Green Update–>BMW, Tesla, THINK, Honda, Toyota, and the E-Tractor

Here’s one we thought would never see the light of day: BMW’s Vision EfficientDynamics plug-in concept car. According to Inside Line, this machine, shown at Frankfurt last September—which we discussed in some detail here—is a definite go for production. The concept had a lightweight, mid-mounted three-cylinder diesel as backup to two electric motors generating some 590 lb-ft of torque, and the production version should keep this powertrain.

Truly it’s one of the more outlandish (read, desirable) high-performance concepts we’ve seen. A supercar? Maybe. Let’s wait and see how they change the concept: There may be “less of the synthetic glass and more solid structure added to the final design,” according to Inside Line’s source. They hope to produce between 5,000 and 10,000 units. But for God’s sake, please change the name.

K.C. Colwell has written a painful story about losing battery power while driving a Tesla Roadster in Michigan. The car is supposed to have a 244-mile range before charging is needed, but the car couldn’t handle a 181-mile round trip, even with all electric accessories turned off and careful driving.

When the indicator lights started to flash, the author understandably started freaking out, at one point ending up in a 7-Eleven, encountering a nasty cop, and stepping into a pile of vomit. After a night at a Holiday Inn Express and a recharge, he made it home even as the car indicated no battery left. Hardly a ringing endorsement of a vehicle everyone (mostly) has praised. Maybe this is one reason they are terminating production (see our recent Tesla story).

A couple of short takes: Norwegian automaker THINK, producer of the City EV, which we reported on, has released a list of U.S. cities ranked for readiness and capacity to support EV cars. The top five are: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and New York (tied), and San Diego.

MPGomatic has a good piece on the problems of measuring mileage in hybrid cars. They give ratings and discuss different vehicles and techniques, but, bottom-line:

Hybrid gas mileage depends largely on technique. If a driver fails to use the tools at their [sic] disposal and drives in an inefficient manner, they’ll struggle to hit the numbers. Truth be told, it can take some effort to beat the official gas mileage estimates, no matter what you’re driving.

2010 Honda InsightSales of Honda’s Insight are way down. Although the company had hoped to sell 90,000 for the 2010 model year, only 20,572 have been sold. The worldwide goal was 200,000 for the year; actual sales have come to 130,445. As the Prius is doing so well, comparatively, you can be sure the guys at Honda aren’t feeling too upbeat. And a hybrid Fit looks very doubtful.

It ain’t all roses for the Prius, however. Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak has made charges of unintended acceleration, incidents which have repeatedly occurred in his new Prius. Said the Woz,

This new model has an accelerator that goes wild but only under certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again—safely.

He maintains it’s a software problem and asserts he’s had poor cooperation from both the Toyota company and NHTSA in getting attention paid to it.

Finally, some high school students in Texas are proving that American ingenuity is not yet dead. They are taking an old donated Ford tractor and converting it into a solar-energized, battery-powered machine. The E-Tractor will also have a plug-in charger for days when the sun doesn’t shine, and it will be used in a “farm tractor driving certification/safety course.” A great project; more pictures are here.

If any of you know about green projects like this one, please let us know (use the “Have a Story Idea?” link near the top of the page), and we’ll write them up.


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  1. Most cool, yes. No word from BMW or any insiders as to what the price will be. I don’t think that car will come cheap.

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