As we told you last September, BMW has been kicking around the idea of a fourth brand (in addition to MINI, Rolls Royce, and BMW) for a while. This week it emerges that this new addition to the Bimmer family lineup may be a dedicated "green" line of vehicles focused on high fuel economy and lower emissions. If so, the strategy would certainly make sense as it will enable BMW to meet tough environmental requirements without sacrificing too much of its performance-related DNA. BMW is one of a number of premium European brands likely to suffer most at … Read more
It's sort of like an organ transplant for cars.
Transonic Combustion, which has been relatively secretive until now, has created a fuel injection system that will let diesel engines run on regular gasoline. Diesel engines get better mileage than regular gas engines, explained CEO Mike Cheiky in an interview. However, diesels typically emit more particulates. Gas is also far more readily available than diesel in the U.S. Insert Transonic's components into a diesel engine and you get the best of both worlds.
Additionally, the company's fuel injection system dramatically increases the internal compression in an engine, … Read more
The biodiesel industry in Germany is nearing a state of collapse because of a tax increase that kicked in at the first of the year, according to a report on Reuters.
Biodiesel refiners in Germany are only producing at 10 percent capacity, according to the Reuters story from a European biodiesel conference. That's down from 20 percent the year before. Because of the downturn, some biodiesel manufacturers are taking apart their factories and selling the equipment to manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada.
The problem? Like solar energy, biofuels still largely depend upon government support and subsidies. Biodiesel … Read more
With green issues dominating the headlines at this week's Detroit auto show, you may find yourself wondering how much it costs to assuage the gas-guzzling guilt you feel when picking up your next rental car. The convenient answer is $1.25 (plus applicable taxes). That is the price at which Enterprise, National, and Alamo are selling carbon offsets to their customers in a carbon-offset program launching today. According to the companies, the $1.25 offset charge represents the cost of offsetting the CO2 impact of the average rental vehicle operating in the company's fleet. TerraPass, the company responsible … Read more
Fisker Automotive formally unveiled its upscale hybrid car today and said it has received an infusion of cash from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
The investment is believed to be the first direct investment by Kleiner Perkins into an alternative car company. (Rumors swirled that the company invested in Phoenix Motorcars, but it was never confirmed, and Phoenix subsequently had delays). Fisker did not officially release the amount of the investment but Kleiner partner Ray Lane told the Wall Street Journal that the investment exceeds $10 million.
The company is founded by noted automotive designer Henrik Fisker. He came up … Read more
Can these guys ever stay out of the news?
Tesla Motors is wrapping up a $40 million round of funding and will then seek another one on top of that in a few months, according to an interview with CEO Ze'ev Drori in VentureWire (subscription required).
Tesla has already raised more than $100 million. The money was largely used to develop the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car coming out later this year, and build out the company's facilities. Car factories cost a lot. The onerous capital requirements, along with the long development time, are two of the … Read more
Porsche announced today that it's developing a hybrid version of the Panamera, a four-door GT car that will debut in a traditional combustion engine version in 2009.
The hybrid system will use a combustion engine, plus an electric motor and an additional clutch, along with a battery pack to store power. The system can switch between the combustion and electric motor, or combine power from both, depending on driving conditions. And although we haven't seen specific technical data yet, this system sounds strikingly similar to GM's "two-mode" hybrid system, which can yield anywhere from zero … Read more
When we first spied the "Mini Solar Racer" last summer, it seemed like a neat little toy that would make a nice novelty gift for our greener acquaintances. Little did we know that it could be a miniature prototype for an actual car.
That, at least, appeared to be the case with the equally unattractive Taiwanese solar-powered car that Gizmodo rightly likens to a golf cart. Even if it does make good on its claims of reaching 44 mph during three-hour jaunts between charges, something tells us that this design won't have droves of customers jamming showrooms. … Read more
In order to get its electric sports car to owners sooner, Tesla Motors plans to deliver cars with a temporary transmission that falls short of its originally promised performance.
The news was distributed to the wide world on Thursday in a blog post from Ze'ev Drori, Tesla's new president and CEO.
The post is a reprint of a letter that was sent to Tesla purchasers on December 21, as a follow-up to a town hall meeting for Tesla owners that took place on December 12. About 100 people, including those who called in, participated in the meeting, according … Read more
Consumers won't pay more for cars that would meet new, stricter emissions standards.
That was the message sent last week by Susan Docherty, Western Region general manager of General Motors, as a handful of automotive journalists (including yours truly) sat scattered at a very large table in a private room in the back of one of Santa Monica's poshest hotel restaurants during a GM-sponsored holiday dinner.