Automotive pollution is a serious concern and new emission regulation are tougher each year. In some countries lower emission can mean lower car insurance or the right to use HOV lanes.

Audi has turned the corner on their new "Audi balanced mobility" moto with the launch of a new project called the TCNG e-gas project. The e-gas project will go into production starting 2013 and is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to set up an entire portfolio of sustainable sources of energy.

The TCNG e-gas project will use wind-generated electricity to manufacture hydrogen by means of electrolysis. Hydrogen can be used in the future as a source of energy for fuel-cell vehicles or, in an additional step, can be used to manufacture methane. Such methane is known as Audi as e-gas. It is chemically identical to natural gas and can power combustion engines. More important, it is completely CO2-neutral.

"Ecology and economy in unison: that is the greatest challenge of the future. To attain this we must bring mobility completely into equilibrium – with people and their new values and with the environment. CO2-neutral mobility is our goal," says Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler. He continues: "On the way to achieving this we are systematically using clean power. We are producing climate-friendly fuels and forming a new mindset for which our entire company stands. That’s the objective of Audi balanced mobility."

A few days ago, we were introduced to a pair of concept race cars for the upcoming IndyCar seasons courtesy of its builder, Dallara. Today, we’re introduced to the Formulec EF01, the first of what appears to be a new generation of single-seater electric race cars that will participate in the upcoming Formulec World Series in 2012.

And who said that automotive competitions aren’t safe from the electric revolution?

The Formulec EF01 was designed and created by South African firm Formulec and its partner, SEGULA Technologies and was built with the intention of combining speed and efficiency with sustainability and an eye towards environmental responsibility. Despite its electric nature, the EF01 is still capable of posting a north-to-60 mph time of just three seconds and a top speed of 150 mph.

This electric race car differentiates itself from the rest of its gas-emitting brethren through a technology that puts importance on hi-performance connectors that are used for the high current and high voltage - 250A/400-800V - DC connection for the battery, junction box, and the inverter.

The EF01 is scheduled to participate in the Formulec World Series in 2012 in an effort to establish the series as the first electric single-seater competition in the world. For the 2012 season, 10 races are expected to take place with the target for 2013 allowing world class drivers to test their racing know-how on board an EF01.

The end result – or goal – is to create the 2014 Formulec World Championship, which will be participated in by automakers and their newly built and developed electric racers.

The future of electric single-seater racing has arrived. Whether it shapes up to be the future of automotive racing remains to be seen.

Posted on by Matt McDonald 10

Similar to how Henry Ford set out to make the automobile accessible for everyone in America; a small start-up company based in Santa Monica, CA intends to make the electric car affordable to all. Coda Automotive has been developing what they call a revolutionary new compact, full-electric car for less money than the competition. The past several years have been a struggle, but as with any start-up company, there are growing pains.

At the beginning of 2011, the company had already raised $76 million dollars and is looking to end with a total of $200 million. Past CEOs of this fledgling carmaker are former Goldman Sachs executives that should have no problem finding the last chunk of capital. This year, Phil Murtaugh became the new CEO and can back up his credentials with former stints at Chrysler and General Motors . “We’re getting our production tooling in order now. It all takes about six weeks to ship them over to the United States, so sometime in the fourth quarter, probably the late fourth quarter, we’ll see cars going on sale in California,” said Murtaugh.

The car itself is less than stunning on the outside, but with fuel efficiency being at the forefront of many Californian’s minds, this car could be the easy answer. It should achieve 90 to 120 miles on a single charge and charge faster than its major competition.

Hit the jump for more details on the Coda Sedan

Posted on by Matt McDonald 16

As Royal wedding fever was about to wear off, the Prince had one last surprise in store. For many years his Father has been the owner of an Aston Martin DB6 Mark II that was converted to run on biofuel. The car was decorated in traditional wedding fashion complete with ribbons, balloons, and a trick license plate reading Ju5t Wed. The dark blue Volante convertible was driven by the Prince through the crowds in front of Buckingham Palace on his way to a reception party. The car traveled down the procession route with top down and minimal security. A lone Range Rover followed the Aston and a RAF Rescue helicopter, much like the ones flown by the Prince, flew above with a flag waving below.

The Royals clearly have access to many things including the various Rolls Royce models and Carriages used today, but an Aston Martine DB6 Volante is rare even for them. This legendary car was the longest running production model that Aston Martin ever produced, but only 140 Volante versions were built. Furthermore, this may be the only one in the world running off biofuel made from excess British wine product.

Originally made famous by the James Bond films, these Aston Martin models have been coveted by collectors for years. Very rarely do they come up for sale or auction and the Prince’s will most likely never leave the Royal collection. The DB6 was a major improvement over the previous DB5 model and turned the car into a proper Grand Touring model. Performance for these models was increased through the Vantage edition which raised output to 325hp, but there is no word on the specific power output from the biofuel model.

Hit the jump for more details on the Aston Martin DB6.

Posted on by Matt McDonald 23

Ten years ago there was very little discussion about electric or hybrid vehicles. The technology was far from perfected and no low level consumer was able to purchase it. Throughout this past decade our economy, natural resources, and priorities have shifted towards conserving the environment and our funds. This has helped the renewable and green energy proponents to make large discoveries that are moving the industry forward faster than ever.

Americans tend to be very stubborn and change can rub us the wrong way all too easily. Most of the negative sentiments about electric and hybrid vehicles are based around ignorance. Quite simply, most people could not tell you the difference between a hybrid car and a full electric vehicle. Come to think of it, most people could not tell the difference between a diesel and a petrol engine besides the fact that they would have to use the green pump at the gas station. For the hybrid automakers to start selling these vehicles in larger quantities, the public must be educated about their benefits and potential pitfalls.

Several basic types of low emissions vehicles exist and are currently being marketed by the major auto manufacturers. The biggest seller of these is Toyota with their Prius model, which is a hybrid vehicle. Making distinctions between the different cars available will be helpful to a potential buyer by allowing them to get a vehicle that best suits their respective uses and needs.

Hit the jump for more details on Hybrid Vehicles

A Formula One car is easily recognizable in this day and age, but what lies ahead for the sport will quickly change the look and feel of these vehicles faster than we can say, "regulations suck." The FIA has already stated that these vehicles need to utilize a 1.6-liter turbo engine starting in the 2013 season and teams will also need to reduce their fuel consumption by 35%. So what happens to these cars when they have to be nipped, pulled, tweaked, and downsized?

Former Executive Director of Engineering of the Renault Formula One team, Pat Symonds, wanted an answer so he took it upon himself to design the 2020 Renault Formula One car. The car is being featured in Issue 179 of F1 Racing Magazine and offers up some unenthusiastic power figures. The design is characterized by low-profile tires on bigger wheels, the return of ground effects aerodynamics, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) that produce 250bhp, and a standard, non-downforce rear wing. We may have glazed over the 250bhp rather quickly, but that’s because we aren’t too jazzed about the decrease in power. However, these changes will need to be made in order to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

"Taking into consideration all the variant motivators that drive regulations, I expect that the F1 car of 2020 will demonstrate much more change than has been seen over the past 10 years. A few simple assumptions can determine the basic architecture of the car. By the time we add a few changes, such as larger wheels and low-profile tires, we start to get a fairly clear picture of what the car might look like."

"The illustrations we’ve produced are certainly an artistic impression, but they capture the essential characteristics of a car that will be contesting the Formula 1 World Championship in 2020."

We have a feeling that unless some major changes are made, the thrill of Formula One will start to vanish soon. Let us know what you think about this in the comment section!

Even high performance models like the ones from the AMG division of Mercedes have to obey the new emission and consumptions regulations and, in order to pass these regulations, Mercedes says it will include hybrid technology, as well as stop-start and energy recuperation devices, in the future high performance vehicles.

Our first reaction to this news was a collective shaking of our heads at the diminishing of vehicles with true power, but reading a little further, we discovered that Mercedes plans to go the hybrid route in a completely different direction than that of other auto brands. Mercedes’ main priority will be to improve fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions, but still offer true performance vehicles.

"In the future AMG will still offer high performance models, but there will be hybrids there. AMG needs to reduce fuel consumption," said Daimler’s head of future mobility and advanced engineering, Herbert Kohler in an interview with AutoCar.

He also said that AMG would not be following the same strategy Porsche did with the 918 Spyder : "Hybrids can boost, but AMGs will use stop-start and recuperation technology."

So how "hybrid" will these hybrid AMGs be? That’s a question will have to wait at least a year or two to answer.

Source: AutoCar

We just don’t know what the world is coming to when automakers such as Porsche start making these crazy mediocre plans. Porsche has already planned on offering a hybrid version for every model in their line-up, and now they come out with this nonsense. As a next step on their path towards reducing fuelk consumption and CO2 emissions, the German company is saying they will down size their engines.

In a recent interview, Development Chief Wolfgang Duerheimer said: "If the CO2 guidelines require it, then our engines will become smaller and may have just four cylinders. The important thing is that the performance has to be right. The 911 must always be on the cutting edge."

The good news is that Porsche is trying to think of ways to keep up their performance all while pleasing the greenies out there. One of the ways they will be doing this is by adding turbochargers and direct injection to the smaller engines. And as with every new generation, Porsche also hopes to reduce weight by 10%.

"A constant weight is our minimum requirement in the change to a new generation, even with compliance with all the new safety and comfort requirements. You could hardly achieve much more than that with current technologies" Duerheimer said.

The company is already preparing carbon fiber bodies for road vehicles that will create an additional weight loss of about 50 kilograms. This new technology will be unveiled in the next five years.

We have to admit, we are a bit confused. If you remember, last month we reported that Ford would bring the new generation Focus ST to the Paris Motor Show in September. Now, Autocar reports that Ford will axe the ST version of their newest generation Focus.

And the reason for this decision is quite simple: Europe’s tightening emissions standards. The Focus ST will be the second model, after the Honda Civic Type R , who will have to be axed due to the new emissions standards. The same fate will attack the 3.2 V6 in the Alfa Brera, the Mazda RX-8, and the VW Group’s 5.0 V10 turbodiesel.

So, in this case, the car expected to debut in Paris will drop the usual 2.5-liter turbo five-cylinder engine and will get a new 2.0-liter direct-injection turbo engine that will deliver around 250bhp and 350Nm of torque. Derrick Kuzak said the new model will get "an EcoBoost turbocharged engine, be exciting to drive, great to look at and certainly worth waiting for”.

Source: AutoCar
Posted on by TREVOR LAMENYA 10

With the quest to increase the capacity of battery powered vehicles, a group of enthusiasts from Australia, Germany, and Switzerland have set off in their battery powered vehicles on what’s being billed as the "longest and greenest" round-the-world drive to promote emissions-free transport and November’s world climate conference.

The UN-supported "Zero Race" has been organized by a Swiss Louis Palmer, who made headlines with his 18-month pioneering world tour in a solar-powered "taxi" two years ago, picking up celebrities on the way.

Palmer said: "With this race we want to show that seven billion people on this planet need renewable energy and clean mobility. Petrol is running out and the climate crisis is coming, and we are all running against time."

A Korean vehicle failed to reach the start line at the United Nations in Geneva in time after it broke down with "a minor battery problem" about 60km up the road, Palmer said, but would join the other three teams later in the day.

The Zero Race team is set to stop off at the World Climate Conference in Cancun, Mexico, after touring through Europe, Russia, China, Canada, and the United States before heading back to Geneva in January 2011.

Hit the jump for the full story.

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