Without a doubt, the best part of an auto show is the test drive — you can sink into the cushiony driver’s seat, behold the beautiful control panel, feel the steering wheel slip comfortably between your fingers. At this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, that won’t happen. Test drivers will sit in the back seat of an autonomous Prius, letting the car drive them around by itself. It’ll probably be worth the back seat view.
One of the most common criticisms of the Chevy Volt has nothing to do with the car itself—it’s that there are so few of them available. General Motors shipped the first 360 Volts to dealers last month, but for the first quarter of this year you can only buy a Volt in six states and Washington, D.C. GM has obviously been hearing the same complaints. Today the company announced that it would make the Volt available in all 50 states by the end of this year—six months earlier than the original plan.
Drivers who want to know energy tradeoffs between gas guzzlers and electric cars may find some help at the ChargeCar project, where researchers have begun investigating how to customize electric vehicles to meet individual commuting needs. A smart power management system could even boost electric vehicle efficiency and extend battery life.
What? Hedge-fund managers, heads of surgery, corporate lawyers and their well-heeled, buttoned-up ilk don't need plug-in hybrids too? Mercedes-Benz is keeping such an audience in mind for its latest concept car, the Vision S 500 plug-in hybrid. Similar to the S 400 hybrid currently in production, the S 500 can also travel 18.6 miles in electric-only mode and take a battery recharge by way of an electrical outlet. What ever happened to greed is good?
MIT's Electric Vehicle Team is working on Project elEVen, an electric car which aspires to top 100 mph, travel 200 miles on a single charge, and rejuice in around 10 minutes.
The team is starting with a Lincoln Milan hybrid, whose engine they have gutted and converted to all-electric power. Their goal is to create an electric car that has mainstream appeal, both in looks and performance, while staying true to an all-electric design.
On July 14, electric vehicle owners will be able to charge up on a Big Mac while their electric vehicle charges in the parking lot.
A new McDonald's in Cary, North Carolina, will be the first of its kind, testing a pilot program with NovaCharge and Coulomb Technologies. The program may pave the way for electric charging stations in close proximity to where people drive and spend their leisure time.
It fits into a wheel hub and can double a car's fuel economy. That's the claim of Dr. Charles Perry, who says his plug-in hybrid retrofit kit can save America 120 million gallons of fuel per day. Big talk. But then, inventors betting on revolutionary uphevals need to talk as big as they think. The former IBM electrical engineer designed the kit to transform existing automobiles into hybrids by placing an electric motor inside each wheel. Perry recently took first prize for his invention at a green energy competition at the Tennessee Technology Development Corp.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.