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Have Electric Cars Already Beat Fuel Cell Vehicles?

January 29th, 2016

2017-Honda-Clarity-Fuel-Cell

The price of electric cars is quickly falling into the $30,000 range. The Nissan Leaf, the upcoming Chevy Bolt, and, presumably, next year’s Tesla Model 3, will all be available for about the price of the average new car.

Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is becoming more common and people are getting used to their limited range. Part of the reason for less range-anxiety is because cars are going farther on a single charge and taking less time to recharge.

Amidst the looming mass-adaption of EVs by consumers around the country, another type of alternative-fuel vehicle is starting to hit the market.

But is it too late for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?

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EPA Scrutinizes BMW X5 Diesel: It’s Approved!

December 15th, 2015

2014-bmw-x5-xdrive35d

I don’t envy the automaker trying to get a diesel approved for the U.S. market right now.

The Environmental Protection Agency is on high alert after Volkswagen managed to dupe it and sell a half-million highly polluting cars right under its nose. Now, any automaker that hopes to sell diesels in the U.S. will first need to submit the vehicles in question to rigorous examination and testing by the highly suspicious agency before being given the green light to stock dealers.

Getting the EPA’s sign-off was supremely difficult even before the VW scandal. It was so hard, in fact, that Volkswagen deemed it easier to engineer a cheat device than to engineer a car that could pass the strict emissions requirements.

Automotive News opened a story on the topic with this quote:

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GM’s Truck Twins Could Save the Diesel Name

November 27th, 2015

2016 GMC Canyon

For as long as I have been a car guy, I remember people begging automakers for a diesel-powered midsize pickup.

We watched the likes of the diesel Toyota Hilux power through Europe and trudge through the Arctic and then looked at our comparatively lame gas-powered Tacoma trucks in disgust. We lusted after diesels here for years, and finally, an unlikely carmaker has delivered.

It wasn’t Toyota, as we might have expected, but General Motors. And that was after, mind you, the company cancelled and then brought back its midsize trucks.

The Colorado diesel just won Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year award and now also has the title for most fuel efficient truck in the United States.

Could this be the vehicle that saves diesel’s name here?

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Chevrolet Colorado Most Fuel-Efficient Pickup in America

November 13th, 2015

Chevrolet Colorado dieselThere’s an interesting battle going on to be the most fuel-efficient pickup truck in America. It’s interesting not so much for the fact that the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2-wheel drive with the Duramax turbodiesel engine is the winner.

Nope, what makes it intriguing is it turns out Americans do care about fuel efficiency, even with falling fuel prices. We don’t care so much how a vehicle gets fuel savings. We just want it to happen.

That’s according to a survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. It discovered in June that “[a] little more than half (52 percent) of respondents said it didn’t matter to them how a vehicle saves fuel and reduces emissions,” according to an article at the news site Phys.org.

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When Should We Declare Fossil Fuels Dead?

September 29th, 2015

Tesla Supercharger

Kimbal Musk is the brother of Elon, the billionaire founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. He serves on the board of Tesla and is an advocate for finding new ways of powering, and feeding, our world.

My wife and I had the opportunity this weekend to meet with Kimbal in Las Vegas along with Bill Nye, the famous science guy.

Both were adamant that the time has come to change the world and move away from fossil fuels. I’ve been slow to get on board with that idea, but I finally think that they are correct. Automakers and consumers are starting to realize it, too.

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This Automaker Does Fuel Efficiency Right

September 23rd, 2015

mazda_3

According to the United States government, the average fuel economy for new cars and trucks needs to be at least 54.5 miles per gallon by the 2025 model year. That’s more than double the current average of 25.4 mpg.

That deadline is still 10 years away, but in vehicle-development terms it might as well be tomorrow. That’s why we’re seeing the explosion of hybrids, electric vehicles, turbochargers, and *ahem* diesels in this country.

One company has taken a more subtle approach and devoted itself to getting impressive efficiency from the humble 4-cylinder combustion engine.

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Volkswagen: TDI or TD Lie?

September 21st, 2015

2015_volkswagen_jetta-pic-2687671922287613144

What if it was revealed that your gas/electric hybrid wasn’t really a hybrid? Or what if Ford fans discovered their prized 5.0 V8 was actually only 4.3 liters? What if a Chevrolet claimed a 0-60 time of 4.3 seconds but was only capable of 5.2?

Automakers sell their cars with the promise that they will achieve a certain performance benchmark. Sometimes that benchmark is speed, sometimes it’s fuel economy, and sometimes it’s something a little less noticeable: emissions numbers.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Volkswagen is being accused of deliberately deceiving its customers, and the U.S. government, with cars that emit much more pollution than claimed. This is bad for a number of reasons, but the worst might be the loss of trust in its vaunted TDI brand.

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How Low Will They Go? Diesel Prices Keep Falling

July 15th, 2015

low_diesel_prices

I’ve noticed something at gas stations in the last few days that I can’t remember seeing in the recent past.

When I glance up at the fuel prices, I’ve noticed that the price of diesel is at or below the price of regular unleaded. How can that be? Diesel prices have, for as long as I can remember, been considerably higher than gasoline.

That’s been the tradeoff when buying a diesel. Sure, you get better fuel economy, but the price of the fuel offsets some of the benefit.

Those days have ended, at least temporarily, as diesel prices have retreated significantly. Why are they going down and what does it mean for car shoppers?

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Bad Timing for the New Prius, But Does It Matter?

June 30th, 2015

2015 Toyota Prius Five pic-5640244198888418979

Gas prices are low, hybrids have lost their luster, and competition is fierce for alternative-fuel cars. So now is a great time to introduce a hybrid, right?

There was a time when the Toyota Prius was the only option for buyers who wanted to advertise the fact that they love the environment. Celebrities and consumers alike proudly drove the efficient little soapboxes as a statement of being different.

Today things have changed, as relatively low gas prices and an influx of new hybrids, electrics, and diesels sit on dealer lots around the world while the Prius has lost favor among trendsetters.

Basically, the timing for an all-new Prius couldn’t be worse. You know who doesn’t care?

The all-new Prius.

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Do You Prefer a Gas Tax or a Miles-Driven Tax?

May 26th, 2015
Should owners of electric vehicles have to pay taxes for roads?

Should owners of electric vehicles have to pay taxes for roads?

Some ideas are destined to never work.

The hoverboard is one. So is the flying car. A peanut-butter-and-sardine sandwich would also make the list of ideas not likely to catch on.

The state of Oregon is about to discover one more: a miles-driven tax in place of a fuel tax.

The slow rise of electric and hybrid vehicles, in addition to improved fuel economy in vehicles powered by fossil fuels, has presented state governments with a new problem: how to fund roads with less money coming in from fuel taxes.

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