Solar Impulse co-founder aims to make electric aviation a reality with new company

April 19, 2017 by  
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Electric high-speed trains have been zipping passengers across Europe and Asia for decades. Now the era of affordable electric cars is beginning with the introduction of the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3. But what about aviation? Could the friendly skies one day join electric trains and cars as an alternative to fossil-fueled transportation, which is polluting the air and contributing to climate change?  Solar Impulse ’s co-founder André Borschberg is aiming to make electric propulsion in the aviation industry a reality with a new company he co-founded, H55 . “Electric air transport will undoubtedly disrupt the aviation industry,” said Borschberg. “15 years ago, when I started with Solar Impulse, electric propulsion was anecdotal. Today it is a major development path of every large aeronautical organisation as well as attracting many start-ups and new players. What is science fiction today will be the reality of tomorrow.” Related: Solar Impulse successfully completes solar-powered flight around the world The Switzerland-based venture will focus on the entire propulsion chain — from the energy source to thrust and power to pilot interface and control systems. H55 has already successfully completed more than 50 hours of flight testing with its electric demonstrator aircraft, aEro1. Borschberg piloted eight of the 17 legs of Solar Impulse 2’s around-the-world flight, including flying for five days and five nights non-stop over the Pacific Ocean — the longest flight ever recorded in a single-pilot airplane. Solar Impulse 2 departed Abu Dhabi in March 2015, returning there in July 2016 after flying around the world (including a nine-month delay for technical repairs). + H55 Images via H55

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Solar Impulse co-founder aims to make electric aviation a reality with new company

San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike

April 17, 2017 by  
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A new bike store in the Bay Area of San Francisco has come up with an interesting way to get people to reduce their transportation footprint. Electric bikes make a great alternative for commutes in cities like San Francisco , but many people find the hefty price tag of an e-bike prohibitive. The New Wheel solves that by allowing patrons to trade in their old vehicles for an e-bike – and a healthier lifestyle. San Francisco’s 74 hills don’t make for pleasant bike commutes – unless you’ve got an e-bike to help you. The New Wheel is making it easier for people to obtain e-bikes. Patrons can bring in their old cars, and the bike shop will take notes on the car’s condition and mileage, and send the information to Roadster.com . 48 hours later they make patrons an offer, and will even come pick up the old car and deliver a check. Ideally patrons will spend some of that money on an e-bike at The New Wheel, but aren’t required to do so. Related: Propella’s lightweight electric bike rides like a regular bike Shop co-founder Brett Thurber told Fast Company, “We’ve always been in the business of trying to figure out ways to get people out of cars and onto bikes. With all the traffic and even parking, it’s not convenient anymore, in many instances, to own a car. I think the thing we’re up against is just habit.” The New Wheel has adopted other ideas from the car industry to help people get used to the idea of owning a bike as their main vehicle. They offer financing for e-bikes and allow people to trade in their old e-bikes. They even offer roadside assistance; if bikers get a flat tire The New Wheel will pick them up twice a year and give them a free ride up to 30 miles. + The New Wheel Via Fast Company Images via Pixabay and Tom Lowenthal on Flickr

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San Francisco bike shop lets you trade in car for e-bike

This electric car charging tower can power up a fleet of EVs at the same time

April 17, 2017 by  
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One of the biggest hassles of owning an electric car is finding a charger when you’re on the go. Looking to address this issue on an urban scale, Ennead Lab just unveiled an EV charging tower that can simultaneously store and power up a fleet of electric cars at the same time. The project, which is slated for a new urban development in Shanghai, takes the form of a stacked parking garage with transparent walls and a supercharger on the ground floor for drivers in a hurry. Ennead Lab’s tower seeks to provide a simple solution for electric car drivers who need to recharge away from home. The Car Charging Tower provides EV owners with two options: a super charge (which typically takes 25 minutes), or a place to park and charge while they go out and enjoy the city around them. Related: Quebec may require EV charging stations for all homes The charging tower would accommodate multiple sized cars and use a standard charging system to maximize the number of cars being charged simultaneously while parked. For those in a hurry, various super charger stations would be located on the ground floor underneath a lightweight canopy. The tower itself would be clad in a reflective perforated metal – a feature that pays homage to the “chrome-filled aesthetic history of the automobile.” + Ennead Lab Images via Ennead Lab

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This electric car charging tower can power up a fleet of EVs at the same time

Solar-powered drone Skystation sits atop Trump World Tower in New York

April 17, 2017 by  
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Kayak architects  wants to change the way we get around urban environments, so they’ve envisioned an innovative way to integrate air transport with existing urban environments. The project would turn skyscraper rooftops into solar-powered drone stations called Skystations. To illustrate how it would work, the designers put a drone skystation on Trump World Tower in New York City. The Skystation project aims to convert skyscraper rooftops into air transport hubs with a low ecological footprint . This futuristic transportation network should reduce pollution by eliminating rush-hour traffic and decreasing number of land vehicles, enabling us to turn unused roads into walkable, green spaces. Related: Dubai plans to launch autonomous flying drone taxis by mid-2017 Drone robots programmed or operated by humans would build these lightweight structures out of prefabricated and 3d-printed elements, using materials and components produced by local companies. A layer of sprayed Perovskite Solar Cells covers the outer shell, providing clean energy for the entire station. Related: Titan Aerospace Developing World’s First Solar-Powered Atmospheric Satellite Drones Arched roofs are meant to allow easier and more convenient landing for drones, simultaneously creating distinct architecture that dominates the city skyline. An existing art gallery, located underneath the drone platform, is transformed and integrated with the new lobby to give users the opportunity to experience art while waiting for the transport. This space can also function as a restaurant, entertainment area or lounge. Kayak Architects designed the project as a proposal for the Lafarge Holcim Competition. + kayak architects Images by ELEMENT

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Solar-powered drone Skystation sits atop Trump World Tower in New York

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

We test drove the new Chevrolet Bolt and heres the scoop

April 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Eco, Green

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

New Dutch bicycle bridge doubles as a green roof for a school

April 3, 2017 by  
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Who said bridges can’t be fun? A new bridge in the Dutch city of Utrecht is not only pulling double duty as a pedestrian and bike path, but it also forms a roof garden over a local school that’s surrounded by a green public park. Designed by NEXT Architects , the unique Dafne Schippers Bridge – which will officially open on April 3rd – covers the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal in Utrecht and provides the community with plenty of space to run, bike and play. Working under commission for the city, NEXT Architects collaborated with Rudy Uytenhaak Architectenbureau , Arup and Bureau B+B landscape architects , to create a unique design that focused on the needs of the community. Although typical bridges tend to be solitary, functional structures, the ambitious layout of Dafne Schippers Bridge makes it an integral part of the area’s urban design , complete with smooth cycling and walking lanes, all surrounded by expansive greenery. Related: Lush Green Lilypad Bridge Spins Open to Accomodate Boat Traffic The bridge itself is approximately 360 feet and connects the old part of Utrecht with the new district Leidsche Rijn. From the Utrecht district of Oog in Al, cyclists and pedestrians follow a long bend upwards through Victor Hugo Park. The path leads through the green roof of a local Montessori school. Marijn Schenk, from NEXT architects explains that this cohesive design is meant to create a seamless connection for the community, “In one fluid movement, the cycle route, park, and school are brought together to form a cohesive whole of infrastructure, architecture, and landscape,” + Next Architects

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New Dutch bicycle bridge doubles as a green roof for a school

Electra Meccanica reveals the all-electric 250-mile-range Tofino roadster

March 30, 2017 by  
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If you’ve never heard of the Canadian Electra Meccanica , hold on for an exciting ride. It appears the Vancouver-based automaker may finally get the attention it deserves with the debut of a new electric roadster, the Tofino. Electra Meccanica, the electric division of Intermeccanica, has turned the firm’s conventional roadster into an affordable two-seater all-electric sports car . On the outside, the Tofino looks like a retro two-seater roadster, but underneath the powertrain is anything but retro. The chassis and body are made of a lightweight aerospace-grade composite and the Tofino is capable of traveling up to 250 miles on a full charge. The Tofino’s electric motor packs enough punch to give it a top speed of 125 mph and a 0-60 time under 7 seconds. Related: Meet SOLO, an affordable electric three-wheeled commuter vehicle for one The roadster will be available in five colors including Titanium Silver, Electric Red, Raven Black, Arctic White, and Bionic Bronze with a price starting at $50,000 Canadian (~$37,000 USD). Deliveries are expected to start in 2019. While we will have to wait at least two years until the Tofino arrives, Electra Meccanica is getting ready to start deliveries of its single-seater 100-mile range SOLO electric car . To raise hype for the SOLO, Electra Meccanica has revealed a high-performance version of the SOLO, called the SOLO R. + Electra Meccanica All images @Electra Meccanica

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Electra Meccanica reveals the all-electric 250-mile-range Tofino roadster

75 American mayors affirm climate goals even after Trump executive order

March 30, 2017 by  
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This week President Donald Trump signed an executive order undoing climate action regulations like the Clean Power Plan and promoting a misguided – and likely unattainable – goal of making coal great again. But 75 United States city mayors aren’t letting Trump stand in the way of their climate action . The Climate Mayors – who represent over 41 million people in both Democrat and Republican-dominated states – published an open letter affirming their cities’ commitments to work towards the goals of the Paris agreement . Current Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and former mayors of Philadelphia and Houston started the Climate Mayors, or the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, to inspire mayors to work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a local level, and support efforts for climate action policy at a national and global level. Mayors from New Orleans to Chicago to Austin and Fayetteville, Arkansas are involved. Related: Trump’s new executive order to undo Obama climate action The mayors wrote an open letter to the president, objecting to his recent moves to once again favor the fossil fuel industry over the environment. The Climate Mayors described climate change as the country’s single greatest threat – and its greatest economic opportunity. For those reasons they affirmed commitments “to taking every action possible to achieve the principles and goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and to engage states, businesses, and other sectors to join us.” The mayors included some statistics to back up their statement, saying one in 50 American jobs are in the solar sector, which they said is more than employment in oil, gas, and coal extraction put together. “Texas is once again experiencing an energy boom – this time, with wind power . In fact, the majority of wind jobs in the U.S. are in congressional districts that voted for you,” the mayors wrote in their letter. They urged Trump to join them, but in the meantime, they won’t stop working towards a cleaner future. Via the Climate Mayors and Curbed Images via Gage Skidmore on Flickr and Mayors’ National Climate Action Agenda on Facebook

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75 American mayors affirm climate goals even after Trump executive order

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