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Automobiles

Top New Fuel-Efficient Vehicles

toyota prius 2008

Consumer Reports recently came out with a list of the top 18 most fuel-efficient new cars which are currently being sold.  

With rising gas prices, even people who don't care so much about being green are looking into finding less gas-guzzling options.  And even for the eco-friendly of us, walking or relying on public transportation is not always realistic.  (Especially when much of the country doesn't have reliable public transit!)  Luckily there are plenty of options for fuel-efficient cars, as evidenced in the Consumer Reports list!

So, who made the cut?  ... read more

San Francisco Electric Plug-In Car Project Faces a Few Roadblocks

Plug-in electric vehicles are becoming more affordable, available, and popular. Leading “green” city, San Francisco, passed legislation to help increase the convenience of electric vehicles in hopes of enticing residents to purchase the green cars. The city is challenged with the task of installing 80 public charging stations at 20 locations by 2012.

The city has been working for roughly two and a half years to implement the charging station policy and necessary infrastructure. ... read more

The Cardeo Mobile: A Human-Powered Vehicle

cardeo mobileI've recently had the opportunity to correspond with Tacoe Bell, the inventor of the Cardeo Mobile, a human-powered vehicle that steers like a car.  

Read what Tacoe has to say about the Cardeo Mobile.  

How did you come up with the idea for the Cardeo Mobile?

A few years ago I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and my doctor suggested that I need some type of cardiovascular exercise. I was told that I need to walk, run, or ride a bike. Needless to say, none of those options were appealing to me. I began brainstorming and wondering what I should do and one night it came to me in a dream. A bike that had the same form and functions as a car. The next day I sat down and started to sketch out the rough draft of what is known as The Cardeo. After I was satisfied with the rough draft I began to construct and The Cardeo was born!... read more

The Rubber Meets the Road

Will someone please tell me whether I should buy snow tires? Living in Boston, I've survived decades of commuting, carpooling, and even ski trips without buying snow tires. I just didn't need them. Then came last winter -- sidewalks like icy canyons, weeks below freezing, and I frequently found myself stuck at home when my mere summer tires couldn't get me out of the driveway. My dad said he hadn’t seen a winter like it since he was in college -- when they had cars called “Packard”. So what’s going on?... read more

Car-Free Tuesday

car freeIn the spirit of Meatless Monday and Green Compromises, I propose Car-Free Tuesday.

In many parts of the country, it's hard to go completely car-free.  With underwhelming public transit choices in most of the country, it can be tricky for some not living in urban areas to ditch the car.  However, what about picking one day a week to leave your car in the driveway and figure out alternative ways to get to work?

According to Yahoo! Green:  The average American commute to work is about 12 miles, and a whopping 90% of us drive to work solo.

Let's look at some options to help you go car-free at least one day a week:... read more

Hybrid Myths and Facts

"As far as I can tell, the 'hybrids ain't so great' rumors are patently untrue," says Umbra at Grist.  With Cher making headlines by proclaiming that hybrids are BS, I wanted to share some information that I found before buying my hybrid, as well as some newer research and information.  It's time to debunk the hybrid myths.

Myth #1:  Hybrids are overall worse for the environment than Hummers.

This bit of "bad science" was circulating around and some anti-environmentalists are still clinging to it.  In 2007, the Pacific Institute issued a paper debunking this myth.  Read the PDF here.

Myth #2:  The manufacturing process for hybrids is so environmentally unfriendly that it cancels out the gas you're saving.

Research from the Argonne National Laboratory and the Rocky Mountain Institute has proven that the fuel savings you get in a hybrid MORE than make up for the eco-unfriendliness of the manufacturing process.  

Myth #3:  You have to be wealthy to buy a hybrid.  

A brand new Toyota Prius starts at $22,800, just about $3,000 more than a non-hybrid Camry.   The Honda Civic hybrid is similarly priced.  These aren't expensive cars.   The wealthy can get a BMW ActiveHybrid for over $100,000.  (Yikes!)... read more

Cher and Stanley Tucci on Hybrids and "Curly Light Bulbs"

cher and the environmentWe love our Keen and Green celebs here, but Cher doesn't fit the bill.  She recently told Fox News that:  "I researched all the hybrid stuff and its pretty much all bullsh*t."  She does claim to be eco-friendly, however, saying, "I turn off the lights, we don’t use plastic bags. We’re probably not doing enough, but we started changing the bulbs to those curly bulbs."  Curly bulbs, you say?

Cher's Burlesque costar Stanley Tucci doesn't even like the curly bulbs.  "Don’t you hate those? Let’s face it - everyone looks like they have jaundice. They’re awful. I’m sorry, but they need to come up with something better. I’m very environmentally friendly, but the onus is always on the consumer. You’ve got to change every light bulb in your house, and you can’t really see anything and it is awful, then they come up with something else and you have to change it all again."  Poor, poor Stanley.  Changing light bulbs is so hard.  (Insert something like "how many celebrities does it take to screw in a light bulb?" here)... read more

Plug-In 2010: Two Solutions for DC Fast Charging of EVs

DC fast charging is the Holy Grail for eliminating range anxiety in pure battery electric vehicles.  It has the promise of permitting you to charge 80 miles of range on the Leaf in less than 30 minutes.  So, to the extent that these beasts are accessible out on the road, you will be able to drive farther, and recover when you forget to plug-in.  Also, they open the EV market to folks who cannot charge at home or work, including the millions of urban dwellers for whom an EV could be ideal.  No matter how big the battery, there are cases where access to a DC fast charger will be valuable. 

Well, it turns out there are two incompatible standards emerging for DC fast chargers.  There were some sessions in the Plug-in 2010 conference in San Jose this week that added clarity to these two alternatives.... read more

Plug-in 2010: Leaf Test Drive

I was fortunate enough to drive a real Leaf yesterday.  The dash provides a techie turn-on sequence when powered up.  As you can see in the below picture showing David Harron at the wheel, this vehicle included the optional navigation in the dash.  If you put it in a special ECO mode, then acceleration requires more throttle travel and the regenerative breaking is stronger.  But you can temporally override ECO just by tromping on the "gas".  You can see my knees in the back are not against the seat back, but I did notice that I could not tuck my feet under the front seat.... read more

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