R in terms of styling, the sedan and hatchback versions of the car sold well. In 2013, Nissan revamped the Versa for its second generation and added the Note name to designate the Hatchback version from the sedan .

Now for 2015, Nissan is adding a little more spice with the SR trim package on the Versa Note hatchback. While nothing changes mechanically, the SR trim does bring some sportiness to the car’s interior. Things like a new leather-wrapped steering wheel, suede look-alike material on the seats with orange accent double stitching. A refreshed center instrument panel is finished out in piano black plastic with silver accents and chrome knobs. It also gets a Fine Vision three-dial gauge cluster with a floating trip computer.

The SR sport trim package is also joined by the new top-of-the-line SL trim package for 2015, rounding out the S, S Plus, and SV trim lines.

The Versa Note SR represents Nissan’s up-marketing of the Versa in response to the stiffening competition. Cars like the Ford Fiesta, Chevy Spark, Honda Fit, and Toyota Yaris are all strong in the segment. The argument gets even easier to debate once IIHS ratings are taken into account, with the Spark earning the relatively best score of the bunch.

Updated 05/28/2014: Nissan announced today prices for the new Note SR - the latest addition to the current Note lineup. The SR version will be priced from $17,530 and it will add a series of unique exterior and interior treatments, like sporty front and rear fascias and grille, dark headlight surrounds, fog lights, rear spoiler, suede-like seats and 16-inch sport aluminum-alloy wheels.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2015 Nissan Versa Note SR.

We never bother covering 10-minute Nϋrburgring times. In fact, anything over eight minutes is not really worth our time. And we have never, nor did we ever plan to cover a Citroen AX Diesel . I mean, with just 52 horsepower, it is pretty obvious why we just have no interest in it. That said, when you combine these two typically boring topics, we suddenly become really interested.

It takes a pretty good driver to lap the `Ring in under 10 minutes in any normal car, but to do so in this 52-horsepower, bone-stock hatchback not only takes skills, but it also takes a set of gonads large enough to need their own area code. Well, this fine gentleman must have put his set in the trunk, as they were nowhere in sight, but he managed to clear the bridge-to-gantry run in 9:55.

Watching him work that underpowered diesel engine like a champ was a thing of beauty. As he stated, the AX’s 1,360 cc diesel engine is a dog once the 720 kg (1,590-pound) car loses its momentum, so he had to push this puny hatchback with what appeared to be nothing more than bicycle tires under it further than some of us may be comfortable in a modern supercar .

Don’t think that he simply hopped in his AX and headed to the `Ring for a quick session when he broke the 10-minute barrier. He did 118 laps around the Nϋrburgring to get to know the course, then it took him 10 full-throttle attempts to get it under 10 minutes. That is some serious perseverance, folks.

Out hats off to you. Regardless of how much you downplayed in on the YouTube post, that was some amazing driving and awesome reflexes.

If you’re the BMW i3 , you’re probably sweating over all the attention the BMW i8 is generating, and there’s good reason for that. The i8, after all, is like the stud athlete of the family, whereas the i3 is the the little brother struggling to come out of big bro’s shadow.

But don’t tell that to Lumma Design, the noted BMW tuner who loves the i3 equally. In fact, the new CLR i8 program developed for the i8 also has an i3 counterpart: the CLR i3 Concept.

Like the CLR i8, the CLR i3 also comes with a comprehensive body kit that’s become tantamount to an awesome makeover for the BMW i3. The new front lip spoiler adds a more aggressive appearance to the hatchback, whereas the new hood, which is made from carbon fiber from the looks of it, is the kind of high-end stamp you normally see supercars receive. Same goes for the carbon-fiber side skirts and the set of 22-inch alloy wheels.

The CLR i3 program also looks like it’s ripe to receive a performance upgrade. After all, you make this hatch look as good as it does, thanks to all those cosmetic and aerodynamic changes, without a matching performance tune.

We’re waiting for the complete program for the i3, Lumma Design. You got off to a great start with the aero mods; now’s the time to finish it off with a bang the BMW i3 deserves.

Click past the jump to read about the BMW i3

Source: Lumma Design

Rob Riggle’s brand of humor can be a little over the top sometimes, but this new Ford commercial for the Super Bowl, doesn’t show that off.

Here we see a more subdued Riggle talking to a coffee-sipping Ford exec while describing the benefits of driving a Ford hybrid. At one point, Riggle even ventures into the world of mythology to make his point, comparing the hybrid to a griffin complete with a soliloquy about the griffin having the "head of an eagle, the body of a lion."

We don’t know if we can necessarily compare a Ford hybrid (maybe he was talking about a Fusion Hybrid ?) to that mythic creature, but we do see the point of Riggle’s comparison. If anything, he does a good job of selling his spiel, even though it doesn’t make much sense at all.

Oh, well. Guess that’s how Ford is going to roll with its set of ads for the Super Bowl. Maybe it has more up its sleeve, but this one, while pretty funny in a Rob Riggle kind of way, misses on what the #nearlydouble hashtag is trying to get across.

Click past the jump to read about the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid


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