Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV

May 2, 2017 by  
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Volkswagen is on a roll lately with its electric car ambitions. Last fall the automaker unveiled the I.D. hatchback concept and earlier this year it followed it up with the Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz concept. Now Volkswagen has unveiled its third model from the electric I.D. family – the I.D. Crozz. As its name suggests, the I.D. Crozz concept is a sleek electric crossover that previews an all-electric crossover that will be introduced in 2020. The concept is based on the same MEB platform as the original two concepts, which means that it can also travel over 300 miles on the European Cycle. But under the skin, the I.D. Crozz features two electric motors to give it all-wheel drive capability. Related: VW’s new electric car goes further and costs less than the Tesla 3 or Chevy Bolt The system features a 101-hp electric motor at the front and a 201-hp electric motor at the rear. Under normal driving conditions, the rear electric motor is the main power source, but if the conditions worsen and all-wheel drive is needed, the front motor is powered up instantaneously. Drivers also have the ability to lock it into all-wheel drive if needed. With a total 302 horsepower and an estimated driving range of 311 miles, the I.D. Crozz concept will easily be one of the most efficient SUVs you can buy. VW also estimates that it can be recharged using a 150 kW charger up to 80 percent in a mere 30 minutes. By 2020 autonomous driving technology will be available in many models and VW expects to have its own technology ready by 2025. The I.D. Crozz previews VW’s new I.D. Pilot autonomous driving technology , in which the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard and fuses with the digital instruments. In both automatic and manual modes the driver also receives speed and navigation information via a new head-up display. “By 2025, we want to have sales of pure electric vehicles up to one million units a year,” stated Herbert Diess, Chairman of the Board of Management, Volkswagen Brand. “The I.D. Crozz will play a key role in that. Production will start in 2020.” + Volkswagen Images @Volkswagen

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Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV

Tesla is doubling its Supercharger network by the end of the year to 10,000 chargers

April 24, 2017 by  
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Tesla is nothing if not ambitious. With the Model 3 release mere months away, Tesla is vowing to double its charging network. Right now, there are over 5,000 Superchargers globally, and by the end of the year that number will rise to 10,000 chargers – plenty of juice for the growing Tesla fleet. Tesla has two types of chargers: Superchargers , which can completely charge up a Model S in 75 minutes, and Destination Chargers, which work much like a home charger. Tesla currently has 9,000 Destination Charging stations and 5,000 Superchargers. By 2018, there will be 10,000 Superchargers and 15,000 Destination Charging stations serving over 200,000 Tesla vehicles. California alone will get 1,000 Superchargers. Related: Tesla starts fining Supercharger hogs $0.40/minute In addition to more Supercharging stations, Tesla is expanding existing stations: “Tesla will build larger sites along our busiest travel routes that will accommodate several dozen Teslas Supercharging simultaneously.” You can see all existing stations and planned stations at this link . + Tesla

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Tesla is doubling its Supercharger network by the end of the year to 10,000 chargers

Honda steps up with new green car strategy

April 13, 2017 by  
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Honda’s green car strategy has taken criticism over the past few years for its inability to keep up with the venerable Toyota Prius . Well, the automaker is stepping up with their introduction of the new Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in hybrid recently – at the New York Auto Show. The new Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in hybrid will be sold alongside the Clarity Fuel Cell , which is already on sale. With all three models, Honda hopes to be able to sell at least 75,000 Clarity vehicles in the first four model years. The Clarity will also help Honda reach its goal of having two-thirds of its vehicles electrified by 2030. Related: 2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle is ready for the mainstream The Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will have a 42-mile electric driving range, which is still shy of the Chevy Volt, but longer than the Toyota Prius Prime . Once the battery is depleted, the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid uses a 1.5-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder engine to give it an overall driving range rating of over 330 miles. The Clarity Plug-in hybrid’s electric motor generates 181-horsepower electric motor with 232 lb.-ft. of torque and is mated to a 17-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery. It will only take 2.5 hours to fully recharge it using a 240 volt outlet. The Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will have EPA fuel economy rating of 105 MPGe. The Honda Clarity Electric is powered by a 161-horsepower electric motor with 221 lb.-ft. of torque that is mated to a 25.5-kWh battery pack. The Clarity Electric will only have a driving range of around 80 miles, but it can by fully charged in just over three hours at 240 volts or up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes using a DC fast charger . The Clarity Electric will have a 111 combined MPGe rating. The Clarity Electric’s driving range is a bit disappointing, since we now have other electric cars with a much longer driving range. Still, Honda expects the Clarity Plug-in hybrid to be the sales volume leader out of the three Clarity models. Images @Honda + Honda

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Honda steps up with new green car strategy

These 3D-printed off-grid tiny houses can withstand hurricanes and earthquakes

April 13, 2017 by  
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These 3D-printed off-grid homes manufactured by Ukrainian startup PassivDom are not only 100% self-sufficient – they can also withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. The “gadget houses” are completely powered by the sun , and they’re available as fully furnished modules that can be controlled by a smartphone. PassivDom ‘s homes use solar power to satisfy all the needs of their occupants – including climate control (heating and cooling) and air quality. Each house features state-of-the-art engineering including an air recuperation system, a heat pump for heating and cooling with a remote-controlled thermostat hub, a HEPA system, a photovoltaic off-grid system powered by LiFePO2 batteries, a gray water filtration system with heat recovery , heat energy storage, and a boiler and water tank. Related: 7 charming off-grid homes for a rent-free life The homes’ impressive performance makes them versatile enough to suit any climate and topography. An industrial 3D-printing robot creates each house layer-by-layer using printing materials like carbon fiber , fiberglass , and polyurethane – all of which are easy to recycle. Because the structures don’t have foundations, they are easy to transport and assemble in any configuration. + PassivDom

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These 3D-printed off-grid tiny houses can withstand hurricanes and earthquakes

We test drove the new Chevrolet Bolt and heres the scoop

April 11, 2017 by  
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When we were invited to test-drive the brand new Chevy Bolt electric vehicle, we naturally jumped on the opportunity. The new Chevrolet Bolt is Chevy’s first mass-market all-electric vehicle, designed for those who want to go further than a hybrid plugin electric like the Chevy Volt . With a range of 238 miles per charge (better than the Nissan Leaf and comparable to the much higher priced Tesla Model S ), for a price tag of around the 30K (after the tax rebates), many have high hopes for the Chevy Bolt as the first true “electric vehicle for the masses”. We were curious to see how this car would fare in real life, and were excited to check it out. Hailed by automotive enthusiasts as the “Tesla Killer,” the Bolt has been a frontrunner in the competition against Tesla’s more affordable electric car, the Model 3 , and now enjoys an entire year’s head start to market. Will the Bolt bring a new wave of adoption for electric vehicles? Read on for our thoughts: We set out in our burnt orange Bolt EV just an hour south of San Francisco, along the picturesque, tree-lined roads of Portola Valley. From the minute we hit our first hill-hugging turn, we knew that we were in for a smooth experience. The car carries the bulk of its weight in its floor-mounted lithium-ion battery pack, which translates to a lower center of gravity, better structural integrity, and ultimately a more enjoyable ride than most gas cars. Naturally of course, the car is extremely quiet as well, without any vroom vroom of an engine. The unique placement of the battery also allows for a flatter floor, making the Bolt noticeably roomier then the Volt and many of its electric vehicle competitors. With AeroVironment’s Level 2 charging station the battery can be recharged to full in only eight hours, making charging as simple and intuitive as plugging in before going to bed. On straighter stretches we were able to zip from 0-60mph in an impressive 6.5 seconds. Drivers can choose between “Drive” and “Low” modes, and while Low mode permits speeds as highs as those in Drive mode, its “regenerative” braking system cleverly funnels braking friction back into the battery the moment the driver lifts their foot from the pedal. A paddle behind the left side of the steering wheel can be used to the same effect or to increase brake regeneration, so much so that the car can come to a complete stop without hitting the brakes. It’s ideal for stop-and-go traffic and even better for conserving energy. Drivers can visualize the energy captured on the car’s 10.2-inch touch screen display. With an impressive 238-mile range per charge, Bay Area owners can make a complete one-way trip to Tahoe without having to refuel, making the Bolt far more suitable for weekend trips than many of its EV competitors, such as the Nissan Leaf . The car’s official MSRP is $37,495 but a federal tax credit of $7500 puts it firmly in the under $30,000 range. All in all, it is easy to see why the Bolt EV might be a tempting choice for those in the market for an electric vehicle. With exceptional range, groundbreaking technology, and roomy interior, we’re convinced the Bolt delivers on everything it promised. Chevy Bolts officially went on sale at dealerships across the West Coast this past December and will be reaching excited customers across the nation by mid 2017. + Chevrolet Bolt

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We test drove the new Chevrolet Bolt and heres the scoop

8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

April 7, 2017 by  
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We’re getting closer to the year many automakers predicted would see self-driving vehicles on the road. While Ford has made great advances lately, General Motors isn’t yet ready to stand on the side line with other automakers in 2020. In order to help bridge that gap, GM has announced it is giving eight American universities a Chevy Bolt as part of the new autonomous vehicle design competition called AutoDrive Challenge. The AutoDrive Challenge includes teams from Kettering University, Michigan State University, Michigan Tech, North Carolina A&T University, Texas A&M University, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo and Virginia Tech. Each school will be given three years to to develop and demonstrate a fully autonomous Chevy Bolt. Related: The new Nissan Leaf will be able to drive autonomously on the highway While three years may seem like a long time, the AutoDrive Challenge will be quite tough. At the end of the three years, each team will have to complete the development of a Chevy Bolt that will be able to navigate an urban driving course, autonomously and without any human interaction. In addition to receiving the Bolt, GM has also tapped strategic partners and suppliers to aid the students in their technology development by providing vehicle parts and software. Additionally, throughout the competition, students and faculty will be invited to attend technology-specific workshops to help them in their concept refinement and overall autonomous technical understanding. “GM is very excited to work closely with these eight universities over the next three years,” said Ken Kelzer, GM vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. “The students and faculty at these schools bring deep knowledge and technical skills to the competition. We are proud to help offer these students the hands-on experience necessary for them to make an immediate impact on the automotive world when they graduate.” The AutoDrive Challenge kicks off this fall. Images @GM + General Motors

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8 universities given three years to develop a self-driving Chevy Bolt

IDEO wants to turn your car into a small-scale public transportation option

April 3, 2017 by  
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A new car-sharing vision may help ease congestion in metropolitan areas lacking mass transportation options. Cities like New York City and London have a decent public transportation system, but if you’ve ever tried to commute in a city like Los Angeles , you probably pray for a better way. California’s Ideo, a design company, offers one such alternative. Their latest concept looks past major infrastructure programs to an expanded view of the automobile sharing model as a means of reducing all of the negative affects of too many cars on the roads. Rather than focus on large public transit programs, IDEO’s latest project matches the current focus on making driving not only easier, but safer. And then expands on that concept by showcasing how an autonomous car can not only bring improvements to its owner’s life, but also help other community members get from point a to b and even raise a few bucks. Related: VW unveils the all-electric autonomous Microbus of the future The owner of the autonomous vehicle can choose to ride solo or even make a few extra dollars by picking up other passengers along the way – which is probably something some Uber and Lyft drivers already do today. Taking communal sharing one step further, the autonomous vehicle can also be rented out like a Zipcar to other people; the renters can even reduce the cost of the rental by agreeing to run errands for the owner of the car. Imagine that you’re renting the car to go on a grocery run, but while you’re there you pick up a few groceries for the car’s owner as well, which would lower the overall cost of the rental. Today car’s generally only serves their owners and the owner’s contacts, but IDEO’s concept would change that by making the car a public resource, similar to a bus or train but on a much smaller scale. Riders can use an app to book a ride, like with UberPOOL. Another big difference between this and other car-sharing programs comes down to a few simple settings that make the environment a bit more discrete. + IDEO All images @IDEO

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IDEO wants to turn your car into a small-scale public transportation option

California defies Trump with tough emissions rules

March 29, 2017 by  
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California is shaping up to be the thorn in President Donald Trump’s side that Texas was during former President Barack Obama’s time in the White House — mounting legal challenges to Trump’s attacks on environmental regulations and strengthening the state’s own environmental rules. The latest volley came Friday when the California Air Resources Board finalized its rules for vehicle emissions through the year 2025. The standards for the years 2022-2025 would slash tailpipe emissions a third, from about 36 miles per gallon today to 54 mpg in 2025. The fight with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt over fuel efficiency standards isn’t just about California. Currently, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia have all adopted California’s greenhouse gas regulations. Related: California introduces its own 100% renewable energy bill The board also reaffirmed a rule requiring automakers to accelerate the adoption of zero emission and low emission vehicles in California — fully electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid. The rule calls for more than a million zero emissions vehicles on the road by 2025, a significant increase from the about 250,000 clean cars traversing the state today. A Bloomberg editorial backing California over Trump on car emissions, while acknowledging a better way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to impose a carbon tax or at least a higher gas tax, says that tougher fuel-economy standards are the way to go: “Unless he’s willing to fight for a smarter policy, Trump should do the country a favor and leave the existing rules alone.” Via Autoblog Image 1 , 2 via Wikimedia

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California defies Trump with tough emissions rules

2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle is ready for the mainstream

March 20, 2017 by  
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Fuel-cell vehicles are still pretty foreign to most of us, especially if you live outside of California. Automakers like General Motors, Hyundai , Toyota and Honda have been working on the technology for decades, but we’ve yet to see a model that could bring the technology more mainstream. Toyota got close with the new Mirai , but Honda may be even closer to increasing the public’s acceptance of fuel-cell vehicles with their all-new 2017 Clarity. You’ll recall that this isn’t the first time Honda has released a fuel cell vehicle for public consumption, since in 2008 the first FCX Clarity was leased to a small subset of customers in California. Now almost 10 years later, Honda has made significant improvements to make the Clarity feel even more like a conventional car than any fuel cell vehicle has been able to do before. The styling may still be a bit unconventional, but Honda learned a lot from what customers need with the first FCX Clarity. Related: Honda will offer the Clarity Fuel Cell in electric and plug-in hybrid versions For starters, the new Clarity is now larger with increases to its length and width, which brings its exterior more in-line with the brand’s popular Accord midsize sedan. Honda decided one of the biggest hurdles with the last generation was that its interior also had too many compromises in terms of interior volume and seating capacity. So now the Clarity can fit five passengers, compared to the last model that could only fit four. That’s also a big plus over the Toyota Mirai , which can only fit up to four. How did Honda manage to do this? The FCX Clarity’s fuel cell stack was positioned directly in the middle of the car, which meant that there wasn’t room for a middle passenger in the rear seat. To make room for the fifth passenger in the new Clarity, Honda repositioned the fuel cell stack and powertrain underneath the hood, like a conventional car. Honda couldn’t simply just take the old system and stuff it under the new Clarity’s hood, instead it had to downsize the size of the entire system so that it is now smaller than the brand’s V6 engine. One added benefit is now that the system is so much smaller, that opens the door for more future applications. To make more interior volume and cargo space, Honda also reconfigured the hydrogen storage system, which now consists of two tanks, one under the rear seat and one in the trunk. Having room for five passengers was one of the biggest complaints that buyers had about the last generation, but there was also one other problem – driving range. The last FCX Clarity could only drive up to 240 miles on a tank of hydrogen fuel, but now the new two tank system can hold more hydrogen: 3.93 kg vs 5.46 kg. The nominal pressure of the tanks is also up from 35 MPa to 70 MPa. This also means that the Clarity can now travel further than before with an estimated driving range of 366 miles – which is closer to the driving range of a conventional midsize sedan. Also one of the biggest benefits of a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle is that it only takes 3-5 minutes to refill its tanks compared to the many hours it takes to recharge an electric vehicle. Now that the Clarity can fit as many passengers as a regular midsize sedan and its driving range is more realistic – there was only one other big hurdle that Honda needed to tackle if it were to achieve its goal of increasing the acceptance of fuel cell vehicles – how it drives. The Clarity’s fuel cell powertrain generates 174 horsepower (up 30%) and 221 lb-ft. of torque (up 17 percent). For comparison, the Honda Accord’s four-cylinder engine generates 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft. of torque. The upgraded powertrain now has a quicker response and is smoother than before. A new Sport mode also makes it a bit “sportier” when you need it. How did it drive in the real world? Honda achieved its goal of making it feel more like a regular midsize sedan. Around the back country roads of Santa Barbara, the 2017 Clarity drove just as we would expect from the Accord. It wasn’t particularly engaging, but it didn’t need to be. The updated powertrain is much quieter than before and accelerating from a stop was easy and effortless. The differences between the Normal and Sport modes is not as big as you would expect, but it does provide a bit more brake regeneration. On the road, the 2017 Clarity feels planted, quiet and comfortable. Most passengers probably won’t even realize they are in a “non-conventional” fuel cell sedan. Which is what Honda was hoping to achieve with the Clarity. The previous compromises to interior volume, comfort and performance are all pretty much gone now. There’s still one last hurdle to greater acceptance of hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles: infrastructure. Currently the Clarity is only on sale in California and that’s because of the number of hydrogen re-fueling stations in the state. But even then there are still only 26 stations currently up and running in California . By the end of 2017 there will be another 20 coming online. Honda hopes to have at least 100 stations up by 2020. On the flip side, the automaker promises to cover the costs of the hydrogen fuel for the entire lease – for a cost of up to $15,000. Related: Toyota FCV Plus hydrogen concept car reveals the automaker’s vision of the future Honda won’t actually sell you a Clarity, so the only way you can get one is if you lease it for three years at $369 a month with 2,868 due at signing. If you’re still not quiet ready to make the jump to a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, there’s still good news. Honda is going to offer three versions of the Clarity: the Clarity Fuel Cell, Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in Hybrid. The Clarity Electric will be an affordable fully-electric version with a driving range around 80 miles, while the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will be the volume leader with a 40 mile electric mode and a 300 mile driving range. Both the Clarity Electric and Clarity Plug-in Hybrid will arrive by the end of the year. So there we have it, Honda’s latest attempt at making the fuel cell vehicle more mainstream is the closest one yet that we’ve seen from any automaker. We can expect others to follow suit; Hyundai is already working on its next fuel cell SUV and General Motors recently announced a partnership to work on fuel cell powertrains. + Honda All images @ Inhabitat and Honda

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2017 Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle is ready for the mainstream

Google Street View takes you inside the fiery depths of an active volcano

March 20, 2017 by  
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Have you ever seen an active volcano up close? Most of us haven’t had the opportunity, but now thanks to Google Street View , you can glimpse the fiery depths of one the world’s largest boiling lava lakes. Two explorers repelled down into the Marum crater on the island on Ambrym in Vanuatu , a country of islands around 1000 miles away from Australia, to collect images of the lava lake for Google (and all of us). Forget the relatively tame imagery of city streets. Google went to new extremes to collect dramatic images of Ambrym, from volcanic beaches to a volcano itself. Explorers Geoff Mackley and Chris Horsley helped out by repelling around 1,312 feet down into the Marum crater to gather 360-degree imagery of the massive lava lake, which is about as big as two football fields, according to Google. Mackley said, “You only realize how insignificant humans are when you’re standing next to a giant lake of fiery boiling rock .” Related: Sheep enlisted to bring ‘Google Street View’ to remote Faroe Islands After repelling into the crater, Horsley said, “I hope that by putting this place on the map people will realize what a beautiful world we live in.” Over 7,000 people live on Ambrym. Chief Moses of Endu, a local village, welcomed Google in to share the incredible beauty of the area. Locals have been rebuilding after Cyclone Pam hit a few years past, and are ready to greet travelers again. According to Google, Chief Moses feels welcoming visitors to the region will help the island recover, help set up a sustainable economy, and preserve the island’s culture . Along with the volcano, Google Street View offers images of his village, a primary school, and a craft workshop on the island. Can’t hop on the next plane to trek to Vanuatu? You can also check out a jungle on Ambrym, more images of the Marum crater, and villagers harvesting coconuts on Google Street View. Via Google Images via screenshot ( 1 , 2 )

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Google Street View takes you inside the fiery depths of an active volcano

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