Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Unfortunately, I won't be able to keep up with updating this blog any time in the foreseeable future.
A paid writing gig was in the works for quite some time now, and it came through recently so I'll be devoting more time to that, and virtually no time to this blog.
Of course, you're welcome to read through the archives if you do find my writing of interest.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The program, for those outside the United States, encourages people to trade in their older, less fuel efficient vehicles for newer, cleaner ones by offering a pretty generous incentive... up to $4500 (US). To get your full share of the $4500 from the government the new vehicle purchased to replace the old one has to get at least 10 mpg fuel efficiency. A lesser improvement will get less incentive cash.
This article on CNN.com is particularly interesting. While over 80 percent of vehicles traded-in were light trucks (SUVs, pickups and vans), 59 percent of the new vehicles purchased were passenger cars, thus proving something I've said for ages.... many people who drive SUVs don't actually need them. They're poseurs.
Also, of the top 5 cars purchased, only one hybrid (the Prius) is among the top 5, and it's outside the top three. People making responsible choices are still buying gasoline powered cars.
In any case, thus far the Cash For Clunkers program has seen an increase of over 35% in fuel economy when the new cars are compared to the older cars traded in. No matter how you look at it, that's a good thing!
Monday, August 3, 2009
It turns out that what I've been saying all along is true: Diesels pay off quicker than hybrids!
The article mentions the fact that with gasoline and diesel prices being about the same in the US, the hybrids are feeling the hurt. Since around here I've noticed that diesel is $0.10-0.11/L (US$0.30-0.35/Gal) cheaper than gas, the disparity would be even greater, favoring the diesel even more.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Like me, the writer of that blog doesn't blindly buy into the hybrid hype and greenwashed marketing. Also like myself, he wants to enjoy his car, not just look for a tool to get him where he wants to go.
Be sure to look for more content from the CarsoBlog in the future as well.
Some time ago I watched a road test of the new Ford Fiesta on TV. Guy was doing a full scale review, praising Ford for a good job. Talking about the interior, trunk, drivers position, brakes, engine, fuel economy and prices… all the boring stuff. And then he said (what was in his opinion the greatest news there) about the car: New Fiesta is not heavier than the previous model! Wow, a success?
And that made me think. What happened with the motoring… if during the review they find as a success that the car didn’t get fatter? That is a real success for myself, when I look in the mirror from time to time and see that the diet is working. But with cars? All the hi-tech, aluminium, carbon fibre, computers – and they still get heavier. And needless to say: what weight does with the fun of driving.
Let’s start with the example: Volkswagen Golf GTI.
We all know the Golf GTI badge. It have been spreading around the world for over 30 years now. The concept of “Hot Hatch” class was started by the very first Golf GTI Mk1 in 1983. The car was small, cheap and fast. It had only 4 gears, small 13 inch wheels. Today You get that configuration in “shopping cart”. But it was fun! Although it had only simple 1.6 l 110 HP engine, but it weight only 800 kg (1785 lbs).
You can read the rest of the article HERE.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Just recently I came across this bit of info on the Mazda.ca website in the "Upcoming" section:
The Mazda3 is one of Mazda’s core products, with more than two million units of the first generation produced. The design of the new model has a bolder and more dynamic stance; it is agile and confidence-inspiring, enhancing the sense of oneness between the driver and car. It also has high environmental and safety performance levels, exemplifying Mazda’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom long-term vision to provide cars that are eco-friendly and safe while still being fun to drive.
The Mazda3 with i-stop embodies Sustainable Zoom-Zoom and adds a new eco-friendly option to the lineup. It features the i-stop system in combination with the MZR 2.0 DISI (Direct Injection Spark Ignition) engine. Together, these two Mazda proprietary technologies help the new model achieve approximately 12 percent lower fuel consumption (urban cycle) than the current European Mazda3. By providing great driving performance as well as top-class fuel economy, the Mazda3 with i-stop is a different type of eco-car that will exceed customer expectations.
I've got to say that's great news for those of us that endeavor to make eco-friendly choices, but who aren't willing to give up the joy we get driving! I wrote about this system briefly last year, but this is the first time I've read about their proprietary start/stop system, called i-Stop, on the Mazda Canada site. Now we're left to wonder... is this being published on their site because it's something we can actually look forward to seeing in showrooms soon, or is it - like their diesels - yet another feature we aren't getting here in North America.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Tomorrow (05/23/09) the 2009 edition of the Nurburgring 24h starts. There are 180 cars registered for this epic event, of which 18 are diesel powered!
In the D1T class (1.75-2.0L diesel) there are entries from BMW, Opel, Seat, & VW.
In the D2T class (2.0-2.5L) there is an entry from Toyota.
In the D3T class (2.5-3.0L) there are several BMWs and an Audi.
You can follow all the action live here: LINK
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Talk about too cool for words!
Last year I posted this article about some of Lotus' green evolutions. Well, according to this new article on Autoblog.com there's some interest in making this tri-fuel powered Exige happen.
If I had the cash I'd be dropping a deposit on this beast tomorrow. I mean, who wouldn't want a car with 270 horsepower that is pint-sized compared to a Mazda MX-5 and could potentially be carbon neutral?
Also at the microsite you'll find the TDI Toolbox which allows you to find the nearest diesel pumps as well as the lowest diesel prices. There's also a savings calculator to compare the operating cost of a TDI to others cars.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
It got 50 miles per gallon.... and that was without any sort of hybrid technology, special computers to manage the fuel consumption, or the power of a flux capacitor.
Twenty three years later there are just a handful of cars in showrooms across America capable of getting 50 miles per gallon.
And whose fault is that?
And the government.
And the automakers.
Michael Le Roy blames the consumers in his article printed in The Spartan Daily. I'm only partly inclined to agree. He writes:
"Imagine owning a car that achieved 50 miles per gallon. It would not be some fancy hybrid that would have the newest in battery technology or a special computer to manage the mileage. No this car would be a 1986 Honda CRX.
A Honda CRX is tiny, and despite being more than 20 years older than a Smart Fortwo, it gets nearly equal or better gas mileage.
You might be wondering why modern cars such as the Smart Fortwo and Prius are not getting better gas mileage. Where is the technological advancement over the past 20 years?
A reason why modern cars get poor mileage is because they are just too damn heavy."
At this point I totally agree with him. The cars we drive are definitely too heavy.
"Consumer demand for luxury and government safety regulations have weighed down cars. The combination of couch-like comfort and the safety of a Panzer tank have made cars into fat pigs. All this added weight affects gas mileage and the range of electric vehicles.
Modern sedans weigh more than 3,000 pounds. Keeping with the Honda weight comparison, let's look at the Honda Accord.
A first generation model that came out in 1976 weighed around 2,000 pounds. A 2008 model is 3,200 pounds.
If you look back at the Honda CRX there is no wonder it got great gas mileage. It also weighed around 2,000 pounds, did not have to comply with modern emissions requirements and would be crushed like a tin can when hit by a 4,500 pound modern sport utility vehicle."
Again, good points. But read between the lines... "consumer demand for luxury" is only a part of the problem. Consumers also demand size. Everyone wants bigger and better. People are so self-absorbed they aren't willing to make any compromise. They buy the biggest car with the biggest engine they can afford.
Here in North America the many foreign (read: Euro and Japanese) automakers all offer V6 engines in the cars they sell, while those same vehicles sold anywhere else in the world only come with 4 cylinder engines. In some cases, here in North America we can only get the 6 cylinder model, while the rest of the world has smaller, more efficient options available to them. BMW is a perfect example of this... their 1 Series only sells with the 6 cylinder engine in the US and Canada, while Europe gets a seemingly endless list of engine options ranging from fire breathing performance to frugal & efficient.
And who is to blame for that?
Where I really don't agree with the writer is the "I feel safer in a bigger vehicle" argument, which has been proven a fallacy. And besides being false, it wouldn't even be an issue if those 4500 pounds SUVs hadn't been foisted on the general driving population by the greedy automakers looking to sell their highest profit margin vehicles in the first place.
"We can only blame ourselves when it comes to cars on the market having relatively poor gas mileage. Our demand to tack on stuff such as heated seats, emission equipment and side air bags have greatly diminished gas mileage."
On this point I disagree with Michael. The blame isn't only on the consumer. I blame the automakers for pushing their larger engines on us in the first place. The BMW 1 Series is a car I'd happily consider as my next vehicle IF one of the diesel options was available. 75% of my annual driving in my daily commute, and as much as I'd love to drive the hottest baby Beemer available, that would be a total waste of resources. A diesel powered 1 Series would be the best of both worlds for me... the dynamics that I want, with the efficiency I need. Unfortunately for me, BMW doesn't sell any diesels, nor any small displacement engines, in the North American 1 Series, and the last time I asked they said they had no immediate plans to start.
"If federal law and consumer demand allowed, car companies would happily sell high gas mileage models that are currently sold overseas. Japan has a number of 660cc cars that get more than 50 miles per gallon and are far cheaper than a hybrid. The problem is no American would buy them. American consumers have also ignored high gas mileage, diesel-powered cars.Again, I can't agree here. Some companies are just starting to look at offering efficient vehicles in North America, but compared to other countries in the world, the US and Canada (to a lesser extent) are far behind. If the car companies really were trying to release more efficient models, where are all the small displacement engines? Why are most North American models now selling with larger engines than there were a decade ago?
Car companies are trying to release gas-efficient models. They are not evil corporate entities that wish only to destroy the planet. The automotive industry would love to sell you a 200 mile per gallon car as long as they could make a profit."
Eight years ago I purchased a Mazda Protege5. The only available engine was a 2.0L. That same year the sedan version of the Protege was available with a 1.6L, and a 2.0L. For the 2010 models that are in dealerships now, the only available engine options are a 2.0L and a 2.5L in either the sedan or the hatchback.
In England, the Mazda3 sedan is available with 1.6L or 2.0L (gasoline powered) engines, and the Mazda3 hatchback is available with 1.4L, 1.6L, or 2.0L (gasoline powered) engines, as well as 1.6L and 2.0L (diesel powered) engines.
So who's to blame? The consumers for "demanding" more, or the automakers for only offering more?
"Even though Chevrolet is not doing too well right now, they do have models coming out that provide descent gas mileage. The 2010 Chevy Cruze will have a 1.4 liter turbocharged engine that Chevy claims will get 40 miles per gallon. That is nearly hybrid territory, all without a battery pack. With a base price of around $16,000 the Cruze will be very competitive, providing the car lives up to General Motors' claims. The car will also be relatively light by modern standards, at 2,900 pounds.Now the Cruze is my kind of car... except that it's ugly. But that's just a matter of taste. It's small, light, and is propelled by a small engine using turbo technology to give it some extra power when needed. Turbos are a great thing. They give you power when you need it, but don't add any extra consumption when you don't need it (ie: most of the time you're rolling down the highway with the cruise-control on).
The next Prius will get 50 miles per gallon, but the Cruze will still be the better deal. If the next generation Prius comes in at $22,000, the Cruze will still undercut it by $6,000. That much money will buy approximately 80,000 miles worth of gas for the Cruze.
The automobile industry would like to manufacture lighter and more fuel-efficient models, but currently the only way to do that is to either make them less safe or use expensive composite materials.
Higher prices or less safety - pick your poison."
The rest of the world gets it! When will we?
Source: The Spartan Daily
Sunday, April 26, 2009
In fact, long before SUVs bore the stigma they bear today, Subaru was making what we now know as "crossovers". I'd go as far as saying they invented the genre with the original Outback.
There is very little that an SUV can do that an Outback can't. And anyone with even the slightest environmental conscience can see that. 90% of the "work" an average, soccer-mom driven, SUV does can be accomplished by a moderately sized wagon. Even those who makes an excuse to own an SUV by claiming they need the added traction of 4 wheel drive have no excuse since Subaru has that covered as well. Perhaps that's why Subaru is one of the only brands not posting losses month after moth ever since the gas price spike of last summer. They give you cake, and let you eat it too.
What's this about "zero emissions" though? Subaru's run on gas like any other internal combustion engine powered vehicles on the roads today. They aren't hybrids, and they certainly aren't EVs. In fact, due to the added weight and resistance of the all-wheel drivetrain, a Subaru vehicle will almost always be slightly less fuel efficient than a similarly sized 2 wheel drive counterpart. It's a small price to pay for drivers who live in a climate where the roads are snow and/or ice covered for 4+ months of the year.
That being said, Subarus can be "green". The Legacy model range (including the Outback) is manufactured at Subaru's production facility in Indiana, which is a zero landfill plant. Yes, a factory that produces 200,000 cars a year has 0% waste. 99.8% is recycled, and the last 0.2% is incinerated according to EPA requirements (otherwise I'm sure they'd find a way to recycle that too).
Even more interesting than that is the fact that Subaru produces three models in the Legacy range that are classified as PZEVs, or "Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles". (Yes, that's a bit of an oxymoron... it either is, or it isn't zero emissions. I prefer my own definition of "practically" zero emissions.)
What does PZEV mean though?
It means that the cars built to that standard are fanatically clean. Vehicles sold in North America are among the cleanest ever due to the uber-strict emissions laws in the state of California. PZEV vehicles are a further 90% cleaner than even that!
The only cars on the roads cleaner than a PZEV are those that run on no fuel at all, solely on batteries!
The U.S. EPA rates vehicles on a scale of 10 for cleanliness. An electric scores 10. The average new car today scores about 6. A hybrids scores about 8.
A Subaru PZEV scores 9.5!
Emissions from the tailpipe of a PZEV can even be cleaner than the ambient air in urban areas.
And all this environmental friendliness doesn't come with a premium price tag either. The PZEV equipment is standard on the base model of the Legacy sedan and wagon, as well as the lower intermediate model of the Outback.
For a full road test review of the Subaru PZEV you check out this article on Sympatico/MSN.
And then be sure to check out Subaru's official PZEV mini-site at subarupzev.ca to decide which affordable, eco-friendly vehicle alternative is best for you.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
It makes for interesting reading, and more importantly... great photos to go along with the article.
However, unless you spend more time at a track than in traffic, very little that's been written about the Tesla in mainstream automotive journalism is relevant to the real world.
What is relevant is this article I found on endgadget.com earlier this week.
A Tesla driven in a normal day to day manner could potentially get about 280 miles on a charge. That's just over 450 kilometers. Now we're talking.
And how much does it cost to charge? That depends where you live and how much your electricity costs, but I've seen estimates ranging from $0.06/mile to as low as $0.02/mile.
Worst case scenario.... a "fill up" costs just over $16.
Best case... less than $6.
And electricity prices don't fluctuate on a whim either.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
On the other side of the Atlantic where they average automobile driving consumer is somewhat more enlightened, diesels account for about half the passenger cars on the road.
Autobloggreen.com put together a gallery of 10 diesels available in Europe that are not sold here in North America.
Check out some of these numbers:
10) Chrysler Grand Voyager CRD - 9.4L/100km (25 mpg US)
9) Porsche Cayenne Diesel - 9.4L/100km (25 mpg US)
8) Volvo XC60 - 7.6L/100km (31 mpg US)
7) Jaguar XF S Diesel - 6.7L/100km (35 mpg US)
6) Honda Accord Tourer Type-S - 5.9L/100km (40 mpg US)
5) VW CC Blue TDi - 5.6L/100km (42 mpg US)
4) BMW 116d - 4.4L/100km (53 mpg US)
3) MINI Cooper D - 3.9L/100km (60 mpg US)
2) Ford Fiesta ecoNetic - 3.7L/100km (64 mpg US)
1) smart ForTwo CDI - 3.3L/100km (72 mpg US)
From minivans, to SUVs, to luxury sedans, to wagons, to compacts and subcompacts... each of these vehicles is sold in North America (not always the same name, but the same vehicle nonetheless) with a gasoline burning engine that doesn't even come close to the fuel economy of their diesel burning counterparts, and in some cases doesn't even match the performance numbers either.
Forgive me if I get more than a little excited about this, but the Tesla Roadster will soon be available here in Canada. Not that I'll be able to even remotely afford one, but still it's very cool news, and I look forward to hopefully seeing one in the flesh... er... alloy one day.
In the mean time we have these images Courtesy of Norway's Ferdinand Motor to ogle, as well as some video of the Tesla testing on snow and ice thanks to autobloggreen.com
(more video at the link)
The full press release from Tesla can be read HERE.
The part I find most promising is this:
Canada is uniquely positioned to become a premier showcase for Tesla, which has delivered more than 200 cars to U.S. customers. Canada and Norway are the only two countries worldwide where the majority of electricity comes from renewable resources, including run-of-river small hydro, wind, biomass, geothermal and solar energy.
An EV recharged from the current Canadian grid, on average, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 85 percent compared to an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle. In hydro-dominant British Columbia, Quebec and Manitoba, the reduction would be an impressive 98 percent.
Quebec has the capacity to produce so much hydro-electricity that we have leftover power that we sell users outside of the province. And it's all from renewable, and virtually non-polluting resources. Compared to electricity produced by burning coal, this puts us at a huge advantage in terms of how eco-friendly an EV in this province truly can be. While the Tesla is a dream car, I sincerely look forward to the day when battery power is the preferred means of vehicular motivation.
In the mean time, hopefully I'll get to see one at the 2009 edition of the Rallye R.E.A.L. this fall.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Because they can!
That's basically the gist of this very interesting article I found.
Essentially the companies that make the oil into gasoline are working less and charging more. Good for them... their profit margin is soaring.
Bad for every person who owns a vehicle that burns fossil fuels.
This is why I can't wait for some valid alternative fuels to come to market, no matter what the source... biofuels, algal based oil, hydrogen, or something else. Better yet, some electric vehicles that are honestly affordable, not artificially so.
In the mean time, BOHICA!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Autobloggreen.com has an article up with the transcript of a speech given by John Krafcik, the President & CEO of Hyundai Motor America.
He talks about why the automotive business has been so much maligned in recent years and how their actions have caused them to be perceived as "bad guys who care little about our own customers and the world we live in."
He goes on to say "Another revolutionary step we can take is to embrace improved fuel economy as an indisputable social good. There's really no point in arguing about the veracity of climate change when you stop to consider the finite supply of oil, and the turmoil that our present consumption habit is fueling in the Middle East. It's abundantly clear that improved fuel economy makes sense for our industry and for our country. [...] As an industry, we need to take a longer term view of our environmental strategies. That means stepping up and getting ahead of the regulators where that makes sense. We think that time is now."
Now that is interesting. And I can't help but applaud an auto exec who has the guts to get on a stage and make a statement like that in public, especially in North America.
The full transcript of his speech can be read HERE.
Friday, February 13, 2009
On the bright side, if your Prius does break down and you can't afford to fix it because the monthly payments on it's over-inflated sticker price are draining your bank account, you could always just leave it parked in your driveway and use it to power your fridge, stove, or other appliances.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
After watching this years absolutely amazing rally, featuring a battle of the diesel titans between Mitsubishi and VW, as well as the privateer BMW X-Raids, I'm stunned to read that Mitsu are pulling out of cross country rallying.
This was their first year running diesels (compared to Volkswagen who've run them for years), and despite some setbacks, as well as finishing off the podium, I'd sincerely hoped they'd be back to challenge VW in 2010.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Short version: "Our hybrid really isn't significantly better than our diesel, so we aren't going to bother with the trouble of selling it to you."
Europeans are smart, and they don't waste time with greenwashing... one drivetrain is just much simpler and more cost effective than two.
Monday, January 12, 2009
You can check it out yourself HERE, or click the links below to specific articles.
MB Unveils Concept BlueZero
The Lotus... er, I mean Dodge Circuit
57 Miles Per Gallon Roadster: The BlueSport from VW
More Pics of VW's Diesel Performance Roadster
Audi A3 TDI Coming to US Dealers in '09
ED smart (a poor choice of acronyms)
Fisker Karma & Karma-S (will these ever been seen on a road near you?)
Thursday, January 8, 2009
If it wasn't bad enough that lame duck Prius drivers cause traffic congestion because of their maddeningly slow driving habits, they're now getting to park right near the doors along-side the legitimately handicapped people.
According to this article at usatoday.com hybrid drivers in some places are getting "parking perks".
And hypocritical too!
Why should a hybrid driver arbitrarily get advantageous parking when there are plenty of conventional vehicles that get as good, or better, fuel mileage? Without even trying I can name a couple of hybrids that get worse mileage than my gasoline powered sedan which isn't even a particularly economical model. I could name a dozen or more cars that can easily better that majority of hybrids on our roads.
Like I said... hypocritical. It's another pathetic case of hybrid propaganda, greenwashing, and BS environmental image favoritism.
Friday, January 2, 2009
And just take a look at this video of the Racing Lancer!
That's about as much fun in a 4 wheeled vehicle as can be had!