Category Archives: Green News

Articles and photos that feature green environmental technology.

Electric Vehicle Concerns for Winter

[ad#Top of Post Left]The big push for electric vehicles or EV, has been targeted at large population centers.  Specifically in the US, where pollution, traffic, and even safety can be bettered if more people drove short distance electric vehicles.  However, as EV owners are finding out, there are more bumps in the road when driving an all electric commuter.

Most notably is the recent outcry by individuals who find that their electric vehicles distance capabilities are greatly decreased during the winter months.  Heating the cabin of a vehicle requires a lot of extra energy from the battery, energy that would normally be used to spin the tires to advertised lengths.  However, large population centers like New York and Chicago get quite cold during the winter, lowering the usability of green technology.

Some work has been put into redesigning EV cabins, to supposedly make them super insulated.  There are designs being tested right now that claim to be able to heat a cars cabin using only the passengers body heat.  Unfortunately, this isn’t being put to use right now and those frigid winters in the Windy City are mighty freightening in a tiny little electric car.

Consideration is also being given to electric vehicles that remain on a power grid, which would allow them to be preheated before the driver even gets in the car.  However, some doubts have been raised over any savings that would normally be made by driving an all electric vehicle during the colder months of the year.  Turns out that the  inefficient internal combustion motor is great at giving off heat and providing a toasty drive to work in January.

EV Stations In Houston

[ad#Top of Post Left]EV or electric vehicles are considered the future by many automotive industry experts.  This green technology has its limitations, one of which is it’s source of power, where it fills up or plugs in.  Up until now, the most common place to recharge your EV’s batteries would be at home.  The range limitation of an all electric vehicle limits the purchase opportunity to many long range commuters, so Houston is taking a step to provide other charging station solutions.

“I recognize that Houston is a car city,” she said. “But let’s make sure if you have a particular type of car you want to drive, and it’s an electric vehicle, let’s make sure it’s supported.”

Businesses are already jumping in and offering to support the cities initiative.  In addition to opening up carpool lanes, the city is working with businesses like Walgreens, Best Buy, and other markets to install these EV charging stations.  It’s named the NRG Network and already has plans to install these charge spots in 150 stations.

eVgo Charge Station

eVgo Charge Station

Other problems plague the EV chargers, such as the time it takes to fully charge the usual lithium-ion batteries.  Most of the stations Houston plans on installing will take up to 4 hours to fully charge your vehicle.  This doesn’t exactly lend itself to a quick run into Walgreens for some milk.  Only 50 of the 150 NRG network stations in Houston will be the quick-charge type, which will typically fully charge an EV battery in about 30 minutes.  This becomes a much more manageable time, which could be completed by the time you wait in line at a market and do your weekly shopping.

Taking further steps to support electric vehicles, the NRG Network in Houston has agreed to install the quick-charge stations in residences.  The cost seems relatively inexpensive, a 3 year $49 month agreement is all that is needed.

The new EV stations in Houston, branded as eVgo, are believed to be on the crest of a technological wave.  This wave carries the futures of efficient vehicles, losing our dependency on foreign oil, and many more environmental factors.  Lets hope that the Houston experiment catches on and other cities catch the wave soon.  If we get enough early adopters we can finally drive the price of an EV down and start seeing some real savings that will bring more people on board.

2012 Toyota RAV 4 EV Version

[ad#Top of Post Left]Toyota has announced and debuted their upcoming EV RAV 4 (electric vehicle), unfortunately not much is still known.  We do know that Toyota has been working closely with the electric vehicle brainiacs over at Tesla, the creators of the supercar EV.

The first difference to notice between the existing RAV 4 model lineup and the Tesla assisted built RAV 4 is the coming and going.  That is, the front bumper and rear gate look different than the gas powered versions available now.  Gone is the spare tower housing and the front bumper has received some updates that include LED fog lights.

Inside the 2012 RAV 4, the EV version will be developed almost entirely by Tesla.  The heart and soul of the current generation EV’s is the lithium-ion batteries, which Tesla has reportedly perfected.  Toyota is aiming for a 100 mile range thanks to Tesla’s electric vehicle technology.  Pretty big all electric range, decent space, but mini-van like styling.  Hopefully there won’t be any immediate recalls.

2012 Toyota RAV 4 EV (Electric Vehicle) Pictures:

Hyundai Reaches For Higher MPG

Never satisfied, Hyundai has announced that they will meet the 50 mpg mark as an average on their entire lineup of vehicles offered in the United States.  This commitment won’t come over night, but Hyudnai believes that the goal is reachable by 2025 and has thus pledged to hit 50 miles per gallon.  Keep in mind this is a model wide average, so we may see some ultra high efficiency models put out by Hyundai some time soon.

“Getting to 50 mpg and beyond seems like a huge leap, but by making this commitment and aligning our research and development initiatives now, we know we can get there,” John Krafcik, Hyundai Motor America president, said in a statement issued by Hyundai.

To achieve high mpg averages, Hyundai intends to capitalize on existing technologies and developing these efficient motors further.  In the press release, Hyundai felt that new technology was not required to hit the 50 mpg goal, rather just a refinement and improvement upon existing motors.  Even as far away as 2025, Hyundai feels that 75%-80% of transportation needs will be taken care of by a traditional internal combustion motor.

It should be noted that in 2008 Hyundai was the leader car maker in the US, in terms of mpg averages.  Although figures have yet to be released from 2009, Hyundai already reached 30.8 mpg.  This gap will easily be closed by a previous commitment to hit a 35 mpg average by 2015 and then on to the 50 mpg standard by 2025.

My favorite Hyundai vehicles:

2011 Hyundai Sonata

2010 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS SUV

Tesla Motors Testing Electric Car

No more laboratory research and development, the first Tesla electric sports car is out on the road currently being tested.  Hard to believe, but the car is actually being driven for a day by an individual, not involved with Tesla Motors.  Perry Hariri, which won the auction to drive the Tesla car for a day, won the auction off of a philanthropy auction site.  But what does this mean for the tentative release of the Tesla all electric sports car?

Dubbed the Model S, Tesla’s first offering is a sedan, which faces obstacles before actually making it to the assembly line.  For starters, the green car maker is facing environmental concerns with the plant it just purchased.  According to the state of California, Tesla is responsible for the previous owners ground contamination, which has been stalling more than it’s IPO.

“Because of their qualified success so far, Tesla has helped create this acceptance of the idea of a luxury electric vehicle,” he says. “Now the notion that electric vehicles actually do have a place in a range of transportation options is no longer a radical idea.”

Tesla Motors (TSLA) is currently selling for just $19.57, dropping low after a 52-week high of $30.42 per share.  Is the economy ready for a luxury all electric vehicle?  Tesla thinks so and is pushing forward to an early release of the Model S all electric sedan, yet just trying to juggle the responsibilities of producing thousands of cars a year.  Sounds like a good problem to have.