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Jeffrey Kaffee is the first customer in the U.S. to take delivery of a Chevrolet Volt (Ima...

It’s been a big week in the world of mass-produced electric vehicles. Hot on the heels of Nissan delivering the first of its LEAF all-electric vehicles to a customer in California last Saturday, a retired airline pilot by the name of Jeffrey Kaffee has become the first customer in the U.S. to take delivery of a Chevrolet Volt. Although the Volt he received wasn’t actually the first available for sale, with that particular vehicle going to the winner of an online charity auction, which closed on Tuesday with a winning bid of US$225,000.  Read More

The first commercially-available Chevrolet Volt, which is being auctioned off for charity ...

After a build-up that's lasted for almost four years, you now finally have the chance to buy the first-ever Chevrolet Volt “extended range electric vehicle” available for retail sale. The catch: General Motors has decided to auction the car off to the highest bidder. Proceeds will go to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics initiatives. Online bidding started at US$50,000, and at the time of publication is already up to $180,000. The car’s MSRP is $41,000.  Read More

The new label provides relevant information for buyers of EVs and hybrids

With hybrid and electric vehicles appearing in more and more automobile showrooms around the world, the traditional fuel efficiency measure of miles per gallon (MPG) alone just doesn’t cut it anymore. With cars able to be powered by electric power alone or a combination of electric and gasoline, new measures are needed to better inform consumers when buying a new car. To this end, General Motors (GM) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have teamed up to design a new window label for the Chevrolet Volt that has more information than any EPA label before it.  Read More

Cadillac Aera and smart 454 vehicles tied for the 2010 LA Auto Show Design Challenge

The 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show Design Challenge – which asked designers to come up with an efficient 1,000lb (454kg), four-passenger vehicle that maintained comfort, safety, driving-performance and style – has finished in a tie between GM’s Cadillac Aera concept and the Smart 454 from Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design. Previously, the Design Challenge was restricted to major Southern California automotive design studios but this year saw the field widen to include studios from Germany and Japan, resulting in entries from Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Maybach.  Read More

The Autonomous Audi TTS Pikes Peak research Vehicle

Not long ago, there was informed debate on whether a purpose-built computer would ever beat a chess master. Now mobile phones have achieved Grand Master status. Computers continue to get exponentially faster, not to mention considerably smarter through improved software, whereas humans are effectively nearing their limits. Hence, it’s arguably only a matter of time and R&D focus before computers (plus improved sensors and software) surpass any specific human capability. This week Audi revealed that its Autonomous TTS research car had completed the 12.42-mile Pike’s Peak mountain course in 27 minutes. An expert driver in the same car would take around 17 minutes – now we have a benchmark, the race is on, and it's almost inevitable that a computer will one day outdrive the best of our species, and it may be sooner than you think.  Read More

The Nissan iV concept

For the past six years, the Los Angeles Auto Show has invited automobile designers to participate in its Design Challenges. The challenge for this year’s show was to come up with a design for “a 1,000lb [453.6kg], four-passenger vehicle that is both comfortable and safe, while delivering satisfactory driving performance without sacrificing the styling consumers’ demand.” Entries are being judged not only for meeting the weight constraint (no more than 1,500 pounds/680 kg with passengers), but also for artistic beauty, comfort, uniqueness of design, roadworthiness, sustainability, performance and user-friendliness. The winner will be announced at the show, on Nov. 18. Here’s a look at some of the higher-profile entries...  Read More

The 2011 Chevrolet Corvette

There are businesses that let you glaze your own pottery, cook your own steak or pick your own strawberries, but when it comes to the hands-on experience, a new offer from General Motors has them all beat. If you order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1, you have the option of traveling to GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom, Michigan, and hand-assembling your car’s LS7 or LS9 engine. It’s called the Corvette Engine Build Experience, and is believed to be the first program of its kind (if any readers would like to dispute that claim, please do so). If you don’t like the idea of providing GM with your mechanical expertise for no cost, don’t worry - you’ll have to pay an extra $US5,800 for the privilege.  Read More

Up close and personal with SAIC's Yez Concept Car

A few days ago, I managed to get up close and personal in Shanghai with one of the most interesting concept cars the world has yet seen. SAIC's Yez concept car is the first automobile, concept or otherwise, that's ever been conceived to have a negative carbon footprint. That is, it removes more pollution than it creates.  Read More

The University of Wisconsin team preparing their vehicle

Not long ago we told you about the Moto Student competition, wherein teams of students from across Spain and the rest of Europe are competing to build racing motorcycles. Well, a similar competition is underway in the US, and it’s called EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge. In this contest, teams of North American engineering students are competing to convert GM-supplied vehicles into super-efficient, super-clean-running, high-tech wonders. The second year of the three-year contest wrapped up this week, with Mississippi State University (MSU) taking the top spot.  Read More

UPDATED: SAIC YeZ Concept Car inhales C02, emits oxygen

General Motor's Joint-Venture partner in China, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) rolled out a concept alongside GM's EN-V at Expo 2010 which in many ways is more ground-breaking than the EN-V. The idea behind the YeZ Concept is that it will photosynthesize, absorbing carbon dioxide from surrounding air and emitting oxygen back into the atmosphere. Among the many futuristic aspects of the YeZ (Chinese for “leaf” as Nissan already uses the name for a clever green concept that is heading for production) is a roof that incorporates solar panels and wheels that incorporate small wind turbines to harvest energy from the environment. And if you think this is not within reach by 2030, think again – artificial photosynthesis has proven elusive, but there's every indication it will be a commercial reality within two decades.  Read More

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