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green cars

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Tesla Model S

In the world of electric vehicles, Tesla is busy placing the finishing touches on the Sistine Chapel while the rest of the automotive world is still fumbling around with paint-by-numbers kits. Tesla managed to pull off making an EV lineup that is sexy, efficient, range-heavy, and cost effective while the rest just can’t keep up.

We knew that Tesla had its new “Supercharger ” that it was working on, but we were none too sure exactly what it was going to end up being. Well, now we know. The Superchargers are a line of charging stations that Tesla is building to help make driving EVs nearly as convenient as combustion vehicles by providing extremely fast charges.

Tesla announced that the initial six chargers will all been high-traffic corridors in California and will be 100 percent fueled by sunlight, which makes them 100 percent green too. They can provide 100 Kw of power in just 30 minutes, which is good for about three hours of driving at 60 mph. In the future, Tesla plans to crank them up to 120 Kw. To boot, Tesla also announced that these Supercharger stations will be completely free of charge for Tesla Model S owners to use.

Tesla plans to extend the Supercharger network next year to other high-traffic areas and eventually plans to have enough stations to travel from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal, and L.A. to New York in an electric vehicle without worrying about discharging the batteries. For Tesla Model S Tesla Model S owners, this would mean completely cost-free travel across the country, sans wear and tear on the car and food.

We must tip our hats again to the genius that is Tesla. How exactly it pulls off these types of advancements in technology without going belly up is beyond us. Let’s just hope it can keep this trend up and get us away from fossil fuels altogether and into EVs that put most gasoline-powered cars to shame.

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Electric cars are certainly beginning to take flight lately, with Tesla becoming the unlikely leader of the whole revolution. Okay, maybe it’s not quite a revolution yet, but it’s at least starting to gain a little more traction. It has gained enough traction to garner the attention of UK coach builder, Prindiville.

Prindiville, being the creative company that it is, couldn’t just make any run-of-the-mill EV. Nope, its engineers and designers came up with a near mock up of the latest Hummer H3 – you know, one of the many defunct GM brands – only miniaturize and electric driven. What a concept!

Prindiville has now begun production and released a slew of specifications, so we felt it was time to give it the appropriate TopSpeed once over via a full review. So is this new custom EV in a shrunk-down Hummer body a good buy for the average driver?

To find out the answer to that and more, click past the jump.

We all knew that the Formula E series was on the cusp of becoming a reality, as its plans outlined a 2014 debut. Despite the planning, there simply wasn’t the funding available to get the series going. The key word here is “wasn’t,” as the FIA has just inked a commercialization deal to form Formula E Holdings (FEH), which better assures the 2014 debut of the all-electric racing series.

The new promoter of the Formula E series is now FEH. FEH’s anchor investor is a London-based businessman by the name of Enrique Bañuelos. Alejandro Agag takes the reigns as FEH’s CEO overseeing Formula E. There are other folks with significant involvement with the project, including: Lord Drayson, Managing Partner of Drayson Racing Technologies, and Eric Barbaroux, Chairman of the French electric automotive company "Electric Formula."

We will start seeing test runs of Formula E in 2013 and its debut is pretty much set in stone for 2014. While the cars are super fast – 0 to 60 in three seconds and a 137 mph top speed – they can only run on a single charge for about 25 minutes. This lack of longevity means that each team will have to field two cars and two drivers. Instead of stopping for fuel, as seen in other racing series, teams will be pitting to swap cars and drivers. It’ll be interesting to see how teams streamline this process and still remain within the series’ rules.

We can’t wait to see what this series has to offer and the kind of technology that it will eventually lend to typical street cars. We’ll keep a close eye on the development of the Formula E series and keep you updates.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

CNG and LPG Gasses: Is there a future for going natural?

We often bring up the CAFE standards, as they directly impact our covering of supercars that obviously do not fit into this plan. As much as we hate to admit it, fossil fuels are at about a quarter tank right now and fading fast, so something had to be done.

First came the “Gas Guzzler” tax, but that had very little impact, as the folks buying those types of cars could afford the extra several thousand dollars. With our backs against the wall, gasoline prices over $4 per gallon and the current CAFE standards expiring in 2016, the government stepped in and began composing an extension to the CAFE standards, which would push the average mpg of all cars and light trucks up to 54.5 mpg by 2025.

There was some battle over these standards being unconstitutional and unnecessary, but ultimately the courts and all sides of the government came to the conclusion that it was a necessary evil. Now this law has become official, as it has successfully passed its final obstacle, the pen of Barack Obama.

The new law takes effect in the 2017 model year, but there is a chance that Mitt Romney could beat Obama and he made it clear that he would immediately repeal the CAFE standards and move more toward encouragement than legislation. We’re not a political site, but it’s likely too late for encouragement to move the mpg needle fast enough.

We have already outlined what the supercar realm may look like by the year 2020, with high-strung 4-cylinders powering our fastest cars instead of massive V-12 engines. This can also cause a push toward LPG, CNG or hydrogen in the future, as the new law includes incentives for natural gas and fuel cell vehicles. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what happens, but the changes in the next 13 years will be drastic.

Click past the jump to read the press release about the finalization of these standards.

Source: Money News

Last year, we showed you the GreenGT LMPH2 model that was invited to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans , but did not race. Now that Green GT has nearly mastered its art of alternative fuel usage, it is set to enter its newest invention, the GreenGT H2, to the 2013 running of the Le Mans endurance race.

This H2 is nothing short of an impressive piece of work, as it boasts a pair of three-phase electric motors that each produce 200 Kw of power, which equals out to 544 horsepower reaching the rear wheels. What’s even more impressive is the astounding 4,000 Nm (2,950 pound-feet) of torque these motors create – no, that’s not a typo, two-thousand nine-hundred and fifty pound-feet. Being this is fully electric, we assume that this massive torque amount is instantly available.

Now, in order to run an electric motor, you need batteries, right? Not so fast. You’re forgetting about the oft-left-out fuel cell technology. The H2 uses a hydrogen fuel cell to produce the electricity the motors require. The only emissions produced are in the form of water vapor and heat.

You may think that the GreenGT will run away from the competition with its 2,950 pound-feet of torque and 544 horsepower, but you have to remember that this technology is still in production. The GreenGT H2 can only run for a solid 40 minutes at a time before needing its composite tanks refilled with hydrogen.

We’re excited to see the GreenGT H2 in action and this is really our front runner as the eventual replacement for gasoline power in auto racing. It may even wind up in personal cars too.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk: Batteries Aren't the Future

It was just a matter of time before Tesla and Fisker had to duke it out for a second time – the first coming in a Fisker-won court battle . This time around, it was Tesla CEO, Elon Musk , that decided to drop the gloves and poke Fisker for a fight. In an interview with Automobile Magazine, Musk said “It’s a mediocre product at a high price,” when talking about the Karma . He also said that “[Fisker] thinks the most important thing in the world — or the only important thing in the world — is design, so he outsourced the engineering and manufacturing.”

Musk did, however, pay a much-deserved complement to the Karma, stating that “It looks good” and “Particularly from the side it looks good." That’s definitely a comment that we can all agree with. Even ousted Fisker CEO, Henrik Fisker, stated that he’s “delighted that Elon thinks the Karma is a good-looking car.” Fisker went on to assure us that Tesla and Fisker are not competitors and that they use two different technologies and are going after completely different customers.

We beg to differ with that statement. Yes, you are using different technologies – Tesla’s is far more advanced – but you are competing for the same customers. Any hybrid customer or extended-range EV buyer would be silly not to look into the technology that Tesla Tesla has created and anyone that thinks that they are not in competition with one another is a little bit disillusioned.

We think that Musk was a little brash with his statements and would be better off to keep his opinions out of the corporate spotlight, regardless of how true they may be. Then again, the comments are damn funny, regardless of how inappropriate they may have been. Guess we have to give Musk some credit for speaking his mind.

Fisker Karma

The second Fisker fire fiasco has officially come to a close and the investigation turned up pretty much what we all expected: the batteries were not at fault. As we stated in our initial report, the fire was near the front of the vehicle, so failed batteries would have been a rather unlikely cause.

After a full investigation by Fisker’s engineers and an “independent fire expert” from Pacific Rim Investigative Services, it was discovered that the fire source was a faulty low-temperature cooling fan. In a fit of customer service, Fisker has decided to recall all affected Karma units.

In a press release regarding the findings, Fisker makes sure that everyone knows it’s not responsible by passing the blame torch to the fan manufacturer, calling it the “responsible supplier.” While that is technically a true statement, there is really no need to openly pass that blame. In all reality, your company installed the fan and performed the obligatory testing on it.

Surprisingly, the most directly affected person – the owner of the Fisker flambe – had the following to say: “I have been incredibly impressed with the way Fisker has handled this incident. I have personally started seven technology companies and know from direct experience that the US needs more innovative companies of this type, especially in the automobile sector. Fisker is a great company and one that I am personally planning to invest in. I look forward to getting behind the wheel of my next Fisker.”

Good for the customer for being so forgiving, but we would be hard pressed to get behind the wheel of a Fisker until there is plenty testing done without any incidents of fire.

We’re glad to see this fiasco come to an end and we truly hope that this is the last of Fisker’s issues, as we want to see this alternative fuel technology succeed and this success depends on the success or failure of both Tesla and Fisker.

Click past the jump to read Fisker’s full presser.

Fisker Karma

When two Fisker cars catch on fire within months of each other, what’s the first action you may expect from the car company? We would expect a thorough evaluation of the situation, a final determination, then maybe some internal rearranging, given the second fire is found to be caused by an issue with the company’s manufacturing process.

They must do things a little differently at Fisker, as it has chosen to replace its CEO – the second time that has happened this year, by the way – and replace him with Chevy Volt line director, Tony Posawatz. Interesting last name for a guy heading up a hybrid car company... Reuters is also reporting that the fired CEO will be around to offer “fatherly advice” to the new CEO, but he will not hold a formal role with the company.

We don’t know if Fisker’s latest CEO to enter the revolving door has anything to do with the Fisker-b-q that’s been going on recently, but the timing sure does seem a little strange to us. We are actually due to talk with Fisker at some point today, so we will make certain to ask their rep all about this situation while we’re on the phone with him.

We’re pretty sure we’ll get a canned response about the dismissal, but it’s well worth a try nonetheless. We’ll let you know what we hear from the rep, if he tells us anything at all.

Source: Reuters

When the Emerg-E popped onto the scene during the Geneva Auto Show, us automotive folk were amazed at the technology and potential behind this car. We were also amazed to see a rather familiar platform looking back at us, as the Emerg-E is built on the same platform as the Lotus Evora .

Lotus is no stranger to lending out its platforms and bodies for various performance applications (see: Hennessey Venom GT ), but it has never gotten into the actual building phase of these cars. Infiniti has yet to confirm that the Emerg-E for production, but its sister company, Renault, has already announced that the Alpine will go into production, in one form or another.

Since Renault has also made it clear that the Alpine will not be much like its concept and the Emerg-E is already based on a Lotus concept, why not save a little scratch and build both models on the same platform? There is really no reason not to and there is absolutely no way that Lotus would refuse this deal, as it sorely needs a little extra money these days.

Sure, the production level may be low and the income may be limited, but it would at least help put Lotus back into the sports car conversation. In addition to getting its foot back into the sports car door, with the Evora and Emerg-E being range-extended electric vehicles, this could carve Lotus a real nice and potentially profitable niche.

We’ll have to wait and see what comes of this, but the connection is already there, it just needs a little push in the right direction.

Source: Autocar

Back in May, a Fisker Karma was parked in an owner’s garage when it suddenly burst into flames. That specific case was basically written off by investigators as a battery failure, being described as looking like a golf cart fire. This latest Fisker BBQ is a little different than the previous one, as the flames are in an area away from the batteries.

Fisker has released two statements in regards to this issue and essentially says: “we know of the fire,” “fires happen in cars,” and “we are looking into it, so calm down” in so many words. The second one summarizes as "we doubt it was the battery, as the fire was in the front," "the fire source was from outside of the engine compartment," and "we’re looking into it (again)." Fisker also states that it will release another statement once the investigation is complete and the final cause of the fire is determined.

Fisker is really doing everything it can to keep people from thinking that this fire has anything to do with its battery packs. One of the more likely causes to the lack of EV sales these days is the public fear of electrical shorts in these high-voltage machines and the related fires.

We’ll keep you updated on this one and let you know all of the latest news. Check out the above video to see the flaming Fisker being put out.

Click past the jump to read Fisker’s two press releases.


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