Report: VW planning 20 new plug-in models for China

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Volkswagen e-Golf

With just about everything getting super-sized for China, Volkswagen is following suit with its plug-in vehicle plans for the world's most populous country. VW, Europe's largest carmaker, is looking to sell more than 20 different plug-in models in China within the next four years, Reuters says, citing comments Volkswagen Group China head Jochem Heizmann made in Shanghai. The company is hoping that translates to sales of more than 100,000 plug-ins in China by the end of the decade. Go big or go home, right?

There's a huge plug-in vehicle opportunity in China, especially given the bad pollution situation in cities like Beijing and Shanghai and the Chinese government's incentives for plug-in vehicle buyers. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn said at the Beijing Motor Show this spring that the company would spend $25 billion on at least a half-dozen plug-in models for China by 2018. VW will start selling the e-Golf in China this year and the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid in 2015.

VW said in August that it would start selling the e-Golf in the US for about $35,500 in November. That's a $6,500 price hike from the base Nissan Leaf.

VW planning 20 new plug-in models for China originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Bicyclist deaths spike on US roads

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Superstorm Sandy

While the roads might be getting just a little safer for motorcycle riders, their two-wheeled compatriots on bicycles appear not to be so lucky. A recent study sponsored by the Governors Highway Safety Association found that annual cycle deaths in the US were up 16 percent from 621 in 2010 to 722 in 2012. In the same period, fatalities for motorists increased only one percent.

While the numbers are on the rise in those years, they represent an improvement over decades ago. According to the study, the highest bicycle death toll since data has been recorded came in 1975 with 1,003 fatalities. The '80s registered an average of 889 annual victims, 792 in the '90s and 696 from 2000 to 2012.

The data also sheds some light on who is at risk riding a bike these days and where. Adults older than 20 represent 84 percent of fatalities in 2012, compared to 21 percent in 1975. Unsurprisingly, urban cyclists who have to deal with lots of traffic and other distractions are the ones who are most in danger. According to the study, 69 percent of fatalities happen in these busy areas, versus 50 percent in 1975.

With deaths on an upswing in recent years, the GHSA is advocating for wider acceptance of safety equipment, and it wants to reduce riding while drunk. The study indicates that only 17 percent of those killed on bikes were wearing a helmet, despite such headgear being proven to lower fatalities. Also, 28 percent of cyclists who die are legally intoxicated.

In addition to those changes for bicyclists, the GHSA suggests that cities with high death tolls need to consider giving riders their own lanes and possibly even separate traffic lights to make cycling safer. Scroll down for the announcement of the study's results.

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Bicyclist deaths spike on US roads originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 30 Oct 2014 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Volkswagen rolls out sporty Street Up!

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VW Street Up!

When Volkswagen unveiled the production Up! hatchback at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, it showcased a series of concept versions alongside it. At the Geneva Motor Show the following year, it returned with another quartet of whimsical Up! concepts. There were more before and there will be more after. But few of them ever reached production. We have the three- and five-door models, the electric e-Up! and soft-roading Cross Up!, as well as Skoda and Seat versions, but aside from the cool convertible concepts, the one we really wanted was the GT Up!, and that never made the cut. But Wolfsburg seems to be out to at least partially right that wrong with the release of the new Street Up!

This sportier take on the German city car features a sport suspension, 16-inch alloys, racing stripes running up the hood and roof and along the doors and side panels and an interior decked out with contrast stitching, black headliner, unique shift knob and steering wheel. It even comes bundled with premium stereo and climate control. Unfortunately the same engine choices apply, so the most punch available is 75 horsepower. But appearance aside, the sport suspension ought to improve the vehicle's nimble handling around city streets. A mini GTI it may not be, but a sportier hatchback is never a bad thing.

Continue reading Volkswagen rolls out sporty Street Up!

Volkswagen rolls out sporty Street Up! originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota pimps out Esquire van for Japanese businessmen [w/video]

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Toyota Esquire

A few months back we reported on a dealership owner in Japan who was petitioning Toyota to make a luxury van. The problem, he reasoned, was that he couldn't take as many friends, colleagues and clients around with him in his Lexus LS, and his Toyota Alphard van wasn't luxurious enough. Well, it seems like he wasn't alone, and Toyota has listened.

The Japanese auto giant has just revealed the Esquire, a new luxury van designed with just such customers in mind. It's significantly smaller than the Sienna we get in America, smaller than the aforementioned Alphard and about the same size as (this writer's favorite) the JDM Noah van (on which we gather it's based). But what sets the Esquire apart is its upscale appearance.

The boxy van is distinguished by its dominant T-shaped chrome grille with a unique emblem that encompasses a shield, sword, "the collar of a gentleman's suit" and the letters Esq. The flank is characterized by a strong beltline with chrome lower window frame and an expansive greenhouse with tinted rear glass. Inside the flexible cabin you'll find accommodation for seven or eight passengers (depending on specification), synthetic leather upholstery and wood and metallic trim. There are even wheelchair-enabled models on offer as well.

Power comes from either a 2.0-liter four driving 150 horsepower and 142 pound-feet of torque through a CVT to the front wheels or all four, or from a hybrid powertrain that pairs a 1.8-liter four (97 hp / 105 lb-ft) to an electric motor (81 hp / 153 lb-ft) for a combined 134 hp. Toyota expects to sell 4,000 units annually through two dealer networks, with prices ranging from 2.6 million yen ($24k) to 3.2 million yen ($30k).

Push comes to hybrid shove, we're not sure this model would have a place in Toyota or Lexus showrooms on this side of the Pacific, but it could be just what Japanese businessmen have called for for a night out in Tokyo. Scope it out in the video below.

Continue reading Toyota pimps out Esquire van for Japanese businessmen [w/video]

Toyota pimps out Esquire van for Japanese businessmen [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 16:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2016 Chevy Volt will not need premium gas

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2016 Chevy Volt 1.5-liter engine

Buried in the new technical details of the 2016 Chevy Volt released yesterday was a throwaway line about a small but important change that's due to the new 1.5-liter, four-cylinder engine. The first-gen Volt has always required premium gas but the new powerplant will be happy burning plain old regular.

The Volt's chief engineer, Andrew Farah, told AutoblogGreen that the change was due to today's Volt owners explaining they were not happy paying for top-shelf petroleum. "The ability to use regular unleaded was based directly on customer feedback," he said. "Since the range extender is an all-new engine, it was optimized to use regular unleaded at the outset. Using regular fuel will not have effect on vehicle acceleration or other performance factors."

As Larry Nitz, GM's executive director of vehicle electrification, told AutoblogGreen yesterday, the new engine is more powerful and quieter than the outgoing 1.4-liter engine that's used in the current Volt. Fuel economy and EV range specs for the next-gen Volt are not expected until the full car is revealed at the Detroit Auto Show in January.

2016 Chevy Volt will not need premium gas originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 11:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Detroit Electric shows new fastback style for SP:01

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Detroit Electric SP:01 Fastback

There's been a proud history of basing electric sports cars off of the Lotus Elise. Its lightweight architecture has formed the basis for the original Tesla Roadster, the PG Elektrus, the Rinspeed sQuba concept, the Zytek Elise prototype and the Dodge Circuit EV show car. But those projects have all come and gone. That run might not be over, though, as the next to raise the flag is Detroit Electric.

The startup showcased its SP:01 prototype over a year ago, and has been promising production ever since. Now it says it's on the verge, and has revealed a revised design for the production model - albeit in just the one solitary CGI image you see here. The updated shape, which looks rather similar to the comparably sized Alfa Romeo 4C, takes more of a fastback approach instead of the flying buttresses on the original design. The new form is designed to be more aerodynamic and incorporates an integrated rear wing and underbody diffuser to make it all the more so.

Although it's not showing us what it looks like yet, Detroit Electric also says it has updated the front end as well. Chief designer Jerry Chung says "The final design of the SP:01 incorporates signature Detroit Electric design DNA, carried over from the prototype model we revealed last year. Coupled with many motorsport visual cues, the new fastback design, bold face and sharp contours evoke the company's vision of pure electric performance."

Whatever it looks like, the Detroit Electric SP:01 is slated to go into production in the UK - not in Detroit or Holland as previously planned - next year, promising a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds and a top speed set at 155 miles per hour, all on electric power.

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Detroit Electric shows new fastback style for SP:01 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Recharge Wrap-up: Elio explains engine updates, gas prices lowest since 2010

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elio motors

Computer engineers at North Carolina State University are working toward creating more accurate range estimates in electric cars. They hope that it could help relieve range anxiety. The new system takes the whole route into account rather than using an average of the previous miles driven. This approach looks at traffic, grade, weather and other variables that can affect mileage to give the driver a more realistic and less fickle range estimate. The folks working on the project were able to get range figures that were around 95 percent accurate. Read more at Treehugger.

Gasoline prices in the US are lower than they've been in almost four years. According to the most recent Lundberg survey, average prices for regular gasoline were at $3.08 per gallon on October 24. The highest prices were in San Francisco, averaging $3.45, with Memphis averaging the lowest at $2.73. Gas prices have dropped in response to the cost of crude oil, which is low due to high supply and weak demand around the world. Read more at CNBC.

Taxi drivers in Washington DC demonstrated in protest of a bill they felt favors ride services such as Uber and Lyft over taxis. The bill to regulate the ride services, the taxi drivers said, doesn't do enough to level the playing field, which puts the taxi drivers at a competitive disadvantage. The bill was approved by DC City Council in a 12-to-1 vote. "Our fight is not over," says Teamsters Local 922 business agent Royale Simms. "Communities and taxi drivers around the nation and around the globe continue to fight for fairness and we will do the same." Read more in the press release below.

Elio Motors has explained why it decided to use a new engine design for its 84-mpg three-wheeled car. Elio decided that the three-cylinder engine borrowed from the Geo Metro wouldn't allow it to meet its mileage goal. Elio is keeping the three-cylinder plan, but updating a whole host of components, with some designed specifically for the Elio and others chosen off the shelf from other sources. Elio plans to offer up more details on its new engine soon, as well as show a working prototype. Read more in the press release below.

Continue reading Recharge Wrap-up: Elio explains engine updates, gas prices lowest since 2010

Recharge Wrap-up: Elio explains engine updates, gas prices lowest since 2010 originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 10:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Tesla stock goes on wild ride following negative report

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Tesla Motor's New EV unveiled

Trading Tesla Motors stock is not for the faint hearted. For example, the stock was worth $235.24 at the end of trading on Friday but then dropped to $221.67 by the end of Monday. After yesterday's trading, it was back up to $242.77, a gain of almost 10 percent on the day. The movement was apparently due mostly to a negative article in The Wall Street Journal and then a social media response by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

The Journal originally reported that Model S sales had declined 26 percent in September, and that caused the TSLA drop. Later, there was the clarification that this only refered to US sales, but it wasn't until Musk Tweeted that the, "Article in WSJ re Tesla sales is incorrect. September was a record high WW (worldwide) and up 65% year-over-year in North America" that things on the Tesla stock front really picked back up.

Questions remain about Tesla's actual production and sales numbers. Unlike many other automakers, Tesla doesn't release monthly sales figures but it does talk about quarterly figures in investor calls every three months. During the last call in July, Tesla said it had delivered 7,579 Model S EVs in the second quarter of 2014 (the most ever delivered in a quarter) and said it remained, "on track for more than 35,000 deliveries in 2014." This target was questioned by analysts, which led to the Journal piece, and then the response Tweet. We don't know what'll happen with the stock today, but we will know the company's official delivery numbers when Tesla issues its Q3 2014 Financial Results after the close of trading on Wednesday, November 5.

Tesla stock goes on wild ride following negative report originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Wed, 29 Oct 2014 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Recharge Wrap-up: more than 600K EVs worldwide; Musk sees demons in AI

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renault eolab concept

More than 600,000 battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars have been sold worldwide. This number is up 20 percent in the last four months, and includes the top 10 countries for EVs. The number does not include most commercial vehicles, motorcycles, buses or EVs not legal for highway use. The US accounts for about 260,000 of those tallied, and is the largest adopter of EVs, while Sweden is the most aggressive. The largest growth occurred in Sweden, Germany, China and the UK. Read more at Hybrid Cars.

EV drivers can now pay for charging at ChargePoint stations with Paypal. Drivers can link Paypal to their ChargePoint account, and can use their ChargePoint app or card at the station. The first time drivers use Paypal at a station that charges a fee, they will be charged a $25 deposit from which the fee will be deducted. Read more in the press release below.

The first NTx Apps Challenge awarded cash to five app development projects, including Juxt and GridLock. Juxt is a mobile app that helps drivers find alternative fuel, parking spots and other points of interest along their routes. GridLock is a traffic light network that monitors traffic patterns and controls lights to optimize traffic flow. Winners get cash, continued mentorship and office spaces. Read more in the press release below.

Renault says it could sell the Eolab at around the same price as its diesel-powered Clio. The Eolab, which debuted as a concept at this year's Paris Motor Show, is said to be capable of up to 235 mpg. While Renault has not announced plans to mass-produce the super-efficient Eolab, the company's chief competitive officer Thierry Bollore said that if it did, it would "not cost more than a Clio DCi 90hp," which starts at about $23,900. Read more at Automotive News Europe.

An author at Teslarati has created his own system to get notifications whenever Tesla adds a new Supercharger to its network. Using a web scraping tool, Rob M. has set his @TeslaLiving Twitter account to tweet the details whenever Tesla updates its Supercharger page, or when Teslarati's Interactive Tesla Supercharger Map gets a new location added. Rob has also created notifications for whenever new versions of Tesla software are added. Read more at Teslarati.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk considers artificial intelligence an "existential threat." In a symposium at MIT, Musk said, "With artificial intelligence, we are summoning the demon." It's a demon he fears we can't control. See Musk's comments in the video below (beginning at about 1:07:42) and read more at CNN Money.

Continue reading Recharge Wrap-up: more than 600K EVs worldwide; Musk sees demons in AI

Recharge Wrap-up: more than 600K EVs worldwide; Musk sees demons in AI originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 17:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2016 Chevy Volt will have more EV range, bigger battery

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2016 Chevy Volt Powertrain
Meet the new Volt, not the same as the old Volt. That appears to be the story when General Motors introduces the 2016 Chevy Volt at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Today we're getting some more details on the guts of the new plug-in hybrid, and it turns out they're going to be much improved from the current Volt, which first went on sale at the end of 2010.

Sure, the first-gen Volt did get some improvements along the way (a slightly larger battery pack, lane departure warnings) but the new Volt - which will go on sale in the second half of 2015 - marks the first time GM has been able to return to the drawing board and really make the improvements that its customers want. That's how Larry Nitz, GM's executive director of vehicle electrification explained it to AutoblogGreen today when explaining the all-new Voltec extended range electric vehicle (EREV) powertrain.

"In the Gen 2 is we gave the engine a little more power, a little more torque, a little more displacement, more capability." - Larry Nitz

Nitz said that the new Volt will be better in almost every sense: a bigger battery, longer EV-only range, 20 percent better acceleration in the low speed range and higher overall efficiency. This is due, in part, to the Volt's two motors being able to both act as generators and power the car. As we noted this morning, the 2016 Volt will use a larger, 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, a version of which is already used in the Chinese-market Cruze. Nitz said that this has a number of benefits, including more power and quieter operation. "Some people would say, why did you make [the first-gen engine] so big. I would say, why did you make it so small?" he said. "It works good, our customers love it, but the reality is that if you go a little bit off and use the car a little harder, you can get the engine to need to operate at a higher speed. In an EV, that's quite noticeable. So, what we did in the Gen 2 is we gave the engine a little more power, a little more torque, a little more displacement, more capability and what it has marginally enabled is not only is it more efficient but it's also quieter." Nitz wouldn't talk about how the new powertrain might affect the two other products that use the Volt's underpinnings - the Cadillac ELR and the Opel Ampera - but if you've got a quieter option, we assume that's something ELR drivers would enjoy. But that's a story for another day.

Today was all about the Volt in GM land, and the changes announced came from years of study of the almost 70,000 Volt drivers out there. GM has obviously talked to other owner groups about their cars, but for the new Volt, the company went off the deep end. It looked at aggregate data from all of the Volts where the owner opted in and studied 300 drivers in detail as it began thinking about how to design the new Volt. The company also talked directly to owners, and this conversation lasted until late in the design process. Some changes were suggested - and implemented - in late 2013, Nitz said.

Continue reading 2016 Chevy Volt will have more EV range, bigger battery

2016 Chevy Volt will have more EV range, bigger battery originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Tue, 28 Oct 2014 15:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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