Author: Nick Chambers

"e-tron" Hits the Fan: Audi Electric Car Name Means "Excrement" in French

Naming cars in this day of globalization has become an exercise of gargantuan proportions. For marketers and brand managers, the trick is to avoid a name that can be translated as something less than appealing in one of the dozens of languages you plan on marketing in. Even so, every now and then we get one that is slightly out of place, but usually it’s not a huge misstep. Take the unfortun...

Fiat 500 Officially Gets 2-Cylinder, 85 HP TwinAir Engine; Achieves 50+ MPG

As promised earlier this year, Fiat has officially adorned their beloved 500 with a brand new engine option: the 2-cylinder TwinAir. The 85 HP, turbocharged 0.9 liter engine reportedly has the performance characteristics of a much larger 1.4 liter, 16-valve engine, but it consumes about 30% less fuel—resulting in a fuel economy of 57 mpg as rated on the combined Euro cycle. If it were sold in the ...

Ultra Quick Battery Charge System Developed: 50% Full in 3 Minutes

The Nikkei newspaper (subs. req’d) says that a Japanese company has built a quick charge system that can take a battery from zero charge to 50% full in about 3 minutes. JFE Engineering Corp, based in Yokohama, says that the system will go on sale later this year and has the capability to charge 5 times faster than other such quick charge products. Even though one station costs about $63,000,...

Renault Finalizes Designs of Fluence and Kangoo EVs, Accepting Pre-Reservations

Not to let its sister company Nissan get away with all the electric car press, Renault has also been busy finalizing its plans for releasing electric cars to Europe and Israel early next year. Today Renault showed off the finalized designs of its Fluence electric sedan and its Kangoo small commercial electric delivery van. In addition, the company also announced a “pre-reservation” lis...

Low Tech, DIY Plasma Gasifier Makes Fuel From Waste

Some interesting tidbits are coming out of the American Chemical Society conference in San Francisco this week. First we heard about a product made from renewable materials that could substitute a large portion of the crude oil currently used to make tires. And now comes word from a scientist at the University of Orleans in France that he has constructed a compact, relatively inexpensive, low tech...

Tires Made From Renewable Materials Commercially Possible Within 5 Years

There are about 1 billion tires made each year; each and every one of them uses 7 gallons of crude oil to produce. Although 7 billion gallons is just a small blip (0.5%) of the overall global annual use of crude oil (~1.3 trillion gallons), figuring out a way to make tires from something other than crude oil will, nonetheless, clearly help us in our goal to a sustainable transportation future. At ...

Report: Upscale Infiniti EV Coming in 2014, Will be Based on Nissan LEAF

According to a report on the Top Gear website, the much-anticipated Infiniti performance electric car won’t arrive until 2014. This comes even after previous suggestions from Nissan that we might see it as early as 2012. Top Gear is also reporting that the Infiniti EV will be based on the Nissan LEAF platform but have completely different styling and upgraded performance.

ZENN Motors and Mystery of EEStor Ultracapacitor Gets Deeper

The whole EEStor/ZENN saga is getting so ridiculous that I often find myself debating whether or not I should even cover it anymore. The (so far) mythical EESU energy storage unit that’s supposed to revolutionize personal mobility by providing instantaneous charge times in a lightweight “battery” that can take a car 700 miles on a charge has yet to see the light of day. EEStor mi...

Student Invents Material With Highest Known Hydrogen Storage Capacity

A Ph.D. student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a new method for storing large amounts of hydrogen at room temperature using a version of the super-material graphene. Reportedly his material is inexpensive, easy to produce, and can store almost twice the amount of hydrogen than the U.S. Department of Energy’s ultimate target of 7.5% by weight at room temperature.

AMP Announces Chevy Equinox Electric Conversion With 150 Mile Range

AMP, the EV company best know for it’s Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky conversions, is moving on up in the world… up in size that is. The company has just announced that it will be converting the mid-size Chevy Equinox crossovers to fully electric cars with a 150 mile range, a 0-60 mph time of 8 seconds, and a top speed of 90 mph. Using a car that still exists for an EV conversion sure see...

Th!nk Chooses Elkhart, Indiana, To Build City Electric Car for U.S.

[social_buttons] After a long process of on-again, off-again pseudo confirmations of potential sites, Norwegian EV company Th!nk has officially chosen Elkhart, Indiana, as the location of its U.S. electric car manufacturing facility. For a company that, as recently as a year ago, was swirling in the flushed toilet bowl of failed EV startups, this marks a major turning point.

Prius Brake Failure Complaints Rising as Toyota Prepares to Launch New Subcompact Hybrid

This has been the worst year Toyota has ever had for recalls (4.8 million), but so far its reputation for quality seems to be weathering the storm. Even with the sudden acceleration issues, rust problems, deaths, and Toyota’s generally poor handling of it all, consumers so far seem to be willing to forgive. Granted, Toyota’s sales numbers are off by about 24% this year, but I think tha...

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