Everything Green

New Strategy For Car Makers, Share The Bare Minimum With Tech Companies

Will the advancements in technology and automotive decrease in pace once car makers continue to share the bare minimum of information to get the results they desire.

Carmakers are limiting the data they share with technology partners Apple and Google through new systems that link smartphones to vehicle infotainment systems, defending access to information about what drivers do in their cars.

Auto companies hope that the vehicle data will one day generate billions of dollars in e-commerce, though they are just beginning to form strategies for monetizing the information. Apple and Google already make money from smartphone owners by providing a variety of products and services, from digital music to targeted advertising, and connecting phones to car systems will almost certainly extend their reach.

But as infotainment systems such as Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto become more widespread, auto companies hope to keep tech providers from gaining access to a wealth of potentially profitable information collected by computer systems in cars.

Some auto companies have specifically said they will not provide Apple and Google with data from the vehicle’s functional systems — steering, brakes and throttle, for instance — as well as information about range, a measure of how far the car can travel before it runs out of gas.

“We need to control access to that data,” said Don Butler, Ford Motor Co.’s executive director of connected vehicle and services. “We need to protect our ability to create value” from new digital services built on vehicle data.

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GM’s New Hybrid Collection Is Revealed

Hybrid is the new black in the automotive field. GM recently released their plan to release several new hybrid plug in options for every consumer.

General Motors has mapped out a comprehensive electrification strategy that includes a reinvented 2016 Volt plug-in hybrid, a 2016 Malibu hybrid, the retail launch of the Spark EV in Canada and other markets, and the Bolt EV.

The Bolt, with a range of 321 kilometers, will be priced at $30,000, subsidies included.

All will be sold in global markets through GM dealerships, covered by factory warranties and backed by service procedures proven over the five years the current Volt has been on sale – with more than 70,000 Volts in the hands of customers.

Despite all this, Tesla remains the darling of the EV set. GM has made a demonstrable commitment to putting affordable electrified cars in the hands of the masses, but Tesla is considered a “buy” by a number of Wall Street analysts.

For instance, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas has a $320 per-share price target on Tesla (trading today at about $266), yet the company continues to lose money. The first-quarter loss at Tesla amounted to $154.2 million (U.S.). Nonetheless, the stock market puts a market cap on Tesla of more than $30 billion.

By contrast, GM today was trading at $35.43, for a market cap of about $57 billion. This begs the question: Does it gall Pam Fletcher, GM’s executive chief engineer for electrification, and her team to see such buzz about Tesla, but not so much for GM? She pauses and says, “We just showed you a video of a real car.”

She also points out that GM purposely puts key electrified vehicles into the Chevrolet brand. GM’s hybrids, plug-in and pure electric cars are not just for the elite, she says, taking a jab at Tesla. The base price of a Model S in Canada is $77,200, or more than twice the expected price of the coming Bolt – or the estimated $33,000 price tag of the Spark EV when it hits retailers in Canada this October.

GM is anxious to get out its electrification message, naming it one of the key elements of the Chevy brand moving forward.

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More needs to be done to lower air pollution from vehicles

A study by researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada has found that the majority of automotive pollutants leading to premature deaths are coming from a very small number of vehicles.

To examine the emissions of 100,000 vehicles, the researchers used a technique that was capable of taking immediate readings. They set the equipment up on College Street in Toronto and monitored the results. The analysis found that just 25 percent of the cars tested created 95 percent of the total soot and 93 percent of the carbon monoxide.

“As we looked at the exhaust coming out of individual vehicles, we saw so many variations. How you drive, hard acceleration, age of the vehicle, how the car is maintained – these are things we can influence that can all have an effect on pollution,” author Greg Evans said in the university’s announcement of the results.

In a separate study, Evans and his team used a mobile lab to take real-time emissions readings. While air quality is known to be poor even up to 270 yards away from major roads, the researchers found that pollutants can still be double their normal levels over 300 yards away for those downwind of a highway. People living around multiple high-traffic areas can experience even higher levels.

While both studies focus on emissions only within small geographic areas, they indicate that there’s still a lot to be done to lower air pollution from vehicles.

Read more here.

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What To Do When Your Car Starts Making Weird Noises

When your car is running smoothly everything is okay, but how do you know when there is something wrong with your car? Each noise your car makes will tell you what’s wrong, and from there it is easy to find the solution.


You hear a high-pitched squeal that stops when you shut off your engine: Readjust or replace the belt. These belts should have about half an inch of play and shouldn’t be frayed, cracked, or glazed on the underside.


You hear a continuous high-pitched sound that may continue after the engines shut off: Check the radiator pressure cap. The rubber gasket may be worn.


Something ticks rhythmically while your engine idles: Shut off the engine, wait ten minutes for the engine to cool and the oil to settle, and then check the oil level. If you have enough oil, have a mechanic check the valve adjustment.

If you hear a loud tapping or knocking sound in your engine, pull to the side of the road and call for road service. The source may be a loose rocker arm or carbon buildup inside the engine, but if it’s a loose bearing or a faulty piston, it can destroy the engine.

Mild knocking or “pinging” may be the result of using fuel with the wrong octane rating.


You hear the engine running after you turn off the ignition: Your engine is dieseling. This condition only happens to cars with carburetors. It is usually caused by an idle speed that’s set too high or excessive carbon in the combustion chamber.


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Electric versus Hydrogen, Which is Best?

The ongoing debate among automakers continues. Is electric or hydrogen better when it comes to alternative fuels? Right now it seems that hydrogen fuel cells are winning the race.

The potentially game-changing Hyundai Tucson can be refueled in less than 10 minutes, according to the automaker, and “makes the transition from gasoline to hydrogen as seamless as possible,” said a report from Automotive News.

“The hydrogen fuel cell debate is no longer a chicken-and-egg conundrum. The fuel cell vehicle has arrived first. It works,” wrote Richard Truett after driving the Hyundai Tucson.

The compact sport-utility vehicle, which uses fuel cell technology to convert hydrogen into electricity, has received an approving nod from Consumer Reports as well.

“It drives much like a normal Tucson, but without an engine it’s actually much quieter. Hyundai claims it will go 265 miles before you have to refuel it. That’s pretty amazing for an electric vehicle,” said Jake Fisher, auto test director for Consumer Reports.

That kind of driving range trumps just about anything offered for a pure electric car. Tesla’s Model S famously leads the electric-vehicle market with a 265-mile battery range, but the sedan is only available for those who can afford to pay upward of $70,000.

Plus a Tesla takes about 20 minutes for the battery to charge halfway, while a fuel-cell vehicle can typically be refilled for full driving range in about 10 minutes.

Read the full story here.

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10 Green Cars Launching this Year

There are a number of green, innovative cars expected to launch in 2015. Next Green Car has identified the top 10.

This year will see the strengthening of the electric vehicles (EVs) market, both pure electric and plug-in hybrids. With over 17,000 EVs already on UK roads, Next Green Car forecasts almost 40,000 will be in use by the end of the year.

New low emission petrol and diesel models will also be launched in 2015 with a shift to petrol cars reflecting the increasing concern about air quality. While diesel vehicles can offer lower CO2 emissions, petrol units provide lower NOx and particulates which are associated with poor respiratory health in urban areas. Look out for fuel-frugal petrol two- and three-cylinder turbo engines which can now offer the driving performance of larger engines.

As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.

“If an electric car isn’t right for your driving requirements, an ever increasing choice of sub-100 gCO2/km petrol and diesel models will become available with zero car tax and high MPG. You will need to choose a conventional model wisely, however, as the official MPG figures of some brands are increasingly at odds with the real-world fuel economy data.”

To mark a year which will bring high quality, high-tech, low emission models to UK showrooms, the following ‘Top 10’ list highlights some of the most important models due for launch and delivery in 2015.

See the list here.

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China Takes Action Against Severe Pollution and Snarling Traffic

China has announced that it is extending it’s green vehicle subsidies to 2020. The current incentive plan was set to expire at the end of 2015.

The policy represents China’s latest effort to fight severe pollution and snarling traffic and is a boon to firms such as BYD Co., the country’s biggest maker of electric vehicles.

Subsidies will be granted to buyers of EV, highly electrified plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, with the amount of subsidies gradually scaled down during the period from 2016 to 2020, according to the draft rules posted on the Ministry of Finance’s website.

China has rolled out a series of policies to encourage sales of green vehicles, hoping the industry can help China fight pollution and reduce the country’s reliance on imported oil.

Production of such vehicles in China has jumped five-fold during the first 11 months of this year compared with 2013, but the industry still far lags Beijing’s goal of putting 5 million new-energy vehicles on Chinese roads by 2020.

Read the full story here.

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Are electric vehicles as green as we think?

Electric vehicles are believed to be the solution to the world’s pollution problem but a new study has revealed that this may not be completely true. Are they really as green as we think they are?

The crux of the issue is where the electric car gets its power–if burning coal provides the energy, a “green” all-electric vehicle generates enough pollution to contribute to 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths than gasoline does, said the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Department of Energy data says that 39 percent of the country’s electricity comes from coal, with West Virginia, Wyoming, Ohio, North Dakota and Illinois notching the highest percentages of coal-generated electricity.

In the study, the researchers examined “the air quality-related human health impacts of 10 [alternative fuel] options, including the use of liquid biofuels, diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines; the use of electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources to power electric vehicles (EVs); and the use of hybrid EV technology.”

Vehicles that make the air dirtier increase pollution, making all-electric cars worse for the environment than traditional gas-powered options.

Natural gas is a greener power source since it will allow an EV to produce half as many pollution-related problems as a traditional fuel-powered car, the study found. Hybrids and diesel engines are also healthier options, releasing less greenhouse gas and resulting in fewer pollution-related deaths.

“It’s kind of hard to beat gasoline,” said study co-author Julian Marshall, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, as quoted by the Associated Press. “A lot of the technologies that we think of as being clean … are not better than gasoline.

Read the full story here.

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Top Green Cars at All Price Points

Uncool and expensive are two words that come to mind for many people when they hear the term “green car,” but not all green cars fall in to those categories.

Mix pious intentions with dreary mechanical bits and then stir in some driving misery, and the result is a “green car.” Green not in the color of its paint, but in the environmental virtue of its engineering and marketing. Green as in economical with fuel but stingy on fun, great with emissions but lousy to pilot. Green cars are hybrids, diesels, and electric cars stripped to the point of making a rotted ox cart seem luxurious. Except that was then—you know, like, three years ago—and this is the green car now.

The first- and second-generation greens sacrificed enjoyment on the altar of efficiency. But we’re into the third generation, and the technologies that have defined the greenies are being leveraged to produce better-driving cars—and even exciting ones. Some of the best cars in the world right now are bright green.

So with optimism beating in C/D‘s stainless-steel heart, here are 10 current production cars (arranged alphabetically) that mix all sorts of politically correct goodness with solid driving excitement. But wait, there’s more: We’ve also included two more cars from the 1980s that were ahead of their time. None of these green cars suck.

Audi A3 TDI Diesel
The sweet-driving A3—it beat both BMW and Benz in its first comparison test—begat the excellent S3 performance sedan. All A3s are based on the same MQB architecture as the equally good seventh-gen VW Golf. The TDI engine is the same 150-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel used in so many other VW Group products. Plus, the A3 sedan looks adorable. No, we haven’t driven it as of this posting, but there’s no way this car sucks. (It’ll be available here as a five-door hatch next year, too.)

BMW i3
Since BMW introduced its “Neue Klasse” back in 1962, the company has zealously tried to—and largely succeeded—sustain a consistent character across its lineup. A 3-series drove much like a 5er that was a lot like the stately 7. But the new i3 throws all that out and starts over without any assumptions about what a BMW is or should be. The i3 has skinny tires on large diameter wheels, uses a structure made up of carbon fiber and aluminum, and the interior looks as if it were ripped out of a glass house perched over the Pacific at Big Sur. No, it’s not M3 fast, and the twin kidneys slapped on the front are just ironic, but this car is innovative and interesting in the ways all cars should be. All that and it still feels like a BMW at its core.

Read the full story here.

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Lower Gas Prices Decreasing Demand for Green Vehicles

A report in Automotive News revealed that falling gas prices are negatively impacting hybrid and plug-in sales.

One Toyota dealership general manager told Automotive News that since the price of fuel fell, customers have been more interested in the trucks and SUVs in the showroom than in the brand’s iconic Prius hybrid.

Gas prices are the lowest they’ve been since February 2011, and analysts are forecasting that the drop is more than just the usual autumn fall, instead indicative of a larger trend of lower prices–and more price stability–thanks to better American oil production, lower global demand for oil and cars and trucks that are more fuel-efficient than ever.

Not long ago, hybrid options stickered for more than comparable traditional gasoline-powered vehicles, but now dealers and manufacturers are using incentives to move the metal. According to Automotive News, Kelley Blue Book data shows that Toyota increased incentives on the Prius by almost $1,000 since last year, and Ford did the same by more than $2,200 on the C-Max hybrid.

Read more here.

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