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Posts Tagged ‘electric car’

A Green Car Made of Hemp?




Hey man, hemp is, like, really useful and stuff. Ok, outside of the advocate at your local head shop, there have been many reports on the uses of hemp. They include rope, and it is even used as a powder for protein shakes, but this is one use we have not heard yet– a car made completely from hemp.


In an effort to be the halo car of the stoner world, Calgary-based Motive Industries INC has created the Kestrel; an electric car made from hemp. The Canadian government is supporting the hemp industry and encouraging new uses for the substance, in addition to the more than 50,000 uses that already exist.


The car weighs about 2,500 pounds, and is said to fit four passengers. Given that hemp is easy to grow and potentially abundant (if you know where to look!), the car can be produced on a relatively small budget. Word of this hemp car first came out back in 2010 and the promise was that a car would be ready by this year. The producers of the vehicle have since gone quiet, but the plan was for a vehicle that used a hemp body (which is reportedly as strong as steel, and can bounce back into place after impact) wrapped around an electric drivetrain. Here is an early report back from 2010:


See Video

The battery is supposedly good for 100 miles on one charge, and is said to reach 90 km/h 56 mph. Though the trail on this car has gone mostly quiet, hopefully Canada’s support of the hemp industry, combined with our need for alternative, sustainable methods of production will breathe life back into the Kestrel!




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Was Porsche’s First Car, in 1898, Electric?


The first Porsche-designed car was unveiled in Stuttgart, Germany, on Monday. It had been sitting in an old shed in Austria since 1902.


The car is, officially, the 1898 Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton. It’s known as P1, signifying Ferdinand Porsche’s first design.


It is an electric-power car, developed by Ferdinand Porsche, who founded the namesake sports-car company in 1948. Before that, as a young man with engineering aptitude but no formal engineering training, he was working for car builder Jacob Lohner, who assigned Porsche to come up with an electric drivetrain.


Porsche says it hit the streets of Vienna, Austria, on June 26, 1898, when Ferdinand Porsche was 22. He engraved the code “P1″ (standing for Porsche, number one) onto all the key components.


In the classic case of auto-collector’s fantasy come true, P1 was discovered in a warehouse, where it had been untouched since 1902, the car company says.


According to the automaker, Ferdinand Porsche’s powertrain was a rear mounted electric drive that weighs a modest 287 lbs. and produces 3 hp. For short periods, up to 5 hp can be achieved in overdrive mode, allowing a top speed of 21 mph.


The first serious test came in a race for electric cars in September 1899. The contestants had to complete 24 miles with three passengers on board.


Ferdinand Porsche piloted the P1 across the finish line 18 minutes ahead of the second-place racer, the car company’s history shows. Perhaps more important, P1 was among fewer than half the racers able to finish. The others dropped out because of technical problems.


The Phaeton designation (in mythology, a reference to the son of the god Eos) refers to an open car with front and back seats, derived from horse-drawn carriages of similar configuration.


The car demonstrates that automaker Porsche’s turn toward eletrification hardly is a new development.


Today, one of its quicker models is the $100,000 Panamera gas-electric hybrid sedan. A TV ad shows it driving faster than electric wires can spread news of its performance.


Porsche also fields the 918 Spyder gas-electric hybrid race car. In contrast to P1, the 918 racer has a combined gas-electric power rating of 887 hp (127 hp maximum from the electric motor), and can go 10 times as fast as P1 — 211 mph (though only 93 mph on electric power only).



The World’s Fastest Supercar Might Soon be Electric

(CNN) – At full speed, the Rimac Concept_One is little more than a cherry red blur, flashing from one corner of the horizon to the other in the blink of an eye.


If its projected performance figures prove to be true, this radical electric concept car — the brainchild of an award-winning young Croatian designer — could accelerate faster than all but two of the fastest supercars on earth.


The Rimac Concept_One’s figures are impressive. Not just for an electric car, but for traditional petrol-engine cars as well.

For years electric vehicles have been regarded as the frumpy inner-city siblings of their hardier countryside 4×4 brethren or zippier track-friendly supercar sisters. Electric vehicles have tended to have names like Leaf, Buddy or Spark as opposed to Vanquish, Venom or Phantom.

Automakers show off new cars in Detroit


All this may be set to change when Rimac goes into production. First unveiled at Frankfurt Motor Show in September, 2011, the Concept One is an electric vehicle that aims to be even faster than the Bugatti Veyron. Its precocious 25-year-old inventor, Mate Rimac, says that the car produces 1018 horsepower, can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in just 2.8 seconds, has a top speed of 305 kph (190 mph), and can travel 600 kilometers (372 miles) on a single charge.


Mate Rimac says that he has always been motivated by the desire to demonstrate the superiority of electric over petrol-powered cars: “I have two passions; cars and technology,” Rimac says. “Technology because Nikola Tesla was born in Croatia, and he invented the electric motor that is used in so many applications today. And I knew simply by theory that this motor is so much better to drive a car — even a sports car.


“I decided to combine my two passions, technology and cars and make an electric car that can prove the electric motor is much better even on the racetrack. Not just city cars for boring stuff, but to show people that the future will be interesting — that one day when petrol is gone and you only have electric cars in the world, you won’t have to compromise in terms of performance, speed or (how) far (it can go).”


While he was still in high school, Rimac bought a lime green BMW for less than €1000 and began modifying it with new parts. “I couldn’t wait to pull out (the motor) and put batteries and electric motors inside instead of the gas engine,” Rimac says. After several years of rebuilding and alteration, Rimac set a world record with his car, which became the fastest accelerating electric car in the world. The car is still recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest quarter mile by an electric vehicle.

After setting five separate world records with his modified BMW, Rimac began to work towards building his very own car from scratch. He enlisted the help of the highly-regarded young car designer Adriano Mudri, and began work on the Concept_One.


Now Rimac is turning his dream car into a reality on a shoestring budget: “In the car industry, it’s common to design a new car with 1 billion to 5 billion dollars. But, most of those cars carry over components from previous versions — engines, gear boxes and stuff. We had to design a car (including) the whole technology under the skin, (while) the company itself didn’t have a desk to put a computer on. And we did all that with less than 0.1% of the budget which is usual in the car industry,” Rimac says.


Preliminary impressions from the automotive press have been generally positive, although many, such as, said that they approached the concept of a vehicle that has “no sound, no downshift and no smell of burnt petrol” with trepidation. Some also disputed the figures Rimac has released, suggesting that their projected performance statistics may be ambitious.


Still, the notion that an electric car might soon not just match, but outperform the best petrol vehicles on the planet is certainly a captivating one. When Rimac releases a production car into the wild in the not-too-distant future, the eyes of the world will certainly be watching.



Ford Developing Solar Powered Car for Everyday Use


Ford has developed a concept model that runs primarily on solar power, which could bring the world one step closer to having a vehicle for everyday driving that is not dependent on traditional energy sources.


The C-MAX Solar Energi Concept is a collaboration between Ford, SunPower Corp. and the Georgia Institute of Technology. The concept car is expected to be unveiled next week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


Like all concept models, the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept may never be built or sold to the public. However, many of the features and technologies we see in current vehicles were once shown for the first time in concept models years ago.


Harnessing the sun’s power

Ford says the C-MAX Solar Energi Concept would be powered by energy it collects using a special concentrator that acts like a magnifying glass.

The concentrator would take energy from sun light and direct intense rays to panels on the vehicle’s roof.


In theory, the C-MAX Solar Energi could fully recharge itself without the vehicle having to be plugged in to an electrical outlet. Ford believes sunshine could power up to 75 percent of all trips made in a solar hybrid vehicle, though the automaker does not give a distance for those trips.


Solar powered cars not new

Solar powered cars have been developed and driven around the world for years, but almost exclusively in contests or research programs designed to show how far cars could travel without gas. In most cases, the cars have been small capsules designed to hold only a driver.


The challenge has long been finding a way to harness enough solar energy to power a vehicle that could be used every day and carry more than just the driver.



Honda Accord Green Car of the Year

The Accord is a mid-sized family sedan that is available in hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions as well as fully gasoline-powered versions with four- and six-cylinder engines.


“Mainstream buyers have long found the Accord a popular choice because of its efficiency, functionality safety and value,” Green Car Journal editor Ron Cogan said in a statement. “With the addition of exceptional hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions to the already fuel-efficient Accord line, Honda (HMC)’s Accord becomes an even more compelling choice.”


The Accord Hybrid gets EPA-estimated 50 miles per gallon in city driving and 47 on the highway. (Hybrid cars often get better fuel economy in low-speed city driving than in highway cruising.)


The Accord Plug-in gets slightly lower city and highway mileage than the non-plug-in hybrid but it can go 12 miles on a charge before using any gasoline, according to EPA estimates.


Even gasoline-powered Accords are very fuel-efficient for their class. The V6 gets 34 mpg on the highway while the four-cylinder gets 36.


The other finalists for the award this year were two diesel-powered cars, the BMW 328d and Audi A6 TDI. Diesel cars are more fuel efficient that gasoline-powered cars. Two compact cars, the Toyota (TMCorolla and Mazda3, were also finalists for the award.


To be eligible for the award, a car must be all-new or have significant changes for the new model year.





Tesla Scores 5 Stars in Gov’t. Crash Test

Watch the Tesla Model S crash tests

Watch the Tesla Model S crash tests

The Tesla Motors Model S  electric car recently earned the highest possible rating of Five Stars in government crash tests.  But that announcement wasn’t good enough for the image-conscious company and its charismatic founder, Elon Musk.  

In fact, Tesla said Monday — 11 days after the test results were announced — that the Model S earned the highest crash test scores of any car ever tested.


“Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants,” Tesla said in its statement.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s five-star safety rating system operates like the letter grade system used in classrooms in which any score above 90 is an A. While one student might get a 92 and another a 98; both would be A students.


Tesla is saying, essentially, that it got an A plus in NHTSA‘s crash tests. And it got the best A plus ever.


Spokespeople for NHTSA were not immediately available to comment on Tesla’s claims.


Tesla attributed its stellar performance partly to the lack of a gasoline engine under the hood, allowing the front end of the car to function as nothing but an enormous impact-absorbing “crush zone.”


The Model S also outperformed other models in the government’s side pole impact test that mimics a vehicle sliding sideways into a post or tree. This is one of the most dangerous types of impacts. The Model S did exceptionally well in this test because of aluminum rods placed in the side of the vehicle, Tesla said.


“A similar approach was used by the Apollo Lunar Lander,” Tesla said in its statement.

The Model S also outdid every other model in rollover resistance, Tesla said, “with the other top vehicles being approximately 50% worse.” During separate independent testing, the Model S simply refused to turn over during even the hardest turns and “special means” were needed to get the car to flip, according to Tesla.The reason the car is so stable, Tesla said, is that its large, flat battery is mounted in the floor of the car, creating a very low center of gravity.


As you might expect by now, the Model S also topped other cars in the roof crush test. In a independent validation of the Model S’s roof crush strength, Tesla said, the car’s roof was so strong that it broke the testing machine. In fact, according to Tesla, four fully loaded Model S sedans could be placed on top of a Model S without crushing the roof.


Tesla also pointed out that, so far, no Tesla batteries have ever caught fire even after high speed impacts.


“While this is statistically unlikely to remain the case long term, Tesla is unaware of any Model S or Roadster occupant fatalities in any car ever,” the automaker said.




Big Rebates on Chevy Volt

2013 chevy volt whiteChevrolet dealers are offering big incentives on the Volt plug-in car.

Facing stiff competition in the more crowded electric car market, General Motors is offering huge incentives to move its Chevy Volt off of dealer lots.

Volt buyers can get rebates of $5,000 on 2012 Volts or $4,000 on 2013 models. Alternatively, General Motors (GMFortune 500) is offering a special lease deal of $269 a month for 36 months with an initial payment of $2,399 for qualified buyers, the company said Monday.

While automakers don’t make big profits (and often lose money) on electric cars, they are nevertheless an important part of the business. For example, California, the largest auto market in the United States, requires car makers to sell a certain number of plug-in cars if they wish to do business there.


The Volt is a plug-in car that can go about 40 miles on a charge, but also has a a gasoline engine to provide power for longer drives.


Besides those types of regulations, electric cars are important image makers for car companies. “A lot of these companies want to be known as the company people think of when they think of a plug-in car,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with the auto Web site


Pricing and incentives on electric cars have been getting more aggressive recently as automakers try to improve sales of the cars.


Honda recently announced a new low lease rate for its Honda Fit EV, an electric car that’s available in California. The Fit EV is being offered for $259 a month with no money down. That price includes insurance, maintenance and unlimited mileage. Plus, Honda (HMC)will provide a free home charging station.


Chevrolet dealers sold about 1,600 Volts last month, which is 4.3% fewer than were sold in May of 2012. Nissan (NSANF), meanwhile, saw a big increase in sales of the Leaf plug-in. Nissan sold 2,138 Leafs last month compared to just 510 the year before. Nissan is offering very low lease prices on the Leaf. The Leaf is available for $199 a month with only $999 down. Nissan also lowered the sticker price on the car as they moved production of the car from Japan to the United States.




Tesla Model S – Consumer Reports’ Best Car Ever Tested


Consumer Reports is calling the Tesla Model S the best car it has ever tested. The Model S, an all-electric plug-in car, earned a score of 99 out of a possible 100 in the magazine’s tests.

The score would have been higher but for the fact that the all-electric car does need to stop and recharge during extremely long-distance drives.  ”If it could recharge in any gas station in three minutes, this car would score about 110,” said Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. Fisher called the car’s performance in the magazine’s performance tests “off the charts.”  Depending on price, the Model S has driving range of between 208 and 265 miles. A full charge takes about six hours from an ordinary 240 volt outlet, according to Tesla.


The Model S has already won awards from car magazines like Motor Trend and Automobile, but Consumer Reports is widely regarded as being the most influential magazine among car shoppers. Consumer Reports, published by the non-profit group Consumer’s Union, purchases all the cars it tests and does not accept paid ads.


The score of 99 means the Tesla (TSLA) Model S, a sedan that can seat as many as seven people, performed as well or better than any automobile the magazine has ever tested. The score is not unprecedented — most recently, it was earned by the Lexus LS460 in 2009 – but no car at any price has ever scored higher.  Prices for the Model S start at about $70,000, not including federal and state tax incentives for electric cars.


The Model S tied for the quietest vehicle the magazine has ever tested, was among the most energy-efficient and had excellent scores for acceleration, braking and ride quality.  ”We don’t get all excited about many vehicles, and with this car we really did,” Fisher said.  The magazine’s raves for the Model S stand in sharp contrast to the treatment received by the competing Fisker Karma that the magazine pilloried, calling it “plagued with flaws.”Fisker is now in dire financial trouble.


On other hand, Tesla just announced its first profit and raised sales forecasts for the Model S.


Industry analysts have credited the quality of the Model S, in part, with Tesla’s early success in an industry that has not been kind to start-ups. Just recently electric car maker Coda Automotive went under and plug-in car maker Fisker is near its demise. Tesla, meanwhile, is financially healthy thanks to good sales of the Model S plus deals it’s reached to supply components to major automakers like Toyota and Daimler as well as sales of electric car credits, earned under California regulations, to other automakers that sell fewer electric cars.  Tesla had previously stated a goal of selling 20,000 Model S cars this year and has now raised that goal.


The question remains whether the car will continue to sell well in the long term, said Todd Turner, an industry analyst with Car Concepts in California. A lot of that will depend on the longer-term dependability of its battery technology, he said.  ”All kinds of cars have complexities,” he said. “Everything has to work for a very long period of time.”


Consumer Reports isn’t recommending the Model S, though. At least not yet. To be recommended, a car has to have at least average “predicted reliability,” something that’s based on reader surveys. Also, a car has to have good crash test scores from the government and from the privately funded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Consumer Reports has not yet collected enough data to rule on the Model S’s reliability.  So far, the magazine itself has had a couple of minor issues with its test car, Fisher said, including a radio problem that was fixed by an overnight over-the-air software download and a cracked windshield.


To maintain its momentum, Tesla will need to move beyond this car, said Ed Kim, an analyst with the auto marketing consulting firm AutoPacific.  ”Ultimately, Tesla’s going to have to transition from building six-figure cars for bleeding-edge early adopters to making a car for a more general audience,” Kim said.


Tesla’s next vehicle is supposed to be the Tesla Model X crossover SUV but, after that, the company’s plans call for a less expensive car and, possibly, other products.





Detroit Electric Promises Tesla-like Sports Car this Year


After a few years of boom and bust, the electric car market has lately settled into a rut, as established automakers try to meet regulatory goals mostly with a few everyday models converted to electric power rather than designing all-new electric cars, leaving Tesla as the only independent, high-volume EV builder. Here’s the first attempt to shake up that stasis, the launch of a start-up that will revive the century-old name of Detroit Electric cars — with a car that on paper looks much like a Tesla Roadster.


The new Detroit Electric company revealed today after years of fund-raising and stealth engineering it would reveal its first model next month, a two-seat all-electric sports car that would be a harbinger of future models. The company will not just take Detroit as a brand but base its headquarters in the city, vowing to generate 180 jobs and open a Michigan plant that can build 2,500 vehicles a year.


Detroit Electric’s executives hail from former parts of the Lotus engineering group, and it has previously said it had contracts with Malaysian automaker Proton for production overseas, as well as contacts with Chinese automaker Dongfeng. It vows the new model will roll forth this August, followed by more family-friendly vehicles in 2014, but declined to offer specifics about where its key parts such as lithium-ion batteries would come from.


The original Detroit Electric was a popular electric car builder in the early 20th century, when hand-cranked gasoline engines were known for dislocating shoulders and even killing drivers. Despite then-celebrity clientele like Henry Ford‘s wife and Thomas Edison, the company only managed to build 2,000 cars a year at its peak and faded into collapse during the Great Depression. Outside of Tesla, which was backed with billions of dollars in private capital and a $465 million government loan, modern EV companies have fared no better, unable to solve the complex equation of capital, technology and engineering necessary to stay in business. Who says you can’t find optimists in Detroit?


Can’t wait for this energy-saving vehicle.  Cut your vehicle’s energy expenses now by having your windows tinted by Midwest Glass Tinters.  Call today for a quote or to  make an appointment  847-438-1133.




Fold Up Car of the Future

 An electric car that folds up like a child’s stroller for easy parking?  


The “Hiriko”, (the Basque word for “urban”), will begin hitting European cities next year.  Originally conceived by Boston’s MIT’s Media Lab and developed by a consortium of seven small Basque firms under the name Hiriko Driving Mobility, the Hiriko seats 2 adults and has its motor located in the wheels.  Without being recharged, the Hiriko can go 75 miles, and its speed can be electronically set to respect city limits.  Starting at around $16,400, its four wheels turn at right angles to facilitate sideways parking in tight spaces.