Monday, September 22, 2008

Monday News Quickies

I don't have a lot of time today to get into everything I'd like... but I did see a few articles over the weekend that I want to highlight.

First of all, Mazda is working on developing synthetic plastics. Since plastic is a petroleum based product, using it to lighten cars (to improve fuel economy) isn't exactly an entirely winning situation since it still would be reliant on oil. By working to develop synthetic substitutes for plastic, Mazda is effectively working on backing away from any reliance on oil. As I've mentioned here in the past, they're also working on a brilliant start/stop technology (much better than the usual way at least...) which I very much hope will be available sooner rather than later. When my current lease it up I'll be looking for a vehicle with start/stop and Mazda would easily be at the top of my list if theirs is out in Canada by then. Finally, they have a very interesting looking 2.2L diesel in the works too. It'll be sold in Europe sometime in '09, paired with their start/stop tech, which makes me hopeful that it will soon after find it's way to North America.

Next, Audi is working on an intelligent system that communicates with stop-lights on the road ahead and informs you as to what speed you should travel so as to arrive at the light when it's green. This is a fantastic idea that has to potential to greatly improve fuel economy by eliminating the constant stopping and accelerating that's associated with city driving. As you're driving down the road towards an intersection, you would know that if you decelerated a bit to 50kph instead of 65kph, the light ahead would be green when you get there, instead of you driving all the way to the light, coming to a stop only to have to accelerate again 3 seconds later. Maintaining a constant flow would pay dividends in your own fuel economy, as well as help improve traffic flow in general.

FIAT has yet another special edition 500 ready to sell... this time styled by Diesel, not fueled by it. Personally I love small, quirky cars like the FIAT 500, and while this particular edition is pretty nice looking, it's only skin deep. (The upcoming Abarth Edition is much more interesting to me.) The Diesel 500 is nothing more than some new colors, a little badging here and there, and some interior refinement. They call it an "Urban Survival Vehicle"... uh, ok. In any case, at least they're standing by their statement that going green means reducing size! (Image courtesy

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