Archive for October, 2012

Battery maker A123 Systems, unable to overcome its terrible name, has filed for bankruptcy despite having been granted $249 million in tax payer money by the Obama administration. A123 Systems said that the bankruptcy was unavoidable after it had lost $857 million over the last few years.

In addition to the federal dough, the Massachusetts-based company was also awarded $125 million in grants and tax credits from Michigan for building factories in the state. At the time that it was awarded the federal grant, Chief Executive David Vieux said that the company had plans to create 2,000 new jobs by 2012.

Obama called Vieux after an A123 plant had opened in the Wolverine State to say, “This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America — an industry that’s going to be central to the next generation of cars. When folks lift up their hoods on the cars of the future, I want them to see engines and batteries that are stamped: Made in America.”
 
Now, the dream is for the average American to earn enough to own a car with a hood.

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AMP Electric Vehicles has announced that it has stopped converting gas-firing cars to electric, and will instead turn medium-sized commercial vehicles to purely-electric operation.

Talking about this decision, Stephen Burns, AMP’s CEO said, “People told us how surprised they were that our Mercedes SUV performed every bit as good as the original vehicle – except quieter, quicker and surprisingly refined. However, it became apparent that the short-term market for passenger car EVs did not grow as quickly as forecasters had predicted,”
 
Industry observers feel that despite having been converting gas cars to electric for many years, AMP simply could not compete with the electric cars being produced by the large car makers.

Burns continued, “We believe that we are in the right place in this industry [converting trucks] at the right time. We have already had preliminary talks with various end-user Fortune 500 companies whose brand names you would recognize. For the first time in our history, we are to the point that we are positioned to begin revenues.”

Fisker Karma: Hollywood Star

Word out of Hollywood is that the “little electric car that couldn’t” is getting a cameo role in the new Harrison Ford action flick, “Paranoia.”

Ford, who happens to remember that rainy evening when Franklin discovered electricity, will play a character who receives a gift Fisker range-extended luxury sedan from a youthful, hard-charging employee played by Liam Hemsworth who is either also Thor or the blonde kid in “Hunger Games.” Australians tend to look alike to this writer.

Unknown yet is whether the Fisker is playing it straight as car that is constantly out of order or going for laughs by acting as if it were a viable transportation choice. Fisker is no stranger to interchangeable boy stars already being owned by Ashton Kutcher, Leonardo di Caprio, and Justin Bieber.

Green Tires: Tighter Gripping, Increasing Popularity

Unknown to many, green tires are growing in popularity day by day. Made to offer low rolling resistance, green tires improve a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Most hybrid and plug-in vehicles are already fitted with them, while an increasing number of regular cars roll on green tires as well.

With gas prices at or near record highs in the U.S., it makes sense that people would be interested a simple way to increase their gas efficiency by five to seven percent. Wards Auto, predicts that in Europe, where gas prices are twice that of those in America, between 70 and 80 percent of all cars will be rolling it green style by 2022.

Obviously, the biggest knock against these tires is that low-resistance also means low grip, which can lead to disaster in wet or colder weather. However, new rubber compounds are being developed that offer both low resistance and solid gripping abilities in poor weather.

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Mercedes-Benz has produced an electric vehicle that could very well be the electric-vehicle game changer if it weren’t so darn costly.

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive car offers performance that makes most gas-firing cars wet their little-boy britches. The all-wheel-drive vehicle produces 740 horsepower and its outer shell looks as if it might transform into a Terminator-chasing liquid-metal cop at any moment. Its 60 kWk of battery storage translates into a single-charge range of around 155 miles. Put that in your Chevy Volt and explode it!

Presently, the SLS AMG Electric Drive is only going to be sold in Europe for around $536,804. It will be Mercedes-Benz’s most expensive vehicle since the Maybach was sent to the glue factory.

Tesla Motors inc. CEO Elon Musk has double-dare sworn that the electric car maker is not in financially troubled waters and that it will indeed soon make an advanced payment on what it owes to the U.S. government.

Musk says that the California-based company has drawn down the $465 million loan it had borrowed from the U.S. Department of Energy to build its Model S sedan. Moreover, the entire repayment agreement has been amended to allow Tesla to pay back a portion of the loan at a slower pace. Regarding Tesla’s alleged financial troubles, Musk said that the company is offering shares to raise $150 million.

The Obama administration has come under fire for making loans to companies such as Tesla, Fisker and Cylandra since, thus far the vast majority of the companies have either gone outright belly up or have failed to make a profit. However, Musk does not believe that Tesla deserves to be grouped in with losers such as Cylandra and Fisker since his operation is on track to becoming cash-positive by the end of November.