VW Fox BlueMotion Headed to Brazil

Volkswagen’s diminutive Fox continues to do big business in its home country, Brazil. This is in stark contrast to its performance in Europe where it has been overtaken by the Up!.

The 2013 model year of the VW Fox is the most fuel-efficient one thus far and proudly sports a BlueMotion badge, the sign that it is indeed a VW fuel-saving vehicle. The newest model, with a new grille, bumper and underbody, is more aerodynamic than any of its predecessors. Buyers in Brazil will receive a car with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder eight-valve engine that can run on either gasoline or ethanol. This latter fuel is common in the meat-loving nation.

Being a fuel-efficient vehicle, the fox is not so quick, though relatively fast. It takes more than 10 seconds to reach 62 miles per hour and has a top speed of 114 mph. A three-door Fox will have a starting price of $19,521, while the five-door will start at $20,356.

A group of devoted green car drivers celebrated the recent Earth Date by winding a path through the streets of Manhattan creating the outline of a giant “E” pattern.

The “E” design, the brainchild of Danish artist Jacob Fuglsang Mikkelsen, had the drivers taking an hour-long journey that ended in Central Park. The “E” is clearly visible in the GPS tracing map of the artistic trip. In honor of Earth Day, identical “E” art was driven by green vehicles at the same time in seven cities including Santiago, Chile; Dakar, Sengal; Yokohama, Japan; and Bangalore, India.

The green convoy in New York consisted of an electric Nissan Leaf, a 2012 Zero S electric motorcycle, a Via Motors plug-in hybrid Chevy Silverado pickup truck, a 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, a Prius C subcompact hatchback, a Prius V mid-size wagon, a Camry Hybrid mid-size sedan, a Highlander Hybrid mid-size crossover utility, a Volkswagen Golf and a man-powered rickshaw.

[Thanks to the team @ Buy Here Pay Here Car Lots NY for the tip.]

Is Thomas Edison the Father of the Electric Car?

An online exhibit put on by the National Museum of American History makes the case that Thomas Edison is one of the fathers of the electric car, if not the actual father. 

Made up of a series of photos and weighty and informative captions, the exhibit shows the electric vehicle that Edison designed in 1900 that was powered by “an entirely new battery chemistry to improve the range of electric automotives, locomotives, and trucks.”

For around a full decade, the inventor worked at improving the alkaline batteries that powered his vehicles until 1910 when he finally admitted that gasoline-powered cars had won the (first) battle.

Now we’ve got to wonder what he would think to learn that electric vehicles often pollute worse than hybrids!

Eco-Rickshaws in India Unpopular

New Delhi is a cutting edge city with cutting edge issues. Its city leaders need to ensure that its people have enough transportation to get them to and fro while at the same time not so much that it further clogs the already-sluggish New Delhi streets. Also, the leaders are forever fighting to do what they can to keep air pollution at manageable levels.

One way the leaders of India’s second largest city have done this is through the supporting of vehicles powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), an effort that has made New Delhi home to one of the largest fleets of CNG vehicles on the planet.

Unfortunately for the green-minded folks of the city, not everyone is keen on being carried around town in CNG-fueled rickshaws, India’s famous three-wheeled vehicles. This becomes more widespread as the wealth of the city’s residents increase. The battle to come up with the proper mix of policy, incentives and laws is tough and likewise one that is shared by lawmakers throughout the world’s second most populous nation. And, there is no thought that this balancing act will get any easier any time soon since the nation’s urban population is expected to reach nearly 600 million within the next two decades from the mere 340 million it is today.

Chevy Volt’s Need for Sustainable Charge Mode

The Chevrolet Volt’s trail of missteps and poor sales has been well documented. Now, some electric vehicle industry observers are saying that it is the Volt’s lack of a sustainable charge mode that has helped keep an otherwise sound vehicle down and not its headline grabbing high price, banning from HOV lanes in California and battery fires.

These proponents of sustainable charge modes are arguing that General Motors is well aware of how marketable and useful this mode is. After all, GM has added this mode to the Chevrolet Ampera, the European version of the Volt.

The charge-sustaining mode is used by drivers when they want to put their vehicle into gas-burning mode, which in turns saves the battery power for when zero-emission mode is required. This is necessary in old Europe, a land containing many areas where only zero-emission vehicles are allowed at certain times of the work week.

If, in addition to its current Standard, Sport and Mountain modes, the Volt had sustainable charge and zero-emission modes, consumers would be more eager to purchase the vehicle since they could better control how long their vehicle charges lasted.

Some observers believe that Chevrolet will eventually produce Volts with these additional modes. In fact, even Chevy executives have said that if they can get the Environmental Protection Agency to agree to the concept, they would be open to doing so.

Special thanks go out to CarLoanMaryland.com for this blog post, a leading resource for people in need of auto loans in Baltimore and car loans in Annapolis.

It turns out that electric cars are just too quiet. Moreover, the wheezing and the whining that they do emit are not sounds that endear them to a driver, let alone to a Bruce Springsteen lyric.

Automakers are awakening to the danger posed by this silence. Humans truly love those things that entice all of their senses. Just as appearance, sound, smell, texture and temperature can turn a tasty treat into a favorite food, the same can be said about falling for a new car. We want our new cars to smell new, to tease the eyes, and to thrill the ears.

Audi is at the leading edge of this audio battle. The word on the hushed road is that there may come a day when drivers are able to select what type of sound their car produces from, presumably, a menu including spaceship sounds, migrating geese, and dragsters.

Thomas Dolby Still Blinding Us with Science

Thirty years since we last heard from him, English Musician Thomas Dolby has made his way across the pond to pull a steampunk-themed time-traveling trailer over our American roads.

Considering that Dolby is a self-described tech and electric vehicle junky, some were hoping that an entry into the teardrop shaped trailer would give them a chance to zip into the future to see just how widespread electric vehicles had become. Unfortunately, these same Dolby-ites could only shake shake shake their green-blooded fists in the air when they realized that the Dolby time capsule was just a mocked up concept deal possessing no real time traveling powers.

However, despite the empty promise of his trailer, Dolby and his wife have been leading a green lifestyle for many years. His recording studio in the U.K. has a wind turbine and solar panels on its roof to provide its power. While, many years ago, when living in Los Angeles, he and his wife used an electric Ford Escort that was powered by a dozen batteries as their family’s second car.

Prius C Killing It!

Not everyone is begrudging the high cost of gasoline, no, certainly not the good folks at Toyota. As the average nationwide price of a gallon of gas hovers close to $4, sales of the brand-new Toyota Prius C have been tremendous. In fact, Toyota has just announced that in a mere three days, the Japanese automaker has sold more than 1,201 of the hybrid hatchbacks.

This noteworthy number is more than the number of Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts sold in the entire month of February, including leap day. The official MPG for the Prius C is 53 MPG city and 46 highway. However, when the lads at Edmunds.com tested their Prius C, they pulled 58.2 mpg miles out of it.  

There has been quite a bit of discussion as to why the Prius C has been such a hit, while the Leaf and the Volt have been, respectively, left floating in the wind and shorted out. There are two main causes for this disparity in success. First of all, the Prius C is vastly cheaper than both the Volt and the Leaf. Don’t believe it?  Check these local Prius leases.  Secondly, the popularity of the previous Prius models paved the way for the new hatchback.

The Tale of the 2012 Fisker Karma

It is the best of cars. It is the worst of cars. It is the car of wisdom. It is the car of foolishness. It is the car of belief. It is the car of incredulity. It is the 2012 Fisker Karma.

That Kisker Karma sure is some car, isn’t it? It’s sexier and more inviting than Jessica Biel eating a strawberry sundae while sitting in a bed made of unicorn hides. Sadly, it’s also just as likely to get you from point A to point B as one of those hide-less unicorns are.

The four-door luxury, enviro-friendly sedan is slung low to ride, when operational, on oversized 22-inch rims and tires. It stands out not just for its shape and design, but also for some mighty-nifty features such as the layer of photovoltaic solar cells that cover its roof. This is easily spied by passerby on the down-low vehicle.   

Its inners are all things great. Well, at least in potential. It is powered by a 20- kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and driven by twin 150-kilowatt electric motors that pump out a smooth 200 to 260 horsepower depending upon the mode that the car is in. Unfortunately, thus far, the Karma has not been reliable enough to give its drivers many hours of enjoyment

The $107,000 Karma that Consumers Reports purchased to test died during the publication’s calibration runs before the actual testing even commenced. Just as troubling for the car that dreams green is the fact that its numbers simply suck. When powered by gas, it rates a sad 20 MPG, while when burning the electric juice it is less efficient than the Chevy Volt, another plug-in disappointment.

First CODA Electric Sedans Coming to a Showroom

Against the backdrop of the spectacular collapse of a Fisker Karma on the Consumer Reports testing track and Chevy Volt’s production halt, CODA announced that its first electric sedan had been driven off its assembly line. After many delays, the CODA sedan is now for sale.

The Benicia, CA based company had originally said that its electric vehicles would hit the American market in 2010. Then it said late 2011 would see its cars on the street.

As of the time of this writing, CODA has only one dealer, a store in Los Angeles.

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