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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.

Troubled luxury hybrid automaker Fisker Automotive has hired a new CEO: Tony Posawatz, the engineer behind the also troubled plug-in Chevrolet Volt.

Posawatz is replacing Thomas LaSorda who had replaced the company founder Henrik Fisker as CEO in February. For half a dozen years, Posawatz was the Chevy Volt’s vehicle line director. In total, the sharp-dressing, mustached fellow was with General Motors for 32 years.

In what can only be described as a hiring frenzy, Fisker Automotive also took on board a new manufacturing chief and an executive for its China operations.

Once it is released, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi with its base price of $29,995 following a federal tax rebate of $3,750 will be the least-expensive plug-in Hybrid sold in America.

Its main competitors, the extended range hybrid Chevrolet Volt, the Toyota Prius plug-in, and the electric only Nissan leaf are slightly a tad more expensive. However, the cost difference between these vehicles is only a few hundred dollars at the most so many auto industry observers do not believe that the C-Max Energi’s relatively rock-bottom price will matter much to buyers of these cars. After all, these observers argue, buyers of hybrid and electric vehicles are clearly doing so for emotional, self-happy feelings rather than any rational motivations.

New materials may be soon making electric car batteries lighter than ever. Specifically, carbon nanotubes and grapheme that are made out of man-made carbon dioxide are the two main new scientific discoveries that should help battery makers cut weight. Carbon nanotubes are amazing being constructed out of single-atom thick sheets that have been formed into cylinders. These tubes are then interwoven into a strong and lightweight substance called Aerographite. Some say this is the lightest man-created material ever made.

The better battery makers are able to make use of these new materials, the lighter the batteries will become.

What Should Electric Car Drivers Pay to Charge

In a blow that has wheatgrass enthusiasts frowning from coast to coast, many of the public charging stations dotting our roads and highways are now charging for their electricity. The free ride, it seems, is over.

Electric car drivers that are charging their vehicles at the stations that were set up with federal grant funding are being forced to pay up to $2.00 for each hour their vehicle is plugged in. With the speed that the typical electric car takes to fully charge, a full “tank” of electricity could cost a driver upwards of $275,151.92.

Many green enthusiast are Birkenstock-stomping angry. The progressive heroes say that it just isn’t fair that they’ve got to pay to keep the planet clean. Speaking about just this, Scrotie McBoogerballs, an air pollution specialist with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), said, “Doesn’t the public know that these brave drivers already had to bear some of the cost of the purchase of their electric vehicles? Don’t they know that our California State rebates only paid a paltry one-third of their vehicles’ purchase price? It’s times like this, when the good have to pay their own way, when I’m most scared for our state. It’s just not OK, not OK.”

2012′s Most Fuel-Efficient Pickup Trucks Are…

There are all sorts of cool things about pickup trucks. They’re tough. They’re both practical and versatile. And, our dogs look damn fine standing in their beds.

However, for all the good things we can say about pickup trucks, truth be told, they just ain’t all that kind to the ol’ money clip at the pump. Oh no, at the pump, they can be downright mean. But, that’s not all pickups. There are some trucks that take to gasoline like a teen bride does to housework: infrequently and without much interest. This is a good thing. Her magic comes in other ways. It comes in her fuel-efficient manners.

This year, there are a number of relatively fuel-efficient pickup trucks to consider. Well, at least there are according to the Environmental Protection Agency and we all know how they butter their cornbread, in commie red and enviro-geek green.

But anyways, according to the EPA, the most fuel-efficient pickup trucks of 2012 are:

  • Toyota Tacoma with mpg ratings of 21/25/22 city/highway/combined
  • Chevrolet Colorado — 18/25/21
  • GMC Canyon — 18/25/21
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Hybrid — 20/23/21
  • GMC Sierra 1500 Hybrid — 20/23/21
  • Nissan Frontier — 19/23/21
  • Suzuki Equator — 19/23/21
  • Ford F-150 — 17/23/19
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — 15/22/18
  • GMC Sierra 1500 — 15/22/18
  • Toyota Tundra — 16/20/18

Mazda has announced that it will offer its Mazda Demio electric vehicle for lease in western Japan starting this October. The Demio is the equivalent to the Mazda2 in America.

This is only an initial baby step for the Japanese automaker with only 100 of the vehicles being made available for lease. This is being done so that Mazda can better track how their vehicles and their drivers are getting along. If this trial works out, there is a good chance that the electric Mazda2 will make it into mass production and maybe to other countries.  This could be great news for eco-minded, budget-minded drivers.  After all, the Mazda compacts and subcompacts, such as the Mazda3, have made it onto lists such as the Top 6 40 MPG Sedans and Grooviest Cars to Own Under $18,000.

The current electric version has a single-charge range of 124 miles. 

Continuing its assault on the poor and the average tax payer, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a $27 million fund for its Air Quality Improvement Program (AQIP).

The fund will mostly be used to give rebates to the buyers of zero-emission and plug-in hybrid cars. Many complain that California, the nation’s most-broke state, has no business helping the upper middle-class and rich buy cars while the poor and the state’s average taxpayer continue to struggle.
 
Talking about this program, the soft-headed, short-sighted CARB chairman Mary D. Nichols said, “The poor will be fine; let them eat cake. We are here to talk about this unique incentive program that makes ultra-clean cars affordable for more Californians, helps slash smog-forming pollution and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. Really, the poor should be thanking the rich for taking care of the air that the poor breathe.”

Since the theft from the poor and average taxpayer began in 2008, AQIP has helped nearly 8,000 wealthy Californians buy new cars, getting them effectively with little to no money down after rebates.

Half way through the year and the June sales numbers for plug-in electric vehicles are beginning to roll in with the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car moving 1,760 units in the month, a relatively strong showing, and Nissan selling a paltry 535 Leafs.

These sales bring the calendar year’s first half totals to 3,148 for the Leaf and 8,817 for the Volt. This second number is especially impressive, since if this trend continues it will mean that Chevy will more than double the number of Leafs it sold last year, 7,671. After a troubling, sputtering start, Chevy and its Volt may finally be finding some purchase.

Mitsubishi meanwhile sold a Larry-Bird-like 33 ‘I’ electric minicars in the month.

An Audi R8 e-tron has set the production electric car record by running a 8:09.099 lap at the Nurburgring track.  Audi is calling this achievement a “milestone in its history” that ranks right up there with its eleven victories at the 24-hour LeMans race.

Though the e-tron is a production vehicle, it is still quite a vehicle. The all electric car boasts 375 horsepower and a 133-mile range. The car’s race car driver Marcus Winkelhock got a kick out of giving the e-tron a run. “The torque with which the electric motors propel the car uphill beats everything that I know. Within just a few weeks we’ve taken on some big challenges and in the process we’ve shown that we are at the forefront with all of our drive concepts.”

The Audi R8 e-tron will go on sale towards the end of the year.  No word yet on price.  But don’t expect to get a car loan with bad credit for this one.  It ain’t gonna be cheap, that’s for sure!

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