Wednesday, July 31, 2013

2014 Ford F-150 gets CNG option

Ford is toiling away, installing heavy-duty engine components into select 3.7-liter V6s to allow them to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in addition to gasoline. That's nothing new, but now, Ford has announced that it will offer the 2014 F-150 with this engine configuration, bringing the Blue Oval's total number of CNG/LPG-friendly vehicles up to eight. The F-150 will be the only half-ton pickup on the market that can run on these gases.

Ford will charge $315 per vehicle to equip the optional engine, but the trucks won't be ready to run on the alternative fuels straight from the factory and must be upfitted with additional equipment. A Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier will install a separate fuel system for the compressed gases at a cost of $7,500 to $9,500, depending on fuel tank size. With the right-size tank, the F-150 equipped with the CNG/LPG-prepped engine can go 750 miles on one tank of gas, according to Ford, averaging 23 miles per gallon.

The practice of offering flex-fuel vehicles is gaining momentum as businesses take advantage of cheap gas. CNG can be bought for $2.11/gallon on average (per gasoline equivalent), and sometimes for as little as $1.00 in some parts of the US, Ford states. "With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months," says Jon Coleman, Ford's fleet sustainability and technology manager. The automaker expects to sell a total of 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in the 2014 model year.

Check out the press release below to read the details, and to see what other vehicles Ford offers with the CNG/LPG package.
Show full PR text
News Source: Ford

Evans Electric’s In-Wheel Motors Debut On Mitsubishi Evo


In-wheel electric motors are supposed to be a major turning point for electric motors, boosting efficiency, performance, and handling while lowering the curb weight. Australia’s Evans Electrics recently rolled out a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution equipped with four of their in-wheel electric motors, boasting a peak output of more than 3,600 ft-lbs of torque.


That is, of course, peak output; the nominal output of each wheel-mounted motor is 460 ft-lbs of torque, and about 100 horsepower, meaning some serious acceleration from this former gas-burner. The Evans Electric Evo hasn’t hit the track yet, though the company is promising that within the next few months we’ll get to see what all the hubbub is about.
Evans Electric has been hard at work for six years on their in-wheel electric motor, so they really better bring the wow factor, as it were. Other companies like competitor Protean are slated to begin production of their in-wheel electric motors in 2014, and have already displayed working prototypes on performance Mercedes tuned by Brabus.
But with 400 horsepower, and over 1,700 ft-lbs of torque on tap, this electric Evo could really turn some heads in the EV and performance world. Because it doesn’t need axles or a gearbox, it is lighter than a typical electric car, and each wheel can be controlled independently for tighter turned, better stopping, and superior acceleration that conventional cars can’t even imagine. The potential is huge, and the people have been patient, so here is hoping Evans Electric can deliver.

 Source: Evans Electrics via Autoblog Green

Acura NSX Teased In New Vine, Instagram Videos - VIDEO


The return of the Acura NSX as a hybrid supercar is being hailed by Honda and hybrid fans alike as the second-coming of an automotive deity, and with good reason. Speed, agility, and efficiency are at the heart of the new Acura NSX, which will be built right here in America, and Acura has seen fit to tease fans with a short teaser video from the Vine app, as well as the first official prototype photos.
While its official debut remains set for 2015, Acura will roll out a pre-production model for gawkers ahead of the IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio next month. The direct injection V6 engine will be paired with three electric motors, one integrated into the motor and two driving the front wheels, and while power figures have not been divulged, I doubt any of us will be disappoitned.
As much as we want the NSX on the road now though, it still has a while before it will enter production, as 2015 is the goal date for production and pricing will be aimed for between $120,000 and $200,000. So for most of us, this teaser video or shots from auto shows are as close as we’ll come to the real thing.
But that sound, isn’t it just wonderful?

Source: Acura

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fiat 500e $199 lease deal sounds great, is nearly impossible to get

Recently, we've been hearing from readers that the much-hyped "$199 lease price" for the fun little Fiat 500eall-electric vehicle is one big tease. Readers who have tried to go and actually get a 500e for that price have discovered some eye-catching pricing increases. For example, reader Trent wrote that:
I was very excited that my 500e arrived at my dealer ... but that quickly turned to disappointment and anger when the dealer placed the lease papers in front of me. Months ago I put a deposit on the base model (orange on white with no sunroof or sport package) and asked for the $199 lease but the dealer said it was $263.50! Adding tax to the $199 lease gets it to $216.16 but this was $47.34 higher. I took issue with this and the dealer used their usual misleading monthly payment language 'it's only $47 more' to which I replied but that's an outrageous 22 percent increase – that's the same as jacking the price of the car from $33,000 to $40,000!

"The $199 price is a lie and false advertising" - 500e customer Trent
If you look at the fine print on the official Fiat deal, it does say that the $199 price "requires dealer contribution." Trent continued, "Of course they refused to make that contribution saying that 'the car is sold out and I have a waiting list, so you want it or not?' I'm pretty sure that no dealers are 'contributing' so no one can get the $199 price so it is a lie and false advertising."

Of course, we have no way of knowing if this story is true, but things seem to check out. Trent let other 500e owners and fans know about the situation and it appears there are plenty of others with similar tales. According to Lease Guide, A "dealer contribution" means that "the dealer give[s] up some (or most) of their potential profit to help promote sales and move cars off the sales lot." Ariel Gavilan, Fiat North America's head of communications, told AutoblogGreen that he does not know how much the dealer contribution to get the 500e lease down to $199 a month would be, just that Fiat sets the MSRP and then dealers are free to set their own price. In the case of the 500e, Gavilan admitted that "demand is incredible."

There is a chance that this imbalance will be fixed in the future. While not committing to anything, Gavilan did confirm to AutoblogGreen that increasing supply is "something we might eventually consider," and that he wouldn't be surprised if it's going on now.

*UPDATE: Plug In Cars has some more information, including that Fiat is offering dealers $1,500 for each 500e they sell, and that the $199 lease price point requires the dealer to pass this money along to the buyer.
News Source: Fiat, Fiat 500 Owners Forum

Mazda6 Diesel Is The First Diesel Car To Win In Indy


The Mazda6 Diesel race car is on a mission, and that mission is to win races and spread awareness of Mazda’s new 2.2 liter SkyActiv-D turbodiesel motor. With yesterday’s victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Mazda6 Diesel raced its way into the history books as the first diesel-powered car to win a race at Indy.
The Mazda6 Diesel won the alt-fuel friendly GX Class in the Grand-Am series at the Brickyard 400, which is admittedly small with just 3 entrants; two Mazda Diesels and a Porsche Cayman S. Nonetheless, a diesel race car has not finished in the top 3 since 1952, when the Cummins Diesel Special took the pole (but not the checkered flag). For a track with such a long and illustrious history, this is definitely a major milestone.
And it couldn’t come at a better time quite frankly. Americans are increasingly turning to diesel-powered cars in larger numbers thanks to major improvements in fuel economy and performance. The 46 mpg Chevy Cruze Diesel marks GM’s return to the diesel market for the first time in decade, and Chrysler is rolling out a 3.6 liter diesel V6 for its SUVs and pickups.
While not on sale yet, the Mazda6 Diesel will have plenty to brag about, with 5 class wins since its disappointing Daytona debut, and the market for oil-burners frankly couldn’t be better right now. Things are looking great for one of the most anticipated diesel sedans in memory.

Source: Gas2.0

Aviat Flies World’s First CNG Airplane at Oshkosh 2013

propane cng airplane

Avgas costs nearly $6 per gallon these days, and the lead-enriched petroleum-based fuel is highly, highly toxic. So, why not build a plane that runs on low-emission, high-octane CNG? Aviat has done just that, and they’ve released their new, clean-burning aircraft at the Oshkosh 2013 aviation show!
The Aviat Husky A-1C shown here (called “America’s favorite taildragger”, by AviationWeek) has been fitted with a single Type IV fuel cylinder from Hexagon Lincoln. The aircraft’s 200 hp, four-cylinder Lycoming aircraft has been modified with a 10:1 compression ratio in order to run well on either compressed natural gas or avgas at “the flip of a switch”, much like the bi-fuel cars Chris covered last month.
“Among the many advantage of using CNG are fuel cost savings, cleaner burning fuel and no lead emissions,” says Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America and one of the people behind the Aviat’s Oshkosh unveiling. “I’m impressed with how Aviat readily agreed to tackle this project, working with a team of engineers and craftsmen within the aviation and natural gas industries. One aspect we’re particularly excited about is the opportunity to dramatically reduce the cost of learning to fly,” Herrick says. “If a flight school installs a simple CNG refueling station it can cut the cost for the student’s fuel, perhaps by thousands of dollars. And the fuel is available where ever there is a natural gas line. If a training plane uses 10 gallons per hour, the cost of fuel alone could be reduced by $40 to $60 per hour.”
In addition to the cost-savings, the 138-octane equivalent CNG fuel has some other advantages. “Performance and ease of operations have exceeded our expectations,” notes Herrick. “This is a remarkable proof-of-concept airplane.”
Better performance, lower cost, improved safety, and reduced emissions make switching to CNG a no-brainer, and 3M is getting set to put the CNG aviation tanks into mass production later this year. So, expect to see more CNG fueled planes at next year’s Oshkosh – and don’t forget to remind your idiot neighbor that putting Avgas in his car won’t make it go faster, it will just cost him more money and give him permanent brain damage.

Source | Photos: Aviat, via AviationWeek.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Turn Your Bike into an Electric Bicycle in SECONDS - VIDEO

Rubbee electric bicycle

The number of American bicycle commuters is skyrocketing, with more and more Americans turning to bikes as cleaner, cheaper, and healthier alternatives to cars. Somewhat inspired by bikes like the Estonian Viks, Specialized Langster, and all the cool and trendy bicycle commuters surrounding me in Chicago, I recently picked up my own overly-hipsterish “fixie”. I (like many over-30s, I tell myself) soon discovered that this was a terrible mistake, because I am fat and lazy. What I really should have bought was an electric bicycle (or, better yet, a Honda Grom), but now I have this thing. If only there was a way to convert this slick fixie into an equally slick-looking electric bike!
Oh, wait – there is. It’s called the Rubbee, and it works by quickly attaching itself to your bike’s seat post with a spinning plastic wheel that “rubs” against your bicycle’s back tire, propelling you forward. It’s not quite as effective or efficient as a hub motor, but at just about $1000 (699 British Pounds) it’squite a bit cheaper than the Pope’s new Smart Pope-cycle. Add an easy-to-carry handle that makes carrying the Rubbee a breeze, and you might even make a case for using it as an add-on for rental bikes (or as a premium, vending-machine style add-on).
You can get a better sense of what a Rubbee “electric bicycle” looks like in the video, below – and let us know what you think about this seemingly well-made new product in the comments, below. Enjoy!

Source | PhotosTechvehi.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Introducing the Toyota Winglet Personal Transport Assistant

We cannot imagine this Segway-like personal transporter from Toyota amounting to anything, but one never knows.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

UPS sets 2017 goal of 1 billion alternative fuel miles

UPS released its annual Sustainability Report announcing that while the total number of packages shipped in 2012 increased, the company reduced its total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Environmental achievements included ground and air fuel savings, increased investments in alternative fuel vehicles, and retooled routes that shaved 12.1 million miles from ground deliveries.
UPS also set a new alternative fuel goal of one billion cumulative miles (from a baseline of the year 2000) driven by alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles by 2017, said David Abney, UPS Chief Operating Officer—more than double the previous goal of 400 million miles. Through the end of 2012, UPS has logged 295 million cumulative alternative fuel miles.
UPS tracks the carbon intensity for ground transportation in the US Domestic Package segment—its largest segment by volume—by ground packages per gallon of fuel. Fuel consumption includes delivery vehicles; feeder vehicles that travel between distribution hubs; and third-party transportation used for transportation by rail and for package delivery (including the US Postal Service, which handles a small percentage of UPS package volume).
In 2012, UPS increased the number of ground packages per gallon of fuel to 8.85 (its fourth straight year of increase). While package volume rose 2.7% for the segment in 2012, fuel consumption rose only 0.3%.
One of the cornerstones of UPS’ environmental strategy is to support the development and use of lower-emission alternative fuels. Vehicles represent approximately 35% of UPS’ carbon footprint; accordingly the company is accelerating its testing, purchase and deployment of new-generation vehicles. Between 2000 and the end of 2012, the alternative fuel/advanced technology fleet has logged 295 million miles; in 2012, this growing fleet drove 49 million miles, a 43% increase compared to 2011.
In 2012, UPS helped launch a working group managed by BSR to advance the development of alternative fuels. Participants include academics, corporations, NGOs, and environmentalists. The first result of the process is a publicly available report entitled The Sustainability Impact of Fuels, which focuses on understanding the total sustainability impacts of commercial transportation fuels, including full lifecycle analysis.
Earlier this year, UPS announced plans to add nearly 1,000 liquefied natural gas (LNG) tractors in the next two years, expanding its current fleet of 2,700 alternative fuel and technologically advanced vehicles. The fleet today includes all-electric, electric hybrids, hydraulic hybrids, natural gas (LNG, compressed natural gas), propane, biomethane, and light-weight fuel-saving composite body vehicles.
The new Sustainability Report also cites the greenhouse gas reductions, fuel savings and miles avoided through the innovative use of technology. For example, UPS’ proprietary telematics system gathers data on more than 200 performance variables for vehicles and drivers, to help reduce the miles driven per package handled. Telematics data fed through vehicle sensors helped UPS cut more than 206 million minutes of engine idling time last year, saving more than 1.5 million gallons of fuel. Routing technology increased pickup and delivery stops per mile, saving 12.1 million miles of driving which equates to approximately 1.3 million gallons of fuel.
UPS had 2,688 alternative fuel/advanced technology vehicles in operation in ten countries at the end of 2012.
Also notable: UPS Airlines, which represents 57% of UPS’ carbon footprint, reduced its fuel use and carbon production. Air shipping volume rose 4.8% year over year, while fuel use dropped 1.3%.
The primary metric for the carbon intensity of UPS Airlines is CO2 pounds emitted per available ton mile (CO2 lbs/ATM), using nautical miles. An available ton mile is a unit that combines cargo weight and distance carried. The company’s long-term goal for this metric is a 20% reduction from the 2005 baseline. (This represents a 42% reduction from 1990.)
In 2010, UPS Airlines carbon intensity was 1.39 CO2 lbs/ATM; this increased to 1.41 in 2011, and was back down to 1.40 in 2012. Results for both 2011 and 2012 were strongly affected by the loss of a 747-400 cargo aircraft due to fire in the third quarter of 2010. This event has had a ripple effect, UPS explained, requiring it to reroute numerous other aircraft around the world in order to meet customer commitments. Other aircraft do not offer the emissions efficiency of the 747- 400, and the lost aircraft has not been replaced. UPS is planning to retrofit its 767 fleet with winglets this year and next to help offset the impact.
Other highlights of the 2012 report include:
  • Reduction in the absolute amount of global greenhouse gas emissions from operations and purchased energy of 2.1% compared to 2011.
  • Rapid expansion of UPS’ dedicated global healthcare infrastructure to more than 6 million square feet (0.557 million m2).
  • A Global Forestry Initiative to plant more than 1 million trees by the end of 2013.
  • Humanitarian relief efforts in 35 countries, with related in-kind donations valued at US$2.6 million.
  • Total charitable contributions and United Way donations of US$97.5 million, up from 2011 by US$4 million.
  • 1.8 million volunteer hours donated by UPS employees, friends and families, a new record
For the second year in a row, UPS earned superior credentials for reporting transparency: A Sustainability Report that fulfills the Global Reporting Initiative’s requirements for an A+ level as well as third-party assurance of its report and greenhouse gas data from Deloitte & Touche LLP. Less than 20% of all GRI Sustainability Reports are A+.

Source: Green Car Congress

Prius V Fighting Chevy Orlando Hybrid is Taking Shape

Chevy Hybrid

The Chevy Orlando is a compact people-mover that GM sells all over the world – but not in the US, where the small, well-built tiny van market was defined (and, some might say, totally satisfied) by the Mazda 5. In recent years, however, Toyota’s Prius VFord’s C-Max, and rumored similar vehicles coming form Nissan and Honda have shown that America might be catching up with Europe when it comes to tiny people movers. Here’s the thing, though: with the exception of the Mazda 5, all of those people-movers are hybrids.
So, what do we have here, really? According to Autoblog, it’s a Chevy Orlando hybrid (possibly a plug-in hybrid) that, they say, had an interior littered with hybrid components and testing gear. Then of course, there’s this …

Chevy Hybrid

… which seems a pretty clear “hybrid indicator” to me!
You can read more about the upcoming Chevy Orlando hybrid and check out a full photo gallery over at Autoblog, where the original article was published. Enjoy!

Source | PhotosAutoblog.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Volkswagen GTD ads drive home the power of diesel

The flurry of Mk VII Golf GTD television ads by Volkswagen, which range from funny to hilarious, just make us want one that much more. The focus of these 30-second commercials is on the torque-rich performance of the hatchback's turbocharged 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine, which has a stump-thumping 280 pound-feet of torque on hand. That's enough torque for some harmless mischief, if you're to believe the commercials, and, paired with 184 horsepower, enough for the oil-burning Golf performance model to go from 0-62 miles per hour in about 7.5 seconds.

Volkswagen's performance-first approach in its ads for the economical GTD is refreshing, and it reminds us of another commercial from Chevrolet. Do we see a trend starting here?

The saddest part is that we will likely have to wait a couple more years before the GTD arrives on our shores as a 2016 model, slotted between the petrol-powered GTI and the king of VW hatchbacks, the Golf R. Until then, scroll down and enjoy these amusing commercials.

Source: Autoblog

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Quick Drive: 2014 Ford Fiesta And Ford Fusion Energi


Last month I attended the Ford 2014 Model Year, where I felt very out of place with colleagues (can you call them colleagues if you don’t get paid?) from the big car publications and also felt quite at home with my cronies from Internet obscurity. But I was there to drive some cars and give some impressions, and that is what I plan to do.
We all dabbled in the Escape, Explorer, and the F-150’s, but I was there for the Fiesta.  I’ve stated it a number of times on my website hat I have a soft spot for small hatchbacks, and the Fiesta fits right in.  I was excited to head to Dearborn to possibly drive the Fiesta 1.0L 3 cylinder EcoBoost or the Fiesta ST, as both models should be available in the US coming later in 2013.  Sadly, neither was available for us to drive. I cried a little into my coffee, but I was able to pull myself together and enjoy some autocross and a nice cruise in the 2014 Fiesta.
The 2014 Fiesta is powered by the 1.6L 4 cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower and 112 ft-lbs. of torque at 5,000rpms.  This is the reason that I began to find things I liked about the Fiesta as I kept the revs up high.
The Fiesta does come standard with a 5 speed manual transmission, which I liked a lot.  The clutch was light and the gear shifter felt solid.  You can start from a standstill in 2nd gear, but I do not recommend doing this unless you want the elderly to pass you on their mobility scooters.


There is also an optional PowerShift 6 speed automatic transmission.  I only drove the Powershift on the autocross, which meant that it shifted to second and that was about it.  It might have gone back down to first a couple of times, but I didn’t really notice.  I was having too much fun driving a slow car fast!
The ride in the Fiesta is pretty good for an economy hatchback.  I was able to take the Fiesta out onto the mean streets of Dearborn for a roundtrip of 17 miles.  I kept examining the road surface to make sure that I WAS hitting the bumps and not just driving on the most pristine road ever.  There were plenty of potholes, gaps, crevices, and quagmires (what?!?!).  Ok, not really quagmires, but the road was still recovering from the previous winter.  The Fiesta handled all the different surfaces fairly well.  The ride is something that always stands out for me in an economy hatch and the Fiesta passes.
The backseat of the Fiesta is not huge.  The rear legroom is listed at 31.2 inches, more than enough room for two full size child safety seats.   You also can get two rear doors in the Fiesta.  I like the look of the four-door hatch to that of the sedan or two-door coupe.
The Fiesta handles very well.  I thrashed the little red SE 5 speed manual around the autocross course a number of times.  There was wheel spin, tires screaming, body rotation, and some damp underpants.  The last one isn’t true…
On turn in, the Fiesta snaps to the corner.  I was pleasantly surprised by how readily the back end rotates through the corner.  Normally I’m used to big power rear wheel drive cars having the back end step out to help rotate through the corner.  The Fiesta does it as well, even though it’s a small front wheel drive hatchback.  This is a very good characteristic to have, especially when we start talking about the Fiesta ST.


The ST was there, but we weren’t allowed to drive it.  It was the four door hatch, which is the style we will get in the States.  Europe gets the two-door.  I personally like the four-door better, but there are a lot that like the two-door better.  I’ve got kids and I see four doors as essential to me keeping my sanity, so I’m assuming my subconscious has told me that I think the four-door is the more attractive car.
The ST has a robust powertrain for such a small car.  It gets the 1.6L EcoBoost which makes 197 horsepower and 202 ft-lbs. or torque.  If it’s anything as good as the Focus St (and it should be), then this is going to be a great car.  The kind of car that I’m definitely going to try and get some wheel time in.
I’m still looking forward to the 1.0L Ecoboost. I’m still a little sad it wasn’t there to drive.  It’s such a good little engine.   It’s won the International Engine of the Year the last two years.  Plus Ford is going to put it in their European Mondeo’s.  That’s a three cylinder engine in a mid-sized sedan.  Sounds sketch but if there’s an engine that can do it; it’s the 1.0L EcoBoost.
I also spent some time with the Fusion Energi.  This was the most relaxing part of the day.  Ford had us compete on their low speed test track to see who could save the most energy while regenerative braking and also who used the least amount of energy total while driving and while braking.  They called them the “Kinetic Ninja” and the “Zen Master.”  The graph from all of our scores had to look kind of boring.  Everybody drove the same at the same low speed.  My vehicle had almost all 100% scores for our regenerative braking.  I let us down a couple of times.  We didn’t win…

Ford Fusion Hybrid 1

The Fusion Energi is a plug-in hybrid.  On full EV (Electric Vehicle) mode you can go 22 miles.  The cost to recharge the battery at the nation’s lowest average rate is $0.80, but it takes 7 hours at 120 volts.
Once you’re done with your 22 miles of EV range, then the Fusion has a 2.0L four cylinder engine that kicks in.  It makes decent power at 141 horsepower and 129 ft. lbs. of torque.  The total system (electric + gas engine) combines for 188 hp of sustained power.
Ford has said that the Fusion has a 600 mile range on the engine.  That’s the whole 14 gallon fuel tank achieving a combined number of 43mpg.  The city number for the Energi is higher (44mpg) than the highway number (41mpg).  600 miles is a long way between fill-ups, especially at $4 a gallon.  At that point the fuel is outlasting the bladders in the backseat.  That’s the nice thing about having kids; I can blame their little bladders and not the fact that I would have to pee before I was able to drive 600 miles.
I liked the Energi and had a nice relaxing time in the car.  Ford has so many different options for fuel saving and they build almost all of them down the same assembly line.  Whether you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid, a hybrid, or an EcoBoost motor, they know they’ve got at least one option for you!
Thank you to Ford for letting me thrash their Fiestas and I had a lovely time relaxing in the Fusion Energi.  Can’t wait to see the Fiesta ST and 1.0L EcoBoost engine here in the States!

Source: Gas2.0

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Best Wooden Car You Can Buy is Still a Morgan - VIDEO


If you’re looking for an ultra-lightweight, low-emissions car that looks like a million bucks, goes like stink, and is made almost entirely of renewable and recycled materials in a low-energy, low-emissions factory then you, dear friend, are shopping for a Morgan. A few weeks ago, I made a comment that boiled down to “if you have the means, buy a Morgan“, and the video, below, spends about 20 minutes backing me up.
What’s in the video? I’m glad you asked!
Keep your eyes and ears peeled and watch out for references to Morgan’s fuel-cell concept car, being developed in conjunction with BMW. Pay attention when they mention that, because of the low load that Morgan’s lightweight wood and aluminum chassis place on the engines, they can run older V8s and still meet the most stringent fuel-efficiency standards. Make a note of Morgan’s leadership in aerospace materials and alternative fuel technologies, anddefinitely pay attention to the way Charles Morgan talks about wanting to build a wooden car that can be “kept going”, and be passed on from generation to generation. And don’t forget Morgan’s use of ash wood in his cars’ frames! Morgan says wood gives his cars unique strength, flexibility and (according to research) makes the cars safer in crash tests!
Neat stuff.
So, here is a fantastic, 20-ish minute production from Drive’s Matt Farah that gives viewers a remarkably in-depth look at how Morgan’s wooden cars are built, and what makes the cars – and the company! – truly special. The wood part starts at about 5:40 in. Enjoy!

Source | Photos: Morgan, via Drive.

The Mercedes-Benz Electric Golf Cart of THE FUTURE


If you want to see a whole mess of electric vehicles in one place, you have to go no further than your local golf course. For decades electric golf carts have been utilized by courses across the country, and automaker Mercedes-Benz just revealed their concept for the electric golf cart of the future. Cue the dramatic drum roll please.
What makes this concept so cool is that it could hint at things to come from the German automaker for actual production vehicles. Or not. Either way it’s still really cool to look at, with its sleek body, joystick steering wheel, and four wheel-mounted electric motors. It also includes turn signals, air conditioning, and headlights, allowing it to (conceptually speaking) drive on public roads.


While just a concept, Mercedes may want to take a harder look at making it a real production model. Europe’s best-selling electric car right now is the Renault Twizy, a low-speed EV with an open-door design not unlike the Mercedes golf cart. While the Renault is very bare-bones, Mercedes could offer more luxury features, while still keeping the price low enough to make it appealing to city dwellers.
Really though, I just think it looks a lot cooler than the crummy golf carts most courses use. This would be a big upgrade for many golfers, that’s for sure.

Source: LeftLane News

The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid SEL


 The 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid is the first hybrid that I have spent a significant amount of time with.  My other experiences are an hour with a Prius and 3 laps of a test track in a Focus Electric.  I liked the Focus Electric and was underwhelmed with the Prius, but the C-Max has opened my eyes to hybrids!  I learned a lot about myself, my driving style, and what it means to be a hybrid driver slow.
The C-Max is not a big vehicle.  I would call it a compact hatchback, but Ford calls it a wagon.  The driver’s seat is comfortable, but the driver’s legs are trapped from either side by the center console and the door; both hard plastic.
There is adjustable interior lighting on the door handles, foot wells, and in the backseat foot wells.  My boys didn’t notice that I kept changing the color. Green was the best choice.  I like green and it felt appropriate as I was driving a “green” vehicle.
The backseat is spacious enough to fit two full size child seats comfortably.  There is not enough room for an adult to sit between the seats though.  Not an American adult anyway, maybe a small European lady, but then you have to explain to your wife why you have a small European lady in the back seat. *awkward*


The trunk is spacious.  There is a three inch lip that sticks up at the bottom of the rear hatch. It does so because that’s where the battery is located.  If you just try to slide in your load, then it will run into the lip and you and your friend will have to heave it up to finish loading.  The good news is that the rear cargo area is not that big so hopefully your load isn’t that heavy.  There isn’t any really bad news just that you might have to use a little more muscle, and that’s good for all of us.


It looks great, but from the side it has an old school Prius vibe.  The tallest point of the car is located above the front row of seats.  Yes, I just compared it to the lackluster styling of the Prius…  But there are some redeeming factors.
The grill is exquisite.  It is very similar to the Fusion, the Focus, and the updated 2014 Fiesta.  I really like this grill and can’t wait to drive the Fusion for a week in April.  The grill on the C-Max also as the hints of Aston Martin design like the other Ford models, and I love it.


The wheels on the C-Max seem like they have one thousand spokes.  I would prefer five to nine, but the SEL trim line comes with 15 spoke wheels.


This car has a number of different display options.  Each has its own emphasis that will help you save the mpgs.  The one that I used the most was the graph that showed the mpgs over the last 30 minutes.  If all the bar graphs are above the average, then the average is increasing.  It gets difficult to keep all of the graphs above the average line because eventually you’re getting really good numbers.
On the instrument cluster you can select a screen that adds or subtracts leaves based on your driving style.  If you’re hard on it, you’re also hard on the environment and the leaves float away.  If you’re being eco-conscious and gentle, you can create a small forest on the instrument cluster.
The C-Max had the My Ford Touch infotainment system as an option.  This system has been much maligned by auto journalist across the board.  It’s not that bad.  There are other systems that I prefer, like Audi’s, but the My Ford Touch is usable.


The “Sweep the leg, Johnny” trunk package was included on this C-Max.  I should find out what the real name of the package is, probably the tech package, but it’s just too much fun to make a Karate Kid reference.  I find the leg kick opening useful and convenient.  Sometimes tech options are on the vehicle because someone thought of them and the manufacturers says, “We can sell that.”  This option is actually handy and useful.
I took the C-Max with me on a school trip.  I loaded the back with a number of important Science projects that my kids had spent hours working to prepare.  The C-Max fit five in the rear hatch.  The kick to open feature was very helpful because we were always approaching the car with our hands full.  The kids were underwhelmed, but they’ve only known a world full of technology.
There are three power outlets in the C-Max.  There is a 12-Volt outlet on the front console near the buttons that control the rear hatch and another 12-Volt in the center console.  The second one is located next to the USB adaptor in the console.  I used the one in the armrest to power my boys’ after-market DVD players.


There is also an actual electrical outlet on the back of the console in the rear footwell.  Ford has been installing these on the last three cars I’ve tested for them.  The outlet comes in handy when you’re camera equipment isn’t fully charged on the way to a shoot.
When you turn the C-Max off, a trip summary comes up on the left information screen on the gauge cluster.  It tells you the stats from your last drive and the stats for the whole life of the car.  It also breaks down how many miles you just completed in EV mode and also what percentage of your regenerative braking was put back onto the battery.  Fun stuff.
I really like the way the C-Max drives.  I had to get used to driving with less of a lead foot.  If you apply too much pressure to the accelerator, the car ignores the electric motor and jumps right over to the gas engine.    When I was able to exercise some restraint, the electric motor would smoothly accelerate the vehicle up to an average of 30 to 35mph before the gas engine would kick on.
When the gas motor would engage the transition was seamless.  The first two times out in the C-Max I didn’t really notice the transition between the two motors.  Eventually I could sense the vibrations from the engine and would actually get irritated when it would kick on.  I wanted higher mpgs!


I didn’t make many driving friends in town during my time with this car.  To stay on the electric motor you have to be light on the accelerator.  During rush hour this meant slowly accelerating up to the speed limit.  I was a glacier off the line.  But my mpg’s improved throughout the week.
The sticker lists the C-Max at 47 city and 47 highway miles per gallon.  On the bone-chilling cold days of last week it was difficult and took some very conservative driving to get the C-Max up to 40 in the city.  I did take an 80 mile drive averaging 60mph on the highway and I averaged 49.4 mpg over that trip.  Not bad, but I still had to hyper-mile the C-Max to get this performance out of it.
Averaging 47 city and 47 highway means that the C-Max has a constant range of 634 total miles on a 13.5 gallon fuel tank.  I would be filling up every two weeks instead of once a week.  I would also only be purchasing 12 to 13 gallons of fuel instead of the 26 to 28 gallons I usually buy for the Denali.  If gas is $3.50 a gallon, then I’m usually spending $98 at the end of each week for a monthly total of $392.  Doing the same math for the C-Max, but only filling up twice because of the 600 mile range means the cost of fuel for the C-Max for the same month is only $91 or less than one tank for the V8 Denali.


The hybrid starts at $25,000 which makes my payment almost a reality.  To option the C-Max up to the SEL version I tested would make the price closer to $31,210…  A base SEL is $28,200 and the Equipment Group 302A package includes the Premium Audio & Navigation Package (My Ford Touch), the Hands-Free Technology Package, Power Liftgate, Rear View Camera, and Keyless Entry/Start/Tailgate for $2,215.  Some pricey options.
Too make the C-Max a financially responsible car for my family my payment would have to be less than $301 a month.  With a $5,000 trade-in and $1,000 down out of pocket; the payment calculator sets my payment for an SEL (optioned the same as the tester) at $461 for 60 months (5 years…).  Even a base C-Max with no options and the same trade-in value & down payment has the payment at still $368 for 5 years.  There is no C-Max that would save me money for the first five years.  That’s because my Denali is paid off.


I love our planet!  I want it to be here at least till we find another one close enough to cultivate for human existence.  I would be willing to trade-in my Denali someday, but not yet.  I love the C-Max and actually miss it at times.  I like paying attention to my driving style and the C-Max really helps you do that.  I wanted to keep it in EV mode and off the gas engine.  I bet in nicer weather I could really get those mpg numbers up there.  If the C-Max makes financial sense for you, then it’s definitely a hybrid to test drive.  I really do miss it.
Thank you to Ford for providing the C-Max.  It really is a fun  and useful hybrid.
Engine: 2.0L 4 cylinder + Electric motor = 183 horsepower
Transmission: 6 Speed CVT
Wheelbase: 104.3 in
Curb Weight: 3,607 lbs.
MPG Rating: 47 city/ 47 hwy