Friday, February 25, 2011

If You Really Want to Use Less Gas...

If people are serious about using less gas and fewer resources then just drive something like this - the 2012 Mazda5 is a six passenger minivan that gets 28 miles per gallon on the highway. By the way, a near $40,000 Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets 28 miles per gallon in mixed highway/city driving. In the Mazda5, I was able to get 24 mpg in combined city and highway driving. The Mazda5 is comfortable, fun to drive and versatile - plus, it costs about $20,000. Maybe you don't need a hybrid or electric car.
It's a similar story with cars like the Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta and Kia Sportage.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Getting Real about EV Charge Times

There's a lot of talk about electric vehicle charging times but it might not be as rosy as you'd think. First of all, I did an Internet search for EV charging stations near my home and found about three - but they were all the old paddle type chargers from the Nissan Altra or GM EV1 days. Had I been counting on those chargers being there, I would have been stranded.

Thankfully cars like the Nissan Leaf come with a home charger - all you need to do is plug it into a household style three pronged outlet and charging begins. But this can take up to 20 hours for a full charge - plug the car in every night and you probably won't ever need a full charge. Buy the optional ($2000) 240v charger and a full charge takes about 7 hours.

The bottom line - no matter which EV you get, you'll need the optional quick charger. The upcoming Ford Focus promises a charge time of half that of the Nissan Leaf but let's face it, at this point the Leaf is the only real 100% electric vehicle that's suitable for the masses.

The standard 120v power cable can work in emergencies but it's just not practical for anyone who plans to put a lot of miles on thier electric car.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Stop Using Sporty as a Cover for Harsh and Unrefined

I'm tired of harsh riding, bouncy and noisy cars being give a pass because some PR person said "It's sporty." Acura, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz and Infiniti make perfectly sporty cars and they don't jar your teeth even on rough roads. Even the Honda Civic has a pretty decent ride. Sporty shouldn't mean unrefined.

New High Tech Key for BMW Owners?

Soon BMW owners may be able to use their car's electronic key to do more than just open doors and start the engine.

Thanks to Near Frequency Communications (NFC), a BMW key could be used like a credit card to pay for purchases and maybe even access card lock doors.

But the technology could go even further by linking the key to the vehicle’s navigation system. This would allow the driver to buy tickets or make reservations through the vehicle’s navigation system and because the key is integrated into the car, paying for or verifying that purchase would be as simple presenting your BMW key upon arrival. Even your electronic proximity key for a hotel stay could be integrated into the electronic BMW key. BMW’s electronic key already holds some vehicle information on it so paying for maintenance or repairs is another obvious application.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day and Cars do Mix! has some really cool lists of Valentine's Day friendly cars - the Inizio electric sports car shown above isn't one of them but it's red and looks cool. Here's three especially clever examples of car themed Valentine's:

Car's that Attract Women

Car's with Inner Beauty

Two's Company - Our Favorite Two Seaters

2011 Nissan Quest - Boxier

Nissan has done a full 180 with the new Quest minivan. The previous version was curvy and had an interesting interior - it was an attempt to stylize the minivan. Now, the 2011 model is like a giant box. Nissan readily admits it - "A box is the most efficient use of space" company officials said. It's not bad looking but many will disagree.

The interior is a step above other minivans - even the base and midtrim models have an upscale look. The Toyota Sienna by comparison seems a little cheap in LE trim.

The Quest's 3.5 liter V6 is carried over from last year but it's plenty powerful and super smooth. That engine makes 260 hp – all Quests get that same V6. Acceleration is more than adequate and the engine never sounds harsh. Expect 18 mpg city / 24 highway. The Quest is front wheel drive with constantly variable transmission or CVT.

Prices range from $28,550 to just over $42,000 and there aren't many options since even the mid-level SV van is well-equipped.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2012 Ford Focus Electric

Ford just showed the Focus Electric at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. Unlike the Nissan Leaf, the all-electric Ford is based on a gasoline powered car. The Focus EV will charge up quicker than a Leaf and has a little extra power too. The Focus EV's 6.6kW on-board charger has twice the capacity of the Leaf's. The Focus EV has a top speed of 84 mph, delivers 123 hp and includes tons of standard features like 17 inch wheels, MyFord Touch, Sat nav, and four wheel disc brakes. Ford hasn't confirmed range but did say it's about 100 miles, like the Nissan Leaf.

The 2012 Ford Focus Electric should be available by early next year.