These campers made from 1970’s VW Bugs are the cutest things ever

April 10, 2017 by  
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Volkswagen Beetles have skittered across roads since the 1930’s – but in the 1970’s, a company transformed these iconic cars into adorable little campers . They sold these Super Buggers for $6,000 then – and a few of the unusual RV hybrids still exist today. A Costa Mesa, California camper company developed the Super Buggers. The quirky campers aren’t nearly as large as an average RV; inside there isn’t space for much other than the seats, some storage, and a small dining area with a two-burner stove and sink. There isn’t room for a bed, but the Super Bugger would be perfect for those happy to sleep under the stars on long road trips. Related: Nigerian Student Converts a VW Beetle into a $6,000 Wind- and Solar-Powered Car According to a 1970’s advertisement, the Super Buggers get 23 to 25 miles per gallon, and only weigh an extra 250 pounds more than stock vehicles of that time. The advertisement also boasts the vehicle had two double beds, although beds can’t immediately be seen in the Super Buggers in the video or photographs. Keith and Glenna Spelrum are the owners of one blue Super Bugger. The publication MyStarCarCollector photographed the well-maintained bug camper at a summer 2016 car show. Keith said the company used a 1968 model for the bug campers because that was the last year the car had a swing axle assembly, and the camper company wanted to utilize that particular axle in their vehicles. Their Super Bugger can reportedly maintain 50 to 55 miles per hour on the road. Today the Spelrums don’t often use their Super Bugger as a camper, but more as a conversation starter. MyStarCarCollector said out of around 1,000 vehicles at the show, the Super Bugger drew the most attention. Via MyStarCollectorCar Images via Pappy_Smith on Reddit and MyStarCollectorCar

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These campers made from 1970’s VW Bugs are the cutest things ever

Trump orders review of Obama-era fuel economy standards

March 16, 2017 by  
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In another move aimed at dismantling former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, President Donald Trump on Wednesday told car executives and auto workers gathered near Detroit that he would order a review of the fuel economy standards for cars and trucks that were put in place by the Obama Administration in 2012. The rules would have raised average fleetwide fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — well above the current 35.5 mpg requirement that has been credited with decreasing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that climate scientists say are the primary drivers of global warming. Trump spoke at a former WWII bomber factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan that is being repurposed to test autonomous vehicles. The president said that he would “ensure that any regulations we have protect and defend your jobs, your factories,” adding that the White House is “setting up a task force in every federal agency to identify and remove any regulation that undermines American auto production.” Related: US vehicle emissions hit record low as fuel economy climbs to record high While Trump talked of ending the “assault” on the US auto industry, it is unclear exactly what he is referring to. Despite carmakers complaining about the EPA’s fuel economy standards, a recent report from the regulatory agency found that Detroit was actually outperforming the GHG emission standards while at the same time selling a record number of new cars and trucks. Last year automakers sold a record 17.55 million vehicles  in the US — the seventh straight year of rising sales. Also, Trump didn’t mention that Obama has been credited with helping to save the domestic auto industry. A bipartisan congressional oversight panel concluded that the government intervention resulted in the industry becoming more efficient, allowing automakers “to become more flexible and better able to meet changing consumer demands, while still remaining profitable.” Via The Christian Science Monitor Image 1 , 2 via Wikimedia

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Trump orders review of Obama-era fuel economy standards

Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

March 16, 2017 by  
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These stunning nature-inspired sculptures are so beautiful you might not notice at first glance what they’re carved from—old farm equipment. Self-taught artist Dan Rawlings recycles these discarded tools into canvases and sculptures . By giving these forgotten tools new life, he hopes to remind others to appreciate the value of our existing possessions and the environment rather than succumb to the never-ending excesses of commercialism. Based in Gloucestershire, UK, Rawlings is drawn to the fun challenge of working with old found objects that still have sentimental value even if they’re damaged beyond use. Using a variety of tools including a handheld plasma torch, welders , and scalpels, the artist reshapes and carves intricate nature-inspired scenes. He writes: “I try to create images that remind people of the moments when everything seems possible and free; times when climbing a tree, or sitting admiring the way its branches twist and curl means nothing, but means everything.” Related: Artist Nikki Ella Whitlock recycles wine bottle fragments into ethereal mosaics Although Rawlings works with many different materials, he’s most well known for metal carvings . His manipulation of metals can be seen in his reworking of old saws to the walls of vans. + Dan Rawlings

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Antique farm equipment reborn as delicate works of art

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

Improve the Fuel Economy of Your Car in 11 Easy Steps

February 27, 2017 by  
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Although you may dream of buying a hybrid or an electric vehicle, many of us have to drive the cars we already have, at least for the time being. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do with driving habits and car maintenance to boost fuel…

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Tesla to cover repair costs after Model S owner sacrifices his car to save a life

February 17, 2017 by  
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Not only are Tesla cars saving the environment , they’re also saving lives. Earlier this week a Tesla Model S driver in Germany noticed a Volkswagen Passat swerving on the Autobahn. Realizing the car’s driver was unconscious, Tesla driver Manfred Kick risked his vehicle to save the driver’s life. Then Elon Musk got wind of Kick’s heroism. When he saw the Volkswagen hitting the guardrail, Kick pulled up next to the car and realized the driver was unconscious – it’s possible he experienced a stroke. So Kick pulled his Tesla in front of the Volkswagen and tapped the brakes until he could bring both cars to a halt. He was able to administer some first aid and ask other drivers who stopped to call for help. A Munich fire station, who commended Kick for incredible courage, reported an emergency medical team treated the Volkswagen driver, who is around 47 years old, before taking him to a special clinic. Related: Did Tesla Autopilot predict an upcoming accident before it actually happened? https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/831972613912080384 At first Kick wasn’t sure whose insurance company would have to cover repair costs. In the process of bringing the Volkswagen to a safe stop he incurred around 10,000 Euros of combined damage. But he told German publication Muenchner Merkur, “The most important thing is that the man is all right again.” The police reported the Volkswagen driver’s condition is stable, according to Muenchner Merkur. But it turns out Kick won’t have to worry about repair costs after all. Elon Musk praised his actions on Twitter, and said his electric vehicle company will cover repair costs “free of charge and expedited.” Mashable reported while German police must conduct an investigation into Kick, policemen said he probably won’t get a fine, but an award. Via Jalopnik and Muenchner Merkur Images via Feuerwehr München on Facebook

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Tesla to cover repair costs after Model S owner sacrifices his car to save a life

The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

January 10, 2017 by  
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For an EcoGeek, there were many surprises at the 2017 edition of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). We’ve been watching the emphasis on green cars decline for a number of years. Some of that is in the mainstreaming of more efficient vehicles, with increased fuel efficiency standards, greater numbers of hybrid vehicles, and alternative fuels. But nothing brought home how far things have come quite so much as this year’s show. Last year, we thought , “the days of green cars being featured at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) seem to be over.” Where the “green” cars were once a niche item that were typically highlighted with special displays. This year, green is so mainstream that the 2017 Green Car of the Year is also the North American Car of the Year for 2017. Those awards, along with Motor Trend Car of the Year, all went to the Chevrolet Bolt. And there are many companies with multiple electric drive vehicles. Toyota, Ford, GM, and BMW each have a variety of options available. Some are all electric drive. Some are gas/electric hybrids. Some are smaller, shorter range commuter cars, while others are readily capable of long range trips. It is no longer the case that, if you want an electric drive vehicle, your selection is limited to the one model that a company offers. There are choices, and not just between this manufacturer or that one, but a variety within a company. Even Fiat Chrysler, which has in past years seemingly paid no attention whatsoever to eco-mindedness, has a hybrid Pacifica minivan, which offers an 83 MPGe rating. At this point, it seems that the automotive manufacturers don’t feel a strong need to keep pushing the market to accept electric vehicles or to get them to understand the benefits. That has been established with consumers, and it is now a matter of finding the right vehicles to meet the demand that they have fostered. What is exciting for us as EcoGeeks is that the pursuit of transformative technology continues. The lower level of the show has been an unpredictable sideline to the main floor show. In some years it has been almost like a ghost town. In others, it has offered a driving track with sometimes many different vehicles available to test drive. This year, the lower level was packed with dozens of different booths ranging from second-tier manufacturers (who make components and systems for the automakers), autonomous vehicle technologies, two different folding electric scooters, university racing and design programs, and a row full of developers of automotive- and transportation-related apps and services. As has been the case in previous years, hydrogen-fueled vehicles caught our eye as the next wave to watch in the transformation of the market. The joke about hydrogen fueled vehicles has long been that “Hydrogen powered vehicles are always 20 years in the future.” But now, after several years, that 20 years is starting to feel like it might be inching a bit closer. Where electric vehicles were a decade ago, hydrogen vehicles are today. They are something that some companies are dedicating some of their floor space to displaying. Toyota and Honda both have available hydrogen vehicles on display, and are selling hydrogen vehicles to consumers. In addition, GM, in conjunction with the US Army, has a fuel cell powered Colorado variant on display on the lower level as an investigational next-generation HMMV replacement which is slated for field trials later this year. Completely unrelated to attending the auto show, but perhaps a telling sign, while driving home on the highway on Sunday night, I passed a tanker truck carrying a load of liquid hydrogen. Perhaps it’s the shape of things to come.

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The Surprising Green Lining at 2017 NAIAS

California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

December 28, 2016 by  
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Only a week after Uber launched its fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the state of California has already shut the experiment down. Just hours after Uber launched the service, the state’s Department of Motor vehicles was threatening legal action for not properly licensing the cars as test vehicles. After Uber refused to apply for the permits necessary, the state simply revoked the registration of the cars. The major issue that caused talks to break down was, ironically, whether Uber’s cars are actually self-driving. While they’re marketed as autonomous, the company believes they shouldn’t be subject to the same regulations as other businesses for their test vehicles, claiming the cars must be monitored by a human driver at all times because they’re not as sophisticated as models from Tesla or Google. The state, however, disagreed. Related: California hits the brakes on Uber’s self-driving cars after one runs a red light Uber, for its part, remains defiant, reportedly seeking a new test market where it could redeploy the cars. The company may not have to look far: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is already welcoming the vehicles in his state. While there’s no word on exactly when the self-driving cars would debut within the state, Uber has confirmed it has shipped cars to Arizona and will be expanding its self-driving pilot program in the near future. While California is taking a cautious approach to self-driving technology, Ducey claims the special permits are a form of “over-regulation.” It’s unclear exactly what, if any, restrictions Arizona will place on the cars. While that may be a welcoming market for ridesharing services, other drivers may not be terribly happy with this relatively new technology side-by-side with their vehicles on the road. Via Newsmax Images via Mark Warner and Wikimedia Commons

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California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

Lexus unveils mind-blowing car covered with 41,999 LEDs

December 9, 2016 by  
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Here’s something you’ve probably never seen before: a vehicle covered with 41,999 LED lights. Lexus engineers were having way too much fun when they created the 2017 LIT IS , a psychedelic vehicle that changes colors in a snap and responds music with a mind-blowing light show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8jSdgT3Drc&feature=youtu.be The funky LIT IS is meant to turn heads. The car is covered with enough LED strips to span half a mile if they were arranged end to end. In numbers, the car has 57 pixels per meter and 55 megabits per second for streaming, and the LEDs on the car generate 175,000 lumens. Related: Lexus shows off the world’s first car with a human heartbeat The LIT IS jams with its surroundings via three modes. One mode simply loops graphics to flaunt the car’s design. Another mode reacts to music , allowing the car to sync to any tune. The third responds to a gaming console controlled by a user. The car looks super cool, but why go to all the effort to apply 41,999 LEDs by hand? Lexus designed the Lexus LIT IS for UK singer Dua Lipa’s “Be the One” music video . “Through this responsive technology and the animations, an expressive car was turned into an actual vehicle for expression,” Lexus said in a statement. The car company effusively describes their LIT IS as a “character and visual anchor” in the music video’s story. Unfortunately you won’t be able to purchase the stunning LIT IS anytime soon. While such a vehicle would be way too distracting on today’s roads, we’ll hold on to the hope that once all cars are autonomous , we’ll be able to trick out our rides with 41,999 LEDS. For now, we’re left with just one question: why didn’t Lexus apply that last LED light to cover the car with an even 42,000 LEDs? We may never know. Via The Verge Images via Lexus

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Lexus unveils mind-blowing car covered with 41,999 LEDs

$15 billion settlement approved after Volkswagen emissions scandal

October 25, 2016 by  
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After Volkswagen Group cheated emissions tests utilizing software, they were slapped with multiple lawsuits . Today Judge Charles Breyer, a federal judge at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco, approved a settlement of nearly $15 billion. In the history of the United States, this is the biggest automotive scandal settlement ever. The historic settlement is between Volkswagen Group , vehicle owners, California regulators, and the government. Under the settlement, Volkswagen will buy back vehicles from 475,000 U.S. owners of 2-liter VW and Audi cars or provide a repair if such a fix is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Hundreds of employees have been tasked with handling buybacks. Owners can also obtain payouts from $5,100 to $9,852 if they choose the repair. Related: VW promises $14.7 billion to U.S. owners of cars affected by emissions cheating scandal 336,000 owners have registered to participate in the settlement. Volkswagen has until October 2017 to design an acceptable fix or they must offer buybacks for all affected owners. In addition to paying consumers, Volkswagen will pay billions toward environmental mitigation. A settlement with 80,000 owners of three-liter vehicles is still being negotiated. During a hearing on October 18 around 20 Volkswagen owners objected, but Judge Breyer described the settlement as “fair, reasonable, and adequate.” In the ruling he said, “The priority was to get the polluting cars off the road as soon as possible. The settlement does that.” In a statement U.S. Volkswagen CEO Hinrich J. Woebcken said they will work to ensure the program “is now carried out as seamlessly as possible.” Volkswagen isn’t in the clear yet; German prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department are still conducting criminal investigations. Depending on the outcome of those investigations, Volkswagen may have to shell out still more money to compensate for their fraud. Via USA TODAY and the Los Angeles Times Images via Frank Behrens on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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$15 billion settlement approved after Volkswagen emissions scandal

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