Archive for May, 2009

New Vehicle Efficiency Standards Increasing Significantly

  The national fuel-efficiency and emission-control standard announced in mid-May will significantly raise the requirements for vehicle manufacturers, foreign and domestic. But the standard will also enable automakers and regulators to pursue the goals more efficiently. Pleasing environmental groups and – publicly, at least – manufacturers, President Obama described new, comprehensive rules that: Raise the required, overall average for fuel efficiency to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 – four years earlier than current federal law requires. New passenger cars would have to average 39 mpg; light trucks, 30 mpg. (The current average for cars is 27.5 mpg; for trucks, 23 mpg.) Impose, for the first time nationwide limits on vehicle-exhaust emissions. Carbon dioxide and other vehicle emissions that contribute to climate change would be reduced by almost one-third by 2016. The volumes are hard to comprehend, but the Obama administration said the restrictions would …

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Chevy Volt going through final tests before production begins

  The Chevy Volt is finally going into final tests as General Motors gets ready to build 80 vehicles. The Chevrolet Volt is go through several revisions before production begins in November 2010. The new cars are called integration vehicles, which resemble the GM Volt because they are only used to test its long range EV system. “First, they validate our production design, vehicle safety and performance capabilities. Just as important, the build activity provides valuable insight into the final vehicle assembly process to ensure a high-level of build quality and manufacturing efficiency when production begins in November 2010,” GM spokesman Rob Peterson said in a statement. The Volt integration electric vehicles will finally appear like the real GM automobile. This is a normal process for cars, which are developed before they enter production. These cars are special because they are no longer …

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A dozen fuel cell cars take road trip

  They look like perfectly ordinary cars – a gaggle of sedans and SUVs, slinking silently around a Livermore parking lot, water vapor occasionally dribbling from their tail pipes. Water vapor? Yes indeed, because water vapor is about the only thing that comes out of the exhaust system of this particular – and rare – kind of car, powered by a fuel cell stack, essentially a sandwich of plates that generates electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a complex process. A dozen fuel cell cars are making their way from San Diego County to British Columbia on a road show tour, sponsored by the California Fuel Cell Partnership, a consortium of automakers, energy and technology companies and government agencies, all of which are trying to promote the use of fuel cells as a way to power cars. Fuel cell cars are neglected orphans of …

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China is currently the largest automobile market in the world

  It would be in 1901 that automobiles first came to China, mainly in the streets of then turn of the century Shanghai. Then, automobiles were usually imports from America and used by foreigners. During that time, China did not have enough paved roads to make automobile convenient for everyone. It would only be in 1956 that the automobile factory, the First Automobile Works (FAW), would begin making cars. It is during this period that today’s local automobile manufacturers would trace their roots – the Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), China National Heavy Duty Truck Group and the Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corporation. After the Cultural Revolution, China’s reforms led to a full- fledge throttle towards capitalism. Chinese citizens were encourage to draw their own lot and do business. Industries were laid open to foreign investment and export boomed. …

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Why you should buy a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid

  There’s at least one way to help domestic automakers and their U.S. workers while reducing use of imported oil: Buy a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid. The gas-electric hybrid Malibu built in Kansas is a roomy, 16-foot-long family sedan with a generous-sized trunk and the best fuel mileage of any mid-size or large Chevrolet. The Malibu Hybrid also comes fully stocked with safety features, including curtain air bags, electronic stability control and antilock brakes, and earned five out of five stars in government crash tests. Starting manufacturer’s suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a 2009 Malibu Hybrid is $26,275. It comes standard with automatic transmission, fabric-upholstered seats, 17-inch wheels, power door locks and mirrors, split-folding rear seats and AM/FM stereo with CD player. It also has some things no foreign-based hybrid car has: General Motors Corp.’s OnStar emergency notification system and a warranty backed …

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Chrysler getting serious about bringing more electric vehicles to market

  Chrysler LLC said Tuesday it submitted $448 million in proposals to the U.S. Department of Energy to bring more electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles to the market. If approved, the cost of the programs would be split evenly between the DOE and Chrysler and its partner group, with each providing funding of $224 million. The application comes amid a dramatic slowdown in demand for cars. Chrysler, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, has been trying to turn around its fortunes as the struggling auto company seeks to become more viable in the longer term, but the move to offer more fuel-efficient cars comes after oil prices have fallen from last summer’s all-time record highs. Recently, oil prices have been rising but gasoline prices are still well off highs. The Obama administration, however, recently set standards aimed at increasing fuel economy. A bulk of …

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Ford Motor Company sees very bright future

  Alan Mulally used to lead Boeing, but now he’s piloting Ford through the recession. He came back to the Puget Sound region Tuesday to deliver a car to Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. It was media hype for Microsoft’s Sync technology, but the president and CEO of Ford had to answer questions about the auto industry. “We’re in a different place than many of our competitors,” Mulally said. “We’re in really good shape going forward to create a very exciting, viable Ford for all of us.” As the former head of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, Mulally is used to the tough sell. Now he’s charged with bringing Ford out of the recession. Sales are down and the automaker has cut 46,000 U.S. workers since 2004. Mulally is banking the future on 2010 models like the Fusion. Hybrid engines exceed new government mandated fuel standards, and partnerships …

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Obama offers $2.4 billion aimed at turning U.S. into battery-manufacturing powerhouse

  The Obama administration has set off a gold rush to power new environmentally friendly cars. In one of the government’s biggest efforts at shaping industrial policy, the Energy Department has been soliciting applications for $2.4 billion in funding aimed at turning the U.S. into a battery-manufacturing powerhouse. At the deadline last week, the department said it had received 165 applications. Companies vying for the federal money include General Motors Corp., Dow Chemical Co., Johnson Controls Inc. and A123 Systems, a closely held battery maker backed by General Electric Co. and others. States including Michigan, Kentucky and Massachusetts are also weighing in with applications, usually in alliance with their favored battery makers. When the winners are decided, as soon as the end of July, the Energy Department may anoint Livonia, Mich., or Indianapolis or Glendale, Ky., as the future U.S. hub of car batteries. …

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Could air-powered cars be the next big thing?

  Most car companies are racing to bring electric vehicles to the market. But one startup is skipping the high-tech electronics, making cars whose energy source is pulled literally out of thin air. Zero Pollution Motors is trying to bring a car to U.S. roads by early 2011 that’s powered by a combination of compressed air and a small conventional engine. ZPM Chief Executive Shiva Vencat said the ultimate goal is a price tag between $18,000 and $20,000, fuel economy equivalent to 100 miles per gallon and a tailpipe that emits nothing but air at low enough speeds. Elsewhere in the world, the technology is already gaining speed. The French startup Motor Development International, which licensed the technology to ZPM, unveiled a new air-powered car at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Airlines KLM and Air France are starting to test the bubble-shaped AirPod …

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Toyota may share its hybrid vehicle technology with GM if asked

  Toyota Motor Corp. is considering offering the company’s core technology for hybrid vehicles to struggling General Motors Corp. of the United States, it has been learned. The possible move comes on the back of speculation that GM will soon file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. According to sources, Toyota is essentially ready to provide the technology if GM asks it to do so, even if the U.S. firm becomes subject to the Federal Bankruptcy Code. The technology Toyota is considering providing to GM is patented technology for increasing fuel economy by controlling the movement of the engine and the motor. The technology is used in the Prius and some other Toyota vehicles. Fuel economy using Toyota technology far exceeds that achievable with technology developed by GM. One reason seen behind GM’s current travails is that the company fell behind in …

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