Exhaust Notes

Decision Guide

Plans for an extended-range EV are in the works.

By Joshua Condon Sep 17, 2010 12:30PM
Audi is moving closer toward putting a real-world version of its e-tron concept, which debuted in March at the Geneva auto show, on the roads. Automotive News is reporting that the manufacturer is working on an extended-range electric vehicle based on the A1 e-tron, which will likely sport a resurrected Audi A2 badge.

The EV will use a rotary engine to recharge the batteries, according to Automotive News. Audi development chief Michael Dick, in an earlier interview with Motor Trend magazine, went on record as saying that the current prototype is "running very well." According to Dick, a pilot project will be started at the end of the year, with a small series of vehicles expected at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013. The small size of the rotary engine allows the vehicle to remain a 4-seater, with the expected amount of interior room. 

By Brad Constant

By AutoWeek Sep 17, 2010 8:41AM

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar (right) presents an Elise to Toyota president Akio Toyoda. (Photo courtesy of Lotus.)

Lotus CEO Dany Bahar presented Toyota       president Akio Toyoda with a Lotus Elise this week at the British Embassy in Tokyo, celebrating the companies' long partnership.

The Elise was equipped with Toyota's last 2ZZ-GE VVTL-i engine, the same engine found in older versions of the Lotus Elise and Exige.

“The presentation of Toyota's last 2ZZ engine in the Elise is a symbolic gesture of our continued respect and deep appreciation for our partner not only acknowledging our past, but also looking forward to our future together,” Bahar said in a statement.


Self-regulating traffic lights.

By Joshua Condon Sep 17, 2010 7:34AM
We've seen the best-case scenario of what can happen when traffic lights malfunction: Cars and pedestrians pay attention to their surroundings, communicate nonverbally and allow others their rightful turn to proceed. But what if the traffic lights themselves could be made aware of their surroundings and communicate with each other?

The concept of self-regulating traffic lights is being explored by Stefan Lämmer of the Dresden University of Technology, in Dresden, Germany, and Dirk Helbing of ETH Zurich, who are creating traffic signals that both monitor traffic in real time and communicate with other networked signals to effectively and efficiently manage the flow of traffic. Read more after the jump. 

By Mark Vaughn

By AutoWeek Sep 16, 2010 3:02PM

The Automotivated exhibit runs through Jan. 23 the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mark Vaughn.)

Automotivated, a new exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, traces the evolution of clothes worn in cars--from the bulky circus-tent stuff people had to wear to keep from freezing to death in the jangly, open-topped conveyances of 100 years ago, up to the height of the European Concours in the 1920s and '30s, when what you and your date wore was just as important to winning best of show as the styling of your Delahaye/Delage/Talbot Lago.

“In the earliest days of the automobile, you were sitting on the car, you weren't sitting in it,” said Leslie Kendall, curator at the Petersen.


Six dedicated or hybrid variations planned for 2012.

By Joshua Condon Sep 16, 2010 2:11PM
The Toyota Prius. (Photo courtesy of Toyota.)Toyota plans to offer six hybrid models across the globe in 2012, including a plug-in Prius model in the United States, according to The New York Times "Wheels" blog. The hybrid lineup will include both hybrid versions of existing models as well as dedicated hybrids.

One of the dual-powertrain variations will be a hybrid RAV4 built in collaboration with Tesla Motors and scheduled to be unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show in November. The plug-in Prius is expected to sell for $3,000 t $5,000 more than a gas-electric Prius, which can run from $23,000 to $33,000. 

By Bradford Wernle and Mike Colias, Automotive News

By AutoWeek Sep 16, 2010 12:58PM

The 2012 Dodge Viper concept looks a lot like the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione. (Photo courtesy of Alfa Romeo.)

The 2012 Dodge Viper concept resembled the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione with a Viper face, a source said. The Competizione is a limited-edition supercar that was sold in select Maserati dealerships in North America.

In 2009 Alfa Romeo brought 84 coupes and 35 Spiders to the United States for sale in seven Maserati dealerships. The cars were sold before they were delivered. At $299,000, the Spider version was the most expensive Alfa Romeo ever.


E-Fuel products let you create your own fuel.

By Joshua Condon Sep 16, 2010 12:12PM
The E-Fuel MicroFueler. (Photo from E-Fuel.)Thanks to a pair of devices from E-Fuel, it's now possible to make your own biofuel right at home.

The E-Fuel MicroFueler, around since 2009, can convert sugar-rich liquids such as waste alcohol into what's called E-Fuel100 ethanol -- a fuel you can put directly into your car (assuming, of course, your engine is configured to run on biofuel) or use in generators to provide household electricity. The MicroFueler can't handle cellulosic waste material, such as compostable organic matter, but E-Fuel's new product, the MicroFusion Reactor, can. It breaks down organic matter into lignin powder and sugar water within a couple of minutes; the sugar water can then be used in the MicroFueler to create E-Fuel100 ethanol. 

The insurance industry wants teens off the road, period. But there's a potentially deadly payoff.

By AutoWeek Sep 16, 2010 10:28AM

As part of a NHTSA campaign, posters at www.nhtsa.gov cite statistics about nighttime driving, texting while driving and teens driving with two or more teen passengers. (Via AutoWeek.)By J.P. Vettraino 

News that fewer teenagers are getting driver's licenses has been greeted with consternation in some corners, but it couldn't make the insurance industry happier.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics--and sometimes legitimate, measurable trends. While some experts have quibbled about how some states report their information, no one argues the basic point: More teenagers are forgoing a driver's license longer than at any time in at least 20 years.

The most recent federal data say that, compared with a just a decade ago, about 17 percent fewer 16-year-olds exercise their right to obtain a driver's license. Released by the Federal Highway Administration last spring, the figures compare the number of teens who obtained their licenses annually from 1999 through 2008. The downward trend extends beyond 16-year-olds.

Fewer 17-year-olds--16 percent fewer, as a share of all 17-year-olds--got licenses in 2008 than in 1999. In some states, fewer 18-year-olds got licenses, reducing the national take rate for that age by 8.4 percent. Put another way, the number of newly licensed U.S. drivers ages 16 to 18 declined by 161,000 between 1999 and 2008--even though the number of people in that age group increased by 1,051,000 during that time. A host of social, economic and regulatory issues might contribute to this trend, and one of them might be graduated driver licensing (GDL).



  • Cliff Atiyeh

    Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
    In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)

  • Doug Newcomb

    Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
    In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V

  • James Tate

    James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
    In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5

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