Can electric-car makers make good on their promise?
With oil continuing to spew from a mile-deep hellhole in the Gulf of Mexico, it’s hard to resist seeing it as a sign of the apocalypse -- a crude, black symbol of the need to finally get the country off of oil and onto a cleaner, sustainable alternative.
But while weaning cars off gasoline will take decades, not weeks, it’s clear that we need to start somewhere. That includes electric cars and electric-car companies such as Tesla and Fisker -- but as these and other companies seek lifeblood in the form of $25 billion in government loans, I just hope we’re not all being taken for a ride.
The dream is tempting for anyone who’s watched the sad decline of the American auto industry. Who wouldn't want to see Tesla someday cranking out squeaky-clean EVs from the California Nummi plant recently abandoned by Toyota and GM? Or Fisker, rolling thousands of groundbreaking Nina vehicles off a new assembly line around 2012, this one a mothballed Saturn plant in Delaware? New EV assembly lines and lithium-ion battery plants for Nissan and General Motors could help make America a leader in EV technology and battery manufacturing, not to mention provide well-paying jobs for Americans who could really use them.
News from the world of electric vehicles.
Turns out, though, that the much-hyped announcement may not be as solid as once thought. In fact, according to regulatory filings, the companies do not have a fleshed-out deal -- merely an agreement to make a deal in the future. And that Toyota stake in Tesla? Toyota would lose that money should Tesla fail to go public, as planned.
By Izzi Bendall
The 2011 Kia Sorento EX V6 now ranks third in the Consumer Reports ratings for small and midsize SUVs.
Having earned an “excellent” overall score of 82 in recent tests, the Sorento trails only the Subaru Forester 2.5XT and the Toyota RAV4 V6. The magazine notes that the Sorento has a very firm ride and that the six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly.
Two-wheeled vehicles provide strong customer satisfaction.
For the above criteria, a majority rated their motorcycle or scooter "excellent" to "very good," and a full 88 percent of respondents said they were "highly satisfied" with their bikes.
Of course, most respondents in the study said that they used their bikes mostly for recreational riding (hence adding fewer miles) -- only 38 percent said they used their bikes for commuting. This, I would think, could have a major psychological effect on how you view a motorcycle or scooter versus a car. I mean, think about it: What are you more likely to view in a favorable light: the vehicle in which you're stuck in traffic, filled with old take-out containers, or the bike that represents freedom from work and responsibility?
Check out Consumer Reports' related video, after the jump.
Will it hit the sub-$20K mark?
By Lindsay Chappell, Automotive News
More than half of the 130,000 hand-raisers who have expressed an interest in the Leaf so far have been Prius owners, he said.
"That's a pretty significant signal to us," Castignetti said last week as Nissan North America Inc. broke ground for a Leaf assembly line and battery factory in Smyrna, Tenn. "It tells us that there is a segment of eco-friendly consumers who are interested in going to the next level. They own a hybrid vehicle. But if the next step is available, they want to take it."
We'll see you back here tomorrow
That's what we'll be doing, anyway, along with manning the grill and enjoying some cold beverages to ward off the heat.
We'll be up and running again tomorrow. See you then.
Los Angeles as you've never seen it before: Without traffic
The concept: What does Los Angeles look like, without all the cars?
The video is short at only 81 seconds, but it's real. L.A.-based filmmaker Ross Ching put together the time-lapse scenes of actual, empty L.A. roads and highways. (And, frankly, 81 seconds without traffic in this city would be a miracle, let alone empty roads.) It's very cool, it's set to Radiohead, and it reminds you how beautiful a city Los Angeles really is, if you could just stop pounding your steering wheel and cursing the other million people on I-5 North. Enjoy.
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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 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 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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