Two Wheels: Ducati Testastretta DVT borrows VW tech for more power from less fuel [w/videos]

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Ducati Testastretta DVT

Just as much as (if not more than) any other automaker, the Volkswagen Group is all about synergies: making the most out of the considerable resources it has at its disposal, and letting one division help the other. But if you wonder what benefit Volkswagen could possibly get from its acquisition of Ducati, and vice versa, wonder now more. Just a few weeks ago VW demonstrated one thing it's gotten out of the Ducati takeover with the XL Sport concept, and now Ducati is showcasing its side of the bargain with the new Testastretta DVT motorcycle engine.

Shorthand for Desmodromic Variable Timing, this V-twin is the first motorcycle engine to employ independently variable timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts - a technology borrowed from its new German parent company. With continuously adjusting valve timing, the engine churns out an impressive 160 horsepower and 100 pound-feet of torque from a 1.2-liter two-cylinder engine, all the while returning 8-percent better fuel efficiency than the non-variable version, further enabled by a new fuel injection system that sprays directly into the intake valve instead of the intake port wall.

The DVT system in Ducati's new engine is just the latest advancement in motorcycle propulsion, arriving hot on the heels of the supercharged engine Kawasaki recently revealed and the turbocharged v-twin showcased by Suzuki nearly a year ago.

Want to delve deeper into the technical details of Ducati's new engine design? There's plenty to geek out on in the press release and pair of videos below.

Continue reading Ducati Testastretta DVT borrows VW tech for more power from less fuel [w/videos]

Ducati Testastretta DVT borrows VW tech for more power from less fuel [w/videos] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Meet Tecnicar Lavinia, Italy’s first electric supercar

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tecnicar lavinia ev electric supercar

Italian supercars are the objects of lust of people from all walks of life all over the globe. Many of us are guilty of having unframed posters of classic Ferraris taped to our childhood walls (maybe even those of our adulthood), and nothing turns heads quite like a Lamborghini cruising down the block. But what about EV enthusiasts? Must our fantasies of shouting "arrivederci!" and racing off into the sunset in a sexy Italian supercar be tinged with the guilt of guzzled gasoline?

Meet Tecnicar's newest project, the Lavinia. The Sicilian company, whose prior work includes an electric city car called the Genius, aims to build this all-electric supercar boasting an output of 789 horsepower, according to Inhabitat. That's enough to do 0-62 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds before heading to its top speed of 186 mph. Range isn't terrible either, with the Lavinia able to go 180 miles on a single charge. As you can see in these renderings, it's all packaged in an appropriately exotic-looking body.

The Lavinia isn't finished yet, though. Tecnicar is building a prototype that it aims to have ready in time for a debut at Top Marques Monaco in April. We don't have a lot of the details about the car yet (it's easy to imagine some tarmac-warping torque figures), but we'll learn more when the Lavinia makes its way to the show circuit, if not sooner.

It's easy to be cynical about cars like this, and the likelihood of them becoming a reality, but the Tecnicar Lavinia is just one of many electric supercars in the works around the world. Perhaps one day it'll end up as a poster on the wall of some budding auto enthusiast, right between the Ferrari and the Lamborghini.

Meet Tecnicar Lavinia, Italy's first electric supercar originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Sun, 19 Oct 2014 08:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Pay a visit to Elio Motors factory, where life is returning

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Elio Motors Factory on KTAL NBC 6 Screen Grab

Elio Motors continues to move forward on building a high-efficiency three-wheeled vehicle for the masses. For proof, take a look at a new local news clip of the inside of an old General Motors factory in Shreveport, LA. This is where Elio is going to build the lightweight, 84-mile-per-gallon vehicle, and it has started opening the doors to the media.

Elio started in 2008 with its fanciful, efficient dream. The reality is that it takes a lot to build a car and founder Paul Elio realizes that when he's in the still fairly empty plant. "It's kinda eerie," he told KTAL NBC 6. "Kinda like there should be, like ghosts of workers here." The factory should be full of workers and building cars a year from now, he said. Watch the video below.

As of last week, the company claimed to have 35,373 reservations, which is an impressive number and way higher than the 10,000 reported back in February. It should be noted, though, that those reservations did not require anyone to put down the full $6,800 MSRP. Reservations could be had for as little as $100. Still, 35,000 people showing an interest in a cheap, odd-looking and highly efficient vehicle is certainly an impressive number.

Continue reading Pay a visit to Elio Motors factory, where life is returning

Pay a visit to Elio Motors factory, where life is returning originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Sat, 18 Oct 2014 16:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Read This: How CARB’s next meeting could dramatically change the EV landscape

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Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Will October 23 be a day of reckoning for some US automakers? Could be, since that's when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) is meeting up and may tweak its mandates for zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) compliance for some of the world's largest carmakers. Green Car Reports says the news may be good.

So far, the six largest-selling automakers in the state are selling electric vehicles in order to meet that mandate. While Nissan is easily meeting its requirements thanks to the Leaf, other models - like the Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500E, Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV and, sort of, the Ford Focus Electric - represent so-called "compliance" vehicles. Those models are produced in limited numbers (and, likely, at a pretty hefty loss) in order to continue having the privilege of selling cars in the most populous US state.

The October 23rd meeting, though, could change things for the so-called "intermediate" automakers like Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volvo. For them, CARB may adjust its mandate so that, instead of having to sell pure electric vehicles in the next couple of years, they can meet their requirements using plug-in hybrids, possibly with more of them than the EV rules had required. That's great for Mitsubishi, which is working to bring its Outlander plug-in hybrid stateside. Not bad for Jaguar Land Rover and Volvo, as both companies also have PHEVs in the works. As for Mazda and Subie? Well, neither of them have any plug-ins on the horizon, so it's merely California Dreamin' for them.

How CARB's next meeting could dramatically change the EV landscape originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Sat, 18 Oct 2014 09:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Two Wheels: BRD rebrands as Alta Motors, reveals new RedShift electric motocross bike

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Alta Motors RedShift

If you're wandering through the maze of booths this weekend at the 2014 AIMExpo in Orlando looking for the BRD display to check out the newly-revealed, production versions of its RedShift electric motocross and supermoto bikes, a warning. You might find yourself turning in circles, looking skyward for the numbered sign that the show guide gives as the proper location, and in doing so, resemble someone deep in their cups or, possibly, missing an ace and a pair of jacks. In fact, a security officer might even come over and inquire about your state of inebriation or sanity. (Don't ask us how we know.) Well, here's a tip that could save you a lot of time and embarrassment: Don't look for a red, orange and blue BRD banner. There is none.

Instead, scout out a surprisingly large, clean space supporting a trio of bikes, unadorned by tail pipes, sitting pretty with Alta Motors branding. It seems, not only has the company taken the wraps off its official lineup, it's also changed its official moniker. Nice name too - Spanish for "high" with possible allusions to "soaring" and other positive connotations. It's taken from when the upper part of the the Golden State was a territory of "new Spain" and referred to as Alta California. As cool as it strikes us, though, the bikes, those are the real story.

Continue reading BRD rebrands as Alta Motors, reveals new RedShift electric motocross bike

BRD rebrands as Alta Motors, reveals new RedShift electric motocross bike originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 18:34:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Recent Tesla Model S buyers frustrated over new features

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Tesla Model S

Tesla wowed the motoring world when it recently unveiled the all-wheel drive, dual-motor D version that added power and range to the already well-regarded Model S. At the same time, the company showed off a new suite of safe-driving tech like a forward-looking camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors to come standard on all models. While the new features might attract some new buyers into the fold, for a few current owners the upgrades aren't coming as a pleasant surprise at all. Some of them are rallying for Tesla to fix things somehow.

These disgruntled owners aren't upset about what any of the new features actually do; in fact, they love them. The issue is Tesla's secrecy before the reveal. A few of these folks bought their cars just a few months ago, some even in September, according to The San Jose Mercury News. If the upgrades had been publicized earlier, then they would have waited to order versions with the latest and greatest tech.

Some of them are already on the web lodging their complaints. According to The San Jose Mercury News, the website Change.org has competing petitions asking Tesla to find a way to retrofit the features, which the company says isn't possible, and another requesting the automaker to ignore the complainers.

Among traditional automakers there are usually several months between a new model's announcement, and it actually going on sale. In Tesla's case, the first official teaser before the launch of the D came about a week before the reveal and hinted at something else at the time, which became the A. Should the company have given prospective buyers greater warning that two big features were on the way? Let us know what you think in Comments.

Recent Tesla Model S buyers frustrated over new features originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Tesla pushes hard against Michigan’s anti-direct vehicle sales bills

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Tesla Tyson's

While Tesla has been fighting against direct-vehicle sales bans in a number of states, the California electric vehicle company doesn't ask for help every time it finds itself in a skirmish. Last year, it did send out some ravens calling for assistance in Ohio. It has done so again to deal with a fast-moving situation in Michigan.

A new bill, House Bill 5606, would not allow a vehicle manufacturer to "directly or indirectly own, operate, or control a new motor vehicle dealer." It would also prevent Tesla from opening one of its we're-not-selling-cars-here 'galleries' in the Mitten State. Local news station WSJM talked to State Representative Aric Nesbitt (who introduced the bill) and he maintains that the bill is not "anti-Tesla at all." It just clarifies other laws, he said, adding that "if Tesla wants to have a real debate on current structure and state statute, I look forward to sitting down and meet[ing] with them, but them spreading lies about my bill, that's not a constructive use of their time."

Lies, eh? Tesla did call the legislation "harmful to consumers" and described the way it says the bill came about in somewhat conspiratorial terms:

On the last day of the legislative session, the dealers managed to make a last-minute change to the bill in an attempt to cement their broader retail monopoly. Using a procedure that prevented legislators and the public at large from knowing what was happening or allowing debate, Senator Joe Hune added new language in an attempt to lock Tesla out of the State. Unsurprisingly, Senator Hune counts the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association as one of his top financial contributors, and his wife's firm lobbies for the dealers.

A number of Michigan auto dealers are big contributors to Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who has yet to announce if he will sign the bill. He has until Tuesday to decide. You can read the full text of Tesla's call for help below.

Continue reading Tesla pushes hard against Michigan's anti-direct vehicle sales bills

Tesla pushes hard against Michigan's anti-direct vehicle sales bills originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon

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Jimmy Kimmel becomes an Uber driver

Despite red tape and outright bans in some areas, on-demand taxi services like Uber and Lyft are becoming hugely popular ways to get a ride in bigger cities. So what's it like to drive for one of these services? Late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel wanted to find out with a dash of humor thrown in. He became a registered Uber driver and started picking up fares ... at least one, anyway.

Becoming an Uber driver requires owning a new-enough insured vehicle and passing a registration procedure that includes a background check. None of that was too daunting for Kimmel, and he hopped into something suitably innocuous - a Chevrolet Cruze - to try out an afternoon on the job.

We only get to see Kimmel interacting with one person, but his fare seems suitably surprised when he notices the celebrity driver. This isn't a bad idea for a bit, but we wouldn't mind seeing it go to the next level with someone like Jay Leno picking up people in some crazy machine from his garage. Check out the video to watch Kimmel trying out a new job.

Continue reading Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon

Watch Jimmy Kimmel become an Uber driver for an afternoon originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Ford’s first PHEV in Europe could be C-Max

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Ford Fusion Plug-in Hybrid

Ford could start selling a plug-in hybrid in Europe pretty soon, according to at least one of its executives. Whether it's willing to do so is another story. But if the market perks up, so will the company.

The automaker can "quickly" develop a plug-in hybrid version of its Mondeo, the sister car to the Ford Fusion, Automotive News Europe says, citing Ford executive Uli Koesters. The subject of Ford selling plug-in hybrids in Europe is more vital than ever since Volkswagen recently started selling its first PHEV (a Golf) there. VW will also debut a Passat PHEV next year.

Koesters was less certain about whether there was sufficient European demand to warrant a production PHEV from Ford. Europe's biggest-selling plug-in hybrid through the first half of the year was the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. That model, according to JATO Dynamics, moved almost 9,000 units through June. Toyota sold almost 4,300 Prius Plug-in Hybrids in Europe during that time period.

And we can't be sure Ford's first European PHEV will be the Modeo/Fusion, either. In fact, Ford's first plug-in hybrid for Europe is more likely to be the C-Max, John Gardiner, a Ford spokesman in Europe, told AutoblogGreen. He would only say that it would be sold "in selected markets soon," without being more specific.

Ford's two PHEVs in the US have been selling well this year. Through September, sales of the Fusion Energi PHEV almost tripled to 9,323 units, while Ford C-Max Energi PHEV sales were up 51 percent to 6,486 units.

Ford's first PHEV in Europe could be C-Max originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Recharge Wrap-up: Toyota FCV ready for production, Nissan tests Leaf-to-Home energy management

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toyota fcv

Toyota will begin selling its hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) in Japan in December. The US and Europe can expect to see the car become available next summer. The FCV, which will likely be called "Mirai" (meaning "future") in Japan, is ready for production ahead of its initial deadline at the end of the fiscal year in March. Toyota planned for annual production of 700 units, but might increase output to meet higher-than-expected demand, which is currently nearing 1,000 units. The cars will mostly be sold in the four cities where a hydrogen fueling infrastructure is already being put in place: Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka. Read more at Nikkei Asian Review.

Nissan is testing the Leaf EV as part of an energy management system including "Leaf to Home" technology. The system allows the Leaf to help support the power grid during peak energy usage, or provide backup power to a home or building during outages, particularly in emergencies like natural disasters. Using the Leaf's battery to provide electricity during peak hours would lessen the demand on the grid and make the system work more efficiently. Furthermore, if consumers are compensated for the energy saved by using the Leaf for power during periods of high demand, it could encourage more people to adopt the EV. Learn more in the press release below.

CDP has given Honda a perfect climate disclosure score in its Global 500 Climate Change Report for 2014. CDP keeps track of how much companies are disclosing about their impact on global climate change. "The need for data on corporate climate change impacts and strategies to reduce them has never been greater," says CDP CEO Paul Simpson. "For this reason we congratulate those businesses that have achieved a position on CDP's Climate Disclosure Leadership Index." Other perfect scores were earned by Nissan, BMW, Daimler and General Motors. Read more in the press release from Honda below.

Scientists at Stanford University have developed a lithium ion battery that can warn users before it overheats. A thin layer of copper between the anode and the layer separating the anode from the cathode acts as a sensor. When it detects lithium buildups from overcharging are approaching the separator, it sends an early alert long before it gets to a point where it would cause a short (which could lead to a fire). The new safety measure could be used in all sorts of battery applications, and not be limited to EVs. Learn more at Phys.org.

Continue reading Recharge Wrap-up: Toyota FCV ready for production, Nissan tests Leaf-to-Home energy management

Recharge Wrap-up: Toyota FCV ready for production, Nissan tests Leaf-to-Home energy management originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:55:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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