Archives – October, 2013

GE Adopts Designer Charging

Any person who visits the Las Vegas yearly Consumer Electronics Show is aware that one of the emerging businesses is making “skins” for music player, cellphones, headphones, and tablets. People have the tendency to personalize or customize their gadgets. One of the first companies to give its customers the option of applying skins to their electric vehicle stations is General Electric. This is logical since the WattStation has always been a designer invention that was created by fuse project’s Yves Behar. At some point, Behar described the station to have a soft-looking shape and non-angular elements. Hence, it was not only friendly, but also inclined towards the station user. To indicate whether the station is in use of free, there is LED lights row which changes color.

A key player in this burgeoning business is Gelaskins, which will manufacture WattStation’s “custom wrap accessories”, many of which will be sold at 29.99 dollars. A photo or artwork can be downloaded and attached to a WattStation for 39.99 dollars. According to General Electric’s lead product manager for electric vehicle software and infrastructure, Seth Cutler, the skins are temporarily attached and can thus be removed and replaced easily. Seth further added that GE adopted the move in response to the rising interest in customization and personalization. He said what the company was offering could be linked to what is being done with tablets or iPhones.

Seth Cutler did not reveal the number of personalized WattStations that are currently in use. He however mentioned that GM is working towards servicing an expanding market. About 136,000 plug-in vehicles are currently on the United States roads. Lowe’s, Home Depot and Amazon are WattStations’ key outlets. Gelaskins does not the option of point-of-purchase. Instead, buyers need to get a 3×5 card that would direct them to the website of the company. The website displays a broad range of images to suit different tastes. These include art-deco, fantasy stuff, and several other creations.

It is clearly evident and interesting that the charging station has transformed from a utilitarian facility that geeks use to a shiny designer utility characterized by personalized skins. Charging is no longer considered an oddity. Instead, it is viewed as a normal part of contemporary life. It is also clear that charging is more interesting. People can now choose a wide range of designs depending on their tastes, and even moods. Charging is not only faster, but it is also easier and sharper. The customized design makes charging sharp and chic while the quick installation makes charging easy and user friendly.


Leave a Comment October 24, 2013

$2,000- $4,500 Price Cut for 2014 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid

There has been an ongoing price competition between plug-in vehicle makers. The war continued last week when Toyota made an announcement of its intention to reduce the prices of its 2014 Prius Plug-in car. The same case is applicable to the 2013 plug-in models. There are no new features or technological aspects in the Prius plug-in version of the United States market. The affordability of the car model is determined by the model that a consumer chooses. Eventually, it emerges that there is a general reduction on the 2013 prices by 2, 010 dollars for a similar car. Consumers who order the 2014 Prius plug-in in advance will managed to save about 4, 620 dollars in comparison to the 2013 models.

Following the price reduction, the pre-incentive costs for the Prius Plug-in base model hybrid prior to destination is 29,990 dollars. The price for the Prius Plug-in Hybrid Advanced is 34,905 prior to destination. The same rebates and tax credits should be expected since none of the cars has been altered from the 2014 model year. Also, perks such as the solo driver access of Californian HOV-lane are to remain. A major question that arises is whether the price cuts of Toyota are sufficiently big to give them a competitive advantage in the market. Lately, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid vehicle sales have been dropping, partly because of competitive pricing of 2014 Chevrolet Volt and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in cars. Although each car’s base model examples are more costly compared to 2014 Prius plug-in hybrid price cut, they give an electric range of 38 and 21 miles respectively. Therefore, they have surpassed the 11 miles of electric vehicle range offered by the Prius Plug-in Hybrid.

California Prius Plug-in owners can apply for the state-offered green HOV sticker program, which would tremendously lower commuting times for those willing to purchase Prius plug-in. This is mainly because of the low emissions and plug-in status of the car. The Prius Plug-in is the ultimate choice for a person in need of HOV lane access to take less commuting time in the morning bit for some reason, do not want to plug in daily. This is because the car has a 1-8 liter gasoline engine that has a much higher efficiency compared to the Volt and C-Max Energi. However, for real fans of electric vehicles, the price cut by Toyota will probably trigger the need to momentarily examine rival vehicles with higher plug-in capabilities.



Leave a Comment October 24, 2013

Fusion Energi Plug-in Car Defended by its Owners

According to Fusion Energi owners, this plug in car is wonderful and has proved to have numerous advantages. They claim that the hybrid Fusion plug-in vehicle can help in saving the planet. The car’s design is also great, and is built in accordance to global standards. It is not only technologically marvelous, but its pricing is also fair. Owners further add that they drive for approximately two hundred miles without using any gas.

This defense comes amidst critical reviews from Brad Berman of According to Berman, the appeal of Fusion Energi is restricted by the diminished trunk size. The car’s trunk size was reduced to create room for its battery pack. However, Fusion Energi owners claim that the trunk size is not a deal killer. Most of the people who own this car have other vehicles that have ample capacity for handling cargo. Also, most of them may prefer to travel alone in order to maximize the rear seat that that can be folded down. Basically, the owners of Fusion Energi think that the trunk’s small size is an issue that can be managed. The owners love the car to an extent that they consider it the market best in terms of battery power.

Although the Chevy Volt may have a wider range of all-electric cars compared to Fusion Energi, the latter has more benefits. Fusion Energi is an electric-only car that is workable and almost luxurious. It saves gas, energy, and money. Judging from most reviews, it is clear that gas saving is a determining aspect in the buying decision. Seventy-five percent of reviewers have also said to have bought the car because of its technology and styling. It is interesting that all the respondents are men who are techno-geeks. Many view global warming as a reality and has been largely caused by human activities. Hence, they hold the opinion that investing in hybrid and electric vehicles such as Fusion Energi is the surest way to attaining a clean environment and at least contributing to lessening global warming.

It is essential to acknowledge the fact that the car has impressive technology. With the car, you can drive through dashboard-scored efficiently on increasing speed, cruising and braking. The car has lane monitoring and collision systems that are extremely helpful and effective. The car comes with an application that can automatically detect the car’s charge status, as well as its location. It is clear that the Fusion Energi plug-in car is worth giving a test drive.


Leave a Comment October 17, 2013

Chrysler’s Plans for Commercializing Plug-in Cars

In 2009, Chrysler’s Italian owner, Fiat, proposed a strategic plan with the aim of saving the company. The CEO of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne went straight away to discontinuing the plug-in vehicle program for Chrysler. According to his statement in March, 2002, the electric vehicles’ economics were not feasible. He further added that Fiat was likely to lose over ten thousand dollars per unit from its electric vehicle version. This year, the fortunes of Chrysler look promising and the company has decided to re-commercialize its electric vehicle program. The company’s recruitment site is currently seeking to recruit engineers specializing in battery management and electrified power development fields.

Before Fiat took over the company, Chrysler had plans of electrifying the whole band of its car models including the range-extended Jeep Patriot, Dodge Circuit electric vehicle, Concept city car, and the plug-in minivan. The mentioned plug-in cars were cancelled by Fiat before they could even get to the showroom. This is because the vehicles were thought to be pageantry concept car that lacked adequate development for support. However, a few Chrysler minivans and plug-in hybrid Doge trucks materialized as a part of a corporate test fleet. The fleet was funded by the energy department program that allocated it 123 million dollars.

Chrysler wants to show people that the idea of electric vehicles was on the table all along, despite its virtually complete termination of plug-in programs. The only programs that have been linked to this automaker since 2009 are the plug-in test fleet and the tepid efforts by Fiat to sell Fiat 500e, an all-electric car in California. These efforts are aimed at satisfying the state’s mandates of zero emissions. According to the powertrain spokesman of Chrysler, Eric Mayne, Chrysler has all along maintained its need for electrification so as to comply with the standards and regulations. Hence, the company has kept this plan in mind during its hiring process. Mayne further added that Chrysler plans to adopt electrification technologies starting with start-stop and proceeding to electric vehicles.

Currently, Chrysler has not portrayed keenness concerning the specifics. This means that we are not likely to see plug-in vehicles from the company soon. Unfortunately, this is more like a missed opportunity. While many buyers may have been enticed by Chrysler’s offerings of its fleet of plug-ins a few years earlier, this may not be the case now. The challenging part for Chrysler now is not manufacturing the plug-in vehicles, but catching up with the evolution that has been witnessed in plug-in technology within the last five years. It has to compete with market leaders such as Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Tesla, and General Motors.


Leave a Comment October 17, 2013

Kia Soul Electric Vehicle in the United States Market

An electric version of the Kia Soul electric vehicle will be arriving in the United States in the year 2014 after months of speculation and sightings of test cars in the wild. Kia Soul confirmed that the United States buyers would be able to purchase an all-electric Soul Electric Vehicle next year, in a brief press statement. The South Korean carmaker has not yet released any specifications or pricing. This makes it hard to visualize where the electric version of Kia Soul will place in the marketplace. However, judging from the prototypes of Kia Soul Electric Vehicles seen out and about, it is clear that the car will have a standard quick charge. Just like the Mitsubishi and Nissan Leaf, the charge will have the capacity to recharge the Kia Soul electric vehicle from an empty state to an almost fully charged state within half an hour.

Previous speculations show that the specifications of Kia Soul electric will be similar to those of other small-sized electric vehicles. The vehicle will have a range of about one hundred miles per charge and a maximum speed of about 87 miles per hour and 0.62 miles in about 12 seconds. Kia Soul electric vehicles will have a redesigned body similar to that of their gasoline counterparts. Kia notes that this translates to a larger and quieter interior, a wider and longer wheelbase, and a slightly reduced height. The difference between Kia Soul electric vehicles and their gasoline counterparts is that the electric vehicles will have new styling cues. The automaker gave a hint that the cues will help in aerodynamics. Therefore, potential candidates include side-skirts, a modified grille and bumper, and maybe a uniquely-designed rear spoiler. The electric vehicle will probably be unique and different from existing electric vehicles like the Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, and Nissan Leaf. Also, Kia added that the Soul electric vehicle will be recyclable by up to 85%.

More details about the Kia Soul electric vehicle will be unveiled in the major United States auto show in November, held in Los Angeles. According to Kia, only “select markets” will have the Soul electric vehicles. This implies that it is a limited-production vehicle and will be available only in California. Hyundai, Kia’s parent company, is expected to meet the regulations of California by manufacturing hydrogen-fuel cell cars instead of plug-in cars. It is evident that the Kia Soul electric car is a car to look out for.





Leave a Comment October 10, 2013

How Electric Car Sharing May not Be Green

Car sharing is a common practice in Europe. It is a “sharing economy” that allows individuals to join organizations in order to enjoy services such as parking and charging cars without purchasing the cars. This is similar to ownership versus access. A question that needs to be kept in mind is whether this practice is green. It sounds like an easy question with an easy answer: does EV sharing result in the use of less fuel compared to individuals driving their own gasoline cars? The answer to this question is not as obvious as it would seem, considering the situation with the Autolib Service in Paris.

Autolib services not only deal with cars seen on the streets. Autolib kiosks are common for providing subscription services, as well Autolib stations that serve the role of providing parking and charging services. Also, a number of facilities equipped with people to provide information exist. All facilities have a connection with the headquarters of Autolib, which houses a call center and several powerful computers to oversee an army of about two thousand cars.

It is also essential to note that diesel trucks are a component of Autolib services. The trucks are a common feature in Paris, playing the role of conveying their cars for maintenance services. Basically, Autolib is a big company with at least 500 personnel. Everyone is roughly informed about the efficacy of electric vehicles and the fact that they consume little energy. It is essential to justify the rate of energy consumption when evaluating the service quality. Assessment starts from the vehicles to the tiniest details.

There is a possibility that the vehicles may not be that environmental-friendly or green. Polymer cells of lithium are a key constituent of the Bollore Bluecar that is produced by Bollore and used by Autolib. These cells have been present for almost ten years. Although several European car manufacturers looked at them, none of them purchased any. They observed that these polymer cells have a negative feature in that they belong to the category of “warm cells.” This implies that they do not operate effectively at ambient heat. For this reason, it is crucial to keep the cells warm at all times.

An unplugged Bollore Bluecar has a battery that takes at most, three hours to fully charge. The current used for charging is drawn from the outlet. Considering the fact that approximately two thousand cars are plugged in, there is a great significance in the rate of energy consumption. It seems evident that electric car sharing may not be so green after all.



Leave a Comment October 10, 2013

An Overview of Fuel-Saving Tips

If you have plans to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle, there are a number of ways or tips that can help you save money. This is regardless of the kind of vehicle you are interested in purchasing. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to choose cars that are made in such a way that they can effectively save fuel. Additionally, such cars have a better mileage.

Reviving the Classics

The greatest or biggest savings in terms of fuel does not come from hybrid cars. It instead comes from old standards such as public transportation and carpooling. Fuel usage can be reduced by up to 50 percent if you and one of your friends or neighbors trade off commuting to and from work. Also, if you have two family vehicles in the motor pool, it would save fuel to leave the thirstier vehicle at home. Public transportation not only saves fuel, but it can also save money. Another benefit of public transportation is that of reducing congestion, which in turn saves fuel.

Getting the Lead Out

Weight is the natural enemy of fuel economy. Real fuel savings can be achieved by removing unnecessary items from the car. If you have plans to drive for a long-distance trip, consider reducing the number of people, as well as the baggage or items that will be carried along.

Getting the Lead-Foot Out

You can immediately save fuel in whichever car you are driving by simply going easy on the accelerator. Full-throttle acceleration and jackrabbit starts have been known to increase fuel consumption dramatically. It depends on the degree of acceleration. Light acceleration would save more fuel compared to heavy and moderate acceleration. The next time you are planning to accelerate, do not go straight away to heavy or moderate acceleration.

Air Conditioning or Open Windows

It has been said that the air conditioner lowers the fuel economy and robs engine power. This is unlike a car’s heater which utilizes free engine heat for warming the cabin. If your car has been in the sun for a long time and is hotter inside than the outer air, it is recommended to drive with the windows open for a few minutes. Aerodynamics is extremely essential at high speeds. Open windows will not make a significant difference when driving under 40 miles per hour.

It is advisable to invest in a car that would save on gas and fuel. Hybrid cars are the best option if you must drive. Coupled with this information, fuel saving may turn out to be an easy venture.



Leave a Comment October 3, 2013

Toyota Hybrid Technology Aiming for the Future

Toyota continues to be a hybrid industry leader. An inaugural event that was held in Ypsilanti, Michigan, brought together all the hybrid vehicles of Lexus and Toyota from the American, European, and Japanese markets.

Hybrid Presentations

The Toyota representatives held a display that presented a brief look at the history of the company’s hybrid program. The first hybrid car by Toyota was the first generation Prius, which was revealed in the year 1997. Toyota representatives also shed light on the brand’s future, as well as the hybrid market. They specifically focused on the Prius brand. What began as a risk on Prius has transformed into a significant part of the Toyota brand. Satoshi Ogiso, the brand’s managing officer made remarks about the hybrid program’s future and the fourth-generation Prius’ release.

What the Next Generation Will Feature

According to Toyota’s managing officer, the next hybrid generations will be characterized by improved batteries that have a higher density. Ogiso further added that the funds for research and development have greatly risen for lithium-ion batteries and nickel-metal hydride. Batteries are a real challenge in the hybrids realm, to both consumers and manufacturers. The next hybrid generations, particularly the Toyota Prius, will have a combination of advanced battery technologies and novel electric motors, with a small size and improved power density. Since the motor for the current Prius provides a power density that is four times that of the first Prius, the density is likely to continue increasing for the next generations. Toyota also aims at producing advanced lithium air batteries.

Features of the Next Generation Prius

The next generation Prius is apparently the fourth since the year 1997. It differs from the previous generations in terms of thermal efficiency. Thermal efficiency measures performance, which in turn leads to a given number of energy changes or thermodynamic efficiency. For the current Prius, the thermal efficiency of the internal combustion engine is 38.5%. The fourth generation will have more than 40% thermal efficiency. Other than batteries, Toyota aims at developing novel technologies that will make it easy for consumers to use the cars’ plug-in.

It is also worth noting that Toyota aims at producing fuel-cell cars in future. Ogiso said that there would be a continual use of hydrogen. It is expected that the company’s first hydrogen-fuel cell car will be available commercially in the year 2015. Finally, Ogiso hopes that in the next fifteen years, battery electrics, hydrogen-fuel cells and plug-in hybrids will continue be even more popular than hybrid cars are today.


Leave a Comment October 3, 2013

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