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Category Archives: automotive

And We’re Off To The Races

By Jonathan Kimak

Have you got a thousand dollar budget for your next party or office meeting? Then you can rent out the 8-lane Scalextric race track. The track is computer controlled and can keep track of statistics like lap times, winners of each race and championship points.

The track measures roughly 19 feet by 9 feet so you’ll definitely need a big room. You also get a real live Race Director, a public address system and head microphone, full race structure and a choice of racing styles.

For an extra $400 you can get the Championship mode which includes race theme music, race flags and cones for decorations and 2 race marshals that will pick up your cars if they fall off the track.

Personally I’d keep the $400 and somehow find the strength to do the arduous task of picking up my own car myself. The only downside to this is that it’s currently only available in the United Kingdom.

[ Event House UK ] VIA [ New Launches ]

Aptera Type 1 Tour Video

By Evan Ackerman

In their March newsletter, Aptera is making things sound pretty bright and cheery when it comes to the future of their (let’s face it) revolutionary car-thing. Yesterday they added this video, which doesn’t provide much in the way of new info, but does show some details of the car’s interior:

Also in the newsletter, Aptera promises that they’re “going to be updating you regularly from now until the rollout.” They’re hiring new people, making a new website, and moving into a bigger place, but the meat and potatoes is that they still have to conduct advanced crash testing and refine the manufacturing process before production. Their goal is still to begin production in “late 2008.”

I noticed a few more facts on their website, such as the minimum hybrid mileage of 130 mpg (at sustained highway speeds). Also, the Aptera is classified as a motorcycle (although it doesn’t require any special driver’s license endorsement) but it exceeds safety requirements for a passenger car. Check out the Aptera website for plenty more info.

[ Aptera Newsletter ]

LA Auto Show: New Fuel Tech

GAS Truck

By Colin Ackerman

The Honda FCX Clarity may have been the star of the LA Auto Show when it came to new fuel innovation that anyone normal (i.e. not a millionaire) has the potential to get their hands on in the near future, but that doesn’t mean that everyone else has given up on the idea. Quite the contrary, in fact. After the jump, read about the Chevy Volt, concepts by Volvo, Toyota, and BMW, a custom Ford hydrogen/biodiesel monster, and of course the Tesla Roadster.Continue Reading

LA Auto Show: Honda FCX Clarity & Home Energy Station

Honda FCX Clarity

By Evan Ackerman

Hybrids are the current consumer automotive buzzword when it comes to fuel efficiency, and they were everywhere at the 2007 LA Auto Show. So, I’m not really going to talk about them, because we’re looking forward, to what’s so brand new that, in some cases, it’s borderline impractical (albeit a step in the right direction). The most promising car (in the immediate short term) that I saw unveiled at the show perfectly illustrates what I mean: it’s the FCX Clarity, by Honda, and it’s powered exclusively by hydrogen.

Honda FCX Clarity

First, the good news: the FCX Clarity is a production car. Want one? If you live in the LA area, you’ve got a shot at the first batch of leases in the summer of 2008 for a mere $600 a month. That even includes maintenance, which is good, since I somehow doubt your local garage knows how to handle a car like this. The Clarity runs on pure hydrogen, combining it with oxygen in the atmosphere to generate electricity to drive the wheels. The only exhaust is pure water. It gets an equivalent 68 mpg on a 5,000 psi hydrogen tank that gives the car a range of 270 miles. According to the rep, the high pressure tank has been crash tested extensively and is perfectly safe (although that’s a lot of compressed explosive gas under the back seat, if you ask me).

So, why only the LA area? That’s part of the bad news; LA is one of the few places with hydrogen fuel stations (I think there are about six). Recognizing this, Honda has also introduced a Home Energy Station, which is able to convert natural gas (the stuff that may heat your house or run your stove) into enough hydrogen to fuel your car on a daily basis, while at the same time providing enough electricity to power your house. Oh, and it provides heat, too. Honda wasn’t able to provide much in the way of specific information about the Home Energy Station, although a commercial launch is rumored to be on the way within a few years.

Honda Home Energy Station

I give a lot of credit to Honda for introducing a production hydrogen fuel cell car into a world that, infrastructurally, just isn’t quite ready for one. If they can get their Home Energy Station technology out into the commercial market for a somewhat affordable price, it’ll help things immensely, since there IS an existing infrastructure for natural gas. The general public first has to get comfortable with the technology, and then be willing to pay for it, and Honda is doing their level best to make the transition as easy as possible.

[ Honda FCX Clarity ]

LA Auto Show: What Do You Want To See?

Plug In Volvo

By Evan Ackerman

After a brutal day in assorted airports, I finally made it to the 2007 LA Auto Show this evening. I managed to sneak a few pics in before closing, and I’ll be there all day tomorrow. Now, I’m the first to admit that I can’t tell the difference between a cam shaft and… Well… Any other sort of shaft. In other words, I won’t be giving you detailed rundowns on the specs of all the new 2008 models. I’m going to be looking for new tech (like the latest generation hybrids) as well as (let’s be honest) eye candy. If you do have a specific car you’d like to see a picture of, please post in the comments and I’ll see if I can find it. One more teaser pic after the jump.Continue Reading

2008 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid Gets 32 Miles To The Gallon

saturn vue green line hybrid suv

By David Ponce

For what it’s worth, you gotta give it to GM for getting their feet wet in the green sector. They’re doing a pretty good job too, what with the 2008 Saturn Vue Green Line SUV receiving a 25mpg rating in the city, and 32mpg on the highway. That’s 585miles on a tank of gas and it the best highway mileage for any SUV. The kicker? An MSRP of less than $25k. We’re telling you about this because we’re impressed with the technology that’s gone behind this effort:

The Vue Green Line’s hybrid system combines sophisticated controls with a precise electric motor/generator mated to the 2.4-liter, 172-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and a modified automatic transmission. The system delivers fuel economy gains through advanced engine control algorithms including early fuel cut-off during deceleration, optimized transmission shift controls and by smoothly stopping the engine at idle. The system also features regenerative braking to capture electrical energy during braking, electric power assist during acceleration, low-rolling resistance tires and improved aerodynamics.

Roundtrip from LA to Vegas on one tank of gas in an SUV, for under $25k? Not too shabby.

[ Press Release ]

My Day In Detroit, Driving The 2008 Lineup Around

me in a 2008 corvette

By David Ponce

When I got the email inviting me to Milford, Michigan to drive the 2008 GM lineup around, I thought it was a joke. But sure enough, it wasn’t, and I’m happy to say, I haven’t had this much fun in a while. I’ll let you know what GM is up to in this article, and just what kind of fun we had, but first, a disclaimer: GM paid my way there, but all the opinions that follow are purely mine.

Other than a retelling of facts, what can you expect in this post? Well, there’s a video, for one. It’s me as a passenger in the ‘vette, while it’s being floored. Expletives ensue. Then I’ll tell you about StabiliTrak, GM’s version of traction control, as well as the surprise of the day: the new Saab 9-3. Oh, and a bunch of pictures.

Continue Reading

Aptera Electric/Hybrid Car On Pre-Order for $500

Aptera

By Evan Ackerman

If you’re in the market for an environmentally friendly car that looks like an anemic space fighter, the Aptera may be for you. Unlike most electric/hybrid cars with this sort of look, the Aptera is actually going to be produced, and if you reserve yours now for a fully refundable $500, you can expect to receive it in (only) about a year. It seats 2.5 with plenty of room for luggage, and can supposedly hit 60 mph in about 10 seconds with an electronically limited top speed of 95 mph. More pics, and specs on the superefficienttotallybadass engine options, after the jump.Continue Reading

My Trip To Detroit

pixar_cars1.jpg By David Ponce

I’m leaving this morning for Detroit. I was invited by GM to attend their 2008 Collections Event, at the Milford Proving Grounds. I (along with a bunch of other bloggers) will get to drive any car in their 2008 lineup, including Corvettes, Escalades and Cadillacs. And we’re getting an advanced driving techniques course as well. Yeah, it’s pretty darn exciting!

Why a tech blogger at a GM Collections event? Bunch of reasons, really, but mostly I suspect that it has to do with them increasingly integrating entertainment and information technology into several of their newer models, especially their Cadillac CTS. They seem eager to show it all to us, and I suspect it’s a smart move. By “us” of course I mean new media. It’s the first time GM holds a bloggers-only Collections event, and this simple fact shows a lot of things: blogs are displacing traditional channels and becoming part and parcel of the established media landscape. But I digress (digest?)…

The reason I’m telling you all this is because I’d love it if you could participate. I’ll be meeting with some car designers there, including Wade Bryant (Design Manager of Advanced Design for the Chevy VOLT) and Therese Tant (Interior Design Manager in the Advanced Studio). If any of you has any questions you’d like to ask them, please post them in the comments to this article. Also, if you’d like to me to look at something or other on the GM lineup, let me know.

For the record, GM is paying for my way there (airfare and accommodations), but that’s it. I’m not required to even write about my experience there if I decide not to. But if I do (and I am), they asked that I disclose this fact. I would have anyway, but it’s nice that they specifically asked.

Now, here’s hoping I don’t meet a cement wall at high speeds…