Fiat Chrysler pays millions to settle emissions charges

January 14, 2019 by  
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Fiat Chrysler has reached a settlement with the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the owners of about 100,000 of their diesel-powered Jeep SUV’s and Ram pickups. After facing charges that the company had sold diesel vehicles in the United States that had improper software — allowing it to violate emissions rules —  Fiat Chrysler has agreed to pay $800 million to settle the matter. The automaker will pay different state and federal agencies approximately $400 million in fines, plus $280 million to the car owners — which is up to $2,800 per vehicle. The additional $120 million will go to various efforts to curb emissions and future warranty costs. Fiat Chrysler will need to get at least 85 percent of affected vehicles repaired or risk facing additional fines. The vehicles involved in the settlement are Jeep Grand Cherokees from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 model years and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks that have a 3-liter diesel engine. To receive a settlement payment, car owners will first need to have their vehicle repaired. “Today’s settlement sends a clear and strong signal to manufacturers and consumers that the Trump administration will vigorously enforce the nation’s laws designed to protect the environment and public health,” said Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. He added that Fiat Chrysler , aside from breaking the law, also made the efforts to hide their conduct. However, the deal did not include any admission of guilt or wrongdoing by the company. The settlement is only a fraction of what Volkswagen was forced to pay in 2016 when the company was fined for installing emission deceiving software into a half-million diesel cars. As a result, Volkswagen paid $14.7 billion and the company admitted that they improperly installed the software to vehicles. Fiat Chrysler has continued to maintain that they did nothing wrong, and their software for their diesel engines was a legitimate way to meet emission standards. Via CNN Image via Shutterstock

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Fiat Chrysler pays millions to settle emissions charges

Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

January 14, 2019 by  
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Bluebottle jellyfish have invaded Australia’s Gold and Sunshine Coasts. This past weekend, the jellyfish (also known as the Portuguese man-of-war) stung more than 5,000 people, and many of the victims weren’t even in the water. Just walking on one bluebottle jellyfish on the beach can bring intense pain, and because of strong north-easterly swell conditions, the jellyfish have been pushed to shore. Meanwhile, the deadly Irukandji jellyfish are bombarding the eastern coasts because of warming waters. “I have never seen anything like this — ever. Not everyone reacts the same way, but there have been very serious reactions,” said Jeremy Sturges, Surf Life Saving duty officer. The bluebottle jellyfish species travels in groups. Lifeguards have now closed several beaches, because during the month of December and the first week of January, more than 22,000 people have sought treatment for bluebottle jellyfish stings. Related: Invasive longhorned tick could spread disease across the US According to Queensland Ambulance, people that are stung should “pick off the tentacles with a towel or other object, rinse the area with seawater, place the affected area in warm water and, if needed, apply ice packs.” Luckily, there have not been any fatalities as a result of the bluebottle jellyfish stings. But on Australia’s east coast, experts say that deadly Irukandji jellyfish are spreading, and their stings are so severe they can cause brain hemorrhages and an intense feeling of impending doom, a condition known as Irukandji syndrome. These stings are the most concerning, especially near Queensland’s Fraser Island, because the sting rate has been growing steadily as the waters get warmer . This jellyfish likes to live in higher water temperatures and are normally found in the northern tropics. Recently, there have been two confirmed deaths in Australia due to the Irukandji, and the mysterious deaths of three other tourists have also been linked to the jellyfish. If waters continue to warm, the Irukandji will inevitably move farther south. In three years, they could hit the Gold Coast. “In Queensland alone, we put more people in hospital due to Irukandji stings than shark attacks, crocodile attacks and snake bites combined,” said Jamie Seymore, a professor at James Cook University. “This is something that we need to address now. I can see a time when we have to shut major beaches on the Sunshine Coast. It is going to happen.” Via Matador Network and The Guardian Image via GondwanaGirl

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Dangerous jellyfish have invaded Australian beaches

GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

October 3, 2017 by  
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General Motors , a symbol of 20th century automotive domination, has decided to embrace the “all-electric future” of the 21st century and beyond, declaring that someday in the near future, it will produce and sell only electric cars . “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s chief of global product development. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.” To accelerate into this future, GM announced two new electric car models, scheduled to be released next year, followed by an additional 18 all-electric models by 2023. General Motors is riding high as it shifts gear into electric; the car company was the third-largest in the world in 2016. Because of its immense size, the company would not yet commit to a specific year in which it would make the transition away from combustion engine cars. However, its recent actions speak as loud as its words. At a press event on Monday, GM revealed several concept designs for upcoming electric vehicles, including an SUV, a crossover, a non-traditional model which resembled a small, boxy bus, and Surus, a heavy-duty truck with two electric motors, powered by fuel cells. Related: Renault’s Trezor is the electric car of the future Though renowned already as a pioneer in the field, thanks in part to its Chevy Bolt, GM will face heavy traffic on the road ahead. Tesla , Volvo, Nissan, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover have all made various moves into the electric car industry, with more expected in the future. Ford, a fellow Big Three American automaker, announced on Monday, the same day as GM’s press event, that it will form an “Edison Group,” focused on the development of electric cars. “We see an inflection point in the major markets toward battery electric vehicles,” said Sherif Marakby, head of electrification and autonomous vehicles at Ford. “We feel it’s important to have a cross-functional team all the way from defining the strategy plans and implementation to advanced marketing.” Via Washington Post Images via Car and Driver  and Wikipedia

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GM’s plans for "all-electric-future" spell doom for fossil fuel industry

Nigerian man invents cool jet car that operates on land and water

April 14, 2017 by  
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If you’re ever in Lagos, Nigeria , watch for a quirky aero-amphibious jet car roaming the streets. Self-taught inventor Kehinde Durojaiye transformed a bunch of junk he found into a vehicle capable of operating on land or in water. Durojaiye hopes his invention will one day be a common sight across the country. Durojaiye’s jet car is made with discarded materials, like an old keyboard, an office chair, and a tricycle steering wheel. He also repurposed plastic , wood, and Styrofoam. He said he’s traveled as far away as Ibadan in his vehicle, which is about 84 miles away from Lagos , and that the jet car can reach speeds of around 75 miles per hour on land and six knots at sea. Related: Disabled refugee inventor builds an electric bike to get around camp Durojaiye told CNN, “We want the whole world to know it is possible to have a kind of machine that can move on land, on sea, and fly, and perhaps move under the sea. That’s my ultimate goal.” He invents out of a workshop near a Lagos lagoon dump site, and has already built four prototypes of his car. He also works on other devices like a remote-controlled drone , and has been inventing since childhood. Now married and the father of four children, Durojaiye continues to tinker with his jet car, hoping to make it fly. The jet car has already attracted attention in Lagos; the city is filled with Hyundais and Toyotas so Durojaiye’s vehicle really stands out. He says when he drives people often want to stop and snap pictures of the car on their phones, and have been surprised the vehicle can travel on both land and sea. Lagos is notorious for its congestion, and CNN speculated a flying car like Durojaiye’s could ease traffic. Via CNN Images via screenshot

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Nigerian man invents cool jet car that operates on land and water

Tesla is so confident in their vehicles they’re offering lifetime insurance

February 27, 2017 by  
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Once again Tesla is shaking up the automotive industry, this time through insurance for life. The company has started offering a lifetime maintenance and insurance package for some customers, meaning monthly car insurance bills could soon be a budget item of the past. Tesla President of Global Sales and Service Jonathan McNeill said, “It’s our vision in the future that we’ll be able to offer a single price for the car, maintenance, and insurance in a really compelling offering for the consumer. And we’re currently doing that today.” Assured of the features incorporated in a Tesla that purportedly make the vehicle safer than a typical car, such as Autopilot, Tesla has begun including lifetime insurance and maintenance package right in the initial price of their cars . The new package reflects the idea that their safety features could reduce the price of maintenance and insurance. Related: Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car In an earnings call, McNeill said, “We’ve been doing it quietly, but in Asia in particular where we started this, now the majority of Tesla cars are sold with an insurance product that is customized to Tesla, that takes into account not only the Autopilot safety features but also the maintenance costs of the car.” Such a package could allow consumers to know exactly how much a Tesla car will cost them over the long term, rather than facing unforeseen repair costs or rising insurance costs. Elon Musk made it clear Tesla is willing to offer the package if insurance companies aren’t on board, even though he said his company isn’t trying to disrupt the insurance market. He said of the insurance plan, “If we need to we’ll insource it, but I think we’ll find that insurance partners do adjust rates proportionate to the risk of a Tesla.” Via Mashable Images via Tesla Facebook and Wikimedia Commons

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Tesla is so confident in their vehicles they’re offering lifetime insurance

Chilean home’s folding timber flap gives owners optimum temperature control

February 27, 2017 by  
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Designed by Santiago-based B+V Architects , the Folding House in Las Cabras, Chile was strategically wrapped with a wooden “flap” to give the owners optimal temperature control. The unique feature prevents excessive solar radiation during the searing hot summer months while inviting the heat in winter. In addition to providing year-round temperature control, the responsive design element pulls double duty as a sun-streaming cover for the rooftop deck, which offers spectacular lake side views. The stunning 900-square-meter home was tucked into a steep incline, exposing it to the area’s high temperatures. To create a responsive design that wouldn’t sacrifice aesthetics, the architects added the double-ventilated wooden façade as an attractive and protective element. The feature allows the homeowners to enjoy the amazing lake views year-round from the comfort of the outdoor deck, without overheating in the summer months. Related: Eco friendly origami house unfolds on Brazilian beach The double ventilated wooden flap facade shades the home’s exterior walls and roof. In summer, the wooden facade acts as an eave that protects the home from excessive solar radiation . During winter, on the other hand, the wooden envelope allows heat to enter the interior, which is stabilized by high-quality insulation , as well as elimination of all thermal bridges. For additional heating on cloudy days, a small wood-burning stove can be fired up. On the interior, large floor-to-ceiling windows flood the home with natural light and also enhance cross ventilation when opened. A large open courtyard sits in the center of the interior, seamlessly connecting the exterior with the interior. + B+V Architects Via FlipBoard Photography by Rodolfo Lagos Berardi Images via B+V Architects

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Chilean home’s folding timber flap gives owners optimum temperature control

Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car

January 23, 2017 by  
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Tesla just made electric vehicle (EV) history, but you’d be forgiven if you didn’t know. With nary an announcement or social media post, the company surreptitiously introduced the Model S 100D, which boasts an impressive, record-breaking EPA-estimated range of 335 miles. Like the S 90D, the S 100D has a top speed of 155 miles per hour, and can reach 60 miles per hour from zero in a mere 2.4 seconds. If you’re looking for an EV that can prowl the roads for a long time on a single charge, the Tesla Model S 100D is now the car to beat. Compared against the Model S P100D, the S 100D can drive 20 miles further on one charge, and while it takes longer to accelerate from zero to 60 miles per hour (the S P100D can accomplish the feat in 2.5 seconds), the S 100D costs around $30,000 less than the P100D and includes the same 100 kWh battery pack . Related: Check out this adorable $500 electric Tesla Model S just for kids (sorry adults) Surprisingly, Tesla rolled out the exciting new option with little pomp, instead quietly adding an update to their online design studio . The new S 100D starts at $95,000, which is only about $3,000 more than the 90D. Given its extra range of 41 miles more than the 90D, some people may think an extra $3,000 is quite a bargain. Aside from the different battery packs – the 90D has the 90 kWh battery pack – both cars have identical standard equipment. As of December 2016, such equipment includes “collision avoidance and automatic emergency braking,” according to the design studio website. Electrek points out the carmaker has never before offered as many options as they provide now. With the affordable new S 100D, Tesla could see a boost in sales, as many new buyers may opt for the longest range they can get. Via Autoblog and Electrek Images via Tesla and Tesla Facebook

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Tesla just introduced the world’s longest range electric car

Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory

December 30, 2016 by  
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Chinese technology company LeEco just commenced construction of a $3 billion electric car factory. The facility could start churning out the company’s LeSee sedan in a few years, producing a staggering 400,000 vehicles by 2018. Roughly 90 percent of the futuristic factory’s work may be completed by robots . LeEco, which currently makes products like televisions, was in trouble. In a November letter to staff, founder Jia Yueting said the company expanded too fast and was struggling, and then cut his own income down to 15 cents. But about two weeks after the letter, the company reported they’d raised $600 million from unidentified investors but proceeded to lay off around 60 Hong Kong employees anyway. Then LeEco received another $1.44 billion investment this past Wednesday, again from an unidentified investor, and broke ground on the factory the same day. It is unclear whether those employees will be re-instated, or of their jobs will be replaced by robots. Related: Elon Musk just confirmed plans for a new Tesla Roadster According to Car News China , LeEco hasn’t yet obtained a government license to produce their LeSee cars at the factory. The outlet even said there’s a “real possibility” the government will refuse LeEco a license, as the CEO isn’t currently popular in Beijing. However, according to the South China Morning Post, a mayor of a city close to the factory said the local government will support the project. Should LeEco obtain permission, the factory is slated to produce the company’s first concept car, the LeSee. Zhang Hailiang, chief executive of LeEco’s car unit LeSupercar, said the factory will be automated completely, as robots do the bulk of the work. The electric vehicle would be equipped to operate autonomously . Fancy features include five in-car screens, smart seating, and the ability to recharge via magnetic charging stations. LeEco said Earth’s topography inspired the LeSee’s design, with the interior influenced by geological and biological patterns. Vegan materials and neutral colors add to the vehicle’s natural feel. According to the company , the form and function of the car “address future needs of our society and showcase a symbiosis between human, machine, and nature.” Via Carscoops and South China Morning Post Images via LeEco

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Chinese company LeEco begins building $3 billion electric car factory

Uber confirms rumors they are testing a self-driving car

May 19, 2016 by  
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For the past year, rumors have been swirling that Uber is getting into the game of self-driving cars . The company opened the Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, where journalists spotted a vehicle that looked suspiciously like a driverless one marked with the Uber logo. This week, the company officially announced in a press release they are testing a self-driving car on the streets of Pittsburgh . The car is a hybrid Ford Fusion, and while it has “self-driving capabilities,” a driver will be present to take over if needed. Along with testing its autonomous function, the car will collect data for maps . According to Uber, the vehicle has been equipped with “a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.” Related: The self-driving car didn’t start with Google, or Tesla Uber allowed Pittsburgh Tribune-Review journalist Aaron Aupperlee to take a ride. He said , “The car’s sensors detected parked cars sticking out into traffic, jaywalkers, bicyclists, and a goose crossing River Avenue.” The transportation networking giant claims they still have a long way to go, but that they’ve received support from Pittsburgh city leaders including the mayor, who expressed excitement that Uber is pursuing innovative technology in his city. Uber said the city environment in Pittsburgh is the perfect place to test out their self-driving car, since it has to face challenges such as snow, hills, and narrow roads . While many have focused on the developments coming out of leaders like Google and Tesla in the self-driving car sphere, The Verge reports many experts are actually following Uber’s progress as they stand to benefit more as a company from autonomous technology. In their press release heralding the Pittsburgh test car, Uber said self-driving vehicles could save millions of lives, claiming, “1.3 million people die every year in car accidents – 94 percent of those accidents involve human error.” Via The Verge Images via Uber and Wikimedia Commons

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Google patents sticky "fly paper" car hood to protect pedestrians in self-driving car crashes

May 19, 2016 by  
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Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Google . Imagine the amazing ping pong games and impromptu office jam sessions you would witness. Chances are you would also catch a whiff of Google’s latest innovations , some in their primordial brainstorming phase. One such idea took one step further into reality when Google was awarded a patent for a strong adhesive automobile hood, designed to catch pedestrians that have been hit by cars before they reach the ground and are potentially run over. Is Google preparing to launch some sticky self driving cars ? The adhesive hood patent was filed in 2014 and awarded to Google earlier this week, though the company has no immediate plans to bring it to life. In the patent, Google frames its idea as a potential safeguard for self-driving cars as the technology is developed. “While such systems are being developed,” reads the patent, “it must be acknowledged that, on occasion, collisions between a vehicle and a pedestrian still occur Such safety mechanisms may become unnecessary as accident-avoidance technology is being further developed, but at present it is desirable to provide vehicles with pedestrian safety mechanisms.” Related: Google’s driverless car causes an accident for the first time To avoid endlessly trapping small objects like actual insects and debris, Google’s automotive “fly paper” would be covered with an “eggshell” layer that breaks upon impact. As crazy it sounds, the idea may have some scientific merit. “Getting hit by a car once is much preferable to getting hit by a car and then the ground and then another car,” says Rebecca Thompson, head of public outreach for the American Physical Society. “Cyclists wear helmets not as much to prevent their head’s impact with the car as much as their head’s impact with the ground when they fall.” There are some drawbacks for the design, such as the potential for trapping a victim in a dangerous position on the hood. However, Thompson believes that such a design could decrease the number of hit-and-run incidents. After all, it’s hard to flee when a human fly is stuck to your vehicle. Via Gizmodo Images via Becky Stern/Flickr and Travis Wise/Flickr  

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Google patents sticky "fly paper" car hood to protect pedestrians in self-driving car crashes

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