Saturday, October 29, 2011

Best New Small Car awards go to...Accent, Elantra

Hyundai has another two awards to be proud of; the Accent and the Elantra have won Canadian Car of the Year awards in the Best New Small Car Under $21,000 and Best New Small Car Over $21,000 categories, respectively.

Members of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), which conferred the awards, have spent a week test-driving 2012 car models to determine the winners.

To qualify for the awards, a car must be all-new or largely redesigned. AJAC members drove the cars in a back-to-back testing, all on the same day and on the same tracks.

The winners in respective categories will be evaluated, with the overall Utility Vehicle of the Year and Canadian Car of the Year winners to be named at the Canadian International Auto Show in February next year.

Here are the other winners in their respective categories:

Best New Family Car Under $30,000: Kia Optima

Best New Family Car Over $30,000: Kia Optima Hybrid

Best New Luxury Car: Mercedes-Benz C-Class C350 4Matic Sedan

Best New Sports/Performance Car Under $50,000: Hyundai Veloster

Best New Sports/Performance Car Over $50,000: BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Best New Prestige Car Over $75,000: Mercedes-Benz S-Class S350 BlueTEC 4Matic

Best New SUV/CUV Under $35,000: Dodge Journey

Best New SUV/CUV $35,000-$60,000: Volkswagen Touareg TDI

Best New SUV/CUV Over $60,000: BMW X3

Click here for the original article.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Large-scale EV car sharing fleet launched in Amsterdam

Starting on November 24, 300 units of Smart Fortwo Electric Drive cars will be offered in Amsterdam for on-demand mobility, without motorists needing to drop them off at a fixed rental station. This is made possible thanks to the launch of Daimler’s Car2go program, one of the first large-scale, all-electric vehicle car-sharing fleets in the world.

According to Daimler, vehicle recharging will not be compulsory after every rental, as the range of Smart is eight to 10 times higher than a rental’s normal operating distance. Amsterdam also now has over 250 charging stations within the city.

This launch will pave the way for a new pricing structure for Car2go for Amsterdam, as well as for current and future locations across Europe.

Amsterdam, which only uses energy from renewable sources, is the first European city with an all-electric fleet and the fifth city with a Car2go service worldwide.

Car2go programs are also available in Vancouver, Canada, in Austin, Texas, and in German cities of Hamburg and Ulm.

For the original article, click here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Peugeot, BMW join forces on EVs

Peugeot Citroën and BMW are moving forward on a joint project for electric vehicles.

It has been a year after the two companies inked a memorandum of agreement, and now they are launching the BMW Peugeot Citroën Electrification, leading to the creation of essential conditions for the fast implementations of common goals. Production of hybrid components needed for the electrification of the car models of both carmakers is also scheduled to commence in 2015.

Here’s what Wolfgang Güllich, chairman of the managing board of the joint venture, said about this:

“The BMW Group and PSA Peugeot Citroën are following a joint path with clear and ambitious goals. We want our company to be one of the leading suppliers in the field of electric powertrains over the next years.”

The two firms are putting in over €100 million in the joint venture. About 400 employees will work at Munich’s new Research and Development Center by the end of this year, most of whom are engineers who are specializing in electronics and electro-mobility. Upon the completion of ramp-up, about 250 employees will be working at a facility in Mulhouse, France, where the hybrid components will be designed.

The joint venture will include the development and production of all essential parts for electric powertrains, which include high-voltage batteries, power electronics, electric motors, generators, energy management software and loading units.

Thanks to an open technology platform, the venture will also be able to integrate suppliers into the purchasing and development process, as well as sell the hybrid parts it manufactures to third parties.

Click here to read the original article.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nissan aims to lead green car segment

Nissan Motor Co. has set its sights high on green cars, aiming to become the world’s number one in this segment.

The Japan-based manufacturer of the Leaf electric vehicle recently unveiled its six-year strategy, planning to develop a plug-in hybrid by March 2017 and cutting C02 emissions by about 20 percent for each car compared with the levels in 2005. Nissan also aims to boost its vehicles’ fuel efficiency by 35 percent compared with 2005.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO and President of Nissan, believes that being ecological can give them a competitive advantage allowing them to stand out as good corporate citizens.

"More consumers are demanding products in line with their values, including cars and trucks with a lower carbon footprint. At the same time, we are using technology to make our factories greener and more efficient," said Ghosn.

The company was working on another type of zero-emissions car, a fuel cell and on other forms of environmental technology like clean diesels.

To date, electric vehicles are still a niche market. Around 16,600 Leaf vehicles worldwide were sold since Nissan offered them in December last year.

Competition within the EVs sector, however, is expected to see intense competition as other carmakers like Toyota enter the segment.

Read the original article here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Chrysler will be forced to make more hybrid vehicles

Sergio Marchionne, CEO and president of the Chrysler Group and Fiat, has openly expressed his skepticism about hybrids. However, he will be forced to change his stance soon.

The Obama government will soon adopt new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which according to Marchionne will make hybrids inevitable.

This program will force car manufacturers to cut their whole fleet’s standard consumption to 6.63 liters for every 100 kilometers by 2016 on the average. Come 2025, this figure will further fall to 4.32.

This may pose a challenge for Chrysler, as only a single hybrid model of the Chrysler 300 is now being developed for 2013.

Other than hybrids, majority of the big Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep products including pickups and SUV will soon feature diesel engines in North America, beginning with the Jeep Grand Cherokee over two years.

Click here to view the original article.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2012 Fiat 500 gets Top Safety Pick designation

The 2012 Fiat 500 has something to be proud of! The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has just named the car a “Top Safety Pick.”

To be given the designation, a car must feature standard electronic stability control and obtain the top “good” ratings in front, rear, rollover and side impact evaluations.

This designation applies to Fiat 500s created after July this year, when the structure of the driver’s seat was modified to boost occupant safety in rear-end and frontal crashes.

The Fiat 500 joins Ford Fiesta as the only minicars to be named “Top Safety Pick,” said the IIHS.

For the original article, click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

GM developing technology that generates wireless “safety net”

Here’s a new innovation from General Motors: a new technology that could warn motorists in advance to possibly driving scenarios. The technology mainly creates a wireless “safety net” using small portable devices, which are intended to collect information from infrastructure and other vehicles to alert drivers on hard-braking motorists, stalled or slow vehicles, sharp curves, slippery roads and upcoming intersection and stop signs.

According to a research conducted by the National Highway Safety Administration, the technology, called vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, could help prevent about 81 percent of all car crashes in the United States.

Here's what Don Grimm, senior researcher for Perception and Vehicle Control Systems group at GM, can say about this innovation:

“These safety systems could provide a significant leap in automotive safety, but their effectiveness goes up dramatically as more people use them. By putting the technology into portable devices, we could make this potentially life-saving technology widely available and more affordable.”

The technology is being tested on a GPS unit-sized transponder and a smartphone app that can be connected to the display unit of the vehicle. Bicyclists and pedestrians alike could also use the smartphones for downloading a special app to inform motorists about their locations.

View the original article here.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

GM working on next generation EN-V

The next-generation EN-V concept vehicle proved to be a hit at last year’s Shanghai World Expo, and now, General Motors is working on this personal mobility design.

The EN-V, short for Electric Networked-Vehicle, represents the company’s vision to satisfy the increasing demand for secure, connected, zero-emissions personal transportation and could take part in pilot demonstration programs in cities worldwide to determine its real-world practicality.

Future EN-V concepts will also sport a Chevrolet badge, said GM.

“For 100 years, the Chevrolet brand has been focused on making advanced technology that improves customers’ lives (and is) accessible and affordable, and the Chevrolet EN-V will continue that tradition. By 2030, more than 60 per cent of the world’s eight billion people will live in urban areas. The Chevrolet EN-V represents a possible solution for global customers living in markets where alternative transportation solutions are needed.”

-- Chris Perry, vice president of global Chevrolet marketing and strategy.

The EN-V is a two-seater electric urban mobility concept designed to tackle environmental issues and help lessen traffic congestion, parking, energy consumption and safety concenrs. The next-generation concept will come with new features including storage space, climate control as well as all-weather and road condition operation, while battery electric propulsion, autonomous driving capabilities and connectivity will be retained.

Seems like this is something we could really look forward to...

For the original article, click here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

All-electric Chevrolet Spark rolling out in 2013

Starting in 2013, car enthusiasts can look forward to a Chevrolet mini-car running completely on electricity, as the Detroit-based car manufacturer is planning to launch Spark EV.

The new model, which will become a new addition to the electric vehicle fleet of General Motors, will be offered in limited numbers in certain markets in the US such as California, as well as abroad, said Chevrolet.

Additional information on quantities and specific markets as well as on pricing will be announced in a later date, said General Motors.

According to Jim Federico, global vehicle chief engineer for EVs at Chevrolet, Spark EV will complement the 2013 Malibu Eco with eAssist (a new gas-electric hybrid technology that can improve a vehicle’s fuel economy) and the Volt extended-range EV.

Battery packs for the new model will come from battery manufacturer A123 Systems Inc.

For the original article, click here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tesla, Panasonic join forces on batteries

It was in 2009 and 2010 when electric vehicle maker Tesla first entered into a supply deal with Panasonic for automotive-grade lithium-ion battery cells. After a year, the two companies finalized the deal.

The deal covers enough battery cells to develop over 80,000 EVs over the next four years. It also guarantees that there will be sufficient cells available next year to meet the carmaker’s fulfillment of over 6,000 existing Model S reservations at the same time meeting its margin and cost targets.

The new deal builds on a multi-year partnership between the two firms to create next-generation battery cells and speed up the market expansion of EVs.

View the original article here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is smart road technology the answer to traffic gridlock?

Edmonton is the first North American city to sign up for the “smart road technology” intended to alert motorists on traffic gridlock.

The state-of-the-art system of cameras and sensors is set to be installed along Yellowhead Trail, one of the busiest arteries in the city, in the coming years.

How does the technology work?

Sensors installed in the pavement will pick up on accidents and gridlock and then send warnings to drivers via overhead digital signs.

This alert system will help motorists avoid annoying bottleneck situations, said Brice Stephenson, manager of Transportation Operations in Edmonton.

“If there's a collision or construction, or some other problem, we can tell motorists to use other routes,” he said.

The smart traffic technology is a joint project among various companies including German traffic logistics company PTV and carmaker BMW.

These companies hope that they could eventually feed alerts into the GPS systems of vehicles.

However, this software has not come cheap for Edmonton, which has already spent nearly $10 million on the cameras and sensors. Another $2 million is expected to be incurred for the smart road software.

What do Edmontonians say about the technology?

Edmonton motorists have differing opinions about this software; some say it is a band aid solution for other road problems, while others claim it is just a waste of money.

The city is currently in the planning stage of a 30-year long program designed to ease gridlock and enhance safety on Yellowhead Trail, where around 80,000 cars travel every day.

Click here for the original post.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Like Nissan Leaf and help plant a tree

Are you a big fan of the Nissan Leaf? Then, like the electric vehicle on its Facebook page. By doing this, you are actually helping to plant about 12,500 trees in Canada through a new collaboration between the carmaker and Tree Canada.

The program officially kicked off this week, with both employees of the Tree Canada and Nissan Canada planting 50 trees in Moccasin Trail Park in Toronto.

This event also marks the beginning of the countrywide “We Dig Trees” competition, which is also found on the Facebook page of Leaf Nissan. Just like the page for you to qualify for a grand draw of either a six-day coast whale-watching excursion in Newfoundland, or a four-way west coast sailing adventure in British Columbia.

Tree Canada will provide the resources and tools needed to plant 12,500 trees from May to June 2012. Canadians can join the “We Dig Trees” until November 18, 2011, with the lucky winners to be announced on November 30. Visit Nissan Leaf to enter.

Click here to view the original article.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What’s with the EV 2011 Conference and Trade Show?

This year’s EV Conference and Trade Show was indeed full of big announcements concerning electric vehicles (EVs). The series of conferences, which happened in Toronto on September 26 to 28, also addressed several issues plaguing the industry.

As expected, the event became a platform for showcasing existing and future models. Attendees were treated to a varied display of cars, including the Smart Fortwo Electric, Ford Transit Connect Electric, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV), Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

One of the huge announcements made at the event was “Building Canada’s Green Highway,” a dream for Canadians to travel with alternative energy running their cars. This aims to supplement petroleum stations now available with car electricity and the accompanying charging infrastructure.

Various hurdles that should be overcome before EVs go mass-market were also tackled in the event. One of the major issues around the development of EVs is the battery, which has failed to keep pace. Companies find it challenging to create smaller batteries though some are now working on denser, newer materials to place more energy into small-sized batteries.

The infrastructure needed for charging these batteries also poses a challenge. EVs will initially go to those who can charge them easily at home or work. This would probably rule out condo residents unless charging stations are installed. But together with making charging stations as widespread as gasoline stations, standardization is an important part of electric acceptability.

Here’s what Ian Forsyth, director of corporate planning for Nissan Canada, said about this.

“The receptacle on the car for charging is an SAE standard, that’s established, But the vehicle supply equipment, the interface between the car and the grid – those standards are not resolved. The cord, temperature resistance, the amperage rating of the unit itself, the waterproofness, other overload issues and all of those things are part of it.”

Click here for more of his statement.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Fiat re-enters Canada with stylish Fiat 500

After its lengthy absence in Canada, Fiat is making a comeback with the all-new Fiat 500.

Re-launched in Europe in 2004, the carmaker aims to combine affordability with Italian style in the all-new Fiat 500.

Powered by a 1.4 liter, 4-cylinder engine producing 101 HP, the 2012 Fiat 500 is available with a 5-speed standard transmission as standard. Spend additional $1,300 to get it with a 6-speed automatic transmission.

Placing emphasis on safety, the Fiat 500 comes with seven standard airbags, four-wheel ABS brakes, electronic stability control, as well as an Active Head Restraints. All these features make the 500 a safe vehicle to drive.

Available in Pop, Sport and Lounge styles, the Fiat 500 gives you the most value for your money, with prices starting from $15,995 to $22,995 for top-of-the line models.

The 2012 Fiat 500 is indeed an attention getter thanks to its cute looks and smooth lines. You’ll surely stand out in the crowd with this nice little car.

For more details about this new model, click here.