With not quite 50 horsepower at the wheels, the original Volkswagen Rabbit diesel couldn't hit 125 miles per hour from the barrel of a circus cannon. Yet here we are in the 2010 Golf TDI, outgunning the locals (at least some of them) on a stretch of autobahn near the company's Wolfsburg headquarters. Not since I found my stash of Kiss solo albums in the attic has 1978 felt so long ago.
Volkswagen's on-again-off-again production of diesels for the US in the ensuing three decades entered a new "on" phase in 2008 with the reintroduction of the Jetta TDI. This year, the company is returning the diesel Golf TDI (formerly Rabbit, formerly Golf, formerly...) to the US after a four-year absence.
Imagine millions of plug-in vehicle owners returning home from work on a hot summer day, plugging in their cars at the same time, and melting down an overtaxed, outdated, and otherwise atrophied electrical grid. But the geniuses at Google say averting a disaster scenario could be as simple as a few lines of code (well, a few more than just a few).
When was the last time Toyota produced a car enthusiasts could get excited about? Keep thinking, it's been a while. The company that once challenged US muscle cars with its 300-horsepower Supra could be back in relatively sporty trim by 2011. Toyota released images this week of a show car called the FT-86 concept, a rear-wheel-drive coupe recalling the Toyota AE86 of the 1980s, best known in the US as the Corolla. Yes, that was back when the Corolla was a kind of poor-man's sports car.
If you're of the mind that consuming natural resources for anything but the basic needs of civilization – sustenance and the like – is irredeemably decadent, log off now and go aerate a compost heap or dig a well for a needy village. The Bentley Continental GT Supersports is definitely not your bag of soy.
On the other hand, if you think it possible – by way of octane-rich biofuel – to reconcile massive, brain-pan-sloshing displays of horsepower and torque with a reduction in carbon emissions while keeping a straight face, then by all means read on.
The Honda N360 microcar was a modern marvel, sporting an all-alloy engine that could rev to 9000 rpm. The 360 cc unit only topped out at 45 hp, but at 1,100 pounds, the N360 could hit an astounding 81 mph. And that came in handy while sharing the highways of 1970 with Buicks the size of a Japanese prefecture. Now, Honda's recast the classic N360's iconic design as a thoroughly modern concept car, the EV-N. Though just as tiny, this concept was created with some of the company's latest e-tech.
Imagine pulling into a service station, but instead of filling the tank with unleaded, you slide out your drained battery and -- for a fee -- slide in a fully charged one. It's a similar model to that many stores use for propane tanks, and it could one envisioned for Tesla's new Model S sedan. Edmunds Green Car Advisor reports the new model was designed with swappable batteries in mind, according to Tesla's outgoing director of vehicle engineering and manufacturing.
As a fuel for cars, compressed natural gas hasn't exactly exploded in the US. Of all the major automakers, only Honda offers a CNG-powered car, buyers of which are eligible for a tax rebate and get a free pass on the carpool lane in most states. But proponents of CNG say the fuel that's common for buses and fleet vehicles is not only good for commuter cars, but for flamboyant customs as well.
Electric-vehicle startup Myers Motors already builds a one-seat electric car with three wheels. Now, the company says a new model is on the way with something extra novel -- a passenger seat. Dubbed the NMG2 (the first model is called NMG), the part-car-part-motorcycle will also get more storage space, creature comforts like air conditioning and a 60-mile range on a charge of its lithium-ion battery.
It's one of the simplest energy-storage devices known to man: The spring. Think of how a jack-in-the-box keeps hold of the mechanical energy it takes to compress that clown into the box, releasing it only when the weasel song reaches its climax. And that energy storage is a long-term proposition. The clown could likely sit, poised in that box in grandma's attic for 100 years, until some joker comes along, cranks the handle and, POP!
The sun doesn’t rise over the Black Rock Desert in Nevada; it ignites. One minute the blaze-orange glow of dawn is cascading down the sulfur-rich Jackson and Kamma mountain ranges, tinting the prehistoric lakebed a million shades of pink. The next, it’s full celestial throttle. By 6:30, the sun is blinding and the heat is ratcheting up.