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The End Is Near: California Green Lights Driverless Cars 26
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Autonomous Cars, california, Kurt, News on 09 26th, 2012

Google puts an autonomous Prius though its paces – image: Steve Jurvetson

A future filled with driverless cars, choking the highways as they creep along at or below posted speed limits, just edged one step closer to reality. California governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that calls for the creation of safety and performance guidelines covering the operation of driverless cars on state roads, ultimately paving the way for their approval.

Given that pioneering autonomous car creator Google is headquartered in California, the move was really a matter of when, not if. The Washington Post quotes Google co-founder Sergey Brin as saying, “the self-driving car can really dramatically improve the quality of life for everyone,” especially drivers who couldn’t otherwise take to the roads themselves. While that will certainly help the blind or disabled, it will also be a benefit for those with alcohol or drug dependencies. We’re sure bars will be the first to support autonomous cars, as they’d essentially eliminate the possible liability of drunk driving.

Not everyone is enamored by the prospect of driverless cars, though. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers feels that California is rushing headfirst into the technology before answering some key questions, like “who holds the liability when a mainstream car is converted to autonomous operation without the manufacturer’s consent?” We suppose that question will ultimately be for the lawyers to sort out, along with many others.

Don’t expect to see autonomous cars on the road next year, or the year after that, but make no mistake: they’re coming in the not-too-distant future. While we suppose they’ll have their benefits, they’ll also reduce the act of operating a motor vehicle to one more tedious chore that humans need not be bothered with.

For those of us with a passion for driving, perhaps that’s the hardest autonomous car pill to swallow.

Image credit: Steve Jurvetson, CC 2.0

California To ‘Require’ Sales Of Electric And Plug-In-Hybrid Vehicles 30
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, california, Electric, electric car, hybrid, Kurt, News, nissan, Plug-in Hybrid on 01 30th, 2012

The 2012 Nissan Leaf electric car. Image: Nissan Motors

Just when you thought that legislators in the Golden State had come to their senses, something happens to reaffirm our opinion that California may be the least-car-enthusiast-friendly state in the country. After showing some degree of sanity by agreeing to adopt the proposed EPA mileage standard of 54.5 mpg by 2025, California has announced that, by 2025, a minimum of 15.4 percent of sales must be of electric, plug-in-hybrid or hydrogen powered vehicles.

To frame that mandate with a dose of reality, let’s look at the two commercially available electric cars. In 2011, Nissan sold 9,674 Leafs in the United States; excluding trucks, that represents just 1.6 percent of its car sales in the United States. Chevrolet sold 7,671 Volts, which represented just one percent of its new car sales in the U.S. market.

Do we need to tell you that legislation requiring manufacturers to sell X percent of green cars is absurd, akin to requiring grocery stores to sell 15.4 percent of food from the produce aisle? While the penalties for non-compliance aren’t clear (yet), automakers can’t dictate whether or not customers will buy a “green” vehicle over a more conventional one. Sure, they can influence this via marketing, but at the showroom level it’s always the consumer who has the final say, unless, of course, the freedom of choice element is removed.

As Autoblog and Automotive News (subscription required) report, some ten additional states (including New York and New Jersey) will likely follow California’s lead, requiring automakers to significantly ramp up sales of green vehicles. Automakers, oddly enough, back the plan, but with good reason – by mandating sales of electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles, manufacturers get an artificially inflated market to sell into.

California Considers Mandating EV Sales 28
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, california, Electric, electric cars, Kurt, News on 06 28th, 2011

The Nissan Leaf EV. Image: Nissan Motors

Think you’re free to choose whatever kind of vehicle you want? Think again, but only if you live in California. The Golden State, long obsessed with tailpipe emissions and fuel economy, is considering a measure that will require automakers to sell a dedicated percentage of electric vehicles in-state, or face fines of $5,000 per non-EV sold. By 2018, the pending legislation would require 5.5 percent of new car sales to be EVs; by 2025, that percent would jump to 14 percent.

In 2011, the California New Car Dealer’s Association expects sales of 1.33 million new cars in California. It’s likely that new car unit sales will increase between 2011 and 2018, but let’s be conservative and use the 2011 numbers: by 2018, manufacturers will have to sell 73,150 electric cars in California. By 2025, that number climbs to 186,200 EVs, which begs the question of whether or not California’s power grid can even sustain the 2018 EV target.

That’s not to say combustion-engined vehicles will be outlawed in California, but if there’s a fine to be paid, neither the manufacturer nor the dealer will be willing to absorb it. Would a Ford Mustang still be attractive if it cost $5,000 more? How about a Hyundai Elantra?

Electric vehicles have their place, but they’re still not an equivalent replacement for gasoline-engined vehicles. Will EV technology improve over the next six years? Probably, but no one knows how much. Range will increase and costs will fall, but until you can build an EV with a 300 mile range (at highway speeds) and a recharge time equivalent to refueling a gasoline engined car (call it 10 minutes), they’re simply not going to replace combustion-engined vehicles. All the state legislation in the world isn’t going to speed up the development of replacement technologies.

Source: Left Lane News

Ferrari Four Concept Unveiled (Video) 24
Posted by Alex Ion in 458 Italia, 599 GTB Fiorano, Automotive News, california, Concept car news, Ferrari, Four, Super car news, top speed, Videos on 01 24th, 2011

The new Ferrari Four concept has been officially announced and the super car is set for debut at the Geneva Motor Show. The model is said to be the replacement of the 612 Scaglietti and has been styled with combined features from the 458 Italia, California, and 599 GTB Fiorano.

The company will bring this model with a 6.3-liter (6,262 cc) V12 engine that offers an output of 660 PS (485 kW / 651 hp) and 683 Nm (504 lb-ft) of torque. This engine can accelerate the vehicle to achieve a speed of 0-100kmph in just 3.7 seconds. The top speed is claimed to be 335kmph (208mph).

The Ferrari Four concept will feature a double-clutch transmission and combined fuel consumption of 15.4 L/100 km (15.3 mpg US) and CO2 emissions of 360 g/km. It will also come with impressive cargo capacity of 450 liters with the rear seats up and 800 liters with the rear seats down.

The all new advanced Ruote Motrici (4RM) four-wheel drive system will enable the car to deliver optimum performance on all terrains and in all conditions via continuous and intelligent predictive torque distribution to all four wheels.

Watch a video of the car here:

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe Caught on Spy Video 7
Posted by Alex Ion in 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Automotive News, c-class, C250 Coupe, california, Detroit, ML-Class, North American International Auto Show, SLK, spy video, twitter, United States on 01 7th, 2011

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe has been captured on spy video. The video, which has been pulled back since it was posted, features the car moving through the United States. The vehicle is due to make its debut at the North American International Auto Show to be held next week in Detroit.

A number of Mercedes-Benz cars were already being brought into the country, and it is believed that the manufacturer will bring the C250 Coupe to the US. as part of a contest it is holding on Twitter. In the contest, those who become the winners can drive a new C-Class Coupe to the Super Bowl.

The video was shot at the Long Beach Vehicle Processing Center in California. The video also includes shots of the next-generation SLK and ML-Class.

The C250 Coupe has got a 201 hp (204 PS / 150kW) four-cylinder power plant. It is currently not offered with the C-Class in the U.S.market.

012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe3
012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe1
012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe2

(Via WCF)

Ferrari ‘Green’ California to go on Show at Paris Show 8
Posted by Alex Ion in Automotive News, california, Ferrari, Ford Focus ST, green, Honda Civic Type-R, Upcoming Events on 09 8th, 2010

Ferrari is all set to introduce a ‘green’ California model at the Paris Motor Show. Although there are not too many details available, some reports say the vehicle will not be a hybrid. Instead, they say it is most likely to feature an improved direct injection system with low friction engine components, multi-cylinder deactivation, and regenerative braking.

Although this does not really qualify the car to be labeled green, Ferrari is already on the green wagon with announcements coming in about their plans to reduce emissions by up to 40% and improve fuel efficiency 30% in comparison with 2007 levels.

This is seen as the outcome of the stricter government standards that have been responsible for axing the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus ST. It is hoped that more details on the green California will emerge in the countdown to the Paris Show, if not, all will be revealed in the end of September!

(Via WCF)

Ferrari 458 Spyder GTS Offers More Speculative Details 2
Posted by Alex Ion in a 458 Spyder GTS, Automotive News, Autostyle, california, Ferrari, Glass roof, soft-top on 09 2nd, 2010

Ferrari is currently developing a 458 Spyder GTS, but sadly there are not many details available. Although details are hard to come by, it is learnt that the vehicle will feature a glass roof which flips upright and slides in to disappear behind the seats.

Previous reports had said the 458 Spyder will have a folding hardtop like the one used on the California model, or will have a traditional soft top. Either way it’s too soon to confirm which it will be.

What can be almost confirmed is that the car will feature a 4.5-liter V8 with 570 PS (562 hp / 419 kW) and 540 Nm (398 lb-ft) of torque.

The 458 Spyder GTS will be connected to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which should allow it to accelerate from 0-100 km/h in less than 3.6 seconds. More pictures (artist’s rendering) below:


(Via WCF)