Aside from our own clean transport posts this week, here are some top clean transport stories from the week:
Tesla Model S With 60 kWh Battery Rated At 208 Miles: “Tesla Motor’s novel approach to selling its all-electric Model S with different battery sizes has made it far and away the most successful electric car maker on the market. Up until now, only the most expensive Tesla Model S with the 85 kWh battery has been officially rated by the EPA, but Tesla has just released the ratings for its Model S with the 60 kWh battery pack. With over 200 miles of range per charge, can the middle child steal sales from the elder?”
Tesla Intern Pens A Subcompact Luxury EV: “If I had even a speck of artistic talent, I’d utilize it designing the cars of the future. One company I’d definitely want to work for is Tesla Motors. Hyoon Jason Kim is lucky and talented enough to have landed an internship at Tesla, and he has sketched an eye-grabbing subcompact Tesla concept car that could hint at things to come.”
Rinspeed “MicroMax” EV Is Small But Tall: “Electric vehicles allow car designers a lot more freedom when it comes to far-out concepts. Switzerland’s Rinspeed is no stranger to weird and wacky car designs, and their latest concept is the most bizzare yet. The Rinspeed “MicroMax” EV will debut at the Geneva Auto Show in 2013, and its unique design will make the most use of the limited on-board space.”
China’s Wanxiang Buys Battery Maker A123 Systems For $260 Million: “After going through a court-managed bankruptcy and auction, defunct EV battery maker A123 Systems has been (mostly) sold to Chinese auto parts maker Wanxiang group. The selling price of $256.6 million was the highest bid, though the sale still has to be approved by the government.”
“Smartville” Is Where The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive Is Born: “New tactics in production efficiency aren’t just cutting emissions; they’re cutting costs. Mercedes-owned Smart is currently ramping up production of its Smart ForTwo Electric Drive EV, and the company has given the press a sneak peek at one of Europe’s greenest factories, affectionately-dubbed “Smartville.””
Video: Terry Hershner Crosses The US On A Zero Electric Motorcycle: “Zero motorcycle owner Terry Hershner walks me through the modifications he’s done to his 2012 Zero S to not only make it around town, to 4th place in a TTXGP race, but also over 3,000 miles in 5 days. He worked closely with Hollywood Electrics’ Harlan Flagg to upgrade the controller, among other changes.”
Zero is the Hero of Electric Motorcycle Manufacturing: “After a record year in sales, where they sold more bikes in January than in all of 2011, Zero motorcycles debuted their 2013 line with major upgrades to their entire line, and a new model, the FX. Zero now makes their own motor, a direct drive brushless motor with almost double the available horsepower of their 2012 models. Highlights include: The S promises a range of up to 137 miles around town (we’ll see about that, come January!) An optional ChaDeMo adapter to be able to charge the bike to 95 percent in an hour or less. And yes, there’s an app for that….”
Nissan Launches EV Battery Manufacturing In Smyrna Plant: “Nissan has launched production in its new battery plant in Smyrna, Tenn. The plant, which is making battery components for the ramp-up of production of the 2013 Nissan LEAF early next year, is located adjacent to Nissan’s existing vehicle assembly plant in Tennessee, which itself has been retooled to accommodate production of the Nissan LEAF.”
Ontario Helps Electric Vehicle Drivers to Plug In: “Ontario is helping electric car owners install charging stations at their homes and businesses to encourage sustainable transportation and fight climate change. Beginning in January 2013, eligible homeowners and businesses can receive a rebate of 50 per cent (to a maximum of $1,000) of the total purchase and installation cost of an electric vehicle charging station.”
Profiling Purchases Of Clean Vehicles In California By Rebates; PHEVs Surge: “The non-profit California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) offers interactive access to data and analyses of information culled from the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP), funded by the California Air Resources Board. As the CVRP project administrator, CCSE promotes the production and use of clean vehicles through rebates, marketing, outreach and education.”
A Cleaner Bus Ride: New Battery System Expands Range of Electric Buses: “Engineers on Dec. 13 began testing a bus equipped with a new hybrid energy system that will significantly cut the cost to buy and operate zero-emission mass transportation vehicles.”
Mayor Of Indianapolis Announces Plan To Modernize City Fleet To Plug-Ins And CNG By 2025: “Calling it a vital national security issue, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (a retired Marine officer and Gulf War veteran) signed Executive Order #6, 2012 making Indianapolis the first city in the nation to require the purchase of either electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles for the city’s non-police fleet, and the use of CNG in heavy-duty vehicles.”
Tesla Plans Production Facility For European Distribution: “As the best electric car on the market, the Tesla Model S has a global appeal that many of its competitors envy. With production of U.S. bound Tesla sedans already underway, the EV automakers is preparing to open a European production and distribution center. When it opens, the facility will build left-hand drive versions of the Model S for the European market starting next year.”
Smart EVs Used For Italian Soccer Video Game: “There is something inherently geeky about electric cars, and as a geek, I can’t help but appreciate the similarities between EVs and video games. Apparently I’m not the only one. At the recent Bologna Auto Show, two Smart ForTwo Electric Drive EVs were linked to a soccer simulator. Simple, but effective, and perhaps in the future an even more viable marketing tool.”
Brammo Delivers 1st Empulse Electric Motorcycle, Promises Enertia Plus For January: “The Empulse was first announced back in July of 2010 and was expected to be within the grasp of customers anxious hands about a year later. People got excited. It was to be the world’s first commercially available electric bike that could top 100 miles per hour and get over a 100 miles of range from a charge. It also looked sexy enough to hold its own when surrounded by scantily-clad Brammo babes. The reservations poured in.
“Then, the company made a move that was simultaneously disappointing and breathtakingly daring. They went back to drawing board which displayed the drivetrain and trashed it. To hear insiders tell it, they decided the single-gear design lacked the performance they thought necessary, and so they took a big gamble by delaying the release and implemented a 6-speed gearbox with integrated motor instead. The price also soared from $13,995 to $18,995 for the top-end Empulse R.”
Nissan Provides Overview Of Progress On Environmental Commitments; 15 New hybrid Models By 2016: “At a press briefing in Yokohama earlier this week, Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga provided an update on the company’s environmental commitments under the Nissan Green Program 2016.”
CODA Announces Layoffs, Struggles To Make Any Sales: “The Internet has a penchant for drama, and so it was yesterday that a story made the rounds that electric car maker CODA had announced ‘massive’ layoffs…of 50 people. Ok, maybe not so massive, but things are still looking grim for the struggling EV maker and their bland sedan.”
The Recyclable Bicycle Helmet – Designed With Woodpeckers in Mind (Video): “For some people, helmet choice is all about style. So can Abus, the German company famous for its locks, make a helmet that is both stylish, and able to be recycled?”
Great-Grandpa Discovers the Joy of Biking, Becomes a Paperboy at Age 86: “While many folks more than half his age have relegated bike-riding as merely a pleasent pastime from their youth, one octogenarian in Minnesota is proving that finding the joy of cycling anew just might be the key to staying young at heart.”
Chicago Likes Bikes — And It’s About To Prove It In A Big Way: “Look over your shoulder, Portland, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. Chicago is about to roll out plans to lay down 645 miles of bike lanes by 2020. If you’re not careful, the Windy City is going to pedal off with the title of Most Bikeable City in the U.S.”
Happy Birthday, JK Starley: Inventor Of The Modern Bicycle: “Whether you bomb down hills on a sleek road bike or cruise to work on a sturdy Dutch commuter, all stripes of cyclists can probably all agree: The bike is simply one of the most brilliant inventions of the past 150 years. And today is the birthday of the man who created the modern cloth from which all bike are cut.”
Review Of Controversial Fracking Study Finds Conflict Of Interest: “Is or isn’t fracking bad for the environment and for people? That is a question that has become central to many communities where fracking has become commonplace. One of the most controversial fracking studies has now come under fire after a peer review revealed that the author sat on the board of a drilling company, and had collected over $1.5 million in compensation.”
Research and Markets: Green Airports: How Airports are Realizing Energy Savings: “Airports often struggle to comply with environmental regulations arising out of operations. Airports must grapple with reducing tons of toxic emissions caused by landings, takeoffs, and use of diesel shuttles. And soaring energy-related facility costs can decimate a bottom line.
“Some airports have been slow to adopt measures that go beyond minimum requirements. But there are as many airports leading the way in converting their operations and facilities into Green Airports.”
Amtrak to Replace All Acela Trains: “By announcing this week that it will scrap plans to upgrade Acela trains incrementally, and instead replace them all with new equipment, the passenger rail carrier is signaling that it is speeding up the timeline for higher-speed rail service.”
India’s Tiny Vans A New Wave Of Automotive Ingenuity: “India is producing some of the most ingenious cars in the world. Because the average Indian consumer is so poor, any car with aspirations of selling in large numbers must be both cheap to produce and dead nuts reliable.
“The Indians seem capable of doing both, developing among other things a Tata Nano-based van (called the Magic Iris). In order to save money and weight, the Magic Iris uses windows and a rear tailgate made from canvas. Coupled with an 11 horsepower diesel engine, the Magic Iris has very Model T-like specs; a 35 mph top speed, and a mpg rating of 70 to 80 mpg.”
Ford Tries to Sell More Cars By Looking to a Future With Fewer Cars: Is Ford trying to sell more cars by promoting the demise of car culture?
Biofuel That’s Better Than Carbon Neutral: “The race is on to create a biofuel that sucks carbon out of the sky and locks it away where it can’t warm the planet.”
Passenger Car Demand In Europe Down For 14th Consecutive Month In November: “In November, demand for new cars in the EU was down for the fourteenth consecutive month, dropping by 10.3% compared with November 2011 which counted on average the same number of working days in the region, according to figures from the European Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA).”
First Drive Review: Volkswagen Eco Up: “This is Volkswagen’s Eco Up model, which returns the CO2 performance of an electric vehicle because it is powered by compressed natural gas (CNG).”