Volkswagen may offer more electric cars than any other brand

June 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Now that the “dieselgate” scandal is almost over, VW needs to revamp its image and find a new way to appeal to the “green” crowd. Diesel has become a dirty word, so VW is doubling down on its production of electric cars . Over the past year VW has unveiled three new electric concept cars, but a leaked powerpoint slide suggests the automaker has even more up its sleeve than we previously realized. VW recently unveiled its electric car plans during a presentation, which revealed its product plans for the next five years. It was originally believed that the company was only going to release three electric cars, but now we know that up to five new EVs will be released by 2022. All five vehicles will be based on the same MEB platform that was previewed by the concepts. The first model, the production version of the I.D. hatchback, is scheduled to arrive in 2019. Related: Volkswagen confirms it’s bringing back the Microbus Following the arrival of the electric hatchback, VW is going to release a production version of the I.D. Crozz crossover , cleverly named the I.D. Cross. Two other models that we haven’t even heard about, the I.D. Lounge and I.D. AEROe will arrive after the crossover and lastly the Microbus-inspired I.D. Buzz will arrive. It’s expected that all five models will have driving ranges between 200-300 miles, which could be a conservative estimate, since battery technology continues to improve each year. The slide also reveals that the United States will not be recipients of all five new VW EVs. According to the slide, among the vehicles not heading to the U.S. are the small I.D. hatchback and I.D. Cross. Boo! We hope that changes soon. + VW Via Autoblog.nl and Groen7 Images @VW and Autoblog.nl

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Volkswagen may offer more electric cars than any other brand

Indian Railways installing rooftop solar panels on 250 trains

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Some of the world’s most polluting cities may be found in India, but the country’s government, as well as private corporations, are working hard to transition the economy into a more sustainable one. Indian Railways, for instance, is installing flexible solar panels on 250 local trains. The intention is to reduce fuel costs and benefit the environment while lowering the company’s own emissions to meet government standards. The railway has not yet decided which trains will receive the solar panels but has floated the money to install the systems, which will be used to power lights and fans on the trains. According to The Economic Times , companies selected through the process will need to install flexible solar panels and battery systems on six trains. Following a two-month trial period, large-scale implementation will take place. The initiative is expected to give another boost to India’s rapidly growing renewable energy program, especially since the trains would primarily run in areas where tracks have yet to be electrified. Related: New project could see UK electric trains powered by off-grid solar As Clean Techies reports, Indian Railways has undertaken numerous initiatives to shift to clean energy sources. Earlier this year, it was announced by the Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that “7,000 railway stations across the country will be fed with solar power as per the Indian Railways mission to implement 1,000 megawatts of solar power capacity.” The news was shared during the union budget speech on February 1, 2017. Minister Jaitley also said that work to set up rooftop solar power systems at 300 stations has already begun and that the number will increase to 2,000 stations. Because of initiatives such as these, Indian Railways could potentially source up to 25% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2025, according to a study conducted by the United Nations Development Program. The report reads, “The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) has found that Indian Railways could set up 5 gigawatts of solar power capacity, through rooftop and utility-scale projects, to significantly increase its consumption of renewable energy over the next few years.” As a result of solar prices declining in recent months, India has canceled plans to construct nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations . Experts now expect a profound shift in global energy markets. Via The Economic Times , Clean Techies Images via Pixabay  and Unsplash ( 1 , 2 )

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Indian Railways installing rooftop solar panels on 250 trains

The 2018 Nissan Leaf will feature semi-autonomous driving technology

June 23, 2017 by  
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We’re just a few months away from the debut of the all-new 2018 Nissan Leaf – and the automaker just announced a killer feature for its next-generation electric vehicle. In addition to a complete restyling and a longer driving range , the 2018 Leaf will be able to drive itself with Nissan’s new ProPILOT Assist autonomous technology. ProPILOT Assist can take over driving tasks on the highway, which includes accelerating, braking and steering controls. The 2018 Leaf won’t have the full SAE Level 4 technology, which would give it the ability to also drive autonomously on city streets. Nissan says that “in the coming years” the ProPILOT Assist technology will be improved to give it the ability to navigate city intersections. Related: Nissan is working on a new 340-mile-range electric car Nissan hasn’t revealed any details about the 2018 Leaf’s powertrain – and most importantly – what its new driving range will be. It’s being reported that the 2018 Leaf will be offered with two battery options, similar to what Tesla does with its models. The bigger battery pack could give the 2018 Leaf a driving range close to 300 miles, which would easily beat the Chevy Bolt and the upcoming Tesla Model 3. The 2018 Nissan Leaf will be officially revealed in early September. Images @Nissan + Nissan

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The 2018 Nissan Leaf will feature semi-autonomous driving technology

Eviation Aircraft unveils all-electric aircraft with 600-mile range

June 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Though flying via airplane is a fast and fun way to travel, it is one of the least environmentally-friendly methods to do so. That may soon change, however, as Eviation Aircraft (a member of NASA’s on-demand mobility program) recently unveiled the first prototype of an all-electric aircraft that has a range of up to 600 miles (965 km). Presented at the 52nd International Paris Air Show, the prototype could be ready to move into certification and commercialization as soon as next year. “At a time when we are more connected than ever, our mobility options must adapt to reflect this new, efficient future,” said Omer Bar-Yohay, CEO of Eviation Aircraft, in a statement. “Whether it is zero emissions , low-cost trip from Silicon Valley to San Diego, or Seoul to Beijing, our all-electric aircraft represents a chance for people to move with the speed and impact our global economy now demands.” The electric aircraft could potentially fly six to nine passengers, in addition to two crew members on long distances. With the intention to commercialize the plane by 2018, Eviation by far has the most aggressive timeline of any company intent on producing an electric plane. Due to the energy density of batteries, electric air transport has been limited. However, the company says it has developed a new aluminum-air battery that will make it possible for consumers to fly without harming the environment . Related: eGenius Plane Sets World Record for Electric Aircraft Speed “Based on an aerial application of  Phinergy Ltd’s Aluminum air battery, coupled with a high power rechargeable battery buffer, and managed by a clever mission specific power analytic algorithm, EViation’s energy system is unique. Providing a true solution to both energy density and utilization, at a cost that beats gas, and with zero emissions,” said Eviation Aircraft. Rather than compete with traditional aviation companies, Eviation will position itself as an Uber-like on-demand transport service. Mark Moore, Uber Engineering Director of Aviation, commented on the Eviation  technology : “We are witnessing a new age in aviation as advances in energy storage and aircraft design bring electric, on-demand air transit within reach. Our focus at Uber is in galvanizing the ecosystem necessary for urban VTOL electric vehicles to thrive for 20-60 mile trips that can provide massive time savings over ground transportation for long trips in cities. In parallel, we are encouraged to see bold new players like Eviation tackling challenges in different sectors using electric aviation; these players will help catalyze demand for new battery and rapid recharging technologies that are crucial to enable electric flight.” Via Elektrek Images via  Eviation Aircraft , Pixabay

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Eviation Aircraft unveils all-electric aircraft with 600-mile range

INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

June 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Eric Lundgren, the founder and CEO of e-waste recycling company ITAP , recently beat the electric vehicle driving range of a Tesla with a car made from trash and powered by repurposed Nintendo batteries. (Well, technically not just Nintendo batteries but Lenovo laptop and Time Warner cable box batteries too.) But how did he accomplish the seemingly impossible? Read on for our exclusive interview. “It’s not magic. We just put a larger battery in a lighter frame. It’s that simple,” Lundgren explained in a recent interview with Inhabitat. “We basically put a 130 kilowatt hours battery pack in a car that weighs a little bit less than a Tesla.” Related: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery spells bad news for gas-guzzling cars Lundgren is a pioneer in hybrid recycling — reusing the components in broken electronics or outdated electronics so that they don’t end up in toxic landfills. His trash car — the Phoenix — broke the world record for longest EV range last month, outlasting a Tesla Model S P100D on a round-trip from L.A. to San Diego. His team had already set the EV range record but Guinness didn’t accept the results because of missing film footage of the event so they gave it another go with cameras on for the entire race. They built the Phoenix in 35 days at a cost of $13,000 using 88 percent consumer waste. The $150,000 Tesla died at 318 miles while the trash car set the new world record — 382.3 miles on a single charge. Related: Electric cars could reach cost parity with conventional cars by next year In our interview (edited for clarity), Lundgren talks about how despite his success with electric vehicle range, his passion lies in making hybrid recycling widely accepted in society. Inhabitat: What motivated you to build the Phoenix and beat the EV world range record? Eric Lundgren: I’m all about hybrid recycling. The Phoenix was a way to demonstrate hybrid recycling. That was the purpose. I don’t want to become a car manufacturer. I want to do hybrid recycling and the Phoenix was a great demonstration. Inhabitat: What materials did you use to build the Phoenix? Lundgren: It is the most environmental car ever built with the lowest carbon footprint. The chassis of the car came from a scrap yard. It was about to get crushed and we dragged it out of the scrap yard. It didn’t even have wheels on it. We put wheels on it. We took out everything. Converted it to an EV. And we put used batteries – basically trash batteries – in it. The controller came off of a forklift. The blinker came off of a bicycle. The car itself is two 1997 BMW 528is that we frankensteined together to make one car. Inhabitat: What is the connection to hybrid recycling? Lundgren: We used garbage. We used all garbage, all old technology. All things that our consumer world said were trash and have zero value. And we built something that is the most valuable because it just beat a world record. So we’re demonstrating the value in garbage and trying to educate the public and corporations to start practicing hybrid recycling, which is a way of saving that value rather than destroying it. Inhabitat: It is amazing how badly you beat the Tesla. Lundgren: We took 35 days to build it. Tesla took a year-and-a-half to build their car. Tesla’s research and development cost was $1.4 billion. Our R&D cost: I paid my engineers in Keystone Light beer. Our car has one-tenth the carbon footprint ratio of a Tesla. Inhabitat: The number one issue with EVs is range anxiety. You would think that Tesla would want to increase their range. Lundgren: If Tesla increased their range, are you willing to pay an extra $30,000 for an extra hundred miles? My guess is they did some sort of marketing survey and realized that at 300 miles people are not willing to pay more money for longer range so they stopped there and the world says ‘oh, they must have stopped there because that’s the best that a car can do.’ Well I just proved that that’s not true. I just proved that cars can do more. Inhabitat: What are your objectives regarding the EV industry and hybrid recycling? Lundgren: My goal is to push the EV industry to produce cars that people want to buy so that we can get off of fossil fuel. My other goal is to demonstrate hybrid recycling so that companies like Tesla send dead battery packs to a hybrid recycler that can actually salvage the good parts out of them to build something new – rather than what they currently do, which is send them to a company in Canada, which smelts the battery pack for its commodity value. That’s bringing all the value in a pack down to its lowest common denominator. Inhabitat: What are you working on next? Lundgren: We’re going to build the largest repurposed battery pack for my facilities. All the power from my recycling is going to come from solar panels that go to a giant solar power array that runs my entire factory that produces batteries from trash. So in other words, my processing facility is going to be run from the sun to garbage batteries. That’s what is going to power my entire processing facility within the next six weeks. Inhabitat: You are building an electric semi truck to compete with Elon Musk’s Tesla Semi? Lundgren: In September Elon Musk releases his electric semi . In November, I’m releasing an electric semi that costs a fraction of the price of his, goes 55 miles further and is built from basically consumer waste. I don’t know what his semi is going to cost. My guess is it is going to cost around $300,000 or $400,000. My semi is going to cost $60,000 – and it will go farther than his. Inhabitat: Any thoughts on the era of affordable electric vehicles about to begin with the upcoming release of the Tesla Model 3 ? Lundgren: I truly believe that the world is going to go EV . I truly believe that the world is going to utilize lithium to get away from burning coal and to get away from all of these other primitive ways that we produce and use power, and transport ourselves today. We need to evolve as a society – and electric vehicles are a way to do that – but the recycling of those vehicles is just as important as the manufacturing. It doesn’t get enough attention. People don’t realize what happens to things when they just discard them. We need to start worrying about efficiency on the back end so we can become more efficient on the front end. Inhabitat: And where do you see hybrid recycling going? Lundgren: In the future, electronics of any type – whether it be an electric car or a laptop or tablet or cell phone or server router, you name it – all of that product is going to be reused very similar to how a chop shop in the auto industry works. If your car has a flat tire, you don’t throw away your car. And if you do, then they salvage every other working part. Let’s say you blow an engine — the chop shop salvages the catalytic converter and the exhaust and the windshield and the transmission and all the other parts. But in electronics today we throw it all away. We’re at a point where hybrid recycling is going to kick off. It’s going to become huge. Nobody understands it, so this car [the Phoenix] is a great demonstration for it. + ITAP Images via Jehu Garcia [Editor’s note: Lundgren was sentenced after we completed this interview to serve 15 months in federal prison for distributing free software (computer restore Freeware) in order to divert computers from landfills and empower consumers to fix their property. He is currently appealing the sentence.]

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INTERVIEW: Meet Eric Lundgren, who broke the world record for EV range with a car made from trash

Volkswagen confirms it’s bringing back the Microbus

June 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

Volkswagen has been teasing Microbus fans for years about the idea of introducing a new Microbus. Back in 2001 the first Microbus concept brought back nostalgic memories of the 1960s and then more recently VW teased us again with the Bulli concept and this year with the I.D. Buzz concept . Even though the earlier concepts never lead to production models, the I.D. Buzz concept is now definitely headed to the production line – reportedly. Auto Express spoke with VW CEO Herbert Diess, who confirmed that the new Microbus is in VW’s future production plans. While the new Microbus will recall memories of the iconic Microbus from the 1960’s, it will differ from the original by having an electric powertrain — like the concept. Related: Volkswagen previews I.D. Crozz, its 2020 electric SUV “Emotional cars are very important for the brand,” Herbert Diess revealed. “We are selling loads of Beetles still, particularly in US markets. But we will also have the Microbus that we showed, which we have recently decided we will build.” It’s expected that the Microbus will be based on the new MEB platform that will be the basis for all of VW’s new electric models. The final design will be tweaked a bit, but it will draw cues from the I.D. Buzz concept that debuted earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show . VW’s Design Boss Oliver Stefani also hinted at the idea of the new Microbus, “With the MEB platform this is the chance now to get the proportions back. But you can also get much more interior space, almost one class higher.” Even though we have confirmation that the Microbus is coming back, we still don’t know when. The first model from the new MEB platform isn’t expected to arrive until 2020, so we can expect the Microbus to arrive sometime after the new electric hatchback . When it does arrive, expect the new electric Microbus to have a driving range around 300 miles. Via Auto Express + VW Images @VW

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Volkswagen confirms it’s bringing back the Microbus

South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

June 20, 2017 by  
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Travelers looking to explore Peru in style can now jump aboard South America’s first luxury sleeper train – the Belmond Andean Explorer . The train’s interior was designed by London-based Muza Lab to pay homage to the golden age of train travel, enhanced with vibrant colors and textures inspired by the local Peruvian culture and landscape. According to the founder of Muza Lab, Inge Moore, the train’s interior is designed to take travelers back to another age of train travel: “We design journeys, and with Belmond Andean Explorer, we have distilled the romance, nostalgia and freedom of the train voyage. The train is a place of transition where time seems to slow down between the departure and the arrival. Our vision was to design somewhere to ponder and dream, a space where the beauty of the land can infuse the soul.” Related: You won’t believe the interior of Japan’s jaw-dropping new train Although the name and the design of the Belmond Andean Explorer are new, the 16-carriage train was originally the Great South Pacific Express. During the renovation process, the design team worked hard to renovate the space while retaining some elements out of respect for train’s long history. The train’s original timber walls were painted soft, neutral tones to help create an open, airy feel that runs throughout the interior. However, it’s not quite a minimalist color palette; touches of vibrant colors and varying textures are found throughout the train thanks to the various Peruvian crafts and artistry that were found locally. In fact, most of the design touches were locally sourced – from the timber floors and roman blinds to the hand-crafted woven textiles. The sleeper cabins were designed to provide a luxurious travel experience. Once again using local culture for inspiration, each cabin is named after Peruvian flora and fauna. In addition to the comfortable beds and soft Saffiano leather seats, vibrant tapestries can be found in each car as well as baby alpaca blankets for extra chilly nights. Even the smallest detail speaks to the country’s rich culture, such as the brass room keys in the shape of the Chakana Cross – a symbol of the Incan civilization as well as the train’s crest. Outside of the private sleeper cars , guests can also enjoy watching the beautiful landscape pass by from the rounded outdoor deck of the Observation Car, called Ichu after the tall grasses that grow on the Peruvian plains. There are also two dining cars, a serene spa, and an old-world piano bar named after the herb Maca. + Muza Lab + Belmond Andean Explorer

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South America’s first luxury sleeper train is a traveler’s dream come true

Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever

June 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green, Recycle

Fear not the flat tire, road trippers! The future of tire technology is rolling into reality, thanks to Michelin’s Vision tire. The 3D-printed tire does not need to be inflated, and it’s designed to last through the entire lifetime of a vehicle. It’s also equipped with high-tech sensors and it’s 100% biodegradable to boot. Michelin used 3D printing technology to create an airless tire modeled on alveolar structures – like as the air sacs found in human lungs. This means that the tire’s interior is structurally solid, while the outer layers are more flexible, which prevents blowouts and flat tires. The tire is printed from organic , recyclable, biodegradable materials and it can be recycled when it has reached the end of its product life. Related: Continental Tire looks to dandelions for a more sustainable tire 3D printing allows the tire’s treads to be customized to meet the needs of a specific vehicle , and Michelin minimized the amount of rubber used in the tire to enhance its sustainability. Embedded sensors keep track of each tire’s wear and proactively order reprints for smooth driving. Michelin imagines an eventual product that incorporates butadiene – a major component of modern synthetic rubber that is derived from wood chips or straw. Although Michelin has not discussed when these tires will be available for purchase, the company believes that the concept may soon become a reality. Via Yanko Design Images via Michelin

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Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed tires that last virtually forever

Beijing’s futuristic new subway stations are straight out of Blade Runner

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

Beijing-based Qing-X Architectural Studio has completed construction on a series of futuristic subway stations that look like they came straight out of a science fiction movie. Spiraling metal metal tunnels wrap the elevated platforms while providing plenty of daylight and natural ventilation. Architect Qi Ji Jun was inspired by the simple, yet functional form of a traditional scroll form: “The curved paper jerked at the two ends, seemed to be towed by the pen.” This concept is reflected in the tubular rail cladding of the platforms, which creates a sense of unity and movement throughout the multiple subway stations . The streamlined design is not only aesthetically pleasing, but functional; the two triangular corners that spiral out of the tunnel help augment the drivers’ field of vision. Related: China unveils train that travels on ‘virtual tracks’ Currently, the Fangshan line has 11 stations, with 9 aboveground tracks and 2 underground tracks. The stations consist of three stories, with the metal and glass-clad platforms located on the top open-air level. The overlapped roofs over the platforms contain a rain-screen ventilation gap, which pushes hot air up and outwards during the hot summer months. The area around the stations is surrounded by a verdant green belt with plenty of green space.

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Beijing’s futuristic new subway stations are straight out of Blade Runner

Artist wraps vintage steam locomotive in 39,000 square feet of aluminum foil

June 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Green

All aboard! Polish artist Piotr Janowski made waves a few years ago when he covered an entire Florida home in aluminum foil – and his latest work is equally massive and just as shimmery. The artist just unveiled “Get Off Lodz Fabryczna,” a vintage 1953 steam locomotive covered in 39,000 square feet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Built in 1953, the steam locomotive Px 48 is over 42 feet long and weighs 30 tons. Working with 14 local art students, Janowski covered every inch of the massive vehicle in just four days. The art installation was created to mark the opening of the new Train Station ?ód? Fabryczna and was carefully unveiled at the front of the station, where it’s been on display since December 2016. Related: Why did this Florida man cover his entire house with aluminum foil? According to the artist, the shiny installation is meant to inspire people to find new ways to look at common objects that often go overlooked in our daily lives: “It is very important for me to involve the urban and the natural environment into my art and to open new perspectives. Aluminum as a medium gives me the chance to gain great depth and vibrations of colors and tones mirroring the surrounding space.” + Piotr Janowski Images via Piotr Janowski

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Artist wraps vintage steam locomotive in 39,000 square feet of aluminum foil

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